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Not One Muslim Dime | Black Friday Without Muslims: An Open Letter from Tariq Toure

Tariq Toure

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[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap] believe this holiday season will be the usual for America. Families will travel as usual, gather as usual, and share the warmth of each other’s presence as usual. Some will travel hundreds of miles in the anticipation of reminiscing on moments that only loved ones could share in euphoria together. Plenty in fact, will muster the strength to mend broken hearts and agree that solace should always supercede petty differences among kin.

People in America will say humble prayers in English, Spanish, Dutch, Malay, Korean, Arabic, French, Xhosa, Fula, Urdu, and partake in meals prepared in harmonious glory. All will explicitly or implicitly offer thanks for the things that are missed in the minutia of day to day life. Homes are to become nightclubs, temples, mental rehab facilities and four to five star restaurants. Muslims of all ethnicities will, per usual, battle with the dichotomy of enjoying their bonds, and being vigilant over the bigotry that is arresting the minds of the American people, from layman to lawyer. Every swallow of food doubles as a reminder that under the current climate, even eating among your beloveds may soon be a privilege worth memorial.

I witnessed the holiday season move calmly upon us almost undetected, mute even. I watched Anti-Muslim Bigotry, Racism, and Xenophobia mutate weekly leading up until now, with the Paris attacks being a catalyst for outright hysteria. Syrians refugees shoved to the margins of the country and their own humanity, are boxed in political fistfights— cold, hungry, no doubt weary.

And the lifelong neighbors of Muslims are being challenged to lift a skeptical gaze at the people who have brought light to their communities. As a 27 year Black man I too know this ‘usual’ gaze. It ebbs and flows with necessity for White America. Yet the ignorance coated in hate remains a constant variable.

Today, Muslim women of various hues are being followed by lone gunmen into masajid. Today, molotov cocktails collide upon the centers of worship. Today, Muslims are attacked and beaten to the chants of “Go back home”. To experience 21st century American racism is to acknowledge that humans who make up political parties have a future for Muslims that entails Holocaust inspired IDs, internment and third-class citizenship.

 

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My skin ports me indefinitely to segment of our society that again, is intimate with these injustices. The heroic struggle of my people afforded all hues of mankind certain rights we are now witnessing politicians and fanatics war to take away here. Thus, our struggles intersect. We no longer have the luxury of turning a naive eye to White Supremacy. We can’t afford for our children to be whole-saled hatred hourly. Specifically what vanguard to this madness can immigrant Muslim families call their own? How do we define a defense that doesn’t continue to kindle the same bigoted flame that Donald Trump is using to light his path to one of the most sadistic political campaigns ever?

As usual, America expects the influx of cash into the economy from hoards of consumers almost coming to blows for the next big bargain. So many across the Black community have promised that in the wake of state sanctioned murders tipping scales likened to the Jim Crow era, that they refuse to be robbed of life and money. The #notonedime movement as well as No Black Friday is a push for economic resistance.

If our country and those who deem themselves Americans are so sure that immigrants are criminals, drug dealers and rapists than I urge the immediate economic withdrawal of “Brown Dollars” i.e. immigrant dollars this holiday season.

If our country and those who deem themselves Americans are so sure that Muslims are prototypical terrorists than I urge the immediate economic withdrawal of “Muslim Dollars” this holiday season.

If we are fully unaware that White Supremacy is not only the greatest domestic terror threat to the American people committing twice the amount of politically aimed violence then we will let those who dwell in blissful ignorance shop by themselves.

Our White Muslim brothers and sisters who are caught in the middle of this crossfire are in a pivotal position to aid one of the most critical boycotts in our history. You too have a stake in this agenda.

For everyone who has been turned a twisted eyed and guillotined with hate speech toward their Islamic faith know that you simply refusing to participate in the grazing cow show that is the holiday season, is more than enough. Remember the children who have not touched these shores, that wait on the promise of unconditional compassion at borders without parents.

