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#Current Affairs

This is Who We Are– By Imam Zaid Shakir

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As the crisis over children being torn from their mothers’ arms at the US-Mexican border continues we hear former first ladies, politicians, pundits and plutocrats proclaiming, “This is not who we are!” “Americans are compassionate people, etc.” While it is fair to say that there are many Americans who do not support the idea of ripping babies away from their mothers, enough do support the idea, particularly those President Trump would identify as belonging to his base, for us to credibly say that this is who we are.

Compassion as a general description for America is like a cat: it has many lives and dies many deaths. It died on the slave man’s auction block. It died at Wounded Knee. It died with Queen Liliuokalani’s broken heart. It died in the concentration camps in the Philippines. It died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It died in Emmitt Till’s coffin. It died on a balcony at a Memphis hotel. It died at My Lai. It died at Abu Ghraib. It died at Baghram. It died in Guantanamo. It dies with every school shooting. It dies with every youth suicide. It dies with every drug overdose. It dies every time an unarmed black youth is shot by a cop. Now it is dying at the Mexican border. In America, it dies every day. This is who we are.

The cruel, calculating, callousness with which the current racist regime deals with immigrants, starting with the so-called Muslim ban, is matched by the segregated moral concerns of many who would condemn it. For example, while Laura Bush’s condemnation of the Trump administration’s current border policy is laudable, had she raised her voice for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan children killed, maimed and orphaned by the policies her husband helped to initiate, her voice would have been laudable as well as morally courageous.

As for Bill Clinton’s concern for the thousands of children separated from their families, he had no such compassion for the hundred of thousands of Iraqi children killed by his enforcement of a murderous sanctions regime put in place after the mechanized slaughter known as Desert Storm. In 1997, his Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, infamously and casually agreed that over 500,000 dead Iraqi children who died during the six years US sanctions had been in place in Iraq to that point, “was worth it,” in terms of the US accomplishing its war objectives. Unknown to most they were all under five years old. Many of those children died because of our refusal to allow the Iraqis to import the parts needed to rebuild their destroyed sewage treatment plants. Those facilities were intentionally targeted by the US during the Desert Storm operation knowing that Iraqis would be forced to drink sewage-contaminated water leading to deaths from typhoid, diarrhea, dysentery and related diseases. This is who we are.

As implied above, one does not have to search beyond these shores or along the Mexican border to discover who we are in terms of our treatment of children. Every day in this country an average of 123 people commit suicide. A significant number are children. On an average day 3,041 children in grades 9-12 attempt suicide. What does this say about who we are? Maybe our children are internalizing the message that they are an inconvenient expense. That is certainly the message our politicians send when they defund schools, do nothing meaningful to stop gun violence, including school shootings, or sentence children to private prisons, the judges oftentimes receiving kickbacks from the prisons for their services. This is who we are.

The President said this past Monday, “The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility.” The truth of the matter is that the United States is already a refugee holding facility as a rapidly expanding network of private prisons, jails, and detention centers being put into place to hold the potential millions of refugees, deportees, asylum seekers and other deplorables. In addition to a futile effort to forestall the inevitable “browning of America” the current administration’s refugee policies are another opportunity for Trump’s cronies to loot the public treasury as hundreds of millions of dollars are being doled out to build, staff and maintain the gulags of the deportation industrial complex. Now we are even talking about the possibility of indefinite detention for so-called illegal immigrants.

This is who we are, but this is not who we are destined to be. To achieve our destiny, however, we need to reject not just the policy of separating babies from their mothers, but the idea that we can construct islands of exclusivity in an increasingly integrated and interconnected world. We cannot loot the world’s resources and then scream foul when people demand a fair share of the wealth their lands and people have helped to create –even when they cross the Rio Grande or the Arizona desert to stake their claim.

We cannot systematically destroy the Mexican corn economy for the benefit of farmers in southern Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska and then cry foul when the displaced peasants flood north looking for an opportunity to replace the livelihood stolen from them. We cannot, as Bill Clinton did, systematically destroy the Haitian rice economy for the benefit of rice growers in Arkansas and then demand Haitians leave this country and return to the hell we helped to create.

As Muslims, we are taught that God does not look at one’s color, rather, He looks at one’s heart and deeds. We are all human and as such we all have a right to lead a dignified life. That being the case, we have to reject the politics of racial and national chauvinism. As a community we should be in the forefront of an effort to challenge the racist basis of many of the current immigration policies. We should also be in the forefront of letting our fellow Americans know that over the course of the last several decades, millions of innocent children have perished as a direct result of the policies pursued by this country, and millions more have been orphaned.

If transcending the status quo is predicated on a profound moral shift, or as Dr. King worded it, “a radical revolution of values,” then let us be a revolutionary community. This latest outrage should make it clear that the social, political and economic status quos are untenable. If it does not arrest its downward spiral into the cesspool of lies, incivility, demagoguery, and worse, this country is doomed. We should never forget that when the Titanic went down, it took with it everyone trapped on board. Working together we can save this ship, God-willing. If we are silent and do nothing it will destroy us.

Imam Zaid Shakir

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Afshan

    June 25, 2018 at 10:10 AM

    Thank you for a thoughtful response. Each day we are subjected to systemic racism and oppression and we cannot remain silent anymore.

  2. Avatar

    Yasmin

    June 28, 2018 at 4:33 PM

    It is overwhelming to read the things the US gov allowed and continues to allow and the detrimental statistics and events that resulted and are still going on to this day. I am truly overwhelmed….the school shootings and suicides are just heartbreaking.

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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

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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


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Source: Bend The Arc


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

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Source: Kera News

 


Conversations at The Carter Center: Harmonizing Religion and Human Rights 

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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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