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The Bigots in Our Backyard

Some of the more memorable signs read, “Qur’an is hate speech,” “I’m the infidel your imam warned you about,” “Bible and Gun,” “Go home and take Obama with you,” and much more profane words were screamed out during the event.

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What do you call people protesting an anti-Terror conference? Yes, you read that right. An entire conference dedicated to condemning extremism, terror, and hate in the name of Islam, hosted by Muslims, was graced by protestors who claimed to be conducting a #freespeechrally. To break it down these people are against those who are against terrorism. Would that make them pro-Terror?

That would make sense considering some of the scary signage and chanting that were seen in various locations all over Texas this past weekend, in protest of SoundVision’s “Stand with the Prophet Against Terror and Hate” Seerah Conference that took place in Dallas and Houston. The conference featured Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Prof. John Esposito, and Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid.

In an official statement, Imam Mujahid, president of Sound Vision, expressed disappointment about planned protests of the conference.

“We are disappointed that a rally aimed at standing with Prophet Muhammad against hate and terror is being opposed. Some designated hatemongers, such as Pamela Geller, are terrorizing a family event through their protests. We have been threatened physically and verbally, and have beefed up security for our event because of this. Who, now, is doing the terrorizing?

We also ask who is the enemy of free speech? How ironic that those who accuse Muslims of opposing free speech have placed hundreds of calls and pressured Garland’s Curtis Culwell Center to cancel our event. How can you claim to be in favor of free speech and deny that very right to those you disagree with?

We invite all protesters to visit our website, www.SoundVision.com, to discover that we stand for Islam, we fight for America, and we preach freedom and democracy. This is why the U.S. State Department is supporting our work and our voice. Our aim has, and continues to be, sharing our faith through education, discussion, and debate.”

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“Bible & Gun”

Local news channels gave a decent amount of coverage to the event, and multiple attendees told the same story. On the one side were the #freespeechrally protestors, headed by Pamela Geller, a professional anti-Muslim bigot, blaring threats and profanities into their bullhorns. On the other side were the #OneLove ralliers, protesting the other protest. Confused yet?

According to some accounts, several of the #freespeechrally protestors were armed, and they were intentionally making threats and throwing insults. Some of the more memorable signs read, “Quran is hate speech,” “I’m the infidel your imam warned you about,” “Bible and Gun,” “Go home and take Obama with you,” and much more profane words were screamed out during the event.

An organizer of the #OneLove counter rally, Huma Yasin, who is a lawyer in the Dallas area had these comments, “Never in my life have I experienced that level of hate in such close proximity, real, palpable vitriolic hatred. In life, things are rarely 100% pure, but if there was ever a pure contrast, Saturday was the moment – one side exemplified bitter hatred and the other love and compassion.”

She described one of the most moving scenes of the protest – when the Muslims amongst the counter-protestors congregated for Asr prayer, the #freespeechrally participants revved up their motorcycles and circled the worshipers, trying to drown out the sounds of the prayer. Unfortunately for them, there were many supporters of other faiths who had come to show solidarity with the Muslims, and they formed a physical barrier to protect the worshipers as they prayed.

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Muslims and non-Muslims forming a human barricade to protect those praying.

Yasin said, “When my brothers and sisters gathered for congregational prayers, they knew it would be too much of a security threat for them to pray together, so they had to break the congregation into two sessions. Each session formed a human chain protecting those prostrating themselves in love and humility to their Lord. All around motorcyclists came and revved their engines so that the people praying would be disturbed, using megaphones to heckle those who were affirming their love of God and, through God, their love for humanity. While this was happening, I had my heart in my throat… I kept thinking, my kids… my kids are watching this. Is this really the world they’re growing up in? But then, I thought you know what? Yeah, they are watching this. And we talk about stories of the Prophet all the time, including when he ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was being abused and verbally accosted and our focus is always on how he responded. This was their opportunity to LIVE the Seerah. They know the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) experientially now. They understand how difficult it is to fight hate with love.”

Children and adults alike, in various parts of Dallas and Houston, got to see the face of bigotry first hand (yes, it is 2015), ironically, on the weekend before this country celebrated the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. Despite or, perhaps, because of the extra media attention, the SoundVision conference was a success. However, these events make it painfully clear that anti-Muslim bigotry has hit a new and unprecedented high.

