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On New Zealand and Dehumanization

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One of the most difficult things to do in moments of tragedy is to take time to properly process one’s own thoughts while simultaneously processing the countless messages and calls of community members and multi-faith colleagues from around the world.

To the non-Muslim colleagues who reached out, supported, and aided Muslim friends and communities around the world, showing solidarity against hatred and violence, thank you. To the many police officers, security personnel, and volunteers who stood by Muslims today as Muslims have stood by others in the past, thank you. To those who contributed to the LaunchGood campaign for the victims’ families, now surpassing the million dollar mark, thank you. To the many community members who gathered for Friday prayers, crowding the mosques with true resilience and steadfastness, thank you.

To Allah we belong and to Him is our return. This life is a temporary stage — a hotel of sorts with an abrupt departure — and our final destination is with the Creator. The brothers and sisters martyred in New Zealand are with their Lord, and we pray for their souls to be accepted as shuhadaa’ (martyrs). Their last deed in this world was to be in a sacred place of worship and community, and we ask Allah to grant us good lives and righteous endings. The deep pain in this tragedy, like many other tragedies around the world, is experienced by the surviving family members, communities of diverse backgrounds, and the entire world.

There are people who wish to divide humanity through dehumanizing rhetoric and physical aggression. Such rhetoric can no longer be overlooked as mere difference of opinion when it clearly fuels violence and death. White supremacy has reared its ugly head time and again in recent years, in the United States, Norway, Canada, France, UK, and New Zealand, amongst other regions, and its normalization in political discourse and platforms will continue to have harmful consequences.

The radicalization of white supremacists, like radicals of other ideologies, is magnified through politicians, media influencers, pseudo-intellects, and online activity, and it needs to be addressed frankly and efficiently. We are far beyond the point of necessary condemnation and we are now in an era of exposed ideologies requiring mobilization and strategic foresight.

Dehumanization and extremism are concerning worldwide, and the reactions (or lack thereof) to such problems on a political level are just as concerning. There are countless examples too lengthy to address here at length; native Uyghurs experiencing genocide in East Turkistan at the hands of the Chinese government, Palestinian natives experiencing ethnic cleansing at the hands of apartheid forces, mass shootings almost weekly in the United States at the hands of white supremacists, drone strikes and bombs dropped on innocent lives in Syria and Yemen, systemic racism against African Americans throughout the USA, border-wall fanatics who seemingly lost their minds and hearts somewhere in the past, ISIS members who have no true religion but one of cultish violence, and countless other examples of dehumanization as a mechanism for radicalization. Place a family member or loved one in the shoes of any group of victims – and the perspective shifts quickly. One of the many root causes of dehumanization is that most hateful individuals refuse to meet, greet, or genuinely befriend “the other” or to consider the consequences of dehumanization on society and the world. Another of the many root causes is the hidden agenda of greed and power, such as that of corrupt corporations, facilitated in many cases through bought-out politicians.

It lifts one’s spirits to see how much support reached Muslims from New Zealand and around the world, as Muslims since 9/11 have constantly been on the defensive and consistently supporting victims of similar tragedies. Muslims are constantly expected to condemn actions which have nothing to do with Islam or 99.9% of the two billion Muslims, and that expectation itself is one of many tactics fueling anti-Islamic rhetoric observed in white supremacists and other groups.

Radicalization is not some abstract invisible phenomenon; radicalization is found in the “speech” of Trump, the rants of Sam Harris and Bill Maher, the far-right politicians of most nation-states, and Fraser Anning, the Australian senator who blamed Muslims and migrants for the New Zealand terrorist attack – less than 24 hours after the tragedy. If such hateful rhetoric results in death and violence, is it still protected as free speech – or has it transgressed a sacred boundary? How can these figures claim to sincerely condemn attacks on Muslims or Jews while facilitating and normalizing anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic rhetoric elsewhere?

