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Anti-Muslim Bigotry

Islamophobia is Stupid: Part II

Islamophobia is stupid: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do.” – (Qur’an 5:8)

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As established in Part 1, Muslims are not monolithic at all. To further evaluate the term Islamophobia we must look to the concepts of race, ethnicity and culture.

Using the label Islamophobe in politically correct or in activist terms is calling out bigotry. However, many non-Muslims, often see it as something else, something unjust. To see this from their perspective we have to digress for a moment.

Before we do, consider the words of one of the most successful political communication strategist of modern campaigning, Dr. Frank Luntz. In his book “Words that Work: It’s not what you say it’s what people hear,” Dr. Luntz stated that, ‎”the act of speaking is not a conquest, but a surrender.

BIGOTRY AGAINST A ENTIRE GROUP OF PEOPLE IS UNPOPULAR, BUT A PERCEIVED THREAT SUPERSEDES POPULARITY

In the modern age, to be against a whole group of people is against nearly all accepted understandings of human morality. However it is and will always be acceptable to be against an ideology, political system, theory and/or belief. It is socially accepted to say ‘I fear Communism’ or to be anti-communist, but it is bigotry to be anti-Russian, anti-Cuban or anti-Chinese.

This is why Islamophobia is so grossly inadequate when compared to the terms used to combat bigotry against of other groups. The dehumanization of Muslims is so strong because we have failed not only to communicate what the vast majority of Muslims believe, but perhaps more importantly we have failed to communicate the distinction between Islam and Muslims. This failure encourages the ridiculous view that all Muslims are mindless automatons, waiting for the next “Islamic” order that we will blindly follow.

ISLAM IS AGAINST THE CONCEPT OF RACIAL TENSION & BIGOTRY

Selected quotes from Islamic sources:

“And among His signs are the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colors: truly in that are signs for those who know.” (Qur’an 30:22)

“O mankind! We have created you from a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you in the Sight of Allah is the believer who has the most piety. Verily, Allah is All Knowing, All Aware.” – (Qur’an 49:13)

“People descend from Adam, and Adam was made out of dust. There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, neither for a white man over a black man, except the superiority gained through taqwa” – (Tirmidhi, Sunan, Bab ai-Tafsir, Hadith 49; Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 5, p.41 1. )

AS A SOCIETY AMERICANS ARE AVERSE TO RACISM BUT NOT NECESSARILY TO ETHNOCENTRISM

On May 17, 1998 The American Anthropological Association produced a “Statement on ‘Race“:

“In the United States both scholars and the general public have been conditioned to viewing human races as natural and separate divisions within the human species based on visible physical differences. With the vast expansion of scientific knowledge in this century, however, it has become clear that human populations are not unambiguous, clearly demarcated, biologically distinct groups. Evidence from the analysis of genetics (e.g., DNA) indicates that most physical variation, about 94%, lies within so-called racial groups. Conventional geographic “racial” groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes. This means that there is greater variation within “racial” groups than between them. In neighboring populations there is much overlapping of genes and their phenotypic (physical) expressions. Throughout history whenever different groups have come into contact, they have interbred. The continued sharing of genetic materials has maintained all of humankind as a single species.”

ETHNICITY

The terms “ethnicity” and “ethnic group” are derived from the Greek word ethnos, normally translated as “nation” or commonly said people of the same race that share a distinctive culture. The term “ethnic” and related forms were used in English in the meaning of “pagan/ heathen” from the 14th century through the middle of the 19th century. ThiE. Tonkin, M. McDonald and M. Chapman, History and Ethnicity (London 1989), pp. 11–17 (quoted in J. Hutchinson & A.D. Smith (eds.), Oxford readers: Ethnicity (Oxford 1996), pp. 18–24.

The key here is in the ending of the definition, it uses two judgmental words “pagan and heathen.” As Americans we are a patriotic people. However, extreme nationalists go beyond pride and often end up throwing the baby out with the bath water in their desire to preserve the good qualities of our nation while obfuscating a fictional racial and ethnic superiority.

CULTURE

A brief anthropological definition of culture is – “the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another.” The word is also defined as – a “particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period.”

SO WHO ARE AMERICAN MUSLIMS?

