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UPDATE “Ground Zero Mosque” / Park51 Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf ‘s “Radical” Khutbah of Peace in Doha, Qatar (Photos/Audio/Q-A)

Abu Reem

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MM’s Coverage of Park51 (Mislabeled “Ground Zero Mosque”)

UPDATE: Came across this interesting State Department’s daily press briefing. Scroll towards middle-bottom half. Apparently, the Imam may be under clear instructions not to talk about Park51, likely to avoid conflict of interest. He is on state business and can’t use a taxpayer supported trip to “fund-raise”. However, still can’t see why he shouldn’t talk about the controversy (not equal to promoting the project).

Let me preface the post by mentioning that the injection of “radical” into the title was purely tongue-in-cheek!

True radicals would be offended by the use of radical for Imam Faisal Rauf, whose message today was as soft as his voice. As part of a State Department sponsored visit, the Imam visited Fanar Islamic Cultural Center and gave the Friday khutbah (sermon). Afterward, I was able to sneak in a couple of questions, though I wish he would have answered more. A press black-out was in effect, though loosely enforced. After the khutbah, I also had a chance to have a chat with the cultural attaché of the US Embassy in Qatar.

In the khutbah (audio below), Imam Faisal talked about the meaning of shahadah and its true implications. He reminded Muslims that we have to move beyond Islam to Iman and Ihsan. He asked if we think our prayer is equal to the prayer of the Prophet (S), and if it is not (which he agreed was not), then how do we close the gap between the acceptance and the essence of the Prophet (S)’s prayer vs. ours.

He reminded everyone about the Prophet (S) being a mercy to mankind and that means that we as followers have to also be part of that mercy. The khutbah can be heard below.

Unfortunately, the Imam did not talk about the “Ground Zero Mosque”, which was the big elephant in the room. An AP photographer was in the crowd and kept taking pictures with his giant professional camera, much to the chagrin of the musaleen. I also snapped a few pictures in the beginning but with my small, silent Canon camera  : -)

After the khutbah, I made my way into the front, shook hands with Imam Faisal, introduced myself as an American Muslim and a blogger for MM. I told him that we have been following the issue of the Cordoba House/Park 51. I attempted to audiotape the session, but unfortunately the tape’s too grainy to play here, so I’ll try to transcribe, and make up for the gaps:

MM: Imam, we have been obviously following the matter very closely
Imam: I’m sure you have

MM: We are wondering how it [the controversy] has affected your trip here?
Imam: Alhamdulillah, it hasn’t. But, except that I have been getting less sleep [kind of half-serious]. Everyday, [I spend] 2-3 hours following the issues of the day.

MM: A lot of people are asking. Do you feel that you are needed more there. Do you feel that it would have been prudent more to be there [in America] than here?
Imam [the voice was fuzzy here so this may be less than perfectly accurate transcription]: That’s a difficult question but the decision was made/justified to stay on course with the program. [And I think he said he was content with that]

I tried to grab him again after he prayed his sunnah, but he had to go, and frankly, he seemed a bit annoyed at this point. I can imagine the stress he is under, and that he is probably constantly bombarded with this issue. However, I do feel that at this time, he needs to be even more open to questions and answers and be front and center discussing the issues, and making himself available at every opportunity.

Afterwords, I engaged in a discussion with the cultural attaché (a friendly guy named Kevin) and another American friend about the visit. I asked him about the purpose of the Imam’s visit. He said the purpose was to improve inter-faith understanding and religious tolerance (I assume he meant highlighting American values of tolerance).

My friend and I asked him about the big elephant in the room, the issue of Park51 and why it was ignored in the khutbah? We mentioned that everyone knows of the issue, so its not like it can be swept under the rug, rather it needs to be brought up by the Imam to highlight that the bigotry against it is not an American value. If the purpose is really to convince Muslims that America is good to its Muslim minority, then the Imam’s closeness to the issue necessitates that he discuss the fiasco and refute the bigotry. Kevin seemed to agree, and our hope is that he would pass that message to Imam Faisal.

As others have mentioned and I alluded to, it just seems Imam Faisal is not taking the bull by its horns, and rather perhaps feels/hopes that the issue would just disappear. Perhaps he is the shy/quiet kind, definitely very soft-spoken and finds these situations uncomfortable. But no Muslim is comfortable these days because how the issue has pitched Muslims against non-Muslim Americans, as a result of a successful campaign by the worst bigots that America has to offer, Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller (who by the way are also in bed with white supremacist groups).

So, my message to the Imam, if you ever read this: Pls stand up and be heard.

Audio of Khutbah:

[audio:http://muslimmatters.org/audio/Rauf/Faisal Rauf Khutbah.wav]

One of the photos is a book, What’s Right with Islam: a New Vision for Muslims and the West” translated into Arabic from English by Imam Faisal, given free of charge by the US Embassy.

P.S. I have a grainy video of the khutbah, not sure if it has any benefit?

Abu Reem 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, Abu Reem is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").

42 Comments

42 Comments

  1. Avatar

    zz

    August 27, 2010 at 9:18 AM

    You left the best part where, after the khutbah, the sheikh in the masjid thanked the “Great” sheikh faisal raouf (many times mentioning great) and repeating the benefit we can gain from his khutbah. His khutbah was irrelevant to the issues Muslim’s face today and we could’ve attended any khutbah in Doha and gotten more out of it.

    Lastly, he mentioned that Muslims, as “we say in America” should “walk the walk and not talk the talk” as the prophet PBUH did (incidentally, he never once stated “PBUH” after using saying the prophet) .

