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Houston Mosque (Madrasae Islamia) Targeted By Arsonists

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Houston Mosque Targeted By Arsonists (from KPRC Click2Houston)

Members of the mosque reported two men smashed in a window at Madrasae Islamia in the 6600 block of Bintliff Drive and then doused a room with gasoline before setting the fire.

Surveillance video shows men sneaking onto the property around 3:30 a.m. Saturday. The video shows them covering their faces, as if they know there are cameras.

Two to three minutes later, they are seen getting into into a white or silver four-door car driven by another person.

Carpets were burned and there was still evidence of the smoke and flames on Sunday.


Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. This is indeed very saddening to hear. Alhamdulillah, the news reports that the damage from the fire was limited and that someone was there to alert the fire department before it went out of control.

I believe any of our brothers and sisters who live or have lived in the Houston area can attest to just how special Madrasae Islamia is to the Houston Muslim community. Having lived in Houston myself for a few years, this masjid holds a special place in my heart. Besides being renowned as Houston’s very own Hafiz factory (the graduates of which are recruited to lead tarawih prayers across the nation), it also holds historic significance being one of the older, more established masajid in the area. I still remember all the times we would purposely make the 20 minute drive to this masjid to hear Hafiz Iqbal’s recitation. We ask that our readers remember them and the entire Muslim community in their duas.

Ahmad AlFarsi was born and raised in South Texas in an Iranian Christian household and embraced Islam in 2003 while in university. He completed his Masters in Electrical Engineering from MIT in 2007, spent a few years working in industry as a System Engineer, and is currently pursuing his PhD in Electrical Engineering at MIT. Since August 2007 has been blessed with the adventures of fathering a little girl, walhamdulillah.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Muhammad

    May 17, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    Extremely sad to hear. May Allah protect all our masjids! May Allah give us the sense to go out and educate people about Islam!

  2. Avatar

    anon

    May 17, 2011 at 4:43 PM

    Assalamu ‘alaykum

    This is one of my local masajid, I go here frequently.. it was sad to hear and see what had been done. Even sadder was all the comments on the Houston Chronicle and other such sites of people saying that it was an inside job! May Allah give hidayah to all, Amin.

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    Tariq Ahmed

    May 18, 2011 at 1:15 AM

    One of the best jamaat in Houston is the one that fills Madrassah Islamia on a regular basis, five times a day, through good weather and bad, alhamdolillah. Allah protect them and His house.

    Maybe there will be more Muslims taking turns in ‘itikaaf in masajid around the Western world, to protect them. Just as men spend the night at Masjid al Aqsa to help defend it from hateful aggressors.

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    Yasir Qadhi

    May 18, 2011 at 4:45 PM

    Really sad… this is the masjid closest to my house, and Hafiz Iqbal is my first Quran teacher (way back when I was only five!).

    May Allah give us sabr to deal with all that is happening around us, Ameen!!!

    Yasir

  6. Avatar

    Kashif Dilkusha

    May 19, 2011 at 2:34 AM

    These are days of trials for us. May Allah keep us steadfast on the right path and help us in responding to these incidents.

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    Shuaib Mansoori

    May 19, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    I was really sad to see the news. This was my regular Masjid when I lived in Houston. My apt. was a mere 7-min walk away.

    In my opinion, I think it’s no exaggeration to say that it’s the ONLY Masjid where you would see the MOST diverse crowd, not only in terms of nationality but age as well – from the youngest kids to the elderly of the community. Masha Allah a truly beautiful Masjid.

  8. Avatar

    Nur

    May 19, 2011 at 6:21 PM

    Very sad….may ALLAH protect all of us!

  9. Avatar

    wade

    May 20, 2011 at 10:42 PM

    may allah guide those people to islam…ameen

  10. Avatar

    Abu Kamel

    May 25, 2011 at 12:42 AM

    As salam alaikum

    Why was the protection of Allah lifted from this masjid and its community?

    Arson is the criminal, willful, or reckless ignition of fire to other people’s property. Its often a random crime of opportunity.

