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Letter to American Muslims from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

I came to Cuba to attend the 4th fourth International Seminar for Peace and the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases and to advocate for the closure of Guantanamo Bay. This call comes almost 14 years after the prison was opened, after Obama repeatedly stated his intention to close it, and while 107 prisoners still languish behind bars. The letter below is one I wrote in response to the absence of American Muslim voices in the movement to close Guantanamo Bay, while occupying a camp site close to the gates of the U.S. Naval Base that houses this notorious prison.

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I came to Cuba to attend the 4th fourth International Seminar for Peace and the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases and to advocate for the closure of Guantanamo Bay.  This call comes almost 14 years after the prison was opened, after Obama repeatedly stated his intention to close it, and while 107 prisoners still languish behind bars.  The letter below is one I wrote in response to the absence of American Muslim voices in the movement to close Guantanamo Bay, while occupying a camp site close to the gates of the U.S. Naval Base that houses this notorious prison.  
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[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap]ssalamu Alaikum Dear American Muslim Community,I write this message to you from Guantanamo City, Cuba, less than 15 miles away from the U.S. Naval Base on which the infamous prison that tortures our brothers sits. I write this message to you after traveling for 36 hours to get here at the top of a mountain with little communication with the outside world. I write this to you after taking several taxis, planes, and buses just to be in close proximity to our Muslim brothers whose innocent lives have been destroyed. I write to you now because the distance I traveled, constitutes nothing in comparison to the pain and suffering that our brothers in Guantanamo have experienced.

I write this message to you now, because Guantanamo Bay prison exists as the epitome of the world’s evil and the lengths to which the U.S. will go to destroy the spirit of our faith and the faith of our people. I write this message to you now, because it is impossible to capture the beauty of Cuba and the culture in Guantanamo City without simultaneously hearing the cries and screams of our brothers close by.

I write to you now because it is in being here that the privileging of state rights over human rights has become so clear. I write to you now because it is in being here that I realize that our Muslim bodies are collateral damage at the nexus of imperialism and anti-Muslim bigotry. I write to you now because all I have is the power of the pen.

I write this to you now, because, I can’t not write it to you now. I write to you now because I can’t stay silent sitting so close to the gates of Guantanamo Bay prison. I write this to you now because I am traveling with 13 amazing individuals; only one of whom is shares my faith. I write this to you now because I mourn the fact that I have to write because I cannot see you here. I write this to you now because I can’t return to the United States and face the fact that the American Muslim community will stay silent when our Muslim brothers have no voice in the gates of hell.  I write this to you now desperately hoping that something will change. That when I come back, I will see that we value our lives as much as our lives have been devalued.

I write this to you now, because I have a dream that when I return, we will rise up together and take back our rights. That we will collectively decide that we have had enough. That we have had enough begging for seats at the table. That we have had enough of begging for different yet equally egregious surveillance methods. That we have had enough of trying to convince our government that our youth aren’t terrorists in training. That we’ve had enough of seeing our fathers, brothers, and sons go to prison for crimes they didn’t commit. That we’ve had enough of watching mothers struggle to keep their families afloat in the face of government persecution.

I write this to you now, because I know somewhere deep down that we value our humanity as much as the humanity of others. I write this to you now because it is time for us to stop begging and start demanding. I write this to you now, because I hope you will listen.

Your sister in Islam,

Dr. Maha Hilal, writing from Guantanamo City, Cuba

Dr.  Maha Hilal is the Executive Director of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, an organization dedicated to addressing civil and human rights abuses related to preemptive prosecutions and thoughts crimes in the War on Terror. She is also an Islamophobia consultant for the Team Baluchi Defense Team of the Office of the Chief of Defense, where she supports research on disparities in the legal system that Muslims face, such as selective prosecutions. Lastly, Maha is currently a Career Development Officer with the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition where she helps survivors obtain meaningful employment.  Maha earned her doctorate last May from the Department of Justice, Law and Society at American University in Washington, D.C. The title of her dissertation is “Too damn Muslim to be trusted”: The War on Terror and the Muslim American response.  She received her Master’s Degree in Counseling and her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has worked at a number of human rights/social justice organizations including the Center for Victims of Torture, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and the Government Accountability Project. Maha was previously a Christine Mirzayan Fellow at the National Academy of Sciences as well as a recipient of the Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship for Arabic study in Morocco.

