ISNA to Celebrate
50 Years of Service in DC
Mosque Builders: Know Your Rights
5 Co 0 thA nv nn en ua tio l n ISNA 7
July/August 2013/1434 | $4.00 | www.isna.net
Ramadan Gift Guide • Combating Addiction • Effects of Immigration Reform
Vol. 42 No. 4 July/August 2013 visit isna online at: www.isna.net
B uilding for the Community 30 Mosque Builders Have Rights
When it comes to purchasing land and drawing up plans for building a mosque, Muslim Americans must be familiar with their legal rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.
30 Living Halal
36 Yes, there is Halal Investing 38 Beating Pornography Addiction
Muslims in Action
40 Bay Area Muslims: Outgoing and Engaged 42 44 46 48
Politics and Society
Making a Farce of Faith Entertainment Delivers Media Frenzy Surrounds Bombing Coverage Immigration Reform Affects All
Around the World
50 DAM’s Journey to the Moon 52 Bangladesh: Forgotten but Not Forgettable
54 Leading a Balanced Life 56 20 Fab Eid Gifts for Less Than $25
55 M. Faysal Thameen
6 12 20 58 60
Departments Editorial ISNA Matters Community Matters Reviews Food for the Spirit
DESIGN & LAYOUT BY: Gamal Abdelaziz, A-Ztype Copyeditor: Pamela Taylor. 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.
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
Editorial Envisioning a More Perfect Union: Building the Beloved Community
O you who have believed, fear God. And let every soul look to what it has put forth for tomorrow — and fear God. Indeed, God is Acquainted with what you do” (59:18) As ISNA embarks upon its 50th year of service, we pause to reflect on the progress of Islam in America. Fifty years of struggle; 50 years of dedication; 50 years of progress and countless years of building ahead. The theme of our 50th convention, “Envisioning a More Perfect Union: Building the Beloved Community” demonstrates that regardless of how far we’ve come, we can always go further. As a fledgling community, Muslim Americans have done much to cement their position in American society, yet the trek is far from over. The ayah upon which this theme is based (59:18) reminds us that the basis of all such struggle, of all work, of all endeavors is the fear of God and the will to act accordingly. In an environment where Islamophobia is rampant, we must strive to remember that justice is a common thread running through Judaism, Christianity and Islam, that the three Abrahamic faith traditions have so much in common. Yet how often do we utilize our similarities to rally together behind social justice? Can faith communities unite to engage in a cause? ISNA is an organization that has promoted interfaith understanding since its inception.When Islam had little exposure to the average person (which may or may not have been better than the situation we have today), the goal of interfaith groups was for Muslims, Christians and Jews to learn more about the fundamentals of each others’ faiths. However, as the years went on, our community outgrew simply holding iftars every Ramadan and community dinners. We always discussed “building
PUBLISHER The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
bridges,” but how could we take these partnerships to the next level? When could we actually cross these proverbial bridges? The Muslim American community, though relatively new to the American landscape when compared to some other more established groups, has matured over the past 50 years, and ISNA has been one of, if not the primary, organization facilitating this process. We have developed into a community that is no longer struggling to conduct its own internal affairs, but is finding its place, and relevance, in the greater society. Though we have focused much on education and dispelling stereotypes regarding our faith, and granted this is still needed, for those relationships we have already forged, those bridges we have already built, it is time for us to utilize those bridges, and go beyond them. Activism around specific causes, gun control or the environment are means to utilize those bridges for a specific and tangible outcome. ISNA has been a leader in initiating such programing via its many interfaith coalitions around such issues. Our belief in God, living our lives according to His word and His will, enjoining what is good, and forbidding what is evil, feeding the poor and helping the needy, learning from the examples of God’s prophets, serve as common ground for us to make a difference in the world we live in, to build this more perfect union. As long as we’re working together to combat the status quo, we can make a difference as faith communities. ISNA has worked for half a century to create a sense of empathy and community; to build bonds, foster cooperation and lead the Muslim American community to a more promising future. Join us this Labor Day weekend to celebrate the past and look toward the future.
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
PRE SID ENT Mohamed Hagmagid Ali Interim Secreta ry Gener a l Iqbal Unus ED IT O R
Omer Bin Abdullah Assista nt Editor Deanna Othman ED IT O RIA L A DVIS O RY B OA RD
Imam Mohamed Magid (acting Chair); Haroon Mughal; Sohaib Sultan; Wafa Unus; Wajahat Ali. ISL AMI C H O RIZO NS
is a bimonthly publication of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Copyright @2013 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 P O S T MA S T ER
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49th Annual ISNA Convention August 31 – September 3, 2012 One Nation Under God: Striving for the Common Good Washington DC Convention Center 801 Mount Vernon Place NW • Washington, DC 20001
EvEnts IncludE: • • • • • • • • • •
Main Sessions (ISNA, MSA, MYNA) Break-Out Sessions Bazaar with more than 550 booths Islamic Entertainment • Qira’at Competition Meet the Author Community Service Recognition Luncheon (CSRL) Matrimonial Banquets • Art Exhibit Islamic Film Festival • Basketball Tournament Children’s Program • Babysitting and much more… EARLY REGISTRATION DEADLINE JULY 10, 2012 WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO REGISTER NOW AS THE HOTEL ROOMS ARE BEING BOOKED QUICKLY F O R R E G I S T R AT I O N & H O T E L R E S E R VAT I O N S: VISIT: WWW.ISNA.NET OR CALL: (317) 838-8129 OR EMAIL CONVENTION@ISNA.NET F O R B A Z A A R B O O T H S & S P O N S O R S H I P S: VISIT: WWW.ISNA.NET OR CALL: (317) 838-8131 OR EMAIL AKHAN@ISNA.NET CO N V E N T I O N P R O G R A M : EMAIL: PROGRAMS@ISNA.NET OR CALL: (317) 839-8157 EXT 231
R E G I S T R AT I O N FO R M WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO REGISTER ONLINE AT WWW.ISNA.NET. THIS WILL ENSURE ACCURACY AND INSTANT CONFIRMATION FOR REGISTRATION AS WELL AS HOTEL ROOMS. PRINT NEATLY HOME PHONE
STREET ADDRESS CITY
E-MAIL ADDRESS (REQUIRED)
SPOUSE’S FIRST NAME
SPOUSE’S LAST NAME
DEPENDENTS (PLEASE LIST IN ORDER BY AGE) FIRST NAME
We are committed to providing a safe environment for all convention attendees. To ensure this, ISNA holds the right to ask the responsible person or group to leave the convention center. By registering for this convention I agree that if a member of my group causes any disturbance, I or that member will leave the convention center on the order of ISNA official(s). The judgment of term “disturbance” will be determined solely by ISNA officials. Your email will be included in ISNA Listserv for Newsletter.
METHOD OF PAYMENT (US $)
REGISTRATION FEES (US $) Adult (19+ years)
= $ _________
Husband and Wife
= $ _________
University Students/MSA (Provide Copy of I.D.) $ 90 X
= $ _________
Student/MYNA (12 – 18 years)
$ 64 X
= $ _________
Group of 5 or More (per person)
$ 85 X
= $ _________
Children’s Program (6 – 12 years) Each Child $ 52 X
= $ _________
Babysitting Program ($77 per child for the entire convention)
= $ _________
$ 77 X
Timing for Children’s Program and Babysitting Friday
3:00 PM – 10:30 PM
Saturday & Sunday
9:00 AM – 10:30 PM
Registration Fee $ ________________ Donation to Registration Fund $ ________________ Membership Fees $ ____________ Islamic Horizons Subscription ($ 24) $ ____________ Saturday Community Service Recognition Luncheon $ ____________ ($200 per Individual and $2000 per table) TOTAL DUE $ ________________ CHECK (Payable to ISNA) # ______________ Amount
CHARGE to the following Card: MasterCard Visa AMEX
Card # ____________________________________ Exp. Date _______ Printed Name as it Appears on Credit Card: ______________________________________________________________
H OT E L R E S E R VAT I O N HOW TO RESERVE YOUR ROOM AUGUST 30 – SEPTEMBER 2, 2013 1.
Rates do not include state or local taxes.
Hotel reservations must be made either online or on this form and sent along with the registration form. Based on hotel availability, you will receive your confirmation within 3 weeks. Confirmation for online reservations will be sent by e-mail immediately.
Grand Hyatt (Half mile, Shuttle will be provided)
Rooms are assigned on a first-come first-serve and availability basis. If the hotel of your choice is full, you will be assigned to the next alternative.
Marriott Metro (Half mile, Shuttle will be provided)
Bed type is not guaranteed & is subject to availability. There may be an extra charge for rollaway beds. (You will be notified at check in.) Since there are a limited number of rooms with two double beds, and in consideration for those with families, please only request rooms with 2 beds if it is absolutely necessary.
CANCELLATION: You will receive your confirmation directly from the hotel. If you do not cancel 3-weeks prior to your arrival date, your deposit will be forfeited. Cancellations will be done only by ISNA. Fax your written request to 317-839-1822.
Rates PeR Night
Up to 4 people in room $ 119
Renaissance DC Hotel (Across from the convention center)
Up to 2 people in room $ 119, Up to 3 people $ 139, Up to 4 people $ 159
Hotels and Room Types are assigned based on the availability at the time your registration is received.
ROOM TYPE Check One:
1 Bed in room
Number of Rooms Required: FIRST NAME
$119 per night
Up to 2 people in room $ 119, Up to 3 people $ 139, Up to 4 people $ 159
If you need to make a change or cancellation after you receive your confirmation, please follow the instructions on your confirmation form.
Please review your confirmation letter.
$119 per night
2 Beds in room
NAME OF PERSON #2
NAME OF PERSON #3
NAME OF PERSON #4
Arrival Date* _____________ * Recommended Dates: Arrive August 30, 2013
Departure Date* ____________ Depart September 2, 2013
METHOD OF PAYMENT FOR HOTEL (US $)
To guarantee your hotel reservation, a credit card deposit for the first night is required.
Deposits can only be made by credit card.
You can cancel your hotel reservation 3 weeks prior to conference date. For a no-show, one day room rate will be charged. Charge to the following Card:
Please list any special needs
Mail or fax this form with your completed registration form. Housing forms will not be processed without registration forms and payment.
AMEX Discover Card # _______________________________________ Exp. Date__________ Printed Name as it Appears on Credit Card: ____________________________________________________________________
I N FO R M AT I O N
Please complete fully, neatly, accurately. Send prior to registration deadline. You can take advantage of the on-line registration process and receive your confirmation immediately.
Individual . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $40
Student . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $20
All fees are in US$. If you are organizing a large group to attend the convention, please call us for special discounts.
Husband & Wife . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $50
• Right to Vote during ISNA Elections
All children must be enrolled in either Children’s Program or MYNA Programs. Any family member over 18 must pay regular or student fees. STUDENT DISCOUNT:
To qualify for the student registration rates (University or School), fax a copy of your student ID to (317) 839-1822. LITERATURE & MATERIALS:
Distribution of unapproved literature or other materials or solicitation of any kind during the convention is strictly prohibited. REGISTRATION DEADLINE, CONFIRMATIONS, CANCELLATIONS & REFUNDS:
• Early registration deadline is June 30, 2013.
• Free Islamic Horizons Magazine • Hijrah Calendar • ... and much more
COMMUNITY SERVICE RECOGNITION LUNCHEON (CSRL) August 31, 2013 The Community Service Recognition Luncheon (CSRL) is a formal luncheon hosted by ISNA to recognize an outstanding leader in the North American Muslim community Cost:
$200 per person or $2000 per table (max. 10 persons)
• Full Registration Fees Refund will be issued for cancellations before May 31, 2013. Written cancellation request must be sent to email@example.com or faxed to (317) 839-1822. NO REFUNDS WILL BE ISSUED AFTER MAY 31, 2013.
• Purchase tickets online at www.isna.net
• There will be no refund of membership fees.
• Complimentary babysitting provided
• Children under 12 will not be permitted to attend
AV O I D D E L AY S • P R I N T N E AT LY • U S E O N E M E T H O D O N LY T O R E T U R N F O R M S
Send Registration Forms to: FAX: (317) 839-1822 MAIL: ISNA Convention Registration P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168
For Information and Status Check CALL ISNA AT: (317) 838-8129
Don’t Forget • Make a copy for your own records and for additional registrants. • Make sure to enclose the completed form and payment. • The housing form and the registration form must be received at the same time.
ISNA Matters Muslim Leaders Visit Auschwitz
Muslim leaders from around the globe, including ISNA president Imam Mohamed Magid, visited Auschwitz, the former Nazi concentration camp, in early May, where they prayed at the Wall of Death for those who were killed and suffered under violent anti-Semitism. The
imams, who hailed from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bosnia, Palestine, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey and the United States, were visiting as part of a Holocaust awareness tour, funded in part by the International Religious Freedom office of the United States Department of State.
ISNA Joins in MET's 20th Year Celebrations Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, ISNA National Director for Interfaith & Community Alliances, was the keynote speaker at the annual fundraising dinner and cultural evening hosted by the Portland, Ore. based Muslim Educational Trust (MET) May 18, as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations. Dr. Syeed spoke about the sense of dignity, pride and confidence that Muslims have achieved in the United States through organizations like ISNA. He said, “Prophet Muhammad’s experience of Israa and Miraj was a promise to us that our faith does not tie us to materialistic restrictions; rather it ultimately promises us a great possibility of growth and development, both spiritually and materialistically.” Dr. Syeed also talked about how the hijrah was a journey from tribalism to 12
pluralism, a journey from lack of religious freedom and lack of human rights to a place where religion is freely practiced and humans are respected. He stressed the benefits of living in a democratic society like the United States. He said that Muslim Americans should be grateful for what they have achieved and should always remember and understand how and why they achieved it.
Imam Magid remarked, “Whether in Europe today or in the Muslim world, my call to humanity: end racism for God’s sake, end anti-Semitism for God’s sake, end Islamophobia for God’s sake, end sexism for God’s sake. Enough is enough.” The visit included a tour of Warsaw’s new Museum of the History of Polish Jews, dinner with Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, and a meeting with the Polish Righteous Among the Nations. The group of imams, which included Muzammil H. Siddiqi, PhD, president of the Fiqh Council of North America and a former ISNA president, also met with Polish Muslim, Jewish and Catholic leaders. Rabbi Jack Bemporad, executive director of the New Jersey-based Center for Interreligious Understanding, leader of the visit, said, “Understanding our particular histories will help us better understand each other so that we can unite in combating prejudice against all religions.” In 2010, eight American imams took part in a similar trip.
MET also organized three other engagements for Dr. Syeed. On May 19, Dr. Syeed was hosted by Portland’s KBOO Community Radio to speak live on their program “An Islamic Point of View” with program host Shaheed Hamid. Dr. Syeed talked about how he feels Martin Luther King’s dream is related in many ways to Prophet Muhammad’s Israa and Miraj and Hijrah. “Islam respects and recognizes pluralism as part of divine design. Whenever there is a retraction from that, you will find racism and exploitation of man by man, and we have to see how we can divert from such inequality,” Dr. Syeed said. He also spoke about the challenges of the Arab Spring and how democracy will not happen overnight, but will take time, strong will and perseverance of the people to accomplish their goal. Later that day, he met with Portland’s Muslim community leadership
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
to discuss how the community can learn from ISNA’s experience in community outreach, bridge-building and interfaith work. Among those present were Imam Mikal Shabazz, president of the Oregon Islamic Chaplains Organization; Ahmed Al-Ammine, president of the Abu-Bakr Masjed; and Laila Hajoo, president of Islamic Social Services of Oregon State. On May 20, MET partnered with Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon to hold an interfaith conversation with Dr. Syeed, who spoke about the experience of the
Muslim community in the United States and how it is similar in many ways to the Jewish community’s experience. He emphasized that the Jewish community has an obligation to help the Muslim community during its struggle against Islamophobia. It is ultimately our collective responsibility as people of faith and citizens of goodwill to alleviate ignorance, hardship and ill feelings wherever they may be, for the sake of a wholesome humanity and a bright and prosperous future for all. The attendees represented
many area faith leaders, including Rania Ayoub, MET public relations and communication director; and Wajdi Said, MET co-founder and president of the board of directors. The fundraising was organized for providing scholarships to students from poor families. It was heartening to see children of Somalia and other refugee families enabled to be part of the school program and integrating with their peers in getting the best education. The very sight of it was overwhelming, Dr. Syeed said.
ISNA Leader Speaks on Intra-Faith Dialogue tural Organization (UNESCO). President together leaders from both Sunni and Shia May 4, Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, ISNA Khatami’s presence at the ISNA Convenbackgrounds to sign a Muslim Code of National Director for Interfaith & Comtion helped demonstrate the Muslim Honor in front of 12,000 Muslims at the munity Alliances, spoke at the 25th anniISNA Convention. It was a collective versary celebration banquet for the action that provided Muslim AmeriAlim Academy, one of the nation’s can leaders with the opportunity to oldest Islamic schools. join together in forging a common Alim Academy is a non-sectarian, understanding. Together, the leaders multicultural, Pre-K to 12, Islamic promoted understanding and cooperschool in Potomac, Md., just outside ation for the common good, rejecting of Washington, DC, prides itself for any and all divisive practices. being one of the very few institutions Dr. Syeed encouraged the Alim where Muslims from different schools Academy and other community of thought and even non-Muslims, members to “continue producing a study, pray and play together. generation of Muslim Americans who Dr. Syeed said, “Shia-Sunni transcend sectarian thinking and can conflicts appear to be at an all-time provide leadership and service to the high and it is more important now Muslim community at large and to than ever that we come together. As humanity, all the children of Adam.” a Sunni, it is a great honor to have In the past, Dr. Syeed has been invited by Shia leaders to come Hojatuleslam Ahmad Bahraini and Dr. Syeed. addressed Shia congregations in to speak this evening. That in and of Detroit, Chicago and all the annual American community’s commitment to itself shows how much this community conventions of United Muslims of dialogue and peace-building internationputs its words into action.” America, a Shia organization. ally. The following year, ISNA brought Dr. Syeed stressed that it is critical to promote a better understanding between various schools of thought and sects within Islam, especially when extremists routinely exploit these differences to jusElectronic Funds Transfer — tify their heinous crimes against humanA good deed done regularly! ity, committing violence against places of worship and those who visit them. Through Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) ISNA can In 2006, Mohammad Khatami, former receive your donation each month automatically president of Iran, was invited to address from your bank account or credit card, saving you the ISNA Convention. President Khatami postage and time. has consistently advocated for intra-faith and interfaith dialogue, leading him to Be a key that opens the door to ISNA’s long-term financial stability: develop the Dialogue of Civilizations, an international conference that involved Donate through EFT! many global leaders including the United www.isna.net/donate Nations Education, Scientific and Cul-
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
50th Annual ISNA Convention
A Bounty Awaits the 50th Celebration ISNA leaders and staff anticipate welcoming thousands to an epic 50th annual convention in the nation’s capital.
By ISLAMIC HORIZONS STAFF
SNA turned 50 this year and hopes to celebrate with you all in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., Aug. 30-Sept. 2, 2013.
