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Five Courageous Ways To Respond To Anti-Muslim Hatred

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By Fatima Barkatulla

It was the day after the second Paris attack. Our local Muslim school sent parents a text-message telling them that security guards would flank the school gates the next day. Messages were flying around, complete with fuzzy CCTV footage of Muslim women who had been verbally or physically attacked in public places, in the climate of hatred and fear that seemed to hang like a cloud over us.

My sons, proudly wear traditional garments (thobe and white skullcap) when going to certain classes at the Mosque. It is the uniform for their Qur’an class. It’s of course not obligatory for them to wear it but they normally do. They were about to set out and catch a bus when a sense of dread came over me as I realised how vulnerable they looked and how so visibly ‘Muslim’. People had been fed a drip diet of negativity surrounding Islam and Muslims. The heinous crimes of some of our co-religionists, playing on 24-hour news channels had contributed to that climate. It would only take one angry person…

 

Muslim boys

 

In that moment I considered telling my sons to pop their jeans on instead, reserving their traditional garb for when they were safely inside the mosque. In that moment I was terrified at the power I wielded as a parent to influence their mindset with a word I might utter. And in that moment, I bit my tongue and decided to choose Tawakkul and empowerment and banish victimhood and fear.

There was no real danger. Most of our fellow citizens are not full of hatred. Most of them do know a Muslim well enough to know better. I believe much of the fear-mongering that goes on in Muslim circles, is manufactured and perpetuated by people continuously forwarding unconfirmed scare stories to one another (or perhaps people infiltrating our lists and groups, maliciously intending to spread panic).

In the aftermath of these attacks it’s important to continue living as you normally live day to day as much as possible and since my sons usually do wear these clothes to the mosque without issue, I didn’t want to introduce the idea of hiding being a Muslim to them.

It’s not about fanatically holding onto garments. Indeed if there is real and present danger we should take the precautions necessary and should not put our children at high risk. However, this was about the attitude we seek to instil in the next generation of Believers.

Over the Channel in France, with its aggressive secularism, it has become commonplace for many Muslims to hide their Islam. Britain’s Muslims, including my sons, are confident and very comfortable expressing our faith and culture, Alhamdulillah. This is home and we aren’t guests here. The vast majority of our compatriots are respectful towards us and, especially in the vibrant melting-pot that is London, we have grown up together, laughed, cried, learned and played together. We grew up being told to express our culture and be ourselves.

British Muslims

In the 80s racists used to abuse us for having a different skin colour – which we couldn’t hide. They would hurl insults at my mother for observing hijab. That overt racism is largely gone. But the point is this: Our parents didn’t persevere through the tough times that they faced, only for our generation to lie down as soon as we face some pressure!

By all means let us teach our children to take the normal precautions any child should. Teaching them the very powerful duas and supplications for going outside as well as the du’a when facing fear, and the du’a for resolve, were my first port of call.[1] But I refuse to instil cowardice in their hearts and will continue to teach them to hold their heads up high as Muslims in a world where their faith is misrepresented.

I see parenting as a calling. Children are the ultimate carriers of our values beyond our own short lives. Most of us still hear our mothers’ voices in our heads, giving us the occasion telling-off or reminding us to do the right thing. Most of us subconsciously ask ourselves what dad would have done. We may of course reassess some of those values, rejecting some and adapting others. However, a parent’s attitude and philosophy of life is no doubt a most powerful factor in setting a child’s direction in the world.

So how will I be teaching my children to respond to anti-Muslim hatred? What do I hope their attitude will be, growing up in 21st Century Britain?

The key messages I will be giving my children are:

First: Have faith in Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) plan. Our tradition teaches us that everything, however difficult it may be for us to understand, happens for a reason and happens by the will of God. It teaches us that through Sabr – patiently persevering upon the straight path, through hard work and prayer, we will see the fruits of our efforts.

Second: Never be afraid to be different. Some of the greatest people in history went against the grain. They were immensely unpopular and often persecuted. In the end, their unwavering, patient, perseverance for justice shone through. We have an example of that in the great messengers of God such as Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them. And in recent times we have the likes of Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Malcolm X – who fought injustice, were persecuted or killed for their cause, but morally triumphant as eventually the world caught up with them.

Third: Be politically engaged. Outrage at injustices around the world is natural. But how you allow that to manifest itself is pivotal. The Qur’an tells us that we must live up to being “the best people extracted for the sake of humanity.” The conditions for being amongst the best of people are that we must enjoin the good, beginning with ourselves and forbid what is wrong and have faith in God. Loving ones country means sometimes holding a mirror up to it and with wisdom, speaking truth to power.

Fourth: Be socially engaged. Contribute and give to society positively with all your heart and with all of your talents. Serve your neighbours, serve your fellow citizens. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ would go the extra mile to reach out to people and fulfil their needs, to feed, to clothe, to share a burden. He never encouraged us to live in ghettos, happy with our own piety. Mixing with people, sharing, caring, giving, getting involved with the issues of society is his example and your duty.