38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Kent Bayley

    November 30, 2015 at 12:27 AM

    Ok the lets apply sharia to them in which case they will all be executed. Lets not feign shame here when Islam kills and cuts off peoples heads and sacrifices Christians. These prisoners are entitled to justice but it depends whose justice doesn’t it.

    • Avatar

      Marcus

      November 30, 2015 at 9:03 AM

      @Kent Bayley: That’s a disgusting, un-American sentiment, and I doubt you’d have the gall to say that out loud. It’s easy to be vulgar and rude in the safety of your living room. Regardless of your COMPLETE and UTTER misconceptions about Islam and Sharia, America has long held itself to be a bastion of liberty. We are supposed to treat people according to the laws and traditions of this nation. “Islam” doesn’t kill or cut off heads. EXTREMISTS kill and cut off heads. Propaganda and nasty rhetoric like yours is why we’re having these problems. Extremists come in every color and creed. Educate yourself and stop being a mindless slave to western media. These men have a right to a fair and speedy trial, then they should either be incarcerated or released. Languishing in this strange limbo is simply not right.

      Kent, I’m a Muslim, and I’m a former US Marine infantryman. I fought extremism and I defend the rights of all people to practice whatever religion they choose. Further, I pray to the one true God, the God of Abraham, just like the Christians and the Jews. Again, educate yourself. Learn what “context” means and don’t be so small minded.

      • Avatar

        Muhammed

        November 30, 2015 at 10:11 AM

        How can you argue that the Guantanamo inmates are innocents? They are the worst of the worst. How can you even argue that islam is innocent of criticism when our prophet himself credits terrorism for the early successes of islam? How can it be islamophobia to criticize and be wary of devout followers of sharia when sharia advocates such horrible behavior?

      • Avatar

        Kent Bayley

        November 30, 2015 at 2:35 PM

        BTW I use my real full name unlike yourself so don’t lecture me about being a coward.

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    John Howard

    November 30, 2015 at 12:47 AM

    The title of her book “too damned muslim to be trusted” is a very apt statement. The fact is for most of us in the west we see that as an inescapable fact. The belief for the vast majority of kufars is sadly that Muslims are first and last Muslims and that the nations they live in are places of convenience for them to live. Their loyalty will always be to the ummah. I am sorry that is not how westerners see their countries. Many of those Guantanamo inmates that have been released have gone back to being terrorists and as for the screaming and crying of the inmates I wonder how it compares to the sounds that erupted in Paris 2 weeks ago

  3. Avatar

    Mohammed Khan

    November 30, 2015 at 1:45 AM

    Please see related information:

    https://www.hrw.org/video-photos/interactive/2011/12/27/guantanamo-ten-years-facts-and-figures
    http://the-beacon.info/countries/united-states/demographics-of-guantanamo-bay-prison/
    http://ccrjustice.org/sites/default/files/assets/Report_ReportOnTorture.pdf

    There is a day called “Day of Judgment” whenever everthing that happened will be recounted and justice will be meted out to everyone.
    Indeed. God is all seeing and hearing and knows between the Oppressor and the Oppressed.

    -Mohammed

  4. Avatar

    Peter

    November 30, 2015 at 2:27 AM

    Reading this article I felt sick to the stomach.

    The people detained in this prison are not their because they were out selling cup cakes to raise money to help poor people.

    They were actively participating in the types things that ISIS does. The writer of this article needs to be seriously looked at, as what he has posted, is attempting to whitewash some pretty evil people. We are told the vast majority of Muslims are against terrorism, however the writer of this article seem to claim, to be speaking on behalf of the majority of Muslims.

