Page 1

MAY/JUNE 2015/1436 | $4.00 | WWW.ISNA.NET





VOL. 44 NO. 3 MAY/JUNE 2015  visit isna online at: WWW.ISNA.NET

COVER STORY 34  For Who We Are and How We Look 38 A Teacher Remembers 40 Defies Logic and Common Sense 42 Legislating Hate


26 Malcolm X, Egypt and the Glory of Islam 28 The Muhammad Ali Impact and Muslim Americans 32 Looking Back & Forging Ahead


44 Community Connectivity 46 Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam 51 A New York Muslim Enclave Grows



52 The Uighur Mandela


54 Health and Fasting during Ramadan



57 A Unique Visit

6 8 12 59 60


DEPARTMENTS Editorial ISNA Matters Community Matters New Releases Food for the Spirit

DESIGN & LAYOUT BY: Gamal Abdelaziz, A-Ztype Copyeditor: Madihah Krishnamurthy. 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.



Everyone Needs to Do More


the weeks preceding the publication of this issue, five young Muslims, including three North Carolina Muslims, became victims of hate crimes, or more precisely Islamophobia. The Chapel Hill murders have evoked much media coverage. But beyond that what else? The youngest victim was a 15-year-old hafiz. Muslim Americans are mourning the loss of these five exceptional people. And one cannot tell what the future holds, if the level of Islamophobia continues to rise. Two days after the Chapel Hill murders, a Houston mosque was set on fire deliberately, and few days later, a Washington, D.C., mosque was vandalized. The attacks continue: Ahmed Al-Jumaili, 36, was shot dead March 5 in Dallas while his hijab-clad wife was taking pictures of their first snow experience. The disease is not confined to some illiterate or semi-literate people, but rather hate is being promoted and supported by ostensibly educated people within the clergy, policymaking circles, and among public officials. President Obama has appealed for ending abusive rhetoric against Muslims. Is that enough? No. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking during a Feb. 15 visit to Mexico, reminded President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden: “If you stay silent when faced with an incident [Chapel Hill] like this, and don’t make a statement, the world will stay silent towards you.” “As politicians, we are responsible for everything that happens in our countries and we have to show our positions,” he added. President Obama had appointed Rashad Hussain, a hafiz born in Wyoming and raised in Plano, Texas, and a graduate of Yale Law School, as United States Special Envoy and coordinator for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications to counter violent extremism and to develop strategic counterterrorism communications around the world.


Yet, the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism held Feb. 18-19 singularly focused on Islam and Muslims, neglecting violence and terrorism being perpetrated by Islamophobes. Certainly, more needs to be done by the Obama Administration. And the president is cognizant of his privileged situation having won two presidential terms, he has no need to oblige lobbyists. He can tread on some toes without fear. He ought to act not only to end Islamophobia, but also make it a culpable offense. It is also opportune to remind Americans what John Adams, the second president of the United States (1797–1801), said: “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” Those who never tire demanding more from Muslims need to do more work themselves against Islamophobia. Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, while meeting with his British counterpart Theresa May in London on Feb. 24, noted that the war against extremism can only be won through global unity, and those spreading Islamophobia are the biggest divisive factors in bringing the international community together. Andrew Stroehlein, European media director of Human Rights Watch, tweeted Aug. 22, 2014, about what is needed: “If you only care about human rights abuses when your enemies commit them, then you probably don’t really care about human rights abuses.” Besides exercising greater vigilance and civic engagement, Muslim Americans need to do more to educate not only their own but also others about Islam. They also should not let the memory of victims of Islamophobia fade. Zeena Mubarak, a Princeton sophomore, said since the Chapel Hill case does not fit neatly into the mainstream media’s preferred stereotypes of Muslims, the tragic murders of Barakat and the AbuSalha sisters are being slowly erased. 


PUBLISHER The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) PRE SID ENT Azhar Azeez SECRE TA RY GENER A L Hazem Bata EDITO R Omer Bin Abdullah D EPA RTMENT S EDITO R Aisha Kishta EDITO RIA L BOA RD Sohaib Sultan (Chair), Julie Belz, Iqbal Unus, Ingrid Mattson, Hazem Bata, Edgar Hopida. ISL A MIC H O RIZO NS is a bimonthly publication of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Copyright @2015 All rights reserved Reproduction, in whole or in part, of this material in mechanical or electronic form without written permission is strictly prohibited. Islamic Horizons magazine is available electronically on ProQuest’s Ethnic NewsWatch, LexisNexis, and EBSCO Discovery Service, and is indexed by Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature. Please see your librarian for access. The name “Islamic Horizons” is protected through trademark registration ISSN 8756‑2367 P O STM A STER Send address changes to Islamic Horizons, P.O. Box 38 Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 SUB S CRIP TIO NS Annual, domestic – $24 Canada – US$30 Overseas airmail – US$60 TO SUB S CRIBE Contact Islamic Horizons at (317) 839‑8157 / (317) 839‑1811 Fax (317) 839‑1840 E-mail: A DV ERTISIN G For rates contact Islamic Horizons at (703) 742‑8108,, Canada Post International Publications Mail Product (Canadian Distribution) Sales Agreement No. 0666300 C O RRE SP O ND EN CE Send all correspondence and/or Letters to the Editor at: Islamic Horizons P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Email:

ISNA MATTERS ACADEMIC HONOR FOR ISNA VICE PRESIDENT ISNA Vice President Altaf Husain, an assistant professor at Howard University, was named the 2015 Social Work Educator by the Washington, D.C., Metro Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) March 27. At Howard, Husain chairs the community, administration and policy practice concentration in the School of Social Work. He also is a research fellow at the Center for the Study of American Muslims of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding and the Center for Global Health. He has held various positions at Howard, including in the office of the provost and chief academic officer as executive assistant for academic affairs, in the office of the dean of the chapel as a member of the Interfaith Fellowship Advisory Council, and currently as a member of the university’s committee to develop the periodic review report.

Altaf Husain (r.) and Shireka McCarthy with their awards.

Husain also is an adjunct faculty member in the School of Social Work. “As an aspiring, and hopefully emerging scholar, the Educator of the Year award provided me a strong sense of reassurance that the scholarly and research agenda I am pursuing is resonating with students

and fellow faculty colleagues. I see this award not as a culmination of efforts rather a reminder to continue to pursue teaching and scholarly excellence,” Husain said. Howard University graduate student Shireka McCarthy, who is working on a master of social work degree, received the 2015 Social Work Student of the Year Award. The D.C. Metro Chapter of NASW aims to unite social workers for professional development and discuss major or national public policy issues in partnership with its parent organization. NASW, with 132,000 members, is the world’s largest organization of professional social workers. On April 7, Husain led a session on “Exploring Islam in America: An Introduction of Islam in the U.S.” at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The session focused on Islam as a faith tradition and the coming of Islam to America through immigration, missionary activity, intellectual pursuits, conversion, and American security interests. 

ISNA WELCOMES FIYYAZ JAAT AS NEW YOUTH COORDINATOR invited to speak to students and teachers at public and private schools, and universities. Jaat acts as a middleman between mosques and the youth, provides one-on-one counseling and parent/child workshops. Jaat also participated in a government roundtable discussion about extremism. He said the way to combat extremism is

to allow the mosque to be a safe space for youth to not only worship, but also socialize. He strongly believes the mosque should be the center of the community. “Youth are not our tomorrow, they are our today and watching their potential to change a situation for the better is truly a blessing from Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala),” Jaat said. 

NURTURING HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS Fiyyaz Jaat became the coordinator for ISNA’s Youth Programming and Services Department Feb. 17. He brings a strong background in youth development and counseling. Jaat previously worked as technical director with a Toronto retailer, but his passion was his volunteer work with youth. Jaat has been involved with the Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA) since age 15, initially as a core member, and later an advisor to MYNA Toronto for the past eight years. He is passionate about all branches of youth development. He is frequently 8

The second annual ISNA Family & Marriage conference was held Feb. 7 in Tampa, Florida. It included discussions on building homes of tranquility, healthy families and preparing for marriage. Speakers included ISNA President Azhar Azeez, Mohamed Magid, imam of All-Dulles Area Muslim Society and past ISNA president, Salma Elkadi Abugideiri, co-director of the Peaceful Families Project, Shaikh Al-Inshirah Abdel-Jaleel, an Islamic studies teacher at the American Youth Academy, Iman A. Elkadi, Psychiatric Group of Orlando, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida, and Jenan Kurdi, independent alternative medicine professional, Tampa, Florida. The conference included a Q&A session between the speakers and the audience, a matrimonial banquet for singles, and an interactive program and social hour for attendees. 



Sayyid M. Syeed (center) addresses the rally in Washington, D.C.

ISNA joined a March 4 interfaith news conference and prayer vigil at the U.S. Supreme Court concerning King v. Burwell, which threatens the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act’s provisions, potentially affecting access to affordable healthcare for millions of individuals, children, and families. “A nation that deprives millions of its people from access to health care will be a sick nation. Today Muslims, Christians,

Jews and people of all faiths and no faith are assembled here because we want to see our country truly a healthy country,” said Sayyid M. Syeed, national director for the ISNA Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances. “Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) tells us that pious and righteous believers will ultimately be rewarded by their approach to the hungry and sick in their neighborhood. By standing here (the Supreme Court), we are fulfilling a religious command as believers,” he said. Participants included the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, director for Public Witness for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Rabbi Lori Koffman, National Council of Jewish Women, the Rev. Dr. Susan HenryCrowe, general secretary of the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society, Sandy Sorenson, director of United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, and Simone Campbell, executive director of the NETWORK, a Catholic leader in the global movement for justice and peace. 

EDUCATING JOURNALISM STUDENTS ISNA Communications Director Edgar Hopida spoke to journalism students on “Covering Islam in the Media” at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He discussed Islamic beliefs and practices, as well as negative stereotypes about Islam and Muslims in the media. Hopida also suggested alternative stories journalists could pursue that more accurately reflect the diversity of the American Muslim community. “Despite almost 14 years after

9/11, media coverage of Islam and Muslims continues to be unfortunately

essentialist and generalized,” Hopida said. “It is hoped with the future journalists who come out of institutions of higher learning, that a fair, accurate and more nuanced coverage of Islam and the Muslim community is reflected in their news stories.” Hopida’s presentation was part of a series of guest speakers invited to journalism professor David Sumner’s special reporting class to speak about how their religious traditions are covered in the media. 

FAITHS WORKING TOGETHER More than 100 people attended the interfaith program, “Divinity & Diversity: Building Our Beloved Community Together,” Feb. 19-21, organized by Shoulder to Shoulder at the Noor Islamic Cultural Center in Dublin, Ohio. Conference co-organizers included ISNA and the Safe Alliance for Interfaith Leaders. Keynote speakers highlighted the changing religious demographics in the United States, the need for collaborating with conservative and secular players in advancing interreligious cooperation, and deepening interreligious education and engagement. Attendees from various faith groups from the Central Ohio region and beyond, and representatives from the local school district participated in skill-building and educational workshops and dialogue sessions. The event included a screening of the film “An American Mosque.”  ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015

■ 9


IMPROVING MOSQUES ISNA’s Masjid Development Committee conducted an organizational assessment of Masjid al-Fajr in Indianapolis in February. The assessment team evaluated the organizational structure, decision-making processes and operations to determine whether the organization is in vertical alignment (are goals, people, and outcomes aligned with vision, mission and values) and whether it is functioning effectively. The committee surveyed mosque participants to determine attendees’ demographics and their views on the mosque. The assessment team comprised Ihsan Bagby, associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky and chairman of ISNA’s Masjid Development Committee, Maher Budeir, founder and trainer at Balanced Leadership Institute, and Ibrahim Sherman, former chief finan-


cial officer and financial trainer from the Balanced Leadership Institute. The team made its first assessment trip to Masjid al-Fajr Feb. 6-7, and distributed a questionnaire to attendees at the Friday prayer with nearly 75 percent participation. The team also met with mosque leadership and stakeholders. Members reviewed and made recommendations for changes in the mosque’s constitution, financial functioning, programs and operations, and conducted training programs for the board and financial managers. 

ISNA JOINS INTERFAITH APPEAL FOR CHILDREN’S HEALTH ISNA joined other faithbased organizations in asking members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to support a four-year extension of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides critical support to millions of children who would otherwise be without access to care. The Senate adopted a measure March 27 to allow funding for two years instead of the four-year extension requested. “We believe that every person has inherent dignity and shares a sacred obligation to care for one another. Such care includes tending to the health of our neighbors. We have a particular obligation to care for children, as our faiths call on us to protect for those who are especially vulnerable. Our various faith traditions inform us that children’s access to needed health insurance is not a political debate or an economic argument, but instead a moral crisis,” the faith leaders said. The insurance program, created nearly two decades ago by a bipartisan coalition, is supported by state governors and lawmakers. States administer the program using their own resources and matching federal funds. As a result, the number of uninsured children in the United States dropped by half, from 14 to 7 percent, between 1997 and 2012. The program is authorized through 2019, but funding expires this year. Faith leaders said the program is popular and effective in its current form and needs clean funding with no significant changes made to its structure or implementation. Children, they said, deserve safe, affordable, quality health care. When children have access to preventative care and families face lower out-of-pocket costs, children and their caregivers can reach their full potential, they said. 


The Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA) held its Texas Spring Break Camp March 13-15 at the Collin County Adventure Camp near Dallas. The theme was, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” More than 90 campers and 17 counselors attended the weekend. The program included talks and activities that were well attended.

Ustadh AbdulRahman Kweider and ISNA Youth and Programming Services Department Coordinator Fiyyaz Jaat spoke about the importance of friendships and how it affects youth development and life. Campers engaged in activities including wall climbing, archery, canoeing, and soccer. They also participated in short khatirahs, intense lectures and stories of the Sahaba, and open youth-directed discussions on various topics. Groups put together and performed raps, poems, skits and songs. They were treated to halal marshmallows and a guide through Jannah around a campfire. 

SUPPORTING FAMILIES ISNA’s Feb. 8 family webinar, “Parenting: Who Said it was Easy?,” aimed to equip parents with the tools they need to be successful, and created a space for healthy discussion about the challenges youth face today. Habeeb Quadri, principal of MCC Academy in Chicago, talked about the physical and emotional development of youth, and provided solutions for parents on how to help youth deal with extremism, peer pressure, dating, social media and other issues. 



Rashad Hussain to Combat Extremist Propaganda President Barack Obama appointed Rashad Hussain as United States special envoy and coordinator for strategic counterterrorism communications, Feb. 18. Hussain, 36, a hafiz, was born in Wyoming and raised in Plano, Texas. He is a graduate of Yale Law School, and served as editor of the Yale Law Journal. Hussain will lead a staff drawn from a number of U.S. departments and agencies to expand international engagement and partnerships to counter violent extremism and to develop strategic counterterrorism communications around the world, per a state department announcement following the White House summit on Countering Violent Extremism held Feb. 18-19. Hussain also will serve as the coordinator of the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, established in 2010 to coordinate, orient, and inform

government-wide strategic communications focused on violent extremists and terrorist organizations. Since 2010, Hussain has served as U.S.

Asif Khan Recognized for Excellence in Scientific Research

M. Asif Khan, renowned as a pioneer in the area of gallium nitride (GaN) light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and power electronics devices, was presented with the 2015 South Carolina Governor’s Award for Excellence in Scientific Research by Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster March 25. Khan’s work contributed to the development of a new multi-billion dollar industry with far-reaching influence. He currently is a Carolina Distinguished Professor and director and founder of the University of South Carolina’s Photonics & Microelectronics Laboratory. The Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Science, administered by the South Carolina Academy of Science, are among the state’s highest science honors, developed to honor an individual or team whose achievements and contributions to science in South Carolina merit special recognition and to promote wider awareness of the quality and extent of scientific activity in South Carolina. 


special envoy to the Organization for Islamic Cooperation. He was previously deputy associate counsel to Obama, focusing on national security, new media, and science and technology issues. He also served as director for Global Engagement at the National Security Council and as a special assistant United States attorney in Washington, D.C. In 2009, Hussain worked with the National Security Council in developing and pursuing the “New Beginning” that Obama outlined in his address in Cairo. Before joining the White House, Hussain was a member of the legal staff for the Presidential Transition Team. In January 2013, Hussain received the Distinguished Honor Award, given for “exceptionally outstanding service to the agencies of the U.S. government resulting in achievements of marked national or international significance.” 

