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Pelosi’s Treatment Of Ilhan Omar Exposes The Myth of Courage And Reach of AIPAC

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By Danette Zaghari-Mask

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, an African-American, Muslim refugee, stood up to one of the strongest and most influential lobbying firms in U.S. History – the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Last Sunday, Rep. Omar retweeted Glenn Greenwald’s statement: “GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib over their criticisms of Israel. It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.” Rep. Omar added the line: “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” in reference to AIPAC, a powerful U.S. lobbying firm which works to gain support for the secular, nationalist ideology known as Zionism.

While AIPAC itself does not make political contributions (its legal status prevents such action), it puts its multi-million-dollar lobbying budget to use to buy support for Zionist foreign policies. It also plays a very significant role, linking Congress members and those who want to hold Congressional office, to Zionist donors that will directly fund Congressional campaigns.

The phrase: “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” are the lyrics to a song by American rapper and producer Puff Daddy. “Benjamins” is a reference to $100 bills that feature Benjamin Franklin’s image. The reference appeared on the debut album, “Ready to Die,” by The Notorious B.I.G.

Zionism drives the illegal occupation of Palestine and relegates Palestinians to, at best, a second-class status. AIPAC’s lobbying efforts and candidate-donor linking buy Congressional and Executive Branch support for segregation and even ethnic cleansing of Christian and Muslim Palestinians. It is a system akin to Apartheid South Africa and the segregated Jim Crow era of the United States, which is why it has inspired the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) that works to put economic pressure on the Israeli government, to force Israel to adhere to international law and respect the natural rights of all people, regardless of their ethnic or religious identity.

The Pro-Israel Zionist lobby spent a whopping $14.9 million dollars in 2018 and has historically given more money to members of the Democratic party than any other political party. It was the 50th biggest spender in the last election cycle. AIPAC ensures that Zionism’s ideology receives unbridled, even bipartisan, support in the U.S. Congress through political intimidation. Within the Democratic Party, it operates very much like the NRA. Indeed, criticism of AIPAC is treated as a political death sentence. It is a cash cow and it is the sacred cow in American politics.

Yet, Rep. Omar broke all the political rules. Not only is her political career not funded by AIPAC, she also dared to openly express that there is likely a causal relationship between the outside money received and the official benefits conferred. And on top of all that, she drove home her point with a quote by a black rapper.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wasted no time in responding. She claimed that her colleagues’ comment was clearly anti-Semitic. Really?

If that were true, we could never critically examine AIPAC. No special interest lobbying group should ever be off-limits. Outside money in American politics is a genuine concern.

Furthermore, Anti-Semitism is a real and present global danger. When we claim that criticism of AIPAC’s relationship with its political payees is inherently anti-Semitic, we are detracting from actual instances of anti-Semitism throughout the world. Instances in which people are targeted and harmed, simply because they are Jewish.

Pelosi’s swift reaction illustrates a very real splinter between her and many politically progressive women of color. If we want to understand that schism, we must listen to women of color and validate their experiences. Those experiences include Rep. Omar’s courageous stone-throw against Goliath moment, which Pelosi turned into a stage act for scoring her own political points.

Rep. Omar is a survivor. Against all odds, she rose to a congressional position. Not surprisingly, she uses her powerful platform to advocate for other oppressed people – in this case, the Palestinian people.

Yet, what does Pelosi do?

She presents Omar with an impossible deal. Either sign onto an apology or be crushed and eliminated. If we want to truly understand why women of color generally have so much resentment towards white liberal women, case-in-point. Too often white liberal women like Pelosi pose for the photo-op, but we do not rise to the occasion for our minority sisters.

A true ally is not created from convenience. A true ally will stand should-to-shoulder on principle and courage. Women like Pelosi will throw a woman of color under the bus, then on a more convenient occasion, snatch her back off the ground, scrub off the wheel marks and smile for the camera.

