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How Mars Became Haram: A Guide to Freaky Fatwa News

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So there’s a fun new fatwa being covered in the international news, and it goes like this: Mars Is Haram.

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 11.15.32 PM

 I know what you’re thinking- come on, it’s just another one of those made-up fatwas, like last year’s Great Syrian Sex Jihad and the Erotic Fruit and Vegetable Fatwa of 2011. Those were great fun for the media, and in all their journalistic glee, they forgot to check their stories. There is something to be said for journalistic integrity, unless there’s a funny fatwa story. Then it’s a free for-all.

Summers temps in Saudi go up to 54C/129F, and you think they couldn't handle this?

Summers temps in Saudi go up to 54C/129F, and you think they couldn’t handle this?

Of course, this isn’t the first time the media’s lost sight of due diligence when it comes to stories about Muslims. Remember the man who was too handsome for Saudi? Or the Egyptian Necrophilia Fatwa– where unnamed and unsourced clerics said it was okay for a grieving husband to have “Farewell Intercourse” with his spouse’s corpse for up six hours after the time of death. Grieving wives had conjugal rights to dead husbands as well, because Muslims do believe in equality of the sexes, see?

Remember the fatwa where if your spouse saw you naked, your marriage became invalid?  Or how breastfeeding your male colleagues could make them your mahram? Those were fake too.

Muslims generally hear these stories, heave a long-suffering sigh, and go back to worrying about real news- like other Muslims being ethnically cleansed, burned alive, and frozen to death across the world.

Follow-up news: Muslim zombiepocalypse enthusiasts file official complaint to Egypt.

Follow-up news: Muslim zombiepocalypse enthusiasts file official complaint against Egypt.

We tend to take these stories in stride with the rest of the c@#$ that mainstream media dumps on us already. Yes, yes, we heard already- we are the stupid, violent, intolerant, controlling men who obsess about sex, gender relations, and suspiciously shaped produce – and the women who love them.

The men I mean. Not the fruit. Because there’s a fatwa about that.

So what is a fatwa?

Let’s say I have a dry cough. I read the directions on the cough syrup, and confirm it was for dry cough. But then I read the fine print, where taking the syrup can be risky in conjunction with other medications. Now, I do happen to take some of those medications, but not often. I am looking for some clarity, so I call my doctor and he gives me his medical opinion– not an order- about my specific case. He tells me what he thinks I should do, and why he thinks so. Whether I think he’s right, or whether I want to go looking for a second opinion is up to me. He hasn’t given me an order, he has given me a  fatwa.

YourOpinion

In a non-legally binding way, yes.

A fatwa is a  non-binding Islamic legal opinion, issued by a legal scholar or institution. What that means is:

  • Fatawa are legal opinions, not laws
  • The purpose of fatawa is to seek clarity. This usually happens in cases dealing with new, specific, or unclear issues.

The doctor told me what he was thinking based on his knowledge, training, and personal experience. He told me why he was thinking it, and I am free to follow it or not. That is a fatwa. Given the number of bad doctors in the world, it seems more understandable then, why there can be confusing Islamic fatawa. Muslims are humans, humans make mistakes, and humans can be expected to have differing opinions, medical or otherwise.

For every two sensible doctors out there is at least one nut-job who tells us to put herbs in our socks or wear a magnetized bracelet to cure the chronic bronchitis I am actually incubating. So yes, it is possible to get a strange non-legally binding opinion- or fatwa- from a real  Muslim, the same way I can get an unhealthy recommendation from a real doctor.

Indeed.

Indeed.

What happened to Mars?

It all started with a Dutch Company called Mars One, whose mission is to “establish a permanent human settlement on Mars.”  The company plans to start sending people up to the red planet by 2024, and they’ll be sending them one-way. 

According to the original story in the Khaleej Times, the General Islamic of Islamic Affairs and Endowment of the UAE – locally known as the Awqaaf, takes issue with this type of mission.

“Such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam,” the committee said.  “There is a possibility that an individual who travels to planet Mars may not be able to remain alive there, and is more vulnerable to death.”

Whoever opts for this “hazardous trip”, the committee said, is likely to perish for no “righteous reason”, and thus will be liable to a “punishment similar to that of suicide in the Hereafter”.

The committee, presided by Professor Dr Farooq Hamada, said: “Protecting life against all possible dangers and keeping it safe is an issue agreed upon by all religions and is clearly stipulated in verse [4:29] of the Holy Quran: Do not kill yourselves or one another. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful.”

Professor Dr. Who?

Dr. Farouk Al Hamada is real person.  In fact, he’s even really in the UAE.  He is a published author, and according to his personal website, he is currently “an adviser at the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi, Emirates.”  His website was last updated on Jan 8, 2012.

He is not, however, the Grand Mufti of the UAE, let alone all of Saudi Arabia as some of the headlines claim.  A quick Google search shows that there doesn’t seem to be a Grand Mufti of the UAE, but there is a Grand Mufti of Dubai.  His name is Dr. Ahmad Al Haddad; in July of 2013, he made the news with some very sage advice, “Be careful about fatwas on twitter.”

