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How the Progressive Left Wants to Change Islam in America

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By Ismail Royer

Last year, Christian conservatives were outraged when Wikileaks released documents revealing that a foundation linked to billionaire George Soros had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in what the foundation described as a “long-term project of shifting the priorities of the US Catholic church” toward progressive causes and away from socially conservative positions. “It’s exciting to see this long-term process is now underway,” gushed a report on the effort by the group, the Open Society Foundation (OSF).

No one seems to have noticed that the same documents released by Wikileaks describing OSF’s plan to socially engineer Catholicism also reveal that the group has invested heavily in minimizing the religious nature of American Muslim identity and molding it into a progressive ethnic identity. In the same document in which the OSF discusses supporting the “media, framing, and public opinion activities” of liberal Catholic groups in order to “shift national paradigms and priorities,” it also describes its “creation” of organizations with the aim of “creating” Muslim, Arab, and South Asian (“MASA”) leadership. OSF says its

post 9/11 strategy of investing to create the first ever set of organizations designed to create MASA leadership and institutions has borne some fruit. These groups are growing in effectiveness, but lack deep relationships on the ground and are still newcomers to the national civil rights community. This effort, therefore, is a foundation-led initiative to further their institutional strength and expand their influence and capacity.

In “creating” Muslim organizations and leaders and “expanding their influence,” the key goals of the Soros-linked foundations are: reframing the community as primarily a racial or ethnic identity group rather than as a religious group; emphasizing the community’s support for Democrat-friendly political issues; and weakening the community’s traditional religious teachings such as defined gender roles and the prohibition on same-sex sexual relations.

To be clear, fair treatment for all regardless of race is a goal squarely within the concern of mainstream Islam, and it is one of the qualities of this religion that has attracted millions of Western converts. Likewise, although Islam forbids sexual relations between individuals of the same sex, it does not condemn individuals because of their inner desires and temptations, and the orthodox Sunni community in America has much work to do in ministering to Muslims who may be attracted to those of the same sex and helping them to cope with those temptations. Nor is it appropriate for Muslims to treat openly homosexual individuals harshly in our interpersonal relations, or discriminate against them in matters that would not require us to compromise our faith.

In contrast, the agenda of the progressive left foundations and nonprofit groups described herein is to refashion Islam as a secular identity group centered on ethnic “brownness,” and whose moral compass is the progressive wing of the Democratic party rather than Islamic religious sources. The ideological hook for the changes they wish to effect in the American Muslim community is “solidarity.” The narrative is that since 9/11, and particularly in the Trump era, American Muslims have been increasingly under attack. Progressives want to pigeonhole Muslims as “people of color” — as if being Muslim had something intrinsically to do with race. As the story goes, since non-Muslim people of color and “the LGBTQ community” are also under attack, Muslims should unite in solidarity under the far-left umbrella to fight against the racist, Islamophobic, homophobic system. As explained by the Emergent Fund, a progressive grant-making organization that funds American Muslim groups (as well as something called the “Transgender Gender-Variant Intersex Justice Project”):

The 2016 election results present immediate threats to a wide range of communities who were belittled, criminalized and attacked during the presidential campaign – immigrants, women, Muslim and Arab-American communities, Black people, LGBTQ communities, and all people of color…We will provide resources to defend against what’s coming and to develop innovative strategies to transform our country.

Similarly, the Proteus Fund, a grant-making organization funded by Soros and referenced in the Wikileaks documents as a key player in the effort to “create” Muslim leadership, states that it

…has moved towards an intersectional, racial justice lens to our work with Muslim, Arab, and South Asian (MASA) communities. Our grantmaking, programming, and technical assistance are focused increasingly on how MASA and allied communities, including communities of color, Latinx communities, immigrant communities, LGBTQ communities, and others, have been systematically targeted by biased and discriminatory portrayals and/or policies instituted through legislation, the criminal justice system, or media.

Also in this vein, Solidarity is This, one of the groups created by the OSF as part of its Muslim initiative,  asserts that “the laws, practices, and institutions in the United States” have led to “patriarchal and heteronormative policies that endanger the lives of women, queer people, and transgendered individuals; and to laws and attitudes that target immigrants, refugees, and Muslim, South Asian, and Arab communities.” Precisely why Muslims should oppose “heteronormative policies” is not explained.

Progressive foundations do not merely want to build solidarity between American Muslims and other victim-identity groups; they also want to nudge Muslim attitudes towards the view that same-sex relations are as inherently moral and natural as traditional marriage between a man and woman. The Arcus Foundation and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation have begun pouring money into the Muslim community to sway attitudes towards approval of same-sex marriage. These groups fund Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV), whose slogan is: “Our Gender is Human, Our Orientation is Love.” This funding allows MPV to, for example, advocate at UN conferences for “overcoming authoritarian readings of holy books.” MPV is a project of the Human Rights Campaign, which describes itself as “the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans.”  “Quietly and diligently,” says MPV, “we have been building our progressive community, one city at a time, and now one country at a time.” Quietly, that is, until recently: MPV and HRC were at the center of controversy at the most recent Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention when ISNA officials asked them to vacate the booth they had rented in the convention bazaar for promoting values contrary to Islam. MPV issued a press release “calling out” ISNA for its “intolerance.”

