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Sunday Open Thread 10/17/2010 | Welcome to Muslimah Matters & Fighting Back Against Terror & Ignorance

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Fighting Back Against Terror & Ignorance

Many people have been lamenting the decline of public discourse in the West for some time. Perhaps, in reaction to the political correctness of the 90s and the post 9/11 reality we’ve found ourselves in, people of all faiths, Muslim and non-Muslim, have felt emboldened to make their bigoted claims louder and have found a receptive ear online, in living rooms, on street corners, in their workplaces, in houses of worship, and in mainstream media.

Remembering that Muslims are also terrorized by those who target the lives of innocent people

Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors. (Al-Ma’idah 5:32)

Stay tuned for an upcoming interview on Muslim Matters with Adam Motiwala featured in MPAC’s new video (noise alert, some sounds akin to music in the background) One Year Later American Muslim Survivor of Islamabad Terror Attack Speaks Out. (4 min, 2 sec)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQsGWhywoa0]

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah , witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do. (Al-Ma’idah 5:8)

ABC’s The View: Bill O’Reilly as a guest on The View explained why Park51 should not be built, because “Muslims killed us on 9/11” much to the consternation of Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar who tried to debate with him (but one cannot reason with the unreasonable) and so they walked off stage in protest. O’Reilly did get one part right, though, Obama’s waffling and declining to comment on the “wisdom” from the iftar dinner to the tarmac was a disservice to the American people and harmed his credibility. (2 min, 45 sec)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp891YJw_VY&feature=player_embedded]

Keith Ellison opined in the Washington Post’s On Faith series: Should We Fear Islam?

The Old Man and Me

Two weeks ago, while driving home, I moved to the right to pass a slow moving car in the leftmost lane of traffic and then returned to the left lane in front of the car. The driver of the slower car was an elderly European-American man smoking a cigar who then proceeded to pull up right next to my car at each of  the next 5 or 6 lights and shout what I can only assume were some choice words at me. My windows were rolled up, I was listening to and reciting Quran, and I refused to turn my head and give him the satisfaction of any acknowledgement of his obnoxious behavior whatsoever. One, I didn’t want to lose the ajr of reciting the Quran and two, knowing that I’m not always one to successfully hold my tongue, I did not want to lose the reward of exercising patience.

This happened a day after the Faisal Shahzad sentencing. Any connection, maybe not, but it brings to mind a larger point of conversation, how should we as Muslims respond or proactively engage the wider community in this climate of hostility against our faith? We’ve seen various attempts at a response from concerned groups from Park 51 to Muslim Response to editorials to civic engagement but also there has been an almost stunned silence from some quarters of the community. However, there is a great danger in not responding proactively or at all, in that we cede the public sphere of debate to the voices of extremism, bigotry, hatred, and xenophobia.

How should we as individuals and as a community respond to terror and ignorance, how effective have the responses been to date, I think that remains to be seen.

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Ify Okoye is a Muslim woman, a convert, born and raised in the U.S. She is from New York and her parents are from Nigeria. Despite the petty hassles of work and school, Ify finds time to travel usually for AlMaghrib Institute seminars and to visit beautiful places. Pronunciation primer for her name, say it like this: E-fee O-coy-yeah!

25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Abd- Allah

    October 17, 2010 at 12:41 AM

    and shout what I can only assume were some choice words at me.

    Maybe he is Muslim and was saying “Assalam Alaikum” or maybe he wanted to accpet Islam but needed help with saying the shahada… you never know.

    • Ify Okoye

      October 17, 2010 at 5:15 AM

      He was not trying to say salam, he was mad that I got in front of him, the level of noise coming from his car was abnormal, as was pulling up right next to my car for the next 5 or 6 lights when he could have pulled forward. And when I ended up in the lane behind him at one point as the lanes reduced to one, he kept motioning in his mirror and slowing down to brake check me. These actions were more threatening than friendly, trust me, I know the difference and so would you had you been there.