The initiative launched in 1963 by a handful of students as the Muslim Students Association of the United States and Canada (now popularly known as MSA National), received a nationwide embrace, and in time graduated to ISNA. These ISNA conventions have attained an iconic status, where family reunions, new ventures, renewing friendships and contacts, and learning and sharing are focused around the convention. The theme selected for the 50th Convention reflects the organization’s foundations: community, “Envisioning a More Perfect Union: Building the Beloved Community.” The theme is inspired by the Quranic verse 59:18 (see p. 18: ISNA: Part of the American Narrative, Sohaib Sultan.) “The ISNA convention is an annual milestone which marks our progress in reaching out to the Muslim American community and society at large,” says ISNA’s Interim Secretary General Dr. Iqbal Unus. “The 50th annual convention is expected to be extraordinary in scope, with a panoramic coverage of ISNA’s past, beginning with its 14
roots in the MSA, an exciting present and a promising future that we seek to envision together,” Dr. Unus adds. The planning of the next convention starts the day the convention ends. The focal point in this exercise is the ISNA Conventions & Special Projects Department headed by Basharat Saleem. The expanse of this effort extends from selecting a host city and convention center to arranging special events within the convention, creating an experience that guests of all ages and interests savor. Saleem and his team are sparing no effort and excitedly await to be the best hosts for the nation’s largest Muslim convention. ISNA is essentially a coming together of communities. And service to the community also spans reaching out to our government, and to our neighbors — the other faith communities. Like previous years, there will be many events happening during the convention to allow Muslim leaders to engage with our interfaith partners and government officials in various issues pertaining to the development of our community. The Wash-
ington, D.C. based ISNA Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances leads the way in these efforts. As usual, the MSA Conference and the MYNA Conference programs share space with the main Convention, often sharing speakers and events. Convention guests will be listening to scholars, leaders, thinkers and trendsetters such as Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Jamal Badawi, Tariq Ramadan, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Imam Zaid Shakir, Sherman Jackson, Mokhtar Maghraoui, Azizah Al-Hibri and ISNA past presidents such as Muzammil Siddiqui, Mohammad Nur and Ingrid Mattson. There will be popular speakers such as Altaf Husain, Yasmin Mogahed, Yasir Qadhi and others, including Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) to share their insights with community members. The Interfaith Unity Banquet, initiated more than a decade ago, has been one of the convention’s main features. It is an opportunity to celebrate interfaith achievements with the Muslim American community and to recognize interfaith leaders and institutions that have contributed to the advancement of interreligious understanding. Each year, ISNA hosts several senior government officials for a breakfast attended by about 20 leaders of national Muslim organizations.
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
The ISNA President’s Reception for Dignitaries, hosted by Imam Mohamed Magid, honors VIPs who will be in attendance during the 50th Annual ISNA Convention, including notable speakers, leaders and dignitaries. Last year, John C. Inglis, Deputy Director of the National Security Agency, and Ambassador Rashad Hussain, President Obama’s Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), spoke at the breakfast, reports Maggie Siddiqui, Program Coordinator, ISNA Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances. The year before, it was Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the United States Department of Education. Each year, multiple officials attend from a variety of agencies, including the United States Department of Health & Human Services, the United States Department of Homeland Security and others. ISNA Programs Director Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad and his team work all year round to develop a fulfilling program. “This year’s program is especially rich in content,” says Ahmad. “With fewer and more focused parallel sessions than in previous years, convention attendees can expect an easier choice
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
in selecting sessions they can most benefit from,” he adds.
Community Service Recognition Luncheon (CSRL)
ISNA is essentially a coming together of communities. And service to the community also spans reaching out to our government and to our neighbors — the other faith communities.
Since the year 2000, the ISNA Development Foundation (IDF), in collaboration with the ISNA Founders Committee, has organized the CSRL, which continues to be a main attraction during the annual convention. This luncheon brings together a prestigious group of the nation’s Muslim leaders, scholars and government officials to honor an individual dedicated to community service. The Community Service Recognition Award is given to a person who has devoted his or her life to serving Muslims and the cause of God, is an exemplary model and inspiration to others. In celebrating ISNA’s 50th anniversary, this year the CSRL will highlight the beautiful history and journey of the past 50 years and those inspirational Muslim pioneers that helped to establish, enrich and progress the Muslim community to where we are today. Personal narratives will bring alive the story of ISNA and the impact of those involved with the organization from its beginnings. Come join this joyous celebration and be a part of commemorating the wonderful achievements of Muslims in America.
50th Annual ISNA Convention communicate, understand and cater to the needs of their customers. Businesses are given a number of ways to showcase and market their products. These include display or vending booths, print advertisements in the program book, company banners, video advertisements and more. Bazaar admission during the convention is again free this year and everyone at ISNA is planning and working hard to make this year’s bazaar experience even more fun and enjoyable for you.
Convention Special Features Meet the Author Since 2005, ISNA’s Meet the Author program has promoted literacy and interest in reading and gives convention attendees a chance to meet the authors themselves. This year at the ISNA Convention, there will be a roster of inspiring authors, and you will have the opportunity to attend their presentations, ask questions and greet them personally. Qira’at Competition The Qira’at competition is an annual event at the ISNA Convention and draws participants from across the U.S. to present recitations from the Qur’an. What makes this program unique is that the participants are youth from ages 12 (sometimes younger) to 21. This special event is an opportunity to listen to beautiful tajweed and enjoy an uplifting spiritual experience. Matrimonial Banquets Islam’s stress on family life cannot be understated. Since its founding, both MSA and ISNA have continued to strengthen the family and support efforts that promote the making of families. Two matrimonial banquets will be held for Single Muslims at the convention on Saturday and Sunday. Hundreds have participated and many have benefitted from these banquets before.
Conference of Chaplains The Annual Conference of Muslim Chaplains provides Muslim chaplains the opportunity to share notes, evaluate concerns and challenges, and plan for the future. The conference is open to Muslim chaplains working with hospitals, universities, the Armed Forces and federal and state prisons from around the country. As usual there will be three chaplaincy sessions/ workshops for ISNA Endorsed Chaplains at the ISNA Convention this year. These sessions are also open to those interested in Muslim chaplaincy. This is now a field that involves much more than leading a congregation: it includes services like hospital care, counseling offenders and, counseling Muslim soldiers, both at home bases and the battlefield.
A Bustling Marketplace One of the most visited places during the ISNA Convention is the Bazaar. With more 16
Health Fair ISNA, in collaboration with IMANA (Islamic Medical Association of North America), will conduct a health fair at the convention. The free health series at this fair will include diabetes screening and awareness, blood pressure screening, cancer education, blood donation (Coordinated by the American Red Cross), cholesterol and anemia screening, and more.
Fun and Relaxation This year, in collaboration with the National Muslim Basketball Tournament (NMBT), ISNA is arranging a basketball tournament at the 50th convention in Washington DC. More than 200 players participated in this tournament at the last year’s convention in Washington DC. About 150 players participated in 2011 at the Chicago convention. We expect more this year. On Sunday night during the ISNA Convention, the main hall is brimming with audience as well as energy. People are
Film Festival Last year’s convention film festival included 17 movies including the Oscar winning movie “Saving Face.” For this festival’s inaugural session, some prominent artists and filmmakers are being invited. Art & Photography Exhibit Art is yet another avenue for Muslims to interact and share their faith and passions with the mainstream; and importantly show how expression can be done within the parameters of the faith. The Art Exhibit & Photography Exhibit will provide an excellent platform for participants, both professionals as well as amateurs, to showcase their work and form networks for further growth. This exhibit will include calligraphy, paintings, glass, ceramics, photography and other forms of artwork.
than 550 booths and 300 vendors, it offers something for everyone, especially for those new to the community and those missing something of their homelands. The scene is like this — vendors selling clothing, scarves, jewelry, innovations, etc.; authors signing their books; artists performing; nonprofits urging involvement and making their case for funding; and much more. Economic activity is vital for the development of the community and ISNA therefore organizes not only the largest Muslim bazaar in the country but also conducts sessions on business development and ethics. Participants sell, promote and market their products and services to a large customer base. Because the convention represents a crosssection of the Muslim community in America, the bazaar is a niche market for businesses for studying their market and conducting surveys. It provides an opportunity for businesses to Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
WANTED WANTED EXECUTIVE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DIRECTOR
waiting to hear their favorite artists perform. Over the years we have bought you artists like Kareem Salama, Junaid Jamshid, Noor, Maher Zain, Dawud Warnsby, Najam Sheraz, Preacher Moss, Azhar Usman and many more. To continue that trend, you
can expect a vibrant and amazing lineup for entertainment at this year’s convention in Washington DC. Please continue to check our website (www.isna.net) as we start announcing the names of this year’s artists.
Muslim Community Center Inc., Chicago Muslim Chicago seeks a Community qualified andCenter highlyInc., motivated seeks a qualified and highly motivated Executive Director Executive Director Muslim Community Center (MCC), one of Chicago’s Muslim Community (MCC), one of Chicago’s oldest Islamic centersCenter (established 1969), has two oldest Islamic centers (established 1969), two locations: one in Chicago and the other in has Morton locations: one in Chicago and the other in Morton Grove (Muslim Education Center (MEC), and a fullGrove (Muslim Education Center (MEC),24and a fulltime pre-K-8 Islamic School. An elected member time pre-K-8 Islamic School. An elected 24 member Board manages MCC. MCC community comprises Board manages MCC. MCC community comprises members from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afmembers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, ghanistan, Africa, Middle East and America. Afghanistan, Africa, Middle East and America. Duties and Responsibilities Duties Responsibilities • The and Executive Director (ED) is responsible for • The Executive Director (ED) is responsible for the overall successful management and operathe overall successful management and operations of the organization. Under the direction tions the Board, organization. direction of theofMCC the ED Under will bethe responsible of the MCC Board, the ED will be responsible for the development of the MCC strategic plan. for the development of the plan. Additionally, ED should beMCC ablestrategic to: Additionally, ED should be able to: • Work with committees/dept. heads /admin• Work with heads /administration to committees/dept. manage vendor selection for MCC istration to manage vendor selection for MCC projects and to minimize projects/task delays. to minimize delays. • projects Assist in and finding potentialprojects/task donors, and coordi• Assist in finding potential nate fundraising activities.donors, and coordifundraising activities. • nate Recruit and hire staff. • Recruit and hirewith staff.inter- and intra- faith Communicate groups. • Communicate with inter- and intra- faith groups. Knowledge, Skills and Abilities: The candidateSkills must have/be: Knowledge, and Abilities: • Acandidate practicingmust Muslim with good moral character. The have/be: to effectively manage em• ASkills practicing Muslimcommunicate, with good moral character. ployees, work withcommunicate, board of directors, media • Skills to effectively manage emand publically represent ployees, work with boardMCC. of directors, media • and Excellent written and interpersonal skills; publically represent MCC. competence in Word, and PowerPoint. • Excellent written andExcel, interpersonal skills; • competence 8 to 10 yearsinsupervisory in opWord, Excel,experience and PowerPoint. business or consulting with ainwell• erational 8 to 10 years supervisory experience opestablished organization, specifically erational business or consulting withnon-fora wellprofit entities. established organization, specifically non-for• Bachelor’s degree in Religious studies/Busiprofit entities. Administration. is a plus. • ness Bachelor’s degree inMaster’s Religiousdegree studies/Busi• US residency or citizenship required. ness Administration. Master’s degree is a plus. • Compensation US residencyPackage: or citizenship required. • Compensation Salary, negotiable based on experience and Package: qualifications. • Salary, negotiable based on experience and • Benefits include health insurance and twoqualifications. week vacation. • Benefits include health insurance and twoweek vacation. Please Please visit visit www.mccchicago.org www.mccchicago.org for for details details about about job job requirements. requirements. Please email your resume with THREE REFERENCES by July 25, 2013 to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
50th Annual ISNA Convention
This year’s convention attendees will be given a rare opportunity to hear from living legends, as former presidents of ISNA come together for a conversation about lessons from the past and advice for the future direction of Muslims in North America.
ISNA: Part of the American Narrative The theme, drawn from the Quranic verse 59:18, is also firmly rooted in the highest principles of the Islamic tradition. By Sohaib Sultan
t was 150 years ago that President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation repeatedly evoking the theme of a “more perfect union.” And, 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King moved a nation with his declaration,“I have a Dream,” that led a civil rights movement beckoning us to “build the beloved community” — a community that embraces people as equals across race, gender, faith and socioeconomic divides. The sustained growth and success of the Muslim American community, despite many challenges, is a testimony to the vision of a more just society offered by the likes of Presi-
dent Lincoln and Dr. King. Muslim Americans and their institutions have long been at the forefront of making this vision a reality. This year’s convention theme gives us the opportunity to celebrate the vast contributions of Muslims in America, while offering a vision for continued progress over the next 50 years. ISNA, as an umbrella organization for Muslims, has always recognized that a strong and vibrant Muslim community is concerned not only with the specific affairs of the faith’s followers, but of the larger society as well. This year’s theme and program will reflect such a concern, with sessions ranging from improving the state of mosques and Islamic schools to addressing the problem of poverty and gun violence plaguing our nation today. The theme, drawn from the Quranic verse 59:18, is also firmly rooted in the highest
principles of the Islamic tradition. Numerous Quranic passages, teachings inherited from Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the example of righteous Muslim civilizations through the generations all direct our moral compass toward building that community which emphasizes the content of our character over the color of our skins and other incidentals. God, in the Quran, reminds us that we were all created from one single soul, that we come from male and female and that we are placed into different nations and tribes that we may know each other and so that we may marvel at the creative genius of our Lord. In his farewell sermon, the Prophet taught in the clearest way possible that racism, gender discrimination and economic injustice have no place in Islam’s ethical or moral system of life. Furthermore, the constitution of Madina proposed by him and signed by representatives from all the area’s tribes offered a vision of a society where
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people would work together and live in harmony across tribe and religion. It is arguably the most remarkable vision of a pluralistic society from the medieval world. And generations of Muslims tried repeatedly, and even periodically succeeded, to work toward such a society wherever they went, from West Africa to the Far East. But, for all that we have to take pride in and inspiration from our history, whether in America or abroad, this convention’s theme will also ask us to take a long and hard look in the mirror as we consider where we, as a community, have underachieved and what important issues we may have for too long neglected. As such, this convention will surely be a time to celebrate the last 50 years, but it will also be a time to contemplate the future before us. The main sessions at this year’s convention will offer insights from some of our most respected religious teachers on improving our spiritual condition individually and collectively, recognizing that God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is within themselves, as the Quran teaches us. We will also focus on family harmony between husband, wife and children, knowing that there can be no “perfect union” if our families are in a state of discord. Other sessions will take a deep look at some of the major social issues confronting us today from within the Muslim community and outside of it, such as the internal big divide over schools of thoughts and growing anti-Muslim sentiments in the wider public. Some of the main sessions will highlight leading Muslim social change makers
today from various spheres, including public servants and policymakers working in government, grassroots activists and social service providers. Lastly, this year’s convention attendees will be given a rare opportunity to hear from living legends as the past presidents of ISNA come together for a conversation about lessons from the past and advice for the future direction of Muslims in North America. The parallel sessions will in some ways mirror the main sessions in terms of major themes, providing opportunities to go more in-depth. This year’s parallel sessions will offer real prescriptions to real problems to help empower Muslims at the grassroots level, who are working hard to create harmony in their midst as they build the beloved community, one town or city at a time. The convention theme engendered five tracks, each of which focuses on an issue essential to a strong sense of community. “Deen We Need” track will focus on our sacred and spiritual teachings, such as a commentary on Surah Hujurat (the Chambers; Surah/chapter 49), that form the principles and maxims around which we as individuals and communities can build upon. “Got Skills” track will develop skills that every Muslim activist needs to develop best practices and institutions.“In Focus” track will offer insights and information on local and global affairs so that Muslims can engage in critical conversations and make informed choices about the future. The “Family Matters” track will offer workshops and other forums directed toward nurturing love and harmony within the family. And,
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last but not least, “Are We There Yet?” track will examine some of the major divides and gaps within the community as we strive for a more perfect union. Alongside these parallel session tracks, there will be the usual and long standing Meet the Authors sessions, Film Festival, Art Gallery, networking sessions and much more. This year’s convention will also continue the tradition of hosting a knowledge intensive seminar on Monday morning with some of our leading scholars and thinkers. The purpose of these seminars is to offer a culminating in-depth session that summarizes and expands upon the convention’s theme. As such, this year’s seminar will continue the conversation on the future direction of Muslim communities in America with a special focus on developing our institutions, our unique identity and culture, and our social-political capital in order to be able to effectively and positively contribute for generations to come. Today, 50 years after ISNA’s founding, the hard work and long journey toward ideals of equality, justice and harmony continue with new challenges and opportunities on the horizon. We hope that you will join us in Washington D.C. on Labor Day Weekend for what promises to be four days of illuminating lectures, seminars and workshops from scholars, social activists, community organizers and artists. You will want to be part of the conversation and part of this historic convention.
Sohaib Sultan, a member of the ISNA Executive Council is East Zone Rep. – U.S. and Muslim Life Coordinator/ Chaplain at Princeton.
Institute Devoted to Quran Quran memorization is much coveted, even a part of it. Among the several such programs available nationwide, one is the Richardson Tex. based Yusuf Ziya Kavakci (YZK) Institute’s Hifz Nation (Hifznation.com), which since 2009 has been serving and promoting Quran memorization. The program supports Quran memorization utilizing Internet networking to connect hifz teachers, students and their parents, where users upload audio and video files of recitations, post links, articles and comments. Hifznation.com also supports students memorizing Quran at YZK Institute’s Good Tree Academy in Richardson, Tex. Since 2011, Hifz Nation, headed by a full-time director, has run the weekly Radio Azad (radioazad. us), a tax-exempt Hifz Nation Scholarship Fund, “Become a Citizen of Hifz Nation” recruitment campaign and a Quran Club.
They also developed online memorization tools. The radio show, hosted by a young local hafiz, features Dallas/Fort Worth-area mem-
orization students and teachers, offering recitations and interviews as well as hifz competitions and skits dramatizing practical applications of Quranic teachings in
everyday life. They are available for streaming and downloading on hifznation.com. The after-school Quran Club helps students work on projects to promote the Quran and motivate others to memorize the Quran and generate radio show content. The Quran Club also helps out at Hifz Nation events in the community. Those who take the Hifz Nation Pledge to become a citizen receive a citizenship card, are put on the mailing list and get a biannual pledge renewal reminder. The Hifzone online learning game helps attract children to the Quran, and an offline (Hifzone Word Rack) version, bundled with educational videos, helps children and young adults read, memorize and understand the meaning of the Quran as well as Arabic vocabulary. Players win G-Dollars to buy prizes in the G-Store online or at school. To present the Quran in a fun-filled and entertaining way, the Hifzone Game Show is held in schools, Islamic centers and is filmed for Internet broadcast.
Turkish American Center Rises Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan presided at the foundation laying of the Turkish American Community Center (TACC) in Lanham, Md. (suburban Washington, D.C.), May 15. The 15-acre center, comprising five buildings, including a mosque, being built at an estimated cost of $100 million, is scheduled to be completed October 2014. It will likely become the western hemisphere’s largest and most striking examples of Islamic architecture. The mosque, which
accommodates a congregation of 760 people, uses the 16th century classical Ottoman architecture. The complex includes a cultural center, a 220-seat performance hall, a recreational building with a 180-seat restaurant and traditional coffee shop, a traditional Turkish bath and indoor pool, and sports center. The guest housing offers 16 one-bedroom apartments. The complex will have underground parking and very limited above-ground parking. The complex also includes a few traditionally designed residential buildings, Turkish gardens and fountains and outdoor recreational areas. TACC, a Turkish government project, will serve as a social, cultural and religious center for all visitors, including activities for the promotion and introduction of the values of Turkish civilization.
Electronic Funds Transfer —
A good deed done regularly!
You can make a significant impact on the quality of ISNA’s services by contributing through EFT. As little as $10 per month will help ISNA to serve the Muslim American community through effective leadership and state of the art training seminars for imams, Muslim chaplains and community leaders.
