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A HIJABI TRAILBLAZER | THE FAQIH AS THE ENGINEER | A YEARLY MISSION TO HEAL
THE GROWING VISIBILITY OF THE
Latino Muslims reach out to their own communities in Spanish, Portuguese, and English
VOL 45 NO. 4 JULY/AUGUST 2016 visit isna online at: WWW.ISNA.NET
COVER STORY 26 The Growing Visibility of the Latino/Hispanic Community Latino Muslims reach out to their own communities in Spanish, Portuguese, and English.
26 32 34 36 37 38
ISLAM IN AMERICA
The Hajj Link to the African American Heritage How Islamophobia Impacts Muslim Children Anti-Muslim Rhetoric Makes Us All Less Safe Compassion with a Conscience A Hijabi Trailblazer
HEALTH & WELL-BEING
40 Islam and Abortion 42 Healthy Teeth Start Young
THE MUSLIM WORLD
44 Turkey Serves its Syrian Guests 46 Egyptians Have Won the Freedom from Fear
48 Recycling: The Tip of the Iceberg
50 A Yearly Mission to Heal 52 Islamophobia Deepens in Buddhist Myanmar
54 Akbar Muhammad, Mumtaz Ahmed, Hassan al-Turabi, Muhammad Salah, Abdul Waheed Mustapha, Mahmoud Shawky Taman and Zafar Ishaq Ansari
6 8 10 57 60
DEPARTMENTS Editorial ISNA Matters Community Matters New Releases Food for the Spirit
58 The Faqih as the Engineer
ISLAMIC HORIZONS JULY/AUGUST 2016
DESIGN & LAYOUT BY: Gamal Abdelaziz, A-Ztype Copyeditor: Jay Willoughby. The views expressed in Islamic Horizons are not necessarily the views of its editors nor of the Islamic Society of North America. Islamic Horizons does not accept unsolicitated articles or submissions. All references to the Quran made are from The Holy Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Amana, Brentwood, MD.
Hispanic Americans and the Word of God
Surat an-Nasr states, “And you see the people entering into God’s religion (in) multitudes” (Quran 110:2). In its Feb. 28, 2014, report, “Targeted Islamic outreach to Hispanics achieving results,” Ken Chitwood of the Religious News Service, wrote: “We visit the Islamic Center of Greater Miami to look at the rising number of Latino Muslims in the U.S. —as many as 250,000, according to estimates. Some of the converts say that in Islam they have found theological simplicity and ‘no intermediaries with God.’ The Islamic Circle of North America reports that more than half of U.S. Latino converts are women. ‘I just felt that the minute I put my head down to the ground,’ says Nadia Echevrria, ‘I was really talking to God.’” Hope is an important ingredient in life. And thus despite today’s toxic environment, the Islamophobia industry’s “gift” to America, we should continue to recite supplications, especially Alhamdulillah (All praise is due to God) whenever we feel overwhelmed. Juan Galvan, a Muslim convert of Mexican descent, directs the Latino American Dawah Organization (www.latinodawah. org). In his capacity of a coauthor of this issue’s cover story, he points out that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign began with lurid accusations directed against Mexican immigrants and other Hispanic groups, slurs that were later followed by verbal assaults on Muslims. As a result, media outlets hastened to find Muslim Hispanics, both born and convert, willing to comment or share their reactions. This negative atmosphere, he reports, has not only brought to light the increasing number of Latinos embracing or practicing Islam, but has also opened the door for others to explore Islam. Houston is home to IslamInSpanish Centro Islámico, the nation’s only Spanish-speaking mosque/Islamic center. Brandon, a former Jehovah’s Witness
graffiti artist, drove from Dallas to spend 3 nights inside the center painting an authentic graffiti mural based on Islamic geometric designs from al-Andalus. After explaining his design at the center’s grand opening during January 2016, he embraced Islam. The well-financed Islamophobia cottage industry continues to spread its corrosive negativity and cause some Muslims who were born here to wonder about what is going on in their homeland. But regardless of such things, Muslim Americans remain responsible for spreading Islam. After all, the current reality in which we find ourselves is hardly unique. One thing is sure. The money being thrown around by those who hate us and what we stand for is not stopping people from learning about Islam. This should both hearten and encourage us to focus on reaching out to all Americans – quite a few of whom happen to speak Spanish. Certainly interfaith and other activities have their place, but there is no substitute for reaching others with the Word of God. As of 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 73.3% of Hispanics living in this country, aged 5 years and older, speak Spanish at home, and 58% of them also had near-native English fluency. When dealing with our Hispanic neighbors, we should keep in mind that the remaining 42% are perhaps more comfortable with Spanish. Muslim Americans need to invest effort and money in reaching out to Hispanics both at home and abroad. After all, our next-door neighbor Mexico contains about 128 million people, the vast majority of whom are native Spanish speakers. This long-term linguistic “separation wall” needs to come down now. All Muslims constantly cite the glories of al-Andalus, but do not seem to have very much interest in those of its descendants who now live in the Americas.
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PUBLISHER The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) PRESIDENT Azhar Azeez SECRETARY GENERAL Hazem Bata EDITOR Omer Bin Abdullah EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Faryal M Khatri EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Parvez Ahmed (Interim Chair), Iqbal Unus, M. Ahmadullah Siddiqi, Hazem Bata. ISLAMIC HORIZONS is a bimonthly publication of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Copyright @2016 All rights reserved Reproduction, in whole or in part, of this material in mechanical or electronic form without written permission is strictly prohibited. Islamic Horizons magazine is available electronically on ProQuest’s Ethnic NewsWatch, LexisNexis, and EBSCO Discovery Service, and is indexed by Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature. Please see your librarian for access. The name “Islamic Horizons” is protected through trademark registration ISSN 8756‑2367 POSTMASTER Send address changes to Islamic Horizons, P.O. Box 38 Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 SUBSCRIPTIONS Annual, domestic – $24 Canada – US$30 Overseas airmail – US$60 TO SUBSCRIBE Contact Islamic Horizons at (317) 839‑8157 / (317) 839‑1811 Fax (317) 839‑1840 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING For rates contact Islamic Horizons at (703) 742‑8108, email@example.com, ww.isna.net Canada Post International Publications Mail Product (Canadian Distribution) Sales Agreement No. 0666300 CORRESPONDENCE Send all correspondence and/or Letters to the Editor at: Islamic Horizons P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
STRIVING FOR JUSTICE CONFERENCE IN MEMPHIS
ISNA hosted about 600 attendees April 9 at its Striving for Justice — the Prophetic Way of Life conference in Memphis, Tenn. Featured speakers Linda Sarsour, Shaikh Omar Suleiman, Shaikh Yasir Qadhi and ISNA President Azhar Azeez addressed on concepts of justice within the Islamic framework and the importance of taking a stand against injustices for not just the Muslim community, but for all people regardless
of their race, gender, creed or background. The topics of discussion included spiritual development/Seerah of the Prophet, community development, dealing with Islamophobia, civic engagement, education, and the family. The featured speakers and local speakers also addressed the youth in the MYNA/ MSA track which ran parallel to the main conference. In the celebration banquet, ISNA recog-
nized Abdul Alim Khandekar, a cardiothoracic surgeon, for his lifelong devotion to community service. Keynote speaker Shaikh Omar Suleiman addressed the banquet. Talented musical artist Amro Helmy harmonious performance set an inspirational tone to the evening. This conference was the second stop of ISNA’s 2016 conference tour which will be visiting various major cities around the nation throughout the year.
ISNA Masjid Task Force met during the ISNA Education Forum March 25 in Chicago
ISLAMIC HORIZONS JULY/AUGUST 2016
MYNA CAMPS LIGHT UP HEARTS MYNA rounded out the last of five Spring Break Camps for 2016 in Kentucky April 15 - 17. MYNA hosted approximately 140 MYNA campers and counselors at the rustic Camp Cedar Ridge in Louisville, Ky. The semi open-air cabins let the campers feel like they were sleeping in woods and the venturous, ample, recreation kept the youth busy during the day. Zip lining over water, canoeing among huge bass and taking aim at foam targets in archery while tens of real deer walked around the campsite were only some of the activities the youth experienced. Additionally, MYNA brought in several youth-oriented speakers to discuss a matter that all youth need to understand — Islam’s long-standing history in North America and the role Muslims played in developing civilization. Flint, Mich. neurosurgeon Jawad A. Shah and Dayton, Ohio ophthalmologist Zaiba Malik led discussions and workshops teaching about the rich history of Islam and its contributions to the world. Eyeglasses and surgery, coffee and flight, Arabic numerals and algebra, even the sword of the U.S. Marines and Marching Bands, all products of the work of Muslims, helped the youth repaint their Muslim American canvases that are often painted for them by others in a negative way.
Although this MYNA Spring Break Camp was only 3 days and 2 nights, the miracle of sisterhood/brotherhood inspired hearts as they reluctantly left camp, full of hugs, tears and smiles. MYNA held one of its classic events to the heart of Ohio June 4 at the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati (ICGC) under the theme “Evolution of the American Muslim!” This one-day gathering of youth from all over
the American Midwest and parts of Canada, popularly known as “MYNA Jam” was action packed. The youth created their own space to discuss what matters to them most, team building during workshops and enjoying entertainment by talented area and out of state performers. The youth found MYNA Jam as an amazing way to kick off their summer and get them prepared for Ramadan.
After giving campers a taste of the MYNA (www.myna.org) high over a series of threeday spring break camps, MYNA is presenting six week-long summer retreats during the Summer Break in Ohio, California, Texas/ Oklahoma/Kansas, Chicago, Florida and Philadelphia. For one week, campers and counselors alike will be given an experience of a lifetime, said Fiyyaz Jaat, director of ISNA Youth Programming and Services Department. He added, “They’ll listen to speakers like Zahra Billoo and Jawad Shah, have access to knowledge that may usually be hard to attain. They’ll engage in interactive workshops and deep discussions, learning to view a topic from a perspective they otherwise may not have known. “They’ll face their fears and learn to love their fellow brother or sister for His sake, jumping off of a zip line and creating lasting memories around a bonfire. They’ll learn what it means to have a second family, a second home, chanting and voicing their MYNA spirit by the end of the week. “And most importantly, they’ll come together to achieve one goal: change. Improving the world around us begins with improving ourselves, and while the ultimate journey on His path may be a long one, youth can take that first step with MYNA this summer. Why wait? We are not just the future.”
ISNA HELPS NEEDY FAMILIES
ISNA headquarters joined 18 area churches in the annual interfaith “Underneath It All, We’re All the Same” where 2243 items of underwear were collected and distributed to 18 agencies including 12 food pantries in Hendricks County. This annual interfaith underwear collection for Hendricks County, running since 2011, was first organized by the Unitarian Universalist Community Church in Danville, Ind. This unique campaign provides undergarments to those who might not be able to afford to purchase these necessary items. Insufficient underwear is an invisible sign of poverty and, therefore, an item frequently cut when budgets are tight. Compounding this problem is that underwear is rarely donated during other clothing campaigns and is not readily available elsewhere.
The ISNA Majlis Ash-Shura (Board) is comprised of 10 directly elected officers, seven ex-officio members of constituent organizations, and five representatives of the House of Community Representatives. The House of Community Representatives (HCR) is composed of local ISNA/NAIT/CITF affiliated organizations across the U.S. and Canada, represented by their elected leaders. The HCR elects five of its members to represent Muslim community organizations in the ISNA Majlis. This synergy between these two organs of ISNA strengthens both the local and national presence of Muslims in America. In the fall of 2015, the HCR elected five representatives to the ISNA Majlis. They attended their first in-person meeting of the Majlis at ISNA headquarters in April 2016. These newly elected HCR representatives are: 1. Safiah Chowdhury (Ontario) 2. Ahmed J. Quereshi (Wisconsin) 3. Abdul Hamid Samra (Florida) 4. Faizul Khan (Maryland) 5. Muhammad Farooq-i-Azam Malik (Texas) The biennial general election of the ISNA officers and Majlis members was conducted in 2014, and has begun for the 2016 cycle. Election results should be announced in September 2016.
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ISNA ELECTS GOVERNING BOARDS Reference IH May/June 2016 issue; page 13.
COMMUNITY MATTERS Jamal Barzinji Honored Posthumously NFL Safety Husain
(L-R) Yaqub Mirza, Suzaane Barzinji, Firas Barzinji, Reza Mansoor, and Abubaker al Shingeti
Hartford Seminary bestowed a posthumous honorary Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, on Jamal Barzinji, who passed away in 2015, at its graduation ceremony on May 13, 2016. Reza Mansoor, first vice chair of the Hartford Seminary Board of Trustees, stated that Barzinji “was involved in almost every major Muslim association in America.” Barzinji, an Iraqi-American pioneer in Muslim American circles, served as president of the Muslim Students Association, a board member of the Islamic Society of North America and a founding member of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), of which he was also a trustee and former vice president for research and publications. In addition, he was the founding
general manager of North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), a founding member of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists as well as the Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers. Among his many accomplishments were the establishment of Mar-Jac Poultry, Safa Trust, Amana Mutual Funds, the SAAR Foundation, and Bank Islam Malaysia. In addition, he served as the Dean of the Faculty of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences at the International Islamic University Malaysia. His life-long love of education manifested itself in his academic career: BS (University of Sheffield, England), MSc. (chemical engineering, Louisiana State University) and PhD. (chemical engineering, Louisiana State University). Throughout his life, Mansoor remarked, Barzinji raised money for endowed chairs and for scholarships for students worldwide. Abubaker Al Shingieti, executive director of IIIT and member of Hartford Seminary’s Board of Trustees, accepted the award along with Barzinji’s wife Suzanne, son Firas and Yaqub Mirza, president and CEO of Sterling Management Group and a long-time friend and business associate.
Muslims and Voting The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU)’s report “American “Muslims in the 2016 Election and Beyond: Principles and Strategies for Greater Political Engagement” found that eligible Muslim citizens are less likely to be registered to vote than Jews, Catholics, and Protestants (60 percent vs. at least 85 percent). Muslims, the only major American faith community with no majority race, span the socioeconomic and ideological spectra (Gallup 2009, ISPU 2016) and the educational spectrum. Given this diversity, the goal of defining its members’ interests and policy priorities might seem impossible. The report said that during the coming 10 or 20 years, community members have to find ways to transform this diversity into a strength that can be used to its benefit. ISPU has uncovered a core set of guiding principles and policy priorities. ISPU’s 2016 poll reveals that Muslim Americans’ priorities reflect those of the general public. Of those polled, 20 percent stated that the economy was the most important issue for the next president, followed by racism, discrimination and civil liberties (9 percent), education (8 percent) and jobs (7 percent). Other important issues they want the next president to address are immigration (6 percent), foreign policy (5 percent) and peace in the Middle East (4 percent). ISPU strongly recommended that Muslim communities encourage political participation via registering to vote and attending political events. 10
Former Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah announced his retirement from the NFL on March 28. The 30-yearold free agent, who spent seven years in the NFL, told reporters that he was worried about his health after suffering five concussions during his career. Repetitive concussions can cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative neurological disorder. The symptoms, which can include dementia or unusual memory loss, can be related to ALS. In April of last year, the NFL agreed to settle a lawsuit and pay $765 million to about 5,000 former players over health claims linked to concussion and head injury. “My goals moving forward are to be of benefit to my family, my community, my country and hopefully the world. Having a sound mind will be vital in accomplishing these goals,” said Abdullah. During his four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and three years with the Chiefs, which he joined in 2013, he made 289 tackles in 97 games with six interceptions and two touchdowns. Abdullah and his wife Zhavon, who recently celebrated their 10-year anniversary, have two daughters and a son. In 2012, Abdullah famously put his career on hold to make hajj and resumed his career the following year when the Chiefs re-signed him. Shakeel Syed (center) was recognized with the Faith in Action award at the 31st annual awards dinner of the Orange County Congregation Community Organization (OCCCO), a grassroots, faith-based community organization that works with more than 22 religious congregations representing over 48,000 families throughout Orange County.
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Hakeem Olajuwon Gifts Islamic Library
Mayor Turner (center) cuts the ceremonial ribbon as Olajuwon (left) watches
Hakeem Olajuwon, the former Houston Rockets Hall of Famer, joined Houston mayor Sylvester Turner on April 16 to formally open the $2.5 million Library of Islamic Knowledge housed within the city’s Islamic Da’wah Center. Turner said, “This place is not just for Muslims, but everyone,” noting that it opens the door for people of all faiths to learn about a different part of this highly diverse city, reported the Houston Chronicle.
The newspaper described the venue as “white marble floors of the opulent library contrast with its mahogany brown tables and bookshelves.” There’s no shortage of gold in sight, the report said. Ameer Abuhalimeh, the library’s executive director, remarked, “The center is dedicated to the history, culture and public education of Islam. Our goal isn’t just to promote a balanced perspective of Islam, but also to serve downtown Houston and the community at-large.” The Islamic Da’wah Center, downtown Houston’s first mosque, opened in 2002 on the site of a former bank. Olajuwon bought it in 1994 and set about converting it into a three-story mosque that houses a main prayer hall, meeting rooms, classrooms, offices and a kitchen. The library — housed on the third floor — is open to the public and part of a larger goal to offer a comprehensive
Islamic Declaration Presented to the UN
The Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change was delivered to the president of the UN General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft at the UN headquarters on April 22. This coincided with the signing of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which was adopted at the UN Climate Change Conference in that city on Dec. 12, 2015, by representatives of more than 150 nations. Sixty heads of state, a record in UN history for a treaty-signing ceremony, attended. “Faith communities, including global Muslims, made their intentions and voices heard last year by releasing historic declarations on the environment and climate change. These include the remarkable Papal Encyclical on the Environment and Climate
Change, Laudato Si.” said Saffet Abid Catovic, a drafting committee member. This declaration, endorsed by over 80 Muslim leaders, was drafted and adopted by the International Islamic Climate Change Symposium, held during Aug. 17-18, 2105, in Istanbul. This event was cosponsored by Islamic Relief Worldwide, GreenFaith and the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Members of the delegation included Imam Al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid, vice president of the Muslim Alliance-USA and Canada, Saffet Abid Catovic, chaplain at Drew University and founder of Green Muslims of New Jersey, Lamia El Amri, vice-chair board of trustees of Islamic Relief Worldwide, Mohamed Amr Attawia,
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educational resource to Houston residents. It will also offer Arabic classes. By year-end, Abuhalimeh anticipates that the library will have 25,000 books and a digital collection of approximately 100,000 titles. He hopes that the center’s Museum of Islamic Art, “dedicated to the accurate presentation of Islamic art,” will be completed by then. One of its key objectives is to celebrate 1,400 years of Islamic culture, the impact that Muslims have had upon humanity and “to propel the desire to further study and discover the mysteries of the Muslim world.” Houston has the state’s largest Muslim population, which, by some estimates, accounts for 1.2 percent of its 22 million inhabitants. In 2015 the San Antonio Express-News reported that it contains about 80 mosques and at least 10 Islamic schools. During that same year, the Houston Independent School District opened its Arabic immersion magnet public school with the support of a Qatari grant. board of directors, Islamic Relief USA, Nana Firman, GreenFaith Fellow and White House Champion of Change-Indonesia and Wael Hmaidan, director of Climate Action Network International-Lebanon. Firman and Catovic are members of ISNA’s Green Mosque Task Force. Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC) executive director Tabassum Haleem received the 14th annual Minorities in Public Policy Studies (MiPPS) Alumni Award on May 26. This award honors those University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy alumni who have demonstrated excellence in their areas of professional study. The committee’s selection was based upon her role at CIOGC and her efforts to promote the status of minority/underrepresented groups and her contributions to research, advocacy and the advancement of these groups.
Erdogan Opens Maryland Mosque
PHOTO BY ANDALOU AGENCY
Religious Exclusiveness Defeated
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan officially inaugurated the $110 million Diyanet Center of America in Lanham, Md., on April 2. He noted that “Intolerance towards Muslims is on the rise not only here in the United States but also around the globe ... That’s why I believe this center will play a crucial role.” He stressed that Muslim communities in the U.S. have nothing to do with terrorism and are, in fact, “contributing to strengthening the United States” in their capacity of “primary elements” of American society. ... Unfortunately, we are in a period The Muslim Women’s Alliance held their annual conference, “Muslim Women Rising,” on April 17 in Chicago. The honorees were Asra Ali, clinical faculty and assistant professor, Midwestern University, Muslim Educational and Cultural Center of America, board member, and ISNA Convention Steering Committee co-chair, ISNA Sustainers Circle member; Aisha El-Amin, associate dean of students, University of Illinois at Chicago, co-founder of Bridging the Gap, and CAIR board member; and Hafidha Leila Osman, founder of Blessed Bonds (BB), instructor at Rabata, coordinator for Iron Faith, BB Fit, BB Sing and BB Quran. The featured speakers were Anse Tamara Gray, Fatima Salman, Alaa Basatneh, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, Faatimah Knight and Linda Sarsour. Laila El-Amin, foreign language and religious studies teacher at the all-girls’ parochial Aqsa School in Bridgeview, Ill., was 12
of rising intolerance and prejudice toward Muslims in the United States and the world. ... It is unacceptable for the Muslims of the world to be forced to pay the price of the horror and pain created by a handful of terrorists in the aftermath of 9/11.” The 15-acre mosque complex, the only one in the U.S. to feature two minarets, echoes the golden age of 16th-century Ottoman architecture with its central dome, half domes and cupolas in the style of Istanbul’s Suleymaniye Mosque. Erdogan had laid complex’s foundation stone on May 15, 2013. awarded the prestigious 2016 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching. The head of the school’s Arabic and religion departments, she is the first Islamic school teacher to be so recognized. Golden Apple, a leading nonprofit that celebrates and develops great teachers who have a life-long impact on the lives of their students, recognizes and honors outstanding teachers for helping to build a stronger, better-educated society. Selected from a pool of more than 400 nominations, they represent 9th-12th grade teachers from Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. They are nominated by the students, community members, parents and colleagues with whom they have engaged and helped. El-Amin, a Sudanese American who has taught at Aqsa for nearly 30 years, has been described as a true role model due to her perseverance, dedication, integrity, and striving for excellence. She pushes her students to
In her 55-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder ruled on April 6 that restoring a Christian cross to the Los Angeles County seal is unconstitutional because it places the county’s “power, prestige and purse” behind one religion. It was a victory for the American Civil Liberties Union and Shakeel Syed, Rev. Father Ian Elliott Davies, Rev. J. Edwin Bacon, Jr., Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, Rev. Tera Little, Rabbi John Rosove, Rev. Peter Laarman, David N. Myers and Rabbi Amy Bernstein, all of whom had collectively sued in 2014 after the County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to reinstate the cross. The plaintiffs had argued that the Board included the Latin cross on the 1957 Seal for religious purposes and the restoration of a Latin cross to the official County seal by placing the cross atop the seal’s depiction of the San Gabriel Mission violates (1) the No Aid Clause of article XVI, section 5 of the California Constitution; (2) the No Preference Clause of article I, section 4 of the California Constitution; and (3) the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The judge ordered the County to bear the costs of the litigation. The round seal, featuring a Native American woman with a basket of fruit, the Hollywood Bowl and a Spanish galleon, can be found on county buildings, sheriff ’s vehicles, uniform patches and stationery, among other items.
work hard and have a sense of pride in the outcome. As a result, the school added an honors weight to her classes because of the depth and workload she required of her students. Whether as the advisor of a student club or part of the school leadership team, she has enriched her students and peers tremendously.