Beware Twitter FatwasWhat Dr Farooq Hamada said was:

  • Taking an unnecessary risk with your life is not allowed in Islam
  • A one-way ticket to Mars means you’ll probably die
  • If you  do go and die, you may be held accountable for killing yourself for no good reason

What Dr. Farooq Hamada didn’t say was:

  • Travel to Mars (versus Jupiter) is not allowed
  • Flying to Mars (versus walking) is not forbidden
  • Colonizing Mars (versus visiting) is not allowed
  • Housing on Mars (versus education?) is haram
  • Living on Mars is sinful
  • Even wanting to live on Mars is sinful
  • Muslims traveling to Mars will suffer punishment

There are other opinions about this issue- and they will most likely hinge on whether travel to Mars is a righteous reason or reasonably safe. They have nothing to do with flying, colonizing, the high rate of Martian housing, or nurturing secret dreams of space travel. At this point in time, a one-way trip to Mars is a bit like jumping into an alligator pit. If I’m doing it to save a kid who fell in, I can risk my life because that’s a righteous reason. But if I’m doing it to take a selfie, that’s suicide. And I’m an idiot.

A third alligator option exists, where I’m going in to take a selfie, but the alligator is either tame, toothless, or safely restrained. In that case, I don’t need to have a righteous reason, because I’m not risking my life. That would be like going to Mars if/when traveling by space is like taking a cruise, but one where we’d drink recycled urine.

Is that allowed? Can we get a fatwa on that?

The bottom line is that life is precious, so if I’m deliberately putting mine at risk, I’d better have a good reason for it. If not, my death may be judged as suicide versus sacrifice. If there is more to this fatwa, it’s not in the original story, and the Martian fatwa in question does not appear in the archives of General Islamic of Islamic Affairs and Endowment of the UAE.

Last year alone, the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments issued over 337,000 fatawa, and you’d be hard-pressed to find another one in the international news. They are maintained in a searchable archive here, and contain such sensational questions as:

Why does this keep happening?

Telephone game

The Telephone Game: Like this, but with truth at stake instead of money.

Journalists: they dig deep to find buried stories, uncover injustice, and show the world what’s really happening so we can all get up and do something about it. And in their spare time, they play the telephone game.

Without fact-checking information beforehand, major media outlets share stories that humorously “confirm” what they think they know about Muslims, but if a news story features something positive about a Muslim, it is ignored.

This is called information bias- and it happens when people choose to promote or recognize what supports their existing point of view. That’s why a story with a Saudi cleric, two goats, and not a leg of truth  between them  can make international news, but the same story- without any Muslim affiliations, would be an insult to journalism.

This isn’t limited to news, there are the books too.  But the stories aren’t necessarily fake- sometimes they are poignant- or not so poignant– coming of age stories where people wake up, open their eyes, and stop being Muslim long enough to secure a lucrative book deal. This model has been so successful that even non-Muslims try to get in on the act, and some famous frauds- recently Ergun CanerWalid Shoebat, and Kamal Saleem– gave it a good run before finally being exposed.  In doing so, they did their part in lending legitimacy (however phony) to the stereotypes.  Because, Islam is so bad even Muslims are leaving it, see?

The Bigger Picture

Fake Ex-Muslims, Former Muslim Tell-Alls, and Freaky Fatwa news all fit into a bigger picture-they are all sneaky manifestations of the straw man argument.

MIke TysonThe Straw Man, or Aunt Sally as she’s know in the UK, is a logical fallacy in which someone defeats an argument– not by defeating the argument itself–but by knocking over a dummy argument in its place. Imagine that anti-Muslim bigots are set to box with Mike Tyson, and when the bell chimes, they come out swinging at a mannequin that sort of looks like him. The mannequin goes down, the crowd cheers, and Islamophobia is crowned the heavyweight champion of the Internet.

Fake Ex-Muslims face off against a dummy version of Islam, using their “real life” experiences to prove that Muslims really are terrorists- and then knock that dummy over using a new-found love of Christ and hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds.

Former Muslims prop up a paper-back version of Islam as a harbinger of chaos, cultural darkness, and burkas- and use the feather of their touching nostalgia to blow it gently over. Through the rose-tinted lenses of their simplistic narrative, there appears to have been nothing wrong with their country/family/life when it was secular, and there was nothing right when it was “Islamic.”

Freaky Fatwa news is part of the same game. Bigoted–or just irresponsible–media props up dummy versions of Islam- incorrect, backwards, over-the-top, and sexually immature stories of what Muslims do and believe,  and with every like, share, and eye-roll, we readers do our part to knock them over.

Now what?

The success of the straw man argument rests entirely on the crowd’s inability to tell the difference between a mannequin and Mike Tyson, so the more  people understand real Islam, the less likely they are to swing at the straw men propped up in Islam’s place.

If you’re a Muslim and you find fake information about Islam getting shared in your social media circles, speak up. Be brave. Be funny. Stand up in the crowd and politely point out that the guy in the blue corner is actually a scarecrow and the real champion is the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Lion of Truth

Advice for Journalists

If you’re a journalist, and you’re not sure whether a funny story you read about a Muslim is news-worthy,  copy the text of the story and remove all references to Islam, Muslims, and Saudi Arabia- and then read it again.  Now, ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Can the story be verified?
  2. Is the content genuinely interesting, significant, or relevant to your readership?
  3. Was a real person willing to put their name on this? Is there an original, reliable source or byline?
  4. Could the text of this email be mistaken for a chain letter?
  5. If you published this religion-free version, would your editor call you an idiot with no news sense?

If you are looking at a verified news story that is genuinely significant or relevant to your readers, written by someone who wasn’t embarrassed to put their name to it, you’re off to a good start.

If, however the content you’re looking at could pass as a chain letter, or suddenly isn’t funny if Muslims aren’t involved, then please delete it and do something better with your life.

Thank you.