Arcus also funds the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, which in turn sponsors the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity, or MASGD (“pronounced like ‘masjid,’” the group advises). MASGD says it serves “a community whose members exist at the intersections of multiple oppressed identities,” and that it “aim[s] to increase the acceptance of gender and sexual diversity within Muslim communities.” Arcus has also given funding to Dr. Amina Wadud, recently embroiled in controversy for calling the Prophet Ibrahim a “deadbeat dad,” for “an ambitious three-year effort to develop commentary on what the most influential Islamic texts say about homosexuality, with the aim of disrupting the connections between more conservative interpretations and discriminatory practices.”

“Who’s Sticking Up for Muslim Americans At a Very Scary Moment?” asked the online journal Inside Philanthropy in 2015. Its answer: Proteus, the Soros-funded group. American Muslims too have noticed the support from progressive foundations. They’ve noticed the very real help from liberal groups like the ACLU, and they’ve also noticed the millions of dollars poured into anti-Muslim initiatives from segments of the political right. Thus it is perhaps understandable that mainstream American Muslim organizations would work with progressives and accept funding from them; in many cases, it may even make sense to do so. I myself was represented by the ACLU in a religious freedom lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

But American Muslims need to understand that funding from Proteus, Arcus, and so on is given pursuant to the left’s broader vision of refashioning Islam into an ethnic identity and social justice ideology and absorbing it into the progressive movement. At present, the progressive left does not view its alliance with Muslims as a marriage of equals, as a coalition that works together on issues of common concern but whose members respect their disagreement in other areas. Rather, as MVP proved by trying to spread teachings contrary to mainstream Sunni Islam at an ISNA convention and then aggressively “calling out” ISNA when it objected, the progressive left’s tolerance of Muslims’ social conservatism is temporary and strategic, and they will demand compliance with their moral code if and when they deem appropriate.

The situation of Muslims in America is indeed scary: an openly hostile man occupies the White House, well-funded anti-Muslim propagandists are working overtime, terrorists target the West in an effort to turn public opinion against us, and hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise. Our flattering friends on the left stand with us, while some of them work to mold Islam into something more to their liking. Our challenge in the face of all this is to keep our nerve: for knowledge of right and wrong, American Muslims must look not to expediency or the latest political trends but to the book of Allah, the Sunnah of his Prophet, and the insight of our qualified scholars. We must cooperate with anyone–left, right, or center–for Allah’s sake and in the pursuit of the common good, for ourselves and for our non-Muslim neighbors. But we must have the confidence to resist the temptation to betray eternal truths for temporary and illusory gains. With this moral clarity, we will enter alliances from a position of moral strength and leadership. Without it, we risk losing what makes us Muslims in the first place.

Ismail Royer is Research and Program Associate at the Center for Islam and Religious Freedom (CIRF). The views expressed here are his own and not those of CIRF. Read his blog, agoodtree.net, and follow him on Twitter @_ismailroyer

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Avatar

    HardTruth

    September 20, 2017 at 1:26 PM

    According to Pew’s 2017 study, 60% of young American-born Muslims believe homosexuality should be accepted by society. 55% believe that traditional interpretations of Islam need to change.

    Most American Muslims, especially those born here (like me) are liberal, because those values make sense to us, not because of some shadowy funding by Soros.

    Homosexuality is obviously a sin, but we have no issues with people choosing to engage in those activities. That’s there business, I have no interest in legislating against their freedom.

    If conservative Muslims (most of whom are old and/or not born in America) have a problem with this live and let live attitude (to you your way, and to me mine), they are free to back to Pakistan, or Iran, or Saudi, places where you will be beaten, jailed, or killed, for not conforming to a cleric’s conservative views on Islam.

    For most American Muslims, we prefer the freedom in America. Where we are free to practice Islam as conservatively or liberally as we want, as long as that doesn’t infringe on the rights of other communities to live their lives as they see fit.

    The liberalization of Islam in America has happened, and not from some shadow organization, but from Muslims like me who look at how Islam is practiced in the Middle-East, and look at it here, and know which we prefer.