Seven-City Tour Raises $1.1 million for Pakistan Projects

More than 4,000 people joined Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) for a tour benefiting projects in Pakistan. The theme was “Building Empowered Communities.” ISNA President Azhar Azeez, who serves as IRUSA’s national director of the fund division, was the featured speaker at these events. IRUSA hosted two popular Pakistani celebrities, Fawad Khan and Najam Sheraz, for this year’s tour raising more than $1 million for development and relief work in Pakistan. Tours in all seven cities in California, Virginia, New York, Illinois and Texas were sold out. For more than 25 years, IRUSA has been helping provide services in Pakistan through a variety of projects, including vocational training, water and sanitation programs, health care services, and emergency relief in times of natural disasters. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people benefit from IRUSA programs and campaigns in Pakistan. Current projects in Pakistan include orphan sponsorship, strengthening vulnerable communities, providing humanitarian assistance to internally displaced people and flood survivors, and improving health and agricultural systems. 

Azhar Azeez (center) flanked by Najam Shiraz (left) and Fawad Khan (right) ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015


Linda Sarsour (director, Arab American Association of New York at podium) welcomes the Eid holidays announcement as Mayor Bill de Blasio looks on.

New York City Accepts Both Eids New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced March 4 that New York City will become the nation’s largest school district to recognize Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha as holidays on the official school calendar. In the coming 2015-16 school year, schools will close on Sept. 24 for Eid al-Adha, ensuring hundreds of thousands of Muslim families can observe the day. Eid al-Fitr, which falls during the summer in 2016, will be designated a holiday for those attending summer school. Schools will not lose any instructional days as part of this change in the calendar. Officials made the announcement at PS/ IS 30 in Brooklyn, where 36 percent of students were absent the last time Eid al-Adha fell on an instructional day. The announcement was welcomed citywide by civic and community leaders, such as the Coalition for Muslim School Holidays. The group brought together dozens of Muslim and non-Muslim clergy and community leaders and won the endorsement of the United Federation of Teachers and other labor and civil rights groups. With nearly a million Muslims across the five boroughs, New York City is home to a strong, vibrant and fast-growing Muslim community. On Feb. 19, 2006, the New York Times published an article titled, “Wrestling With Faith While Making the Grade.” “We made a pledge to families that we would change our school calendar to reflect the strength and diversity of our city. Hundreds of thousands of Muslim families will no longer have to choose between honoring the most sacred days on their calendar or attending school. This is a common sense change, and one that recognizes our growing Muslim community and honors its contributions to our city,” said de Blasio.


“Muslim students and their families who observe Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha shouldn’t have to choose between an instructional day and their religious obligations,” Fariña said. “This new addition will also enable a teachable moment in the classroom for our students to learn about religious tolerance and the societal contributions of various cultures.” New York City joins Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, states that close public schools in observance of Muslim holidays. “Today, our children have earned the liberty to observe and celebrate the Eid holidays with accommodation from their school system,” said I. Daneek Miller, the city council’s only Muslim member. Under the chancellor’s regulations, students were allowed an excused absence from school for religious and cultural observances. However, that excused absence could come at the expense of missing critical classroom instruction, exams or projects. “We are grateful for all who worked with us in producing a more fair and equitable society for us all to live in as neighbors,” said Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid, president of the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York. Linda Sarsour, with the Coalition for Muslim School Holidays and executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, said as a parent of three students currently attending New York City public schools, she is proud of her city for making history by incorporating Muslim holidays into the calendar of the largest public school system in the country. “This is what New York City is all about — recognition, inclusion and respect,” she said. The move was lauded by the city’s largest public employee union. “With Muslim students representing nearly 10 percent of our overall public

school enrollment, today’s announcement is an important lesson in respecting and celebrating the great diversity of our city,” said Henry Garrido, executive director of District Council 37. Smaller towns also are acknowledging the significance of Muslim holidays. The city of Waterbury, Connecticut, school board voted Feb. 5 to add Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha to its list of school holidays. Muslim students were already allowed an excused absence when the holidays fell on a school day. Under the new rule, teachers and principals are advised not to schedule important events on Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Imam Kashif Abdul-Karim, a board member for the Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the decision will enhance the learning environment for Muslims and students of all backgrounds. Last year, the city of New London, Connecticut, school board also adopted a policy recognizing both Eid holidays. 

Zaytuna College Earns Accreditation Zaytuna College received accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission, one of the nation’s six regional accrediting associations, to offer the bachelor of arts in Islamic law and theology. Two visits were scheduled to evaluate the college’s suitability for the accreditation per the commission's standards of accreditation. The WASC team conducted an on-site review of Zaytuna College Oct. 28-31, 2014. After reviewing the report, they conducted another tour on Jan. 16. The commission report “affirms the team’s findings that Zaytuna has come into existence to fulfill a critical defining role within the Islamic faith community, both locally and globally. Guided by this mission, the institution’s curriculum, pedagogy, and student affairs activities cohere to produce promising outcomes for its students.” 



A Unique and Historic Honor

Zia Hassan Endowed Chair of Business


Anousheh Ansari has been named winner of the National Space Society’s 2015 Space Pioneer Award. Ansari, the first female private space explorer, is the first Muslim woman in space and the first person to blog from space. Ansari will receive the award at the National Space Society’s ISDC conference in Toronto, May 20-24. She was cited for her outstanding contributions to the space community. An engineer and serial entrepreneur, she has been a major contributor to the XPRIZE Foundation. She is a strong advocate for the privatization of space. Before her eight-day stay on the International Space Station in 2006, when asked what she hopes to accomplish on her space flight, Ansari said, “I hope to inspire everyone—especially young people, women, and young girls all over the world, and in Middle Eastern countries that do not provide women with the same opportunities as men—to not give up their dreams and to pursue them...It may seem impossible to them at times. But I believe they can realize their dreams if they keep it in their hearts, nurture it, and look for opportunities and make those opportunities happen.” 

Celebrating 10 Years of Empowerment

Indianapolis-based nonprofit, OBAT Helpers, entered a new era of service in September 2014. The nonprofit has grown from helping a few families of Pakistanis stranded in makeshift camps since 1971, when Bangladesh was proclaimed after India invaded East Pakistan, to now helping thousands through its projects. Founded in 2004, OBAT has nearly 4,500 students enrolled in its educational programs. These include the roughly 700 students supported by scholarships at various schools, colleges and universities. OBAT’s two health clinics in Syedpur and Rangpur treat more than 10,000 camp residents yearly for ailments, often due to lack of sanitation and rampant water-borne diseases. OBAT has been creating the means to supply clean, potable water to more than 21,000 people. It helps 500 patients yearly by giving the gift of sight to those afflicted with vision-related illnesses. OBAT’s two sewing training centers help more than 150 women a year attain financial independence. The microfinance program has empowered more than 1,800 families. Many people from the United States and worldwide have helped OBAT reach this milestone. The nonprofit aims to provide more health care, education, and microfinancing programs. This Ramadan, OBAT plans to distribute zakat contributions within this forgotten community. 



The Stuart School of Business of Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) is honoring professor Zia Hassan, who retired after serving for more than 50 years in April 2014, with the $2 million Zia Hassan Endowed Chair in Business professorship. The appointment will honor Hassan’s legacy of academic achievement and commitment to IIT. Hassan influenced generations of IIT students, including a large cadre of Muslims and Pakistanis, and the endowed chair in his name will continue his legacy of academic excellence. With the help of supportive alumni and other donors, nearly $1 million already has been raised for this perpetual endowment that will be used to attract the nation’s, and the world’s finest academic talents. Universities reserve endowed chairs professorships for their top teachers and researchers. Zia Hassan Chair, the first academic accolade honoring a Muslim and a Pakistani in the United States, is a source of great pride for the community, said chair team leader K. Rizwan Kadir, president of the Pakistan Club at the University of Chicago. Hassan’s story reflects how one extraordinary leader in education can make a tremendous impact on the university community and beyond. Hassan dedicated his entire career to IIT, starting in the late 1950s when he arrived from Pakistan to pursue a master of science degree in industrial engineering, followed by a doctorate. Rising through the ranks of academia, he was appointed the dean of IIT Stuart School of Business. During his tenure, he oversaw the launch of innovative master of science degree programs in financial markets and trading, environmental management, and marketing communication. Later, he became director of Stuart’s doctoral program. As Stuart’s dean emeritus, his influence is evident in the professional success of countless students he mentored in their academic, research, and professional endeavors. Hassan has helped shape the future of IIT. In 1974, Hassan helped establish the Islamic Foundation in Villa Park, Illinois, and has served in leadership roles for 40 years. Presently, the host team is working on awareness events and a fundraiser in Chicago to help establish the chair (give. The host team includes Waqar Mian, an internist; Saleem Sheikh, board member of Islamic Foundation; Taj Syed, former board member of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago; Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, consul general of Pakistan (Chicago); and Shakeela Z. Hassan, associate professor emeritus, Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago. 

Anousheh Ansari Earns 2015 Space Pioneer Award


Honor for UCLA Professor UCLA-Berkeley professor of chemistry and biochemistry Omar Mwannes Yaghi shared the 2015 King Faisal International Prize for Science (chemistry) with Michael Grätzel, a professor and director of the Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces (Institute of Physical Chemistry), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Switzerland. The Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-based King Faisal Foundation awarded the 2015 King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam to Zakir Abdul Karim Naik, founder and president of the Islamic Research Foundation in India, in recognition of his services to Islam. Naik is often cited as a controversial figure. To date, 43 scholars from 21 countries have been awarded the Service to Islam prize, including Sayyid Abul Ala’a Al-Mowdoodi (1979), Sayyid Abul-Hasan Ali Al-Hasani Nadawi (1980), and Khurshid Ahmed (1990). Award winners include: for Islamic

Arabization of Scientific and Medical Matters) has been withheld due to insufficient fulfillment of the prize requirements. The prize comprises a certificate, handwritten in Diwani calligraphy summarizing the laureate’s work; a commemorative 24 carat, 200 gram gold medal, uniquely cast for each award; and a cash endowment of about $200,000 to be shared equally. Winners received their awards at a ceremony in March in Riyadh. The prize, named after Faisal (1906-75), the third king of Saudi Arabia, was instituted in 1976 by the Omar Mwannes Yaghi late monarch’s sons, establishing an studies (Cultural Heritage of Al-Madinah endowment, the King Faisal Foundation. Al-Munawwarah), Dr. Abdulaziz Bin AbdulThe topics for the five prizes for 2016 (1437 rahman Kaki of Saudi Arabia, a consultant Hijri) are: service to Islam; Islamic studies at Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah Develop- (topic: Muslim geography heritage); Arabic ment Commission; medicine (Intestinal language and literature; medicine (topics: Microflora and Human Health), Jeffrey Ivan clinical application of next generation genetGordon, a Robert Glaser Distinguished Uni- ics); and science (topic: biology). For more versity Professor and director of the Center information on nominations, visit http:// of Genome Sciences and Systems Biology and  at Washington University, St Louis; Arabic (From: Sameen Ahmed Khan, engineering department, language and literature (Venture towards Salalah College of Technology, Salalah, Oman)

Scouts Award for Rizwan Jaka Rizwan Omar Jaka was awarded the Ed Yarbrough 2015 Silver Beaver Award for [Washington, D.C.] National Capital Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, April 30. Last year, he earned the Boy Scouts District Award of Merit for Goose Creek District, National Capital Area Council. Virginia delegate Randy Minchew nominated Jaka for BSA’s council-level distinguished Silver Beaver Award, which recognizes registered adult leaders who have made an impact on the lives of youth through service. It is awarded to those who implement the scouting program and perform community service through hard work, self-sacrifice, and dedication. Jaka serves as board member of Islamic Society of North America, chairman of the All-Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) board, ADAMS chief scout executive officer, co-chair of ADAMS interfaith/government/ media committee, member at large for Goose Creek District Committee, NCAC Boy Scouts of America, and board member of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington. 


Dallas Shows Support to Muslims The Dallas County Commissioners Court opened its meeting Feb. 2 with a Muslim prayer to show support for Muslims who protested at events in North Texas and at the Capitol. “It just made me angry and sad that there are people in this community that mistreat people based on their religious faith,” said County Judge Clay Jenkins, who Judge Clay Jenkins invited them to show appreciation for Muslims reported The Dallas Morning News. The commissioners regularly invite religious leaders to pray at the beginning of meetings. Two Muslim leaders, Imam Moujahed Bakhach and Tarik Jaffery, vice president of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) who Imam Moujahed Bakhach experienced that antagonism, led the short invocation. They read three short verses from the Quran and asked God to “send your blessing on the city of Dallas, our beloved state of Texas and the great country of the United States that we all call home.” Bakhach received backlash on social media after leading a prayer Jan. 25 at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. He canceled the second prayer. Jaffery, a speaker at a CAIR-hosted rally outside the state capitol on the annual Texas Muslim Capitol Day, was interrupted by self-identified Christians who shouted, “We don’t want you here!” and “Go home.” 


Mosque Manual Published

The Islamic Shura Council of Southern California (ISCSC; has unveiled its five-volume Masjid Operation Manual. The five, professionally produced slim volumes focus on governance, policies, operations, programs, safety & security. “Over the years, we realized that nearly all masajid are operated according


to individual management styles/preferences rather than a standardized system,” Executive Director Shakeel Syed said. “As a result, the performance and/or services of a masjid cannot be measured in the absence of a benchmark/baseline. Hence this manual. Not only, it offers a minimum baseline standard/system but provides a system through

which each succeeding board has a reference to work with.” ISCSC will complement the manual with hands-on training workshops with subject matter experts (management; legal; finance; etc). After groups complete the two steps (manual and training), ISCSC will begin peer-evaluations and grading of the mosque based on this standardized system. The manual is the product of a joint effort of ISCSC staff and community volunteers, including finance and legal experts. Syed said use of the manual would contribute to greater efficiency, the optimization of resources, better programming, and enhanced services to the community. And it would serve as a baseline reference for mosque management for measuring performance, accountability and transparency. Beginning with the purchase of a house for $3,000 in 1952, the Muslim community from San Bernardino to Santa Monica and between Santa Barbara to San Diego has grown to more than 100 mosques serving more than 500,000 Muslims. ISCSC is sharing this manual for a donation of $100 per set of five ordered. 




the United States to Pakistan come from California.

The Los Angeles Times has named Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), as one of the nation’s “new civil rights leaders” March 5. The newspaper recognizing Awad’s contributions to civil rights work, noting that the 53-year-old has been an outspoken opponent of blanket surveillance of Muslims. Awad’s own email account was allegedly tracked by the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation between 2006 and 2008, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu asked Muslim Americans to come together against Islamophobia and racism addressing representatives of Turkish associations in the United States in New York March 4. He urged the 190,000-member Turkish American community to have a unified voice on issues related to Turkey’s interests and “defend shared humanitarian values shoulder-to-shoulder, together with other Muslim Americans and those who are against racism.” He questioned the international community’s silence on the Feb. 10 murder of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “Did the murder of these young Muslims spark the same amount of outrage as the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris had done?” he asked. “Following that attack, I attended the march in Paris to oppose it and stand in solidarity with the French people. But, which heads of state were present at the funeral of these three innocent young Muslims?” “If the U.S. is to retain its pluralist character, if the American citizenship is to protect its quality of being a symbol of certain liberties, this type of discriminatory and racist attitudes should not take root in American soil,” Davutoglu said. Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek, Turkish Ambassador Serdar Kilic and Consul General in New York Ertan Yalcin were in attendance.

California State Senate recognized the contributions of California’s Pakistani American community by declaring March 23, 2015, as “Pakistani American Day.” The resolution was proposed by Sen. Tony Mendoza, a Democrat from Artesia. Attending a ceremony on the Senate floor following the vote were Pakistani Consul General Hamid Asghar Khan, Deputy Consul General Malik Qamar, Pakistani American and Artesia City Councilman Ali Sajjad Taj, and Pakistani Americans from throughout the state. Khan said the resolution was “a fitting tribute to the patriotism, contributions and achievements of the Pakistani American diaspora in California.” “In California, Pakistani Americans are an integral part of our state, having made great contributions in the fields of finance, technology, law, medicine, education, sports, media, the arts, the military and government,” Mendoza said. There are nearly 47,000 people of Pakistani heritage living in California and roughly 10 percent of all exports from 18

Delaware radio station WGMD-FM fired its prominent host Jake Smith after he said in a Feb. 20 broadcast that, “as far as I’m concerned, not every Muslim is guilty, but every Muslim is suspect” of sympathizing with Islamic extremists, according to The (Wilmington, Delaware) News Journal. The comments came during verbal sparring with a caller that aired during the live “Mike and Jake in the Morning” show. The

Rehoboth Beach station broadcasts to southern Delaware and Maryland’s eastern shore. During a segment of the morning show, Smith, who joined WGMD in 2013, parroted right-wing accusations. “Muslims do not stand up for America … and they don’t, they didn’t stand up for America during 9/11. They didn’t stand up for America during Fort Hood. They’ve never stood out and said, ‘This has to stop.’ I haven’t heard one Muslim in this country do that.” Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah delivered the inaugural address during Islam Awareness Week March 1, hosted by Southern Methodist University MSA. He talked about how people are taught to dislike others, which he said it is not human nature, just something put into our heads, The Daily Campus reported March 3. He said people are taught to dislike others just because of how they look, and someone may see a Muslim and automatically dislike them solely because of what they have heard others say about Islam. “The only thing we as Muslims can do in this situation is show peace and give them the greetings of love,” Abdullah said. The 29-year-old sat out the 2012-13 season to perform Hajj with his mother, Sa’eeda Johnwell, and stepfather, Yusuf Johnwell, and older brothers, Hamza Abdullah, who also was a safety in the NFL, and Abbas Abdullah. Last season, referees flagged Abdullah for dropping to his knees in sajdah, (prostration) of thankfulness to God, after a successful play, which the referees unknowingly deemed to be a violation of the NFL’s celebration rules. “This is a great school and I want to come here once I retire. Getting a master’s in sport management at SMU is my next goal,” said Husain Abdullah, who played college football at Washington State University. The International Institute of Islamic Thought’s (IIIT) library database ( is now accessible online. IIIT staff, students, and the public can freely browse and search for materials they need at their own convenience. The Herndon, Virginia-based IIIT library ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015

collection, one of the largest Islamic studies collections in the United States, houses roughly 100,000 volumes in various languages, including Arabic, English, Farsi, and Urdu. “We believe that this library is a greatly untapped resource for our communities, and we hope that this new online database will help bridge the gap between our communities and the knowledge resources that exist around them,” Library Director Saber Al-Kilany said. For more information, call Al-Kilany at (703) 230-2850 (9 a.m.-5 p.m. EST).


