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I Tasted White Privilege In My Pakistani Community




By Fatima Asad


When my first-born was born six years ago, I finally felt what my mother must have felt when she had me.  As I welcomed this new little human, adjusting my life to meet her needs, I was in awe as most new mothers are.  I cherished every part of her being, amazed at the Lord’s miracle. However, that joy was tainted by social poisons around me and I remember my mother uttering the words, “Here we go again!

You see, until now, I had fascinated over my baby’s wee fingers and toes, expressing gratitude that there were two healthy sets of ten. I had been too preoccupied fulfilling her needs, and utterly mesmerized by her complete reliance on my motherly mercy.  Therefore, the thought of her complexion -her skin color- failed to crossed my mind.  People congratulated me while simultaneously insulting my womb, my husband’s ability to father, and ultimately my destiny- Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) plan.

Mubarak ho! Congratulations. BUT the first child should always be a boy!

Making up for the disappointment that she was not a he, they looked for other avenues to comfort my assumingly aching heart.

At least she is fair skinned! You are a lucky woman, Fatima. She is fair skinned AND has light eyes!

My mother would squeeze my shoulders or give me a reassuring stare that said, “Ignore them. This happens.” She reminisced about her experiences in Pakistan with a fair-skinned daughter and the struggles she had to face because of her own light complexion coupled with light green eyes.  She didn’t have to travel far down memory lane as the same memories flooded my mind, opening like long-lost, rediscovered secrets I had stored away.  I recalled people applauding my mother’s fairness, yet she was forced to take extra measures to “cover up” while going out for groceries or simply for a walk around the block.  I witnessed many hypocrisies when her sisters-in-law could go out with a mere scarf around their heads, while she was pressured to wear the niqab (face veil) on family picnics.  I again witnessed the hypocrisy when esteemed family guests would arrive and my mother was encouraged to look her ultimate best, complete with a new hairdo while the sisters-in-law mostly tended to the kitchen.  My mother developed a certain hatred for this blessing and when she spoke up, she was labeled as disrespectful, disobedient, or a bad Muslim.


Those family friends, close and distant relatives, and even neighbors, didn’t simply have my mother for entertainment.  I remember having to put on my best outfit, crying as my hair was styled and being bribed with goodies to be on my best behavior and smile for the guests.  After my mother was complimented, I was pushed under the spotlight.  Forced hugs and stares into strange men and women’s eyes were showered upon me so they could be momentarily elated after looking at a little “white” girl’s hazel eyes.  Blurred moments flicker in my mind, but one instance sharpens every time I look back.  “I could stare into these eyes for eternity,” a man three decades older than me continuously repeated, while the room full of my protectors -my refuge- simply laughed and offered him more chai.

The worst part of this bonus attention, especially for something that was not an achievement or result of diligence, is that the other children in the house become invisible.  My sister and my cousins stood there, waiting with wondrous, hopeful eyes that they too would be given some sort of a gold star for being alive. Not only were they were deprived of acknowledgement, they were disgraced for being a part of this world.  After seeing me, people pitied them for their slightly darker skins and lack of blue or green in their eyes.  “Aye haye, bichari kitni kaali hai.  Dekho is ki behan kitni gori hai.  Chalo Allah naseeb achay karay.” The poor child is so dark. Look at her fair skinned sister.  Oh well, may Allah make her destiny fruitful.  I don’t need to cite comprehensive socio-psychological studies listing the negative impact of such remarks and behavior, especially at an impressionable age.  The restraints that are put on relationships because of such negative societal effects can be and were damaging for years.


I wouldn’t have realized that what I had experienced in Pakistan was racism and abuse if I had not immigrated to America.  Talking about or even acknowledging racism continues to be a struggle for the Pakistani-American community and a couple of decades ago, no one thought anything of it. In fact, like people “back home,” the Pakistani-Americans loved pointing out people’s skin colors and consequently putting a net worth on their existence.