Insert Saudi Here

 

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Zeba Khan is the Director of Development for MuslimMatters.org, as well as a writer, speaker, and disability awareness advocate. In addition to having a child with autism, she herself lives with Ehlers-Danlos Sydrome, Dysautonomia, Mast-Cell Activation Disorder, and a random assortment of acronyms that collectively translate to chronic illness and progressive disability.

52 Comments

52 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Mahmud

    February 25, 2014 at 2:19 AM

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    Those who intend to humiliate Muslims in this life should think of unending humiliation.

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُؤْذُونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ لَعَنَهُمُ اللَّهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ عَذَابًا مُّهِينًا
    Indeed, those who abuse Allah and His Messenger – Allah has cursed them in this world and the Hereafter and prepared for them a humiliating punishment.

    وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْذُونَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ بِغَيْرِ مَا اكْتَسَبُوا فَقَدِ احْتَمَلُوا بُهْتَانًا وَإِثْمًا مُّبِينًا
    And those who harm believing men and believing women for [something] other than what they have earned have certainly born upon themselves a slander and manifest sin.

  2. Amad

    Amad

    February 25, 2014 at 4:03 AM

    Love this article… I think the key issue is lazy journalism— how to maximize hits on the webpage for the particular media outlet. Truth is a casualty and misinformation easily forgiven.

    Especially as it relates to Muslims, it appears there are hardly any consequences or credibility risks for media outlets when they get it wrong. People still believe the original “fatwas” because the retractions are often buried in the some obscure section of the paper.

    That is why some have resorted to suing papers, esp. in UK for defamation– I think Shaykh Yahya even won his case. Until these papers are brought to some level of accountability, they will continue to go about their merry way. But difficult to paint defamation when no specific person is involved and news is entirely fictional! There needs to be some organized effort to contact the editors when fictional stories are reported. At least, it will get the offender fired or reprimanded (hopefully)!

  3. Avatar

    Saud

    February 25, 2014 at 4:33 AM

    Excellent article. Really hits the nail on the head!

  4. Avatar

    Rabya

    February 25, 2014 at 8:11 AM

    Great article and very funny :-) Islamophobia is the new “IN” thing, so anything to display it, sells!

  5. Avatar

    Redbear762 (@docwatson223)

    February 25, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    Having spent two years of my life having Muslims actively try to kill me for no other reason than I was in their respective countries for my country has left an indelible mark and jaundiced eye towards the religion of ‘peace’.

    James Madison said in his letters:

    “The precept of the Koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God. The vanquished may purchase their lives, by the payment of tribute; the victorious may be appeased by a false and delusive promise of peace; and the faithful follower of the prophet, may submit to the imperious necessities of defeat: but the command to propagate the Moslem creed by the sword is always obligatory, when it can be made effective. The commands of the prophet may be performed alike, by fraud, or by force (Blunt, 29:274).”

    You can’t duck the reality of it; the Koran calls for the subjugation of non-Muslims under a Theocratic government where there is no separation of church and State and democracy, representative or otherwise, becomes a paper tiger subject to religious whim and veto.

    Those principles alone will always place Islam at war with the United States, it’s citizens, and our media; something that everyone recognizes at some level even if they won’t acknowledge it for politically correct reasons.

    • Avatar

      Princess

      February 25, 2014 at 3:46 PM

      God says in the Quran:

      “There is no compulsion in religion…” (Quran 2:256)

      Not only does Islam demand their freedom to practice religion, but also that they be treated justly as any other fellow human. Warning against any abuse of non-Muslims in an Islamic society, the Prophet stated:

      “Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, curtails their rights, burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment.” (Abu Dawud)

    • Avatar

      Umm Yasa'ah

      February 25, 2014 at 5:18 PM

      Clearly you have quite al ot of misunderstandings about our religion. Just to clear one of your misunderstandings, I’d highly recommend watching the following video:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iSdCCBlHJ8

  6. Avatar

    Redbear762 (@docwatson223)

    February 25, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    Edit: That was John Quincy Adams.

    • Avatar

      Abu Asiyah

      February 25, 2014 at 2:57 PM

      Yes, because when I want to find out the truth about Islam, I go to some random American guy who lived over 200 years ago and didn’t speak a lick of Arabic.

  7. Avatar

    Yas123

    February 25, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    The problem, Redbear762, is that you view your previous opponents in context of their religion instead of that which was the actual, direct reason for them being your opponent- their nationality. They considered you an enemy to be fought because you were on their land, not because you were a non-Muslim on their land. Also, the Quran does not call for the subjugation of anyone. The only circumstances in which that is even close to true is when Muslims are being attacked by an enemy. Muslims are then supposed to do their best to fight of and subdue those who seek to destroy them. There are 2 billion Muslims in the world, the majority of which are in southeast Asia (Indonesia, etc.). Your experience with a few thousand Muslims who feel they are protecting their home from intruders should be as much of a judge of Muslims as a whole as angry middle-aged white men in a few states who shoot unarmed minority teenagers should be a judge of the entire North American population of white men.

  8. Avatar

    Rida

    February 25, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    This is a very nice article and an excellent satirical look on lazy journalism. That being said, the article tries to say ALL of the bad fatwas are fake. I think this is a matter of knee jerk reaction to bad media. Unfortunately we do get bad fatwas here and there too, and we need to acknowledge and address them properly. For example, the breast feeding male colleague fatwa:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6681511.stm

    • Abez

      Abez

      February 25, 2014 at 12:02 PM

      AssalamuAlaikum Rida- JazakAllahukheiran for the feedback. I did mention that:

      “Given the number of bad doctors in the world, it seems more understandable then, why there can be confusing Islamic fatawa. Muslims are humans, humans make mistakes, and humans can be expected to have differing opinions, medical or otherwise.”