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COMMUNITY MATTERS Zaki Barzinji, former deputy director of Intergovernmental Affairs for Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.), has been appointed as liaison to the Muslim American community under the White House Office of Public Engagement. In his new position, Barzinji, 27, will work to ensure that Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, and Hindu Americans are represented at the federal level. The Virginia native and former president of Muslim Youth of North America has experience in bringing underrepresented groups into the public arena. While working in the governor’s office, Barzinji served as a liaison to the Virginia Asian Advisory Board and, before that, directed outreach to Arab American, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities for McAuliffe’s 2013 campaign. Building upon the ongoing work of the Office of Public Engagement, Barzinji’s job includes coordinating public speaking engagements for the Obama administration in Muslim American communities, ensuring that their needs and wants are represented and promoting civic involvement within faith communities. “This appointment is a further extension of this Administration’s commitment to America’s tradition of religious pluralism,” senior advisor to the Office of Public Engagement Valerie Jarrett said in a statement. “As we continue to lift up the contributions of Muslim Americans and celebrate our nation’s rich patchwork heritage, we also continue our work to combat discrimination, harassment, and attacks on community members, and address the challenges these communities and our nation are currently facing,” she said.
innovative designs of facilities (such as hospitals, intensive care units, or clinics) improve clinical care or the economics of care.” Ismail Mehr, IMANA’s medical relief chairperson, accepted the award on behalf of IMANA at the 2016 ACP Internal Medicine Meeting, which was held during May 5-7 in Washington, D.C.
The Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA), a constituent organization of ISNA, was selected as this year’s recipient of the prestigious American College of Physicians (ACP) Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award. Established by the Rosenthal Family Foundation in 1976, this award is given “to that organization whose
Independent filmmaker Musa Syeed, was among the 2016 awardees of the Rockwood JustFilms Fellowship. This fellowship brings together 12 leaders working at the intersection of
North America’s mosques can now benefit from a turnkey solution (MOHID™) offered by Chicago’s DeenTek Solutions, which offers many services, among them managing and improving donations (which integrates seamlessly with Intuit QuickBooks), sadaqah and zakat inflows. Its ability to automate membership, event announcements and registration makes it easier for the leadership to track how many people attended and capture congregants’ data, which can be used to determine demographic details and break the community down into its constituent parts. In addition, MOHID™ claims to be able to create donation receipts and year-end tax summaries for donors; allow the communities direct messaging access to board members, administrators and/or staff; and to facilitate mosque-to-mosque collaboration in terms of event announcements and zakat disbursement. The MOHID™ system digitizes the mosques, thereby providing them with a self-service kiosk and Mobile Ap. The self-service kiosk, an 18.5 inch customizable touchscreen device, allows congregants to swipe credit or debit cards to make one-time or recurring donations, register as members and register for programs, subscribe to newsletters and purchase tickets for events. MOHID™ software (mohid.net) currently has a clientele of 100+ North American mosques.
storytelling, film and social change in order to learn skills that will lift their capacity for leadership and collaboration. This cohort represents a wide range of established leaders in the film and digital storytelling sectors, among them creative administrators, media impact producers, executive producers, filmmakers, thought leaders and executive directors. The two residential retreats, peer coaching sessions and additional leadership support will help them develop stronger working partnerships with each other and leaders of other social movements. The fellowships aims to: (1) increase the individual leadership effectiveness of a cohort of 12 leaders working within the context of film and social change; (2) provide opportunities for cross-movement connection with other social change leaders; and (3) provide opportunities for connection within the JustFilms initiative and other film industry professionals. The Rockwood Leadership Institute was founded in 2000 to provide individuals, organizations and networks in the social benefit sector with powerful and effective training in leadership and collaboration.
The FBI’s Washington Field Office recognized the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center with its 2015 Director’s Community Leadership Award. The center was selected for its leadership role in building partnerships between law enforcement and the Muslim community in order to enhance mutual cooperation and public safety. Imam Mohamed Maged accepted the award on behalf of ADAMS from FBI Director James B. Comey. Created in 1990, it honors the efforts of individuals and organizations to combat crime, terrorism, drugs and violence in America. In the words of the FBI, the center has been instrumental in developing and
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COMMUNITY MATTERS coordinating large-scale events that engage interfaith leaders, community members, government and law enforcement officials at all levels. ADAMS provides a forum at which people can share mutual concerns and explore ways to strengthen cooperation between law enforcement and community members. For more than 14 years, it has served as a member of the Washington Field Office’s Arab Muslim Sikh Advisory Council (AMSAC). ADAMS has hosted the FBI for several events, including town hall meetings, and regularly reports to its community bout the prevention of terrorism and acts of violence in the U.S. and abroad. Also, on May 12, the Washington, D.C.based International Center for Religion & Diplomacy presented its 2016 Faith-in-Action Award to Imam Magid, chairman of the International Interfaith Peace Corps for his religious and civic leadership.
The Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported on April 19 that the Afton City Council had unanimously voted 5-0 to approve plans for the city’s first mosque: the Islamic Society of Woodbury-East Metro. Many of the residents who attended the meeting stayed to greet and welcome the announcement. Local Muslims hope that it will be open in time for Ramadan 2017, which will begin on May 27. About 200 people are expected to attend the Friday service, and around 100 students and teachers are expected to make use of the Sunday weekend school. The 10,500-square-foot structure, which is to be built on the 29-acre lot, will include a 4,500-square-foot multipurpose hall. They plan to continue renting out about 19 acres as farmland. Afton is located approximately fifteen miles east of downtown St. Paul. The community, which now meets in a 5,000-squarefoot space in an office park, purchased the lot in 2013.
“It’s such a huge step in the right direction — not just for Washington County, not just for Afton, but the whole Twin Cities,” said former mayor Jon Kroschel. “Make a 16
statement. This is the direction we’re going. The world is getting smaller. They’re our neighbors. They’ve been our neighbors for 20 years, 30 years, 100 years. Welcome them, and let’s make this a community.” Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations-Minnesota, said, “We’re looking forward to having this mosque be an addition to this community’s growing diversity.” The Oklahoma branch of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) and its Executive Director Adam Soltani received the state’s top civil liberties award from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oklahoma on April 16. The award is named for Angie Debo, the writer, historian and civil rights advocate who relentlessly pursued justice in cooperation with the ACLU of Oklahoma during the late 1960s and 1970s. This highest award presented by the ACLU of Oklahoma has been presented annually since 1971 for outstanding achievement in the fight for civil rights and civil liberties. ACLU of Oklahoma executive director Ryan Kiesel said Soltani and CAIR-OK were chosen to receive this award for their efforts to protect the rights of the state’s Muslim community and to ensure the religious liberty rights of all Oklahomans. Soltani also delivered the keynote address for the ACLU annual meeting. Physician and medical educator Humayun Javaid Chaudhry, president and CEO of the Federation of State Medical Board (FSMB), was ranked number 28 among the nation’s fifty most influential health professionals. Before Chaudhry, 50, took the helm at the FSMB in 2009, he wrote health policy resolutions adopted by the American Medical Association, led clinical trials and authored studies on tactics to improve vaccine utilization. He follows the same approach at the non-for-profit federation, which represents the country’s 70 medical licensing boards. Last year he led the launch of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which addresses physician shortages in rural areas by providing licenses to physicians who want to practice in multiple states, especially via telemedicine. The federation has also updated its database,
redesigned its website and developed new guidelines to reflect the rise of telehealth. Previously, Chaudhry was commissioner for Suffolk County (N.Y.) Department of Health Services, where he established a Division of Preventive Medicine. The Islamic Foundation School, which the Washington Post called the second most challenging high school in Illinois, celebrated its 30th anniversary at its Legacy Gala by hosting 500 guests on April 30. Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago chair Mohammed Kaiseruddin presented a 30th Anniversary clock to the IFS leadership in recognition of the milestone. The school’s parent teacher organization donated $20,000 towards the new physics lab among other projects. On April 19, Illinois appointed its second Muslim judge in state history. Mohammed Mujahid Ghouse, 42, was appointed one of the thirteen new Cook County associate judges who will serve until 2019. Bringing more than 16 years of criminal defense litigation experience to the post, Ghouse, who received his Juris Doctorate from DePaul University College of Law, served as an assistant state’s attorney from 1998 to 2004 and in the Felony Trial Division in Bridgeview. He has also been an adjunct professor at Moraine Valley Community College, where he taught criminal procedure and substantive criminal law. In addition, during 2014 Ghouse served as board member of the Southwest Bar Association. Hijab-wearing Palestinian American senior Zarifeh Shalabi, 17, was elected Fontana, Calif., Summit High School’s prom queen, winning over 30 other nominees. To help her win the title, her friends printed up bright green T-shirts emblazoned “Vote for Zarifeh.” And then they did something really surprising: They went one step further and wore hijabs to display their support for her in the most obvious way possible. And once they got to school, even more girls asked to wear them, reported the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin on April 17. Shalabi, who couldn’t wear the crown because it wouldn’t fit over her hijab, isn’t
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a traditional prom queen. She had never gone to a high school party. This was her last chance to go to a prom, and many of her friends were going, without dates, so Shalabi bought her ticket. The prom queen is usually the school’s most popular girl: the cheerleaders, the student government officials and those who go to the parties. Anwer Hasan, board member of the Howard County Muslim Council (HCMC) and United Maryland Muslim Council (UCMC), was named among the Daily Record newspaper’s 51 Influential Marylanders for 2105. A senior corporate executive, Hasan volunteers his time to improve education for college students across the state, to defuse tension and increase communications between Muslims and the local communities. As chairman of the Maryland Higher Education Commission, which he joined eight years ago, Hasan is focused on making
colleges affordable and accessible by working with the state and the private sector to develop loan-assistance programs to reduce debt for the state’s college graduates. Hasan formed HCMC shortly after 9/11 to increase Muslim involvement in the community. He then went on to help develop similar councils in seven more Maryland counties and one at the state level, the UCMC. The newspaper created “Influential Marylanders” in 2006 to honor people who have made significant impacts in their field and continue to be leaders in Maryland. The Muneeba Centre, which offers support programs and respite services for people with disabilities, was officially opened May 14 in Mississauga, Ontario. In attendance were community leaders and members as well as, including Ontario’s Finance Minister Charles Sousa, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and provincial lawmaker Svend Spengemann and other political representatives The center is operated by the nonprofit
DEEN Support Services. After running a successful Sunday Activity Night Program for over 4 years, the organization has now acquired its first home in the Greater Toronto Area. It will expand to provide additional programs, as requested. DEEN is operated by a diverse group of individuals with disabilities, family members and allies. Founder Rabia Khedr said, “DEEN, which stands for Disability Empowerment Equality Network, will fill a gap in the lives of many. We intend to provide individuals and their caregivers a flexible and affordable program that responds to their diverse cultural and spiritual needs and life skills goals.”
Northern Wisconsin Mosque Celebrates Landmark BY SAHAR TAMAN
Barron). In 2010, its Board established the n May 15th, the Islamic Society region’s only Islamic cemetery. of Northern Wisconsin (ISNW) Jennifer Templin, a 25th anniversary comcelebrated its 25th anniversary. mittee member and recent Eau Claire arrival, Some 150 people Muslims and members said, “Our vision for this Open House and of the larger Chippewa Valley community picnic was not only to reach out to the friends attended. and neighbors with whom the Board and ISNW was incorporated in 1991, when Dr. Taman had worked tirelessly to build several Muslims funded the purchase of a disused Altoona church. Psychiatrist Mahmoud Shawky Taman, a member of the area’s first Muslim family, which arrived in 1973, died about one week before this open house. He had led the effort to transform it into a mosque. The mosque serves about 65 Muslim families in Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, Altoona, Menomonie and other smaller towns. About 200,000 live in Chippewa Valley. It also supports the larger community Nazish, an active fundraiser, got her friend Grace to via its robust outreach program, which help put up the celebration decorations. includes an open invitation for all people to observe the Friday prayer and learn about relationships over the years, but also to honor Islam and Muslims. Over the years it has Dr. Taman and the other founding members formed ties with area churches, Eau Claire’s of the Islamic Society of Northern Wisconsin. synagogue, schools, charities, the police, local It’s truly a blessing to have our own house of government and civic and political groups. worship in this area...” In addition, it provided funds for Eau Claire’s Suzie Slota, a member of Eau Claire’s first homeless shelter, the Sojourner House, University Lutheran Church, said that she has also mentored Muslim communities (e.g., “came because I believe it is important for all
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of us in the community to make connections and find our common ground.” JoAnn Klink and her husband Joel, a retired University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire professor of chemistry, who are members of that city’s First Congregational United Church of Christ, hosted an international Muslim congregation in 2009 through ISNW. JoAnn said, “I came because I believe that community is one of the most important values that we have as human beings and I am really very grateful to the Muslims for reaching out and for continuing to do so.“ Mohammad Alasagheirin, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and many other Muslims are deeply involved in building interfaith dialogue. He is a new member of the Trialogue, a group of local clerics and interfaith advocates who have often met in the mosque over the last 23 years. Over the years, many community elders have served as imams. In 2013, American-born Tamer Abdelaziz, who was trained in American Islamic seminaries, came on board as a part-time imam for the Juma prayer. He commutes 90 miles from Minneapolis. Sahar Taman mentors youth around the world through her work on the Kennedy-Lugar YES Program.
53 RD ANNUAL ISNA CONVENTION
In Shape for #ISNA53 Volunteers in Chicago and elsewhere, along with ISNA headquarters staff, continue laying the ground for a successful convention BY ISLAMIC HORIZONS STAFF
he ISNA Convention Program Committee (CPC) has chosen to build upon last year’s successful theme, “Stories of Resilience: Strengthening the American Muslim Narrative,” by using the 53rd Convention to focus upon “Turning Points: Navigating Challenges, Seizing Opportunities.” Once again, attendees will benefit by listening to scholarly deliberations and engaging with the speakers both during and after the numerous plenary, main, and parallel sessions as well as roundtable discussions. The information that they will take away from these encounters is designed to help them refine their understanding of how they can function intelligently, realistically, practically and effectively during their daily interactions with others. Participants will be able to explore, along with the presenters, how to strengthen their faith, both on the individual and the community level, impart Islam’s teachings through their deeds as well as words and address socially complex issues. To achieve this vision, the ISNA CPC invited proposals. Most of the 250+ submissions by the April 15 deadline related to individual and collective experiences and interwove sub-themes. Based upon this data, several parallel session topics were selected: Track I: The Individual Level
Track II: The Family Level Track III: The Masjid/Community Level Track IV: The Organizational Level The Convention Steering Committee (CSC), comprising more than 15 community leaders and members, met in Chicago on April 24 to discuss such convention-related topics as expanding community outreach; enhancing diversity and the overall attendee experience; increasing youth involvement and engagement; improving security; dealing with logistical matters (e.g., getting more ethnic communities involved); reaching out to more of the community’s socioeconomic segments; explaining the activities of specific subcommittees (e.g., Marketing and Outreach, Registration, Information, Volunteer Services); and upgrading the quality of the childcare program. Conventions Director Basharat Saleem noted that the host city’s CSC is the result of a concerted effort to involve a broader cross section of the community leadership. Many exciting events have been arranged, among them the bazaar, matrimonial banquets, an art exhibit, a film festival, a basketball tournament and much more. Follow the convention on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #ISNA53 for the latest updates. Facebook: facebook.com/ ISNAhq. Twitter: @ISNAhq.
2015 award ceremony recognizing M. Yaqub Mirza (4th from left) 18
CAREER AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS These programs will feature such professional organizations such as AMPH (American Muslims for Public Health); the Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals (CAMP); the Association of Muslim Scientists, Engineers and Technology Professionals (AMSET); Muslim Urban Professionals (Muppies) and Muslim Advocates. Presenters will focus on addressing attendees’ concerns and new developments in their respective fields. These meetings are offered free of charge to all interested individuals. At the luncheon, they will select those who will attend a TED-style talk. Confirmed speakers are NASA’s Egyptian born aerospace engineer Tahani Amer and Sajid Patel, CEO of OptimalDesign. ISNA’s first-ever entrepreneur competition — a shark tank-style event — will give growing businesses an opportunity to showcase themselves and attract potential investors. The Chicago regional competition had four judges: Kabir Ahmed, Hussain Jilani, Ibrahim Ahmed, and K. Rizwan Kadir. Kabir Ahmed started a pharmaceutical manufacturing company that, before he sold it, had over 200 products and generated more than $10 million in annual revenue. He is currently CEO of a second startup pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution company located in Illinois. President Hussain Jilani of Bright Image Corporation, which manufactures innovative electrical energy-saving lighting controls, has pioneered multiple new products that are now sold nationwide. A volunteer teacher at the Islamic Foundation Sunday School, he also developed Sunnah Sports, a youth program that each week teaches 200 youth about love, honor and respect through fun activities. Vice President Ibrahim Ahmed of Respa
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Bearing all of this in mind, ISNA/AMSET is thinking of offering a Job and Business Development Fair. Hiring and recruitment firms, as well as franchise providers, venture capitalists, angel investors, and bankers, and those who provide legal, accounting and marketing services will be invited to attend.
Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures human and veterinary medications, has served as CEO and founding president of the Wisconsin College of Osteopathic Medicine. He also volunteers as vice principal at the Islamic Foundation Sunday School. A small event was held by ISNA this spring in Chicago, during which four teams of the 13 businesses registered were selected to participate. First place went to Bey Designs, and second place went to ShopperKraft. Both winners were automatically registered in the national competition, which will take place at the convention, and received a free booth to showcase their ideas/ products. Register at http://www.isna.net/esc.html. To sponsor or serve as a judge, please contact email@example.com. ISNA and the Association of Muslim Scientists, Engineers and Technology Professionals (AMSET; formerly the Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers) will hold career and business development programs to help community members secure and grow in rewarding careers, as well as to assist aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start and then build prosperous businesses. Although the primary focus will be on the youth and future generations, all interested persons are invited to attend. ISNA/AMSET programs are designed to motivate Muslims to pursue challenging careers and businesses and to help them do so by leading them toward the relevant resources via effective coaching and networking. Featured events include presentations, workshops, panel discussions, mentoring sessions, and one-on-one counseling (e.g., job search strategies, resume preparation, and interviewing techniques), as well as identifying business opportunities, developing business plans, matching investors with entrepreneurs, and incubating new business services.
and ISNA vice president Altaf Hussain to share their knowledge, insight and wisdom on topics such as mental health, gender relations, the struggle of maintaining a strong Muslim identity, and stars to interact with like Native Deen and more.” Inviting parents to register their youth,
ISNA’S FIRST-EVER ENTREPRENEUR COMPETITION — A SHARK TANK-STYLE EVENT — WILL GIVE GROWING BUSINESSES AN OPPORTUNITY TO SHOWCASE THEMSELVES AND ATTRACT POTENTIAL INVESTORS. ISNA/AMSET is seeking volunteers, creative ideas, suggestions, financial support and sponsorship, said Shafeeq Bandagi (firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-687-9666). AMSET came into being in 2014, following the realization that since technology has become so intertwined with scientific and engineering disciplines, AMSE was in danger of becoming obsolete if technology professionals were not embraced wholeheartedly. With new bylaws and a new corporate identity, AMSET is now an officially recognized 501(c) organization.
MYNA PROGRAMS As a parent, it’s easy to want to hold onto your child in the midst of 10,000 other convention attendees, said Fiyyaz Jaat, director of ISNA’s Youth Programming and Services Department. Noting that youth might find it hard to stay awake during a session in a large lecture hall, that listening to speaker after speaker talk about issues that may be over their heads, that you’ve kept your son or daughter near, or that that they’ve left the convention because their needs have not been addressed, the Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA) asks you to do the following: “Don’t, as a parent, let the chance for your child to explore his or her interests pass them by. Don’t, as youth, rob yourselves of the opportunity to hear your struggles addressed or your questions answered. “MYNA is proud to present its 31st-annual youth track at this year’s convention, a program that invites motivators like Mufti Hussain Kamani, Shaikh Abdul Nasir Jangda, Tahera Ahmad, Shaikh Omar Suleiman
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he urged them to “join us in discovering our potential as youth and in answering the question at center-stage: If not you, then who? How can we be both the leaders of today and tomorrow? What can we offer our society as Muslim youth, and how can we make our mark in the history of this nation, this world?”
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ISNA EDUCATION FORUM
Abdul R. C. Amine
Refocusing on Mission and Vision Educators, school administrators, scholars and leaders network at the 17th Annual Education Forum in Chicago BY FARYAL M. KHATRI
he work that you are doing is not just for the kids involved in the Islamic schools. It is for the ummah (community) as a whole,” said ISNA secretary general Hazem Bata as he inaugurated the 17th Annual Education Forum held on March 25-27 in Chicago. This annual forum, arranged by ISNA and Council of Islamic Schools in North America (CISNA), provides a platform for educators and administrators to meet with experts in education and organizational management as well as to network, collaborate and propose innovative solutions to common issues. The discussions revolved around this year’s theme: Reality Check: Refocusing on Mission & Vision. As Islamic schools forge ahead in terms
of using technology to enhance learning, partner with parents to reach the “whole child” and address the needs of all learners, it is important to take time and revisit these schools’ mission and vision.
PRE-CONFERENCE WORKSHOPS The forum began with 5 pre-conference workshops designed to help the targeted audience hone in on specific skills. This year ISNA offered workshops for Arabic teacher training, principal and administrator training, spiritual development (tarbiyah), Quran teacher training and general teacher training. This last workshop was designed by Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) and led by ASCD Virginia board member Eric Carbaugh, an associate professor in James
Madison University’s Department of Middle, Secondary and Mathematics Education.
