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Drop the N-Word

Margari Hill

 

49_11

 

 

 

And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. Qur’an 49:11

 

In late 2013, a group of activists, scholars, and concerned netizens coalesced around the issue of anti-Blackness perpetrated by Muslim youth on social media. Some of these actions included anti-Black slurs in Arabic, Urdu, Somali, and Yoruba, as well as the appropriation of the N-word by non-Black Muslims. Out that group,  Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative formed to organize social media campaigns to drop the A-Word and address #UmmahAntiBlackness,  as well to give voice to Black Muslims and celebrate their contributions in hashtag conversations that included #BeingBlackAndMuslim.  Responding to the call to educate Muslim communities about racism, MuslimARC- Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative,  was launched as a human rights education organization.  

Black American Muslim scholars, activists, leaders, parents, teachers, and conscious members are exhausted by having to explain why it is not okay for non-Black Muslims to use N-word.  The use of the N-word is controversial, even amongst African Americans. However, when a Black person uses the term, it does not spark the same outrage as non-Black people using it. This is because in many ways it is reclaiming the pejorative. Although the Black usage of the word may raise some hairs and spark vociferous debate within the Black community, it is not racist. Oppressed people cannot be racist, they may be prejudiced.

‘But They Use It’ Is Not an Excuse

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When White people and NonBlack People of Color use the N-word, regardless of intent,  they are committing a racist act. When they use it as a pejorative, they are being actively racist asserting a hierarchy that dehumanizes Black people.  A non-Black person using the N-word to refer to themselves or others as a term of endearment is an act of cultural  appropriation, which is a form of passive racism. Cultural appropriation is copying elements of a culture in a colonizing manner and using them outside of their context. Cultural appropriators use those elements without having to suffer the same consequences that members of that culture. The N-word developed to highlight the othering, dehumanization, and exploitation of sub-Saharan Africans who were racialized as Black.  On occasion, upwardly mobile Black folks ascribing to respectability politics will distance themselves from other Black Americans and will use the term as a pejorative against poor Black people they don’t approve of. This may be internalized racism, but it still does not equate to the usage of non-Black folks.

It doesn’t matter if you are well meaning, and if your Black friends give you a pass– No individual Black person can give a non-Black person the weight of our historical experience and oppression. Cultural appropriation is harmful for the members of the oppressed group, especially when you are using a term that is so painful for many Black people.  When someone who is not Black uses the term it is often emotionally triggering.  When non-Black people argue with Black people who are offended by their appropriation  of the n-word, it further inflicts emotional violence. It does not matter if you hear the word a thousand times by Black comedians and hip-hop artists. The commodification of Black culture does not give anybody a right to appropriate the term. Period.

This is an Internal Community Discussion

Finally, White people and Non-Black People of Color who have no linkages with the brutal 400 years history of the kidnapping and enslavement of Africans in the Americas and Jim Crow, as well as the 18th century colonization of Africa which included forced slave labor, population movements, and mass deaths and depopulation, who continue  to face systemic racism and violence at the hands of the state and the police, your moral judgment on how Black people reclaim the term is not relevant to the discussion of why it is never okay for Non-Black People to use the term. This is an internal community discussion. The discourse around the N-word is sensitive topic for many Black Americans. The discourse is a source of many microaggressions that make workplaces, campuses, and friendships hostile environments for Black people. Non-Black people who police Black people on the moral repercussions of the term often misuse their non-Black privilege in forcing the issue.  Rather than policing Black people, they should focus on uprooting racism within themselves and their community.