Like most, my interaction with the Pakistani-American community began at the masjid/community center when I moved to New Jersey at the age of 9.  I was an active member of the mosque and loved every visit; I even led the youth group for girls for some years.  However, many of my classmates and friends (including my sister), often despised going there.  Whenever we met a new auntie or potential friend, after the initial customary greetings, we were met with remarks such as, “You two are sisters? Really? But you’re so much prettier.  You have such light skin! Really, you’re from Pakistan? You totally don’t look like a Pakistani.  You look just like your mother! Your sister must look like your father.” I wish I could say that remarks like this rarely took place or from seemingly “uneducated” adults, but we heard them more often than we would like to remember – and from women of all ages, professions and even from their daughters.


This brings me to a slight tangent.  When people exclaimed that I did not look Pakistani, I was supposed to accept it as a compliment.  To those people who still attempt to honor me with this insult, I am reluctant to accept YOU a fellow Paksitani.  You have failed to understand the meaning behind this identity as many Americans have failed to behave according to theirs when they point at your dark skins and your hijab, labeling you as un-American.  What then, is the difference between you and those ignorant, sad citizens who claim to love America’s anthem and flag, yet fail to cherish her values?


Back to the desi community’s dynamics regarding fair-and-lovely.  I have always been the “white” girl in my Pakistani community. I have been honored, revered, compared to celebrities, asked out on dates, sent proposals, taken more seriously than my dark-skinned peers, presumed to be the better student, befriended quickly; all because of my whiteness.  Outside the Pakistani community, I still tasted the advantages of my skin color despite displaying a visible symbol of my religion.  In contrast to my fellow Pakistani, Bengali or African hijabis, I have been socially accepted, hired for jobs, befriended at social events, and asked out – with far less struggles than my sisters.  It is almost as if people are willing to ignore or allow you to wear the hijab, provided you meet specific physical standards. No wonder we see some hijabi bloggers crossing unfair limits, compromising their identities and faith to prettify every aspect of themselves, so that maybe the hijab will no longer be “the” physical obstacle.  I admit I have had it easy and I refuse to listen to another person tell me that our Muslim (and non-Muslim) community focuses on our personalities.  Tell that to the dark-skinned girls who are disgraced, belittled because critics continue pairing their (uncontrolled) color with their choices.


I cringe when people stop my blue-eyed daughter, look into her eyes or touch her skin- as if hoping some of the color will rub off onto them.  I absolutely hate it when people point at her from afar like she is a zoo animal, which they paid to gawk at.  We are still the white girls, revered because of our “American-ness” and as we travel through China and Pakistan, I sense we have a long struggle ahead of us. But I am hopeful.  To pass the current test, I hope to instill humility and gratitude in my girls- teach them that what you cannot control cannot define you.


Blessed with a second daughter, history is attempting to rewrite itself, but I will not let it succeed.  Nay, I will fight it and make sure that it writes a new chapter.  I cannot tell the difference between their skin tones as I am too busy cherishing their souls, but society eagerly points out the different shades- using it as justifiable means to impose their labels on my children.  I am not my mother, restricted by social pressures of ignorant communities.  I am an informed, ever-thirsty for knowledge, American, Pakistani-Muslim who knows that it is high time we stop this utter nonsense and the concept of a master race.  I will not say that I am ashamed to be fair-skinned nor will I use the argument of white supremacy to make myself feel guilt or shame.  This is something I cannot control, therefore, it should not be a source of pride nor disgrace.



Fatima Asad is a an American-Pakistani Muslim Mama. She is a writer, blogger and homeschooler.  You can follow her journey on her Facebook page, or connect with her through her blog.

Fatima’s inspirations derive from her frequent travels around the world, along with her mixed cultural upbringing.  She takes pride in being a culturally confused mama and also shares the highs and lows of raising little confused humans on her Instagram page.





  1. Avatar

    a teen

    March 29, 2018 at 11:11 PM

    Salaam, I agree with you completely, especially as someone who speaks from the “other side” of the color spectrum. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Pakistani culture, but I would hate that the place I was supposed to feel most safe and connected, the masjid, was tainted by the judgment and criticism of the aunties there.

