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Anti-Muslim Bigotry

How Mars Became Haram: A Guide to Freaky Fatwa News

Zeba Khan

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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

 

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

  30. Pingback: Ssh! No Islam Please, We’re Bengali | Nuraldeen

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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

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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