    He needs to do a lot more walking …

    • Avatar

      Amad

      August 27, 2010 at 9:34 AM

      Zz is the friend with me grilling the American attaché :)

  2. Avatar

    fa

    August 27, 2010 at 9:42 AM

    assalamu alaykum instead of putting ( s) can you please next time use the full sentence sallalahu alayhi wassalam. i just get annoyed when i see people do this,

  3. Avatar

    Sam

    August 27, 2010 at 9:44 AM

    Looks like is trying to promote rand’s version of Islam

    • Amad

      Amad

      August 27, 2010 at 1:27 PM

      Not sure what the “Rand’s version is”. Rauf has been actively engaged in the community and doing this sort out of outreach even BEFORE there was a RAND report.

      • Avatar

        Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

        August 27, 2010 at 3:22 PM

        Really, Amad…I would have thought you knew exactly what Sam meant. He could be prmoting Rand’s version of Islam without having gotten it from Rand or doing it because of Rand. In fact, the Rand report specifically attempts to identify strains that already exist within the Muslim community most specifically modernists and secularists and recommends that the U.S. promote those strains of thinking among Muslims.

        • Amad

          Amad

          August 27, 2010 at 3:39 PM

          More importantly, do we have any specific evidence, from his words that he promotes any version of Islam in his trips?

          I think his goal is to highlight America’s record in treating Muslims… which until recently has been quite good, compared to other Western countries, and even compared to Muslim countries…

          As someone told me recently, the influence of the Rand’s report is more exaggerated in our heads than it is in the files of the government departments.

          • Avatar

            Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

            August 27, 2010 at 4:09 PM

            The point (to me, I can’t speak for Sam) is not whether the Rand report specifically infuenced anyone, as I said above. The Rand report is simply a well known document where a certain recommendation was outlined — that the U.S. government should seek to support certain understandings and interpretations of Islam above others and should in fact seek to curtail the spread or appeal of other interpretations.

            Such activities have gone on and are in fact going on all over the world. This doesn’t mean they are caused by the Rand report, there is nothing especially unique or brilliant about what Ms. Benard lays out in the report.

            The idea of treating with great suspicion government backed interpretations of Islam is in fact one of most American things about me Amad. :)

            And, again, if you think that yes we as Muslims should be out there singing America’s praises to the Muslim world and should accept U.S. government money to do so, then make that argument, and be prepared for counterargument. There’s no benefit that I can see in trying to stifle the discussion or pretend people should not pay attention to the issue.

  4. Avatar

    sab

    August 27, 2010 at 12:08 PM

    “State Department sponsored visit” says it all.

    • Amad

      Amad

      August 27, 2010 at 1:25 PM

      Actually, it doesn’t say anything.

      They don’t sponsor him in America. But they sponsor goodwill ambassadors to take the message ABOUT America abroad. Other countries do similarly. Saudi Arabia for instance sponsors many diplomats and attaches around the world. Should they be outright dismissed too?

      Let’s not broad-brush. It’s Ramadan. More husne dhan is in order.

      • Avatar

        Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

        August 27, 2010 at 3:16 PM

        Amad, you are right to say it doesn’t necessarily “say it all.” But it is wrong to think it says nothing. Same is true for KSA or anybody else. Those who fund an individual or an institution or sponsor their activities says something important. And yes, this must be applied even to those close to us and even of course to our own selves.

        When you mention husn dhann you seem to have an assumption that being sponsored by America must be a bad thing. Abdul Rauf wrote a book What’s Right with Islam is What’s Right with America so most likely he’s proud to defend America to overseas Muslims. Of course he would probably say that this is what he believes regardless of who’s sponsoring his trip but then the point is that the State Dept. sponsors his trips because he will give a message that they want put out there.

        • Amad

          Amad

          August 27, 2010 at 3:36 PM

          You also know exactly what Sab meant.

          I don’t agree with Imam Faisal’s ideological stances, but the last thing I want to do is make this an issue of ideology.

          The islamophobes don’t see this as sufi muslim vs. non-sufi muslim… they only see us as Muslims, and I’d like to keep us that way… only Muslims, united against a common bigotry.

          • Avatar

            Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

            August 27, 2010 at 4:00 PM

            Yeah, I know what he meant…that’s exactly why I said I agreed with you that he went to far (“it doesn’t tell you everything”) but I disagreed with you going so far as to say it doesn’t mean anything. As I said, he (Abdul-Rauf) embraces it, why are you making it something bad to point out?

            I am all for being united against bigotry, but I’m not going to let Islam haters change what I think and what I support nor make me support something I don’t agree with. I don’t think standing against bigotry means one has to accept the paradigm and outlook of the bigots.

            In fact, the more we show that many Muslims think Abdul Rauf is a progressive sellout, aren’t we only helping to show how absurd are the claims of the haters and opportunists. :)

          • Avatar

            Mehdi Sheikh

            August 27, 2010 at 10:59 PM

            What the Islamophobes say don’t really matter, those who already hate Islaam will agree with them and those who don’t care see them as idiots anyway.

            It is infact Faisal’s IDEOLOGY that we should look at because that is the burning question here. The “progressive” movement and shayateen like Fareed Zakaria are pushing his Sufi version of Islaam as being that which is agreeable and what should be pushed out in the public forums. Shaykh bin Baaz warned about such things in his book “The Ideological Attack”.

            There is a Sunni musalla just a few blocks away from this suspicious “Cordoba House” project. They’ve been there for 30 years as the “Manhattan Masjid” located on Warren Street until they lost their lease a few years back. They now pray in a smaller area nearby while trying to get together funds to buy a proper building. Faisal’s Masjid Falah was always known as a Sufi Masjid even back then when I was a student in the area. A place where they hold those wierd so-called “zikr” sessions.

