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Khawarij Ideology, ISIS Savagery: Part One

Shaykh Abu Aaliyah Surkheel

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As ISIS continues its murder and violence across the provinces it controls and seeks to control, and as it continues to plague the conscience of the great majority of Muslims around the world, what’s worth recalling is that we’ve seen this before in history with the sect called the Khawarij (anglicized to Kharijites). So before tackling ISIS, let’s look at their forerunners; the Kharajites, to whom their pedigree can be traced.

I

The hadith canons relate that shortly after the battle of Hunayn while the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was distributing charity to a few people whose hearts needed to be reconciled, there came a man with a thick beard, prominent cheek bones, deep sunken eyes, protruding forehead and shaven head. He exclaimed: Fear Allah, O Muhammad! The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) responded: ‘Who will obey Allah if I were to disobey him? Am I not [sent as the] most trustworthy person on earth; and yet you trust me not?’ The man then turned back, whereupon one of those present asked for permission to kill him. But the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: ‘Verily, from the progeny (di’di) of this [man] shall come a people who will recite the Qur’an but it won’t pass beyond their throats. They will slay the followers of Islam and would spare the people of idolatry. They will pierce through the religion just like an arrow which goes clean through a prey.[1]

isis1

Another hadith records that this man’s name was Dhu’l-Khuwaysirah, from the tribe of Tamim, about whom the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) alerted: ‘Leave him; he has comrades whose prayer and fasting will make your prayer and fasting seem insignificant. They recite the Qur’an but it doesn’t go beyond their throats. They shall pass through the religion as an arrow that pierces clean through its prey such that, on inspecting the head; then the shaft; then the fletching; then the nock, would see no traces of blood or viscera on it whatsoever.’[2] Ibn al-Jawzi said: ‘The first of the Khawarij, and the most wretched of them, was Dhu’l-Khuwaysirah … His problem was that he was too puffed up with his own opinion. Had he been granted grace, he would have realized that no opinion was above that of Allah’s Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). The followers of this man were those who fought against ‘Ali b. Abi Talib, may Allah ennoble his face.’[3]

A few decades after this post-Hunayn happening, and as had been prophesied, Dhu’l-Khuwaysirah’s ideological comrades and offspring took on the shape of the very first sect (firqah) to deviate from the main body of the Muslims: the Khawarij (culled from the Arabic word kharaja – “to go out” or “to leave” the main body of Muslims). Indeed, their very name was mentioned by the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) himself, who said: al-khawarij hum kilab al-nar – “The Khawarij are the dogs of Hellfire!’[4] The emergence of the Khawarij as a sect occurred during the caliphate (khilafah) of ‘Ali, in the immediate aftermath of a civil war and its arbitration at Siffin.

Ibn al-Jawzi tells us: ‘‘Ali returned from Siffin and entered Kufah: the Khawarij did not follow. Instead, they settled in Harura. There were 12,000 of them, and they were declaring: la hukma illa li’Llah – “There is no judgement, except Allah’s.” This is how they initially started.’[5]

Imam Muslim narrates from ‘Ubayd Allah b. Abi Rafi‘, a freed salve of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), that the Khawarij came out against ‘Ali, and declared: ‘There is no judgement, except Allah’s.’ So ‘Ali replied: ‘A word of truth, intended for something false (kalimatu haqq urida biha batil).’[6]

Imam al-Nawawi explains: ‘Meaning, the basis of their statement was true. Allah says: The judgement is for none but Allah. [12:40] What they intended by it, however, was to reject ‘Ali’s [acceptance of] arbitration, may Allah be pleased with him.’[7]

As with Dhu’l-Khuwaysirah who, blinded by his warped piety and self-righteousness, thought he had a keener sense of justice than the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), the Khawarij were also possessed of holier-than-thou pretensions and smug convictions. It is this puritanical, embittered self-righteousness – devoid of any true glimmer of knowledge or spiritual wisdom – that is the hallmark of the Khawarij and their ideological cousins who drink from the same murky theological waters today. Of course, along with such fanatical zeal, their other great infamy was takfir – declaring other Muslims to be disbelievers, and spilling their blood because of it.

II

The historians al-Tabari and Ibn Kathir chronicle alarmingly precise accounts of their intimidation, violence and terror. Under the events of 37H/657CE they detail how the Khawarij began terrorizing the countryside around Nahrawan, Iraq, subjecting those whom they caught to an imtihan or “inquisition”. If the answers failed to satisfy their zeal for purity, or agree with their understanding of things, then the punishment was death. Things came to a head when they chose ‘Abd Allah, son of an early companion, Khabbab b al-Aratt, as their victim.

A number of the Khawarij rode into his village for supplies and thought to make an example of him. They fired their loaded questions at him. They first asked him about the caliphates of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman. ‘Abd Allah extolled them all and praised their successive caliphates. So far, so good. They then asked him about ‘Ali, and his state before and after the arbitration or tahkim. ‘He has far greater knowledge about Allah than you do,’ replied ‘Abd Allah, ‘and has much more piety in terms of his religion and possesses greater insight.’ With that, his fate was sealed. They bound and dragged him and his pregnant wife to an orchard laden with date palms, next to a river.

