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What We Can Learn from the “Butcher of Bosnia”

Shibli Zaman

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The ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995 was the greatest genocide in European history after the Holocaust of World War II[1], and remains Europe’s worst genocide ever since. It left well over 100,000 Bosnians murdered[2],[3] — 8,000 of those in Srebrenica alone — and nearly 3,000,000 souls displaced. Women were raped by the tens of thousands[4] as an official strategy of the Serbs, since a woman’s honor is so sacred in Islam. Children were slaughtered with wanton abandon and suckling babies were beheaded in front of their mothers.

In the Writ of Summons of the District Court of The Hague, eyewitness Ramiza Gurdić testified:

“At one time, I saw how a young boy of about ten was killed by Serbs in Dutch uniform. This happened in front of my own eyes. The mother sat on the ground and her young son sat beside her. The young boy was placed on his mother’s lap. The young boy was killed. His head was cut off. The body remained on the lap of the mother. The Serbian soldier placed the head of the young boy on his knife and showed it to everyone. There were at that moment Dutch soldiers in the vicinity. They stood by and did nothing. They appeared to be entirely indifferent. The woman was hysterical and began to call out for help. A Dutch soldier who was standing there said only, ‘No, no, no.'”[5]

There are scores of testimonies like this from Bosnian refugees wherein European “peacekeepers” watched without any care as the most nightmarish rapes and murders were perpetrated against the Bosnian people. These were not horrific exceptions. These were the horrific norm for years!

The mastermind behind all of this was Radovan Karadžić, President of the Serb Republic from 1992-1996.

Karadžić was found to have been “instrumental” in a campaign of sniping and shelling that terrorized the civilian population of Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital. He was also convicted of being in charge of taking United Nations employees as hostages and obstructing NATO from carrying out airstrikes on behalf of besieged Bosnian Muslim civilians. He was found guilty of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. A few days ago The Hague, while finding Karadžić guilty of all of  the aforementioned, crimes which earned the Nazis the death sentence after World War II, sentenced him to a mere 40 years in prison.

Just 40 Years

People get more than that for petty white collar crimes much less the genocide of over 100,000. March 24, 2016 will go down as a day of bitter anger and grief for those whose murders and sacrifices have been profaned and spit upon by The Hague.

Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, 2nd right, in the courtroom for the reading of his verdict at the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, The Netherlands Thursday March 24, 2016. The former Bosnian-Serbs leader is indicted for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. (Robin van Lonkhuijsen, Pool via AP)

Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, 2nd right, in the courtroom in The Hague, The Netherlands Thursday March 24, 2016. (Robin van Lonkhuijsen, Pool via AP)

When we look at the Nuremberg trials and the sentences meted out to the Nazis, we see a very painful and troubling inconsistency that tells us —  even if you are White European, as the Bosnians are, your blood is worth nothing if you are Muslim. Here are some of those convicted at the Nuremberg trials after World War II:

  • Ernst Kaltenbrunner – Charged with and convicted of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, war-crimes and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[6]
  • Alfred Jodl – Charged with and convicted of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes; and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[7]
  • Hans Frank – Charged with and convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[8]
  • Hermann Göring – Charged with and convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH. Committed suicide before execution.[9]
  • Fritz Sauckel – Charged with and convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[10]
  • Joachim von Ribbentrop – Charged with and convicted of crimes against peace, deliberately planning a war of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[11]
  • Wilhelm Keitel – Charged with and convicted of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[12]
  • Alfred Rosenberg – For his role as a planner of Nazi invasions of the Soviet Union and Norway, Rosenberg was charged with and convicted of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[13]
  • Wilhelm Frick – Frick’s main crime was his role in formulating the Enabling Act (later, the Nuremberg Law) as Minister of the Interior that led to people under those laws being sent to German concentration camps. So as an enabler but not an actual player in exacting the murderous results of those laws, he was charged with and convicted of planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[14]
  • Julius Streicher – This is the most interesting case which most lucidly displays the prejudice and disparity Europe has against Muslims. Streicher was not a member of the military and did not take part in planning the Holocaust, or the invasion of other nations. He was tried for being a firebrand ideologue of the Nazis and not for any active involvement in the Holocaust. He was charged for his hate speech against the Jews. Prosecutors argued that Streicher’s rhetoric was so inflammatory that he should be considered an “accessory to murder”. He was acquitted of crimes against peace, but found guilty of crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[15]

Granted, the death sentence no longer exists in international law but these stiff sentences from the Nuremberg Trials make clear that anything less than a life sentence for Karadžić is a sheer obscenity.

There is a lot of talk these days about “White Privilege” but the Muslims of Bosnia were nothing other than White Europeans, 100% of them. Did they get a country exclusively to themselves like what was awarded to the Jews, in someone else’s land, out of Europe’s guilt for the Holocaust? They absolutely did not.