Books:

The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn’t, and Why …

Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word …

 

Articles and Websites

 

Stop Saying N***a If You’re Not Black – Huffington Post

Straight Talk about the N-Word | Teaching Tolerance

4 Reasons White People Can’t Use the N-Word (No Matter …

Don’t Use The N-Word If You’re Not Black. The End. But If …

The n-word: An interactive project exploring a singular word …

 

 

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Margari Aziza Hill is co-founder and Programming Director of Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC), assistant editor at AltM, co-founder of Muslims Make it Plain, and columnist at MuslimMatters. She is on the Advisory Council of Islam, Social Justice & Interreligious Engagement Program at the Union Theological Seminary and winner of the 2015 MPAC Change Maker Award. She has nearly a decade of teaching experiences at all levels from elementary, secondary, college level, to adult education. She earned her master’s in History of the Middle East and Islamic Africa from Stanford University in 2006. Her research includes colonial surveillance in Northern Nigeria, anti-colonial resistance among West Africans in Sudan during the early 20th century, and race in Muslim communities. She is also a freelance writer with articles published in Time, SISTERS, Islamic Monthly, Al Jazeera English, Virtual Mosque (formerly Suhaibwebb.com), and Spice Digest. She has given talks and lectures in various universities and Muslim communities.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Avatar

    BlackandBeautiful

    April 4, 2016 at 7:17 PM

    Don’t say it at all. Whether your white OR black.

    • Margari Hill

      Margari Hill

      April 5, 2016 at 2:56 AM

      Agreed.

      • Avatar

        Zaheer

        April 12, 2016 at 4:42 AM

        Agreed? That’s not what your article is saying. It’s implying that black people are exempt from the “rules” they want enforced on everyone else.

  2. Avatar

    Jason Hammer

    April 4, 2016 at 8:08 PM

    Not only should non-black folks not use the word (even when rhyming lyrics) but we should refrain from giving our opinion on whether or not black people should use the term (unless asked for our input or when dealing with our own ethnic/cultural groups).

    I always loved hip-hop but never used the n-word even when we rhymed really profane lyrics from some rap artists but we understood this was off-limits. Young Muslims need to understand this.

    • Avatar

      Zaheer

      April 12, 2016 at 4:43 AM

      So outright profanity is cool, but not the n-word?

  3. Avatar

    Taqi al-Din

    April 5, 2016 at 1:10 AM

    There is one major contradiction in your article and which discredits it in its entirety. You begin by quoting verse 11 of Surah al- Hujarat where Allah warns against calling each other by offensive names. You acknowledge that it is a controversial term amongst black people some of whom oppose usage of the term by anyone including fellow black people. You end by preaching that white and non-black people of colour should not get involved in the issue of black people calling themselves by the N word because it is an “internal community discussion”.

    Allah prohibits the use of offensive terms to call each other with. The fact is that some black people consider the N word offensive irrespective of the colour of the person using it. I am a Muslim. Who are you to tell me that I should refrain from saying that people including black people should not use a word widely regarded as offensive? Speaking out against something that is clearly addressed in the Quran is not dependent on the colour of my skin or any other characteristics. There are many non-black Muslims who fully support the work engaged in by scholars, activists and organisations like yours. You cannot on the one hand require their solidarity but on the other hand want to dictate to them what they can and cannot say and especially when it comes to following Allah’s words. You cannot at the top of your article state a verse from the Quran but then tell me not to apply it because I should not become involved in an “internal community discussion”. That is the height of arrogance and we know what Allah and His Prophet, peace be upon him, say about arrogance.

    • Margari Hill

      Margari Hill

      April 5, 2016 at 2:55 AM

      Taqi al-Din, your comment is a case in point. Wow, “height of arrogance” is pretty strong words. You don’t understand how solidarity works with the oppressed or marginalized. If someone considers themselves my ally, they will respect the boundaries, no matter how powerful they are. Otherwise, the relationship is paternalistic. I acknowledge that it is wrong for everyone to use it. That is why I used the ayat. In my opinion my article wasn’t contradictory. Rather, I tried to tease out nuance and give context to the storied term. I argued that, while wrong from an Islamic sense, Black people using the term wasn’t passively or actively racist. I also argued that if you haven’t done the work to check your own people, then focusing on Black people who are still wrestling with the term is misplaced energy and microagressive. Telling non-Black Muslims to focus their energy on uprooting racism in their community is not about arrogance or thinking that I’m better. It is to ward off the tendency of non-Black Muslims to be hurtful in these conversations and derail important conversations about their own patterns of bigotry. Whenever I have tried to address the use of N-word or being called a racial slur, non-Black Muslims have pointed to how some other Black person who uses the term. Often they do this to justify the anti-blackness that plagues their community. They are not bringing this up to educate or uplift those who may degrade themselves or others by using the term. If I were to guess, I doubt that you have done much work in enlightening folks on racism or internalized racism, let alone checking the average brother on the street who may drop the N-word. But since you are so invested in this, please do make it your mission. Tell me how it goes. Allah knows best.