      The authenticity of the breastfeeding fatwa is ambiguous- but again- it’s an opinion, and people can be expected to have all sorts of strange opinions. Including Muslims. :)

  9. Avatar

    ZAI

    February 25, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    Stuff going on in Muslim countries is ridiculous enough that I’m surprised these anti-Muslim bigots feel the need to make things up and send it
    over the top. Perhaps these truly ridiculous accusations are more tantalizing…like typical tabloid fodder or in the age of the internet, more prone to going “viral”. Easier to get attention this way than to talk about nuanced and complex topics like women’s or minorities rights/treatment, animal rights, environmental concern, political or free speech issues, Western and Muslim intrigue or aggression upon Muslim majority nations, etc. etc…all while keeping in mind that the Muslimworld is not a monolith.

    Was the breastfeeding-mahram fatwa fake though? I read that the one emanating from Saudi Arabia was a fake, but a pair of fools from Egypt and Iran both really did come up with that fatwa…

    • Abez

      Abez

      February 25, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      AssalamuAlaikum Zai- I’m not sure about the breastfeeding fatwa, and haven’t been able to dig up any original sources, or the text from the fatwa.

      Muslims are entitled to have weird opinions- being human after all- but the issue isn’t in Muslims being weird, but in the media delighting in Muslim weirdness, regardless of its authenticity. :)

  10. Avatar

    MEe NO

    February 25, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    A great article.. humour at its best but deep too. Salute to the writer’s effort
    . At least some are doing good out there

  11. Pingback: UAE Islamic affairs authority warns Muslims against a mission to Mars – CNN International

  12. Avatar

    Jeremiah

    February 25, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    Nice, mashallah!

  13. Pingback: How Mars Became Haram: A Guide to Freaky Fatwa News | Islamophobia Today eNewspaper

  14. Avatar

    Sarah

    February 25, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    Salam – just a quick comment, no need for publication if you’re moderating:

    I think that MuslimMatters wouldn’t put up a photo of a female singer striking sultry poses, so I’d like to ask that the photo of the sultry-posed male Khaleeji be taken down or replaced, in the name of fairness. Thank you!

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      February 26, 2014 at 4:34 AM

      WaAlaikum Assalam:

      I believe you are referring to the photo of “the man who was too handsome for Saudi” … since it relates to the topic and the awrah is not exposed it complies with our image policy.

      However, your suggestion is noted.

      Jazakillahu Khairin
      Best Regards
      Aly

  15. Avatar

    mg

    February 25, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    Abez, mA you have a great sense of humor, thank you I needed this.

  16. Avatar

    See what i did there

    February 25, 2014 at 7:45 PM

    What about Bruno Mars?

  17. Avatar

    Muhammad Jibran

    February 25, 2014 at 8:46 PM

    Ironic coupling religion and truth. But since enough people think religion = truth, we should, like the quote says let it loose and defend itself. Too bad criticizing faith, this one in particular increases your chances of getting killed.

    Point about lazy journalism taken.

  18. Pingback: Exhibition celebrates history of Islam's second holiest city

  19. Avatar

    Mustafa Hanif

    February 26, 2014 at 1:29 AM

    Absolutely delightful article! … You sister have an awesome and genuine sense of humor. And yeah I feel proud that you have Pakistani genes too :P

  20. Avatar

    Abu Milk Sheikh

    February 26, 2014 at 1:48 AM

    It seems that the author hasn’t taken her own advice that she so eloquently stated in this article.

    GAIAE reaffirmed their fatwa prohibiting it on Feb 24 http://goo.gl/9gk2aV

    Grand Mufti of Dubai Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Al-Haddad also reaffirmed it on Feb 26 http://goo.gl/iHwUTB

    The disection of fatawa made by ‘ulema should be left to ‘ulema, rather than laypeople.

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      February 26, 2014 at 4:51 AM

      Dear Brother

      1) JazakAllahu Khairin for the two links you provided. The information contained in these does not change the point of the author that such fatawa are taken out of context in a deliberate attempt to malign the name of Islam and muslims. In addition, the author does state reasons for the validity of this fatwa and your links affirm those reasons.

      2) Your pseudonym is in violation with our Comments Policy as it calls for a valid name, kunyah or blog handle (if accompanied with link to your blog and valid email address). Any further comments will be subjected to censure unless they comply with this policy.

      Was-SalamuAlaikum
      Best Regards
      Aly

      • Avatar

        Abdullah

        March 3, 2014 at 5:23 AM

        Hi this is Abu Milk Sheikh. Abdullah is not my name. See how pointless your ‘rule’ is? Rules should make sense.

        And the fact you bring this up now, while I’ve been posting as Abu Milk Sheikh on MM for months (even though I only comment rarely), is a bit odd. This is aside from the fact that many comments are approved here that don’t implement your ‘please use a ‘real’ name, even if it’s a fake one’ rule.

        A bit of consistency is in order.

        • Avatar

          Aly Balagamwala

          March 3, 2014 at 8:05 AM

          Dear Brother

          You are correct this rule is not implemented very consistently and may Allah forgive us in our shortcomings. You may think this particular rule is pointless but we have some reasons for it. Abdullah may not be your real name but we prefer it to your using Abu Milk Sheikh. As for the fact why now, we actually are starting to enforce it now even though this rule was there.

          Therefore, please do use your real name in future comments. We would prefer you do not lie by using a fake name. :)

          Best Regards
          WasSalamuAlaikum
          Aly

    • Abez

      Abez

      February 26, 2014 at 4:54 AM

      AssalamuAlaikum Brother- I have not commented on the veracity of the UAE Fatwa- it may very well be true. My comment was that the text does not appear in the searchable archives, which is why more information about it cannot be obtained.