American Muslims are identified as a “blended identity” in the 12th edition of Racial and Ethnic Groups. The same text defines blended identities as “the self-image and worldview that is a combination of religious faith, cultural background based on nationality, and the status of being a resident of the United States.” A key message that must be made clear to non-Muslims is that Islam is not incompatible with the positive aspects of American culture, the virtues that we all want to preserve. In fact that Islam encourages these same values.

We give a lot of lip service to the value of our community’s diversity; however it is painfully obvious that we are not a race or even one ethnic group. The tie that binds us is faith, not ethnicity. Culture however is a larger concept. We can and we are creating and defining American Muslim cultures. A key to understanding if the term Islamophobia is a good term that our community should embrace or not is in examining if its usage is consistent with Islamic values and the type of culture that we wish to craft for our next generations.

THE TACTIC THAT ISLAMOPHOBIA REQUIRES IS DIVISIVE

Using this tactic often sweeps entire groups of our neighbors and countrymen under the label of bigotry. Whether a specific incident may be accurate or not does not matter. Calling an entire demographic a derogatory term normally intensifies opposition and acts as a lightning rod that rallies people. Why encourage people who may have been on the sidelines of our issues to join with those that they are already close to or whom they already identify with by making them feel like their ethnicity, their values and their beliefs are being broad-brushed by Muslims?

This is the mirror image of the sweeping indictment style of treatment that we oppose when it is used on our community. This is a race-card tactic and it is seen as extortion. (Extortion as defined as obtaining from a person by force, intimidation, or undue or illegal power.) We must confront hate and injustice, however confrontation alone does not bring people together.

Furthermore without a massive sense of collective guilt, that is acknowledged by the vast majority of the society — like the tragedies of the Holocaust or a vivid awareness of our nation’s history of slavery — it becomes clear American Muslims are at a severe disadvantage in using these types of techniques.

Point 1:

Contrast what most Americans know about Islam and Muslims with that of what we know about other minority communities.

It is clear that many non-Muslim Americans know very little about us. Even more of our neighbors know much less about how our nation’s policies effect our brothers and sisters in Islam from the ancestral homelands that many of you may have a connection to. It is also true that many anti-Muslim activists KNOW these and other issues and/or are just bottom feeders whose careers depend on purposefully misguiding our fellow citizens toward fear and contempt for our communities. They key is to find ways to discredit those individuals while not to rallying more support for them.

Point 2:

Muslims make up less than 2% of the U.S. population.

We simply can’t on our own rally enough people for an effective confrontation against fear based xenophobia; especially with a concurrently active terrorist threat.

Combine the need for education and the lack of exposure to Muslims and it should be very clear that fear is a easy outcome to manufacture and sustain. What we may not have also realized is that how we are responding to this fear may actually reinforce it.

EXAMPLES FROM OTHER COMMUNITIES DO NOT FIT AMERICAN MUSLIMS’ NEEDS

Anti-Semitism for example linguistically means against Semites. NOTE: as used by our society the term is focused on a grouping of people and on a religion.

Anti-Semitic works because at its core it is about humans (true it used with reference to Jewish religion, culture and ethnicity but not at the expense of losing focus on the people).

The labels racist or bigot work similarly because they are also focused on members of a human grouping.

PROBLEMS IN HOW WE ARE DEALING WITH ANTI-MUSLIM BIAS AND HATE

Our community needs to use terms that humanize Muslims. We need to embrace more sophisticated methods of communication that will separate bigoted leadership from the masses. Our efforts and tactics should include education, outreach, de-escalation of tensions and relationship building. We certainly do not need more or deeper confrontation.

What I am asserting is that Islamophobia is already defined in the public mind as a lame version of “racist” or “anti-Semite.”

The shock value of the term as an undesirable label is now lost.

Many opinion leaders view it as a technique to dodge criticism or issues that they are concerned about and believe are valid concerns.

In other words the term is ineffective and politicized.

The civil rights movements, Jewish activism and other minority groups’ successes have a lot to teach us. However as American Muslims with all our unique attributes including; our multicultural, multi-ethnic population along with our various internal religious groupings, it is evident that we need custom tailored approaches. To refine these approaches we have to focus on listening to others. We need to spend time getting to know non-Muslims, dissipating hate, discrediting at a substantive level the misinformation about us and allowing non-Muslims to easily recognize fear-mongering.