To my brothers and sisters in Islam: remember that our Lord is All-Knowing, and His Wisdom doesn’t negate His Mercy and Love. The hardships we see in our lives and the lives around us are multifaceted reminders about the nature of this transient world, the final destination of Paradise, the deeds for which we will be held accountable, and the Day of Justice and Judgment. There is absolutely no injustice committed in this world that remains unresolved in the afterlife. The good and the evil are not the same, nor will they be dealt with equally in the next world. We all belong to Allah, and we will inevitably return to Him regardless of our spiritual states. May we return in a pure, righteous state, serving Him and His creation and leaving behind that which is beneficial for the world.

May Allah have mercy on the martyrs of New Zealand and grant our communities and us resilience and lasting harmony.

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Imam Suleiman Hani is an international lecturer and resident scholar from Michigan who currently serves as an AlMaghrib Institute instructor, a Yaqeen Institute scholar, and a graduate student at Harvard University. At the age of 14, Suleiman completed a 10-month Qur’an memorization program and began his intensive studies under numerous scholars, later earning a Master of Arts degree from the University of Jordan's College of Shari’ah, ranking first in his class. Over the past decade, he has served as an Imam and community leader in Michigan, lectured in dozens of countries, and was featured on the largest Islamic TV stations worldwide. His recent hobbies include mixed martial arts, archery, and skydiving.

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#Current Affairs

Former Infowars / Alex Jones Staffer Admits Lying About Shariah Law Threat

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Former staff member and video editor for Alex Jones’ conspiracy theory media platform Infowars, Josh Owens, wrote in the New York Times he and other staff members knowingly faked and lied about stories regarding the threat of shari’ah law in the US.  He writes in particular about the community of Islamberg, stating:

“Days before, we spoke to the sheriff and the mayor of Deposit, N.Y., a nearby municipality. They both told us the people in Islamberg were kind, generous neighbors who welcomed the surrounding community into their homes, even celebrating holidays together.

The information did not meet our expectations, so we made it up, preying on the vulnerable and feeding the prejudices and fears of Jones’s audience. We ignored certain facts, fabricated others and took situations out of context to fit our narrative”

During the time the stories related to Islamberg and another town close to Detroit, Hamtramck, were receiving hit jobs from the Alex Jones camp, the San Bernadino shooting story occurred.  Owens wrote regarding this:

I knew that when the details emerged, they would substantiate the lies we pushed to Jones’s audience. It didn’t matter if the attack took place on the other side of the country or if the people in Islamberg had no connection to the perpetrators in San Bernardino. Jones’s listeners would draw imaginary lines between the two, and we were helping them do it.

The piece went on to cover the many eccentricies and insecurities of the egomaniacal personality that is Jones. He’s previously claimed that a type of psychosis is what caused him to believe and propagate stories and statements that are factually false such as the Sandy Hook massacre being staged.

The Muslim Oppression Profit Motive Vs The Truth

The reality is that Jones is one of many profiteers in the war against Muslims, monetizing fear and hatred through site clicks and advertising dollars.  In this regard, he is no different from the military industrial complex and law enforcement agencies that see Muslims and their people as an opportunity for career advancement and financial enrichment.

The cynical view might lead us to take a negative worldview – much like Jones, we might think the world is out to get us, everything is false flag and staged, and there’s a threat around every corner.  But I like the silver lining in Owens’ own statements:

I thought of the children who lived in Islamberg: how afraid their families must have felt when their communities were threatened and strangers appeared asking questions; how we chose to look past these people as individuals and impose on them more of the same unfair suspicions they already had to endure. And for what? Clickbait headlines, YouTube views?

Owens was in the belly of the proverbial beast, helping create lies and propaganda against our community he knew as false for the sake of the almighty dollar.  In the end, he recognized the truth, that the Muslims of Islamberg were not a threat, but good, decent people preyed upon by exploitative elements.

