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15 things You Need To Know About China’s Torture of Uyghur Muslims

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By Gulnaz Uyghur

The Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region is China’s largest provincial unit, accounting for one sixth of the Chinese territory. This region does not belong to the country as it was occupied in 1949. Uyghur Muslims are the ethnic population of this region and call this land, East Turkestan. Even after its occupation, the demands for freedom has always been alive and keeps growing due to the ruthless suppression of Muslims by the Chinese Government.

Below are the 15 ways through which Chinese authorities torture Uyghurs and suffocate them in their own land.

1. Forced Labour is Mandatory for Uyghurs

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In Xinjiang, it is compulsory for Uyghur residents to participate in unpaid labor, called hashar. They are not provided any compensation for their labor and forced to pay for their own transportation and meal costs. Workers who are injured are also required to look after their own medical expenses. In some cases, if  someone sends a family member to work, then Uyghurs need to pay a fine for that.

2. Children are also pulled out for forced labor

Uyghur families that do not have an able bodied young men are also not exempt from the system. Men and women as old as 70 and children as young as 12 are reported to have participated. Uyghur secondary school students are at times pulled out of classrooms in order to meet laborquotas.

3. Teenagers are arrested due to posts on social media

Young Uyghurs are arrested for posting comments on social media or watching Islamic videos online. Once a 15 yr old was arrested in the same case and sentenced for 10 years!.Other than this not many people are given internet connection and Police can arrest anyone for watching anything online! Uyghur homes are also raided for materials deemed “extreme” or “subversive.

4. Muslim farmers are required to sell below market rates

Government regulations require many Uyghur farmers to sell their produce to local governments at below market prices. This results in extreme poverty for the Uyghur families as they are not able to earn appropriate money to feed their own families.

5. Farmlands are confiscated by the government

It has become common for Chinese authorities to confiscate farmland and property of Uyghurs. These assets are then redistributed to Chinese migrants. Uyghurs who petition these practices are often charged without trial for “harming ethnic unity”.

6. Discrimination of Uyghurs

On paper, the Chinese migrants are shown equal to Uyghurs. In reality, they enjoy far more entitlements than Uyghur farmers. The Chinese migrants not only enjoy the freedom to harvest any crop, they can also take out bank loans and are entitled to greater water resources.

7. A man was shot for keeping a beard

No man, in Xinjiang is allowed to keep beard. Uyghur men refusing to shave their beards are frequently harassed, intimidated, with one man having been shot by police in one instance. According to the Chinese Government keeping a beard is a sign of being an extremist. 

8. Most Uyghur don’t know about their basic rights

Most of the Uyghur population, especially those of the older generation, lack a basic knowledge of human rights and don’t even know their rights as citizens according to the constitution. This is because they have never been given these rights and lack of education has also played a very large role in it. Most of the times they are exploited by claiming that it’s a law.

9. Nikah is considered illegal in China

In April 2014, Chinese authorities instigated a system of rewards, some exceeding more than 50,000 Yuan (USD 7500), for whistle-blowers who reported on a range of illegal religious activities including the wearing of beards and the practice of Nikaha traditional religious marriage ceremony. Chinese authorities take harsh steps to ban religious freedom in East Turkestan.

10. Muslims are ordered to sell Alcohol

Chinese authorities in Hotan County, Hotan Prefecture ordered shopkeepers to stock alcohol and cigarettes in a campaign to “weaken religion,” as Uyghur residents refrained from drinking and smoking for religious reasons. All these actions are a part of ‘Strike hard campaign’ by the government, which is actually a campaign against Uyghur Muslims.

11. Muslim names are banned

The Chinese Government has banned Muslim names in the region. The security officials go from house-to-house ordering parents to ensure that their childrens names do not fall on a list of 22 banned names. Which include mostly Muslim names. Uyghur parents are not even allowed to name their child according to their wish. 

