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Executive Order on ‘Muslim Ban’ – What Do We Know

Hena Zuberi

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President Donald Trump is preparing to issue an executive order dramatically restricting refugee admissions to the U.S. and denying visas to individuals from countries his administration deems high-risk, according to congressional and advocacy organization sources briefed on a draft.

The executive order could still change before Trump signs it, which could happen this week. According to sources, administration officials are considering:

  • Blocking refugees from war-torn Syria from entering the U.S. indefinitely.
  • Suspending all refugee admissions for 120 days while the administration determines which countries pose the least risk.
  • Temporarily suspending visa issuances to people in countries where the administration considers security screening inadequate ― meaning people from those countries couldn’t enter the U.S. at all.
  • Capping total refugee admissions for fiscal year 2017 at 50,000 ― less than half of the 110,000 proposed by the Obama administration.

Sources briefed on the draft executive order said the list of countries targeted is not yet finalized, but those under consideration ― Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen ― are all Muslim-majority nations. Trump vowed last year to suspend immigration from “terror-prone regions” as one of his first moves. From Huffington Post

Update – here is the draft copy of the executive order on refugees and immigrants.

 


By Hassan Ahmed

More information will come tomorrow once Trump’s executive order is released. From there, immigration experts around the country will dissect it and be able to tell much more about who it will affect and how.

Buzzfeed reports that a career government official noted that the EO is expected to “institute a blanket suspension of visas issued to certain countries with majority Muslim populations, temporarily suspend the refugee resettlement program, and institute what Trump has called “extreme vetting,” or as one person called it, “a Sharia litmus test.”

Reuters reported “limited immigration for refugees “and some visa holders from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.””

CNN reports that this is only part 1 of a multi-day immigration executive order rollout. The Post reports the impending order may also include toughening of enforcement along the Mexican border.

So: decreased refugee admissions, blanket visa suspension from certain countries, extreme vetting, enhanced enforcement. Just like in the commercials.

FIRST: Be aware of the contours of each proposal-order. Muslim ban, extreme vetting, halting/reducing refugee resettlement are all distinct concepts.

SECOND: Remember that any “list of countries” can be added to, and subtracted from. This has Kobach written all over it.

THIRD: These things have been done before. This is not unprecedented. George Bush halted all refugee admissions after 9/11. Jimmy Carter banned all Iranian immigration after the hostage crisis [Editor’s note: here is more analysis on the differences between Trump’s policies and Carter’s] . Moreover, people from these countries are already rarely granted visas: I hear their stories almost every day. I don’t mean to minimize the monstrosity, only to contextualize. If you go further back into history, you’ll find blatantly racist policies that consistently withstood constitutional scrutiny. The point is: exclusion of certain groups is nothing new.

FOURTH: Lawsuits are a necessary part of any broad resistance strategy, but know that we are up against a stalwart doctrine: plenary power. Courts are extremely reluctant to tell Congress (or the Executive Branch) who they can or cannot let into the country. However, it is not absolutely hands-off; cases such as Zadvydas v. Davis show that there is some extremely limited judicial review. This must be (long-term) amplified across the circuits to expand judicial power, and do away with the plenary power doctrine over immigration (as argued by Prof. Motomura back in 1990). There is virtually NO CHECK on executive power when it comes to immigration. Do you want to see where legalized bigotry begins? In immigration. Because no one is there to stop it.

It may not be the right time to sue broadly – the plenary power is vast, and deeply embedded in our law. The proposed orders are a tame exercise of executive power. I say we wait until they cross a line – any line.

FIFTH: That leaves attacking the SOURCE of these policies, which smells like white nationalism. The administration’s cozy relationship with groups like Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) [Julie Kirchner, the former executive director of the anti-immigrant hate group, FAIR, has been named chief of staff at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the largest federal law enforcement agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Since its founding in 1979, FAIR has push an agenda centered on a complete moratorium on all immigration to the United States and defined by vicious attacks on non-white immigrants. Its founder was white nationalist John Tanton, an avowed eugenicist who created the modern anti-immigrant movement in the United States.] which were founded and grew up in white nationalism gives ample anecdotal evidence. This investigation into white nationalism must happen before it becomes accepted as the status quo. We need to haul these advisors in to testify before Congress, make them show their foul ideology: no more secrets. We need to make it politically expensive for anyone to be seen within 100 yards of them. It is no coincidence that FAIR tried to seal boxes of their founder Dr. Tanton’s papers until 2035.