      I don’t think these links have any real bearing on the key points of this article- which are that:

      1. The media makes up entirely fake news to make Muslims look bad (Fake Fatwas)
      2. News outlets select stories (real or fake) and spin or promote them for the purpose of making Muslims look bad, furthering the information bias
      3. Both of these tactics to make a larger straw man argument against Islam

      And Allah knows best. :)

      • Avatar

        Anwar Ul Haque

        March 4, 2014 at 7:22 PM

        Assalamo alaikum. Great article alhamdolillah! You are absolutely right! This deliberate maligning of Islam and Muslims has resulted in many serious consequences for totally innocent Muslims like Dr. Aafia and her 3 children. Many ignorant people turn violent by believing in these cooked up stories. In order to prevent this and as well as our duty to present the right image of Islam, the Prophet s.a.w we Muslims must be active and discharge our duty dutifully, sensibly and enthusiastically!

    • Avatar

      mezaan

      March 3, 2014 at 10:38 PM

      This article is really well written, and I think one would suggest anyone reading this post to follow up with this youtube lecture by Br. Yasir Qadhi. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJmrPh2sRuw. This whole article reminded me of Fatwas by men who were out-dated, out-of-sync and stopped thinking creatively.

  21. Avatar

    Rawa Muhsin

    February 26, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    Assalamu ‘alaikum.

    Masha’Allah very eloquently written. May Allah reward you and keep you writing similar pieces.

  22. Avatar

    Imtiyaz

    February 26, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    Good article… keep writing

  23. Avatar

    Jeddah Blog

    February 27, 2014 at 12:20 AM

    As-salam alaikum Abez – thank you for writing that. There are so many misconceptions out there and sometimes it feels like a losing battle countering it all. That was a very well articulated article, addressing each issue point by point. We need more like it.

    • Abez

      Abez

      February 27, 2014 at 7:32 AM

      My pleasure, JazakAllahuKheiran :)

  24. Avatar

    kayvee

    February 27, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    Great article mashallah

    I encourage everyone to read the book “You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself” by David McRaney

    You can find it on amazon, i would link it here but I dont know if thats against the comment policies or not

    It teaches how to think critically and how we are hoodwinked by the media, politicians, ad companies over and over

    I also want to add that many journalists dont care about the facts. They want and seek the sensationalism of their stories

  25. Avatar

    GC

    February 27, 2014 at 7:23 PM

    Abu…

    More than likely, John Quincy Adams was very famaliar with Islam.
    For this would have been the religion of the slaves he probably owned. Same for Jefferson.

    • Avatar

      Abez

      February 28, 2014 at 2:33 AM

      Owning a handful of Muslim slaves does not a Muslim scholar make. :)

  26. Avatar

    GC

    February 27, 2014 at 7:51 PM

    I believe the real problem lies in many misunderstanding the Quran and how it applies to today.
    When reading the Quran, one must keep in mind that about 1/3 of it is a historical accountof Islam during the time of Muhammad(pbuh).
    This being said….please keep in mind that many of the commandments given to Muhammad(pbuh) apllied to only him and the people of his time.

    These commandments do not transcend into today’s age.

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      February 27, 2014 at 11:29 PM

      When reading the Quran, one must keep in mind that about 1/3 of it is a historical accountof Islam during the time of Muhammad(pbuh).

      Could you help us out and define how it is determined what 1/3 applied only to those times and is now invalid for us?

      Best Regards
      Aly

      *Comment above is posted in a personal capacity and may not reflect the official views of MuslimMatters or its staff*

    • Avatar

      O H

      March 1, 2014 at 8:40 PM

      That’s a scary premise and HUGE generalisation. If you check the tafseer/explanation of the verses by scholars, there many verses where Allaah Subhana wa ta’ala mentions the Prophet in the verse or referring to the companions but the scholars have extended its application/relevance to the rest of the Ummah. Check the narrations/statements of our righteous predecessors such as the sahabas and those who followed them as they had the deepest understanding of the Qur’an.

      The Prophet (peace be upon him ) said “The best of people is my generation, then those who come after them, then those who come after them (i.e. the first three generations of Muslims).” [Reported by Bukhari and Muslim- Mutawaatir. Muslim, Narrated ‘Aisha – Shaykh Al Albaanee declares it Hasan in Saheeh Al Jaami’ no.3288]

  27. Avatar

    Zeryan Hoshyar

    February 28, 2014 at 2:55 AM

    IN CASE ANYONE HAS NOT SEEN THIS. THE WEBSITE FOR THE PROJECT HAS RESPONDED TO THE FATWA ON THEIR WEBSITE. http://www.mars-one.com/news/press-releases/mars-ones-response-to-the-fatwa-issued-by-the-general-authority-of-islamic

  28. Avatar

    akeesays

    March 1, 2014 at 7:01 AM

    Masha Allah! you are really talented and witty. loved this article. May Allah (swt) keep you and your little family safe. keep writing!

  29. Pingback: Muslims Kill Christians, Bottle Their Blood - Page 3 - Christian Forums

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  32. Avatar

    Marc Peek

    March 13, 2014 at 4:57 AM

    Good article. Makes me want to slow down and ask questions. I have a lot of those.

    • Avatar

      Abez

      March 13, 2014 at 1:35 PM

      Hi Marc, if you’ve got questions, we’ll try to have answers. Muslim Matters is a great place to bring them.