I’m not impressed if Pelosi can clap back for the camera. She’s not a role model for my Muslim Arab daughter. She is certainly not her ally. She represents privilege, pain, betrayal, and disappointment. And, personally, I’m tired of being represented by white women like Pelosi who don’t support women of color in their own parties. I’m tired of politicians like Pelosi who curate a mythology of courage around themselves while tearing down women like Ilhan Omar who exhibit actual courage and conviction.

Danette Zaghari-Mask is an attorney for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. Her views are her own and do not necessarily represent those of the organization she serves.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Raid Mohammad

    February 13, 2019 at 6:32 PM

    In my years of dealing and communicating with American Jews, most of them seemed to be very diligent and very sincere in their every day efforts to keep America secure and strong. They believe that thd strength and stability of Israel is contingent upon the strength and stability of the USA. However, and unfortunately, I can’t say that about most of us Muslims who abandon our failed Islamist countries and immigrated to the West in the last 50 years. Some of us, if not most of us, feel that the only way our failed countries can get some salvation is by weakening and destabilizing the West.

    • Avatar

      Mustafa

      February 13, 2019 at 8:17 PM

      ?

      Does anyone actually think this silly and rehearsed line is something to take seriously? Israel is an ethnic cleansing state. It lacks legitimacy for that reason.

  2. Avatar

    Raid Mohammad

    February 13, 2019 at 9:22 PM

    Dear Danette Zaghari-Mask, Ilhan Umar is a Somali-American not an African-American. When I talk about my origin, I say I am an Iraqi-American. I don’t say Asian American even though Iraq is in Asia. The term African-American is very specific and it is reserved to those descendants of Black slaves. It is reserved for those who struggled and sacrificed blood and treasure during the decades long civil right movement along side the American Jews to advance civil liberties and civil rights. Ilahan Umar, nor any of CAIR’s agitators, operatives and agent-provacatures, was even in existence let alone contributing an iota to achieve it. To the contrary, their exploitation of this well-intentioned acts and codes are causing even African-Americans to reconsider.

  3. Avatar

    delphia blize

    February 14, 2019 at 2:19 PM

    ilhan has a history of using stereotypical language and tropes when discussing this issue, that is the problem, not the content of her critique. pelosi handled it fine, ilhan handled it fine and took responsibility for learning about this language. let’s move on. Ilhan is neither a victim who needs to be rigidly defended (in this instance) nor a villian who made some sort of unforgiveable gaffe. she’s a human who made mistake and corrected herself, a human with some bias – certainly not the first or last pol to reveal bias. we don’t need to go to such extremes in thinking about nuanced issues. i doubt Ilhan would apologize unless she felt it was warranted, she’s pretty hard to force to do anything, so let’s look at this as a great example of someone who cares about the impact of her words and learn from her leadership.

  4. Avatar

    GregAbdul

    February 14, 2019 at 9:21 PM

    This kind of talk would mean a lot more in an American context if we had Muslims openly criticizing Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. When you only want to speak about Palestinians and refuse to say a single word about racist fake Muslims who happen to be black, that is the opening where non Muslims look and see anti-semitism. If you want people to take the anti Zionist talk from Muslims in a serious manner, we have to have the courage to stand against bigots in the black community who lie and say they are with us, especially when everyone and their mother knows they are a group of black American bigots who hate Jews. Our silence puts us with the black American bigots and renders criticism of the Israel useless.

  5. Avatar

    Gaetano BonGiovanni

    February 16, 2019 at 3:35 AM

    Sister,

    “A true ally is not created from convenience. A true ally will stand should-to-shoulder on principle and courage. Women like Pelosi will throw a woman of color under the bus, …”

    That you assert this is about a woman of color is, for me, a distraction. I believe Madame Chairperson Pelosi will ‘throw any man or any woman under the bus’ who disrupts the caucus and unity of the House Democrats.

    While I am sure you did not mean that bus thingee literally, I suggest you note that America is a republic, and one in which to effect democracy in this republic requires courage as well as comprise, manners as well as truthfulness, and mature consideration along with youthful spontaneity.

    Peace in,

    @guyatree

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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


A Priest, a Rabbi, and an Imam Walk Into a Church in Dallas

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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