Think deeply then, about the irrational hatred that waits on the tongues and gavels of politicians. Black dollars will not make an appearance in this cycle of conspicuous consumption, #notonedime  and it is my belief that Brown dollars will be absent as well. If not for yourself, do it for those who have watched the awe-inspiring propaganda that welcomes the poor and indigent but in reality hates the very people that make America whole.

Not a Muslim dime.

#notonedime

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Tariq Touré is a Muslim essayist, poet, educator and public speaker from Baltimore, Md. He uses prose as medium for shedding new light on issues such as social justice, racial inequality, black culture and Black Muslim narratives. In 2015, he was honored with the Real Men of Baltimore award by 92q jams radio station and the Alumni Excellence award by his Alma Mater Bowie State University.

28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Avatar

    GregAbdul

    November 26, 2015 at 10:36 PM

    Are you kidding me? We need an article to tell us not to buy gifts for Christmas? This brother, who is telling us to boycott black Friday, does he or any of you realize that this call belongs to Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam? You know: the fake-Muslim black Nazi racists who have spent the last 70-plus years lying about our book, lying on our messenger and lying about Allah’s deen. So the bigger question here is this brother’s aqeeda?

    No one has to spend two words telling me not to buy Christmas gifts. The fake-Muslim black Nazis, on the other hand, do most of their talking in Christian circles and their only proposed action after their get-nothing-accomplished marches on Washington is a boycott of black Friday. I am black American. Please let’s be plain speaking without being too rude. Malcolm’s Autobiography clearly implicates the Nation of Islam as his killers.

    They are NOT true Muslims. Farrakhan over and over has spent his life rejecting true Islam, especially since Warith Deen Muhammad took over in the mid 70s, after Elijah died. So the main thing that we as African American Muslims have to establish before we talk to any Muslims group is that we disavow the fake Muslims who are being used by the enemies of Islam to keep black Americans out of true Islam and our true Muslim heritage.

    Most of the black American community is Christian and it is very wrong for Muslims to work to deny them their holiday. Our holiday is Eid. What if a black Christian racist began making a racial plea and asked African American Muslims not to celebrate Eid? For me, that’s insulting.

    If they love and worship Jesus and this is when they celebrate his birth, that’s their religion. It is very wrong to ask them not to celebrate their holiday. As Muslims, our duty is to reach and teach them not to worship Jesus. If they worship Jesus, it is wrong for us to think that we are waging some kind of struggle by trying to convince them to ignore their high holy days in whatever legal way they want to celebrate.

    Muslims boycotting Christmas? It’s Nation of Islam thinking. They are black people who lie on our faith. I am not politically correct. Those who lie on my faith are liars and a black racist person who lies on Islam is no better than a white man who lies on my faith. A much better article would make it clear that just as we are not with Da’esh, we are NOT with the black racist Nation of Islam. There is a black struggle for equality in America. But let’s be clear, Louis Farrakhan has spent his life running away from the leaders of the Civil Right’s movement… when he wasn’t busy participating in the assassination of Malcolm X.

    • Avatar

      debblev1

      November 27, 2015 at 8:47 AM

      I don’t believe that he’s asking you to not celebrate Christmas or to deter Christians not to celebrate it. Black Friday has NOTHING to do with celebrating Christmas, it’s very simply a day dedicated to luring ALL people to participate in mass consumerism for the benefit of retailers. Regardless of who coined the phrase, the idea is to show American businesses and power brokers that POC CAN IMPACT YOUR ECONOMY. Also to show ourselves (POC) that united we do have financial clout.

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        GregAbdul

        November 27, 2015 at 10:10 AM

        Black Friday has nothing to do with Christmas? That is simply false. My truth, which you somehow fail to reply to is that Farrakhan is a black American Nazi pretending to be Muslim. This is a plea he initiated after his march on Washington. When Muslims come to him and tell him to end his shirk and dishonesty about Islam, he refuses, just as he always has for the last 40 years. He ignores us about true Islam, but we are supposed to let him tell us what is haram and what not to do during Christmas season? I can only speak for me. Please don’t say false things and waste time. This is the Christmas season. It is also the time the NOI fasts instead of Ramadan. They are fake Muslims who lie on Islam. I think we should settle that issue before we go around spreading Farrakhan’s agenda.