They were forced to create a secular state with their Bosnian Muslim identity watered down into a pluralistic kumbaya of Bosnian Serbs, Muslims and Croats. They didn’t get a religious state like Israel where they could keep everyone else sequestered into serfdom in an apartheid state with an actual wall to enforce the religiously and ethnically based class oppression. To the Bosnians’ credit they wouldn’t have even wanted that. But getting it wasn’t even remotely on Europe’s radar, nor did Europe feel any guilt for the genocide they watched happen in their own backyard for years.

Be Just but Expect Injustice

Yet, the lesson we would learn from this is one that was taught to us a millennium and a half ago with the revelation of the Qur’an:
8-73

“The non-Muslims are protectors of one another. If you do not [protect each other] the same, there will be lawlessness and injustice in the land.” [8:73]

As Muslims, we are to be the most just, equitable and friendly to the non-Muslims living around us. But we are to never forget the reality that, when it comes down to it, they will protect each other over us. There are, indeed, cases —arguably, exceptions— wherein non-Muslims valiantly champion the defense of Muslims. We see this often and we must acknowledge and respect it. However, the general rule is that humans will be humans, and will find an affinity towards their own kind over the “other”. But what is important for us to also acknowledge is that the Qur’an states a reality in that the demarcations between peoples in the world will ultimately narrow down to Muslim vs. Non-Muslim. When it finally reaches that point, a sign prophesied by the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) will have been fulfilled.

So always be just, fair and friendly towards your non-Muslim neighbors. Show them such kindness and respect that you stand out as an example of those ideals. That’s you doing your part as a Muslim who truly adheres to Islam. But never, ever be fooled into thinking that they would choose you over those whom they see as their own, nor are they inclined to deliver you the same justice as they would to their own.

That was proven on March 24, 2016 in Radovan Karadžić, a murderous lowlife blackguard who, much unlike some Nazis executed for far lesser crimes than his, will spend the rest of his life in relative comfort and care even if confined to “prison”.


 

[1] European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2009 on Srebrenica, P6_TA(2009)0028 European Parliament – 15 January 2009.

[2] Bosnia’s “Book of the Dead”, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 26 June 2007

[3] Zwierzchowski, Jan and Tabeau, Ewa (1 February 2010). “The 1992–95 War in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Census-based multiple system estimation of casualties undercount”.

[4] “Statement by Dr. Haris Silajdžić Chairman of the Presidency Bosnia and Herzegovina”. United Nations. 23 September 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2015.

[5] Writ of Summons District Court The Hague 4 June 2007, Section 237, p. 101

[6] Encyclopedia of War Crimes and Genocide, Leslie Alan Horvitz, Christopher Catherwood, p. 257

[7] Ibid, p. 253

[8] Ibid, p. 157

[9] Ibid, p. 177

[10] Ibid, p. 383

[11] Ibid, p. 368

[12] Ibid, p. 262

[13] Ibid, p. 370-371

[14] Ibid, p. 158

[15] Ibid, p. 407-409


Shibli Zaman is a writer, analyst and blogger from Texas with a background in Semitic linguistics and philology who spent 4 years studying Islam overseas. His time overseas included studying Hanbali jurisprudence and working for Shaykh Salman al-`Awdah to start the website IslamToday.com. He is an SAP Netweaver consultant by profession.

Shibli Zaman is a writer from Texas with a background in Semitic linguistics and philology who spent 4 years studying Islam overseas. Literate in Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, he received a Gold Medal from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK for Bible prowess. He studied Computer Science from the University of Houston and is an SAP consultant by profession.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Avatar

    jjvanka

    March 27, 2016 at 8:18 AM

    There have been atrocities in BiH by Croats and also by Bosniaks, but they aren’t mentioned at all.

    • Avatar

      Sir Sid

      March 27, 2016 at 10:11 AM

      That’s because the article was about Cowardzic who is a Serb.

    • Avatar

      Eddo

      March 27, 2016 at 2:04 PM

      Yes, but while those incidents were isolated occurrences, what the Serbs did was a well planned out systematically and thoroughly planned out ethnic cleansing… Happened in Bosnia, happened in Croatia, happened in Kosovo. There is a reason why 95 percent of the captives in the Hague are Serbs, and 5 percent from the nations that Serbs attacked. Simple as that, stick to the facts. If you think I sound biased then please look up some independent online sources. ;)

  2. Avatar

    Michael Thompson

    March 27, 2016 at 10:47 AM

    The comment about “100,000 Bosnians” killed is incorrect. The Sarajevo government published a figure of 100,000 total deaths in Bosnia – from all sides. Of the 100,000 approximately 60,000 are combatants from the Serb, Muslim and Croat militaries. Of the 38,000 civilian deaths, the majority were Bosnian Muslim. But they also include thousands of Croat and Serb deaths.

    • Avatar

      Amal

      March 29, 2016 at 8:57 PM

      Esselamu alejkum

      I am my selfe Bosnian and a Muslim. Regarding the facts how many of people from all sides were killed, official dates concluded from the side of ” Demografic centre” of Hag show that most were killed Bosnian Muslims- with number of more than 68 000 killed people. This number is not everything, because during genocide comitted from side of Srbs thousands of women were raped, and about 3 million Bosnian Muslims were forced to leave their home land. Regarding other people in Bosnia and Hercegovina, it was killed about 22 000 of Srbs, and 8 000 of Croats.