Ashfaq Mohiuddin, founding director of the Urban Muslim Minority Alliance (UMMA) Center, was awarded the Drum Major Award at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dreamers’ Award Breakfast held Jan. 19 in Waukegan, Illinois. The breakfast is Waukegan Township Park Place’s annual celebration of Dr. King’s life and legacy. A long-standing tradition, it has evolved from a senior-only event to a community-wide celebration recognizing outstanding individuals as Drum Major Award winners for their representation of Dr. King’s ideals. Award winners represent not only clergy, but also leaders from nonprofit, human services and legal organizations. The common denominator with all of the award winners is their passion for justice, improving the community, and elevating the lives of others. Since UMMA’s inception in 2004, more than 23,000 people living in poverty have found a safe space, basic education and food to feed their families and themselves.

The Fort McMurray’s Muslim community will break ground this spring on a new home — a Can$50 million, 10-acre complex, according to a Feb. 20 The Globe and Mail article. ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015

The community has an estimated 70,000 members. The old downtown mosque, the Markaz ul Islam, opened in 1990 before oil money started pouring into the Northern Alberta city. The building is showing its age and has surpassed capacity. Friday congregational prayers are conducted in three shifts of a couple of hundred worshippers at a time. The planned 150,000-square-foot complex — also to be called Markaz ul Islam — has been designed by Sharif Senbel, a Vancouver-based architect. It will be built in four phases and include a kindergarten12th grade school, a recreation center and a swimming pool. Community members have collected Can$10 million for the complex, and are trying to raise more. The new Markaz ul Islam will be built in a Fort McMurray subdivision called Abraham’s Land, where two new Christian churches will flank the new mosque. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi was named winner of the 2014 World Mayor Prize on Feb. 2 — on his 43rd birthday. He is the first North American leader to be honored with the award. The biennial award was established in 2004 by the City Mayors Foundation, a London-based research and public affairs group. “He is an urban visionary who doesn’t neglect the nitty-gritty of local government,” the award citation read. The jury recognized Nenshi’s handling of Calgary’s 2013 flood, and the attention he has gained from urban thinkers throughout North America. Nenshi’s promotion of the idea that government can be a force for good has helped make him a forceful voice for cities within Canada, said Myer Siemiatycki, a politics professor at Ryerson University in Toronto, according to the Calgary Herald. The World Economic Forum, which named him a Young Global Leader, invited him to its elite gathering in Davos, Switzerland, in 2013 and 2014. Arlene El-Amin and Lori Saroya, both from Minnesota, were inducted to the national board of directors of the Council

on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Feb. 2. They bring years of civil rights, nonprofit and community service experience to the Washingtonbased Muslim civil rights and advocacy group. El-Amin, a longtime community leader and civil rights activist, serves as the manager of Masjid An-Nur in Minneapolis. Her volunteer experience includes serving on community, interfaith and social services organizations. Saroya, co-founder of CAIR Minnesota chapter, served as its executive director for nearly eight years. Under her leadership, CAIR-MN handled roughly 200 cases yearly and received several awards and recognitions. The San Bernardino, Californiabased Al-Shifa Dental Clinic, founded and run by Makbul Patel, provides free care to patients regardless of income, social background, religion, race or ethnicity. Patel, 57, sees his mission to help people in need as a duty and always wanted to give back to the community. In 2014, the city recognized Patel with a Riverside Heroes Award. Patel also was honored for his service as past chairman of the Islamic Center of Riverside. Concerned about the rise in Islamophobia after Sept. 11, 2001, Patel instituted an “Open Mosque Day” event, inviting the public to visit and learn about Islam. He also helped establish the annual Ramadan Iftar Dinner in Riverside, which brings together people of various faiths and walks of life. Patel also has created an annual event recognizing students graduating from high school and going on to college, giving each youth a gift and providing them with a boost from the community. His son, Sameer, and daughter, Asma, are in dental school. His youngest son, Hamza, is at University of California Riverside and also is considering dentistry. 19

COMMUNITY MATTERS The Southeast Texas Islamic Society inaugurated its mosque Jan. 30 in Beaumont, Texas, in a building that once was a church. The new facility is close to Lamar University, which has been enrolling students from Muslim countries for decades. From its beginning, the university featured a focus on engineering and geology because it was an “oil patch” college, and college and university administrators have long welcomed Muslim students. Mohammed Azam Ali, chairman of the Southeast Texas Islamic Society, speaking of the convergence of faiths said he finds it symbolic that the mosque is now where a Christian church once stood.

the California Democratic Party executive board representing the 7th Assembly District, and chairman of the party’s affirmative action committee. Access Sacramento also recognized Elkarra’s work promoting the youth voice and engagement through his creation of the Muslim Youth Leadership Program, and for his organization of an annual college and career fair at Cal State, Sacramento. The March issue of Comstock Magazine featured Elkarra as one of a group of young professionals helping shape the future of the Sacramento Valley.

Bernhard Laufer, 58, of Rego Park, Queens, New York, pleaded guilty March 2 in federal court to sending threatening communications to an employee of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington, D.C. Laufer faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. He admitted sending the letter in June 2014 threatening significant bodily harm and death to the employee. “Those who make violent threats to others because of race, religion or national origin must be held accountable,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the civil rights division. “The Justice Department is committed to vigorously prosecuting those who engage in such conduct.” The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Roy Conn of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant United States Attorney Hiral Mehta for the Eastern District of New York.

Ibrahim Mohamed, an airport cart driver, was appointed Feb. 15 to a four-year term on the Metropolitan Airports Commission by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton. Mohamed, who has worked at the airport for 11 years, is the first Muslim Somali-American on the commission. Over the years, he has worked there as a baggage runner, a ticket verifier, and in the lavatory and water services department. He also has been working to unionize workers at the airport through SEIU Local 26. In a statement about his appointment, Mohamed said he will work on the commission to help airport workers improve their situations, adding that he “will always fight to make sure the needs and concerns of workers and passengers are part of all decisions made by the MAC.” Dayton also appointed a former flight attendant to the 15-member commission, which runs the international airport and six regional airports.

The Access Sacramento board of directors recognized Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Sacramento Valley Chapter, with its third annual Power of Voice award for his outspoken support and leadership in the area of free speech, tolerance and civil liberties April 2. He is the third person to receive this award. Elkarra is active in a variety of groups and organizations, including as chairman of the Los Rios Community College District bond oversight committee, a member of

The Federal Court of Canada in a 42-page decision ruled Feb. 6 that it is “unlawful” for Canada to order new citizens to remove their niqab (face-covering veil) when taking the citizenship oath. Justice Keith M. Boswell’s ruling came on the appeal of Toronto’s Zunera Ishaq, who was sponsored by her husband to Canada from Pakistan in 2008 and successfully passed the citizenship test in November 2013. Ishaq, who started wearing niqab since age 15, had no objection to unveiling herself for the purposes of her identification


before taking the citizenship test. However, she objected to the requirement to remove the veil at the citizenship ceremony because it is public and unnecessary for the purposes of identity or security. She was scheduled to be sworn in at a citizenship ceremony that year in Scarborough two months later but put it on hold after learning she would need to unveil under a ban introduced in 2011 by thenImmigration Minister Jason Kenney. In refuting the government’s argument that the court challenge was premature because Ishaq’s scheduled ceremony had yet to happen, the court said part of the reason policies are published is so that people can know of them and organize their affairs accordingly. “The policy in this case could be dissuading women who wear a niqab from even applying for citizenship. In such circumstances, a direct challenge to the policy is appropriate,” the order read. The government also argued that the ban was only a guideline that is not even directed at citizenship judges, and which they were free to disregard. The judge found “no such permissive language” in the policy. Ishaq’s final move awaits the government’s decision to appeal or to accept the decision. Habeeb Quadri has received a four-year appointment to Harvard University Graduate School of Education Principal Center Advisory Board. Quadri and Tasneema Ghazi, co-founder of IQRA Foundation, were the first to spearhead and design a standardized assessment for the Islamic studies curriculum from kindergarten through eighth grade. Quadri coauthored several books on youth, parenting and education. He is currently the chairperson of Muslim Youth of North America and board member of the Council of Islamic Schools of North America. At CISNA, he has been a strong ally and supporter of the AdvancED/CISNA Accreditation Partnership and newly developed alliance with New England Association Of Schools and Colleges, the CISNA/NEASC Alliance, to accredit schools throughout the United States and North America. Quadri has reviewed and worked on his school’s accreditation self-study and re-accreditation. He also has assisted several schools to develop school improvement ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015

plans and initiatives, and assisted in coordinating curriculum and textbook review for Islamic Schools with IQRA Foundation.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani presented Jayezeh Jahani — more commonly known as the World Book Prize, one of Iran’s top awards, to Indiana University professor Asma Afsaruddin Feb. 8 in Tehran. Afsaruddin, a faculty member in the School of Global and International Studies, is the chairwoman and professor of Near Eastern languages and cultures. She was honored for her book, “Striving in the Path of God: Jihad and Martyrdom in Islamic Thought” (Oxford University Press, 2013), as the best new book in Islamic studies. Her book also was a runner-up for the British-Kuwaiti Friendship Society Book Prize in 2014. Other recipients of the World Book Prize this year included scholars from Yale and Harvard universities. They were chosen from more than 1,700 nominees from around the world. Afsaruddin’s research was recognized by the awards committee for uncovering new understandings of the term “jihad” through detailed study of a broad range of sources that typically aren’t consulted.


While most scholars look at the topic from only a legal perspective, she drew upon other classical sources that have not received the same amount of sustained attention. For the second year, the Fridley, Minnesota-based Al-Amal School received the Best School Award in the 65th annual Central Minnesota Regional Science Fair held Feb. 21 at St. Cloud State University. This award is given to the school that wins the highest percentage of Premium Awards at the competition. Premium Award winners advanced to the Minnesota State Science and Engineering finals held in March. Al-Amal earned the following awards: one International Science & Engineering Fair Award; 16 Premium Awards in exhibits; 10 Premium Awards in research papers; four Broadcom Masters Awards; four Special Awards; 28 Merit Awards; one Honorable Mention; and one $1000 scholarship. Ontario’s three Islamic schools — Islamic Foundation School in Toronto, Olive Grove School and IQRA Islamic School, both in Mississauga — were among 13 elementary schools to receive a perfect score of 10 in an annual report issued by The Fraser Institute, a Canadian think tank which ranked 3,037 public and Catholic schools across Ontario. The ranking was based on their performance in province-wide reading, writing and math tests, according to a Feb. 28 report on CP24 — a Canadian English language specialty cable and satellite television channel. The Fraser Institute also considered the

gender gap between scores and average parental income in compiling its rankings. “What the [Ontario provincial education] minister should be asking is what have these schools done to enable their kids to acquire greater skills and how we can we apply that not in 180 schools but 3,000 schools?” report co-author Peter Cowley said. The Dover-based Islamic Society of Central Delaware received the city planning commission’s approval mid-March for its center and mosque, which will include a 6,000-square-foot prayer area. The rest of the 33,000-square-foot, two-story building will include space for a gymnasium, a weekend school and events and other activities. Its central location will benefit members from throughout Kent County, and facilities like the gym will be open to everyone. The center is fundraising for the construction. The congregation was formed in central Delaware in 1995 with only 15 to 20 members who met for prayer, Sunday school and other activities at different locations. Now, the congregation has roughly 200 to 300 members. The new center will last them long into the future, said Muhammad Iqbal, a society board member, told The Delaware News Journal March 22. 

CORRIGENDUM The article “Continuing Islamic Education” (IH, pp. 24-25, March-April 2015) was authored by Zeyad Maasarani with contribution from Deana Helmy.



Exploring the Character of Muslims Houston Muslims congregate to exchange ideas and learn from each other. BY NADIA I. GIRE

the role religion plays in shaping their lives, had a positive perception of Islam. “Change will happen in a collective fashion,” he said. “We cannot just rely on Muslim leaders and imams to do all the work. We need to get involved as individuals and participate on any level possible in order to contribute to the positive image of Islam in society.” Sheikh Mokhtar Maghraoui echoed Azeez’s sentiments. “God is known to us in his attributes,” he said. “To be a steward of God on earth, we need to strive and struggle to achieve these attributes to the best of our abilities. You do not change the world, you change…then the world will change.”



e are faced with a big challenge as Muslims,” said Sheikh Alauddin El-Bakri, a religious scholar and founding board member of the Inner City Muslim Action Network, addressing attendees at the March 7 ISNA Conference in Houston. “We cannot approach these challenges with a defeatist mentality, and the worst thing is to be defeated from inside,” he said. Conference-goers had the opportunity to listen to, share, participate in and contribute to a variety of sessions. The theme, “A ‘Manner’ of Being — Exploring the Character of Muslims,” centered on common challenges in the Islamic world and their possible solutions. “This conference was designed to address present day issues that affect all American Muslims and ways in which to tackle these issues through the building of strong Muslim character,” said Zeyn Patel, executive board member of The Risala Foundation. Zahra Billoo, civil rights attorney and executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on AmericanIslamic Relations, said she already is seeing positive changes nationwide with a rise in the number of Islamic conferences and mosques opening nationwide. “We have two Muslim members of Congress, and we have dozens


of people running for school boards and city councils across the country,” Billoo said.

PLENARY SESSIONS Plenary session topics included stereotypes, domestic violence and tolerance. Among the speakers were ISNA President Azhar Azeez, ISNA Secretary General Hazem Bata, Joe Bradford, who has written several papers and entries on zakat law and Islamic finance, Zahra Billoo, Sheikh Mokhtar Maghraoui, and IslamInSpanish founder Jaime Mujahid Fletcher. Azeez iterated the importance of Muslims getting to know their neighbors and colleagues. A recent poll, he said, shows 70 percent of Americans have a negative perception of Islam, in part due to not knowing their Muslim neighbors. The 30 percent who said they knew a Muslim personally and could attest to his/her character and

The conference comprised three tracks: adults, Muslim Student Association (MSA) and Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA). Each track included several sessions geared toward specific age groups. Many sessions were interactive and invited audience participation. Other sessions included panel discussions, open Q&A sessions and a special taekwondo exhibition by three young women who discussed their journey to become Olympians. MYNA sessions included, “Maintaining Modesty in a Media Age,” in which participants discussed balancing being open with Islamic teachings of modesty and virtue. MSA sessions led to candid conversations about relationships, social media and the American Muslim identity, and taboos. Habeeb Quadri, a youth activist and member of the national advisory board for MYNA and Council of Islamic Schools in North America, in the “Teaching Tolerance and Embracing All” session, spoke about



what Muslims can do to live the Prophetic example. He said personal education of Islam is essential to raising well-informed and educated Muslims. “The Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was a strong man, but he didn’t use his strength to force others into Islam. Instead, he brought them to Islam through his character,” Quadri said. Marwa Aly and Sameera Shah, in the “Muslim in the Mirror: Art of Self Transformation” session, discussed the need for constant introspection to achieve a relationship with God. Shah, a women’s Quran, tafsir and hadith teacher, said those who achieved closeness to God did so not because they thrived in their environment, but because they searched for God despite their environment. “There is one Islam and there are 1.6 billion Muslims. There are not 1.6 billion Islams,” said Aly, producer of the documentary film “UnMosqued.”

