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The Muslim Response To Islamophobia is Destroying Us From Within

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American Muslims are scared and rightfully so. Many are worried about what the future might hold with Trump’s presidency and the increase in public expressions of Islamophobia being spewed right and left. While fear is a valid emotion and is necessary in waking us up out of complacency, it can also lead to negative consequences.

As we read throughout the Quran, all communities of believers are tested with fear-inducing trials. Faced with these tests, successful communities stay united on a shared commitment to God and His religion in spite of the fear. This is often easier said than done. Maintaining commitment to one’s faith and its tenets is not easy in times of trials (fitan) and, oftentimes, fear and anxiety can cloud the decisionmaking process. For Muslims today, anxiety about Islamophobia has the potential to lead our community down a dangerous road. To see how this happens, we only need to refer to the Quran and its account of Bani Israel. In many instances, a strong sense of fear led Bani Israel to directly disobey God’s commandments, which in turn led to ruin (for example, as described in Surah Yunus: “But no one believed Moses, except [some] youths among his people, for fear of Pharaoh and his establishment that they would persecute them.” [10:83]).

Fear Factor

We see the same dynamic in religious and ethnic communities today. An eye opening article recently published in The Federalist is provocatively titled “How Liberalism Destroyed the American Jew.” The article describes how Jewish American political and moral choices over the past several generations have resulted in a thorough loss of faith. A Pew study cited in the article asked Jewish American respondents: What does it mean to be Jewish? One might imagine that the answer would have something to do with believing in God, reading the Torah, or following Abraham and Moses. These points, however, do not factor into Jewish identity according to the majority of the Jewish Americans surveyed by Pew whereas “eating traditional Jewish foods” and “having a good sense of humor” do. The two religious features a minority of respondents did recognize as part of their identity was “caring about Israel” and “observing Jewish law,” but the latter was at the bottom of the list. Other common features of their identity Jewish Americans noted include “leading a moral life” and “working for justice/equality,” though these, of course, are not values unique to Judaism.

What does all this have to do with fear? Well, it is important to note that “remembering the Holocaust” is the overall number one component of Jewish identity that seventy-three percent of Jews recognized. Is it a coincidence that this component has to do with fear? Is it a coincidence that remembering the one greatest act of anti-Semitism, i.e., the Holocaust, is what most Jews consider to be what being Jewish is all about?

There is a clear connection between the remembrance of the Holocaust being the number-one feature of Jewish identity and the fact that the rest of the list has little to nothing to do with Judaism as a theology and more to do with cultural practices and general values that are endorsed by the dominant American culture at large. Fear is a potent motivator. Fear is a potent justifier. Virtually anything can be justified if one believes that the alternative is the Holocaust.

In contrast to the Jewish community, however, the majority of the American Muslim community has not had genocide in its history (though segments of the American Muslim community, such as Black, Native, Bosnian, and Palestinian American Muslims, among others, have). Undoubtedly, American Muslims must be vigilant in the face of any threat. At the same time, the community must be aware of how preparing for a threat can have unintended negative consequences on the community’s faith. For example, making exceptions to, bending, and even discarding otherwise well-established religious principles all become possible if one feels, even remotely, that the spectre of genocide looms. And if the possibility of genocide is on the table, then one can justify to oneself doing anything to embed oneself into the status quo, avoid being politically incorrect, avoid sticking out, avoid going against the grain of the dominant culture, all in order to minimize any hostility by society at large. All of the community’s political, social, and cultural decision making is potentially short-circuited by this fear. Of course, none of this is to say that fear is not a perfectly valid, justified emotion. It certainly is and can be used to accomplish great good. But the question is, even when it is justified, how does that fear affect everything else?

Muslim Identity Means Hijab and Hummus?

Recent sociological and anthropological research examines precisely this question. Numerous studies analyze how “minorities” react in the face of “cultural anxiety” due to widespread bigotry and discrimination. What these studies show is that cultural anxiety is positively correlated with two things: 1) “ethnic essentialism” and 2) “multicultural ideology.” In laymen’s terms, this means that when a minority group feels threatened by the dominant group, they will, first of all, double down on those aspects of their culture and values that they believe to constitute the essence of their group identity. Second, they will increasingly tend to endorse multiculturalism, namely the view that a healthy society should treat all groups within it equally and that the presence of such groups enriches society overall.