      It is also important to say that behind this war or better say genocide, was a first intention of genocide from the side of Srb army and higher Srb leaders including Karadzic to ” get rid” of one people, only because we have different religion, tradition and names.

  3. Avatar

    Mahmud

    March 27, 2016 at 3:23 PM

    May Allah exalt the author if this article and VERY PERTINENT reminder by Shibli at the end!!!!

    Best MM article since Abu Aaliyahs masterpiece.

    • Avatar

      Roshanali Lakhani

      March 29, 2016 at 2:01 PM

      Brother Mahmud in Islaam, partner in humanity, I do agree.
      The facts are exposed as they were for many years, yet it took more than 20 years to convict the “Butcher”. He should have been convicted and sentenced to-DEATH/
      (life in jail) PENALTY. He is going to die soon (as he is already old now) without going through his punishment fully. Considering this he should be imposed with strictest rules- not a comfortable time in jail
      -Roshanali

  4. Avatar

    Julia

    March 28, 2016 at 11:16 PM

    great article mashAllah, shedding light on the hypocrisy that runs rampant against Muslims and their blood. It is a travesty that the “Butcher’s” blood is more sacred because of “humanist” ideals that the dead Bosnians shall never benefit from. May Allah wrap each and every victim in his infinite mercy and light, Ameen.

  5. Avatar

    Roshanali Lakhani

    March 29, 2016 at 2:10 PM

    THE ARTICLE IS VERY, VERY INFORMATIVE AND THE FACTS CORRECT. HOWEVER, SADLY THESE DO NOT REACH TO THE GENERAL READER- A PERSON OF ANY RELIGION FOLLOWER. THE FACTS SHOULD BE MORE PUBLICISED AND THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM BE MORE RIGHTFUL WHEN IT COMES TO HUMANTY. IT SHOULD NOT BE BIASED.

    -Roshanali Lakhani

  6. Avatar

    Matthias Hess

    March 30, 2016 at 9:03 AM

    What happened in this war is a very very very sad tragedy. But never ever compare it with what had happened during the second world war. In three days there were as many people killed in Auschwitz or in Leningrad or in other places as there has been in the whole bosnian war. And beside all these masskillings during the II world war the only houses which weren’t distroyed at the end of the war in Serbia, in Ukraine, Belaruss etc where in the german quartiers in the big cities.

  7. Avatar

    Joe A Dobson

    April 4, 2016 at 1:02 PM

    Salams. Correct me if I am wrong but I was of the understanding that the court in the Hague cannot issue death sentences to anyone. Therefore, they can only jail people. Given how old Karadžić is, a 40 year sentence means he will die in prison. They could have given him a 200 year sentence but it would make no difference, he would still die in prison.

    Therefore this article in relation to his sentencing makes no sense at all. What am I missing?

    • Avatar

      M. Mahmud

      April 9, 2016 at 6:33 PM

      The ICC is a pathetic court that spends millions of dollars and plenty of time to convict a few war criminals and give them a nice comfortable stay in prison.

  8. Avatar

    Peace

    April 9, 2016 at 3:54 AM

    Without knowing a lot about the Hague court processes and not intending to justify Karadzic, it is important to know that Balkan non Muslim people have much resentment to Muslims due to –
    1. Ottoman / Muslim persecution of Christians over the centuries of Ottoman / Muslim rule.
    2. Muslim atrocities committed against non Muslim peoples in the Balkans in WW2.
    Let us pray that the love of God and forgiveness will rule.

    Over 750,000 Serbs died at the hands of Croatians and Bosnian Muslims who colluded with the Nazis in WWII. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was instrumental in helping recruit Yugoslavian Muslims into the Muslim Hanjar SS division, which committed many genocidal acts against the Serbs, who were painted as racially inferior to the Bosnian Muslims and thus worthy of destruction. This set the stage for the animosities of the 1990s.

    In addition to the Bosnian Muslims killed in the late 1990s, thousands of Serbian Orthodox Christian men, women and children were also killed. Because the Serbs are of the Orthodox faith and aligned to Russia, the Western world ignored atrocities against the Serbs and allied with the Muslims and Croats. As a result, we hear only that side of the conflict. In fact, there were three sides who fiercely hated each other and all committed atrocities. It was a very sad situation. The degree of hostility between the three groups shocked even the Nazis.

  9. Avatar

    Rehmat

    April 11, 2016 at 11:17 AM

    Bosnian Christian Serb commander Gen. Ratko Mladic aka the ‘Butcher of Bosnia’ was not alone in the massacre, rape and expulsion of over 200,000 Muslims in B-H. He had a number of Zionist Jews to carry out his Muslim Holocaust.