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        Jazaaya

        November 27, 2015 at 10:55 AM

        Debblv1,
        Completely agreed with your point. Bro Greg, I don’t think anyone would disagree with you on Min. Farrakhan’s record of his inconsistent and often perceived fickleness regarding his beliefs. However, I will say that your contentions are red herrings that are not constructive feedback. What Farrakhan has stated on several occasions is that blacks (Christians) should start putting the Jesus in Christmas and to shun the consumeristic aspect while at the same time as Debblv1 so aptly stated, show corporate America that if the injustices against blacks and Muslims don’t desist, we will resist economically.
        This is not an issue of Halal & Haram. No one is legislating anything. What bro Tariq is advocating is withhold from these major retailers.
        Lastly and somewhat off the subject is some of the inaccurate statement made at the NOI. While I have SERIOUS disagreements with their beliefs (that I believe are tantamount to shirk), I do believe that many of them are sincere and are themselves not fully aware of the true teachings of Islam. I will also add that with beliefs aside, the NOI has done more for the black community and the normalizing of Islam in America (particularly black America) than ANY Muslim org (including black Muslim org.). To blame the NOIs success in that area by merely stating that it is promoted by the gov’t is unsubstaniated and really a scapegoat for our own shortcomings in bringing Islam to the black community and America as a whole. For one the March that just past wasn’t broadcasted by a single major news network. Despite that nearly 1 mill people attended. We African American Muslims are quick to cast kufr and shirk on the NOI, yet have done very little or have effectively created a viable alternative so shame on us for that.
        I applaud Bro Tariq for the article. I unfortunately don’t believe that many Muslims will heed to such a call because I’m not sure that they yet identify with the historical struggles of many of the disenfranchised groups in America. Yes Islamophobia is an issue, but I don’t feel that we as a community have felt the sting of America’s whip hard enough to move us into a social conscious that will demand true justice. Wallahu Alam

      • Avatar

        GregAbdul

        November 27, 2015 at 3:45 PM

        To Jazaaya,
        “I disagree with the NOI but….” is a typical useless thing most black people say. As Muslims, we say, Allah controls everything. You fix yourself and your relationship with Allah before you go out bad mouthing or blaming others. The worst oppression is to trick someone into worshiping a false God is what Warith Deen Muhammad taught. There is no boycott. There is a Christian day where they buy things to prepare for their holiday. We buy things for Eid. Our problem with their holiday is not it’s “commercial aspect.” As Muslims, our problem with their holiday is they are making partners with Allah. When any person goes to the store, that’s pretty much their business. And what is the white man supposed to do after this “boycott”???

        I use quotation marks because I know…it ain’t happening. The black community is extremely unfocused. Police brutality? Who doesn’t have a video recorder in their phone today to record and show the world if the police go wrong? Is that really what plagues the black American community? Poverty, illiteracy, immorality, vice, broken families…are all because the police sometimes go crazy on a black suspect? We die faster live poorer lower quality lives and it’s because of police brutality? For me, the problem first and foremost is shirk, of blacks worshiping solely as a way to gain white approval as opposed to worshiping God because He is God.

        Farrakhan tricks people into remaining in ignorant pagan ways of worshiping God. As a Muslim, I think that comes before me running after someone to make sure they don’t go to the store on a certain day, especially when that day is NOT a day or a season that falls under the Sunnah of our prophet. May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. He taught us tolerance. The NOI teaches racism. When Muslims stand with evil, we give Islam a bad name. I refuse to play that game anymore. If you are Muslim and you like bad actions, for me, I will be one to stand against you and your racism and your lying on Allah’s deen.

        Brotherhood does not come before right and wrong. Our prophet taught us to stand for justice, even if we have to stand against our flesh and blood. A black racist is a no good thing. To be a black racist and then say it’s Islam…when you tell me to not go to the store…I am running there. They teach false religion. Our prophet teaches us that such teachings are our number one fight. Not me standing with you patronizing you because you are black.