CONTINUING THE CONVERSATION Similar to the pre-conference workshops, the forum’s sessions were developed with specific audiences in mind: teacher, Islamic studies, Arabic studies, and principal and board tracks. An array of topics was discussed, among them curriculum development, student character building, teaching and learning a foreign language and strategic planning. Sessions provided attendees with resources and information to take back to their schools. Nadiah Mohajir, co-founder and executive director of HEART [Health, Education, Research & Training] Women & Girls, led a session on sexual violence and prevention. Anse Tamara Gray, founder of Raba-
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ta, provided resources to measure how the curricula used in Islamic schools promote female empowerment as well as positive cultural and religious messages regarding girls and women. Omar Ezzeldine, a consultant with the Los Angeles County Office of Education, provided resources for principals and board
CELEBRATION BANQUET On March 26, the celebration banquet brought together the forum attendees, special guests and local leaders to recognize the community’s goals, achievements and service. ISNA honored neurologist Abdul R. C. Amine with its Lifetime Achievement in
ISNA HONORED NEUROLOGIST ABDUL R. C. AMINE WITH ITS LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN ISLAMIC EDUCATION AWARD FOR HIS DEDICATED SERVICE, EVER SINCE THE 1970s, TO THE COMMUNITY. members designed to help them make effective decision-making based on data. Maher Budeir, a partner in the Balanced Leadership Institute (BLI), spoke on strategic planning for the year while staying connected to the mission. The networking luncheon featured keynote speaker Habeeb Quadri, principal of the Muslim Community Center Full Time School in Morton Grove, Ill., who addressed the issues faced by Muslim American youth and mentioned some relevant statistics. In addition to the keynote address, CISNA chair Safaa Zarzour shared updates on CISNA and recognized those of its members who organized the forum.
Islamic Education award for his dedicated service, ever since the 1970s, to the community. Among his accomplishments are the following: He played an integral role in establishing the Chicago community’s first Sunday school; spearheaded the fundraising project to build the Mosque Foundation and then served as a member of its management team and education committee for over 20 years; and pioneered the establishment of the Universal School, one of ISNA’s first model full-time Islamic schools, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. In addition, Amine was a member of the ISNA Bylaws and Constitution Committee, which led to the organization’s establishment in
the early 1980s; served as president and longtime member of the Islamic Medical Association of North America’s Board of Governors; and was instrumental in setting up the American Arab Medical Society, the Syrian Medical Society and many other organizations. Keynote speaker Ebrahim Rasool, former ambassador of South Africa to the U.S. and Georgetown University’s distinguished scholar-in-residence, delivered a powerful and inspiring address on overcoming challenges. He discussed lessons learned from the history of Islam in South Africa and how to navigate problems and injustices. Rasool emphasized that there is a reason and wisdom behind the situations in which we find ourselves. Nothing happens by accident, for everything is part of a greater Divine plan and thus each of us are where we are for a reason. The banquet concluded with a beautiful performance by Amro Helmy and the Islamic Foundation School’s Nasheed Club. Faryal M. Khatri is editorial assistant, Islamic Horizons.
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ISNA INTERFAITH CONFERENCE
Bridges of Understanding ISNA conference brings together faith leaders and government official in the nation’s capital. BY FARYAL KHATRI
Azhar Azeez (2nd left), Altaf Husain (center) and Muzammil Siddiqi (3rd right) addressed the press conference
SNA hosted a two-day Annual “The Marrakesh Declaration is a mileInterfaith and Government Forum stone in our journey to protect the rights of in Washington, D.C., on April 14- minorities in Muslim-majority countries. 15. This event was preceded by an ISNA had initiated through its effort, had interfaith press conference at the National organized symposiums, over here in a uniPress Club, which ISNA vice president Al- versity [located] in Washington, D.C., on taf Husain moderated. Muzammil Siddiqi, religious freedom to raise awareness on the chairman of the Fiqh Council of North issue. [A] conference of Muslim scholars in America and a former ISNA president, used Mauritania and Tunisia followed the symthis opportunity to reissue the organization’s posium to continue to conversation in Mus2005 fatwa against terrorism. lim countries on the importance of finding Speakers called upon the Republican and standards and protocols for full citizenship,” Democratic parties to take a forceful stand said ISNA president Azhar Azeez. against anti-Muslim bigotry and any discrimination against all religious minorities by adding explicit language to their party platforms at the upcoming nominating conventions. It also reaffirmed ISNA’s commitment to defend the rights of religious minorities in Muslim-majority nations through such efforts as the recent Marrakesh Declaration and working closely with past and present administrations to help prevent terRep. Andre Carson rorism and radicalization.
The press conference featured several prominent national Muslim leaders, including Imam Mohamed Maged, executive religious director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), and Fatima Salman, ISNA Executive Council member and Detroit Muslim community leader, who shared stories of how anti-Muslim bigotry has affected her community. Several interfaith leaders also addressed the audience, among them Rev. Ron Stief, chair of the executive committee of Shoulder-to-Shoulder; Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, former Archbishop of Washington, D.C.; Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley, president of the National Council of Churches; Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the Foundation of Ethnic Understanding; Rev. Richard Cizik, president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good; and Rev. Fr. Dimitrios J. Antokas, presiding priest of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George in Bethesda. During the course of the forum, ISNA leaders met with several senior White House officials to discuss religious freedom and pluralism, civil rights, national security and refugees, and humanitarian efforts. The ISNA delegation included Azhar Azeez, ISNA secretary general Hazem Bata, Fatima Salman, Muzammil Siddiqi, Rizwan Jaka, ISNA Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances National Director Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA) president Sayeed Siddiqui, and several prominent Muslim community and interfaith leaders. Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Penn.), U.S. Senate president pro tempore, sponsored a Congressional Reception at the Hart Senate Building. Speakers included Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.), Azhar Azeez, Sayyid Syeed, former ISNA president Imam Mo-
ISLAMIC HORIZONS JULY/AUGUST 2016
ON THE SIDELINES OF THE FORUM, ISNA HOSTED AN INTRA-FAITH SUMMIT FOR SUNNI AND SHIA LEADERS INTERESTED IN DISCUSSING COMMUNITY BUILDING AND ENCOURAGING THEIR MEMBERS TO WORK TOGETHER HARMONIOUSLY BOTH AT HOME AND ABROAD. hamed Maged, Sayeed Siddiqui, Azad Jammu & Kashmir minister of social welfare and women’s development Farzana Yaqoob, ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom David N. Saperstein, Islamic Relief USA president Anwar Khan and Guidance Financial CEO Kal Elsayed. A representative from Sen. Hatch’s office read his message. On the sidelines of the forum, ISNA hosted an intra-faith summit for Sunni and Shia leaders interested in discussing community building and encouraging their members to work together harmoniously both at home and abroad. Over two dozen leaders from both communities took advantage of this opportunity.
ISNA Board Member and Chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America Muzammil Siddiqi, who led the Friday prayer at the Capitol Building, emphasized pluralism and building a community based on pluralistic values.
CELEBRATION BANQUET The forum concluded with a celebration banquet honoring Canadian professor, author and research scholar John Andrew Morrow, as well as the National Council of Churches’ general secretary and president Jim Winkler, for their outstanding contributions to interfaith dialogue and initiatives. The keynote speaker was John Esposito,
ISLAMIC HORIZONS JULY/AUGUST 2016
director of the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, along with guest speakers Eric Treene, special counsel for religious discrimination (U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division), and J. Jioni Palmer, associate commissioner for external affairs (the Social Security Administration). A delegation of Muslim leaders from the Tatars of Crimea gifted ISNA with a beautiful portrait in recognition of their support and efforts to protect religious freedom worldwide. Banquet attendees received copies of the newly published Quran with References to the Bible by Safi Kaskas and David Hungerford.
CONFERENCE REPORT: A YOUTH PERSPECTIVE
Passing the Baton Muslim youth actively participate in ISNA’s 2016 Interfaith and Government Forum BY MYNA STAFF
or the second consecutive year, ISNA invited organizations from across the country to engage and stand shoulder to shoulder with civic and interfaith leaders in solidarity for religious rights, liberties and pluralistic values. And for the first time, our nation’s youth were a part of that conversation. Three members of the Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA) executive committee, namely, President Sayeed Siddiqui, Vice President Alaa Abdeldaiem and Outreach Coordinator Zoya Khan, helped organized ISNA’s 2016 Interfaith and Government Forum held in Washington, D.C., this April. They represented the voices of their peers, interacted with both government officials and interfaith leaders and sought avenues for further Muslim youth involvement. After attending a press conference on the importance of uniting against bigotry, especially during this year’s presidential campaign, MYNA leaders explained what being Muslim and American today meant to them by answering a series of interview questions and contributing to a larger discussion about the topic. “I live out the tenants of my faith, but otherwise I am unapologetically me,” Khan said. “Being a Muslim is just one part of my identity, though to me it’s the most important. I’m also a woman, a person of color, a student in Kansas. The list goes on. Just being myself is a way to show people what Islam truly is.” Khan, Siddiqui and Abdeldaiem voiced similar perspectives after a meeting with government officials. They talked with Bridget Matty, the National Security Council’s Director for Community Partnerships, on the importance of youth engagement and involvement in highlighting the Muslims’ positive contributions to society. promised to follow up by finding more information on how organizations like MYNA can further contribute to such forms of civic engagement. The first day ended with a gathering in the
(L-R) Sayeed Siddiqui, Rep. Carson, Alaa Abdeldaiem, MYNA Outreach Coordinator Zoya Khan
Capitol Building, where Siddiqui addressed an audience that included Rep. André Carson (D-In.) on what it meant to be a leader involved in one’s community. “At MYNA we send the message that youth must be civically engaged as part of our Muslim and American identities, whether that’s through activism around causes, leadership in the Muslim community, working on Capitol Hill or simply being a model citizen,” Siddiqui said. “Knowledge and practice of true Islam and being involved in the Muslim community is the best way to counter extremism, and by educating youth on the lived example of the Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and practical ways to initiate constructive change, MYNA hopes that we, as youth, will channel our unique energy and creativity into solving today’s challenges for the sake of Allah instead of contributing to them.” Abdeldaiem discussed with Carson the intolerance and hate Muslim youth face for standing up for such causes as the humanitarian crises in Palestine and Syria, as well as in the U.S. and her own city of Indianapolis, which is also Carson’s hometown and the district that he represents.
THE INTERFAITH AND GOVERNMENT FORUM WAS AN EXPERIENCE OF WHICH THE MYNA LEADERSHIP WAS HONORED TO BE A PART.
“I was extremely thankful that Carson took the time to just listen,” Abdeldaiem said. “… the fact that we were acknowledged during a time where other youth’s voices are being suppressed meant a lot, and I’m looking forward to following up with the Representative and opening the doors for more voices to be heard in the very near future.” The second day featured intrafaith discussions devoted to the importance of all Muslims, regardless of sectarian affiliation, working together and with non-Muslims. Amidst the intense conversation on discrimination of and between Shias and Sunnis, Khan voiced the youth perspective, delivering a message of hope and promise. “As Muslim youth in America, we don’t see intrafaith partitions as prevalently as they may be among older generations. We are in the face of so much adversity, and we have no choice but to unite as one ummah and support one another.” Holding jumuah in the Capitol Building represented this image. MYNA leaders prayed alongside lawmakers, congressional staffers, bureaucrats and, ultimately, fellow Muslim Americans. Non-Muslim officials and staff members listened to the khutbah. This particular moment delivered the conference’s message loud and clear: To survive, this nation must work as one. Race, faith, origin and background aside, we must cooperate with each other to upend this country’s injustices. The Interfaith and Government Forum was an experience of which the MYNA leadership was honored to be a part. Hopefully, it is just the beginning of a long-lasting partnership among ISNA’s leadership, government officials, interfaith leaders and the nation’s Muslim youth. During the conference’s closing ceremony, Abdeldaiem stressed the importance of putting words into practice. “Something that I realized came up a lot in conversations was the worry that the messages being stressed weren’t going to reach future generations, that it’ll start and end right here at these tables,” Abdeldaiem said. “But by having Sayeed, Zoya and myself at the forum, by the Will of God, we can guarantee that that won’t be the case, because, as youth, we are the present and the future. That’s something we at MYNA tell all of our participants, and by continuing to send that message, I’m hopeful that we can not only continue such positive conversations, but can also put our words into action and truly work towards permanent change.”
ISLAMIC HORIZONS JULY/AUGUST 2016
The world we live in is constantly evolving and ISNA is committed to being a positive driver of change. ISNA has long recognized the importance of engaging with other faith communities as a fundamental part of its mission, and therefore, we continuously host and participate in interfaith events, meetings and webinars to educate our friends, partners, officials and activists about Islam. These interreligious initiatives have helped break down barriers of misunderstanding, formed genuine partnerships of faith and ethics, and established a platform to advocate for social justice issues for the common good. We aim to work together to fight Islamophobia and share knowledge about the true teachings and understanding of our religion in all sectors. The gift of education has a ripple effect—it creates change locally, nationally and globally. Ignorance is our enemy, and with your support we can make a difference. Please donate to ISNA today.
P.O. Box 808 • Plainfield, Indiana 46168 • (317) 839-8157 • www.isna.net
GROWING VISIBILITY OF THE LATINO/ HISPANIC COMMUNITY THE
Latino Muslims reach out to their own communities in Spanish, Portuguese, and English. BY WENDY DIAZ AND JUAN GALVAN
ype “Latino Muslims” into any search engine, and the results will display a plethora of recent media reports about this fastest-growing minority within Islam. Familiar media names like PBS, NBC, BBC, Al-Jazeera, the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, Univision and Telemundo have all produced their share of reports and documentaries on this phenomenon. This formerly under-the-radar development has even warranted attention from academia, for professors are researching this demographic and graduate students are basing their theses on varying factors of the Hispanic/Latino Muslim presence both at home and abroad.
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Coming together at the IslamInSpanish Center ISLAMIC HORIZONSâ&#x20AC;&#x192; JULY/AUGUST 2016
COVER STORY English and Spanish, boasts that it is managed by a “group of Muslims that are proud of their Hispanic and Muslim heritage.” Ruiz is frequently invited as a commentator on local radio and television news channels, as well as national news stations, to offer his expertise on Islam, the Middle East and Latino Muslim issues. Recently, Ruiz and other Latino Muslim community leaders, among them Imam Abdullah Daniel Hernandez from the Islamic Center of Pearland, Tex., participated in the National Muslim Advocacy Day on April 21 organized by the U.S. Council of Islamic Organizations. Their presence is also indicative of an emerging Latino Muslim leadership within the country’s Muslim populace and its hopes of influencing the political landscape. Latino Muslims of Chicago — The Annual Gathering of the Latina Sisters
The trend has been fueled by recent events surrounding the 2016 presidential race and the xenophobic and Islamophobic campaign rhetoric from some of the candidates, such as the rants of Donald Trump, the sole remaining Republican presidential candidate, and many of those who dropped out along the way. Given that his campaign began with slurs against Mexican immigrants and other Hispanic groups that were later followed by verbal attacks on Muslims, both communities have garnered extensive media attention. Media outlets now hasten to find Muslim converts or born Muslims of Hispanic origin to provide their commentary or reactions, perhaps because this approach is more convenient and provides an unexpected turn on the negative propaganda trail. This atmosphere has not only brought to light the increasing number of Latinos embracing or practicing Islam, but has also opened the door for others to explore it. Juan Galvan, director of the Latino American Dawah Organization (LADO) and a Muslim convert of Mexican descent, says, “There’s more curiosity about the Latino Muslim community. Everyone wants to know what we think about what’s going on.” LADO’s website showcases news articles written by or about Latino Muslims. Galvan, who has worked for over a decade to gather these pieces under one umbrella, remarks, “Disseminating information is critical. I enjoy distributing information on current events, especially when Latino Muslims are in the news.” The Florida branch of the Council on 28
PA’ COGER IMPULSO: TO GAIN MOMENTUM
Latino Muslims participating in the Hispanic Heritage Festival Parade in NJ/NY
American Islamic Relations (CAIR) now has its own Spanish-speaking representative, attorney and political analyst Wilfredo Amr Ruiz. Its Spanish-language Facebook page, CAIR en Español: Musulmanes Hispanos, which caters to Hispanic Muslims in both
There is a famous Spanish/Caribbean proverb: Pa’lante, pa’lante, pa’tras ni pa’ coger impulso (Never take a step back, not even to gain momentum). On the other hand, looking back and reflecting upon Islam’s history and influence on Latinos and their culture can be a motivator for those seeking to reconnect with their roots. Latin Americans began embracing Islam as far back as the 1960s and 1970s. Communities of Muslim Hispanics were born out of the Civil Rights movement, and some branched out from the Nation of Islam. Ramon Ocasio, a pioneering founder of Alianza Islamica (Islamic Alliance), the most prominent Latino Muslim organization, states, “In 1973, when I took shahadah (the Islamic testimony of faith), there were very few Latino Muslims, and fewer still who felt a need to affirm it. In the decades since, it has moved significantly away from that retrograde stance and the moniker now has no one shying [away] from it.” Alianza Islamica, founded in 1987 as a community-based Puerto Rican organization, opened the country’s first Hispanic mosque in the heart of Spanish Harlem, N.Y. During its prime, this shining example of outreach and community development offered congregational prayers, sermons in both English and Spanish, marriage and funeral services, classes, counseling and mentorship for new Muslims. However, it lost its momentum after relocating to the Bronx and finally closed its doors in 2005. Many other Latino Islamic dawah organizations have emerged during and after Alianza’s
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THE INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA HAVE PROVEN TO BE EFFECTIVE TOOLS FOR SPREADING ISLAM AND INFORMING LATINOS ABOUT THEIR CULTURAL TIES TO THE MOORS OF SPAIN AND THE AFRICAN MUSLIMS BROUGHT TO THE AMERICAS IN CHAINS. time, but none of them were able to open their own center or mosque exclusively for Spanish-speakers. Now, more than ten years later in Houston on Jan. 30 another Latino Muslim Islamic center has opened its doors. IslamInSpanish Centro Islamico seeks to both cater to the country’s largest Muslim Hispanic community and to project itself worldwide via videoconferencing and live-streaming its bilingual Friday sermons, weekly Islamic studies classes and other special programs uploaded to YouTube and Facebook. The Internet and social media have proven to be effective tools for spreading Islam and informing Latinos about their cultural ties to the Moors of Spain and the African Muslims brought to the Americas in chains. Galvan comments, “Spanish dawah has been transformed from primarily email or newsgroups like Yahoogroups into a social media phenomenon. Social media is also making it cheaper and faster, as well as giving it a larger reach.” This latter development has engendered calls for more Latino scholarship on Islam,
as the demand for more information and instruction continues to grow. “A lot of good work gets accomplished through social media, especially Facebook,” he points out. Galvan is an administrator for the Latino Muslims and Hispanic Muslims group pages on Facebook.
Latino Muslim boy learns making daily prayers
Latino Muslims of Chicago — Certificates of Recognition awarded to children who fasted during Ramadan ISLAMIC HORIZONS JULY/AUGUST 2016
Abu Sumayyah Abdul Razzaq Wesley Lebron, an IslamInSpanish representative and Islamic studies teacher at Miftahul Uloom in Union City, N.J., relates, “The dawah to Latinos has evolved significantly. Many new Islamic organizations in North and South America are run by native Latino Muslims who want to serve their people. We have also seen an increase in Latino converts going overseas to study Islam, studying online, etc., in order to increase their knowledge of Islam so that they disseminate its message in our mother tongue.” The number of Spanish-speaking Latino imams and Islamic activists both inside and outside the U.S. with an international influence continues to rise. However, Isa Lima, a Dominican convert and member of LADO, believes that there is a dire need for more Latin American Muslims in religious leadership roles. Sometimes, the identification can get confusing. For example, Haitians aren’t considered Latinos but Dominicans are, even though they live on the same island. Brazilians are considered Latinos but not Hispanics, because “Hispanics” applies to those who speak Spanish, not Portuguese. Historically, Islam has spread faster among Hispanics living in areas with large and dense Latino populations, such as Houston, Dallas, Miami, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. However, due to the availability of audiovisual and print materials, more and more people in remote areas are being exposed to Islamic teachings. Registered nurse Marta Khadija Galedary, co-founder and president of La Asociación Latino Musulmana de América (LALMA) holds a seldom heard opinion: “There is no more need to print dawah material, the group founded by Mujahid Fletcher (IslamInSpanish), ICNA via Whyislam, Al-Furqan Foundation, and of course the multiple publications from Saudi Arabia… have been printing pamphlets, Qur’ans etc. With the multimedia resources, video or audio of Qur’an recitation in Arabic and translated to Spanish, anyone can find it on Youtube.” Non-profit Islamic organizations that produce Spanish-language material seldom receive adequate funding, which hinders their distribution efforts. However, smart technology provides a more cost-effective way to disseminate information. Nevertheless, according to Galvan, Web and smartphone applications still need to be developed and specifically marketed to 29
COVER STORY Brandon, a Jehovah’s Witness ex-graffiti artist takes shahadah.
Spanish-speaking Muslims, for “Our community lacks smartphone apps for Quran, (with) prayer times, etc., as well as online, free searchable hadith collections (similar to) what is available in the English language.” It will take some time to fill this and other demands from new converts, especially since these organizations may ignore the fact that not all Latinos living in the U.S. are fluent in English. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2013 approximately 73.3% of Hispanics living in the U.S. aged 5 years and above spoke Spanish at home, and 58% of them also had near-native English fluency. Clearly, Muslims who are interested in reaching out to this community need to remember that the remaining 42% might have some difficulties when it comes to dealing with others in English. The Latino/Hispanic demographic is complex, for it contains people from distinctive cultures and nationalities that share variants of the same language. Ocasio opines that this may be one of the reasons why the Latino Muslim community remains underserved. “The greater diversity of the contemporary Latino community presents the challenge of a pan-Latino approach to dawah and community development,” he states. “The full impact of this is masked somewhat by 30
the large proportion of (English-speakers) among current Latino Muslims; however, it will emerge in bold relief when dealing with each respective community and the peculiarities of their situations.” He also points out that there has been very little community development in his native New York. “There are no community-based Latino jamaats (congregations) in the New York metropolitan area, for example, even though the Latino population here is immense. The closest thing to it is the North Hudson community in Union City, N.J. But they are just a significant minority subject to an, albeit supportive, Arab administration.” Alex Robayo, a North Hudson Islamic Educational Center (NHIEC) Dawah Committee member, is more optimistic. “In the New York Metro area we have seen a plethora of Latino/Hispanic events sprout from northern New Jersey, namely, Hudson, Essex and Passaic counties, as well as the New York City area. This has led to grassroots organizations holding picnics, potlucks, lectures, classes, etc. in Spanish. The area has thus become more bilingual, with Spanish as the second language next to Arabic. I would say this is a welcomed change and evidence of the change that has taken place over the last 10 to 15 years.” The NHIEC Muslim community hosts
an annual Hispanic Muslim Day, which is dedicated to celebrating Muslim Latinos. The mosque also provides simultaneous translations of the Arabic Friday sermons into Spanish via headsets, as well as a monthly Spanish Friday sermon and Islamic studies classes taught in Spanish. Robayo, who is half Puerto Rican and half Ecuadorian, feels that cultural awareness plays a crucial role in fortifying the bonds of unity between the Latino and non-Latino congregants. He suggests, “A strong social network should be addressed in order to secure Islam’s future within our community.”