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#Current Affairs

CAA – NRC Row: Why There Is More To It Than An Attack On Secular Ethos

indian economy caa
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‘Indian Muslims have nothing to fear. No one knows what CAA/NRC is all about. They are simply protesting because they are misled’, thus proclaimed a former classmate of mine who himself left India for brighter prospects during PM Narendra Modi’s regime but continues to believe in his promise of ‘acche din’ (good days).

Today the whole of India is divided over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which is to be followed by the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Thousands of students from India’s premier institutions like Jamia Milia Islamia, Jawahar Lal Nehru University, Aligarh Muslim University, Delhi University, IITs and IIMs are thronging the streets to protest against the bigoted law.

The ripple effect has even reached top educational institutions across the world including Harvard, Oxford, Yale and MIT. From lawyers to celebrities to academicians, people across the world, belonging to different religions are raising their dissent against the law which is deemed to be against the secular fabric of the Indian Constitution.

What is this law all about?

The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) provides an accelerated path to Indian citizenship for Hindu, Sikh, Buddhists, Jain, Parsi, and Christian religious minorities from three countries – Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is an official record of all those who are legal Indian citizens. So far, such a database has only been created for the northeastern state of Assam which has been struggling with the issue of illegal immigration for a long time. In Assam 1.9 million people were effectively rendered stateless after NRC and were put into detention centers. Out of these 1.9 million, around 0.6 million are Muslim.

On November 20, Home Minister Amit Shah declared during a parliamentary session that the register would be extended to the entire country.

Why the uproar?

At first glance the CAA seems to be a harmless law, which the government claims was made to help those who are facing religious persecution. However, the question arises why only those suffering religious persecution? Millions of people are suffering persecution in the name of race, region or language in India’s neighboring countries.

Even if we talk about just religious persecution, why does the law only accommodate those from three neighboring countries? Rohingyas are suffering brutal persecution in Myanmar. Christians are suffering in Sri Lanka. Tibetans have been persecuted because of their beliefs.

Many people opine that the CAA is not problematic in itself. It becomes problematic when it’s seen in conjunction with NRC. When NRC is implemented, millions of people will be declared illegal due to lack of documents in a country where the masses live in villages and documentation is a complicated bureaucratic process with a high error rate. According Professor Shruti Rajagopalan, the State Of Aadhaar Report 2017-18 by IDinsight, covering 2,947 households, found that 8.8% of Aadhaar holders reported errors in their name, age, address or other information in their Aadhaar letter (Aadhaar is the identity number issued to Indian residents). In the NRC, a spelling mistake can deprive one of citizenship and 8.8% affects over 120 million people.

They will be rendered stateless and sent to detention centers with inhumane conditions. Out of these ‘illegals’, everyone but Muslims can seek accelerated citizenship under CAA.

The fact is that even if we view CAA alone, the very act of offering citizenship on the basis of religion goes against the fundamentals of secularism and equality as mentioned in the Indian constitution.

UN Human Rights chief, Michelle Bachelet has termed the CAA as “fundamentally discriminatory”.

In this context, it’s also relevant to understand the revolt that is happening in the north eastern state of Assam. While the rest of India is against CAA and NRC for exclusion of Muslims, the people of Assam are protesting against the inclusion of 1.3 million undocumented Non-Muslims, as identified in the NCR. According to them, if these foreigners are granted citizenship under CAA, they pose a threat to the language and culture of Assam.

Police brutality against protesters

Student fraternity across the world was shocked when students of Jamia Milia Islamia who were peacefully protesting against the CAA were brutally attacked by police forces. Police accused students of destroying public property and fired tear gas shells, beat them up mercilessly and even open fired at them. They barged into the library, mosque and even the women’s hostels without authorization.

Video footage shot by students and reviewed by Reuters show students, including women, hiding beneath desks in the library, cowering in restrooms, jumping over broken furniture in an attempt to flee. It was later verified that none of the students had anything to do with some of the buses that were set ablaze outside the campus.

Reports of even more horrific police brutality surfaced from Aligarh Muslim University. A student’s hand had to be amputated after a tear gas shell hit him and exploded. Hundreds of students were severely injured.

Section 144 of the Criminal Code which prohibits any gathering of 5 or more people has been imposed across the entire state of UP. Internet has been shut down in several parts.

Videos showing police destroying properties of innocent Muslims in UP have surfaced which the ‘Godi media’, a term coined for PM Modi’s lapdog media, refuses to acknowledge. Innocent youth are being dragged out of their homes and their properties are being seized on the accusation of destruction of public property. Death toll has crossed 22. Thousands are in custody.

It’s not surprising that Narendra Modi is being compared to Adolf Hitler.

India’s secular ethos

Religion based politics is nothing new in India, the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi issue and Gujarat riots being two of the most glaring examples.

However, in day to day life ‘Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isai, Aapas mein sab bhai bhai’ (Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians are all brothers) has not just been a slogan but a way of life.

Muslims in India have held prominent positions in every sphere of life, be it arts, literature, sports or leadership and have been admired by Hindus and Muslims alike.

The current BJP government aims to change all of that with its RSS-inspired fascist ideology of Hindutva – Hindu nationalism andHindu rashtra’ (nation).

India’s faltering economy and dejected youth

One of the heartening aspects of the CAA/NRC uprising is that it is not being seen as just a Muslim struggle. It is rightly being seen as a struggle to uphold the secular ethos of the Constitution of India. However, there is more to this struggle which is being led by the youth of the country.