    • Avatar

      Ismail Royer

      September 20, 2017 at 5:08 PM

      Thank you for your well thought out comment. You might be surprised to learn that, as someone who has lived and travelled extensively in Muslim and non-Muslim countries, I strongly agree with what you wrote in nearly every aspect–but not in all aspects. One important way in which I agree with you is in my belief that I am blessed to have been born in a land with the religious freedom that I believe Islam intends to preserve, but which has been lost in the Muslim world, for various reasons. I also agree with you that homosexuality is a sin. But for the far-left groups who seek to mold Muslim opinion, our belief that homosexuality is a sin is absolutely intolerable. In fact, what the far left doesn’t understand, and what I am trying to warn about in this article, is that religious freedom includes the freedom to believe that certain behavior is immoral in God’s eyes and harmful to families and society. On the contrary, it is part of their agenda that every individual will abandon “outdated” religious morality for the morality of the sexual revolution. If the progressive left cannot convince you of that, then they will try to convince your children. This issue is important enough that we should at least be having this conversation, so again I appreciate your respectful and thoughtful comments. –Ismail Royer

      • Avatar

        khalid

        November 9, 2017 at 3:00 PM

        Of course muslims are free to believe homosexuality is a sin, but they seem to demand that this belief be respected. You’re free from violence and state prosecution not from criticism. But we will call you out on your homophobia, we will demonstrate against you and we will protest your religion for being intolerant. We also have rights to our beliefs. My belief is your religion is silly superstition that is used way too often to discriminate against other people. We do wish muslims would make room for our LGBT members but if not then we will be intolerant to your intolerance. I’m glad people like you keep speaking up on these topics because of a lot of muslims are quiet so they can escape the criticism. Speak louder so your religion is revealed for what it is – a regressive ideology that belongs in seventh century Arabia not the 21st century West.

        Also it’s ridiculous that muslims move to the West and then complain that their beliefs aren’t being accepted and that they’re being conditioned by the West and then simultaneously try and convince us that they are well integrated. Islamophobia is a direct product of how muslims act and behave. That’s why there is no hinduphobia. I just feel sorry for those nominal and liberal muslims who are trying to get on with everybody but are being dragged into this mess by people who can’t seem to adapt to changing times. Go live on an island with other people like you, stop pestering the developed world with this nonsense.

  2. Avatar

    HardTruth

    September 20, 2017 at 9:10 PM

    ISMAIL ROYER,

    You are ascribing positions to liberals that they do not hold.

    Liberals don’t care if Muslims like homosexuality or not. If we think its moral or not. They only care that we won’t use our personal beliefs as a means to restrict the freedom of those who don’t share our views (like fundamentalist Christians attempt to do).

    That’s why most Muslims in America support gay-marriage. Not because we love gay stuff, but because we recognize the rights of people shouldn’t be restricted just because we don’t approve of their personal lifestyle.

    And standing up for these groups pays dividends. When we support their right to gay-marriage, they (and their numerous allies) support our right to build mosques and wear hijab.

    That’s why Muslims, the left, and various minority groups, are natural allies in America. We recognize that together, we can resist the persecution and curtailing of our freedom that the Right-Wing wants to impose.

    • Avatar

      Ismail Royer

      September 20, 2017 at 11:05 PM

      Mr. “Hard Truth”:

      Thank you for your reply, and thank you for your willingness to have this conversation.

      Now, you say that the progressive left movement is not bothered that mainstream Sunni Islam holds same-sex sexual activity to be a sin. In fact, they are deeply bothered by this, and, as I described in my article, they are working hard to change it. So for example, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which bills itself as the largest advocate for the acceptance of homosexuality in the United States, criticized ISNA for not including “queer” and “transgender” programming” at its 2015 convention. Then, when ISNA balked at HRC spreading material advocating the acceptance of homosexual sexual activity in Islam at its 2017 convention, HRC went straight to an extreme right-wing website, the American Spectator, to smear convention attendees who objected as “salafis.” (The right-wing piece HRC helped to create is here: https://spectator.org/pro-lgbt-muslim-group-says-it-was-kicked-out-of-muslim-conference-where-linda-sarsour-spoke/.)

      So why is this liberal group trying to dictate what Muslims teach at their conventions? Why is HRC’s first instinct to punish Sunni Muslims by placing a hit piece with an anti-Muslim far right website the moment Muslims don’t conform to their extreme left version of morality?

      Furthermore, you say that “standing up for these groups pays dividends. When we support their right to gay-marriage, they (and their numerous allies) support our right to build mosques and wear hijab.”

      But this is precisely the amoral, Machiavellian calculus that I’m warning about in my article. We must be clear, first and foremost, that there is no such thing as a right to gay marriage, nor is there such a thing as gay marriage: in this case, there is only illicit sexual relations between two individuals of the same sex. If that’s not clear to you, then see: https://muslimmatters.org/2015/07/20/debating-homosexuality/

      So for Muslims to betray the timeless, noble morality our Prophet (SWS) taught us by trading it for political acceptance would be like those whom the Quran describes threw their revealed book behind their backs: “they bartered it for a small price: what a bad bargain they made!” Aali Imraan 187.

      I also wonder, if the progressive left is so concerned with principles and doing the right thing, why would they only support building mosques and wearing hijab if Muslims support same-sex marriage? Shouldn’t they support those things even if our conscience prohibits us from throwing our endorsement behind same-sex sexual relations?