12. Imams are imprisoned

No one in Xinjiang is allowed to teach Quran outside the mosques. And children below 18 years old are not allowed to enter the Mosques. It is a crime to give any kind of teaching related to Islam in Xinjiang. Often parents are harassed for even keeping the Quran at home. Religious leaders often serve prison sentences for the peaceful observation and practice of Islam.

13. Every year Ramadan is banned

During the holy month of Ramadan, restaurants in Hotan have been forbidden from being shutting down. Workers are forced to participate in educational activities on atheism. Government servants, students and anyone working for the party is not allowed to celebrate Ramadan. Various competitions related to eating and drinking are organized in the region to force feed people during the month.

14. Women are forced to abort their child

Pregnant Uyghur women in stages of gestation as late as 9 months have been forced to undergo abortions in some cases under China’s one-child policy. This practice is still brutally followed in Xinjiang and Uyghur women are sometimes forced to flee their homes due to this.

15. Uyghurs are not allowed to leave China

In 2014, Chinese authorities in Hotan began limiting Uyghurs’ ability to travel, both domestically and abroad through passport restrictions. These restrictions have increased now as the police authorities are collecting the passports of Uyghurs and keeping them in the office. At present , it is impossible for Uyghurs to travel abroad as first they would need to face interrogation which will most probably result in their arrest.

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22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Musa Abubakar

    November 30, 2016 at 4:35 AM

    And, the narratives is different because they are Muslims. The world watches mutedly to the injustice the Uyghurs are subjected, like Palestinians they perpetually condemned.

  2. Avatar

    Aafia

    November 30, 2016 at 2:39 PM

    In the initial stage of life at Madinah, after the migration, when the Muslims were in great trouble on account of economic hardships, external dangers and internal villainy of the Jews and the hypocrites, Allah said:

    “Do you think that you will enter Paradise without undergoing such trials as were experienced by the believers before you? They met with adversity and affliction and were so shaken by trials that the Prophet of the time and his followers cried out, when will Allah’s help come? (Then only they were comforted with the good tidings:) “Yes, Allah’s help is near!”‘ (Al-Baqarah: 214). Likewise, when after the Battle of Uhud, the Muslims again confronted a period of afflictions, it was said: “Do you think that you will enter Paradise without undergoing any trial? whereas Allah has not yet tried you to see who among you are ready to lay down their lives in His way and who will show fortitude for His sake.” (Al-Imran: 142). Almost the same thing has been said in AI-Imran: 179, Taubah: 16 and Surah Muhammad: 31. Allah in these verses has impressed on the Muslims that trial is the touchstone by which the pure and the impure are judged. The impure is turned aside by Allah and the pure is selected so that Allah may honour them with His favors which the sincere believers only deserve.

    Ref : Comforting Verses to the Oppressed Uyghur Muslim of China : http://islamhashtag.com/muslims-in-china/

    • Avatar

      M

      December 1, 2016 at 3:33 PM

      True, but unfortunately the Uyghurs will not be reading this since they can’t even watch Islamic videos without being arrested. But we by standers can, and it is our duty as Muslims to help those who are oppressed. So What should we do?

  3. Avatar

    MR MD JOARDER

    November 30, 2016 at 2:45 PM

    My heart bleeds. I wish I could help my brothers and sisters. Allah is watching. And our prayers are with them. Looks like human right is also driven by business case not by morals anymore.

  4. Pingback: Mao Tse-Tung on Paper Tigers – ALLAHU HAQQ ALLAH IS TRUTH

  5. Avatar

    Rafiu

    December 1, 2016 at 2:17 AM

    May Allah grant them patience and relieve their suffering. He knows best.

  6. Avatar

    M

    December 1, 2016 at 3:29 PM

    SubhanAllah, I knew China had human rights issues, but this is just crazy. Is there any way we can help them? I mean, besides raising awareness about the issue.

  7. Avatar

    Maryam

    December 1, 2016 at 10:18 PM

    La Illaha Illa Allah , is there anyway we can help , other than raising awareness , this is maddening.

    • Avatar

      a human being

      December 12, 2016 at 7:03 PM

      Perhaps bearded brothers and niqabi exodus…to their lands…WORLD fortillas and convoys….to all oppressed peoples….