PA’LANTE, PA’LANTE: MOVING FORWARD While Islam has experienced a revival in the hearts of Latinos, more work is needed to accommodate this rising demographic. Ocasio is convinced that the most effective way forward is to adopt an activist approach, one in which Islam is taught through practical examples. Relating to his past experiences in the barrio, he opines that “Latinos must be addressed where they live and, when they come into the fold, be integrated into an ever-expanding community that serves as a beacon for those yet to come.” He explains that the way to achieve this is by “not only preaching the message, but also by trying
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Imam Yusef Maisonet of Mobile, Ala
to address the needs of psychologically and spiritually broken people, demonstrating that Islam can make a practical difference in their lives.” Galvan agrees that there has to be greater involvement on the local level. “We need to do a better job reaching our neighbors,” he
states. LALMA, which follows the example of Alianza, regularly collaborates with such Los Angeles-based organizations as the LA Voice, the Inland Congregations United for Change and the Orange County Community Congregation Community Organization (OCCCO). LALMA was honored (2016) by the Muslim
Latino Muslims participating in the Hispanic Heritage Festival Parade in NJ/NY ISLAMIC HORIZONS JULY/AUGUST 2016
Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) for its working for social justice. “We are putting into action our Islamic beliefs and ethical principles,” says President Galedary. “It is time for the Muslim community to act and to be proactive within our society. Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was chosen to restore social justice and the maintenance of human dignity that God gave to every single soul, and of course, to [return his people] to the worship of One God.” Galedary favors an activist approach to Islamic outreach by encouraging Muslims to get involved in serving the underprivileged, empowering youth leaders and joining advocacy groups to promote social change. Through leading by example, these efforts, all of which are geared to help society as a whole, may also help promote Islam among Latinos. As Galvan remarks, “The fruit of our labor is rarely immediate. It takes a lot of patience.” Identifying what still needs to be done in terms of reaching more Latinos perhaps begins with defining Spanish dawah. Ocasio states that one reality in this regard bears closer scrutiny. “So far, virtually all questions regarding materials and approaches center on Spanish-language books, brochures, CDs and DVDs, as if the only ones worth addressing in a Latin-specific way are immigrants. The approach to Latino dawah must be more nuanced and cannot be so narrowly focused,” he states. He believes that “Spanish Dawah” and its associated materials should be considered part of an overall “Latino Dawah” program that integrates material geared to first-generation Latino Americans. Galvan sums it up by stating that the dawah to Latinos must be bilingual. Keeping this in mind, Latino and non-Latino Islamic organizations must develop both educational and support initiatives in order to establish the correct belief and implementation of Islam. In addition, they need to help steer newcomers away from deviant beliefs or downright negligence. By acknowledging that the Latino community is the fastest-growing group of new Muslims, according to the latest statistics, it becomes incumbent upon the entire Muslim community to do whatever it can to meet its needs. Wendy Díaz is the co-founder and director of Hablamos Islam (We Speak Islam) and a writer and translator for the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). Juan Galvan, director of the Latino American Dawah Organization, is currently editing an anthology of Muslim Latino conversion stories.
ISLAM IN AMERICA use of Arabic, embracing the hajj located a geographically isolated African American initiate into the larger and wider multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic global family of Muslims.
A DIVIDING DYNAMIC
The Hajj Link to the African American Heritage Despite brutal enslavement, Africans never gave up their Islamic heritage and incorporated hajj rites into their religious ceremonies. BY AMADOU SHAKUR
frican cultural retentions within the African American community exist; however, cultural and religious adaptations in the community were more common. In the Deep South, one of these adaptations was the ring shout practiced clandestinely on Sundays. This nineteenth and early twentieth century ceremony covertly memorialized the first-generation African religion and Islamic belief systems operating cautiously and, in the past, with one eye watching out for white American gatekeepers overseeing the lives of the servile. Michael A. Gomez, in his groundbreaking “Exchanging Our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South” (The University of North Carolina Press, 1998), writes, “These beliefs were expressed most clearly in the area of religion, in which the West Central African use of the ring ceremonies was the main source of the development of the ring shout and the Minkisi the basis of hoodoo.” Descendants of African Muslims adapted Christianity and, perhaps unconsciously, superimposed these religious expressions into newly emerging religious ceremonies. To per32
form the ceremony, members of churches formed circles and moved around the pulpit in a counterclockwise motion, singing and shouting words that, according to some, could be traced to Muslims. Others speculate that the pulpit served as the Ka‘bah, designed to honor the hajj. Perhaps. The origin of the ring shout itself is uncertain. It may have started out as a platform for diverse African ethnicities to become uniform under God’s sight. Hand in hand, church members revolved from right to left and, during the swinging motion, felt a sense of equality (ethnic-lessness) within the experience of communal worship. This observance may have paid tribute to the final vestiges of first-generation Islam in America. In remembrance of the Islamic stimulus, many African Americans were buried facing toward the east, as were some churches. In some of the Deep South’s churches, an index finger was carved into the wooden church pews, a cryptic image that agelessly located the presence of the Almighty, whom the adherents worshiped. Even in the distant land of America, the hajj may have served as the leading symbol of Islamic unity. For the African American community, it embodied several symbolic implications. Along with the salat and the
In the 1920s through the 1960s, the Nation of Islam (NOI) and the Moorish Science Temple (MST), the two leading Muslim African American organizations, misappropriated Islam. Nevertheless, the hajj continued to stand as the unsullied sacred umbilical cord connecting African Americans to the prophetic life of the uncontested last prophet. They viewed hajj as the universal heritage, but did not consider Sunni Islam to be the ultimate cord wrapped around the universal family. Except for the symbolic hajj, which was one of the links to Islam, traditional religion was not viewed as a mechanism for assimilation into America, but as a prophetic address to both a racial nation and to the suffering community within its borders. Its members embraced Islam in a manner designed to counterattack attitudes that promoted white superiority and reduced African Americans to servitude. Through their forms of neo-Islam, these communities directly critiqued the Christianity practiced by their peers and indirectly appealed to whites to immediately pass legislation and liberate the oppressed by offering tax-exempt land for willing members of the NOI to relocate and by removing any indications of a privileged nation and elevating the marginalized so that they could compete with the fortunate majority. Islam was used to confront the systematic Jim and Jane Crow racism that oppressed African Americans and buried them within the capitalist economy. And yet the larger Dar al-Islam did nothing to resolve the apartheid imposed beset by white American segregationists. Warith D. Muhammad (later spelt Mohammed), who inherited the reins after his father Elijah Muhammad’s death in 1975, rebuked the NOI’s unorthodox beliefs and publically realigned his views with the larger Dar al-Islam by making the hajj with the Muslim Student Association of the United States and Canada (now MSA-National). His effort sent a message of retooling the community, shedding it of its tainted past and moving away from Louis Farrakhan’s racial interpretation of Islam. For the Muslim American community, his acceptance of this invitation signaled three important points. First, Islam in America could not tolerate racial discrimination or
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stereotypes of any kind. He therefore took the position that Islam was not just the black man’s religion and thus belonged to a privileged cultural entity. Despite his intention to discern between the NOI and the Arab world, his insistence to promote his brand of Islam also created a heated debate between African American Sunnis and the NOI. Second, he assured the Muslim world that African Americans were part of the main Sunni theological body and not reacting simply to discrimination, social injustice and segregation. Third, he opened the gates and joined the ranks of millions of Muslims finding in the hajj the one space within which cultural tensions and political differences were removed.
relied upon it for two reasons: It was the final spiritual remedy to elevate the black man and to provide the white man an alternative cure to America’s racial disease. He, like Martin Luther King Jr., realized the nature of the problem as spiritual and that the hajj called
ON THE FIRST HAJJ
upon the human, not the racial, disposition. He stated that legislation could not provide any solution, for this pervasive deep-seated problem could be solved only by all people, especially whites, conceding that all of God’s creatures have human rights, regardless of whether they are white, Jewish, brown, Muslim, red or Buddhist. In March 1964, shortly after this epiphany, Malcolm X left the NOI and founded the fledgling Muslim Mosque, Inc. As the incorporation papers outlined, this organization was dedicated to the “Islamic religion in accordance with the accepted Islamic religious principals.” In 1965 he opened the Organization of Afro-American Unity, which was designed to defend the struggles plaguing African Americans. These two separate entities did not conflict, for one was dedicated to religion and the other operated as a political receptacle for those opposed to religion as the solution. As a result of his hajj, Malcolm could distinguish between two ideologies and thus identified the bifurcation of Islam and the inescapable politics demanded by the prominent black civil rights voices of the 1960s.
In 1961 Elijah Muhammad (1897-1975) sent Malcolm X (1925-65), who later renamed himself El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, to the Middle East to prepare for his first hajj. Although unaware of the Muslim world, Malcolm was introduced to the wider Dar al-Islam and serendipitously discovered the theological differences between American Islam and the true founding principles of Sunni Islam. The stark variances and Quranic understanding of the global Muslim community, as opposed to Elijah Muhammad’s mythological and biased teachings, sobered him. His moment of epiphany occurred on that hallowed Meccan ground. Malcom X returned to Mecca in 1964 to perform his personal hajj. While there, he met with a number of government officials and was forced to examine the discrepancies between the NOI and the beliefs of millions of Sunni Muslims. His journey re-informed the African American community about the historical hajj and its medicinal potential to eradicate racism in America. While still on hajj, he wrote to his wife Betty: “My pilgrimage broadened my scope. It blessed me with a new insight. In two weeks in the Holy Land, I saw what I had never seen in thirty-nine years here in America. I saw all races, all colors, blue eyed blonds to black skinned Africans in true brotherhood! In unity! Living as one! Worshipping as one! In the past I have made sweeping indictments of ALL white people. I never will be guilty of that again. Yes, I have been convinced that some American whites do want to help cure the rampant racism which is on the path to destroying this country” (Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, 1965). In the final years of his abbreviated career, Malcolm often reflected on his hajj experience as the turning point in his life as a Muslim. “It is only being a Muslim which keeps me from seeing people by the color of their skin.” He
hajj. Nevertheless, they began to disintegrate due to the fear that the umbrella organization would eventually be subsumed and controlled by the immigrant community’s assimilationist agenda. A host of active Muslim splinter groups
ALONG WITH THE SALAT AND THE USE OF ARABIC, EMBRACING THE HAJJ LOCATED A GEOGRAPHICALLY ISOLATED AFRICAN AMERICAN INITIATE INTO THE LARGER AND WIDER MULTI-ETHNIC, MULTILINGUISTIC GLOBAL FAMILY OF MUSLIMS.
THE CONVENTION As early as the 1940s, Sunni African Americans realized and rejected the theological fallacies purported by the NOI and the MST. In 1943 some of these groups agreed to meet in Philadelphia to begin discussions about an umbrella organization that would unify the Islamic message in America. Although they did not agree on Islam’s other pillars, they rallied around and used the hajj as the one unifying global emblem. According to Wali Akram, a founder of the Cleveland Mosque, this pioneering effort was, unfortunately, more ambitious than substantive. The attendees were adamant about engineering an Islamic identity in America and agreed that all Muslims should perform the
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gradually emerged. One of them was the Addeynu Allahe-Universal Arabic Association, founded by Muhammad Ezaldeen, who had been associated with the MST. He had studied Egyptian history in Cairo, and this background and his command of Arabic placed him in a “royal” category of authentic and unimpeachable Muslim voices in America. Ezaldeen had made the hajj long before Malcolm had; however, he did not have the publicity that the NOI did. He spoke about this ritual’s healing properties and ability to transpose American Negroes into reinvigorated Muslims, and urged African Americans to wash away the “stench of Negro life” and enmesh themselves in the “baptismal waters of Mecca.” In 1893 one of the black versions of the Shriners emerged, the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order, founded by John G. Jones (b. 1849). Its members looked to Mecca as the capital of Islam and promoted the hajj as a symbolic gesture only, for they held that it did not require actual participation. They dovetailed upon the work of the towering Masonic pioneer Prince Hall (1735 or-17381807), considered one of the most influential free black leaders in the late 1700s, whose followers wore fezzes and turbans and swore allegiance to the universal order: “The Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine instituted by the Mohammedan Kalif Alee, the cousin and son in law of the Prophet Muhammad, in the year of the Hijra at Mecca, in Arabia…” While the group suffered a lack of exposure to the true Islamic call, they did turn to the hajj as the ultimate symbol of defiance toward America and Negro submission. Regardless of their actual reflection of Islam, these sentiments, born from the resistance shown towards race and religion, were forged and displayed as warrior badges earned while fighting an honorable battle. Amadou Shakur, executive director, Center for the African Diaspora, Charlotte, N.C.
ISLAM IN AMERICA
How Islamophobia Impacts Muslim Children Islamophobia is an irrational fear of Muslims. Are Muslims doing enough toward giving the public an unbiased, correct understanding of Islam? BY M. BASHEER AHMED
n a Sunday after 9/11, I attended a community meeting at the local Islamic center on the effects of this terrorist attack. Most of the Muslim adults said that they had not noticed any significant change in the attitude of non-Muslims in offices, malls and other public places, except for an occasional angry look toward hijabis. There was some questioning as to why Muslim terrorists had attacked the Trade Center. It was hard to explain that these men were a specific group and in no way represented the general Muslim population. However, once the media blared the phrase “The Muslim Terrorists,” it became even harder to explain that Muslim Americans had not been involved. My interest in this gathering was to explore how this event had affected young children. The older children who were there reported being referred to as “terrorists”; however, there had been no violent fighting or bullying. One very distressed-looking nine-yearold stood up and said that her friends were saying that she should go back to her country because she is a terrorist. She wasn’t able to convince them that she was born here and that this city was her hometown. It was hard for non-Muslim children to listen to the news or their parents’ negative comments and then develop a correct understanding of Islam and terrorism. When they heard “Muslim terrorist,” they believed that all Muslims were terrorists. In the aftermath of 9/11, intolerance, anger and hatred toward Muslims have escalated. There has been a rise in public harassment and even physical attacks on them, as well as on mosques and centers. In fact, during the past 15 years, each time Muslim-named terrorists have carried out attack anywhere in the world, there has been a negative reaction and a rise in Islamophobia in the U.S.
The Center for Race and Gender explains that the term “Islamophobia” was introduced as a concept in a 1991 Runnymede Trust Report (U.K.) and is defined as “unfounded hostility towards Muslims and, therefore, fear or dislike of all or most Muslims.” Unfortunately, this attitude has become part of American reality. Muslim children are being bullied at school and called derogatory names. Some are resilient and defend themselves well, whereas others don’t have the strength to cope with the stress. In some cases, young boys and girls are roughed up after being called a “Muslim terrorist.” In Staten Island’s Berta A. Dreyfus School, one Muslimah student was beaten up, had her hijab pulled off and her cell phone and purse snatched. In Louisville, Ky., a Muslimah was found hanging unconscious in school after repeated bullying. Most of these children never mention bullying to their parents. Even worse, they do not have a support system to cope with such continuous pressure. A 2008 Columbia Teachers College study, “Muslim Youth in New York City Public Schools: Religiosity, Education and Civic Belonging,” found that Muslim youth have generally felt comfortable, safe and fairly content in the city’s schools since 9/11. However, even those who are not very religious have been made hyperconscious of their religious identity. The study related that about one in 10 of the city’s public school students is Muslim, more than 100,000 in all, and that they are hyperconscious of being Muslim regardless of their degree of religiosity. Most of the Muslim students of African American, Arab or South Asian ancestry, report having been the object of bigotry, often in the form of teasing or offensive taunting about Islam or being a “terrorist.” Arab students are twice as likely to be targeted, and girls more often than boys. One in three of them say that 9/11 has made them feel uncomfortable about their Muslim identity. While 43 percent of these students feel that Americans in general
are respectful and tolerant toward them, the majority believes that mainstream society is suspicious of them and nearly all of them feel that discrimination has increased since 9/11. Nearly two-thirds believe that a Muslim wearing traditional Islamic garb would face discrimination at the workplace. To avoid discrimination and harassment, some college students have tried to identify themselves as a different ethnic or racial group. Some have even tried to hide their religious identity by using non-Muslim names. Islamophobia is a serious issue in schools, for during these years children are forming their ethnic identity. This is a very important factor in the development of a child’s life, for this undertaking can help them connect with their roots, build a community, and develop a sense of self. When children are constantly being told that there is something “weird” or “wrong” about their religion, they might start to believe it. Bullying definitely leads to negative psychological effects, and the victims are prone to develop such behavioral and health problems as smoking, loss of self-esteem, feelings of insecurity, embarrassment of their ethnic identity, anxiety and/or sleep disorders, depression and suicidal feelings. They also perform poorly at school. Children who manifest racially moti-
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IT WAS HARD FOR NON-MUSLIM CHILDREN TO LISTEN TO THE NEWS OR THEIR PARENTS’ NEGATIVE COMMENTS AND THEN DEVELOP A CORRECT UNDERSTANDING OF ISLAM AND TERRORISM. WHEN THEY HEARD “MUSLIM TERRORIST,” THEY BELIEVED THAT ALL MUSLIMS WERE TERRORISTS. vated behavior and bullying are affected by the government’s portrayal of the “war on terrorism”; the media’s portrayal of the relationship between Islam and extremism; how teachers convey their beliefs about Islam as a religion; and, most importantly, their parents’ negative opinions. All of these factors play a significant role in the child’s perception of Islam. A good example is what happened during October 2015 to Ahmed Mohammed, a 14-year-old Texan Muslim who brought a homemade digital clock to school to impress his fellow students and teachers. But instead of being commended, the teacher called the police with the suspicion that he may have brought a bomb to blow up the school. And yet the classroom was not evacuated; in fact, they all
stayed there with the clock until the police arrived, handcuffed him and took him to the detention center. After they determined that the supposed “bomb” was really digital clock, Mohammad was released. The Republican Party leaders fully misused this good example of the ever-increasing Islamophobia by extensively discussing the relationship between Islam and terrorism. They then went on to castigate Muslim Americans once again for not doing enough to criticize Muslim terrorists. Most recently, comments by Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ted Cruz [who has since dropped out] and others about Muslims have resulted in more such incidents and have had a more deleterious effect on Muslim children than
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ever before. For example, there have been stories of young non-Muslim students telling their Muslim classmates that “President” Trump will deport them. This behavior, which stems directly from what they see on television or hear from their parents, only spurs more separation and dissension between the students. Unfortunately, school administrators are neither trained nor prepared to deal with the ensuing effects. Muslim parents must understand the problem and do what they can to help their children in this regard. They, along with the community leaders, need to become aware of the full magnitude of Islamophobia and how it affects their children. Every parent must ask their children at least once a week if they have experienced any bullying or stressful situations due to their religious identity. If the answer is “yes,” they should schedule a meeting with the teachers and the school administrators. Most importantly, parents must attend school functions and interact with other parents to show that they are not all terrorists, as the news media wants everyone to believe. Separating themselves is not the answer; Muslims must integrate and help dispel the myths spread about them and Islam. Many non-Muslim teachers and administrative staff are not well informed about Islam, for they only learn about it through what is happening in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and Pakistan or through the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Belgium or San Bernardino, Calif. CNN and Fox News are not going to teach anything about Islam’s positive aspects. The increasing fear of Muslims is caused by the media’s erroneous portrayal of Islam’s true teachings. Islamophobia is an irrational fear of Muslims. Therefore, Muslims must take the responsibility of giving the public an unbiased, correct understanding of Islam. Undoubtedly, since 9/11 they have engaged in interfaith activities in an attempt to do so. But these efforts to overturn the fears created by the country’s political leaders and certain groups have not been enough. They need to do much more. One course of action would be to offer seminars in schools, colleges and workplaces. Such open discussions can remove the myths, misunderstandings and frenzy created and spread by the national media, especially during this election year. Basheer Ahmed, M.D., a former professor of psychiatry, South Western Medical School, is chairman emeritus, Muslim Community Center for Human Services.
ISLAM IN AMERICA
Anti-Muslim Rhetoric Makes Us All Less Safe Politicians and hatemongers are creating a dreary future for all Americans. BY ENGY ABDELKADER
hile anti-Muslim political rhetoric gives cause for alarm, the ensuing violence has also inspired expressions of solidarity with the Muslim American community. In May, Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative published a new research study, “When Islamophobia Turns Violent: The 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections”. It examines the relationship between anti-Muslim political rhetoric and hate crimes targeting the community. This initiative, which has been chronicling all of the presidential candidates’ Islamophobic political rhetoric since 2015, also contextualized these remarks both nationally and internationally and explored their potentially violent effects. Its research revealed that the Republican candidates have been the worst offenders to date. The researchers examined two distinct but overlapping time periods: January 2015 through December 2015 and March 2015 through March 2016 (the 2016 presidential election season). The data yielded the following findings: • The 2016 U.S. presidential season began against a backdrop of already rising Islamophobia in 2015, a reality that threatened Muslim American religious freedom. • During the course of 2015, there were approximately 174 reported incidents of anti-Muslim violence and vandalism, including 12 murders, 29 physical assaults, 50 threats against persons or institutions, 54 acts of vandalism or destruction of property, eight arsons, and nine shootings or bombings, among other incidents. • Anti-Muslim violence remained sig-
nificantly higher in 2015 than pre-9/11 levels, with Muslim Americans approximately six to nine times more likely to suffer such attacks. The number of incidents in 2015 is also higher than the total number of anti-Muslim hate crimes reported in 2014: 154. • In 2015, Muslim American men were twice as likely to be physically assaulted and five to six times more likely to be murdered than Muslim American women. • Since the first candidate announced his bid for the White House in March 2015, there have been approximately 180 reported incidents of anti-Muslim violence, including 12 murders, 34 physical assaults, 49 verbal assaults or threats against persons and institutions, 56 acts of vandalisms or destruction of property, nine arsons, and eight shootings or bombings, among other incidents. • Since the start of the 2016 presidential election cycle, Muslim American men have been twice as likely to be physically assaulted and about 11 times more likely to be murdered than their female counterparts. • In addition, during each period Muslim murder victims were most likely to be aged 18 to 24. • Children and youth as young as 12 years old were among those responsible for acts and threats of anti-Muslim violence. Although Islamophobia made an appear-
ALTHOUGH ISLAMOPHOBIA MADE AN APPEARANCE DURING THE FIRST GOP DEBATE IN AUGUST 2015, THE FIRST SURGE OF ANTIMUSLIM POLITICAL RHETORIC OCCURRED IN SEPTEMBER 2015. 36
ance during the first GOP debate in August 2015, the first surge of anti-Muslim political rhetoric occurred in September 2015. In fact, it corresponded with an international development: the Syrian refugee crisis. This deepening crisis dominated news media headlines in the U.S. and Europe, thereby potentially highlighting the media’s impact on political discourse. This surge in September 2015 was accompanied by approximately 10 reported incidents or threats of violence, including three murders. In comparison, there had been only one such incident in August 2015, a significant increase in anti-Muslim violence over the course of one month. Donald Trump, the GOP presidential front-runner at the time of publication, escalated anti-Muslim vitriol in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, rather than urge calm or international unity. The attacks signify an international event that triggered a second surge in Islamophobic rhetoric in addition to the uptick in bias attacks. His many anti-Muslim statements during televised appearances on mainstream news media outlets impacted millions of viewers worldwide. As Trump called for shutting down mosques in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks and the mass shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., in December 2015, anti-Muslim attacks initially tripled. Nearly half of them were directed against mosques. Anti-Muslim attacks surged once again in December 2015. Of the 53 attacks that month, 17 were launched against mosques and Islamic schools and another five against private residences. By comparison, when the presidential election season began just nine months earlier, there had been only two anti-Muslim attacks. Attacks on Muslims during this month constitute approximately one-third of all attacks last year. In fact, in December 2015 anti-Muslim attacks occurred almost daily and often multiple times a day. At least three separate incidents of violence involved perpetrators who were public supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Engy Abdelkader, assistant director of the Bridge Initiative, teaches at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.
