JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017/1438 | $4.00 | WWW.ISNA.NET
AN EMPOWERING RULE | DESIGNING GREEN MOSQUES | ISLAMOPHOBIA IN FOCUS
Malik Jones, 21
Shot dead on April 14, 1997 by Officer Robert Flodquist of the East Haven, Conn., Police Department
VOL 46 NO. 1 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 visit isna online at: WWW.ISNA.NET
COVER STORY 20 Black Lives Matter Because All Lives Matter Between Violence and 24 Responsibility 26 Spotlight on Howard MSA 26 Masjid Muhammad Countering Violence in 28 DC and Baltimore
32 Islamophobia in Focus
44 Tents, Trails and Tranquility
CONFERENCES 18 Striving for Quality Mosques 19 Engaging with Our Trials and Tribulations
ISLAM IN AMERICA 30 Making Emotional and Spiritual Hijrah in the Post-Election Era 34 Restoring Dignity 36 Undo the Chains 38 With More Than a Prayer 40 Filling the Void in Spanish-language Islamic Material
IN MEMORIAM 41
MUSLIMS IN ACTION
52 Technology and Decorum inside the Mosque
Mohammed Waheed-uz-Zaman Rana
Designing Green Mosques
Investing Basics: When Is It Halal?
HEALTH & WELL-BEING 49
DEPARTMENTS 6 8 10 61
Editorial ISNA Matters Community Matters New Releases
DESIGN & LAYOUT BY: Gamal Abdelaziz, A-Ztype Copyeditor: Jay Willoughby. The views expressed in Islamic Horizons are not necessarily the views of its editors nor of the Islamic Society of North America. Islamic Horizons does not accept unsolicitated articles or submissions. All references to the Quran made are from The Holy Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Amana, Brentwood, MD.
Teaching Rape Prevention
MOSQUE ETIQUETTE 50
The Never-Ending Mosque Parking Syndrome
THE MUSLIM WORLD 54 An Empowering Rule 56 Why Muslim Governments Have Abandoned Xinjiang 58 In Arms Sales We Trust
SPECIAL FEATURE 60
The Most 25 Electrifying Minutes of My Life JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 5
The Challenges Ahead
few days after this issue of “Islamic Horizons” lands in your mailbox, the new Trump-Pence administration will be sitting in the White House. Many people have expressed their unease with this largely unexpected reality — Hispanics, African Americans, Muslims, civil rights advocates, women and so on. Considering the overwhelmingly negative rhetoric of the 2016 election season, Shaikh Yasir Qadhi told CNN on Nov. 10, “And all of us are genuinely worried. I fear for the safety of my wife in hijab, of my children in the streets, of minorities everywhere struggling to understand what happened.” Dilshad Ali, editor of the Muslim section of Patheos, a spirituality website, told CNN, “I woke up today [Nov. 9, 2016] and I finally felt it. It felt personal, like the election was a vote against me.” Former ISNA president Imam Mohamed Hag Magid, religious director of the Sterling, Va. based All Dulles Area Muslim Society, advised parents to show confidence in God. Reports have already started coming in of hijabs being pulled off, Muslims and other immigrants being verbally and physically insulted, as well as graffiti being sprayed on mosques. Daniel Haqiqatjou, a writer and lecturer on Muslims and modernity, writing for muslimmatters.org, had a rather different view, which can be summarized as “better the devil that you know than the one you don’t”: “The only thing that is novel about Trump is the way he talks about Muslims. And as Muslims, we should welcome this frankness. Strategically speaking, we should prefer a president who will wear his hatred of us on his sleeve as opposed to one [Obama] who smiles in our face while implementing all manner of policy against us under the table.” Following the announcement of Trump’s victory, there were disturbances in Portland (Ore.), Manhattan, Washington (D.C.), Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Denver, Dallas and elsewhere. While some of the causes can be found in the toxic campaign atmosphere, Imam Magid advises people not to automatically assume that evil will befall them. Remember how the Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), before the Battle of the Trench struck a rock and, despite his Companions’ pessimism, saw hope and goodness amidst its spark. ISNA has always espoused interfaith
relations. Other Muslim organizations have followed suit. But it appears that the success of such activities has been limited, for “Three weeks after 9/11, an ABC News poll found that Americans had a more favorable view of Islam than unfavorable, 47 percent to 39 percent. But a decade later, the picture changed dramatically. “A poll I [Shibley Telhami] conducted in April 2011 showed that 61 percent of Americans expressed unfavorable views of Islam, while only 33 percent expressed favorable views” (Brookings, Dec. 9, 2015). He states that this percentage remained unchanged in 2015. Curiously, he also found that during the same period Americans have held Muslims in higher regard than Islam. One cannot help but wonder why this is. Perhaps it’s time to start talking among ourselves about why Americans perceive Islam so differently than we do, because we — both on a personal and an organizational level — have obviously failed to communicate that particular message. As Quran 39:49 proclaims: “Now when trouble touches humanity, they cry out to Us. But when We bestow a favor upon them as from Ourselves, they say: ‘This has been given to me because of a certain knowledge (I have).’ Nay, this is but a trial. Yet most of them do not understand.” As our trial continues, we should remember a quote of America’s best-selling poet: the Persian Sufi Jalal al-Din Rumi (d. 1273): “Be like the sun for grace and mercy. Be like the night to cover others’ faults. Be like running water for generosity. Be like death for rage and anger. Be like the Earth for modesty. Appear as you are. Be as you appear” (BBC; Oct. 21, 2014). There is some reason for hope. In a very interesting development soon after Trump’s victory, Paul Kent uploaded a petition on www.MoveOn.org to appoint Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) the new Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to replace the disgraced Donna Brazile, its current interim leader, who had replaced the disgraced Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Current supporters include Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). As this editorial was being written, 20,309 people had already signed it online. Surely they are not unaware of the fact that Ellison happens to be Muslim. As America enters uncharted territory, let us keep such things in mind. ih
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PUBLISHER The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) PRESIDENT Azhar Azeez SECRETARY GENERAL Hazem Bata EDITOR Omer Bin Abdullah EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Faryal M Khatri EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Iqbal Unus, Chair: M. Ahmadullah Siddiqi, Hazem Bata, Faryal Khatri ISLAMIC HORIZONS is a bimonthly publication of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Copyright @2017 All rights reserved Reproduction, in whole or in part, of this material in mechanical or electronic form without written permission is strictly prohibited. Islamic Horizons magazine is available electronically on ProQuest’s Ethnic NewsWatch, LexisNexis, and EBSCO Discovery Service, and is indexed by Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature. Please see your librarian for access. The name “Islamic Horizons” is protected through trademark registration ISSN 8756‑2367 POSTMASTER Send address changes to Islamic Horizons, P.O. Box 38 Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 SUBSCRIPTIONS Annual, domestic – $24 Canada – US$30 Overseas airmail – US$60 TO SUBSCRIBE Contact Islamic Horizons at (317) 839‑8157 / (317) 839‑1811 Fax (317) 839‑1840 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING For rates contact Islamic Horizons at (703) 742‑8108, email@example.com, www.isna.net Canada Post International Publications Mail Product (Canadian Distribution) Sales Agreement No. 0666300 CORRESPONDENCE Send all correspondence and/or Letters to the Editor at: Islamic Horizons P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
ISNA MATTERS OHIO CELEBRATES 29TH ANNUAL ISLAMIC DAY
Sayyid M. Syeed
Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, National Director for Interfaith & Community Alliance, ISNA, addressed the events held in connection with the 29th annual “Islamic Day in Ohio” in Columbus, on Oct. 8, 2016. Held under the aegis of the Islamic Council of Ohio (ICO), some 150 people came out or hear Dr. Syeed and 6th District Judge Walter H. Rice, whose writ covers southwest Ohio, speak on “Faith & Politics ... Our Shared Responsibility.” The seed for ICO dates back to Nov. 1985, when Dayton’s Muslim community invited fellow Muslims from around the state to its first Unity Day. At the second Unity Day, held in March 1986 in Columbus, participants formed the ICO. During the third Unity Day, held at the
Bashir G. Ahmed
Greater Toledo Islamic Center, relates ICO President Bashir G. Ahmed, its structure and by-laws were formulated. The community then requested Governor Richard Celeste (D) and the state legislators to proclaim the second Saturday in October “Islamic Day.” The date, which has no religious significance, was chosen to minimize any conflict with Muslim events held elsewhere. Their request was accepted, and the contribution of Ohioan Muslims was recognized. The state’s first “Islamic Day” was proclaimed in 1987, and Gov. Celeste’s successors have continued to endorse it. Ohio, perhaps the only state to celebrate such a day, is home to an estimated 200,000 Muslims. ih
BUILDING BRIDGES IN MINNESOTA ISNA Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances National Director Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed attended several interfaith events in Redwood Falls, Minn., during Oct. 15-17, 2016. These were led by the First Presbyterian Church and Rev. Scott Prouty. Dr. Syeed spoke with a panel attended by people from 37 different towns. On Sunday morning he addressed the church congregation, which was followed by a potluck lunch to break bread with and meet members of the community. That evening, while speaking at the Redwood Falls Community Center about recognizing the dignity in others, regardless of faith, he remarked, “With that kind of respect for diversity, we
are able to build bridges and move forward for the collective well-being of all of us.” On Monday morning, he spoke at the local middle and high schools as well as the Rotary Club. The area print and electronic media covered the visit. Rev. Prouty reported that during his visit, Dr. Syeed met with a teenaged boy who had tried to commit suicide several times. “I watch the nightly news,” the teenager related, “and all I see is one tragedy after another. People treat one another so poorly. I had lost my hope. But after hearing Dr. Syeed, I have hope again that we can get along, that we can have peace, that the world will be a better place ... My world is so dark, but Syeed has helped me see light.” ih
8 ISLAMIC HORIZONS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
ISNA WELCOMES NEW U.S. ZONAL OFFICERS ISNA Zonal Officers, who hold the position for two years, sit on the Executive Council along with the president, U.S. and Canada vice presidents and the immediate past president. The three new inductees are: West Zone — Ahmed Asif Sheikh, a Southern California-based attorney who specializes in Islamic inheritance. A certified specialist in estate planning trust and probate law by the State Bar of California, he has served on ISNA’s Endowment Committee since 2009 and on various boards in Southern California. In addition, he is a columnist at muslimmatters, where he writes on topics ranging from elder abuse to civil rights. Central Zone — Lubabah Abdullah, a St. Louis, Mo., attorney, concentrates on immigration law and family law as well as estate planning. While an undergraduate member of her local MSA chapter, she helped host the MSA National Central Zone conference. She has spent the last five years on ISNA’s Legal Affairs Committee and served two-terms on the board of MSA National as vice-president (U.S.) and treasurer. East Zone — Farhan Syed, an active local community member who has held several leadership roles, was actively involved with founding the Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA). He helped establish the first regional zone (MSA-SEZ) of MSA National in 1994 and was elected the MSA National East Zone’s representative (U.S.) for 199597. He served as vice-chair of the ISNA Convention Steering Committee at a most critical time — in the wake of 9/11 — when ISNA held its 2002 annual convention in Chicago. ih
CISNA RECEIVES RECOGNITION The Board of Directors of the Council of American Private Education (CAPE), which advocates on behalf of private schools, voted unanimously on Sept. 27, 2016 to approve the membership of the Council of Islamic Schools of North America (CISNA) as its first Islamic — and 20th — national member. Present at the voting was Executive Director Sufia Azmat, who began the application process in Dec. 2015. During her presentation at CAPE’s March 2016 meeting, she spoke about the proliferation of Islamic schools, their increased role in educating an important segment of our society and the need to include that voice “at the table.” “It is crucial that Islamic schools be known as a part of the fabric of American education and not simply as ‘the other,’” stated Azmat. CAPE is a coalition of national organizations and state affiliates that serves private elementary and secondary schools. An ISNA affiliate, CISNA is the first and main association of Islamic schools and educational organizations. It strives to improve Islamic schools through accreditation, consulting and professional development. In addition, its advocates for Islamic education and fosters professional relationships with educational institutions and the relevant agencies.
In 2011 CISNA, the only accrediting national agency for Islamic schools, began offering accreditation to Islamic schools through a partnership with AdvancED, the world’s largest accrediting agency of schools. CISNA also partners with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges to provide dual accreditation. CISNA president Safaa Zarzour remarked that “the Islamic schools represented [at CAPE] by CISNA will add to the strength and unity of all private and faith-based schools in America as they all share common goals, including character formation, a values-based education and producing productive and positive members of society.” ih
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 9
Dallas Hosts First National Law Conference for Muslim Leaders
Some 150 Muslim American community leaders attended the first national law conference, held in Dallas from Oct. 7-9, 2016, by the Muslim Legal Fund of America (MFLA; https://www.mlfa.org). The three-day “Leadership Conference for Justice: Strong Communities for a Strong America,” event designed for imams and mosque leaders, included a special screening of the groundbreaking
New York City Rejects Islamophobia
The New York City Council passed Resolution 1230-2016 on Oct. 13, 2016, thereby declaring support for Muslim communities, affirming the nation’s religious pluralism and urging all residents to stand together for peace and understanding. The Majlis Ash Shura (Islamic Leadership Council) of New York had initiated the call for this resolution in Feb. 2016 during a meeting with NYC City Councilman Daneek Miller, who immediately agreed to sponsor it. According to the council, this document reaffirms Muslim New Yorkers’ constitutional right and is a moral statement against Islamophobia, hate speech and bigotry. The council suggested that all Muslim American communities request the passing of a similar resolution by their local governments and that its language is a useful model to emulate. The City of New York conveyed its salaams to its Muslim residents and visitors and noted that anti-Muslim, Islamophobic rhetoric has increased in the national discourse and that the rates of anti-Muslim hate violence are at record highs nationwide, which is “detrimental to all people who cherish freedom and liberty…” It stated that the City finds such things to be against American principles of religious freedom and fairness and contrary to the American vision of welcoming all people; that all New York City residents deserve to live in a safe environment free of hate and discrimination; and that hateful rhetoric only enables extremist ideologies to flourish in the dark corners of global society. ih 10 ISLAMIC HORIZONS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
Hispanic Muslim Day
Active Latino Muslim leaders from Puerto Rico, Panama, Colombia, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas and Maryland
The North Hudson Islamic Educational Center, a mosque and community center located in Union City, N.J., held its sixteenth annual Hispanic Muslim Day on Nov. 13, 2016. The first one was held in the wake of 9/11 to inform the local Hispanic community about Islam. Jaime “Mujahid” Fletcher, the Colombian-born founder of the Houston-based IslamInSpanish (https://www.islaminspanish.org), which organized the event, told the “Village Voice” on Nov. 15, “It’s an issue of perception. A lot of people who are scared are people who have never come in contact with a Muslim, or don’t really know Muslims.” Fletcher embraced Islam during the spring of 2001, after running into a former gang rival outside a Houston mosque and seeing that he had changed profoundly. He started IslamInSpanish, which distributes the Quran and Hadith in Spanish, after 9/11. ih
PHOTO © WENDY DÍAZ AND HERNAN GUADALUPE
Khalil Meek introduces Trevor Aaronson and David Felix Sutcliffe
documentary “(T)ERROR” followed by a panel discussion with David Felix Sutcliffe, one of the filmmakers, and Trevor Aaronson, author of “The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism” (2013). Attorneys from the Dallas-based Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America (CLCMA; https://clcma.org) and guest presenters from Florida, Texas, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia and Washington State gave presentations related to day-to-day mosque operations, such as engaging with law enforcement; family, employment and immigration law; the tax code, child protection, prisoners’ rights, mental health, international humanitarian aid, banking regulations and watchlists. MFLA executive director Khalil Meek announced that in light of the community response, his organization plans to make this an annual event. Attorney Charles Swift, director of CLCMA, said that law literacy is important for the Muslim community, especially in a hostile-to-minorities society. Established in 2001 as a national civil liberties legal fund, the Dallas-based MLFA defends the Bill of Rights by supporting legal cases involving civil liberty encroachments. ih
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Columbus Condemns Islamophobia On Oct. 24, 2106, the Columbus City Council passed a resolution condemning Islamophobia and declaring its support for the city’s Muslim community.
Councilman Michael Stinziano, the resolution’s mover, told The Columbus Dispatch the following day that it seeks to recognize this central Ohio city as a diverse community, oppose anti-Muslim bigotry and promote laws and policies that value diversity. Councilwoman Elizabeth C. Brown added, “We’re like a big jigsaw puzzle, and every piece is different, every community is
California Addresses Bullying and Harassment
Gov. Jerry Brown (D-Calif.) signed Assemblymember Das Williams’ Assembly Bill (AB) 2845, which will protect Muslim and Sikh students who are facing bullying at school. The bill requires that starting Jan. 1, 2017, the California Department of Education, as part of its compliance monitoring, to assess whether local educational agencies have provided information to staff on school site and community resources for students who are subject to discrimination and bullying based upon actual or perceived religious affiliation. It also requires the superintendent of public instruction to post anti-bullying resources related to affiliation or perceived affiliation with any religion, nationality, race or ethnicity on its website.
different. And we fit together in a beautiful way that creates a full picture of a strong community.” In support, President Phil Washburn of the Interfaith Association of Central Ohio said, “One of the things we’re realizing is, more and more, we need to bring those puzzle pieces together through action.” Despite the reality of Islamophobia, there also is a lot of love, cohesion and optimism in the interfaith community, Imran Malik, executive president of the Noor Islamic Cultural Center, told the Dispatch. He remarked that Columbus could serve as a model for the rest of the country. According to Romin Iqbal of the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), over the past year, and especially since Dec. 2015, incidents of anti-Muslim harassment, intimidation and discrimination have risen exponentially nationwide. In central Ohio, CAIR is currently handling more than 60 discrimination cases for Muslims. She said there are plans to push other central Ohio communities to do the same. CAIR’s Ohio chapter is currently pursuing a case filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, alleging employment discrimination over city officials’ refusal to allow hijabi police officers. ih AB 2845 was co-sponsored by Asian Americans Advancing Justice-California (Advancing Justice-CA), the Council on American-Islamic Relations, California Chapter (CAIR-CA), the Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund (SALDEF) and the Sikh Coalition. “AB 2845 [the first and only bill directly addressing the issue of Islamophobia in California] will ensure that students who are faced with Islamophobia are provided the assistance and support they need when faced with school bullying and discrimination,” stated Andrew Medina, California policy manager of Advancing Justice-CA. The California State San Bernardino Center on Hate & Extremism has reported that anti-Muslim hate crimes increased 122% in the state between 2014 and 2015. AB 2845 seeks to address potential spikes in bullying and discrimination in the state’s public education system due to this increased Islamophobia. ih
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The American Islamic College Appoints Vice-Presidents
The Chicago-based American Islamic College (AIC) announced on Sept. 16, 2016, the appointments of Kathleen O’Brien as vice president for academic affairs and provost, and Randal Muhammad as vice president of finance and administration. O’Brien comes from Milwaukee’s Alverno College, where she served as interim president during the 2003-04 academic year, and senior vice president for academic affairs. She will focus primarily upon accreditation and curriculum and faculty development. A board member of the Milwaukee Science Academy, the Milwaukee Montessori School, Wisconsin Women in Higher Education Leadership and the Girl Scouts of Southeast Wisconsin, she also heads a Rotary Club of Milwaukee committee that deals with international scholarships and exchanges. Prior to joining AIC, Muhammad worked with the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development with particular responsibility for automating the budgeting process. At AIC, he will shape institutional policies to ensure its full compliance with all federal and state level programs, as well as oversee the preparation and submission of all financial reports required by external regulatory agencies. ih
Michigan Islamic Academy Prevails over Hate Muslims in Public Service On Sept. 28, 2016, Pittsfield Township reached a $1.7 million settlement over its denial of permission to the Michigan Islamic Academy (MIA) to build a 70,000-squarefoot Islamic school and a small residential development. The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division filed a Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) lawsuit in U.S. District Court during October 2015, alleging that the township had placed an undue burden on the MIA by denying its Oct. 2011 request to rezone a 26-acre parcel. The settlement further requires township officials, who continue to deny any wrongdoing, to “provide training within 90 days of entry of the consent decree to its officials, employees and contractors on the requirements of RLUIPA.” It also has been told to post signs at entrances to the Pittsfield Township Hall and on its website that the township doesn’t “apply its zoning or land use laws in a manner that imposes a substantial burden on the religious exercise of persons, including a religious assembly or institution” and does not discriminate on basis of religion. The MIA — which was supported by the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) — contended that the Pittsfield Township
Planning Commission repeatedly “moved the goalposts” to deny its permission, which constituted discrimination. The Justice Department found that the MIA had met all of the rezoning requirements and noted that the township had approved plans for similar schools, including the Washtenaw Christian Academy and the Ypsilanti Free Methodist Church. CAIR attorney Lena Masri, who represented the MIA, said, “We welcome the settlement with Pittsfield Township and hope the outcome of this case will serve as a deterrent to other municipalities throughout the country seeking to deny Muslim institutions the right to build or expand their facilities on the basis of religion.” RLUIPA, enacted in 2000 by Congress, prohibits religious discrimination and protects religious communities against any unjustified burdens placed upon practicing their religion. ih
The Midair Hijabi Savior Dr. Parveen Khan, a practicing pediatrician for over 40 years, turned into a lifesaver while traveling from Atlanta to Newark, N.J. on Delta Air Lines during Sept. 2016. Soon after takeoff, an announcement was made asking a physician to step forward because a passenger had lost consciousness. Seeing that no one stood up, even though she knew that other physicians were on board, she volunteered to the 40-year-old white woman. For the remainder of the flight, Dr. Khan stayed on her knees by the woman’s side, comforting her and praying for her. Upon landing, she recorded the patient’s history and vitals and handed them over to the paramedics. Dr. Khan says, “The passengers that had previously felt discomfort around me, now approached me and expressed their gratitude. I walked away from the airport feeling a sense of pride. My identities were no longer split. I am a physician who chose
to wear a hijab. The hijab did not take away from my identity; it strengthened it.” Upon boarding, she recalls, “I could sense the discomfort my fellow passengers felt by my mere presence. I was no longer an American. I was no longer a successful physician. I was simply a woman wearing a hijab, ‘flaunting’ my religion.’ I was seen as an outsider, as a threat.” Dr. Khan hopes that her experience will encourage hijabis to stay true to their beliefs. Delta sent her a letter of appreciation as well as several hundred dollars in gifts, which she donated to some of her favorite charities. ih
Abdullah Hammoud, 26, won nearly 62% of the vote against his Republican opponent — a WWE wrestler nicknamed “Rhyno.” Hammoud represents the city of Dearborn in the Michigan State Assembly. Ilhan Omar, 34, a former refugee, became the first Muslim American state and hijab-wearing representative in Minnesota, the first Somali American elected official in the country, and the first Muslim American woman elected to its state legislature. Omar, who stood on Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party ticket, is director of policy at Women Organizing Women (https://wownetwork. org), which helps all women, particularly first- and second-generation immigrants, to become engaged citizens and community leaders. ih Niagara Falls, N.Y.’s city planning board Sept. 28, 2016 approved Masjid Tawba’s plans to build a new $1.1 million mosque, said WKBW Buffalo. The premises will include an 80-by80-foot mosque with a basement and a mezzanine, as well as a basketball and volleyball court. Construction will take up to 18 months. Currently, the 200-member congregation has been praying in a storefront building across the street from the site for more than 10 years. Project Coordinator Dr. Mohamed S. Ahmed, an oncologist, told The Buffalo News that the local Muslims want to be part of the city’s overall improvement. He was pleased at the support received from the mosque’s neighbors and hopes that this project will upgrade the depressed neighborhood. Mayor Paul Dyster (D), welcoming the approval, told WBFO Radio Station Oct. 2, 2016, “We’re an international city, and we have visitors of all different races, creeds and colors coming here all year long. And we want to be certain that in terms of our residents that we’re very welcoming as well.” ih
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 13
Muslim Eagle Scouts Grow
(Left to Right) Assistant Scout Master Ahmed Abdelfattah, Eagle Scouts Khalid Alnadi and Ammaar Ahmed, and Scout Master Saffet A. Catovic Omar Farooq (4th from right) is flanked by his parents Saberina Munawar and Farooq Syed
Scouts Khalid Alnadi and Ammaar Ahmed of Boy Scout Troop #114 (New Jersey’s first official Boy Scout Troop, est. 2001), which is chartered by the Islamic Society of Central Jersey, completed their Eagle Board of Reviews and thus attained scouting’s highest rank: Eagle Scout. Troop #114 has 16 Eagles thus far. Since its introduction in 1911, more than 2 million young men have earned this rank. Requirements include earning at least 21 merit badges and demonstrating the Scout
Tyler Islamic Center Inc.’s new $1.2 million mosque, which will be completed in 2017, will include a new mosque that can accommodate about 200 people, reported the Tyler (Tex.) Morning News, Oct. 22, 2106. Presently, the East Texas Islamic Society (ETIS) mosque serves the Tyler area. Officials told the newspaper that a second mosque is needed because the community is growing and spreading throughout the region. ETIS spokesman Anwar Khalifa said that between 300 and 500 people attend the jumu’a prayers and that as many as 1,000 people gather for Eid prayers. ETIS, which has grown with the community, now owns more than 15 acres and has a mosque and an
Spirit through the Boy Scout Oath and Law, service and leadership. They now join their fellow Muslim Eagle scouts: Ibraheem Catovic, Zain Haq, Atif Salahudeen, Ismael Catovic, Aman Haq, Omer Syed, Noor Rostoum, Ali Tahir, Omar Shaban, Omar Qari, Ali Shamshad, Yousuf AbdelFatah, Zeeshan Chugtai and Mustafa Maner. On Oct. 2, 2016, Omar Farooq, whose project was to plan, construct and implement an ADAMS Bike Rack, became the 11th Eagle Islamic school, the Islamic Faith Academy, which serves children from pre-K through fourth grade. The community has also purchased 14 acres just outside Tyler city limits to build a mosque and small subdivision. They also plan to offer a free health clinic to the area’s residents. According to the ETIS website, the East Texas Muslim community dates back to 1988, when several Muslim families saw the need for an Islamic center. CAIR-LA has opened a new satellite office in the Los Angeles/San Fernando Valley area. While the LA branch maintains a presence in the Valley, from hosting jumu’a prayers to conducting candidate forums, this new area of operations will allow it to expand its services. Syed Hussaini, CAIRLA’s valley outreach manager, will oversee the new office, which is located at 19849 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, Calif. 91324. The General Body of the Shura Council of Southern California elected its
14 ISLAMIC HORIZONS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
Scout for ADAMS (All-Dulles Area Muslim Society, Sterling, Va.) He started his scouting career with ADAMS Cub Scouts and was a founding member of ADAMS Troop 786. There are over 5,000 Muslim scouts nationwide, many of them in chartered Muslim Boy Scout Packs, Troops and Venturing Crews in nearly every major American city. ISNA, a long-time chartered partner with the Boy Scouts of America, works closely with the National Islamic Committee on Scouting (http://islamiccouncilonscouting.com) to promote scouting among Muslims. ih nine-member 2017-18 Majlis. Each member will serve a three-year term. According to the council’s rotating schedule, three seats become open each year. Members can serve two successive terms, after which they have to take a mandatory year off. The incoming members are Duaa Alwan of the Muslim American Society Greater Los Angeles, Owaiz Dadabhoy of Uplift Charity and Dr. Ahmed Soboh of Chino Valley Islamic Center (re-elected for his second three-year term). The outgoing members are Hafez Hafez of CAIR-Los Angeles and Rafael Delgado of LALMA.
