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Texas Falls Victim to Terror

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Syrian boys, whose family fled their home in Idlib, walk to their tent, at a camp for displaced Syrians, in the village of Atmeh, Syria, Monday, Dec. 10, 2012

Syrian boys, whose family fled their home in Idlib, walk to their tent, at a camp for displaced Syrians, in the village of Atmeh, Syria, Monday, Dec. 10, 2012

Terror has taken over Texas.

Not with guns or bombs, but with fear and xenophobia.

Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, the state in which I live (sometimes to my embarrassment), sent President Obama a letter today informing him that the state of Texas will not accept any Syrian refugees, and he urges the President to stop his plans to accept Syrian refugees in this country.  He is joined in this refusal by the governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Illinois, and Michigan. The number of governors denying refugee settlement is growing (22 by some online reports).

I do not feel safer because Governor Abbott has closed our doors to Syrian refugees.

Rather, I feel vulnerable because this refusal reflects our government’s inability to find a way to keep us safe from terrorists, as the governor himself states.

I am ashamed that the fear engendered by the terror attacks in Paris has defeated us.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said in a statement that he will do “everything humanly possible to stop any plans from the Obama administration to put Syrian refugees in Mississippi.”  That almost sounds like a feeble call to war.

It is rhetoric that appeals to those who feel threatened by the ‘new’ others, who accuse the president of weakness.

I don’t consider these governors to be honorable men. They are cowards who are not inclined to use their intellect or resources to devise a plan for America to be safe and compassionate.  They don’t really care for the hungry and homeless of Syria any more than they care for the children who walk hundreds of miles across deserts alone to breach the Mexican border.

They prefer partisan talk and talk of states’ rights.

Laura Turner writes in the Religion News Service: “Syrian refugees need the aid and shelter of the global community, and Christians should be the first to answer the call for hospitality.” In a Christian-majority country, where is the hospitality of which she speaks?

Perhaps the governors’ refusal reflects their ignorance of current events in Syria, that many are fleeing the Assad regime, which commits atrocities against men, women and children daily. But Assad doesn’t violate buildings in Parisian neighborhoods; the Eiffel Tower cannot be lit with any color representing his victims.

And perhaps Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal chooses to ignore the possibility that his own parents, immigrants from Punjab, might have been refused entry to the United States were an ISIS-type entity operating in India and our elected officials closed our doors.

Adding to the mix are reports that the Syrian passport found at one of the attack sites was fake. A top EU official claims,

“Let me underline—the profile of the terrorists so far identified tells us this is an internal threat. It is all EU citizens so far. This can change with the hours, but so far it is quite clear it is an issue of internal domestic security,” High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini stated, following a gathering of EU foreign ministers.”

Are Americans not strong enough, smart enough, willing enough, to compassionately open our borders to the lost and vulnerable?  Or are we so fearful we hide from the enemy behind metaphorical walls?

The pedestal of the statue of Liberty contains these verses meant to honor all those who flee poverty and oppression:

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Today at Lady Liberty’s feet rest the ghostly voices of drowned children, terrified mothers, fathers begging Christian Europeans for bread, for shelter, for warmth.

Will America allow terror to win?

[Update 11/17/15]: Following these refusals to admit Syrian refugees (now made by over half the nation’s governors), a number of media outlets and refugee services organizations have shared details about the rigorous process for approving refugee status.  Here is one, from CNN. It’s worth noting one commentator’s logical point: that refugees can move into one of the states whose governors have pledged not to admit Syrian refugees.  That is because the approval process is a federal one.

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Keith

    November 17, 2015 at 3:02 AM

    One other thing all the terrorists who attacked Paris have in common is that they are all Islamic, there are no Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs or Hindus fighting with the Islamic state, why not?
    Yes there are muslims who are good people who do condemn the violence being carried out by the Islamic State, but I have not heard anyone challenging the theological arguments and verses from the Koran and Hadiths that they use to justify the violence. In fact I have been told by one Muslim that those verses do not exist at all and that I am lying. Why can I read them then?
    Why can’t Muslims debate what is in the Koran and what those verses of violence mean to the rest of the world, including Muslims who want to live in peace, as they are understood by a lot of Muslims. It may only be a minority but when ComRes conducted a poll for the BBC in May this year it showed that 24 percent of the Muslims in the UK believe it is acceptable to use violence against those who, they believe, have insulted YOUR prophet. Very nearly a quarter of all Muslims is not a tiny minority, especially when you consider that in the 1930’s the Nazi party only had 4 percent of the German population of Germany as members and by the start of WWII there were only 7 percent of Germans as members of the party. Think what that 24 percent minority can do to turn the rest of the world against Muslims.
    But all we hear from people like the author of this article is blame everyone else for Islams problems.