      • Avatar

        Zaheer

        April 12, 2016 at 5:46 AM

        You claim “height of arrogance” is pretty strong, but then your response contains nothing but.
        From your response: ” If I were to guess,I doubt that you have done much work in enlightening folks on racism or internalized racism, let alone checking the average brother on the street who may drop the N-word. But since you are so invested in this, please do make it your mission. Tell me how it goes. Allah knows best.” That’s not arrogant or condescending at all.

        Further, you assume all sorts of things about people. Again, from your response: “Whenever I have tried to address the use of N-word or being called a racial slur, non-Black Muslims have pointed to how some other Black person who uses the term. Often they do this to justify the anti-blackness that plagues their community. They are not bringing this up to educate or uplift those who may degrade themselves or others by using the term. ”

        How do you know that they’re doing this to justify their anti-blackness? Perhaps they’re genuinely concerned about why some black people want to refer to themselves by a name given to them (or at least, used pejoratively) by their former oppressors? Perhaps they’re concerned about why so many black people have victim mentality, and worse, some seem to hold on to it as if it’s the only way to identify themselves in today’s society? You can have these concerns and not be a “passive” racist at the same time, just by the way.

        Your article, and all your comments is a typical example of wanting to force the narrative to wherever you want it to go. You make the rules about what’s racist, what’s “passively” racist, who’s racist and who’s not racist, and everyone who disagrees is basically a racist.

      • Avatar

        Muslim4life

        April 12, 2016 at 4:42 PM

        Assalamu Alaykum,
        I agree with you completely in regards to never using the N-word, but I think you need to apply it to all ppl. The N-Word is a word that was used by White Slave masters to degrade Black people in this country, Black people nor any people should ever use such terms because in doing so they are either racist, or self degrading. I know that you have said that you oppose it from anywhere in the comments section but that wasn’t clear from your article. I felt as many others did that somehow such a degrading term was okay for Black people to use and that’s not right at all when I read your article. I agree with you that I’m sick and tired of how people treat Black brothers and sisters in our community. I want to emphasize as well, that at the end of the day we are Muslim. Once when Imam Jamil Al Amin was asked to refer to ‘Black Muslims’, he refused and said NO, we are just Muslim. I want for all of us to remember that our bond is thru Islam, and to be careful to overuse labels like Black or Non black, even though they may be used but to remember that our relationship is based on Allah not race.

  4. Avatar

    M. Mahmud

    April 5, 2016 at 6:50 PM

    Reading some of the Morroccan articles just shocked me. It is clear we are following the footsteps of those before us. I don’t think it is difficult for Allah to hand over the deeds of a racist group of Muslims to those they were arrogant to.

    I feel like we need to make sure our oppressed Muslim brethren overseas, whatever race(but usually black or dark skinned) get some sort of relief at our hands by Allah’s permission.

    The existence of this nonsense in north African countries and elsewhere is nothing short of shameful. How can we complain to Allah of injustice when we turn and are arrogant and look down upon our Muslim brethren for the color of their skin?

    Ina lillahi wa ina ilayhi raji ‘oon.

  5. Avatar

    helalbeauty

    April 7, 2016 at 11:34 AM

    I am living in Germany and I am sometimes simply shocked by the amount of racism
    within the Ummah here. There are Turkish people abandoning restaurants for hiring
    black waiters or Persians claiming that they hate Arabs – kind of wired if you are muslim,
    actually.

    So great article, thank you.