            Just like the media is caught up in the heat of all this so are the sunnis. They are now just supporting something regardless of the possible consequences. We need a masjid in the downtown area to serve the thousands of muslims who work there. It doesn’t matter where its located. Faisal is just using this this to pump himself up and show himself as the Islaam America wants and needs. Just like back in the 80s when the US pushed the Jihaadi ideology to the Muslim countries to recruit fighters against the russians, now they want to push Sufism in order to handicap us.

            May Allaah protect the Muslims and guide them to the path of the Salaf-us-Saaliheen and destroy the evil plans of the Kaafiroon and the Mubtadioon. Ameen.

  5. Avatar

    jmoney

    August 27, 2010 at 6:33 PM

    Brother Noor you need to chill out bro.

  6. Avatar

    Naza

    August 27, 2010 at 8:39 PM

    salaam good on u Bro Noor….

  7. Avatar

    shirien

    August 27, 2010 at 11:33 PM

    Like Imam Feisal or dont like him, He is not the bigger picture and I think we all know that. It’s about our right to build masajid in our community without everytime someone protesting it. It’s about the bigotry that is boiling and the hate crimes against Muslims.

    If Muslims don’t unite on the issue, it weakens us, and gives room for people to take advantage of us.

    The non-Muslims are the ones coming out in support of Park 51 because of our rights as Muslims to worship as we please without hatred, while we bicker all day about the smaller things and leave the bigger picture.

    Majority of Muslims will not like Imam Feisal and that’s the bottom line. Now let’s focus on the big picture…

    • Avatar

      Mehdi Sheikh

      August 28, 2010 at 2:05 PM

      The only difference between the lunatic islamophobes who oppose the masjid and those who support it is simply that the lunatics don’t quite get what that other group of non-muslims are really trying to do.

      Both of them are clear enemies of Islaam. One because they’re just pure nuts, and the other because they have a hidden agenda to weaken Islaam by strengthening the most heretic of its people.

      People act like Jon Stewart (who even though is ethnically jewish is probably an agnostic or even an atheist) and the like are like our new Abu Talibs, non-Muslims who come against the defense of Islaam, but they are not defending Islaam, what infact they are defending in their plans to prop up a filthy heretic, bring him up as the go to person for the media to go to when they want to know opinions about “Islaam” and then propagate it via tv, radio, etc.

      I remember once on Stephen Colbert’s (he btw is an ardent Catholic and even teaches Sunday school) show he showed a “Muslim” practice in India where they throw infants from the top of a certain masjid and then the people catch them in a blanket. Of course he ended that segment with a little “funny” jab against Islaam. There were no explanatory comments about this not being an Islaamic thing and ultimately the viewer went away with the opinion (and rightly so) that these people are idiots.

      There are no Abu Talibs in our time. Don’t be caught up in this argument of our constitutional right to do this and that. First we must ensure that the rights of Allaah are not breached, and I’d rather have no masjid at all, than have one where they have dog-howling Zikr sessions, free mixing, and open and clear shirk and other forms of Kufr.

      They want to prop up Faisal like another Deepak Chopra, some new-age guru who will teach them the real Islaam, while Sufism is nothing more than a money making cult. You give your undying alleigance to your imaam and serve him to his pleasure. Infact you don’t have to even be muslim to be a follower of sufism.

      May Allaah protect the Muslims and aid the believers. Ameen

      • Amad

        Amad

        August 28, 2010 at 2:38 PM

        Mehdi,
        IT may be clear to you, and you may have it all figured out, but the world isn’t as black and white as you want it to appear. This is exactly the same perspective that drives people into doing insane things.

        There are sincere people in the world, of all religions. Even the Quran talks about sincere Christians, and so just because you have a magic intentions-checking-wand, doesn’t change that.

        The radical Islamophobes want all non-Muslims to believe that Muslims lie and do taqiyya so everything good we say is a lie, and you are pretty much saying the same thing about them.

        Let’s stop the madness and not kid ourselves. Sufism isn’t one label that fits all within it. Sufis are not monolith, just like salafis, deobandis, name it. There is a spectrum of views and methodologies under all labels

        Yes, may Allah protect the Muslims, from EACH OTHER too.

        P.S. This post wasn’t about sufis, and I will not let it degenerate into a sufi-bashing session either. The point is clear, that the Islamophobes don’t care what label you have, for them you are a Muslim. So, that’s a lesson for all of us that we have a lot of work to do. Pls refrain from your black and white rationalizations and sufi-bashing.

        • Avatar

          Mehdi Sheikh

          August 28, 2010 at 2:54 PM

          Yes all sufi’s are not the same, but I am talking about THIS particular one. Let alone the fact that his wife is a non-hijab wearing”feminist”. You only have to know what goes on in his masjid to know how big of a deviant he is.

        • Avatar

          Kashif H

          August 28, 2010 at 4:58 PM

          The naive, confused, and knee jerk emotionalist thinking in promoting and defending someone as clearly deviated and far from Islam as Faisal Abdul Rauf is the same failed line of reasoning and justifications which were invoked by those unaccountable personal and political failures among Muslims who vociferously and actively wanted Muslims to vote for George W. Bush in 2000.

          • Amad

            Amad

            August 29, 2010 at 12:31 AM

            So you think we should have voted for the dajjal liberals?? Man, you guys are never happy. But voting kufr anyway right? So it didnt matter how we voted?

          • Avatar

            Kashif H

            August 29, 2010 at 8:45 AM

            You really need to quit while your ahead rather than showcasing your own ignorance.

            Voting and its ahkam was/is a seperate discussion than the one of supporting an intellectually loose imam who keeps zionists as bedfellows.

            What people are asked to examine is the THINKING behind an action rather than doing an action reflexively. There are mindless and heedless types who will rally Muslims to do an action not bothering to think of the full ramifications and future consequences of that action.