ISLAMIC HORIZONS JULY/AUGUST 2016
Compassion with a Conscience
implementing the Judaic tradition of washing it. Jesus said that the Pharisees were hypocrites because they follow religious traditions without being right in their hearts. His statement about what makes one unclean simply means that a person’s heart must be clean before being concerned one’s physical cleanliness. Thus, Mark 7: 18-19 must be paired with Matthew 5: 17-18: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law [the Torah] or [the writings of] the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not a dash or a stroke will disappear from the Law [the Torah] until everything is accomplished.” BY LINDA “ILHAM” BARTO A careful study of the Bible indicates that Christians are to follow the Law. The early Christians did not eat pork because they upheld any may have experienced such situations, the Torah. The decision to abandon these dietary laws was made or may have brought it upon themselves by either later by leaders of the Catholic Church – possibly Eleutherius (d. volunteering to pay for a needy non-Muslim’s gro- 189), a disciple of Pope Anicetus. None of this matters, however, if ceries or offering to buy food instead of giving cash. Christians interpret the Bible the way the church tells them. Even Recently a disabled, unemployed non-Muslim without food or though the church is wrong, Christians still have the right to follow money asked me to buy his groceries for the week. I agreed. But wrong guidance and believe what they will. when he selected a ham, which he really wanted, a dilemma arose. Other respondents claimed that a Muslim cannot buy prohibited If I refused to pay for the ham, would I be forcing my religion things for non-Muslims; that the Christian was forcing his nononto him? But if I paid for Islam on me by insisting I it, would I be violating my buy the ham, and that since own religious and ethical he was in need he could beliefs by (1) recognizing eat this prohibited food in pork as “permitted” food, moderation to prevent starwhich violates the teachvation. I disagreed with the ings of both the Bible and last statement, because he the Qur’an; (2) supporting had a wide variety of altera type of factory farming natives from which he could known for its animal rights have chosen. I was able to abuses and cruelty; and (3) persuade the man to substisupporting an industry that tute some vegetarian choices pollutes the environment by for other meals. However, most people in the South maintaining open lagoons of parasite-infested pig feces really love their pork, and that overflow into lakes and so this particular item was streams? a must for him. I bought the ham, but Even the Food Stamp these questions lingered Act of 1964 (now the Food in my mind. I posted the EVEN THOUGH THE CHURCH IS WRONG, and Nutrition Act of 2008), which outlines the eligibiliquestion on Facebook and CHRISTIANS STILL HAVE THE RIGHT ty for purchasing food with got conflicting comments. food stamps, does not allow Correctly assuming that the TO FOLLOW WRONG GUIDANCE AND buying at will. In the future, man was a Christian, some BELIEVE WHAT THEY WILL. Muslims stated that I had I may be more firm as reno right to force my beliefs gards not paying for pork, onto him and that God alnot because it is religiously lows Christians to eat pork. I disagree that God has different rules forbidden, but because of my ethical views on factory farming. for Christians. Christians ignore the Bible’s teaching to avoid pork, Islam also forbids mistreating animals, and pig farmers are one of to not even touch it. This saying of Jesus (‘alayhi as-salam) was the worst abusers. The amount of meat that Americans consume quoted to argue that he did away with the food laws: “Don’t you is unsustainable in terms of both land use and its pollution of the see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him country’s land and waterways. I believe that God intended all peounclean? For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and ple to be semi-vegetarians, eating meat only on certain occasions. then out of his body.” To this, a scribe added, “In saying this, Jesus Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did not eat declared all foods clean” (Mark 7: 18-19). meat every day. Muslims should take his example more seriously. I disagree because the whole of Mark 7 explains that the Phari- Linda “iLham” Barto is an author and illustrator in North Carolina. Her books are available sees were criticizing Jesus and his disciples for eating food without from her website www.Lit-by-Linda.com.
Helping the needy doesn’t mean giving up one’s Islamic obligations
ISLAMIC HORIZONS JULY/AUGUST 2016
ISLAM IN AMERICA
A Hijabi Trailblazer Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad is repelling stereotypes and opening up yet another sport for Muslimahs worldwide
© MARIE-LAN NGUYEN / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
BY JANET KOZAK
ith her fencing gear on, no one can tell that Ibtihaj Muhammad is wearing a hijab — and that’s the
whole point. Muhammad, 30, an American sabre fencer and member of the U.S. fencing team, will be representing her country in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this summer (August 5-21). As the first hijabi to qualify for any U.S. Olympic Team, her mere presence on the national stage is dawah in itself. Whether she’s visiting the Ellen DeGeneres show or giving First Lady Michelle Obama impromptu foam sabre fencing lessons in Times Square, she is undermining stereotypes and changing the way Muslimahs are perceived. When she’s not training, touring, giving interviews, and working, she’s sharing her personal experiences on Twitter and skewering bigots like GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump in Time Magazine interviews. With encouragement and pressure from President Barack Obama to “bring home the gold,” she’s using her celebrity status to call attention to issues like gender, racial and religious discrimination. While other ath38
letes use this spotlight time to sell products, Muhammad is busy using her voice to call attention to the plight of women worldwide. This outstanding athlete understands that her current position is helping to destroy stereotypes at home. In April, after being named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people, she wrote: “[…] What I love most about sport is it’s unique ability to bridge cultures. I hope my presence as a Muslim woman on the United States Olympic Team inspires thoughtful and respectful dialogue that helps us find common ground and shared values. I remember being ostracized because I was different and finding refuge in sports. Let us continue to provide opportunities for women and girls to empower themselves through sport.” In 2012 she was appointed as sports ambassador, a position that qualifies her to serve on the U.S. Department of State’s Empowering Women and Girls through Sport Initiative alongside other current and retired athletes, coaches, corporate executives, journalists and trailblazers in women’s sports. Fellow council members include notable athletes like tennis great Billie Jean King and figure skater Michelle Kwan. In
this official capacity, she has traveled abroad to engage in dialogue on the importance of sports and education. Despite these gains and aspirations, and as the political climate continues to heat up during this election year, Muhammad is quick to share personal incidents of discrimination, profiling and bigotry. While checking in as a panelist for the March 2016 South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival in Austin, Tex., a volunteer demanded that she remove her hijab for the photo that would be placed on her identification badge. She refused. Her consequent social media posts related that even after she explained that she wore the hijab for religious reasons, the volunteer insisted she remove it if she wanted her badge. She eventually received a badge with her in hijab — one that contained the wrong name and occupation. The volunteer’s removal from the event and subsequent SXSW public apology made national news. In April, she shared on Twitter how a stranger in New York City harassed her, asking if she was going to “blow something up” and then followed her on the grounds that she “looked suspicious.” She tweeted the man’s photo and shared more of her story on Snapchat. She also mused via Twitter that “we’re living in a time when people feel comfortable spewing their hate and harassing the innocent on our streets. We need change.” Her mere presence on the national stage proves that change is occurring, and that she’s at the forefront.
MODESTY IN SPORT Born in Maplewood, N.J., one of five children, she participated in volleyball, track, and other sports before settling on fencing. Talking to Red Eye Chicago’s Chris Sosa, she explained that in her early teens her parents searched for a sport where she wouldn’t have to alter the accepted uniform. “[…] My teammates wore tank tops or shorts. I always had to wear long sleeves or long pants and also a hijab.” she remarked. “So when my mom saw these fencers, she wasn’t familiar with the sport but we knew that they had long pants and long jackets and they wore these masks.” The unique uniform influenced her family’s decision to get her involved in the sport. Muhammad called fencing a “godsend,” adding, “I always tell people I didn’t find fencing, fencing found me, because it’s just been uniquely accommodating for me and my religious beliefs.”
ISLAMIC HORIZONS JULY/AUGUST 2016
At first, there were few local role models. She was often the only African American at tournaments and definitely the only hijabi participant. Speaking with New Yorker Magazine, she explained, “When I competed in local tournaments, there were often comments about me — being black, or being Muslim. It hurt.”
WHILE OTHER ATHLETES USE THIS SPOTLIGHT TIME TO SELL PRODUCTS, IBTIHAJ MUHAMMAD IS BUSY USING HER VOICE TO CALL ATTENTION TO THE PLIGHT OF WOMEN WORLDWIDE.
But Ibtihaj never let herself down. In fact, she rose even higher despite the harassment and bullying. In 2014, Muhammad launched her own business, Louella, a Los Angeles-based modest-styled clothing company that she runs with her siblings. The company website notes that “with an extraordinary passion for fashion, Ibtihaj noticed a void in the fashion industry for affordable modest clothing. With a team of dedicated designers, Louella brings modest, fashion forward clothing to the world.” In the summer 2006, Muhammad, who attended Duke on an academic scholarship, attended the School for International Training in Rabat, Morocco, to complete additional intensive courses in Moroccan culture and Arabic. She graduated in 2007 with dual Bachelor’s degrees in international relations and African and African-American studies.
FENCING CAREER Since the early 2000s Muhammad has trained with the Peter Westbrook Foundation (PWF) in New York City. Under the arm of its Elite Athlete Program, she’s now being coached by former PWF student and 2000 Sydney Olympian Ahki Spencer-El. Through her hard work and rigorous training, Muhammad has distinguished herself as a three-time NCAA All-American (2004, 2005, 2006) and Muslim Sportswoman of the Year in 2012. In addition, she’s won both individual and team medals on the World Cup circuit. In her U.S.A. Fencing Team biography, Muhammad writes that she’s thankful to her mentor and coach, Akhi Spencer-El, who believed in her athletic abilities. She credits others, like six-time Olympian Peter Westbrook, for his invaluable guidance and support. Recalling that the road to Rio was rough and bumpy, she hopes to make 3.3 million Muslim Americans proud come August. However, no matter what happens in Rio, she’s already inspired a whole new generation of young Muslimah athletes to not see their attire as a barrier to success.
September 2 – 5, 2016 Donald E. Stephens Convention Center 9291 Bryn Mawr Ave Rosemont, IL 60018
Register: www.isna.net email@example.com (317) 838-8133
Janet Kozak, founder and COO of Resoulute.com, has established an online advocacy and support group: Muslim Women Against Domestic Violence and Abuse. She spoke on financial abuse at the 2nd International Conference on Women’s Empowerment in Karachi, Pakistan, on Dec. 17, 2015.
ISLAMIC HORIZONS JULY/AUGUST 2016
HEALTH & WELL-BEING
Islam and Abortion Islam allows the termination of pregnancy within certain ethical parameters BY SHAHID ATHAR
he termination of a pregnancy, which involves more than one life, is a controversial issue from both the religious and the secular perspective. In an election year or election cycle, battles erupt between pro-life and pro-choice groups. Abortion needs to be examined from an ethical viewpoint, which includes the definition of life, the viability of the fetus, the concept of the soul (ruh) and the rights of the fetus and its parents. This discussion should include aspects of conception, including rape and incest, as well as the Muslim physicians’ role. Consider the case of a woman who has suffered two miscarriages. Her third pregnancy results in CD 19 deficiencies, a fatal condition. B-lymphocyte antigen CD19, also known as CD19 (Cluster of Differentiation
and seeking a cure (the prophetic hadith: “Seek the cure, as God has created no disease without a cure, except old age” [Tirmidhi]). Islamic medical ethics state that necessity overrides prohibition, that one should choose the lesser of the two evils, that public interest overrides individual interest, and that harm must be avoided as much as possible.
WHEN DOES LIFE BEGIN? 19), is a protein that, in humans, is encoded by the CD19 gene. Bone marrow transplantation was done twice, at a cost of $200,000, and the child died aged 8 months. This woman, now 4 weeks into another pregnancy, is wondering whether she should consider an abortion, amniocentesis first and then an abortion if it is positive for the same abnormalities, or continue the pregnancy. Many of the Muslim physicians who responded to this question in a survey conducted by the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) chose the second option; small groups opted for the other two. The Shariah is designed to protect a Muslim’s life, mind, private property, freedom of religion, and legacy. The principles of Islamic medicine are the sanctity of human life (“if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people” [Quran 5:32])
The pro-choice movement considers the fetus to be an entity growing inside its mother’s womb like a vestigial organ. Muslim ethicists argue that inception itself is a clear and well-defined event in biology; that the fetus has signs of growth, which will continue unless it is terminated; and that its genetic code is that of a natural organism. Therefore, most religiously inclined ethicists believe that life begins at inception. Hadith #4 in Nawawi’s Forty Hadith, narrated by Abdullah ibn Masud (‘alayhi rahmat) (trans. Ezzeddin Ibrahim and Denys Johnson-Davies, Dar al-Ilm, Beirut, 1982), states that the Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) told them that “the creation of each one of you is brought together in his mother’s womb for forty days in the form of a drop (nutufa), then he becomes a clot of blood (alaqa) for a like period, then a
ISLAMIC HORIZONS JULY/AUGUST 2016
morsel of flesh (mudagha) for a like period, and then there is sent to him the angel who blows the breath of life into him and who is commanded with four matters: to write down his sustenance, his life span, his actions, and whether he will be happy or unhappy (whether or not he will enter Paradise) …” In another version, the angle asks, “My Lord, is this a male or female?” which means that gender is decided at that time. There seems to be some controversy about this hadith, as some believe it is a weak narration and others believe that life begins at 120 days, when the spirit is breathed into it. At 3 months, the fetus wakes and sleeps, digests and has bowel movements, can breathe amniotic fluid and swallow, can make a fist and has fingers. Its vital organs are functioning. From a biological point, it is alive and showing all the signs of development. God prohibits infanticide: “Do not kill your children for the fear of want, for We shall provide for them as well as for you. Killing them is a great sin” (Q. 17:31) and “The pledge of the believing woman is that they should not kill their children” (Q. 60:12). Islam considers the fetus a living being by giving him/her rights specific rights: the right to live, which means that a pregnant woman if condemned to death can be executed only after she delivers; if she is pregnant at the time of husband’s death, the estate cannot be distributed until she delivers; and if the mother is attacked and the fetus is injured or dies, the assailant will be penalized or pay compensation for the fetal injury.
WHEN IS ABORTION PERMITTED? In his “The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam” (American Trust Publications, Plainfield, Ind., 1999), Yousuf al-Qardawi wrote, “Abortion after the ensoulment of the fetus is forbidden and is a crime against a living and viable being. In the Maliki School, abortion is not permitted even during the first 40 days of conception. However, the Hanafi School says abortion is only permitted to save the life of a nursing infant. This means that abortion would be permitted if the mother has an infant who is nursing and is dependant on the mother’s milk and she has become pregnant and then in order to save the nursing infant’s life, when no formula milk or alternative is available, it would have been permissible to abort the fetus. On the other hand, the Shafi School says ‘abortion is a crime both before and after
MUSLIM ETHICISTS ARGUE THAT INCEPTION ITSELF IS A CLEAR AND WELL-DEFINED EVENT IN BIOLOGY. 120 days. However, the seriousness of the crime is more after 120 days.’ Imam Ghazali belonged to this school. The fourth view is that of Hanbali School that says ‘if a pregnant woman takes a medicine which causes her to abort, she must give the blood wit.’ That means this is the most serious crime and equal to committing murder.” According to the Shaykh Sa‘id Ramadan al-Bouti (1929-2013), a Syrian Islamic scholar and author of “The Jurisprudence of the Prophetic Biography & a Brief History of the Rightly Guided Caliphate” (Trans. Nancy Roberts, Dar Al-Fikr, Damascus, Syria; 2008), abortion may be permitted before the fourth month of pregnancy if the mother’s life is in danger due to the pregnancy itself, such as a worsening of heart failure in congenital heart disease; if the pregnancy itself causes a disease, such as toxemia of the pregnancy; and if the new pregnancy causes severe depletion of milk and the existing infant is dependant on the mother’s milk. Canadian scholar Shiekh Nizam Mangera says abortion can be permitted before 120 days in situations of rape, incest, fetal deformity (e.g., anencephaly), and sex with a mentally retarded woman. In response to the question if abortion is allowed for a Muslimah who is raped during a war and becomes pregnant, A. M. Darsh, a Muslim ethicist, responded, “Rape is a crime and so is abortion. One crime cannot be replaced by committing another crime and most Muslim women, even if abortion was offered during such situations, decided to continue with the pregnancy” (The Message International, Jan. 1994).
QUESTION TO THE IMANA MEDICAL ETHICS COMMITTEE A question came from India that a man had died in an accident leaving six children, aged 2-12, and an 8-week pregnant widow. The woman, who has no financial support, was wondering if she could have an abortion. Of those Muslim physicians surveyed by
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IMANA during a conference, 55% said “no,” 22% said “yes” and 23% said “not sure.” A doctor in India had told a 19-week pregnant woman that the fetus has large polycystic kidneys and no surrounding amniotic fluid. All of the specialists said that the kidneys were not functioning and, due to the lack of amniotic fluid, the lungs would not develop. The doctors suggested that she terminate the pregnancy, because this situation could endanger her own life. Asked by the IMANA ethics committee, 45% of Muslim physicians said “yes,” 22% said “no” and 33% had no opinion. IMANA informed her of the difficulty in reaching this decision and that all life, without exception, is sacred. They advised the family to decide after consulting with each other. In the end they decided not to abort the fetus, for “We found peace and comfort of mind in not intervening in God’s process of life and death. Please pray that God makes this test easy for us.” Before making such a decision, one needs examine all of the relevant factors, especially in relation to the Quran, the Sunnah and the opinion of Muslim jurists. The Quran states: “It is not befitting for the believers, men or women, to have an option in the matter when God and His messengers have decided their affairs for them. Those who disobey God and His messengers shall fall into manifest error” (33:36). A student couple, wanting to postpone having children until after they completed their education, asked what contraceptive methods are allowed. Hossam Fadel, chair, IMANA medical ethics committee and an obstetrician-gynecologist in Augusta, Ga., told them, “Family spacing is allowed in Islam for several reasons, among them the health of the wife, and economic or social reasons, as long as the method does not cause abortion or expulsion of a formed zygote.” Prophet Muhammad allowed his era’s only known contraception method: withdrawal. Oral contraceptive pills (e.g., estrogen and progesterone) prevent ovulation and the formation of zygotes and may be allowed if no medical contraindication exists. Condoms, diaphragms and contraceptive foam also fall into this category, although they vary in reliability. However, Muslim jurists do not consider some types of IUDs and morning-after pills permissible, for they prevent the zygote’s (fertilized ovum) implantation into the uterus. Shahid Athar, MD, FACP, FACE, a practicing physician, is a former chair IMANA Medical Ethics Committee.
HEALTH & WELL-BEING
Healthy Teeth Start Young Inculcating healthy habits early can help prevent many dental related problems
Harried parents also use a bottle filled with milk or juice as a pacifier. Others dilute juice with water in a sipping cup or ply their children with sugary snacks. The resulting steady stream of sugar in contact with the teeth gives bacteria a great deal of time to cause cavities.
TIPS TO PREVENT NBS
BY HUMAIRAH AMIN SHAH
an children as young as 2 years old have such extensive tooth decay that they end up needing fillings, crowns or extractions? The answer, unfortunately, is “yes.” A major cause affecting the dental health of children less than 5 years of age is Nursing Bottle Syndrome (NBS), also known as Baby Bottle Syndrome. NBS occurs when baby teeth come into contact with liquids containing sugar (e.g., milk, formula or juice) for extended periods of time. The resulting extensive decay means that young children, even if they are only 2 years old, need fillings, crowns or extractions. As a dentist, if I were to tell you that there was one thing you could do to save your toddler or baby from excruciating pain, chances are you would sit up and listen. However, for so many parents this simple advice often flies below the radar. For the last 13 years, I have seen a dramatic rise in the number of toddlers coming in for these procedures. As a professional dentist, I find this unbearably painful. And to think that swapping water for milk, formula or juice in baby bottles is a preemptive solution that is so often tossed aside. Most of my NBS patients are less than 5 years old. I have seen them suffer and their parents cry as they undergo treatment. Educating parents should be a priority for our
healthcare providers, media and government. Children don’t come with a manual; the first child is always a learning experience. I became a mother at the age of 35, and it was not easy.
THE SOLUTION IS AT HAND When children fall asleep while having the bottle or breastfeeding, the milk remains in their mouth all night long. The bacteria present in the mouth break sugar down into acid, which causes tooth decay. Does this mean we should not breastfeed? Breastfeeding is great for an infant, but after their first birthday have a bottle of water ready to swap after feeding so that any residual milk or formula is rinsed off. Plan to gradually reduce the frequency with which you feed at night.
HEALTHY TEETH START YOUNG, AND A FEW SIMPLE STEPS CAN AVERT VERY PAINFUL CONSEQUENCES. IN LIFE, IT IS NEVER TOO EARLY TO START A HEALTHY HABIT.
• Wean children from the bottle as early as 12-14 months. • Never let your child walk around with a bottle filled with milk for more than 20 minutes. • Begin brushing your child’s teeth as soon as teeth appear, or clean them with a wet cloth. • Dental examinations should begin at 12 months or earlier, if a problem is noted. • Juices and sodas erode teeth and should be avoided. A child should consume a maximum of only 4 oz. of juice a day. • Children should be fed every two or three hours. A typical schedule could be breakfast at 8:00 am, a snack at 10:00 am, lunch at 12:00 pm and so forth. Water is the only thing they should be consuming between meals.