    The sad thing is the vast majority of potential victims of these peoples, would be Muslims. Just like the vast majority of all victims of Muslim terrorists, are Muslims. I question the sanity of the editors of Muslim Matters allowing such an article to be published.

  5. Avatar

    Marcus

    November 30, 2015 at 10:36 AM

    @Muhammed

    1. Who said they were innocent? I said they should be tried.
    2. Who said Islam was innocent of criticism? All religions deserve scrutiny. Remember when Catholics burned people for bathing on Thursdays, just in case they were getting ready for Jummah?
    3. It’s Islamophobia to assume their guilt because they’re Muslim. Again, try them in court.

  6. Avatar

    Barakat

    November 30, 2015 at 1:57 PM

    @muhammad and Fabyo. First impression was to reply to the both of you with the harshest of words but then that’s not what my religion, islam preaches. It doesn’t tech me to turn the other cheek but to treat one who treats you wrong in a better way, perhaps one day, we’ll make up. First, before you speak of anything, be sincere in your research. Here from both sides and get your facts right. Second, I believe you remember Hitler, was he muslim. I’m African and when I hear slavery stories , I’m sick to my stomach,but that doesn’t make me hate Europeans in the least. Why? Because I can’t transfer hate to those who didn’t commit the crime. In the same vein, do not blame Islam and Muslims for what SOME extremists do. Its a simple matter, anubody who does wrong, muslim, christian, budhist etc, should have a fair trial and released or jailed thereafter. Look up the meaning of terrorism, go back to your history books and find out who indeed the chief terrorists are, muslims or otherwisem. Finally, Muhammed, O Muhammed! Can you kindly give me an evidence for your statement that the Prophet claims terrorism for the early succes of islam. I dare you to provide proof for that. May Allah forgive us all

  7. Avatar

    Kent Bayley

    November 30, 2015 at 2:30 PM

    Thank you for your comment but I have a few problems with some of the things you say and present as fact. First up the God you worship is not the same as the Christian one true God. Your religion is headed by your revered messenger Muhammad who was a pedophile. Married a 6 year old girl Aisha and then bedded her at 9. Nothing you can do or say will change that fact. It was wrong then and its wrong now. The Bible on the other hand teaches love and peace while the koran teaches murder and mayhem. Where ever there are Muslims in number there is anger, hatred and violence……fact. Why is that. The USA was founded on Christian principles not on Islamic barbarism and you should be proud of that. Marine or not you should know better than to propose Islam is a religion of peace because the facts in 2015 say differently.

    • Avatar

      Anthony

      November 30, 2015 at 3:04 PM

      Kent,
      Sounds like you’ve never actually read the Qur’an (or a rendering of its meaning) or history…or if you have read those, you’ve selectively read them. It also sounds as if you’ve engaged in a selective reading of the Bible, the “Old Testament” in particular, because it’s pretty bloody in some parts and replete with debauchery, some of which is attribute to the Prophets of God themselves unfortunately. Given this, I’m not sure what Ayesha’s age and her marriage to the Prophet Muhammad have to do with commonalities in theologies amongst the Abrahamic religons or with the miscarriages of justices in 2015 on our part. Applying your logic to a Christian context: because the Virgin Mary was supposedly 12 or 13 (maybe even younger, depending when she began mensing) when Jesus was concieved or when she betrothed and consummated her marriage to Joseph (probably, again, whenever she began mensing), Christian don’t worship the same God as Jews…even though marriage at this age was quite common in the ancient world and in Jewish customs in particular. Seems like a non sequitur to me.

      In addition, applying your logic then, one might ask why is there so much violence wherever White Christians go or inhabit due to the fact that the majority of domestic terrorism done in America – historically and NOW – is in fact perpetratored by White Chrsitian conservatives, NOT Muslims or Black people or go down the list. And here, we aren’t even talking about international terrorism and the violation of human rights because of American foreign policy and intervention. To borrow and old adage, it’s like the pot calling the tea kettle black. Seems like you might what to check your facts and logic.