Fifth: Seek deeper knowledge of scripture from traditional scholars who are also forward-thinking. The Qur’an has a context to it. Reading ones own interpretations into it willy nilly gives a warped understanding. We see the catastrophic effects of that in lands where injustice is being justified by ignorant Twitter and Facebook muftis interpreting revelation. Our tradition is rich, it gave birth to one of the greatest civilisations in history. Don’t be rash. Don’t be a hothead. The energy of youth needs to be tempered by the wisdom of scholars and elders. Our faith needs a generation of leaders who have depth of understanding and a wealth of wisdom in order to traverse the murky waters that may lay ahead. Be that generation.

[1] Some of the supplications can be found in du’a books and on the website: http://www.makedua.com/ . A couple of examples are:

بِسْمِ اللهِ ، تَوَكَّلْتُ عَلَى اللهِ وَلَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللهِ

“In the name of Allah, I place my trust in Allah and there is no might nor power except with Allah.”

The Prophet ﷺ told us, when we say this, an angel will say: “you shall be defended, protected and guided”. (Abu Dawud)

And this wonderful du’a which every one of us should memorise! It is protection from facing ignorance or harm when going out! Make sure your kids have memorised it!

 

اللَّهُمَّ إني أَعُوذُ بِكَ أَنْ أَضِلَّ أَوْ أُضَلَّ ، أَوْ أَزِلَّ أَوْ أُزَلَّ ، أَوْ أَظْلِمَ أَوْ أُظْلَمَ ، أَوْ أَجْهَلَ أَوْ يُجْهَلَ عَلَيَّ

“O Allah, I seek refuge with You lest I should stray or be led astray, or slip (i.e. to commit a sin unintentionally) or be tripped, or oppress or be oppressed, or behave foolishly or be treated foolishly.” (Abu Dawud)

Fatima Barkatulla is a seminarian and award-winning Islamic lecturer. Follow her on FacebookA version of this article was published in The Times and Times Online on Saturday 9th April 2016

[1] ‘thaub’ is sometimes called a dishdasha (it is a long, dress-like garment worn by men in the Middle-East). ‘Thaub’ is the more commonly used name for it in the Muslim community.

32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Yasmin

    April 14, 2016 at 11:47 PM

    Jazakallah Khair for this much needed post! Here in the United States we see a lot of negativity against Muslims especially in the media. However, I honestly believe that by following the wonderful tips you mentioned we can Inshallah change people’s opinion one person at a time!

    • Avatar

      Sjawwad

      April 25, 2016 at 1:29 AM

      A serene, soothing and beautiful online monthlymagazine in these hard trying times is Blossoms. Please do read it and forward the link to friends and family.
      http://www.blossomsmag.com

    • Avatar

      Ray

      June 12, 2016 at 12:30 AM

      Greetings. My name is Ray Bernard Leverette, and I wanted to share with you that we serve an Universal GOD that is filled with full of love, and compassion towards all humanity, and we should not hate one another, but love one another. Even though I am of the Christian Faith, and the bible tells me to love my fellow man. “Love thy neighbor as myself.” Who are my neighbors? All of us. We’re all neighbors, and we share a common ground. We’re all different and unique in the eyes of GOD. Love one another because GOD loves us all because we are all brothers and sisters. You are my brother and sister because we’re all made in GOD’s image. I love you all. Amen.

  2. Avatar

    Omer Riaz

    April 15, 2016 at 6:55 AM

    MashAllah Great Post!!! Islam is beautiful religion and some people are trying to portray a negative impression. It is our duty to change people’s opinion by spreading a positive image of Islam. Your tips are really helpful!!! Thanks

  3. Avatar

    Kristy

    April 15, 2016 at 11:33 AM

    I live in the United States in a large, diverse metropolitan neighborhood. There is an Ahmadiyya mosque about 5 blocks from my house with the nicest people you can imagine! They join us in social community events, return “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Easter”, and some even joined us for the annual Easter egg hunt block party with their children. In return, our local church invited them to come and share their experiences with Islamic fasting and Ramadan/Eid traditions. As a result, many Christian and muslim families have become close friends as well as neighbors!
    While I can’t comment on 4 of your 5 points, from what I as an Evangelical Christian have experienced from my many positive interactions with people from this Ahmadiyya community, they are living being socially engaged, contributing and giving to society positively with all their heart and talents.

    • Avatar

      AF

      April 16, 2016 at 9:16 PM

      Ahmadiyya Muslims are true pacifists. They are also only 1% of the Muslim population and considered a heretical sect by almost all other Muslims. Think Mormons versus Christians.

      The Ahmadi sect acknowledges a later prophet than Mohammed, a man named Mirza Ghulem Ahmed (d. 1908), although they do follow the Five Pillars of Islam, and revere the Koran and hadiths. Their belief in Ahmed violates an Islamic principle called “seal of prophethood”, which establishes Mohammed as the final prophet.

      This is a Salafist site, so whether they tell you or not, the Ahmadis are dimly viewed here. If you pay attention, you will notice Western Muslims like to ride on the goodwill generated by the Ahmadiyya, so they rarely point out the difference unless they see it as necessary.

