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Reflections on Terrorism | Dr Hatem al-Haj

Dr. Hatem El Haj M.D Ph.D

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In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

I am sure most of you have reflected on the terrorist attacks that took place in Paris recently. I am also confident that you have very variant thoughts, not necessarily because of your varying convictions, but mainly because of the different angles from which you approached the events. In addition to what you have thought of and read, I am hoping that you may find something worthy of your time in my own reflections. However, I must first be honest with you and admit that, aside from the Islamic legal (fiqhi) contribution in this article, I am approaching the discussion from a layperson’s perspective. I am not involved in politics, and I am not privy to any special information about those attacks or the immediate circumstances that resulted in them. This article is merely my own attempt at analyzing their root causes and suggesting some measures to help curb their spread and flare-up.

Having read many op-eds, posts, and comments from people around the globe, including the Middle East, it is obvious that the vast majority of Muslims are shocked and disgusted by the despicable injustice committed against the innocent victims of those attacks. Those who approve of them are (in my estimation) much less than 1%. However, those who condemn them in the strongest language differ over their root causes and the best way to avoid them in the future.

Many commentators claim if Western countries stopped their military interventions in Muslim countries, their meddling in those countries’ affairs, and their support of tyrannical regimes that serve Western interests, terrorism will stop. Some add that the West also needs to stop their discriminatory domestic policies and Islamophobic rhetoric and work to end the inequality their own Muslim citizens suffer. Did I forget something? Of course, any conversation on the relationship between the West and Muslims always has an elephant in the room – the plight of the Palestinian people. World-wide, Muslims consider the West to be the major backer of Israeli injustices against Palestine.

Now, if you are a Muslim who aims to be fair and objective, you should not exercise these good qualities with non-Muslims only. If you deny your Muslim brethren any basis for their frustrations and fail to validate their feelings, you will be dismissed before the discussion even begins. This is because, obviously, there is much truth to these statements. To admit this does not mean, in any way, that you are justifying terrorism.

However, we Muslims easily point out what the Western regimes need to do yet we often say nothing about what we, Muslims, need to do. Are we not indirectly responsible for any part of this madness? Are we, the 99% of the ummah, just victims who got caught in the middle between the hegemony of the West and the madness of the fanatics? Are the Muslims in the Muslim-majority countries not responsible in any way for the unbearable environment they have collectively created, which has pushed many otherwise benign youth into extremism? Are we, the Muslims of the West, doing our best to have functional, inclusive and supportive communities? I think not.

If we want to contribute positively to suffocating the phenomenon of terrorism, we must begin by trying to understand its roots. As Muslims living in the West, here is a common stereotype of someone who may partake in mass-scale terrorism in the name of our religion: a disenfranchised Muslim youth, who may or may not be religious, but certainly is misinformed, and who embarks on “defending the religion and avenging the ummah.” Now, to help stop him, we need to end his disenfranchisement, his misinformation, and either end the plights of the ummah or show him how to defend it in a more productive and, yes, sharia-compliant way. You think it is a lost cause! It will only be if we continue to think it is. We must start somewhere.

Countering the Misinformation

A complete rebuttal of the ideologies of those groups is beyond the scope of this article. Here, I will only attempt to share points that could assist you in helping someone out of their confusion. In one recent virtual discussion, I expressed my extreme disapproval of the attacks in Paris. Sure enough, I got this question from someone: “But didn’t Allah say: ‘and fight against the polytheists collectively as they fight against you collectively‘ [at-Tawbah: 36] and ‘…when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them‘ [at-Tawbah: 5]”

While the vast majority of Muslims do not think that we should be fighting perpetually against the rest of humanity, it appears that some of us have a different opinion. They cite the text of revelation and the opinions of scholars, making a simple Islam-is-all-about-peace answer unsatisfying to them. Here is what we should be sharing with them:

It is true that the verses cited are the words of Allah, Most High. He also said,

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“Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth [i.e., Islam] from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah (poll tax) willingly while they are humbled.” [at-Tawbah: 29]

And He said:

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“Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] religion [i.e., worship] is [acknowledged to be] for Allah.” [al-Baqarah: 193]

and the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“I was commanded to fight the people until they testify that none is worthy of worship except Allah, and [until] they believe in me and what I came with. If they do that, then they have protected their blood and wealth from me, except according to it (Islam), and their judgment is upon Allah.” [Agreed upon, on the authority of Abu Hurayrah]

Additionally, in the previous scriptures, namely the Bible, much more than this is attributed to God, including the killing of  infants and children, as in the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua. Certainly, we do not believe that the statements about killing children and infants are from God, because it will be too hard to provide an explanatory context for those. However, in Islam, there is an explanatory context for all of the above verses.