These dynamics accurately describe the internal discourse within the American Muslim community since the September 11th attacks. Obviously, Islam is not a culture per se and Muslims are not an ethnicity, but the underlying concepts still apply given that, from a secular perspective, Islam can be considered a set of values, beliefs, and practices, which is what secular academic discourse considers a culture to be for the most part.

That caveat aside, it is beyond dispute that American Muslims have felt a great deal of “cultural anxiety” due to, not only Islamophobic attitudes in American society generally, but also due to hostile government measures that have targeted Muslims and their institutions. The anxiety and fear felt by the Muslim community has led to both essentialism and multiculturalism. Feeling pressure from the dominant American culture has had (what is from an Islamic standpoint) a positive effect of making Muslims more embedded in their Muslim identity, in a word, more “unapologetically Muslim.” At the same time, American Muslims have adopted more of a multicultural attitude as they have become more socially and politically engaged. For example, since 9/11, Muslim involvement in interfaith events, interfaith coalitions, etc., saw a massive increase. Muslim involvement in mainstream political groups and coalitions also jumped. The language of Muslim leaders, imams, and speakers has also been suffuse with expressions of multiculturalism, diversity, relevance, engagement, etc.

While anxiety and fear drive these tendencies of essentialism and multiculturalism, the two are often opposing forces. This is because multiculturalism is characterized by coming together on the basis of shared interests and other commonalities whereas essentialism is characterized by emphasizing differences in order to distinguish one’s own group from the dominant majority. How is this tension resolved?

For American Muslims, the danger is that this tension could result in a deliberate de-emphasis and minimization of those beliefs, values, and practices of Islam that most directly conflict with the dominant culture while overemphasizing specific Muslim cultural markers. This would allow Muslims to maintain some form of a unified, essentialistic identity — even though, primarily, it is cultural rather than religious identity — while also integrating themselves within the larger American milieu and its institutions, which, for the most part, tolerate and even celebrate cultural diversity but not theological, ideological, or ethical diversity. We have seen some signs of this in context of Muslim involvement with certain American political parties in recent years. And again, the example of Jewish Americans proves instructive. As a community, Jewish Americans have a very strong sense of identity and group cohesion, i.e., due to their essentialism, while also being well integrated socially, politically, and culturally, i.e., due to their multiculturalism. In other words, they have resolved the essentialism-multiculturalism divide. But as the previously cited Pew study discovered, the resulting Jewish identity has little to do with the particulars of Judaism as a religion.

Muslim and Atheist at the Same Time

This secularization of Jewish identity also explains the phenomenon of “Jewish atheism.” Not all Jews agree that one can be a Jew without believing in God. Nonetheless, Jewish atheist institutions have become a well established and growing part of the overall Jewish American community. This is not surprising given that half of all Jewish Americans have doubts about God’s existence.

We see similar trends in the Muslim community, as new labels like “ex-Muslim” and “atheist Muslim” have been adopted by people who consider themselves “culturally Muslim” but “theologically atheist.” Neologisms like “atheist Muslim” only make sense if “Muslim,” like “Jew,” is rendered as an ethnic or cultural label, one among many. Of course, the Arabic word “Muslim” itself means “one who submits [to God]” and theologically to be Muslim, in truth, has certain requirements in terms of belief and practice. But these requirements are set by God and communicated through revelation. But from a secular perspective that denies the existence and/or relevance of God, “Muslim” can be deployed in whatever way convention dictates. By this standard, even “Muslim Jew” or “Muslim Christian” should be a linguistic and conceptual possibility.

Ultimately, “cultural anxiety” in the form of Islamophobia will continue to pressure Muslims to secularize and racialize their Muslim identity. As a community, we need to be well aware of this pressure so that we can recognize its signs and strive to resist it. By surrendering ourselves to a crippling fear of anti-Muslim bigotry, we risk losing our very souls. Rather, we need to channel that fear into positive practical and spiritual avenues, namely Islamically-informed activism as well as increased reliance on and fear of God Almighty.

To think of it differently, if there are extreme Islamophobes in the world who want to stamp out Muslims as a religious community, there are two methods to do so. One method would be to deport, intern, or kill Muslims through acts of bigotry or even genocide. The other method would be to create conditions that are conducive to the erosion and dissolution of Muslim faith, such that, eventually, being Muslim has nothing to do with the religious values and norms of Islam. We should ensure that, in our heightened concern for combating the first method, we do not forget to combat the second equally nefarious, equally destructive method as well.