Underlying the CAA-NRC struggles is the country’s deep disappointment with PM Modi’s lofty promises of ‘acche din’ (good days) which gave the country a new hope . Among other things he promised to make India an economic superpower. Today the nation’s economy is in doldrums which has led to frustration and dejection in the youth.

IMF’s last forecast for India was 6.1% growth in 2019. This has slumped to 4.9%. Unemployment is at a 45-year high and industrial growth rate is negative.

One of the major reasons for the economic slowdown has been the government’s radical decision of demonetization in 2016 which sent the entire country in a turmoil and failed to achieve any of its stated objectives. Small businesses took a further hit with the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

At a time when the government’s primary concern should have been the faltering economy, the government diverted the country’s attention to the Babri Masjid -Ram Janmabhoomi issue. As soon as that ended it announced the CAA and NRC, continuing its propaganda of Hindu nationalism as opposed to real issues faced by the nation.

At this critical junction the economy can be expected to take a further hit by the cost of the implementation of the CAA and NRC exercise.By conservative estimates, nationwide NRC will cost Indians a whopping 500 billion rupees in admin expenses alone. Add to it the massive cost of building and maintaining detention centers across the country and the nation looks set for an economic and logistical nightmare.

Today the educated youth of the country is voicing its frustration at the price the country has been paying due to the government’s fascist ideologies. They no longer want the world to know India for its age old mandir-masjid disputes, mob lynchings, communal riots, human rights violations, poverty or illiteracy.

The current uprising is not just against one particular law.The people, especially the youth of India are protesting for their rights to work together as one nation to take the country towards being an exemplary democracy and an economic superpower.

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#Current Affairs

Strengthen Civic Roots In Society To Be A Force For Good

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For believers the traditions and teachings of the Prophets (blessings on them), particularly Muhammad (peace be upon him), are paramount. Each Prophet of God belonged to a community that is termed as their Qawm in the Qur’an. Prophet Lut (Lot) was born in Iraq, but settled in Trans-Jordan and then became part of the people, Qawm of Lut, in his new-found home. All the Prophets addressed those around them as ‘Ya Qawmi’ (O, my people) while inviting them to the religion of submission, Islam. Those who accepted the Prophets’ message became part of their Ummah. So, individuals from any ethnicity or community could become part of the Ummah – such as the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad.

Believers thus have dual obligations: a) towards their own Qawm (country), and b) towards their Ummah (religious companions). As God’s grateful servants, Muslims should strive to give their best to both their Qawm and Ummah with their ability, time and skillset. It is imperative for practising and active Muslims to carry out Islah (improvement of character, etc) of people in their Ummah and be a witness of Islam to non-Muslims in their Qawm and beyond. This in effect is their service to humanity and to please their Creator. With this basic understanding of the concept, every Muslim should prioritise his or her activities and try their utmost to serve human beings with honesty, integrity, and competence. Finding excuses or adopting escapism can bring harm in this world and a penalty in the Hereafter.

Like many other parts of the world, Britain is going through a phase lacking in ethical and competent leadership. People are confused, frustrated and worried; some are angry. Nativist (White) nationalism in many western countries, with a dislike or even hatred of minority immigrant people (particularly Muslims and Jews), is on the rise. This is exacerbated through lowering religious literacy, widespread mistrust and an increase in hateful rhetoric being spread on social media. As people’s patience and tolerance levels continue to erode, this can bring unknown adverse consequences.

The positive side is that civil society groups with a sense of justice are still robust in most developed countries. While there seem to be many Muslims who love to remain in the comfort zone of their bubbles, a growing number of Muslims, particularly the youth, are also effectively contributing towards the common good of all.

As social divisions are widening, a battle for common sense and sanity continues. The choice of Muslims (particularly those that are socially active), as to whether they would proactively engage in grass-root civic works or social justice issues along with others, has never been more acute. Genuine steps should be taken to understand the dynamics of mainstream society and improve their social engagement skills.

From history, we learn that during better times, Muslims proactively endeavoured to be a force for good wherever they went. Their urge for interaction with their neighbours and exemplary personal characters sowed the seeds of bridge-building between people of all backgrounds. No material barrier could divert their urge for service to their Qawm and their Ummah. . This must be replicated and amplified.

Although Muslims are some way away from these ideals, focusing on two key areas can and should strengthen their activities in the towns and cities they have chosen as their home. This is vital to promote a tolerant society and establish civic roots. Indifference and frustration are not a solution.

Muslim individuals and families

  1. Muslims must develop a reading and thinking habit in order to prioritise their tasks in life, including the focus of their activism. They should, according to their ability and available opportunities, endeavour to contribute to the Qawm and Ummah. This should in start in their neighbourhoods and workplaces. There are many sayings of the Prophet Muhammad on one’s obligations to their neighbour; one that stands out – Gabriel kept advising me to be good to my neighbour so much that I thought he would ask that he (neighbour) should inherit me) – Sahih Al-Bukhari.
  2. They must invest in their new generation and build a future leadership based on ethics and professionalism to confidently interact and engage with the mainstream society, whilst holding firm to Islamic roots and core practices.
  3. Their Islah and dawah should be professionalised, effective and amplified; their outreach should be beyond their tribal/ethnic/sectarian boundaries.
  4. They should jettison any doubts, avoid escapism and focus where and how they can contribute. If they think they can best serve the Ummah’s cause abroad, they should do this by all means. But if they focus on contributing to Britain:
    • They must develop their mind-set and learn how to work with the mainstream society to normalise the Muslim presence in an often hostile environment.
    • They should work with indigenous/European Muslims or those who have already gained valuable experience here.
    • They should be better-equipped with knowledge and skills, especially in political and media literacy, to address the mainstream media where needed.