      However, if you go to Pakistan, Ahmadiyya Muslims are cruelly persecuted by the sharia-ruled state, and it is a crime for them to call themselves Muslims. Saudis will not knowingly allow Ahmadi Muslims go on the Hajj, because they are regarded as non-Muslims. In Scotland, an Ahmadi Muslim shopkeeper was recently murdered by a Sunni for positive remarks he made about his Christian neighbors.

      Westerners interested in the Ahmadi sect might want to try the book, “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus”. It is about an Ahmadi, Nabeel Qureshi, who converted to Christianity. The first part of the book describes his family life and religious practices as an Ahmadi Muslim in some detail. There is also a very interesting section later on about the nature of the hadiths and Koran in which I learned a number of things I did not know. Caveat: it is a book with a strong evangelical message, obviously, so if that is not your thing, you will need to skip most of the second half.

      • Avatar

        Jonaid

        April 17, 2016 at 12:42 PM

        If pacifism is defined as “opposition to war of any kind, ever” then Islam is thankfully NOT a pacifistic religion. No religion is in practice pacifistic so those who preach this impracticality just end up appearing hypocritical. I agree that Ahmadiyya theology seems to directly contradict the Quranic injunction that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the seal of the prophets. I’m sure they have a clever way of getting around this but it is a stretch as far as most genuine readers are considered. That does not justify any injustice and ill-treatment directed towards this community.

      • Avatar

        AF

        April 17, 2016 at 8:56 PM

        And, in fact, Jonaid, I was wrong in calling the Ahmadiyya “pacifists”. They are known for being non-violent, but Nabeel Qureshi’s father was in the US military. I think it would have been better to say that they do not ascribe to violent Islamic conquest and the more extreme elements of sharia.

        The violence directed at the Ahmadi world wide is a direct result of the fact they are considered kaffirs pretending to be Muslim. Here is a Muslim site describing their animosity to the Ahmadi:
        http://muslimsincalgary.ca/2016/04/08/qadianiyyah-in-the-light-of-islam/

        My concern about the Ahmadis is that their vocal defense of Islam only represents their tiny sect and its beliefs. As Kristy described above, they are very involved in community outreach and they are able to tell Western audiences exactly what they want to hear about Islam, jihad, peace and tolerance. What they say is not true of the beliefs of the Muslim majority.

        “Qaadyani is a destructive disbelieving group that names itself Muslim to mask its obnoxious filthy objectives and beliefs. The most dangerous of their beliefs are their claim that their leader is a Prophet, they alter the Quran, they believe that there is no Jihaad, they declare Muslims as non-Muslims and they are allies to the non-Muslims.”

        As we all know, an Ahmadi shopkeeper was murdered in Scotland for saying complimentary things about Christians.
        http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-35976958

      • Avatar

        MH

        April 18, 2016 at 3:02 PM

        I hope you are not insinuating that it is only the Ahmadiyya community that support non-violent movements. As someone who is neither Ahmadi nor Salafi, I would like to say that there do exist orthodox, peace loving Muslims. Many of the ills of extremism are a result of cultural influences and a misinterpretation of Islam. As far as the persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan goes, I am of the opinion that it is wrong. Sure their beliefs are at odds with the orthodox strain but that doesn’t warrant the ill treatment or murder in Scotland. Do not think that I am modifying my opinions to appease anyone; Sheikh Hamza Yusuf (one of the West’s prominent scholars who also happens to be non-Ahmadi) has already condemned the Pakistan constitution for taking the extreme stance on Ahmadis.

        P.S. It was not my intention to divide the Muslim community into “Ahmadis” and “non-Ahmadis”, but I could not find another way to avoid excessive labelling.

      • Avatar

        AF

        April 18, 2016 at 8:34 PM

        MH:
        “I hope you are not insinuating that it is only the Ahmadiyya community that support non-violent movements.”

        No, but my impression is that they are one of the few strains of Islam with strong enough theological foundations for tolerance that they are truly non-violent as a group.

        “Many of the ills of extremism are a result of cultural influences and a misinterpretation of Islam.”

        That has become the burden of Islam to prove now. You can no longer give lip service to this idea without some kind of substantial proof. It is just as easy to say that you misinterpret Islam and violent fundamentalists are right.

        “Do not think that I am modifying my opinions to appease anyone; Sheikh Hamza Yusuf (one of the West’s prominent scholars who also happens to be non-Ahmadi) has already condemned the Pakistan constitution for taking the extreme stance on Ahmadis.”

        The problem is the stance Islam takes towards any dissenter/blasphemer/apostate, not the Ahmadis in particular. The Ahmadis simply fall into a category of people that are considered open targets by Muslims obsessed with everyone else’s religious opinions and determined to force everyone under the oppressive umbrella of sharia somehow.

        Hamza Yusuf is a Western convert with a Western mentality who knows how to talk to the West. How does he represent the worldwide ummah? His audience are American Muslims desperate to forge a mindset and theology that is not in constant dissonance with Western humanism. Either he will found a movement analogous to conservative/reform Judaism, or his followers will ultimately be sucked into the vortex of eastern Islam. Eastern Islam is built on a shame-honor mindset and will not survive here for more than 1-2 generations, so either option will result in de-fanging aggressive Islam as long as we can slow down immigration.