Daniel Haqiqatjou was born in Houston, Texas. He attended Harvard University where he majored in Physics and minored in Philosophy. He completed a Masters degree in Philosophy at Tufts University. Haqiqatjou is also a student of the traditional Islamic sciences. He writes and lectures on contemporary issues surrounding Muslims and Modernity. Email Daniel here .

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Abdul-Rahim Adada Mohammed

    February 20, 2017 at 11:47 AM

    Well written!

  2. Avatar

    Ahmad B.

    February 20, 2017 at 12:58 PM

    Excellent piece! Jazakumullahu khayran, Br. Daniel. I would only add to it by making a point I have previously made in other fora (such as your Facebook page), namely: I think it is dangerous for us as Muslims to continuously think of, talk about, and present ourselves as a “minority” as opposed to a “religious group.” Now, obviously, since only about 1-2% of Americans are Muslim, that makes us indeed a “religious minority.” But do we see ourselves primarily as a “minority” (that happens to have a religion, sort of) or as a “religion / religious community” (that happens to be numerically in the minority)? In other words, are we a “religious MINORITY” or a “RELIGIOUS minority”?

    The former very easily plays into the trend that you are warning against here, for a “minority” can literally by anything (just as long as the community is not a numeric majority). An Islamic *religious* community, on the other hand, can certainly not just be anything, since its very identity is explicitly tied to a *religious* commitment to Islam. What defines the religious community as such has nothing to do with numbers. As such, the definition, its operative terms and entailments, etc., would be the same whether we are a minority or majority. That is, we are essentially defined by the same beliefs, practices, and moral commitments whether in New York or Cairo, Copenhagen or Kuala Lumpur. And this is a totally different way of thinking about ourselves, defining ourselves, determining community boundaries, and presenting ourselves to others than doing so primarily as a “minority” among minorities.

    I think a major sign of whether we define ourselves primarily as a “minority” or as a “religion” can be seen in our attitude towards da’wa. A “minority” is content just to have its rights protected, be given a seat at the table among other minorities, and, eventually, to fuse into the melting pot with little substance left and only cosmetic markers of difference to betoken the “uniqueness” of their identity. An Islamic religious community, on the other hand, believes strongly that it exists (both in minority and majority situations) in order to bear witness to a specific truth, embody that truth meaningfully in its personal, professional, social, and political engagements, and, crucially, call other people to that truth (with, of course, wisdom, beautiful admonition, and sound argument, as Allah has commanded us in Surat al-Isra’).

    The last part of this for me is that, as I have mentioned before, I continue to think, especially in these troubling times, that we should demand our rights in the U.S. specifically as a religious group demanding its explicit constitutionally protected guarantees of religious freedom, integrity, and practice, and not as some random “minority” that is seeking rights “as a minority.” Whether there are 200 Muslims in America or 200 million, the founding documents and commitments of this country explicitly guarantee my rights, as an American, to practice whatever faith I want. Not only does that, in my view, provide a much stronger legal, social, and cultural basis for seeking our rights under this particular political order, but it also reinforces our view of ourselves as a religious community defined by its belief in and practice of its religion. Playing the minority card has the potential directly to undermine this.

    As a closing remark, I think CAIR, for example (and from what I have been told), has taken an interesting and overall principled approach here. A local CAIR representative explained to me once that if a Muslim had been fired from working in a bar for being Muslim, they would not take up the case since they would not fight for the “right” of a Muslim to work in a bar in the first place (since it’s haram). If the same Muslim were fired from a department store, on the other hand, they would take it up. Similarly, a case came up of a transgender Muslim “female” who wore niqab and was discriminated against at work. Since the discrimination was based on the niqab and the person’s identification with Islam, they took up the case. Had it been a question of discrimination on the basis of being transgender, they would have declined, since Islamic law does not recognize the validity of transgenderism to begin with. This, to me, clearly bespeaks an engagement on the basis of operative Islamic religious principles, rather than a conception of Islam and Muslims as nothing more than a self-identifying minority community.

    May Allah guide us all to what is right in these trying times. Ameen!

    Wassalam,
    Ahmad B.