William & Mary University has obtained a rare 19th-century copy of the Quran, similar to those read by slaves in Virginia,
that it plans to use in an “Introduction to Islam” class. It will be compared to other copies read by other enslaved Africans in South America and the Caribbean. The university says it was likely read by West African slaves, many of whom were Muslim. This handwritten Quran was most likely inscribed in northern Nigeria, for its calligraphy, decoration and vowel usage are unique to West Africa. This is not the first copy of that era to reach the campus. The university said that Thomas Jefferson studied the Quran while attending the university’s law school. His copy is now at the Library of Congress. Nassau County, New York’s Syosset School District, has recognized the two Eids and the Hindu festival of Diwali as official school holidays after a Hindu student, Niki Bhatia, started a petition addressed to Dr. Thomas Rogers, superintendent of the Syosset Central School District. The district needs to embrace the diversity associated with the changing demographics, reported the Syosset Patch and the Long Island Newsday on Oct. 18, 2016.
The school board unanimously voted on Oct. 17 to approve the petition for the 201718 school year. Syosset High School is the first Long Island school to recognize these three holidays.
Donate Life America (DLA) recognized Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, outreach director at Darl Al-Hijrah Islamic Center, Falls Church, Va., with its James S. Wolf, MD, Courage Award at the annual meeting in Las Vegas Oct. 25-27, 2016. This award, which celebrates the founder of the Coalition on Donation (now DLA), is given to an individual outside the professional organ donation and transplantation community who has played a significant national role in helping educate the public about organ,
INDIANAPOLIS SAYS NO TO ISLAMOPHOBIA The Indianapolis City-County Council adopted a special resolution on Dec. 5, 2016, condemning all hateful speech and violent action directed at Muslims, those perceived to be Muslims, immigrants and people of color. The Council also rejected political tactics that use fear to manipulate voters or to gain power or influence; and committed to pursuing a policy agenda that affirms civil and human rights, and ensures that those targeted on the basis of race, religion or immigration status can turn to government without fear of recrimination; and reaffirmed the value of a pluralistic society, the beauty of a culture composed of multiple cultures, and the inalienable right of every person to live and practice their faith without fear. The U.S., the resolution stressed, was founded by immigrants and the history of Islam in the U.S. began even before its founding when African Muslims were enslaved and brought to America, where they later helped in numerous ways to build this country, including sacrificing their lives in every major war. It also reminded that more than 3 million Muslim Americans are making invaluable contributions to our economy, our social and political life, and our culture.
The resolution noted that Arab and Muslim Americans and those perceived as Muslims who are frequently targets of abusive and discriminatory police practices, including surveillance in their neighborhoods and places of worship. The resolution expressed its sadness and outrage at the recent escalation of hateful rhetoric
eye and tissue donation; promoted donor registration; expressed enthusiasm in educating the public; sought to reach audiences on a national level; and demonstrated the ‘service above self ’ attitude. Cosmetics-maker CoverGirl named Nura Afia, 23, the hijabi beauty vlogger known for her makeup tutorials, as an ambassador in its mainstream cosmetics campaign. She joined several entertainment figures in their new advertisement. Afia, who has more than 300,000 Instagram followers and over 200,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel, told CNN on Nov. 4, 2016, that her role as CoverGirl ambassador is a positive step toward mainstream representation for Muslim girls. “It shows that we’re average Americans,” Afia said. “We’re just girls that love to play with makeup and do everyday stuff.” Bob Marro, board member of the Sterling, Va.-based All-Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), was presented the 2016 Annual Barbara Varon Volunteer Award Oct. from everyday people, political figures and public officials. Council Vice President Zach Adamson moved the resolution, and councilors Blake Johnson, Frank Mascari and William Oliver seconded. ISNA Secretary General Hazem Bata expressed his appreciation for the all-inclusive resolution. ih
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High school juniors and seniors can win up to $2,000 for college in the 2017 Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest by exploring the idea of using religious tests as part of the U.S. immigration and refugee policies. Each year, the contest engages these students in church-state issues by directing them to express an opinion a topic related to religious liberty. The grand prize is $2,000 and a trip for two to Washington, D.C. Second prize is $1,000, and third prize is $500. All high school students in the 2017 and 2018 graduating classes are eligible. There are no requirements regarding faith, GPA, after-school activities or clubs. To enter, write
an essay between 800-1,200 words on the following topic: The U.S., along with many other countries, gives safe haven to refugees of wartorn countries. Many factors are taken into account when determining who is allowed to enter our borders. During the 2016 presidential campaign, there was discussion around the idea of denying entrance to some immigrants and refugees based on their religion. In an essay, discuss whether a religious test should be conducted as a part of the U.S. immigration and refugee policies. Explore the intersection, if any, between the proposed test and the two religion clauses in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Be sure to identify the implications for religious liberty of all citizens in your answer. Visit BJConline.org/contest for complete details and printable entry forms. Entries must be mailed to the Baptist Joint Committee and postmarked by March 10, 2017. ih
18, 2016, “in recognition of… Outstanding service to the community and exemplary volunteer work in Fairfax County (Va.).” Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust, who nominated Marro, said that he was “unanimously selected by the Barbara Varon Committee Members.” This award honors the memory of Barbara Varon, former chairman of the Fairfax County Electoral Board. A native of Germany who immigrated to the U.S. as an adult, Varon joined the Fairfax County
Office of the General Registrar, committed herself to a high-school-student voter registration outreach program, wrote brochures and designed pamphlets to inform the voting public. Appointed to the Fairfax County Electoral Board, Varun, who fought for the rights and privileges of all citizens to vote, served as vice chairman and chairman. Along with her husband, she generously donated time to many volunteer organizations and frequently made generous anonymous donations to those in need.
Community activist Rabia Khedr, founder of the Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities (CAM-D; http://camd.ca), was appointed a commissioner on the five-member Ontario Human Rights Commission on Sept. 30, 2016. “I truly believe in the fact that we have a responsibility to ensure rights for everyone around us,” said Khedr, who is also a human rights consultant with diversityworX (http://diversityworx.com) and a member of the Mississauga Accessibility Advisory Committee. A dedicated volunteer and advocate for diverse communities, women and individuals with disabilities, she has also been on the board of directors for the Ontario Women’s Health Network and a member of the Region of Peel Accessibility Advisory Committee. The Ontario Human Rights Commission was established in 1961 to administer the Ontario Human Rights Code. ih 16 ISLAMIC HORIZONS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
Quebec Court Affirms Hijab Right
PHOTO (C) NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CANADIAN MUSLIMS
Quebec Superior Court Justice Wilbrod Décarie strongly criticized Quebec Court Judge Eliana Marengo’s insistence [in Feb. 2015] that a Montreal woman, Rania El-Alloul, remove her hijab in order to have her case heard in court. “The court sympathizes with Ms. El-Alloul and deeply regrets how she was treated,” she wrote in a decision released early October 2016. Marengo had contended the courtroom was a secular space and compared the hijab to a hat and sunglasses, which would not normally be allowed in a courtroom. Décarie, however, said that the Supreme Court of Canada had already rejected that argument. “I need everybody to feel safe and unafraid to go to court because of the way they dress, whether they are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Indian — all the religions,” she told CBC Montreal. In 2015, human rights advocates and several politicians, including future prime minister Justin Trudeau, condemned Judge Marengo’s remarks. So far, the judge hasn’t apologized or been disciplined. El-Alloul’s lawyers, who had asked Décarie to issue a declaratory judgment to clarify the rules around hijabs in Quebec courtrooms, are reviewing the decision to determine if the can take any further legal action. ih
Mosque. The old section built in 1907, which has a beautiful sanctuary, will be preserved and used for hosting lectures, seminars and community meetings. The exterior will be restored with no alterations. London has two major mosques and several smaller prayer houses. Imam Abd Alfatah Twakkal mentioned that a third large mosque is planned. Interestingly, Rev. Golden stated, “We are using the money [Can$50,000 from the sale] to help others in the area, other United Churches, and we are also bringing in Syrian refugees here.” ih
A Chapter in Muslim American History Dr. Osman Ahmed, who has been associated with the MSA since its founding, and ISNA, has published a brief account of his life in Islamic work in the U.S. This is an important chapter in the history of Muslim America. He summarizes the life of a young Muslim, himself, who came to the U.S. on a scholarship to pursue graduate studies in nuclear engineering at the University of Michigan. Upon his arrival in Ann Arbor in Jan. 1960, his main concern was to ensure that he performs Friday prayers as usual. This is how he discovered the existence of the Muslim Students Association of U of M. He never expected that he would be involved in Islamic activities more than what his MSA offered, which was limited comparing to what other student organizations provided. From then onwards, he began his journey in Islamic work from Ann Arbor to Gary, In., and then back to Ann Arbor and onward to Glen Ridge, N.J.; and from there to Jeddah and Makkah, and then to Manhattan, N.Y. and to Jersey City, N.J., finally settling in Newark, N.J. Dr. Ahmed has dedicated all revenue from this booklet to The Islamic Society of Essex County. Interested readers can order the book by donating a minimum of $10.00 by check drawn in favor of the The Islamic Society of Essex County (Tax ID #83-0359741) Please mail to: Osman Ahmed, Ph. D., 39A Musket Lane, Whiting, NJ 08759. A booklet will be sent along with the official receipt of your donation. ih
Ontario Declares October Islamic Heritage Month Iqra.ca reported that on Oct. 6, 2016, Ontario New Democrat Party (NDP) leader Andrea Horwath, NDP provincial parliament member Teresa Armstrong (who introduced the Bill) and Muslim leaders jointly celebrated the establishment of Islamic Heritage Month in the province. Horwath told a press conference, “Establishing October as Islamic Heritage Month in Ontario is an important opportunity to celebrate Islamic culture and to reaffirm that our province’s diversity is something to celebrate. The NDP is proud to stand with the Muslim community in making this happen.” Ontario is now in line with the Federal government and many local school boards, which have already taken this step. Imam Illyas Ally of the Islamic Dawa Centre and Executive Producer of “Let the Quran Speak,” pointed out, “Islamic Heritage Month will give children a vehicle to explore Islam from a new angle, empowering children to develop a healthier, richer understanding of Islamic heritage.” ih
First in Hijab on Canadian Air Toronto CityNews reporter Ginella Massa took the anchor seat during the network’s latenight newscast on Nov. 17, 2016 becoming the first hijab-wearing journalist in Canada to do so at a major broadcaster. Massa, who started as an on-air reporter with City in 2015, told Yahoo Style she was excited to be the first hijab-wearing host on a Canadian newscast, and acknowledged how long it’s taken for the milestone to happen. “It feels really amazing to be the first hijabi reporter in Canada, but I certainly hope I’m not the last,” she said. Massa told Newstalk 1010 radio that although she received some hateful comments after the broadcast, she emphasized the response has been “overwhelmingly” positive. Massa wrote on her Facebook: “Thankful to have opportunities like this at a time when there is so much hate and vilifying of Muslims. Looking forward to the day when it’s no longer a big deal for someone who looks like me to be anchoring a newscast.” ih
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The Egyptian Community Center of Ontario (ECCO; eccoo. ca) in North York, Ontario, plans to use the former Hyatt United Church, which it purchased in August 2015, as a mosque and a school. It will be London (Ont.)’s newest mosque. “I am delighted it will remain as a place of worship. I believe we only have one God ....,” Rev. Richard Golden of Melbourne United Church, chairperson of the United Church’s Middlesex Presbytery, told The London Free Press on Sept. 30, 2016. ECCO will renovate and convert the stately old red brick church into the Hyatt Centre and
Striving for Quality Mosques BY ISLAMIC HORIZONS STAFF
SNA hosted its 4th Annual National Masjid Forum, “Strengthening Masajid through Practical Knowledge and Insightful Discussion,” on Oct. 22-23, 2016, in Farmington Hills, Mich., in cooperation with the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC) and the Detroit-based Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU). The forum and its parallel sessions provide a platform for mosque and community leaders to learn best practices from leading experts and to network and share experiences. Dr. Ihsan Bagby, chair, ISNA Masjid Development C ommittee, Imam Mohammed Almasmari, MMCC executive director and Sarrah Buageila, ISPU project manager shared the stage for the inaugural session. Hassan Shibly, executive director, CAIR Florida, Yusufi Vali, executive director, Islamic Society of Boston, and Kassem
Allie, executive director, Islamic Center of America, addressed the “Best Practices for Masjid Crisis Communication” session. Imam Faizul R. Khan, Islamic Society of the Washington Area, moderated. The forum included a panel on “Disability Inclusion in Our Masjids: Who Have We Forgotten in Our Communities?” Joohi Tahir, executive director, Muslims Understanding & Helping Special Education
Needs (MUHSEN), stressed the importance of disability inclusion. Mohammed Yousuf, founder of EquallyAble, explained how masjids can accommodate, support, include and welcome Muslims with special needs and cognitive disabilities. Nurah Petross, MMCC board member and secretary, moderated. During the “ISPU Remaking Muslim Space: Creating the Welcoming, Inclusive, Dynamic Mosque” session, moderated by
ISNA PROVIDES A PLATFORM FOR MOSQUE AND COMMUNITY LEADERS TO LEARN BEST PRACTICES FROM LEADING EXPERTS AND TO NETWORK AND SHARE EXPERIENCES.
Dr. Rafik Beekun 18 ISLAMIC HORIZONS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
Dalia Mogahed, Dr. Bagby explained how these goals could be accomplished. The “Designing and Making a Green Masjid” session featured Uzma Mirza, principal architect, AYN Architect Studio, Hoda Alkaff, founder-director, Wisconsin Green Muslims and Zulfiqar Ali Shah, imam, Islamic Society of Milwaukee. MMCC outreach director Mikail Saadiq moderated. Dr. Rafik Beekun, professor of management and strategy, University of Nevada, Reno, and Prof. Atiya Aftab, Rutgers University and former chair of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey, spoke on “Best Practices in Masjid Governance.” AbdurRasheed Muhammad, the first Muslim Military chaplain (retd.), ISNA director of Chaplain Services and Islamic Endorsing Agent for Chaplains, moderated. The session on “Maximizing Our Youth Directors” featured Fiyyaz Jaat, ISNA director of Youth Programming and Services, and Osama Odeh, youth director, Muslim Community of Western Suburbs. Muhannad Hakeen moderated. Mogahed reflected upon “Why the Mosque Matters.” Azam Nizamuddin, deputy executive director, North American Islamic Trust, moderated. Ramzi Kassem, associate professor of law, City University New York School of Law, and Shilby discussed countering violent extremism. Mogahed moderated. Shaida Khan, Interfaith Institute of the Islamic Center of Long Island, N.Y., Dima El-Gamal, Muslim Unity Center, and Sayyid M. Syeed, National Director, ISNA Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances, analyzed issues related to “Best Practices in Interfaith Work.” MMCC board manager Asim Khan moderated. Imam Zulfiqar Ali Shah keynoted the celebration banquet, at which Mogahid and Shilby also spoke. During this event, ISNA recognized four mosques for accomplishments in four categories: Flint Islamic Center (Youth Programming), ADAMS Center (Women-Friendly), Islamic Center of Long Island (Interfaith) and Islamic Center of Evansville (Green Masjid). Two workshops formed part of the program. Dr. Bagby led a workshop on “Creating a Welcoming, Inclusive, Dynamic Masjid.” Dr. Beekun, who co-authored a book on strategic planning for Muslim organizations, led a workshop on “Strategic Planning: The Why’s and the How’s.” ih
Engaging with Our Trials and Tribulations The North American Bangladesh Islamic Community celebrates 26 years in the midst of a challenging atmosphere BY ALIYA KARIM
t its 26th annual convention, held in Richardson, Tex. on Aug. 13, 2016, the North American Bangladeshi Islamic Community (NABIC) addressed “Overcoming Challenges, Applying Islamic Values.” As Shaykh Shpendim Nadzaku, imam of the Islamic Association of North Texas explained, we are indeed at a loss, “except for those who believe and do good” (Quran 103:2; emphasis added). This except drives this non-partisan, non-sec- ISNA President Azhar Azeez tarian organization’s projects in Bangladesh. Dr. Amin Sarkar of Alabama A&M University and Dr. Mohammad Karim of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth spoke about creating a more ethical and broad-based university curricula and prominent research institutions. For example, problems such as arsenic water poisoning can be countered via innovative approaches like Duke University’s Thabit Pulak’s iKormi water filters, now being used throughout the Kushtia district. In the morning, word came from New York City about the horrific deaths of two Bangladeshi imams Rashed Nizam (center) presents there. But as Linda Sarsour of the Arab American community service recognition Association of New York stated, “The way to combat award to Mohammad Shahidullah [such worldviews] is by showing no fear… The most of Islamic TV USA, New York (right), patriotic are those who stand up and speak up and and Manzur Mahmud Robin (left) fight for justice… Our power lies in our hands.” Over the years, the Richardson community has sent more than $225,000 to support NABIC’s I MUST BE FOR in-country involvement in several hospitals and JUSTICE FOR clinics, a safe home for girls, computer literacy ALL PEOPLE and anti-dowry programs, cyclone relief and BECAUSE I AM UNAPOL- rehabilitation. OGETICALLY PROUD TO ISNA president Azhar Aziz praised its 26 years BE MUSLIM.” of service and called its board members some of this country’s most influential Muslim leaders. As —Linda Sarsour Sarsour said, “I must be for justice for all people because I am unapologetically proud to be Muslim.” This year’s convention included educational and family sessions, a youth career panel and a matrimonial session. Thanks to the convention committee, led by Manzur Mahmud Robin (The Islamic Association of Collin County) and Tauhid Choudhury, the event was a great success. After distributing the prizes among the winners of the youth qirat and essay competitions, NABIC president Dr. Rashed Nizam thanked all participants and the entire Dallas community for its generosity. ih Aliya Karim, who serves as Social Media Editor at World Food Program USA, has been a part of the NABIC family for her entire life.