  2. vindicated

    October 17, 2010 at 1:11 AM

    Assalamoalikum,

    I would like to use this Sunday’s Open Thread to introduce you guys to something I’ve been working on for a little while. I call it The Qur’an Library Project (TQLP). The following is the ‘about’ description of TQLP-

    The Qur’ân Library Project is a small effort by me to make it easier for you to share information and online content regarding the Ayahs and Surahs of the Qur’ân with others, as well as benefit from the content shared by others.

    At the moment, you can-

    – Read the Qur’an with translation and transliteration
    – See the content shared by other users regarding specific Surahs and Ayahs of the Qur’an as well as share your own content with the community
    – Tag Ayahs in topical ‘reading lists’ which can be used by other users to view all the Ayahs regarding that particular topic
    – Add bookmarks for ease of reading
    – Add personal notes to each Ayah

    You can visit the site here. If you have any criticism, suggestions or ideas on how I can further improve and project TQLP, please email me at taha.rafiq@gmail.com.

    • Amatullah

      October 17, 2010 at 2:02 PM

      wa alaykum salam wa rahmatullah

      mashaAllah looks terrific. may Allah reward you.

  3. Amad

    October 17, 2010 at 4:44 AM

    Muslimahs always matter on MM… whether officially or unofficially :)

    And what’s up with the pink banner… stereotyping much? :)

    • Ify Okoye

      October 17, 2010 at 5:33 AM

      ya Amad, don’t get me started on the lack of women’s participation in MM’s shura, which despite our more recent gains and contributions, is still heavily male dominated as a legacy of a more patriarchal era :)

      • Amad

        October 17, 2010 at 6:17 AM

        not the legacy of any patriarchal era, but the legacy of who was involved in founding the organization and who moved on (the two sisters) due to other commitments. There has never been any deliberate attempt to stop the influence of women, otherwise you’d see our recruitment strategy being also affected.

      • ummousama

        October 18, 2010 at 12:41 AM

        Assalamu alaikum,

        There isn’t necessarily a need for more women in shura committees. If the men have got wives and sisters and daughters, then, it could be enough. Hillary Clinton, Cherie Blair and Michele Obama were not in the shura committees of their husband, yet I am pretty sure that they did influence heavily their husband’s decisions.

        When I became Muslim, we had a wonderful mosque where both the Imam and the director did their job. If a woman wanted to reach the Imam, she could do so by either going to him directly OR going to his wife. She had the choice. The same for the director. If any women had any suggestion or any complaint, she could address the wife’s director. The wives knew their jobs. the mosque was very active and actually was the centre of dawah in London.

        Unfortunately, it all changed when, quite a few years after that, we couldn’t go through the wife to ask questions or to suggest things for the mosque. There is no activity in the mosque anymore and, although many people have wonderful memories there, it is now empty.

        When a woman at the time of Rasulullah (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) wanted to complain, she either sent her husband, saw Rasulullah (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) herself or would go to one of his wives. She had a choice! When Umar (radhi Allahu anhu) wanted to know the maximum time a husband can stay away from his wife, he asked his daughter, the mother of the Believers Hafsa (radhi Allahu anha). Women at the time never were in the shura committee, yet they had their voice heard.

        So, brothers, when you do something, involve the female members of your family (mother, sister, daughter, wife). Sisters, when you marry a da’ee (or a Shaykh), know where your responsibilities lie. You should be active in the community even if you have 2, 3, 5, 10 kids. Sisters should be able to reach your husband through you.

        • Ify Okoye

          October 18, 2010 at 4:47 AM

          Wa salaam alaykum,

          While appreciate your own example, I disagree, in our day, exclusion often means forgetting. If women are not actively involved, their issues despite the men being married or having daughters do not get addressed in the most suitable fashion, if at all. And not all of the family members of those in charge want to be as involved and I think that’s their right to not be as involved.

          I think much of what we see in our western Muslim communities is a feigned “Islamic” or cultural modesty whereby we act one way with the Muslim community or in public and completely different with non-Muslims or in private. Or we try to take on cultural aspects of Islam, which do not necessarily translate or need to translate in our cultures. And this is actually the subject of an upcoming post, insha’Allah.