IMPORTANT TIPS TO REMEMBER: Start cleaning your child’s teeth with wet gauze as soon as they erupt. Once the front tooth erupts completely, use a soft toothbrush. Make sure you are cleaning the gums too. Brush two times a day and floss once. Use safe-to-swallow non-fluoride training toothpaste until your child learns to spit it out, and then move on to fluoridated toothpaste. They can start using children’s mouthwash at around five years of age. Make sure they are not swallowing it. Healthy teeth start young, and a few simple steps can avert very painful consequences. In life, it is never too early to start a healthy habit. Humairah Amin Shah, DDS, is practicing dentist and author of children’s books: Sam and the Sugar Bug, Leila and the Tooth Fairy, Funny Teeth and Bunny Ears, and Leila’s First Visit to the Dentist.
ISLAMIC HORIZONS JULY/AUGUST 2016
THE MUSLIM WORLD
Turkey Serves its Syrian Guests
Almost half of the people who have fled Syria are currently guests in Turkey BY EMINE ERDOGAN
Accompanying President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his visit to the US, First Lady Emine Erdoğan spoke at a panel on ‘Syrian Refugees Crisis’ held by the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) in Washington D.C.
yria was a special country that we all remembered for its famous mosques, ancient cities, authentic market places, churches and synagogues. It represented one of the richest cultures of the Middle East. Unfortunately, today Syria has become synonymous with war and the refugee crisis. In fact, it is more appropriate to call this a “crisis of humanity” because the situation that the Syrian refugees are facing is just as terrible as the ongoing civil war there. Millions fleeing the cruelty of an oppressor could not find mercy in this big world. The Mediterranean, a sea of civilizations, became a sea of death. Thousands have been condemned to death due to the self-serving policies of those who did not want to disturb the comfort they enjoy in their own countries. “Comfort” is so meaningless in face of death and innocent children, isn’t it? The
picture before us, however, is a testament to such meaninglessness. In five years, close to half a million innocent people have died, more than 6.5 million have been displaced and 13.5 million have been affected by the civil war. In the meantime, the actors in the international community built their strategies upon closing their doors to these unfortunates. Since those who died on the shores of the Mediterranean were Syrian, they did not attract the attention of the world and the organizations that deal with human and women’s rights. Under these circumstances, it was Turkey that opened its doors to 3 million refugees. Almost half of the people who fled Syria are currently guests in the country. We do not call them “refugees”; we call them “guests.” In keeping with our country’s open door policy, 3 million Syrians are sheltered in Turkey irrespective of their religion, language
or race. We open not only our doors but also our hearts to people who arrive at our borders, without making any discrimination whatsoever. I would like to give you a striking example. Kilis is a city in southeast Turkey with 3,000 years of history. Currently, the guest population there is more than the city’s native population. I believe that this proves very well that we have opened our hearts. Many other Turkish cities and towns are doing exactly the same thing. Many beautiful people share their food, home and their children’s toys with the guests. Some suggest that Kilis should be awarded the Nobel peace prize. It is not important whether Kilis is awarded this prize or not, because all of our cities have already won the appreciation of our conscience due to their actions during this crisis. It is not possible to understand Turkey’s stance in the context of existing international relations theories, because in my country there is an understanding of civilization that values people simply because they are human beings. Our country is a place that has hosted many of the most important civilizations throughout history. Almost all tribes in history have passed through Anatolia. In my country, mosques, synagogues and churches stand side by side. My country has a rich historical experience of people of all creeds and origin living side by side. Turkey’s current strength does not emanate only from its economy and young population. It also stems from this historical and culture richness. Our famous poet Yahya Kemal Beyatlı (1884-1958) once answered a question posed by a European about Istanbul’s population in the following way: “We live together with those who are below the ground.” This reply shows that the teachings of Rumi, Yunus Emre (1238-1320) and Hacı [haji] Bektaş-ı Veli (1209-1271) are still very dynamic even many centuries later. We are inspired by this deep-rooted heritage when determining our policies. Our languages, religions and origins may be different, but our common denominator lies in the fact that we are all human and that this surpasses all other considerations. This is why we can share the same neighborhood and the same city with 3 million refugees when necessary. More than 152,000 Syrian children have been born in our country so far, and 39% of our guests are children under the age of
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fifteen. We are doing all we can to make sure that they do not become a “lost generation.” Of the children staying in temporary protection centers, 90% of them are being educated. For children who are not housed in these centers, the doors of our state schools are wide open. Of course there are language and integration problems. This is where non-governmental organizations play a significant role.
Unfortunately, terror unveils its ugly face everywhere. We were saddened by the terrorist attack in the heart of Europe as much as the attacks in Turkey, because terror attacks in Madrid, London, Paris and Brussels are no different than attacks in Istanbul and Ankara. No matter who the perpetrators are, the source of terror is the same. These perpetrators are dark souls who use their human faces as a mask.
MY BIGGEST WISH IS TO SEE THE CHILDREN WHO HAD TO LEAVE SYRIA IN SUCH DIRE CIRCUMSTANCES RETURN TO THEIR COUNTRY. —EMINE ERDOGAN Occupational courses are provided to Syrian women living in these centers. So far, 13,000 of them have attended these courses in an attempt to lift the burden of the war. Children and youth have been able to alleviate some of their burden at psychosocial support and skills centers. So far, Turkey has spent $10 billion of its own money on these guests. Foreign support remains only at $455 million. Municipalities, non-governmental organizations and our people are also making generous contributions. For example, women who do not have other means are knitting hats and shawls for Syrian children to help protect them from severe winter conditions. We believe that our efforts will bring about a great blessing for our country. It has already made Turkey the world’s most generous country, for it is number one in the world in terms of humanitarian aid in comparison to its gross national product. With a growing economy, Turkey will continue to exercise this humanitarian spirit in every area. Our country is going through difficult times in recent months. I came here with the pain of our martyrs. My beautiful country is the target of PKK (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê — the Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and other terrorist organizations. These attacks upon the territorial integrity of my country will never succeed in dissolving the historical brotherhood of the people in Turkey. This brotherhood is deep-rooted and inseparable. Therefore, terror organizations and their collaborators who have no grassroots in society will drown in their own malicious intentions.
Daesh [ISIS], which engages in terror by using Islam, will never smear the good name of Islam or true Muslims. Islam is a religion of peace and will stay that way for eternity. Turkey is a place where Islam is experienced in the most refined form, and it will continue its efforts against Daesh as a state and a people. My biggest wish is to see the children who had to leave Syria in such dire circumstances return to their country. All children in the world deserve a peaceful home, a good life and a bright future. It is the international community’s responsibility to provide them with this opportunity. Those who remain indifferent to human values in times of such crises can make no contribution to human rights or to women’s and children’s rights at other times. If our conscience is not more effective than bullets, tanks and missiles, all claims to development and civilization are null and void. In a world where racism is so flagrantly expressed, the world’s good and dignified people ought to show more courage because only their courage may save the dignity of humanity. The poet Rumi says, “It is those who share the same feelings, and not the ones who speak the same language, who will best understand each other.” Perhaps the U.S. is one of the countries best positioned to understand the issue of refugees because America is a country that has welcomed refugees throughout its history. As President Obama said, “the U.S. is born of immigrants.” Therefore, we should make an appeal to the collective conscience of humanity for an international effort to ensure that the Syrian
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refugees can live in humane conditions. Conscience is the only key to unlock dirty policies. All that is needed is empathy. Just think of what a Syrian woman or child has to leave behind when fleeing the country. There is no need to think of what they are able to take with them, for you can be sure that those suitcases hold nothing but fear and despair. I would like to remind everyone that the international community is obligated to perform certain important responsibilities. I hope that meetings such as this one will serve as a reminder for such duties. I invite all of you to Turkey, the most beautiful place in the world for multiculturalism. I hope that you get a chance to understand our country from the right sources and experience our cultural and human values closely. I greet you all wholeheartedly. Emine Erdogan is First Lady of Turkey. (Editor’s note: This article was excerpted from First Lady Emine Erdogan’s address at the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research [SETA] Conference on the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Washington, D.C. March 30, 2016. It has been lightly copyedited.)
IMAM WANTED Masjid As-Saffat (International Muslim Brotherhood Inc.) Trenton NJ is seeking Religious Leader (Imam): Qualifications: • Legal resident of the U.S. • Strong Qur’anic recitation and understanding. • Fluency in the English language. • Thorough understanding of issues encountered by Muslims in the U.S. • Extensive practical knowledge of Fiqh & Shariah or Fiqh Scholar as recognized by Fiqh Council of ISNA. • Excellent communications skills in interfaith discussions and media interview settings. • Able to cement a strong relationship with our youth. Submit letter of introduction and resume via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE MUSLIM WORLD
Egyptians Have Won the Freedom from Fear Is it too early to write off the Arab Spring as Egypt again wilts under a brutal dictatorship?
n April of this year, Egyptian security forces arbitrarily detained and disappeared hundreds of people prior to a large planned protest opposing Egypt’s handover of Tiran and Sanafir, two strategic Red Sea islands located at the southern entry to the Gulf of Aqaba, where both Israel and Jordan maintain important ports, to Saudi Arabia earlier that month. This came as simply the latest part of a greater years-long campaign by the Egyptian police and military, who have been cracking down on political activists, journalists and human rights advocates since General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s 2013 coup against the country’s first elected president, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. According to the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, in just the first year after the coup, the regime has arrested over 41,000 people, many on “terrorism” charges. In this most recent chapter of El-Sisi’s shock and awe campaign, he has been ruthlessly punishing and terrorizing those who have taken to the streets to express their rage about ceding the two islands in a the absence of any national dialogue. In the midst of the state’s political instability, national rifts, terrorism in Sinai, a failing economy, a politicized judiciary and security forces with absolute powers, el-Sisi’s number one concern seems to be silencing dissident voices. As reported by the Middle East Monitor (Jan. 14, 2016), he spends hundreds of millions of dollars building new prisons to accommodate the new prisoners he has been collecting. The Gamasa prison in Egypt’s Damietta province alone cost $95.8 million to build. Instead of creating new job opportunities and improving education and health for the 90 million Egyptians, many of whom are impoverished, el-Sisi uses taxpayer money and foreign aid to build more prisons to house children, young men and women and the elderly under inhumane conditions that
may lead to their illness or death. In less than three years of his rule, Egyptians have witnessed the horrendous Rab’a massacre; several mass death sentences; arrests of journalists, both foreign and domestic; and widespread disappearances, torture and deaths of innocent people. Fear and silencing the masses are apparently el-Sisi’s only approach to ruling the country. In his 1941 “Four Freedoms” speech, President Franklin D. Roosevelt talked about “freedom from fear” as one of the four fundamental freedoms, joining freedom of expression, freedom of belief and freedom from want. Specifically, he was referring to a fear of facing foreign aggression, namely, World War II, whereas in today’s western democracies, this fear would most likely translate into a fear of terrorists, especially those with a self-proclaimed Islamic bent. While non-western developing countries — including much of the Arab and Muslim worlds — also unfortunately face this fear of terror today, their citizens often additionally face the ugly fear of cruel authoritarian regimes and dictators. Fear has helped these autocrats clamp down on any potential unrest and remain in power for decades. In fact, since their independence from colonial control after World War II, the 22 countries of the Arab League alone have combined to produce nearly 800 years of cumulative dictatorship and autocracy. This depressing figure underscores how potent and seemingly insurmountable this fear can be. However, in late 2010 and early 2011 the Tunisians showed the rest of the world, and specifically their brothers and sisters in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain, that this fear could be broken. Visiting the ancient city of Carthage in 2012, only a year after Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was removed from power by mass protests, I spoke with a tour guide who worked in the ancient ruins of the Baths of Antoninus (Baths of Carthage), a sprawling archaeo-
PHOTO (C) TAREK WAJEH BY SPECIAL PERMISSION
BY MAY KOSBA
logical site nestled beneath the hill upon which Tunisia’s presidential palace sits. The middle-aged man got emotional as he talked about the former regime’s cruelty, giving the example of how the dictator’s security forces would let their dogs loose at the site to clear it of visitors after hours. He was working his shift on the historic day when Ben Ali was forced out of office, and he watched the dethroned president’s helicopter take off from the palace, never to return. The fear he experienced under that regime was palpable as he spoke, as was the uplifting and satisfying feeling he experienced from his front row seat, watching Ben Ali’s departure. The country had broken free from fear. Buoyed by their North African neighbors, Egyptians revolted in similar fashion, and for the first time in decades the Arab world’s largest country saw an outpouring of resistance to the authoritarianism of its military rulers. It seemed that the fear in Egypt had also been broken. One of the most vivid images of this particular revolution was that of a young man defiantly standing his ground facing an armored vehicle, a slow-moving menace to his very survival. The conquerability of fear was an emblematic value of which Egyptians had become aware during their transitory revolutionary beginnings. Starting a revolution meant that fear of the backlash, repression and physical torture, a legacy engrained in their genes by previous dictators, had to be overcome and conquered so that the people
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Egyptian version of the global “war on terror” seeks the local political elimination of non-conformists, broadly defined as those who refuse to subscribe to the divisive illusion of stability that the current regime and its campaigners have been promoting, both internally and internationally, since coming to power.
cracks. When it became clear that protesters would hit the streets to protest his transfer of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia, he gave a quick succession of rambling speeches, at one point petulantly demanding that everyone simply stop talking about the two islands. On the day of the protests, despite their relatively small number, el-Sisi deployed the
IT IS FASHIONABLE THESE DAYS TO FRAME THE ARAB SPRING AS A FAILURE. HOWEVER, AS HISTORY SHOWS, REVOLUTIONS AND MOVEMENTS TOWARD FREEDOM TAKE TIME AND EFFORT. THE ARAB SPRING HAS NOT FAILED; IT JUST HAS NOT BEEN COMPLETED.
could improve their lives. Living under three consecutive arrogant, elusive, corrupt and extremely repressive regimes was an impetus to revolt. As the fear that had captured Egyptian tongues and minds for decades was finally on its way to becoming a myth, Egypt suddenly found herself back where she had started. The Rab’a massacre, along with the ousting and arresting of Morsi, marked the beginning of de-revolutionizing Egypt, which was both a goal and a process. As dictators are wont to do, el-Sisi used fear as a tool to solidify his position. Specifically, he channeled all of the people’s fears and frustrations into a hysterical fear of the Muslim Brotherhood while expertly conflating Islamism and terrorism. The once-ruling party suddenly found itself declared a terrorist organization by the state, its members arrested or killed. Common Egyptians, now once again afraid, clamored for istiqrar (stability), and el-Sisi promised to provide it, consolidating his power under the guise of fighting terror. Seeking sustained legitimacy, the regime borrowed heavily from the terminology and praxis of the U.S.-led global “war on terror,” which by this point had become part of the global social imaginary. However, instead of targeting terrorists, el-Sisi directed this rhetoric and action toward his political opposition — including Islamists, revolutionaries, human rights advocates, journalists and academics — with the strong support of the state-controlled or aligned media. The
Islamists, specifically in Egypt, are otherized and dehumanized by ultra-conservative pro-military campaigners and nationalists, as well as other promoters of a “moderate” version of Islam. The parallels between this anti-Islamist campaign and the Islamophobic rhetoric of right-wing politicians and commentators in the West are striking. In fact, it was not uncommon to hear the once-presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) praise el-Sisi on the debate stage or from the stump, and, conversely, we have seen some of el-Sisi’s allies, including the powerful judge of the Supreme Constitutional Court vice president Tehani el-Gebali, a Hosni Mubarak appointee and hailed as the first woman to hold a judiciary position in Egypt, claim to have proof that President Barack Obama has secret ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Beyond these odd bedfellows, the intense regime-directed persecution of the Brotherhood and its allies has started to manifest itself as a paradoxical Islamophobia within a Muslim-majority country. In today’s Egypt, conspicuous signs of religiosity are frowned upon in public places and are on their path to being made illegal. For example, in an act more befitting of France and its laïcité, the niqab has already been banned among teaching staff at Cairo University. All of these actions can make even the most optimistic and romantic Arab Spring revolutionary feel despondent about what is going on in Egypt. However, el-Sisi’s once-impervious armor, built upon fear and propaganda, has recently started to show
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full force of his security forces into the country’s squares and streets, urging the people to go out into the streets and “defend the state from evil forces.” The fact that these protestors so rattled the regime is a sign that not everyone has succumbed to fear. It is fashionable these days to frame the Arab Spring as a failure. However, as history shows, revolutions and movements toward freedom take time and effort. The Arab Spring has not failed; it just has not been completed. There are still brave souls in Egypt willing to stand up for their freedom and dignity. May Kosba, a graduate student in Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, is co-author of “Hello, It’s a Muslim Calling” (2011; Saray Publishing, Cairo, Egypt).
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Recycling: The Tip of the Iceberg Being environmentally friendly is easier than most people imagine BY NAAZISH YARKHAN
lighting,” says Mohammed. “Change to LED bulbs. When remodeling, buy energy efficient appliances. Switch to programmable thermostats. While there are financial savings, as citizens of this beautiful planet, we all must share a responsibility of protecting it from global warming.” Mohammed also suggests solar panels. As people become more aware of the value that solar photovoltaic systems add to their property, and as appraisers grow better informed of their benefits, a solar-powered home often becomes an asset. Homeowners associations are accepting them, and homebuyers are willing to pay more for an
PHOTO(C) DEERPATH FARM; PHOTOGRAPHER LINDA GARDNER PHILIPS
oing “green” still means “recycling.” But for many families, towns and school districts, recycling is increasingly only the first stop on the path of becoming Earth friendly. For Muslim families, being green is also about fulfilling religious obligations as this planet’s vicegerents and caretakers. According to Naimath Mohammed, CEO of Future First Energy, a company that offers homeowners, nonprofits and businesses hybrid solutions for energy savings, global warming can be defeated if we consume less energy and produce more. “The easiest change is to start with the
energy-efficient home versus comparable homes in the neighborhood. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a 2015 study from Berkeley Lab shows that homeowners nationwide have been willing to pay a premium of about $15,000 for a home with an average-sized hosted solar array. Long Island, N.Y. is renowned for its rising energy costs. When area resident Mohammed Bouzaidi, CEO of Patriot Energy Solutions Corp., originally researched solar panels for his home, the costs were prohibitive. Two years ago, learning that the price had decreased, he decided to calculate the expenses and potential savings based upon his previous year’s energy consumption. “Another consideration was the size of
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my roof and if trees (or a chimney) were an obstruction.” he says. Determining if a roof is a strong candidate for solar panels can be done instantaneously via Google Maps or can take two to three days. After this, one needs to calculate how much sun hits the roof per year, for not every roof is appropriate. In North America, roofs that face the south and the west are good. His company installed solar panels on his own home and those of several Long Island residents, as well as on the Islamic Center of Long Island. Homeowners who switch to solar panel roofs can take advantage of federal tax credits and, in some states, also receive retail rebates. Bouzaidi’s entire project took two months: “[About] 85 percent of the time went trying to procure the town permit,” he says, although the installation itself took only two to three days. “My house is currently producing 100 percent of its energy from solar,” remarks Bouzaidi. “But it is always connected to the utility’s energy grid, and uses it at night, in case of cloudy days and power outages. During the day, the roof is producing energy, giving it back to the grid. It is creating an energy bank. The excess power actually spins the meter backward and I get a credit. Once a year, the utilities write me a check if there is a balance. This year, for the first time, I put in central air, knowing that I am using electricity from the sun.”
IT TAKES A VILLAGE Linda Gardner Phillips and family recycle and compost. “The waste pick-up guys always comment that we always have so much more recycling than garbage! Like three to one,” says this co-founder of Deerpath Farm, a 200-acre conservation community that offers one-acre lots for sale amidst 140 acres of protected open lands. “Probably our most environmentally impactful everyday practice is raising chickens. We feed them most of our leftover food, and this has dramatically reduced our garbage volume. It also cuts back on feed costs. We generally don’t use chemicals, and the chickens help reduce the tick population,” she says. They also pasture their chickens, using a portable electric fence with a solar-powered battery. “Moving the chickens around fertilizes the lawn, keeps down the weeds and provides fresh forage.” In addition, the family uses two baby goats to help control invasives like garlic mustard, buckthorn and honeysuckle.
“Goats will eat almost anything and so are appropriate for use on highly degraded land that will be restored to native landscape,” she explains. While their own 12-acre property has a lot of degraded areas with mature buckthorn and garlic mustard, it also has some pristine native lands. The family has to make sure that the goats don’t wander off to make a meal of the wrong flora and fauna.
ly every choice to be Earth-friendly adds up. The students involved in this initiative work together to solve real problems. The class identifies a real-life problem, research is carried out, experts provide input, field studies are conducted, solutions are developed collaboratively and “the most successful proposals are implemented at the school, local, community, and/or county levels.”
AS PEOPLE BECOME MORE AWARE OF THE VALUE THAT SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS ADD TO THEIR PROPERTY, AND AS APPRAISERS GROW BETTER INFORMED OF THEIR BENEFITS, A SOLAR-POWERED HOME OFTEN BECOMES AN ASSET. In case you’re wondering, this family lives in Mettawa, a 45-minute drive from Chicago. The village was founded specifically to keep the land rural, free from mega-malls and corporate parks. While goats and chickens haven’t come to Glen Ellyn, Ill., as environmental measures, curbside composting finally has. Residents of Toronto, Canada, have long been separating their organic garbage and food scraps from recyclables and trash, for their city to pick up for composting. However, this initiative is new to Glen Ellyn. Traditionally, those who compost maintain compost pits or bins in their backyards to enrich their gardens with the black nutrient-rich product. In fact, this end product is so rich and so good for the soil that it has been called “black gold.” Kayla Wheeler, a Glen Ellyn resident, remarks that this is a far better use of our food scraps than our ever-growing landfills, where such items “mummify” rather than decompose. Curbside composting is “the lazy man/ woman’s” resort, she adds. But “if we didn’t have curbside, we wouldn’t compost, but instead curse ourselves for being environmentally lazy every time we threw food into the waste can.”
LET OUR CHILDREN LEAD THE WAY Wheeler, a coach in the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) Initiative in Glen Ellyn’s school district 41, will tell you how quick-
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One of the school district’s most successful PBLs consisted of protecting the monarch butterfly. As part of the solution, the elementary students secured the participation of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County and, before long, the entire Glen Ellyn community was working to help this population thrive. “Students — elementary school kids — initiated that work!” says Wheeler. District 41’s Heidi Hann’s seventh graders turned to nature to solve another problem — hunger — by creating a vegetable patch that yielded 400 pounds of organic, locally grown produce for their local food pantry. “They researched how to keep the rabbits away, wrote for a grant to the Wheaton Garden Club and took it from there,” she says. Besides pesticides, the students also eliminated tarp so that the plastic wouldn’t go into the environment. They used twine products to hold up teepees for vine-type plants because twine can be reused or break down naturally. During the summer break, student volunteers rotated through a schedule to weed and harvest the patch. Students enjoyed the project so much that they chose to do it again the following school year and summer. “It taught students to give back to the community. They saw how they could change something, working on a project from the seedling.” In essence, they learned the lessons underlying every one of these efforts to be Earth friendly. Naazish YarKhan is founder of Content Pros & Writers Studio.