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      Malick

      March 7, 2017 at 10:28 AM

      Great, great points, brother Ahmad B. Very insightful. The true thing is that American islam, or better yet Muslim Americans, or perhaps I should say Islam in America will never fully mature as a political force and therefore a religious one until Muslims understand the dichotomy between RELIGIOUS minority and religious MINORITY.
      What is missed when that distinction is lost is exactly as you say, surviving versus thriving, maintaining versus growing, a one room mosque versus a 10000 square feet mosque with minarets, parking, a community room and an attached cemetery, voting for the candidate we fear the least (if we even vote) versus advocating and surrogating for our candidate.
      These times we live in highlight it very effectively. The reason islamophobia is trending and the president, his cabinet, his generals, elected officials and the media may speak so aggressively and disparagingly about islam is because they sense that as a religious MINORITY, american muslims are weak communally and politically. Which is also why every potus, yes, including and especially Obama, may support the obliteration of Muslim countries abroad while pretending to be very islam friendly, and because we see ourselves still as survivors, we fail to exercise our rights to demand a cease and desist in our country’s ongoign war against our brothers, whether in Syria or in Palestine.
      And if one doubts the above, let us ask whose preference is enforced between the Jewish minority and the Muslim minority, and why.

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    Ahmad B.

    February 20, 2017 at 1:51 PM

    As a follow up to my previous comment, the CAIR examples are quite instructive and serve to show how each of these positions / orientations really does have teeth, meaning we need to think very carefully about how we conduct our affairs and manage our discourse.

    The CAIR paradigm, by applying an ethical, legal, and moral filter derived from substantive Islamic faith commitments, might actually turn down a discrimination case brought to them by a believing Muslim, if taking up the case might have the effect of restoring someone to a haram position or activity, thus endangering that person’s akhira. (From this perspective, in fact, the Muslim bartender’s firing was, in the larger scheme, nothing short of a mercy from Allah, a wake-up call to spurn him on to finding halal employment. I suppose one could make the argument that nevertheless, from a purely American legal perspective, we should object to the firing as long as it was motivated by anti-Muslim bias on the part of the bar owner. There might be something to this, and in an ideal world, the guy wouldn’t have been fired through discrimination and hopefully a well-meaning Muslim could have gotten through to him at some point to convince him to change his employment for the sake of Allah. But given limited time and resources, CAIR declines the case due to the moral dubiousness of the occupation to which their intervention would be seeking to restore the Muslim.)

    Same goes with the case of the “transgender” Muslim wearing a niqab but discriminated against for being transgender. An ethically informed Muslim set of criteria actually leads to a declining of the case, although the person involved is a Muslim and has been “discriminated” against. This outcome would be appalling, however, from the perspective of Islam as an essentially racialized / ethnicized minority community with little to no normative content of its own that is distinct from the dominant secular liberalism. From this perspective, the transgender Muslim “female” is doubly discriminated against, doubly vulnerable due to the “intersectionality” of belonging simultaneously to two distinct *minority communities*–the Muslim community and the transgender community–and for that reason, the person’s case, if anything, should be preferred over others and put at the top of the list.

    So here we have two very different–in fact opposite–outcomes, both of which are consistent with some underlying larger stance on who we are as a community and what that means. Given that the results are contradictory, however, and that each stance may even rise to the level of looking repugnant from the other perspective, we really need to think very carefully about what we’re doing here, why, on what terms, and with what likely long-term effect.

    Again, kudos to Br. Daniel for pointing this out all so clearly and concisely!

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    Daniel Haqiqatjou

    February 20, 2017 at 6:48 PM

    Wa iyyakum, Ahmad B. I agree that conceiving ourselves as a “minority” is potentially problematic given that that term signals an ethnic or racial status. I tried to caveat this somewhat in the essay, but not as fully as you have in your comment, so jazakumAllah khayran for that.

    Regarding your point about appealing to principles of religious freedom, does this mean that Muslims should also stand up for the right of, for example, Satanists to practice Black Mass and other rituals of desecration that they understand as private religious practice? Would Muslim advocacy organizations, such as CAIR, have to be committed to defending and standing with Satanists and other religious groups under the banner of religious freedom? To what extent can we invoke religious freedom without also committing ourselves to a kind of pragmatism that this post takes issue with?

    Point being, I’m not sure that shifting our discourse from one of “minority rights” to “religious freedom” avoids the problems this post is concerned with, namely Islamic principles taking a back seat in lieu of political expediency.

    I agree that we should understand ourselves as a “religious community.” The Islamic conception of itself as a religion, however, is much broader than what American or European secularism is willing to earmark for the sake of “religious freedom.” If we constrain our understanding of religion to only that which modern secularism allows for and delimits as “religious,” sooner or later, we will hit up against the same confusions and the same problems. We need to move beyond these categories altogether.

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      Ahmad B.