            Oftentimes, what Muslims are called to do in the name of “political action” ends up causing more problems long term than any short term alleged “maslaha” or
            benefit that was sought.

            If you don’t think through the thought process of failed actions you are condemned to repeat them.

          • Amad

            Amad

            August 29, 2010 at 8:57 AM

            okay brother, enjoy your Ramadan.

        • Avatar

          Sakinah

          September 15, 2010 at 1:40 AM

          Where is Abdul Rauf”s sincerity? When he supported the Bush administration? Who started two wars that have resulted in the deaths of millions of Muslims? How can you tell us not to be critical of people who are funded by the us government anyway? On the website of Abdul’s s Sufi order, they translate the Quran wrongly not even close, if you didn’t see the verses they were so called translating Arabic you would not know it was from the Quran. How about the PMU who Mr. Abdul Raul is on the chair of. Amad I’m all for unity but not with an open enemy of Islam such as Abdul Raul.

          Ayah 120: Surah Al-Baqarah:

          Never will the Jews or the Christians be satisfied with thee
          unless thou follow their form of religion. Say: “The Guidance of Allah,-that is the (only) Guidance.” Wert thou to follow their desires after the knowledge which hath reached thee, then wouldst thou find neither Protector nor helper against Allah.

  8. Amad

    Amad

    August 28, 2010 at 8:00 AM

    This would be really funny, if it weren’t from the Governor of New York!

    “This group who has put this mosque together, they are known as the Suffi Muslims. This is not like the Shiites,” Paterson said. “They’re almost like a hybrid, almost westernized. They are not really what I would classify in the sort of mainland Muslim practice.”

    So, Shiites and non-sufi sunnis are what?

    The guy needs to just stop putting his foot in his mouth!

  9. Avatar

    bro

    August 28, 2010 at 10:17 AM

    asalamualaykum wa rahamtulhi wa baraktu, i just wanted to add a few points
    1) it is very sad to the rise of islamophobia in america and the increase of anti muslim feelings.
    2) any one who knows “imam” abdul rauf and wife daisy khan know that these people have serious issues in aqeedah/beliefs, to the degree which reaches the point of kufr,
    . his wife is well known for making statemets that all the relgions are the same ect(just search her talks on youtube and you will see what i mean,). THIS is clear kufr, and ijma from the all of the ulama as far east as india, to as far west as maurtania
    .the imam even called him self a jew and chrisitan( he didnt really mean it, but for a “imam” to even say that sarcasticly shows his level of knowledge)
    the following is some qoutes of imam abdul rauf

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/…een-one/61761/
    here is a small qoute
    “We are here to assert the Islamic conviction of the moral equivalency of our Abrahamic faiths. If to be a Jew means to say with all one’s heart, mind and soul Shma` Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ahad; hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one, Mr. Pearl.

    If to be a Christian is to love the Lord our God with all of my heart, mind and soul, and to love for my fellow human being what I love for myself, then not only am I a Christian, but I have always been one Mr. Pearl.

    And I am here to inform you, with the full authority of the Quranic texts and the practice of the Prophet Muhammad, that to say La ilaha illallah Muhammadun rasulullah is no different.

    It expresses the same theological and ethical principles and values”

    we need to protect our selves from following our emotions, we things out rationaly in light of the relgious texts.
    allah knows best

  10. Avatar

    bro

    August 28, 2010 at 10:19 AM

    correction

    we need to protect our selves from following our emotions, we need to weigh things out rationaly in light of the relgious texts.

  11. Avatar

    bro

    August 28, 2010 at 10:22 AM

    i also forgot to add,
    the imam’s wife daisy khan doesnt even wear hijab!!, when the imam has no problem with wife not wearing hijab you know something is wrong!!

  12. Avatar

    Muslim

    August 28, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    -snipped. Okay, we’re DONE with this tangent. We aren’t going to let this turn into a sufi-bashing session. It’s Ramadan. Let’s hold our tongues / fingers. -Editor

  13. Avatar

    muslimah

    August 28, 2010 at 9:15 PM

    i’m just gonna a comment this to see if it appears lol let’s see how much mercy mm shows during the month of mercy.

    And now what? :) -Editor

  14. Avatar

    Abid

    August 28, 2010 at 10:28 PM

    It IS an issue of ideology if we want to show our support for the project as a Muslim. If we support as Americans to protect the constitutional rights of this Sufi group, that’s fine and all Americans who want to support, should support based on this ground. In that sense, we can be united with American liberals and seculars to protect the freedom of religion.

    But my main concern is that…if we support only because of Muslim unity, then there is a big problem from the Aqeedah point of view. Do we really want to show to Americans that Sufi-ism is part of our correct Aqeedah? If we all support it as Muslims and after establishment even one ignorant Muslim or a new convert goes to this place and adopts sufi-ism, shall we not have to bear that responsibility in the day of judgment because we legitimized this ideology in the name of Muslim unity.

    So, let’s support the project as Americans as other liberal and secular groups are doing, NOT as muslims because what they are preaching is not the Islam we want to follow.

    • Amad

      Amad

      August 29, 2010 at 12:34 AM

      Do we really want to show to Americans that Sufi-ism is part of our correct Aqeedah?

      I am sorry but that is a real naive reading of “Americans”. They hardly know who Muslims are, let alone trying to explain sects!

      And we ARE supporting the project as Muslims. Because those against it are opposing it because it is precisely that– a Muslim project. Not a sufi project. Not a shia project. But a MUSLIM PROJECT.

      And that’s the crux of the argument for all you haters out there. I have major issues with Imam Feisal’s methodology too, I think even moderate sufis such as Imam Zaid Shakir would (I don’t know, I am just guessing). BUT,

      This is NOT about the person. This is about the IDEA.