First, it is important to note that Allah also said,

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“And if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also] and rely upon Allah. Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing.” [al-Anfâl: 61]

and:

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“So if they remove themselves from you and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah has not made for you a cause [for fighting] against them.” [an-Nisâ’: 90]

and His Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“O people, do not wish to meet the enemy, and ask Allah for pardon. But if you meet them, then be patient and know that Paradise is under the shade of the swords.” [Agreed Upon, on the authority of ‘Abdullâh ibn Abi Awfâ].

Who should be connecting the dots and reconciling these seemingly conflicting reports? The scholars well-grounded in the tradition. One of them, Imam Ibn Taymiyyah, wrote a treatise on Qitâl al-Kuffâr wa Muhâdanatuhum [War and Peace (treaties) with the Disbelievers] in which he conclusively emphasized that the effective cause (‘illah) for fighting the disbelievers is their aggression, not their disbelief. He pointed out that texts implying an open fight against them can never be used as proof for fighting the people at large. This is because they appear to contradict the other evidences (some of which are mentioned above), and even the consensus. Likewise, they contradict the life of the Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

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Dr. Hatem Al-Haj has a PhD in Comparative Fiqh from al-Jinan University. He is a pediatrician, former Dean of the College of Islamic Studies at Mishkah University, and a member of the permanent Fatwa Committee of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Avatar

    John Howard

    November 30, 2015 at 8:47 PM

    No where in this commentary is there stated if the author is loyal to his country which I am assuming is the United States of America. He talks in the third person when referring to western powers including the USA. The fact it is a given that for muslims an attack on any muslim where ever he resides is an attack on all of them even those of no ethnic relation as was seen in the UK when those two Nigerian murderers killed the British soldier Lee Rigby. The claim that he and the rest of the British Army along with all the western armies were murdering and raping “their sisters” in Afghanistan was given as the excuse to commit their gutless act. Simarly in the US when the 4 marines and the sailor were murdered at the recruiting stations by another member of the ummah. Just where is the loyalty of muslims is it as we suspect/realise/know that it is first and last to the religion over the country they have come to live in and take the benefits that those countries offer namely as we see every day here in the west.
    Finally let us look at Palestine shall we? The Islamic nations are all hypocrites all 50+ muslim countries. Where has there been the financial support for the Palestinians in the muslim world. It has been very little and what has been promise more often than not undelivered. I would put it to you that the plight of the Palestinians is of little or no consequence to the muslim world because it represent the ideal stick to use against Israel and the rest of the west. No uslim country takes in Palestinians and gives them citizenship but funnily enough the west does.
    Stop crying victim and look at your own standards

    • Avatar

      M.Mahmud

      December 1, 2015 at 10:39 AM

      We are sinking in the number of munafiqeen we have and that is why we suffer. Most Muslims are unable to help their brethren. The hypocrites sabotage us and are capable of doing so due to our sins.

      Muslims are for Muslims as Jews are for Jews-it has been clear to most people that whatever loyalty to their home nation Jews are foremost loyal to their tribe/religion. This is to be expected from a group with thousands of years of history as a tribe and having lived in various parts of the world split off from one another, tied in tribe and religion and shared history and split off by place.

      Likewise, whatever personal feelings and attachment I have to California, and my desire for it to grow and prosper, my loyalty first and foremost is to my nation since it is the only nation that can enter Paradise.

      Yes people have done very wrong things out of loyalty to the Ummah. However British nationalists have committed uncountable slaughter around the world in the name of loyalty to their nation. The difference between us and you is we have a command from God to reject ALL injustice while you are not even a member of the right religion to begin with.