As they were proceeding to kill him, a date fell to the ground, so one of the Khawarij picked it up and put it in his mouth. ‘Do you do that without the owner’s permission and without paying for it?’ said one of his Kharajite comrades. He spat it out instantly. Another Khariji, wielding his sword in threatening circles, accidentally killed a cow that had been wandering behind him. His comrades insisted he should go and find the owner and pay him the full price of the animal. They waited whilst he did so. Thus, having acted most righteously in the matter of the date and the cow, they slit ‘Abd Allah’s throat and then disemboweled his wife. Date spat out, cow paid for, husband, wife and unborn child butchered; and with the clearest of consciences, they purchased their supplies and went on their way.[8]

Theologians have differed as to the precise meaning of the Prophet’s words ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him): ‘They will pierce through the religion (yamruquna min al-din) as an arrow which goes clean through a prey.’ The idea of maraqa – an an arrow ‘piercing’ or going ‘clean through’ its prey with such force and velocity that it exits its prey without any trace of blood or flesh sticking to its tip or shaft, describes emphatically how the Khawarij immerse themselves in religion, but exit straight through it. The question, however, is do they exit the fold of orthodoxy (and become heterodox, deviant Muslims), or do they leave the actual fold of Islam? A minority of scholars went with the latter view; most went with the former.[9] The majority view takes its cue from ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, who was asked: Are the Khawarij mushrikun? He said: ‘They flee from shirk.’ Are they munafiqun? He said: ‘The hypocrites remember Allah only a little.’ Then what are they? He said: ‘They are our brothers who transgressed against us (ikhwanuna baghaw ‘alayna), so we fought them for their transgression.’[10]

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Abu Aaliyah is the founder of The Jawziyyah Institute, a leading institute for Islamic moderation and contemporary thought in the United Kingdom. Sidi Abu Aaliyah has been in involved in Dawah and Islamic teachings since 1986. He has translated a number of books from the Arabic language into English such as "The Exquisite Pearls". Abu Aaliyah's written works and audio lectures can be found online.

27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Amatullah

    August 25, 2015 at 12:37 AM

    One of the MOST informative article around! JazakhAllah khayr for the immense information about the Kharijites. May Allah protect our deen.

    • Avatar

      hadjer

      August 26, 2015 at 2:37 PM

      sister can u tell me how can i have account here to publish a topics about islam

  2. Avatar

    Ibn Islam

    August 25, 2015 at 10:44 PM

    This article highlights some of the traits of the khawarij and links them to isis. However; it does oversimplify this matter. I strongly encourage the author and other scholars to thoroughly elucidate some of the actions of isis, rather than completely dismiss them as. Oversimplifying this matter by describing the actions of this group as “non-islamic”, is not doing justice.
    It is important to put things into correct perspective which it deserves in order not to loose the wide majority audience. Clarification is needed today more than ever because those who know the seerah of the prophet Muhammad salallahu alayhi wa salam in depth cannot consolidate with generalization of this matter. In no way or form do I support actions of isis, however we need proper guidance in this matter. Making the claim that Islam and the Prophet Muhammad salallahu alayhi wa salam are all about mercy and denying all other actions causes alienation of the young and mature Muslims at large, as well mistrust deviation. Using the “young” card and “lack of wisdom” is the wrong approach. The hadith pertaining to the “foolish” and “young” has its validity without a doubt. Needles to say that the youth has always been at the forefront bringing positive change while the majority of scholars have been remaining passive in the matters of the global Muslim community throughout history.

    In order to consolidate the matter things need to be addressed by those with adequate knowledge:

    1. What constitutes kufr (disbelieve) ie. the 10 nullifers of Islam
    2. How to work towards establishing Islam as a state
    3. What kind of allegiance is permitted to Muslims and to whom
    4. Denouncing the men made systems and upholding the Islamic identity while being part of the society.

    May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala give us the understanding of the right path and make us follow it.

    • Abu Aaliyah

      Abu Aaliyah

      August 26, 2015 at 3:06 AM

      As-salamu alaykum wa rahmatullah.

      I’m surprised at the comment and also rather baffled. I’ve not even got to the part about ISIS yet. I’ve made that abundantly clear at the beginning and end of part one. I’ve also not used the word “unIslamic” about them, since I don’t find that very helpful. Hence your commrbts seem somewhat untimely or misplaced. Surely the reasonable thing to do would have been to wait until the next part, till I actually wrote something about ISIS, before launching your criticisms and allegations.

      One reasons I decided to write something about this (after consulting some of my teachers) is because I wasn’t quite satisfied with much of what was currently out there. A lot of it was just telling us how harsh and unIslamic they are which, as I’ve said, isn’t very helpful. I was hoping to do a little more than that, bi’idhnillah. (Wether I succeed or not remains to be seen).

      A few of those on Muslim Matters know of my work for the last twenty years or so. I hope you believe me when I tell you I’m really not in the habit of tackling issues which I’m not qualified for, nor do I write for popularity. I write with the depth I believe does some justice to the topic, and only after things have been well thought out (even if, sometimes, that takes a year or two before putting pen to paper, as in this case). The end product can still be littered with errors, unhelpful and besides the point; though it’s unlikely to be shallow, or written in ignorance and haste.

      My brother, be patient, pray that Allah guides me to write something of substance, give me the benefit of the doubt, and – if I may ask – try not to be so assuming or judgemental about me.

      You may even be pleasantly surprised at part two; then again, you may not. It’s unlikely that any one single article could ever hit all the proverbial nails on the head in this matter.

      Let’s just wait; like many other sons and daughters of Islam, my heart bleeds for the situation too.

      Here’s hoping.

      Your brother, at your service.

      And Allah alone gives success.

      • Avatar

        Amatullah

        August 27, 2015 at 12:06 AM

        Agree with every word said by bro Abu Aaliyah. The comment by Ibn Islam is misplaced and doesn’t make sense. It was as if the article was read with a prejudiced mind of finding whatever the reader wanted to read and NOT what the article was for!

  3. Avatar

    Kamal Ahmed

    August 27, 2015 at 12:44 PM

    The article clearly has not yet directly touched any aspect of ISIS yet so I dont understand the fuss that brother Ibn Islam is trying to create. The article has only mentioned ISIS two times and that too in the opening paragraph. So my advice to Brother Ibn Islam is to either clarify his position or retract his comment. Jazakallah Brother Abu Aaliyah for the insightful article. Looking forward to the part 2.