All the trends, polls and news demonstrate that our current strategy of mimicking tactics from non-similar communities has proven to be ineffective and perhaps even counterproductive.

In part 3 we will look at how the term and the strategy its use requires actually feeds into many negative narratives against Islam and Muslims. We will explore on deeper level how correct usage of and distinction between the termsIslam and Muslim can help foster a more productive dialogue with our neighbors. Please sound off in the comments section and stay tuned!

COMMENT POLICY

In part one I did not articulate a comment policy. It is still my hope to include non-Muslim voices. American Muslims need to learn from the constructive criticism of others. I invite all sincere people to join the conversation. The easiest way I can articulate the comment policy is as follows:

Comments not related to the subject of this piece will be edited or deleted. Apologetics and any other forms of ‘my religion is better than yours’ will be moderated. NOTE: Telling Muslims what we believe or debating us about how to understand our religious texts can and should be done on other forums.

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Paul "Iesa" Galloway is a native born Texan. He was recently called "the Yoda of interfaith affairs" by a colleague from his daytime gig. After hours Iesa serves as a consultant, messaging strategist and trainer on media, government and community relations.Iesa is a product of the "Military Brat" experience of the 1990's on US Army bases in Germany he has traveled extensively, for extended periods in Kenya, Hungary and Communist Poland on missionary trips, visited Communist East Germany with the Boy Scouts of America, as well as enjoyed time in France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Holland and Austria. Since embracing Islam, Iesa was asked to be the founding Executive Director of CAIR-Houston, where he served the community from 2002 to 2006, he has completed the Hajj pilgrimage, participated in an interfaith pilgrimage to the Holy Land with the Society for Biblical Studies and completed a study abroad program on the history of Islamic Spain, Morocco and Andalusian Philosophy with the University of Houston. Iesa's education is rooted in History and Public Relations and he has a interfaith and multiracial background.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Siraaj

    October 20, 2010 at 3:15 AM

    THANK YOU! I seriously hope other Muslim thought leaders will take this article seriously as well as read Dr Luntz’s book. Islamophobia is a seriously weak, victimish term that doesn’t describe the reality of our situation properly.

  2. Avatar

    Mustafa Stefan Dill

    October 20, 2010 at 11:32 PM

    Great series, Iesa! I agree that fear of Islam and racism are inextricably mixed right now in the public’s view, and they ‘re not even aware of it. I don’t see a lot of the current “Islamophobia” directed at the African-American Muslim community, for example, which reinforces my belief that current fears aren’t based so much on theology but borne of a wound incurred on Sept. 11 that simply hasn’t healed. Middle Easterners or South Asians are “Islamophobe” targets because they “look like”, at a subliminal level, the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks.

  3. Waleed Basyouni

    Waleed Basyouni

    October 22, 2010 at 12:56 AM

    Excellent points and I hope Muslims leaders in US get to read it.

    • Avatar

      Iesa Galloway

      October 22, 2010 at 11:56 AM

      JazakAllahu Khairan ya Sheikh!

      It means a lot that you are reading the series…

      Iesa

  4. Avatar

    Islam de France

    October 23, 2010 at 8:23 AM

    As Salamu Aleykoum

    Agree with you Islamophbia is stupid. Good and very nice point of view
    jazakAllah Allah Kheyran for this article
    Islam de France

    • Avatar

      Iesa Galloway

      October 23, 2010 at 8:57 AM

      Walaikum Asalaam,

      Thank you so much for the perspective… France seems to be the hardest “western” nation for Muslims.

      Iesa

  5. Avatar

    Abu Ibrahim

    October 23, 2010 at 9:03 AM

    Islamophobia (I hate that word) is alive and well on Fox News?

    Juan Williams should have checked himself before making his biased statements about Muslims. Even though I believe he should have been fired, it’s time we Muslims do more (yes, we’ve done a lot) to decrease Islamophobia.

    Inshallah, this article will help.

    • Avatar

      Iesa Galloway

      October 23, 2010 at 1:05 PM

      Nice ending to your article:

      “But here’s a test. What if a white commentator has said: “I get nervous when I see black people enter a store I’m in wearing hip-hop garb.” How does that sound?”