    However, I am seeing a great shift against this racial bias at least among the Pakistani-American teenagers of today (me being one of them). Perhaps it’s rebellion from cultural standards or a newfound decency towards people, but we scorn industries like Fair & Lovely and do not discuss skin color. Unfortunately this shift is not wholly complete as the girls will refuse to stay in the sun too long, claiming its becuase of skin disease, silently knowing its an internal, prejudiced disease that stop us.

    • Avatar

      Fatima Asad

      March 30, 2018 at 11:31 AM

      Thank you and yes, I am noticing this slow, yet determined shift alhumdullilah. It’s interesting how you point out the sun bathing point. Now that I think about it, I have witnessed this on a few occasions. ?

  2. Avatar


    March 30, 2018 at 4:16 AM

    MaShaAllah Fatima such a well written piece!

    • Avatar

      Fatima Asad

      March 30, 2018 at 11:33 AM

      Thank you Sakinah! It is supportive friends and community leaders like yourself that are part of this much-needee change in our society.

  3. Avatar


    April 4, 2018 at 9:50 PM

    Hey sis, I don’t really why you have an issue with people complementing your eyes and skin, and same with your baby. They are simply trying to tell you that you are beautiful. Every culture values the rare individuals in that culture that signify “rarity”. Being blue eyed and light skinned is seen as a beautiful thing in Pakistan. Whether that has roots in some kind of inferiority complex and a desire to be white, I don’t know. But i would just be appreciative of people who complement. Would you rather they treat you with scorn for your appearance? I think you have needlessly politicized this issue. I have been living in Canada for 20 years and would have no tolerance with some Pakistani BS expressions, such as the whole have a boy first and the whole stupid thing about how “dhoop me mut jao, skin Kali how jai ghi”… Just roll your eyes at this foolishness, but do be grateful that Allah gave you beauty, how many people long for that? Anyway just my two cents

    • Avatar

      Fatima Asad

      April 6, 2018 at 11:04 AM

      ASA I understand what you mean and alhumdullilah I am very grateful for Allah’s (SWT) blessings. There have been many who have complimented with the best of manners and appreciation. However, the point here was to shed a light on viewing this God-given trait as an accomplishment or being a victim of inferior complex because of it. Thank you for sharing your point of view.

  4. Avatar

    Monique Hassan

    April 5, 2018 at 2:42 PM

    Assalamu alaikum. I am a revert American, pale skin and blue eyes. I have wondered sometimes if American non-Muslims would treat me differently if I was not so pale.

    On the other side of this, I do not like to show my face online. I am a writer as yourself and I recognize the need to show we are human online, but I feel very uncomfortable to glaringly say “look into my whiteness” or become known as the pale revert sister. I elect to wear niqab when it comes to online video conferences or a need for my image. My face becomes the focus and I don’t want that. Know me for my words, not for my face.

    • Avatar

      Fatima Asad

      April 6, 2018 at 11:06 AM

      ASA sister. Thank you for sharing this. I can relate to this. It is not a pale skin issue for me when it comes to online communication- it is like you said, a privacy issue and also focusing the attention on my work and words rather than mostly on my appearance.

  5. Avatar


    April 6, 2018 at 9:42 PM

    This article reeks of veiled narcissism and melodrama. Why would anyone make such an issue of being complemented on beautiful features? It’s analogous to a 50 year old man bemoaning the curse of having a luscious and virile full head of hair amongst a group of balding men.

    • Avatar


      June 24, 2018 at 4:54 AM

      The problem is that you equate whiteness with beauty and that’s what she’s talking about! She doesn’t want the extra attention and dark-skinned women shouldn’t be sidelined because Allah SWT blessed them with the *wrong* skin colour, naoozubillah min zalik.

      andr being singled out for praise and attention at the expense of others when’s trying to make a point about v

  6. Avatar


    October 20, 2018 at 8:38 AM

    Thanks for removing my comments. Some people can’t handle the truth and criticism, but love to critique.
    I will reiterate, if color is a problem among Pakistanis esp the ones from up north and the Pind, don’t generalize and say it’s a problem amongst all Desis.