      I would encourage you to put whatever biases you have aside and educate yourself a bit more. You don’t have to like Islam or the Prophet, but you also don’t have to engage in the intellectual bigotry. Peace.

    • Avatar

      Nabeelah

      December 3, 2015 at 2:08 PM

      So when the USA was founded on christian principles, what part of the bible came the commandment to kill and marginalise the natives. It is funny how you are horrified at what you call islamic barbarism but up hold the so called founding of the USA which involved an awful lot of barbarism itself.

      • Avatar

        Kent Bayley

        December 3, 2015 at 2:23 PM

        The Bible doesn’t say to kill Indians but it does say…. Thou shalt not kill. Pretty simple really. What man does is another thing. Islam is a corrupt system which is so inward looking and so vile it even endorses lying when necessary with the infidel. The infidel is everyone who is not a Muslim. How on earth can you defend Islam and the Koran when the evidence is in and the civilized world grows to hate it.

      • Avatar

        Nabeelah

        December 3, 2015 at 4:22 PM

        I’m sure you meant Native Americans rather than that slur. The bible says lots of things of which one is thou shalt not kill, but of course there are all of the other parts of the bible that seem to be quite happy with the notion of killing. And then there are those christian principles of gun owning, and all the deaths that result from that,
        Deuteronomy 17
        If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant; 17:3 And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; 17:4 And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel; 17:5 Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.
        thou shalt not kill, except in the above case then it is fine.

        • Avatar

          Kent Bayley

          December 3, 2015 at 5:36 PM

          To Nabeelah dec 3.. The old Mosaic law was set aside by God as aspects were designed to suit man and we all know man is flawed. Over 2000 years ago Jesus Christ came along with the new testament and the old Mosaic law was gone for the most part. The new testament is centered on love and there is no equivalent is Islam. Regarding Indians I am not an American and did not know you call them Native Americans so I apologize. As the world sinks into moral decay it is Islam which leads the charge into unbridled barbarism and who can deny that. Remember my country folk died in 9/11 too not just Americans. Woman are subjugated and sharia is pressing at our front door. Muslims around the world are mostly the third world poor who are often illiterate and never question the violent nature of Islam. To call it a religion of peace is to say that about Nazis.

    • Avatar

      Adamu

      December 8, 2015 at 5:59 AM

      I thot people like u are actually intelligent. Ur better than this. No one needs to do the reading for u. The truth is out there. All u got to do is seek it. Don’t be led by the media. I beg u

      • Avatar

        Kent Bayley

        December 8, 2015 at 4:37 PM

        Thank you and I can assure you I am led by my eyes and ears and by the deeds I see Muslims around the world doing daily. Where ever there are Muslims in number there is trouble, no exceptions. If you want to help yourselves stop fighting and stop trying to force sharia on us and top subjugating women and put aside your cruel barbaric practices. I beg you.

    • Avatar

      Keith Brackett

      December 13, 2015 at 6:42 AM

      You need to stop invoking the name of Jesus because He was very clear when He stated that people who tell lies like you do and/or push an agenda of hatred like you do have rejected Him and embraced evil. The only people you’re fooling are those who like you don’t know anything factual about Christianity or Islam. You’re really no different than Daesh in that you read something on the internet and now you believe yourself an expert by being able to cite some cherry picked verses when in reality none of you know anything about the basic tenets of your self proclaimed faith.

  8. Avatar

    Kent Bayley

    November 30, 2015 at 4:55 PM

    Christianity never taught to burn people and so when you reflect on what the Catholics may have done are you saying because of that Islam and what it does is ok. A very weak and flawed argument argument. Its 2015 and there is no place for your barbaric religion except in third world countries where the poor cling on to hope at any cost. In that, Islam betrays its follows by promising all manner of things ridiculous. eg 72 virgins. Give me a break.