    • Avatar

      Ali Davoudi

      November 17, 2015 at 7:09 AM

      The holy Quran is a scripture that can be interpreted in a number of ways. Your claim that Muslims don’t refute the ISIS interpretation is a faulty one. Look for example at the “open letter to al Baghdadi”, a letter in which a number of prominent muslims, denounce the Islamic State and it’s self proclaimed leader.

      I think that every non-believer who is scared of Islam or Muslims should try to understand one simple thing:
      When the human mind creates an idea and chooses something to justify it with, that’s where the problem starts. One must indeed fear the individual who plans to do something terrible in the name of something or someone.
      To say that Islam has nothing to do with ISIS is wrong in my opinion. But, the thing is, ISIS or any group for that matter, could have chosen any number of religions or causes to justify their acts of war against innocents. The fact that they use Islam is what makes it so sad for the majority of Muslims.

      One more thing though.
      If it’s true what the media portrays about Islam and it’s followers. That Islam is a hateful religion, having the sole purpose of eradicating every non-muslim. That every muslim is secretly planning to kill non-believers and overthrow their governments.

      There are over 1.5 billion Muslims in the world and this number is growing every day.
      If a small group like ISIS is capable of so much death and chaos, what if all Muslims joined this cause? Wouldn’t it be just a matter of time before we took over the world?
      Or even if we didn’t take over.
      Wouldn’t there be more attacks in western countries? Kidnappings? Beheadings?

      The fact that this isn’t the case, shows that it’s a very small percentage of people who believe in violence against non-believers AND act upon it.

      • Avatar

        Truth

        November 19, 2015 at 2:26 AM

        Yes Ali Davoudi I agree. Muslims do dispute ISIS. However there is obviously a crisis of authority in Islam. Who is right and who is wrong? Islam cannot agree itself about itself. The clear solution is to simply Purge Quran and hadith of all violent verses
        Ali DavoudinI I disagree that any group or religion can justify their actions like ISIS. Take Buddhism and Christianity for example. Yes atrocities have occurred in Buddhist and Christian countries but they are much harder to justify by using their foundational scriptures. Take the New Testament for example. I challenge you or or any one to find even one directive to violence. You will Not find one. Nil. Zero. Contrast this with the Quran and hadith and you will find hundreds.
        You Say There are over 1.5 billion Muslims and If a small group like ISIS is capable of so much death and chaos, what if all Muslims joined this cause? Wouldn’t it be just a matter of time before we took over the world? There can be any number of reasons for this … I think you would agree however even if Muslims do not pick up bombs or guns many support arrogant notions of Islam just in their thinking. Look at the Turkish soccer crowd that booed during the one minute silence for the Paris victims. There is much in Muslim thinking and attitude that is antagonistic to the non Muslim world and the West in particular.
        Further more many Muslims are only Muslim in name. Many don’t even know the Quran and many who do are sane enough to not follow it.

    • Avatar

      Mustafa

      November 17, 2015 at 11:03 AM

      We don’t blame everyone else for Islams problems(it doesn’t have any) but we do blame you for your problems. Stop Western terrorism and imperialism in Muslim lands. It is regrettable that some extremist Muslims have decided to follow the terrorist ways of the West and assault innocent people and they are a group we are doing everything we can to eradicate.

      Hence, the majority of people fighting DAESH are themselves Muslims in Iraq and Syrian and Kurd lands.

      • Avatar

        Truth

        November 22, 2015 at 4:07 AM

        To Mustafa
        What garbage. Islam is pulling itself apart and you say islam dosnt have problems. Read the news. And cut your victim blame game of “western imperialism and terrorism”. It’s the same old Muslim blame game rather than facing up to its own failings. No doubt you think the US shouldn’t have gone into Afghanistan to defend itself.
        The West is far more open and honest about its mistakes than any Muslim nation. Look at the Muslim Turkish genocide of more than 1 Million non Muslim Armenians during WW1. And Turkey still refuses to admit it even happened let alone apologise.