  6. Avatar

    Murabitun Takruri

    October 23, 2010 at 9:18 PM

    Salamu Alaykum from toronto, Canada

    MashAllah great points and article. Everyone should read it. I have used the word “Islamaphobia” and i always understood it that it means somone who is anti-islam or anti-muslims.
    We have a lot to learn, inshAllah

    wa salam

    • Avatar

      Iesa Galloway

      October 23, 2010 at 9:51 PM

      Yes we do. May Allah guide us to beneficial knowledge and beautiful conduct. May Allah forgive my mistakes and allow any good in my work to be understood, accepted and implemented.

  7. Avatar

    Yasir Azim

    October 24, 2010 at 10:40 PM

    Good News to Islamophobo,

    Tony Blair’s sister-in-law converts to Islam.

    Say Allahu Akbar.

  8. Pingback: Islamophobia is Stupid: Part I | MuslimMatters.org

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#Current Affairs

Confronting Internalized Islamophobia

internalized Islamophobia

Last semester, I was teaching Roxane Gay’s essay “Peculiar Benefits” to a class of college freshmen. Following Gay’s lead, I asked my students to reflect critically on their own lives, on when they benefited from certain forms of privilege and when they didn’t. Unsurprisingly, my students pointed out many intelligent things, such as how English-language skills and physical ability are often unacknowledged as forms of privilege. What surprised me was what all the Muslim students listed not as a privilege but as a source of marginalization: being Muslim.

My students are on to something. Being  Muslim American today means dealing with a president who recently expanded his travel ban to six new countries, all of which have sizable Muslim populations. Being Muslim American today means worrying if your own house of worship will be attacked by a white supremacist, as happened in New Zealand, and in states across America. Being Muslim American means belonging to a faith community that, according to the research, endures the highest levels of religious discrimination in the country today.

In other words, being Muslim means confronting an Islamophobia that is real, that is part of American government policy, and that can even be deadly. With this sober reality, you might assume that American Muslims  would be unified in collective opposition to the dangerous bigotry that is Islamophobia.

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New research, however, puts this notion into question. According to a study by the Institute for Social and Political Understanding (ISPU), a research organization that studies American Muslims in depth, Muslim Americans can themselves be Islamophobic.

The findings are as interesting as they are unexpected. Over the last two years, the ISPU and Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative have used a measure tracking anti-Muslim sentiment that they developed. Called the “Islamophobia Index,” the measure is based on answers to specific survey questions regarding Muslims and their assumed behaviors.

Over the last two annual polls conducted by ISPU, the findings reveal that white Evangelicals hold the most Islamophobic attitudes of any faith group while Jews are among the lowest. In the 2019 study, only Muslims were less Islamophobic than Jews, but some Muslims still endorsed Islamophobic sentiments.

Where does this internalized Islamophobia come from?

Some of it seems to be internalized shame. Muslims are the most likely faith community to “strongly agree” (44%) with the following statement: “When I hear that a member of my faith community committed an act of violence, I feel personally ashamed.” This compares to roughly a third of Jews (34%), Catholics (34%), Protestants (35%), and white Evangelicals (33%).

But that’s not all. Through crunching the numbers, the ISPU determined who’s more at risk in holding Islamophobic attitudes and what could protect someone from believing Islamophobic ideas. The least likely Muslims to hold Islamophobic views tend to be Democrats, thirty years-of-age or older, and self-identifying as Arab or Asian. Risk factors, meanwhile, include being between 18 and 29 years old, having experienced gender discrimination, either from within the Muslim community or from outside the Muslim community, and having experienced sectarian discrimination from within the Muslim community.

The least likely Muslims to hold Islamophobic views tend to be Democrats, thirty years-of-age or older, and self-identifying as Arab or Asian.Click To Tweet

What does all this mean? A fully formed picture may have to wait until a qualitative study puts some flesh onto these numbers, but it’s not difficult to see where the research is heading. It seems statistically likely that both gender discrimination and sectarian discrimination are pushing some young American Muslims into internalizing Islamophobia. According to ISPU’s 2019 Annual Poll, “as many as 41% of Muslim women experience gender discrimination at the hands of other Muslims at some frequency.” We should also note that sectarian discrimination with the American Muslim community has a racial dimension. The ISPU study identifies Black Muslims reporting much higher levels of sectarian discrimination (43% report it) than Arab Muslims (at 26%).