That recognition by Owens means he’s not the only one who knows this – for every person that admits it publicly, there are likely more that are silent, but feel the same.  We as Muslims have to continue doing as we always do – worship Allah alone, keep good manners, call to modesty and decency, be good neighbors, and never feel that our opponents are so beyond the pale that perhaps one day they may come to admit their wronging of us, become our best allies and even become Muslim after a political career of opposing us, such as the former right hand man of Geert Wilders, Joram van Klaveren as well as Arnoud van Doorn and his son.

Discredited Infowars Stories:

 

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Ten Reasons You Should Support MuslimMatters This #GivingTuesday

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MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

With so many amazing #GivingTuesday campaigns running, why should you choose to support MuslimMatters?

1. MuslimMatters publishes Islamic news and perspectives not given voice in mainstream media, and we do it for free.

2. We bring awareness to the issues otherwise sidelined by mainstream media, like refugee rights, Palestinian self-determination, the oppression of the Rohingya, mass internment of the Uighur, and government lockdown and repression of the Kashmiris.

3. We are the oldest, largest, and more reputable online site for Muslim-specific content. When Muslims have an important message for other Muslims, MuslimMatters is how to reach them.

4. Your funding keeps us independent, allowing our writers to speak truth to power without worrying about losing funding, government support, or corporate donors. Click To Tweet

5. Muslimmatters is the global platform that is proud to raise other Muslim voices up. Anyone can write for us, and everyone can benefit from what we’ve worked to establish.

6. We’re taking back the narrative about Islam that is too often hiijacked by people not Muslim and entirely ignorant of Islam. People won’t have to believe what others are saying about us when we have the platform to speak for ourselves.

7. Our content has been cited by media outlets like CNN, ESPN, Buzzfeed, and the Washington Post.

Your contribution to MuslimMatters is building a reputable, credible source of news that other outlets look to for clarification.Click To Tweet

8. Articles published on MuslimMatters have appeared in Supreme Court Briefings, reading requirements for College Classes, and Interfaith Education events, granting their authors reach beyond what micro-blogging could ever accomplish.

9. Many of our pieces have inspired Friday Khutbas, and Khateebs from all over the country have shared how something they read gave them insight and inspiration to write a more informed, more relevant sermon than they would have been able to otherwise.

10. MuslimMatters brings difficult and otherwise taboo issues to the table for discussion, not shying away from the responsibility of trailblazing and myth busting in the Muslim community.

MuslimMatters is provided for free, and supported entirely by readers like you. So please, help us continue our work.

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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A Letter From The Executive Director

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

AssalamuAlaikum Dear MM Fam,

Alhamdulillah in 2007, I was fortunate to be a part of the team that started up a little website called MuslimMatters.org. It’s hard to believe it’s been over a decade. In that time MM has grown from a group blog into a full-blown media entity giving an independent and authentic Islamic voice to contemporary spiritual, social, and political issues that we face.

MM's work has been featured in CNN, Washington Post, ESPN, Buzzfeed, and more. This platform has grown tremendously and now reaches millions of readers every year.Click To Tweet

With 2020 around the corner, we are at a critical juncture. Traffic has grown beyond our current capacity – yes, we’re basically the masjid that now has an expansion project lol – and we have to grow in order to meet our community’s media needs.

Your help is needed to invest in the MM infrastructure so we can not only keep up with our current growth but also develop new content such as podcasts and videos to continue to reach more readers all across the globe.

Your contribution on #GivingTuesday is particularly vital as it will count as double with a Facebook match. We need your help to make vital improvements that will enable MuslimMatters to continue being a voice for the voiceless and a platform for mainstream Islam in the media.

This #GivingTuesday I’m raising money for Muslimmatters Inc and your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate $5 or $500. Every little bit helps. And on GivingTuesday Dec 3, Facebook will match a total of $7 million in donations first come, first served. Thank you for your support.

Contribute what you can, and please share this post to help us hit our #GivingTuesday target to keep MuslimMatters strong for 2020.

JazakAllahuKheiran,

Omar Usman

Executive Director

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