      February 20, 2017 at 7:44 PM

      Salam Daniel,

      Jazakumullahu khayran for your response. I see the problem you are pointing out about using religious freedom. I still think it’s a better tack overall for internal purposes, as it reinforces in our own minds that we are a religious group seeking to practice our religion. The secular system itself can’t distinguish between Islamic tawhid and Satanism (no more than it can distinguish, say, between a synagogue and a gay bathhouse–both are equally just “institutions” of different “minority groups”), and we should, in our macro critique, point out that weakness of the system.

      We do, however, have some internal criteria for judging what is an authentic religion for political accommodation purposes, and I suppose it would make sense for us, true to our values, to rely on those in choosing what rights and for what groups we would actually stick our neck out on the line for, march down the street holding placards for, etc. I would, by these criteria, wholeheartedly support the right of Jews, Christians, and other groups traditionally seen by Muslims as “religions” for political purposes (including Zoroastrians, Hindus, and others by extended definitions of “ahl al-kitab” and “ahl al-dhimma”), but probably wouldn’t do so for groups that we could in no way conceive of as a legitimate religion, such as Satan-worshipers.

      Would that be considered “hypocritical” by the terms of the system? Perhaps. Is it a neat solution and a comfortable situation to have to be in? No. But the system itself will never be in full conformity with Islam (especially where Muslims are in a non-majority situation), which means that we will never be able to be fully true to our principles without awkwardness, charges of hypocrisy, etc.

  5. Avatar

    Belal Mobarak

    February 20, 2017 at 8:55 PM

    Jazakah Allah khair, love your thoughts and analyses.

  6. Avatar

    Ibrahim

    February 20, 2017 at 10:38 PM

    Really good piece, brother. I’ve never doubted your work once because you have always been principled mashaAllah. Keep up the good work!

  7. Avatar

    Alt Islamist

    February 21, 2017 at 1:29 AM

    So after a long intellectual articl this is your reply? You my friend are living a sad life

  8. Avatar

    Quazi

    February 21, 2017 at 8:22 AM

    May Allah reward you Br. Daniel. Very timely reminder. Previously in facebook, you had alluded to the danger of unrestricted endorsement of LGBT and other movements. On top of that I will add – I am worried that young Muslims in the west somehow getting an implicit understanding of perennial viewpoint (all religions are equal), although our Imams/leaders are not saying any such thing explicitly. But in the absence of enough teachings that clarifies that Islam is the only accepted religion by Allah, unrestricted cooperation with other faith groups is a big danger. I know that Prophet (SAW) took help from non-Muslims. However, it was made abundantly clear in his teachings that Islam is the only truth. So, yes – we should collaborate with other faith groups based on common moral principles, such as resistance against discrimination, opposing liberal sexual education policies, but in the long run we should be extremely careful about what message our youth is getting about some fundamentals of Islam.

    • Avatar

      Daniel Haqiqatjou

      February 21, 2017 at 4:54 PM

      I agree that there is also a potential for confusion in context of some kinds of interfaith activity. But I haven’t seen much evidence of Muslim youth converting to other faiths. A large proportion seem to be following the general trend among millenials at large of leaving off religious affiliation altogether. Of course, seeing Islam as “just another religion, like all the rest” might very well contribute to that trend. If all religions are equally valid, then none of them are, especially in light of the “freedom” and comfort afforded by modern thought, modern values, and modern ways of life, which make religion in general and Islam in particular with its rituals and religious requirements seem irrelevant and hardly worth the trouble.

  9. Avatar

    Omar

    February 22, 2017 at 3:09 AM

    Really great reminder Dr J. Its especially important for me and others to think about building and supporting institutions and resources that will act to preserve our faith and its beautiful principles for ourselves and children.

  10. Omar Husain

    Omar Husain

    February 22, 2017 at 1:24 PM

    Mashallah, your writings are always on point. So often we are busy trying to explain what Islam is not, that we forget what it actually is. I love how you constantly stress never to lose ourselves. On another note, I will referencing this article Inshallah at jumah. #teamwork!

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#Current Affairs

Malaysians Ask China To Free Uyghurs, Close The Camps

Hena Zuberi

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Free Uyghur Malaysia

By Gulnaz Uighur

Muslims are standing up for Uyghurs, protests held in Malaysia.