    Missing at the world court was the indictment of three Muslim-hater Zionist Jews; Richard Holbrooks (US), Carl Bildt (EU) and Gen. Bernard Jean Vieh (UN) who gave ‘green light’ to Serbian forces to attack the Muslim areas including Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazda. It happened when the western powers realized that Bosnian army was about to recapture most of the land it lost to Serbian army during the early stages of the war. The Bosnian army received arms shipment from Iran and some foreign Muslim groups.

    Former Bosnian foreign minister, Mohammed Sacirbey, has claimed that in order to prepare ground for NATO’s “humanitarian invasion” – the Muslims genocide was engineered.

    “That involved Richard Holbrooke and involved Carl Bildt who, then, was the EU mediator and now is Sweden’s foreign minister. It involved a French general who was the head of the military forces of the UN in Bosnia — Bernard Jean Vieh. It involved Yasushi Akashi who was the head UN civilian official. They, in effect, acquiesced, gave the green light to Milosevic, Mladic as well as Karadzic to take over the territory of Srebrenica but also Zepa and Gorazde,”says Sacirbey in an interview with Press TV.

    https://rehmat1.com/2012/05/27/the-butcher-of-bosnia-and-his-zionist-helpers/

    • Avatar

      JF

      April 11, 2016 at 4:18 PM

      “The Bosnian army received arms shipment from Iran and some foreign Muslim groups.”

      “Foreign Muslim groups”. You must be referring to the Wahhabist-financed terrorist group al Qaeda, every Taliban mujahid available to travel, hundreds of Iranian Revolutionary Guards, members of the bin Laden family and any number of others who showed up in the former Yugoslavia looking for their newest conquest over the infidel.

      The Bosnians incorporated these vicious killers and torturers into their own unit and set them loose on their opponents.

    • Avatar

      Peace

      April 13, 2016 at 3:28 AM

      “Muslim hater Zionist Jews ” ! ? Next you’ll be referring to Jews as “Apes, Dogs and Pigs” as is common amongst Muslims.

      • Avatar

        Aly Balagamwala

        April 15, 2016 at 11:48 PM

        Define common?

        I have not heard this and I live in a country which is 95% muslim.

        *This comment is made in a personal capacity and may not reflect the views of MuslimMatters and/or its staff.

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#Current Affairs

Zahra Billoo Responds To The Women’s March Inc. Voting Her Off The New Board

Zahra Billoo

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Women's March Board

Earlier tonight, I was voted off the Women’s March, Inc. national board. This followed an Islamophobic smear campaign led by the usual antagonists, who have long targeted me, my colleagues, and anyone else who dares speak out in support of Palestinian human rights and the right to self-determination.

The past 48 hours have been a spiral of bad news and smear efforts. Part of the smear campaign is motivated by opponents of the Women’s March, because the organization has traditionally challenged the status quo of power and white supremacy in our country. However, much of the campaign is driven by people who oppose me and my work challenging the occupation of Palestine, our country’s perpetuation of unjust and endless wars, and law enforcement operations targeting the American Muslim community.

The Women’s March, Inc. is an organization I once held dear. I spoke at the first march, spoke at regional marches every year after, spoke at the convention, participated in national actions including the original Kavanaugh protests, and worked to mobilize Muslim women for their efforts.

During the past few years right-wingers, from the President’s son to the Anti-Defamation League and troll armies, have targeted the Women’s March, Inc. For so long, I’ve admired their resilience in speaking truth to power, in working together, and in never cowering. Over and over again, the co-founders of Women’s March, Inc. put their lives on the line, winning power for all women in all of our diversity. The Women’s March, Inc. that voted me off its board tonight is one that no longer demonstrates the strength that inspired millions of women across the country.

To see and experience its new leaders caving to right-wing pressure, and casting aside a woman of color, a Muslim woman, a long-time advocate within the organization, without the willingness to make any efforts to learn and grow, breaks my heart. This isn’t about a lost seat, there will be many seats. The Women’s March, Inc. has drawn a line in the sand, one that will exclude many with my lived experiences and critiques. It has effectively said, we will work on some women’s rights at the expense of others.

To be clear, anti-semitism is indeed a growing and dangerous problem in our country, as is anti-Blackness, anti-immigrant sentiment, Islamophobia, ableism, sexism, and so much more. I condemn any form of bigotry unequivocally, but I also refuse to be silent as allegations of bigotry are weaponized against the most marginalized people, those who find sanctuary and hope in the articulation of truth.

In looking at the tweets in question, I acknowledge that I wrote passionately. While I may have phrased some of my content differently today, I stand by my words. I told the truth as my community and I have lived it, through the FBI’s targeting of my community, as I supported families who have lost loved ones because of US military actions, and as I learned from the horrific experiences of Palestinian life.

In attempting to heal and build in an expedited manner within Women’s March, Inc., I offered to meet with stakeholders to address their concerns and to work with my sisters on the new board to learn, heal, and build together. These efforts were rejected. And in rejecting these efforts, the new Women’s March, Inc. demonstrated that they lack the courage to exhibit allyship in the face of fire.