Sign up today to donate through EFT. www.isna.net/donate
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
Baptists, Muslims meet for dialogue
been held at Virginia Union University and the American Baptist Seminary of the West. The Baptist World Alliance responded in 2009, commending the 138 Muslim leaders and scholars for issuing the Common Word letter, but clarifying the document’s strong affirmation of the “Unity of God” cannot be understood by Baptists as a rejection of the Trinity. Andy Pratt, vice president for religious ministries at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., called on Christian leaders to “contain our rhetoric” as a means to peace. “When a leader says something [derogatory] about a Muslim, he degrades Christianity,” he said. Pratt called for the media to be held accountable when reporting on terrorism.
photo Credit: Vicki Brown
The fourth annual Baptist-Muslim National Dialog, which discussed understanding, intentionality and service was held April 20 at Prairie Baptist Church in Prairie Village, Kan. The first such dialog was held in 2009 at the Andover Newton Theological School, the nation’s oldest graduate school of theology. In her opening remarks, Central Baptist Theological Seminary President Molly Marshall said, “Our gathering today seeks to find common ground and common words — love of God and love of neighbor.” “Common Ground: A Baptist-Muslim Conversation” was the fourth event American Baptist Churches USA helped fund in response to an open letter from Muslim leaders in 2007. Conversations have already
Baptist and Muslim attendees share a meal and talk about their faith.
The media usually reports the faith tradition when a Muslim is accused of a crime, but faith is rarely brought up if the person is a Christian. He said the media should report the faith tradition of all or none at all. The conversation ended with a short question-and-answer session. Several participants suggested finding ways to educate followers in both faith traditions and the media.
Umair Shah Heads Harris County Public Health Harris County (Tex.) Public Health & Environmental Services (HCPHES) appointed Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH as the HCPHES executive director and Local Health Authority for Harris County, May 4. The Houston area resident, Dr. Shah has served as HCPHES deputy director and director of Disease Control & Clinical Prevention since 2004. His HCPHES emergency response experiences include, but are not limited to, hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike, a rabies death in a local teen, novel H1N1 flu pandemic, and various foodborne illness investigations. Prior to joining HCPHES, Dr. Shah was an emergency department physician at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center when Tropical Storm Allison occurred. From a leadership capacity building perspective, Dr. Shah was invited to participate in the National Public Health Leadership Institute and the Houston/
Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Leadership Forum. He currently serves on two Harris County Medical Society leadership committees. On a national level, Dr. Shah chairs an American Public Health Association committee and serves on another with the National Association of County and City Health Officials. He is also considered a subject matter expert in a variety of areas and has worked on a number of initiatives involving the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. From a global perspective, he completed an international health policy internship at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and was part of the response teams deployed for the earthquakes in Kashmir and Haiti. Dr. Shah remains active in clinical patient care and academic teaching.
Muslim American Scholar Delivers Commencement Address Mishawaka, Ind. based Graduate Theological Foundation (GTF) heard from Shaykh Ibrahim AbdulMalik, this year’s commencement speaker, on May 3. New York City native, Abdul-Malik, Ed.D., PhD, challenged the graduating class to embrace cultural pluralism and religious ecumenism in a passionate and engaging speech
that described the principles that drive the GTF as an educational foundation. At GTF, he holds the first named professorship for El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) in the United States. He is an alumnus of Harvard and the GTF and co-founder of the Imams Council of New York. He is regularly invited to lead interfaith activities. In the
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months following 9/11, he was very active as a Volunteer Disaster Chaplain with the American Red Cross and a Trauma Counselor with community organizations. Prof. Abdul-Malik joined two other distinguished honorees at this year’s graduation: Prof. Christo Lombaard of the University of South Africa who was awarded the 2013 Krister Stendahl Medal in Biblical Studies and Dr. Ángel Vélez Oyola, director of the School of Theology at Interamerican University of Puerto Rico who was awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa.
Boston Muslim Wins Biomedical Engineering Award The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS), the world’s largest international society of biomedical engineers, presented the 2013 Early Career Achievement Award to Boston University associate professor Muhammad H. Zaman, PhD, at the EMBS annual conference in July in Osaka, Japan. Intended for current EMBS members within 10 years of completing their highest degree, the award recognizes significant contributions to the field of biomedical engineering as demonstrated by innovative research, product development, patents and/or publications. Zaman was recognized for his key contributions in developing novel quantitative experimental and computational models of tumor development, growth and metastasis and new engineering tools to address high impact global health challenges. A BU faculty member since 2009, Zaman heads the Cellular and Molecular Dynamics Lab, which engineers new experimental and computational technologies for major health care problems in both the developing and developed world, including probing the mechanisms of cancer metastasis. Meanwhile, Zaman is developing robust,
cheap, portable and user-friendly diagnostics and analysis tool kits to address global health challenges. As director of the Laboratory for Engineering Education and Development (LEED), he works with BU students to advance technologies to detect counterfeit drugs, preserve biological reagents used in diagnostic tests and provide other in-demand health care solutions targeting the specific needs of resource-limited countries. He is also co-director of the Africa Biomedical Engineering Initiative, which was funded by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa to improve biomedical engineering education, innovation and practice in Africa. Zaman’s achievements in cancer and global health research have earned him funding from USAID, the Saving Lives at Birth Consortium, U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and many private foundations, as well as several invitations to participate in the United States National Academy of Engineering research and education symposium. Zaman has also served as a keynote or plenary speaker at major national and international conferences and published dozens of highly-cited papers in leading biomedical journals.
Google: Palestine Since the beginning of May, Google, in recognition of the state of Palestine, has been using the word “Palestine” instead of “Palestinian territories.” Now there is a page for the state of Palestine at www.google.ps, just like for any other independent country. This is a very significant and historic step. The late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat made a declaration in 1988 that was adopted by 94 countries based on United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, which ended the British mandate and divided the territory into two states. The United Nations General Assembly recognizes Palestine as an “observer state.” After recognition of Palestine by Google, the search engine and Google applications throughout the world all recognize the state 22
of Palestine. Google spokesman Nathan Tyler said, “We are following the lead of major international organizations.” Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt believes the Internet and technology can create a new reality in many world issues. Google’s recognition of Palestine as an independent state must be seen as a victory and step forward on the road to creating a state.
Iowa Muslims Open Free Health Clinic Iowa’s Muslim Community of Quad Cities (MCQC) realizing that the needy can only get free health care in Iowa City or Des Moines which results in inconvenience and travel costs, have opened the MCQC Free Clinic of Iowa. The Clinic is also a blessing for other people who cannot afford to have any health insurance at all, although Iowa Care was created for people who have some income and therefore do not qualify for Medicaid. There has been no free health clinic established in Bettendorf or Davenport. The Muslim communities are blessed with a large number of doctors who have come from all over the world to make Quad Cities their home. There are more than 45 doctors (15 of them from Clinton alone), some of them having practiced in the area for over 30 years. MCQC is cooperating with Free Clinic of Iowa which has 30 other satellite clinics statewide. The Muslim free health clinic idea was conceived by Dr. Farah Khan, who serves as clinic manager. Another pioneer is Dr. Waleed Al-Sheikha, who serves as medical director. The Bettendorf clinic is open on the first and third Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to noon. Patients must arrive 30 minutes prior to register. MCQC Free Clinic of Iowa board member Dr. Anis Ansari says, “There has been an overwhelming support from doctors, nurses and other volunteers offering their support for this project. We are very excited to be a part of this first free health clinic of its kind in the Quad Cities.” The Quad City Times, lauding the initiative in its Apr. 24 editorial, said: “Our community’s Muslim faithful have been eager partners in ecumenical worship and outreach on both sides of our river. Now, their faith inspires a different kind of outreach. “We applaud and welcome this initiative to strengthen the safety net faith-driven Quad-Citians are weaving across our community.”
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NY City Muslims Seek Bangladesh Rights Muslim Americans rallied for human rights in Bangladesh on April 13, at Times Square, N.Y. They were addressed by leaders of civic, community and faith-based organizations. The rally asked that the ruling Awami League allow peaceful rallies in Bangladesh, stop the intimidation campaign against independent journalists and opposition politicians, and free all journalists such as Mahmudur Rahman, editor of the daily newspaper, Amar Desh. The rally reiterated that the “war crimes tribunal” constituted by the pro-India regime was but a kangaroo court that should be disbanded and should be replaced by a truly independent international tribunal against war crimes to achieve justice for victims and to punish perpetrators from all sides. The rally asked that
death penalties given to opposition leaders and Islamic scholars be withdrawn and a truth and reconciliation commission be set up so that the healing process can start. The rally sought an independent commission to investigate the murder and arson that took place in the last few months, including against Bangladeshi Hindus and the peaceful protesters. They also asked that the perpetrators, including those belonging to the law enforcement agencies, be prosecuted. The rally asked the Obama administration to call upon Bangladesh to follow the rule of law and appoint a new international war crimes tribunal as it was for Bosnia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone by the United Nations so that justice is rendered to all the victims.
FBI Recognizes Community Leaders The FBI honors list for 2012 includes two Muslims among 60 honorees, nationwide, who received the Director’s Community Leadership Award from agency Director Robert Mueller in Washington, D.C. on April 5. Each FBI field office selects an individual or organization for the award; they are also recognized at the local level. The awardees come from different backgrounds, professional fields and different parts of the country, and the issues they choose to focus on vary greatly. Mueller said, “You [all] share the same vision for
our nation’s future — one of hope, peace, and justice. You also share a willingness to lead — a willingness to step up and step forward — when countless others instead choose to take a back seat.” In Atlanta, Ga., Soumaya Khalifa founded the Islamic Speakers Bureau to educate those unfamiliar with Islam and provide insight into how Muslim Americans live their daily lives. She often presents training to students, business executives, and military and law enforcement personnel. In Washington, D.C., Humera Khan, a
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dedicated advocate for Muslim Americans, founder of Mueflehun, a research organization that promotes service-minded communities and justice. Khan’s organization offers recommendations to multiple government agencies about countering homegrown terrorism and violent extremism.
American Hijab Design Contest Crowns a Winner The American Hijab Design Contest Finale Event was held in Chicago April 28, a much anticipated, sold-out evening to remember, devoted to cultivating an American hijab style and creating excitement around a style of dress unfairly mired in controversy. The contest gave the community a platform to be creative and to showcase that creativity. Each of the judges brought a unique flavor to the panel: Derek Khan, America’s Next Top Model Judge; designer Nailah Lymus; Parsons Professor Shireen Soliman; and Muslim American scholar Aminah McCloud, PhD. Sarah Musa won the grand prize for her design incorporating a shirtdress, knit hat, turtleneck, slim pants and boots. Yasmeen Sabir won the style component for her elaborately wrapped and accessorized scarf paired with a coral motorcycle jacket, boyfriend jeans, a yellow cardigan, and blue heels. “Rhymefest’s critiques were lyrical,” said Ahmed Minhaj, chief advisor to the contest and the founder, Shaz Kaiseruddin’s, husband.
“The event showed that the hijab does not have to be an after-thought, consisting of just a color-matched scarf. It can be integrated into the attire, enhancing the overall look and elegance,” said Mohammed Kaiseruddin, contest supporter, attendee and Shaz’s father. The Grand Prize includes a trip to Dubai, with a royal introduction to Sheikha Hend Al Qassemi and a fashion industry tour during which the winner will also have the opportunity to meet with America’s Next Top Model judge Derek Khan. The contest brought in more than 700 images as entries from established designers and students at top design schools, both Muslim and those of other backgrounds.
Julia Shearson, CAIR Ohio’s executive director made a very moving introduction as the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo’s (ICT) president Dr. Mahjabeen Islam was presented the I-CAIR Leadership Award on April 21. ICT, which serves some 500 families, was torched by a hate-filled arsonist, carrying arms. Randy Linn, who was later convicted by an Ohio court and sentenced to 20 years for unlawfully entering a religious institution, carrying a weapon and arson.
Eboo Patel Speaks at Claremont Lincoln University Commencement
Eboo Patel president of Interfaith Youth Core, spoke at the inaugural graduation ceremony of Claremont Lincoln University, as well as the 124th commencement of its sister school, Claremont School of Theology, May 21. Patel, who spoke before some 500 people in Claremont, Calif., titled his address “On the Vanguard: A Celebration of Interfaith 24
Leadership.” The speech sounded this challenge: “The central problem interfaith work seeks to solve is this: how are all of us, with our differences, to share a nation and a world together? The central task of an interfaith leader, in my view, is to help build relationships between people with profoundly different views of what is fundamental and what is just. How else do you have a diverse democracy unless people who have deep disagreements on some issues are able to work together on other issues?” Claremont Lincoln, the first graduate school to be co-owned by the three Abrahamic faiths, is the hub of a consortium of like-minded educational institutions and centers, including its three founding partners as well as Jain, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist affiliates.
Baltimore, Md., based Al Rahmah School is marking its 25th year. Founded in 1987 as a private school by the Islamic Society of Baltimore, Al-Rahmah (http:// www.alrahmah.org/) opened with 27 students enrolled in Pre-Kindergarten through Second Grade. It now enrolls 350 students to 12th grade. It completed major construction projects such as new classrooms, a gymnasium and a fully functioning cafeteria. A playground was added during 2001-02. Grades 4 through 8 were added during 1993-98. The State of Maryland Board of Education has approved it for K-12. It is an associate member in The Association of Independent Maryland & DC Schools (AIMS) and has full accreditation from the Middle States Commission. It now has its own endowment trust, Al-Rahmah School Educational Trust.
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Credits: Muslim Coalition of Connecticut
MCCT Executive Board accepts the award from Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers.
The Connecticut state Supreme Court honored the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut for educating the public on Islam and Muslims at a time when there has been an increase in hate crimes and discrimination directed toward Muslims. Through the coalition’s leadership and many initiatives, it successfully embodies this year’s Law Day theme, “Realizing the Dream: Equality for All.” State Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers presided. A ceremony, held at the Supreme Court in Hartford May 1, the annual Law Day, heard from the coalition’s vice president Refai Arefin and Chief Justice Rogers. Law Day was established in 1958 by President Dwight Eisenhower to mark the country’s commitment to the rule of law. The Newington based group was founded in 2004 by local mosque leaders to educate the public on Islam and Muslims and living Islam through social activism, including volunteering for charitable causes.
The Washington Post has ranked the Toledo Islamic Academy (TIA) among the nation’s top 5 percent of private high schools; 13th among the 40 listed for this honor.
This ranking is based on their last year’s Advanced Placement program. Last year, the newspaper, which ranks schools annually, started including private schools. The College Board confirmed the data submitted by TIA. Principal Aalaa M. Eldeib said, “Insha Allah this will continue the drive for rigor and excellence — balanced by sound character, leadership and the desire to give back to the world around us — that we all aspire to achieve amongst our Islamic schools.”
The Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM) on May 4 honored veteran Sacramento activist Rashid Ahmad, who, for decades, has built bridges among Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists with its Distinguished Award for Community Service. Metwalli Amer, founder of SALAM, said Ahmad played an instrumental role in establishing University of California-Davis Medical School’s Shifa Community Clinic to serve the poor. Ahmad served on the board of directors of the Capital Unity Council, now known as the Institute for Advancing Unity. Amer added that Ahmad helped create the Muslim Youth Leadership Program and the Greater Sacramento Muslim Cemetery. Ahmad also co-founded the Sacramento Valley chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, a civil rights organization. A retired engineer with the State Department of Water Resources, Ahmad created the nonprofit Resources for Education and Community Health to serve underprivileged people worldwide by building schools and health facilities. The Shura Council of Southern California has welcomed two new members, the Islamic Center of Yorba Linda and the Iqra Academy of Palos Verdes. The Shura Council’s membership covers five counties of Southern California in Los Angeles,
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Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura. SCSC is governed by a ten member Shura Council Board.
Hamidah Mahmud and Ferial Ghori were part of the nine-member Granada Hills Charter High School team that won its third consecutive U.S. Academic Decathlon competition Apr. 27, earning the Los Angeles Unified School District its 14th national title. Granada Hills — which has three national and three state titles — beat some 450 students from other high school academic decathlon teams nationwide. Students competed in 10 areas including art, economics, essay, interview, language and literature, mathematics, music, science, social science and speech. This year’s theme was Russia. Top-scoring students were honored with individual medals and trophies at the awards ceremony. Dawood R. Zwink has become the first Executive Director of the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC). He has a long history of community service such as, having worked with ISNA and being one of the founders of the Muslim Youth of North America. More recently he worked with the Boy Scouts of Canada, the Somali Relief Fund and the Muslim Observer. MMCC, which has served the community for over 25 years, adopted a new name in 2012 after the merging of the Council of the Islamic Organizations of Michigan (CIOM) and the Islamic Shura Council of Michigan (ISCOM). The shift reflects a new focus on community building and an expanded governing board. The Islamic Society of Corona/Norco (ISCN), founded 1988, is celebrating 25 years of service to the Muslim community. In 2005, ISCN started the phased construction of its masjid, school and community center. 25
AdvancED ( http://www.advanc-ed. org/), the world’s largest education community, services more than 30,000 public and private schools and districts across the U.S. and in more than 70 countries that educate more than 16 million students. “Letters About Literature,” a reading and writing program administered in the Commonwealth by the Massachusetts Center for the Book and nationally by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, asks students to write letters to authors whose works have made a significant difference in their lives. More than 3000 Massachusetts students, including students from Worcester, Mass. based Alhuda Academy in grades four through eight, participated this year and won different awards. Finalist: Grade Six: Muhammad Farrag; Semi-Finalists: Grade Four: Maroua Rahaoui, and Grade Eight: Safa Jawad and Ruqayah Mohammed. Alhuda Academy is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). The finalists will be honored at the State House. Massachusetts Regional Science Fair at Worcester Polytechnic Institute had about 130 projects competing and 170 students from schools all across the central Massachusetts region. Alhuda Academy students placed in one first place project, three second place projects and an honorable mention. Overall, seven Alhuda students placed in the fair. First Place: Ruqayah Mohammed; Second Place: Simrah Ahmed, Haris Waqar, Nurah Ali, Safa Jawad, and Samia Taufeeque. Honorable Mention: Mohamad El-Rifai. Three Tennessee Islamic schools have been granted accreditation by AdvancED: Nashville International Academy, Annoor Academy of Knoxville, Tenn. and Pleasant View School, Memphis, Tenn. 26
In collaboration with the Chime for Change initiative, the internationally renowned magazine Seventeen premiered Ainee Fatima, 22, “an outspoken poet”, writer and activist, and now the first covered Muslim female in its pages, in the May 2013 issue. Among other achievements, the article on Fatima shares that she was one of a few to be handpicked by Hillary Clinton to “challenge stereotypes of Muslim girls in the US.” On the Seventeen magazine article, Fatima states on her Facebook page: “I’m really humbled and honored to announce that I’m working with Gucci, Beyonce for her campaign, Chime for Change and Seventeen Magazine to unite and strengthen the voices speaking out for girls and women around the world.”
Supervisor James Ramos
Despite opposition from neighbors, San Bernardino County supervisors voted 3-1 on May 21, to allow Al-Nur Islamic Center to hold prayer services at an existing house on the 1.54-acre site located between Chino and Montclair.The one-year permit allows up to 30 worshippers for prayer services, five times a day to meet there. Last year, supervisors approved plans for a 7,000-square-foot mosque on the property. A judge, ruling on a suit in February, asked the county to conduct a sewage capacity analysis but dismissed claims related to traffic, noise and other issues. The sanitation issue is expected to be dealt with separately, later. Last August, the center reported that two women had hurled pig carcasses at the house while Muslims were worshipping inside. Sheriff ’s officials investigated the incident as a hate crime and vandalism of a place of worship. Supervisor James Ramos, who made the motion to uphold the permit approval, said “there’s no compelling government interest to not allow this to move forward.”