What does this mean for the community?

It’s time to state this plainly. We Muslim Americans simply must get our own house in order if we want to vanquish Islamophobia. Sexism and sectarianism have no place in the Muslim-American community. While outside factors such as negative media portrayals of Muslims certainly play a role in normalizing and promoting Islamophobic ideas, it’s also true—as this latest study makes clear—that Muslims who have personally experienced discrimination from other Muslims are the ones more likely to internalize Islamophobia.

And internalized Islamophobia, like all Islamophobia, is disastrous for everyone. People who score high on the Islamophobia index, Muslim or not, are also more likely to support discriminatory policies (such as the Muslim ban and the surveillance of mosques), curtailing civil liberties, and even the military targeting of civilians. On the other hand, those with the lowest levels of Islamophobia also exhibit high regard for African Americans, Jewish Americans, and LGBTQ Americans, proving that Islamophobia is but one part of how racism and discrimination work in this country.

Faith as a source of happiness

While internalized Islamophobia is real, it is also true that most Muslim women (87%) and Muslim men (84%) report seeing “their faith identity as a source of happiness in their life.” All the more reason why the onus of defeating internalized Islamophobia is on no one but us Muslims.

After all, as every Muslim reads in the Qur’an, “Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves” (13:11). Stopping internalized Islamophobia is also a necessary step to defeating all Islamophobia. And when that day comes, I suspect my Muslim students will consider their faith not as a stigma of difference but as a source of profound pride.

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#Current Affairs

A Warrior Against Genocide, Abubacarr Tambadou | Imam Omar Suleiman

Last night I had the pleasure of hosting His Excellency Attorney General Abubacarr Marie Tambadou, the Justice Minister of the Gambia and Imam Omar Suleiman at Honor Our Heroes in Washington DC. Imam Omar presented the Torch of Justice Award on behalf of Justice For All’s Burma Task Force and the American Muslim community to the Justice Minister for fighting genocide.

 I have been working on stopping this genocide in my role as the Director of Justice For All and the part Attorney General Tambadou has played in taking this evil regime to the world’s highest court on behalf of the Rohingya is the kind of leadership and courage we need to see on the global stage.

Here are Shaykh Omar’s remarks. – Hena Zuberi, EIC

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I would like to begin this presentation to His Excellency Abou Bakr Tambadou by reminding all of us of the greatest man to walk the face of the earth after the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), Abu Bakr As Siddique.

It was narrated that Qais bin Abu Hazim said:

قَالَ قَامَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ فَحَمِدَ اللَّهَ وَأَثْنَى عَلَيْهِ ثُمَّ قَالَ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّكُمْ تَقْرَءُونَ هَذِهِ الآيَةَ ‏{يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَنْفُسَكُمْ لاَ يَضُرُّكُمْ مَنْ ضَلَّ إِذَا اهْتَدَيْتُمْ}‏ وَإِنَّا سَمِعْنَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ يَقُولُ ‏”‏ إِنَّ النَّاسَ إِذَا رَأَوُا الْمُنْكَرَ لاَ يُغَيِّرُونَهُ أَوْشَكَ أَنْ يَعُمَّهُمُ اللَّهُ بِعِقَابِهِ ‏”‏ ‏

Abu Bakr stood up and praised and glorified Allah, then he said: ‘O people, you recite this Verse – “O you who believe! Take care of your own selves. If you follow the (right) guidance no hurt can come to you from those who are in error.”[5:105] – but I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say: ‘If people see some evil but do not change it, soon Allah will send His punishment upon them all.’” 

When Abubaccar Tambadou made his way from Gambia in West Africa, to the Rohingya refugee camps in Southeast Asia, he knew he couldn’t turn away from the evil he had witnessed.“

Listening to survivors’ stories he said the “stench of genocide” began drifting across the border into Bangladesh from Myanmar.