Even as millions of normal peace-loving Muslims the world over are exasperated at having to condemn and make excuses for all the crazies out there, the anti-Muslim bigots seem to be multiplying and demanding censures, apologies, and mass deportation of the millions of Muslim citizens of this country. As almost all of the Muslims at this event, and across the country, point out – we are home. We are as American as the rest of you, and when you ‘rally’ for free speech you do realize that very same amendment of the Bill of Rights also grants freedom of religion don’t you? According to our founding fathers, they go hand in hand. So don’t raise your voice in ‘free speech’ (even vile speech spewed in hate) if you can’t stand by the rest of that amendment.

bigots5This ultimately leads to the question – what do we as Muslims do about all the hate? Is it even our problem? (Yes) Is it now normal for Muslims to find protestors screaming obscenities at them outside their mosques and conferences? The answer is actually not complicated at all. In Dallas, lovers of peace and co-existence, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, handed out flowers, water, and red balloons to the protestors who were screaming obscenities and threatening physical violence. Why? Simple enough. That is what Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would have done.

An old woman  and a neighbor of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) made a habit of throwing trash in his way whenever he passed by her house, trying her best to irritate him. One day, when he walked out of his home there was no garbage. This made the Prophet inquire about the old woman and he came to know that she was sick. The Prophet went to visit her and offer any assistance she might need. The old woman was extremely humbled and at the same time ashamed of her actions in light of the concern that the Prophet showed her. By seeing the example of compassion of Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), she became convinced that Islam must be a true religion.

Farnaz Mawla was born in Chicago, IL but spent several of her formative years in Saudi Arabia. Her family returned to Houston, TX during the first Gulf War. She attended University of Houston where she completed a BA in Journalism and a BS in Biology. She then went on to complete a Masters in Hospital Administration/MBA combination. Throughout her educational career she was an avid writer and editor at various school/college newspapers and newsletters. She now lives in Dallas, TX with her husband and three kids.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Wael Abdelgawad

    January 21, 2015 at 9:26 PM

    Thank you sister Farnaz. The hadith cited at the end is appropos and enlightening. It’s so easy to be angry with these people and to respond to their meanness in kind. But that will get us nowhere in this society, and will do nothing for our imaan. As you said, this is an opportunity for us to have a small taste of what the sahabah experienced. May Allah allow us to succeed in this test.

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    GregAbdul

    January 22, 2015 at 9:02 PM

    as salaam alaikum,

    I sat with a Nation of Islam used-to-be on New Year’s Day. He went on an on about how great the Nation was and how African American Muslims needed to reclaim leadership of Islam from the newly rising immigrant community. He was an old guy, so I spent a lot of time trying to respectfully disagree with him. But I conceded him one point and I hope that left us with some sort of truce: the immigrant community often thinks it is beyond the prejudice that black people are subject to in America, even as people like Geller, Spencer and Pipes make it crystal clear, that if anything, they hate immigrant American Muslims MORE than black American Christians. We are all struggling to find an Islamic identity and in our urge to get along, often we compromise our Islam, hoping show non Muslims that we are flexible and “moderate,” when it comes to our religion. Please don’t be offended with me, no statement can totally capture any entire group. But many of you don’t understand these old white people here. They are so wonderfully portrayed on TV, but the reality is, they are used to employees and associates who they get to control on the basis of them getting to say who you sleep with and what you pray to and they take it as a basic insult that you sit there taking money from them and they are not ten feet deep into your social life, approving of your wife and what kind of person you are. This is especially true in the Old South. I am not here demanding we all put on thobes and live in caves. I am asking that you understand the great value that the African American Muslims around you possess. We have been at this fight longer than you. We know the intractability of many of these people. Often, I run into huge denial and strange comments. One immigrant Muslim guy told me, “this is the white man’s country. You need to follow his rules or leave!” This is our country too. Being an American really is one long unending fight, because as Americans, we decide the nature of our government and there will always be those who disagree with us. The nutty Muslims resort to violence. As Malcolm said, you are then speaking the language of the most violent people on earth. Our Islamic fight, as we follow our Prophet, is most of all, a fight of ideas, and we must continually sharpen and present those ideas with the best words. And we never lose faith in those words that represent true Islam and putting those words into action. I close with a quick example. We just celebrated MLK, who said, judge people as individuals, by the content of their character, not on superficial labels. Yet what do you see these hateful white people do, 50 years after MLK? They are fighting to make our prayers a shorthand that unthinking people can use to judge every single one of us who prays this way. There are bad Muslims. We will never win if we insist that somehow we are responsible for every bad apple in a group that is almost two billion. They are fighting to use the exception and present it as the rule. They have done it with every group they hate. Jews were swindlers. Blacks are lazy crooks. They always come with the mindless collective argument. This is the first lie and idea of theirs we have to break. We are individuals. None of us is perfect. But to reduce me to an evil because you disapprove of my prayers shows they are not with America’s founders or MLK. WE Muslims stand with America’s founders and like MLK we have to make it clear who’s really engaged in un-American activities on this one.