      That’s the bottomline!

      • Avatar

        park51

        August 29, 2010 at 9:25 PM

        Interesting. I wonder if American Muslims would support building of a Muslim Gay mosque if it ever came down to that. I mean if Americans are that naive about who Muslims are, then this should be the perfect opportunity to tell them the differences i.e. we are not a monolith, and we have deviants with whom we don’t stand united and therefore don’t support deviant projects like park51. It doesn’t matter what they perceive. To dance to their tune doesn’t reflect too well for serious Muslims; in fact it shows that American Muslims are wish-washy and insecure.

        • Amad

          Amad

          August 30, 2010 at 12:26 AM

          Read AE’s featured post, posted today and your response is there.

          American Muslims should support freedom of religion, and that means remaining consistent with that position. You can’t support X in the name of this freedom and turn around and go against Y because the organization doesn’t fit your billing.

          It’s okay to decry Y’s stances, but it is not okay to oppose its right to build.

  15. Avatar

    Adam

    August 29, 2010 at 9:32 AM

    So let me get this straight, the US invades Iraq, without a valid reason, kills a million, then decides to sponsor a sheikh to go abroad and talk about how msulims are treated in America?

    Isn’t that just a litle bit contradictory? I am not saying that the sheikh is a liar or hypocrit or none of that, but it’s just hard to beleive ANYTHING that is STATE sponsored.

    • Avatar

      Ali

      August 29, 2010 at 3:39 PM

      good point

  16. Avatar

    MT

    August 29, 2010 at 10:26 PM

    Do you support religious freedom or not? That is the question.

    If there is a group of homosexuals who make their own religion and use some Islamic teachings to go along with it and call themselves Gay Muslims, does the US Constitution have to protect their right to religious freedom or not if they want to establish a place of religious worship?

    Do real, Sunni Muslims, want their right to religious freedom protected or not? Do we rally and fight for our rights based on the constitutional right to freedom of practicing religion?

    If that is the case, we then have to support other groups to their constitutional right to religious freedom as well. “Gay Muslims” or “Women Imam Muslims” or whatever.

    It is extremely hypocritical for us to shout and cry religious freedom and then all of a sudden you find out this Imam is not who you think he is in terms of his ideologies and now you have a problem with “supporting him”.

    NO ONE is supporting the ideology – EVERYONE must support religious freedom.

    The battle between ideologies should be fought on a different front, in a peaceful manner without oppressing each others rights.

  17. Avatar

    MT

    August 29, 2010 at 10:40 PM

    There is no point in wasting time discussing what this Shaykh stands for or not.

    The issue at hand was right to build a place of worship somewhere when all local zoning laws were followed.

    If the Shaykh is an “extreme” sufi or whatever it is you guys have a problem with, what difference does it make to you?

    What a surprise – another person being support and funded, not just by western media and interests, but probably also corrupt interests abroad in Muslim lands, in order to cause corruption and fitnah in the Muslim Ummah.

    Matter of fact, isn’t this problem been going on more than 200 years ago with the “Wahabi” fitnah. A decent chunk of the Muslim world also believes they have been funded and support by outside interest to cause fitnah in the Ummah as well. And they use some type of historical evidence to back them up.

    So duh, yes there are all sorts of Imams and ideologies being implanted in our Ummah to cause fitnah and discord. That is a very well known fact. But its not that easy to spot them – and good luck to the one who makes it his/her job to do so

    Just focus on your own pursuit of knowledge and spread your message if it is the truth – and let Allah take care of the rest.

    The discussion should no longer focus on this Imam’s ideology but should be about RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. Lets stick to one thing at a time.

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  19. Avatar

    maryam 16

    September 18, 2010 at 4:12 PM

    Can any one answere my question? Why doesn’t the Imam’s wife wear Hijab? To me, it is such a shame. Come on, he has to advice his wife to do the right thing.

  20. Avatar

    Muhibullah

    September 21, 2010 at 4:01 AM

    It is one thing for the Muslims of the West to support Feisal Rauf’s right to build his community center and quite another thing to portray him as some sort of representative of Muslim opinion or heroic defender of Muslim rights. He’s like that fake US-appointed ‘Palestinian negotiator’ Mahmud Abbas.

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#Current Affairs

Zahra Billoo Responds To The Women’s March Inc. Voting Her Off The New Board

Zahra Billoo

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Women's March Board

Earlier tonight, I was voted off the Women’s March, Inc. national board. This followed an Islamophobic smear campaign led by the usual antagonists, who have long targeted me, my colleagues, and anyone else who dares speak out in support of Palestinian human rights and the right to self-determination.

The past 48 hours have been a spiral of bad news and smear efforts. Part of the smear campaign is motivated by opponents of the Women’s March, because the organization has traditionally challenged the status quo of power and white supremacy in our country. However, much of the campaign is driven by people who oppose me and my work challenging the occupation of Palestine, our country’s perpetuation of unjust and endless wars, and law enforcement operations targeting the American Muslim community.

The Women’s March, Inc. is an organization I once held dear. I spoke at the first march, spoke at regional marches every year after, spoke at the convention, participated in national actions including the original Kavanaugh protests, and worked to mobilize Muslim women for their efforts.

During the past few years right-wingers, from the President’s son to the Anti-Defamation League and troll armies, have targeted the Women’s March, Inc. For so long, I’ve admired their resilience in speaking truth to power, in working together, and in never cowering. Over and over again, the co-founders of Women’s March, Inc. put their lives on the line, winning power for all women in all of our diversity. The Women’s March, Inc. that voted me off its board tonight is one that no longer demonstrates the strength that inspired millions of women across the country.