Muslim bodies and institutions

  • Muslim bodies and institutions such as mosques have unique responsibilities to bring communities together, provide a positive environment for young Muslims to flourish and help the community to link, liaise and interact with the wider society.
  • By trying to replicate the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah, they should try to make mosques real hubs of social and spiritual life and not just beautiful buildings. They should invest more in young people, particularly those with professional backgrounds. They should not forget what happened to many places where the Muslim presence was thought to be deep-rooted such as Spain.
  • It is appreciated that first-generation Muslims had to establish organisations with people of their own ethnic/geographical backgrounds. While there may still be a need for this for some sections of the community, in a post-7/7 Britain Muslim institutions must open up for others qualitatively and their workers should be able to work with all. History tells us that living in your own comfort zone will lead to isolation.
  • Muslim bodies, in their current situation, must have a practical 5-10 year plan to bring new blood and change organisational dynamics. Younger, talented, dedicated and confident leadership with deep-rooted Islamic ideals is now desperately needed.
  • Muslim bodies must also have a 5-10 year plan to encourage young Muslims within their spheres to choose careers that can take the community to the next level. Our community needs nationally recognised leaders from practicing Muslims in areas such as university academia, policymaking, politics, print and electronic journalism, etc.

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#Current Affairs

SaveUighur Urges Muslim Community To Support Black Friday Boycott Of “Made in China” Clothing

Cotton made in China
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SaveUighur.org is urging Masjids and Islamic organizations to call for a Black Friday/Cyber Monday boycott of any clothing made in China this week.

Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, is the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States, with retailers offering deals and discounts in stores and online.

China is currently engaged in a campaign of cultural genocide and forced assimilation of its Uighur Muslim community in East Turkestan (Xinjiang) in northwest China.

SaveUighur.org is a campaign to raise awareness about this human rights tragedy.

Clothing is specifically being targeted for boycott because experts say 80% of cotton used in Chinese clothing comes from East Turkestan, where forced labor is routinely used. As well, 30% of all U.S. clothing comes from China.

“Americans must send a message to the Chinese government that its horrific abuse of Uighurs will not be tolerated,” said Aydin Anwar, an Uighur-American activist with SaveUighur.org. “We must avoid buying clothing made in China because it would mean tacit approval of the Chinese government’s genocide of Uighurs. Boycotting products made in the country will send a strong message.”

Since April 2017, the Chinese government has thrown about 800,000 to two million Uighurs and other Muslims into the largest concentration camps since those of Nazi Germany during World War II. Prisoners have been subjected to torture, gang rape, and medical experimentation. It has also forcibly separated families, sending children to state-run child welfare institutions and boarding schools without access to their parents, and without parental consent.

Outside of the camps, Uighurs are subjected to strict surveillance of all communication within and outside of China, and spies are sent to live in Uighur homes.

SaveUighur.org is calling for the Muslim community to support this campaign and to encourage family, friends, and followers on social media to do the same using hashtags like #SaveUighur #BoycottMadeInChina #boycottchina #china #uighurs #uighur #FastFromChina

(1) Take a picture of the Made In China item.

(2) Write a message saying you are NOT buying it since it comes from China.

(3) Mention you are supporting the people of East Turkestan. Tag the manufacturer and shop, if possible.

(4) Use the hashtags #SaveUighur #BoycottMadeInChina #boycottchina #china #uighurs #uighur #FreeEastTurkestan

For more information about the campaign, please visit SaveUighur.org

CONTACT: Aydin Anwar, C: 571-344-3885

“We must avoid buying clothing made in China because it would mean tacit approval of the Chinese government's genocide of Uighurs. Boycotting products made in the country will send a strong message.”Click To Tweet
SaveUighur.org is calling for the Muslim community to boycott Made in China clothing, using hashtags like #SaveUighur #BoycottMadeInChina #boycottchina #china #uyghur #uighur #FastFromChina Click To Tweet
(1) Take a picture of the Made In China item. (2) Write a message saying you are NOT buying it since it comes from China. (3) Mention you are supporting the people of East Turkestan. Tag the manufacturer and shop, if possible. (4) Use the hashtags #SaveUighur #BoycottMadeInChina #boycottchina #china #uighurs #uighur #FreeEastTurkestan For more information about the campaign, please visit SaveUighur.orgClick To Tweet

 

“The South China Morning Post reports that U.S.-based scholars and experts spoke before legislators about how Uighurs who have been forcibly held in detention centers have been put to work in factory jobs. Companies that used these factories staffed by Uighurs and other Turkic minorities would receive government subsidies for each individual trained and employed, along with shipping subsidies. This cheap labor along with the government subsidies would result in very low manufacturing costs, “undercutting global prices,” according to testimony presented at the hearing by the Center of Strategic and International Studies. This could turn Xinjiang into a hub for low-cost manufacturing.

According to reliable sources such as the agricultural research company Gro Intelligence, a vast cotton-producing industry has been developed in Xinjiang which supplies 80 percent of the country’s total cotton output. This would mean that any cotton clothing sourced from China would be suspect of containing cotton grown using slave labor.

Furthermore, the Chinese Communist Party is transferring Uighur and other Turkic people to other parts of China forcibly, so the task of tracking forced labor of Uighur is no longer limited to Xinjiang (East Turkestan) but to the rest of the country, making it virtually impossible to track the forced labor of prisoners. How can third-party auditors ensure that the workers in these factories are not Uighurs removed from Xinjiang (East Turkestan)?”

Open Letter to Costco On Chinese Products Made by Forced Labor

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