Mo Sabri, who performed “Heaven is Where Her Heart Is.” The keynote speaker was Sheikh Muhammad Al Yaqoubi, an internationally renowned Syrian scholar, named one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslim figures. He is a steadfast advocate for the Syrian people’s right to building a civil democratic state. In an eloquent and emotional address, he denounced the terrorist organization ISIS, distinguish-

ing its actions and character from that of a Muslim. He discussed the merits of harmony as prescribed in detail by Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the Quran. “The first word revealed was ‘read’ not ‘fight’, but we don’t read,” he said. “Muslims should be led by wisdom, not anger.” 

Nadia I. Gire is a Houston-based attorney and freelance writer. Mena El-Sharkawi, Rafay Qureshi and Ayesha Tisdale contributed to this article.

CELEBRATION BANQUET The banquet was attended by more than 400 guests. Abdel Fustok, director of the Institute of Cosmetic Surgery, Humble Surgical Hospital, and Saleha Khumwala, Robert Grinaker professor of accounting and founding director of Nonprofit Management and Microfinance, C. T. Bauer College of Business, University of Houston, were recognized for their unwavering commitment to the Houston Muslim community. Entertainment was provided by Ebru painter Nizli Çizmeci, and hip-hop nasheed artist ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015



Educating the Global Citizen BY FARYAL M. KHATRI

Karen Keyworth receives her award from Hazem Bata.


literate person is an empowered person, and an empowered person is a dignified person. Literacy is absolutely crucial to establish human dignity,” said Ebrahim Moosa in his keynote speech during the inaugural dinner at the 16th annual ISNA Education Forum, April 3-5 in Chicago. The forum’s theme was “Educating the Global Citizen.” Moosa, professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Notre Dame who suggested a “moonshot mentality” to Islamic education, highlighted the Muslim community’s resilience and innovative contribution to the global community throughout history. This mentality, he explained, is anything that is ambitious, exploratory, or groundbreaking and needed in Islamic education to educate global citizens. “Moonshot means you have to do three things: first is to address a huge problem; second, you have to propose a radical solution; third, you must use breakthrough technology,” Moosa said. He highlighted the Muslim Ummah’s biggest problem — illiteracy. The highest rates of illiteracy are found among women and in predominantly Muslim countries, he added. Forum attendees included school administrators and teachers who engaged through networking sessions and interactive workshops. They participated in discussions, expanded their skills, and shared innovative solutions to common challenges.

PRE-CONFERENCE WORKSHOPS Pre-conference workshops focused on principals and administrators, teachers’ skill development, Arabic studies teachers, Islamic studies teachers, Nuraniyah method, weekend school teachers, and boardsource 24

leadership training. Attendees received a special certificate at the end of the preconference workshops led by leading experts in the field. Among them was Habeeb Quadri, recently appointed as one of five members to the board of Harvard University’s Graduate School Program, along with Education Forum co-founder Safaa Zarzour.

EDUCATING THE GLOBAL CITIZEN Mohammed Kaiseruddin, chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, welcomed attendees to the conference and to Chicago. ISNA Secretary General Hazem Bata set the stage for this year’s conference theme by engaging the audience in a conversation on active citizenship. “Active citizenship is helping those around you … expressing your faith, expressing your Islam by volunteering,” he said. “When you implement your faith, everybody else is benefiting. Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) helped those around (him), and people were attracted by the benefits they received before receiving the message of Islam.” Discussions and workshop sessions built on the active citizenship concept by exploring Islamic values, standards, and technology that can be used to raise well-rounded students and future global leaders, he added. Parallel sessions explored the concept of educating global citizens within schools, including administrators, teachers and


students. Leading experts, included Freda Shamma, founder of the Foundation for Advancement and Development of Education and Learning and author of Treasury of Muslim Literature, and Farhat Siddiqui, principal of the College Preparatory School of America. They led attendees during the interactive parallel sessions. Discussions revolved around curriculum building, preparing Islamic school alumni to be global leaders, innovative technology to enhance the educational experience, and creative methods of raising the standard of Islamic education. Luncheon speaker Amaarah DeCuir, principal of Al Fatih Academy, shared her research on Muslim American women and their roles in Islamic schools, initiated five years ago at the Education Forum.

CELEBRATION BANQUET Guests and local leaders joined conference attendees during the Celebration Banquet recognizing the community’s togetherness and growth. “Islam helps bind us as people,” Bata said. Keynote speaker Alex Kronemer, executive director of United Productions Foundation, shared his experiences of a multireligious childhood, his acceptance of Islam and how he met his wife. Kronemer told the audience the importance and impact of sharing personal experiences and stories. “You make the characters and I make the film,” he said. ISNA honored Karen Keyworth with the Lifetime Achievement award. Keyworth established the Greater Lansing Islamic School, which serves more than 150 students from kindergarten through eighth grade, because of the lack of options for Islamic education in her hometown of East Lansing, Michigan. In 1998, Keyworth partnered with Judi Amri of Fairfax, Virginia, to found the Islamic Schools League of America, a virtual organization dedicated to networking K-12 private Islamic schools throughout the United States and Canada. She currently serves as its executive director. The Celebration Dinner also featured artist Amro Helmy who lead a group of talented young children in a nasheed performance. The group of students is studying with Helmy at the Islamic Foundation School in Villa Park, Illinois. 

Faryal M. Khatri is communications director of Indianapolis Muslim Community Association/Masjid al Fajr and administrator of the Islamic School of Plainfield weekend school, also served as a board member of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana.


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 •

ISLAM IN AMERICA On May 19, if alive, Malcolm X would have marked his 80th birthday.

Malcolm X, Egypt and the Glory of Islam The untold story of an Islamic quest for freedom. BY SALEEM MUHAMMAD


arrived back here in Cairo last night…When I return, I hope to have names and citizenship for all who accept True Islam. I know it seems to be taking a long time, but good things always take a long time… Allah is blessing me to make some progress. The OAAU now has branches in Cairo.” — Malcolm X to the OAAU: Cairo, Egypt; Aug. 9, 1964 With suitcases packed and movie camera in hand, Malcolm X headed out from New York City’s Kennedy Airport to challenge American foreign policy more than 6,000 miles away. He was headed to Egypt for an Organization of African Unity Summit Conference in Cairo. Upon his return to New York, his briefcase would contain several note-binders filled with a brilliant synthesis of five months of fascinating details of political change and spiritual growth. During a stopover in London, Malcolm visited the Islamic Cultural Center for Friday prayers. After the prayer, the center’s director introduced him to the congregation. The imam was Sheikh Omar Gabir, a South African refugee and an AlAhzar graduate. The center’s director also was from Egypt. Without fanfare, Malcolm arrived in Cairo just after midnight on July 12, 1964, and checked into the Semiramis Hotel. He watched African delegates and VIPs of all


Malcolm X prays in Mohammed Ali mosque in Cairo.

ranks flock into the Shepherds Hotel across the street — in town also for the conference. Within days at the summit, the delegates read portions of Malcolm X’s memorandum calling on newly independent African nations to condemn the United States for its violations of black human rights. During the conference, he met with leaders of the African Liberation Front, aboard the Isis, a hotel-yacht anchored in the Nile. It was an honor since it was under top security, and off limits to everyone else. As he waited for clearance to attend the conference as an observer, Malcolm contacted key African leaders, such as Mahmoud Youssef Shawarbi, an Egyptian and then-director of the Federation of Islamic Associations in the United States and Canada and a United Nations advisor. Shawarbi was eager to engage Malcolm in political conversation and took a small entourage to his hotel where they talked until 3 a.m. Malcolm met with several African dignitaries, including Hassan Sabn Al-Kholy, director of President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Bureau of General Affairs. Shawarbi, who had first met Malcolm in 1960, presented him with a copy of “The Eternal Message of Muhammad” by Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam, an international statesman and one of the closest advisers to then-Crown Prince Faisal ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015

IN EGYPT, MALCOLM X’S LIFE BEGAN TO TRANSFORM. HE BOUGHT ARAB AND AFRICAN-STYLE TUNICS AND PANTS, WHICH UNDERSCORED HIS APPEARANCE AS A PAN-AFRICANIST AND A MUSLIM. of Saudi Arabia. To Malcolm’s surprise, Shawarbi told him that Azzam had been closely following him in the press. In Egypt, Malcolm’s life began to transform. He bought Arab and African-style tunics and pants, which underscored his appearance as a Pan-Africanist and a Muslim. He seized the opportunity to immerse himself in the culture, watching movies and plays and writing essays for the Egyptian press, granting interviews to newspapers, television networks and wire services around the world, and doing an in-depth study of the Quran. His vision of justice was global and Islam expanded it far wider than he had ever conceived. He launched himself into a detailed study course prepared by scholars associated with Cairo-based Supreme Council on Islamic Affairs. Soon after, Malcolm would learn what the friendship of the Nasser government could mean when he was moved to a luxurious suite at Cairo’s Shepherd Hotel as a state guest. Amid all this, news arrived from the U.S. that Malcolm’s Muslim Mosque, Inc., had been admitted to the Federation of Islamic Associations in the United States and Canada. He also was named to the federation’s board of directors — two important stamps of credibility. During the trip, Malcolm also took trips to the beach, visited the Aswan Dam, the new Port Building, Hadrian’s Pillar, and Alexandria to see the city’s aquarium. Malcolm saw Islamic symbols and scriptures as a source of inspiration for his political vision as reflected in his meditative writings in Cairo. Since the inception of his newly founded secular organization, the Pan-Africanist Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) in June 1964, the accomplishments of the organization and its chairman were many and varied. One of the main projects was the “internationalizing” of the African-Americans’ fight for freedom. The organization sent Malcolm to present the case of 22 million African descendants before the OAU in Cairo. In Alexandria, Malcolm experienced the highest honor from the Islamic world as students from 73 countries cheered him upon arrival ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015

at the Abu Bekr Sediq Camp. He was there to deliver a speech before 800 students. He was escorted up a long, double line of Muslim youth shouting, “welcome Malcolm!” During the ceremony, he obtained 20 scholarships for African Americans to attend Al-Azhar the following year and received his certificate of recognition and authority from the rector of Al-Azhar. “It was so exciting, so unexpected by me, such an honor. I hardly knew what to say or how to react. We were escorted into a huge, canopied dining area. The head table was occupied by His Excellency Oweida, Kazem Borai, Mena and I.” — (Malcolm X to Alex Haley: Alexandria, Egypt; August 1964) Malcolm’s conversation with the group was sprinkled with parables and analogies, which illustrated and drove home points in language stripped of the “diplomacy” he engaged in at the summit. The atmosphere was heavy with feeling and sincerity as youths jumped to their feet shouting slogans of support and unity with the AfricanAmerican freedom struggle. The festivity ended with them singing the Egyptian national anthem, then stopping at Nasser’s Restaurant before retiring for the night. “This affair impressed me even more than my trip to Mecca. Youth from everywhere, faces from every complexion, representing every race and every culture; all shouting the glory of Islam, filled with a militant, revolutionary spirit and zeal.” (Malcolm X to Alex Haley: Alexandria, Egypt; August 1964) In August 1964, six months before his assassination, Malcolm and Haley continued collaboration on synthesizing the months of conversations spent reviewing Malcolm’s life. By the time “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” was completed, Malcolm had transformed into El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. Fifty years on, it’s important to understand the shift in Malcolm X’s character and belief during the final, tumultuous, two years of his life. 

Saleem Muhammad is a writer, photojournalist researcher and archivist of African-American history and culture with particular interest to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. His book “Nation of Islam: The Lost Photographs, 1974-1975” was published in February.



The Champ with Farah Ali Pandith.

The Muhammad Ali Impact and Muslim Americans Can Muslim Americans carry forward the banner of dignity and steadfastness raised by the Champ? BY STACY BAILEY-NDIAYE


n Jan. 17, the Champ looked over the balcony onto the adoring crowd assembled. When his health permits, it’s a tradition at the Muhammad Ali Center for Ali for the Champ to appear as part of his birthday celebration. His steps are a bit unsteady and his once animated face is now almost expressionless. Yet, behind the dark glasses, there’s a twinkle in his eyes. Ali is fully present. And he loves every minute of it. Muhammad Ali turned 73 this year. His story is legendary. When his bicycle was stolen, a furious 12-year-old Cassius Clay reported it to Officer Joe Martin, threatening to beat up the thief. Martin, who also was a boxing coach, suggested that he learn how to fight first. Cassius followed that advice and the rest, as they say, is history. That 12-year-old set his sights on being a champion. He trained six days a week, woke early, instead of riding the bus, he ran 20 blocks to his school through the streets of Louisville, Kentucky, and worked out


in the gym after school. He developed his own eating regimen, and stayed away from alcohol, smoking and any unhealthy food that might slow him down or jeopardize his health. By 18, he had won six Kentucky Golden Gloves, two national Golden Gloves, and an Amateur Athletic Union National Title. In 1960, he won the crowning achievement of his young life — a gold medal at Rome Olympics in the light heavyweight division. He had entered the world stage. Clay returned home to begin his professional career. The brash young fighter “shook up the world,” when the 22-year old, against all odds, beat Sonny Liston to win the heavyweight championship title. James “Jimmy” Jones, world religions professor at Manhattanville College in New York, recalls that night. “When Cassius Marcellus Clay fought Sonny Liston on Feb. 25, 1964, I was a high school senior at Lucy Addison High School in Roanoke, Virginia,” Jones said. “Having been raised in the segregated south, I was fully aware of the ‘black male code’ that dictated that young African-American men in

particular, should be humble and deferential to white people at all times. “So when Clay, this audacious young man from Kentucky, burst onto the scene talking trash and calling Sonny Liston a bear, I was shocked. Further, I had grown up in a household where we regularly listened to the Friday Night Fights on the radio and I could not imagine how this boy who was barely older than I was could ‘whup’ someone as physically impressive as Sonny Liston. As with many others, that night, Cassius Marcellus Clay made a believer out of me. He talked trash and backed it up.” Fast. Excellent. Beautiful. Bold. Clay could not and would not be ignored. A few days after his stunning victory, Clay made more headlines when he announced his membership in the Nation of Islam (NOI) and his new name — Muhammad Ali. In 1964, in the heat of the Civil Rights Movement in which African Americans were striving to end racial segregation, NOI was controversial. Often referred to as the “black Muslims,” it was seen as separatist and its teachings of black pride and self-reliance were viewed as militant. Besides that, in a Christian-dominated country, there was a general lack of understanding about and mistrust of Islam. The combination of a “strange” religion and an outspoken challenge to the race-based power structure added up to “scary” in mainstream society. Yet Ali stood firm on his truth. “I’m a Muslim. My religion is Islam. What’s wrong with that? You have 600 million Muslims on earth and Muslim only means one who submits only to the will of God, Allah,” he said. In the NOI, Ali found a home, a sense of dignity as a black man in America, and embarked on a spiritual path that would forever shape his life. In his spiritual memoir, co-authored with his daughter Hana Yasmeen Ali, “The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life’s Journey” (Simon & Schuster, 2004), he writes: “My faith has evolved over the years, and now I follow the teachings of mainstream Sunni Islam. But, a part of me will always be grateful to Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam for opening my eyes and giving me something greater than myself to fight for.” A fight it was. Perhaps, had he simply boxed, we would end the conversation here with his 56 wins, five losses, and 37 knockouts, and the fact that he was first to win the world heavyweight boxing title three times. ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015

But Ali was a man of his time. His fame, his Muslim identity, racism in the United States, and the Vietnam war created the perfect storm to launch Ali onto a different page in history, truly earning him the title, “The Greatest of All Time.” In 1967, Ali, like thousands of others, was called to fight in Vietnam. He believed it was an unjust war. Aware of the consequences, he went for his call on April 28 and refused induction. Ali drew the ire of many Americans; even today, some label him as a draft dodger and coward. But Ali was clear: “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? … I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people, they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs” (“Redemption Song: Muhammad Ali and the Spirit of the Sixties,” Verso, 1999, by Mike Marqusee). Ali paid dearly for his defiance. In June 1967, he was found guilty of draft evasion, stripped of his boxing title and fined $10,000. Sentenced to five years in prison, he remained free pending appeal. In the prime of his career, he lost his boxing license and his livelihood. Finally in 1971, the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed his conscientious objector status based upon his religious beliefs and reversed the charges. His comeback was legendary, downing Frazier and Foreman to regain the heavyweight title. But it’s his personal conviction that has set him apart from other athletes and, indeed, from other men.