  6. Avatar

    Michael Scott

    April 8, 2016 at 4:03 PM

    I totally disagree with anyone using the N-word because it’s an outright evil word, and it’s even worse for Black people to use that word because they’re carrying on a legacy of hatred and prejudice that the N-word has as in its origin and original use since it came into being. I don’t believe that every time a Black person uses the N-word that they’re using it for derogatory purposes against other Blacks or other people who aren’t Black, but some are using it in a derogatory way to put down other Blacks or other people in general who aren’t Black. I don’t agree with this statement: When White people and NonBlack People of Color use the N-word, regardless of intent, they are committing a racist act. When they use it as a pejorative, they are being actively racist asserting a hierarchy that dehumanizes Black people. It’s wrong to use the N-word as a term of endearment for anyone who does that, but that doesn’t make their doing so an act of racism in my opinion. I know white people who use the N-word when they talk to one another, and also when they talk to their Black friends, and not every Black person has a problem with that. I don’t agree with that, but it’s wrong for all people (not just non-Blacks) to use that word in that way. It also not right for someone to think that it’s ok for a Black person to call their non-Black friends N-word as a term of endearment, and then get offended when their non-Black friend calls them by them N-word in the same way. I wish everyone would just stop using the N-word period, but in a world of sin that’s never going to happen. I pray as many people as possible will wake up and stop using the N-word, and will give their live to GOD before it’s too late.

  7. Avatar

    Milk Shake

    April 9, 2016 at 1:38 PM

    Bad words should not be said. The Prophet pbuh told us to guard what is between our jaws and our legs to gain salvation.

    That being said, there is a problem with identifying specific bad words and applying effort to censor them. This is because censorship of specific words does not do anything to address whatever caused them to become popular in the first place. No amount of explanations of the harsh history of that word, or who it insults, or what kind of impact it has, does anything to address the root causes of the animosity that led to those bad words.

    And so we see today, as race relations have gotten worse, all the effort dedicated to censoring specific slurs has lead to the advent of new slurs to take their place on twitter and youtube.

  8. Margari

    Margari

    April 12, 2016 at 11:37 AM

    I’m looking at Zaheer’s comments to my response. I can’t respond directly to it for some reason. How is forcing my narrative even such a thing from a marginalized person? I wrote an article and made a case for why using the N-word by nonBlack Muslims is wrong and why they should focus on uprooting anti-blackness in their community, starting with their children who use the N-word on social media, at MIST, at Islamic schools, and summer camps. You’re tone policing and gas lighting with hypotheticals. Just to clarify, I don’t allow any Black students or children to use the N-word. When I have tried to discipline Arab students for using the phrase, they have pointed to Black students using it to say that it was okay.

    One thing that I was taught in challenging Arab and South Asians on twitter who used anti-Black racial slurs was that it was better when someone from their own community did it. I dealt with hours of counter arguments and saw a similar pattern of gas lighting. My challenge was not out of arrogance, but rather if you feel so strongly about it, do it. Then let me know. I’m curious as to the outcome. It is a challenge to be about this work, don’t just talk about it. I’m going to work getting all Muslims to drop the N-word. I’m not going to apologize because you agree with the case I made. This is my stance. But I really do hope the energy spent arguing about this article is put in addressing racism in our ummah.

    • Avatar

      Zaheer

      April 19, 2016 at 7:20 AM

      Hello Margari,

      I’m not sure where exactly in my earlier comment I ‘gas-lighted’ or policed the tone of the conversation. I quoted directly from your article and comments, and explained that it came across as presumptive and condescending. I never asked you to apologize for anything, either. I simply disagreed with what I believed was the assumptions and implications your article was making. That’s all.

      I, as well as Muslim4life in response to my comment, also pointed out that while in the comments of the article you clarified, your article itself seemed to imply that the N-word was essentially the property of blacks, for their exclusive use. You’ve since clarified that you consider it a word that shouldn’t be used at all, by anybody, so that point of debate is done with.

      Lastly, I agree with your point on active work in the community being of greater importance than debate on the internet about the issues. It is important, though. It’s pointless disagreeing over an issue and then people going off to change behavior/attitudes, and ending up working against each other because they couldn’t agree over the basics. Anyway, I don’t think that’s the case here, so I say good luck in your endeavours, and may Allah bring success to it, Insha-Allah.