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Black Lives Matter Bec The Black Lives Matter movement is not just about race, but about the safety, security and the humanity of all of us who inhabit this land
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cause All Lives Matter BY JIMMY E. JONES
am 70 years old with a gray beard and barely enough hair to cover most of the top of my head. And yet I never fail to have an Emmett Till flashback moment when a police car pulls up behind me with strobe lights flashing. The most recent such encounter happened a few months ago at dusk, only two blocks away from my house in an inner-city New Haven, Conn., neighborhood. When I saw those lights, I froze and felt that same old fear that, simply because I was black, something very bad and perhaps deadly might happen to me — despite the facts that I have close friends and associates of all ethnicities and religions (including Muslim) who either are or have been police officers; a U.S. marshal family member; and serve (along with my wife Matiniah) as a block watch co-captain, which involves working with the local police. But none of these realities counteracts the fear I initially feel upon encountering a white police officer on a dark street when he or she thinks I have done something wrong. This recurring fear is a result of years of conditioning while growing up in segregated Roanoke, Va., located in the Jim Crow South where Black lives did not matter. This was the racist milieu into which 14-year-old Chicago born and raised Emmett Till stepped when he traveled to Money, Miss., to visit family during the summer of 1955. As a “Northerner,” he was apparently unaware of the Southern rules of racial engagement. In episode 1 of the iconic PBS “Eyes on the Prize” documentary video history of the U.S. Civil Rights movement (aired 1987-90), Simeon Wright gives an eyewitness account of how his cousin Emmett broke those rules. On that hot late August 1955 day in Money, Till had the temerity to say “bye baby” to a young white woman as he exited a store. For this violation of racial norms, he was kidnapped in the dead of night, brutally beaten, sadistically mutilated, and summarily shot before his corpse was dumped into the Tallahatchie River. As long as I live, I will
never forget the open-casket picture of his disfigured, bloated body that appeared in the Sept. 15, 1955 edition of Jet magazine. Racial intimidation through blatant terror tactics was frequent under Jim Crow. His brutal murder was meant, as are the attacks of Muslim extremists and Christian Identity terrorists of today, to send a fear-inducing message to a targeted group of people that they are not part of the self-proclaimed “chosen” group of people who have the “right” to dominate the rest of us.
opposed to the earlier and very frequent mass killings of Native Americans, Blacks and other “non-chosen” people. On April 19, 1995, a car bomb set off by Timothy McVeigh (influenced by the Christian Identity movement as well as various militia groups) destroyed one-third of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building. A total of 168 people were killed, and 680 were injured. Like Osama bin Laden, he apparently saw himself as avenging wrongs committed against “his people.” As a matter of fact, his
EMMETT TILL’S GHASTLY MURDER WAS JUST ANOTHER MESSAGE TO OTHER “COLORED FOLKS” LIKE ME THAT THIS IS WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU DARE TO STEP OUT OF LINE. Consider the fact that prior to 9/11, the infamous Oklahoma City bombing was widely reported by the media as the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil, as
fellow bomber Timothy Nichols specifically chose this date to avenge the deaths of more than 60 members of David Koresh’s Branch Davidians group during a deadly encounter
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COVER STORY with U.S. government agents in Waco, Tex. on April 19, 1993 — exactly two years earlier. Yes, terrorism was the clear intent behind the more than 500 Blacks lynched between the 1800s and 1950s. [B. J. Hollars: Thirteen Loops: Race, Violence, and the Last Lynching in America; 2011; also lists Vaudine Maddox in 1933 in Tuscaloosa, Sergeant Gene Ballard in 1979 in Birmingham, and Michael Donald in 1981 in Mobile]. Emmett Till’s ghastly murder was just another message to other “colored folks” like me that this is what you get when you dare to step out of line. This historical context accounts for the ferocity of the feeling behind the words “Black Lives Matter.” When you have lived in the shadow of fear for as long as many of us have, and when you see so many Black people being killed by today’s version of “peace officers,” it is hard to restrain your anger — anger that is constantly rekindled by the ongoing spilling of Black people’s blood because of dehumanizing lies told about us in Europe during the post-Enlightenment run-up to the brutal, deadly and terroristic Atlantic slave trade. Despite the clear racist component of this historical reality, the Black Lives Matter movement is not just about race, but about the safety, security and the humanity of all of us who inhabit this land. Black lives matter because all lives matter. As a Muslim, I offer three reasons for this assertion: Humanity is one, justice is colorblind and what goes around comes around.
HUMANITY IS ONE
Quran 4:1 states: “O humanity! Be conscious of your Sustainer, who has created you out of one living entity, and out of it created its mate, and out of the two spread abroad a multitude of men and women. And remain conscious of God, in whose name you demand [your rights] from one another, and of these ties of kinship. Verily, God is ever watchful over you!” Despite the racists’ efforts to convince us otherwise, “race” is a “biological fiction,” as Matthew Frye Jacobson explains in his “Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race” (1998). He thoroughly documents how malleable “whiteness” has been in this country and asserts that it was — and remains — very much determined by the trajectory of U.S. immigration policy and related public debates. If we review the original 1790 U.S. Congressional Act that limited citizenship naturalization to “free white persons of
good character” and recall the recent nativist-tinged debates about Syrian refugees and “Build that Wall,” his point is easily made. The eye-opening 2003 PBS three-part series “Race: The Power of an Illusion” further clarifies the inauthenticity of this pernicious idea. In assessing biology, history and institutional racism, it deftly unpacks and debunks this particular social construct that has bedeviled this land even before it became America. For example, the New York City Conspiracy of 1741 was a brutal, bloody effort (30 black men, two white men and two white women were executed) to put down a supposedly planned Catholic-inspired slave revolt. Clearly, at that time Black lives also did not matter in the North. The idea that humanity is one is a core component of Islam: “And [know that] all mankind were once but one single community, and only later did they begin to hold divergent views. And had it not been for a decree — that had already gone forth from
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thy Sustainer, all their differences would indeed have been settled [from the outset]” (10:19). It is, therefore, hardly surprising to find that biology, history and social analysis confirm the Quran. As these differences in humanity are a test from the Creator, racial and ethnic differences are no more than litmus tests of where our real allegiances lie. If our primary allegiance is to “our people,” the Quran reminds us: “O humanity! Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware” (49:13).
JUSTICE IS COLORBLIND
Quran 4:135 states: “O You who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of
In my “African American Religions” course, I often ask students if Black slaves were automatically morally superior to their white masters. Usually the majority of them say, “Yes.” However, 4:135 also warns us against “always supporting the underdog” mentality when it orders us to be equitable as witnesses for God “whether it be (against) rich or poor.” We are not free to abandon this standard just because it is hard for us to adhere to. Imagine what kind of world we would have if we got all, most or even a significant part of humanity to follow 4:135. This would bring all humanity closer to a colorblind world when it comes to justice. This particular aspirational concept is so universal that 4:135 is part of an exhibit at the entrance to the prestigious Harvard University Law Library, along with Saint Augustine’s statement that “An unjust law is no law at all” and the Magna Carta of King John’s statement “To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or defer, the right or justice.” Other famous justice-related statements are found on the library’s other walls.
WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND
God, even though it be against your own selves or your parents and kinsfolk. Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, God’s claim takes precedence over [the claims of] either of them. Do not, then, follow your own desires, lest you swerve from justice: for if you distort [the truth], behold, God is indeed aware of all that you do!” Clearly, Muslims must be just even when disputes involve kinfolk (a group that obviously includes our “race”). Further, the Quran constantly and consistently calls upon those who self-identify as Muslims to be just (e.g. 4:58, 7:29, and 16:90) in all matters, which is hardly an easy task. As a professor at Manhattanville College (Purchase, N.Y.), I teach an honors seminar entitled “Power, Authority, Leadership, and Ethics.” Whenever I ask students if they can be just when they know a parent is wrong, some of them always resist this idea, particularly if the scenario set forth involves their mother.
Quran 30:41 states: “[Since they have become oblivious of God,] corruption has appeared on land and in the sea as an outcome of what men’s hands have wrought: and so He will let them taste [the evil of] some of their doings, so that they might return [to the right path].” My 21-year-old son Malik was killed by East Haven Police officer Sgt. Robert Flodquist at the end of a traffic stop and subsequent chase from East Haven to neighboring New Haven on April 14, 1997. I was stunned and heartbroken that someone who was paid partially with my tax dollars would kill my son for an alleged motor vehicle violation. Perhaps he looked at my son’s black skin and saw what policymakers, politicians and pundits had called a “super predator” only a year before. No matter what he was thinking, it is hard to imagine anyone supporting a public policy of intercity chases and using deadly force at traffic stops for minor motor vehicle violations. Fortunately, the state’s law and policies in this regard have changed. I am also certain that “race,” as erroneously defined by the proliferation of negative portrayals of African Americans in public media and discourse, had something to do with Malik’s death.
In the immediate aftermath, I reached out to Anthony Proto (D), the then mayor of East Haven, and the-then chair of the East Haven Police Commissioners (separately by phone) and (1) asked them if they had children or others in their family who were about Malik’s age (they did) and (2) told them that if they helped to cover up what really happened — the officer shattered the driver’s side window of my son’s car and shot him 5 or 6 times at point blank range — the streets would be less safe for their children and everyone else. On July 13, 1999, a little more than two years later, a 40-year-old white woman named Victoria Cooper was killed by a police officer from nearby North Branford (less than 10 miles away) at the end of a “routine traffic stop” because the officer claimed he had “reason to fear” for his life. However, as with my son, the officer killed her by firing at her through the side window of the driver’s side. The-then New Haven State’s Attorney Michael Dearington ruled that the officer’s use of deadly force was “reasonable.” Cooper’s estate sued civilly and won a $1.5 million settlement from the town of North Branford. Malik Jones’ estate also sued civilly, but ultimately did not prevail in federal court. From my perspective, the “reasonable” use of deadly force ruling in the latter case was partially built on the “reasonable” use of deadly force ruling in the former case. If you allow such tactics when it involves Blacks, sooner or later the same standards will likely be applied to justify similar shootings of those who are not Black. In other words, what goes around comes around. A 2015 national poll of Americans conducted by Reuters News Agency and the international Ipsos Group, revealed that 53% of the general population, and only 30% of African Americans, “trust the police to be fair and just.” No one living in the U.S. should have to live with the fear that encounters with the police provoke in many African Americans. If we are to have real “equal protection under the law,” we must realize that Black lives matter because all lives matter. ih Jimmy E. Jones, a professor of African Studies and World Religions at Manhattanville College (Purchase, N.Y.), is secretary of the National Board of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). (Editor’s note: The translated verses are taken from Muhammad Asad’s “The Message of The Qur’an.”)
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Violence and Responsibility:
Peering at Protests through a Dual Lens Is violence becoming more socially acceptable?
BY ISMAAIL QAIYIM
n Sept. 20, 2016, police shot Keith Lamont Scott, a disabled African American resident of Charlotte, N.C., under disputed circumstances. The police claim that he returned to his vehicle and grabbed a gun after failing to comply with their orders; observers claim that he was tasered and then shot several times. Prosecutors ruled Nov. 30, 2016 that police officer Brentley Vinson acted appropriately as Scott was holding a loaded gun. While following the ensuing protests from a TV screen in my room, two broad themes swelled in my mind: “violence” and “responsibility.” Muslims here and abroad sit at the nexus of these two ideas. While the former are often forced to address their presumed culpability
for violence done by “Muslims” and in the “name of Islam,” African Americans, especially in urban low-income areas, must often confront these guilt-by-association themes while leaving blame and shame aside. This African American Muslim is located somewhere between the politics of righteous outrage and the communal obligation of public respectability. Walking around the city the year before the protests, particularly its Western corridor, I remember thinking “this place is no different than Ferguson or Baltimore.” When I was in high school at a partial magnet school — public schools that offer specialized courses or curricula — in one of the city’s most economically deprived areas, all I thought about was getting to the next stage in life. In the past two years, after some work and travel, I began seeing these same places
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as dens of stagnation devoid of any economic upward mobility. Once I acquired the tools to understand political economy, I naïvely applied them to the place where I grew up. What was always home, the neighborhood and the store closest to my house, suddenly became lingering reminders of inequality. Briefly, allowing my individuality to get lost in the analysis, I viewed myself as an extension of my side of town in terms of depression, defeat, and powerlessness. But gradually new thoughts and emotions took hold. Some people get angry from deep in their bones; I got angry in my mind. As I put the pieces together, I wrestled with resentment and, more particularly, where I should direct it. Beset with questions of anger and responsibility, as well as potential solutions, I concluded that Charlotte wasn’t the place for me. When the pent up anger and violence exploded in the streets, it was a typical story where opposing narratives become weapons for “explaining” America’s everlasting tussle with racism, violence, and poverty. But this time Charlotte itself was the story, for it had added new elements into what some would call “riots.” Unlike protests in Ferguson or Baltimore, protestor Justin Carr was shot and later died. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department initially blamed this tragic shooting on another protester; yet many fellow protestors vehemently disputed this claim, instead asserting that he was killed by a rubber bullet fired by riot police. The police investigation remains ongoing. The tone of the violence was also unique. While some protesters did strategically target the city’s most notable symbols of wealth for destruction, an apparently white individual walking in a parking garage was viciously beaten and stripped by a group of young people who “looked like” African Americans. Nothing like this has surfaced from recent high-profile protests against police shootings. If this incident was indeed the result of perceptions of race and class, then it
potentially reveals several difficult realities about the future of American society. Current opinion holds that the U.S. is deeply polarized, and the long term consequences appear to be ominous. Also, the forms that this polarization will assume appear to be increasingly straddling the line between violence and responsibility. From where I stand, more and more people are viewing violence as a legitimate means of political and personal expression. The racial attacks against vulnerable groups in the aftermath of Trump’s presidency illustrate a noticeable uptick in violent vigilante culture. The question of state violence has always remained open for debate and contestation in the public arena; however, citizens seeking to express an idea or an emotion through violence are once again becoming integral to our body politic. Muslims often come to mind when “violence,” “political goal” and “individual” are mentioned in the same sentence. Muslim Americans are rarely in any position to exercise agency or assert themselves beyond their defensive posturing in reaction to the pervasive “guilt by association” mindset. Muslim organizations are often so involved in responding to such accusations or “proving” their loyalty that the entire scope of their participation in the nation’s political discourse is largely predetermined. Trump, now the President-elect, has sought to legitimize violence that is inherently political, but enacted in the personal sphere. Subtly cuing his supporters that violence is acceptable if his political project is not enacted, he has deliberately encouraged explosive violence that seeks redress outside and beyond the political process. No matter how violent the protests in Charlotte or Ferguson became, the people marching and the organizations facilitating civil disobedience want a solution located in the legitimate centers of power. This expectation may not hold true for Trump’s most militant supporters and their many sympathizers. The political split in American society is not about violence, for violence permeates society at many levels. Protestors may destroy property, and some politicians may implicitly threaten entire groups of people. The divergence is over which people or institutions are responsible for the status quo, a reality that differs remarkably depending upon one’s income level, race/ethnicity, religion, and place of residence. If the political system itself is increasingly
viewed as the main culprit for everything from police brutality to decimating the white working/lower-middle class, then there is a chance that Americans will seriously view the state and everything associated with state power as illegitimate. Although the
lost complete faith in the state. High profile police shootings are arguably pushing many toward a psychological break with the promise of prosperity that America projects. If the state is viewed as not holding accountable those police officers who shoot
IF THE STATE IS VIEWED AS NOT HOLDING ACCOUNTABLE THOSE POLICE OFFICERS WHO SHOOT AFRICAN AMERICANS, VIOLENCE MAY ONE DAY CEASE TO BE A TOOL FOR CONVINCING SOCIETY TO FIX A PROBLEM AND INSTEAD BECOME AN EXPRESSION OF PURE AND SOMETIMES INDISCRIMINATE RAGE. protesters have been viewed through the racialized lens of thuggery and anarchy, in reality the protestors are appealing to the state to fulfil its role of holding accountable those who abuse its power. African Americans and Muslim Americans are still very much psychologically invested in the ability of American power to act as a shield against instability and guarantee equal opportunity. Even though the state itself has historically been a central agent of political and economic violence against communities of color, these groups nevertheless turn to its laws and the Constitution for protection against the historic abuses of the majority. The social contract between the Republican Party and the rank and file white working-class members has broken down. Since the party was the main artery connecting the latter group to national politics, what happens to conservative white working-class voices at the national level largely depends upon the outcome of Trump’s presidency. Trump’s election embodies this breakdown. Nativist rhetoric and vigilantism will likely become more extreme and aggressive, particularly when Trump’s supporters realize that many of his promises are untenable. The question that should concern everyone is what happens if large numbers of African Americans become disenchanted with the political system. They and the immigrant communities are the most optimistic supporters of the “American Dream.” Once upon a time Black and Latino liberation or “militant” organizations proliferated among people of color in impoverished areas who
African Americans violence may one day cease to be a tool for convincing society to fix a problem and instead become an expression of pure and sometimes indiscriminate rage. This monster looms around the corner. It reared its ugly head during the Charlotte protests when a random individual who was ostensibly not a cop or a city employee was attacked. It seems like no matter how far protests go, there is a vested interest in protecting the enforcers of the law from accountability. Sometimes I wonder if the protestors have gone far enough. Charlotte, like many Southeastern cities, is plagued by disproportionately high levels black and Latino urban poverty. It also lacks the community infrastructure and public anti-poverty resources found in larger American cities with robust histories of grassroots activism on issues of police brutality. Looking at my hometown, I sometimes think that articulating a holistic and ethical political is one way to assert oneself in this political climate. Muslims in the U.S., particularly African Americans and younger people, are in a unique position to navigate this polarization. Our very existence places us on the frontline of the politics surrounding violence and responsibility. For me, framing a narrative of our own away from what society projects onto us in a political sense is the first step in this process. ih Ismaail Qaiyim, a freelance writer with an interest in politics, global affairs, religion, philosophy, and genuine critical engagement, currently attends the City University of New York Law school.
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 25
Spotlight on Howard MSA Interview with MSA President Eric Powell BY SARA SWETZOFF
ashington, D.C.’s Howard University chapter of the Muslim Students Association of the US and Canada (now MSA-National) was founded in 1977 when the mother MSA was just 14 years old. Islamic Horizons magazine recently talked to chapter President Eric Powell on the campus’ Muslim legacy.
EP: Just this past (Fall 2016) semester, I came into much more knowledge about the MSA legacy through discussions with alumni and others who witnessed the Muslim influence on campus throughout the 1980s and 1990s. From what I’ve heard, its influence was pretty expansive. Muslims were involved in every aspect of campus life, even in student government. That subsided over the past decade or so because of the lack of structure after the departure of Johari Abdul-Malik (director of Outreach, Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center, Falls Church, Va.). Now that we have a new chaplain, it’s been much easier to plan and get the resources we need for various events and initiatives. Also, the enthusiasm of the students: they see that the structure has been revived and it increases their morale. When those two things come together, you see a successful MSA. IH: So, I know that you are also a poet and an MC. Can you talk a little about your art? EP: I go by the alias of E.L.P.J. My pops raised me up on hip-hop music and culture, so that was what informed me as a person, and who I am as a person, because I am hip-hop. But I didn’t really start making music until I was about ten years old. Basically it was around fifth grade and that was time when I started questioning a lot of things, for various reasons. And one day we were in music class and we were learning the words to the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and I went home sick from music class shortly thereafter. And since this was around the time when I really started critically thinking about different things that we’re are told, you know, by school and media, about history — or his-story — I thought about those last two lines, I was like, “land of the free and home of the brave” — “so said the whites but the Africans slaves” and I was like, ooh I should become a rapper (laughs)! I think those were my exact words! And so I just pursued it since then, using the music to find my voice, because I was a very shy kid, and just being able to seek truth and find truth, and knowledge, and spread it to people. IH: How has your art informed your Islam and visa-versa? EP: They have been inextricably linked … and I say that because it was really the music that I listened to that guided me to Islam. 26 ISLAMIC HORIZONS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
Eric Powell, Howard University MSA president, speaks on the subject of structural racism
Masjid Muhammad: The Nation’s Mosque BY SARA SWETZOFF
ocated at the intersection of New Jersey Avenue NW and 4th Street in Washington, D.C. — ceremonially renamed “Islamic Way” by the city, in honor of the mosque — Masjid Muhammad is one of the country’s oldest mosques and the first one built by grassroots Muslim Americans. Originally established by the Nation of Islam in the mid-1930s, the congregation describes itself has having transitioned … from smaller circles of self to broader circles of humanity and the universal teachings of the Quran and the Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) under the 1970s leadership of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed (d. 2008). The community, however, traces its roots much further back in time, as many congregants descend from the earliest Muslims to arrive in the Western hemisphere as enslaved Africans. Rather than seek to erase any of its history, Masjid Muhammad depicts the Nation of Islam as an important phase in the Muslim American journey. When the Honorable Elijah Muhammad (d. 1975) first began teaching in Washington, D.C., the Nation’s clear stance against white supremacy was instrumental in counteracting the deep disempowerment that African Americans were still experiencing at the hands of white American society. The Nation also became a vehicle for economic empowerment, selling meals and newspapers to raise money for the structure that still stands today. After years of community efforts, in 1960 Malcolm X himself came and personally donated $1,400. He then
A lot of the artists I grew up listening to, that I really immersed myself into around middle school when I became Muslim — all of them informed my Islam in some way, shape or form. I listened to a lot of KRS-One, a lot of Rakim, a lot of Nas, a lot of AZ, and a lot of J Electronica, among other artists, such as Mos Def (Yasiin Bey) and Raekwon, the old Wu-Tang Clan, who had their music informed by their Islam. So, during 2010 specifically it was a very dark time in my life, and that was when I found the most solace in the music and the message of the music, and the message that it gave to me was Islam.
I THINK THAT FOR ANY SYSTEM OF OPPRESSION TO HAVE A FEAR OF ISLAM IS ... VERY RATIONAL ... BECAUSE ISLAM IS DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED TO ALL FORMS OF OPPRESSION AND COMES TO WIPE THAT AWAY. —Howard University MSA President Eric Powell
stayed on to oversee the remaining fundraising. The building was completed and dedicated in 1960. Today, the masjid continues to serve both the immediate and larger Muslim communities. Friday prayers often have hundreds of attendees. Since the 1970s, the masjid has been a leader in the city’s interfaith relationships. As the number of mosques in the Greater D.C. area grows and new communities take root in the suburbs, the Nation’s Mosque should not be forgotten. As its website states, “The Nation’s Mosque, Masjid Muhammad of the Nation’s Capital, may not be comparable to the great mosques of the Islamic world in architectural elegance or magnificent decorations, but the spiritual dedication upon which it was established and which continue to permeate its walls bear ample testimony to the significance of this building to not only the Washington Muslim community but also to the community of Muslims across America.” ih Sara Swetzoff is a PhD student in Howard University’s African Studies Department. She has previously worked for Fons Vitae Publishing and Portland State University student media.
So that’s how art informs my Islam. As for how Islam informs my art, you know, whenever I make my music and my poetry it comes from the heart, it comes from my mind, and both are shaped by Islam because this is my way of life, my world view, my entire cosmology, my entire perspective on life, and everything of that nature. So it’s impossible for it not to have at least an inkling of Islam, if not the whole thing being informed by Islam in some type of way. So all the points of view that I express and all the different ideas and concepts, and even a lot of the language, is Islamic in nature. IH: What does the Howard MSA have planned for this year? EP: We have a lot of plans, but to sum it all up: first thing is making the MSA family, which I feel like we already are doing and have been doing for the past month, so we’re just hoping to create that family feel among the Muslims on campus, making everyone aware of the presence of the MSA, and making sure that the MSA collaborates with other student groups. For example, we want to collaborate with the African Student Association on an event or forum on Islam in Africa. In terms of the activism aspect, as Muslims we have a duty to be on the frontlines of every movement against oppression, against racism, against classism, against misogyny, all these different -isms that intersect to create the oppression in this country and throughout the world, that are affecting everybody in the Muslim community either directly or indirectly, to varying degrees. We need to be addressing them, thinking about how to organize both Muslims and JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 27
COVER STORY people who see themselves outside of the fold of Islam, and making an alliance of virtue against systems of oppression and dismantling them, just as the Prophet did during his time. IH: How would you elaborate on the social justice themes covered by the recent Youth Forum at Masjid Muhammad? EP: In the Quran, we are told the story of Iblis ... a being who lost his position as one of Allah’s righteous servants due to his arrogance, due to his unhealthy pride, and due to his ego. Because when Allah created Adam from black mud, from the dust of the earth, from clay, Iblis said: “You have made me from smokeless fire, I’m better than him.” When Allah told everybody, the angels and Iblis, that He had made Adam [and Eve] the khalifa, the successor and representative on Earth ... you can’t contest it. But Iblis had the audacity to challenge that out of his arrogance and out of his unhealthy amount of pride. So when you look at that very type of being, that attitude is the very foundation upon which racism and white supremacy is founded, the idea that I’m better than you because this is what I look like, etc. And so, in all the different symptoms of white supremacy throughout the world, not just in America, you have people who are oppressed by cycles of poverty, oppressed by a capitalist structure, oppressed by Western patriarchy and misogyny — you know, all of these different symptoms of white supremacy. And one of those symptoms is police brutality. Because the nature of police within a society like that is to protect the policies and the interests, or the so-called law and order of that society, and that society’s law and order is white supremacy. And so I think it’s essential not only at this time, but it was also essential in the past. It’s only now through technology that it’s becoming more visible to people for whom it wasn’t visible before, that it’s really time to address it and talk about how you can make systematic changes that will protect the people who suffer from police brutality and all the other symptoms of racism, because it’s an unsustainable system that destroys itself over time. IH: What’s the relationship between white supremacy and Islamophobia? EP: Honestly, I don’t believe in the term Islamophobia because I think that a phobia is an irrational fear. [Furthermore,] I think that for any system of oppression to have a fear of Islam is ... very rational ... because Islam is diametrically opposed to all forms of oppression and comes to wipe that away. All of the pillars of Islam, the tenets of Islam, wipe away the ills from society, wipe away not only how the ego manifests in the form of racism, but how the ego manifests in any form. The zakah by itself is a system of welfare that eliminates poverty from a society, and slavery, if slavery exists in that society. Islam teaches us the dignity of women, it teaches us to respect our parents, it teaches us to respect all human beings, and spread peace and to spread love. And it also teaches us to defend ourselves when that peace and that love is challenged and destroyed and disrupted, and to do justice. So Islam is the full package — everything is covered. You get full freedom, justice, equality and finally peace. So any system of oppression should be afraid of that, and that’s really what this so-called Islamophobia is about. ih Sara Swetzoff is a PhD student in Howard University’s African Studies Department. She has previously worked for Fons Vitae Publishing and Portland State University student media.