      • Avatar

        Hatem al-Haj

        December 5, 2015 at 12:47 PM

        I have a different take on this issue than the two comments in this thread. It is hard for a person who belongs to the religious majority in his country to understand the intricacies of the relationship between religious loyalty and national affiliation. However, I invite Mr. Howard, who is likely from the UK to examine the issue of Northern Ireland because it is one of the manifestations of these intricacies. This is happening after centuries of attempts in Europe to trivialize religious differences in the interest of the civic good.
        As long as one’s ultimate allegiance is to the truth and cause of justice for all, Muslim minorities in the West should not have a conflict between their religious and national loyalties. Loving one’s co-religionists and having allegiance for the nation of believers (in one’s own religion) does not negate what kinship, social relationships, national affiliation and other forms of human interaction cause to arise of love and natural affection – so long as this does not include supporting them in falsehood or taking part in injustice.

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          john Howard

          December 14, 2015 at 7:27 PM

          To follow up finally (2 attempts have failed to go on) I would like to answer your comments
          Firstly the comment regarding the
          “These verses mean that those of us who are citizens of the West should not betray the trust of the covenant of citizenship.”
          We have a certain gentleman in the UK who uses that line frequently namely Anjem Choudhary. For me it stinks of what we crudely call in the UK Arse covering – In other words we agree not to attack the local citizenry because we have to live among them and if we want to keep all the benefits that gives us (especially here in the UK and the rest of Europe) but lets not rile the locals too much or we might lose them and get deported. It does not mean that we can’t support the killing off shore of those citizens either in the armed forces or as tourists. It does not in any way give loyalty to the nation they are in .
          Your third person style of narrative I can accept as your style and am happy to accept your argument. and that is not meant in a patronising manner on my behalf.
          Palestine a very perplexing argument! Your reasoning for not giving citizenship to the Palestinians by other Muslim countries is one I don’t accept because they also deny them the right to benefits or jobs and forces them to live in ghastly camps. In other words it gives the Muslim nations a good excuse to keep the Palestinians under control. The sectarian violence among Muslims is legendary witness Lebanon, Iraq, Syria etc, The fact that many Palestinians have taken citizenship asks the question why again is i only the west who has to carry the burden when so many if not the great majority do not?
          As for the military support for Israel well considering that the majority of Muslim countries are very happy to destroy the only truly democratic nation in the region I will support them too over the rubbish that the Muslim nations have thrown up as governments. The fact that Israeli Arabs have a far higher standard of living and freedom than any other Arab in the region speaks volumes for Israel. It is also notable that to date over 2000 so called freedom fighters have been treated by the Israelis with care they could never have gotten from their own kind. Yes Europe helped the Jews migrate to Palestine after World War 2 and for a number of reasons primarily because of guilt over the genocide. The British tried to protect the Palestinians from this influx I know this because one of my family was killed there by the Irgun while he was serving in the British Army in Palestine. My fatjer was alos there and he saw many atrocities committed by both sides and to the day he died he had little sympathy for either party. But let us not forget that Palestine was a Jewish nation long before Islam came on the scene The Temple Mount was Jewish long before it became a symbol for Islam
          Israel for all its faults is a far more tolerant society to live especially if you are a minority such as a Muslim, gay or Christian.

          Ireland. Look into the history of Ireland and what happened after the Republic was formed. Rightly or wrongly the 6 northern counties chose to stay with the UK because of the sectarian fears that they would be destroyed by the Catholics in the south. Looking back at the social standards of the north versus the republic one can understand why. The power that religion had in controlling the lives of the Irish was almost absolute (I wonder where you can see that today ????) and it is only in the last few years as the Irish have seen what their religious masters were doing in the name of God that they have woken up to them and now fortunately faith in any religion has dropped there probably at a greater rate than any other country. Amazing what education can do to people’s minds.
          Finally Sir i would ask this question of you as a Muslim. One of the many things that your fellow followers of your religion like to throw at us in the west is how you give stewardship and altruism for all the unfortunate and less well off. Why is it that so many of the educated such as yourself have immigrated to the west in your tens of if not hundreds of thousands and as such have benefitted greatly from our living standards instead of staying to help your fellow citizens whose need is far greater than ours in the services especially in medicine of having you there? How does that sit with your faith when you are just as greedy for western societies life style as we decadent westerners/non Muslims?