I came to Women’s March, Inc. to work. My body of work has included leading a chapter of the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization for over a decade, growing it now more than six-fold. In my tenure, I have led the team that forced Abercrombie to change its discriminatory employment policies, have been arrested advocating for DACA, partnered with Jewish organizations including Bend the Arc and Jewish Voice for Peace to fight to protect our communities, and was one of the first lawyers to sue the President.

It is not my first time being the target of a smear campaign. The Women’s March, Inc., more than any place, is where I would have expected us to be able to have courageous conversations and dive deep into relationship-building work.

I am happy to have as many conversations as it takes to listen and learn and heal, but I will no longer be able to do that through Women’s March, Inc. This action today demonstrates that this organization’s new leadership is unable to be an ally during challenging times.

My beliefs drive my work, and I am not seeking accolades or positions of power. These past few days have been the greatest test of that. My integrity, my truth, and my strength comes from God and a place of deep conviction. I will continue my work as a civil rights lawyer and a faith-based activist, speaking out against the occupation of Palestine and settler-colonialism everywhere, challenging Islamophobia and all forms of racism and bigotry in the United States, and building with my community and our allies in our quest to be our most authentic and liberated selves.

Onward, God willing.

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#Current Affairs

The Duplicity of American Muslim Influencers And The ‘So-called Muslim Ban’

Dr Joseph Kaminski

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As we approach the beginning of another painful year of the full enforcement of Presidential Proclamation 9645 (a.k.a. ‘the Muslim ban’) that effectively bars citizens of several Muslim majority countries from entering into the United States, the silence remains deafening. As I expected, most of the world has conveniently forgotten about this policy, which thus far has separated over 3,000 American families from their spouses and other immediate relatives. In June 2019, the Brennan Center of Justice notes that: The ban has also kept at least 1,545 children from their American parents and 3,460 parents from their American sons and daughters. While silence and apathy from the general public on this matter is to be expected— after all, it is not their families who are impacted— what is particularly troubling is the response that is beginning to emerge from some corners of the American Muslim social landscape.

While most Muslims and Muslim groups have been vocal in their condemnation of Presidential Proclamation 9645, other prominent voices have not. Shadi Hamid sought to rationalize the executive order on technical grounds arguing that it was a legally plausible interpretation. Perhaps this is true, but some of the other points made by Hamid are quite questionable. For example, he curiously contends that:

The decision does not turn American Muslims like myself into “second-class citizens,” and to insist that it does will make it impossible for us to claim that we have actually become second-class citizens, if such a thing ever happens.

I don’t know— being forced to choose exile in order to remain with one’s family certainly does sound like being turned into a ‘second-class citizen’ to me. Perhaps the executive order does not turn Muslims like himself, as he notes, into second-class citizens, but it definitely does others, unless it is possible in Hamid’s mind to remain a first-class citizen barred from living with his own spouse and children for completely arbitrary reasons, like me. To be fair to Hamid, in the same article he does comment that the executive order is a morally questionable decision, noting that he is “still deeply uncomfortable with the Supreme Court’s ruling” and that “It contributes to the legitimization and mainstreaming of anti-Muslim bigotry.”

On the other hand, more recently others have shown open disdain for those who are angered about the ‘so-called Muslim ban.’ On June 6th, 2019, Abdullah bin Hamid Ali, a Senior Faculty Member at Zaytuna College, Islamic scholar and the founder of the Lamppost Education Initiative, rationalized the ban on spurious security grounds. He commented that,

The so-called Muslim ban, of course, has us on edge about his potential. But, to be fair, a real Muslim ban would mean that no Muslim from any country should be allowed in the US. There are about 50 Muslim majority countries. Trump singled out only 7 of them, most of which are war torn and problem countries. So, it is unfair to claim that he was only motivated by a hatred for Islam and Muslims.

First, despite how redundant and unnecessary this point is to make again, one ought to be reminded that between 1975 and 2015, zero foreigners from the seven nations initially placed on the banned list (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) killed any Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and zero Libyans or Syrians have ever even been convicted of planning a terrorist attack on U.S. soil during that same time period. I do not think these numbers have changed over the last 4 years either. If policy decisions are supposed to be made on sound empirical evidence and data, then there is even less justification for the ban.

Second, Bin Hamid Ali comments that ‘the so-called Muslim ban, of course, has us on edge about his [Trump’s] potential.’ Whoa… hold on; on edge about his potential? For the millions of people banned from entering the United States and the thousands of Muslim families connected to these millions of people, this ‘potential’ has been more than realized. To reduce the ‘so-called Muslim ban’ to just targeting ‘war torn and problem countries’ is to reduce our family members—our husbands, wives, and children—to (inaccurate) statistics and gross stereotypes. Are spouses from Syria or Yemen seeking to reunite with their legally recognized spouses or children any less deserving to be with their immediate family members because they hail from ‘problem countries’? How can one be concerned with stereotypes while saying something like this? Is this not the exact thing that Abdullah bin Hamid Ali seeks to avoid? Surely the Professor would not invoke such stereotypes to justify the racial profiling of black American citizens. What makes black non-Americans, Arabs, and Iranians any different when it comes to draconian immigration profiling? From a purely Islamic perspective, the answer is absolutely nothing.