      • Avatar

        Jazaaya

        November 27, 2015 at 6:26 PM

        Bro. Greg, Once again your responses are filled with red herrings that don’t have ANYTHING to do with the content of Bro. Tariq’s article. Black Friday is THE most profitable day of the year in which 99.8 million people intend to shop. I am also a former Christian that recognizes that Black Friday traditionally was the day that many Christians shopped in order to buy gifts in preparation for Christmas; however, it has NO historical or religious precedence in Christianity. Even the idea of buying gifts and placing them under a tree is not Christian so for someone of your background to even equate the two without acknowledging the fact that retailers use such a day to exploit a religious season such as Christmas is surprising.
        Bro. Tariq mentioned NOTHING of Christmas or Christians in his article. He mentioned to protest a day that is about exploiting the consumerist impulses and resist against corporate America as a way to say enough is enough.
        You’re point about issues of the black community are completely irrelevant to the premise of Bro. Tariq’s article. But not only that, they are a gross generalization of what “plagues” the black community. Brother, I’ve been Muslim long enough to see many of us “saved” African American Muslims on the “haqq”, following the Sunnah, upholding the true tawheed of Allah, yet we suffer from the many aforementioned ills that you named (and trust me the examples are numerous unfortunately). What do you say about priorities then? Let me guess, they haven’t understood Tawheed OR they’ve haven’t implemented the Sunnah in their lives. Spare me brother, because you’re coming off a both arrogant and uninformed (willingly or neglectfully) concerning what bro Tariq is saying. His article is not a one stop solution to changing the condition to blacks and/or Muslims and I don’t think any sane minded person reading his article interpreted it as such.
        Not “once” in his article did he mention Min. Farrakhan OR the NOI. Whether the idea was inspired by the Minister, is besides the point. The fact is that many people (Muslim, Christian and otherwise) that something needs to be done.
        Hopefully the vitriol that you show towards the nation, will result in a positive and active yearning to “teach” the AA community true tawheed and to provide PRACTICAL solutions to get us out the mess that we’re in such as: providing literacy programs, protecting our communities from violence, lifting us up socially by being exemplary citizens (following the sunnah or rasoolullah (SAW)), being responsible fathers and husbands, etc. Unfortunately, I find so many of us who are upon the Sunnah and true tawheed, yet we are some of the worst humans in society.
        May Allah bless you bother for your earnestness and sincerity in this deen. May Allah bless bro. Tariq for such an article in trying to get us to mobilize as a Muslim community to demand that we are treated in the most dignified of ways.
        To Allah is the praise.

      • Avatar

        GregAbdul

        November 27, 2015 at 10:55 PM

        Brother, a Red Herring is when you throw something inflammatory and irrelevant into a debate in order to distract and obfuscate the main idea. Brother Tariq is running a Trojan horse. He is endorsing the Nation of Islam (fake Muslims!) on a Muslim website without giving them proper attribution. So you are using the same term over and over and there is no “red herring” on my part.

        There is a failed black cult, it’s leader and his useless ideas. They are Nazis. Black Nazis are even more stupid than white Nazis. No Christians bothered listening to this call to boycott. Now they are selling snake and a Muslim buying into foolishness works just as well for them as their usual black Christian targets. Christians in modern America buy gifts by the boatload. Christians don’t get to tell Muslims how to celebrate Eid. Celebrations vary by culture and location. Christians in America go out the day after Thanksgiving and buy gifts in one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

        It’s THEIR holiday and they decide how to celebrate it. To pretend Black Friday has nothing to do with Christianity is unclear thinking or dishonest. People get drunk on Christmas. Does that mean Christmas is not tied to Christianity? It’s the holiest day and this is their holy season. Every holiday has a commercial aspect. Your point is irrelevant.