    But the targetting of the masjid was not ramdom criminal mischief. It was meant as a political message, a threat to Muslims in Houston. It is targetting civilians and it used violence. By Texas law, it could be deemed a hate crime if the perpetrators signify any animosity towards Islam and Muslims which they undoubtably have.
    Texas penal code considers hate crimes as crimes motivated by prejudice, hatred, advocacy of violence, and federal law states its crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, etc.
    But the local media report it as arson, as do Muslims? But we can reasonable assume its motivated as prejudice against Muslims and Islam.

    By American political standards, its an act of terrorism. The US Congress defines terrorism as premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by clandestine agents. As Islam is in the news everyday with negative bias, as teh masjid was likely specifically targetted, and many groups have threatened violence against Muslims in America, its reasonable to call this an act of terrorism even when local and state politicans and officials continually seek to downplay.

    Muslims have to ask themselves: why do WE downplay the significance of this attack?
    Why are WE afraid to stand up for ourselves, afraid to accuse our attackers of violent terrorism?

    Abu Kamel

    Take note, brothers and sister, STOP accomodating your victimization by failing to stand up strong for yourselves. Passive emotions of sadness are not sufficient.

  11. Avatar

    Olivia

    May 26, 2011 at 6:50 PM

    its going up on my FB as an act of terrorism because that’s what it is. by the way, take heart. the guy who tried to burn that one down in Oklahoma (or maybe TN, i cant remember which state) was recently arrested. Insha’Allah they’ll catch these guys too.

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#Current Affairs

Faith Community Stands With Peace And Justice Leader Imam Omar Suleiman During Right Wing Attacks

Hena Zuberi

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In a follow up to the right-wing media platforms attack on Imam Omar Suleiman – calling him anti-semitic, a common tactic used to discredit both Muslim activists, as well as criticism of Israel policies, Faith Forward Dallas issued a statement.

Faith Forward Dallas at Thanksgiving Square – Faith Leaders United for Peace and Justice is a Texas-based interfaith organization that has worked on many initiatives with Imam Omar Suleiman.

The statement reads:

“Imam Omar Suleiman a spiritual and moral voice for peace with justice!!!!!

Time after time in our city, in the United States and around the world, Imam Omar Suleiman has been a spiritual and moral voice for peace with justice. When others seek to divide, he calls for unity. Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square works to unite faith leaders for justice and compassion. Imam Suleiman has been a trusted leader among us. In the wake of his beautiful prayer to open the House of Representatives on May 9, he has received threats of violence and words of vilification when instead he should have our praise and prayers. We call upon people of good will everywhere to tone down the rhetoric, to replace hate with love, and to build bridges toward the common good.

Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square”

Commenters on the Faith Forward Dallas statement have left comments of support.

The group has invited locals and other leaders to endorse and share the statement. “Endorsed! I love and fully you Imam Omar Suleiman!” wrote Karen Weldes Fry, Spiritual Director at Center of Spiritual Learning in Dallas (CSLDallas), commenting on the statement.

Some commentators do not understand the manufactured controversy.  Heather Mustain writes, “What people are writing is so vile. They obviously didn’t even listen to his prayer!” Imam  Omar Suleiman delivered the opening prayer in the US House of Representatives on May, 9th, 2019  at the invitation of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) of Dallas, TX.

“I’m grateful for the faith leaders with whom I’ve built relationships with and served with for years that have shown full support throughout this process. Together we’ve stood with one another in solidarity in the face of bigotry, and in the support of others in any form of pain. We will not let these dark forces divide us,” said Imam Omar Suleiman in response to the outpouring of love from the people he has worked with on the ground, building on peace, love, and justice.

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#Current Affairs

#UnitedForOmar – Imam Omar Suleiman Smeared by Right-Wing News After Opening Prayer at US House of Representatives

Zeba Khan

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Sh. Omar Suleiman delivered the opening prayer in the US House of Representatives yesterday, May, 9th, 2019  at the invitation of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) of Dallas.

Immediately since, right wing media platforms have begun spreading negative coverage of the Imam Omar Suleiman – calling him anti-semitic, a common tactic used to discredit both Muslim activists as well as criticism of Israel policies.