    • Avatar

      GregAbdul

      August 30, 2015 at 6:38 AM

      I am not a Muslim scholar, but the atrocities committed by Da’esh are well documented and space is wasted here by going in to them here in detail. There is no justification for the slaughter going on in Syria by Assad or Da’esh. Innocent Muslims are being slaughtered and starved to death. One group does it under a false pretense of bringing the world pure true Islam. The analogy is pretty obvious, I thought. I fail to understand what details you seek. It’s as if you need convincing that Da’esh is killing innocent Muslims. Are you one of those who think Da’esh is a creation of America?

    • Avatar

      GregAbdul

      August 30, 2015 at 2:15 PM

      Sorry Brother Ahmed. I did not look carefully at what you wrote and shot off my mouth before having complete understanding. May Allah forgive me. I guess I am of the group that is prejudging Da’esh. Millions of Muslims are suffering. Yassir Qadhi is one who was off the deep end of Salfism, but al hamdullilah, he has pulled back and is a pleasure to listen to these days. For me, I see Muslims doing stupid things in the name of purity and I am very tired of it. I just listened to a lecture where the Imam said that a person has to invite you into their heart. Only Allah has unlimited access. Only Allah has final judgement. One of our primary commands is kindness. Da’esh, I don’t think anyone is debating how kind they are. I lose track of Muslim Matters sometimes. Al hamdulillah for this site and this article. I know, for me, I am pretty familiar with Da’esh, at least from a media perspective, but I am weak on Islamic history and this is what impresses me about this article. I learned the linguistics of why the Khawarij have a second name and the exact start of these “deviant Muslims.” This is valuable knowledge. May Allah reward the author. Those who criticize, may not see, but some of us see their criticism as a defense for Da’esh. Sorry being long and will soon shut up. Our job, after we find guidance, is to assist others in finding Allah’s guidance. The matter of being guided is strictly a matter of the heart and we pray that Allah allows us to be a way for others to escape the fire. We have to win hearts fee sabeelillah. What has that got to do with shooting people, torture and rape? May Allah make us successful as we continue the mission of our Prophet.

  4. Avatar

    tortal

    August 27, 2015 at 5:02 PM

    Sufaha’ al-ahlam would work much better translated as, “of foolish ambitions” or “having foolish notions” or something of that sort.

    When I read the Arabic, it just doesn’t strike me as meaning “weak of intellect”.

    • Abu Aaliyah

      Abu Aaliyah

      August 28, 2015 at 8:29 AM

      Thank you for an alternative translation. However, when one consult the books of commentary on this hadith, one finds that the phrase is understood as a kinayah; a metaphor. It is a metaphor for those who lack depth of knowledge and understand; those who only understand things at a surface level.

      We also learn a valuable lesson, which is that to understand such important socio-political and theologically orientated hadiths, we must beware not to explain them merely by taking their lexical meanings. Rather, we need to rely upon the shariah meanings, as given by the qualified jurists, theologians and commentators.

    • Abu Aaliyah

      Abu Aaliyah

      August 28, 2015 at 8:31 AM

      That said, one can see that these Khawarij, because they were “weak in intellect”, ended up with “foolish ambitions.”

  5. Avatar

    M.Mahmud

    August 27, 2015 at 5:40 PM

    I felt like Muslims were over emphasizing the “foolish youth” aspect of it which might almost be seen as an excuse. The core aspect of it highlighted in this article rightfully is their selfrightiousness and arrogance. It is one thing to be foolish and yet another to combine it with the self pride and contempt these crimins have. I have argued with many of them and they are exceptionally arrogant and often of despicable character.

  6. Avatar

    M.Mahmud

    August 27, 2015 at 5:50 PM

    What is also clear is their lack of respect and proper exaltation of Rasulullah sallahualayhiwasalam. It gets in the way of their stubborn arrogance. They ought to be annihilated like Ad was annihilated. May Allah destroy them very soon.

  7. Avatar

    Joe

    August 28, 2015 at 9:12 AM

    As salaam alykum
    One of the best articles I have read so far on the khawarij!!!
    Reminds me of the series by Shaykh Seraj Hendricks many years ago ”The Kharijites and their impact on Contemporary Islam” – I do not know if Shaykh Surkheel has read the series?
    The conversation between Hadrat Ali RA and Hurqus always gives me pause for thought. Hurqus words can be easily translated to the young angry men we find at our mosques and their facebook comments’, they think (and believe) their actions are for Allah:
    [[“‘The intractable Hurqus confronted Sayyidna Ali and said, “O son of Abi Talib, I fight you not except for the sake of Allah, and for my reward in the afterlife.”
    Sayyidna Ali retorted, “Your kind, Hurqus, is the kind that Allahu Ta’ala refers to in the Quran where He states, ‘Say: Shall We tell you of those who lose most in respect of their deeds? Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, while they imagined that they were acquiring good by their works‘ (18: 103). Amongst these – and I swear by this in the name of the Lord of the Ka’ba – are you Hurqus!”]]

    To the people of Allah this is the scariest verse in the Quran 18:103 – we ask Allah’s Pleasure through His Mercy and not through our actions.
    A scholar once told me that the spiritual reason for the khawarij and their deviance is that in the first interaction between Hurqus and the beloved Prophet SAW – Hurqus showed disrespect to the beloved. They have no love for our Prophet SAW inwardly.
    Looking forward to part 2.
    Was salaam

  8. Avatar

    GregAbdul

    August 30, 2015 at 6:30 AM

    subhanallah! Great Article…..I learned something today…al hamdullilah!