        The originator of this boycott black Friday idea, who is really the one asking Muslims to boycott, is however, extremely relevant. When I point out where this comes from, it’s NOT a red herring. This is not about Christmas, but about Muslims trying to trick other Muslims into running with demagogues and defaming our religion. When a parent buys toys for their kids for December 25th, that is commercial and Christmas and for those of us who grew up playing with those toys from parents who could not afford them, that buying represents an essential element of Christmas, just as Muslims buy our kids gifts on Eid.

        Black Friday is the official start of the Christmas season. This boycott is supposed to teach whitey he can’t oppress black people. Yet this call to boycott is made by a man who has made a career out of teaching black people ignorant things, especially when it comes to religion. “Whether his idea is inspired by Minister Farrakhan is besides the point…” This is our essential disagreement. They teach me, Allah controls EVERYTHING. If our condition is not right, we fix ourselves and our relationship with our Creator….and then we learn to be content with what we have.

        The devil, if I know he’s the devil, could not tell me the sky is blue. I am taught to run from the devil, to NEVER listen to him, to stand for truth and to fight for the oppressed. Farrakhan is a liar and a murderer and I know it’s just a coincidence that Brother Tariq is here parroting black American Hitler, but in order to be well, first we have to rid ourselves of any infection. Black American racists are a plague and a curse on the black American community and we can’t sit around accidentally propagating their ideas and expect the illnesses plaguing the black community to go away based on good feelings.

        There is bad in every group. Through the mercy of Allah, I believe in Allah. I believe in his messenger. There is a cost to this and a benefit. For the Muslim, the benefit of believing in Allah has no conceivable trade off. It is something we cannot ever trade away, no matter how much profit would come from lying about Islam and we want this for every human soul on the face of the earth. Malcolm X said Islam is THE solution for humanity. This is eman. We say Islam is the meaning of life. Citing bad Muslims as an answer to this basic Muslim idea is the only red herring I see here.

    • Avatar

      Maliyka

      November 28, 2015 at 12:21 PM

      Brother,

      No offense but you sound a tad bit ignorant. People don’t shop on Black Friday just for Christmas. They shop on that day because of the sales. I need a new microwave. What better time to buy a top of the line one now than afterwards. Also, people shop now for Eid gifts. In past years, Christmas was around Eid but seeing as how we are on a lunar calendar it won’t be that way for several years. Lastly, you are out of bounds for telling someone that they’re not a “real” Muslim. That is sooooo not your place. That is Allah (swt) right and you need to be very careful for while you may be doubting someone else’s “realness” it may be that Allah (swt) has determined that you will absorb their bad deeds and your place will be in the hellfire. We Muslims go above our stature in this regard and MUST really stop. Yes, there are Muslim that do un-Islamix things but none of us really know how Allah (swt) will judge them. I’m sure you remember the story about the prostitute who fed the dog/cat from her shoe and how she was granted paradise for doing just that. To many of us are sitting in our glass houses judging. You know there’s some cracks in that structure.

      • Avatar

        GregAbdul

        November 28, 2015 at 6:42 PM

        Ma’am, I did not say every single thing bought the day after Thanksgiving is for Christmas. I said the day is tied to Christmas in an obvious manner. It is the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. You are shopping for Eid now? Sister maybe we are headed for fitna and bad words. You have directly called me ignorant (so much for not being offensive) and then that I am “out of bounds.” (take a deep breath)….I respect this website. It is a Muslim website. What a Muslim is only takes a little knowledge to know. The Nation of Islam is not a Muslim group. They are led by a liar and a murderer. Now if you want to defend them, be clear. To defend disbelief puts you with the disbelievers. If I say the trinity is cool, then that is me renouncing tauheed (may Allah protect me!) Mr. Tariq here is trying to be slick. We don’t do Minister nee grow hitler here. Young blacks are often on the wrong track. Black racism and hollering about the police are no answers. If someone tells the young men (and you) to go fight in the classroom, you slouch and go to the back and let others show they are better than you…and then you complain when you are treated in second class ways. If you want to be the bottom of society and not lead in the classroom, then be prepared. The world is not going to treat you like the kids that get A’s. By Allah, these black racists are not Muslims and I will not be quiet so people like you can play along with the real real ignorance.