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Countering Violence in DC and Baltimore Masjid Muhammad and Howard MSA Host Youth Forum to focus on growing violence between law enforcement and communities of color BY SARA SWETZOFF
n Sept. 11, 2016, a police officer fatally shot Terrence Sterling, a 31-year old motorcyclist, in downtown Washington, D.C. Alonzo “Zo” Smith, 27, a Virginia schoolteacher, died Nov. 1, 2015, after a private security contractor restrained him so forcefully that he suffered heart failure. The killers of these unarmed victims are still walking free. On Oct. 1, 2016, Masjid Muhammad and the Howard MSA hosted “Empowering Social Justice in our Communities to Counter Violence: An Interactive discussion to address the growing concerns around violence between law enforcement and communities of color, gun violence, and the movement for criminal justice reform.” The event was orchestrated by Bilal Britt, Amin Nathari, Tariq Nelson, Carine Nouboussi, Bathsheba Philpott, Ralph Smith and Hamid Sahir, who drew on their extensive interfaith and social justice networks to bring together a dynamic panel. Karim Ali, a co-founder of Creating a Profound Sense of Community, was instrumental in securing speakers, including Minister Maurice Mack-Murrow of Matthews Memorial Baptist Church, youth organizer Candace Chance, United News Network founder Tim Hudson, and Howard University MSA President Eric Powell. Howard’s Muslim chaplain, Nisa Muhammad, played a crucial role in getting students involved. The flyer showed protesters holding signs, “Am I next?”, “Don’t Shoot” and “Stop Police Brutality.” Actor Jesse Williams’ quote, taken from his 2016 Black Entertainment Television Humanitarian Award acceptance speech, appeared beneath the photos: “The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander.” The panel opened with the screening of a PBS “NewsHour” interview with Howard alumnus Ta-Nehisi Coates, an outspoken author and speaker against racism, incarceration, police violence and for reparations. Entitled “We accept violence against African Americans as normal,” it set forth some core premises of the day’s discussion. It also contained excerpts from his Between the World and Me (2015) on how targeting Black bodies is a deeply embedded American tradition and that anti-Black violence remains largely off limits. Minister Mack-Murrow emphasized grassroots,
ministry-based preventative education. His church, which partners with The Eagle’s Nest Youth Association, tries to help people connect with basic services and encouraged attendees to praise those youth who shoulder responsibility for themselves and others. Chance, founder of the science fundamentals-based Be BOLD (Bringing Out Leaders from Dreamers), stressed youth empowerment and relationship building. Last year Be BOLD mentored a group of middle school girls through the global Technovation Challenge for 2014. She talked about how elders and peers can mentor youth and focused on healing, noting that whites also need to heal from white supremacy. Hudson, the panel’s sole non-Black speaker, founded the United News Network, an online platform for grassroots media, because from what he saw during the 2015 Baltimore uprising, “the narrative of media
THE SYSTEM WE ARE DEALING WITH IS ONE BUILT ON GENOCIDE AND SLAVERY ... YOU CAN’T REFORM THIS SYSTEM: IT FALLS ON ITS OWN.” —Howard University MSA President Eric Powell today is telling a story, but it’s not the true story.” Powell brought up the intersection between Black Lives Matter and the ongoing anti-Dakota Access Pipeline protests. “The system we are dealing with is one built on genocide and slavery ... You can’t reform this system: it falls on its own.” As injustice is inherently unsustainable, people need to spiritually prepare themselves to participate in a great social transformation. The youth in the room
concurred. When an elder remarked that “the system is broken,” Chance replied that it is working just fine because it was designed to keep certain people on top. Despite this knowledge of engineered inequality, Chance and Powell criticized “those who fight with carnal weapons instead of weapons of God” and insisted that only the presence of good can destroy evil. To that end, Powell reminded everyone that changing the culture starts with oneself. Philpott wrapped up by
saying that “this community comes out of the Nation of Islam ... [which] was dedicated to starting businesses and employing Black youth. Therefore the spirit and history of this community is one of economic empowerment.” Some of the newer MSA members had never been in the masjid before. Mohamed, a sophomore, called it “a light for the community” and was especially moved to be in the sacred space with people of other faiths and beliefs. Amani, a freshman who recently moved from Texas, emphasized the historically Black university’s responsibility to be involved in the local Black community. “Sometimes as students we get comfortable and forget the struggle,” she said. “We get caught up in our own journey when we are really part of so much more. When we come out, we become aware.” ih Sara Swetzoff is a PhD student in Howard University’s African Studies Department. She has previously worked for Fons Vitae Publishing and Portland State University student media.
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 29
ISLAM IN AMERICA
Making Emotional and Spiritual Hijrah in the Post-Election Era Muslim Americans must engage in building up from Tawakkul BY TALIA ALVI
n the wake of Donald Trump’s victory, the nation’s minority communities are voicing their fears: Will I be safe? Will my children be safe? What’s going to happen to us? These may prove to be genuine concerns that can be addressed and then dealt with if and when such situations actually arise. The deeper fear, however, is that we will face more serious internal dangers, such as self-victimization and self-disenfranchisement. It really worries me that this road, which appeared in the aftermath of 9/11 and upon which some have started traveling, will now see a surge in traffic. Are we going to hear sentiments like “I didn’t get that promotion. Yeah, b’cos I’m Muslim, that’s what they do to us” and “I didn’t get a good
30 ISLAMIC HORIZONS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
grade — my teacher is always picking on hijabis”? It’s so easy to slip into this mode, and so much harder to roll up one’s sleeves and do the hard work that drives personal achievement. This is the main trap that all of us have to guard against. Some of us may feel that we have it easy, living in such diversity-rich areas as Virginia’s Fairfax County. I’m not worried about my 15-year-old high-schooler being targeted. Her school, with its heavy Latino and Asian immigrant population, may well be one of the safest places from that perspective. However, it is also a very dangerous environment — fertile soil in which that victim/disenfranchised mentality can be born and grow among many of the students who are now feeling somewhat unsettled. Yes, we’ve heard what the presidential candidates and the ultimate winner have said. But instead of feeling that our community resembles an orphan in an abusive foster home, this is the time to begin “exhorting one another to Truth, and exhorting one another to patience” (103:3). Our leaders remind us that “God is sufficient for us and He is the best Disposer of Affairs” and that “He may put good in something we dislike”
(2:216). These thoughts, the very core of our strength, are not meant to be taken as balm for a defeatist outlook or to be all of our strength. Rather, they are the foundation upon which we are to build. The onus is on us to avoid a defeatist victim mentality. Many of us are feeling pretty shellshocked, depressed and apprehensive. We cannot stay in that state, for such emotions sit and fester and turn into bitterness, which gradually becomes entrenched and grows by feeding upon itself. A small percentage of such people unleash it through violence. For most of us, however, it just eats away at us until we become dysfunctional and disenfranchised in our own minds. Or it turns into a passive-aggressive attitude that negatively interacts with whatever crosses its path. We need to guard against its end result: the hardening of one’s heart.” Now is the time to reach in and draw upon our inner strength, to flood ourselves with positivity. Starting with our foundation of tawakkul ‘ala Allah and the belief that He has created this situation with His “Hand of good” (3:26), we should move forward. The example of our Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) teaches us of migration
and a change of realm — the hijrah (And no, we’re not all moving to Canada — that’s not happening). At this juncture, we need to make an emotional hijrah away from a depressed state; an intellectual hijrah away from fruitless, angry rhetoric; and especially a spiritual hijrah to a place of ihsan (excellence).
the path of that hijrah toward positivity and ihsan. In addition to making us feel good about ourselves, our contributions improve the relationship between Muslims and the community at large. This is not just for political reasons; rather, this is what our deen obliges us to do. As always, we return to the Prophet’s
THE ONUS IS ON US TO AVOID A DEFEATIST VICTIM MENTALITY. Each of us needs to look into our individual psyches and our inner natures to find our own path forward. Many of us serve our community — in this case the U.S. and our fellow citizens, not just our own families or mosques — through our jobs, philanthropy, pro bono work and volunteerism. We should do this on an individual basis, not as part of a group. We are taught that “the hand above is better than the hand below.” By giving ourselves to our communities and the world around us, we put ourselves on
example for guidance. Following his loving behavior toward everyone is our best method of preventing personal hard-heartedness and for strengthening our souls. May God give us the wherewithal to fight against the injustice, racism, bigotry and other social ills that we find so worrisome. ih Dr. Talia Alvi, a mother of four, has been involved with community work; founding weekend religious schools in Cleveland and the Quad Cities, Iowa; outreach and educational work both through national organizations and her local mosque.
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ISLAM IN AMERICA
Islamophobia in Focus Where are the young Muslim American journalists who can counter media bias about Islam and Muslims? BY ENGY ABDELKADER
come from a news-obsessed family. Growing up in New Jersey, my father watched the news religiously, typically beginning at 6 p.m. every evening, when we would tune into the local ABC News channel, followed at 6:30 p.m. by Peter Jennings on the “World News Tonight’ and, at 7 p.m., the PBS News Hour — another 60 minutes of national news! As kids and over the years, my brother and I would often ask him, “Why do we have to watch the news?” And his response was always the same: to keep informed, to know what’s happening in the world. Today, if you walk into our family home, you will still find my father, now retired, watching the news. But it’s no longer confined to the evenings. Morning, noon and night — it’s CNN. My brother and I are also news junkies, but I often wonder: 32 ISLAMIC HORIZONS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
Does the news really keep us “informed”? Research surrounding the news media, terrorism and Muslims suggests that it does not. There are at least three related issues to consider. First, news coverage of terrorism is problematic because it doesn’t tell the whole story. Studies have shown that, at least in terms of the United States and Europe, a greater terrorist threat comes from right-wing extremists, ultra-separatist groups and white supremacists. And yet most media outlets continue to focus almost exclusively on Muslims and Islam. Such coverage reinforces the stereotype of Muslims, particularly men, as the “terrorist other.” Our research at Georgetown University confirms that the rates of acts and threats of anti-Muslim violence are higher now than any other time since 9/11 (When Islamophobia
Turns Violent: The 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections May 2016). Moreover, while men and women are likely to experience verbal attacks at similar levels, we found that men were victimized in the most violent attacks. In fact, those aged between 18 and 24 are the most vulnerable to lethal attacks inspired by anti-Muslim animus. Significantly, the collected data shows that children also learn biases, attitudes and behaviors from a variety of sources (e.g., parents, peers and televised images) and that sometimes the perpetrators (and victims) are as young as twelve. Last year in the Bronx, for instance, several 12-year-old boys held down and punched a hijabi schoolmate while calling her “ISIS.” In Ohio, a 7th grader who threatened to shoot a Muslim student on the school bus faced criminal charges. Moreover, studies also shows that Americans’ attitudes are influenced by the news media more than any other source. Any stereotypical depictions can prove harmful, but those that perpetuate the “violent and threatening Muslim” image are even more damaging. In other words, the incessant bombardment of news stories and images of Muslims as terrorists has a tangible negative impact. Second, while the majority of Muslim Americans are peace-loving and law-abiding people who just want to work hard and get ahead, we generally don’t hear about their accomplishments and positive contributions to our country. But we most certainly do hear about them when it comes to violence. According to research from the University of Michigan, positive depictions that counter such stereotypes are the most effective way of creating sympathy for the group, reducing negative attitudes and helping others view the community in a positive light. The third issue concerns who gets anointed as an “expert.” Sometimes journalists talk about Muslims and Islam without incorporating the viewpoints and perspectives of those who may have the most practical insight or experience with the subject matter. So, are we truly informed? And, why does this even matter? Recent academic studies, from institutions like the University of Michigan and Texas A & M University, show that consumers of news about Muslims are more likely to think that Muslims are violent, aggressive or, more to the point, bad. Research findings also show, perhaps more alarmingly, that
STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THAT, AT LEAST IN TERMS OF THE UNITED STATES AND EUROPE, A GREATER TERRORIST THREAT COMES FROM RIGHT-WING EXTREMISTS, ULTRA-SEPARATIST GROUPS AND WHITE SUPREMACISTS. AND YET MOST MEDIA OUTLETS CONTINUE TO FOCUS ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY ON MUSLIMS AND ISLAM. such Americans are more likely to support discriminatory and unjust laws and policies directed toward Muslims, such as unlawful surveillance without evidence of criminal wrongdoing, restricting these citizens’ right to vote and military action and drone strikes in Muslim-majority countries. Essentially, negative news media portrayals adversely impact Muslims here and abroad. So, that’s the bad news. Now, what’s the good news? The data also show that knowing a Muslim can help counteract these biases. The challenge lies in the numbers, however. Muslims only make up 1 to 2 percent of the country’s population, so the odds of an average American encountering a Muslim during his/her daily life are pretty slim. Unless, of course, there is more than one way of “knowing” a Muslim. Gold Star parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan reminded us of this when they were put into the spotlight at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, as well as in the hearts and minds of countless fellow Americans. Their passionate and memorable comments dominated headlines and public conversations for days. As they were beamed into our homes, many may have felt as if they “knew” Muslims who were also good people. This point also speaks to the significance of Muslim experts, spokespeople and representatives in the news and at public forms — they provide yet another valuable opportunity for Americans to become acquainted with the community. Simply put, the fact that most Americans don’t have any regular interaction with Muslims means that the news media is the most influential information source about our community. Today, 90 percent of all stories about Islam and Muslims are placed
within the context of war or terrorism. More balanced, fair and accurate reporting is critical. ih Engy Abdelkader is a faculty member of Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. [Editor’s note: The author has adapted from her remarks delivered at the Georgetown-Newseum event, Islamophobia in Focus: Muslims and the Media (Sept. 22, 2016)].
Imam Wanted The Muslim Community of New Jersey seeks full time Imam who also plays crucial role in the weekend Islamic school Qualifications Ø Bachelor’s degree or equivalent from a reputable accredited Islamic university; Master’s a plus Ø Comprehensive Knowledge of Quran, Fiqh, Shariah, Hadith. Ø Previous experience as Imam preferred; must be legal US resident Ø Good understanding of other major religions and interfaith dialogue Ø Experience in khutba & public speaking. Ø Skilled in interacting with community members including youth and sisters Ø Fluent in English; working knowledge of Arabic; ability to speak other languages a plus Ø Family and youth issues counseling Must be US Citizen or permanent resident with work authorization Generous financial package commensurate with qualifications, experience & personal attributes For information, contact Br. Juned (GeneralSecretary@MCNJOnline.com)
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 33
ISLAM IN AMERICA
Restoring Dignity Muslim divorcées and widows are entitled to dignity and respect BY SAMAN QURAESHI
THE FOUNDERS: (Left to right): (the late) Iman Al Shingeiti, Dr. Ilham Altalib, Margaret Farchtchi, and Mariam Azimi
ivorced and widowed Muslimahs, a growing group within our community, continue to face stigma, confusion and lack of support, not to mention community-imposed isolation. In 2014, a group of Northern Virginia women leaders, social workers and activists — Dr. Ilham Altalib, (the late) Iman Al Shingeiti, Margaret Farchtchi and Mariam Azimi — decided to confront these negative attitudes head on by establishing the Ikram Foundation (www.ikramus.org), a 501(c)3 nonprofit that supports and empowers these women through education. Believing that well-educated women empower themselves, their children and their communities, Ikram helps legally divorced Muslimahs develop their educational plans and goals. All applicants go through a screening and interview process as regards their marital and citizenship status, educational background, income assessment, personal references, an acceptance letter from an accredited university or institute or vocational program, and their short- and long-term educational goals.
In addition to providing educational grants, the foundation also invests in quality programs that help families understand healthy relationships and Shari’a-based conflict resolution procedures. Executive Director Azimi, a divorcée with four children, said that the stigma of divorce will continue until the community
THE REALITY IS THAT STAYING IN A BAD MARRIAGE IS NOT AN ISLAMIC PRINCIPLE.
34 ISLAMIC HORIZONS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
leaders’ attitudes change. Due to her own life experiences, she was very concerned with how these women were re-creating their lives and their identity. “Many women have been shamed or chided to try harder ... The reality is that staying in a bad marriage is not an Islamic principle. There needs to be a shift in the perception ... [for often] a divorced woman has gone through enough hardship to recognize that divorce is what saved her family...” She cites a typical case: After “Aisha,” 29, left an abusive marriage, her family disowned her and the imam advised her to think about how her divorce would affect the children. A stay-at-home mother, she speaks very little English and had migrated here with only a high school diploma. To become self-sufficient, she first needs to work on her language skills and then enroll in a technical or college program. “Unfortunately,” Azimi remarked, “there is no support structure in place for women in need. When the mothers are in limbo and going through a hard time, the children suffer. ... supporting women and children in our own communities must [become] a priority.” One of Ikram’s programs is a detailed study of conflict resolution within the Shari’a’s framework and understanding how it can help preserve the family. The foundation hosts professionals and educators who are doing cutting-edge research in their fields. To date, it has hosted conflict-resolution workshops focused on blended families, interfaith families and in-laws, as well as seminars on well-being. It has also utilized Daring Way™, a highly experiential curriculum based on the work of Dr. Brené Brown — a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work — who studies vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame. Upon learning of Ikram and its activities, “Sameen,” a 28-year-old divorcée, proclaimed: “For me to see an organization that is recognizing me as a person, ... that is going to support women in my circumstance was amazing. When I attended the first accomplishments lunch ceremony I was in awe of all these beautiful [divorcées] ... now in universities or taking skills training courses, re-creating their lives and who are role models in every sense. ... [who were] affirming their support for women like me.” ih Saman Quraeshi is program director of Ikram and a freelance writer.
ISLAM IN AMERICA Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, D.C., to point out the toxicity of this particular word: “Even at the level of government and educated public discourse, you still hear strange words like ‘Islamist,’ and I’m a bit puzzled by a word like that. You still hear this curious distinction between ‘moderate’ and ‘radical’ Muslims, that is ‘nice’ and ‘nasty’ Muslims.”
Ambassador Akbar Ahmed (left), former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (center) and University Tennessee at Knoxville graduate Harrison Akins (right) in Cambridge University (2016).
Undo the Chains Muslims must challenge the use of derogatory and misleading terms coined by Orientalists and other detractors of Islam and Muslims BY A.A. BAFAQUIH
eeks after Cassius Marcellus Clay, 22, shocked white America by defeating the heavily favored (7-1 odds) Sonny Liston at the Feb. 25, 1964, world heavyweight boxing championship, the Champ had a new religion and a new name: Islam and Muhammad Ali. As Alexandra Sims noted in an article for the Independent (June 4, 2016), when the media rejected his new identity, Ali hit back hard. Malcolm X, at that time a key Nation of Islam figure, became a spiritual and political mentor for Clay. After briefly referring to himself as Cassius X, Laura Wagner wrote in “Muhammad Ali changed His Name in 1964”: “On March 6, 1964, Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad announced that the new heavyweight champion of the world would no longer be known as Cassius Clay. ‘This Clay name has no meaning ... Muhammad Ali is what I will give him as long as he believes in Allah and follows me’” (Slate, June 10 2016). Later, the Champ declared, “Cassius Clay is a slave name. I didn’t choose it and I don’t want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name
— it means beloved of God, and I insist people use it when people speak to me.” The idea of rejecting a “slave name” has been a resonant one for many, but it came with a twist in Ali’s case. His father, Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr., was named after Cassius Marcellus Clay (1810-1903), a Kentucky slave owner turned abolitionist, noted Sims. The parallels between Cassius Marcellus Clay the emancipationist and the Champ who once bore his name, while remarkable, also made Ali’s rejection of that name all the more appropriate. After all, self-naming is a pillar of self-liberation. Cassius Clay was the name of an emancipator, and Muhammad Ali was the name of a free man, said Sims. Muhammad Ali’s insistence on being called by his self-chosen name, rather than his slave name, reminds us of the debate over the use of the word “Islamist.” It took the Most Reverend Rowan Williams, (the now retired) Archbishop of Canterbury, in a conversation with Professor Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of
36 ISLAMIC HORIZONS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
PHOTO CREDIT: UNIVERSITY TENNESSEE AT KNOXVILLE
THE CHOICE BETWEEN SLAVE NAME OR TRUE NAME
The Orientalist narrative of naming things according to how certain people see them and want others to see them is akin to “The Flintstones” cartoon strip, the modern Stone Age family whose lives — albeit American ones — are full of stone cars, furniture, daily comforts and appliances. The “Oxford English Dictionary” cites 1663 as the first recorded usage of the English term Mohammedan, along with the older term Mahometan that dates back to at least 1529. The English term is derived from New Latin Mahometanus, from Medieval Latin’s Mahometus [Muhammad], simply meant a “follower of Muhammad.” Indeed, if the followers of the Christ were Christians, then naturally the followers of Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) had to be Mohammedans, didn’t they? The use of this term, as the powers-that-be ordained, was also a way of implying that the Quran was not God’s exact words, as its adherents claimed, but a text somehow produced by a man called Muhammad. In Christian Western Europe down to the 13th century or so, some people mistakenly believed that Muhammad had either been a heretical Christian or a god worshipped by Muslims, states Kenneth Meyer Setton (“Western Hostility to Islam and Prophecies of Turkish Doom,” American Philosophical Society, 1992). Some works of medieval European literature referred to Muslims as “pagans,” the “paynim foe” and other such pejorative sobriquets Other works, among them the “Song of Roland,” depict Muslims praying to a variety of “idols,” including Apollo, Lucifer, Termagant and Mahound. When the Vatican was trying the Knights Templar for heresy during the early 1300s, reference was often made to their worship
EVEN AT THE LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT AND EDUCATED PUBLIC DISCOURSE, YOU STILL HEAR STRANGE WORDS LIKE ‘ISLAMIST,’ AND I’M A BIT PUZZLED BY A WORD LIKE THAT. YOU STILL HEAR THIS CURIOUS DISTINCTION BETWEEN ‘MODERATE’ AND ‘RADICAL’ MUSLIMS, THAT IS ‘NICE’ AND ‘NASTY’ MUSLIMS.” —Most Reverend Rowan Williams, (the now retired) Archbishop of Canterbury of a demon named Baphomet, which was remarkably similar to Muhammad’s name when transliterated into Latin: Mahomet. Given that Latin would be Europe’s language of scholarship and erudition for another 500 years, Setton noted that this name was the one used most often by Christian authors. These and other variations on a theme were all set in the “temper of the times” of the Muslim-Christian conflict as medieval Europe found its “great enemy” in the guise of the Muslims, whose armies conquered vast swathes of land after the fall of the Western Roman Empire at an incredible speed, as well as the lack of real information of the mysterious East, noted Montgomery Watt, (“Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman,” Oxford University Press, 1961). In response to a prolonged campaign by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the “AP Stylebook,” which is widely used by English-language publications, declared on April 5, 2013, that “Islamist” is no longer allowed as shorthand for those Muslims who are called Islamic militants, extremists or radicals. CAIR welcomed this change, “We believe this revision is a step in the right direction and will result in fewer negative generalizations in coverage of issues related to Islam and Muslims.” The old stylebook’s definition identified “Islamists” as a “supporter of government in accord with the laws of Islam. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi.” The new definition is slightly longer: “An advocate or supporter of a political movement that favors reordering government and society in accordance with laws prescribed by Islam. Do not use as a synonym for Islamic fighters, militants, extremists or radicals, who may or may not be Islamists … Where possible, be specific and use the name
of militant affiliations: al-Qaida-linked, Hezbollah, Taliban, etc. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi.” Anti-Sharia activists, not surprisingly, are unhappy with this change, considering that they routinely use the term to describe CAIR itself as an extremist organization. The debate over terms such as “Islamist” is not new. For a long time “Moslem” or “Mozlem” was an accepted English term, one initiated by the Orientalists and used in the “AP Stylebook.” After a year of correspondence, AP finally relented and changed from “Moslem” to “Muslim.” That fact that the Library of Congress’ transliteration was “Muslim” helped this process along. And, even Hartford Seminary’s journal is “The Muslim World.” Orientalists defined others from the perspective of their own imperial designs and eyes. For them, a Muslim was a “Moslem” or a “Mozlem.” Initially, the AP argued that the use of “Moslem” for the 1.6 billion Muslims was appropriate because the Nation of Islam was calling itself “Black Muslim.” After a nearly yearlong exchange of [snail] mail, AP relented and finally agreed with Omer Bin Abdullah, now the editor of this magazine, that the term adopted by a handful, and a cult far removed from [traditional orthodox] Islam, should not be an excuse to justify the continued use of this particular term. The Center for Nonproliferation Studies had argued, “Moslem and Muslim are basically two different spellings for the same word.” The “American Heritage Dictionary” (1992) noted, “Moslem is the form predominantly preferred in journalism [seemingly based on the ‘AP Stylebook’ recommendation] and popular usage. Muslim is preferred by scholars and by English-speaking adherents of Islam.” This may seem to be a rather strange
debate, for most English speakers see the two words as synonymous in meaning; however, their Arabic roots are very different. In Arabic, “Muslim” means “one who gives oneself to God” and is by definition someone who adheres to Islam. By contrast “Moslem,” pronounced in English with a “z” and not an “s,” means “one who is evil and unjust.” Recognizing this, the journal The Moslem World — founded in 1911 as “A Quarterly Review of Current Events, Literature And Thought Among Muhammedans And The Progress Of Christian Missions In Moslem Lands” and published by the Hartford Seminary in Connecticut since 1938 — was finally renamed The Muslim World. And yet some, even Muslim, academicians still assert that “Islamist” is a widely used academic and therefore accurate term, just as their predecessors had sought to continue the usage of “Moslem” and “Muhammadan.” One wonders why they insist upon doing so, given that the people about whom they are talking have clearly rejected such terms. Have they learned nothing from the words of Muhammad Ali? ih A.A. Bafaquih is a freelance writer.