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#Society

Shaykh Seraj Hendricks: An Obituary

This article was originally published at Al-Madinah Institute.

 

An internationally recognised Islamic scholar, who saw spirituality, justice, and knowledge as integral to an authentic religious existence.

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Shaykh Seraj Hendricks, who passed away on the 9th of July 2020 at the age of 64, was a scholar of international repute, able to communicate and engage on the level of state leaders, religious scholars and the broader public. As a scion of one of the most prominent Islamic institutions in South Africa and internationally, who also spent a decade studying at the hands of the most prominent of Makkan scholars, he not only inherited a grand bequest, but expanded that legacy’s impact worldwide. In particular, he upheld a normative understanding of Islam, embedded in a tradition stretching back more than a millennium – but deeply cognisant of the needs of the age, including the need to strive to make the world a better place.

Shaykh Seraj Hendricks was a high school English teacher between 1980 and 1982 in Cape Town before leaving for Saudi Arabia in 1983 to study at the Umm al-Qura University in Makka. Before this, he spent many years studying particularly at the feet of his illustrious uncle, the late Shaykh Mahdi Hendricks – erstwhile Life President of the Muslim Judicial Council and widely regarded as one of the foremost scholars of Islam in southern Africa – as well as his father, Imam Hassan Hendricks.

Shaykh Seraj Hendricks studied the Islamic sciences for more than a decade in the holy city of Makka, spending three years at the Arabic Language Institute in Makka studying Arabic and related subjects, before being accepted for the BA (Hons) Islamic Law degree. He specialised in fiqh and usul al-fiqh in the Faculty of Shariʿa of Umm al-Qura University and graduated in 1992. Shaykh Seraj took ijazat from both the late Sayyid Ahmad Mashur al-Haddad and Sayyid ʿAbd al-Qadir b. Ahmad al-Saqqaf, as well as his extensive time spent with the likes of Shaykh Hasan Mashhat and others. These scholars are all known as some of the pre-eminent ‘ulama of the ummah in the 20th century, worldwide.

Additionally, he obtained a full ijaza in the religious sciences from his primary teacher, the muḥaddith of the Hijaz, the distinguished al-Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawi al-Maliki, master of the Ṭarīqa ʿUlamaʿ Makka – the (sufi) path of the Makkan scholars. Together with his brother, the esteemed Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks, Shaykh Seraj and I wrote a book on this approach to Sufism entitled, “A Sublime Way: the Sufi Path of the Sages of Makka”. Alongside his brother, he became the representative (khalifa) of the aforementioned muhaddith of the Hijaz.

Further to his religious education, Shaykh Seraj was also actively engaged in the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa during the 80’s and early 90’s, alongside the likes of figures like Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, comrade of Nelson Mandela, and the renowned journalist, Shafiq Morton. His commitments to furthering justice meant insistence on expressing constant opposition to injustice, while fiercely maintaining the independence of the institution and community he pledged himself to his entire life. At a time when different forces in Muslim communities worldwide try to instrumentalise religious figures for partisan political gain, Shaykh Seraj showed another, arguably far more Prophetic, model.

The shaykh also was keenly supportive of the rights of women, whom he saw as important to empower and cultivate as religious figures themselves. His students, of which there were many thousands over the years, included many women at various levels of expertise. I know it was his wish that they would rise to higher and higher levels, and he took a great deal of interest in trying to train them accordingly, aware that many unnecessary obstacles stood in their way.

After his return to Cape Town he received an MA (Cum Laude) for his dissertation: “Tasawwuf (Sufism) – Its Role and Impact on the Culture of Cape Islam” from the University of South Africa (UNISA), which is currently being prepared for publication as a book. He translated works of Imam al-Ghazali, and summarised parts of the Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihyaʾ ʿUlum al-Din), most notably in the Travelling Light series, together with Shaykhs ʿAbdal Hakim Murad and Yahya Rhodus.