    • Avatar

      Hatem al-Haj

      December 1, 2015 at 1:43 PM

      Thank you, Mr. Howard, for the comment. Here are some explanations:
      As for the question of loyalty, I hope that a second reading of the article may ease your valid concerns about this issue. You do need, however, to do that while keeping in mind the intent of the article and the intended audience, as well as the capacity in which I am writing as a Muslim theologian. In case you do not have time to go through the article once again, let me share with you some statements from it.
      1- “These verses mean that those of us who are citizens of the West should not betray the trust of the covenant of citizenship.”
      This statement should ease your Trojan Horse concerns. The use of covenant (Mithâq) means a lot to the audience, because it is a Quranic term.
      2- “It can involve our youth and give them the sense (and hope) that they can gradually make a positive difference, and yes, change their unfair world, along with fair-minded individuals from other religious affiliations, to make it more just and peaceful.”
      This shows that the author is not about isolation and sequestration of the Muslim minorities in their respective countries.
      As for the third person, this is a style of speech that may be warranted, at times, if you are making an impartial assessment of the behavior of two groups, such as your own family and your aunt’s. You are right; I am from the USA. Many of my fellow Americans, from the far right to the far left, refer to the regime, government, or the “establishment” in the third person. This may also be a style of speech that certain individuals use more frequently than others. I find myself, in certain discussions, referring to myself in the third person. I invite you to reflect on this question. Had my name been a little more familiar than ‘Hatem al-Haj’, would you have felt the same way? In conclusion of this point, I thank you for alerting me to how it comes across to some people, regardless of how I feel or what I intended.
      As for the Palestinians, I will not defend the regimes in the Muslim countries, because I do not think of them more favorably than you do. Many of them only give lip service to the Palestinian cause. However, I would like to point out to you that most of the displaced Palestinians live in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and the Gulf, not the West. As for giving them citizenships, that is exactly what Israel wishes. This is like suggesting to the Germans to accommodate the French people displaced by a Chinese invasion of their country so that they may leave France to them. Additionally, I am sure you do not mean that the Western regimes are not even partially responsible for the plight of the Palestinians. Not even because they were responsible for the relocation of the Jews of Europe to Palestine during the colonial era and forcing them on the local population, or because of the Balfour Declaration? What about the ongoing immense financial backing of Israel, the declared commitment to keep it militarily superior, by far, to all of its neighbors, the multitudes of vetoes used at the UN by my own government to block resolutions condemning Israeli aggression or requesting Israel to abide by any of the UN resolutions or international laws? It seems that you do acknowledge the plight of the Palestinians, but I would believe that learning more about it from independent sources will make you even more sympathetic. May I suggest Jimmy Carter’s book Palestine Peace not Apartheid. You may also visit the UN’s page about Palestine (https://unispal.un.org/pdfs/DPI2499.pdf) or http://www.ampalestine.org. Finally, the article was not about crying victim; after all, crying does not help. Therefore, I would second your advice, but only if does not entail a denial of our justifiable grievances.
      Sorry for the long reply. Thanks again for writing and have a good day/ night!