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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 37
ISLAM IN AMERICA
With More Than a Prayer Chaplains are not restricted by faith to reach out to all of their publics BY NORA ZAKI
he mention of the word “chap- outreach work. Indeed, Muslim American laincy” probably makes some people chaplaincy has a lot to owe to African think of a pastor administering care to American Muslims especially those worka hospital patient or perhaps a prison ing in the early 20th century. Linguistically, the closest Arabic word chaplain working with inmates. At the most basic level, chaplains offer spiritual, religious for “minister” or “chaplain” would be da’i, and pastoral care to communities — some- such as someone who gives da’wa (inviting times to only one religious community — but others to Islam). The Arabic word for “seroften to anyone in need of such guidance. vant” or “worshipper” is ‘abd (e.g., Qur’an “Chaplain” and “minister” are often used 19:23). The prophets Muhammad (salla interchangeably. Chaplains are defined as pro- Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and Jesus (‘alayhi fessionals who offer spiritual care and guid- as-salam) are called “God’s servants,” and ance in a variety of settings. Etymologically, Moses (‘alayhi as-salam) is called “God’s the word originated in the mid-14th cen- distinguished servant.” All humans are tury from the phrase “minister of a chapel” God’s servants. However, there are certainly from the Old French chapelein (clergyman; Modern French: chapelain), from the Medieval Latin cappellanus (clergyman), originally “custodian of St. Martin’s cloak.” It replaced the Old English capellane (from the same Medieval Latin source: a clergyman who conducts private religious services), originally in great households, later in military regiments, prisons, and elsewhere. While chaplains in the U.S. have historically been Christian, there have been Jewish and, more recently, Muslim and chaplains from all religions, including humanists. The first chaplain to serve the House of Representatives was appointed in 1789: the Presbyterian Rev. William Linn. The current House chaplain, the Roman Catholic Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, was appointed in 2011. In the nation’s Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad, MS, MSW, BCC — prison system, the history now retired, who was the first Muslim chaplain of of Muslim ministry began the U.S. Army — now serves as ISNA Director of with the Nation of Islam’s Chaplain Services and Islamic Endorsing Agent. 38 ISLAMIC HORIZONS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
special ones. A chaplain serves God and the community.
WHAT EXACTLY DO CHAPLAINS DO?
Chaplains most often engage in providing pastoral care in hospitals, prisons, universities, airports and the armed forces. They are also becoming more common in police and fire departments. Rev. Cynthia Gano Lindner, director of the Master of the Divinity studies program at the University of Chicago Divinity School, defines pastoral care as “personal and communal care for human flourishing, care which includes attention to larger meaning and values, such as movement of divine hope, love and liberation in the lives of suffering individuals and communities throughout their life cycles.” Pastoral care often involves comforting others during hard times, such as when a person is hospitalized and despairs of God, listening to someone without judging, counseling university students who have questions about their spirituality and, if necessary, representing a faith group. For example, many universities have hired chaplains of various faith denominations to serve the students’ spiritual needs and have also set aside spaces for worship. Performing rituals and ceremonies is another part, but this depends upon where the chaplain works. If a Muslim chaplain were working in a university, he would deliver the Friday sermon or khutba. Muslim American women can certainly be university chaplains, who can assign a qualified student or staff member to deliver the khutba. But, this process varies across institution. In April 2015, when three innocent Muslim University of North Carolina students, Deah, Yusor, and Razan, were murdered by their neighbor, the University of Chicago Muslim chaplain conducted a remembrance service at his campus. That gathering indicated that although Islamophobia is
still on the rise, the student community came together to say that “we will rise above hate and evil.” Many chaplains are active in social justice and civic engagement work, which often corresponds to giving sermons and conducting rituals that galvanize people to work for social justice. For instance, former U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain Captain Chris Antal resigned in protest over the Obama Administration’s drone strikes and its policy on nuclear proliferation. Essentially, he said that he could no longer conduct funerals for fallen soldiers, honoring their lives, while the Administration was taking mostly innocent lives in Afghanistan, where he had served, through drone strikes. What a double standard, he thought, that he conducts funerals for the soldiers but not for the citizens killed in drone attacks. This illustrated to him that certain life is more valuable in the eyes of the U.S. “empire,” as he called it (Democracy Now, June 3, 2016).
HOW TO QUALIFY
LinkedIn job searches show that a lot of chaplaincy jobs are available. If you subscribe to the “chaplain” job feed on a smartphone app, you will receive at least ten notifications a day. However, most if not all of these jobs require academic qualifications, such as a Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree and hands-on experience. Several schools offer an MDiv program. Divinity schools, such as those at the University of Chicago and Harvard, offer three-year MDiv programs. Hartford Seminary has a degree in Islamic chaplaincy. Consider my personal example: As a student in my third and final year in the University of Chicago’s MDiv program, I can take classes in my academic interest (Islamic and Qur’anic Studies, and Arabic) as well as those that train me as a chaplain, including a class on performing sermons and ritual, in addition to pastoral care and a community leadership class. Furthermore, during my first year I worked as a chaplain-in-training at Cook County Jail and Jackson Park Hospital. Seeing the prison industrial complex in person (notably, the blatant fact that most of the inmates are black, Latino, and a few whites) was a wake-up call that chaplains are called to engage in social justice as well. Being in a hospital setting with sick patients and stressed-out doctors and staff made me appreciate life and my own health much more. If anything, being engaged as a chaplain
has required me to do a great deal of introspective work because we do our best to be our full selves, especially when engaging with other individuals’ spiritual and religious lives. And, this most often happens when people are struggling or in need.
form of being attentive and offering care. Prophet Muhammad said that he was sent only to perfect noble character. I believe that chaplains can inculcate and remind others to strive to attain good character, while also helping others to understand life in ethi-
WHILE CHAPLAINS IN THE U.S. HAVE HISTORICALLY BEEN CHRISTIAN, THERE HAVE BEEN JEWISH AND, MORE RECENTLY, MUSLIM AND CHAPLAINS FROM ALL RELIGIONS, INCLUDING HUMANISTS. I can take classes in subjects like ethics and studying death from various religious perspectives. For example: • Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) enables one to work in a hospital or another “place of crisis” for about 400 hours and learn from the chaplains already working there. I have not done CPE yet, but plan to do it during the summer of 2017. Not all chaplaincy jobs require a CPE unit, but if you want a short intensive learning experience about the human condition, often in times of crisis, then CPE is a necessary component. • You need support, often from peers who are fellow chaplains like yourself. During my yearlong field placement at the American Islamic College and Dominican University, serving both Muslim and non-Muslim students, my professors and colleagues were generous with their guidance and advice. In fact, we took a yearlong class together discussing our field placements and what went on there. Although I am the only Muslim in my cohort, speaking to my peers has offered me reassurance and insight. Indeed many Muslim chaplains in North America today have no formal chaplaincy education because such training either did not exist or was deemed unnecessary when many entered the field of chaplaincy. Education in America can be expensive, and graduate school is no exception. But scholarships do exist. One can argue that being a person of good character and being present for someone in need, regardless of whether one has an degree or not, is a form of chaplaincy, a
cal, theological and sociological terms, for example. We need trained Muslim chaplains. If you are interested in pursuing this field, please be aware that programs exist and that you are needed. ih Nora Zaki, a Master of Divinity candidate, 2017, at the University of Chicago Divinity School, has studied in Morocco, Jordan and Egypt. During the summer of 2016 she researched Sufism and pastoral care in Cairo.
WANTED AN IMAM ✓✓ Must be Legal Resident of USA ❖❖ College degree in Islamic Studies from a recognized institute of higher learning (no Online degree). ❖❖ Comprehensive knowledge of Islamic Shariah. ❖❖ Memorize the entire Quran or good portion of it. ❖❖ Fluency in English and Arabic and teach Quran. ❖❖ Experience as Imam or Assistant Imam. ❖❖ Ability to interact and relate to youth. ❖❖ Ability to work with people of different cultures and backgrounds. ❖❖ Willingness to be supervised. ❖❖ Excellent communication skills in interfaith discussions and media interview settings. Submit letter of introduction and resume via e-mail to Shehadeh_abdelkarim@yahoo.com
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 39
ISLAM IN AMERICA
Filling the Void in Spanish-language Islamic Material A creative solution to a glaring need BY WENDY DÍAZ
I NOTICING A LACK OF EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS ABOUT ISLAM FOR CHILDREN, HABLAMOS ISLAM CREATED A CHILDREN’S WEBSITE.
n 2006 Hernan Guadalupe, the son of Ecuadorian parents who was raised in a predominately Latino community in Union City, N.J., founded the nonprofit PrimeXample (the Latino Muslim Outreach Project [LMOP]; http://latinomuslimoutreach.blogspot.com) to educate both English- and Spanish-speakers about Islam. Considering the growing need for dawah material, LMOP became Hablamos Islam (We Speak Islam) to focus dawah efforts in the Hispanic communities in the U.S. and abroad. After his 2001 conversion, Guadalupe began assisting with the prayers at the North Hudson Islamic Education Center (NHIEC; www.nhiec.com), a center with one of the nation’s largest populations of Hispanic Muslims. Shortly after his conversion, his brother Diego and his mother Martha also embraced Islam. After his marriage to a Muslim Hispanic convert, they collaborated with NHIEC’s outreach committee, organized events and volunteered with the
40 ISLAMIC HORIZONS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
Islamic Circle of North America’s WhyIslam project and Islamworld.net. They managed dawah tables in malls and commercial centers, distributed literature about Islam, mentored and supported new converts. Motivated by wanting to teach their non-Muslim family members about their faith, the Guadalupe family founded LMOP and PrimeXample, which referred to the excellent example and character of Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). Under this banner, they dedicated themselves to translating many articles about Islam from English to Spanish and speaking about Islam at Columbia, Rutgers, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Stevens Institute of Technology, Temple, George Mason, Johns Hopkins and other Northeastern colleges and universities. One of their most popular lectures, “Latinos in Islam: Rediscovering Our Roots,” presented the similarities between Latino culture and Islam due to their historical ties. From 2006-08, the group collaborated with Islamic centers and Muslim Student
Mohammed Waheed-uzZaman Rana 1934 – 2016
Father of the St. Louis Muslim Community
A Association (MSA-National) in universities to plan educational events. They also managed a website on which they published their translations and posted original articles. After studying Arabic for a year in Egypt, Guadalupe, also known as Abu Uthman, decided to dissolve PrimeXample and focus more on the dawah to the Latino community. The organization’s name was changed to Hablamos Islam to reflect its mission: speaking about Islam in Spanish to educate and offer a voice for the Latino Muslim community. Hablamos Islam’s services are directed toward Hispanic converts and those who are curious and/or motivated to learn about Islam. The goal is to produce and distribute educational materials to Spanish-speaking Islamic communities worldwide and make them available online free of charge. The webpage www.hablamosislam.com offers Spanish-language articles, videos and fatwas and is now a popular page among Spanishspeaking Muslims.
REACHING THE ROOTS
Noticing a lack of educational materials about Islam for children, Hablamos Islam created a children’s site (www.hablamosislamninos.com) that offers coloring and activity pages, poems, free downloadable e-books, and information to help parents teach their children about Islam. Determined to offer services to both Spanish-speaking Muslim
parents and their children, Hablamos Islam staff began to write, illustrate and design their own Islamic children’s books. They have published 9 to date, the majority of which are bilingual. They are the only producer of such books in the world. They have also produced a popular children’s program, “Hablamos Islam with Ahmed” (We Speak Islam with Ahmed), a puppet show that teaches children about Islam in Spanish. Episodes can be found on the website and also on YouTube’s “Hablamos Islam” channel. Many fans also check out https:// www.facebook.com/hablamosislam to hear the latest news about their projects. With God’s help and the support of many community members, Hablamos Islam plans to increase awareness about the lack of Islamic resources for Spanish-speaking children and motivate others to get involved. So far, donations have enabled organization members to distribute their children’s books for free to Muslims living in over 12 countries. Currently, their books are available for purchase on the official Hablamos Islam Niños (www.hablamosislamninos. com) website. All donations go directly toward producing more material and facilitating Spanish dawah efforts. Donations can be sent through Paypal at hablamosislam@gmail. com. ih Wendy Díaz, co-founder and director of Hablamos Islam, is a writer and translator for the Islamic Circle of North America.
ny discussion on the history of Muslims in St. Louis, Mo., is incomplete without appreciating the accomplishments of Mohammed Waheed-uz-Zaman Rana, who died Oct. 16, 2016, in his adopted hometown. Born in Lahore as the fifth of ten children, Rana left Pakistan in 1961 for the small town of Olivet, Mich., where he earned his undergraduate degree and met his future wife Janice. After completing his PhD at Wayne State University, he came to St. Louis in 1968 to teach at the St. Louis University School of Medicine; he retired from there in 2014, 46 years later. The small community quickly organized meetings at members’ homes, Juma prayers at St. Louis University’s Busch Center and Sunday tafseer sessions at the International Institute of St. Louis. Rana, volunteered not only as the imam for Friday prayers, but also led the weekly tafseer classes, performed nikahs and even slaughtered animals to provide zabiha meat. As the community grew during the mid-1970s, the need arose for a permanent mosque. Members eventually purchased a disused warehouse near the university campus. During one exhausting and now-famous evening in 1975, Rana organized an event that raised $64,000 — a nationally impressive amount 40 years ago and, in 2016 terms, more than $180,000. The building was bought and transformed into the Islamic Center of Greater St. Louis. In 1981 Rana, who was very involved in the local and national MSA, forerunner of ISNA, chaired the MSA national convention held in the city. During this decade, he led the community’s struggle to find a site upon which it could build a much-needed larger mosque. In 1992, alongside city and county leaders, he helped break the ground for the new Dar-ul-Islam mosque. For over 45 years, he served the St. Louis Muslim community as a volunteer who gave lectures and khutbas, headed tafseer and other discussion groups, led Eid prayers and represented the community at interfaith organizations, sponsored Muslim student groups at universities, taught the children at the Islamic Center or in members’ homes, served as a contact person for local media and spoke to the entire city in the aftermath of 9/11. For almost half a century, he was involved in feeding and sheltering the community. His children Jamil, Aneesa, Omar, Nadia, all living in the St. Louis area, and six grandchildren survive him. His wife Janice, who also dedicated much of her time to the community and kept his life organized while raising their family, preceded him in death in 2006 after 41 years of marriage. ih JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 41
MUSLIMS IN ACTION
Designing Green Mosques Are Muslims fulfilling their stewardship of the earth’s resources? BY UZMA MIRZA
uman activities consume resources and as a result produce waste. Both the human population and wide consumption of resources have increased astronomically. Non-renewable resources including energy derived from fossil fuel, water, and productive land are dwindling fast. Our contemporary lifestyles have also produced enormous amounts of non-biodegradable waste. Ecological Footprint estimates that it now takes the Earth one year and six months to generate non-renewable resources that we use in a year. The great environmental challenges posing existential threats to future life on Earth are fossil fuel produced energy and water scarcity. Therefore, conservation
and preservation of these life-sustaining resources must be prioritized by adopting frugal consumption, and reducing emissions and waste for the sustainment of the earth, waters and thin biosphere.
God has bestowed on humans the universe as a trust and mercy — a trust that includes their own creation: “We did indeed offer the Trust to the Heavens and the Earth and the Mountains; but they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof: but man undertook it; He was indeed unjust and foolish;” (Quran 33:72). The universe is the natural palette on which the Muslim’s salat, Ibadah and
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sadaqah jaria (charity) take place. God has sanctified the natural world with the predominant color of green, which falls in the mid-point of the color spectrum of visible light at 520-570 Nm. Islam is called the religion of the middle way, our practices as such an ummah should recognize our stewardship (Qur’an, 2:138; 6:165).
INCLUSIVITY OF COMMUNITY AND GREEN PROFESSIONALS
In green mosque spatial design the community’s inclusivity is vital — it espouses its close relationship with the natural environment. “And there is no creature on (or within) the earth or bird that flies with its wings except (that they are) communities like you. We have not neglected in the Register a thing. Then unto their Lord they will be gathered” (Qur’an 6:38). Mosques have always been inclusive and rarely solely for worship. They served the community’s religious, educational, social, relief, health and commercial needs, and contributed to its economic growth and
empowerment. The best example is the house of the Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) in Madina from which basic mosque architectonics emerged. Greening a building is like planting a tree: The Prophet advised: “If a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift from him” (Malik and Bukhari). It is recommended that design professionals familiar with mosque planning provide the green service for a community. This inclusive support of the professionals harnesses the community’s sustainment and a viable future generation, which is presently lacking.
ECONOMY, ECOLOGY ENERGY EFFICIENCY: LIFE CYCLE COST
Green is Economy, Ecology and Energy Efficiency with cost effectiveness. All signs of creation are cyclical, not linear, i.e. hydrologic, carbon, nitrogen cycles and so on. The extraction of raw materials to waste to recycle/reuse will reduce a new or existing building’s carbon footprint. Green design is also called “common sense” design where renewable, non-fossil fuel energy sources are used with a lifecycle cost vs. initial cost scenario. In the natural world there is no waste. In one cubic foot of soil the waste of one is the food of another. We should design our mosques with care and knowledge, not cheaply, ostentatiously, or as a transplant from another country, but within its context that addresses a community’s spatial needs.
THE TREE — METAPHOR OF A GOOD MUSLIM
The tree is a sign in the Quran as a metaphor of a good Muslim reflecting mercy, resilience and balance in all action — essentially striving to reflect God’s 99 Attributes: “Seest thou not how God sets forth a parable? — A goodly word like a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the heavens — of its Lord. So God sets forth parables for men, in order that they may receive admonition” (Qur’an 14:24). A tree restores the balance of water keeping the various natural cycles in equilibrium. Through its roots it anchors itself and the soil. It absorbs water and protects the earth from erosion and communities from floods. It restores the waters in the oceans, seas and lakes and replenishes groundwater and aquifers. The leaves make food for the tree through the chemical reaction called photosynthesis due to the presence of
IN GREEN MOSQUE SPATIAL DESIGN THE COMMUNITY’S INCLUSIVITY IS VITAL — IT ESPOUSES ITS CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT.
chlorophyll (a green pigment that absorbs sunlight converting energy into food, releasing oxygen and removing carbon dioxides from the atmosphere creating the air that sustains all life). In a symbiotic relationship with creation, the tree provides shade, bears fruit and sustains the atmosphere and earth with resilience from whatever direction the wind comes.
Alongside the environment is the concern for the climate. The Global Muslim Climate Network (GMCN) is a platform for all Muslim nations and communities connecting prominent religious scholars, high-level government officials, businesses, and grassroots communities, to overcome the challenges of global climate change impacts, especially in vulnerable communities. The network was launched on April 22, 2016 at an official hand-in of the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change to the UN General Assembly President in New York. The network aims to develop cooperation and collaboration among Muslim communities globally and with other faith communities to take more ambitious actions in worldwide transformation to a fossil fuelfree, renewable energy powered world with sustainable global communities.
Masjid Task Force has produced an initial “guideline of green steps” to make mosques greener and other projects are underway. The universe contains a treasury of God’s signs that are vital to preserve. The Muslim ummah has been enlightened with a preexisting message. This stewardship must be rooted in mercy and knowledge. So let us share the green Muslim voice of stewardship as a flexible and gentle, yet principled platform for our Masjid environments in safeguarding the universe that includes our humanity. ih Uzma Mirza, principal architect/owner of AYN Architect Studio, is founder of the Pi Foundation, Islamic artist and founding group of the ISNA Green Masjid Task Force and ISNA Greening Ramadan Campaign.
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ISNA believes that Muslims have a special responsibility to take care of the environment. This initiative is designed to create awareness and provide guidance in making mosques environmentally friendly and in practices sustainable and just for all Muslims. ISNA’s Masjid Development Committee launched the “Green Masjid Project” led by a Green Masjid Task Force in 2014-15. ISNA has raised national awareness in making mosques green as part of its green mosque campaign. ISNA appreciates the many Muslims who have been initiating green for years, and invites people to join the ISNA Green Masjid Project. The ISNA Green
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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 43
In Canyonlands National Park, the author and husband Nader Jameel hiked two miles to find this beautiful camping spot at the edge of a canyon.