      • Avatar

        Jonaid

        April 22, 2016 at 7:00 PM

        AF:

        “My concern about the Ahmadis is that their vocal defense of Islam only represents their tiny sect and its beliefs. As Kristy described above, they are very involved in community outreach and they are able to tell Western audiences exactly what they want to hear about Islam, jihad, peace and tolerance. What they say is not true of the beliefs of the Muslim majority.”

        Have you considered that the Ahmadis really mean what they say about Islam – and not just their own tiny sect – because they happen to know to how to distinguish between the current climate in the Muslim World and the original message & teachings of Islam? The only real distinction between the Ahmadis and “orthodox” Islam is the status of their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmed. Beyond that they subscribe to the exact same scriptures & teachings. The fact that they are involved in community outreach and vocal in defending their religion is because like all peoples who’ve endured suffering, they are more empathetic, secure in their faith in God, and have a level of integrity which is unfortunately rare in the bulk of the Muslim world today. One ought to trust those who have every reason to attack Islam, having endured real suffering at the hands of it’s so called followers, have no reason to hide or lie (for those of them who are in the West) BUT instead go out of their way to defend it. These people are speaking the truth.

        Islam has been around for 1400 plus years, in all sorts of contexts and represents nearly a quarter of humanity today. It is not rational nor realistic to assume that a religion is best manifested as it was intended to be 14 centuries after it was founded. The earlier one gets to its origins, the purer and pristine Islam was. Post-colonial era Muslims have all but lost their tradition and are now behaving like insecure children who feel humiliated and instead of taking responsibility and trusting God, they blame the outsiders.

        Having said all that, it is still very much true to say that the negative perception of Islam AND Muslims in the West is completely blown way out of proportion. This much is self-evident to anyone who knows Islamic history, is somewhat familiar with the socio-political context in most war-torn regions of the Islamic World, the history of the West’s disingenuous involvement in the affairs of Muslim-majority countries, and has an appreciation for correct perspective. Only 90 years ago the Ku Klux Klan had nearly 5 million members in the United States (out of a population of roughly 100 million – that’s 5% of the total population and roughly 15% of the eligible population). They’ve since continued to have thousands of members. All this despite the Whites being the majority and suffering no war, no oppression, no threats of any kind from any other racial group. If ISIS, Al Qaida, and every other “Islamic” terrorist group in the world – ALL of them combined don’t represent 0.1% of Islam’s worldwide adherents – suggest that Islam is somewhat problematic, than the West’s history with violence and racism is more than enough to stamp the West as outright racist and violent.

        Truth is self-evident when everyone is honest about their own problems. You have no idea what agendas are running the political shows in our countries in the West and those in the Muslim world. Let’s not blame the religion or the vast majority of peaceful, honest and sincere followers who are victims of other people’s deliberate caricatures and selfish agendas.

        Peace.

      • Avatar

        Haadiya

        April 25, 2016 at 11:16 AM

        Ahmadiyas are not muslims. Who ever doesn’t beleive that Mohammad (PBUH) was the last and the final Prophet of Allah, is not and can never be a muslim. They are deceivers and what ever their outer facade, it will never change their status of being a non muslim.

      • Avatar

        Jonaid

        April 25, 2016 at 11:28 AM

        AF:

        Apologies the April 25 comment was my attempt at re-doing the April 22 comment. The moderators on this website need to do a much better job.

      • Avatar

        Jonaid

        April 25, 2016 at 5:39 PM

        If I may: I think the moderating would be far better had it been an Ahmadi run website ;D.

        I’m not an Ahmadi.

      • Avatar

        Jonaid

        April 27, 2016 at 10:42 AM

        Wow 5 days and still not posted. You should call this censoring, not moderating. There’s not that many comments posted on this website yet they can’t keep up. Do people do their jobs?

      • Avatar

        Truth

        May 3, 2016 at 10:21 PM

        Jonaid.
        You say Islam is thankfully not a pacifistic religion and so who preach this impracticality just end up appearing hypocritical. Some religions are pacifist in ideal and yes followers often do not live up to these ideals but what can appear as hypocritical,only God can judge.
        However what is because pacifist religions hold these pacifist ideals, there exists a moderating influence on society and of individual believers that Islam unfortunately does not have. This is a major problem for Islam with its propensity to tear itself apart. From the beginning of its history it has always has torn itself apart.

      • Avatar

        Truth

        May 3, 2016 at 10:24 PM

        Hi again Jonaid
        You appear to be implying Islam lost its traditions and its way due European colonialism but yet say Muslims are now behaving like insecure children who feel humiliated and instead of taking responsibility and blaming the outsiders.Is this a contradiction ? And if so, is Islam not robust or flexible enough to benefit from western progressive and modern influences
        You mention the West’s disingenuous involvement in the affairs of Muslim countries? Can you give some examples?
        The Ku Klux Klan … 5 million members … 5% of the total population and 15% of the eligible population ??? What do you base these statistics on? Are you talking about the militant hood wearing types, non-militant signed up members or simply those sympathetic to the cause? Likewise how do you know ISIS, Al Qaida, and other Islamic terrorist groups don’t represent 0.1% of Islam’s worldwide adherents? What research and statistics do you base this on? And again are you talking the militant bomb making types, non-militant supporters or simply those sympathetic to the cause ? As the quote goes – “Lies, damned lies, and statistics”
        You say Truth is self-evident when everyone is honest about their own problems. However your response has echos of the insecure child feeling humiliated and blaming the outsiders instead of taking responsibility.