    • Avatar

      Hatem al-Haj

      December 1, 2015 at 3:26 PM

      Thank you, Mr. Howard, for the comment. Here are some explanations:
      As for the question of loyalty, I hope that a second reading of the article may ease your valid concerns about this issue. You do need, however, to do that while keeping in mind the intent of the article and the intended audience, as well as the capacity in which I am writing as a Muslim theologian. In case you do not have time to go through the article once again, let me share with you some statements from it and their implications.
      “These verses mean that those of us who are citizens of the West should not betray the trust of the covenant of citizenship.”
      The use of covenant (Mithâq) means a lot to the audience, because it is a Quranic term.
      “It can involve our youth and give them the sense (and hope) that they can gradually make a positive difference, and yes, change their unfair world, along with fair-minded individuals from other religious affiliations, to make it more just and peaceful.”
      This shows that the author is not about isolation and sequestration of the Muslim minorities in their respective countries.
      As for the third person, this is a style of speech that may be warranted, at times, if you are making an impartial assessment of the behavior of two groups, such as your own family and your aunt’s. I am talking about the West as an entity, and more specifically the Western regimens. You are right; I am from the USA. Many of my fellow Americans, from the far right to the far left, refer to the regime, government, or the “establishment” in the third person. This may also be a style of speech that certain individuals use more frequently than others. I find myself, in certain discussions, referring to myself in the third person. I invite you to reflect on this question. Had my name been a little more familiar than ‘Hatem al-Haj’, would you have felt the same way? In conclusion of this point, I thank you for alerting me to how it comes across to some people, regardless of how I feel or what I intended.
      As for the Palestinians, I will not defend the regimes in the Muslim countries, because I do not think of them more favorably than you do. Manu of them only give lip service to the Palestinian cause. However, I would like to point out to you that most of the displaced Palestinians live in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and the Gulf, not the West. As for giving them citizenships, that is exactly what Israel wishes. This is like suggesting to the Germans to accommodate the French people displaced by a Chinese invasion of their country so that they may leave France to them. Additionally, I am sure you do not mean that the Western regimes are not even partially responsible for the plight of the Palestinians. Not even because they were responsible for the relocation of the Jews of Europe to Palestine during the colonial era and forcing them on the local population, or because of the Balfour Declaration? What about the ongoing financial backing of Israel, the declared commitment to keep it militarily superior to all of its neighbors, the multitudes of vetoes used at the UN by my own government to block resolutions to condemn Israeli aggression or force Israel to abide by any of the UN resolutions or international laws? It seems that you do acknowledge the plight of the Palestinians, but I would believe that learning more about it from independent sources will make you even more sympathetic. May I suggest Jimmy Carter’s book Palestine Peace no Apartheid. You may also visit the UN’s page about Palestine or http://www.ampalestine.org. Finally, the article was not about crying victim; after all, crying does not help. Therefore, I would second your advice, but only if does not entail a denial of our justifiable grievances.
      Sorry for the long reply. Have a good day/ night!

    • Avatar

      Hatem al-Haj

      December 18, 2015 at 4:27 PM

      Here are my answers to your answers, Mr. Howard.
      First, thank you for accepting my explanation regarding the use of the third person in my speech.
      As for the issue of Northern Ireland, I was not taking sides, but only pointing out the internal conflict that may arise at a time when a certain group of people have to reconcile between their religious and national affiliations. I hope that, regardless of the details of that example, it was still capable to illustrate my point. If it wasn’t, then may be a hypothetical one could. Imagine if the USA had, for some reason or another, to go to war with Israel. Will the American Jews have some discomfort dealing with this scenario?
      As for my talk about the covenant of citizenship, I am disappointed in the way you understood my treatment of this issue. I was pointing out the high moral standard Islam holds us to concerning the honoring of all covenants. The framework of my discussion was moral, not pragmatic. I was citing verses from the Quran (revealed a long time before we came to enjoy Western prosperity). I was telling my fellow Muslims that even if your countrymen were to commit atrocities against your coreligionists, you should still not betray the covenant. This means that you are not only prohibited from attacking your fellow civilians who may never be targeted in any scenario, but you are also not allowed to attack the combatants on their way to drop bombs on your coreligionists. This high moral standard was stated in the verses I mentioned in the article and others and practiced by the Prophet who ordered one of his companions by the name of Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamân to not partake in the battle of Badr because he promised the Meccans that he was not going to fight them. The covenant applies, without a shred of doubt, to the tourists. As for members of the armed forces from our fellow countrymen, as I stated before, the covenant of citizenship bars us from attacking them regardless of where their mission belongs on the scale of good and evil. As for sympathizing with them, I hope that you agree with me that it must depend on the mission of the expedition they will embark on. If they were on the wrong side, one may still humanitarianly sympathize with the ordeal their families go through or that many of them may be deceived (and brainwashed) by those who sent them. Having said that, if you want me to sympathize with the soldiers who tortured the Iraqi prisoners in Abu Gharib and other concentration camps, after they invaded their lands on the basis of the lie of WMD, and wiped out hundreds of thousands of civilians (remaining from Gulf War I and the merciless embargo, which was called barbaric by the previous pope) I will proudly and determinedly refuse to do so. Many decent humans, Muslim and non-Muslim and American and non-American, share my feelings.
      As for greed being the motive of our immigration to the West, I would like to remind you first that more than half of the Muslims in the USA are not immigrants. They are mainly African Americans, with some from all other ethnic groups, including Americans of European descent and natives. There are also the children of the immigrants, who did not make the choice to emigrate and know of no other homeland, so your last comment doesn’t pertain to all of those. It does, however, pertain to me because I am an immigrant. I agree with you that most of us, immigrants, came to the West for economic opportunities. This was to a great extent for the mutual benefit of the Western countries, which needed laborers to contribute to their economic growth, and the immigrants, who certainly enjoy a much higher living standard in their host/adopted countries than their original ones. I don’t see a problem in that, and the “decadent Westerners” stereotypical language is not part of my dictionary. Some of us, however, came to the West to run away from tyrannical regimes, believed by many Muslims to be installed by the West in the post-colonial era to serve its interests. I usually don’t subscribe to the extremes of the conspiracy theory, but I would second George W Bush’s assertion that those regimes have been at least supported and propped up by the West for too long. There are others who may see themselves more productive and capable of serving the cause of justice-for-all by being in the West and engaging the Western audience since they have the leverage to change the conditions of the World and make it fairer and more conducive to peace. There are those who may have to come to the West to call Westerners to Islam, just as many Christian missionaries go to all corners of the World to call mankind to their religion. This may be done by some people out of zeal and religious nationalism, but for many, it is a manifestation of devotion to God and compassion for humanity.
      As for the Palestinian issue, my answer will follow shortly!