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Mindful or Mind-full? Going From AutoPilot to Aware





Modeling Mindfulness


“Remember that God knows what is in your souls, so be mindful of Him.”

[Sūrat al-Baqarah 2:235]

Mindful or Mind-full?

Ever felt frustrated when you were trying to talk to your spouse, your children, your students, or your youth group and they would just not pay attention? This is a prime example of being on autopilot and getting carried away without actually being aware of what is most important in the present moment.

A recent Harvard study shows that our minds are not present in the moment and wander about 47% of the time1. In a world of technology and continuous sensory overload, the lines between work and home, friends and family, necessity vs. purpose, world-centric vs. Allah-centric have become blurred. We are either living in the past or ruminating about the future, and in the process, we are forgetting to live, enjoy, cherish, and make the most of our present moments.

For parents, teachers, youth leaders, and anyone in the beautiful role of guiding, teaching, coaching, or mentoring others, we can make a huge difference by modeling Mindfulness ourselves. But where do we start? The answer is to go from autopilot to becoming aware.

Autopilot to Aware

Being on autopilot is when you are distracted in the present moment, where your mind is wandering into the past or the future, and you are less aware of yourself, surroundings, or others. Autopilot can actually be pretty helpful for your regular habits. Waking up, brushing your teeth, getting ready for your day, going to school or work – many of the things we do habitually every day can be done more seamlessly without having to think, and that is a good thing. But there are times when you have to learn to turn off your autopilot to become aware. But how?

Here is a Mindfulness tool that can be done in just a minute or two for you to become more aware.

Step 1: Breath as a Tool. Say Bismillah. Focus on your breath. See where you experience the breath – the breathing in and breathing out of your body. Is your breath stemming from your nostrils, your chest, or your stomach? Just bring your attention to your breath and relax and stay with it there for a few moments.

Step 2: Body as a Tool. Relax your body. We carry so many emotions in our bodies2. Our stress from the past or anticipation for the future sometimes finds its way into our necks, other times in our chest muscles or our backs. Pay attention to what emotions and sensations do you feel, and try to relax all parts of your body.

Step 3: Intention as a Tool. As you have centered your thoughts to the present moment through your breath and your body, ask yourself: “What is most important now? In this present moment?”

Just simply being aware makes us more mindful parents, teachers, youth and professionals – being aware makes us more Mindful of Allah SWT. Mindfulness is the ability to be aware of your mind and body and bring your attention to the present moment.


Real Life in the Present Moment

You are an on-the-go parent: It has been a long day and you have to pick up the kids from school, but work is still pending. You’re picking up the kids from school, feeding them, and then shuffling everyone to their afterschool activities, be it Qur’an, softball, soccer, swimming, or the million other things that kids seem to have these days. You squeeze pending work in between drop-offs and pick-ups, and you function by living from one task to the next.

The Autopilot Impact: You’re getting a lot done, but are so engrossed in quickly moving your children along from one thing to another that you are unable to really cherish your time together.

The Mindfulness Suggestion: You can try to go from autopilot to awareness by focusing on your breath, paying attention to your emotions, and relaxing your body. As you do so, ask yourself: “What is most important now?” Make the intention to slow down, listen to the children more mindfully, and cherish and enjoy your time together.

You are a busy teacher: Last night you had to take all the grading home and spent two hours poring over students’ work. This morning, you woke up early to pick up some classroom supplies after dropping off your own kids to school. You’ve already had two cups of coffee and are trying to think through everything you have to do today. You like the idea of Mindfulness, living life in the present moment, and enjoying every day to its fullest, but your mind is not free to even enjoy the beautiful morning sunrise as you drive to school.

The Autopilot Impact: You want to listen and pay attention to every child’s needs, and enjoy the rewards of their growth, but you can’t. What’s more, you judge yourself for just trying to get through your activities for the day. You wish you could connect with your students better.