You know that old repeated line about first they came for the Muslims? This is the beginning of it. I’m calling out to my black brothers and sisters. I’m calling out to my Latino brothers and sisters. I’m calling out to allies across the board who don’t believe in the genetic superiority of one race. This is a different flavor ice cream, but it comes out of the same box.

SIXTH: Since the Women’s March, the administration has attacked science, facts, and the right to clean water. Now this. There is a drastic need to take this to the streets. The administration is obviously trying to stack the three branches of government in its favor: 114 federal judicial vacancies (including one on SCOTUS), and they already control the legislative and executive. We are witnessing the birth of policies that will outlast Trump. Demonstrations do matter, and they do change the course. We might not get good policies – but we can make sure to slow down the creation of bad ones.

SEVENTH: If you are an immigrant, and are already here, it remains to be seen how these policies will affect you. You must use the existing law (and what remains of it) to the maximum possible extent. I met today with someone who now has an issue with their green card application who could have filed for TPS but didn’t. Last week a Yemeni whom I had to beg to do the same thing. Others who never bothered to “extremely vet” themselves before filing for a green card or citizenship. Others who figure it’s easier to disappear into the undocumented population. The importance of correct, sound, and targeted advice has never been more important. This visa revocation and charge under INA 212(a)(7)(A)(1) is nothing new…just happening ramped up. The right advice for people is to seek counsel. Every case is different. A 589 may be the right choice…but not for everyone. If already in the US a person might be eligible file an extension of B-2 status or change of status to F-1, E-2, or may qualify for an L-1A.

The best advice is to be prepared before you travel. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security because your visa always worked before.

On a more personal note: My mind is racing back to my hundreds of Muslim clients from these countries. I’ve played with their children and eaten shwarma and drank chai with them. Misery-laughed with them over heightened scrutiny, Muslim Processing Time, and debating whether advising to shave the beard would be legal advice or not.

It’s on.

Hassan is the founder and principal of the HMA Law Firm.  Licensed to practice in Maryland and Virginia, fluent or proficient in eight languages besides English, known and respected among his peers for his knowledge of the law, research and writing ability, trial skills, and having earned a reputation among his peers as the “go-to” attorney in matters of immigration law, Hassan is an aggressive, dynamic and knowledgeable lawyer who passionately believes in fighting for his clients.


Update From CUNY CLEAR:

“Protecting ourselves and our communities is the first step towards organizing against Trump’s Muslim ban.

“If you hold a passport from the following countries and you are not a U.S. citizen, please feel free to contact CUNY CLEAR for free legal advice:

Iran
Iraq
Somalia
Sudan
Syria
Yemen

“Early reports today indicate that Trump might order a ban on travel and/or immigration from those countries. The specifics are not yet known.

“Additionally, if your mosque or community organization would like to organize a Know Your Rights workshop, CLEAR offers workshops on 4 main topic areas: how to exercise your rights in the face of police or FBI questioning, what your rights are at the airport and while traveling, how to give to charities without running afoul of complex federal laws, and what to do if you have concerns about informants in your community. We can provide literature or trainings in many languages, including Arabic, Bangla, English, French, Spanish, and Urdu.

“You can contact CLEAR at cunyclear@mail.law.cuny.edu or (718) 340-4558.”

From Abed Ayoub, Legal/Policy Director at American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC):

“How the Executive Order will affect travel/immigration/refugees.

“1. The Executive Order signed by Donald Trump will list 6 (predominantly Muslim) countries where travel/immigration to the US will be banned. There will be an option to add more at a later date. Similar to NSEERS. These countries are: Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Iran
2. It is advised that students from the listed countries not leave the US. They won’t be permitted back in. Do not overstay your visa – if you have to leave, please do so. If you are uncertain please seek the advice of an immigration attorney.
3. We do not know what happens to visa holders from those countries who are currently in the US.
4. People from listed countries who have visas, but haven’t travelled to the US, won’t be allowed in. Their visa is void.
5. The ban will extend to spouses of US citizens who are from one of the listed countries, and have pending applications to US.
6. The EO will call for what’s known as a “values test.” This is an ideology test. Will ask applicants about religious beliefs.
7. Some questions on value test:
– Do you support Sharia law
– Have you believe in beheadings
– What is view on homosexuality
8. The EO coming before the ban will focus on the wall, and increasing deportations.