To see and experience its new leaders caving to right-wing pressure, and casting aside a woman of color, a Muslim woman, a long-time advocate within the organization, without the willingness to make any efforts to learn and grow, breaks my heart. This isn’t about a lost seat, there will be many seats. The Women’s March, Inc. has drawn a line in the sand, one that will exclude many with my lived experiences and critiques. It has effectively said, we will work on some women’s rights at the expense of others.

To be clear, anti-semitism is indeed a growing and dangerous problem in our country, as is anti-Blackness, anti-immigrant sentiment, Islamophobia, ableism, sexism, and so much more. I condemn any form of bigotry unequivocally, but I also refuse to be silent as allegations of bigotry are weaponized against the most marginalized people, those who find sanctuary and hope in the articulation of truth.

In looking at the tweets in question, I acknowledge that I wrote passionately. While I may have phrased some of my content differently today, I stand by my words. I told the truth as my community and I have lived it, through the FBI’s targeting of my community, as I supported families who have lost loved ones because of US military actions, and as I learned from the horrific experiences of Palestinian life.

In attempting to heal and build in an expedited manner within Women’s March, Inc., I offered to meet with stakeholders to address their concerns and to work with my sisters on the new board to learn, heal, and build together. These efforts were rejected. And in rejecting these efforts, the new Women’s March, Inc. demonstrated that they lack the courage to exhibit allyship in the face of fire.

I came to Women’s March, Inc. to work. My body of work has included leading a chapter of the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization for over a decade, growing it now more than six-fold. In my tenure, I have led the team that forced Abercrombie to change its discriminatory employment policies, have been arrested advocating for DACA, partnered with Jewish organizations including Bend the Arc and Jewish Voice for Peace to fight to protect our communities, and was one of the first lawyers to sue the President.

It is not my first time being the target of a smear campaign. The Women’s March, Inc., more than any place, is where I would have expected us to be able to have courageous conversations and dive deep into relationship-building work.

I am happy to have as many conversations as it takes to listen and learn and heal, but I will no longer be able to do that through Women’s March, Inc. This action today demonstrates that this organization’s new leadership is unable to be an ally during challenging times.

My beliefs drive my work, and I am not seeking accolades or positions of power. These past few days have been the greatest test of that. My integrity, my truth, and my strength comes from God and a place of deep conviction. I will continue my work as a civil rights lawyer and a faith-based activist, speaking out against the occupation of Palestine and settler-colonialism everywhere, challenging Islamophobia and all forms of racism and bigotry in the United States, and building with my community and our allies in our quest to be our most authentic and liberated selves.

Onward, God willing.

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The Duplicity of American Muslim Influencers And The ‘So-called Muslim Ban’

Dr Joseph Kaminski

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As we approach the beginning of another painful year of the full enforcement of Presidential Proclamation 9645 (a.k.a. ‘the Muslim ban’) that effectively bars citizens of several Muslim majority countries from entering into the United States, the silence remains deafening. As I expected, most of the world has conveniently forgotten about this policy, which thus far has separated over 3,000 American families from their spouses and other immediate relatives. In June 2019, the Brennan Center of Justice notes that: The ban has also kept at least 1,545 children from their American parents and 3,460 parents from their American sons and daughters. While silence and apathy from the general public on this matter is to be expected— after all, it is not their families who are impacted— what is particularly troubling is the response that is beginning to emerge from some corners of the American Muslim social landscape.

While most Muslims and Muslim groups have been vocal in their condemnation of Presidential Proclamation 9645, other prominent voices have not. Shadi Hamid sought to rationalize the executive order on technical grounds arguing that it was a legally plausible interpretation. Perhaps this is true, but some of the other points made by Hamid are quite questionable. For example, he curiously contends that:

The decision does not turn American Muslims like myself into “second-class citizens,” and to insist that it does will make it impossible for us to claim that we have actually become second-class citizens, if such a thing ever happens.

I don’t know— being forced to choose exile in order to remain with one’s family certainly does sound like being turned into a ‘second-class citizen’ to me. Perhaps the executive order does not turn Muslims like himself, as he notes, into second-class citizens, but it definitely does others, unless it is possible in Hamid’s mind to remain a first-class citizen barred from living with his own spouse and children for completely arbitrary reasons, like me. To be fair to Hamid, in the same article he does comment that the executive order is a morally questionable decision, noting that he is “still deeply uncomfortable with the Supreme Court’s ruling” and that “It contributes to the legitimization and mainstreaming of anti-Muslim bigotry.”

On the other hand, more recently others have shown open disdain for those who are angered about the ‘so-called Muslim ban.’ On June 6th, 2019, Abdullah bin Hamid Ali, a Senior Faculty Member at Zaytuna College, Islamic scholar and the founder of the Lamppost Education Initiative, rationalized the ban on spurious security grounds. He commented that,

The so-called Muslim ban, of course, has us on edge about his potential. But, to be fair, a real Muslim ban would mean that no Muslim from any country should be allowed in the US. There are about 50 Muslim majority countries. Trump singled out only 7 of them, most of which are war torn and problem countries. So, it is unfair to claim that he was only motivated by a hatred for Islam and Muslims.

First, despite how redundant and unnecessary this point is to make again, one ought to be reminded that between 1975 and 2015, zero foreigners from the seven nations initially placed on the banned list (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) killed any Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and zero Libyans or Syrians have ever even been convicted of planning a terrorist attack on U.S. soil during that same time period. I do not think these numbers have changed over the last 4 years either. If policy decisions are supposed to be made on sound empirical evidence and data, then there is even less justification for the ban.