The Mindfulness Suggestion: Whenever you are stressed with an unpleasant parent or student interaction, think about breathing, relaxing your body, and asking what you need to focus on now. Try to do one thing at a time, and relax into what you’re doing.

You are an overstretched youth director: You are a role model. You have this major weekend event you are planning with the youth. Your budget is still pending from the board, you have to call all these people, have to get the graphics and remind everyone about the event, you have to visit all these masjids and MSAs to announce and remind people about the weekend.

This weekend’s theme is Living a Life of Purpose and you are super passionate about it. However, the whole week you have had a hard time remembering to even pray one Salah with focus. Instead, your mind has been preoccupied with all the endless planning for this weekend. You love what you do but you wonder how to also be mindful in your everyday worship while you are always prepping and planning engaging activities for the youth.

The Autopilot Impact: You enjoy shaping the youth but you are losing steam. You are always planning the next program and unable to focus on your own personal and spiritual development. It is difficult for you to pray even one salah without thinking about all the events and activities planned for that week.

The Mindfulness Suggestion: Get serious about taking some time for yourself. Know that becoming more mindful about your own prayers and self-development will also make you a better role model. Take a minute or two before every Salah to practice the simple, 3-Step Mindfulness Tool. You say Bismillah and breathe, focus your mind, and then relax your body. Empty your mind from everything else – what has past and what’s to come – and ask “What’s most important now?” to develop better focus in your Salah.

In Conclusion: Practice Simple but Solid Steps towards becoming more Mindful Muslims

Mindfulness is to open a window to let the Divine light in.

[Imam Al Ghazali]

Mindfulness gives us the ability to be aware. We can use Mindfulness tools to remember Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), refocus, renew our intentions, and engage with the present moment in a more effective and enjoyable way. Mindfulness also invites awareness of our potential negligence in being our best selves with both Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and His creation. To put it simply, being more aware of our selves can help us be better versions of our selves.

Mindfulness is both an art and a science, with brain and behavioral science research validating the importance of Mindfulness in improving our health, managing our stress, navigating our emotions, and positively impacting our lives3. In today’s modern and distracted world, let us treasure every tool that helps us center our attention on what matters the most.

  1. Bradt, Steve (2010). Wandering mind not a happy mind. Harvard Gazette.
  2. Lauri Nummenmaa, Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari, Jari K. Hietanen (2013). Bodily maps of emotions. National Academy of Sciences.
  3. “What are the benefits of mindfulness,” American Psychological Association:

To learn more about how to become mindful take the Define Course on Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence.

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A Code of Conduct To Protect Against Spiritual Abuse

Danish Qasim



Code of Conduct for Islamic Leadership, Institutions

When there is a claim of spiritual abuse, the initial reaction of concerned Muslims is often to go to another Muslim leader and expect that leader to take care of it.  Most of the time, however, religious leaders in the community have no authority over other religious leaders who are found abusing their position. Many of these leaders feel a foreboding sense of powerlessness to exert change, leaving those who abuse, to do so freely and with impunity. 

There have been attempts by some leaders to take action against abusive religious figures. However, when this happens, it is usually followed by a public or ‘in-group’ campaign against the abusive figure, and the abusive figure and his supporters return in kind. This becomes messy, quickly. There is name-calling, mud-slinging, and threats, but in the end, it amounts to nothing, in the end, leaving everyone involved to make their own decision as to whether or not to continue support for the alleged perpetrator. Other religious leaders may know the accused is guilty, but due to friendships or programs they wish to continue doing with the accused, they will cover for them, especially when there is only a perceived low level of evidence that the public could ever discover it. 

There are several methods and excuses through which abuse is covered up.

The Wall of Silence

In cases of tightly knit groups, whether Sufi tariqas, super Salafi cliques, activist groups, or preachers who have formed a team, the abuser will be protected by a wall of silence, while the victim is targeted, maligned, and ostracized for speaking out against the leader. They, not the abuser, are held accountable, liable, and blamed. While the abuser is expected to be ‘forgiven,’ the victim is socially shamed for a crime committed against him or her. More often than not, the victim is intimidated into silence, while the perpetrator is left free to continue abusing. 