5th of July could be just like another day for people but for Uyghurs, it brings back dark memories of a bloody past. This day, in 2009, thousands of Uyghur students were massacred by Chinese police in Urumqi. These young students were demanding an investigation into the rising number of homicides in a toy factory. These people only wanted justice. They were also upset by the ongoing discrimination in the employment sector. Graduates were denied jobs because of their Uyghur ethnicity. After the protests, China started abducting the Uyghur youth and no one knows where the missing went. Its been 10 years since that horrifying incident and the condition of Muslims have devolved in a genocidal nightmare.

Communist Government in China Has over 2 Million Uyghurs in Concentration Camps

Beijing has now locked over 2 million Uyghurs in concentration camps. People in these places are forced to denounce Islam, forget the teachings of Quran, prohibited from praying, asked to learn Xi Jinping’s speech and tortured for not obeying these orders. Sadly, Islam is being treated as a disease in China and most of the Islamic nations are turning a blind eye to it.

So Malaysia came as a breath of fresh air when Muslim NGOs organized an anti-China protest against Uyghur persecution.

On 5th July 2019, a coalition of 34 Malaysian NGOs gathered outside the Chinese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to protest the persecution of Uyghurs. The organizations prepared a memo of protest to be submitted to Chinese officials. In the memo, they demanded Beijing to ‘Respect the human rights of the Uyghur people, in particular, their right to life and freedom of religion and belief.’ , ‘immediately stop the persecution and extreme repression of the Uyghur people.’ and close the camps. They also called upon the International community to increase the voices of protest and disfavour upon the Chinese government and to work together to improve the situation for the Uyghur people through concrete actions.

The protesters shouted slogans like ‘Me Too Uyghur’ and ‘Save Uyghur’. In a media interview, president of the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim), Mohamad Raimi Abdul Rahim asked immediate freedom for all those who have been detained in concentration camps.

Malaysians Stand With Uyghurs

Abim secretary Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz accused the Chinese government of concealing the plight of the Uyghurs by offering NGOs and government agencies free trips and painting a rosy picture of the camps. Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid, chairman of the Malaysian Consultative Council Of Islamic Organizations (Mapim), said the atrocities committed against the Uyghurs could not be denied or disguised. The Group of NGOs also included Ikram Association and the Malaysian Youth Council among others.

Though no Chinese official came out to accept the memo, the message was clear that now people won’t keep quiet about the Uyghur persecution. There is a dire need for Muslim countries to break their silence on this issue. There is enough evidence to prove that something unholy and inhumane is happening with Uyghurs. If these countries consider China their friend then ask it to stop being a Shaitan. The leaders must realize that their first duty is towards the Ummah and not towards China.

Now is the time to stand for Uyghurs before nothing is left to be saved.

This protest in  Malaysia has proved that people in Muslim countries do support Uyghurs even if their governments are silent and are upset with Beijing’s policies. This event proved that governments may fail to fight but people won’t.

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#Current Affairs

The Environmental Cost Of War With Iran

Abu Ryan Dardir

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war with Iran

Report after report shows how planet Earth may reach a point of no return. An analysis written by Ian Dunlop claims the planet cannot be saved by the mid-century if we continue on this path. And yet here we are marching towards a war with Iran.

When we think of climate change, we rarely think of war. On June 12th, 2019, Brown University released a report declaring the Department of Defence to be “the world’s largest institution to use petroleum and correspondingly, the single largest producer of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the world.” Burning jet fuel for transportation of troops and weapons make up 70 percent of the Pentagon’s emissions.  Ironically, earlier this year the Pentagon released a 22-page report to Congress stating the ⅔ of their mission-essential installation in the US are vulnerable to flooding, and ½ are susceptible to wildfires. To no surprise, Trump rejected those findings at the time. The Pentagon is now concerned with the impact climate change has on their “foreign missions.”

war, iran, America, Climate change, pentagonWith tensions high with Iran, and several thousand troops are expected to be deployed, if war with Iran is to happen, it may lead us to a more damaged planet that may not recover. This makes the Pentagon guilty of killing people and the earth. The Department of Defense has consistently used between 77-80% of the entire US energy consumption. We see spikes during times of massive war (since America is in a constant state of war), like in 1991, 2001, and so on.