Second, Bin Hamid Ali comments that ‘the so-called Muslim ban, of course, has us on edge about his [Trump’s] potential.’ Whoa… hold on; on edge about his potential? For the millions of people banned from entering the United States and the thousands of Muslim families connected to these millions of people, this ‘potential’ has been more than realized. To reduce the ‘so-called Muslim ban’ to just targeting ‘war torn and problem countries’ is to reduce our family members—our husbands, wives, and children—to (inaccurate) statistics and gross stereotypes. Are spouses from Syria or Yemen seeking to reunite with their legally recognized spouses or children any less deserving to be with their immediate family members because they hail from ‘problem countries’? How can one be concerned with stereotypes while saying something like this? Is this not the exact thing that Abdullah bin Hamid Ali seeks to avoid? Surely the Professor would not invoke such stereotypes to justify the racial profiling of black American citizens. What makes black non-Americans, Arabs, and Iranians any different when it comes to draconian immigration profiling? From a purely Islamic perspective, the answer is absolutely nothing.

More recently, Sherman Jackson, a leading Islamic intellectual figure at the University of Southern California, King Faisal Chair in Islamic Thought and Culture and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity, also waded into this discussion. In his essay, he reframed the Muslim ban as a question of identity politics rather than basic human right, pitting Muslim immigrants against what he calls ‘blackamericans’ drawing some incredibly questionable, nativist, and bigoted conclusions. Jackson in a recent blog responding to critiques by Ali al-Arian about his own questionable affiliations with authoritarian Arab regimes comments:

Al-Arian mentions that,

“the Muslim American community seemed united at least in its opposition to the Trump administration.”  He and those who make up this alleged consensus are apparently offended by Trump’s so-called Muslim ban.  But a Blackamerican sister in Chicago once asked me rhetorically why she should support having Muslims come to this country who are only going to treat her like crap.

These are baffling comments to make about ‘Trump’s so-called Muslim ban.’ Jackson creates a strawman by bringing up an anecdotal story that offers a gross generalization that clearly has prejudiced undertones of certain Muslim immigrants. Most interesting, however is how self-defeating Jackson’s invocation of identity politics is considering the fact that a large number of the ‘blackamerican’ Muslims that he is concerned about themselves have relatives from Somalia and other countries impacted by the travel ban. As of 2017, there were just over 52,000 Americans with Somali ancestry in the state of Minnesota alone. Are Somali-Americans only worth our sympathy so long as they do not have Somali spouses? What Jackson and Bin Hamid Ali do not seem to understand is that these Muslim immigrants they speak disparagingly of, by in large, are coming on family unification related visas.

Other people with large online followings have praised the comments offered by Abdullah bin Hamid Ali and Sherman Jackson. The controversial administrator of the popular The Muslim Skeptic website, Daniel Haqiqatjou, in defense of Jackson’s comments, stated:

This is the first time I have seen a prominent figure downplay the issue. And I think Jackson’s assessment is exactly right: The average American Muslim doesn’t really care about this. There is no evidence to indicate that this policy has had a significant impact on the community as a whole. Travel to the US from those four countries affected by the ban was already extremely difficult in the Obama era.

What Haqiqatjou seems to not realize is that while travel from these countries was difficult, it was not as ‘extremely difficult’ as he erroneously claims it was. The US issued 7,727 visas to Iranian passport holders in 2016 prior to the ban. After the ban in 2018, that number dropped to 1,449. My own wife was issued a B1/B2 Tourist visa to meet my family in 2016 after approximately 40 days of administrative processing which is standard for US visa seekers who hold Iranian passports. On the other hand, she was rejected for the same B1/B2 Tourist visa in 2018 after a grueling 60+ day wait due to Presidential Proclamation 9645. At the behest of the Counselor Officer where we currently live, she was told to just finish the immigration process since this would put her in a better position to receive one of these nearly impossible to get waivers. She had her interview on November 19, 2018, and we are still awaiting the results of whatever these epic, non-transparent ‘extreme vetting’ procedures yield. Somehow despite my wife being perfectly fine to enter in 2016, three years later, we are entering the 10th month of waiting for one of these elusive waivers with no end time in sight, nor any guarantee that things will work out. Tell me how this is pretty much the same as things have always been?

What these commentators seem to not realize is that the United States immigration system is incredibly rigid. One cannot hop on a plane and say they want to immigrate with an empty wallet to start of Kebab shop in Queens. It seems as if many of these people that take umbrage at the prospects of legal immigration believe that the immigration rules of 2019 are the same as they were in 1819. In the end, it is important to once again reiterate that the Muslim immigrants Jackson, Bin Hamid Ali and others are disparaging are those who most likely are the family members of American Muslim citizens; by belittling the spouses and children of American Muslims, these people are belittling American Muslims themselves.

Neo-nationalism, tribalism, and identity politics of this sort are wholly antithetical to the Islamic enterprise. We have now reached the point where people who are considered authority figures within the American Islamic community are promoting nativism and identity politics at the expense of American Muslim families. Instead of trying to rationalize the ‘so-called Muslim Ban’ via appeals to nativist and nationalist rhetoric, influential Muslim leaders and internet influencers need to demonstrate empathy and compassion for the thousands of US Muslim families being torn apart by this indefinite Muslim ban that we all know will never end so long as Donald Trump remains president. In reality, they should be willing to fight tooth-and-nail for American Muslim families. These are the same people who regularly critique the decline of the family unit and the rise of single-parent households. Do they not see the hypocrisy in their positions of not defending those Muslim families that seek to stay together?

If these people are not willing to advocate on behalf of those of us suffering— some of us living in self-imposed exile in third party countries to remain with our spouses and children— the least they can do is to not downplay our suffering or even worse, turn it into a political football (Social Justice Warrior politics vs. traditional ‘real’ Islam). It seems clear that if liberal Muslim activists were not as outspoken on this matter, these more conservative voices would take a different perspective. With the exception of Shadi Hamid, the other aforementioned names have made efforts to constrain themselves firmly to the ‘traditional’ Muslim camp. There is no reason that this issue, which obviously transcends petty partisan Muslim politics, ought to symbolize one’s allegiance to any particular social movement or camp within contemporary Islamic civil society.