  9. Pingback: Comment on Khawarij Ideology, ISIS Savagery: Part One by GregAbdul | Souqhub | Blog

  10. Avatar

    Yusuf Smith

    August 30, 2015 at 12:57 PM

    As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,

    Are ISIS really the modern Khawarij, though? The Khawarij were known, as you say in your article, for exaggerated displays of righteousness and kindness towards non-Muslims and towards animals while they massacred the Believers over petty or ridiculous disagreements. ISIS, like Al-Qa’ida before them, although they do oppress Muslims in the lands they occupy, are not merciful to non-Muslims either in the lands they occupy or in the non-Muslim lands in which they operate (many of which allow Muslims to live unmolested and with greater freedom than in most Muslim countries) where they massacre innocent people, destroy property, menace travellers (notably by hijacking aeroplanes) and behave treacherously and break trusts with both Muslims and others. While they may have been intended to provoke non-Muslims into war against Muslims, and a few Muslims were killed, the immediate targets were non-Muslims. How then are modern extremists Khawarij?

  11. Avatar

    Munawar

    September 4, 2015 at 11:52 AM

    The article by brother Abu Aaliyah is very good & informative. You have drawn good parallels between the Khawarij & ISIS which is very true.
    I think the deeper picture is more disturbing which is as follows:- ( I may be wrong so Allah pardon me)
    The strength of a person is not in his body but in his spirit. The more a person is spiritual the more he is near to Allah the more strong he is. History has proved this in the battle of Badr & even after that when a handful of true spiritual muslims controlled half of the world.
    They fought not for hatred of the enemy but for the love of Allah. Thus they derived their strength from love not hatred.
    Today their descendants depend on a foreign power for their protection. Why?
    The reason is that some vested interests including the descendants themselves attacked our spiritual ethos under the garb of a puritinical Islam & the result is for everyone to see. Country after country which allowed the spiritual Islam to flourish came under attack under one pretext or the other. The first was Afghanistan followed by Iraq , Iran ( this country was saved by the grace of Allah), Egypt & now Syria. It is any bodys guess as to who is funding & supporting these activities. The west is only in the front & its business is to make hay while the sun shines. We cannot blame the west.
    Now their target is India & Pakistan ( although Pakistan today is in deep trouble — again because of the  followers of this puritinical Islam). 

    About a fortnight ago we had an article in The Times Of India which spoke of the Salafi & Sufi divide in India & how a rich middle eastern country is pumping money into India to support Salafism.

    In his 2nd part I request brother Abu Aliyah to throw some light on this aspect especially with regard to 2 renowned muslim scholars one of the12th century the 2nd belonging to the 17th century. Both had a puritinical attitude & were obsessed with Jihad. Most of the puritans follow them.

    It is for every one to see the spiritual divide between the Muslim countries.
    But the most disturbing part is the numbers of these puritans is increasing day by day because even if a false sermon  ( under pressure from vested interests ) is delivered from the pulpit of Haram Sheriff it will be considered as true by the lay Muslim.

  12. Avatar

    JAVAD

    September 28, 2015 at 9:54 AM

    Sorry has the part 2 been published yet? i couldnt find it!!

  13. Pingback: » Khawarij Ideology, ISIS Savagery: Part II

  14. Pingback: » 8 Signs of Extremists According to the Prophet ﷺ | Yahya Ibrahim

  15. Pingback: ISIS and Its Faulty Logic « Muslimyouthstoday's Blog

    • Avatar

      AshShifaa

      November 14, 2016 at 8:24 PM

      Indeed

      ..until you will fight them in the armies of the dajjal , goes the hadeeth, if I am not wrong. isis and Israel are buddies btw.. something to think about , Zionists are the armies of the dajjal, their false messiah being the dajjal himself .
      We have to read and study end time prophecy to underhand this ..

  16. Avatar

    Fahad

    November 21, 2015 at 9:37 PM

    Excellent article. Insha’Allah ISIS will be eradicated like their forefathers or Come back to mainstream Islam soon.

  17. Avatar

    Abu ahmed

    December 28, 2015 at 6:05 PM

    Brilliantly put together.
    Very informative.

    JazakaAllah

  18. Avatar

    Jav

    January 31, 2016 at 1:38 PM

    These khawarij separated themselves from the body politic of muslims ie the caliphate.
    The secular nationalist elites are the ones who did this in the 20th century.
    How are you applying it to others and not this group and their descendants whose islam does not go beyond their necks?

    • Avatar

      jule

      April 28, 2016 at 4:39 PM

      i totally agree
      the khawarij did it when the khilafah was florishing, from wat exactly did our brothers from dawlah islamyah seperate them selves from?
      from corrupt kings? or from people whom do not wish to apply sharia? so tell me exactly whom are the khawarij ?
      brings me to the next equation, we try to make parallels between khawarij between present muslim mujahideen whom are harsh with establishing a muslim country run by the laws God gave us.
      would we apply the parallels if abubakr saddiq was amongst us today?
      he was willing to fight every man neglecting the laws of allah he even did fight muslims that abandoned the pay of zakat, while the muslim army was busy fighting in the front lines he himself went to fight these so called muslims.
      i pray every sible day to bring the muslims together and abandon their differences so we can stand as one for one goal.
      that goal is to establish the word of god to be the highest. every one with a different goal must be put in paralel and questioned about whether he is mukhrij.

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#Current Affairs

Kashmir: Gateway in Turmoil

Abu Ryan Dardir

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A dark day looms over Indian-Administered Kashmir, a Muslim majority region at the heart of a dispute between Pakistan and India. The two countries are at odds over its governance, with direct impact to the welfare and security of the Kashmiri people. On Tuesday 8-6-19, the Indian Parliament passed a bill that strips Kashmir of statehood and places them under indefinite lockdown.