The Kafir Court Rationale

There have been countless situations when there have been legal claims made against a transgressing spiritual leader, but through coercion and pressure, the shaykh (or those close to him) will be able to convince his victim that they are not allowed to go to kafir court systems to solve issues between Muslims. Ironically, these same shaykhs see no difficulty signing legally binding contracts with other Muslims they do business with, or when they give classes, which stands to reason, they are perfectly fine accepting the same ‘kafir court’ as a source of protection when it is for themselves. 

Stop Hurting the Dawah Plea

In other cases, when the disputes are between fellow students, or representatives of the shaykh and those lower ranking students, the shaykh himself is able to get on the phone with the disgruntled victim, give him or her special attention, and convince the person to drop it and not pursue justice, as that may ‘hurt the dawah.’ Sometimes, the shaykhs will ostensibly push for Islamic mechanisms of justice and call for arbitration by other religious figures who they know will decide in his favor. It is critical not to fall victim to these arguments. 

Your Vile Nafs Culpe

Far too often in these groups, particularly the more spiritually inclined ones, everyone will acknowledge the abuse, whether illicit sexual behavior, groping, financial fraud, secret temporary marriages, or bullying by a Shaykh, but steadfastly invoke the ‘only prophets are perfect, and our Shaykh is a wali–– but he can make mistakes’ refrain. Then, when those seeking recourse dare disclose these issues, even when there is no dispute about the factuality of their claims, they are browbeaten into compliance; told their focus on the negative is a sign that they are ‘veiled from the more important, positive efforts of the group, and it is they who should overcome their vile nafs.’ With such groups, leaving may be the only solution. 

Pray it Away Pretext

Sometimes, a target of abuse may go to other teachers or other people in the community to seek help, guidance, or direction. The victims hold these teachers in high regard and believe that they can trust them. However, instead of these teachers acting to protect the victims, the victims are often placated, told to pray it away. They are left with empty platitudes, but nothing concrete is ever done to protect them, nor is there any follow-up. 

The Forgive and Forget Pardon

They are told to forgive…

Forgiveness has its place and time, but at that critical moment, when a victim is in crisis and requires guidance and help, their wellbeing should remain paramount. To counsel victims that their primary job and focus at that pivotal juncture is to forgive their abuser is highly objectionable. Forgiveness is not the obligation of the victim and for any teacher or religious leader to invalidate the wrong that took place is not only counterproductive but dangerous––even if the intention behind the advice came from a wholesome place.

The Dire Need For A Code of Conduct

It is very easy to feel let down when nothing is done about teachers who abuse, but we have to understand that without a Code of Conduct, there really isn’t much that can be done when the spiritual abuse is not considered illegal. It is the duty of Islamic institutions to protect employees, attendees, and religious leaders. We also must demand that. 

Justice is a process. It is not a net result. This means that sometimes we will follow the process of justice and still come up short. The best thing we can do to hold abusers accountable for our institutions is to set up a process of accountability. A code of conduct will not eliminate spiritual abuse. Institutions that adopt this code may still cover up abuse, in which case victims will need to take action against the institution for violating the code. This code of conduct will also protect teachers who can be targetted and falsely accused.

As members of the community, we should expect more.  Here is how:

  •  Demand your Islamic institutions to have and instill a code of conduct. 
  •  If you are in a group outside of an institution, get clarity on the limits of the Shaykh.
  •  Understand that anyone, no matter their social status, is capable of doing horrible things, even the religious figures who talk about the importance of justice, accountability, and transparency. 
  • When it comes to money, expect more from your leadership than emotional appeals. Fundraising causes follow trends, and while supporting good causes is a positive thing, doing so without a proper audit or accountability is not. It lends itself to financial abuse, mistrust, and misappropriation.  