Here is a list of the seven significant sources of greenhouse emissions done by the Department of Defense:

  1. Overall military emissions for installations and non-war operations.
  2. War-related emissions by the US military in overseas contingency operations.
  3. Emissions caused by US military industry   — for instance, for production of weapons and ammunition.
  4. Emissions caused by the direct targeting of petroleum,   namely the deliberate burning of oil wells and refineries by all parties.
  5. Sources of emissions by other belligerents.
  6. Energy consumed by reconstruction of damaged and destroyed infrastructure.
  7. Emissions from other sources, such as fire suppression and extinguishing chemicals, including   Halon, a greenhouse gas, and from explosions and fires due to the destruction of non-petroleum targets in warzones.

This impact on the climate is just the portion from America, in the Iraq war, 37 countries fought alongside America, and 60 are allied against ISIS. There is a way to calculate those emissions as well.

The Rules of War

Before engaging in battle, the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) instructed his soldiers:

  1. Do not kill any child, any woman, or any elder or sick person. (Sunan Abu Dawud)
  2. Do not practice treachery or mutilation. (Al-Muwatta)
  3. Do not uproot or burn palms or cut down fruitful trees. (Al-Muwatta)
  4. Do not slaughter a sheep or a cow or a camel, except for food. (Al-Muwatta)
  5. If one fights his brother, [he must] avoid striking the face, for God created him in the image of Adam. (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)
  6. Do not kill the monks in monasteries, and do not kill those sitting in places of worship. (Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal)
  7. Do not destroy the villages and towns, do not spoil the cultivated fields and gardens, and do not slaughter the cattle. (Sahih Bukhari; Sunan Abu Dawud)
  8. Do not wish for an encounter with the enemy; pray to God to grant you security; but when you [are forced to] encounter them, exercise patience. (Sahih Muslim)
  9. No one may punish with fire except the Lord of Fire. (Sunan Abu Dawud).
  10. Accustom yourselves to do good if people do good, and not to do wrong even if they commit evil. (Al-Tirmidhi)

A verse in the Holy Qur’an

4:75 (Y. Ali) And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!”

How does this potential war against Iran play into all this?

Our first call to action is to organize an anti-war rally. This type of work is weak in America, and virtually non-existent within the Muslim community.

فَقَالَ أَبُو سَعِيدٍ أَمَّا هَذَا فَقَدْ قَضَى مَا عَلَيْهِ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ مَنْ رَأَى مُنْكَرًا فَلْيُنْكِرْهُ بِيَدِهِ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِقَلْبِهِ وَذَلِكَ أَضْعَفُ الإِيمَانِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ ‏.‏

Abu Sa’eed said: ‘As for this, he has fulfilled what is upon him. I heard the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) saying: ‘Whoever among you sees an evil, then let him stop it with his hand. Whoever is not able, then with his tongue, and whoever is not able, then with his heart. That is the weakest of faith.”‘

War with Iran will be a Greater Mistake than War with Iraq

Historically, anti-war sentiment in America has grown over the years. When the Iraq war first started only 23% thought it was a mistake, today it is close to 60% that believe the war is a mistake. Yes, this is in hindsight, but that it is also growth. The reason the anti-war movement is feeble in America is that there is no platform for the campaign to grow. Both parties are guilty of starting wars or taking over the wars from the past administration. Whether we do it alone as an individual or as a group, we should do everything we can as privileged members of this planet to save and protect those that can’t defend themselves.

There is a famous quote of the famed boxer Muhammad Ali when explaining why he wasn’t fighting in the war. He said, “…I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would put my prestige in jeopardy and could cause me to lose millions of dollars which should accrue to me as the champion.”

Fighting Earth

With that said, there is a significant interest in the region for more than just fuel and resources. It is truly a problem, our operations in the Gulf is to address our dependency on Persian oil, and the fuel that is used to address our dependence is to protect those resources and access to them. One estimate is that America spends $81 billion annually defending the global oil supply. They do this because the DOD feels its dependency will make it vulnerable on a larger scale.

In 1975 America decided to take away the fear of losing the resources and developed the “Strategic Petroleum Reserve,” and in 1978, they created the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF). Their only purpose was to defend US interest in the Middle East. This, in turn, leads to extractivism of resources and supplies. (Which will be explained in a future article).

This war can be the end of all wars as it can accelerate us to the point of no return in regards to climate change.

A war with Iran is a war with Earth and all who live on it.

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5 Quick Things Americans Can Do For Uyghurs Today

Abu Ryan Dardir

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“I may die, but let it be known that my nation will continue their struggle so long the world continues to exist.” Kazakh leader Uthman Batur. He said these words as Chinese authorities executed him for resisting the communist occupation. Currently, China has, one million Uyghurs (Uighurs), Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities held in concentration camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) (East Turkistan) in northwestern China.