News outlets citing the criticism have pointed to a post from The Investigative Project on Terrorism or ITP, as the source. The  ITP was founded by and directed by noted Islamophobe Steven Emerson. Emerson’s history of hate speech has been documented for over two decades.

Since then, the story has been carried forward by multiple press outlets.

The immediate consequence of this has been the direction of online hate towards what has been Imam Omar Suleiman’s long history of preaching unity in the US socio-political sphere.

“Since my invocation I’ve been inundated with hate articles, threats, and other tactics of intimidation to silence me over a prayer for unity,” Imam Omar Suleiman says. “These attacks are in bad faith and meant to again send a message to the Muslim community that we are not welcome to assert ourselves in any meaningful space or way.”

MuslimMatters is proud to stand by Imam Omar Suleiman, and we invite our readers to share the evidence that counters the accusations against him of anti-semitism, bigotry, and hate. We would also encourage you to reach out, support, and amplify voices of support like Representative E.B.Johnson, and Representative Colin Allred.

You can help counter the false narrative, simply by sharing evidence of Imam Omar Suleiman’s work. It speaks for itself, and you can share it at the hashtag #UnitedForOmar

JazakAllahuKheiran


A Priest, a Rabbi, and an Imam Walk Into a Church in Dallas

At an interfaith panel discussion, three North Texas religious leaders promoted understanding and dialogue among Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Amid a vexed political and social climate, three religious leaders in North Texas—a priest, an imam, and a rabbi—proved it’s possible to come together in times of division. Source: DMagazine.com


Muslim congregation writes letters of support to Dallas Jewish Community

The congregation, led by Imam Omar Suleiman, penned more than 150 cards and letters. source: WFAA News


Historic action: Muslims and Jews for Dreamers

“We must recognize that the white supremacy that threatens the black and Latino communities, is the same white supremacy that spurs Islamophobia and antisemitism,” -Imam Omar Suleiman

Source: Bend The Arc


Through Dialogue, Interfaith Leaders Hope North Texans Will Better Understand Each Other

“When any community is targeted, they need to see a united faith voice — that all communities come together and express complete rejection of anything that would pit our society against one another more than it already is.” -Imam Omar Suleiman

Source: Kera News

 


Conversations at The Carter Center: Harmonizing Religion and Human Rights 

Source: The Carter Center


Imam: After devastating New Zealand attack, we will not be deterred

My wife and I decided to take our kids to a synagogue in Dallas the night after the massacre at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh to grieve and show solidarity with the Jewish community. My 5-year-old played with kids his age while we mourned inside, resisting hate even unknowingly with his innocence…” Source: CNN

 

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#Current Affairs

From Sri Lanka – The Niqab Ban and The Politics of Distraction

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This article was originally published on Groundviews

 

As of last Monday, Sri Lanka is taking a seat at the table next to a list of 13 other countries from across the world who have passed legislation banning the niqab or face veil.

Amidst incensed murmurs from certain parliamentarians, and following a discussion with the country’s main Islamic theological body, the All Ceylon Jammiatul Ulema (ACJU), the President’s office has announced that ‘any garment or item which obstructs the identification of a person’s face would be barred.’ Sri Lanka has been under emergency regulations following the Easter Sunday attacks which killed over 250 people. The ban will hold until emergency regulations are lifted.

Ever since the identification of the all-male terrorists behind the massacre as members of militant group ISIS, Muslim women -for some inexplicable reason- were to bear the hardest brunt. Instances of headscarved Muslim women being refused entry at various supermarkets and prominent establishments, was followed by the usual scaremongering via alarmist infographics doing the rounds yet again ‘educating’ the public of the differences between the burqa, hijab, and chador.

A victory indeed for both anti-Muslim voices, as well as to many within the Muslim community seeking to audibly amputate themselves from a supposedly dated form of Islam – one that they claim has no bearing to inherent Sri Lankan Muslim identity.  A view that discards the notion that any religious or ethnic identity is fluid, in flux, and subject to constant evolution.

The grand slam however is primarily for the current political establishment, members of whom are probably high-fiving each other as a result of this kneejerk symbol-politics manoeuvre on having supposedly successfully placated the public of their fears of homegrown terrorism. A move that bleeds hypocrisy for it comes at the cost of subliminally ‘othering’ an already marginalized segment of a minority community, while at the same time PSA’ing for peace and coexistence in this time of crisis.