Some of his previous positions included being the head of the Muslim Judicial Council’s Fatwa Committee (which often led to him being described as the ‘Mufti of Cape Town’), lecturer in fiqh at the Islamic College of Southern Africa (ICOSA), and lecturer in the Study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). He was a member of the Stanlib Shariʿa Board, chief arbitrator (Hakim) of the Crescent Observer’s Society, and was listed consecutively in the Muslim500 from 2009 to 2020. He was also appointed Dean of the Madina Institute in South Africa, a recognised institution of higher learning in South Africa and part of the world Madina Institute seminaries led by Shaykh Dr Muhammad Ninowy. Shaykh Seraj was also appointed as professor at the International Peace University of South Africa, holding the Maqasid Chair for Graduate Studies.

Apart from fiqh and usul al-fiqh, some of Shaykh Seraj’s primary interests are in Sufism, Islamic civilisation studies, interfaith matters, gender studies, socio-political issues and related ideas of pluralism and identity. He lectured and presented papers in many countries, sharing platforms with his contemporaries. Shaykh Seraj taught a variety of Islamic-related subjects at Azzawia Institute in Cape Town, where he was its resident Shaykh, together with his brother Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks. His classes showed an encyclopaedic knowledge that was rooted in the tradition, while completely conversant with the modern age.

But beyond his classes, he was a pastoral figure to many – a community made of thousands – whom he gave himself completely to, in service of the religion, and counselling them as a khidma (service), with mahabba (love), in accordance with the Prophetic model. Many urged him to restrain himself in this way, fearing for his health, which suffered a great deal in his final years as a result – but he saw it as his duty.

The Shaykh was an international figure, a teacher to thousands, and an adviser to multitudes. Many today ask the question as to why ‘ulama truly matter, seeing as it seems so many of them can be compromised by different forces in pursuit of injustice, rigidness and petty partisanship. Such a question will not be asked by those who knew Shaykh Seraj, for in him they saw a concern for spirituality, not paltry political gain, and a commitment to justice and wisdom, not oppression or slogans. In him, many saw, and will continue to see hope for an Islamic commitment to scholarship that seeks to make the world a better place, rising to the challenge of maintaining their values of mercy and compassion, and exiting the world in dignity.

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#Current Affairs

Oped: The Treachery Of Spreading Bosnia Genocide Denial In The Muslim Community

The expanding train of the Srebrenica genocide deniers includes the Nobel laureate Peter Handke, an academic Noam Chomsky, the Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, as well as almost all Serbian politicians in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. One name in this group weirdly stands out: “Sheikh” Imran Hosein. A traditionally trained Muslim cleric from Trinidad and Tobago, Hosein has carved his niche mostly with highly speculative interpretations of Islamic apocalyptic texts. He has a global following with more than 200 hundred thousand subscribers to his YouTube channel, and his videos are viewed by hundreds of thousands. He has written tens of books in English, some of which had been translated into major world languages. His denial of the Srebrenica genocide may seem outlandish, coming from a Muslim scholar, but a close inspection of his works reveals ideas that are as disturbing as they are misleading.

Much of Hosain’s output centers around interpreting the apocalyptic texts from the Qur’an and Sunnah on the “end of times” (akhir al-zaman). As in other major religious traditions, these texts are highly allegorical in nature and nobody can claim with certainty their true meaning – nobody, except Imran Hosein. He habitually dismisses those who disagree with his unwarranted conclusions by accusing them of not thinking properly. A Scottish Muslim scholar, Dr. Sohaib Saeed, also wrote about this tendency.

In his interpretations, the Dajjal (“anti-Christ”) is American-Zionist alliance (the West or the NATO), the Ottomans were oppressors of the Orthodox Christians who are, in turn, rightfully hating Islam and Muslims, Sultan Mehmed Fatih was acting on “satanic design” when he conquered Constantinople, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were a false flag operation carried out by the Mossad and its allies, and – yes! – the genocide did not take place in Srebrenica. Such conspiratorial thinking is clearly wrong but is particularly dangerous when dressed in the garb of religious certainty. 