If these people want a ‘traditional’ justification for why Muslim families should not be separated, they ought to be reminded that one of al-Ghazali’s 5 essential principles of the Shari’a was related to the protection of lineage/family and honor (ḥifẓ al-nasl). Our spouses are not cannon fodder for such childish partisan politics. We will continue to protect our families and their honor regardless of how hostile the environment may become for us and regardless of who we have to name and shame in the process.

When I got married over a year prior to Donald Trump being elected President, I vowed that only Allah would separate me from my spouse. I intend on keeping that vow regardless of what consequences that decision may have.

Photo courtesy: Adam Cairns / The Columbus Dispatch

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5 Quick Things Americans Can Do For Uyghurs Today

Abu Ryan Dardir

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“I may die, but let it be known that my nation will continue their struggle so long the world continues to exist.” Kazakh leader Uthman Batur. He said these words as Chinese authorities executed him for resisting the communist occupation. Currently, China has, one million Uyghurs (Uighurs), Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities held in concentration camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) (East Turkistan) in northwestern China.

Their struggle surpasses the 10 or so years since we have become aware of it. Just like the Rohingya genocide, we waited till the last minute. We are always late and say, “Never Again.” It happens again and again.

In my lifetime, there have been horrendous genocides that could have been prevented to stopped. As a child, I remember Rwanda in the headlines, then a year later Bosnian genocide. Then we hear these demonic stories after the fact. I remember stories from survivors from Bosnia, and thinking to myself, “How are you here and functioning?”

Let us not be fooled to why this is happening now. It is related to economic advantages. The Chinese government’s present signature foreign policy initiative is the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) that seeks to connect the PRC economically to the rest of the Eurasian continent through massive infrastructure projects that will stimulate international trade. The western and south-western components of the BRI require the XUAR to serve as a transportation and commercial hub to trade routes and pipelines that will join China with Central and South Asia, the Middle East, and the entirety of Europe. As a result, the XUAR has become an important strategic region for the Chinese, and the state views its indigenous populations as an obstacle to developing its vision for this future critical center of international commercial networks.1

The expansion of their trade route also ties in Iran hence the sanctions placed, but that’s a different report for a different time. China, of course, has defended their actions by claiming its an anti-terrorism plan. Getting reliable information is hard. China has made it a point to make things difficult for reporters. Yanan Wang, a China-based journalist from the Associated Press, has reported extensively on and from Xinjiang.

In a ceremony at Asia Society on Tuesday commemorating AP’s 2019 Osborn Elliott Award for Excellence in Journalism on Asia, Wang described the subtle ways government minders worked to thwart her reporting: “(Both of the times we went there we arrived at the airport, we had a welcoming committee from the local authorities. They’re always very polite and professional. They say that “you’ve arrived in Xinjiang and we’re here to assist you in your reporting. Tell us what you’re working on so we can help you.” They offer us drives in their car and plenty of hospitality.

Basically, from the moment we arrive, we’re followed by at least one car. There are a bunch of interesting scenarios that we came across. You can see that the local handlers are trying hard to be professional. They are members of the propaganda department, so they’re PR professionals. They don’t want to make it appear like it’s so stifling. At one point, we were taking photos, and someone suddenly appeared on the scene to say he was a “concerned citizen.” He said he’d seen us taking photos and that it was an infringement of his privacy rights. He had this long monologue about privacy rights and about how it wasn’t right for us to take photos of him without his knowledge. We asked him, “Well, where are you in these photos?” and he’d go through all of them. He said we had to delete all of them. He’d say, “This is my brother,” or “This is my place of work, you have to delete it.”

They had all of these interesting tactics to work around the idea that they were trying to obstruct our reporting and make it appear that someone who claims to be a concerned citizen.)”2

On top of that, locals that talk to journalist are punished, sometimes go missing.

I decided to do something this time around; I got in touch with an Uyghur community near my residence to see how an individual could help. It started at a Turkic restaurant, and from there, I have been involved in whatever capacity I am able. Through this effort, I got in touch with a Turkic professor in Turkey who has students stranded as they are cut off from contacting family back in Xinjiang. He helps them out financially; my family and friends help with what they can.

As Muslims in the West, there is no doubt we should act. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith” (Muslim).

How Can You Help Uyghurs

Here are a few things you can do to help:

1. Ask Congress to pass To pass S.178 & H.R.649 Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. Urge your senator and representative to support this cause. It has been introduced. This bill can help the Uyghur community to be treated like Tibetans (another region oppressed by China).

2. Stay informed. The mainstream media is not the place to get accurate information on the situation. Be skeptical of where the data is coming from, stick to reliable sources that are verified. As mentioned above, journalists find it difficult to report.

3. Donate to Uyghur Human Rights Organizations to end concentration camps: UHRP, Uyghur American Association Donate to Awareness Campaigns: Save Uigur Campaign 

4. Boycott or reduce buying Made in China products

5. Follow these links for updated information: facebook.com/Uyghur-Human-Rights-Project-227634297289994/ and facebook.com/ChinaMuslims

This crisis is an ethnic cleansing for profit. These are dark days as we value profit over people.

1.Statement by Concerned Scholars on mass detentions | MCLC …. https://u.osu.edu/mclc/2018/11/27/statement-by-concerned-scholars-on-mass-detention s/

2.Why It’s So Difficult for Journalists To Report From …. https://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/why-its-so-difficult-journalists-report-xinjiang

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