    • Avatar

      Ruth Nasrullah

      November 20, 2015 at 3:58 PM

      Thanks for the comment, Keith. There are numerous articles on this site regarding the issue of Islam and violence.

  2. Avatar

    Asim

    November 17, 2015 at 10:53 AM

    Keith

    ” I have not heard anyone challenging the theological arguments and verses from the Koran and Hadiths that they use to justify the violence. ”

    All you have to do is a simple search to find many refutations of ISIS on religious grounds by many leading scholars.

    Please do a google search on refutations of ISIS by Yasir Qadhi, Waleed Basyouni, and Hamza Yusuf.

    You will find what you need.

    • Avatar

      Asim

      November 17, 2015 at 10:55 AM

      FYI…I tried to post direct links to some of these talks, but MM filters were not allowing me to post it.

    • Avatar

      Sean

      November 20, 2015 at 2:30 AM

      Yasir Qadhi is on record as saying that the lives and property of the mushrikoon are legally his in a state of jihad. Whether he disagrees with ISIS on the fine points of jihadist practice hardly matters to me. I regard anyone who says what he did as my sworn enemy.

      And how many Muslims agree with him? I no longer talk to any Muslim who is not willing to disavow the Koranic dictates towards non-Muslims. I am not going to pretend to have a civil discussion with someone who would dominate, enslave or kill me if only the circumstances were right.

      The reason there are not more beheadings and attacks in Western nations today is because we spend untold billions in exposing and foiling terrorist and extremist plots with a very sophisticated system of law enforcement and intelligence agencies. What we hear about is the tip of the iceberg. The money and effort we spend on Islamic terror detection is taken from the mouths of needy and vulnerable Americans.

  3. Avatar

    Aafia

    November 17, 2015 at 11:55 AM

    It is saddening that People blame our scripture out of ignorance.I eally pray to Allah to give hidaya to People who think that Quran contains ayah of violence.Quran strictly warns against making corruption on land.http://islamhashtag.com/why-islamic-terrorism-is-not-islamic-at-all/.You may find some verses which looks as if it is calling for violence but when you studt the context in which the verses were revealed you won’t feel the same.Sadly People pick up ayahs or part of ayahs to prove Islam as a violent religion but in reality Islam is nothing but Peace.

    • Avatar

      Truth

      November 19, 2015 at 2:29 AM

      Aafia
      you can talk about context all you like but the fact is the Quran and hadith are full of orders to violence. Also remember Mohamad was a War Lord. So to say that Islam is a religion op peace is historically and theologically wrong.
      Until the Quran and hadith are purged of all violent verses then Islam will continue to be inherently dangerous and violent.

  4. Avatar

    Wael Abdelgawad

    November 17, 2015 at 4:22 PM

    These sorts of refugees have always been on of the pillars of American strength. Many are highly qualified, and all are willing to work hard. People like this tend to appreciate American freedoms and democracy all the more because of the anarchy and dictatorship they fled. One famous descendant of a Syrian immigrant was Steve Jobs, who created one of the most dynamic and inventive companies in America.

    Will there be violent individuals among these refugees? No doubt, yes, just as there are violent individuals already here in our nation, including white supremacists and other home-grown whackjobs. But that’s not a reason to deny the need of innocent suffering people.

    • Avatar

      Truth

      November 19, 2015 at 2:28 AM

      Yes Wael Abdelgawad
      America is a country founded by immigrants. However im not aware of any time in US history where it has taken in a group conditioned in distrust or out rightly antagonistic to it like Muslims generally are. Muslims need to be honest and admit that Islam has a natural distrust to the non Islamic world. This began with Mohamad and the early Caliphs invasions of Roman Southern Europe and the Persian Empire.

      • Avatar

        Ruth Nasrullah

        November 20, 2015 at 4:08 PM

        Hello Truth. Throughout American history, Native Americans, black slaves and their descendants have been, and to some extent continue to be, the most distrustful and/or antagonistic groups within this country. Something to think about.

    • Avatar

      Faisal

      November 19, 2015 at 4:44 PM

      Why do you make such a strong assumption that there will be violent individuals among Syrian refugees?

    • Avatar

      Truth

      November 22, 2015 at 4:09 AM

      Hi Ruth
      regarding US distrust of Native Americans and black slaves. None of the above had the same organised fascist theology or philosophically that currently permeates Islam. As I said the Muslim natural distrust of the non Islamic world goes as far back as Mohamad and the early Caliphs invasions of Roman Southern Europe and the Persian Empire. My point about Sheikh Muhammad Ayed speech being a further case in point.