  2. Avatar

    Hamid

    November 30, 2015 at 11:52 PM

    beautifully written piece that explores the core issue through the legislative lens and supports the points with opinions of scholars.

  3. Avatar

    Adeeb

    December 2, 2015 at 1:11 AM

    Superb article clearing all misconceptions. I have one question, I had read a fatwa islamqa.Com that stated that verse of no compulsion has been abrogated by verse of sword. Hence people can be forced.
    Please explain

    • Avatar

      Hatem al-Haj

      December 3, 2015 at 8:54 PM

      I invite you to go back and take another look at that fatwa. It is impossible that anyone would say that Islams approves of forceful conversions, because you would be basically producing hypocrites. I do not recall the name of any scholar in the past or present who said that.

      • Avatar

        Abu Muhammad

        December 6, 2015 at 3:07 AM

        Sheikh Hatem, the fatwa the brother is quoting can be found here >>> http://islamqa.info/en/34770 . According to the article Sheikh bin Baz (rA) is quoted as saying,

        وقال آخرون من أهل العلم : إنها كانت في أول الأمر ثم نسخت بأمر الله سبحانه بالقتال والجهاد ، فمن أبى الدخول في الإسلام وجب جهاده مع القدرة حتى يدخل في الإسلام أو يؤدي الجزية إن كان من أهلها ، فالواجب إلزام الكفار بالإسلام إذا كانوا لا تؤخذ منهم الجزية ؛ لأن إسلامهم فيه سعادتهم ونجاتهم في الدنيا والآخرة ، فإلزام الإنسان بالحق الذي فيه الهدى والسعادة خير له من الباطل ، كما يلزم الإنسان بالحق الذي عليه لبني آدم ولو بالسجن أو بالضرب ، فإلزام الكفار بتوحيد الله والدخول في دين الإسلام أولى وأوجب ؛ لأن فيه سعادتهم في العاجل والآجـل إلا إذا كانوا من أهل الكتاب كاليهود والنصارى أو المجوس ، فهذه الطوائف الثلاث جاء الشرع بأنهم يخيرون . فإما أن يدخلوا في الإسلام وإما أن يبذلوا الجزية عن يد وهم صاغرون .

        “Other scholars said that this applied in the beginning, but was subsequently abrogated by Allaah’s command to fight and wage jihad. So whoever refuses to enter Islam should be fought when the Muslims are able to fight, until they either enter Islam or pay the jizyah if they are among the people who may pay jizyah. The kuffaar should be compelled to enter Islam if they are not people from whom the jizyah may be taken, because that will lead to their happiness and salvation in this world and in the Hereafter. Obliging a person to adhere to the truth in which is guidance and happiness is better for him than falsehood. Just as a person may be forced to do the duty that he owes to other people even if that is by means of imprisonment or beating, so forcing the kaafirs to believe in Allaah alone and enter into the religion of Islam is more important and more essential, because this will lead to their happiness in this world and in the Hereafter. This applies unless they are People of the Book, i.e., Jews and Christians, or Magians, because Islam says that these three groups may be given the choice: they may enter Islam or they may pay the jizyah and feel themselves subdued.” [Majmoo’ Fataawa wa Maqaalaat li’l-Shaykh Ibn Baaz, 6/219]