More recently, Sherman Jackson, a leading Islamic intellectual figure at the University of Southern California, King Faisal Chair in Islamic Thought and Culture and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity, also waded into this discussion. In his essay, he reframed the Muslim ban as a question of identity politics rather than basic human right, pitting Muslim immigrants against what he calls ‘blackamericans’ drawing some incredibly questionable, nativist, and bigoted conclusions. Jackson in a recent blog responding to critiques by Ali al-Arian about his own questionable affiliations with authoritarian Arab regimes comments:

Al-Arian mentions that,

“the Muslim American community seemed united at least in its opposition to the Trump administration.”  He and those who make up this alleged consensus are apparently offended by Trump’s so-called Muslim ban.  But a Blackamerican sister in Chicago once asked me rhetorically why she should support having Muslims come to this country who are only going to treat her like crap.

These are baffling comments to make about ‘Trump’s so-called Muslim ban.’ Jackson creates a strawman by bringing up an anecdotal story that offers a gross generalization that clearly has prejudiced undertones of certain Muslim immigrants. Most interesting, however is how self-defeating Jackson’s invocation of identity politics is considering the fact that a large number of the ‘blackamerican’ Muslims that he is concerned about themselves have relatives from Somalia and other countries impacted by the travel ban. As of 2017, there were just over 52,000 Americans with Somali ancestry in the state of Minnesota alone. Are Somali-Americans only worth our sympathy so long as they do not have Somali spouses? What Jackson and Bin Hamid Ali do not seem to understand is that these Muslim immigrants they speak disparagingly of, by in large, are coming on family unification related visas.

Other people with large online followings have praised the comments offered by Abdullah bin Hamid Ali and Sherman Jackson. The controversial administrator of the popular The Muslim Skeptic website, Daniel Haqiqatjou, in defense of Jackson’s comments, stated:

This is the first time I have seen a prominent figure downplay the issue. And I think Jackson’s assessment is exactly right: The average American Muslim doesn’t really care about this. There is no evidence to indicate that this policy has had a significant impact on the community as a whole. Travel to the US from those four countries affected by the ban was already extremely difficult in the Obama era.

What Haqiqatjou seems to not realize is that while travel from these countries was difficult, it was not as ‘extremely difficult’ as he erroneously claims it was. The US issued 7,727 visas to Iranian passport holders in 2016 prior to the ban. After the ban in 2018, that number dropped to 1,449. My own wife was issued a B1/B2 Tourist visa to meet my family in 2016 after approximately 40 days of administrative processing which is standard for US visa seekers who hold Iranian passports. On the other hand, she was rejected for the same B1/B2 Tourist visa in 2018 after a grueling 60+ day wait due to Presidential Proclamation 9645. At the behest of the Counselor Officer where we currently live, she was told to just finish the immigration process since this would put her in a better position to receive one of these nearly impossible to get waivers. She had her interview on November 19, 2018, and we are still awaiting the results of whatever these epic, non-transparent ‘extreme vetting’ procedures yield. Somehow despite my wife being perfectly fine to enter in 2016, three years later, we are entering the 10th month of waiting for one of these elusive waivers with no end time in sight, nor any guarantee that things will work out. Tell me how this is pretty much the same as things have always been?

What these commentators seem to not realize is that the United States immigration system is incredibly rigid. One cannot hop on a plane and say they want to immigrate with an empty wallet to start of Kebab shop in Queens. It seems as if many of these people that take umbrage at the prospects of legal immigration believe that the immigration rules of 2019 are the same as they were in 1819. In the end, it is important to once again reiterate that the Muslim immigrants Jackson, Bin Hamid Ali and others are disparaging are those who most likely are the family members of American Muslim citizens; by belittling the spouses and children of American Muslims, these people are belittling American Muslims themselves.

Neo-nationalism, tribalism, and identity politics of this sort are wholly antithetical to the Islamic enterprise. We have now reached the point where people who are considered authority figures within the American Islamic community are promoting nativism and identity politics at the expense of American Muslim families. Instead of trying to rationalize the ‘so-called Muslim Ban’ via appeals to nativist and nationalist rhetoric, influential Muslim leaders and internet influencers need to demonstrate empathy and compassion for the thousands of US Muslim families being torn apart by this indefinite Muslim ban that we all know will never end so long as Donald Trump remains president. In reality, they should be willing to fight tooth-and-nail for American Muslim families. These are the same people who regularly critique the decline of the family unit and the rise of single-parent households. Do they not see the hypocrisy in their positions of not defending those Muslim families that seek to stay together?

If these people are not willing to advocate on behalf of those of us suffering— some of us living in self-imposed exile in third party countries to remain with our spouses and children— the least they can do is to not downplay our suffering or even worse, turn it into a political football (Social Justice Warrior politics vs. traditional ‘real’ Islam). It seems clear that if liberal Muslim activists were not as outspoken on this matter, these more conservative voices would take a different perspective. With the exception of Shadi Hamid, the other aforementioned names have made efforts to constrain themselves firmly to the ‘traditional’ Muslim camp. There is no reason that this issue, which obviously transcends petty partisan Muslim politics, ought to symbolize one’s allegiance to any particular social movement or camp within contemporary Islamic civil society.