      .suppose demonstrations are signs of the times one way or the other….

      Understandbly perhaps im wrong but donald was suggesting banning ideological demos…..

      What can be done??

  8. Pingback: 15 things You Need To Know About China’s Torture of Uyghur Muslims | AbuMubarak's Blog

  9. Avatar

    Naomi Macklin-Carr

    December 4, 2016 at 12:05 PM

    SubhanAllah, may Allah ease their suffering. Thanks for raising awareness, I’m sure many of us are ignorant about what going on on that side of the world.

  10. Avatar

    Yousuf

    December 5, 2016 at 2:28 AM

    Dear Muslim brothers and sisters please make duaa for all the oppressed Muslims at night prayer and whenever you can. May Allah forgive us, we are not doing enough! May Allah guide us and keep us steadfast.

  11. Avatar

    shahid shaikh

    December 11, 2016 at 6:10 AM

    why china is doing like this kind of things, laying by force of things is an indecent acts and disgusting to human society and culture. Is China out of that circle?. We all muslim should appeal to their authorities to annihilate such kind of act, esp to muslims, and pray to Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala to relieve Uighur muslims from these conditions and give some awareness to chinese authorities to stop such sinful crime.

  12. Avatar

    RaW

    December 12, 2016 at 2:30 PM

    If all traders from China know this and threaten China to stop importing their items, they will change the state of these Muslim Chinese.

  13. Avatar

    Khurshid Syed

    December 17, 2016 at 2:35 AM

    You will soon for forget about China. Wait till Trump gets into office. Following is the statement from Trump national security team:
    “Islam is no mere religion. It is an all-encompassing ideological system that dictates everything from law (Shariah) to personal relationships which also have religious elements. Conquest and subjugation of the infidel lands are integral to this totalitarian ideology, by the sword, if necessary. It therefore requires that we fight this war the way we fought the Nazis in World War II and Soviet communists during the Cold War: comprehensively and strategically, with every available military, economic, ideological, diplomatic, cyber- and religious lever. We must stop this threat before it metastasizes further and fully consumes Western Civilization.”(Monica Crowley, new member of Trump national security team)

  14. Avatar

    A

    July 25, 2017 at 3:21 PM

    Well, this is a big issue. But never going told by the news since its islam, working without being paid it is too much

  15. Avatar

    Nurul Hasan

    February 17, 2018 at 2:19 AM

    Allaha ,save this people”who love you”from the black hand Saitan”

  16. Avatar

    KEREM CONGAR

    November 6, 2018 at 1:19 PM

    Dear Gulnaz Uyghur. I’m a Turkish journalist from euronews, from Lyon France. We want to make an interview with you about East Turkistan issue (on the phone, chat or video call) Please contact with me. Thank you. Rahmat.

  17. Avatar

    The Muslim Talk

    January 12, 2019 at 7:49 AM

    How you can help with the Uyghur situation
    http://www.iuhrdf.org/help

  18. Avatar

    The Muslim Talk

    January 12, 2019 at 7:51 AM

    While the Uyghurs have suffered terribly under the Chinese regime, we must also not forget the Rohingya people:

    The Rohingya people are a Muslim people in Myanmar (Burma) who have, in recent years, been slaughtered, raped, exiled from their homes, subjected to poverty and hunger, and more — by the government of Myanmar and the Buddhist majority in the country.

    The blood of these people is running on the floor and they are being burned alive, tortured inhumanely, and denied a home. Should the world not care a bit? Yet, the major powers of the world have done little to help.

    The question for us is, what can we do?

    First of all, let’s remember to keep these people in our prayers. Would you pray for your relatives if they were being killed and raped? These are our brothers and sisters in Islam and our fellow humans.

    Second of all, you can actually offer some help through financial donations that provide food/supplies for them. Donations are available on the Islamic Relief Worldwide website:

    https://donations.islamic-relief.com/?

    Third, educate yourself on this problem. See the video link below (35 mins) that will give you useful information about the issue.