      • Avatar

        adeeb taqui

        June 13, 2016 at 7:37 AM

        >>> islamqa.info/en/34770 . According to the article Sheikh bin Baz (rA) is quoted as saying,

        وقال آخرون من أهل العلم : إنها كانت في أول الأمر ثم نسخت بأمر الله سبحانه بالقتال والجهاد ، فمن أبى الدخول في الإسلام وجب جهاده مع القدرة حتى يدخل في الإسلام أو يؤدي الجزية إن كان من أهلها ، فالواجب إلزام الكفار بالإسلام إذا كانوا لا تؤخذ منهم الجزية ؛ لأن إسلامهم فيه سعادتهم ونجاتهم في الدنيا والآخرة ، فإلزام الإنسان بالحق الذي فيه الهدى والسعادة خير له من الباطل ، كما يلزم الإنسان بالحق الذي عليه لبني آدم ولو بالسجن أو بالضرب ، فإلزام الكفار بتوحيد الله والدخول في دين الإسلام أولى وأوجب ؛ لأن فيه سعادتهم في العاجل والآجـل إلا إذا كانوا من أهل الكتاب كاليهود والنصارى أو المجوس ، فهذه الطوائف الثلاث جاء الشرع بأنهم يخيرون . فإما أن يدخلوا في الإسلام وإما أن يبذلوا الجزية عن يد وهم صاغرون .

        “Other scholars said that this applied in the beginning, but was subsequently abrogated by Allaah’s command to fight and wage jihad. So whoever refuses to enter Islam should be fought when the Muslims are able to fight, until they either enter Islam or pay the jizyah if they are among the people who may pay jizyah. The kuffaar should be compelled to enter Islam if they are not people from whom the jizyah may be taken, because that will lead to their happiness and salvation in this world and in the Hereafter. Obliging a person to adhere to the truth in which is guidance and happiness is better for him than falsehood. Just as a person may be forced to do the duty that he owes to other people even if that is by means of imprisonment or beating, so forcing the kaafirs to believe in Allaah alone and enter into the religion of Islam is more important and more essential, because this will lead to their happiness in this world and in the Hereafter. This applies unless they are People of the Book, i.e., Jews and Christians, or Magians, because Islam says that these three groups may be given the choice: they may enter Islam or they may pay the jizyah and feel themselves subdued.” [Majmoo’ Fataawa wa Maqaalaat li’l-Shaykh Ibn Baaz, 6/219]

  4. Avatar

    Elisabeth Jefferson

    December 14, 2015 at 12:49 PM

    That is so sad why would someone do that to thousands of people that is the worst thing i would never think about doing that to someone the terrorists are the worst am i write or not

    P.S-u can write your answer on fuzzy.org to get on my face book a count ;) or nolllllllllllllllll!

  5. Avatar

    sparky

    December 30, 2015 at 1:50 PM

    Ok if there are so many good muslims why are they not turning in the ones the know are up to no good. Supposedly your faith has
    been hijacked but you do not do anything about it. I hear muslims are afraid to turn in radical muslims. If no one stands up for
    good evil will reign. Your so called religion calls for killing the infidels (your own terms). If you try to kill us we will retaliate sucker.

    • Avatar

      Shakir M.

      March 23, 2016 at 6:29 PM

      Entire Muslim Nations and their military and police forces are arrested and fighting those that are up to not good, for the people in those countries and internationally. Do not wait on the corporate media to talk about Muslims who are doing good, operating charities, feeding the needy, or working with law enforcement. In my area there Muslims who walked off the job due to work standards and rules they felt were not welcoming to them as Muslims. The national media contacted a local rep asking to talk to a Muslim person who was angry. Your comments were based on hearsay or simply you feel that you are not informed about something happening that it is not happening at all. Below is a compilation of crimes and evil doers that were turned in by Muslims/Mosques to the authorities. Call your nearest metropolitan FBI office and ask them if Muslims in the region have been helpful and cooperative to their efforts. Hear it from the horses mouth.