    • Avatar

      Truth

      January 25, 2015 at 11:02 AM

      It is White people who love to murder and hate who are the nutty ones, the radicals, the extremists, THE terrorists! And the western hemisphere belongs to the Natives and not to the white thieving oppressors – the same goes for Africa, Australia and all of Asia!

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#Islam

What Does Sharia Really Say About Abortion in Islam

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice, Islam recognizes the nuance.

Reem Shaikh

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The following article on abortion is based on a research paper titled ‘The Rights of the Fetus in Islam’, at the Department of Sharia at Qatar University. My team and I presented it to multiple members of the faculty. It was approved by the Dean of the Islamic Studies College, an experienced and reputed Islamic authority.

In one swoop, liberal comedian Deven Green posing as her satirical character, Mrs. Betty Brown, “America’s best Christian”, demonized both Sharia law as well as how Islamic law treats abortion. Even in a debate about a law that has no Muslim protagonist in the middle of it, Islam is vilified because apparently, no problem in the world can occur without Islam being dragged into it.

It is important to clarify what Sharia is before discussing abortion. Sharia law is the set of rules and guidelines that Allah establishes as a way of life for Muslims. It is derived from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, which is interpreted and compiled by scholars based on their understandings (fiqh). Sharia takes into account what is in the best interest for individuals and society as a whole, and creates a system of life for Muslims, covering every aspect, such as worship, beliefs, ethics, transactions, etc.

Muslim life is governed by Sharia – a very personal imperative. For a Muslim living in secular lands, that is what Sharia is limited to – prayers, fasting, charity and private transactions such as not dealing with interest, marriage and divorce issues, etc. Criminal statutes are one small part of the larger Sharia but are subject to interpretation, and strictly in the realm of a Muslim country that governs by it.

With respect to abortion, the first question asked is:

“Do women have rights over their bodies or does the government have rights over women’s bodies?”

The answer to this question comes from a different perspective for Muslims. Part of Islamic faith is the belief that our bodies are an amanah from God. The Arabic word amanah literally means fulfilling or upholding trusts. When you add “al” as a prefix, or al-amanah, trust becomes “The Trust”, which has a broader Islamic meaning. It is the moral responsibility of fulfilling one’s obligations due to Allah and fulfilling one’s obligations due to other humans.

The body is one such amanah. Part of that amanah includes the rights that our bodies have over us, such as taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally – these are part of a Muslim’s duty that is incumbent upon each individual.

While the Georgia and Alabama laws in the United States that make abortion illegal after the 6-week mark of pregnancy are being mockingly referred to as “Sharia Law” abortion, the fact is that the real Sharia allows much more leniency in the matter than these laws do.

First of all, it is important to be unambiguous about one general ruling: It is unanimously agreed by the scholars of Islam that abortion without a valid excuse after the soul has entered the fetus is prohibited entirely. The question then becomes, when exactly does the soul enter the fetus? Is it when there is a heartbeat? Is it related to simple timing? Most scholars rely on the timing factor because connecting a soul to a heartbeat itself is a question of opinion.

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The timing then is also a matter of ikhtilaf, or scholarly difference of opinion:

One Hundred and Twenty Days:

The majority of the traditional scholars, including the four madhahib, are united upon the view that the soul certainly is within the fetus after 120 days of pregnancy, or after the first trimester.

This view is shaped by  the following hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إن أحدكم يجمع خلقه في بطن أمه أربعين يوما ثم يكون في ذلك علقة مثل ذلك ثم يكون في ذلك مضغة مثل ذلك ثم يرسل الملك فينفخ فيه الروح..