      Two other important points: (1) there are liberal groups like the ACLU and Public Citizen (Ralph Nader’s group) who help Muslims–and anyone–without regard to what our views are, unlike HRC, Soros-aligned groups, and so on; (2) conservatives who you deride as “Christian fundamentalists” like the Becket Fund, the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Catholic Church, the Witherspoon Institute, and the Church of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) have also been very strong in supporting Muslim religious rights because they recognize our shared family values–and they support us despite Muslim organizations’ leaning toward the progressive left under the influences I discuss in the article.

      Finally, be aware that the very same foundation that funds the HRC front group Muslims for Progressive Values, the Arcus foundation, poured millions of dollars into a successful effort to get the United Methodist Church to change its official position on homosexual activity. How did they do it? By funding pro-gay front groups, just as Arcus, Soros, and others are doing with the Muslims. See: https://goodnewsmag.org/2012/01/outsider-influence-over-homosexuality-at-general-conference

      And these same foundations won’t stop until they achieve the same results with American Muslims that they’ve achieved with Methodists and Catholics in the United States–and they’re not even done with those denominations yet.

      I believe that these sorts of shenanigans are exceedingly manipulative and immoral, and that Muslims deserve to know about it. Don’t you?

      –Ismail Royer

    • Avatar

      Amatullah

      September 21, 2017 at 12:06 AM

      Funny! You support a cause knowing its a sin because you don’t want to “restrict” people who don’t share “our views”. May I ask who’s going to be your Judge in the Aakhirah? The LGBT community probably? And they gonna send you to Jannah for supporting them? Lol!

      “And standing up for these groups pays dividends. When we support their right to gay-marriage, they (and their numerous allies) support our right to build mosques and wear hijab.”
      Shame on what the people have been reduced to in the name of “tolerance” and “liberation”. You support evil because it pays you? And you think that “preserves” Islam? May Allah mend those who try to “adjust” Islam/muslims to the evil the world has been sprinting towards.

  3. Avatar

    HardTruth

    September 21, 2017 at 1:01 AM

    You sound like one of those radicals who wants to force people to follow your brand of Islam, whether they are liberal or conservative, Muslim or non-Muslim.

    The Muslim World has plenty of countries and groups just like that. Sure, they are oppressive, backward, miserable hell-holes that Muslims are desperately fleeing to try and get to the secular West, but by all means.

    If you feel the need to police peoples lives, who they sleep with, what they drink, how they dress, what they say/think, and want to punish people who offend your sensibilities, you are free to move to Pakistan, Saudi, Iran etc.

    The majority of Muslims in America are liberal, and enjoy being able to practice Islam as we see fit, whether its in a Burkha or Bikini.

    • Avatar

      Amatullah

      September 21, 2017 at 3:40 AM

      This is my first time talking to the new “brand” of muslims emerging these days – make-islam-look-good-to-people-by-hook-or-crook.
      Sorry but that isn’t needed at all. Allah is the protector of Deen. Islam is Already great and there is no need WHATSOEVER to stoop it down to suit the needs(evils) of ever-changing world. Today, its LGBT rights, tomorrow it’ll be drugs and then slavery and then some other crap. Are you saying you’ll keep providing your valuable “support” to each of these causes so as to be called the moderate-and-liberal-muslim?

      “Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining GOOD and forbidding EVIL. And it is they who are the successful” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:104]

    • Avatar

      Amatullah

      September 21, 2017 at 3:51 AM

      If you feel the need to police peoples lives, who they sleep with, what they drink, how they dress, what they say/think, and want to punish people who offend your sensibilities, you are free to move to Pakistan, Saudi, Iran etc.

      No brother, certainly not!
      There is no need whatsoever to “police” anyone. Nor should you interfere with one’s wishes BUT that doesNOT mean I agree to my neighbor sleeping with someone else, or my friend taking drugs or my halaqa friend leaving her hijab. It doesNOT mean I find a twisted reason of letting them sin and call it liberation. It doesNOT also mean I shut up and let the world commit atrocities and agree to everything they do.
      I DONOT have a right to enforce but I DO have a right to call the right Right and wrong Wrong. I DO have a right to not agree with every fancy evil the world invents.
      Bro, that is where lies the difference :) Let’s be who we are even when the current flows against us.

  4. Avatar

    Unimpressed

    September 21, 2017 at 2:40 AM

    “Hard truth,” you ought to be named “soft lies.” Your gross overreaction to simple FACTS brought up by Ismail Royer shows that you are deluded and triggered far left extremist. You have no counter arguments, just whining. Your arrogance and ignorance are laughable. You sound like a nutter with your nonsense about “old men who are conservative and need to go back to Pakistan etc.” The nonsense about homosexuality and the bikini clearly demonstrate you have no knowledge of Islam. The majority of Muslim Americans are NOT liberal despite the loud noise made by well financed opportunists who claim to speak for Muslims. You speak for no one but yourself. This is not the first time Islam has been targeted for “change” to conform it with kufr. It failed in the past and inshallah it will fail again. Your failed generation will be rightly looked at as munafiqs who sold out the Deen for political expediency. The only “dividends” you’ll get is kufr.
    Muslims will never compromise our Deen.