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Hosain frequently presents his opinions as the “Islamic” view of things. His methodology consists of mixing widely accepted Muslim beliefs with his own stretched interpretations. The wider audience may not be as well versed in Islamic logic of interpretation so they may not be able to distinguish between legitimate Muslim beliefs and Hosain’s own warped imagination. In one of his fantastic interpretations, which has much in common with the Christian apocalypticism, the Great War that is nuclear in nature is coming and the Muslims need to align with Russia against the American-Zionist alliance. He sees the struggle in Syria as part of a wider apocalyptic unfolding in which Assad and Putin are playing a positive role. He stretches the Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings to read into them fanciful and extravagant interpretations that are not supported by any established Islamic authority.

Hosain does not deny that a terrible massacre happened in Srebrenica. He, however, denies it was a genocide, contradicting thus numerous legal verdicts by international courts and tribunals. Established by the United Nations’ Security Council, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) delivered a verdict of genocide in 2001 in the case of the Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstić. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague confirmed, in 2007, that genocide took place in Srebrenica. In 2010, two more Bosnian Serb officers were found guilty of committing genocide in Bosnia. The butcher of Srebrenica, Ratko Mladić, was found guilty of genocide in 2017.

In spite of this, and displaying his ignorance on nature and definition of genocide, Hosain stated in an interview with the Serbian media, “Srebrenica was not a genocide. That would mean the whole Serbian people wanted to destroy the whole Muslim people. That never happened.” In a meandering and offensive video “message to Bosnian Muslims” in which he frequently digressed to talking about the end of times, Hosain explained that Srebrenica was not a genocide and that Muslims of Bosnia needed to form an alliance with the Orthodox Serbs. He is oblivious to the fact that the problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the former Yugoslavia stem not from the Bosniaks’ purported unwillingness to form an alliance with the Serbs, but from the aggressive Greater Serbia ideology which had caused misery and destruction in Bosnia, Slovenia, Croatia, and Kosovo. 

Hosein’s views are, of course, welcome in Serbia and in Republika Srpska (Serb-dominated entity within Bosnia), where almost all politicians habitually deny that genocide took place in Srebrenica. He had been interviewed multiple times on Serbian television, where he spewed his views of the Ottoman occupation and crimes against the Serbs, the need to form an alliance between Muslims and Russia, and that Srebrenica was not a genocide. His website contains only one entry on Srebrenica: a long “exposé” that claims no genocide took place in Srebrenica. Authored by two Serbs, Stefan Karganović and Aleksandar Pavić, the special report is a hodge-podge of conspiracy theories, anti-globalization and anti-West views. Karganović, who received more than a million dollars over a six year period from the government of the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska for lobbying efforts in Washington, was recently convicted by the Basic Court in Banja Luka on tax evasion and defamation. The Court issued a warrant for Karganović’s arrest but he is still on the loose. 

True conspirators of the Srebrenica killings, according to Hosain, are not the Serbian political and military leaders, and soldiers who executed Srebrenica’s Muslims. The conspirators are unnamed but it does not take much to understand that he believes that the massacres were ultimately orchestrated by the West, CIA, and NATO. Hosain even stated on the Serbian TV that if people who knew the truth were to come forward they would be executed to hide what really happened. Such opinions are bound to add to an already unbearable pain that many survivors of the Srebrenica genocide are experiencing. It is even more painful when Bosniak victims – who were killed because they were Muslims – are being belittled by an “Islamic” scholar who seems to be more interested in giving comfort to those who actually perpetrated the heinous crime of genocide than in recognizing the victims’ pain. These views are, of course, welcome in Serbia, Russia, and Greece.

It is not difficult to see why Hosain’s views would be popular in today’s day and age where misinformation and fake news are propagated even by the world leaders who should know better. A conspiratorial mindset, mistrust of established facts, undermining of international institutions – these are all hallmarks of the post-truth age. In another time, Imran Hosain would be easily exposed for what he truly is: a charlatan who claims religious expertise. Today, however, his opinions are amplified by social media and by the people who already question science and established facts. For these reasons, he needs to be unmasked to safeguard the very religious foundations which he claims to uphold but ultimately undermines. 