Zaytuna College has been authorized to operate and award degrees by California’s Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE), a necessary step towards getting accreditation. Zaytuna College received accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), which also accredits well-known universities in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Stanford University and University of California-Berkeley. The BPPE approval indicates Zaytuna’s compliance with the California Education Code and California Code of Regulations standards. The Bureau examined data on, but not limited to, Zaytuna’s mission and objectives, educational programs, faculty
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
qualifications, organization structure, and financial resources and statements.
BPPE recognition indicates that Zaytuna has demonstrated that it is in compliance with standards for fiscal integrity, protection of student rights, safety, instructional quality and institutional stability. Zaytuna College welcomed its first freshman class in 2010 and plans on graduating that class in 2014. Last year, the college bought property in Berkeley and plans to renovate and refurbish it into a full-blown campus.
CORRIGENDUM: IH, May/June 2013, p. 21, cites Sufia Azmat, co-author of the article “Faith, Achievement & Service” as principal of Nur-Ul-Iman School. It is actually Noor-Ul-Iman and not ‘Nur’; and Azmat, is head of the middle school, while Janet Nazif has been serving as principal of Noor-Ul-Iman School for the last 15 years. In reference to our article, “Mutual Support”(May/June 2013), note that Asmah Ahmed operates Couture Swim N’ Sport in collaboration with a Parisian line of modest swimwear and is their exclusive retailer in the U.S. and Canada.
SPACE DONATED BY ISNA
Feryal Salem started as Hartford Seminary’s new assistant professor of Islamic Scriptures and Law, Aug. 2013. Salem has extensive experience in both Islamic Scriptures and Islamic law acquired through her studies and research at the University of Chicago, from where she received her PhD this
summer, as well as from her traditional study of Islam. She has studied abroad in Syria where she received certification to teach Quranic recitation and subjects relating to Islamic law according to a number of schools of practice. She has also completed a degree in hadith sciences at the Nuriyya Hadith Institute of Damascus. Furthermore, she has been an instructor at various academic institutions in the Chicago area for the past three years. Salem will be assisting with the Seminary’s Islamic Chaplaincy Program as well as the Imam Training Program, which is being co-sponsored by the International Institute of Islamic Thought. Since 2010, Salem has been actively working within the Muslim American community to establish the Nur Foundation for Sacred Sciences, which focuses on providing opportunities for education in the Islamic sciences for Muslims living in the West.
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Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
ISNA Canada Convention
Directing Your Inner Balance Muslim Canadian youth help organize a sparkling successful conference By Mariam Munawar
The volunteers did an incredible job transforming ISNA Canada’s headquarters from office space, classrooms and a mosque, into a convention hall.
lhamdulillah, Masha’Allah. Those praises were abounding throughout the weekend at the 39th Annual ISNA Canada Convention. ISNA Canada’s highlight event of the year brought a mix of speakers, activists and artists, along with exciting activities and entertainment, marking a memorable experience for all who attended. The most striking feat of all: the 39th annual convention — held May 17-19 — was primarily organized by a force of more than a hundred youth. This year’s leadership team increased from five in the previous year, to almost 30, with 80 percent being youth. One of the driving forces behind the event’s success, Convention Chair Seema Khan says that empowering the young is to help them nurture and showcase their talents in a positive environment. Being involved in the convention “teaches youth to handle responsibility and learn accountability.” Utilizing her corporate business and project management experience, she helped train volunteers to handle and organize tasks in a disciplined and professional manner. This created a contagious vibe that unleashed ideas that came to life, bringing new initiatives to the convention such as the Matrimonial Mixer, a YouTube video contest, talent show, as well as an in-house recording studio for one-onone interviews with speakers and leaders.
Khan hopes that, through this process, creative, energetic and positive potential leaders will emerge, contributing not only to the Muslim community, but also the society at large. The youth contribution was noticed by many. Abdul Nasser Jangda, a guest speaker, was quite impressed, declaring, “I’ve been blown away by what I have seen and experienced.” Jangda feels the youth are incredibly talented and communities need to give them their own space to lead. He adds that when that happens, “you get what you are getting here [at the convention]. You are getting an unbelievable event and program that tons of people are benefiting from.” Nouman Ali Khan, another guest speaker, was equally impressed. “I’m really happy with the energy I saw here. I feel warm and fuzzy inside when I see young people running around doing stuff.” The speakers’ affairs team, led by Hassan Shabbir, earned many such accolades. The volunteers did an incredible job
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
transforming the Islamic Center of Canada (ICC) — ISNA Canada’s headquarters — from office space, classrooms and a mosque, into a convention hall. The gymnasium became a fully-furnished and wellequipped auditorium. A camera crane and a professional audiovisual crew recorded the proceedings, while a comfortable and sleek backstage area, the gymnasium storage, served the speakers as they waited to address the audience. The office boardroom was transformed into a VIP lounge, the kitchen was converted to a dining hall that served up some of the finest cuisine in the city and the Imam’s office was used to hold a state-of-theart studio for the in-house video interviews with guest speakers. The parking lot was converted into a multicultural festival that included a bazaar, resembling the souks of Morocco — bustling and colorful, the aroma of fresh grilled kabob, though in this case hotdogs and burgers, lingering in the air. Beavertails, a sweet Canadian delicacy, were also served, adding a Canadian feel to the festival. For those of you wondering what beavertails are, they are not borrowed from beavers, but rather a tail-shaped pastry! The parking lot was also used as a children’s festival area with bouncy castles. The kids just couldn’t get enough. Classrooms were used to hold workshops and parallel sessions and the cafeteria became home to the muchanticipated and sold-out Matrimonial Mixer. The regulars, who came to the mosque to pray, were also welcomed by the convention. The prayers halls, when they were not
in use for salah, were fitted with projectors that played the speeches live from the gym next door. This year’s convention theme, Directing Your Inner Balance: Walking the Tight-Rope, featured prominent speakers including Nouman Ali Khan, Abdul Nasir Jangda, Omar Suleiman, Khalid Latif, Dr. Ingrid Mattson, Safaa Zarzour, Dr. Altaf Husain, Imam Mohamed Majid, Abdul Malik Mujahid, Dr. Katherine Bullock and
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick. Entertainers included Tahani Salah, Bonaa Mohammad and Suhaib Abbasi, as well as ISNA Canada’s youth volunteer Ali Gilani, a rising star. It also included ISNA Canada’s very own and loved Abdalla Idris Ali, as well as Sheikh Alaa. The theme’s focus, led by Zaynab Ahdab and her program team, was to draw attention on seeking and applying balance to the many facets of one’s life. The theme tied in naturally with some of the highlights of the convention, beyond the lectures and entertainment sessions. The Matrimonial Mixer, led by Nooreen Hussain, was a casual space where individuals could meet and interact through informal activities designed to help them get to know one another. Hussain sent out a cautious and humorous email warning that no nikahs would take place at the event, so participants should play it cool! Another highlight was the YouTube competition, under the guidance of Janan Sinclair as the marketing team lead, which encouraged the community to submit videos on how they interpret the convention theme. The event elicited some artistic, witty and creative entries. After heart-warming Sunday evening lectures by Omar Suleiman and Dr. Altaf Husain, attendees enjoyed a spellbinding display outdoors as guest speakers and organizers brought forth multitudes of small Chinese lanterns. Lighting each lantern together, they released these flickering golden specks into the night sky, illuminating the horizon like fluttering fireflies which signalled the end to a spectacular weekend and the beginning of the yearlong wait for the next ISNA Canada Convention.
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Sign up today to donate through EFT. www.isna.net/donate 29
Islamic Horizonsâ€ƒ July/August 2013
Are Muslim communities sufficiently aware of the benefits from the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act?
Mosque Builders Have Rights Daniel P. Dalton
magine that your mosque’s committee finds the ideal lot, located in an easily accessible part of town, off a busy road, with adequate parking and a spacious building that can be easily converted to a worship facility. Better yet, the bank owns the property through foreclosure and the mosque can purchase the property for pennies on the dollar. After determining the value, an offer to purchase is submitted, accepted and the mosque becomes owner of the land. Plans are drawn up for the renovation of the new facility, a celebration is planned and dignitaries are invited for the grand opening. Then, the team leader arrives at the building one morning and sees a large red sticker on the door that says: “STOP WORK/ NO ENTRY.” A call to the local building office confirms the worst fear. The mainstream community has concluded that the property is located in a zoning district that does not allow religious assembly use as of right or by special land use approval.
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
Building for the Community
Before purchasing the property, communities must make sure that the zoning allows religious assembly. Zoning, the legal authority granted to local governments from a state through its constitution to local government through enabling legislation, gives local communities the ability to regulate the use of land within their boundaries. Congress found that religious entities have too often been treated unequally in comparison with secular assembly counterparts in regards to municipalities enforcing local land use ordinances. They attempted to remedy it by unanimously passing the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”) 42 USC 2000cc. This law, cosponsored by Senators Orin Hatch (R-Utah) and (now late) Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), was Congress’s response to the Supreme Court’s decision in City of Boerne v. Flores, where the Court ruled that Congress, in enacting a predecessor religious land use law, exceeded its enforcement power under Section 5 of the 14th Amendment by “contradict[ing] vital
principles necessary to maintain separation of powers and the federal balance” City of Boerne, 521 U.S. at 536. Congress enacted RLUIPA with five separate causes of action for religious discrimination. They are: 1. Substantial Burden. Congress provided that “No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that imposes a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person, including a religious assembly or institution, unless the government demonstrates the imposition of the burden on that person, assembly or institution is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest. 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc (a)(1) and (2)(c). 2. Equal Terms. No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that treats a religious assembly or institution on less than equal terms with
a nonreligious assembly or institution. 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc (b)(1). 3. Nondiscrimination. No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation that discriminates against any assembly or institution on the basis of religion or religious denomination. 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc (b)(2). 4. Exclusions. No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation that totally excludes religious assemblies from a jurisdiction 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc (b)(3)(A) 5. Unreasonable limitations. No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation that unreasonably limits religious assemblies, institutions, or structures within a jurisdiction. 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc (b)(3)(B). Congress also provided for damages and court-ordered relief as a remedy for violation of RLUIPA, along with intervention from the Department of Justice to remedy reli-
So you’re building a mosque? By Mark W. Daniel
hroughout the United States, zoning and subdivision, as well as other land use laws, govern the use of land at the state, county or municipal level. Zoning ordinances intend to guide new development, the re-use of land and existing uses of land according to set series of regulations that should apply uniformly to various and several types of land uses. Religious institutions must know the zoning and land use regulations required obligations and restrictions, and this awareness should be well-versed in advance of land acquisition. Many common errors and assumptions are entirely avoidable. Religious institutions and other users of all faiths enjoy constitutional protection through the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and various state laws intend to protect faith establishments.
Financing and Site Selection Most communities will require some type of financing. At a minimum, someone creating a place of worship for others will also want to limit risk where possible. The first step towards development of a religious institution is typically the formation of a not-for-profit corporation and securing authorization to operate as a tax-exempt charitable or other type 32
of organization under the Internal Revenue Code. The costs and expenses relating to site location and acquisition should be maintained and accounted for using distinct accounts in order to manage funds appropriately. Statements made during the process of obtaining tax-exempt status or in the charter for the not-for-profit can affect the path of a land use application later, so close attention should be given even at this early stage. A clear definition of the immediate and future needs of a religious assembly is a must. Faith groups must avoid offering too much information about their intentions until they have been allowed the right to use the selected land. The project and its scope must be discussed privately until they file for zoning or building, and an individual must be designated to handle publicity of the project’s scope. Significant fears can arise in neighbors when a community member broadcasts misinformation about a project, and this can cause greatly increased expense. Communities will often look for locations where there is an existing assembly or some type of similar use that can be converted. Alternatively, a community can convert a dissimilar use. In both instances there are significant considerations of property size and surrounding uses that could be affected (or be offensive), traffic and utilities. Cost of the land is typically a controlling factor, but responsible and early determination Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
Senator Orin Hatch (R-Utah)
gious discrimination in zoning ordinances. Congress mandated a broad interpretation of the Act, as RLUIPA should be interpreted “in favor of a broad protection of religious exercise, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of RLUIPA and the Constitution” and the “use, building, or conversion of real property for the purpose of religious
Late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.)
exercise shall be considered to be religious exercise of the person or entity that uses or intends to use the property for that purpose.” Finally, Congress defined a “land use regulation” as “a zoning or land marking law, or the application of such a law, that limits or restricts a claimant’s use or development of land (including a structure affixed to land),
of site development will identify potentially significant and occasionally ruinous development costs and limitations.
Professional Team Selection The community should select a professional team once its preliminary goal setting is completed. The team should have at least informal input in the site selection process. The team initially consists of an architect, a civil engineer, a land planner and an attorney specializing in zoning and land use within the locality. The two greatest problems experienced in mosque development are related to selecting the wrong attorney and getting the professional team involved too late. The smaller problems can all be addressed. Too many people pinch pennies, fail to check into their lawyer, insist on relying on someone from within the community, or think that they can succeed in operating under the radar. A real estate attorney may not necessarily be competent in land use and zoning. Failures in selection of legal counsel have led to delays and even the collapse of one of more zoning applications by the same group. Other professionals who will frequently play active roles in the planning of a project are traffic consultants, real estate appraisers and impact analysts, well and septic professionals, landscape architects, hydrologists, professors and educators in religion, structural engineers and others. Larger existing communities may often consider retaining a public relations firm not only for damage control but also for efficient fundraising and community outreach. Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
if the claimant has an ownership, leasehold, easement, servitude, or other property interest in the regulated land or a contract or option to acquire such an interest.” Since RLUIPA was adopted 13 years ago, litigation surrounding the statute has been ever-evolving. Several mosques have benefitted from RLUIPA-based decisions.
Identification of Site Development Needs Site selection involves a combination of common sense, understanding the area’s trends of development and land use acumen that will involve several meetings and consideration of matters that are too broad for this article. However, once a site has been selected for review by the professional team, several concerns will be addressed with a sense of finality. These include: (a) the current and possible future zoning of the property; (b) the existing land use rights and whether they will continue upon transfer; (c) the nature of surrounding land uses; (d) storm water flow and site detention and retention options; (e) traffic flow internally and on public streets and highways; (f) parking and loading mandates; (g) site planning and compliance with bulk requirements, setbacks and buffering requirements; (h) if an assemblage of land is an issue, whether subdivision is required and the extent of burdens arising under the subdivision code; (i) structural and architectural analysis of existing facilities that will be converted; and (j) access to utilities. Once the community identifies a lot for acquisition, it will eventually proceed with an offer to purchase, which should typically contain provisions that allow them to withdraw from the contract if the use is not possible or approved by local authorities. Any community purchasing land without a proper land use contingency, among others, must have full awareness of the risks of taking property ownership title in its current state. Notably, the ordinary financing, survey and title commitment contingencies may not allow for withdrawal if zoning and other land use approvals are not available. 33
Building for the Community zoning ordinance amendment that was not in effect when the Center submitted its application. An amended application then went before the County Development Committee, which recommended approval and then denied approval. The Court also allowed the Islamic Center’s “class of one” equal protection claim to go forward even though the Center had not yet named a similarly situated comparator, and the Center could also proceed on claims of religious discrimination pursuant to the Illinois Constitution. In another matter, Irshad Learning Center v. County of DuPage, (ND IL, March 29, 2013), an Illinois federal district court ruled that the county violated the substantial burden provisions of RLUIPA and the Illinois Religious Freedom Act Restoration Act, as well as the free exercise provisions of the United States and Illinois constitutions in denying a Muslim religious and educational group a conditional use permit to use certain property for religious and educational purposes. The case will soon be set for trial. Murfreesboro, Tenn. After praying in a variety of locations more than a 30 year period, and two years
The Entitlement Process The zoning and land use entitlement process involves multiple agencies with jurisdiction over different aspects of the development. The community will eventually develop site and occupancy plans that meet its needs for worship, religious education or other services. From this planning process, they may be able to go directly to the building permitting process at the agency with jurisdiction. This typically occurs when the religious land use of the type to be offered is a permitted use in the zoning district. In many zoning districts, the religious land use may be a conditional use or special use — one that can be pursued only after proper approval by the zoning authorities. Such religious use may require a variance or exception from the ordinary application of the zoning or other land use and building regulations, an approval that may be within the power of the zoning authorities or the zoning administrator. In all of these cases, some form of an application will be required. Careful attention to the application is critical. Information necessary to the application must be submitted, but excessive information poses a risk to the community being pigeon-holed into a use that it does not intend or one that it cannot avoid without significant expense later when the service or outreach provided is no longer as desired as another potential component of use. Some communities require a certificate of zoning compliance be issued by an administrator in advance of the approval of a building permit application while other communities simply include zoning compliance as one analysis that proceeds during building review. Regardless of the form of any zoning decision, be it a denial of a building permit or the denial of a certificate of zoning compliance, the community should pay close attention to the basis for the denial and determine whether it wishes to appeal while also understanding the impact of the appeal on construction time lines and on any pending contract. 34
after announcing and securing approvals to build a new 12,000 sq. ft. building, last year, a federal judge ordered the city to issue occupancy permits prior to Ramadan. The Center’s members include immigrants as well as American converts. Many said that before the opposition to their new building they had always found Murfreesboro to be a welcoming community. When the Islamic center received permission to construct a new mosque to replace their overcrowded space in an office park, the congregants had to deal with public protests, vandalism, arson of a construction vehicle and a bomb threat. The project’s opponents held a protest rally and then sued the county to stop construction. However, after months of litigation and issuance of court orders permitting construction to continue and occupancy to be approved, the center opened. Alpharetta, Ga. In Islamic Center of North Fulton, Inc. v. City of Alpharetta, Georgia, the center sought a permit to expand its present facilities — two 2,500 sq. ft. structures — and create a 12,032 sq. ft. mosque and 1,910 sq. ft. community hall on its four-acre prop-
When a zoning application is required, the same guidelines concerning the application apply. In the context of these applications, the community must understand the risks and benefits of the approval, as well as the burdens associated with going forward. Preliminary budgets for professional services must be reviewed and the post-approval burdens on the owner following approval must be fully understood. Even after obtaining preliminary zoning clearance, the community Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Ten must continue to understand whether its project meets all of the local zoning requirements and other ordinances because a staff error will not typically bind the zoning authority. A conditional or special use application is one that should be approved unless there are factors tied to the development of the use at the location proposed that render it particularly offensive when compared to these same factors in play on the array of other properties and uses in the zoning district. In other words, is there something about this use at this location that is uniquely objectionable? There are several opinions concerning this very question that relate to traffic, lighting, stormwater and parking and most of these consider that the special use is an approved use subject to something truly unique. As noted in Dalton’s article (p. 30 Mosque Builders Have Rights), before a denial can be viewed as proper, the evidence concerning the uniqueness must be compelling and the community must be unable to mitigate the unique problem through conditions imposed on the use during the approval process. A variance or exception is distinguishable from a special or conditional use because the variance or exception authorizes something that Photo Credit: AP/Mark Humphrey
DuPage County, Ill. Two recent federal court decisions allowed an Islamic congregation to proceed with religious land use discrimination claims. In Islamic Center of Western Suburbs v. County of DuPage, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179042 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 18, 2012), the Center purchased land, which was zoned single-family residential, on which to create a permanent place of worship. In DuPage “religious institutions,” which included mosques and other Islamic religious facilities, were authorized conditional uses in single-family residential districts as long as the County preapproved the use. The County’s multi-step approval process starts with filing a conditional use application with the Zoning Board of Appeals. They submitted an application that met or exceeded all regulations in the county’s zoning ordinance. Despite its finding that the Center’s proposed conditional use complied with the zoning ordinance, the board voted to deny the application out of concern that if the Center chose to develop at a different site in the future, the current site could become vacant or blighted. The board also determined that the proposed use did not meet a recent
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
erty. The City Council unanimously denied the request, citing an apparent promise the Islamic Center of North Fulton (ICNF) made in 2004 not to seek further expansion of its facilities. However, ICNF asserts that its current facilities are inadequate to serve the needs of its approximately 600 members and that the city’s decision to deny its expansion plans imposes a substantial burden on the Center’s religious exercise, in violation of RLUIPA. The city, however, claims that ICNF has not been unfairly targeted because of its religious nature and that it has itself created the burden by choosing a four-acre tract of land that was surrounded by homes. One of the appellate judges noted that this “case cries out for some kind of settlement,” and further provided that if the parties could not come to some sort of agreement within 120 days, the court would be forced to make its own ruling and one party would lose. San Diego, Calif. A recent case pursued by this author in the Southern District of California asked whether the city of San Diego imposed a substantial burden on a Catholic school when
it denied building permits to construct new facilities on its campus. In Academy of Our Lady of Peace v. City of San Diego, the school’s modernization plan met all of the city zoning and planning requirements and the state’s land use laws (CEQA). The City Development Services recommended approval and the Planning Commission unanimously approved the modernization plan. The City Council held a hearing on the appeal in Jan. 2009, but withheld its decision. Soon after, one Council member, whose district included the school and was elected to office merely weeks before the decision was made, met with a City staff planning member and requested that the staff member reverse his earlier findings that supported the Academy of Our Lady of Peace’s (OLP) plan. The staff member felt obligated to change his decision, even though he had never before been asked to make reverse findings, because of political pressure placed on him. Once the staff recommendation changed, the City Council met and voted to deny the modernization plan. The neighbors then hosted a fundraiser and paid off the councilmember’s campaign debt.