  5. Avatar

    Ahmad B.

    September 21, 2017 at 10:05 AM

    Wow, Hard Truth. Scary. Your discourse, conceptual framework, categories, etc. bear no trace of Islamic ideas and values. Have you ever studied the religion beyond the basics? It’s disheartening to see someone so bought into current discourse, with no critical distance whatsoever. You don’t see the emptiness of cliches like “not policing what people want to do privately,” etc.? All law is coercive, the law always “polices” somethings and not others. The question about *what* can rightfully be policed and not has a lot to do with one’s overall ethical system, morals, etc.

    Allah in the Qur’an not only forbids zina, to take one example, as a sin, but actually criminalizes it by instituting a penalty to be carried out by the public authorities (see Surat al-Nur, 24:2). Clearly Allah does not consider sexual conduct to be a purely “private” affair with no measurable public consequences. How do you square that with your facile notion of “not telling people how to live their lives” or “policing what people want to do”?

    Do you hold this attitude for the West only, because it is not Muslim and officially secular, or do you hold these Western, liberal, secular values to be universal? In other words, do you believe governments in the Muslim world are under a moral obligation to endorse same-sex marriage in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Malaysia, etc. in the name of “non-discrimination,” “freedom,” and “equality,” or do you hold that they have the moral duty to protect through the law Allah’s norms and laws regarding things He has legislated for the Muslim community?

  6. Avatar

    Jibreel

    September 22, 2017 at 11:00 PM

    I’m a white convert to Islam of almost 14 years. I was the most active member in my community for a very long time. Now the liberal media has managed to brainwash my beloved community into shifting their anger away from “the kuffar” or “the yahood” and onto anyone with white skin. Now I am personally to blame for their problem, with 99% of their conversations about how my community is an “oppressor” and that it is impossible to be racist to white people. One of my white convert friends posted on an MSA facebook site that Islamophobia was really bad, and one of the kids commented “what the f— do you know about Islamophobia, you’re white no one will do anything to you.” This was a guy who family shut him out and abused him when he converted. It’s almost as if today’s Muslims see their Islam as some sort of birthright, as if they are the chosen people and white people are the kuffar. These SJW Muslims are generally non-practicing, full of anger, and are ready to yell and scream at any white person who enters a masjid. Myself, I can handle my life Al Hamdulillah, I will be ok, I have several friends who will support me but now when one someone converts I think to myself “I give him two weeks.”

  7. Avatar

    AJF

    September 23, 2017 at 5:46 PM

    Muslims are traditionally from honor-shame cultures, with a focus on outward conformity to behavioral norms for the sake of communal integrity.

    The Christian West is traditionally a guilt society, with emphasis on inward beliefs manifested in outward behavior for the sake of individual personal integrity.

    Muslims are now entering guilt societies in the West. They are having children who are more influenced by guilt culture than by shame culture.

    One byproduct of guilt culture is that the accusation of hypocrisy looms large.

    It is a serious matter to claim that you want to demand tolerance for your(Muslim)self, and then turn around and deny tolerance to someone else, like gay people.

    If there is one thing Soros knows how to do, it is how to use guilt and accusations of hypocrisy to manipulate people to do things.

    Muslim young people are easy pickings. Rejected by their natural allies on the conservative right, they have been thrown into the arms of the “tolerant” progressive Left.

    Leftists only ask that Muslims not be hypocritical about their desire for tolerance and extend that tolerance to all oppressed groups, like any good member of a guilt culture would do.

    We all know the consequences if Muslims refuse the entreaties of the Leftists. They will be spat out with contempt and join the ranks of the deplorables, most of whom deplore Muslims. That will constitute another (final) rejection for young Muslims that they would find nearly unbearable.

  8. Avatar

    tib

    September 24, 2017 at 12:31 PM

    I honestly tuned out the second Soros was mentioned.

    I get so tired of prattling on and on about homosexuality. If it doesn’t effect you: let it be.

    But be cognizant off reality: the gay community is not with muslims. Everyone got egg on their face when it turned out that Mateen guy was a heavily closeted self-loathing homosexual lashing out on those pretenses. Even Her Majesty herself was immediately calling for super increased surveilance and opinion molding endeavors.

  9. Avatar

    Inqiyaad

    September 24, 2017 at 11:41 PM

    Very pertinent and insightful! It is uplifting to see the growing efforts at warning about the impact of leftist ideologies on the trajectory of Western Muslim’s state of affairs, and more importantly the impact on their state of Iman.