      • Avatar

        Jonaid

        May 5, 2016 at 6:40 PM

        Truth:

        I said: “If pacifism is defined as “opposition to war of any kind, ever” then Islam is thankfully NOT a pacifistic religion.” Please quote the full statement before you issue an opinion on it. Are you saying that an ideal moral code would outlaw ANY kind of violence, be it just, defensive war? The “moderating” effect would then require breaking the law because not doing so would result in annihilation. Christianity has a “Just war” doctrine as well. I’m not much concerned with other religions. Their impact on the world is and has always been quite limited as compared to Islam and Christianity (and to a lesser extent Judaism).

        “This is a major problem for Islam with its propensity to tear itself apart. From the beginning of its history it has always has torn itself apart.”

        Schism, corruption, breaking away etc. etc. are a universal phenomenon. That is exactly what the Devil and his minions do all the time. Islam is not free from this BUT on what grounds are you claiming that it is uniquely prone to tearing itself apart? There is incredible unity in the religion to this day. All 1.7 billion people believe in the exact same book (the Qur’an) without any debate whatsoever about it’s origins, it’s formatting, it’s language, it’s recitation, it’s status etc. etc. The basic teachings and practices of the religion are universally accepted by all sects of Islam with the possible exception of tiny, dissenting sects which don’t represent even 1% of the total adherents. The Shias and Sunnis – the two big sects – agree on ALL of the most important teachings: God is absolutely One, the Qur’an is his verbatim speech, messengers came throughout history to direct mankind back to the Truth and Muhammad was the last of them, they believe in angels, in the Last Day, in Heaven and Hell, in Satan and his scheme etc. etc.

      • Avatar

        Jonaid

        May 5, 2016 at 6:54 PM

        http://www.history.com/topics/ku-klux-klan

        According to this website, the KKK had 4 million members in the 1920s. According to Wikipedia they had 3-6 million members around 1924. The total US population around this time was just over 100 million. That’s where I get the 5% figure from. The 15% for the eligible for membership population figure comes from Wiki also. I’m talking about people who subscribed to KKK – not mere sympathizers.

        How do I know that “Islamic” terrorist organizations don’t represent even 0.1% of the global Muslim population? It’s simple math. 0.1% of 1,700,000,000 = 1,700,000. Al Qaida, ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Shabab, etc. etc. combined don’t add up to 1,700,000. As for “sympathizers” – that’s a bogus argument. If we are going to claim who sympathizes with something off color than everyone is guilty of something. Just to put things in perspective:

        http://www.gallup.com/poll/161399/10th-anniversary-iraq-war-mistake.aspx

        10 years after USA invades a sovereign nation by lying about it’s WMD production, 42% of Americans STILL support the initial assault and the continued involvement. That’s roughly 130 MILLION people. If people are going to be held guilty for “sympathizing” – we have proof positive that 130 million Americans are guilty for the Iraq war and the 1-2 million people who died, directly and indirectly as a result of our invasion.

      • Avatar

        Truth

        May 9, 2016 at 8:56 PM

        Please explain how I misquoted you? What you said was … If pacifism is defined as “opposition to war of any kind, ever” then Islam is thankfully NOT a pacifistic religion. How was this quoted out of context? Anyway correct me if I’m wrong, but the crux of what you appear to have said … “is Islam is thankfully NOT a pacifistic religion”. So are you thankful that Islam is not a pacifist religion or not?
        I disagree that Christianity has a just war doctrine. While Augustine developed this idea I challenge you or anyone to find anything in the New Testament that justifies violence. The Quran and hadith however have dozens of injunctions to violence.
        Not concerned with other religions? For you to simply discount the pacifist traditions of two major world religions such as Hinduism and Buddhist is evasive and misleading. I suggest Muslims do actually concern themselves with other religions as they may learn something.
        Did I say unique? Please quote me correctly. What I said was “a propensity”. Please quote the statement correctly before you issue an opinion.
        Unity in Islam? Most Muslims wouldn’t even recognise a Quran if it was thrown at them let alone understand Islamic doctrinal disputes to even begin to dissent. Most are Muslim in name only so to say all 1.7 billion adherents are unified is spurious.
        Civil wars, conflict over Mohamad’s succession (conflictnwhich still exists today), murders, assassinations and all within the first generation of the religion.
        Unity in Islam. Look at the polarised confusion existing within Islam today. Islamofascists polarised against moderates. The above 5th point Fatima Barkatulla makes is a case in point. Fifth: Seek deeper knowledge of scripture from traditional scholars who are also forward-thinking. The Qur’an has a context to it. Reading ones own interpretations into it willy nilly gives a warped understanding.
        Why the desperate need within Islam to educate its own?