is not permitted under the ordinance while a special or conditional use allows something that is expressly permitted subject of concern over unique circumstances. The burdens relating to a variation or exception are typically couched in terms of whether the community will face practical difficulty or particular hardship as a result of the regulations. Evidence supporting the need for the variation or exception should focus on the particular variation at hand, the nature of the difficulty or hardship and its causes. A community with a comparatively large parcel or a lot that is part of a pre-existing development may have the opportunity to consider whether it can apply for a planned development approval or a modification to a planned development. If this opportunity exists, the locality may have the ability to approve a land use that does not meet the strict terms of the ordinances and it can often do so without having to find that the applicant met the burdens and standards for a variation or exception. A public zoning hearing will be required in many instances. At this hearing, the applicant presents its case under oath and faces questions from the zoning authorities, neighbors and parallel government agencies. The neighbors and parallel agencies may also present evidence for or against the proposed development. Ample preparation going into the hearing process is necessary. Typically, a neighborhood open house will allow a community to introduce the use and its members to the neighbors. A member from the professional team might also attend this open house. Additionally, the members of the professional team will often communicate with those officials that have review authority before the Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
After nearly four years of litigation, the case proceeded to trial in Oct., 2012. The city denied any improper conduct, and instead contended that their actions were required under state law. On Oct. 19, 2012, the jury disagreed with the city and awarded OLP more than $1.1 million in damages — the largest jury verdict to date. The case later settled in Feb. 2013 and construction will begin soon. So what should a mosque do when faced with a “zoning denial” after finding and purchasing the ideal worship facility? First, before purchasing the property make sure that the zoning allows religious assembly. If the zoning does not permit religious use, work with an experienced attorney and planner to determine if the mosque can legally challenge the use by application of RLUIPA or a related state law and the First Amendment Free Exercise Clause. Then move forward to pursue your dream of a new mosque.
Daniel Dalton, co-founder and partner of the Bloomfield Hills, Mi. based Dalton & Tomich, plc (www.daltontomich. com), represents religious entities nationwide in land use and zoning matters.
hearing on matters of transportation planning, stormwater planning, fire protection and access, utilities and other issues that are pertinent. These efforts can be communicated at hearing, but the real benefit is that neighbors can raise issues that do not appear in surveys, visual inspection, soils reports, drainage plans and the like. Knowing these concerns in advance is often critical to having appropriate responses at hearing. The community must understand the identity of the final decision maker and its elected or appointed members. The community should plan for opposition, no matter how laudable the plan can be. Opposition in zoning cases has become remarkably more organized over the years, and objectors have ready access to Internet reports, site data and professional input. No one on the professional team should operate from mere assumptions because determined neighbors will fights on many fronts.
Public Relations A community needs to understand its options following a denial before embarking on a PR campaign directly or through another group that serves religious land users in general or in a particular faith. Management of the message is critical. Cooperation with other faith leaders is also very important and has benefited those seeking zoning relief when they work to assist the decision maker. Anyone cooperating with the applicant will need to know whether litigation is likely and the messaging can change drastically in any given setting where litigation is an option. In the Chicago area, for example, the Council on American Islamic Relations and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago have proven indispensable in various land use contexts whether or not there were other faiths involved.
Mark W. Daniel is a Elmhurst, Ill., based attorney.
Yes, there is Halal Investing
The list of non-permissible investments is not just confined to gambling or alcohol or pornography, but also includes merchants of death. by Joshua Brockwell
ost people know the Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. In fact, Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said that believers love for others what they love for themselves. It means more than just how to deal with people face-to-face: a smile or holding the door for them. A part of treating others well is helping organizations that benefit society. That’s where halal, lawful, investing comes in. By investing with companies and organizations that engage in ethical business practices, one is lending society a helping hand. And all benefit when the money is directed toward worthwhile ventures that do not lead to unfair outcomes.
The point about “worthwhile ventures” is important. Lawful investing means investing toward responsible activities that benefit other people, rewarding groups that engage in good and permissible behavior and, through the withholding of investment, punishing those that promote harmful social practices. And the proscribed list is not just 36
confined to gambling, or alcohol, or pornography, but also includes merchants of death. Investors should never hesitate in alerting their fund managers about any suspect activity because even an atom of illicit can contaminate a whole pot. Muslims believe that God is the owner of wealth and that they must dispense with it in a manner consistent
with His demands. Lawful investing allows them to further this goal.
Digging deeper How does someone know with certainty that they are investing in a halal way? The simple answer is that they have to filter or screen out businesses engaged in questionable or outright impermissible ventures. The first step in the screening process is to exclude any company whose lines of business are prohibited by Islamic sacred law. The law does not allow investment in companies that may harm society in some notable way. The second step is to look closely at the financial paperwork from the companies that passed the first step. This information is easily accessible online thanks to the robust disclosure and reporting requirements for publicly traded companies in the United States. The paperwork tells a lot about the company, including information about its
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The Islamic Association of Collin County (IACC) (Plano Masjid) is looking for a full time Imam. The Masjid and Islamic Center, established in 1992, currently supports:
A core concept in Islam is that God is the owner of all wealth and that human beings are its trustees. So, they need to manage their wealth according to His commands. value and how much money it owes. To find a lawful investment opportunity, a company’s financial ratios have to meet certain criteria to make sure that it isn’t heavily indebted or deriving a significant amount of income from interest.
The institutional advantage So how does one know for sure which lines of business are impermissible and how the formulas for debt ratios are derived? Not everyone agrees on the right way to go about screening out the impermissible, let alone the questionable candidates for investment. So, it helps to have a set of universally applied standards. For that reason among others, an international entity called the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI; http://www.aaoifi.com/aaoifi/) was established in 1990. This organization, which functions like the Financial Accounting Standards Board does for conventional finance, issues guidelines for Islamic financial organizations and their products. AAOIFI’s Shari’ah Advisory Board consists of a group of world class scholars, specifically those with an extensive background in the fiqh (jurisprudence) of trade and transactions. They come together from different parts of the world and from different schools of thought to issue international Islamic finance standards. These standards are reviewed annually and published in comprehensive text books. AAOIFI even trains others to learn the ropes of lawful investing. AAOIFI offers financial professionals an extensive program to be certified as a Shari’ah Auditor and Advisor — the Central Stations Alarm Association designation. Using AAOIFI guidelines helps to ensure that the investments genuinely comply with Islamic principles. They’re a great way to help make an investor’s portfolio lawful.
Invest with faith A core concept in Islam is that God is the owner of all wealth and that human beings are its trustees. So, they need to manage their wealth according to His commands. This is accomplished in many ways, one of which is by investing in worthwhile, socially responsible enterprises that benefit society. Taking care of our money and using it wisely is so important that our scholars have deemed the preservation of wealth as one of the five major purposes of Islamic sacred law. However you choose to invest your money, it is important to do so after educating yourself. Knowledge is the imam of action, as the saying goes, and we should all take the means to understand this important part of our religion.
Joshua Brockwell is Investment Communications Director at Azzad Asset Management, an SEC-registered wealth management firm.
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Services: 1) Currently IACC has more than 600 Sunday School Students, 100 plus students in Quranic programs, 50 students in other programs. 2) IACC has full time hifdh programs, Nadhira programs, evening part time hifdh programs, adults Quranic classes, professional development education, and SAT preparation activities. 3) Current and future education programs are highly potential feeders to higher education programs including Aalim Program. 4) Community services include medical clinic for needy families, weekly food-bank, counseling, and financial assistance programs. Facilities: 1) IACC consists of over 50,000 sq. ft. of facilities with separate prayer halls for men and women, 16 classrooms, conference room, offices, library, gymnasium, separate fitness rooms for men and women, cafeteria style kitchen. 2) IACC is located in North Texas in a low crime rate area in the nation, lower congestion, in an all American city full of amenities i.e. libraries, parks, civic centers, culture. Required Imam Qualifications: 1) A minimum of a 4 year university degree in Islamic Studies from a recognized Islamic institution. (an equivalent of certified Alim degree), 2) Hafidh of the Quran with proper Tajweed, 3) 3-6 Years of experience as an Imam/scholar in the West, 4) Fluency in Arabic and English, 5) Excellent communication skills and ability to connect with a diverse community, 6) A visionary and leader who can guide and unite the community. Expected Tasks and Responsibilities: 1) Lead daily Salat(s) including Jumma Khutbah, and Taraweeh in Ramadan. 2) Delivers one weekly Halaqah and 3 short Khatirah to address the spiritual and religious needs of the community. 3) Oversee and participate in a quarterly workshop where scholars are invited to teach the community on specific topics. 4) Delivers weekly sisters and youth Halaqah. 5) Lead funeral services, Nikah/Divorce, visiting the sick as needed. 6) Provide religious counseling services for family issues, disputes (mediation and arbitration) from Islamic perspective only. Further counseling will be conducted by a licensed professional. 7) Oversees educational activities in the Masjid such as Hifdh program, Nadhira and Sunday school programs. He is expected to oversee and contribute to curriculum and to consult when needed. 8) Youth Tarbiyah through interaction, motivational talks and teaching and leading by example. 9) Participate in, and lead “Dawah” and interfaith programs with neighboring institutions in the wider Collin County community. Compensation: Qualified candidate will be offered a competitive financial package to include paid annual vacation, health and dental benefits, optional housing allowance, annual bonus, relocation assistance where needed. Interested candidates must apply by sending their resumes to email@example.com or contact Br Imtiaz Jeenah at 469-939-7786. 6401 Independence Parkway • Plano, Texas 75023 Tel: 972-491-5800 • Fax: 972-208-6482 Web: www.planomasjid.org
Those struggling with pornography addiction often lead lives shrouded in fear, guilt, shame, low self-esteem and helplessness.
An Unexpected Blessing By Aruba Mahmud
he lives of Muslims struggling with pornography addiction are often shrouded in fear, guilt, secrecy, shame, low selfesteem and hopelessness. Since 2009, Zeyad Ramadan, a life coach based in Orange County, Calif., has sought to overcome social stigmas and help Muslims dealing with sexual addictions through the Purify Your Gaze (PYG; www.purifyyourgaze.com) program. Ramadan launched PYG, receiving support from several Muslim scholars and organizations, including Productive Muslim (http://productivemuslim.com/), Sheikh Faraaz Rabbani, ICNA and DiscoverU (http://discoveru.kajabi. com/sq/12356-discover-u), all of whom promoted the program through joint videos and events, their own websites or mailing lists and social media platforms. Ramadan’s videos have been viewed by more than 40,000 Muslims and PYG has continued to expand. Ramadan told Islamic Horizons, “at Purify Your Gaze, we’ve dedicated ourselves to a single purpose: helping Muslims struggling with sex addiction and their families find hope and healing. This is our calling.”
“No one wants to be an addict” All of the PYG members interviewed (for Islamic Horizons) first accessed pornogra-
phy online around age 13, never imaging at the time that it would lead to addiction. Sameer*, 28, a medical resident, who recently celebrated his 5th wedding anniversary, explains how one defining characteristic of an addiction is interference with one’s daily life. Several members explain how their academic performance, personal life and well-being suffered due to their addiction. Br. 2000*, a 20-year-old American, says he was 12 when the addiction “really started to take hold,” while Y*, 26, was 13 when he realized he “had
an issue.” He struggled to fight the urge to search online pornography, even when family members were nearby. Although many of the members have now opened up to family, many had kept their addiction a secret at some point. Samiyah*, 20, who was addicted at age 12, addresses the Muslim community, “I don’t think I need to say that we’re not dirty perverted people who have raging hormones that simply can’t stop themselves. No one wants to be an addict and we didn’t try or want to become addicts.” Br. 2000 would feel extreme anger and frustration after relapsing.
It was this frustration that led him to seek out help and the PYG program.
As addictive as Heroin? Michael John Cusick, a minister, author of the book “Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle” and a recovered addict, writes, “The brain of a person regularly using porn can change and shape itself to resemble neuropathways similar to those of an alcoholic or drug addict. Without understanding porn’s impact on the brain, too many people either quit trying to change or carry unnecessary guilt and shame when their spiritual zeal and will power aren’t enough.” This guilt and shame is common amongst those suffering from sexual addictions. Ramadan says PYG aims to provide addicts with “a safe-haven and an environment based on the Prophetic model of mercy to heal their wounds and improve their condition without shame, fear of blame or despair.” This approach is often a relief for PYG members. Many have come to believe that they lack will power and if they only fast, have taqwah and get married, their addiction will disappear. This was the case for Sameer, who married at a young age, believing it was the “solution” to his addiction. First “dabbling” in pornography at age 12, and addicted by 16, Sameer, like most members of PYG, is a practicing Muslim, regarded as a role model in his community. He felt he was leading a “double life,” being seen as a model Muslim,
At Purify Your Gaze, we’ve dedicated ourselves to a single purpose: help Muslims struggling with sex addiction and their families find hope and healing. This is our calling.”
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
while struggling with a pornography addiction that threatened his marriage. This feeling is common amongst members of the program, many of whom have studied and memorized the Quran, travelled abroad to study Islam and are active members of their communities. Most are successful students and professionals, exacerbating the feeling of hypocrisy, particularly when they have been taught a “good” Muslim would not struggle with addiction. As noted by Samiyah, “An addict cannot be helped by simply being told to fast or to fear God. For real recovery, an addict needs professional help and an accepting and loving support system.” She further notes, “…pornography addiction is more widespread than you might think. Muslims are not immune to sin and are not immune to addiction either.” Misbah*, a 24-year-old Canadian, adds, “[Pornography addiction is] a way to escape from life and its challenges. It’s a drug you numb out from, and it has changed your brain chemistry. This is not to make one feel hopeless, because the brain can be rewired and that is very reassuring, Alhumdulillah. Many, through the help of ustadh Zeyad and his program, have lived this reality.”
Understanding, not blaming PYG helps members of the program discover the underlying issues that led to addiction, such as childhood trauma and abuse, bullying and low self-esteem, which cannot be resolved by “quick fix” solutions. Misbah, who joined chatrooms as a teenager due to bullying and loneliness searching for belonging, says, “I didn’t recognize I was behaving that way because of wounds, some as deep as my childhood.” She notes the program helped her accept herself. She says, “It was as if all the lights switched on. I got to understand why I even indulged in the addiction in the first place, the root causes.” Sameer explains he learned over the recovery to stop blaming others and take responsibility for himself. The program is not a ‘cure,’ but rather a source of guidance and support. Misbah states, “I’ve learned that the road to recovery is a journey, not a destination. That sounds pretty radical and probably not reassuring to the reader, because I wanted a quick fix, as well. But really, it’s a beautiful journey where you actualize your true potential. You find Allah (swt) in it. You find that person that was lost amidst the addiction, that true you.” Sameer explains in PYG, two key con-
cepts are “acting out,” engaging in the behavior, and “sobriety,” abstaining and internally reaching a state of tranquility. Simply not acting out is not attaining sobriety. Sameer has not acted out in approximately a year, and, with the help of PYG, has gotten his “life in order.” However, he adds, “by no means would I consider myself sober. Sobriety is a lifelong journey and struggle that you constantly have to reassess and work towards.” Sr. Dove*, a 22-year-old Britisher, who has been sober for two years, learned about PYG and the true nature of addiction from Ramadan’s article published on Suhaib Webb’s website.“Prior to the article,” she says,” I don’t think I really grasped the reality of my addiction.”
A blessing in Disguise Br. 2000 says that while the Muslim community views this as “the most difficult problem to have,” he has benefitted from his experience. His addiction pushed him to correct his life. Other tests might not have. He says, “This was the test that was chosen for me and I can’t be anything more than grateful.” These sentiments are shared by other members of the program. Sameer says, “The only reason that Allah (swt) tests you is because He loves you.” Sameer also remembers how Ramadan helped him realize, for the first time, there was hope. He recalls Ramadan telling him, “Even amidst the situation that you are in, the doors to Jannah and Allah’s forgiveness are wide open.” Many members see their addiction as an opportunity to realize their true purpose: servitude to God. Samiyah states, “I learned what it means to be a Muslim, someone who totally submits to Allah (swt). I learned that at the core, all I had to do was finally stop depending on myself all the time and thinking that I am the one that has to hold everything together, and just submit. This program taught me how.” Throughout the interviews, members and graduates expressed their gratitude for Ramadan’s work. Dove shares, “A friend looked at me for a while and told me I looked like I blossomed. I knew it was recovery.” It was clear how much the program has helped members when Sameer plainly states, “If it wasn’t for Zeyad Ramadan and his program, I wouldn’t be married anymore. It’s just that simple.” Addressing other addicts, Samiyah offers some words of support and encouragement, “You are not alone. There is a way out. It will not be easy, but there is support here. There
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
is love and acceptance for you. We are part of a community of addicts and recovering addicts and will always be here. Just take the first step and reach out.”
*All names have been changed to protect privacy Aruba Mahmud is currently pursuing her PhD in Education, Equity & Social Justice at Western University in London, Ont., Canada.
H amadeh Educational Services, Inc.
Hamadeh Educational Services (HES) is accepting applications for the 2013-14 school year for the following positions: o School Principal o Dean of Student Affairs o Core Subject Specialist o Teachers o Substitute/Paraprofessional As a premier provider of Pre-K through 12th grade educational services, HES offers an innovative, world-class education at the following tuition-free public school academies in the State of Michigan: * Star International Academy * Universal Academy * Universal Learning Academy * Noor International Academy The Academies mission is to provide their students with a quality education that focuses on the core curriculum and international cultures. The academies provide an education of the whole child by integrating different diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds to their collegepreparatory program serving families in the Greater Detroit area. We are looking for candidates who: o are Michigan State certified and highly qualified educators. o have a passion for academic excellence. o are globally minded, appreciating and upholding diversity and multicultural awareness. o are committed to helping children grow academically, personally and socially. SALARY: Commensurate with qualifications and experience BENEFITS: Health, Dental, Vision, Life & Disability, 401(K), Tuition Reimbursement and more. Interested applicants may contact apply online at http://careers.hesedu.com/ or contact the Human Resources office, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone at 313-565-0507 ext. 505 Hamadeh Educational Services is an Equal Opportunity/ Affirmative Action Employer.