“For every one of you, the components of his creation are gathered together in the mother’s womb for a period of forty days. Then he will remain for two more periods of the same length, after which the angel is sent and insufflates the spirit into him.”

Forty Days:

The exception to the above is that some scholars believe that the soul enters the fetus earlier, that is after the formation phase, which is around the 40 days mark of pregnancy.

This view is based on another hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إذا مر بالنطفة إثنتان وأربعون ليلة بعث الله إليها ملكاً، فصوره، وخلق سمعها وبصرها وجلدها ولحمها وعظمها…

“If a drop of semen spent in the womb forty-two nights, Allah sends an angel to it who depicts it and creates its ears, eyes, skin, flesh and bones.”

Between the two views, the more widespread and popular opinion is the former, which is that the soul enters the fetus at the 120 days (or 4 months) mark, as the second hadith implies the end of the formation period of the fetus rather than the soul entering it.

Even if one accepts that the soul enters the fetus at a certain timing mark, it does not mean that the soul-less fetus can be aborted at any time or for any reason. Here again, like most matters of Islamic jurisprudence, there is ikhtilaf of scholarly difference of opinion.

No Excuse Required:

The Hanafi madhhab is the most lenient, allowing abortion during the first trimester, even without an excuse.

Some of the later scholars from the Hanafi school consider it makruh or disliked if done without a valid reason, but the majority ruled it as allowed.

Only Under Extreme Risks:

The Malikis are the most strict in this matter; they do not allow abortion even if it is done in the first month of pregnancy unless there is an extreme risk to the mother’s health.

Other Views:

As for the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of thought, there are multiple opinions within the schools themselves, some allowing abortion, some only allowing it in the presence of a valid excuse.

Valid excuses differ from scholar to scholar, but with a strong and clear reason, permissibility becomes more lenient. Such cases include forced pregnancy (caused by rape), reasons of health and other pressing reasons.

For example, consider a rape victim who becomes pregnant. There is hardly a more compelling reason (other than the health of the mother) where abortion should be permitted. A child born as a result in such circumstances will certainly be a reminder of pain and discomfort to the mother. Every time the woman sees this child, she will be reminded of the trauma of rape that she underwent, a trauma that is generally unmatched for a woman. Leaving aside the mother, the child himself or herself will lead a life of suffering and potentially neglect. He or she may be blamed for being born– certainly unjust but possible with his or her mother’s mindset. The woman may transfer her pain to the child, psychologically or physically because he or she is a reminder of her trauma. One of the principles of Sharia is to ward off the greater of two evils. One can certainly argue that in such a case where both mother and child are at risk of trauma and more injustice, then abortion may indeed be the lesser of the two.

The only case even more pressing than rape would be when a woman’s physical health is at risk due to the pregnancy. Where the risk is clear and sufficiently severe (that is can lead to some permanent serious health damage or even death) if the fetus remained in her uterus, then it is unanimously agreed that abortion is allowed no matter what the stage of pregnancy. This is because of the Islamic principle that necessities allow prohibitions. In this case, the necessity to save the life of the mother allows abortion, which may be otherwise prohibited.

This is the mercy of Sharia, as opposed to the popular culture image about it.

Furthermore, the principle of preventing the greater of two harms applies in this case, as the mother’s life is definite and secure, while the fetus’ is not.

Absolutely Unacceptable Reason for Abortion:

Another area of unanimous agreement is that abortion cannot be undertaken due to fear of poverty. The reason for this is that this mindset collides with having faith and trust in Allah. Allah reminds us in the Quran:

((وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْئًا كَبِيرًا))

“And do not kill your children for fear of poverty, We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.” (Al-Israa, 31)

Ignorance is not an excuse, but it is an acceptable excuse when it comes to mocking Islam in today’s world. Islam is a balanced religion and aims to draw ease for its adherents. Most rulings concerning fiqh are not completely cut out black and white. Rather, Islamic rulings are reasonable and consider all possible factors and circumstances, and in many cases vary from person to person.

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice. These terms have become political tools rather than sensitive choices for women who ultimately suffer the consequences either way.

Life means a lot more than just having a heartbeat. Islam completely recognizes this. Thus, Islamic rulings pertaing to abortion are detailed and varied.

As a proud Muslim, I want my fellow Muslims to be confident of their religion particularly over sensitive issues such as abortion and women’s rights to choose for themselves keeping the Creator of Life in focus at all times.

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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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