Tents, Trails and Tranquility Learning to be a better Muslim through the great outdoors BY AMBREEN TARIQ
od has created many things that are pure and full of flawless purpose, like trees, rivers and weather patterns. And then there are the manmade things that we have fashioned using His pure creations, like buildings, cars and money. Over time, however, as we have surrounded ourselves more and more by the latter, the ensuing imbalance has impeded our ability to truly reflect upon our blessings and the profound nature of God’s creations. Those seeking God must surround themselves with both of these in balance and moderation. For me, visiting and integrating the natural world into my life on a regular is a spiritual imperative, for doing so allows me to ponder upon and appreciate the complexity of God’s creation and my vulnerability in relation to it. Being in nature gives me perspective; it reminds me that the struggle for survival is real and that God has blessed us with society, tools, and other privileges to do more than just survive — to thrive, do right, and build a better world. When Muhammad was about 40, he started spending long periods in self-imposed isolation and retreating to nature in
order to meditate and worship. His heart was restless and growing weary of the societal ills. While he did not know exactly what he was searching for, he knew that he had to separate himself from worldly distractions to find spiritual clarity. With minimal provisions he sought out a meditative lifestyle, and that intense period of devotion prepared him for the great revelation of prophethood that he would later receive. Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) modeled for humanity, as did other prophets and messengers, the need to be in nature and concentrate upon God’s
© AMBREEN TARIQ
MUSLIMS IN ACTION wisdom and mercy. From Islamic traditions and scripture, we also draw wisdom from the experiences of other prophets who retreated to nature, climbed mountains, and sought solitude in long hikes — all to get closer to God and find spiritual clarity through experiencing nature. This isn’t just a proven experience for prophets, but for my family as well. When I was eight years old, my family and I moved to Minnesota from India. As immigrants we had a tough road ahead of us, but my parents instilled in me an appreciation for our environment and nature’s many blessings: “Say: Travel through Earth and see how God did originate creation; so will God produce a later creation: for God has power over all things” (Quran 29:20). As newcomers, we learned a lot and were introduced to fantastic new discoveries — from the accessibility of the public transportation system to the enormity of consumer options in grocery stores. Everything, to put it simply, was overwhelming. But at the same time, we were also amazed to learn that public lands are kept clean, safe and beautiful and are open to everyone. So we started visiting state parks and made camping a new family tradition. Growing up as an immigrant in Minnesota was socially hard. My fondest childhood memories, however — moments when I truly felt at peace — were when my family and I were enjoying ourselves in the great outdoors. We were often the only family of color at any given campsite. But for once this didn’t matter, for it felt like nature didn’t belong to anyone in particular and that we were all equal guests on the land. During those difficult years, our public lands gave me a new sense of empowerment. I still carry that sense with me, even today. I introduced my husband to camping, and it has become an important part of our marriage. He grew up in a traditional
AS MUSLIM AMERICANS, WE MUST ACKNOWLEDGE THAT AMERICA’S BEAUTIFUL PUBLIC LANDS ARE OUR LANDS TOO — MAINTAINED WITH OUR TAXES — AND WE MUST VISIT THEM, APPRECIATE THEM, AND HELP BUILD THE NEXT GENERATION OF ADVOCATES FOR THEIR PROTECTION AND PRESERVATION.
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© AMBREEN TARIQ
The author’s tent/campsite in Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Utah
know us have opened their homes and campsites and extended standing invitations to visit. Within weeks, I had built a digital community and created dialogue around an issue that has made me feel isolated my whole life.
© AMBREEN TARIQ
immigrant milieu, where it was assumed that camping is “something that white people do.” But when I told him about how emotionally and spiritually empowering it can be, we decided to give it a try. We used our wedding gift money to purchase camping equipment and, over the last three years, have camped all around Maryland and Virginia as well as at other national and state parks around the country. Camping has truly strengthened our marriage. When it’s time to set up camp, we work as a team and focus on the basics: shelter, water, food and warmth. We solve problems together, find strength in our accomplishments, and together grow a sense of humility and gratitude for feeling vulnerable to the elements. Worship is an intimate experience, one in which you reach out to thank God and ask for His mercy and blessings. We should all challenge ourselves to be nearer to the purity of nature to heighten that experience of worship. From struggling to build a fire with damp wood to reinforcing our tent during a thunderstorm — these moments of physical challenge truly push me to feel a type of gratitude that I cannot feel in city life. The sense of clarity, humility and empowerment I get from wilderness activities is very profound, and I feel blessed for having these experiences. I want to share them with other Muslims, but unfortunately we are often the only people of color in a given park, campground or hiking trail. As Muslim Americans, we must acknowledge that America’s beautiful public lands are our lands too — supported with our taxes — and that we must visit and appreciate them, help raise up the next generation of advocates for their protection and preservation. In August 2016 I started a digital campaign on Instagram, @BrownPeopleCamping, to share my personal experiences and challenges as a “minority” in the outdoors. I wanted a space in which I could amplify these issues, demystify the outdoors experience and encourage Muslims and people of color to enjoy our public lands. In the short time since I launched it, I have gained thousands of followers and received an outpouring of support from friends and family — but mostly from hundreds of strangers who have encouraged me and promoted the campaign. People throughout the country have shared stories and photos of their own struggles with the lack of diversity in the outdoors community. People who don’t even
The author in Arches National Park, Moab, Utah
Blessed and empowered by this unexpected level of support, I am now exploring ways to expand my project into a more dynamic storytelling series. In the near future, I hope to create a Brown People Camping blog series that will feature their photographs and stories about their challenges, adventures and passion for the outdoors. Through this series, I hope to harness the creative capacity and connectivity of social media in order to grow our outdoors culture and diversify our public lands. In the meantime, I encourage people to follow me on Instagram and reach out directly with any feedback or ideas for collaboration. Being outdoors is whatever we want it to be; there’s no right or wrong way to do it, as long as you’re connecting and appreciating God’s natural blessings. So, from family
picnics to long hikes, please tag your outdoors photos with #BrownPeopleCamping and help grow the movement to diversify the outdoors!
CARING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
In addition to enjoying the great outdoors, we must also spread the culture of environmentalism. As a board member of Green Muslims, a Washington, DC-based Muslim environmentalist group, all of us feel a great sense of community and passion for raising awareness of environmental issues and helping our community learn and adhere to Islam’s environmental principles. We engage locally while serving as a national resource for spiritually inspired environmental education, reflection and action in the Muslim community. To me, being a good Muslim means being an environmentalist: one who strives to be a steward of God’s creations and helps prevent excess and exploitation, as well as emulates the Prophet’s example of living a balanced life that seeks out nature as well as societal progress. So whether you live in the city or the suburbs, whether you’re a cab driver or a doctor, whether you have kids or are in school, strive to find purity around you. Discover a place that is more primary than developed, more dirt than road, more trees than walls, more silence than distraction and go there. Worship by feeling vulnerable and humble. Let your heart ache with gratitude for the purity of the elements that surround you. Learn and grow. Love the environment. Share that love with others. And then go back and do it all over again. ih Ambreen Tariq, a Washington, DC area resident, is founder of @BrownPeopleCamping and www.brownpeoplecamping. com, and a board member and the Director of Communications for the nonprofit organization Green Muslims.
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 45
Investing Basics: When Is It Halal?
Muslims are allowed to trade, but there are definite limits on what is lawful and what is proscribed BY JOSHUA BROCKWELL
he complex world of investing may seem daunting. To make it more accessible to Muslim Americans, let’s look at some investing basics.
Type of investment
What is it?
Can it be halal?
Ownership of shares in a company
Yes. Stocks should be screened for lines of business, financial ratios, and other considerations. Stocks passing these screens are still subject to purification dues.
Ownership of shares of debt
Conventional bonds: No — they are based on borrowing and lending in interest. Also, trading in debt is not considered permissible. A halal alternative is sukuk (“Islamic bonds”).
A basket of publicly traded investments.
Yes. Mutual funds that follow halal screens are available to U.S. investors.
A private investment partnership
No. Hedge funds rely on borrowed money and frequently engage in high-risk practices, such as short-selling and derivatives (not halal because it’s selling something you don’t own) and margins (not halal because it involves borrowing with interest).
A contract between you and an insurance company. Generally, no. Annuities may involve excessive uncertainty (gharar) You pay a lump sum, and the company provides or gambling. You should also consider if the money is invested in a regular payments for a set period of time or for the halal way. rest of your life. Exception: If you don’t annuitize, it’s possible to avoid gharar.
Contracts that give you the right to buy/sell an Generally, no. Options are speculative and thus represent a financial asset at a certain price before a certain date. You right, not a tangible asset. are not required to buy/sell the asset, but they pay a nonrefundable price to buy the option. Exception: Buying employee stock options in the company for which you currently work is halal. Trading those options, however, would be problematic.
Contracts that obligate you to buy/sell an asset at a No. Futures are speculative and there’s no exchange of tangible assets. price agreed upon today with delivery and payment occurring at a future date. This is the same principle with options. However, futures are more problematic because they represent an obligation rather than an option.
Goods used in commerce that are interchangeable Buying/selling publicly traded commodities is problematic because with other goods of the same type (e.g., oil, wheat, there’s no physical delivery of the goods. Also, commodities are usually purchased through options. gold and beef). It’s considered permissible to buy gold in cash, but not on credit.
An accepted form of money (e.g. the US dollar or No. Currencies are usually purchased through options. To be halal, their euro). trade would need to be settled immediately and not on a deferred basis, as is the case with options.
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STOCKS AND BONDS
In the U.S., the most common publicly traded investments are stocks and bonds. Stocks represent ownership shares of a publicly traded company. Now that you own a tiny part of that company, any change in its value is reflected in your stock investment’s value. Share prices also fluctuate due to the supply and demand for that stock. Any money you earn comes from the company’s business, so investors usually want to know how it operates and makes its money. Stocks are part of the equity market, so they may also be referred to as “equities.” Bonds are interest-bearing ownership shares of debt, usually issued by a country, city or company. If you buy a bond, you own a tiny part of that debt and will receive repayments, including interest, based upon that ownership. Buying/selling bonds is trading debt, which is prohibited for Muslims. There are non-interest-bearing alternatives, including Islamic bank deposits and sukuk (assetbacked securities, sometimes called “Islamic bonds”). Bonds are part of the “fixed-income” market, and are generally considered to be conservative investments. However, a bond’s price can fluctuate and certain one are very risky, such as below-investment grade or junk bonds.
BONDS AND RIBA
Despite being one of the most often misunderstood terms in Islamic finance, riba nevertheless plays an important role in our financial lives. The Quran (e.g., 2:278-279, 30:39, 3:130 and 4:161), the Sunnah and the consensus of the scholarly community prohibit it. Its literal translation, namely, “increase, addition or growth,” is often translated into English as “usury.” English-speakers typically understand usury as an exploitative rate of interest. Riba, however, refers to any excess value in certain transactions that Shariah has prohibited. One of the most common types of riba is mentioned in the Quran: riba al-nasee’ah. It’s also considered the most harmful and unethical type of all because it increases the amount of a debt due to the passage of time. Interest-based bonds, which fall into this category, are therefore generally not acceptable investments. There are, however, new market alternatives that help meet investors’ needs. This prohibition has led many Muslims to favor stock investing in the U.S. However, many of those do-it-yourself approaches are too simplistic and ignore the carefully outlined rules devised by our scholars.
How does one determine which lines of business are impermissible and how the financial tests are derived? To help with this, in 1990 the Islamic Development Bank, Dallah Al-Baraka, the Faysal Group (Dar Al Maal Al Islami), Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corporation, the Kuwait Finance House and the Al-Bukhary Foundation founded the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) in Bahrain. Its Shariah advisory board comprises world-class scholars, specifically those with an extensive background in the fiqh (jurisprudence) of trade and transactions, from all over the world and different schools of thought. Its task is to issue international Islamic finance standards. Using AAOIFI guidelines, along with guidance from a trusted advisor, helps ensure that your investments are halal.
KEEP IN MIND THAT JUST BECAUSE A COMPANY HAS A HALAL LINE OF BUSINESS, IT DOESN’T MEAN THAT YOU CAN INVEST IN IT. FINDING HALAL STOCKS
Most Shariah scholars agree that determining compliance involves a two-step screening process: (1) Qualitative: Scholars and fund managers put the company’s lines of business under a microscope to locate any evidence of involvement with prohibited business or other activities and (2) Quantitative: The company must pass certain financial tests (e.g., it can’t have too much debt on its books). These two steps are vital for finding halal stocks and stock funds. Keep in mind that just because a company has a halal line of business, it doesn’t mean that you can invest in it. For example, it could have too much debt or interest income or own a secondary line of business that engages in impermissible activities above a certain threshold. Given that there is much more detail on both the quantitative and qualitative screens, those Muslims who want to invest should talk to an Islamic finance professional.
Purification, which is essential, refers to donating the small amount of prohibited unintended income earned by the companies in which you invest. In terms of publicly held companies, such income could be the interest earned by a tech company in an interest-bearing bank account or a secondary business activity (e.g., alcohol or adult entertainment offered by airlines or the hospitality industry). You should give such earnings away to offset any harm stemming from such non-Islamic business activities. That amount needs to be calculated and accrued for each halal investment. Considering their origin, such funds cannot be donated to Islamic charities and to Muslims, even if they are needy; instead, some send these monies to nonprofits working for animal welfare or environment care.
Mutual funds provide an easy way for Muslim Americans to invest. Often made up of either stocks or bonds, they can be described as a “basket” of investments. Mutual fund companies pool the assets of a large number of investors and buy stocks or other investments on their behalf. A typical mutual fund may invest in dozens or hundreds of companies from many different industries, anything from a technology company to a clothing retailer. When you buy a share of a mutual fund, you own a tiny portion of all securities (investments) in the fund. Mutual funds can be managed either actively (investments are selected by a portfolio manager) or passively (investments follow an index like the S&P500). Any halal mutual fund will have an aspect of active management, since companies need to be evaluated according to halal screens. This also allows you to get professional management without paying for a personal portfolio manager, for the cost of portfolio management is included among the other fees in the fund’s expense ratio. All of the fund’s investors bear the cost together. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 47
Like investing in individual stocks, investing in a mutual fund involves certain risks, including the possibility of financial loss. These financial vehicles are not guaranteed or insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or any other government agency. They must register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and are subject to a strict set of rules and regulations. Before investing, do your due diligence by obtaining and reading the prospectus to determine its investment objective, risks, fees and expenses. Carefully consider those and other factors to make sure they’re in line with your goals and expectations. If you’re investing with a financial advisor, find out how much he/she is charging you, as these fees will be in addition to any mutual fund fees in your account.
HOW TO INVEST FOR COLLEGE OR RETIREMENT
Stock, bond and mutual fund investments can be held in different investment vehicles, such as a retirement plan or education savings account. Many people think that 401(k) plans are investments; in reality, they’re tax-advantaged vehicles that hold investments, as are IRAs, 403(b) plans, 529 plans and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts. You choose which investments you put in them. Common investment vehicles for retirement • IRA (traditional, Roth and others) — generally established and managed by individuals 48 ISLAMIC HORIZONS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
401(k) plan — generally established and managed by a business 403(b) plan — generally established and managed by a hospital, school, university or nonprofit • TSP (Thrift Savings Plan) — retirement plan for federal government employees Common investment vehicles for education savings • 529 plan — managed by states; always includes interest-bearing investments (unless you’re purchasing a prepaid 529) • Coverdell Education Savings Account • UGMA/UTMA (Uniform Gift/Transfer to Minors Act) custodial accounts From screening stocks to picking the right fund, you need to do your research and ask the professionals if you’re unsure about something. Fortunately, American Muslims can take advantage of investment options that cater to their needs. So, keep it halal and get started today. All investing involves a certain amount of risk, including the potential loss of principal, and no investing strategy is guaranteed to succeed. Investing also involves the potential growth of your money over time. Opinions expressed are those of the author, are subject to change and are not guaranteed. They should not be considered recommendations to buy or sell any security or considered investment advice. ih Joshua Brockwell is an investment communications director at Azzad Asset Management in Falls Church, Va.
HEALTH & WELL-BEING
Teaching Rape Prevention Mosques and Islamic centers should be proactive in fighting this widespread culture of rape and providing such classes BY LINDA “ILHAM” BARTO
ape culture” is the term used their life is threatened, for these self-defensive to define societies in which rape measures may cause serious injuries or even is considered normal and rapdeath. For example, a woman cannot ethically or legally use such force in cases of ists are seldom punished an argument or purse snatching. and are, in fact, often glorified. Palmer (Mass.) District Court Judge Two pressure points are the eyes, Thomas Estes ruled on Aug. 15, 2016, which you can jab or gouge with your that rapists should not be punished fingers or an instrument. If you have because rape is part of our culture. fingernails, you have ten weapons literally at your fingertips. Begin just above Concluding with, “I believe in it as an American value,” he then let former high the eyebrows and claw down across your school athlete David Becker, charged with attacker’s eyes or eyelids not only to injure, sexually assaulting two classmates, off with but also to get blood in his eyes to temprobation. Rapist Brock Turner’s father told porarily blind him. (If you do this, be sure Santa Clara County (Calif.) Superior Court not to wash your hands until after the police Judge Aaron Persky that his son should not be collect evidence). If you are at home, you may be able to grab an aerosol punished just for “20 minutes of action.” The National Violence against Women Survey (see www.rainn.org) (like air freshener or hairspray) can and spray its contents into his revealed that in the U.S., one in six women will experience a com- eyes. Hornet spray is a good weapon because it can be sprayed from pleted or attempted rape at least once in her a distance. If you can grab a broom, stab his eyes with the bristles and then flip it lifetime. The World Health Organization around and stab the handle into another said that when the global female population is considered, the statistic rises to one IT IS THE BOYS AND MEN WHO pressure point. in three. According to former President NEED CLASSES TO LEARN HOW Box his ears with your fists. If he Jimmy Carter, “The abuse of women and doesn’t let go of you, curve your fingers NOT TO RAPE — TO LEARN girls is the most pervasive and unaddressed around his ears and rip them off. That THAT GIRLS AND WOMEN ARE sounds like a terrible thing to do to a human rights violation on earth.” I teach rape prevention classes for girls THEIR SISTERS AND MOTHERS, fellow human being, but you need to realand women aged 12 and up. But really it ize that he stopped being human when he DAUGHTERS AND WIVES, IN is the boys and men who need classes to attacked you. Now he is a monster, and he learn how not to rape — to learn that girls THE FAMILY OF HUMANITY AND needs to be stopped — whatever it takes! and women are their sisters and moth- NOT OBJECTS TO BE ABUSED, The nose is a pressure point. Use a ers, daughters and wives, in the family of palm heel thrust (the palm of the hand EXPLOITED AND VIOLATED. humanity and not objects to be abused, used as a striking force), a hammer fist exploited and violated. We cannot con(the side of your hand being the striking sider ourselves dignified human beings living within the will of God force) or a rock or a similar object to bash his nose. You can jab as long as we allow this profoundly destructive culture to permeate the hollow of his throat with your knuckles or a hard object like our national and global societies. a broom handle. To deal with this reality, women should seek to protect themThe solar plexus (the tender spot in the center of his torso, selves by taking classes in self-defense that are specifically designed beneath the lungs) can be punched, kicked or jabbed. Deliver a to beat back an attempted sexual assault. Mosques and Islamic top-of-the-foot front kick to his groin as hard as you can. If you are centers should be proactive in fighting this widespread culture and already too close for that, use the top of your shin. If you are closer providing such classes. Empower the women! still, bash it with your knee, which will likely cause him to bend over and expose another pressure point — the base of his skull. Hit it A FEW FIGHTING TIPS with a hammer fist or a hard object. His inner thigh is a bundle of As a martial arts instructor with a military background, I teach my nerves, and his knees and tops of his feet are also pressure points. students to focus on basic pressure points, those sensitive body parts Kick any of them as hard as you can. ih that cannot be strengthened by exercise, when they are assaulted. Linda “iLham” Barto, an author and illustrator, is a veteran of the United States Air Force However, I caution them to use these fighting techniques only if and a second-degree black belt in Shotokan Karate. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 49
The Never-Ending Mosque Parking Syndrome Do Muslims realize that huqooq ul-ibad, the rights of other people, includes paying attention to parking regulations? BY ABUBAKAR N. KASIM
arking has always been a point of tension between mosques, synagogues, and churches and their neighbors. The Muslim community’s rapid growth necessitates the need for more parking spaces, especially in cities. Not surprisingly, one of the most-cited reasons why residents and businesses object to a new neighborhood mosque is because of the ensuing traffic and parking nightmare. On Jan. 25, 2012, the online Muslim Matters magazine published satirical scenarios discussing what it referred as the Masjid Parking Syndrome. It said, “The disease is mainly found in suburban masājid with small parking lots, but is compounded to horrific levels in inner-city masājid, where
every Friday afternoon the very city streets fall prey to a swarm of parking space-hungry Muslims hunting for a spot to show off their cringe-worthy ‘gracefulness’ at parallel parking.” ISNA Canada President Dr. Syed Imtiaz Ahmad says, “The parking situation can be improved by working with the municipal authorities and neighbors. This requires cultivating positive relations, and not demanding it as a right.” He stressed the importance of building such relations, for “many neighbors may become accommodating through building of cordial relations ... [and] can be invited to focus social gatherings at the mosques and engaged in empathetic relationship. Both of
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these situations require disciplined use of inner and outer parking spaces which can be achieved by hiring attendants who can make sure that parking and getting out of parking avoids hazards and does not result in blocking driveways and interfering with fire hydrants or other necessary restrictions.” In addition, working with the municipal and traffic control authorities can lead to the use of parking without penalties. Those who violate parking rules should be prosecuted, and there should be zero tolerance for those who come late and block people’s driveways. Software product manager Naeem Siddiqui suggested “contract a towing company and have them tow anyone parked illegally ... Do this for a few Fridays and I’m guessing behavior might change.” Dr. Abdul Hai Patel, former Commissioner of Ontario Human Rights Commission, stated, “I would agree with having a tow truck ready in the parking lot” and remarked that parking announcements have almost become part of the Friday khutba. The International Muslim Organization (IMO), a major mosque in Toronto, has had to deal with this issue because the congregation’s regular flouting of this rule led to constant complaints.
IMO President Omar Faruk explained, “Our number one problem is the latecomers for Jumah prayers. When the IMO parking lot is full, latecomers would park in the emergency spaces and block other vehicles as well in the process.” To make matters worse, some who block other vehicles don’t leave until they finish socializing, which causes problems for those who have to return to their jobs. The mosque eventually made an arrangement with the neighboring Sears store for an additional 600 parking spaces on Fridays and Eids in exchange for a reasonable monthly fee. They were, quite naturally, not allowed to park in the store’s customers’ area. The mosque asked members who park there to make a minimum contribution of Can$3.00 to offset the cost. However, the people started arguing with volunteers and sometimes parked in the prohibited area. Faced with contract termination because of the consistent violations, the new developer who bought the Sears Outlet gave notice to IMO that as of January 2017 the existing contract would not be renewed. Each mosque has its own story to tell. Many neighboring businesses have ended up threatening legal action after initially making reasonable accommodations. For example, Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va., was on the verge of being closed down due to its neighbors’ repeated complaints. As the Washington Post reported in 1993, the overflow parking so infuriated its neighbors (including senior citizens) and businesses that they petitioned the city to close it.