Muslims in Action
Bay Area Muslims: Outgoing and Engaged
ics and practitioners wishing to pursue further research, as well as for the community and its leaders, philanthropists and foundations, policymakers and the general public.
Muslim Americans volunteer at twice the rate of general American public.
A Diverse Community
By Farid Senzai and Hatem Bazian
cross the country, the Muslim population is growing and settling in major metropolitan areas. The San Francisco Bay Area has become one of the nation’s largest concentrations of Muslims. Nearly 250,000 Muslims, or about 3.5 percent of the entire Bay Area population, live in the six counties surrounding the city of San Francisco. Over the past 30 years, the Bay Area in general and the Muslim population in particular, has experienced significant growth brought on by the region’s economic transformation and the emergence of an information technology industry that requires a massive infusion of educated and skilled labor. This growth has resulted in the proliferation of mosques as well as community institutions. A newly-released study published by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) provides a detailed examination into this community. The Bay Area Muslim Study: Establishing Identity and Community is a groundbreaking study providing valuable data on the community’s demographics, sense of identity, economic well being, political and civic engagement and challenges. The study surveyed more than 1,100 Bay Area Muslims, and found a tremendously diverse community that should not be viewed as a monolith. The resulting data is useful for academ40
The study offers a historical, religious and cultural context for a community that is often misunderstood and misrepresented in mainstream schools and communities.
The Bay Area Muslim community is one of the nation’s most diverse, hailing from across the globe with more than a third (34 percent) born in the U.S. Those that are foreign-born have immigrated from more than 50 different countries and close to two-thirds of its residents under the age of 18 are the children of immigrants. Those that have emigrated from abroad sought economic and educational opportunities or fled strife, violence and economic hardship. The Bay Area also hosts a significant number African American Muslims and a growing number of converts. Many Muslims work in Silicon Valley, but survey results show
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
the existence of clear regional socioeconomic disparities. The region is also attractive to immigrants because its diverse and inclusive atmosphere allows religious and cultural diversity to flourish.
Religious Practice and Identity On the whole, the majority of participants stated that religion is important in their daily lives. A majority reported that they prayed five times a day, considered him or herself religious and identified themselves as Sunni Muslim. Based on the survey, more than half of the respondents identified as Muslims first (54 percent), felt that the Muslim experience has affected their life greatly and felt that they have a fair or great amount in common with other Muslims (84 percent). Most of the respondents (68 percent) reported attending a mosque at least once a week. The survey indicated that just over 11 percent of the respondents were converts to Islam.
Volunteerism and Engagement The study reports that the Muslims are actively engaged in their communities with 62 percent of our respondents saying they had volunteered in the past year (as opposed to 27 percent of the general public). African Amer-
ican Muslims were the most likely to have volunteered, with 80 percent saying they had done so during the last 12 months. Bay Area Muslims, it said, are civically engaged, well educated, believe that Islam is compatible with political participation and making charitable contributions at a high level. It found that many of them, regardless of their type of civic engagement, can be seen as ‘promoting the quality of life’ in their communities and that volunteer efforts were not limited to Muslim community causes. The survey suggested that Muslims who attend the mosque once a week or more were the most likely to have volunteered in the past year (72 percent). Muslims who rarely or never attend the mosque were the least likely to volunteer (25 percent). The study offers a historical, religious and cultural context for a community that is often misunderstood and misrepresented in mainstream schools and communities. For the first time, this report gathers quantitative and qualitative research about the needs of the Bay Area Muslim community and suggests recommendations for philanthropy, public agencies and the private sector. It also provides recommendations for community leaders, local philanthropic organizations and policymakers and offer a blueprint for future
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
studies on American Muslim communities. Supporters of the study include the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, The San Francisco Foundation, Marin Community Foundation and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), who partnered with the One Nation Foundation to create the One Nation Bay Area project in 2010 and subsequently
commissioned ISPU to produce the report.
Farid Senzai, a fellow and the director of research at ISPU, is an assistant professor of political science at Santa Clara University. Hatem Bazian, a senior lecturer in the department of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies at University of California, Berkeley, is co-founder and Academic Affairs Chair at Zaytuna College, the nation’s first four-year liberal arts Muslim college.
The full report can be found at www.ispu.org
Politics and Society
Making a Farce of Faith
Where do we draw the line between comedy and insult? By Deanna Othman
his past May, a birthday card made headlines for its provocative messaging. A member of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) discovered the card, which features a doll on the cover donning the hijab, in a Chicago store. The card reads, “Pull string for message if you dare!” “She’ll love you to death!” and “She’ll blow your brains out!” on the cover. Inside, the card reads, “Hope your birthday is a blow out!”
The card plays into the stereotypical portrayal of the Muslim as nothing more than a self-detonating ticking time bomb. Not funny, if only because this is such a hackneyed trope. At the surface, many may see no problem with this offensive, insensitive attempt at humor. I mean, come on, don’t Muslims have a sense of humor? Bill Maher once said, “Muslims still take their religion too seriously, whereas we have the good sense to blow it off.” So why are Muslim always complaining about cartoons and birthday cards? Isn’t all fair in comedy and war? The case of a terrorist doll as the caricature of a Muslim embodies and perpetuates the proliferation of racist stereotypes in American culture. Is there is a place for racism under the guise of parody in American culture today? But why is the lampoon of the Muslim terrorist an acceptable one? The parody of the Muslim presents a unique scenario: while satire of African Americans, Latinos or Jews is seen as racist, “Muslim” is not a race and therefore parody of Muslims does not fall under the purview of racist discourse. Phew. So we’re good, right? Wrong. It seems like the realm of the sacred is no longer sacred. Mocking or deriding race, gender and sexual orientation are all unacceptable in our society. Countless comedians have been branded as racist, misogynistic or homophobic, and as a result their careers have gone the way of the dinosaurs. There are certain things we 42
will not tolerate; but Islamophobia is one of the things we will. What is particularly problematic about the greeting card in question is that it employs the symbolism of childhood — dolls, carefree play, love and innocent amusement — and entangles and pollutes it with political innuendo. The doll featured on the cover of the card, an actual doll designed and sold by Desi Doll Company, wears a headscarf, the visual flag alerting the viewer that this doll is Muslim. An item created to give Muslim children a toy they can identify with has been manipulated to sully this identity and isolate them even further. As young American Muslims grow up in a culture that finds no harm in making light of their religious, and often, primary identity, they cannot help but lose part of their selfconfidence and sense of worth. If you, too, carry a cue that may point to your religious identity, whether it is your headscarf or your name, you may be forced to bear the burden of all aggressors who professed your faith. Not only is this a dangerous thing for how others perceive you, but more importantly, how you perceive yourself. And as promi-
nent American Imam Zaid Shakir once said, “The worst form of hatred is self-hatred.” A young Muslim can develop the attitude that he deserves to be bullied, harassed, profiled and suspected because there are individuals who identify with his faith who commit heinous acts. It is not that he may say this outright, but it is implied by his actions and reactions. It is like someone who is abused needing to constantly be reminded that they do not deserve abuse. No one does. Muslims say this over and over, but do not truly internalize it: we have nothing to be ashamed of. Islamophobic discourse can breed selfhating, apologetic American Muslims, or it can lead to the very opposite, producing awkward individuals detached from the society they live in, but feel like they have no place in. When it comes to parody, there are certain things that remain off-limits in American culture. This past February, on E!’s Fashion Police, Joan Rivers praised the dress model Heidi Klum wore to an Academy Awards party, saying, “The last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into the ovens.” Rivers was skewered in the media, and rightfully so, for refusing to apologize for this remark. The Anti-Defamation League denounced Rivers, calling her comment “vulgar and hideous.” Rivers, who is Jewish, defended the remark as a method of inciting controversy and discussion. There are certain things that are funny. Genocide and suicide bombings are not among them. Such loaded remarks and stereotypes not only disrespect the dead, but also perpetuate the estrangement and alienation of those groups being stereotyped. Parody loses its humor when the joke affects the self-image of the one being parodied. The greeting card in question does not mock the essence of Islam; it has no qualms with the precepts of the Muslim faith. Rather, this card mocks the Muslim as an individual. In this sense, the joke is not about what I believe; the joke is about me. So no, it is not just about cards, cartoons and comedians. It is about much more.
Deanna Othman is the assistant editor of Islamic Horizons.
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
Politics and Society
Are Muslim Americans gearing toward winning hearts and minds through utilizing the positive power of entertainment?
Entertainment Delivers By Sayeed Khan
o what does this have to do with Islam?” asked the progressiveminded Muslim activist, discussing this author’s film short, a lighthearted, Muslim-themed comedy produced a few years ago. While it was not meant to have a serious purpose, there were some surprisingly positive responses from non-Muslims who watched or worked on the film, including the crew of predominantly white American film students. The simple fact that a Muslim-themed film short could offer lighthearted comedy seemed to alter their whole perception of Muslims. One student in particular, who had never met a Muslim growing up in Iowa, suddenly had very positive feelings, as did others. Meanwhile, Muslim viewers laughed, taking it lightly. However, it got this author thinking: What factors influence perception? If something so simple can produce such positive reactions, should there be more efforts in these endeavors?
Image and Media One of the Muslim community’s biggest challenges lies in improving its collective image. It is common to be presumed extremist, sympathetic to terrorism or to hear derogatory comments about Islam. Muslims overseas have been further dehumanized. Such demonization can serve as a convenient justification for any planned invasions or military aggression directed against a Muslim country. Muslim Americans have a long-standing emphasis on media efforts, but it is mostly focused on news media and journalism, whether print, television, radio or the Internet. Such initiatives have been productive in giving Muslims a voice and some representation in mainstream news. While this is an essential first step, is it enough? Are these efforts reaching enough people and are the messages resonating to the extent that it changes views? Or is it possible that this work, while important, is reaching some point of saturation? Although efforts in news media are consistently encouraged, few in the Muslim community understand the importance of the entertainment industry in shaping views. When it comes to movies, sports and music, these are often seen only as something fun and not to be taken seriously. Their relevance 44
as a means for Muslim empowerment is not fully understood. The entertainment industry, a perfect complement to news media, should be seen as essential for Muslims to have a strong presence. While news media reaches viewers and readers that index slightly higher in education and income than the overall population, ratings of TV news networks and readership of news publications only reaches a modest percentage of the overall population. It would be unwise to confine outreach to the most educated when people of all socioeconomic levels vote and influence
The entertainment industry, a perfect complement to news media, should be seen as essential for Muslims to have a strong presence.
domestic and foreign policy. Republicans, for example, have won many presidential elections by focusing on largely ignored segments of the American population that Democrats do not focus on enough. At a time when Islamophobia runs deep in certain segments of the population, the next level of Muslim efforts should focus on reaching and resonating with people with vastly different views. It would be a waste of resources to focus only on progressive-minded people who already support diversity and share common views of what pluralism should be like.
The Power of “Entertainment Value” Entertainment is a unique force. It offers not only a broad reach, but also subtle messages that can resonate with viewers in a way that didactic messages do not. For example, viewers empathize strongly with the perspective of the protagonist in a film and this empathy can extend to underlying themes involving racial, religious, ideological and other views. The ability to relate to a characters’ perspective and circumstances creates a sense of empathy in viewers that can be more powerful than any created even by a well-articulated article, book or interview. When viewers resonate with a character or theme, messages are seen as less biased because they are integrated into an entertaining context. Messages are internalized in a profound manner and seen as more credible. To produce quality entertainment that is enjoyed by large mainstream audiences is quite a challenge. Yet it is a very worthwhile endeavor to pursue. Any positive message — such as justice, equality or human rights — can be internalized more effectively when seen in an entertainment context. Positive images lead to empowerment. This empowerment is up for grabs. It can be won by people fighting for any cause or promoting any agenda. Positioning an agenda or view to resonate with the masses is an ongoing global battle fought largely through the entertainment industry. Recent history has shown notable examples of the
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successful promotion of various causes, both famous and infamous, due to planning and implementation.
Entertainment in Recent History To get some perspective on the role that various forms of entertainment have played in empowering — or dehumanizing — a group of people, the 20th century has some notable examples. The 1915 movie, “Birth of a Nation” was perhaps one off the most the most socially destructive films in American history. It empathized with the Klu Klux Klan (KKK), while demonizing black Americans.
It’s enormous impact was credited for the KKK’s resurgence, whose membership soared to over 4 million in the 1920’s. Meanwhile, abroad, dictators learned of the mesmerizing power compelling films could have in influencing the masses. Hitler, Stalin and others effectively used film as propaganda to justify military aggression and alter world events. In many cases, truth and logic took a back seat as entertainment value created a new reality. When viewers are provided a highquality story, they tend to empathize with the protagonist viewpoint, regardless of reality. Along with these frightening uses of entertainment, the 20th century also provided many positive examples of how it could be used to promote a social cause. Aside from film and TV, music and sports have also proven to be powerful forms of influence. Until the late 1960’s, the treatment of black Americans was terrible. Many remem-
ber the moving Civil Rights marches during this era, but what happened the previous two decades? In 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first black Major League baseball player and the following decades saw significant integration of blacks in all three major league sports for the first time. At a time when interracial relations were almost nonexistent and Jim Crow laws ruled the South, empathy was created when African Americans were seen on the same playing field as whites, literally and figuratively. This had an enormous impact in a time when black Americans had previously been dehumanized and treated as second class citizens. A similar effect was happening in music when popular black musicians were being appreciated by young white Americans. The combination of black involvement in music and sports created a comfort level and much-needed respect towards a minority group that truly deserved it. This empathy ultimately played a big role in the Civil Rights movement. Reaching the masses on a deep, often subliminal level, can be profound. It is more valuable than winning any intellectual argument.
Contemporary Trends in News & Entertainment In recent years, a new trend has emerged in how television viewers digest news. Comedy, especially political satire, has become a powerful force in influencing American viewers. Among the nation’s most influential figures, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, Stewart and others are using comedy and satire as a way of influencing public opinion more than any politician or news anchor of the 20th Century could imagine. While many Americans distrust mainstream news, they relate to this new satirical style that integrates news with entertainment and influences public opinion
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on social, political and economic issues, as well as international affairs. The reason this is a winning formula: entertainment value. Viewers get tired of messages being preached to them. The power of entertainment is that it can reach broad audiences. Viewers are able to process the opinion being given to them because it is being given to them in an appealing way — like taking a spoonful of sugar with your medicine. Entertainment helps diffuse the tension of being told a message you might not agree with, making the audience more receptive. In comedy, those who can integrate political views into satirical comedy are the most effective in influencing perspectives and changing minds.
Muslim Goals: The Next Steps Muslims should value the power of mainstream entertainment in all its forms. Currently, many efforts only reach other Muslims and some progressive Americans. Other planned attempts feature didactic messages that get tuned out by viewers. Activist leaders and other Muslims often ask, “Why don’t you create a program that talks about Islam and how Muslims are good?” Such programs are being made, however, these efforts are ineffective as mainstream viewers dislike being preached to. Any meaningful message is more effective when integrated into a larger, entertaining context. Any film or program with a great story and common, relatable themes resonates strongly with an audience. Some of the best examples were Moustapha Akkad’s groundbreaking films “The Message” and “Lion of the Desert.” Although they were about Islam and Libyan resistance leader Omar Mukhtar in WWII, respectively, they had universal appeal. Rather than preaching, they told engaging stories and featured prominent actors, excellent directing and outstanding production quality. One of the best examples of leveraging entertainment for a social good was from another Muslim: Muhammad Ali. While there were thousands of books written on civil rights and the Vietnam War, it was a boxer whose views resonated with millions of Americans. Muslims can learn from all of these examples about how entertainment value can be so effective in creating positive social change.
Sayeed Khan is a Chicago based entrepreneur, social activist, and a writer/producer of short films.
Politics and Society
Will the mainstream ever unlearn stereotyping and let Muslim Americans grieve normally in the aftermath of pain and tragedy?