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#Life

A Festival Amidst a Pandemic: How to Give Your Kids an Eid ul-Adha to Remember

Eid ul-Adha is less than 3 weeks away!  This year, more than ever, we want to welcome Eid ul-Adha with a full heart and spirit, insha’Allah, despite the circumstances we are in with the global pandemic.

If you follow me on social media, you probably know that my husband and I host an open house brunch for Eid ul-Adha, welcoming over 125 guests into our home. It’s a party our Muslim and non-Muslim neighbors, friends, and family look forward to being invited to each year. It’s a time to come together as a community, share heart-felt conversations, have laughs, chow down lots of delicious food, and exchange gifts. Kids participate in fun crafts, decorate cookies, and receive eidi. The reality is that we cannot keep up with the tradition this year.

Despite social distancing, we have decided that we will continue to lift our spirits and switch our summer décor to Eid décor, and make it the best Eid for our family and our child. We want to instill the love of Islam in my daughter and make the Islamic festivals a real part of her life. We want to create warm Eid memories, and COVID-19 isn’t going to stop us from doing that. I really hope you plan to do the same.

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Here are 4 ideas to inspire you to bring that festive spirit alive for your family this Eid ul-Adha:

Hajj and Eid ul-Adha themed activities and crafts

There are so many activities to keep the little ones engaged, but having a plan for Eid-ul-Adha with some key activities that your child will enjoy, makes the task so much easier.

Kids love stories, and for us parents this is a great way to get a point across. Read to them about hajj in an age appropriate way. If you don’t have Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha related books, you can get started with this Hajj book list. Read together about the significance and the Islamic traditions of hajj, and the story of how zamzam was discovered. While you teach them the story of the divine sacrifice of Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), ask relatable questions. As a lesson from the story, give your child examples of how they can sacrifice their anger, bad behavior, etc. during this season of sacrifice for the sake of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Ask your children how they would feel if they had to give away their favorite toys, so that they can comprehend the feeling.

Counting down the 10 days of Dhul Hijjah to Eid ul-Adha is another fun activity to encourage kids to do a good deed every day. Have different fun and education activities planned for these 10 days.

Family memories are made through baking together. In our household, Eid cannot pass without baking cookies together and sharing with friends and family. Bake and decorate Eid ul-Adha themed cookies in the shape of a masjid, camel, or even lamb, and share with the neighbors one day, and color in Islamic wooden crafts the next. This DIY Ka’bah craft is a must for us to make every year while learning about the Ka’bah, and it’s an easy craft you can try with your family. Have the kids save their change in this cute masjid money box that they can donate on the day of Eid.

Decorate the main family areas

We are all going to be missing visiting friends and relatives for Eid breakfast, lunch, and dinner this year, so why not jazz things up a bit more at home than usual?

Start decorating the areas of your home that you frequently occupy.  Brighten up the living area, and/or main hallway with a variety of star and masjid-shaped lights, festive lanterns, and Eid garlands, to emphasize that Eid has indeed arrived. Perhaps, decorate a tent while you tell your children about the tent city of Mina.

Prep the dining room as if you are having Guests Over

Set up the breakfast table as if you are having family and friends over for Eid breakfast.

These times will be the special moments you spend together eating as a family. Now, with all hands on deck, plan to get everyone involved to make it a full-on affair. What specific tasks can the little ones take on to feel included as part of the Eid prep and get excited?

While the Eid table set-up itself can be simple, the moments spent around the table sharing in new traditions and engaging in prayer will insha’Allah be even more meaningful and memorable.

 An afternoon picnic

Family picnics are a perfect way for family members to relax and connect. If Texas weather permits, we may take advantage of a cool sunny day with a picnic at a nearby, shady park. With the heat wave we are experiencing, it may either not happen or will be an impromptu one.

Out of all the picnics, it’s the impromptu family meals on the lawn or at a park that I love the most. The ones where we grab an old quilt, basket, light meals, fresh fruits and venture out into the backyard or a nearby park. It’ll be a perfect socially distanced Eid picnic.

Eid ul-Adha comes around just once a year, so let’s strive to make the best of it for our children, even amidst this global pandemic.

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MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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