He said: “I realized how much more serious it was than the flashes we’d seen on television screens, Military and civilians would organize systematic attacks against Rohingya, burn down houses, snatch babies from their mothers’ arms and throw them alive into burning fires, round up and execute men; girls were gang-raped and put through all types of sexual violence.”

“It sounded very much like the kind of acts that were perpetrated against the Tutsi in Rwanda.”

In that genocide, up to a 1,000,000 Rwandans were killed with machetes and rifles, about 70% of the country’s Tutsi population. Sexual violence was rife, with up to 500,000 women being raped. 

At that time, His Excellency Abubaccar Tambadou worked as a trial attorney, where he was responsible for prosecuting violations of international human rights law in Rwanda. He secured the prosecution of four war criminals, including former Rwandan army general Augustin Bizimungu who called his victims cockroaches. 

Here Abubaccar was now, a decade later, witnessing the Rohingya genocide. More than 128,000 Muslims remain in detention camps in Burma today, where they have been confined since 2012, arbitrarily deprived of their liberty. More than 730,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since the military campaign of ethnic cleansing began in August 2017

Their villages have been burned down, their bodies discarded like waste, and the world has remained unwilling and unable to support them in their plight.

Simon Adams, head of the humans rights organization, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, said there was only one man with the courage, skills and humanity to try to hold Myanmar accountable for the alleged atrocities.

“Some were afraid of retaliation from the Chinese” (who tried to stop the prosecution of Myanmar knowing that it may set a precedent for them being taken to court for their Uyghur  concentration camps).

Simon Adams continued to say, “Others said it wasn’t a good time, was too politically risky. [But] I was impressed by his fearlessness. He realized what would be coming pressure-wise but he was developing a strategy to deal with it.”

Abubacarr Tambadou

What is a hero?

Is it “an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles? Is it “someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom? Is it someone who uses their power responsibly to support the powerless? Is it the man of resilience who is braver for 5 more minutes than his fellow man?

To us, a hero is one who recognizes the truth when others deny it, lives by it when others abandon it, pursues it when others obstruct it, and upholds it when others oppose it.

Abu Bakr As Siddiq raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was a hero because he not only refused to let falsehood stand in the way of his recognition of the truth when it was manifest to him, but also refused to let fear stand in the way of his pursuit of that truth when it challenged him. 

Abu Bakr As Siddiq raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) ran to the defense of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) when he was being persecuted for his beliefs and shouted: 

أَتَقْتُلُونَ رَجُلًا أَن يَقُولَ رَبِّيَ اللَّهُ

Would you kill a man for saying his Lord is Allah?

Abubaccar Tambadou rushed to the support of the millions being persecuted for saying their Lord is Allah.

Abu Bakr As Siddique said: 

لا يحقرن أحد أحدا من المسلمين فان صغير المسلمين عند الله كبير

Do not belittle any of the Muslims, for even the lowest of the Muslims is great in the sight of Allah.

Abubaccar Tambadou refused to belittle those brothers and sisters who had been deemed too insignificant by even the wealthiest Muslim nations to uplift

Abu Bakr As Siddique raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: 

الضعيف فيكم قوي عندي حتى أريح عليه حقه إن شاء الله والقوى فيكم عندي ضعيف حتى آخذ الحق منه إن شاء الله

The weak among you is strong in my sight, until I return to them that which is rightfully theirs God willing. And the strong among you is weak in my sight until I take from them what is rightfully someone else’s God willing.

Abubaccar Tambadou fought for the rights of the oppressed Rohingya to be returned to them, and refused to succumb to the intimidation of the government of Myanmar (Burma) and other strong governments that feared being held accountable for their own war crimes.Click To Tweet

When Abu Bakr As Siddiq raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was with the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), it was only the 2 of them and the third was Allah. Imam Al Ghazali (ra) said the most blessed oppressed one to support is the one who has no one but Allah (man la naasira lahu ilAllah), and so when you choose to champion those who others find no political usefulness in supporting, you become a special agent of Allah sent to their aid in rare company.

Your Excellency Abubaccar, may Allah grant you a generous space under the shade of His Throne on the Day of Judgment, and a distinguished station next to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in the highest level of Paradise.

Justice For All’s Burma Task Force has filed a case on behalf of the victims of the Rohingya Genocide in the International Court of Justice- support the case by donating here. The Rohingya want justice.