Pull Tab, Open a Muslim Stereotype By Aruba Mahmud
he Boston Marathon bombing led to grief, shock and anger across the nation and the world. Three innocent lives were lost and hundreds of lives were altered forever. Besides feeling grief, for Muslim Americans particularly, there was also a sense of dread as they prayed, “Please, don’t let it be a Muslim perpetrator!” As Wajahat Ali observed (Slate, Apr. 17), this dread was universal and it was real. “…ever since September 11, Muslims have learned that the criminal actions of one unhinged individual unfairly casts guilt by association on anyone suspected of being ‘Musllimy’.” Sure enough, within hours of the attacks Muslims were being blamed. A Saudi student among the injured spectators instantly became a target. Injured in the first blast and running away along with hundreds of others
around him, he was tackled by a bystander because he “looked suspicious.” Soon the New York Post and Fox News roared that this student was a suspect, speculating about his role in the bombings. To worsen matters, while he was being treated in the hospital for his injuries, his apartment was being surrounded by reporters and searched by law enforcement officials. Eventually it was admitted that he was neither a suspect nor even a person-of-interest as had been claimed, but rather an innocent victim and witness who had been singled out simply because he “looked suspicious” (read: Muslim and/or Arab). No apologies due! In the days following the attacks, CNN repeatedly claimed that police were seeking a “dark-skinned male,” while Wolf Blitzer speculated about whether or not he spoke with an accent. It was only after
several such false and unverifiable claims that CNN retracted their earlier statements. However, the point was made: the suspects were presumed to be dark-skinned with discernible accents; this was now such a widely-accepted and reinforced stereotype that CNN continued airing it and when they finally did give up, they blamed the error on “sources.” Imagine the surprise, then, when the video surveillance revealed that both suspects were Caucasian men with brown hair, wearing baseball caps and looking rather unlike the quintessential threatening, sinister, dark-skinned-and-accented man that has been planted as the defining image of a terrorist in the American and Western psyche. Suddenly, as noted by Sarah Kendzior in Al Jazeera (Apr. 21), “the FBI released photos of two young men wearing baseball caps — men who so resembled all-American frat boys that people joked they would be the target of “racial bro-filing”. The men were Caucasian, so the speculation turned away from foreign terror and toward the excuses routinely made for white men who kill: mental illness, anti-government grudges or frustration at home. However, the two named suspects were Dzokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Muslims of Chechen descent who had lived in Russia until they moved to Massachusetts in 2002. As Kendzior wrote, once the brothers’ ethnicity and religion were revealed, “they became the wrong kind of Caucasian, and suddenly they were not so “white” after all.” Once again, the suspects were the “other” kind of Caucasian, but definitely not ’white’. The media desperately tried to find any links to Chechnya. “Experts” speculated about how the brothers’ ethnicity might have played into their alleged crimes despite the fact that they had spent an insignificant amount of time in Chechnya and had lived in the United States for over a decade before the attacks. Media outlets such as The Globe and Mail, The Huffington Post, CBC, Fox News and CNN, among countless others also began scrutinizing every account from family members, friends, social media and any other sources they could find about the
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
Overall, the media coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings reflected the larger discourse about Muslims and Islam in the media. However, it was heartening to see counter-narratives in the media coverage as well. brothers’ religiosity. The Globe and Mail and The Huffington Post especially focused on their prayer habits. CNN reported that older brother, Tamerlan, “gave up drinking alcohol and smoking in accordance with Muslim values” and that he “had become more devout a few years ago and started praying five times a day.” Abstaining from alcohol and cigarettes and praying five times a day are now implied to be signs of creeping radicalization despite the fact that these are essential and overwhelmingly practiced tenets of Islam. Deepa Kumar, in her excellent book “Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire” (Haymarket, 2012), noted that it is assumed that Muslims “are naturally ‘predisposed’ to commit violent acts… routine, normal behavior of the defendant—dress, religious observances, Islamic financial transactions, literature, etc.— indicates a ‘predisposition’ to commit terrorism, based on the false stereotype that all Muslims are predisposed to commit terrorism. If they are sufficiently ‘Muslim,’ they are sufficiently ‘predisposed’.” Perhaps one of the most troubling, yet unsurprising, aspects of the Boston-bombings-related media coverage is the sudden intense interest in Katherine Russell, Tamerlan’s widow. Russell, 24, is an American convert, or, as People dubbed her, a woman who over the years has transformed “from All-American girl to Bomber’s Wife.” News articles stressed that she was still wearing the hijab in the few sightings of her after her husband’s death and the arrest of her brother-in-law. Despite her lawyer’s and her family’s assertion that she was unaware of the attacks and that she was struggling with the loss of her husband and the father of their 3-year-old daughter, the media chose to enforce the notion that Russell was, like all other Muslim women, oppressed, sub-
jugated, brainwashed and controlled by her husband. What else could explain why, as quoted in The Globe and Mail, neighbors had seen Russell “dressed in loose, flowing Muslim girl [garb with] a hijab covering her dark hair,” no longer the all-American, smiling woman with her long, dark hair flowing and dressed in trendy clothing as depicted in her high school yearbook. The article quoted Russell’s friend, who lamented, “She was just this all-American girl who was brainwashed by her super-religious
husband.” Similar comments and quotes have been published in various newspapers and magazines, repeatedly reinforcing the idea that Russell is somehow incapable of having her own personal religious convictions and beliefs, particularly if that means identifying both inwardly and outwardly as a Muslim. This idea is promoted despite her lawyer’s statement to The Huffington Post that his client is a believer, “She believes in the tenets of Islam and of the Quran…She believes in God.” The media attributed Russell’s “transformation” to being brainwashed and manipulated by her husband. By completely negating her own autonomy and the seemingly shocking notion that she chose to wear the hijab and practice Islam, the media fed into the belief that Muslim women are completely helpless, dominated and in need of rescuing from their own pitiful existence. They
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cannot be “trendy” or “all-American” or think for themselves. The common belief and stereotype reinforced through most of the articles about Russell is that Muslim women need to be saved by the West. They will only escape their perceived oppression by adopting — or in Russell’s case, returning to — what are presumed to be solely Western values and freedoms such as citizenship and American identity, women’s rights and the ever-important ability to wear trendy or “normal” clothing. Overall, the media coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings reflected the larger discourse about Muslims and Islam in the media. However, it was heartening to see counter-narratives in the media coverage, as well. There were a number of opinion pieces in The Huffington Post, including the articles by Deanna Othman and Krystina Friedlander, about Russell’s media portrayal. NBC News published an excellent article written by JoNel Aleccia in which she interviewed Muslim women who had converted to Islam with the intention of challenging stereotypes. There were also excellent pieces, including some cited here, written by David Sirota and Wajahat Ali for Slate and Glenn Greenwald for The Guardian. While vastly outnumbered, such counter narratives still offer a significant and much-needed challenge to the dominant stereotypical media discourses surrounding Muslims and Islam. Once such counter narratives are heard, they may help others realize that whenever senseless attacks like the Boston Marathon bombings take place, Muslims should be allowed to grieve and reach out to their kin in humanity without feeling that all-too-familiar dread and fear of retribution.
Aruba Mahmud is currently pursuing her PhD in Education, Equity & Social Justice at Western University in London, Ont., Canada.
Politics and Society
Immigration Reform Affects All
Can Muslim Americans make a difference through active participation the immigration reform movement? By Manar Waheed
ver since the 2012 presidential election, immigration reform has been on the horizon. Despite the daily change of politics, immigration remains the constant issue with the refrain, “the time is now.” Indeed, political parties, the public will and even the media have all called for immediate and significant changes to our broken immigration system. Among those anxiously awaiting immigration reform is our community: Muslim Americans. According to the Pew Research Center, the population of Muslim Americans will more than double by 2030, rising to over six million at a minimum and making our opinions, our concerns and our vote more important than ever. With the growing population of our community, Muslim Americans need immigration reform just as much as any other group. The time is now and we cannot let it pass without raising our voices. Muslims, like many other communities, are greatly impacted by our inadequate immigration system. Although there seems to be a perception that we are only affected by student or employment visas, the fact remains that our lives are touched by other aspects of the system, as well. Our commu-
nity does not simply include one type of person, profession or immigration status. We are South Asian, Indonesian, Arab, African and Black, to name a few. We are taxi drivers, doctors and engineers. We are undocumented recipients of family and employment visas, students, refugees and asylees. There is beauty in our diversity and in the common thread that holds us together: Islam. We also understand that fellow Muslims are affected by parts of the immigration system that may not impact us directly; however, each part of our system is interwoven with one another. Though some of us may enter the country through a particular channel, all our lives are still affected by other aspects of the system. For example, a Muslim American man who comes to America through employment-based visa programs might have a wife, sister or child that he would like to join him here, through our family system. For him, bringing over a family member, for example his sister, can take more than a decade in our current system. A Muslim American woman may end up in detention without the right to an attorney, opportunity to practice Islam or information in her preferred language. Though it may not be immediately appar-
It is essential that the new immigration system helps, values and respects Muslim Americans. 48
ent, all these pieces and more impact us as a community. Additionally, since 9/11, far too many Muslim Americans have become victims of profiling. In 2002, the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System was established, targeting men from predominantly Muslim countries and requiring them to register with the government. This program resulted in the deportation of over 13,000 individuals, though none were ever charged with any terrorism-related activity. Many of us have also been investigated or interrogated by immigration authorities based upon whether we wear hijabs, kufis or topis, have accents or simply “look un-American” based on the color of our skin. It is unacceptable and, frankly, un-American for Muslims to have their fingerprints run through the immigration system simply because a law enforcement officer thought that they “looked” Muslim. History has taught us that profiling has been ineffective for Muslims and other communities. Yet, it remains tacitly approved because there is no prohibition on it within our immigration system. The time is now for these unjust, discriminatory actions to end. We know that the current status of our immigration laws is simply not working. Under this broken system, Muslim Americans, like many others, face incredible barriers and disparities in treatment. We are often deprived of a pathway to citizenship, spend years separated from our family members, face numerous barriers to employment, suffer from a lack of workers’ rights and are denied due process in detention and deportation. It is essential that our new immigration system helps, values and respects Muslim Americans. We must make sure that we all have immigration options, are reunited with our families, are protected as workers, are granted basic rights in detention and deportation and are no longer profiled. And, these are just the basics of the changes we need. As Americans, we have a right to demand these changes to our system and, as Muslims, I believe we have an obligation. We have an obligation to speak up against injustice, rather than sitting silent. We have an obligation to build a society that protects and helps people, not one that hurts us or anyone else. The time is now for us to realize our obligations and stand up for just and humane immigration reform, before it is too late.
Manar Waheed is policy director at South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
Around the World
DAM’s Journey to the Moon By Janne Louise Andersen
decade after empowering young Palestinians and Muslims around the world with the hit “Who’s the Terrorist”, DAM is out with their new album “Dabka on the Moon.” Although still political rappers at core, they now also articulate cultural taboos in their own community. We met them and their fans on their United States tour in April. It’s been six years since DAM released its first album, “Dedication,” that brought the popular hip hop group in Palestine to an international audience and sent them performing around the world. Today one of its biggest fan bases is in the United States where they have been touring every year since the release of “Dedication.” “Tell me if you are ready to hear some criticism by DAM? You say my words are childish, I say my words are like that child that screams: The king is naked,” Tamer lyricizes in “Street Poetry,” the opening song of the new album “Dabka on the Moon.” At the music venue DROM in New York
City, where DAM was performing as part of their United States promotional tour in April, the audience was more than ready. 31-year-old Ayman El-Sayed was among the crowd of men and women and girls. “It was great to see a large turnout of Arabs and Muslims who identify with the music and the message,” he says. “Their music has been a major influence for me as a Lebanese Arab and Muslim American who, post 9/11, needed artists and musicians who spoke for us and portrayed positive images of us.” El-Sayed, co-founder of the nongovernmental organization Existence is Resistance which promotes nonviolent resistance through cultural arts, has been a DAM fan since he heard their breakthrough single “Meen Erhabi?” — “Who’s the Terrorist?” The song starts with the words of former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark who says that the Palestinians along with the Iraqis are the most terrorized people on earth. “The song was very important to Arabs and Muslim Americans. Even though it was addressing the Israeli occupation of
Palestine, it resonated with us because we were being demonized by the media here, being called terrorists and fundamentalists and people became suspicious of the Arab, Muslim and South Asian communities,” El-Sayed says, adding that others of DAM songs that talk about discrimination faced by Palestinians living inside Israel resonates with Muslims who, last year, discovered that their communities had been surveyed by the NYPD.
Hanging the dirty laundry out DAM mostly performed material from the new album, including “If I Could Go Back in Time,” a song that condemns forced marriages and the killing of girls, but which created controversy when two Columbia University anthropologists, Professor of Gender Studies Lila Abu Lughod, and doctoral candidate Maya Mikdashi, published a harsh critique of the song and music video on Jadaliyya.com. Calling themselves “disappointed fans,” they said DAM was failing to provide political and historical context to the problem and the term “honor killing” by not
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
relating it to the Israeli Occupation. Also they were greatly skeptical about the financial support by United Nations Women. “The music video faithfully follows the script of an international campaign against the so-called honor crime,” they wrote, adding that DAM had been “seduced by the honor crime.” The three rappers and the music video producer Jackie Salloum were astounded by the critique. “They criticized that we put our dirty laundry out to the world,” Mahmood Jrere says in an interview in New York. “I didn’t expect it to come from academics who are actually fighting the same fight. I expected it from common people.” Jrere said they all grew up hearing about girls who suddenly disappeared in their community. “We did it in Arabic and it’s targeting Arab society. If we want to be honest with ourselves as artists, we need to target taboos in our own society. I don’t care what the West will think about it, but whether I will make a change or not,” he said, adding that he supports hanging out the dirty laundry. “They want us to focus on the [Israeli] Occupation, but the political and social struggle should go together and not be separated,” he says and mentions other songs on the album that deals with social problems like “Tell Them it’s Your Classmate.” “‘Dedication’ was an album where we told the facts; ‘Dabka on the Moon’ is more like a feature film where we tell stories,” Jrere explained. “Musically and lyrically, each album reflects a different age.”
El-Sayed is happy to see DAM also taking up cultural and social issues in their music. “Some people may be hesitant to address certain issues because they feel it may feed into the demonization and justification of attacks on our societies, but we have to do
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our best to end the problems we are facing from the outside without neglecting issues inside.”
Janne Louise Andersen, a freelance journalist based in New York City, covers issues among Arab diaspora communities.
The Islamic Society of Akron and Kent (ISAK) is seeking a full-time Imam. ISAK is a rapidly growing diverse multi-ethnic community that serves the greater Akron area in the state of Ohio. We offer five times prayers, full time Islamic school, weekend school, Friday congregation sermon and prayer and Ramadan services. Regular interfaith functions are held at the Islamic Center. Community activities include educational Halaqua, monthly dinners, iftars, picnics and sports activities.
Imam Qualifications • Hafiz, who has memorized the entirety of The Holy Qur’an with an inspirational voice. • Must be able to provide guidance and teach the community on matters of fiqh, tafseer, tajweed and aqeedah. • Fluent in spoken and written English language. • Well versed in Arabic language including ability to communicate in Arabic. • Lead and unify Muslim community members with different backgrounds and sects (madhahib). • Counseling experience especially for youth and married individuals. • Trained and experienced in delivering Juma’a khutbah. • Eligible to work in the USA and is a law abiding citizen. • Has a minimum of four years of higher Islamic education and jurisprudence with a degree from a recognized Islamic institution.
Compensation • Competitive salary • Benefits package negotiable
Application process Interested applicants, please send resume: Islamic Society of Akron and Kent. Attention: Imam Search Committee. By mailing to: 152 E. Steels Corners Road, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, 44224; or Faxing at: (330) 923-9630, Attention: Imam Search Committee; or E-mailing to: email@example.com
Around the World
Forgotten but Not Forgettable By Arishaa Khan
hese stateless, forgotten people live beyond the realms of decent human existence, as they endure life in camps throughout Bangladesh, but where is their right to lead dignified, honorable lives? Obaid, Bilquis, Aman, and Tabayyah (OBAT) Helpers is a nonprofit dedicated to enhancing the well-being of the 300,000 or more stateless people through means of self-empowerment, education, healthcare and happiness. The people, the stories and the heartbreak, the hope: everything about my Jan. 2013 experience has been unforgettable. In Chittagong, I met Noor Jehan and her friends. It did not take me long to find that these girls were full of life, bursting with stories, laughter and jokes. After a bit, all three of them vanished from the crowd. I was worried I would not be able to say goodbye, but after about 10 minutes they came running towards us. They pulled me aside and began describing how they had pooled their things together, as they put flowers in my hair, gave me a hair barrette and ruby red earrings. I asked them why they were giving me these prized possessions and they responded by telling me that they never want me to forget about them. Little did these beautiful souls know it would be nearly impossible to forget their charming ways and the incessant chatter.
While witnessing the aftermath of a massive fire in a Rangpur camp that demolished already broken lives, I had the absolute honor of meeting Fatima, an elderly blind woman, who was being guided by her daughter. As I met her, she quickly asked to be seated because she had walked quite a while to come where I was. The three of us sat together on a low stoop as I listened to her sparkling chatter and her unbelievable stories. We must have been talking for nearly an hour, my hands being stroked by hers, when Fatima solemnly said, “I wish I could give you something, but I have nothing but my prayers.” She proceeded to insist that I reach into her pocket. I emerged with two empty vials of medicine and prayer beads. Tears sprang to my eyes as I witnessed her absolute selflessness and realized how, even from what little she had, Fatima felt the need to offer something. I told her that simply being in her presence was a priceless moment that I can never forget. Their hearts are capable of more love than I knew possible, and they continue to be hopeful even through despair. I hope you can one day visit the camps and see for yourself how beautiful these people are, how tragic their story is, how deep their hope runs. They may be referred to as “the Forgotten People,” but not one single thing about them is forgettable.
Arishaa Khan serves as development assistant for ISNA Development Foundation.
40 years, 3 generations, 300,000 people. Commonly known as stranded Pakistanis or Biharis, these unfortunate people continue to live in extremely poor conditions in the same sixty-six makeshift camps that were created to serve only as temporary shelters. They are a population living in abject poverty with no access to basic amenities, a lack of education, and very poor living and sanitation conditions. Together, we have begun to transform their lives by providing opportunities through education and selfempowerment. Together, we can and will continue to create a brighter future for the forgotten.
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Share your good fortune with the less fortunate. Use your zakat to help educate, heal and empower the forgotten and destitute camp residents in Bangladesh. Join us to give hope and reap the blessings of Ramadan.
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Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
A Balanced Life Muslims need only draw from their ample spiritual resources to tread the middle way that God prescribes for humanity. By Saleh A. Mubarak
n 1999, I was reunited, by phone, with one of my Damascus University classmates whom I hadn’t heard from since I left Syria for the United States in 1980. We were excited to reconnect and started talking about a meeting. In college, Mohammad, an athlete, was member of the Syrian national karate team. In the United States, he advanced his education and career as a civil engineer, rising to become a company vice president. I found out he had just gotten married. “Really?” I asked. “Why so late? My oldest son is a junior in high school!” Well, Mohammad was too busy working hard to better his career. A year later, he called me, excited to let me know his wife was pregnant, and they’d be taking a vacation to Syria. About two months later, I received the shocking news: Mohammad had died of a heart attack at age 44 while his pregnant wife was preparing to come back to the United States Three years ago, a CEO of a major Arabian Gulf-based company died also of a heart attack at 51, despite the fact that he belonged to a supposedly “low risk” group. He was slim, athletic, nonsmoker and ate healthy food. Later on, it was revealed that he used to work an average 16 to 17 hours daily in a very stressful work environment. And there examples of people on the other extreme, those who neglect their worldly lives allegedly to dedicate themselves solely to God, Islam or the Hereafter, making their lives and the lives of those around them miserable. They forgot that God sent us to this life to spread it with good, which can only come through dedication and hard work. The good Muslim should be a role model and example of success, both for this life and the Hereafter. The third extreme is the fanatic intellec-
tuals, who live with their books or in their research centers. They achieve certain type of success but with complete failure in family, social and other facets of life. We must realize that God created us with three integrated components, body, mind and soul, that complement and supplement each other. The Qur’an and life of Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) are full of teachings warning us from going to one extreme. The Prophet once saw three men who had decided to “dedicate their lives to God.” One said that would be fast every day, the second said he would be pray all night,
and the third said he would not marry. The Prophet chided them, “By God, I am the most God-fearing one amongst you and I fast some days and don’t fast other days, I pray part of the night and sleep other parts and I marry women. Whoever does not follow my path is not one of my followers.” Also in another beautiful Hadith when Muslims immigrated to Medina and the Prophet paired Muhajireen (immigrants from Mecca) and Ansar (supporters of Muslims indigenous to Medina), the great companion Salman the Persian was paired as a brother with companion Abu Darda. Salman was older and more knowledgeable,
but Abu Darda had a lot of enthusiasm for the new religion to the degree of overdoing things to make up for the past. Once when Salman came to visit Abu Darda, he noticed that his wife was not taking care of her physical appearance. He asked “What’s wrong?” Her response gave a hint of the true story: “Your brother Abu Darda has no craving for (things in) this life.” Salman wanted to teach his brother a lesson in balancing life so he decided to stay with him. When food was served, Salman noticed that Abu Darda wasn’t eating, “Eat!” he said. “I am fasting,” Abu Darda answered. Salman insisted, “I will not taste your food unless you eat with me.” Abu Darda conceded and broke his fast. He had a lot of respect for his older, more knowledgeable and wiser “brother” Salman. When nighttime came, Abu Darda prepared a bed for Salman, and he himself went for the night prayer. Salman commanded him to sleep. Abu Darda complied for a while until he thought Salman was asleep, and then got up to pray. “Not now, go back to sleep,” Salman said. When it was close to Fajr, Salman awoke his brother, “Let’s make wudu and pray now. Your body has a right on you, your family has a right on you, and your Lord has a right on you, so give every party its right.” With all the love and respect that Abu Darda had for Salman, he needed to check with the highest authority: the Prophet. When they told him the story, he said, “Salman spoke the truth.” The Prophet was always steering people away from extremism. It was narrated that Abdullah bin Amr, who was young and enthusiastic. He said, "'By God, I will fast every day and get up (to pray) all night.' When the Prophet heard that, he told him, 'You won't endure that.'" The Prophet asked him to fast just three days every month. Abdullah said, “I can do better.” “Then fast every Monday and Thursday,” the Prophet responded. Again, he said, “I can do better.” The Prophet responded, “Then fast like Prophet Dawud; he used to fast every other day, and there is no better way than that.” Years later when Abdullah aged, he said, “I wish I did not commit to this with the Prophet.” In almost all cases, emotional spurts proved unsustainable because of their
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
Obituaries Those who manage to control themselves, not allowing one facet of life to dominate at the expense of other facets, will be generally healthier and happier. incompatibility with human nature. People get emotionally charged because of certain incidents or feelings: love, anger, sorrow, admiration, etc. So, they make a radical decision, perhaps long-term, based on that emotional charge that fades away in a short period of time. In most cases, going in that direction results in an unbalanced life. If the person manages to sustain that extreme lifestyle, it will come at the expense of other needs in life: physical, mental or spiritual. In other cases, human nature can’t keep up with that extreme lifestyle, so a rebellion happens, taking the person to another extreme. In all cases, the life of the person will not be balanced or happy. Now, we are convinced that our lives have to be balanced. The question is how and how much. Ask someone who is immersed in the work environment to the extreme, “would you like to attend a Quran reading or Fiqh study circle (spiritual) or an exercise session like running or swimming (physical)?” Most likely, his answer will be, “Sorry, I don’t have time for that.” Now, let’s ask the same person if he would be willing to attend a money-making investment event or if his company asks him to work overtime. Most likely, he will say, "Yes!" He will make time to attend what suits his current lifestyle or feeds his greed, furthering the unbalanced and extreme lifestyle that lacks the fulfillment of the body and spirit. This proves that, in most cases, it is a matter of priority. If you are convinced of a task’s importance, you will make space for it in your schedule. It is a proven matter that the best thing a person can do is to organize and manage his time. First, plan the daily/weekly schedule to make sure it addresses all needs in a balanced way. It is normal for many people to have a little more than they can do, so it becomes important for them to prioritize their tasks. In fact, many experts differentiate between “important” and “urgent.” For example, you
may have to apply for a passport for your child because you are planning an overseas summer vacation, but it is not urgent since you are in January. When you rank your tasks in order of importance, the decision becomes easier for you to make when a conflict arises. During this planning stage, you must observe the balancing between the needs of yourself: the physical, mental and spiritual, that maintains a balanced lifestyle. It is okay to be slightly unbalanced on work days if you compensate on weekends. Second, we must manage and control the implementation of this plan, not allowing ourselves to deviate from the plan, and, if a deviation happens for whatever reason, a correction immediately follows. Tasks like a spiritual meeting, family gathering or sports playing must be respected as a highpriority item on one’s agenda so it can be maintained. Otherwise, there will always be “higher priority” events not allowing such items to continue. People who manage to control themselves, not allowing one facet of life to dominate at the expense of other facets, will be generally healthier and happier. They tend to give more because they do it with high efficiency. This benefits the Muslim, both in this life and in the hereafter. There are many verses of the Quran as well as sayings of the Prophet urging us to be the best in whatever we do. Muslims also believe that the best Muslim is the one who achieves worldly success without sacrificing the satisfaction of God, fulfilling the great supplication in the Quranic verse “Our Lord! Give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the torment of the Fire!” (2: 201).