“Kashmiri leaders are appealing to the world to stop the imminent genocide of Kashmiris. Genocide Watch in Washington, DC has already issued a Genocide Alert for India, the so-called “largest democracy in the world” because it has cancelled citizenship of four million Indian citizens, mostly Muslims. This reflects the early stages of a genocide in process.” –Soundvision.com

Kashmir is home to massive energy resources, such as oil and natural gas, non-ferrous metals, uranium, gold, and is abundant in hydropower resources. These too are factors considered in the political movements of India and China. Kashmir’s geopolitical advantages are no secret, and adding China to the political struggle makes three countries trying to benefit from Kashmir’s geographical position.

Kashmir neighbors the Xinjiang Uyghur borders, and China has played a role in both areas. China’s stronghold on Xinjiang revolves around access to Europe and Central Asia. China needs Kashmir to access the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Kashmir is landlocked between China, Pakistan, and India. Pakistan hopes to use infrastructure built under the CPEC initiative to connect by land directly to both China and Central Asia. With that said, Pakistan wants to take advantage of its geographic positioning by serving as a gateway to Afghanistan, then Central Asia, using the CPEC corridor (the China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor), which has parts of that corridor that go through Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

This is upsetting India. India’s ambassador to China, Gautam Bambawale, made a comment in an interview about CPEC saying it “violates our territorial integrity. India believes the CPEC project undermines Indian sovereignty because it passes through a Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir that is still claimed by India.” India also fears the chances of a People’s Liberation Army presence or even a Chinese naval base in Pakistan’s Gwadar seaport, as part of the CPEC corridor.

India has been working on its own project, International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), it is intended to link trade routes between India and Central Asia, Russia, and Europe. Unlike its competition (Pakistan and China), India is unable to directly trade through the land to those regions using INSTC. To make this corridor successful, India will need to collaborate with Iran and use their ports.

India needs Kashmir, and Modi is using hateful nationalism to get the people to support his actions. The part of Kashmir that is needed is not under India’s control, and must be occupied in order for India to have direct access to Central Asia, Russia, and Europe. 

Birds of a feather flock together.

Israel’s Minister for Construction and Housing Yifat Shasha-Biton, while addressing a conference of Indian realtors’ body Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI), called India an “economic power” with whom Israel shares common values.  India using colonization tactics has made allies with the Israeli government, a master on occupation and oppression. 

“Kashmir is under siege…do not let the enforced silence drown our voices.”:

Please keep the people of Kashmir in your prayers. We cannot sit idly while this occupation continues. SoundVision has shared 5 things anyone in America and Canada can do. 

A message from a Kashmiri

“Around 10 pm, a message flashed across our phones announcing that, as per the request of the central government, all domestic networks were to be shut down indefinitely. All mosques, any place equipped with a loudspeaker, began announcing total curfew from 5 am tomorrow……..

You have stripped us of our rights and incited unrest yet again into a peaceful and beautiful place. This time, I pray, you will not escape the international consequences your actions deserve. Rest assured Kashmiris will not break and Kashmir is not gone. Our stories, our language, our heart and our people are stronger than any country can dream. Even under these circumstances, I am sure inshaAllah one day we will be free. One day, Kashmir will be free.” Sanna Wani via Twitter

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#Islam

Muslims for Migrants | A Joint Letter By Imam Zaid Shakir & Imam Omar Suleiman

Imam Zaid Shakir

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migrants

Abu Huraira (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) said, “He who gives respite to someone who is in straitened circumstances, or grants him remission, Allah will shelter him in the shade of His Throne, on the Day of Resurrection, when there will be no shade except its shade.” (Tirmidhi, 1306)

He also said, “There is no leader who closes the door to someone in need, one suffering in poverty, except that Allah closes the gates of the heavens for him when he is suffering in poverty.” (Tirmidhi, 1332)

The message is clear, the way we treat the most vulnerable of Allah’s creation has consequences to us both individually and collectively, and both in this life and the next.

As the humanitarian crisis at the southern border deepens, there is a deafening silence from most corners of the American Muslim community. One might ask, “Why should that silence be concerning?” Shouldn’t the nation of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) who was himself an orphan and a migrant sent as a mercy to the worlds be the first to be moved with the images of children in cages? Migration and asylum are God-given rights that individuals and nations would do well to respect. These rights are affirmed in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah upon him).

Concerning migration, the Qur’an states unequivocally: 

As for those whose souls the angels take while they are oppressing themselves, the angels will say to them, “What was your former state?” They will respond, “We were oppressed in the land.” The angels will counter, “Was not Allah’s earth spacious enough for you to migrate therein.” (4:97)

 The oppression referred to in this verse specifically focuses on persecution because of faith, but the general meaning of the wording can accommodate any form of oppression which involves the denial of a person’s Divinely conferred rights.

Migration lies at the very heart of the prophetic tradition in the Abrahamic religions. Abraham himself was a migrant. His son Ismail was a migrant. The Children of Israel along with Moses were migrants, as was Jesus. Not only was our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) a migrant, he twice sent many of his Companions (May Allah be pleased with them) to Ethiopia to seek the protection of the Negus. The fact that the Muslim calendar is dated from the migration of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) from Makkah to Madinah indicates the lofty place migration has in the life of the Muslim community and in the consciousness of its members. 

Additionally, history records the massive migrations of those Muslims who fled from oppressive, tyrannical, violent rulers or invaders. One of the most famous examples we can relate in this regard is the massive westward migration of those escaping the advancing Mongol hordes. Among those refugees was the great poet, Rumi, who along with thousands of others fled his home in Balkh, located in present-day Afghanistan, eventually settling in Konya, in the heart of Anatolia. Others migrated for economic reasons. The historian, Richard Bulliet, theorizes that the economic collapse of Khurasan, a once-thriving Sunni intellectual hub in eastern Iran, led to the migration of large swaths of its population to Syrian and Egypt. In his view, the many scholars among those refugees led to an intellectual revival in the lands they settled in.