  5. Avatar

    Mohammed Khan

    November 18, 2015 at 1:03 AM

    An article posted just couple of days before on Muslim Matters explains what Islam truly calls for and why ISIS is not representative of Islam.
    http://muslimmatters.org/2015/11/15/isis-and-its-faulty-logic/

  6. Avatar

    Ruth Nasrullah

    November 18, 2015 at 12:46 PM

    The Washington Post wrote a well-reported article revealing that the terrorists’ ability to travel easily from Syria through Europe was created in part by poor border control of European countries. By contrast, the US does extensive vetting of applicants for refugee status, which includes investigation by DHS and FBI.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/the-mystery-surrounding-the-paris-bomber-with-a-fake-syrian-passport/2015/11/17/88adf3f4-8d53-11e5-934c-a369c80822c2_story.html?tid=pm_world_pop_b

    • Avatar

      Truth

      November 19, 2015 at 2:31 AM

      Ruth what you are over looking is that the majority of terrorist acts in Europe have been perpetrated by home grown second generation Muslim kids.

      • Avatar

        Ruth Nasrullah

        November 20, 2015 at 4:09 PM

        That has no bearing on the issue of Syrian refugees coming to the US.

    • Avatar

      Truth

      November 22, 2015 at 4:19 AM

      Hello Ruth
      I believe it does have bearing on Syrian refugees coming to the US if a similar a situation develops in the US as exists in Europe where second generation Muslim members of the country become philosophically opposed to their own country.

  7. Avatar

    Truth

    November 19, 2015 at 2:18 AM

    America is a country founded by immigrants. However im not aware of any time in US history where it has taken in a group conditioned in distrust or out rightly antagonistic to it like Muslims generally are. Muslims need to be honest and admit that Islam has a natural distrust to the non Islamic world. This began with Mohamad and the early Caliphs invasions of Roman Southern Europe and the Persian Empire.
    Ruth. You write “Rather, I feel vulnerable because this refusal reflects our government’s inability to find a way to keep us safe from terrorists…”But that’s just what the Governor is doing Ruth. Keeping his people safe by curbing Muslim immigration.
    You quote Laura Turner “In a Christian-majority country, where is the hospitality of which she speaks?” What you need to understand is that the Bible makes it clear the responsibility of the State is to wield the sword. That means it has the states responsibility to protect its people. Any Christian charity that is expressed is the responsibility of individual Christians – not the state.
    And in terms of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal perhaps you chooses to ignore the fact that the Punjab is predominantly Sihk. Without the same inherent violence found in the Quran and Hadith.

    • Avatar

      Ruth Nasrullah

      November 20, 2015 at 4:17 PM

      Please see my reply above to a similar comment you made regarding groups who distrust America.

      To say that the US is vulnerable to terrorist infiltration is a form of surrender. If we are courageous enough and smart enough to improve our vetting system, let’s hurry up and do it. If not, we are sending a message to our enemies that we’re just not capable of keeping them out.

      Today Indiana Gov. Pence “turned away” a Syrian refugee family slated for assignment in his state. As I have mentioned on social media, the irony lies in the fact that his state has some of the highest murder rates in the country. I’d rather have a refugee family in my own home than set foot in Gary.

      As for my reference to Gov. Jindal, the point is that in the scenario I mentioned his family would have been innocent victims of the evil of others.

      • Avatar

        Faisal

        November 20, 2015 at 10:32 PM

        The bottom line is that America should be taking in the highest number of Syrian refugees and doing much more to rid the region of ISIS. America is guilty of creating this whole mess and it’s time to step up and show the world some humanity for a change. Until then, America remains the biggest terrorist threat to the world.