If these people want a ‘traditional’ justification for why Muslim families should not be separated, they ought to be reminded that one of al-Ghazali’s 5 essential principles of the Shari’a was related to the protection of lineage/family and honor (ḥifẓ al-nasl). Our spouses are not cannon fodder for such childish partisan politics. We will continue to protect our families and their honor regardless of how hostile the environment may become for us and regardless of who we have to name and shame in the process.

When I got married over a year prior to Donald Trump being elected President, I vowed that only Allah would separate me from my spouse. I intend on keeping that vow regardless of what consequences that decision may have.

Photo courtesy: Adam Cairns / The Columbus Dispatch

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Obituary of (Mawlana) Yusuf Sulayman Motala (1366/1946 – 1441/2019)

Monday, September 9, turned out to be a day of profound anguish and sorrow for many around the world. In the early morning hours, news of the death of Mawlana* Yusuf Sulayman Motala, fondly known as “Hazrat” (his eminence) to those who were acquainted with him, spread. He had passed away on Sunday at 8:20 pm EST in Toronto, after suffering a heart attack two weeks earlier.

Dr. Mufti Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf Mangera

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Dar Al Uloom Bury, Yusuf Sulayman Motala

A master of hadith and Qur’an. A sufi, spiritual guide and teacher to thousands. A pioneer in the establishment of a religious education system. His death reverberated through hearts and across oceans. We are all mourning the loss of a luminary who guided us through increasingly difficult times.

Monday, September 9, turned out to be a day of profound anguish and sorrow for many around the world. In the early morning hours, news of the death of Mawlana* Yusuf Sulayman Motala, fondly known as “Hazrat” (his eminence) to those who were acquainted with him, spread. He had passed away on Sunday at 8:20 pm EST in Toronto, after suffering a heart attack two weeks earlier. (May the Almighty envelope him in His mercy)

His journey in this world had begun more than 70 years ago in the small village of Nani Naroli in Gujarat, India, where he was born on November 25, 1946 (1 Muharram 1366) into a family known for their piety.

His early studies were largely completed at Jami’a Husayniyya, one of the early seminaries of Gujarat, after which he travelled to Mazahir Ulum, the second oldest seminary of the Indian Sub-Continent, in Saharanpur, India, to complete his ‘alimiyya studies. What drew him to this seminary was the presence of one of the most influential and well-known contemporary spiritual guides, Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi (d. 1402/1982), better known as “Hazrat Shaykh.” He had seen Mawlana Zakariyya only briefly at a train stop, but it was enough for him to understand the magnitude of his presence.

Mawlana Yusuf remained in Saharanpur for two years. Despite being younger than many of the other students of Shaykh Zakariya, the shaykh took a great liking to him. Shaykh Zakariya showered him with great attention and even deferred his retirement from teaching Sahih al-Bukhari so that Mawlana Yusuf could study it under his instruction. While in Saharanpur, Mawlana Yusuf also studied under a number of other great scholars, such as Mawlana Muhammad ‘Aqil (author of Al-Durr al-Mandud, an Urdu commentary of Sunan Abi Dawud and current head lecturer of Hadith at the same seminary), Shaykh Yunus Jownpuri (d. 1438/2017) the previous head lecturer of Hadith there), Mawlana As‘adullah Rampuri (d. 1399/1979) and Mufti Muzaffar Husayn (d. 1424/2003).

Upon completion of his studies, Mawlana Yusuf’s marriage was arranged to marry a young woman from the Limbada family that had migrated to the United Kingdom from Gujarat. In 1968, he relocated to the UK and accepted the position of imam at Masjid Zakariya, in Bolton. Although he longed to be in the company of his shaykh, he had explicit instructions to remain in the UK and focus his efforts on establishing a seminary for memorization of Qur’an and teaching of the ‘alimiyya program. The vision being set in motion was to train a generation of Muslims scholars that would educate and guide the growing Muslim community.

Establishing the first Muslim seminary, in the absence of any precedent, was a daunting task. The lack of support from the Muslim community, the lack of integration into the wider British community, and the lack of funds made it seem an impossible endeavour. And yet, Mawlana Yusuf never wavered in his commitment and diligently worked to make the dream of his teacher a reality. In 1973 he purchased the derelict Aitken Sanatorium in the village of Holcombe, near Bury, Lancashire. What had once been a hospice for people suffering from tuberculosis, would become one of the first fully-fledged higher-education Islamic institutes outside of the Indian-Subcontinent teaching the adapted-Nizami syllabus.