Saleh A. Mubarak, PhD, is professor and head of civil & architectural engineering department at Qatar University. He is also author of : “Construction Project Scheduling and Control (Prentice Hall, 2004; John Wiley & Sons, 2010); and “How to Estimate with Means Data & CostWorks” ( John Wiley & Sons, 2011)., publishes articles in Arabic (mostly in Al-Sharq newspaper).
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
M. Faysal Thameen A Community Support Worker 1938-2013
Faysal Thameen, a retired structural engineer who headed the role of Baltimore, Md. in the 1980s construction of the then state’s largest project, the Fort McHenry Tunnel, died of cancer April 9 at his home in Millbury, Mass. He was 75. Born in Tripoli in Lebanon, he came to the United States and earned a civil engineering degree at the University of Denver. In 1973, he joined Baltimore’s Department of Public Works and rose within it to become chief of the Interstate Division in 1992. In 1994, he was named City Transportation Coordinator. He later the joined the Maryland Transit Authority, retiring in 2000. During his 27-year career in Baltimore, he received numerous professional honors. Affectionately known to the Worcester Islamic Center community as Abu Omar, he was very unassuming and frequently helped non-English speaking people in the community with paperwork and other matters. He was also generous with his advice to people in their construction projects and volunteered at the senior center. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Eva Green Thameen, son Omar, daughter-in-law Toby and granddaughter Josie.
20 Fab Eid Gifts for Less Than $25 By Kiran Ansari
Eid Moolah: When the kids get cash on Eid from all their aunts and uncles, helps them learn how to divvy up the cash with this neat money bank. With separate slots to spend, save, donate and invest, kids can learn the different options they have with their money. $16.99 at www.msgen.com. Also check out their cow money banks for Eid ul Adha. Sweeten the Pot: Bring a piece of the Arab culture to your home with this cute “One lump or two” sugar bowl. For $14.99 this food-safe porcelain camel will surely sweeten your morning coffee. www.perpetualkid.com. Scarf Sorter: It’s the perfect Little Black Dress for your hijab obsession. We know you can never have too many hijabs, but you can organize them in a way that you can find the perfect one without scrambling each morning. $19.99 at www.bedbathandbeyond.com. Can I Eat That? Edible frosting toppers are the simplest way to turn blah into wow. Simply peel and press on top of your frosted cupcake. We love this Arabesque design, but check out more gluten free and FDA approved toppers at www.moderneid.com. $8.50 for six standard toppers or 12 minis. Paper Products with Pizzazz: Spruce up your dinner table with festive Eid tableware. Have the kids pick out their favorite design or surprise them with a fancy spread on Eid morning so they don’t feel like they are missing out on the fun by not celebrating Christmas. $2.50 for a pack of 10 dinner plates at www.eidcreations.com. Smiley Tee: It may look like an Arabic “taa” to you, but it is a smiley face for everyone else. A great gift for the youngest of our kids with hyphenated identities. Designed by Peter Gould, these shirts are available in three unisex colors for $17.99. www.artizara.com 56
Tea Time: Serve tea in style on Eid and throughout the year with this beautiful teapot. Enter “Eid teapot” on www.zazzle.com. $19.99. Recipes to the Rescue: Get out of the daily cooking conundrum with this awesome cookbook from the uber-popular My Halal Kitchen. The 129-page Summer Ramadan Cooking: Recipes & Resources for Healthy Meals has an introduction to the rituals of eating during Ramadan, and hence makes a great Eid gift for coworkers and neighbors too. The paperback is for $24.99 at www.myhalalkitchen.com. Also available as an e-book or on Kindle. Pencils that Make you Smile: Sure, we use a keyboard for nearly everything but there’s something about a freshly sharpened pencil that is inspiring. Take an ordinary writing instrument up a notch with these foil stamped pencils with some cute text. $8.50 for a set of six pencils at Muslamb Letterpress Stationers. http://www.etsy.com/shop/muslamb. Hijab with a Twist: The brainchild of a young Muslim woman, Embellished Wraps came about when she saw friends wearing the same scarves found at big box retailers. Whether you wear these unique scarves on your head or around your neck, you can appreciate the mix and match of fabrics and embellishments like lace and trim. Dress up any outfit with their Summer Garden print. $23 for a 72-inch by 22-inch Georgette Chiffon scarf at www.embellishedwraps.com. Heart Therapy: A beautiful gift for just about anyone on your list, Yasmin Mogahed’s “Reclaim your Heart” has created ripples of reflection among Muslims everywhere. If you feel trapped in a vicious cycle of life without any time to ponder in peace, perhaps you should get a copy for yourself, too. $12.95 at www.amazon. com and read more about the author at www.yasminmogahed.com. Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
Glam a Gift Card: For the very picky people on your gift list, a gift card gives them enough flexibility to choose their own Eid gift. You can still add a little pizzazz to a gift card to keep them guessing. How about taping a restaurant gift card to the inside of a wrapped pizza box or slipping a gift card in a deck of playing cards or a tin of mints? Watch their disappointment with your measly gift turn into a smile when they find the card. Or get a gift card for a unique amount like $20.13 to celebrate Eid 2013. Book for All: “Khadijah Goes to School” is a book with several layers of meaning. It may look like a children’s book, but it talks about the purpose of life and helping others in a creative way with illustrations by children ages 4 to 8. Canadian author Asim Hussain considers it to be a diversity tool and hopes to spread his message about the love of lifelong learning with everyone. Buy it for $11.95 on www. amazon.com and learn more at www.khadijahgoestoschool.com. Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees: Or does it? If you want to give cash on Eid, give it a twist by rolling crisp dollar bills and hanging them from a small plant. The money might be spent the same day, but the plant will stick around longer. Feeling creative? Check out YouTube or Pinterest for several tutorials on how to make origami flowers with dollar bills. Cookie Jars: Making homemade cookie mix jars is incredibly easy, affordable and fun. They make for great looking gifts and party favors. All you need to do is layer a quart-sized mason jar with these ingredients packed as tightly as possible — and in this order: 11/3 cup allpurpose flour (spooned into measuring cup and leveled), 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, ¼ tsp salt, 1 cup cooking oats, ¾ cup M&Ms, ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, ½ cup brown sugar and, lastly, ½ cup white sugar. Each jar yields around 25 cookies. Print a free cookie instruction label from www. ModernMuslimHome.com. Perfect Puzzle: This jumbo floor puzzle is a great way to introduce letters of the Arabic Alphabet to kids. The English transliteration of the letters and animals is perfect for non-Arabic speaking parents. This three-feet by two-feet puzzle is made using soy based inks so it’s 100 percent biodegradable and easy to wipe clean. $18.99 at www.littlebigkids.com.
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
Bling Bling: The most stunning thing about this rhodium-plated bracelet is not how beautiful the cubic zirconia stones look on this piece of jewelry, but the fact that it is backed by an 18-month warranty that it will not discolor. Al Sharifa is known to sell only high quality merchandise and their jewelry is no exception. $13.00 at www.alsharifa.com. Stencil Fun: Dress up plain old cookies and desserts with these cute stencils. Easy to use, this is a fun way to get the kids involved in prepping for Eid. The set includes eight different three-inch cookie stencils (Kaaba, Crescent, Eid, palm tree, sheep, masjid, Quran Stand and tea pot). $5.99 for a set of eight stencils at www.eidway.com. Sweet Tooth: Every town has a fabulous baker that makes your jaw drop. Support local businesses like Sweet Endings and get custom-made cake pop bouquets and treats for Eid. Send some to your neighbors and indulge yourself, too. After all, Eid comes just twice a year. www.facebook.com/sweetendings17. Sticky Art: When you’re not a budding Picasso but still want something different on your walls, check out easy to apply decals. They can be easily removed without any damage to the walls. Get a decal with a duaa or have it personalized with your child’s name. Check out a new stencil collection for Eid starting at $5 at www.simplyimpressions.com.
Kiran Ansari, a Chicago-based writer, editor and entrepreneur keeps an eye out for a great Eid gift all year round.
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Reviews THE LONGEST JOURNEY
The Longest Journey: Southeast Asians and the Pilgrimage to Mecca Eric Tagliacozzo 2013. Pp. 368. PB. $24.95 Oxford University Press, USA
The Impacts of Lasting Occupation: Lessons from Israeli Society 2013. Pp. 576. HB. $99.99 Oxford University Press Daniel Bar-Tal and Izhak Schnell have brought together a wide range of academic experts to show how Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip (since 1967) has led to the deterioration of democracy and moral codes, threatened personal security and limited economic growth in Israel.
he Longest Journey”, the first book to offer a history of the Hajj that covers eleven modern nation-states and seven centuries, highlights what is perhaps one of the most significant long-distance circulations of people for a common purpose in history: the Indian Ocean pilgrimage to Mecca. Drawing upon research of breath-taking geographical range and depth, Tagliacozzo charts how the hajj embedded itself in the rhythms of diverse Indian Ocean societies and spurred the movement of texts and ideas, trade and wealth, politics and law, across many centuries and vast distances. He charts the dangers, opportunities and spiritual elation of these voyages through the written and oral testimonies of pilgrims themselves, alongside with the fear and fascination that the hajj has exerted on non-Muslims since colonial times. Tagliacozzo shows the continuities and transformations of the Hajj in Southeast Asia during the colonial and post-colonial eras.
EXAMINING ISLAMIC ECONOMICS What Is Wrong With Islamic Economics? Analysing the Present State and Future Agenda Muhammad Akram Khan 2013. Pp. 528. HB. $185.00 Edward Elgar, Northampton, Mass.
slamic economics and finance is a developing field, and Khan, former deputy auditor general of Pakistan (until 2003) and chief resident auditor of UN Peacekeeping Missions (2003-07), discusses why the practical implementation of Islamic economics and finance has not always conformed to the true theoretical foundations enunciated by Islamic scholars, particularly in relation to the financial system and institutions. While he talks about the shortcomings, he also offers ideas for the way forward. Much innovation, often creative, has been done over the centuries to satisfy the needs of the various economic players. The Islamic economic system, he concludes, is a sort of capitalism with a spiritual dimension. The hurried road to Islamic finance has overlooked the need to start with a profits-and-risk-sharing principle and no-riba principle to build pricing models to anchor the new sub-discipline. The field is evolving and a book of such an approach would be useful for students, teachers, professionals and others involved and interested in this area of study.
Textiles of the Islamic World John Gillow 2013. Pp. 320. PB. $39.95 Thames & Hudson, London, UK Gillow, a Britain-based noted researcher and collector, who has written many books on textiles, offers 638 illustrations, 623 of which are in color, as he surveys the wide array of textiles made, worn, used and displayed throughout the Islamic world, region by region, from the glorious fabrics of the past to those produced today. A hardcover edition appeared in 2010. Carpets from Islamic Lands Friedrich Spuhler 2013. Pp. 186. PB, $31.95 Thames & Hudson, London, UK Carpet and textile expert Friedrich Spuhler, using 112 color illustrations, features more than 40 of the finest classical carpets created in Egypt, Turkey, Persia, the Caucasus and India from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, recounting the stories behind individual carpets and collections, including the spectacular al-Sabah Collection. The book includes many carpets never before reproduced in print, and one that could have been lost forever following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Spiritual Gems of Islam: Insights & Practices from the Quran, Hadith, Rumi & Muslim Teaching Stories to Enlighten the Heart & Mind Imam Jamal Rahman 2013. Pp. 256. PB. $16.99 SkyLight Paths Publishing Imam Jamal Rahman offers guidance drawn from the Quran, Hadith and Sufi poets such as Rumi. He also shares the wit of Mulla Nasruddin. Daily Wisdom: Islamic Prayers and Supplications Abdur Raheem Kidwai 2013. Pp. 416. HB. $18.00 Kube Publishing Ltd Prof. Kidwai offers a collection of prayers and supplications from the Quran and Hadith, a useful aid to daily reflection with 365 prayers covering the entire year. Prayers include both English translation and the Arabic text. Helping the Polonskys Khaleel Muhammad 8-11 years. Pp. 80. PB. $8.95 The Islamic Foundation UK In his first children’s book, British nasheed singer Muhammad lands a group of Muslim kids in cleaning up a difficult neighbor’s home. It is a bigger mess than they had imagined. However, not only do they succeed in their task, but also manage to mellow the otherwise cranky and aged couple.
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
Food for the Spirit
Being Where God Has Placed Us By Tarek Elgawhary Wisdom #2: Desiring a life without means while God has placed you in a world of means is a result of hidden desire. Desiring a world of means while God has placed you in a life without the need for means is a result of having low aspirations.
his aphorism, as well as all the aphorisms of Ibn ‘Atā’Allah, is a different way of explaining the statement, “There is no power and ability except that of God” (lā hawla wa-lā quwwata illa bi’llah). Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) is reported to have said that it is a treasure coming from beneath the throne of God (Musnad Ahmad; see also Bukhaari, #6952 and At Tirmidhi, #3601, reported upon the authority of Abu Musaa Al Ash’aree — Radhiyallahu Anhu). In the cosmology of Islam, the seven levels of heaven ascend from earth to the throne of God. Each level of heaven is but a “ring cast in a desert” in size, compared to the one above it. Such is the escalation in size all the way until the levels reach the throne of God, the seventh level being but “a ring cast in a desert” compared to the throne of God, which is one of the mightiest creations of God. This statement, originating from beneath such a creation, indicates the importance of not only the statement itself, but also its high moral and spiritual weight in the life of a Muslim. It is a manifestation of that
everything that happens to us. Everything that we experience throughout our lives is from the will and creative acts of God, not a result of our own ability and actions. While such a notion might, at first glance,
seem fatalistic, these aphorisms point to the exact opposite. Such a belief and notion is a form of liberation from anxiety, stress and depression, ailments that afflict so many of us in today’s society. The truth is, we are all in good hands and we should trust that God acts for our best interests, not against them. However, as mighty as the throne is and all the levels of the heavens that ascend to it, no created object is greater than the Prophet. Thus, many scholars have referred to him as, “the one whose heart is a throne of God’s manifestation”, meaning that a pure heart can become a throne of God where He manifests His beauty and mercy for others to benefit from. So this statement, “there is no power and ability except that of God,” is demonstrated by a living example articulating how such a statement is to be lived and acted out in various real life situations. In this particular aphorism, Ibn ‘Atā’Allah speaks of two modes of the human condition: a life without the need for means and a life bound by means. A life without the need for means is one where financial and worldly obligations are taken care of. Such could be the life of a full-time student, for example, or someone who has funding that gives the individual the ability to focus on other aspects of life. Thus, one typically spends more time in worship such as prayer, fasting, study and invocation. A life bound by means where one is required to earn a living, provide for dependents and maintain the requisite financial and worldly obligations, given only enough time to engage in the basic, obligatory acts of worship.
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
This is, perhaps, the life that most of us living in the modern world. Many of us are part of the workforce, earning a living for ourselves, our families and, sometimes, even our extended families. We, therefore, become a means for their subsistence and represent a necessary relationship in their lives. This aphorism does not belittle either of these situations. Rather, it acknowledges that these are normal modes of life. It, however, addresses how we perceive the “other side of the fence” and reminds us that the grass is not always greener on the other side. When we find ourselves in one of these situations, we must understand that this is part of the divine plan, that we have been placed in a particular situation. To desire the other side, while one has not been given the chance to move from one to the other, is to miss the point entirely; what we are required to do is to be firm and excel in that which God has given us. However, we should keep in mind that both situations could either be temporary, as in most cases, or permanent. There-
WHAT SPIRITUAL TOPICS MATTER MOST TO YOU? Please help “Food for the Spirit” better meet your needs by completing a two-minute survey at: www.isna.net/foodforthespiritsurvey fore, when temporary, we are afforded opportunities, after work, for example, or on the weekends, when we can use our free time for our spiritual and personal development. This sentiment is reinforced by the Prophet’s example. He was born an orphan, lived poor, but became successful at business, married and had children. He was a father, a husband, a judge, a commander-in-chief, as well as a spiritual guide. In his life, we find how he took each of these conditions and made the best out of them. Never once did he desire to be rich or poor, single or
Islamic Horizons July/August 2013
married, a recluse or a statesman. Rather, wherever God placed him, whatever situation he was given, he excelled in the most beautiful of ways. When he was afforded a new opportunity and given a new path, he took it, knowing that this was a sign that God had moved him from one to another. This is a reminder that, as the scholars say, one should be firm and upright where God places one. In our lives, we interact with different people and it is easy to conclude that what they have is better than what we have. Some people want money, others fame and others seek endless power. Yet, these things that we seek are all from the dominion of God. He alone is the One who gives, not us. We all have different trajectories in our lives and have been given different opportunities. Despite these various opportunities, we all have the same chance to be excellent and to be ever-mindful that God is merciful, kind and gentle. He has praised beauty and excellence, and He has commanded us to seek these out in whatever situation He has placed us.
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