    • Avatar

      GregAbdul

      November 28, 2015 at 9:46 PM

      LOL….Funny!

      You a comedian or what?

    • Avatar

      Charles Banks

      January 7, 2016 at 1:36 AM

      Mr. GregAbdul
      I am a Black American, not Muslim, and have spent over 30 years of military service, having lived in the Middle east: Egypt (Alexandria) and the U.A.E for 10 + years.
      But reading what you have said here in this response I can only say to you: PREACH! Very Informative and EXCELLENT Reading what you have to say.

  2. Avatar

    GregAbdul

    November 26, 2015 at 10:50 PM

    This idea comes from the Nation of Islam. Since when do we follow fake Muslims who instruct us not to celebrate Christmas? True Muslims know not to celebrate Christmas because it is not violates our aqeeda. We don’t do it to please Louis Farrakhan.

    • Avatar

      GregAbdul

      November 26, 2015 at 10:57 PM

      * “True Muslims know not to celebrate Christmas because it violates our aqeeda…..”

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      Ibn Aliu

      November 25, 2016 at 4:17 AM

      We should ask ourselves what is Black Friday, were did it originate from? Is it something Muslims should indulge in?. My own conclusion about it is that it’s a mockery to Islam and Muslims shouldn’t indulge in it, Looking at the incident that happened in Iran(1978). celebrating Christmas with the Christian shows you believe in what there are celebrating, that make u outa the fold of Islam cos believing in any group makes u a part of them. All what we need to understand islam n be united in the course of propagating Islam is to understand the Holy Quran and Hadith. Greg islam is not based on what we think or feel about things, there are rulings on issues on celebrating with the non believers in the Hadith, so try n lay ur hands on d hadith

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    Jau

    November 26, 2015 at 11:58 PM

    Black Friday is not just about Christmas. He trying to prevent you from getting involved in the consumerism of this weekend. Stop being so myopic and read carefully then critique.

    • Avatar

      GregAbdul

      November 27, 2015 at 6:56 AM

      Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year….because it is always about 30 days to Christmas. I don’t understand your criticism of of my post. You are arguing that Black Friday shoppers are not overwhelmingly buying Christmas gifts? I used to be Christian. Am I to understand that you have to have been a Christian to know what the purpose of Black Friday is? I even thought about the Muslim who, maybe seeing a really great deal, goes out and buys goods on that day. Yes, that is allowed. We can buy on any day and it’s not haram. My point, once again, is that this is a request being made by Louis Farrakhan, a man who has made a career out of lying on Islam. It is wrong for Muslims to support a man who lies on our deen and lies on our Prophet. Muslims have been pleading with him for about 40 years to quit practicing pseudo Islam and he has totally refused, but he is supposed to tell us to boycott Christmas? This is how this pertains to Muslims. Blacks, overwhelmingly are rejecting this fake-Muslim racist plea. Can you cite me a single Christian group that is boycotting Black Friday? This is an NOI plea. They are black racist who are either not literate or not honest. Blacks are suffering in a big way in today’s America. I am African American. Please do not aid those who are a part of the problem. Black racism is no answer. False Islam is certainly no answer. As politely as I can, because I have so much respect for this website, I say to you, just as we renounce Da’esh, we have no business playing along with fake-Muslim black racists. When we do this, we defame our religion. Please do not confuse people about our faith, which has NO chosen people, in order to patronize the delusions of black Americans who are dishonest or honestly confused about true Islam. “Fitna is worse than slaughter.”

      • Avatar

        Mbok

        November 27, 2015 at 2:42 PM

        GregAbdul, so if I understand you well, if Farakhan tells you to pray salat on time, you will not do it because it is him who said so?

        There’s no problem adhering to the truth regardless of who said it. This brother is simply saying to abstain from blind consumerism and to prove at the same time, through à démonstration of our economy power, to those who think that muslims and black people have no importance in this society, that we can impact what is the most important for them, aka, money.