It is ironic that Muslims assert that Islam has the solution to every problem and have yet to discover the solution to this predicament. Sometimes their illegal parking could be a matter of life and death, as it could prevent ambulances and firefighters from reaching the trouble spot. And then there is the issue of the deliberately blocked workers returning late to face angry bosses.
the congregants can prepare for in advance. Without doubt this never-ending fiasco severely tries the patience of the mosque’s neighbors. One wonders why these Muslims can’t follow the example of the Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and respect their neighbors’ property and peace. Parking may seem rather trivial to most Muslims, but Islam stresses the manner and
THE WORST OFFENDERS, USUALLY LATECOMERS WHO RUSH TO MAKE TO THE PRAYER, ACT SELFISHLY AND ARROGANTLY IGNORE ISLAM’S TEACHINGS ABOUT GOOD MANNERS AND OBEYING THE LAW. Muslims who are so intent on piety should realize that one aspect of their legacy could be leaving their mosque’s neighbors with a positive image of Islam and Muslims. In fact, some of the current anti-Islam sentiment is a direct outgrowth of such behavior. As the Muslim Matters article stated, the Friday prayer is obviously a regular event that
timing of our arrival to Jumu’ah and so we should pay it the same respect. Let’s follow in the footsteps of the Prophet and his Companions and park a little farther from the mosque in order to reap the rewards of taking more steps toward His house. ih Abubakar N. Kasim, a freelance writer from Toronto, Ont., Canada, blogs with the Huffington Post.
The worst offenders, usually latecomers who rush to make it to the prayer, act selfishly and arrogantly ignore Islam’s teachings about good manners and obeying the law. Such attitudes are leading to the arbitrary changing of city bylaws, with posting of “No Standing Anytime” signs around mosques. A mosque in Mississauga, Ontario, is currently having trouble renewing its building permit. Management did everything possible to meet this need by signing a contract with a huge parking facility owned by GO Transit, the regional public transit service. The mosque covered the expenses and appealed to its members to park there. But sadly, they kept making a nuisance of themselves by parking wherever they wanted to. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 51
Technology and Decorum inside the Mosque The mosque is a place for you to commune with God, not with your cellphone BY SALEH MUBARAK
he worst thing about addiction is your denial that you are addicted — just like my friend who had been smoking for over 20 years who insisted that he could quit at any time. This is exactly what happened to us when technology crept into our lives. My generation (I am 58) is the probably best witness of this truth. Most of us — immigrants — grew up without telephones (let alone cellphones), televisions or computers. We used pencil and paper to express ideas, write a list or even play a board game. We had very few, if any, electric appliances at home. Only a few people could afford a washing machine or a vacuum cleaner. As technology had not yet invaded our lives, we had plenty of time to socialize … I mean really socialize, like sit together and look at and talk to each other in person. When landline phones came in, we used to memorize the
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numbers of family members and friends. The terms “username” and “password” weren’t part of our vocabulary. I therefore have mixed feelings about today’s technology. It has literally taken us to new worlds and enabled us to do things that we had never imagined before, such as communicating — voice and picture — with relatives and friends worldwide. Technology made knowledge available to everyone, as well as major advances in fields like medicine and engineering. Of course, it has also had its own side effects, such as replacing real friends with virtual ones and face-to-face conversations with text messages. People of all ages and statuses have become addicted to their devices.
INSIDE THE MOSQUE
People who go inside a mosque expect tranquility and serenity so they can focus on their prayers, read the Quran or make
IF YOU EVEN SAY TO YOUR FELLOW CONGREGANT WHEN THE IMAM IS DELIVERING THE KHUTBA ON FRIDAY, ‘BE QUIET AND LISTEN,’ YOU HAVE ENGAGED IN IDLE TALK.” (Bukhari, 892; Muslim, 851)
iPad to write Friday khutba or other lecture notes, just as traditional imams used to have it written on paper. The bottom line is this: Cellphones, iPads, and other gadgets are tools. However, they are good only when we use them in the right place, time, context and quantity. Let’s not allow technology to rule our lives … let’s keep it as a tool to improve the quality of our life. ih Saleh Mubarak, an author on Islamic issues and a former professor of civil and architectural engineering at Qatar University, is an independent consultant in construction project management.
zikr. Such an atmosphere is the right of every congregant. In fact, its space must remain dedicated to prayer-related issues because Islam forbade doing business there to show respect and keep it free of arguing and haggling. Raising one’s voice is also not allowed, except for the adhan, the iqama and the imam’s recitation. Those who have entered the house of God must show the proper respect. For example, during the Friday khutba attendees must be quiet and pay attention to what is being said. A hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah states that the Prophet said: “If you even say to your fellow congregant when the imam is delivering the khutba on Friday, ‘Be quiet and listen,’ you have engaged in idle talk” (Bukhari, 892; Muslim, 851). Cellphones ringers are even worse than telling someone to “be quiet and listen.” Imam Shafi’i in Fatawa al-Lajnah al-Da’imah (8/242 and 243) advises against saying Yarhamuk Allah (may God have mercy on you) to one who sneezes or to greet or return salaams during the khutba. Technology has naturally impacted the mosque as well — often negatively. Those who do not mute their cellphone’s ringer disturb others when it goes off. I once asked someone who turned his off only after the prayer had ended why he hadn’t done so immediately. He replied, “Doing so requires more than three moves, and that annuls my prayer.” My swift answer was, “The majority of scholars did not support that opinion. But even if you like to follow it, annulling your prayer is far less worse than disturbing the entire congregation.” The adhan application may be a good reminder when you are at home or at the office. However, many cellphones proclaiming it in the mosque at roughly the same create a major disturbance. The only adhan allowed there should be that of the muezzin. Some people think that hearing the adhan or the Quran being recited is good under any circumstances. Not true… it is not only what you say, but also where, when and how you say it. That’s why any loud recitation of the Quran other than the imam’s is makrooh (disliked). Talking on one’s cellphone while in the mosque is less likely to happen, but is even more disturbing. If someone has to take/make a call, he/she should step outside the mosque or the prayer hall. Other uses of cellphones are less disturbing but more frequent, such as checking messages, reading and sending email, chatting and surfing the Internet. Even though this may not disturb others, they are rather incompatible with respecting the mosque, especially when done frequently and without a valid reason. So, are there any good uses for cellphones in the mosque? Sure. Many of us use the Quran app to mark where we stopped reciting the Quran. Some people, especially imams, use the cellphone or JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 53
THE MUSLIM WORLD
An Empowering Rule Remembering a Muslim ruler who actually cared about his people BY ZAHEER PARVEZ
ebruary 24 marks the 50th death anniversary of Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur, the 7th Nizam (ruler) of Hyderabad State. He died in Hyderabad 20 years after his dethronement by India; 200,000 people attended his funeral. Such was the legacy of a just and kind ruler. This beloved king (r. 1911-1948) is still alive in the hearts of many Hyderabadis and others all over the world due to his passion for education, socioeconomic reforms, philanthropy and his scholarly achievements. Every year, the state’s people pay their respect by visiting his grave and praying for him. Irrespective of religion or ethnicity, the Nizam treated his 16 million subjects as equals and considered Hindus and Muslims as his own two eyes.
THE BIRTH OF TWO NATIONS
To appreciate the Nizam’s multidimensional personality, it is important to look at events leading to the fall of Asif Jahi State of Hyderabad. A very chaotic political situation immediately followed the end of the British Raj on Aug.15 1947, the same day that India declared independence and the Subcontinent was divided into India and Pakistan. Of the traditional 622 princely states, Hyderabad was by far the most prosperous state. Ruled by the world’s richest man — the Nizam was worth $2 billion in the 1940s — the state had its own army, airline, telecommunication system, railways, postal system, radio broadcasting service and currency. Alongside its Hindu majority lived an approximately 10 percent Muslim minority and scattered pockets of Sikhs, Christians and Zoroastrians.
THE ANNEXATION OF HYDERABAD
The Independence Act of 1947 offered the states the choice of accession to either India or Pakistan or independence. Almost all of them chose India; Hyderabad — like Kashmir — was invaded and conquered. The Nizam faced strong internal strife and mounting pressure from the Razakars, a private militia organized by Syed Qasim Razvi (1902-70), for independence. The Nizam, not seeing any
alternative, succumbed to insurmountable pressure. Unfortunately, his advisors did not consider that India would break its 1947 pledge, had no appreciation of India’s military might and did not consider Hyderabad’s landlocked position. His decision to forgo his army chief ’s advice, and his nobles, prime minister and other advisors remained blind to what might happen as a result. This caused great concern among India’s leaders, who considered an independent Hyderabad as a cancerous wart. Rizvi maintained that while India was a geographic notion, Hyderabad was a political reality. Therefore, why should they sacrifice a reality for an idea? Hyderabad’s decision not to merge within the India irked Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (1875-1950), the [first] Indian home (interior) minister, who wanted to obliterate the new country’s Muslim past. He discussed Hyderabad with the Viceroy of India, who proposed a Stand Still Agreement that allowed Hyderabad autonomy in exchange for India taking care of its foreign affairs. While the agreement was being signed, communal riots broke out and the Nizam desperately sought military aid from Pakistan and Portugal for the state’s defense. Pandemonium broke out in the city and people worried about an impending Indian invasion. Evading the 1947 Act, Patel, in collaboration the right-wing Hindu Arya Samaj and the Communists, decided to annex Hyderabad.
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AN UNDYING ISSUE
The Nizam took the dispute to the U.N Security Council (UNSC), which initially generated activity; however, news of the state’s surrender caused it to fade. Argentina stated that India’s proclamation of martial law rendered its pronouncements unacceptable and the Nizam must appear in the UNSC. Consequently, the representatives of both India and Hyderabad, took seats at the Council table. The latter presented Hyderabad’s case. The August 21, 1948, cable addressed to the President of the Security Council read: “The Government of Hyderabad, in reliance on Article 35, paragraph 2, of the Charter of the United Nations, requests you to bring to the attention of the Security Council the grave dispute which has arisen between Hyderabad and India, and which, unless settled in accordance with international law and justice, is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security.” Ironically the UNSC agreed with India’s claim that it was using its military and air force to maintain law and order. The case has remained on the UNSC’s agenda since 1948. When 26 people died during the riots that broke in 1969 over the question of not granting statehood to Telangana, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi argued the Hyderabad case was still pending at the UNSC. Operation Polo, India’s self-proclaimed “police action,” which began on Sept.13, 1948, was in fact a full-scale military operation, supported by air power that slaughtered tens of thousands of innocent Hyderabadis. The state’s general surrendered to the Indian army’s general four days later. Hyderabad thus became a part of India. The deposed Nizam was given the title Rajpramukh. After the surrender, mayhem broke out in and around Hyderabad city. Local Hindus and Indian soldiers raped and plundered, destroyed Muslim property and mosques. Embarrassed by these large-scale atrocities, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad set up the Sunderlal Committee to investigate them. Its report, which was only released very reluctantly, in 2013, stated that 27,000 to 40,000 people had died during and after this “police action.” Others place the number as high as 200,000 deaths during this period (see A. J. Noorani, “Destruction of Hyderabad,” Hurst Publications, 2014). The Sunderlal report, although unknown to many, is available at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in New Delhi.
A LEGENDARY RULER
It is ironic that Pakistan has Mir Osman Ali Khan, the eldest son never dedicated any major street or of Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, was born erected any memorial to acknowledge in Hyderabad on April 16,1886. He this largesse. Similarly when Abdul received his early education in Islam, Majeed II, the last Ottoman caliph, Urdu and Persian from renowned was in exile, the Nizam afforded him scholars. Learned Englishmen taught financial and moral support and eventually married his son to the him English and other European lanThe largest gathering of people in the 425 years of Hyderabad’s guages and trained him to be a future deposed caliph’s daughter. history, for the funeral prayers of Mir Osman Ali Khan. monarch. Crowned Nizam on Aug. 28, 1911, he devoted his life to his peoeducational and religious institutions. His A SCHOLAR KING ple’s welfare and transformed Hyderabad charity extended beyond Hyderabad to the An accomplished poet in both Urdu and into a progressive secular state, as befits a Aligarh Muslim University, the Banaras Persian, the Nizam published his ghazals kind, benevolent, and just ruler. His political Hindu University, and Rabindranath Tagore’s and nazams extensively in Urdu journals. philosophy birthed a state where people of Shantiniketan in West Bengal. He awarded His book of poems, Meri do A’nkhein (My different cultures, social status, linguistic pref- tax-free land grants to Nanded’s Sikh gurud- Two Eyes) signifies his love for his Hindu and erences and religious heritages lived together. wara and a hefty annual sum to maintain Muslim subjects. His Persian poem, written Bhadrachelum’s Temple of Lord Rama. on the first Indian Republic Day celebration PUBLIC SERVICE AND CHARITIES The iconic Islamic Center of Washington, in 1950, expressed his genuine feelings of joy Fifty-years after his death, Hyderabadis still D.C. — the largest mosque in the Western and pride that speaks of his secular noble regard the Nizam as a benevolent saint-like hemisphere when it was dedicated by disposition. ruler and an icon of mercy. His memory is President Dwight Eisenhower on June 28, Hyderabad, India’s main cultural center, rekindled because he embraced his belief 1957 — received a large donation for its ini- had become the place to be for scholars, that he was destined to be the light of Islam tial startup. The Nizam also donated millions poets, and architects from all across India and guardian of his people. Despite his of rupees to renovate Delhi’s Jamia Masjid and Europe. Iqbal (1877-1938) was invited to royal status, he lived simply and became and Lahore’s Badshahi Masjid, in addition to give a series of lectures on Islam that resulted famous for his benevolence and philan- establishing several cost-free pilgrim guest in his famous treatise, “The Reconstruction thropy. He developed infrastructures and houses in Makkah and Madinah that were of Religious Thought in Islam.” In 1927, constructed the Osmania General Hospital, open all year to accommodate those making the British Muslim scholar Muhammad the High Court Building, the Bagh-e-Aam umrah and hajj. Marmaduke Pickthall took over as editor (public gardens) and water reservoirs (e.g., Osman Sagar, Husain Sagar, Tungabhadra and Nizam Sagar). In 1903 he initiated the building of a dam on the Krishna River to irrigate Telengana’s land. When this mammoth Nagarjuna Sagar Dam project was completed in 1955, Nehru inaugurated it. It is truly a glowing tribute to the Nizam’s vision and concern for his people’s welfare. The Nizam also made every effort to The British, unsurprisingly, violated their of the Islamic Culture, and The Islamic impart a free modern education to his own agreements in order to deprive Pakistan Review quarterly journal was published people. His monumental and landmark con- of its rightful borders. “Secular” India, intent under the Nizam’s patronage. During his tribution of 1918, Osmania University, pro- on stifling Pakistan at birth, refused to hand stay in Hyderabad, Pickthall completed The vided bachelor and master degrees in the arts over its share of the Subcontinent’s common Meaning of the Glorious Koran, which was and major scientific disciplines. A dedicated assets. The Nizam, sensing the situation, published in 1930. translation house made the world’s latest helped Pakistan with funds. And in Sept. books on science and other subjects available 1948, as a belligerent India locked eyes with INTERFAITH HARMONY to everyone, and the Nizam Charitable Trust him, he arranged a £1 million transfer of The Asaf Jahi kings (r. 1724-1948) of provided financial assistance to qualified funds, which was affected on Sept. 20, 1948 Hyderabad were exemplary in their relistudents at the state schools and college level. — two days after India occupied the state — gious tolerance; adopted every measure to Gifted and talented students were awarded to the Pakistani embassy in London. India promote peace and communal harmony; scholarships to seek higher education over- has continued to wage a legal battle for the and were staunch supporters of art, literaseas. Many Hyderabadis now living abroad money, which has now grown to £35 mil- ture, architecture and culture. Osman Ali are beneficiaries of his largesse. lion ($46.15 million), on the ground that it Khan, a just ruler who considered Hindus belonged to the state, not the ruler. On June and Muslims as his two eyes, expressed PHILANTHROPY 21, 2016, the British high court ruled that his feelings in several of his poems. He The devout Nizam donated large sums evidence supported Pakistan’s claim, which appointed non-Muslim nobles as prime of money to Muslim and non-Muslim needed to be fully considered at a trial. minister, police commissioners, ministers
THE NIZAM HAS LEFT A RICH LEGACY OF PEACE, RACIAL EQUALITY, PROSPERITY, FREE EDUCATION, ACCESS TO MEDICAL CARE AND FREEDOM TO WORSHIP.
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THE MUSLIM WORLD and high-ranking administrators. Sarojini Naidu — later an independence activist and the Indian National Congress’ second female president — received a scholarship for higher studies in England while her father served as a school teacher in Hyderabad. The Nizam bestowed upon her the title of Bulbul-e-Hind (The Nightingale of India). Naidu’s poem “Ode to H.H. The Nizam of Hyderabad” praised him for his love of humanity and generosity: “The peoples whom your laws embrace,/ In brotherhood of diverse creed,/ And harmony of diverse race:” The poem is included in her famous book, The Golden Threshold.
THE NIZAM’S LEGACY
Legacies are part of the histories of nations and provide lessons the future generations. There are numerous stories about the Nizam’s magnanimity and justice for all his subjects. The political facts about India’s annexation of the state are buried in public libraries, books, handwritten documents and newspapers. The Nizam has left a rich legacy of peace, racial equality, prosperity, free education, access to medical care and freedom to worship. He provided support for the upkeep and maintenance of Hindu, Jain and Sikh temples, as well as mosques. A poet and the author of My Two Eyes, he made Hindu-Muslim unity his life’s goal. It is therefore unjust to label him a prejudiced Muslim ruler. His legacy is multifaceted and covers many dimensions. The financial rescue of India at the time of its 1962 war with China and Pakistan’s bailout in 1947 are historical facts. His glorious legacy will remain forever in the pages of the Subcontinent’s independence from the British Raj. Instead of seeking the company of the other the Asif Jah royals, Mir Osman Ali chose to be buried next to his mother in Masjid-e Joodi. ih Zaheer Parvez, a retired health science officer of the Veterans Administration Medical Research Service in Washington, D.C., is a former president of the Hyderabad Association of Greater Washington DC Metropolitan Area (HAWMA).
Why Muslim Governments Have Abandoned Xinjiang Each Muslim government has sold out Xinjiang’s Muslim-majority population in order to benefit from China’s New Silk Road initiative BY HILAL SHIMLAVI
ast year brought more bad news for mineral- and oil-rich Xinjiang, China’s western Muslim-majority and strategically vital autonomous region. According to the South China Morning Post (Oct. 13, 2016), as of Nov. 1, 2016, Uyghur parents and guardians who encourage their minor children to engage in religious activities will be reported to the police and jailed. The rules, published in the Xinjiang Daily, also informed those parents who cannot guide their children away from “harmful extremist ways” can apply to have them sent to “rectification” schools. In fact, Beijing “welcomed” Ramadan 2016 by restricting civil servants, students and children from fasting.
A TROUBLED RELATIONSHIP
Xinjiang hosts half of China’s approximately 20 million Muslims. Known as the Uyghur, they are an ethnically Turkic (i.e., non-Han) people. When the former Soviet Central Asian republics became independent, many Muslims in Xinjiang hoped they would acquire their relatives’ and co-religionists’ new status as well. After all, the region had declared its independence twice before: during 1933-34, when a rebellion in Kashgar against the Republic of China’s rule led to the short-lived First East Turkestan Republic (a.k.a. the Turkish Islamic Republic of East Turkestan) and, with Soviet support, the Second East Turkistan Republic (1944-49). But this was not to be, because ever since Chairman Mao died in 1976, this “wasteland,” which accounts for more than one-sixth of China’s total territory and one-quarter of its boundary length, has been transformed into a vitally strategic part of China’s New Silk Road initiative. Unfortunately for those Uyghur who long for independence, their capital city of Urumqi is now the major hub of those pipelines connecting China with the oil and natural gas fields of Central Asia. Therefore, Beijing is never going to let Xinjiang go without a fight. There are other concerns as well. According to The Diplomat (March 2015), “The New Silk
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Road is undeniably related to security issues in China’s Western frontier, beset with what Beijing calls the ‘three evils’ of terrorism, separatism and fundamentalism. The repression of Muslim Uyghurs has long inspired fighters from Central Asia (and Afghanistan) to support them. Indeed, Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s recent threat to occupy part of Xinjiang and his message to the Uyghurs that ‘your brothers all over the world are waiting for your rescue, and are anticipating your brigades’ appears to have been taken seriously by the Chinese leadership. One can reasonably infer that Central Asia has become even more significant to the security of China.” Moreover, “Xinjiang province,‘sitting on some of China’s largest energy reserves and crucial to the Silk Road project,’ has had many serious outbreaks of violence in recent years. Beijing hopes that economic development will pacify the riots in the region” (Forbes, Jan. 15, 2016). And yet despite this professed hope, Beijing continues to irritate the indigenous inhabitants. One wonders if this is deliberate or if it is somehow beyond Beijing’s ability to understand that indigenous people often prefer to adhere to their own customs, traditions, and worldviews. Despite the massive influx of Han and other peoples, the Uyghur remain a sizeable proportion of the population. Among the most resented official policies are those that target their religious identity. This became clear during Ramadan 2016, for various reasons. Before Ramadan 2016 even began, central Xinjiang’s Korla city website proclaimed, “Party
members, cadres, civil servants, students and minors must not fast for Ramadan and must not take part in religious activities.” The city’s Tiekeqi township ordered officials to “resolutely stop party members, civil servants, students and minors from entering mosques for religious activities.” The regional capital Urumqi’s Shuimogou district education bureau’s website added “teachers.” In the northern city of Altay, officials agreed to “increase contact with parents, to prevent fasting.” Meanwhile, the website of the Qapqal Xibe Autonomous County government in northwest Xinjiang said that restaurants would be instructed to stay open to “ensure that the broader masses have normal access to cuisine.” Dilxat Raxit [Dilshad Rashid], spokesman for the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress, told Radio Free Asia, March 16, 2016, “Uyghurs cannot bear Chinese persecution, and are therefore forced to flee their homes to go all over the world.” Ironically, China’s State Council released a white paper on June 3 claiming that religious freedom in Xinjiang “cannot be matched by any other period in history.” Perhaps this how its members perceived Beijing’s June 2 announcement. Despite pursuing a “strike hard” campaign to quell unrest and crackdowns on civil society, at a news conference on religious policy in Xinjiang, the government proclaimed that it would not interfere with fasting and other “standard” religious activities during Ramadan. Restaurants could keep their own hours and authorized activities in mosques and private homes were legally protected. In the past, China has said that restrictions on fasting are meant to ensure government employees’ health. The state-run People’s Daily Online newspaper (April 24, 2016; Xinhua wire service) said that while addressing the Chinese Communist Party’s first conference on religious freedom held in fifteen years, President Xi Jinping proclaimed, “we must resolutely guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means and prevent ideological infringement by extremists.” All religions should promote “Chinese culture… laws and regulations” in order to impose “socialist modernization” on society, he continued, adding that the communists have a special responsibility to steer teenagers away from religion. Religious leaders are obligated to “dig deep into doctrines and canons that ... interpret religious doctrines in a way that is conducive to modern China’s
progress and in line with our excellent traditional culture.” The meeting followed months of growing tensions between the communists in Beijing and blossoming Christian and Muslim underground communities. “It has been 15 years since the last national religious working conference was held in 2001. The unusually long interval shows that the country’s religious situation is good in general,” the Global Times quoted Chairman Zhu Weiqun of the Ethnic and Religious Committee, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Muslims in western Xinjiang are mostly forbidden from practicing Islam openly. While Beijing allows the ethnic Hui Muslim minority greater freedom and has even paid for group hajj trips, the Uyghur face legal repercussions for wearing Islamic attire on public transportation, openly fasting during Ramadan or wearing a burqa. Muslim-owned stores are required to sell alcohol and cigarettes. Earlier in April 2016, Chinese officials began advocating “ethnic unity” by calling upon them to dilute their
MUSLIM-MAJORITY XINJIANG CURRENTLY SHARES THE FATE OF OTHER PARTS OF THE MUSLIM WORLD — DELIBERATE AMNESIA — IN EXCHANGE FOR YET ANOTHER NONMUSLIM COUNTRY’S PROMISES OF ECONOMIC AND INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT.