    Fourth, If you care for these people please SHARE this post and other posts that talk about them in order to bring more attention to the issue.

    “The Rohingya and Our Duties Towards Them” by Shaykh Dr. Yasir Qadhi:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Abhh–Ts-DA

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

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#Current Affairs

Will The Real Aya Sofia Please Stand Up?

They say history is the biography of great men and women. Well, history is also the story of great buildings. This case is rarely more painfully obvious than when it comes to identity of The Hagia Sophia or Aya Sofia (“the Holy Wisdom”).

Church, Mosque, Museum: the Aya Sofia has lived under many guises over the years and each transformation came hand-in-hand with momentous political change. This year, it was no different.

By reverting to the previous designation of Aya Sofia into a mosque, the Turkish courts have set off a firestorm of controversy across the world. It is understandable that faithful Christians would object. The sense of loss they must feel is the same feeling that many Muslims get when they see the Grand Mosque of Cordoba’s conversion into a cathedral. However, what is confusing is that some Muslims are also conflicted – or even downright hostile – to the idea of the Aya Sofia being used as a mosque.

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Why are they upset? Is there weight to their feeling that this was an act that was against the laws and spirit of Islam? How true is it that this was pure political theatre?

A summary of the arguments are detailed below as each point reveals a great deal about us as Muslims today and our current mentality:

The Vatican – a clear example of Museum and Church buildings in one

1. “It should just remain a museum…”

The Aya Sofia IS remaining a museum. The ruling states and the government echoes that it is a mosque and museum but, unfortunately, if you read the headlines you will be given the impression that the museum is being destroyed. This is not the case.

The world is full of buildings with dual functions. The White House is the seat of government and the residence of the President. The Vatican is a museum, a church and the home of the Pope. St Paul’s Cathedral is a tourist attraction as well as functioning church. If Muslims alone were somehow exempt from the ability to combine museum and mosque in one building, then that would be very strange indeed. Yet that is exactly what opponents of the mosque designation are saying.

What opponents for the reversion of the building are arguing for is not for the preservation of the museum – in fact, it will be more accessible than ever by becoming free and open till the late evening – but for the prevention of worship in a building that was built and intended for that very purpose.

2. “It was illegal to turn it into a mosque in the first place…”

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing: many Muslims quote the example of Umar (R) and his treatment of the Church of The Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. In fact, this is the number one excuse used by many so-called Muslim intellectuals who lazily have projected their own biases on to our pious predecessors. They say, not without a little pious sanctimony, that Umar (R) exemplified that Islam is not a triumphalist religion and – though he could have converted the church into a mosque – he chose not to.

For most of history, it was common practice that any conquering army gained full ownership of the conquered lands. Islamic law was actually quite progressive in this regard, stipulating that property in surrendered lands would remain with their owners and not the conquerors. It was only if a land was taken without surrender, according to Imam Al Qurtubi amongst others, should their properties be forfeit. Jerusalem surrendered and Damascus surrendered. Constantinople – despite multiple attempts requesting it to do so – did not. Therefore, Islamically and according to the norms of the time, the conversion of the Church into a mosque was legal.

This is highlighted by the case of a district of Constantinople called Psamatya (present day Koca Mustafa Pasha) whose residents surrendered to Muhammad Fatih separately. The area had the highest density of extant churches, since none were touched or taken over.

Muhammad Fatih and The Patriarch Genaddios discussing the patriarchate

3. “But it has been a museum for so long now, so why turn it back?”

Some sources say that they have found evidence of the Church being purchased by Muhammad Fatih with his own money. The evidence has yet to be verified by external sources although it is accepted by the Turkish authorities, but even if you withhold it, the established status of the entire complex as a Waqf (Islamic endowment) is definitive. Waqfs cannot be unilaterally taken over or converted to another use.

The reality is that the conversion of the Aya Sofia from mosque to museum was a highly contentious decision taken in a manner that went against the then legal, moral and spiritual standards. It was a state sanctioned action to satisfy a political objective of the hyper-secular post-war Government. This was an injustice and it is not a good look to say that an injustice should be allowed to continue because it has been there for over eight decades.