  9. Avatar

    Kent Bayley

    November 30, 2015 at 5:02 PM

    Oh dear what a convenient mix of logic. I will say it again its 2015 and Christianity is not based on a pedophile. Read the new testament and see that God intervened in the Mosaic law and sent Jesus Christ to redeem mankind but with love. There is absolutely no comparison with Islam and the koran. Note the be-headings, torture and killing of so many Christians in the middle east and elsewhere. Note the killing of innocent people in 9/11, England, Australia, France and so on. So you are an ex marine and you worship the false God of Islam and still profess to be a good American. I don’t think so.

    • Avatar

      Tariq

      November 30, 2015 at 8:22 PM

      @Kent “And among them are unlettered ones who do not know the Scripture except in wishful thinking, but they are only assuming.”(2.78)
      “And We did certainly give Moses the Torah and followed up after him with messengers. And We gave Jesus, the son of Mary, clear proofs and supported him with the Pure Spirit. But is it [not] that every time a messenger came to you, [O Children of Israel], with what your souls did not desire, you were arrogant? And a party [of messengers] you denied and another party you killed.”(2.87)
      “And We have certainly revealed to you verses [which are] clear proofs, and no one would deny them except the defiantly disobedient.”(2.99)
      “Indeed, We have sent you, [O Muhammad], with the truth as a bringer of good tidings and a warner, and you will not be asked about the companions of Hellfire.”(2.119)

  10. Avatar

    Monique Al-Naseri

    November 30, 2015 at 5:46 PM

    I am an American Muslim so I can tell you that in this community, we are NOT silent about Guantanamo or any other injustices committed against Muslims in this country. The media does not broadcast it but that does not mean it is not being said.

    • Avatar

      Peter

      November 30, 2015 at 7:30 PM

      It is a fact, that Muslims are the biggest victims of terrorism.

      It is a fact, that ISIS, The Taliban and other such groups have murdered far more Muslims, than anybody else.

      Now the inmates of Guantanamo Bay, are more likely to have the blood of Muslims on their hands than of anybody else. Also these same people, if released, would most likely kill many more Muslims than non Muslims.

      So why would a Muslim, what these people released? Why would you call them innocent, when they have blood on their hands.

      Next you will be saying how victimized ISIS is by the West.

      • Avatar

        Umm Sumayyah

        December 2, 2015 at 8:03 AM

        “Now the inmates of Guantanamo Bay, are more likely to have the blood of Muslims on their hands than of anybody else. Also these same people, if released, would most likely kill many more Muslims than non Muslims.”

        Rubbish. Many, many of the inmates of Guantanamo Bay have been released on the basis that their imprisonment was a mistake, and they were not actually any kind of threat – to Muslims or non Muslims.

        The latest case has been reported in today’s news:

        “Man held at Guantánamo for 13 years a case of mistaken identity, say officials”

        see http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/dec/01/mistaken-identity-guantanamo-bay-mustafa-al-aziz-al-shamiri

        You support the existence of imprisonment without trial for so many innocent people, on the basis that they “might” kill. Would you accept this for yourself?

      • Avatar

        Adamu

        December 8, 2015 at 6:01 AM

        In every religion, we got black sheep. All of them. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander

  11. Avatar

    Kent Bayley

    December 3, 2015 at 5:36 PM

    To Nabeelah dec 3.. The old Mosaic law was set aside by God as aspects were designed to suit man and we all know man is flawed. Over 2000 years ago Jesus Christ came along with the new testament and the old Mosaic law was gone for the most part. The new testament is centered on love and there is no equivalent is Islam. Regarding Indians I am not an American and did not know you call them Native Americans so I apologize. As the world sinks into moral decay it is Islam which leads the charge into unbridled barbarism and who can deny that. Remember my country folk died in 9/11 too not just Americans. Woman are subjugated and sharia is pressing at our front door. Muslims around the world are mostly the third world poor who are often illiterate and never question the violent nature of Islam. To call it a religion of peace is to say that about Nazis.