The years of struggle by Maulana Yusuf to fulfil this vision paid off handsomely. Today, after four decades, Darul Uloom Al Arabiyya Al Islamiyya, along with its several sister institutes, also founded by Mawlana Yusuf, such as the Jamiatul Imam Muhammad Zakariya seminary in Bradford for girls, have produced well over 2,000 British born (and other international students) male and female ‘alimiyya graduates – many of whom are working as scholars and serving communities across the UK, France, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, the US, Canada, Barbados, Trinidad, Panama, Saudi Arabia, India and New Zealand. Besides these graduates, a countless number of individuals have memorized the Qur’an at these institutes. Moreover, many of the graduates of the Darul Uloom and its sister institutes have set up their own institutes, such as Jamiatul Ilm Wal Huda in Blackburn, Islamic Dawah Academy in Leicester, Jami’ah al-Kawthar in Lancaster, UK, and Darul Uloom Palmela in Portugal, to just mention a few of the larger ones. Within his lifetime, Mawlana Yusuf saw first-hand the fruit of his labours – witnessing his grand students (graduates from his students’ institutes) providing religious instruction and services to communities around the world in their local languages. What started as a relationship of love between a student and teacher, manifested into the transmission of knowledge across continents. In some countries, such as the UK and Portugal, one would be hard-pressed to find a Muslim who had not directly or indirectly benefited from him.

Mawlana Yusuf was a man with deep insights into the needs of Western contemporary society, one that was very different from the one he had grown up and trained in. With a view to contributing to mainstream society, Mawlana Yusuf encouraged his graduates to enter into further education both in post-graduate Islamic courses and western academia, and to diversify their fields of learning through courses at mainstream UK universities. As a result, many ‘alimiyya graduates of his institutes are trained in law, mainstream medicine, natural medicine and homeopathy, mental health, child protection, finance, IT, education, chaplaincy, psychology, philosophy, pharmacy, physics, journalism, engineering, architecture, calligraphy, typography, graphic design, optometry, social services, public health, even British Sign Language. His students also include several who have completed PhDs and lecture at universities. His vision was to train British-born (or other) Muslim scholars who would be well versed in contemporary thought and discipline along with their advanced Islamic learning, equipping them to better contribute to society.

Despite his commitment to the establishment of a public good, the shaykh was an immensely private person and avoided seeking accolade or attention. For many decades he refused invitations to attend conferences or talks around the country, choosing to focus on his students and his family, teaching the academic syllabus and infusing the hearts of many aspirants with the love of Allah through regular gatherings of remembrance (dhikr) and spiritual retreats (i’tikaf) in the way of his shaykh’s Chishti Sufi order.

During my entire stay with him at Darul Uloom (1985–1997), I can say with honesty that I did not come across a single student who spoke ill of him. He commanded such awe and respect that people would find it difficult to speak with him casually. And yet, for those who had the opportunity to converse with him, knew that he was the most compassionate, humble, and loving individual.

He was full of affection for his students and colleagues and had immense concern for the Muslim Ummah, especially in the West. He possessed unparalleled forbearance and self-composure. When he taught or gave a talk, he spoke in a subdued and measured tone, as though he was weighing every word, knowing the import it carried. He would sit, barely moving and without shifting his posture. Even after a surgical procedure for piles, he sat gracefully teaching us Sahih al-Bukhari. Despite the obvious pain, he never made an unpleasant expression or winced from the pain.

Anyone who has listened to his talks or read his books can bear testimony to two things: his immense love for the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his love for Shaykh Mawlana Muhammad Zakariya Kandhlawi (may Allah have mercy on him). It is probably hard to find a talk in which he did not speak of the two. His shaykh was no doubt his link to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) in both his hadith and spiritual transmissions.

Over the last decade, he had retired from most of his teaching commitments (except Sahih al-Bukhari) and had reduced meeting with people other than his weekly dhikr gatherings. His time was spent with his family and young children and writing books. His written legacy comprises over 20 titles, mostly in Urdu but also a partial tafsir of the Qur’an in classical Arabic.

After the news of his heart attack on Sunday, August 25, and the subsequent effects to his brain, his well-wishers around the world completed hundreds of recitals of the Qur’an, several readings of the entire Sahih al-Bukhari, thousands of litanies and wirds of the formula of faith (kalima tayyiba), and gave charity in his name. However, Allah Most High willed otherwise and intended for him to depart this lowly abode to begin his journey to the next. He passed away two weeks later and reports state that approximately 4,000 people attended his funeral. Had his funeral been in the UK, the number of attendees would have multiplied several folds. But he had always shied away from large crowds and gatherings and maybe this was Allah Most High’s gift to him after his death. He was 75 (in Hijra years, and 72 in Gregorian) at the time of his death and leaves behind eight children and several grandchildren.

Mawlana Yusuf educated, inspired and nourished the minds and hearts of countless across the UK and beyond. May Allah Almighty bless him with the loftiest of abodes in the Gardens of Firdaws in the company of Allah’s beloved Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) and grant all his family, students, and cherishers around the world beautiful patience.

Dr Mufti Abdur-Rahman Mangera
Whitethread Institute, London
(A fortunate graduate of Darul Uloom Bury, 1996–97)

*a learned Muslim scholar especially in India often used as a form of address

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