As for asylum, it can be granted by both the state and an individual Muslim to individuals or groups. The foundations of this principle in prophetic practice was established during events which occurred during the conquest of Makkah. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), as the de facto head of state, issued an oath of protection to the people of Mecca when he declared, “Whosever enters the house of Abu Sufyan is safe. Whosoever casts down his weapons is safe. Whosoever closes his door [and remains inside] is safe.” (Sahih Muslim, 1780) Ibn Ishaq’s version adds, “Whosoever enters the [Sacred] Mosque is safe.” (Narrated in Sirah Ibn Hisham, 4:35)

Those enjoying these protections from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) had not committed a crime and although they had not traveled to another land seeking refuge, the description of their land had changed from one under the authority of the Quraysh to one under the authority of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him). In this “new” land they were being guaranteed safety and subsequently freedom even though they had not yet embraced Islam.

 A related event is Imam Ali’s sister, Umm Hani, granting asylum to al-Harith bin Hisham and Zuhayr bin Ummayya that same day. When faced with the prospect of their execution by her brother, Imam Ali, she locked them in her house and went to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) to inform him that she had granted them asylum. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) responded, “We grant asylum to those Umm Hani has granted asylum to and we protect those Umm Hani has extended protection to.” (Sirah ibn Hisham, 4:42) In other words, the entire Muslim community, globally, is bound to respect the oath of protection or asylum granted by even an individual Muslim.

This idea of the entire Muslim community respecting a grant of asylum extended by even a single Muslim is strengthened by the Hadith:

 The protection of the Muslims is one and the least of them can grant it. Whosoever violates the asylum extended by a Muslim upon him falls the curse of Allah, His angels and all of humanity. Never will an obligatory or voluntary act be accepted from him. (Bukhari, 3172)

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) praised the Ansar of Madinah for how they loved those that migrated to them and preferred them even over themselves. (Quran: 59:9) They bore no resentment to those that migrated to them and sought reward only from Allah for sustaining them. They knew that supporting those in need was only a means of goodness in their lives rather than a burden. These powerful Islamic teachings have been codified by our scholars into a sophisticated system of amnesty, asylum, and respect for the status of refugees.

Hence, when we view the sickening conditions those migrating to our southern borders are exposed to, we should be touched and moved to action knowing that our religion grants those fleeing persecution, oppression, or ecological devastation, the right to migrate and to be duly considered for asylum. Our actions, however, must be based on principle and knowledge. We should further vigorously defend the dignity our Lord has afforded to all human beings, and our obligation to assist those who are suffering from recognized forms of oppression.

We must also understand that the rights to migration and asylum have been codified in the most widely accepted Muslim statement on human rights: The Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, Article 12; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 14; the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (ADRDM), Article 27; and the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR), Article 22. The United States is a signatory party to the UDHR, and by way of membership in the Organization of American States (OAS), reluctantly accepts the authority of the ADRDM and the ACHR, although she has never ratified the latter two.

Our view on this issue should also be informed by the knowledge of our own country’s history as a nation of immigrants in the Native’s land. It should further be shaped by understanding the way nativist and white supremacist tendencies have fueled xenophobic and exclusivist policies and how in many instances our sometimes misguided policies have created many of our most vexing human rights challenges. It must also be informed by our obligation as American citizens.

For example, we need to understand that the overwhelming majority of families, children and individual adults arriving at our southern border from the “Northern Triangle” of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are fleeing intolerable levels of violence. That violence is not just that of ruthless street gangs, such as MS-13, it also emanates from government-sponsored death squads, many of which were organized and trained by the CIA or the US military at the former School of the Americas based at Fort Benning, Georgia. The infamous Battalion 316 of Honduras was an American-trained death squad responsible for hundreds of extrajudicial killings in that country during the 1980s and into the 1990s as well as the kidnapping and torture of thousands of Honduran citizens during the same period. These death squads are beginning to reappear in the wake of a wave of right-wing regimes assuming power throughout Latin America.

The combination of American political and economic pressure through the mechanisms of neocolonialism used to control and systematically under-develop former and present “banana republics,” the International Monetary Fund (IMF), plutocratic regimes increasingly beholden to Washington DC, integrating the violence of both death squads and drug cartels into their crushing of both popular dissent as well as any attempts at economic diversification and stratification help to create the conditions producing the waves of migrants moving towards our southern border. Long before they sought to cross our borders, our borders crossed them.

Long before they sought to cross our borders, our borders crossed them.

Despite the history, the way that the Trump administration has chosen to deal with the current crisis, largely for cheap race-baited political gain, has challenged the God-given rights to migration and asylum, exacerbated the humanitarian crisis at the border, and diminished the standing of the United States internationally. It is critical to understand, however, that just as the policies producing the floods of migrants from parts of Latin America are not uniquely a product of the Trump administration, Trump is not the first racist to occupy the White House. We could mention Richard Nixon, who famously embraced Kevin Philip’s “southern strategy,” to wrest the south from the control of the Democrats; we could mention the KKK-loving, segregationist, Woodrow Wilson; we could mention the slave-driving, genocidal ethnic cleanser Andrew Jackson, as well as others.

What makes Trump unique, as Greg Grandin emphasizes in his latest book, The End of the Myth, is that Trump is a racist who has appeared at a time America is no longer, via conquest or economic domination, expanding her frontiers. With the ensuing erasure of the myth of American exceptionalism, the “American people” can no longer point to our global economic or political domination as the difference between “them” and “us.” 