    I couldn’t agree more with you that attempts are being made to fashion Muslim identity centered on ethnic “brownness” and secular ideals. However, what has been missing is discussion about the prologue to the current state of affairs. Specifically, the attempts at molding the “American (Western) Muslim” mindset to see themselves as an entity separate from the broader Ummah; based on nationality and domicile in “Western” lands. The egocentric nature and sense of superiority displayed in this discourse is definitely problematic; but that is a discussion for another day!

    More relevant to our current discussion are the exemptions attributed by “Western Muslims” to themselves based on residence in “modern” societies, in contrast to the eastern (Muslim) societies which are still attached to anachronistic ideals and defunct culture. Then, it’s only a matter of time (in more than one way) before people start seeing demands for “progress” from the “progressive” left as reasonable. After all, “maqasid” (combined with whimsical and ever transforming standards of justice and well-being) or just plain “different time and place” arguments were mainstreamed and rendered as cornerstones of Shariah (at the expense of primary textual sources) to build “American (Western) Muslim” identity; never mind the mutilation of our Islam that ensued. Will someone display even a semblance of responsibility for opening the floodgates? Rather, even as we see these floodgates opening, the cats (yes, cats!) are still nibbling away at the base of the dam itself!

    “Brown culture is holding us down” vs “White injustice is holding us down”, is there any degree of difference between centering community identity on any one these two battle cries? For the most part, no! To me these both are two ugly sides of the same coin, but the severing of ties (with parents and their generation) makes the first cry just a tad bit worse. Please don’t get me wrong; I too was repulsed by the recent ad hominem directed against you by a certain “not in peace-always hating” person who is incapable of even concealing hypocrisy. But, overall, the preponderant theme has been to drive identity based on antagonism to brown culture rather than one based on celebration of “brownness”. Regardless, I agree that the need of the hour is to reset the fulcrum of our discourse based on the Pleasure of Allah; nothing less than that will suffice!

    May Allah bless you to continue the good work and nurture the good tree!

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#Islam

What Does Sharia Really Say About Abortion in Islam

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice, Islam recognizes the nuance.

Reem Shaikh

Published

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The following article on abortion is based on a research paper titled ‘The Rights of the Fetus in Islam’, at the Department of Sharia at Qatar University. My team and I presented it to multiple members of the faculty. It was approved by the Dean of the Islamic Studies College, an experienced and reputed Islamic authority.

In one swoop, liberal comedian Deven Green posing as her satirical character, Mrs. Betty Brown, “America’s best Christian”, demonized both Sharia law as well as how Islamic law treats abortion. Even in a debate about a law that has no Muslim protagonist in the middle of it, Islam is vilified because apparently, no problem in the world can occur without Islam being dragged into it.

It is important to clarify what Sharia is before discussing abortion. Sharia law is the set of rules and guidelines that Allah establishes as a way of life for Muslims. It is derived from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, which is interpreted and compiled by scholars based on their understandings (fiqh). Sharia takes into account what is in the best interest for individuals and society as a whole, and creates a system of life for Muslims, covering every aspect, such as worship, beliefs, ethics, transactions, etc.

Muslim life is governed by Sharia – a very personal imperative. For a Muslim living in secular lands, that is what Sharia is limited to – prayers, fasting, charity and private transactions such as not dealing with interest, marriage and divorce issues, etc. Criminal statutes are one small part of the larger Sharia but are subject to interpretation, and strictly in the realm of a Muslim country that governs by it.

With respect to abortion, the first question asked is:

“Do women have rights over their bodies or does the government have rights over women’s bodies?”

The answer to this question comes from a different perspective for Muslims. Part of Islamic faith is the belief that our bodies are an amanah from God. The Arabic word amanah literally means fulfilling or upholding trusts. When you add “al” as a prefix, or al-amanah, trust becomes “The Trust”, which has a broader Islamic meaning. It is the moral responsibility of fulfilling one’s obligations due to Allah and fulfilling one’s obligations due to other humans.

The body is one such amanah. Part of that amanah includes the rights that our bodies have over us, such as taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally – these are part of a Muslim’s duty that is incumbent upon each individual.

While the Georgia and Alabama laws in the United States that make abortion illegal after the 6-week mark of pregnancy are being mockingly referred to as “Sharia Law” abortion, the fact is that the real Sharia allows much more leniency in the matter than these laws do.

First of all, it is important to be unambiguous about one general ruling: It is unanimously agreed by the scholars of Islam that abortion without a valid excuse after the soul has entered the fetus is prohibited entirely. The question then becomes, when exactly does the soul enter the fetus? Is it when there is a heartbeat? Is it related to simple timing? Most scholars rely on the timing factor because connecting a soul to a heartbeat itself is a question of opinion.

Web MD

The timing then is also a matter of ikhtilaf, or scholarly difference of opinion:

One Hundred and Twenty Days:

The majority of the traditional scholars, including the four madhahib, are united upon the view that the soul certainly is within the fetus after 120 days of pregnancy, or after the first trimester.