A Yearly Mission to Heal
A MUSLIM AMERICAN RESPONSE
Health camps organized by a Muslim American charity treat thousands of poor patients in India every year BY RAQIB HAMEED
ohammad Khwaja, 55, a slum dweller of Kishan Bagh, Hyderabad, and his family’s sole income earner, had to give up tailoring job because of deteriorating vision and diabetes. He only learned about his afflictions by visiting a free health camp organized in his area by a U.S. based charitable organization. Noorjahan, an octogenarian from Ajganai village, Uttar Pradesh, had suffered ever since falling and injuring her arm. Despite being treated for a fracture at a local government hospital, the pain never subsided. Some months later, when she visited the free health camp organized in her village, doctors found that she had a muscle limitation instead of a fracture. Due to limited government resources, the non-availability of doctors in rural India and the people’s inability to pay for quality health care means that there are millions
of such cases. According to a World Health Organization report, India accounts for onethird of the world’s poorest 1.2 billion people and for 21 percent of its disease burden (The Indian Express, July 14, 2015). The country’s public health expenditures, which are less than 1 percent of GDP, are considered among the world’s lowest. The poor, who constitute a majority of the population, live in abject poverty and are mainly concentrated in rural areas (68% of India’s total population) and urban slums. According to UNICEF estimates, more than 122 million households have no toilets, 33 percent lack access to latrines and over 50 percent (638 million) defecate in the open (http://unicef.in/Whatwedo/11/ Eliminate-Open-Defecation), which makes them vulnerable to various serious health complication and diseases. The poor suffer from diseases ranging from dengue fever, hepatitis, tuberculosis, malaria and pneumonia to badly infected wounds and cancer.
In 2010, a U.S.-based charity sensed these alarming health trends and decided to start an annual health camp that would provide free and quality medical services. The India Health Initiative (IHI), started by the Indian Muslim Relief and Charities (IMRC) seven year ago, has been assembling a team of volunteer American physicians to run its annual health camps in various disadvantaged areas ever since. From Feb. 19 to March 6, 2016, IHI took a team of predominantly Indian-origin specialists in internal medicine, family medicine, gynecology, pediatrics, surgery, geriatrics and emergency medicine to rural Barabanki (Uttar Pradesh), the slums of Hyderabad (Telangana) and the villages of Kzohikode (Kerala). During their 12-day stay, these physicians treated 5,775 patients. “I was looking for some platform to do service for the needy, and then I came across IMRC’s health initiatives in India. My experience with them has been amazing. Treating poor people gives you self-satisfaction and you can justify your existence at the end of the day,” said Chicago pediatrician Sana Ahmed. “This initiative has shown that many illnesses afflicting the poor are preventable, and that these medical conditions are worsened mostly because of poverty, ignorance
Dr. Sabiha Gafoor examining a child. 50
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HEALTH CONDITIONS AMONG THE POOR KEEP ETERIORATING, AS THEY CAN’T AFFORD THE HIGH COST OF TREATMENT.
fornian physician who has volunteered for IMRC health camps since their inception, headed the 10-member medical doctor team from the U.S. “I have been coming here for the last seven years and have treated thousands of patients in almost 12 Indian states. Each year is a new experience. This year we treated hundreds of young patients with chronic lung diseases, upset stomachs, indigestion, joint pains, shortness of breath, seizures as well as emphysema in those people who smoke a lot. Also there were cases of active tuberculosis that were referred to specialized medical centers. We also treated patients with hypertension and diabetes.” “Health conditions among the poor keep deteriorating, as they can’t afford the high cost of treatment,” says surgeon M. Y. Ahmed. “For them, free health camps are the only opportunities to access quality as well as free medical treatment.” IMRC executive director Manzoor Ghori said that they plan to bring more volunteer doctors from the U.S. next year so that the mission can serve more people. Raqib Hameed is a staff reporter for TwoCircles.net
and the lack of hygiene,” says Chicago internist M. A. Gafoor. Pediatrician Sabiha Gafoor found the work both “exhilarating and rewarding ... It’s not an easy job, but we are making an effort to help people in need.” The first health camp of the 7th annual IHI mission was conducted from Feb. 20 to 23 at the Jahangirabad Institute of Technology (JIT), in rural Barabanki. Shahbuddin, 65, who has suffered from blurry vision for the last 4 years, traveled 22 miles from Banshasareef village because, “I went to various eye specialists, but they don’t do the kind of checkup which doctors here are doing free of cost. At other hospitals they charge a lot but do not treat us properly. Here, they are doing everything for free. For medicines and necessary tests, I have to pay nothing which is a great respite for poor people like us.” Since day one, poor people from nearby villages who thronged the camp were initially investigated for vital health signs, a practice that is uncommon in the staterun hospitals. At the end of day four, 1,530 patients were treated for various diseases. Besides doctors, the main draw was free pathological tests, X-rays, medicines and other medical services.
In Hyderabad (Telangana), health camps organized in the slum areas of Hassan Nagar, Kishan Bagh, Shaheen Nagar and Baba Nagar from Feb. 26 to 29 treated 2,277 patients. Farhat Sultana, 55, a widow from Kishan Bagh who came for a regular checkup, was diagnosed with diabetes. She said, “I came here because I have back and joint pains. But the doctors here screened me, conducted the necessary tests and told me that I have diabetes. I didn’t know that I had this disease, because I don’t have enough money to visit a doctor.” In Kerala, health camps organized in Mukkam, Omassary, Chennamangloru and Engapuza villages from March 3 to 6 treated 1,968 patients. “My four-year old son Akshay had been coughing for the last two months. I’m a salesperson in a local shop and couldn’t afford to take him to a good hospital in Kozhikode city. When I came to know about this health camp, I took him there. The doctors diagnosed him with bronchitis and gave him free medicines,” said Ramesh, 40, of Ahayankunn, Kerala. IMRC made all of the necessary arrangements for those patients needing follow-up checkups to be examined and treated by local doctors. This year John Rosenberg, a Cali-
ISLAMIC HORIZONS JULY/AUGUST 2016
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Islamophobia Deepens in Buddhist Myanmar Myanmar’s much-heralded democracy has brought no relief to its minorities BY HILAL SHIMLAVI
he Burmese foreign ministry, now headed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi (b. 1945), has decided to side with those hardline Buddhists who have advised foreign embassies not to use “Rohingya” to describe the country’s 1.3 million Muslims. Why? Because in 1982 the government declared them to be non-citizen foreigners — “Bengalis” — and thereby “legally” rendered them stateless. The Myanmar Times quoted Soe Lynn Han, deputy director general of the ministry, as saying: “I can say only that this [request to the U.S.] was the policy of the minister — Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.” This particular member of the Burmese Buddhist elite bristles when foreign media or human rights activists ask her why she has not denounced her country’s religious bigotry, which is hardly restricted to the Muslim Rohingya. Perhaps her absence from the international gathering, held on May 26, 2015, at the Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway, to focus on concrete ways to end the decades-long persecution of the Rohingya should have been expected. Fundamentalist monks continue to target religious minorities. And yet Scot Marciel, the new U.S. ambassador to Burma, met with Sitagu Sayadaw, vice-chair of the Committee for the Protection of Nationality and Religion (Ma Ba Tha), praised him and even paid his “respects” to this odious organization. Sayadaw is a close ally of the Islamophobic monk Wirathu, famously characterized by Time magazine on June 20, 2013, cover as the “Buddhist Bin Laden.” On page 173 of her “Freedom from Fear” (London: Penguin Books, 1995, rev. ed.), Suu Kyi wrote: “Kindness (maddava) in a ruler is in a sense the courage to feel concern for the people. It is undeniably easier to ignore the hardships of those who are too weak to
President Obama talks with human rights advocates, former political prisoners, and religious leaders at University of Yangon in Rangoon.
demand their rights than to respond sensitively to their needs. To care is to accept responsibility, to dare to act in accordance with the dictum that the ruler is the strength of the helpless.” The Rohingya are denied citizenship under a 1982 law that has been widely condemned by human rights groups and were excluded from the Nov. 8th general election that saw Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party come to power. The U.N. special rapporteur long ago called upon the government to “abolish its over-burdensome requirements for citizens in a manner which has discriminatory effects on racial or ethnic minorities” (Geneva: U.N. Commission on Human Rights, E/ CN.4/1993/3, Feb. 17, 1993).
FUNDAMENTALIST BUDDHISTS ARE ALSO FORCING THEIR RELIGION INTO MUSLIM-MAJORITY REGIONS.
The New York Times’ editorial of May 9 took a clear stand: “Rohingya are a Muslim minority in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar that has been systematically denied the most elemental rights: citizenship, freedom of worship, education, marriage and travel. Tens of thousands of the Rohingya were driven from their homes by violence in 2012; last year many tried to flee persecution and deprivation in desperate sea voyages. “Daw Aung San Suu Kyi — Myanmar’s leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate — does not want to call them Rohingya, the name they use, because nationalist Buddhists want to perpetuate the myth that they are ‘Bengalis’ who don’t belong in Myanmar. She has also asked the United States ambassador not to use the term. Her advice is wrong and deeply disappointing. The Rohingya are every bit as Burmese as she is.” The Guardian’s Poppy McPherson reported May 23, 2016 that the Burmese countryside is seeing signs bearing the message: “No Muslims allowed to stay overnight. No Muslims allowed to rent houses. No marriage with Muslims.” She noted, “Small but viciously insular, these ‘Buddhist-only’ outposts serve as microcosms of the festering religious tensions that threaten Myanmar’s nascent experiment with democracy.” The fact that nationalist rhetoric has gone unchallenged, and has in some cases been echoed, by the new government has left some wondering what place the country’s minorities have in its future, noted McPherson. These Buddhists, who label them “Bengali” and therefore “illegal immigrants,” protested outside the U.S. embassy on April 28. Around 50 Ma Ba Tha monks joined the protest, which was organized by the Myanmar National Network (MNN). According to the
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OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO BY PETE SOUZA. 2012
Washington, DC-based C4ADS (formerly the Center for Advanced Defense Studies), the MNN is a highly visible component of the Ma Ba Tha propaganda apparatus. C4ADS, which provides data-driven analysis and evidence-based reporting on global conflict and transnational security issues, related that Ma Ba Tha has been formally active since only 2014, when it was established; however, it has already grown into one of the country’s most powerful sociopolitical forces. During 2015, it celebrated the passage of all four “Protection of Race and Religion Laws,” which it had drafted and for which it had lobbied. These laws actively target and discriminate against key tenets of Burmese Muslim society and significantly infringe upon its members’ religious and social freedoms. These legislative actions are backed by a sophisticated mass messaging campaign that co-opts the various latent anti-Muslim prejudices throughout society and packages them into a coherent narrative that has mass appeal. The C4ADS report “Sticks and Stones: Hate Speech Narratives and Facilitators in Myanmar” said: “Alongside the violence, there has been a growing ultranationalist campaign by elements within the Burmese monkhood to protect Burma and Buddhism against an apparently existential Muslim threat. The most visible manifestation of this campaign came in the form of the ‘969,’ a grassroots movement started in Mon State in 2012 by a group of five junior-level monks seeking ‘to protect race and religion in Myanmar.’” In late 2013, the government-appointed body that oversees and regulates the Buddhist clergy banned it. Suu Kyi once reminisced: “From my earliest childhood my mother taught me
this idea of national unity .... For example, we always had people from various ethnic groups living with us. ... Since my youth, then, I was taught to live closely with people from other ethnic groups. ... In this way we need to give thought to ethnic groups other than our own. We need to show sympathy and understanding. Without this progress for the country will be impossible” (“Freedom from Fear,” 219-20). The C4ADS report noted on page 6: “The persecution and marginalization of Myanmar’s Muslim population have sharply increased in recent years. Buddhist chauvinism towards minority religious communities has ebbed and flowed for decades in Myanmar, but violence in the past few years against these groups has been among the worst in over 50 years. … anti-Muslim sentiment has evolved to the point that a range of anti-Muslim prejudices have now normalized in mainstream Burmese discourse. A tense inter-faith atmosphere has resulted in Muslim grievances finding an unreceptive ear even among many liberal and pro-democracy activists, and small triggers rapidly escalating into mob violence.” The report references a July 2015 study by Oxford University and the Myanmar ICT for Development Organization entitled “Threat and virtuous defence: Listening to narratives of religious conflict in six Myanmar cities.” It cites the following statement, on page 17, made by authors Matthew Schissler, Matthew J. Walton, and Phyu Phyu Thi: “Hate speech is [no longer] necessary in order to construct a narrative of Muslim threat.” Instead, a range of anti-Muslim fears and prejudices are so ingrained in Burmese Buddhist society today that many see a credible existential threat from a population that by most current estimates is unlikely to exceed 5 to 10 percent.” The Rohingya have faced widespread persecution for decades, but their situation has become ever more perilous since 2012, when Buddhist rioters rampaged through villages in Sittwe, torching Rohingya houses and attacking people with machetes and other crude weapons. And yet on page 225 of her book, Suu Kyi proclaimed: “One of the best things about democracy is that practicing liberal democracies always think of talking first and fighting as the last resort. Whereas in a lot of cases talking is the last resort, when they’ve fought themselves to exhaustion and there’s nothing else they can do, then they talk. By that time, quite often it’s done so much harm ...”
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Since those events of 2012, around 140,000 Rohingya — and some members of the Kaman community — have been unable to return to their villages. They are now confined to a swathe of land in squalid displacement camps, where they are often denied basic healthcare. Fundamentalist Buddhists are also forcing their religion into Muslim-majority regions. On April 25, the powerful Buddhist monk Thu Zana, known as Myaing Gyi Ngu Sayadaw (abbot), and his disciples built a stupa — a mound-like or hemispherical structure containing Buddhist relics — in Karen State’s Shwe Gone village. This religious monument was built in the shadow of a mosque, despite objections from the mosque’s caretakers and regional government officials. This followed an event that had taken place earlier the same week. According to the April 26th report by Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, Thu Zana, the key person in the Karen Buddhist rebel group known as the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), built an unauthorized stupa near a church. The DKBA split from the predominantly Christian Karen National Union (KNU) in 1995, after Thu Zana said he that planned to build several pagodas in Karen State, including one in the KNU’s headquarters. Tin Maung Than, secretary-general of the Islamic Religious Affairs Council Myanmar, the country’s official Muslim body, told the Anadolu Agency that during the country’s years of military junta rule, Sayadaw had ordered his followers to blow up a mosque with dynamite in Karen State’s Thakhutkone village after the Muslims refused to leave. Most tragically, 21 Rohingya who set out by boat on April 19 to find basic supplies to meet their needs in the government-created concentration camps drowned after their boat capsized off western Rakhine State; 15 are still missing. This was a direct result of the apartheid system, which limits the Rohingya to travelling by land. On page xiii of his Foreword to Suu Kyi’s book, Václav Havel, whom she said had turned down the Nobel Peace prize in 1991 and proposed her instead, wrote: “By dedicating her life to the fight for human rights and democracy in Burma, Aung San Su Kyi is not only speaking out for justice in her own country, but also for all those who want to be free to choose their own destiny.” Time will tell. Hilal Shimlavi is a freelance writer.
IN MEMORIAM Akbar Muhammad
Academic and Islamic Jurisprudence Scholar 1939 – 2016
kbar Muhammad, the youngest son of Elijah Muhammad and brother to the late Imam WD Mohammed, passed away April 12. A graduate of al-Azhar University and holder of a doctorate from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, he was an associate professor of African History at Binghamton University and Emeritus PhD, Edinburgh University. Muhammad authored several books and articles, including “Racism, Sexism, and the World-System” (Greenwood Press, Inc., 1988), “A Note on the Concept of Zakah and Taxation” (Plainfield, Ind.: American Trust Publications, 1980) and “Muslims in the United States: An Overview of Organizations, Doctrines, and Problems” (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1984). In addition, he served in numerous professional capacities: chairperson, Afro-American and African Studies Department (1979-1982 and 1985-1988); Board of Trustees member, American Islamic College (Chicago) (1983-1986 and 1990-1993); president, New York African Studies Association (October 1985); Editorial Board, African Urban Quarterly (1985-1987); member, Board of Advisors, Center for American Muslim Research & Information (1992-1993); chairperson, Plenary Panel, Society for the Study of Islamic Philosophy & Science/Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Conference, Baruch College (NY), October 25-26, 1991; chairperson, Plenary Panel, “Human Rights in Africa and Islam,” Institute of Global Cultural Studies conference on “Human Rights, Ethics and Justice in Multicultural Perspectives”, The Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, New York University, April 17-18, 1993. He was also a major contributor to the Middle East Studies Association. ISNA President Azhar Azeez said: “Dr. Akbar Muhammad had a vast and deep understanding of Islamic history and jurisprudence. He served as a mentor and teacher to many.”
Mumtaz Ahmed Scholar, Professor, Researcher 1940 – 2016
umtaz Ahmad, a trustee and president of the International Islamic University Islamabad (IIU-I) since 2010, died in Islamabad on March 30. At the time, he was a Higher Education Commission [of Pakistan] assigned foreign professor in the faculty of social sciences at IIU-I and executive director of the university’s Iqbal International Institute for Research & Dialogue. While living in the U.S., he held a number of positions: professor, political science, Hampton University, Virginia; president, Asso-
ciation of Muslim Social Scientists; member, “Islam and Social Change Project,” University of Chicago; research fellow, the Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C; senior Fulbright Fellow in Bangladesh and Pakistan; fellow, United States Institute of Peace in Sudan, Pakistan and Malaysia; fellow, the American Institute of Bangladesh Studies; fellow, American Institute of Pakistan Studies; member, the “Fundamentalism Project,” the American Academy of Arts and Sciences/University of Chicago; senior consultant, “Muslims in the American Public Square” project, Georgetown University; president, the South Asian Muslim Studies Association, an affiliate of the Association of Asian Studies; and vice-president, Center for Islam and Public Policy, Washington, D.C. Prior to joining Hampton University in 1990, Ahmad had taught at Columbia College and Chicago State University. He also served as a visiting professor at the International Islamic University Malaysia and on the editorial board of several professional journals, among them the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, formerly known as the American Journal of Islamic Studies, for which he was also an associate editor. He published nine books and numerous journal articles, chapters in edited volumes, and encyclopedia articles on the politics of contemporary Islamic movements, the political sociology of religious groups, and political developments in South Asia and the Middle East.
Hassan al-Turabi Scholar and Activist 1932 – 2016
assan Turabi, the celebrated Sudanese scholar and political leader, is now gone. Born in “British Sudan” and perceived as a militant Islamist who yearned for revolution and change, he altered Sudan’s political map. Self-consciously, this Sudanese scholar’s campaigns against his political opponents led to his seizure of the state so that he could fulfill his dream of establishing an Islamic state in the heart of Africa. Real or imagined, the political strategies of his National Islamic Party (The Ikhwan) brought about the country’s current situation. Not only did he contribute to country’s subsequent polarization, but he also galvanized many of his contemporaries to replicate what Khomeini had achieved in Iran. Captured by the idea of an Islamic state, he played a major political role before political intrigues and miscalculations brought ISLAMIC HORIZONS JULY/AUGUST 2016
about his downfall and subsequent life of marginalization and political irrelevance. Sudan’s rapidly changing political situation led to the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which was the “guide for the perplexed” in Sudanese politics the country’s borders were redrawn. Turabi lived his last days in a changed and different country, no longer the Islamic guru who could call the shots and point the way forward. He was a scholar of Islam and familiar with competing Islamic perspectives. Not only was he aware of the Jumboreems, but he took a hostile position against them. Grounded in western thought, he developed the capacity to negotiate its difficult waters. And last but not least, his religious perspectives put him at loggerheads with other players in Old Sudan. Sulayman S. Nyang, professor and chairman of the African Studies Department at Howard University in Washington, D.C. (This article has been condensed.)
A Life of Patience and Challenges: A Commitment to Justice, Community and Family 1953 – 2016
uhammad Salah, 62, a former board member of the Mosque Foundation, died on Apr. 24 in Bridgeview, Ill. Since January 1993, after being arrested at a Gaza checkpoint, then under Israeli occupation, had faced challenges with a smile. Israeli authorities and U.S. prosecutors had long accused him of aiding and abetting terrorists; Salah’s attorney said he was on a humanitarian mission. While in an Israeli prison during the 1990s on charges of providing support to Hamas, Salah, a Palestinian native, the U.S. Treasury Department classified him a “specially designated terrorist.” After 55 days of interrogation, he had pleaded guilty to charges — a confession his lawyers said was coerced by days of torture. Released in 1997, federal prosecutors in Chicago brought criminal charges against him six years later. Attorney General John Ashcroft heralded the indictment as a vindication of the USA Patriot Act, the controversial terrorism-fighting tool forged by the Bush administration in the wake of 9/11. A jury acquitted Salah of conspiring to support Hamas, but found him guilty of obstructing justice for lying under oath when questioned in a civil suit filed by the family of an American student killed in a 1996 Hamas shooting in the West Bank. Salah was sentenced to 21 months in prison in 2007. Despite being acquitted on the terrorist charges, he was not allowed to get a job, pay rent, obtain medical care or even buy groceries without approval from the U.S. Treasury Department for 17 years — the only resident U.S. citizen then living under such intense scrutiny, his attorneys said. Those economic restrictions ended in 2012, shortly after he sued the U.S. government to his remove his name from the list of “specially designated terrorists.” Many Muslims, Arab-Americans and Palestinians viewed the ISLAMIC HORIZONS JULY/AUGUST 2016
mild-mannered man as the face of their own struggle and considered his trial an indictment of their religious beliefs. Salah and his supporters always maintained his innocence. Born on the Jordanian side of Jerusalem, he immigrated to the U.S. and became an American citizen in 1970. The Chicago community saluted Salah’s commitment to justice. The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago praised his “positive attitude through decades of difficulties, that many people would consider impossible.” Zaher Sahloul, President of the Syrian American Medical Society, said that his funeral at the Mosque Foundation drew mourners from across the city and its suburbs, adding, “You can sense that he was not a normal person. He was giant in his life and a symbol of the true faithful. He was a role model to all of us with his humility and steadfastness.” Seema Imam, professor of education at National Louis University, said, “The fact is that he had so many challenges in his humanitarian life and he managed to smile ... He certainly never had the justice or the trial that most people are afforded.” He is survived by his wife Maryam, five children, and one grandchild. (Source: Chicago Tribune) (This article has been condensed.)