Unable to deflect our nagging national problems, one of the most vexing being the race issue, by looking outward, large numbers of white Americans are turning inward with xenophobic frenzy. That inward turn creates a focus on outsiders who threaten “our” rapidly disappearing “purity.” Hence, the border, symbolized by the wall, becomes not just an indicator of national sovereignty, it becomes a symbol of white identity. A symbol Trump invokes with seldom matched mastery. Vested with the passion emanating from the defense of an embattled race, innocent brown children taken from their mothers and imprisoned in overcrowded, feces-stained gulags become easily dismissed collateral damage.

Generally speaking, the same playbook that has been employed against the Muslim and other immigrant communities, specifically refugees from the Middle East, has been employed against the immigrant community as a whole. In far too many instances, America’s destructive foreign policy leaves helpless populations running to our shores, increasingly to be dehumanized and disregarded again in order to pander to the worst of our domestic propensities.

Launchgood.com/migrants, migrants, Muslims

So we call upon the Muslim community to not only assist in efforts to support our migrant brothers and sisters but lead the way. Get involved in advocacy work, support immigrant justice organizations, join the sanctuary efforts and lend yourself and your wealth in whatever way you can to be at their aid. By the Grace of Allah, we have launched a campaign to reunite as many families as we can. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) said, “Whoever separates a mother from her child, Allah will separate him from his loved ones on the Day of Resurrection.” (Tirmidhi, 1566) We hope that in reuniting families, Allah will reunite us with our beloved ones on the Day of Resurrection, and specifically with the beloved Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) in the highest gardens of Paradise.

Imam Zaid Shakir, Imam, Lighthouse Mosque

Imam Omar Suleiman, Founder & President, Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research

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Were Muslim Groups Duped Into Supporting an LGBTQ Rights Petition at the US Supreme Court?

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Muslim organizations, Muslim groups

Recently several Muslim groups sent an amicus brief to the US Supreme Court to support LGBTQ rights in employment.  These groups argued“sex” as used in the Civil Rights Act should be defined broadly to include more types of discrimination than Congress wrote into the statue.

A little background. Clayton County, Georgia fired Gerald Lynn Bostock. The County alleged Bostock embezzled money, so he was fired. Bostock argues the real reason is that he is gay. Clayton County denied they would fire someone for that reason. Clayton County successfully had the case dismissed saying that even if Bostock is right about everything, the law Bostock filed the lawsuit under does not vindicate his claim. The case is now at the Supreme Court with other similar cases.

The “Muslim” brief argued the word “sex” should mean lots of things, and under the law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act), LGBTQ discrimination is already illegal.  American law has developed to provide some support for this argument, but there have been divisions in the appellate courts. So this is the exact sort of thing the US Supreme Court exists to decide.

The Involvement Of Muslim Groups

In Supreme Court litigation, parties on both sides marshal amicus briefs (written arguments) and coordinate their efforts to improve the effectiveness of their advocacy, there are over 40 such briefs in the Bostock case. Groups represent constituencies with no direct stake in the immediate dispute but care about the precedent the case would set.

The Muslim groups came in purportedly because they know what it’s like to be victims of discrimination (more on that below). The brief answered an objection to the consequences that could come with an expansive definition of the term “sex” to include gay, lesbian, and transgender persons (in lieu of its conventional use as synonymous with gender, i.e., male/female). In particular, the brief responded to the concern that “sex” being defined as any subjective experience may open up more litigation than was intended by making the argument that religion is a personal experience that courts have no trouble sorting out and that, like faith, courts can define “sex” the same way.

While this may be interesting to some, boring to others, it begs the question:  why are Muslim groups involved with this stuff? Muslims are a faith community. If we speak *as Muslims* is it not pertinent to consult with the traditions of the faith tradition known as Islam, like Quran, Hadith and the deep well of scholarly tradition?  Is our mere presence in a pluralistic society enough reason to ignore all this and focus on building allies in our mutual desire to create a world free of discrimination?

Spreading Ignorance

In July of 2017, the main party to the “Muslim” brief, Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV), was expelled from the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Convention bazaar.  I was on the Executive Council of the organization at the time but had no role in the decision. The reason: MPV was dedicated to promoting ignorance of Islam among Muslims at the event. The booth had literature claiming haram was good and virtuous. Propaganda distributed at the table either implied haram was not haram or alternately celebrated haram.

For any Muslim organization dedicated to Islam, it is not a difficult decision to expel an organization explicitly dedicated to spreading haram. No Muslim organization, composed of Muslims who fear Allah and dedicate their time to Islam can give space to organizations opposed the faith community’s values and advocates against them in their conferences and events.  Allah, in the Quran, tells us:

immorality

Indeed, those who like that immorality should be spread [or publicized] among those who have believed will have a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah knows, and you do not know.

It would be charitable to the point of fraud to characterize MPV as a Muslim organization. That MPV has dedicated itself to promoting ignorance of the religion within the Muslim community is not in serious dispute.  The organization’s leader has been all over the anti-Sharia movement.

Discrimination against Muslims is bad, except when it’s good 

The brief framed the various organizations’ participation by claiming as Muslims, we know what it is like to be on the receiving end of discrimination. This implies the parties that signed on to the Amicus petition believe discrimination against Muslims is a bad thing. For at least two of the organizations, this is not entirely true.

MPV is an ally of another co-signer of the Amicus petition, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).  Both have records that show an eagerness to discriminate against Muslims in the national security space. They both applied for CVE grants. Both have supported the claim that Muslims are a national security threat they are somehow equipped to deal with. I have written more extensively about MPAC in the past; mainly, it’s work in Countering Violent Extremism and questionable Zakat practices.