          As for MM, my comments were tongue-in-cheek.

          • ummousama

            October 18, 2010 at 9:45 AM

            Assalamu alaikum,

            If a woman marries a man who is either a shaykh or a da’ee or somebody who intends to be one, then she should know that she has a role to play too. Are we not trying to establish the Sunnah? It is not very difficult to be reached nowadays and you can put some barriers so that you still have time for your family ;) As for the mother or sisters, it depends on their level of deen. A mother, though, wants the success of her son and thus will probably be most happy to support him in a way she can.

            BTW, this is not criticising the women who participate in shura committees but rather a call for the men to communicate with their women and for women to take on their responsibilities if their husbands do have responsibilities.

  4. Ify Okoye

    October 17, 2010 at 7:06 AM

    I forgot that I had intended to include a snippet about the Islam is a Religion of Peace debate on Intelligence Squared.

    Arguing for the motion were Maajid Nawaz and Zeba Khan. Arguing against the motion were Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Douglas Murray. The motion itself was highly problematic and why anyone would agree to defend this motion is beyond me. I think it would have better to boycott the motion and force the producers to re-word it in a more nuanced and balanced way.

    Hirsi Ali, a self-avowed atheist actually made two excellent points in her opening remarks i.e. that the motion itself was not academic in nature nor would the debate be an academic exercise and that no monotheistic religion (not just Islam) can be fairly categorized or evaluated as “a religion of peace.”

    Needless to say, those against the motion won the day. Which goes back to my earlier point in the post about the decline in the state of public discourse post 9/11.

    • abu Rumay-.s.a.

      October 18, 2010 at 12:08 AM

      The motion itself was highly problematic and why anyone would agree to defend this motion is beyond me. I think it would have better to boycott the motion and force the producers to re-word it in a more nuanced and balanced way.

      people would agree to defend this motion because it sells their propaganda and they are trying to get notoriety in the public spectrum. If you read about the producers backgrounds, it is clear that they have a one sided agenda in framing the debates in win-win situation for the message which they want to portray. Even the flop sided Doha debates deserve more recognition than this folly. I’m really surprised that ABC and NPR would even recognize such a sham but I guess that is how low we are starting to sink intellectually…

      I’d rename this show something like “Square root of Intelligence”..

      • Ify Okoye

        October 18, 2010 at 4:49 AM

        An unfortunate and sad state of affairs in our public discourse but you’re right for this episode square root of intelligence would have been the better name.

  5. Hamza 21

    October 17, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    “how should we as Muslims respond or proactively engage the wider community in this climate of hostility against our faith?”

    With that being said surprisingly there was nothing mentioned on MM about the “islam on Capitol Hill” event last friday.

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/10/16/muslims-gather-in-washington-for-islam-on-capitol-hill/

    http://islamoncapitolhill.com/

    it’d kind of sad that more anit-islamic blogs spoke about this event then many muslim blogs did. Other than Margari Aziza Hil’s blog i can’t think of one muslim blog who mentioned the event.

    • Ify Okoye

      October 18, 2010 at 6:13 AM

      I’m in the DC area and this Islam on Capitol Hill event was not that big of a topic of discussion even here in these communities closest to the Capitol. There was a lot more enthusiasm and energy and publicity generated by last year’s event. Did you go? Can you find us an article to perhaps cross-post here on MM?

  6. Amatullah

    October 17, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    Welcome to MM sisters :) looking forward to your contributions!

  7. Brother

    October 17, 2010 at 8:07 PM

    Ok, I am trying to hear Br. Adam’s account and the music is really bothering me. Do we really need music for this? We don’t need to add drama to his story, its real life not some propaganda movie. And by the way, many scholars say that music is haraam (don’t want a debate (I’m no scholar) on this just fyi).

    • Ify Okoye

      October 17, 2010 at 8:31 PM

      I didn’t check but perhaps the video has closed-captioning so you could mute the sound. Or stay tuned, MM will feature our own interview with Adam Motiwala in the near future, insha’Allah.