      • Avatar

        Truth

        May 9, 2016 at 8:58 PM

        Thank you for your referencing for the KKK. This was informative. However your comparison of the KKK to 1.7 billion Muslims is an invalid and disingenuous sample comparison.
        Comparing the race consciousness of the USA (delusional as it was and often still is) with the world’s total Muslim consciousness is a bogus argument. Race consciousness in the US is far more acute and conscious compared to the Muslim awareness of militancy. Most Muslims probably wouldn’t even recognise the Quran if it was thrown at them let alone comprehend the militant Islamofascist ideologies that permeate the religion.
        What makes you so certain about this 1,700,000, 0.1 % figure? What do you base this on? And just who and how many of these etc, etc’s are there? You need to show there are only 1,700,000 (0.1 %) Islamofascist bomb toting radicals in the world?
        I happen to be one of the many opposed to the Iraq war. However what does soften the position somewhat was that the US invasion of Iraq to remove the Baathist (not an attack on Muslims) tyrant dictator Saddam Hussein was a in the context of fear after 911, the threat of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction that Saddham Hussein had already used against his own people. Saddham Hussein had proven himself to be a threat to stability of the region.
        In the West after the Iraq invasion there were massive rallies in Western cities (tolerated by Western Governments) of millions of people protesting the war. Where are the rallies similar to anything like this in Muslim majority countries rallying against fundamentalist militancy? Where are your mass rallies protesting against Islamic fascism?
        “Sympathizers” as a bogus argument? Perhaps we could extend the same argument to the Muslim response to the American defensive action in Afghanistan? I don’t pretend to know how many Muslims were against this American defensive action, but no doubt there would be a very large proportion. We do not have the benefit of polling but it could it be argued that a sizable proportion of Muslims were in support of the 911 attacks on America?
        Let’s face it All countries have violence as part of their history. Your erroneous quoting of stats appears another Muslim attempt to vilify the USA and avoid Muslim responsibility.
        How many Muslim majority countries would allow the transparent internal dissenting discourse the US allows? I presume you live in the US? Give thanks you live in a free western society that allows you to post on such a site as this.
        You say Truth is self-evident when everyone is honest about their own problems. Again your response has echoes of the insecure Muslim child feeling humiliated and blaming the outsiders instead of taking responsibility.

  4. Avatar

    Azmath Moosa

    April 17, 2016 at 10:42 AM

    JazakAllah sister. very encouraging. In India fascism is currently on the rise. Make dua for us.

  5. Avatar

    Hamza Khurshid

    April 17, 2016 at 2:40 PM

    I believe that Muslim should not be reactive in responding to the events of the world. We need to be proactive and keep an eye on what is happening. Then we should develop a long term strategy to acheive what we have meant to achieve, world peace.

  6. Avatar

    Sarah SW

    April 18, 2016 at 10:32 AM

    Excellent points Fatima. As an Ahmadi Muslim I do believe our vocal defence of
    Islam is just that – a vocal defence of Islam ! When we write about Islam as a peaceful and tolerant religion we do so with reference to the Holy Quran, the Word Of God. Islam means peace and submission. The Holy Prophet (saw) was compassion personified. I therefore question how anyone could think we merely pander to a western wish list of how Islam ought to be ? We also believe that it is our duty to serve both God and mankind as directed by God Himself.

  7. Avatar

    Abdullah Muhammed

    April 29, 2016 at 9:18 AM

    Political Activisim is the key to changing the minds of millions.

    This conference in Chicago seems to touch on that and how Muslims should view Political Activism.
    The legacy of the Prophets of Islam from Adam (عليه السلام) to Muhammad (ﷺ) is deeply rooted in demonstrating activism through conveyance of the message from Allah (سبحانه و تعالى).

    We Muslims must arise to the call of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) when He commands in the Qur’an:

    وَلْتَكُن مِّنكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

    And let there arise among you a group, inviting to all that is good (Islam), commanding al-Marouf (good) and forbidding al-Munkar (evil); and those are the ones whom are the successful. -[Translated meaning of Surah Al-e-Imran 3:104]

    Indeed the Prophet (ﷺ) has also stated in a Hadeeth as narrated by Imam Bayhaqi (ra), “There will be from the end of my Ummah a people that will be rewarded like the first generation as they enjoin the Maroof and forbid the Munkar”.

    Please join Hizb Ut-Tahrir-America at their annual Khilafah Conference titled “Muslim Political Activism- Aspiring to the work of the Prophets”.

    From Adam (عليه السلام) to Mohammed (ﷺ): continuing the call of the Prophets and Messengers
    “We have ALWAYS been here”: Recognizing our Muslim roots of Reverence and Perseverance
    Beyond Ballots: Political Activism in Islam
    Chicago, IL USA
    Sunday, May 15, 2016
    2-5 p.m.

    Hizb Ut-Tahrir-America
    https://hizb-america.org/

    • Avatar

      B. Mason

      May 4, 2016 at 9:20 PM

      The best way of stopping anger against Muslims is to work out why it exists – because of inhuman terrorist attacks – and do something about stopping them. Hatred of evil is perfectly understandable; instead of ‘countering’ a healthy abhorrence of savagery, you would do better to turn your energies to countering the savages.