Establish a Protocol

A lot of hurt can be saved and distrust salvaged if victims are provided with honest non-judgment. Even in the event that there is a lack of concrete evidence, a protocol to handle these kinds of sensitive situations can provide a victim with a safe space to go to where they know they won’t be ignored or treated callously. We may not be able to guarantee an outcome, but we can ensure that we’ll try.

Using Contract Law to Hold Abusers Accountable – Danya Shakfeh

In cases of spiritual abuse, legal recourse (or any recourse for that matter) has been rare due to there being no standard of conduct and no legal means to hold abusers accountable.  In order to solve this problem, our Code of Conduct creates a legal mechanism of enforcement through contract law.

The reason why contract law is important and applicable is that the law does not always address unethical behavior.  You have heard the refrain “Just because it is legal, it does not mean it is ethical.” The law, for varying reasons, has its limits. Although we associate the law with justice and morality, the law and justice and morality are not always interchangeable and can even be at odds with each other.  

Ultimately, specifically in a secular society, the law is a set man-made rules and sometimes those rules are arbitrary and actually unfair. For example, there is a class of laws called ‘strict liability’ laws. These laws make a defendant liable even if the person committed the offense by accident.  One example of strict liability law is selling alcohol to a minor. In some states, even if the person tried to confirm the minor’s legal age, the seller could still be held liable for the offense. On the flip-side, there are is a lack of anti-bullying laws on the books in the United States. This allows employers to cause serious emotional damage to employees, yet the employer can get away with such offensive behavior.  Accordingly, the law does not always protect nor is it always ‘just.’

On Power, Boundaries, And The Accountability Of Imams

This is one of the reasons that victims of spiritual abuse have had little success in having their claims addressed at a legal level.  Because abuses are not legally recognized as such, there is often no associated remedy. For example, when a woman enters into a secret second marriage only to find that the husband is not giving her all her Islamic legal rights, that woman’s recourse is very limited because the law does not recognize this as abuse and does not even recognize the marriage.

Further, if a victim of spiritual abuse is abused due to religious manipulation unless the abuser engaged in a stand-alone crime or civil claim, the victim also has no legal recourse. For example, if a religious scholar exploits a congregant’s vulnerabilities in order to convince the congregant to turn over large amounts of money and the congregant later learns that the Islamic scholar did not really need the money, he or she may have no legal recourse.  This is because manipulation (as long as there is no fraud) is not illegal and depending on how clever the religious scholar was, the congregant would have no legal recourse. Our way of solving this problem is by using contract law to set and enforce the standard for ethical behavior.

Use of Institutional Handbooks

Whether people realize it or not, institutional handbooks are a type of contract. Though an attorney should be consulted in order to ensure that they these documents are binding, policies do not necessarily need to be signed by every party nor do they need to be called a “contract” in order to be legally binding.  By creating institutional handbooks and employment policies that relate to common issues of spiritual abuse, we can finally provide guidelines and remedies.

When an employee at an institution violates the institution’s policies, this is a “breach of contract” that can result in firing or even monetary damages. In other words, the policy is that document which victims and institutions can use to back their cases when there are allegations involving abuse.  Policies can also hold institutions themselves liable for not enforcing the policy and remedies as to victims’ abuse. Policies also serve the purpose of putting the community and their beneficiaries and patrons on notice as to what is expected of them.

Our Code of Conduct is the most comprehensive of created ethical guidelines for Muslims leaders and institutions for making spiritual abuse remedies actionable. We believe it will provide remedies to victims that would otherwise not be available through other legal means.  By binding the parties to a contract, victims and institutions can take these contracts, along with the abusers, to court and use the contract to fill in the gap for appropriate behavior that the law otherwise does not fill.

Download the Code of Conduct For Islamic Leadership By In Shaykh’s Clothing

Blurred Lines: Women, “Celebrity” Shaykhs, and Spiritual Abuse

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#Current Affairs

The Environmental Cost Of War With Iran

Abu Ryan Dardir



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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