The ADC Legal Department offers pro bono legal services, legal@adc.org.


Ask Your Representative to Oppose Trump’s Muslim-Targeted Immigration Ban

Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Tell them your senator’s or representative’s name, and they will connect you to their office. (Don’t know who represents you? Look it up here.)

When someone from the office answers, tell them that it is unethical and un-humanitarian for President Trump to legally limit immigrants and refugees due to their religious beliefs. Remember that though Congressmen can’t directly stop Trump from signing executive orders, they can do so indirectly through public pressure. You may also ask your senator to stall presidential appointments as a pressure tactic.

If you’re unsure of what to say, here is a sample script:

Hi, my name is _______ and I’m a constituent of Representative _______/ Senator _________. I’m calling because I’m concerned about President Donald Trump signing an executive order restricting immigration from Muslim majority countries and ending the Syrian refugee resettlement program. This executive order goes against our shared American values of religious tolerance, diversity, and nondiscrimination.

I’m calling to see if Rep. _________ / Senator ___________ plans to publicly oppose Trump’s decision to sign this executive order?

[If there are any questions, reiterate your concerns.] Yes, please express to Rep. ______/ Sen. ________ that Trump’s executive order doesn’t represent our values, and that I am asking him/her to take a principled, public stand against this kind of intolerance.

Thanks for your time.

Tips to remember:

  • It is important to let your congressperson’s office know why you’re calling and what issue you’re calling about. The congressperson (or his staff) keeps track of how many people called and their positions on issues. If the congressperson is not currently available, a summary is provided to the him/her by their staff. Even if you are not able to speak directly to your senator or representative, your call literally counts.  
  • The congressperson’s office may ask for your zip code/area code, especially if it’s a senator’s office.

What does Trump’s Executive Order potentially entail?

  • He plans to restrict immigration from Muslim countries. Currently, the expected countries are Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. This applies to current Visa holders from these countries as well! Visa holders will have their access to the USA barred or restricted if the EO is signed.
  • He also plans on restricting or scrapping the Syrian Refugee Resettlement program. This move is directly Islamophobic as there are discussions as to whether religious minorities can still resettle (i.e., targeting only Syrian refugees who are also Muslim).
  • Read more here.

Hena Zuberi is the Editor in Chief of Muslimmatters.org. She is also a Staff Reporter at the Muslim Link newspaper which serves the DC Metro. She serves on the board of the Aafia Foundation and Words Heal, Inc. Hena has worked as a television news reporter and producer for CNBC Asia and World Television News. A mom of four and a Green Muslim, she lives and preaches a whole food, organic life which she believes is closest to Sunnah. Active in her SoCal community, Hena served as the Youth Director for the Unity Center. Using her experience with Youth, she conducts Growing Up With God workshops. hena.z@muslimmatters.org Follow her on Twitter @henazuberi.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Pingback: Suspending Ourselves | Site Title

  2. Pingback: Suspending Ourselves – Think Community

  3. Avatar

    Sara Krohn

    January 29, 2017 at 3:31 PM

    do you know who the authors are of this google doc, or are they vetted? https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1hSGjyWJZIQJpGz4V2ftX_qioCgBtL59oJkkhx146nFE/htmlview “US Senators on Muslim Ban” They used this URL

  4. Avatar

    Tracey Suits

    January 29, 2017 at 6:54 PM

    Also wondering about the author of the spreadsheet referenced above. Would like to share, but will not do so without knowing the source is credible.

  5. Avatar

    Cherokee Freedem

    February 26, 2017 at 4:06 PM

    It appears those who opposes Trump Immigration Vetting Process are same people who supported the Genocide of Yazidi. These Anti-Trump people are the most Anti-Humanity Souls I have ever seen. As a Native American who had been persecuted by these same Muslim People will stand against Hassan Ahmed and his Evil Empire.

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#Current Affairs

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

Zahra Billoo

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Women's March Board

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Onward, God willing.

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

Dr Joseph Kaminski

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Al-Arian mentions that,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy: Adam Cairns / The Columbus Dispatch

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#Society

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

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

Dr. Mufti Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf Mangera

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Dar Al Uloom Bury, Yusuf Sulayman Motala

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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