      • Avatar

        Truth

        November 22, 2015 at 4:24 AM

        To say the US is vulnerable to terrorist infiltration is not surrender. It is a reality. But yes I agree. Lets improve the vetting system. Or perhaps[s another alternative would be for the US to preasure the wealthy Gulf countries to take refugees. They appear to have done very little for their bretheren. Or perhaps the US should help fund the camps in Turkey or Jordan In terms of the murder rate in Gary I believe you are unnecessarily complicating the issue and in terms of Gov Jindal your analogy was hypothetical and as such appears to have little practical application to this situation.
        As I said im not aware of any time in US history where it has taken in a group conditioned in distrust or out rightly antagonistic to it like Muslims generally are. Islam has a natural distrust to the non Islamic world. This began with Mohamad and the early Caliphs invasions of Roman Southern Europe and the Persian Empire.
        In regards to US distrust of Native Americans and black slaves none of the above had the same organised fascist theology or philosophically that currently permeates Islam.
        Look at the speech Sheikh Muhammad Ayed gave at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem where he encouraged Muslim refugees going to go Europe and breed as some kind of Islamist expansionist plan. You can Google it if you wish. I believe this kind of Islamist fascist thinking is more common than most Muslims would admit.

    • Avatar

      Truth

      November 22, 2015 at 4:28 AM

      Faisal
      The US did not create ISIS Faisal. It had some influence but the main reason for the ISIS problem lies with the failed “Arab Spring”, the Sunni Shiite divide and the inherent violence found in the Quran and hadith.
      If any thing the US needs preasure the wealthy Gulf countries to take refugees. They appear to have done very little for their brethren. Why is that ?

  8. Avatar

    Faisal

    November 19, 2015 at 3:25 PM

    Salaam sister,

    The real terrorists are ignorant fools like your governer and the like in the US who have no humanity. They don’t care about the Syrian refugees, the women and children who have seen and felt so much pain and suffering. Syria is in a state of civil war because of the abhorrent foreign policy of the US. How can you feel proud of such an ugly monster!?

    • Avatar

      Truth

      November 22, 2015 at 4:03 AM

      More of the Muslim blame game. Playing the victim card and not facing up to its own failings.

  9. Avatar

    Chantelle

    November 19, 2015 at 11:35 PM

    ISLAMIC STATE’s attacks are attacks on Muslims, too
    1. So-called “ISLAMIC STATE” did this! NOT the “Muslims.”
    France’s Muslim population between 5,000,000 and 6,000,000 (May census) are targeted right along with other French citizens.
    So-called “ISLAMIC STATE” operatives and “involved network” individuals total around fifteen hundred, who may have shown desire to leave for “controlled zones” of “ISLAMIC STATE JIHADIS”. 460 reached the region, but 210 came back (most likely disillusioned).
    2. So-called “ISLAMIC STATE” attacks everyone, everywhere – including Muslims.
    Muslims were not spared in cosmopolitan and integrated places under attack. So-called “ISLAMIC STATE” terrorists could care less they were injuring and killing Muslims right along with everyone else.
    3. France’s Muslims immediately spoke up against these (and other) attacks by “ISLAMIC STATE” terrorists.
    Charlie Hebdo and HyperCacher grocery store attacks in January were clearly the work of antagonists and instigators were actually in direct opposition to Quran and Islamic teachings.
    4. French Muslims Also Worry About Violence & Attacks.
    Muslims worry about threats, attacks and violence against Muslim in coming days. Mosques and Muslim school children under attacks already and increasing even before Paris attacks.
    In France this year, anyone who even looked like Northern African (all of Northern Africa are Muslims) have been slandered and even physically attacked.
    5. Refugees did NOT cause the problem – They were the TARGET too!
    Refugees have already risked everything, even death while escaping terrorism in their home land.
    Refugees are running from violence and fear of so-called “ISLAMIC STATE” (IS)! They fear the very source of the terrorism that we all fear.
    The possibility that one out of thousands running to safe countries might be a terrorist posing as a refugee – only adds to the serious threat these poor people experience in very strict investigations for identification by immigration authorities.
    6. REAL MUSLIMS Joined Others to Give Security and Shelter for Everyone
    Many Parisians including Muslims, used hashtag ‪#‎porteouverte‬ offering shelter and protection for anyone stranded on city streets, afraid or uncertain how to return safely.
    French civic spirit was demonstrated within Muslim hearts as well as Christians, Jews and other faiths.
    France approaches regional elections next month (December). Question: “Will French leaders echo this spirit of openness to all French population, including Muslims?”
    Or will they echo the likes of racism and prejudice, using so-called “ISLAMIC STATE” rhetoric and propaganda to promote further division, while offering justification for more violence to already unstable “Jihadist” mentality?
    What if we all take a break here, look into what REAL ISLAM is teaching, not media hype over so-called “ISLAMIC STATE” or “ISIS”? – Yusuf Estes
    More? http://www.ShareIslam.com (look for About Jihad)

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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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