  8. Avatar

    Muhammad Shayakh Salahuddin

    June 12, 2016 at 5:42 AM

    Assalam sister,

    A very Interesting and heart touching article …a great learning….
    Pray to ALLAH (SWT) for your safety, isteqaamath, as well for all of Ummah and entire humanity on earth.

    JazakALLAH Khair.
    Wassalam

  9. Avatar

    Noble Peace

    June 22, 2016 at 10:35 AM

    Bism Allah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem
    sallam alaikom,
    Please forgive the following as it is written in haste and also perhaps in lack of light and modesty…etc. With that said, may Allah mainly forgive me, as personally me and Him we are not currently speaking….my fault I suppose….

    let me feed my ego if I may by saying the following…..as to the Qadyayani issue…..just to quote a hadeeth that is written on this world wide spider web on the discoveringislam.org website and in its end time book, stating that Aisha may Allah be pleased with her, …do say that our beloved p.b.u.h is the seal of the prophets but do not say that there is no prophet after him…..!!….great fitna isn’t it? Dajjal will claim prophethood first mostly…but with that said, there is a jesus to come back?!

    main thing I wanted to state..is that there is no God’s chosen people…?! but chosen families may be…?! with that said , and in-sha-Allah…not to be a Ramadan satan…but it seems that al-Imran is the continuation of al-Muhammed/Ibraheem…alaihom kulhum afdal salat w sallam…..Allah knows best!

    what is chosen though is …as for humanity..is ISLAM…..with that said, God’s people are not neccessarly just muslim and even if they are, they are not neccassarly so….i.e of the people…..i.e. islam is the best way for us the humans..because I say to thee, that the true enemy is not humans but something else all together….I am not any kind of scholar, but sort of realising why al junaid al-baghdady, changed his style of writing…..with that said also, nothing written or said will be of any benefit, except what is done in the quite of the night…and I put my hand up that I am saying that what I am not doing…kubr muqtan with OUR Lord….istigfirAllah!

    woe to the arabs, woe to the arabs, woe to the muslims……o’people, o’muslims……the hills and the mountains…..whats coming and what and where is one to go?…..prepare and make provisions of the ZAAD of the ma’aad…….message especially to those in the western hemisphere…..what did Shk Hamza Y say about being further from the Makkah and the blessed lands….Allah is the provider…I tell myself first all of the above….tassaan l-abd al-dinar w al-dirham the pound and the sterling and any plastic or electronic thing which is just pressed by a button……leave the land to the scholars to do dawah..as the beloved is innocent from us otherwise….sorry all comes across in the wrong way, but I suppose I am following my nafs..so I’ll have to answer to Him and to Him ONLY!!

    OH ONE MORE THING…if I may, technology is wonderful…but there is much more that meets the eye I presume….sometimes fire is smokeless..?…..albeit, our beloved was sent to the ahmar and the iswid……and there is no difference between the arab and the non arab the black and the white and our beloved was sent us a mercy to all of mankind……

    only accept please if there is any sense or truth in what was said…..because if bad like I said it is form my vain desires…

    Allah al-mustaan and to Him is our return…..

    and peace and blessings on Muhammad w sahbaa and his wives and those who follow him till the end of time…..may I and you be amongst them too

    peace

  10. Avatar

    Noble Peace

    June 22, 2016 at 11:07 AM

    Bism Allah…
    sallam alaikom,
    part 2, if I may…just wanted to apologise to the above….1)because I did not take time to read what was being said and I just saw the Ahmadi issue and ran to quote about it…..

    just wanted to continue to feed my ego, as I feel like I have something to say…hahahaha….I am very wise aren’t I not? :)

    there is great wisdom as you all know in our beloved p.b.u.h being ummi…oral tradition is truly what is wonderful……I just want the fish..is that two lines?!.. I do not know, but there is ONE that does?……I feel like an aborigini or may soon to be…glad tidings to the strangers…..our beloved p.b.u.h quoted as saying ” those that will come will see great strife and confusion and every generation is a little worst off than the next,,,,,,,,also whether authentic or not, I pray someone could clarify, but there will be things happening that we as muslims will be saying,,, did our beloved mention any thing about this or that????…as to what is or will happen or about to happen….? ….do not mean to scare monger and as muslims we are supposed to be politically active and revolutionaries etc for the benefit for humanity…of course! but with that I said I pray myself and yourselves do not cause a fitna…especially as or when we are not connected….i.e. to Allah…..

    I have no love in my heart currently…so please forgive me, if it comes across in any way in a not too good manner or way…..but where does one stop? and at what point of the line…?