THE ALI IMPACT “Boxing was just to introduce me to the world. Now my life is really starting. Fighting injustice, fighting racism, fighting crime, fighting illiteracy, fighting poverty, using this face the world knows so well, and going out and fighting for truth and different causes” (Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times, Simon & Schuster, 1991). Ali’s impact is global. He is one of the most recognized personalities on the planet, and one of the world’s most beloved Muslim ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015

figures. Never one to shy away from controversy, Ali has traveled around the world on missions of goodwill. In addition to travelling to Iraq during the Gulf War to negotiate the release of American hostages, he visited Afghanistan, North Korea, and Cuba, and

she said. “Men can sometimes get away with it easier, but for those of us who cover, we wear our religion on our heads. Muhammad Ali is a non-traditional hero. He fought a battle within himself and had the confidence and courage to stand out. He had two things

WITH A CONSTANT MEDIA BARRAGE OF IMAGES OF “MUSLIM FUNDAMENTALISTS” AND A GROWING CONCERN OVER THE RADICALIZATION OF WESTERN MUSLIM YOUTH, ALI IS A REMINDER THAT ONE CAN STAND IN AN UNJUST WORLD AND STILL MAINTAIN ONE’S PRINCIPLES, A SENSE OF HUMOR AND A LOVING HEART. IT’S NOT EASY. treated people with dignity even as those countries were considered pariahs in the global community. Farah Pandith, the first special representative to Muslim communities at the United States Department of State, experienced Ali’s global impact first hand. Pandith, now adjunct senior fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations and senior fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School Of Government, recalled asking a group of teenagers in Cairo, shortly after President Obama’s speech there in 2009, about their image of America and who represented an American hero for them, thinking Obama would be the person they named first. But their ideal was Ali. They respected his sense of self — his belief in himself. A young Egyptian laughed and said, “He is the greatest. He represents what America is to us — someone that can succeed so powerfully but that is also so completely real.” Pandith has traveled to 80 countries in 5 years and again and again, young people around the world called Ali their American hero. “For global Muslim youth, when there are so few Muslim icons that live in word and deed, Muhammad Ali stands apart,” she said. That same sentiment resonates in the United States. Aaisha Hamid, a college senior and Ali Scholar at the Muhammad Ali Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of Louisville, has reflected on Ali’s life more than most people her age. This petite, softspoken young woman of Pakistani heritage views uber-masculine Ali as one of the best role models for Muslim women. “As young Muslims, there is so much pressure to fit in,”

to contend with — race and religion. To see him embrace his identity, embrace being African-American and a Muslim, that alone is amazing. He made me more conscious of my own identities. He is an ambassador for Islam and I want to be that as well.” In her book, “Faceless: When Two Worlds Collide” (CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2013), Hamid creates dialogue about a controversial topic: American soldiers in third world countries. Her family initially was apprehensive about her being so public with her ideas. “Sometimes we are taught it’s better to avoid controversial issues and not get involved,” she said. “Don’t stir up trouble. Well, Muhammad Ali stirred up trouble. He may have wanted to stay out of it, but he had the moral responsibility to be involved. Just like it is in boxing, it’s very rare to be a successful writer. He lived his dream all the way and that has encouraged me to find a way to live my dream. It’s about having the guts to go out and try to do it — the things I’m passionate about.” Hamid, who is organizing a leadership conference for girls this summer, is following what she sees as Ali’s example of being true to oneself. President Barack Obama writing about “What Muhammad Ali Means to Me” (Nov. 19, 2009) noted, “This is the Muhammad Ali who inspires us today — the man who believes real success comes when we rise after we fall; who has shown us that through undying faith and steadfast love, each of us can make this world a better place. He is, and always will be, the champ.” 29




Perhaps, Ali’s greatest impact is about to continue to preserve and share the legacy been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. fully embracing one’s humanity. With a con- and ideals of Muhammad Ali, to promote True to form, Ali has faced the challenge stant media barrage of images of “Muslim respect, hope, and understanding, and to head on. While the “Louisville Lip” rarely fundamentalists” and a growing concern over inspire adults and children everywhere to speaks in public, his appearances continue to inspire countless people and he uses his the radicalization of Western Muslim youth, be as great as they can be.” Ali is a reminder that one can stand in an One of the center’s premiere initiatives presence to raise awareness about Parkinson’s unjust world and still maintain one’s prin- is its annual Muhammad Ali Humanitar- disease. The annual Celebrity Fight Night has ciples, a sense of humor and a loving heart. ian Awards. The awards recognize seasoned raised more than $100 million for Parkinson’s It’s not easy. Under the pressures of a world humanitarians, and people under 30 who research and care and also supports other that demonizes Islam, one can grow weary, have made significant contributions to the causes. The Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s retreat, keep quiet, and even change one’s attainment of peace and social justice glob- Center, a national Parkinson Foundation name just to blend in. Ali represents someone ally. “Their trajectory from being relatively Center of Excellence, is located in the Lonnie who, when it wasn’t popular, took on a new unknown to being put front and center on a and Muhammad Ali Pavilion encompassing name that signified his Muslim identity. He global stage with an international icon can’t the Muhammad Ali Movement Disorders used that identity to shape a life in which he be fully comprehended until you ask them Center, the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Comis fully proud of his whole self and his own yourself: how did this change you?” said Pan- munity Outreach and Wellness Center, and groups, while respecting the identities and dith, speaking of the impact of the awards. an Outpatient Rehabilitation Center. Ali’s perspectives of others. That is the public presence and real work have root of peace. That is Islam. provided hope and assistance to Par“Our lives are a journey during kinson’s sufferers around the world. which we must find our own answers In his 1972 interview, David Frost asked Ali, “What would you and make our own paths,” Ali writes in “The Soul of a Butterfly,” “On my like people to think about you when you’ve gone?” Ali responded, “I’d like journey, I found Islam. If I were not for them to say: a Muslim, I might not have taken all the stands I did. If I were not a He took a few cups of love. He took Muslim, I would not have changed one tablespoon of patience, One teaPresident Jimmy Carter greets Mohammed Ali at a White House dinner my name or sought to spread peace, spoon of generosity, One pint of kindcelebrating the signing of the Panama Canal Treaty, Washington, D.C. and I would not have meant as much ness. He took one quart of laughter, to people all around the world. If I were not One pinch of concern. And then, he mixed Muslim, I would not be the person that I willingness with happiness. He added lots am today, and the world would never have of faith, And he stirred it up well. Then he known Muhammad Ali.” spread it over a span of a lifetime, And he served it to each and every deserving person THE ALI LEGACY he met.” Ali has been honored as a United Nations Perhaps, Jones sums it up best. “As I look Messenger of Peace, the BBC’s “Sports Perback on the life of Muhammad Ali, it is clear sonality of the Century” (1999), Sports Illusthat he has impacted me and many others trated’s “Sportsman of the Century” (1999), in several important ways. First of all, he and the Kentucky Athlete of the Century. taught us it was okay to speak ‘truth to power.’ He received the Presidential Citizens Medal Second, he brought his personal beliefs and principles into the public square in a clear, (2005), Presidential Medal of Freedom consistent way. Third, he was willing to give (2005), an NAACP Image Award (2009), Muhammad Ali Center. and the Arthur Ashe Courage Award (1997), up the prime fighting and money making among many other honors. And who could “In their words and emotions, you under- years of his life for what he believed, while ever forget Ali lighting the Olympic torch stand that being singled out by Muhammad risking going to jail. As a Muslim, I look at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta? Ali, by being applauded for humanitarian back on his career as one that was positive Overlooking the Ohio River, sits the six- work, by meeting him themselves, they have for African Americans and Islam. Even story Muhammad Ali Center, which tells been transformed and injected with even though I now think that boxing is a brutal, his story and houses his memorabilia. It is more drive and determination to be the best inhumane, unforgiving sport, I still believe more than a museum. “The Muhammad Ali they can be.” Through the Humanitarian that Muhammad Ali sacrificed much in an Center will continue Ali’s legacy of humani- Awards, Ali is inspiring a new generation attempt to be a real human being in a society tarian work through its local, national, and of world changers. that attempted to strip him of his humanity. global programs,” said center president and Ali also is building a legacy through May Allah have mercy on him.”  CEO Donald Lassere. “The center’s programs the Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Center at Bailey-Ndiaye, founding and executive director of are currently focused in the areas of educa- Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. Stacy Bridge Kids International, is a former director of the Muhamtion, global citizenship and gender equality. In 1984, three years after his retirement mad Ali Institute for Peace and Justice at the University The mission of the Muhammad Ali Center is from boxing, Ali announced that he had of Louisville.




Muzammil Siddiqi

Dalia Mogahed

Looking Back & Forging Ahead Southern California Muslims offer model for working together. BY SHAKEEL SYED


t is rare for the media to show up uninvited to any event, let alone to an event about which only a few people had knowledge. The Muslim leadership of Southern California had decided on the event almost three months before their meeting April 20, 1995. Some media organizations assumed the Muslim leadership is meeting in “response” to the tragedy that unfolded a day before — the bombing of the Alfred Murrah building in Oklahoma City. For once, we had to request the media to leave. They were seeking news that we could not provide at the time. That first formal meeting of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California (ISCSC) was the culmination of scores of informal meetings held over three years between groups of activists. Their goal was to bring the diverse Muslim leadership together at one table. Unfortunately, it coincided with the Oklahoma City bombing April 19, 1995. This year marks the 20th anniversary of ISCSC’s existence. On March 21 in Los Angeles, nearly 1,000 people attended a celebration during which the Courage Awards


were presented to the families of the AbuSalha sisters and Deah Barakat of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The program reflected the celebration’s theme, “Honoring the Past, Celebrating the Present & Shaping the Future.” Organizers highlighted the sacrifices and contributions of the young pioneers, honored roughly 75 senior community leaders, and recognized the contributions of the imams and community leaders of today. Within the decade after the year 2000, there was a 40 percent growth in mosques. Today, there are more than 100 mosques and more than 25 service organizations in SoCal serving more than 500,000 Muslims.

Ingrid Mattson

The value of those Islamic assets total more than $250 million. When Shura Council was established in 1995, no mosque had a website. Today, most imams have Twitter accounts and more than half of the imams are born and educated in the U.S. “In the business of building communities and serving them, progress is not numbers, but the journey itself,” ISCSC Chairman Muzammil Siddiqi said. “The youth of today must remember and reflect the yesterdays and should not forget to imagine the tomorrows, today.” Keynote speaker Dalia Mogahed said Muslims are portrayed as either a benign (keep them under surveillance) cancer or a malignant one. She said both depictions are dead wrong and Muslims are the nation’s healthy and vital organ. Muslim Americans must save America from itself before it abdicates its ideals, she added. Ingrid Mattson, the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College at the University of Western Ontario, and a former ISNA president, recognized the role of Muslim women pioneers in America, such as Sr. Clara Muhammad and Shareefa al-Khatib. Ihsan Bagby, associate professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Kentucky, said ideally today’s Muslims must realize the


SALAM Seeks Director of Religious & Social Services

Ihsan Bagby

Prophetic mosque model, in which men and women, poor and rich, practitioners and the inquiring find comfort and refuge to seek the pleasure and closeness to God. ISNA Vice President Altaf Husain said Millennial Muslims deserve compassion and care, as they have been subjected to a toxic Islamophobic environment nearly all their lives. Hasnain Walji of Shia Ithna-Ashari Jamaat of Los Angeles said mosques cannot be sustained merely by volunteers, but also must not exclusively be run by paid staff either. Volunteerism is a sacred tradition and must be celebrated, he added.


A good deed done regularly!

Through Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) ISNA can receive your donation each month automatically from your bank account or credit card, saving you postage and time.

Be a key that opens the door to ISNA’s long-term financial stability:

Donate through EFT!


Altaf Husain

In two decades, ISCSC has fostered a spirit of working together with community stakeholders and across madahib. Together they serve more than 120 mosques and Muslim organizations in Southern California. ISCSC also has built working relationships with many faith communities and civic and political leaders, and is an integral part of several coalitions and alliances for the greater good. The group has designated a yearly “Open Mosque Day” when many of its member mosques open their doors to all and host thousands of people of varying faith traditions. This event has garnered media coverage from the Los Angeles Times and several local newspapers. ISCSC has launched a multi-year project to help mosques enhance their services through the Masjid Operations Manual, developed after years of studying various mosques’ operating models. It comprises five modules: governance, policies, operations, programs and safety/security. Another prominent initiative is the council’s Prison Outreach Program, offering educational products and services to Muslim inmates, while counseling prison systems about their needs. It has helped the council campaign for the rights of Muslim inmates, such as having access to halal meals and allowance of congregational Friday prayers in the Los Angeles County Jail, the largest in the nation. ISCSC’s mandate is rooted in the Quranic injunction: “Those who hearken to their Lord, and establish regular prayer; who (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation; who spend out of what We bestow on them for Sustenance” (42:38). 

Shakeel Syed is the executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California.

SALAM — Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims — ( seeks a director of religious and social services to meet the religious, spiritual, and social needs of its multiethnic community. Responsibilities primarily include leading prayers, giving khaterah, coordinating Friday Family Night Program, youth activities, scheduling Friday khutab, coordinating Ramadan and Eid programs, religious counseling, and other assigned related religious duties as mutually agreed. Qualifications include a college degree from an accredited university in Islamic studies, sharia, or Islamic jurisprudence, experience in dealing with religious affairs, mastery of the English language, strong knowledge of written and spoken Arabic, good recitation of the Quran, ability to motivate young Muslims and relate to their aspirations, ability to reach out and be involved in interfaith activities within the context of living as a Muslim in the United States. Applicants must communicate in English effectively. Candidates must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Salary and fringe benefits are competitive, commensurate with qualifications and experience. Qualified candidates should send letter of interest, a detailed resume, a recent photo, and three letters of recommendation, with at least one from recent employer if any, to: Chairperson, SALAM Board of Trustees 4545 College Oak Dr. Sacramento, CA 95841-4515



For Who We Are and How We Look Can North Carolina apply hate crime law in the context of the Chapel Hill murders? BY HUMAIRA SIDDIQUI


addy, I think he hates us for who we are and how we look” (CNN. com, Feb. 13). These were Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha’s words to her father before Chapel Hill, North Carolina, police charged militant anti-theist Craig Stephen Hicks for murdering her, her sister Razan, and husband Deah Barakat in what the family believes was an execution-style murder with shots to the back of their heads. In the two harrowing 911 audio recordings (; Feb. 10), callers can be heard saying they heard people screaming and multiple [either eight or 10] shots; the police recovered eight shell casings. The sheer number of shots fired at three people in such a small space evokes a chilling realization: Hicks was intent on seriously harming his victims. That he shot them all in the head shows he wanted them dead. The crime carries the most serious level of culpability because it reveals his specific intent to kill them. The police arrived to a macabre scene: Barakat, 23, was found bleeding from the head, his body at the door, the bodies of Yusor, 21, and Razan, 19, were found in the kitchen area (, Feb. 16). Yusor’s chilling words are similar to those of Oregon Democratic Sen. Ronald Lee Wyden’s ominous warning on July 22, 1999, calling Congress to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act: “If you have a child or know of a child who has a disability, a child who is gay, or who is a girl, and that child suffers bodily injury, or worse, death, simply because of who he or she is, do you want that child to be just another statistic…?” (Congressional Record, 106th Congress, Vol. 45, Part 7). President Barack Obama echoed Yusor’s words. “No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who


they are, what they look like, or how they worship” (, Feb. 13). Hicks’ hate crime culpability hinges on five factors: 1) His online rants about religions and, in particular, wanting to see Muslims killed; 2) Yusor and Razan were visibly identifiable as Muslims because they wore the hijab; 3) Lack of plausibility of a parking grievance with the victims; 4) Unlikelihood that the victims were noisy, disruptive neighbors; and 5) No other possible motive. None of these factors alone and considered independently would be persuasive evidence

of a hate crime. But that all changes when they are considered collectively and in the absence of any other possible motive. By mid-January, the New York Times, March 3, reported that friends were becoming convinced that Hicks was obsessing over the couple, particularly Yusor, most likely for the way she dressed. “If you look at Deah, he looks like your average white guy,” Nida Allam, a close friend, told the newspaper. “But Yusor wears the headscarf. And so does Razan.” Their father, Mohammad Abu-Salha, also believes the murders were motivated by anti-Muslim hate because Hicks only began menacing Yusor’s fair-complexioned husband and launching a barrage of complaints after she moved in. The Durham County grand jury, however, indicted Hicks on three counts of murder with no mention of a hate crime. Chapel Hill Police said the preliminary investigation indicated the crime was motivated by an ongoing parking dispute. “The killings were ‘related to long-standing parking disputes my husband had with various neighbors regardless of their race, religion or creed,’” Hicks’s wife, Karen, had said.