4. “We don’t need more mosques in Istanbul…”

Would anyone think it reasonable if their local mosque was taken over unilaterally by the Government and then, when they ask for it back, they are brushed off by officials saying, “there are lots of mosques in the city and many are half empty: we are keeping this one.” Of course not. So, if it is not good enough for you, why should it be good enough for anyone else? In fact, this was the argument used by the RSS in taking over the Barbari mosque in India.

A mosque is not a property like every other. It is owned by Allah and not something we are allowed to rationalise or barter away. Allah has no need for even one mosque, but that does not mean we should stop building them or start giving them away. To go by the utilitarian argument, then anything that is not in full use by its owner is fair game for someone else to usurp. We would never accept this for our possessions so how can we accept it for something that does not belong to us?

The hadith about the conquest of Constantinople and praising Muhammad Fatih

5. “This is all a politically motivated…”

Every decision in a public sphere is political, or can be construed to be political, in some way. Building the Aya Sofia into a magnificent cathedral was a political decision by Justinian. Turning it into a mosque upon conquest was also a political decision by Muhammad Fatih. Stopping prayers in the mosque and converting it into a museum was a political decision by Mustafa Kemal. And now, returning the building to use as a mosque and museum is also a political decision by the current Turkish state.

The question is not whether it is a political act to convert the building: it will always have a political dimension. The question is whether you like the politics of someone who was praised by the Prophet ﷺ in a hadith and turned it into a mosque (Muhammad Fatih) or someone who insulted that same Prophet ﷺ as an “immoral Arab” and turned it into a museum (Mustafa Kemal.)

Pick a side.

The Grand Cathedral of Cordoba – formally the Grand Mosque

6. “This will hurt the feelings of non-Muslims and make us look bad.”

This is perhaps the only real argument of them all that has any weight to it. All the previous arguments are intellectual (and less than intellectual) smokescreens for the desire to not hurt the feelings of others – especially when we need all the friends we can get. This is understandable given our current geopolitical situation. This is also why you are more likely to find those Muslims living as minorities objecting to the change of status, reflecting their own precarious situations in their respective countries.

However, if looking at it objectively, we see that this argument also has limitations. Muslims are equally if not more hurt at the ethnic cleansing that took place in Andalusia. Does that mean we get the Al-Hambra or the Cordoba Mosque back? What about the Parthenon – since that used to be a mosque – conquered by the same Muhammad Fatih? What about the Kremlin, where St Basil’s Basilica was made from bricks of a Tatar mosque? And can we have the Philippines back while we are all trying to not offend each other?

Making decisions such as these on the highly subjective grounds of causing offence is not only impractical, but untenable. Many expressions of Islamic faith outside a narrow paradigm of what is palatable to specific audiences, can be seen as offensive to some. If we were to make decisions based first and foremost to protect the comfort of others, you would end up with a set of groundless rituals rather than a faith. It is the equivalent of changing your name to Bob instead of Muhammad since you were worried that even Mo was too exotic. Sometimes, the proper practice of our faith and upholding of our cultural and historical traditions will upset others not because what we are doing is deliberately offensive or wrong, but because we have different values and different standards.

Conclusion

What is most upsetting about the change of use for the Aya Sofia is the double standard at play. Athens has not even one mosque whilst Istanbul has hundreds of churches and synagogues: yet the Greeks are calling the Turks intolerant. The Roman Catholics plundered the Aya Sofia of all treasures and took them to St Marks church in Venice (where they still are to this day): yet it is the Pope that says that he is distressed at the Muslims – who preserved the Byzantine inheritance- for turning it into a mosque and Catholic churches calling for a day of mourning.

All the commentators calling for it to not be converted back into a mosque are also correspondingly mute regarding the Granada Cathedral built on site of a mosque, or the Barbri Mosque turned temple in India, or the Al Ahmar Mosque turned into a bar in Palestine.