“culture” [read religion] for the traditions of the nation’s Han majority. Waves of mass migration from China’s heartland have raised Xinjiang’s Han population from 6% in 1949 to 38% four years ago, reported AFP on May 8, 2015 (Beijing South China Morning Post). Beijing hopes to trigger a new influx by making the autonomous region’s residency rules the most liberal in the country. Throughout Xinjiang, the Han and Uyghur communities live almost entirely as self-contained units. In an apparent move to reach out to the Uyghur, China’s military has been told to learn Uyghur folk songs and dances, reported Reuters, Sept. 16, 2015 (Beijing South China Morning Post). But this is hardly enough to still the indigenous inhabitants’ ongoing resentment against all of the negative policies directed at them.
ECONOMICS AND DEVELOPMENT: AN UNBEATABLE COMBINATION
According to Muhamad S. Olimat, author of “China and North Africa since World War II” (2014), “China and the Middle East since World War II” (2014), “China and the Middle East: From Silk Road to Arab Spring” (2013), “China and Central in the Post-Soviet Era” (2015) and “China and the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries” (2016), every Muslim government that wants to do business with China must officially reject Xinjiang’s desire for self-determination and ensure that any Xinjiang refugees or “rebels” on its territory cause no “trouble.” All of them have kowtowed to these demands, some even to the extent of forcing these people, when caught, back into what they regard as their occupied homeland. Surely they are not welcomed back with open arms. Given the inducements offered by an economically rich and powerful China, a country that has no past colonial relationship with any independent Muslim country, stays out of their internal affairs (it naturally demands reciprocation) and is willing to actually help them develop via long-term infrastructure projects and natural resources development and extraction, why shouldn’t they agree to Beijing’s terms? Muslim-majority Xinjiang currently shares the fate of other parts of the Muslim world — deliberate amnesia — in exchange for yet another non-Muslim country’s promises of economic and industrial development. ih Hilal Shimlavi is a freelance writer.
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THE MUSLIM WORLD
In Arms Sales We Trust
COPYRIGHT © 2016 CLARENCE HOUSE
Arms manufacturers steamroll over morality and humanitarian considerations
Bahraini Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa with Prince Charles
BY UMBERINE ABDULLAH
n November 2016, Britain’s Prince Charles visited Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirate because these rulers prefer royal-to-royal diplomacy. While in Bahrain, he opened the first section of the new $38 million British naval base, a “gift” to which the U.K. is expected to contribute about $9.5 million. London’s first permanent military presence since 1971, it will also be available to the U.S., which already has its own large naval base there. Charles’ visit also marked the 200th year of Britain’s contact with Bahrain. So beholden are its rulers that in 2015 King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa passed up a summit organized by President Barack Obama to garner support from Gulf Arab leaders to sit beside Queen Elizabeth at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. He met with her to review “the longstanding mutual ties between both royal families.” Bahraini ambassador Fawaz bin Mohamed Al Khalifa wrote in the Telegraph on Nov. 11, 2016: “With the region continuing to face difficult times, the British return to East of Suez is a reassuring sign that our countries remain steadfast friends and allies, with strong diplomatic, military and trade relations ... Prince Charles’ visit is an auspicious moment marking two centuries of respect and cooperation, and the Kingdom of Bahrain is steadfast in its commitment to further strengthening these relations long into the future.” In April 2016, a House of Commons
Foreign Affairs Select Committee report blasted Bahrain’s human rights record, especially its violent crushing of the Arab Spring protests in 2011 with direct Saudi military support. The prince’s trip was the first fullscale visit by a senior British royal since that brutal event. The Foreign Office reportedly advised Charles to raise the question of human rights obliquely, almost apologetically, said the Daily Mail’s Ephrahm Hardcastle (Sept. 21, 2106) citing an unnamed source. Perhaps it is unaware that the Bahraini ruler regularly visits the queen’s marquee at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, an event which depends upon Bahraini sponsorship, and that he sat next to her at her 90th birthday pageant in May 2016. Of course, she was attending in her “private capacity.” Bahrain’s Shia majority stages regular protests to publicize human rights issues and their disenfranchisement. Early last year, the London Metropolitan police’s SO15 war crimes team received a new dossier that confirmed it was looking at the evidence about Bahrain; no arrests have been made. It apparently included a statement from a witness willing to give evidence in a UK criminal court; no prosecution has been initiated. International concern about human rights abuses has been growing since February 2011, when the Arab Spring spread to the capital, Manama. Over 100 people were killed and
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thousands were arrested. Public demonstrations were banned in the capital, and Amnesty International said that prisoners were burned with cigarettes and given electric shocks.
A LUCRATIVE ALLY
On May 12, 2016, the U.S. State Department expressed its doubt as to whether Manama had really implemented all 26 recommendations contained in the Bahrain Independent Inquiry Report, which found systematic use of torture after the 2011 uprising. The report also argued that Britain had effectively downgraded human rights to shore up its relationship with the authoritarian monarchy. Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, had urged Charles to stay away because “Bahrain will see Prince Charles’ visit as a green light for their repression and use him to whitewash their terrible record, at a time when the repression is intensifying and the government is eliminating its critics. Prince Charles should take this opportunity to meet the jailed defender Nabeel Rajab, who is fighting for democracy and human rights, not dining with the architects of injustice.” Since the start of the Arab Spring uprising, Britain has sold £45 ($57) million worth of arms to Manama. Only three weeks after Bahrain was added to the British Foreign Office’s list of “human rights priority countries,” the British ambassador in Manama offered a statement in support of Bahrain’s “reform” process. Andrew Smith of the Campaign against Arms Trade, told UK BuzzFeed’s Alan White (May 13, 2016): “It has been more than five years since the pro-democracy protests began in Bahrain, and yet the UK government is still providing an uncritical political and military support for the regime. The current partnership may benefit the Bahraini authorities and the arms manufacturers, but it is only helping to entrench the status quo. There are very serious allegations of torture against [crown] Prince Nasser and the regime; he should be put on trial, not given the red carpet treatment.” Alwadaei had stated earlier: “The UK is destroying its credibility on Bahrain when it stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Bahrain’s repressive monarchy, celebrating the false end of reforms and hosting an alleged torturer at the Royal Windsor [horse show], while rights defenders and democracy advocates continue to serve unjust prison terms.” London helped BAE sell its Typhoon fighter jets to Bahrain, arguing that if Britain didn’t sell arms to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, then France and other countries would.
In January 2015, Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), was hauled into court for “insulting a public institution” over Twitter. He had accused the security forces of encouraging violent beliefs similar to those held by ISIS. On Sept. 5, 2016, Rajab, who faces up to 15 years’ imprisonment, was also charged with publishing an op-ed in the New York Times on Sept. 4, 2016. At the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council, held in Geneva on Sept. 13, 2016, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein expressed concern about Manama’s continuing harassment, arrests of human rights defenders and political activists and criticized legislation that can strip Bahrainis of citizenship. He called for Manama “to comply with the recommendations of the Human Rights mechanisms” and engage more productively with his office and the Human Rights Council’s special procedures. Bahrain’s human rights record will be examined under the Universal Periodic Review in 2017. He stressed, “Only by working together can we solve our common problems. There is no alternative.” Abdulhadi Abdulla Hubail al-Khawaja, 55, a Bahraini-Danish human rights activist, was imprisoned on April 9, 2011. On June 22, 2011, a military court sentenced him and eight other activists to life imprisonment. He is a former Middle East and North Africa Protection Coordinator for Front Line Defenders, a former BCHR president, as well as a member of the International Advisory Network of the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre headed by former Irish president Mary Robinson. He has worked with Amnesty International and, in 2005, was named “Activist of the Year” by the Arab Program for Human Rights Activists. The BCHR reported that during Nov. 21-27, 2016, 34 people were sentenced to a total of 4,834 years in prison. Of them, 15 were sentenced to life imprisonment and one was stripped of his citizenship. Washington lifted military aid restrictions on June 29, 2015, claiming that Manama had supposedly taken steps to improve its human rights record and was an ally in the fight against ISIS. It had held back a $53 million arms sale after Manama crushed the 2011 Arab Spring-related protests. Human rights groups and some members of Congress had sharply criticized this sale. And yet this decision came less than two weeks after a Bahraini court sentenced Sheikh Ali Salman, the country’s highest-profile opposition figure, to four years in jail for publicly
criticizing the government. Salman is the secretary general of Al Wifaq, the country’s largest legally recognized opposition political party. The Human Rights Watch report of July 2, 2015, noted that Washington’s claim of “meaningful progress” contrasted with the conclusions of the State Department’s 2014 Human Rights Report, released on June 25, 2015, that “The most serious human rights problems included citizens’ limited ability to change their government peacefully; arrest and detention of protesters (some of whom were violent) on vague charges, occasionally leading to their torture and mistreatment in detention; and lack of due process in trials of political and human rights activists, students, and journalists, including harsh sentences.” A sign of this “meaningful progress” was
obtained by ProPublica states that military equipment worth $51 million was delivered during the year, starting in October 2010. According to the State Department, the U.S. has sold it $1.4 billion worth of weapons since 2000. The sales only came under scrutiny after Manama killed at least 19 people in the early months of the 2011 crackdown. Following congressional criticism, in fall 2011 the administration froze a proposed sale of Humvees and missiles. But Foreign Policy reported that other unspecified equipment was sold without any public notification. The new documents offered more details, such as the sale of a “Blackhawk helicopter armament” in November 2011 and a missile system in January 2012. In May 2012, the administration announced that it was
THE HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH REPORT OF JULY 2, 2015, NOTED THAT WASHINGTON’S CLAIM OF “MEANINGFUL PROGRESS” CONTRASTED WITH THE CONCLUSIONS OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT’S 2014 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT ... the June 19, 2015 release of Ibrahim Sharif, former head of the Waed secular group, after spending four years in jail for his involvement in the 2011 Shiite-led anti-government protests. He was re-arrested three weeks later for “violating the law.” U.S. Defense Department documents released to ProPublica in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, covering a yearlong period ending in Feb. 2012, revealed arms sales that included ammunition, combat vehicle parts, communications equipment, Blackhawk helicopters and an unidentified missile system — supposedly only for the country’s defense. Human rights advocates assert that the documents raise questions about items that could be used against civilian protesters, wrote Justin Elliott of ProPublica (Jan. 15, 2013). Time magazine reported in mid-March 2011 that Cobra helicopters had conducted “live ammunition air strikes” on protesters. The Obama administration stood by Bahrain’s minority Sunni dynasty during the almost two years of protests. After all, this autocratic kingdom is a longtime ally, home to the large American naval base that hosts its Fifth Fleet, and viewed as particularly important given the ongoing tensions with Iran. The itemized arms sales list does not include dollar values. A separate document
releasing some unspecified items to Bahrain’s military that “are not used for crowd control” while withholding the Humvees and TOW missiles. State Department spokesman Noel Clay told ProPublica, “We continue to withhold the export of lethal and crowd-control items intended predominately for internal security purposes, and have resumed on a case-bycase basis items related exclusively to external defense, counter-terrorism, and the protection of U.S. forces.” In November 2012, an Amnesty International report found that despite government promises, “the reform process has been shelved and repression unleashed.” According to the International Business Times (8/22/2016), “between 2010 and 2012 the [Hillary] Clinton-led State Department approved $630 million worth of direct commercial arms sales to Salman’s military forces in Bahrain. That was a 187 percent increase from the period 2006 to 2008, and the increase came as Bahrain was violently suppressing uprisings.” The paper also stated that the State Department “approved the sale of over $700,000 worth of ‘toxicological agents’ to a regime accused of using chemical agents like tear gas against its own people. ih Umberine Abdullah is a freelance writer.
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The Most 25 Electrifying Minutes of My Life An unforgettable experience of washing the Kaaba’s interior
of my humble and pious mother, who helped so many people, arose in my mind as I held back the tears. She spent most of her time on her prayer rug, supplicating for her eight children and the underprivileged worldwide. The members of the Al-Shaibi family, who led the way, opened the door and, with trembling legs, full of emotion and tear-filled eyes, I stepped inside. My quick 360-degree look at the captivating interior moved my soul. At that point, I realized I had to thank God and thus composed myself enough to pray a two-rakat prayer. I have never felt so emotional. I prayed for my late parents, siblings and all my deceased relatives; my colleagues and my employees; the communities at West Palm Beach Mosque, Al Amin Center Mosque, and Darul-Uloom in Florida; my hosts; and our beloved Prophet, his Companions and their families as well as that He would help alleviate the Muslims’ misery.
BY MOHAMED SALA’HUDDIN PAZHOOR
ast September, I got the call of a lifetime: an invitation to help wash the inside of the Kaaba. This opportunity, one that the vast majority of Muslims can only dream about, provided me with an inerasable experience. Receiving the invitation from the General Presidency of the Haramain, which administers the Masjid al-Haram and the Masjid Nabawi, was both a shock and a surprise. It took some time to compose myself, as I realized that I was about to embark on a spiritual and blessed experience that I never could have imagined. My journey was filled with emotions from anxiety to an elevated spiritual connection that I had never experienced before, not even on my prior pilgrimages. Our company DivineConnect installed and administers the multi-lingual simultaneous khutba translation facility at the two beloved mosques. As I disembarked in Jeddah, each step took my breath away as I imagined what the Kaaba’s insides would be like and how I would feel. A few days later, after being invited to the office of the Haramain, the security escort escorted me to the Bani Shaiba family, who are entrusted with holding the Kaaba’s keys, welcoming visitors into the Kaaba during the
ceremony and cleaning the interior alongside them. The Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) gave them the keys after conquering Mecca. The 70 cm, gold-and-platinum key, painted green with a glazed gold head, is engraved with Quranic verses on both sides. The key leaves its safe twice a year, when the king opens the Kaaba’s door for cleaning the interior and changing its black cover (kiswa), as well as when he takes Muslim heads of states to visit the Kaaba. As I walked toward it, tears welled up in my eyes as I tried to imagine how happy my loving parents, who passed away a decade ago, would be seeing me here. The thought
AS I WALKED TOWARD IT, TEARS WELLED UP IN MY EYES AS I TRIED TO IMAGINE HOW HAPPY MY LOVING PARENTS, WHO PASSED AWAY A DECADE AGO, WOULD BE SEEING ME HERE.
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The Kaaba is approximately 50 feet tall, 35 feet wide and 40 feet long. In the center on the table are bottles of rose water, choice perfumes and pieces of cloth. I was presented with a perfume-dipped cloth. I wiped the walls with the utmost respect and humility, remembering how I used to clean our small house in a southern Indian village. But this was different, so I made sure that every stroke was perfect and that I could see the shining marble gleam more brightly. The Kaaba’s floor is made of marble and limestone. The interior’s three pillars glisten and gleam in splendor. A small altar or table is set between the columns, and lamplike objects hang from the ceiling. The wall directly adjacent to the entrance contains six tablets inlaid with Arabic inscriptions, and several more tablets line the other walls. Along the walls’ upper half runs a green cloth with Qur’anic verses embroidered with gold thread. The ceiling is of a darker color, similar in hue to the lower trimming. A golden door, the Bab al-Tawba (Door of Repentance) on the right wall, to the right of the entrance, opens onto an enclosed staircase that leads to a hatch that opens to the roof. I spent the most electrifying 25 minutes of my entire life inside the Kaaba. Taking one final look, I went outside and prayed that God would bless and protect our ummah. ih Mohamed Sala’huddin Pazhoor is founder & CTO of Divine Connect USA
NEW RELEASES AN EXTENSIVE COMMENTARY In the Presence of the Sublime Qur’an: A Commentary on Part 30 (Chapters 78-114) Abdolali Bazargan (trans. Mohammad Fani and Amir Douraghy) 2016. Pp. 500. HB. $30.00 Payam, Laguna Hills, Calif. azargan’s work reflects his vast expertise in the natural sciences paired with his deep connection to the sacred text. This is perhaps best illustrated in Q. 81:6 and Q. 101:5, where he explains how natural events, such as a star’s death, could have similar consequences as the supernatural events connected with the Day of Judgment. Avoiding polemics, Bazagan highlights how our conscience determines our eternal fate and how our own eyes, ears and skin will testify against us. As no one knows when this Day will come, one is obliged to live an upright life devoid of pride and exploitation of others. He expands his moral concern to the morality of traditional Islamic legal punishments. For example, he counters the literalists’ call for amputating the thief ’s hand by saying that “hand” is an allegory for power and strength. Thus, amputation signifies the state’s cutting off of one’s power and influence by enforcing the law. By reconnecting ethics to legal theory, Bazargan joins a growing corpus of scholars who rightfully note the strict conditions, limited scope and moral implications behind enacting the hudud. This vital resource, meant for those seeking to reconcile their faith with secular modernity’s emphasis on scientific theory and anti-supernaturalism, champions personal accountability in all aspects of life. His novel interpretations are as theologically provocative as they are intellectually stimulating. ih
A VALUED SOURCE OF GUIDANCE Light in the Heavens: Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad Al-Qadi al-Qudai (ed. & trans. Tahera Qutbuddin) 2016. Pp. 192. HB. $35.00 NYU Press, New York, N.Y. mong the legally grounded (Sahih) hadith collections that sought to guide the community is the Light in the Heavens (Kitab al-Shihab) by al-Quda’i (d. 454/1062), a Shafi’i judge in the Fatimid court in Egypt. This distinctively ethical and pragmatic collection offers humanitarian lessons and practical insights with a universal appeal. From North Africa to India, this book has been used as a teaching text for children as well as adults, and many of its 1,200 sayings are familiar to individuals of diverse denominations and ethnicities. ih
Obedience, Ijtihad and Taqlid: A Fresh Approach to Examining Blind Following and Its Effects M. Mushfiqur Rahman 2016. Pp. 292. PB. $17.00 Fitrah Press, Waldorf, Md. he three important concepts of ittiba’ (obedience), ijtihad (arriving at the truth) and taqlid (blind imitation) affect one’s practice of Islam, whether the person is a scholar or an “ordinary” Muslim. The author argues that Islam teaches Muslims to submit their intellect only to God and accept opinions based on objective evidence regardless of the affiliations of those who present it. He also highlights some of taqlid’s negative effects on the ummah.
The Qur’an — with References to the Bible: A Contemporary Understanding Safi Kaskas and David Hungerford 2016. Pp. 570. PB. $30.00 Bridges of Reconciliation, Fairfax, Va. askas and Hungerford explain that their motivation for translating the Qur’an and footnoting Biblical verses is not to promote a particular Islamic school or Christian apologetics, but rather to build bridges of understanding and enlightenment. However, whereas the Quran is translated from its original God-given text, the Biblical text, whose original text is still unknown, is available in numerous versions.
Brand Islam: The Marketing and Commodification of Piety Faegheh Shirazi 2016. Pp. 294. PB. $24.95. HB. $75.00 University of Texas Press, Austin, Tex. wide range of commodities and services today are being marketed as “halal” or “Islamic” to Muslims in the West and in Muslim-majority nations. Shirazi argues that many such products are neither authentically Islamic nor halal and that they were not necessarily created to honor religious practices or sentiments. Instead, she states that most of them are profit-driven efforts to use the rise of a new Islamic economic paradigm, “Brand Islam,” as a clever marketing tool. Shirazi reveals how and why the growth of consumerism, global communications and the Westernization of many Muslim countries are all driving commercialization using Islam. This book offers useful information on food ingredients and their sources, as well as whether they are permissible or not.
Muslim Americans in the Military: Centuries of Service Edward E. Curtis IV 2016. Pp. 102. PB. $20.00 Indiana University Press, Bloomington, In. ince the Revolutionary War, Muslim Americans have served in the U.S. military and risked their lives to defend a country that increasingly looks at them with suspicion and fear, says Prof. Curtis. Chronicling this long history and the soldiers’ struggle to practice their faith while serving, he stresses that these true stories contradict the narratives of hate and fear that have so dominated the headlines, especially during the 2106 election season.
Positive Parenting in the Muslim Home Noha Alshugairi and Munira Lekovic Ezzeldine 2017. Pp. 421. PB. $19.99 Izza Publishing, Irvine, Calif. lshugairi and Ezzeldinen have transformed theoretical Islamic principles into living realities in order to share timeless principles, describe effective parenting tools and guide readers through parenting’s challenges. Based on their own experience, which spans birth to adulthood, they suggest that Muslims approach parenting as a process of love and guidance. The Islamic tradition is full of those values that parents strive to imbue in their children: respect, responsibility, integrity, love and others. Parenting is all too often filled with sleepless nights, tears and anxiety followed by endless doubt: “Did I do my best?” “What could I have done differently?” “Am I responsible?” They present “positive discipline,” a philosophy conceptualized by Dr. Jane Nelsen that provides a powerful model for channeling parenting struggles into proven methods that yield results.
Illustrated Muslim Guide to Jerusalem Misbahuddin Mirza 2016. iBook. $10.00 Qamsa, LLC, N.J. one of the travel books on Jerusalem are geared specifically for Muslim travelers visiting Bait al-Muqaddas because, as Mirza states, Muslim writers primarily focus on the blessings of visiting it. The Haram al-Shareef ’s buildings are rich in Islamic history and act as a bridge for Muslims to connect with great Muslims from the past. His brief illustrated guide, designed for a self-guided tour of the Haram, will also serve as a souvenir to treasure the happy moments spent at this hallowed site.
Letters to a Young Muslim Omar Saif Ghobash 2017. Pp. 272. HB. $16.50 Picador, New York, N.Y. n a series of personal letters to his sons, UAE ambassador to Russia Ghobash offers a short manifesto that tackles the current global crisis with the training of a diplomat [ironically of a British-created monarchy that has struck blows against several Islamic organizations] and the responsibility of a father. He argues how — whom he calls — “moderate” Muslims can unite to find a voice that is true to Islam while actively and productively engaging with the modern world. ih
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Your mosque can do it but you can do it alone too. Mis/Dis information on Islam/Muslims is our responsibility alone. Instead of cursing darkness let us light a candle. Today the image of Muslims is under attack. However, we should not forget that it is our responsibility to correct it collectively and individually. It is every Muslims’ responsibility. Yes, if we do it seriously, we can see positive results emerging in a few years. Muslims, who are spread out across the US, should place this ad in their local newspapers and magazines.
Islam is the religion of inclusion. Muslims believe in all the prophets of both testaments. Read Quran, the original, unchanged word of God as His last and final testament to humankind. www.Peacetv.tv ★ www.Gainpeace.com Such ads are already running in many newspapers and magazines and are brinigning positive results, getting more non-Muslims interested to read Islamic literature with interest. Placing these ads can be a continuous reward (sadqa-e-jaria) for yourself, your children, your loved deceased ones and with the prayer for a sick person that Allah make life easy here and in the Hereafter. Please Google the “list of newspapers/magazines” in your state and contact their advertising departments. Such ads are not expensive, especially now when print media is struggling for revenue They range from as little as $20 to $50 per slot and are cheaper
if run for a longer time. Questions to ask your local newspaper: how many print copies are distributed, and if the ad runs longer, how much will be the cost. Don’t forget that DAWAH works on the same principle as that of advertising: BULK AND REPEATED EXPOSURE CREATES ACCEPTANCE. Printing continuously for a long period of time will produce more results than printing one big ad once. Please check with Gain peace to know if someone is not already putting ad in the same newspaper and send them clipping after the ad has appeared.
If you have any questions, or want copies of the ads that others have already placed in their area newspapers/magazines, please write me Muhammad Khan at email@example.com
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