Interviews with the victims’ family and friends, however, indicate otherwise. Jonathan Katz reported (New York Times, March 3) that the victims were so cautious and nervous about incurring their neighbor’s wrath that Barakat distributed maps of permissible parking spaces to visitors. The couple was allowed two spaces; on the day of the murders, the visiting Razan had legally parked on the street. Yusor’s close friend Amira Ata told Dean Obeidallah that she disbelieves the parking motive (The Daily Beast, Feb. 12) because on that day Barakat had just returned by bus. His sister, Suzanne Barakat, a resident physician at San Francisco General Hospital, confirmed no cars belonging to any of the victims were parked in the spaces that Hicks considered his (Huffington Post Politics, Feb. 18). Photos taken the day after the shootings corroborate her assertion. How could Hicks’ grievance with them simply be over one parking space when they were already taking measures to appease him? Yusor’s father reported that before the murders, Hicks had been complaining about the noise the visitors were making. “I can


estimate a week ago, knocking at the door, yelling. I think that time, she was talking about him being unhappy with some noise, because they had friends visiting,” Abu-Salha recalled (, Feb. 13).

involved in United Muslim Relief. Yusor … would meet me in the library once a week to discuss how she wanted to start a health bus that would travel to impoverished communities. … This past spring break [2014],

LIVE IN SUCH A WAY THAT IF SOMEONE SPOKE BADLY OF YOU, NO ONE WOULD BELIEVE.” —RAZAN MOHAMMAD ABU-SALHA Testimony from close friends also discounts this motive. Mussarut Jabeen, principal of their former Islamic school and who had known them for more than 13 years, paints a totally different picture: devout Muslims who were humble before God and quietly sought to benefit the community. “They did not go around talking about Islam. They lived it. It’s the way they led their lives that showed their Islamic values. They were always involved in community service and helping others, and they did charitable work for both non-Muslims and Muslims alike,” she said. Yusor volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and tutored young children. Barakat and other students donated dental supplies and provided food for the needy. “They were so modest and humble and such deep thinkers,” Jabeen said. Their views on living Islam spoke of their true character. “Hijaab is my constant reminder that we aren’t living for this world,” Yusor said. “One of the most essential characteristics in this life is to be humble, and nothing humbles you more than prayer and remembrance of God” Barakat said. “Live in such a way that if someone spoke badly of you, no one would believe,” Razan said. Such writings and lifestyles suggest they would have been considerate of their neighbors. “No one who knows these kids would ever believe they were noisy or disruptive in the least,” Jabeen said. Her voice cracks as she adds, “Allah took the best of the best.” Wajeha Barakat (not a relative), a student at North Carolina State University and a close friend of Yusor and Razan, told Islamic Horizons that “Yusor was the meaning of her name, ‘ease.’ Everything she embodied was simple, yet powerful. … helped everyone she could. My freshman year, we were both

she had [gone] to Killis, Turkey, to work and volunteered in a makeshift dental clinic for Syrian refugees.” Considering these testimonies, the Durham County grand jury’s indictment seems unjust. However, Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, in her Washington Post op-ed (Feb. 17) discusses why and what recourse remains. “Unfortunately, Hicks’s indictment is the strongest one allowed under North Carolina law, because the state’s hate crime statute does not allow sentencing enhancements for felonies, like first-degree murder. The federal hate crime statute was enacted for situations exactly like this one: to protect Americans from hate even when state laws fall short of fully vindicating their rights. This is why it should be applied in this case,” Khera said. Colon Willoughby, currently a partner at McGuireWoods, LLP, and who served as North Carolina’s top prosecutor for 27 years, argues that pursuing a hate crime conviction does not matter. “First-degree murder will result in either life without parole or the death penalty. From a prosecutor’s standpoint, it does not make sense to make this a hate crime because the purpose of a hate crime is to make sentencing more severe,” he said. However, even the killer’s defense attorney is trying to dispel the hate crime motive. On April 6, Hicks’ lawyer said that the shootings stemmed from a “mundane issue” and had nothing to do with bias. The FBI is investigating whether there were any civil rights violations and will report its findings to the Department of Justice. Proving a hate crime is a formidable task. For most crimes, a defendant’s mental state or intent and his carrying out of the criminal act must be proven. To charge one with committing a hate crime, however, the state 35

COVER STORY has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the additional element of motivation, defined as bias based on the victim’s race, religion, color, national origin, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. Unless there is clear evidence, such as an admission, hate symbols or expressions near or around the victim or the crime scene, or if the defendant was known by others to harbor hate prior to the criminal act, proving a biased motivation is a legal hurdle. Hicks’ Facebook and other online blogs screamed of a self-righteous attitude and were littered with socially reprehensible posts about various religions. “In often publicly posted Facebook rants, Hicks was brazen about his disdain for all faiths,” Associated Press’ Allen G. Breed wrote. “In one post regarding specific texts from the Koran, the Jewish Talmud, and the Bible about battling nonbelievers, he wrote: ‘I wish they would exterminate each other!’” (Feb. 16). David Zucchino of reports Hicks also wrote, “I have every right to insult a religion that goes out of its way to insult, to judge, and to condemn me as an inadequate human being — which your religion does with self-righteous gusto” (Feb. 11). Yet with seemingly equal vigor he would simultaneously champion civil liberties with such contradictory posts as, “‘I hate Islam just as much as Christianity, but they have the right to worship in this country just as much as any others do’” (Associated Press, Feb. 16). Despite the First Amendment’s free speech protections, the state may present such expressions as probative of a hate crime and that the victims were chosen because of it. When direct evidence is scant or unclear, other circumstantial evidence may be investigated: statements someone made, writings, or other types of behavior in similar situations that showed animus toward members of a protected class. With the parking and noise theories scarcely plausible, what was Hicks’ true motivation? Some condominium residents claim that he did not single out the victims, for he menaced and frightened many residents with similar angry outbursts. “One resident said Hicks showed ‘equal opportunity anger’” CNN’s Catherine E. Schoichet wrote (Feb. 11). While residents are correct that Hicks may not have singled the victims out for harassment, he certainly singled them out for murder. Moreover, the hate crime law does not 36

Craig Stephen Hicks

require that a defendant have exclusive hate for one isolated group; it requires only the defendant to feel hate for the protected class to which the victim belonged and that such hate motivated the harm. Hicks’ Facebook account reads like a billboard of militant, general anti-theism against adherents of all religions, not just Islam. For his act to be a hate crime, it is only necessary to show that he hated Muslims and shot his victims because they were Muslim. The hate law does not require that hate for Muslims be Hicks’ singular motivation, for such a crime need only be motivated in-part by hate. Thus Hicks may have been initially and primarily aroused over a parking space. But, if he chose to shoot his victims because they were Muslim, it is still a hate crime. “[Rep.] Ellison added that he had spoken with individuals in North Carolina who said there was a tense history between Hicks and the victims that was not just about parking,” wrote Sabrina Siddiqui, politics reporter at The Huffington Post (Feb. 12). “The difficulties, Ellison said, may also have stemmed from comments about the three slain Muslims’ ‘religious clothing or clothing associated with certain religious practices.’” However, Willoughby stresses only people belong to a protected class. “Your manner of dress would not be a protected class,” he said. “We do not know what the defendant’s exact comments were. A comment about religious clothing may have been purely about its lack of practicality appearance, rather than of their religion. However, when seen in the context of the defendant’s social media posts, it seems more plausible that his criticism was indeed rooted in hate for Islam. The irony of wife Karen’s testimony that the shooting had nothing to do with religion is particularly startling.”

Schoichet (, Feb. 12) quoted her as saying, “We were married for seven years and that is one thing that I do know about him. He often champions on his Facebook page for the rights of many individuals, for same-sex marriages, abortion, race. He just believed, and I know that’s just one of the things I know about him, is everyone is equal,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what you look like or who you are or what you believe.” What flagrant moral contradiction lies within a man who champions civil rights for people, yet simultaneously belies his constitutionalist beliefs by saying he “hopes Christians, Jews, and Muslims will exterminate one another”? (Associated Press, Feb. 16). The moral contradiction suggests Hicks was conflicted between his support for civil rights and his own personal standard of propriety, which espoused hatred for religious believers. It also suggests that his murderous rampage belied his defense of civil rights for Muslims. His rampage may have been a window to his true state of mind and antiMuslim beliefs, hidden away to avoid the social odium placed on bigotry. It is important for Muslim Americans to press the prosecutor for adding a hate charge to this case because they need to learn from other communities, whenever faced with similar situations, they not only publicize such incidents, but also demand explanations. 

Humaira Siddiqui, a retired attorney, has written articles on Islam, parenting, and for the anti-bullying organization: Reach. Inspire. Support. Empower (R.I.S.E.) & STAND.

The Arabic Sound Game Making learning the Arabic vowels fun and interactive for children!

I can come to your school and teach your teachers and can go into the classroom. Ola Nosseir 914-923-1408 914-433-1774 cell





Deah is the first one on the left sitting.

Yusor is fourth sitting from the left.

A Teacher Remembers Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abusalha lived lives that need to be emulated. MASSARUT JABEEN


feel compelled to write for the first time how I feel about losing three beautiful souls. Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha — three outstanding young individuals whom I knew since they were in elementary school. All three of them were involved in community service. They were compassionate, lively and extremely talented. They always were there for their family, friends, and anyone who needed help. These gems were selfless and always available to serve their alma mater. Barakat organized events to donate food and dental supplies to the needy in Durham, North Carolina. Barakat and Yusor visited Syrian refugees in Turkey and helped at a dental clinic there. It’s just amazing how I requested Yusor to interview me for StoryCorps, which broadcasts weekly on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, last year in May. Out of hundreds of students whom I have taught, she was the first one who came to my mind. When I listen to the recording now over and over again, it seems everything fell into


place, what she said about her pride being an American and still upholding her Muslim identity. The last question Yusor asked me in that interview was, “If you had the podium that you can stand on in front of the whole world, and all attention is on you, what would be the one thing that you would say?” Tears well in my eyes as I write this, and

I want to respond to it today once again. Yes, I am on the podium today and I want to address the whole world and dedicate it to dearest Deah, Yusor and Razan. To parents: Please raise your children to respect and love people regardless of their faith, race or nationality. Get to know your neighbors and be there for them. You are the ones who lay the foundation of your child’s character and personality. To educators: Teach children the importance of respecting differences of opinion and focus on similarities. Nourish global citizens, and caring individuals. Get students involved in community service and humanitarian projects. To world leaders: Work toward bringing world peace, and save lives. It will be great if our leaders today follow what Thomas Paine said: “My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” To education policymakers: Using test scores to gauge student performance




Razan with her 6th grade class is the first one from the right, sitting.

shouldn’t be the only criteria. What is more important is to gauge their involvement in their communities, global awareness, and moral values. These characteristics will promote a sense of belonging, serving humanity and mankind. To the media: Please promote humanity. Avoid creating productions that promote any sort of violent behavior and hatred against any group, regardless of their faith, race or anything that makes them different. Help our children embrace peace, love and light and protect them from negative exposure. You can definitely make a difference and touch lives. And finally to the entire world: Love, peace, light and justice will prevail. Please reflect on what Prophet Muhammad (ITALICS salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over a white except by piety and good action.” Our mission in life should be based on what John Wesley said: “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” Barakat, Yusor and Razan have left behind a legacy that will be carried on by many, and their memories will live on forever in our hearts. 

Yusor embracing Massrut Jabeen. ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015

Massarut Jabeen is the principal of Al-Iman School, Raleigh, North Carolina.




Defies Logic and Common Sense




hree young people leading exceptional lives, giving time to care for the needy, were murdered in an execution-style killing in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The accused killer, Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, entered their home and shot all three in the head: Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, (Deah means light), his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19. Deah attended the University of North Carolina Dental School and was expected to graduate in 2017. Yusor was a member of the university’s incoming dentistry class, graduating in 2019. Razan was a sophomore at North Carolina State University. Jane Weintraub, dean and alumni distinguished professor at UNC Dental School, said “Deah was known for his kindness, servicedriven heart, love of basketball and his sincerity.” Barakat’s basketball mate, Ossama Bianouni told Islamic Horizons that words cannot express his sorrow over the loss. “He was a team player, loved each and every one of us, and had immense brotherhood with all of us,” he said. The sisters’ father, Mohammad Abu-Salha, a Clayton, North Carolina, psychiatrist, in a Feb. 13 interview with United Kingdombased The Daily Mail, blamed the American media for scaremongering and bombarding people with news and images about “Islamic terrorism,” which makes them hate Muslims. “So if somebody has any conflict with you, and they already hate you, you get a bullet in the head,” he said.


Amira Ata (left) and her best friend Yusor Mohammad



Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s biting remark while visiting Mexico Feb. 15 led President Barack Obama to comment, suggesting the three were victims of a hate crime. Yet, local police, and most mainstream media organizations are calling it a parking dispute. Reports suggest Hicks had disputed with others, as well. Why didn’t he kill others, but killed only after Yusor moved there six weeks earlier after her marriage? “It’s important that law enforcement prosecute hate crimes against Muslims … It’s important that we at least admit that what happened in Chapel Hill probably was not only about a parking space,” Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison told the White House conference on Countering Violent Extremism Feb. 18-19. “This defies our sense of logic and common sense. This actually helps to support the false narrative of violent extremism; they want to make the case that America hates you, is against you, join us.” “Razan, Yusor and Deah were living, walking, breathing examples of countering violent extremism until their lives were taken away. Let us not slip into a mistaken idea that terrorism is somehow a Muslim idea,” Ellison said. Ellison said democracies show equal treatment to their citizens, if they wish to avoid radicalizing disaffected young minorities. If the killings were over parking space, then why was Razan, the hijab-wearing younger sister who was visiting that day, and parked on the street, also killed? On the day of the killings, Hicks’ desired parking space was empty. Hicks’ self-professed atheism is proffered as “defense” against the hate crime argument. Hate crime law, however, doesn’t stipulate that the defendant espouse any particular belief system. It only requires that the defendant have shown hate toward the protected group to which the victim belonged and that it motivated the crime. “I think they were targeted because they were different,” Amira Ata, Yusor’s close friend, told Fusion, Feb. 11. “I can’t understand why someone would hate them enough to kill them.”

GIVING SOULS Barakat had organized a fundraiser for Syrian refugees in Turkey. Ata says that her students were so excited to help. They collected so many toothbrushes and packages for Project Refugee Smiles that Yusor, who went with her mother to assist, had to pay extra bag fees. Razan was a regular at downtown Raleigh, not only with sandwiches for the homeless but also special messages she tucked into the sustenance. Donations to the Our Three Winners Trust Fund, set up to From left, Yusor Mohammad, Deah and Shaddy continue a Deah Barakat’s Syrian Dental Relief mission also Barakat and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. honor Yusor and Razan, is adding up. ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015

ISNA President Azhar Aziz addresses the media after the janaza.

Barakat’s last Facebook post showed him feeding the homeless in North Carolina. The #FeedTheirLegacy National Food Drive (Feb. 13-March 28) an overwhelming success, went viral, becoming a competition.

RISING ISLAMOPHOBIA Hate started spewing soon after the news broke. One commentator on the ABC News website wrote: “it is not only the family, and Muslims whine victimhood all the time — you know all that severe backlash and violent attacks after 9/11 remember? The family is distraught and you can understand their feelings — but the media is bending this as far as they can to make sure it’s a hate crime to fit their Anti Muslim violent backlash that does not exist.” Another commenter on ABC News wrote: “We don’t want Nazism for the same reason we don’t want Islam.” Comments posted on various news and media websites indicate many Americans refuse to accept the murders as a hate crime borne out of Islamophobia. In some cases, the tone seemed supportive of the killer, implying the victims had brought it upon themselves by parking in a guest space that Hicks coveted. Glenn Greenwald, lawyer, journalist, and author, and a founding editor of The Intercept, tweeted Feb. 11: “Unknown what motivated Chapel Hill murders, but it’s obviously striking how this would be talked about — quickly — if identities were reversed.” Just 16 hours before Barakat, Yusor, and Razan were murdered, Mustafa Mattan, 28, a Somali Canadian and a University of Ottawa health sciences graduate, was answering a knock at his home when he was shot through the door by an anonymous assailant Feb. 12 in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Mattan, who had lived in Canada since he was 2 years old, was working an extra job to save for his wedding. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police called it a homicide but the community considers it as a hate crime. On Dec. 4, 2014, Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein, 15, a Somali American high school student and a hafiz living in Kansas City, Missouri, was killed in a hit-and-run crash that is being investigated as a hate crime. The accused killer, a local Somali Christian, had been harassing the community with anti-Islamic taunts and violent threats. Ahmed al-Jumaili, a 36-year old Iraqi refugee, was shot and killed in Dallas March 5 as he and his wife and brother-in-law took photos of their first snowfall. He had arrived in U.S. just 20 days earlier. Jumaili’s wife, Zahraa, wore a hijab. The police ruled out hate as a motive for the killing. He was the 10th Muslim murdered in five weeks.