MPAC’s CVE  program, called “Safe Spaces,” singled out Muslims as terrorist threats. It purported to address this Muslim threat. In June of 2019, MPAC’s academic partner released an evaluation Safe Spaces and judged it as “not successful” citing the singling out of Muslims, as well as a lack of trust within the Muslim community because of a lack of transparency as reasons why the program was a failure. Despite its legacy of embarrassment and failure, MPAC continues to promote Safe Spaces on its website.

MPV was a vigorous defender of MPAC’s CVE program, Safe Spaces.  MPV’s leader has claimed the problem of “radicalism” is because of CAIR, ISNA, and ICNA’s “brand of Islam.”

Law Enforcement Approved Islam

In 2011, former LAPD head of Counter-Terrorism, Michael P. Downing testified during a congressional hearing on “Islamist Radicalization” Downing testified in favor of MPV, stating:

I would just offer that, on the other side of the coin, we should create opportunities for the pure, good part of this, to be in the religion, such as the NGOs. There is an NGO by the name of Ani Zonneveld who does the Muslims for Progressive Values. This is what they say, “Values are guided by 10 principles of Islam, rooted in Islam, including social equality, separation of religion and state, freedom of speech, women’s rights, gay rights, and critical analysis and interpretation.” She and her organization have been trying to get into the prison system to give this literature as written by Islamic academic scholars. So I think there can be more efforts on this front as well.

Downing was central to the LAPD’s “Muslim Mapping” program, defending the “undertaking as a way to help Muslim communities avoid the influence of those who would radicalize Islamic residents and advocate ‘violent, ideologically-based extremism.” MPAC was a supporter of the mapping program, which was later rejected by the city because it was an explicit ethnic profiling program mainstream Muslim and secular civil rights groups opposed.  MPAC later claimed it did not support the program, though somehow saw fit to give Downing an award. Downing, since retired, currently serves on MPAC’s Advisory Council.

Ani Zonnevold, the President and Founder of MPV, currently sits on the International Board of Directors for the Raif Badawi Foundation alongside Maajid Nawaz and Zuhdi Jasser.

MPV has also been open about both working for CVE and funding from a non-Muslim source, the Human Rights Campaign, and other groups with agendas to reform the religion of Islam. It’s hard not to see it as an astroturf organization.

Muslim Groups Were Taken for a Ride

Unfortunately, Muslim nonprofit organizations are often unsophisticated when it comes to signing documents other groups write. Some are not even capable of piecing together the fact that an astroturf organization opposed to Islam, the religious tradition, was recruiting them to sign something.

There are many Muslims sympathetic to the LGBTQ community while understanding the limits of halal and haram. Not everyone who signed the brief came to this with the same bad faith as an MPV, which is hostile to the religion of Islam itself. Muslims generally don’t organize out of hostility to Islam. This only appears to be happening because of astroturfing in the Muslim community. Unfortunately, it was way too easy to bamboozle well-meaning Muslim groups.

Muslims are a faith community. MPV told the groups Islam did not matter in their argument when the precise reason they were recruited to weigh in on the case was that they are Muslim. Sadly, it was a successful con. Issues like the definition of sex are not divorced from Islamic concerns. We have Islamic inheritance and rules for family relations where definitions of words are relevant. Indeed, our religious freedoms in ample part rest on our ability to define the meaning of words, like Muslim, fahisha, zakat, daughter, and Sharia. Separate, open-ended definitions with the force of law may have implications for religious freedom for Muslims and others because it goes to defining a word across different statutes, bey0nd the civil rights act. There would be fewer concerns if LGBT rights were simply added as a distinct category under the Civil Rights Act while respecting religious freedom under the constitution.

Do Your Homework

Muslim organizations should do an analysis of religious freedom implications for Muslims and people of other faiths before signing on to statements and briefs. A board member of MPV drafted the “Muslim” Brief, and his law firm recruited Muslim nonprofit organizations to sign on. CAIR Oklahoma, which signed up for this brief, made a mistake (hey, it happens). CAIR Oklahoma’s inclusion is notable. This chapter successfully challenged the anti-Sharia “Save our State” law that would have banned Muslims from drafting Islamic Wills. Ironically, CAIR Oklahoma’s unwitting advocacy at the Supreme Court could work against that critical result. For an anti-Sharia group like MPV, this is fine. It is not fine for a group like CAIR.

CAIR Oklahoma is beefing up their process for signing on to Amicus Briefs in the future. No other CAIR chapter signed on to the brief, which was prudent. CAIR chapters are mostly independent organizations seemingly free to do whatever they want. CAIR, as a national organization needs to make sure all its affiliates are sailing in the same direction. They have been unsuccessful with this in the past several years. CAIR should make sure their local chapters know about astroturf outfits and charlatans trying to get them to sign things. They should protect their “America’s largest Islamic Civil Liberties Group” brand.

Muslim Leaders Should Stand Strong 

American Muslims all have friends, business associates and coworkers, and family members who do things that violate Islamic norms all the time. We live in an inclusive society where we respect each other’s differences. Everyone is entitled to dignity and fair treatment. No national Muslim groups are calling for employment discrimination against anyone, nor should they.

However, part of being Muslim is understanding limits that Allah placed on us. That means we cannot promote haram or help anyone do something haram. Muslim groups do not need to support causes that may be detrimental to our interests.  Our spaces do not need to be areas where we have our religion mocked and derided. Other people have the freedom to do this in their own spaces in their own time.

Some Muslim leaders are afraid of being called names unless they recite certain words or invite particular speakers.  You will never please people who hate Islam unless you believe as they do.  Muslims only matter if Islam matters.

If you are a leader of Muslims, you must know the limits Allah has placed on you. Understand the trust people have placed in you. Don’t allow anyone to bully or con you into violating those limits.

Note: Special thanks to Mobeen Vaid.

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