Their struggle surpasses the 10 or so years since we have become aware of it. Just like the Rohingya genocide, we waited till the last minute. We are always late and say, “Never Again.” It happens again and again.

In my lifetime, there have been horrendous genocides that could have been prevented to stopped. As a child, I remember Rwanda in the headlines, then a year later Bosnian genocide. Then we hear these demonic stories after the fact. I remember stories from survivors from Bosnia, and thinking to myself, “How are you here and functioning?”

Let us not be fooled to why this is happening now. It is related to economic advantages. The Chinese government’s present signature foreign policy initiative is the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) that seeks to connect the PRC economically to the rest of the Eurasian continent through massive infrastructure projects that will stimulate international trade. The western and south-western components of the BRI require the XUAR to serve as a transportation and commercial hub to trade routes and pipelines that will join China with Central and South Asia, the Middle East, and the entirety of Europe. As a result, the XUAR has become an important strategic region for the Chinese, and the state views its indigenous populations as an obstacle to developing its vision for this future critical center of international commercial networks.1

The expansion of their trade route also ties in Iran hence the sanctions placed, but that’s a different report for a different time. China, of course, has defended their actions by claiming its an anti-terrorism plan. Getting reliable information is hard. China has made it a point to make things difficult for reporters. Yanan Wang, a China-based journalist from the Associated Press, has reported extensively on and from Xinjiang.

In a ceremony at Asia Society on Tuesday commemorating AP’s 2019 Osborn Elliott Award for Excellence in Journalism on Asia, Wang described the subtle ways government minders worked to thwart her reporting: “(Both of the times we went there we arrived at the airport, we had a welcoming committee from the local authorities. They’re always very polite and professional. They say that “you’ve arrived in Xinjiang and we’re here to assist you in your reporting. Tell us what you’re working on so we can help you.” They offer us drives in their car and plenty of hospitality.

Basically, from the moment we arrive, we’re followed by at least one car. There are a bunch of interesting scenarios that we came across. You can see that the local handlers are trying hard to be professional. They are members of the propaganda department, so they’re PR professionals. They don’t want to make it appear like it’s so stifling. At one point, we were taking photos, and someone suddenly appeared on the scene to say he was a “concerned citizen.” He said he’d seen us taking photos and that it was an infringement of his privacy rights. He had this long monologue about privacy rights and about how it wasn’t right for us to take photos of him without his knowledge. We asked him, “Well, where are you in these photos?” and he’d go through all of them. He said we had to delete all of them. He’d say, “This is my brother,” or “This is my place of work, you have to delete it.”

They had all of these interesting tactics to work around the idea that they were trying to obstruct our reporting and make it appear that someone who claims to be a concerned citizen.)”2

On top of that, locals that talk to journalist are punished, sometimes go missing.

I decided to do something this time around; I got in touch with an Uyghur community near my residence to see how an individual could help. It started at a Turkic restaurant, and from there, I have been involved in whatever capacity I am able. Through this effort, I got in touch with a Turkic professor in Turkey who has students stranded as they are cut off from contacting family back in Xinjiang. He helps them out financially; my family and friends help with what they can.

As Muslims in the West, there is no doubt we should act. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith” (Muslim).

How Can You Help Uyghurs

Here are a few things you can do to help:

1. Ask Congress to pass To pass S.178 & H.R.649 Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. Urge your senator and representative to support this cause. It has been introduced. This bill can help the Uyghur community to be treated like Tibetans (another region oppressed by China).

2. Stay informed. The mainstream media is not the place to get accurate information on the situation. Be skeptical of where the data is coming from, stick to reliable sources that are verified. As mentioned above, journalists find it difficult to report.

3. Donate to Uyghur Human Rights Organizations to end concentration camps: UHRP, Uyghur American Association  Donate to Awareness Campaigns: Save Uigur Campaign 

4. Boycott or reduce buying Made in China products

5. Follow these links for updated information: facebook.com/Uyghur-Human-Rights-Project-227634297289994/ and facebook.com/ChinaMuslims

This crisis is an ethnic cleansing for profit. These are dark days as we value profit over people.

1.Statement by Concerned Scholars on mass detentions | MCLC …. https://u.osu.edu/mclc/2018/11/27/statement-by-concerned-scholars-on-mass-detention s/

2.Why It’s So Difficult for Journalists To Report From …. https://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/why-its-so-difficult-journalists-report-xinjiang

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