        That my friend, Farrakhan may have said it, but he has not invented it…

      • Avatar

        GregAbdul

        November 27, 2015 at 3:54 PM

        Farrakhan is a murderer and a liar. He is not a Muslim. By Allah’s will, I don’t let racist NOI types teach me. So there is no scenario where Black American Hitler tells me about praying. I only make sure when his name is mentioned, we do our best to break the lie where he pretends to be a Muslim. He is a black American Nazi who believes in racial superiority. He can’t openly say he’s a Nazi. So he lies and says he’s a Muslim. If he quits the Nazi thing, I am cool with him….or if he at least is honest enough to admit that he is not strong enough to be a true Muslim, I will gain respect for him. But I don’t let cult leaders teach me. I pray Allah continues to protect me from racist cult leaders and those who lie on Allah’s deen.

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      Mummyjaan

      November 27, 2015 at 10:00 AM

      If I’m going to buy something , why would I not buy it on the day that there was a good deal rather than on any other?

      Yes, I agree on the point about avoiding consumerism. One should really only buy what one needs and stop at that. There’s no need to make an actual hobby of shopping for the sake of it.

  4. Avatar

    EveFellFirst

    November 27, 2015 at 12:59 AM

    You’re dreaming Tariq. It’s a good one.

    Dream on, brother.

  5. Avatar

    Guest

    November 28, 2015 at 5:09 PM

    Apparently Islam is now Christianity, where addressing oppression head on is criticized as never going to work, a form of judgmentalism, a form of faithlessness that fails to acknowledge that things are just the way God wants, or for being affiliated with someone or something that people don’t like. What’s wrong with buying something on a sale day? Nothing. Unless the money is going directly to companies that oppress you. Which it is. But keep arguing. It’s a good look for Islam. Thousands of people through the centuries have come to the deen through watching Muslims fight with and criticize one another.

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      GregAbdul

      November 28, 2015 at 9:56 PM

      This is about African American Islam and the problem is that most black people are conditioned to protect whites, even when they pretend to be rebelling. Young black people fight in the classroom and not in the street. Young black people who go into the streets, yet have no problem with being labelled mediocre students are the real sellouts. The black American struggle, putting Islam aside, is black young people showing their minds are as sharp as white and Asian kids. Not buying Christmas gifts is not going to fix America. Islam, the true worship of God, is the biggest single thing that can bring help to the black community. Call me silly. We believe in God. We believe this is the key to life. Black America, before the slave boats was not Christian. It is a belief that was beat into black people during slavery. Black people will never be free as long as we hold on to the god of our oppressors. If they were forcing into truth, it would be different. They use every ounce to make people worship a man-god who is three. Debate is a human activity and Muslims are not drones. What’s wrong is to pretend that your hate makes crooked thinking okay. The devil is our enemy, not people who happen to have money or white skin.

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        Guest

        November 28, 2015 at 10:33 PM

        I agree. It is absolutely misguided to support our brother in the call to hit White Supremacy in its heart. It won’t do any good. We would be defeated before we began. Focusing on education first should be the prerogative rather than focusing on the monster that prevents us from equal education and a peaceful life. I also believe strongly that you should have the last word.

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        GregAbdul

        November 29, 2015 at 2:42 AM

        sarcasm. black kids being shot down like dogs…in the face of this and all the ills that plague black America, you have sarcasm and back false solutions. You certainly sound young. “Hit white supremacy in the heart…” well black Friday and the black Nazi boycott are over and the white man looks down on black kids who can’t perform in the classroom the same way he did before Thanksgiving. The fake boycott by the fake Muslims was never the answer and neither is your sarcasm. do I have to wait 20 years for people like you to decide you are serious about black suffering and real solutions? White supremacy is not established on black Friday. White supremacy is maintained every day in America’s classrooms. I can only hope you are a snarky white boy. Snarky black and latino boys certainly are selling out the struggle and it would be so sad for you to be a sellout who thinks your juvenile language is cute.