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala

      December 5, 2015 at 7:07 AM

      Going by your argument…

      If the Mosaic law was made to suit man but was flawed, then it must hold that he who made it was flawed for setting these laws. This lawmaker then replaced these flawed laws with love. But the thing is that love is not really a set of laws. It does not define what to do with murderers and rapists and thieves. If you consider just love then you would hug the man who murders and forgive him, you would have no other choice. So you can’t really say the laws were removed by Christianity. Does Jesus say anywhere in the New Testament something to the effect of I have come to abolish the ten commandmants or the mosaic law? I am asking because I myself have not read the Old or the New Testament so it could just be that there is some statements that abolish the old shariah (or set of laws).

      We as muslims believe that He who made the laws is not flawed. He is without any imperfections or defects. He has given laws and rules to govern your life by and these laws sometimes are beyond our comprehension but they are there for a reason. So the murderer would be condemned to die but it is the right of the heirs of the one killed to pardon him.

      And Allah knows best.

      *Comment above is posted in a personal capacity and may not reflect the official views of MuslimMatters or its staff*

      • Avatar

        Kent Bayley

        December 5, 2015 at 4:12 PM

        Unlike your fellow Muslims you make some sense. I will not attempt to educate you in Christianity or the Bible as you can easily do that yourself. It is as i said and I appreciate the fact you say you have not read the bible as that is honest. Nonetheless if you did you would see a stark contrast between the koran the bible where love is the basis for Christianity. You circular argument about perfection is dubious and self fulfilling.

      • Avatar

        Aly Balagamwala

        December 18, 2015 at 3:15 AM

        Dear Kent

        I would like to get educated on this particular point ie whether anywhere in bible it is written that Jesus (peace be upon him) said that he has abrogated what Moses (pbuh) and other Prophet (pbut) brought before.

        Also it is very easy to just write off my argument of perfection of the Creator, the Sustainer (whom we refer to Allah and you as the Father) to be dubious and self-fulfilling. You need to tell me how this is flawed.

        Best Regards
        Aly

        *Comment above is posted in a personal capacity and may not reflect the official views of MuslimMatters or its staff*

        • Avatar

          Kent Bayley

          December 18, 2015 at 1:58 PM

          Thank you for the courteous response. However I suggest that you stop using the mechanical phrase PBUH. Its repetitive and just another symbol of the way in which Islam infiltrates the mind without thinking. Now to answer your question have a look at https://www.gci.org/law/sct06 It will get you started in any case. In general you are attempting to apply a very human circular self fulfilling argument about Gods perfection or otherwise which chooses to place my offering in a no win situation. Unfortunately for you I will not agree with your fundamental tenet.

          *This comment was edited by the MM Comments Team in order to comply with our Comments Policy*

  12. Avatar

    Maimuna

    December 5, 2015 at 7:57 AM

    Let’s all make a pact guys, lets pretty much ignore this Kent Bayley person who has come onto a site ran by Muslims, that talks about Muslim issues, with the only intention of bashing Islam. Not only that, but her criticisms are completely off base and without any evidence other than what is sprouted by those dodgy media outlets about Islam being the root of all evil. If she came here with a respectful attitude ready to debate properly with people, that would be different.

    And her position, supported by other commenters re: Guantanamo bay inmates pretty much deserving it, is abhorrent. You can’t have your cake and eat it. The people in Guantanamo bay are mere suspects. For many of them there is absolutely no evidence other than suspicion that they did something wrong. How can holding them without any civil liberties, in a hole and without any form of a trial be right? I thought you said you were Christian? Where precisely is your sense of justice? Isn’t America supposed to be the bedrock of freedom? Many of the people in Guantanamo bay, most notably for us across the pond, Babar Ahmad, have been released without charge. He was in for over a decade and no court in either the UK or the US has ever had any evidence to charge him, let alone actually try him. How can’t that be right?

    • Avatar

      John Howard

      December 6, 2015 at 9:43 PM

      “Many of the people in Guantanamo bay, most notably for us across the pond, Babar Ahmad, have been released without charge. He was in for over a decade and no court in either the UK or the US has ever had any evidence to charge him, let alone actually try him.”
      Actually the truth is this “gentleman” was founritish people d in an area under highly dubious circumstances Under western standards of law it was probably very difficult to prove he or the other inmates are guilty but there is a hell a lot doubt that he was an innocent just caught in the wrong place. He and his family have been living off the welfare of the British people for a damn long time now. Not bad for a person who is not even a British citizen !