Abdul Waheed Mustapha An Inspiration to Muslim Youth 1940 – 2016
bdul Waheed Mustapha, 75, passed away at his home surrounded by family and close friends. A founding member of Winnipeg’s Muslim community and a key influence in shaping North America’s Muslim community, this dedicated youth mentor and community activist organized youth camps and conferences in Winnipeg and with other organizations across North America. He empowered youth to think critically, find their voice and feel confident in their identity. A charismatic and inspirational teacher at John Taylor Collegiate, he touched the lives of countless young people and inspired them to be leaders, high achievers and positive contributors to society. While serving as the MYNA Canada advisor for many years, he sacrificed his time to attend week-long youth camps and helped educate many Muslim youth who have since become leaders in the community and their careers. Fatima Salman, a former MYNA president, remembered him as a person who “trained many youth and developed leadership qualities within us, inspired us, instilled in us a love for Islam and to serve the community for His sake.” Physician Jawad Shah, current MYNA advisory board member, stated that Mustapha was an extraordinary individual who altered the landscape of the Muslim community in general and of Muslim youth across this continent.” ISNA president Azhar Azeez remarked upon his “great passion 55
IN MEMORIAM for working with youth and was an influential mentor for many youth. He leaves behind a great legacy which continues through the numerous leaders he inspired and mentored.” He is survived by his wife Zolikha, four children, 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Mustapha’s family has set up a charity project to dig a well in his name in a needy country. To donate, visit www.crowdfunding. islamicreliefcanada.org and click on “Support Others.”
Mahmoud Shawky Taman Physician and Community Builder 1933 – 2016
ahmoud Shawky Taman of Chippewa Falls, Wis., passed away on May 18. He was a co-founder of the Islamic Society of Northern Wisconsin (ISNW) Center and Mosque, a physician and psychiatrist. Born in Egypt, Taman, while serving in Yemen and witnessing the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, he became interested in psychiatry and enrolled in England’s Royal College of Psychiatry. He and his family immigrated to the United States in 1971. As the local Muslim community grew, in 1991 he encouraged its members to pool their resources and buy a church building located in neighboring Altoona; it became the area’s first and only mosque. His most cherished role, one among many, was mentoring rising community leaders. A long-term integral part of the Trialogue, a group of local clerics and interfaith advocates, he led ISNW outreach efforts and built strong relationships with churches, the local synagogue, educational institutions, charitable organizations, local law enforcement, local government and political groups. A fierce yet gentle advocate for community cooperation, support, integration, justice and healing, he created a fund within the ISNW to support community groups and organizations, among them Sojourner House, Eau Claire’s first homeless shelter. He also led the ISNW in its role as mentor to Wisconsin’s new Muslim communities, provided funds for Barron’s mosque as well as working with the Department of Justice. The Mahmoud S. Taman Foundation, Inc. provides small grants for interfaith and civic issues and plans to provide small scholarships to local high schools to encourage coexistence. During his 43-year career, he served as medical director of HSHS Sacred Heart and HSHS St. Joseph’s, and the Chippewa County Guidance Clinic; worked in private and group practice and later for area healthcare systems; volunteered at the Chippewa 56
Valley Free Clinic in Eau Claire; and worked alongside behavioral health specialists to set up mental health services. He also created the Dr. Mahmoud Taman Endowment Fund at the Community Foundation of Chippewa County to provide grants to organizations and agencies addressing mental health, urgent medical and social needs. He is survived by his wife Dawlat, three children, four grandchildren, and four step-daughters and their families, as well as three brothers, two sisters, and 21 nieces and nephews, and their families. He was preceded in death by his wife of 50 years, Rafia. (from Sahar Taman is Mahmoud Taman’s eldest daughter).
Zafar Ishaq Ansari Scholar of Islam 1932 – 2016
he eminent academic, author, and educator Zafar Ishaq Ansari passed away on April 24 in Islamabad. An early product of the McGill’s Institute of Islamic Studies, founded by Wilfred Cantwell Smith, he focused on “The Early Development of Fiqh in Kufah with special reference to the works of Abu Yusuf and Shaybani” under the supervision of Fazlur Rahman. He started his teaching career as a visiting lecturer at the Department of Oriental Studies, Princeton University in 1966. After this, he served in many professional capacities, among them professor of Islamic studies at various North American, Australian, and Saudi universities. He later returned to Pakistan, where he worked at the International Islamic University as vice president, professor and dean of the Faculty of Shari’ah and director general of the Islamic Research Institute from 1988 until his death. Among his many publications are “Muslims and the West: Encounter” (edited with John Esposito), “Islamic Perspectives: Studies in Honor of Sayyid Abul A’la Mawdudi” (co-authored with Khurshid Ahmad) and his translation of Mawdudi’s Tafheem al-Qur’an. He continued to work on it until his death. So far, ten volumes of the work plus the last juz’ have been published as “Towards Understanding the Qur’an.” He had also edited and translated an abridged version. In addition to serving as editor of Islamic Studies and was an editorial board member of the Journal of Islamic Studies, American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Journal of Qur’anic Studies and Studies in Contemporary Islam, he was a member of the international scientific committee appointed by UNESCO to supervise its six-volume series on various aspects of Islamic culture and co-editor of its first volume: The Foundations of Islam. (By M. Faisal Ahamed Kutty, an attorney in Toronto, Ont., Canada. This article has been condensed.)
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NEW RELEASES CULTURAL EXCHANGES Arabic-Islamic Views of the Latin West: Tracing the Emergence of Medieval Europe Daniel G. Konig 2016. Pp. 464. HB. $112.00 Oxford University Press, USA onig offers an insight into how the Arabic-Islamic world perceived medieval Western Europe in an age that is usually associated with the rise and expansion of Islam, the Spanish Reconquista and the Crusades. By focusing on the mechanisms of transmission and reception that characterized the flow of information between both cultural spheres, he refutes the view that the Arabic-Islamic world regarded Western Europe as a cultural backwater. By explaining how Arabic-Islamic scholars acquired and processed data on medieval Western Europe, he traces the two-fold “emergence” of Latin-Christian Europe — a sphere that increasingly encroached upon the Mediterranean and therefore became more and more important in Arabic-Islamic scholarly literature.
THE FUN OF BEING MUSLIM Laughing All the Way to the Mosque: The Misadventures of a Muslim Woman Zarqa Nawaz 2016. Pp. 240. PB. $18.00 Virago, London, UK arqa Nawaz, creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie, a successful TV sitcom about that very (horrified, then proud) community, cannot hold back from making people burst out in laughter. In her autobiographical work, “Laughing All the Way to the Mosque,” she shows that being a practicing Muslim in the West is sometimes challenging, sometimes rewarding and sometimes downright absurd. Her experiences are some that more than a few Muslims would have faced not in their daily lives but when asked to reflect upon festive occasions, such as why Eid never falls on the same date each year. In between creating the laughs, she dispenses knowledge about Islam and its ways. This is a far more effective way of outreach than distributing the dryly written brochures published by concerned Muslims.
Scapegoats: How Islamophobia Helps Our Enemies and Threatens Our Freedoms Arsalan Iftikhar 2016. Pp. 160. HB. $21.99 Hot Books, New York, N.Y. edia commentator Arsalan Iftikhar, better known as “The Muslim Guy,” reminds us that Islamophobia needs
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to be addressed urgently. He subtly asserts that violence or hate speech against any faith-based community is both un-American and against the nation’s founding principles. His warning comes at a time when certain politicians and media “pundits” have assumed that hate, especially Islamophobia, leads to power and riches. It’s Ramadan, Curious George Hena Khan 2016. Pp. 14. Boardbook. $7.99 HMH Books for Young Readers, Boston, Mass. ena Khan has found a fun way to explain Ramadan to the 3-5 year olds of all faiths — having the popular children’s character Curious George share in the spirit of Ramadan and Eid with his Muslim friends.
Ayesha Dean: The Istanbul Intrigue Melati Lum 2016. Pp. 155. PB. $10.99 Melby Rose Publishing, Adelaide, Australia his young adults’ novel portrays Ayesha, along with her friends Sara and Jess, as they jump at the chance to accompany her uncle on a trip from Australia to Istanbul. Here, their holiday gets a lot more complicated! Ayesha finds herself trying to uncover a hundred-yearold Ibn Arabi mystery while doing her best to avoid creepy villains — and making sure that she gets the best doner kebab that Istanbul has to offer.
Dreamland with Mommy Dana Salim 2015. Pp. 32. HB. $15.99 www.danasalim.com dventures are waiting to be explored, as reality and Dreamland collide. A bedtime adventure for the children to enjoy with their parents as they get ready to settle in for the night. The story ends with a page giving a fun fact about the Qur’an in relation to the story.
Urdu: A First Reader Nakhat Ahmad 2016. Pp. 44. PB. $12.00 Nakhat Ahmad, Plano, Tex. rdu: A First Reader” serves those who are known as “heritage speakers”: those who grew up in an Urdu-speaking home environment but do not speak it themselves. The book assumes that users have already been introduced to the Urdu alphabet and know how to read simple words. Each lesson contains an Urdu-English vocabulary list.
The Faqih as the Engineer Faqih can serve as practical problem solvers in a changing world BY ALI PAYA
n their classification of Muslim sciences, al-Farabi (872-950) and al-Ghazali (1058-1111) classified fiqh among the sina’at (technologies). However, later generations of fuqaha’ who came to regard themselves as‘ulema largely considered themselves seekers of theoretical knowledge. This categorical mistake, along with other socio-religious and even political factors, enabled them to assume a dominant position in their societies and centers of learning. This error led to the shunning of knowledge in favor of fiqhi practices. The Muslim world’s learning centers must right this wrong if they want to liberate themselves from their present state of decline.
SCIENCE/KNOWLEDGE AND TECHNOLOGY The first step in this regard is to re-categorize fiqh as a technology. The main differences between these two socially constructed categories are as follows: Science/knowledge responds to the people’s cognitive needs, whereas technologies are designed to meet people’s non-cognitive needs (e.g., clothing, housing, and governing systems) and to serve as tools for those pursuing knowledge (e.g., books, computers, telescopes, and cyclotrons). Of course some technologies, like mobile phones and tablets, combine both aspects. Knowledge/science and technology have several fundamental differences. For example:
• All knowledge claims are universal, even if they develop within a certain context. Technologies, meanwhile, are context-sensitive and developed in response to specific needs in specific contexts. Therefore, they must be adjusted if they are to be used in other contexts. • Knowledge/science strives to be value-neutral, for it cannot be contaminated by the researcher’s values or cultural and traditional baggage. All technologies are value-laden, for their success depends upon being as user-friendly as possible. • Knowledge/science is cumulative. If lost, it can be retrieved. Technologies, on the other hand and to some extent, are de-
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veloped through a master-disciple relationship. Some lost technologies, such as extinct languages, can never be retrieved. • Knowledge/science tells us what there is and provides explanations for it (knowwhy). Technologies help us change reality as we please (know-how).
gineering, which deals with “radical” designs. The engineer engaged in normal design immediately knows how the device works and all about its customary features. Radical design, on the other hand, is very different, for “how the device should be arranged or even how it works is largely unknown. ...
THE FAQIH, LIKE AN ENGINEER, IS TRAINED TO ACQUIRE THE BASIC TOOLS NEEDED FOR PRACTICAL, AS OPPOSED TO THEORETICAL, PROBLEM SOLVING. • The essence of all knowledge/science claims is “to represent reality in a truthful manner.” Technologies do not have any essence; rather, they have functions and are identified by them. Moreover, functions can be added or removed.
The problem is to design something that will function well enough to warrant further development.” (Walter G. Vincenti, What Engineers Know and How They Know It, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993, 8).
Fiqh is a term for Islamic law, particularly as it is interpreted and implemented by legal experts. Ideally, the Shari’ah is the comprehensive body of law ordained by God, whereas fiqh involves a faqih’s (jurist) attempt to both understand and make it relevant to the people’s lives. As such, it is a religious form of what the West calls “jurisprudence” and extends its reach from matters of worship to detailed aspects of everyday conduct. Although it might sound a little strange at first, a faqih is actually an engineer. Mahmoud Shahabi defines fiqh in the following way: ‘ilm [sic.] fiqh has been established to discuss the five types of rulings related to prescribed duties (ahkām taklifi) (namely, obligation (wujūb) recommendation (istishāb), prohibition (hormat), discouragement (kirahat), and permissibility (ibahe) and the declaratory or conventional laws (ahkām wad’ī) (such as being a cause (sababiyat), being a condition (shartiyat), being an obstacle (māne’iyat), validity (sihat), and non-validity (fisad)) (Shahabi, Qawā’id- Fiqhī, 1962, 6). Both the faqih and the engineer deal with practical problems. Moreover, the categories that define the faqih’s activities (viz, namely, the five types of religious duties) resemble those that define the engineer’s activities (i.e., obligatory, prohibited, recommended, better to avoid and permissible). In other words, both of these people, along with everyone else, are bound by these five categories.
Engineering belongs to the broad area of technology, for its practitioners have only two goals: to respond to people’s non-cognitive needs or to provide tools to assist scientists/scholars in their knowledge pursuits. Yet it also differs from other types of technologies. For example, politicians, business executives, mayors, shopkeepers, door-to-door salesmen and bankers are all technologists but not engineers. During their coursework and training, engineers are exposed to the technical knowledge they will need to solve problems. As these problems will be practical, the engineers’ “knowledge” must enable them to solve those problems. In other words, their knowledge is not purely theoretical. An important part of this knowledge does, however, depend upon what they can “derive” from the theoretical knowledge that they have acquired. Of course this derivation is not straightforward. Engineering textbooks are full of such derived knowledge, which can be used to design devices and systems that solve practical problems. A good engineer has a developed “vision,” “insight,” “intuition,” “ability” or “aptitude” to “see” the solution to a particular problem in a particular problem situation. There two general types of engineering: (1) “normal” engineering, which deals with “normal” designs and (2) “revolutionary” en-
THE FAQIH AS ENGINEER
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The differences between the legal schools have no impact on the general nature of this “soft engineering.” Differences between their fatwas pertain to the specific content of their specific rulings, not to the general methodology and epistemology of fiqh. The faqih, like an engineer, is trained to acquire the basic tools needed for practical, as opposed to theoretical, problem solving. He (mostly he, since there are, unfortunately, very few female faqihs, mujtahids or muftis) is conducting research only to find solutions to practical problems. Nevertheless, a good practical problem-solver does require a certain level of relevant theoretical background knowledge (e.g., doctrinal, theological, philosophical, historical, and even scientific). The majority of fuqaha’, just like the majority of engineers, are engaged in “normal design” activities that seek either to improve upon existing solutions or introduce new ones based upon a new arrangement of the existing know-how or existing solutions. In contrast to the “normal” fuqaha, the number of founding jurists (al-fuqaha’ al-mu’assis) over time has been very limited. These latter jurists are great innovative individuals who deal with entirely new issues that are vitally important. When dealing with such issues, these scholars suggest groundbreaking solutions and thus pave the way for substantial conceptual developments. Having briefly explained fiqh’s epistemological status, it may be of interest to look into a particular fiqhi problem and see how fuqaha’ coming from different epistemic backgrounds have dealt with it. For example, let’s consider the always contentious issue of ascertaining Ramadan’s beginning. Traditional fiqh calls for naked eye sighting of the new moon. This fatwa, however, has caused many controversies and thus some eminent mujtahids have declared that one can use computer-generated astronomical calculations to determine this specific date and the beginning of the Eid al-Fitr. Such an approach provides strong corroboration for the thesis that a faqih is an engineer, for he also relies on the best available technological tools to carry out his professional duties. Ali Paya, a senior visiting research fellow at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster, London, is a philosophy professor at the Islamic College, London. [Editor’s note: This article is based on the author’s paper: “Faqih as Engineer: A Critical Assessment of the Epistemological Status of Fiqh,” American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, 33 (1), 2016, pp. 25-51).]
FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT
That You May Know One Another The Quran seeks to overcome the resulting prejudice by proclaiming the concept of ta’aruf BY ALI ALTALIB
iddah (Grandma) is deaf and currently battles the advanced stages of dementia. Six years ago she was as strong as an ox and could walk for miles without breaking a sweat; now she doesn’t remember how to walk or who we are. And yet this fighter and survivor, who could only speak the exclusive Arabic dialect of her small native village, taught me many invaluable life lessons. Losing her hearing in her early 30s and with no opportunity to learn sign language, she learned how to read lips and use non-verbal cues to communicate. Can you imagine the fear and frustration you’d feel being a deaf person in a foreign country where you can’t even rely on lip-reading because you don’t understand the language of the lips you’re trying to read? As a result, she became an amazing people-reader; it was as if God had given her an additional sense that would help her find her way among people. When I was still living at my parent’s house, one of our neighbors was an elderly Hispanic lady who lived with her daughter. The daughter worked and so we usually just saw her mother, who spent most of her time 60
gardening in the front yard. But she never smiled or returned a greeting. We thought that she hated us because my brother had once parked his car in their spot — they had had it towed without even asking him to move it. He was furious, because they only had one car and two parking spots. Of course they had the right to do so, but from then on we kept our distance. One day I was walking home and saw her gardening. I gave her the casual head-nod, and she waved back with a huge smile on her face. Stunned, I walked into our house and told my mom that “the weirdest thing just happened to me… that old Hispanic lady just waved and smiled at me! What’s going on? Did you do something?!” She replied, “Oh my God, the same thing happened to me! I don’t know what’s gotten into her.” We just laughed and shrugged it off. During dinner that night, Jiddah smiled and started talking. “You know, my friend down the street has six kids. Half of them live here, and the other half live back in her country. She’s also a great cook and loves gardening.” She kept going on and on about this “friend” while we looked at each other in disbelief. We finally concluded that she was referring to the elderly lady we had been
avoiding. But we could not understand how they were able to communicate. The next day, my mother saw her granddaughter playing outside and questioned her. To our astonishment, the granddaughter verified everything that Jiddah had told us, from the old lady’s hobbies to her children. For the next few years, even after her dementia kicked in, we’d catch her sitting on our neighbor’s porch while the lady was gardening, chatting just like teenage school girls. If someone approached them, they’d fall silent, as if they had been caught with their hands in the cookie jar. It turns out that the elderly lady wasn’t a mean person; she was just lonely and needed someone to listen to her. As human beings, we are constantly bombarded with people trying to persuade us to think and act in a certain way. We tend to label, either consciously or unconsciously, large groups of people based on certain characteristics and place them in generic buckets in our mind. We attempt to optimize the ensuing mental and emotional processing by drawing — sometimes inaccurate — conclusions about people before making any effort to really get to know them. Quran 49:13 seeks to overcome the resulting prejudice by proclaiming the concept of ta’aruf: “Oh humanity, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” Jiddah made a friend despite the lack of a common language, thereby proving that connecting with another person is something far more complex than a simple exchange of words. It seems that an additional
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intangible force is present when two people genuinely attempt to know each other without any agenda. However, achieving ta’aruf is in the process of becoming a lost skill due to the convenient and efficient, but far more impersonal, methods of communication engendered by modern technology. A text message that says “I love you” cannot compare with a husband gazing deeply into his wife’s eyes and proclaiming his love. A father who uses Skype to console his son, who has been devastated by a rejection letter from his dream job, is no replacement for a long, strong hug from dad. In our minds, we might think that we’ve met our objectives, but have we really? Modern technology’s adverse effects on our social interactions and relationships are pervasive. For instance, a Gallup study published in 2001 concluded that the average American believes that he or she has 10 close friends, compared to just two when the same study was conducted in 2014.1 Although technology has enabled us to feel connected to more people, those connections can hardly be considered deep. Along with social isolation, studies have shown that social media and other technological developments have birthed dangerous personal and social ramifications, including an uptick in depression, anxiety, narcissism and cyber-bullying (S. Hinduja and J. W. Patchin, Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying; Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, 2009) — all of which have been linked to the rising suicide rate. When combining these adverse societal effects with the bucket lists we keep in our mind, we begin to understand the colossal obstacles we face when attempting to achieve ta’aruf. Our perceived incentive for investing time in getting to really know other people has decreased drastically due to our shortened attention span. In addition to that, we face the opposing force of society’s man-made and therefore artificial social barriers that are designed to make such an undertaking as difficult as possible. Such a reality begs the following questions: Is the force of ta’aruf currently strong enough to deal with the forces arrayed against it? What is the trajectory of ta’aruf over the next 10 to 15 years? Are we doing our best to act upon this fundamental Quranic concept? If we take it seriously, let’s strive to become more conscious of these artificial barriers and more empathetic with those
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whom we continue to place in our mental buckets. Let’s work to achieve pure ta’aruf when interacting with others, rather than robbing ourselves of a wholesome human
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connection for the sake of convenience and efficiency. If my deaf, linguistically isolated Jiddah can get to know someone with whom she shares no common language just by listening to and “reading” her, then what excuse do we have for not truly getting to know one another? Ali Altalib is an active member of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) who resides in Northern Virginia. Notes 1. http://www.gallup.com/poll/10891/americans-satisfied-number-friends-closeness-friendships.aspx.
ROAD MAP TO IMPROVE THE IMAGE OF MUSLIMS/ISLAM in USA Your mosque can do it, but you can do it by yourself Today, the image of Muslims is under attack. However, we should not forget, that it is our responsibility to correct it collectively and individually: it is every Muslim’s responsibility. YES, if we do it seriously we can see positive results emerging in a few years. Muslims, who are spread out across the United States, should place this ad. in their local newspapers and magazines. Below is a sample text for the ad. that you can use:
Islam is a religion of inclusion. Muslims believe in all the Prophets of Old & New Testaments. Read Quran — The Original, unchanged word of God as His Last and Final testament to humankind. More information is available on following sites: www.peacetv.tv • www.theDeenShow.com www.Gainpeace.com Or 877whyIslam • www.twf.org Such ads are already running in many newspapers in the United States but may not be in your area of residence yet. Placing these ads can be a continuous reward (sadqa-e-jaria) for yourself, your children, your loved deceased ones and with the prayer for a sick person that Allah make life easy here and in the Hereafter. Please Google the list of newspapers in your state and contact their advertising departments. Such ads are not expensive. They range for around $20 to $50 per slot and are cheaper if run for a longer time. Call your local newspaper and ask how many print copies they distribute, and run it for a longer period of time to get cheaper rates. Don’t forget that DAWAH works on the same principles as that of advertisement, BULK AND REPEATED EXPOSURE CREATES ACCEPTANCE. Printing continuously for a long period of time is better than printing one big advertisement for only once. Let your advertisement run for a longer time even if it is as small as a business card. NOTE: If you are living East of Chicago, choose in the ad 877-whyIslam, but also please call 877-WHYISLAM before putting the ad and check if someone is already running an advertisement in the same newspaper as yours. If that is the case choose another newspaper. And if you are living West of Chicago, choose www.GainPeace.com and also call GainPeace.com before putting your ad. Also, after the ad appears, please send a clipping to the respective organization. If you have any questions, or want copies of the ads that others have already placed in their area newspapers/ magazines, please contact me, Muhammad Khan at: email@example.com so that I can guide you better. You can also contact 1-877-why-Islam or Gainpeace.com
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