But this is human nature and they will shoot their shot. Nonetheless, as Muslims, if we are against the reversion of the Aya Sofia to be a mosque again, then we really need to take a long hard look at ourselves. Just as Muhammad Fatih conquered Constantinople, we need to conquer our own ignorance, our own inferiority complex and our own insecurities.

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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

Staying Emotionally Connected While Social Distancing

Sending food to our neighbors like most Muslim households, is a norm in ours too. As usual, I was about to plate some up for our neighbors Steve and Annette the other day, when suddenly  a gush of uncertainty pricked me, and I wasn’t so sure anymore. I was pounded by so many thoughts: “Would they, like, mind?” “What if they’re reluctant, and think it’s against the whole ‘social distancing’ rule?” “What if I accidentally transfer germs?” “What if they think the virus can transmit through our containers?” Recognizing that I was becoming anxious and giving into cognitive distortions, I simply decided to ask.

I called Steve and said, “Can I bring some food over and leave it by your front door? I’m not sure whether it’s okay or not.” His voice was brimming with gratitude, “Sure!” he responded. “We were just sitting here in the garden wondering whether we should take out leftovers from the fridge or not. So your hot food will be more than welcome.” His warm and welcoming voice washed away my fear and uncertainty, and I felt grounded again.

Maintaining physical distancing doesn’t mean social and emotional detachment. We have to remember that when there is anxiety and uncertainty, what most people need is exactly the opposite of social distancing; we crave solidarity, mutual support, and a sense of strength in togetherness. Social closeness, even from a distance, is definitely good medicine and is much needed these days. If we can’t open our doors, we definitely can open our hearts to people.

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Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

إِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا 

“Verily, with hardship there is relief.” [Surah Ash-Sharh;6]

Alhumdulillah, it seems that physical separation has allowed us to have more meaningful connections, both, with others as well as our own selves. People are finding purpose, satisfaction and relief in turning some of their time and energy towards others, even though interactions are increasingly online or on the phone and from a distance. The qualities of connection these days seems to be purposeful and  entrenched with gratitude, kindness, and compassion; ingredients which were always there, but due to the ‘touch and go’ mind set, many of us were conditioned to make it more of a touch-base exercise rather than meaningful interaction.

In this COVID-19 era of communal care, we have found alternative ways of creating meaningful connections with people. The same telephones and technology can now give families an extremely useful platform to connect and socialize. It is a blessing that we have the means to connect, as we know that social isolation and loneliness isn’t just emotionally destructive, but also physically so, with some research suggesting loneliness to be as lethal as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

Keeping physically isolated is the right response to the coronavirus pandemic, but we need the exact opposite in response to the loneliness epidemic. So how can we cultivate social well-being while avoiding infection at the same time?

This pandemic is actually offering us an opportunity to deepen and nurture our relationships rather than focusing on broadening them, which unfortunately has been like a disease of the heart where many of us want to have more fake friends, likes, and followers on social platforms. This is an opportunity to fix our unhealthy attachment with our phones and social media. This is an opportunity to harness the beast, to tame it, and then become in charge so that the balance can be restored.

So, investing in checking up on people through our phones, and using virtual meet up platforms like Zoom, WhatsApp, Skype, FaceTime, etc. to connect with larger family groups to get a sense of meeting virtually is useful, and people find immense joy in seeing their children and grandchildren via these mediums. This is also a time to teach our technology-phobic elders how to use some of these user-friendly apps. We have to be mindful of others’ well-being too, and not let this uncertainty destroy our innate (fitri) natural disposition. Kindness and connection has a universal language, and we can’t let fear dominate us.

The concept that “good fences make good neighbors” isn’t true. We can follow social distancing rules, but also go that extra mile to make sure people around us as okay. Small acts of kindness definitely go a long way. Whether Steve and Anette know it or not, I know that neighbors hold a special status in Islam.

“The best companion to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is the best to his companions, and the best neighbor to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is the best to his neighbors.” [Tirmidhi]

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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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