      • Avatar

        Peter

        December 9, 2015 at 8:46 PM

        Sorry, you are very wrong.

        He pleaded guilty, of being in possession of classified intelligence on the the position of the US 7th Fleet.

        He was never innocent, the reason he was released was he received a lesser term due to pleading guilty, and the Judge was convinced he had no plans to use the information. He was never an inmate of Guantanamo Bay.

        This took me 30 seconds to find on google.

        So you are either ignorant or lazy. Please get off your high horse, and stop posting propaganda, that has no basis in fact.

        • Avatar

          Kent Bayley

          December 18, 2015 at 1:29 PM

          Excellent Peter keep shinning the light into those dark places. This world is a twisted place where good seems bad and bad seems good and at the epicenter of this madness is Islam.

  13. Avatar

    Moses OG

    December 6, 2015 at 8:28 PM

    Was Gitmo bay built for moslems? DO we have just moslems in there? I think you people look around for bitterness and personalize it. Guantanamo Bay is a prison opened for extreme prisoners and drug lord! If any one wether muslim of christian fits the profile I just described, then I think they deserve to be there. You guys should try and divert your resources into advising your members to be peaceful and law abiding instead of spreading and promoting hate. Allahu Akbar!

  14. Avatar

    david

    December 8, 2015 at 5:40 PM

    I have never read anything more insane! You start a war with us then complain that you are mistreated in our prison! We don’t go to your country and start trouble with you but we will end it!!!! Stay where you belong don’t come here! You are not welcome!

  15. Avatar

    John Howard

    December 18, 2015 at 6:14 PM

    To “Peter” You did not allow me a right of reply in yours. You are right I honestly did make the mistake of accusing the wrong person the person I was referring to is a man by the name of Shaker Aamer who is the gentleman classed as a British resident but from Saudi Arabia who was grabbed by bounty hunters in Afghanistan and handed over to the Americans Naturally he always claimed he was innocent and due to the strict rules on trying to prove he is as he claims evidence was hard to come by. There is still a great deal of conjecture of just how innocent he was. His latest admission that he could have been in Bid Laden’s house but didn’t meet him only begs the question of just how innocent he is. In the meantime his family have lived nicely of the welfare contributed totally by the British Taxpayer. The name was wrong and you can rightly claim I was lazy in not confirming who I was attacking but I and so many many Brits are fed up to our eye teeth of having large groups of foreigners living and abusing our welfare and hospitality with total disdain for us or our nation. So I will not get off my high horse at all because like the vast majority of Brits I want my country back and I demand that the people who are allowed in obey OUR laws, accept our ways are ours and STOP trying their culture on our society Aamer is just another example of how the decency of our nation is being abused just as those 2 animals showed in California to the Americans. And finally Aamer is a Saudi citizen NOT a British citizen but our moronic government were the ones who were demanding his release from Guantanamo why would we do that when it is a Saudi problem and not ours?

    • Avatar

      Peter

      December 21, 2015 at 6:50 AM

      Hi John,

      I never forbade your right of reply. i do not like monologs, the only way to learn is an exchange of ideas. I do not view the 2 terrorists in California as crazy, I would prefer to label them as evil and stupid.

      I do not view all Muslims as Crazy, or Evil or Stupid. However, just like nazism hyjacked the German people in the years before and during WW2, Fundamentalist Islam has hyjacked Islam.

      They are able to do so, because the majority for all Muslims (6 out of 10) are ignorant and illiterate. The vast majority of Muslims are good people who are let down by an Ideology that allows them to be slaughtered by their fellow Muslims, like sheep to the slaughter. That until there is a reformation within Islam, non Muslims of this world will continue to react to the actions of the fundamentalist Islamists, and the people getting killed are those in the Middle, the average Muslim. the only people who can stop this insanity are the average Muslim.

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

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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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