This view is shaped by  the following hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إن أحدكم يجمع خلقه في بطن أمه أربعين يوما ثم يكون في ذلك علقة مثل ذلك ثم يكون في ذلك مضغة مثل ذلك ثم يرسل الملك فينفخ فيه الروح..

“For every one of you, the components of his creation are gathered together in the mother’s womb for a period of forty days. Then he will remain for two more periods of the same length, after which the angel is sent and insufflates the spirit into him.”

Forty Days:

The exception to the above is that some scholars believe that the soul enters the fetus earlier, that is after the formation phase, which is around the 40 days mark of pregnancy.

This view is based on another hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إذا مر بالنطفة إثنتان وأربعون ليلة بعث الله إليها ملكاً، فصوره، وخلق سمعها وبصرها وجلدها ولحمها وعظمها…

“If a drop of semen spent in the womb forty-two nights, Allah sends an angel to it who depicts it and creates its ears, eyes, skin, flesh and bones.”

Between the two views, the more widespread and popular opinion is the former, which is that the soul enters the fetus at the 120 days (or 4 months) mark, as the second hadith implies the end of the formation period of the fetus rather than the soul entering it.

Even if one accepts that the soul enters the fetus at a certain timing mark, it does not mean that the soul-less fetus can be aborted at any time or for any reason. Here again, like most matters of Islamic jurisprudence, there is ikhtilaf of scholarly difference of opinion.

No Excuse Required:

The Hanafi madhhab is the most lenient, allowing abortion during the first trimester, even without an excuse.

Some of the later scholars from the Hanafi school consider it makruh or disliked if done without a valid reason, but the majority ruled it as allowed.

Only Under Extreme Risks:

The Malikis are the most strict in this matter; they do not allow abortion even if it is done in the first month of pregnancy unless there is an extreme risk to the mother’s health.

Other Views:

As for the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of thought, there are multiple opinions within the schools themselves, some allowing abortion, some only allowing it in the presence of a valid excuse.

Valid excuses differ from scholar to scholar, but with a strong and clear reason, permissibility becomes more lenient. Such cases include forced pregnancy (caused by rape), reasons of health and other pressing reasons.

For example, consider a rape victim who becomes pregnant. There is hardly a more compelling reason (other than the health of the mother) where abortion should be permitted. A child born as a result in such circumstances will certainly be a reminder of pain and discomfort to the mother. Every time the woman sees this child, she will be reminded of the trauma of rape that she underwent, a trauma that is generally unmatched for a woman. Leaving aside the mother, the child himself or herself will lead a life of suffering and potentially neglect. He or she may be blamed for being born– certainly unjust but possible with his or her mother’s mindset. The woman may transfer her pain to the child, psychologically or physically because he or she is a reminder of her trauma. One of the principles of Sharia is to ward off the greater of two evils. One can certainly argue that in such a case where both mother and child are at risk of trauma and more injustice, then abortion may indeed be the lesser of the two.

The only case even more pressing than rape would be when a woman’s physical health is at risk due to the pregnancy. Where the risk is clear and sufficiently severe (that is can lead to some permanent serious health damage or even death) if the fetus remained in her uterus, then it is unanimously agreed that abortion is allowed no matter what the stage of pregnancy. This is because of the Islamic principle that necessities allow prohibitions. In this case, the necessity to save the life of the mother allows abortion, which may be otherwise prohibited.

This is the mercy of Sharia, as opposed to the popular culture image about it.

Furthermore, the principle of preventing the greater of two harms applies in this case, as the mother’s life is definite and secure, while the fetus’ is not.

Absolutely Unacceptable Reason for Abortion:

Another area of unanimous agreement is that abortion cannot be undertaken due to fear of poverty. The reason for this is that this mindset collides with having faith and trust in Allah. Allah reminds us in the Quran:

((وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْئًا كَبِيرًا))

“And do not kill your children for fear of poverty, We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.” (Al-Israa, 31)

Ignorance is not an excuse, but it is an acceptable excuse when it comes to mocking Islam in today’s world. Islam is a balanced religion and aims to draw ease for its adherents. Most rulings concerning fiqh are not completely cut out black and white. Rather, Islamic rulings are reasonable and consider all possible factors and circumstances, and in many cases vary from person to person.

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice. These terms have become political tools rather than sensitive choices for women who ultimately suffer the consequences either way.

Life means a lot more than just having a heartbeat. Islam completely recognizes this. Thus, Islamic rulings pertaing to abortion are detailed and varied.

As a proud Muslim, I want my fellow Muslims to be confident of their religion particularly over sensitive issues such as abortion and women’s rights to choose for themselves keeping the Creator of Life in focus at all times.

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#Current Affairs

Faith Community Stands With Peace And Justice Leader Imam Omar Suleiman During Right Wing Attacks

Hena Zuberi

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In a follow up to the right-wing media platforms attack on Imam Omar Suleiman – calling him anti-semitic, a common tactic used to discredit both Muslim activists, as well as criticism of Israel policies, Faith Forward Dallas issued a statement.