HONORING THEIR MEMORIES Upon learning about an avid fan’s death, Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry tweeted Feb. 12: “#RIP to my fan and from what I hear a great human being @arabprodigy30, his wife & sister-in-law. Horrible tragedy & prayers to his family!” ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015

He didn’t stop there. When Curry took the court Feb. 14 at New York City’s Barclays Center on All-Star Saturday Night, he honored the memory of his fellow North Carolinian. Cliff Smith, 75, of Washington, D.C., who protested the 2003 Iraq war, was at the Washington, D.C., vigil holding a poster reading, “Islam is not the enemy.” “I feel this whole thing against Islam has just gotta stop,” Smith told the News & Observer on Feb. 12. Islamic Networks Group co-founder Ameena Jandali first met Barakat when he was 18, when her son Zubair went to wed Suzanne Barakat. “Deah Barakat was without exaggeration the nicest young man I have ever met,” Jandali told Islamic Horizons. “He was in all ways possible a true reflection of his name, ‘light’ and ‘blessings.’” “What I remember most about him from that time was his love of sports, his family and children,” Jandali said. “He was a loving son and brother, any mother’s dream son, but this love extended far beyond his family. He had a way of making people feel special, young and old alike, with his loving, caring manner and his magical smile that could light up a room.” After attending the trio’s funeral, Jandali said it was “inspiring and comforting to see the outpouring of grief and love across the nation and the world.”

Deah Shaddy Barakat's sister Suzanne with her family, addressing the press conference.

“(It’s) a testimony to the fact that these three young people were truly exceptional, which is why their tragic deaths have impacted both those who knew them and those that didn’t,” she said. “Deah, Yusor, and Razan were simultaneously devout and dedicated Muslims and true Americans, authentically and seamlessly combining the best of both: academic success, love of sports — especially basketball — and a dedication to helping and serving the needy, a tradition that is as much a part of America as it is an important injunction in Islam.” Yusor and Razan’s close friend, Wajeha Barakat (no relation), told Islamic Horizons that Razan was fully confident in her unconventional talents. “Razan was the most artistic individual,” she said. “It manifested itself in how she dressed, how she loved, how she carried herself. Razan was incredibly generous, so much that she herself did not realize it. One time when Razan came over, she brought over a tub of my favorite ice cream flavor, and guarded it from everyone the entire day, saving it for me.” The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ website is bulging with reports of hate crimes carried out against Muslims. Muslims living as minorities, especially in the United States and Europe, face great challenges. Much more needs to be done to make Islamophobia a culpable crime, just like laws protecting other communities. 



Legislating Hate Can alliances of faiths defend against hate legislation?

District Court to block the law as a violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion. The court granted the temporary injunction preventing the law from being implemented, and later issued a permanent injunction blocking the law. For the moment, it seemed the anti-Muslim hate machine had run into a roadblock.




onservative members of the well-financed Islamophobia network have targeted Islam, Muslims and the Muslim community for more than a decade. Beginning in 2010, however, the Islamophobia movement began using a new tool — the law. Instead of attempting to manipulate current laws against Muslims, the movement created its own. A federal court voided the movement’s first attempt to attack Islam and sharia, or Islamic law, holding it unconstitutional. Since then, however, after learning from experience, the network successfully has put forward nearly identical legislation in eight states, effectively making it illegal for courts in these states to rely on “foreign laws” in certain types of cases.

TARGETING SHARIA In 2010, Oklahoma became the first state 42

to adopt a statute that makes it a criminal offense to follow, apply or rely upon sharia law. Anyone who obtains a sharia-compliant mortgage, includes Islamic inheritance rules in their will, follows a prenuptial contract that applies Islamic legal concepts, applies provisions of an Islamic marriage contract, even seeks to slaughter a goat, lamb, or cow at a slaughterhouse according to Islamic slaughtering methods, or prays in a public place could be arrested, charged with a crime, fined, or even sent to prison. The law explicitly was aimed at the free practice of Islam as a religion and its rules as a legal and societal methodology. After Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed the law on April 22, 2013, attorney Muneer Awad, then-director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)-Oklahoma, filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary and permanent injunction in United States

In the summer of 2009, a New York-based fundamentalist Hasidic Jewish attorney, David Yerushalmi, who works closely with rabid Islamophobes, such as Pamela Geller, Frank Gaffney and Robert Spencer, wrote a “model” legislation called the American Laws for American Courts Act. This template bill, aimed at the Muslim community and sharia itself, does not mention Islam, sharia, Islamic law, or Muslims anywhere in the text. It seeks instead to ban courts from using “foreign” legal codes that according to them do not provide the same basic civil rights protections found in the U.S. and states’ constitutions. It singles out cases involving divorce, child custody disputes, business contracts, while also categorically prohibiting the use of any foreign law or outside body (like an arbitration panel) that may apply a foreign law from a system that does not provide American-style civil rights. To avoid the appearance of trying to limit the constitutionally-protected right of the free exercise of religion, the authors omitted references to any specific religion or legal doctrine, including Islam or sharia, while assuming that sharia would be the only “legal” system that would be devoid of the guarantees of “due process, freedom of religion, speech, … press and any right of privacy or marriage.” So far, the legislation has been introduced in 33 states, of which eight have passed it into law, legislatures in 24 states have considered the measure, and one state (Oklahoma) has had it blocked by the courts. Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, South Dakota, Tennessee, and North Carolina have adopted it as law. In most of the remaining 24 states, the legislation either did not make it to a vote, was voted down in at least one house of the legislature or was vetoed by the governor. In Florida, the measure was introduced three times — the first two times the proposed law did not make it to a vote of the Florida House by the end of the legislative term, and the last time failed to pass by only one vote. On the surface, the legislation appears ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015


David Yerushalmi

to be religion-neutral, however, readings of the committee hearings and discussions in the legislatures of the states where it was introduced provides a glimpse into the process and reasoning behind this movement. In Florida, for example, the hearings and on-record discussions contained examples of only one kind — the application of sharia in the courts. When asked to provide data and the details of actual situations where sharia was applied in the courts, the legislation’s sponsors could not provide a single example. In each state, the only justification for this proposed law was to stop the spread and application of sharia, despite the fact that sharia had never been used in the states’ courts.

Florida, to oppose the legislation. The rationale behind the religious opposition was that just as sharia is a legal code that is “foreign” to the laws of the United States, so too are the Jewish Halacha and Catholic Canon law, and the legislation may affect these faithbased communities in their own religious practice. For example, Jewish law provides for specific rules pertaining to inheritance rights, funeral and burial, circumcision of newborns, and even aspects of family law — all of which could be prohibited, if the issue were to become relevant in a court case. The Alaska Council of Bishops, the Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee, Emerge USA, United Voices, and every local CAIR chapter has also opposed the legislation, often being at the forefront of challenges to these laws.

PROPOSED LAW’S CRITICS The legislation has come under fire from a wide-range of critics. The American Bar Association, the nation’s largest and most influential association of lawyers, opposes it as “duplicative of safeguards already enshrined in federal and state law.” The rationale is that the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, makes the constitution, the laws of the federal government and those of the states the “supreme law of the land” such that no other legal system or code could ever be used in the courts. The American Civil Liberties Union also has publicly opposed the legislation in many states, and continues to be a staunch advocate against it. Other organizations, particularly those associated with religious groups, also have taken joined the fight. The Jewish AntiDefamation League (ADL) stood together with CAIR and other groups in committee hearings in a number of states, including ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015

Blatant proof that the American Laws for American Courts Act solely targets Islam is that proponents claim Jewish and Catholic Canon laws would not be affected and that Islamic law is “inherently hostile to [American] constitutional liberties.”

RACIST AND BIGOTED HISTORY The ADL and the Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal rights advocacy group, have labeled the legislation and Yerushalmi as “anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and antiblack bigotry.” Every organization that has proposed the legislation or advocated in its favor has ties to Yerushalmi and anti-Muslim bigotry. Yerushalmi’s Society of Americans for National Existence compared following the

sharia in any form to the crime of sedition and punishable by 20 years in prison. He has ties to the American Public Policy Alliance, Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy (which has announced that the U.S. is “vulnerable” to the encroachment of Islamic law), noted Islamophobe Pamela Geller’s ACT for America and Stop the Islamization of America (which has opposed every new mosque project and funded anti-Muslim advertisements on buses and subway stations), and American Freedom Defense Initiative. Yerushalmi has established himself as one of the 10 people in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Anti-Muslim Inner Circle.” HIs American Freedom Law Center filed lawsuits to force subway and public transit systems to allow demeaning, alarmist and racist advertisements. He has either been a part of, represented, or provided legal advice to this cadre of groups advocating hate and intolerance. Yerushalmi has advocated for criminalizing any adherence to Islamic law, the deportation of all Muslim non-citizens, and a total ban on Muslim immigration. Only 17 states have not yet been approached by proponents of the legislation, and some, such as Texas, are still considering it. The rampant growth of anti-Muslim hysteria has supported this movement, despite the fact that existing law would not allow sharia to be implemented in American courts, nor are there any meaningful cases to justify the enactment of this antiMuslim law. Muslim Americans need to build coalitions to fight Islamophobia being sold as a defense against sharia. Anti-sharia activists may be digging their own ditches to the detriment of all as the same laws could be applied to other faiths. 

Asad Ba-Yunus, a Florida attorney, is member at large of the ISNA Majlis as Shura



Community Connectivity How one online tool is keeping Muslims informed about news and events. BY HUMAIRA SIDDIQUI


magine you are a fledgling organization planning a fundraiser. You know the importance of scheduling the right date. You take great care not to schedule your fundraiser too close to other fundraisers and ensure your guests are not double-booked. But how do you do this? Imagine you feel disconcerted amidst a tense political climate and looming religious intolerance toward Muslims. You feel impassioned to create a more truthful, positive image of Islam. Where can you go to help? Imagine you have a teenage son. He wants to start a youth group in the Muslim community. After a weekly halaqa, he thinks the young men can engage in a spirited game of basketball. He seeks your advice about where to post the advertisement. What will you suggest? Questions like these prompted Ubaid Mahmood to create UmmahNow. He knew Muslims needed an easy way to access a community calendar of events, meetings, and announcements. Mahmood used his background in information technology to redesign his brother’s public service organization, Southern California Association of Muslim Activists — started in 1999 with a group of renowned scholars and community members — into a streamlined, single-offering business service renamed Launched in 2011, UmmahNow steadily gained momentum to become a highly effective communication and business tool for organizations and individuals. It is a burgeoning online hub of nearly 4,500 diverse Muslim businesses, organizations and groups that post events and meetings in a central, public calendar. It offers regional portals for organizations and groups to post their upcoming events and invite attendees. UmmahNow’s platform is established in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Houston, and the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. It offers numerous benefits to


Ubaid Mahmood

event planners and subscribers. Organizations and groups realize growth is dependent on publicity, which demands being connected with one’s community. Information posted on UmmahNow is easily accessible, and modifications are easy to make. Users may avoid double-booking events. The site ensures that organizations and groups posting events are active entities so users avoid relying on information from defunct groups. Subscribers also receive weekly digests providing a summary of all events posted on the calendar for the next few months. UmmahNow also has a unifying effect on the community through its “no bias” policy. As long as the organization, group, event, or meeting abides by mainstream Islamic

ideology, UmmahNow will not refuse to post an event. The policy is guided by the site manager’s belief that unified Muslims create greater synergy within the community. In an increasingly diverse American Muslim community, this policy helps draw from a limitless consumer base. It also acts as an ecumenical conduit for dialogue between Muslims and people of other faiths and traditions, since many non Muslim organizations, such as interfaith groups, fall within the boundaries of the platform’s publication guidelines. An added benefit is posting events is free, and if an organization or group needs technical support to post an event, moderators will assist. Helping Hand for Relief and Develop-


Brian Loo out in the Forest.

ment (HHRD) has seen numerous benefits since using UmmahNow. It has inspired more volunteers, enabled advance scheduling, and allowed the nonprofit to promote events using marketing features, such as images, video links, and trailers. “ is definitely something we do not neglect to use,” said Karim Hakim, HHRD outreach manager for the west region. Possibly the greatest benefit UmmahNow provides is helping newcomers to the community or travelers avoid feeling isolated. “I have finally come across a site dedicated to Muslims that keeps us in the loop, not only about the major events that are taking place in our community, but also conferences, classes and programs that are happening around us,” said Jenna Soloria, a subscriber. So how does a community get a regional page on UmmahNow? The first step is to vote for the new location on their website, Popularly requested locations are selected. The next step is to enlist subscribers and moderators. Three Washington, D.C., residents, Brian Loo, Pervez Bhatti, and Suphia Dadabhoy saw the need for a regional UmmahNow for the metropolitan area and reached out to Mahmood with the idea. Mahmood agreed on the condition that they find 750 subscribers in the month before last Ramadan. A second goal was to get two dozen organizations to pledge to use the service. The D.C. trio and their fellow moderators enlisted friends and organizations, promoted the idea on social media, listserves, and local Jumuah prayers. The effort drew more than 750 online votes and led to the birth of during Ramadan 2014. also is on Facebook and Twitter. 

Humaira Siddiqui, a retired attorney, has written articles on Islam, parenting, and for the anti-bullying organization, Reach. Inspire. Support. Empower (R.I.S.E.) and STAND.


A good deed done regularly! Through Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) ISNA can receive your donation each month automatically from your bank account or credit card, saving you postage and time.

Be a key that opens the door to ISNA’s long-term financial stability:

Donate through EFT!




UNHOLY WAR: Terror in the Name of Islam

Is the community doing enough to minimize radicalization? BY PARVEZ AHMED


being irrational, poses an existential threat to Muslims, not only where these groups have taken hold, but also where Muslims live as minorities. Each beheading spectacle overseas triggers a backlash here. Children, radicalized over social media, also are incited into joining with such groups overseas. Their parents’ anguish cannot be understated.

RADICALIZATION OF MUSLIM YOUTH The Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security’s 2014 report shows 25 Muslim Americans were associated with violent terrorism in 2014, bringing the total to 250 since Sept. 11. Of these, 109 were accused of plotting against targets in the United States. This number may be small but certainly not negligible. When such miscreants are successful, the resulting harm is widespread and devastating. The Boston

Marathon bombing killed three spectators and injured 264 others, of whom at least 14 required amputations. The attack put a major American city on virtual lockdown during the ensuing manhunt. Kurzman’s study found the death toll as a result of these plots was 50 — in that same time period 200,000 people were murdered in the United States. Much of the recent spike in terrorism cases involving Muslim Americans is related to individuals seeking to join overseas terrorist groups, mainly the Nusra Front (an al-Qaeda affiliate) and ISIS in Syria. “Since 2013, 29 people in the United States have been charged or detained as juveniles on allegations of supporting the Islamic State,” The New York Times reported March 22. The demographics of these 29 defy easy description. While 11 are teenagers, the rest are between 20 and 47 years old. Eight

American Muslim Terrorism Suspects and Perpetrators, 2001-2014 Total Source: Chales Kurzman, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


he Fort Hood killings, the Times Square terror plot, and the Boston marathon bombing were all ostensibly carried out in the name of Islam. All terrorists are not Muslims and not all Muslims are terrorists. Yet, a disproportionate number of perpetrators of violent attacks claim doing so in the name of Islam and defense of Muslims. University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database shows from 2000 to 2013, ISIS or ISIL, Boko Haram, Taliban, and al-Qaeda, claiming to act in the name of Islam, killed 23,899 people and injured 31,140. In 2013, they were responsible for seven out of 10 people killed in terrorist incidents worldwide. Terrorism is indeed a threat whose impact far exceeds any body count. It elicits a strong security response by national governments including, but not limited to, the United States. Many of the security measures have curtailed civil liberties and often have targeted Muslims disproportionately. Terrorism’s economic cost surpasses the direct loss of life and property from the incident, according to a 2011 RAND Corporation report. Increases to security costs, additional insurance premiums, and added military expenditure often outweigh the original attack’s direct economic impact. Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz said the loss of life and property from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks totaled $55 billion in New York alone. However, increased security ($589 billion), decreased economic activity ($123 billion), and other costs have totaled roughly $3.3 trillion. Boko Haram, ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Taliban have killed more Muslims than people of other faiths. Thus, their claims of using “prophetic methodology” is absurd. The idea of killing Muslims to “save” Islam besides

US Targets

Non-US Targets


19 7








15 0 26 18 1 1 2 2001

0 7 7








7 7

10 10



26 16





2 1 3 2008






6 25







41 terrorist plots since Sept. 11, four of them before operational stage.