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    Guest

    November 29, 2015 at 3:26 AM

    The heart of White Supremacy is its money and its philosophy. So I stand 100% by what I said. You want seriousness instead of sarcasm. Ok. You’re in the comments section of a website arguing over the article and the contents. My sarcasm is because in my many years I’ve had to deal with internet warriors who like to go on tirades but are cowards in real life. Unlike white people or black people, I have never had the opportunity of being accepted by one side or the other. I’m too dark to be white and too light to be black, and no one until recently could explain why that is. When black activists talk about unity, I’m excluded for being too light. And when white people talk about unity I’m excluded for being too dark. It was so bad after 9/11 that when I had to listen to open threats at work and in public about murdering me and my wife and children I thought my only option was to blow my brains out. It was a member of the Nation of Islam who showed me compassion and taught me there was a better way. He gave me hope and directed me to Islam. Because of him I studied and I’m still alive despite still having to walk out my door every single day knowing that I’m going to be discriminated against or worse because of the color of my skin, or my religion, or both, and to top it off neither black activists or white activists will give a damn. I’ve survived multiple death threats and even had to relocate to get my family out of danger. None of that stops me from opposing White Supremacy in all its forms, economically, philosophically, spiritually, legally, practically and any other form it manifests itself in. And I’ve taught my children the same thing on a weekly basis for years on end, a lot of the time on the spot while they watch people harass and disrespect me while everyone around me stands silent like cowards. I’m not white, neither am I a sellout. I’m just loyal to the people who saved my life and willing to show thanks whenever I can, including when it comes to withholding my dollars from the people who would harm us. If that’s something negative to you, then that’s on you.

    • Avatar

      GregAbdul

      November 29, 2015 at 11:29 AM

      The Nation of Islam are not Muslims. The anecdotes do not change the fact that the NOI are fake Muslim nee grow Nazis. Their fake boycott accomplished nothing. The white man hates non whites the exact same way he hated non whites before Thanksgiving. The fake march, the fake boycott…all done by the fake Muslims accomplish nothing. If you are young enough, and not white, your fight is to show the white man your brain can process books just as good as any white boy. If you are old enough, your job is to teach this to your sons.

      This is a Muslim website. Islam teaches us to be learners for life. Of course there are ignorant and illiterate Muslims. This does not change basic fact. Our religion demands study. Racism is from the devil. The people who engage in racism are listening to the devil. To say your religion is based racism means your religion is based the whisperings of the devil. If the devil saves you, you have not been saved, you have been tricked. At least you are honest enough to admit that this is about the NOI. Please young brother, our enemy is the devil, not the white man. Being rich is not a sin. From the secular, please embrace President Obama who is a learned black man and our chief executive. From the Islamic standpoint, please, please embrace Prophet Muhammad Ibn Abdullah. His Sunnah fixes the heart. He taught us to fight against racism and bigotry 1400 years ago. Please see our real allies and our real enemies and don’t mistake one for the other. This is the typical mistake young people make.

      peace and blessings be upon the messenger of Allah.

  7. Avatar

    Kristy

    December 3, 2015 at 4:30 AM

    Muslims don’t celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ, called Christmas, do they? So why would they be mimicking the Wise Men who came to worship the Christ child with presents? (this is the Christian meaning behind Christmas presents.)

    Muslims buy the majority of the stuff they want and need from muslims and from muslim-friendly vendors. And I have never seen any muslim ever eating at any local nice sit-down restaurants because they ALL serve pork and other sinful goodies.

    In May 2015, it was reported that Jews’ share of Americans has increased from 1.7 percent to 1.9 percent and Muslims’ share has gone from 0.4 percent to 0.9 percent.

    Do you understand that? There are fewer muslims in America than there are Jews. So maybe your venom would be better spent chiding your fellow islamic terrorist brethren into becoming decent, supportive citizens of this republic. And maybe even you will realize that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Go visit the “muslim winter” countries.

  8. Avatar

    Zia-e-Taiba

    October 18, 2016 at 7:05 AM

    Nice to see an article about Hadits about Friday

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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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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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#Current Affairs

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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