  8. Junaid

    October 18, 2010 at 12:53 AM

    Asalamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullah:

    According to Alexa.com, MuslimMatters is the #1 Muslim blog in the West. I will assume that almost every MSA president, young khateeb, activist and volunteer knows about MM. Alhamdulillah, the writers behind MM appear to a goal to seek peace and understanding, Allah reward you all for that. But they should also seek JUSTICE.

    Here’s what I’m saying: Yes, you must show videos like Br. Adam Motiwala’s story. These NEED to be heard. But do not do this while in absence of displaying thousands of Muslims killed by NATO on the same level. There is a huge risk that Muslims in the West and their empathy for Muslims overseas will be lost. That’s the balance I think MM needs to display in order to achieve peace and understanding. You can’t repeatedly condemn one side, while neglecting another. We can’t resolve terrorism, without addressing U.S. foreign policy. You have to show both sides and there are not too many mainstream Muslim organizations that are making an effort to HUMANIZE Muslim casualties. We now only see 500,000 Iraqi’s killed in the early 90’s via sanction and the hundreds of thousands killed in the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan as mere statistics. Please consider in future postings, humanizing Muslim casualties just like you humanize Br. Adam Motiwala. Jazak’Allah Khair for your efforts and Allah grant you Ikhlas.

    • Amad

      October 18, 2010 at 3:41 AM

      waslaam
      Pls see Sh. Yasir’s latest article. Your points addressed.

    • Ify Okoye

      October 18, 2010 at 4:56 AM

      Wa salaam alaykum wa rahmatullah,

      I hear you, however, Adam Motiwala and those of his colleagues killed were also Muslim as was the suicide bomber. They were all the same religion. Which is why the second ayah was related. The death of innocents is a tragedy any time it occurs by anyone’s hand, not more or less because of one’s religious affiliation.

      It’s only natural that we as Muslims in the west tend to feature stories about other western Muslims as that it was is most available and most easily accessible. We accept guest submissions, if you feel an issue you care about is not receiving enough balanced coverage, then please, by all means, help us cover it.

  9. Farhan

    October 19, 2010 at 1:19 PM

    I have a matter of grave concern to the future operational status of this blog. I object to this article’s title. It should be “Read Fighting back against terrorism”. You don’t need to mention ignorance, because terrorism = ignorance. Saying both is redundant.

    (the message was serious, but the delivery was supposed to be light-hearted)

  10. Hidaya

    October 20, 2010 at 10:28 AM

    Doha Debate 2010 is about French ban on Niqab. I thought Br Mehdi did an excellent job and was very eloquent (this certainly doesnt mean I agree with his stance on Niqab).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAJ5_FCzi_Y

  11. Sarah

    October 24, 2010 at 8:26 AM

    Assalamua Alaikum,

    This is a fairly good forum–not great, not bad. However, I think it is wrong to not comment on the general websites’ news. It’s nice to come here, and feel understood and a common goal of Islam…but those sites are just filled with anti-Muslim rhetoric. Sometimes i’m the only person on the other side. How about making a serious effort to support NPR’s decision on every major site and show we can for a few days? How about posting against the tea party on these anonymous sites? I don’t see nearly as many Muslims or pro-Muslim opinions out there as your site would make it seem. It’s nice, but we have a duty to stand up where we can make even a little difference. If we all made some effort consistently it would be better. But, I don’t see it. We all don’t have time to give lectures, but we do have time to answer blogs on general news.

    Secondly, I don’t see the title of this article being debated in earnest. Islam condemns rampant murder, killing of those who leave us at peace, and spreading of mischief and opression. We will continue to have no repoire in the world if we do not do a better job of this–including when it is unpopular among our own. Ignorance will continue to be rampant when we tongue in cheek allow righteously respected Muslims to think it is o.k. to deny girls education, keep women out of the mosques, or deny women divorces, or child custody either by our actions or the circumstances which deny this right (which we cause to continue), when the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, did none of these things. Restoring justice, mercy and humility to the Ummah must come hand in hand with standing up for our rights outside of the Ummah.

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