What is most insulting to the intelligence of our society however, is that amidst all this brouhaha, only few have questioned the actual relevance of this new ban to the current state of our security affairs.

No eye witness report nor CCTV footage showed that any of the suicide bombers from any of the coordinated attacks across the country were on that day wearing the niqab/burqa/chador at the time of inflicting their terror. The men were in fact dressed in men’s attire, with faces completely exposed. It might serve to add here also that they weren’t dressed in traditional Muslim man garb either.

How then did the face veiling Muslim woman get pushed under the bus as the most identifiable sign of radicalism?

It is obvious that the government was cornered into passing this legislation, as was the ACJU too in having to support this move. While all communities have only their praises to sing for the exceptional work of the security forces in tracking down the attackers within only just hours, the country’s elected leadership was in dire need of respite following what many experts claim was a massive intelligence failure, a blunder involving the wrongful identification of a terror suspect, and incompetence in the handling of events overall. A distraction was desperately required. Something needed to give, and it just so happened that the niqab-donning Muslim woman was the easiest scapegoat.

To an outsider unfamiliar with Muslim religious symbolism, the face-veil can come across as alien, even unnerving. And while our first instinct is to otherize in an attempt to help deal with the discomfort of dealing with any unknown, a woman out in the street in a niqab is -for as long as anyone can remember- most certainly not an oddity that has compelled anyone to stop and recite their final rites.

The misguided belief that the face veil is a marker of extremism isn’t and hasn’t ever been based on any empirical research. If studies were to be carried out, results would show that Muslim women in general -let alone those with a face cover- have a little role to play, if any, for acts of terror committed in all the countries that have banned them.

Contrarily, there is a clear proven relationship between terrorist attacks and increases in recorded Islamophobic incidents against Muslims, with women being disproportionately targeted. One can then dare infer that being visibly Muslim carries a greater risk to oneself, than to the people around them.

The niqab ban has been put in place as a security measure they say – a flexing of muscles towards any semblance of radicalization that will deter any future acts of terror in the country. Naturally, the perpetuating of this ideological hegemony is doing Muslim women no favors. If anything, the ban is a wholly counterproductive one, in that it ostracizes an already marginalized segment of a minority community – a sliver of a percentage out of the 10% that is the country’s Muslim population.

If -as commonly believed- veiled Muslim women are being hopelessly persecuted, the ban will serve only to increasingly confine these women to their homes, under the control of the men accused of governing their lives, and further disconnected from being able to assimilate with society. Even more dangerous, there are studies which prove that having to live in an environment that is aggressively policed on the basis of belief is more likely to harbour radicalization.

Absurdity of the non-connection of the attacks with the niqab ban aside, this in itself should be a war cry for secular feminists advocating for everyone’s basic right to the civil freedoms of a liberal society. Where now are the proponents and ambassadors so wholly soaked in the ‘Muslim woman saviour complex?’ A segment of Muslim women has been forbidden from wearing what they feel best represents their Sri Lankan Muslim identity. They were not consulted before this legislation was passed, nor were they given the chance to show their willingness to cooperate on instances where identification was required.

Ludicrously, discourses surrounding veiled Muslim women are paradoxically lobbed back and forth according to the convenience of the times. In times of world peace, they are oppressed and subservient to patriarchal whims and fancies, while in the immediate aftermath of a terror attack there are hostile and threatening, capable of devising all kinds of evil. They are either victims of violence or the perpetrators of it.

This age-old preoccupation with Muslim women’s attire is in actuality a gross conflation of conservatism with extremism. In claiming that a strip of cloth holds the answer to combatting a severe global threat is trivialising the greater issues at hand. If there was a direct correlation between the attacks and veiled individuals, legislation forbidding the covering of the face in public would be wholly justified. But there is none.

Muslim women shouldn’t be faulted for the cracks in the state’s china. In not being able to answer the hard questions of accountability, lapses in acting on available intelligence, and general good governance, those at the top should leave well alone and consider hiding their faces instead.

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