Faith Forward Dallas at Thanksgiving Square – Faith Leaders United for Peace and Justice is a Texas-based interfaith organization that has worked on many initiatives with Imam Omar Suleiman.

The statement reads:

“Imam Omar Suleiman a spiritual and moral voice for peace with justice!!!!!

Time after time in our city, in the United States and around the world, Imam Omar Suleiman has been a spiritual and moral voice for peace with justice. When others seek to divide, he calls for unity. Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square works to unite faith leaders for justice and compassion. Imam Suleiman has been a trusted leader among us. In the wake of his beautiful prayer to open the House of Representatives on May 9, he has received threats of violence and words of vilification when instead he should have our praise and prayers. We call upon people of good will everywhere to tone down the rhetoric, to replace hate with love, and to build bridges toward the common good.

Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square”

Commenters on the Faith Forward Dallas statement have left comments of support.

The group has invited locals and other leaders to endorse and share the statement. “Endorsed! I love and fully you Imam Omar Suleiman!” wrote Karen Weldes Fry, Spiritual Director at Center of Spiritual Learning in Dallas (CSLDallas), commenting on the statement.

Some commentators do not understand the manufactured controversy.  Heather Mustain writes, “What people are writing is so vile. They obviously didn’t even listen to his prayer!” Imam  Omar Suleiman delivered the opening prayer in the US House of Representatives on May, 9th, 2019  at the invitation of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) of Dallas, TX.

“I’m grateful for the faith leaders with whom I’ve built relationships with and served with for years that have shown full support throughout this process. Together we’ve stood with one another in solidarity in the face of bigotry, and in the support of others in any form of pain. We will not let these dark forces divide us,” said Imam Omar Suleiman in response to the outpouring of love from the people he has worked with on the ground, building on peace, love, and justice.

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#Current Affairs

#UnitedForOmar – Imam Omar Suleiman Smeared by Right-Wing News After Opening Prayer at US House of Representatives

Zeba Khan

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Sh. Omar Suleiman delivered the opening prayer in the US House of Representatives yesterday, May, 9th, 2019  at the invitation of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) of Dallas.

Immediately since, right wing media platforms have begun spreading negative coverage of the Imam Omar Suleiman – calling him anti-semitic, a common tactic used to discredit both Muslim activists as well as criticism of Israel policies.

News outlets citing the criticism have pointed to a post from The Investigative Project on Terrorism or ITP, as the source. The  ITP was founded by and directed by noted Islamophobe Steven Emerson. Emerson’s history of hate speech has been documented for over two decades.

Since then, the story has been carried forward by multiple press outlets.

The immediate consequence of this has been the direction of online hate towards what has been Imam Omar Suleiman’s long history of preaching unity in the US socio-political sphere.

“Since my invocation I’ve been inundated with hate articles, threats, and other tactics of intimidation to silence me over a prayer for unity,” Imam Omar Suleiman says. “These attacks are in bad faith and meant to again send a message to the Muslim community that we are not welcome to assert ourselves in any meaningful space or way.”

MuslimMatters is proud to stand by Imam Omar Suleiman, and we invite our readers to share the evidence that counters the accusations against him of anti-semitism, bigotry, and hate. We would also encourage you to reach out, support, and amplify voices of support like Representative E.B.Johnson, and Representative Colin Allred.

You can help counter the false narrative, simply by sharing evidence of Imam Omar Suleiman’s work. It speaks for itself, and you can share it at the hashtag #UnitedForOmar

JazakAllahuKheiran


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At an interfaith panel discussion, three North Texas religious leaders promoted understanding and dialogue among Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Amid a vexed political and social climate, three religious leaders in North Texas—a priest, an imam, and a rabbi—proved it’s possible to come together in times of division. Source: DMagazine.com


Muslim congregation writes letters of support to Dallas Jewish Community

The congregation, led by Imam Omar Suleiman, penned more than 150 cards and letters. source: WFAA News


Historic action: Muslims and Jews for Dreamers

“We must recognize that the white supremacy that threatens the black and Latino communities, is the same white supremacy that spurs Islamophobia and antisemitism,” -Imam Omar Suleiman

Source: Bend The Arc


Through Dialogue, Interfaith Leaders Hope North Texans Will Better Understand Each Other

“When any community is targeted, they need to see a united faith voice — that all communities come together and express complete rejection of anything that would pit our society against one another more than it already is.” -Imam Omar Suleiman

Source: Kera News

 


Conversations at The Carter Center: Harmonizing Religion and Human Rights 

Source: The Carter Center


Imam: After devastating New Zealand attack, we will not be deterred

My wife and I decided to take our kids to a synagogue in Dallas the night after the massacre at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh to grieve and show solidarity with the Jewish community. My 5-year-old played with kids his age while we mourned inside, resisting hate even unknowingly with his innocence…” Source: CNN

 

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