      October 2008: Neo-Nazis Daniel Cowart and Paul Schesselman are arrested by local police, who received a tip from a concerned friend of the two suspects, before seeking to go on a shooting spree against African-Americans.

      July 2009: Mosque leaders in Raleigh, North Carolina contact law enforcement to notify them of “violent, threatening action… considered to be dangerous” leading to the arrest of Daniel Boyd and 6 other individuals.

      September 2009: Queens Imam Ahmad Afazali, a community liaison to the NYPD, helps local police and the FBI in the investigation and arrest of suspect Najibullah Zazi. Though Zazi is initially accused of tipping off Zazi to police surveillance, information in the court complaint and corroborating reporting from mainstream media sources found this notion to be false. (Afzali was, however, deported on charges of lying to FBI agents, but subsequent media reporting also strengthens Afzali’s claims that he was scapegoat for getting caught up in a turf battle between NYPD and FBI officials.)

      November 2009: Five Virginia Muslim youth are arrested in Pakistan, allegedly seeking to join a terrorist group, after family members told American federal authorities they went missing.

      March 2010: Michigan Militia member and Muslim convert Matt Savino refuses aid to a fugitive member of the Hutaree Militia and instead helps law enforcement authorities track him down.

      April 2010: Senegalese Muslim Alioune Niass first spots the suspicious vehicle used as a bomb to attack Times Square in New York City. Clues from the vehicle and defused explosive immediately led to the suspect, Faisal Shahzad’s, arrest.

      June 2010: Suspects Mohammed Mahmoud Alessa and Carlos Eduardo Almonte are arrested, after the FBI first receives an anonymous report in 2006 from one of the suspects’ family members. News reports indicate one of Alessa’s family members provided the tip.

      October 2010: Former Hawaii resident Abdel Hamid Shehadeh is arrested for attempting to join the Taliban. Local media noted that the Muslim Association of Hawaii “assisted law enforcement agencies in the case” and that it has “in the past reported suspicious activities.”

      October 2010: Farooque Ahmed is arrested on charges of allegedly attempting to bomb the Washington, DC metro railway system. The FBI first learns of Ahmed’s intentions from a community tip-off.

      October 2010: An attempt by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to bomb Western targets using air cargo transportation is prevented by US and European authorities. Intelligence that prevented the plot came from ex-militant Jabr al-Faifi, who voluntarily handed himself into Saudi authorities.

      November 2010: Mohamed Osman Mohamud is arrested for attempting to bomb a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon. The New York Times notes, “In the Oregon [Mohamud] case, the FBI received a tip from a Portland Muslim.”

      December 2010: Antonio Martinez is arrested for attempting to bomb a military recruiting center in Maryland. Statements from Justice Department officials indicate a Muslim community member reported Martinez to the FBI during its ongoing investigation.

      June 2011: Two Al-Qaeda inspired violent criminals planning to attack a military installation in Seattle are arrested by law enforcement. FBI officials first become aware of the planned attack after a fellow Muslim who was trying to be recruited into the conspiracy went to Seattle Police and informed them of the plot.

      January 2012: Violent Al-Qaeda sympathizer Sami Osmakac is arrested for planning to attack several sites in Tampa, Florida using guns and explosives. The U.S. Attorney for Central Florida noted, “This investigation was also predicated, in part, by assistance from the Muslim community.”

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#Current Affairs

Kashmir: Gateway in Turmoil

Abu Ryan Dardir

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birds of a feather flock together.

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

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

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

A message from a Kashmiri

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

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

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#Islam

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

Imam Zaid Shakir

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migrants

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

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

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

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

Concerning migration, the Qur’an states unequivocally: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Launchgood.com/migrants, migrants, Muslims

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

Imam Zaid Shakir, Imam, Lighthouse Mosque

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

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

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Muslim organizations, Muslim groups

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

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

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

The Involvement Of Muslim Groups

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

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

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

Spreading Ignorance

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

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

immorality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Law Enforcement Approved Islam

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

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

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

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

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

Muslim Groups Were Taken for a Ride

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

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

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

Do Your Homework

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

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

Muslim Leaders Should Stand Strong 

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

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

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

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

Note: Special thanks to Mobeen Vaid.

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