    I suppose first we need the love… I am so distant I keep taking the quran mahjura even in this blessed month……please remember me in your duas if you do happen to remember when you remember yourselves and the ummah…..

    truth and PATEINCE and prayer in and for all good things in this temporary world and for what is to come…i.e the after world…..

    yours sincerely,

    from me (auz billah) or is it me?…scare crow is just made of straw…..

    peace unto you all

  11. Avatar

    Noble Peace

    June 22, 2016 at 1:01 PM

    bism Allah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem

    sallam alaikom,
    excuse my arrogance yet again…but after reflection and a little contemplation, perhaps I admit with out much connection, and me stating that proves that….oooh I am going to be an ant on that day…Allah al-Mustaan and may He forgive….

    what did my ego want to say…erm…oh yeah, mere words I suppose….has the other got anything to do with what was sent down and its origins?…sounds sci-fi?! :) terminator film..etc seems so…..and with out promoting stupid and useless talk in this blessed month..so please forgive me….because the wand is truly unholy, even though sometimes truth may become known through evil and ignorance, and I am not recommending it……with that said and not at the same time…..zhul kifl and who he may be…had a prophecy..thats if he is he….!..so please do read on……as, as we all know sometimes prophecies are continuous i.e. on going ! and Allah knows best…..frozen han solo…..or a cave again..all again Allah knows best……independence day and the other that is being promoted..and subhan Allah we seem to be the others……but as to iron….the poets and the those that follow them….erm I do not know what I am saying…..I am just crazy…..will I be fed and have my brain altered, like is going on to us all, yet we know not…or perhaps we do…?!..it is all a FIB anyway….

    of the subject but all is to do with all it seems …lets reclaim our info? as not to be woed?!..and do not give any if you can and do not sign……its the signature that is worth all the money………what is needed is a true community or communities….where? the land is expansive……! just opinions…..so please forgive me

    may I ask those doing dawah in the western hemisphere…have we as muslims reached the amosh? because it seems they are true role models in one sense…..albeit, please forgive me for talking as such and asking like such….albeit again leave while we can….and even if against the current laws of the land…..whether as it is talk on the current times or end times…and only Allah knows best when the latter will be… so I tell myself first but what have we prepared for it?…..as to what I wished to say on that..is even if over ice,,,,it was an order all that time ago….so at least prepare for then…if not in our current time….and it might not affect us currently but most probable future generations…and also sudden is here and perhaps not yet again ….and if this is against the law or for my ego ……let it be…..so as before the editing floor blues…I believe in jesus, jesus, I am not afraid to say I believe in jesus…..it seems it is most definelty against THE LAW i.e. Allah’s law…1) for mentioning songs and not using His words….2)as it is in this blessed month…..I suppose that is one of the signs of the times also…..

    something inside me is telling me I am doing wrong writing today…..albeit, ma tawfiq except with Allah…….

    all I can say is that time is running out…..so I pray we do not get to the point when we curse God……al-Qariah…..a form or a result of ummmm ummm……???…remember islam is for humanity…but can you or anyone out here/there hear it too?

    Al-Asr……..imam al-shafii said it……

    fe amn Allah

    I sincere in-sha-Allah unchained

    and peace and blessings on the messenger sayidna muhammed and his companions and family and those who followed and follow him till the great day…final or finest…..in-sha-Allah the latter for those who believe in Allah the most High…Allah Akbar w al-hamdullah…He is Greater than all the ahzab……

    p.s. as to earlier parts, just so that it may or may not have caused fitna……. in-sha-Allah it has not or will not…..luke states that the prince of peace will not come for peace and to separate between family members…etc and the final testament says something like our children and money are enemies so be aware from them…etc but please do remember to give all its due that it is due to each and please if your mothers and fathers are still alive….please promise to kiss their feets tonight and especially in these last ten days and may you all have a happy and blessed Ramadan…..and do unto others as we like done on to our selves and our beloved is a mercy, so may we all be walking muhammads…and may he or the angels not tell us suhkan suhkan……and lets pray we get through this little time we have left, as to may Allah will, enter the garden with out reckoning……..

  12. Avatar

    Faisal Adnan

    September 10, 2016 at 7:41 PM

    Theres a phenomena called ‘islamophobia’. They dont even know Islam, and they dont even read the Quran. But they can easily say bad things. I hope we all muslim can unite face this issue with patience.

  13. Avatar

    Alston Arif

    November 1, 2016 at 4:45 AM

    The best approach of stopping anger against Muslims is to figure out why it exists – owing to inhuman terrorist attacks – and do one thing regarding stopping them. Please stay with your Iman and pray for us.
    http://www.muslimgreeting.com/2016/09/the-meaning-of-islam-iman-definition-and-6-pillars-of-iman.html

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#Current Affairs

Kashmir: Gateway in Turmoil

Abu Ryan Dardir

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birds of a feather flock together.

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

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

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

A message from a Kashmiri

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

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

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#Islam

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

Imam Zaid Shakir

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

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

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

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

Concerning migration, the Qur’an states unequivocally: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Launchgood.com/migrants, migrants, Muslims

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

Imam Zaid Shakir, Imam, Lighthouse Mosque

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

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#Current Affairs

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

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Muslim organizations, Muslim groups

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

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

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

The Involvement Of Muslim Groups

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

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

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

Spreading Ignorance

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

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

immorality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Law Enforcement Approved Islam

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

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

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

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

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

Muslim Groups Were Taken for a Ride

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

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

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

Do Your Homework

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

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

Muslim Leaders Should Stand Strong 

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

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

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

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

Note: Special thanks to Mobeen Vaid.

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