 

Photo: Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chair of Burma Task Force, His Excellency Abubaccar Tambadou, Imam Omar Suleiman and Karim Yaqub, Rohingya activist at the presentation of the Torch of Justice.

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#Current Affairs

WATCH: Bloomberg Claims Mass Surveillance Of American Muslims Was “The Right Thing To Do”

Former mayor of NYC Michael Bloomberg’s claims his mass suspicionless surveillance programs against Muslims were legal and the right thing to do don’t stand up to basic scrutiny as courts actually ruled against them. He should apologize to the Muslim community for his behavior as he did for stop-and-frisk.

Targeted Suspicionless Mass Surveillance of Muslims is Illegal

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg claimed in an interview with PBS New Hour that the mass suspicionless surveillance of Muslim Americans was “exactly within the law” and “the right thing to do”.  The program was conducted as a joint effort between the NYPD and the CIA aimed at Muslims not only in NYC, but as well in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, and elsewhere.  It targeted mosques, university student associations, community leaders, cabbies, and more.  Informants and spies were sent to not only gather information on Muslims but to attempt to bait and entrap them as well. The program reportedly did not produce a single conviction.

Bloomberg’s assertion that “the courts ruled that it was exactly within the law” is false.  The NYPD was taken to court and forced to settle in Hasan v City of New York lawsuit after it was found that the First Amendment rights of the plaintiffs, among other rights, had been grossly violated.  The court stated:

What occurs here in one guise is not new. We have been down similar roads before. Jewish-Americans during the Red Scare, African-Americans during the Civil Rights Movement, and Japanese-Americans during World War II are examples that readily spring to mind. We are left to wonder why we cannot see with foresight what we see so clearly with hindsight—that “[l]oyalty is a matter of the heart and mind[,] not race, creed, or color.” Ex parte Mitsuye Endo, 323 U.S. 283, 302 (1944).

Hassan v New York Press Conference
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The ACLU, the NYCLU, and the CLEAR project hold a press conference with plaintiffs Asad Dandia and Imam Hamid Hassan Raza in their lawsuit against the NYPD mass suspicionless surveillance

Under the terms of the settlement, the NYPD agreed to the following, in summary:

  • Not engage in suspicionless surveillance on the basis of religion or ethnicity;
  • Permit plaintiff input to a first-ever Policy Guide, which will govern the Intelligence Bureau’s activities, and to publish the Guide to the public;
  • Attend a public meeting with plaintiffs so they can express their concerns about the issues in the lawsuit directly to the NYPD Commissioner or senior ranking official;
  • Pay businesses and mosques damages for income lost as a result of being unfairly targeted by the NYPD and pay individuals damages for the stigma and humiliation harms they suffered for being targeted on the basis of their religion.

The Human Impact of this Program

Bloomberg also asserted the NYPD’s conduct was “the right thing to do”, but not only was it illegal, it caused stress and harm to all those impacted.  Take Asad Dandia, for example:

The consequences of this program were that it created a stigma on Muslims, it interfered with the ability of religious leaders to deliver proper sermons / khutbahs for fear of what could be taken out of context, it caused mosque congregants to be suspicious of newcomers and dissuaded attendance, it harmed political engagement in protests and public debates for fear of profiling, and it created major distrust of law enforcement and their ability to protect the community at large.

Make Bloomberg Take Responsibility

Mayor Bloomberg has apologized for stop-and-frisk claiming he reduced it by 95% after its problems came to light, though in reality, that’s simply not true – he was defending it as late as the month before his presidential bid, and it was reduced to due a court ruling he opposed.  It’s pretty obvious his apology is for his presidential run.  Likewise, his statement in the PBS interview “not all Muslims are terrorists, nor are all terrorists Muslim” as well as his support for the construction of the “Ground Zero” mosque are all commendable, but they are not enough to escape the charge of harming and discriminating against Muslims as a faith group.  Muslim Americans and Democrats, particularly those who think he’s a viable alternative to Sanders in the moderate/centrist lane should demand the former mayor also apologize for his actions against our community, and even if it is insincere, it should be understood that overt discrimination in policy or rhetoric against our community or any other should come with serious social and political repercussion.

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