Major Groups Engaged in Terrorism in the Name of Islam, 2000-2013 Attacks




Source: Institute of Economics and Peace




9115 8081



2757 1759





are women and six are converts. However, according to the FBI, these people are a fraction of the suspects being tracked or under government surveillance. In 2014, FBI Director James Comey said the figure will be many times more than 100, but could not give a precise estimate because they are “so hard to track.” Only nine of 35 people returning from serving with terrorist groups abroad engaged in plots aimed at targets in the United States, two of which succeeded — the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers, the Tsarnov brothers, who allegedly trained in Dagestan; and in 2010, Faisal Shahzad, who trained with militants in Pakistan, unsuccessfully attempted to detonate a car bomb in New York City’s Times Square. Despite the increase in terrorist activity in the name of Islam abroad, few Muslim Americans are joining and fewer are returning from terrorist training camps. Financial support from Muslim Americans for such so-called jihad remains low. “Muslim Americans have little contact with terrorist activities in the United States or overseas,” according to the Triangle Center report. University of Maryland’s START Center found there has been more radicalization of people from the American far right than from among Muslims in the United States. A 2010 study, “Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim-Americans,” jointly produced by the Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, concluded that American mosques deter the spread ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015

Boko Haram



“Radicalization is complex. Yet a thinlysourced, reductionist view of how people become terrorists has gained unwarranted legitimacy in some counterterrorism circles. … Only by analyzing what we know about radicalization and the government’s response to it can we be sure that these reactions are grounded in fact rather than stereotypes and truly advance our efforts to combat terrorism,” according to New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice 2011 report, “Rethinking Radicalization.” Some officials within law enforcement agencies and much of the mainstream media have developed simplistic theories of how Muslim Americans may become radicalized.

ONE OF THE BEST ANTIDOTES TO RADICALIZATION IS BETTER SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND ACCEPTING THE FACT THAT RESPONSIBILITY TOWARD CITIZENSHIP MUST ACCOMPANY THE ASSERTION OF RIGHTS. of extremism by building youth programs, sponsoring anti-violence forums and often placing renewed scrutiny on the curriculum being taught. It was a Muslim street vendor who thwarted the Times Square bomber, and Muslims in Irvine, California, concerned about incitement of violence by a fellow Muslim reported him to the police, only to later learn that he was an FBI informant. It was the leadership of the Islamic Center in Jacksonville, Florida, that reported to the FBI a person who was attempting to recruit youth to join jihad in the Middle East. It was the so-called underwear bomber’s father, worried that his son posed a threat, who reported him to the authorities. This father placed the safety of others over his own paternal instincts. The largest single source of initial information-involved tips from Muslim Americans. A 2011 Muslim Public Affairs Council study reported that Muslim communities helped foil 14 out of

These theories suggest the path to terrorism has a fixed trajectory with identifiable markers. They posit the existence of a “religious conveyor belt” that leads from grievance or personal crisis to religiosity to the adoption of radical beliefs to finally terrorism. Little empirical evidence supports such a theory. However, actual connections to terrorist activity may be discernible, if community members and its leadership remain alert. For example, Sheldon Bell from Jacksonville, Florida, was reported to law enforcement not because he dressed conservatively or followed religious rituals meticulously. Rather, he came to the authorities’ attention because a parent, concerned that his son was being encouraged to join violent jihad in Syria, reported Bell. The assumed link between religiosity and terrorism alienates the very community whose cooperation is crucial to defend against terrorists who claim to act in the name of Islam. “Can a community 47

MUSLIMS IN ACTION simultaneously be treated as suspect and also be expected to function as a partner?” The Brennan report notes. In Marc Sageman’s book, “Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century” (University of Pennsylvania Press; 2008), he asserts most terrorists lack religious knowledge and were secular individuals until just before joining an extremist group. “A well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalization,” he concluded. Sageman, who analyzed more than 500 cases to understand how people “evolve into terrorists,” describes the radicalization process as having several stages but emphasizes there was no linear progression from one stage to the next. Muslim Americans should understand these stages and act to limit radicalization of their youth, no matter how small the number might seem. Steps such as public and private denunciation of terrorism, nipping budding extremist ideas, social networking, and political engagement have been helpful but need further enhancement for better sustainability. While Muslim leaders and imams have issued general condemnations of terrorism they often have not been specific

in naming groups, and more importantly, have not directly refuted the claims about Quranic or Prophetic justifications for violent actions.

WHAT MUSLIM COMMUNITIES CAN DO NOW Groups such as ISIS proclaim a messianic vision that portends an apocalyptic endof-time battle between Muslims and the kuffar (many Muslims have been labelled kafir after fatwas proclaiming them as murtads i.e. those who renounce Islam by their actions). Those joining their ranks believe that they are doing so for a divine cause. In the aforementioned article in the New York Times, one of the people who left the U.S. to join ISIS described his mission as, “The Words of Allah, The Quran, that’s what brainwashed me.” He ignored pleas from his sister to come back saying, “I want jannah for all of us.” Growing up, this person seemed like a normal kid who loved playing basketball. How do otherwise normal kids get brainwashed into joining a cult such as ISIS? ISIS uses social media and the internet to attract disenfranchised youth searching

for meaning. Their assertion that they are giving believers a chance to earn Jannah is tantalizing to some. Mere condemnation of the ISIS ideology is not enough. Imams and scholars need to refute the dangers from the lack of contextualization of the sacred texts that ISIS uses to propagate their dark vision. One of the hadiths frequently used by ISIS is the following, “The Last Hour would not come until the Romans land at al-A’maq or in Dabiq. An army consisting of the best (soldiers) of the people of the earth at that time will come from Medina (to counteract them)”— narrated by Abu Hurrairah and reported in Sahih Muslim (Vol. 41, Chapter 9, Hadith# 6924). ISIS uses this hadith to imply that the great battle between the “Roman West” and “Islam” is imminent, and the believers should join ISIS given that only they claim to be the one khalifa (caliphate) on earth today. They invoke hadiths that suggest pledging allegiance to the khalifa is a sacred duty of every Muslim. Not coincidentally, Dabiq (the name of the place mentioned in the hadith) also is the name of ISIS’s slick magazine that not only shows graphic images of beheadings and murder but also


September 4 – 7, 2015 48

Chicago, IL


justifies them by quoting sacred scriptures. Left unchallenged, such spurious interpretations will assume an air of authenticity. Imams, scholars and leaders need to directly refute the un-contextualized interpretation of such hadiths and highlight the dangers that stem from excessive literal reading of sacred texts. One of the best antidotes to radicalization is better social integration and accepting the fact that responsibility toward citizenship must accompany the assertion of rights. Complaining about Islamophobia but doing little to promote dialogue and understanding creates an attitude of victimhood, which in its most radical form can lead to violence. The Dutch Clingendael Centre for Strategic Studies 2006 study, “Countering Radicalization,” provides a way to measure social integration, arguing that better social integration can reduce chances of being radicalized. The study asserts there are 10 factors necessary for social integration: Acceptance — perception of being accepted in society. Welcome — feeling of being welcomed or warmly greeted by society. Integration — involvement in activi-

ties outside of individual ethnic or religious groups. Entitlement — feelings about their citizenship rights. Equal opportunity — perception of fairness in professional life. Social access — feeling about being accepted in or having easy access to local clubs, sporting groups, etc. Loyalty — loyalty or allegiance toward country of residence. Citizenship pride — satisfaction in being a member of the national community. Social values — attitude toward social values, such as freedom, human rights, etc., of the broader society. Language — fluency in the language of the country in which they live. Scoring low on these factors increases the risk of radicalization. The propensity to radicalize is a multifaceted and complex process that needs help from the Muslim community and society at-large. Community organizations need to proactively institute programs that allow young Muslim Americans to develop a positive attitude toward their society even when facing hardships. Redressing grievances in an inclusive way

can engender positive feelings toward citizenship and foster loyalty. First-generation immigrant Muslims also need to be better integrated into American civic society. Youth alienation is closely linked to their parents’ insular attitudes. While Muslim Americans are better educated and earn more than the average American, the hours or dollars committed to volunteer activity is relatively low. The average American volunteers about 50 hours a year and donates more than 3 percent of pretax earnings to charity. A 2012 Pew Research Center report suggests nearly one in two Muslim Americans attends weekly services at their mosque. However, given that fundraising remains a constant struggle at local mosques, it is safe to conclude that the rate of charity by Muslim Americans is not at par with that of their fellow citizens. Progress has been made over the past decade with more Muslim Americans voting than ever before and getting involved in local civic projects, such as feeding the homeless and establishing free medical clinics. While the Muslim American leadership, particularly its plethora of civic organizations such as ISNA, Muslim Public Affairs

Stories of Resilience: Strengthening the American Muslim Narrative CONVENTION HIGHLIGHTS: Main Sessions (ISNA, MSA, MYNA)  •  More than 200 renowned speakers Parallel Sessions  •  Bazaar with 550 booths  •  Entertainment Program Interfaith Reception  •  Qira’at Competition  •  CSRL Luncheon Matrimonial Banquets  •  Art Exhibit  •  Islamic Film Festival Health Fair  •  Meet the Author Program  •  Photography Exhibit Children’s Program  • Babysitting


Contact:  Phone: (317) 838-8129  •  Email:  •  Web:


MUSLIMS IN ACTION Council, and Council on American-Islamic Relations, remain committed to interfaith work, engagement at the local grassroots level is usually limited to a few imams and the occasional Islamic center leadership. Muslim Americans’ worries about the increasingly negative perception of Islam and Muslims in the public square are legitimate. However, anecdotal evidence suggests many Muslim Americans are ignorant about the religious practices of other faith communities. Understanding is a two-way street. Mutuality must be the cornerstone of the quest to make society more civil. While many churches and synagogues invite Muslim speakers to address their congregations, examples of reciprocal gesture by mosques is few and far between. Ignorance breeds radicalization. Insularity allows victimization to fester.

STEPS IN COUNTERING RADICALIZATION Embrace pluralism — Mosque communities need to develop and project an attitude that is inclusive of the multitude of ways in which Islam is practiced, from the orthodox to the liberal. Pluralism does not mean a mere toleration of diversity. Harvard University’s Pluralism Project defines pluralism as “energetic engagement with diversity” and “active seeking of understanding across lines of difference.” This needs to be applied in interfaith and intra-faith relations. A greater appreciation of diversity can counter the poison of takfir (accusations of heresy) spilling over the Internet and social media. Pluralism, in general, particularly intra-faith, can become a bulwark against takfiri ideology. Political mobilization — Increased political mobilization will stunt radicalization by providing Muslims here and abroad a model for peaceful resolution of conflict though democracy and working within the confines of law. Political mobilization with a broader coalition will increase the chances of success, which will draw out more members of the community to rally behind common causes. American political and civic leaders must step forward to aid integration through regular contact with local Muslim communities. Relationship with law enforcement — Muslim American leaders find it increasingly difficult to trust law enforcement in light of the many media exposes about FBI infiltration of the Muslim American community and how agents goaded vulnerable youth toward radical views. However, cynicism must not replace pragmatism. Efforts toward meaning50

ful dialogue with law enforcement need to be sustained and enhanced. Youth need to be encouraged to seek careers in law enforcement. Serving one’s country, whether through military, police or civil service, should not only be encouraged but also celebrated. Consistent presence of law enforcement and civic society officials at Muslim events also can help create mutual trust. Access — Nearly two out of three Muslim Americans are first-generation immigrants. Some Muslims, especially refugees from war-torn nations, may struggle to provide for their families often due to poor English language skills or lack of higher education. Parents may work double or triple shifts to make ends meet with little time for their children, particularly the youth. Such youth are often vulnerable to unsavory networks, particularly through social media. Muslim Americans, in partnership with public agencies, need to provide resources such as youth centers, health clinics, and English language courses to struggling immigrant families. The community must invest in developing institutions that will help youth practice Islam within the context of American pluralism. Despite the setbacks on civil liberties, the United States remains a land where Muslims can practice Islam freely. Muslims must use the freedom they enjoy to effectively respond to concerns about Islam’s compatibility to American values. The publications of cartoons ridiculing sacred figures, such as in the Paris satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo,

and Danish newspapers, pose a particular challenge to balancing between freedom of speech and freedom of religion. While speaking out against a perceived affront to Islam, Muslims must uphold the principles of free speech, no matter how unpalatable that may sometime seem. The First Amendment gives Muslims the right to freely practice Islam without coercion from government. The same amendment also guarantees freedom of speech, albeit with certain limits. Muslims cannot demand selective enforcement of First Amendment rights. Moreover, taken holistically, Islam also upholds free speech rights and teaches an unequivocal commitment to the rule of law. Citizens have the right to protest unfair treatment, and if they believe laws to be unjust, they should work to change such laws through peaceful advocacy. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery. It remains an inspiring reminder about non-violence in the face of unimaginable oppression. Integration lies in embracing pluralism, engaging in civic work and mobilizing politically. Random violence is immoral and ineffective. It can never be justified no matter how severe the underlying grievance — this message needs constant reinforcement from the mosque pulpit to the kitchen table. 

Parvez Ahmed, is the director of the Center for Sustainable Business Practices, and associate professor of finance at Coggin College of Business, University of North Florida in Jacksonville.


A New York Muslim Enclave Grows



alfway between two major North American centers of Muslim population — Toronto and the New Jersey/New York metropolitan area — lies the burgeoning Muslim community of Horseheads, New York. In New York parlance, upstate refers to anywhere statewide beyond New York City and its suburbs. Horseheads could be likened to the Dearborn-Detroit relationship of upstate New York. New York State’s oft-overlooked southern strip, west of Westchester County, is referred to as the “Southern Tier,” near a tourist destination known as the Finger Lakes region that includes Ithaca — home of Cornell University and NASCAR’s Watkins Glen International racetrack. Within this wide swath of land — other than in Binghamton — there is only one mosque, the Islamic Association of the Finger Lakes (IAFL;, located not too far from the Elmira Corning regional airport. As with many American mosques, IAFL got its start in the 1970s as a prayer space. Members relied on a church in Corning to provide space for Friday prayers. Anticipating growth, that small cluster of Muslims acquired a vacant firehouse in Big Flats, New York, in 1978. In 1981, this became IAFL’s new home. The next wave of Muslims to populate and grow the community comprised largely professionals from Pakistan. They saw the potential and need for having an established Islamic community and eventually brought in Imam M. Zaman Marwat to lead the community. From humble beginnings coming from ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015

a poor community in Pakistan to receiving a highly competitive education scholarship, Marwat ended up in Florida and eventually snowy Big Flats. IAFL first was introduced to Marwat through a visiting Rochester-area imam. Community leaders saw Marwat, who has a doctorate in religion from Temple University, as a good fit as their full-time imam and offered him the position. Marwat initially declined. After several years of not finding the right person to lead the community, IAFL leaders again sought out Marwat, who had served as imam and director at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, Florida.

Marwat accepted the offer. Today, nearly seven years later, the community is grateful for having such a dedicated and committed leader. In addition to leading all the prayers, Marwat provides Islamic education to children every Sunday, teaches Arabic grammar lessons twice a week to help people better understand the language of the Quran, makes himself available to answer the community’s questions and provide tutoring help. For 30 years, the congregation held its daily prayer services in a re-purposed old fire station. Today, IAFL has expanded exponentially beyond the original core congregation. The mosque proudly displays a poster of its members’ countries of origin. Like so many mosques in the United States, IAFL also has outgrown its original building and is seeking a larger space. Ramadan prayers are overflowing, parking is insufficient, and structurally the building itself needs continual repair. Moving closer to the homes of many members and being near shopping and commercial areas, IAFL just recently finalized plans to build a new $1.5 million center in Horseheads, New York. The planned 4,750-square-foot mosque, to be constructed on a 2.5-acre lot, will have 70 parking spaces. It eventually will be expanded to 9,042 square feet with 20 additional parking spaces. The building will include a schoolroom for Islamic religious instruction and an interfaith room. The project’s initial phase will cost just under $1 million, Marwat said. 

Muhammad Jehan Carlson Abdullah, an active community member who works in transportation security, embraced Islam in 2011.

ELECTRONIC FUNDS TRANSFER — A good deed done regularly! You can make a significant impact on the quality of ISNA’s services by contributing through EFT. As little as $10 per month will help ISNA to serve the Muslim American community through effective communication to media organizations, government and civic agencies on behalf of all Muslim Americans.

Sign up today to donate through EFT.



The Uighur Mandela Will the world awake to human rights violations being perpetrated by China in Xinjiang? ISLAMIC HORIZONS STAFF


Tohti had long expected this day to come. In a November 2009 interview with Al Jazeera, he spoke of being prepared for a long term in prison or even a death sentence. “That just might be the price our people have to pay,” he said. “Though I may have to go, perhaps that will draw more attention to the plight of our people. People will think more about it and perhaps more people will know about me.” The court-ordered confiscation of assets has left Tohti’s wife and three children without any means of support. “ISNA denounces the cruel and inhumane treatment of professor Tohti and calls for his release,” said Sayyid M. Syeed, national director of ISNA’s Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances, upon learning of Tohti’s sentence. He added, the Chinese government should continue dialogue with professor Tohti toward understanding and reconciliation between the Uighurs and Han Chinese controlling majority. Human Rights Watch said Tohti’s prosecution was “a disturbing example of politicized show trials and intolerance for peaceful criticism.”

n Sept. 23, 2014, after a two-day trial, Ilham Tohti, an economist who had been teaching at Minzu University in Beijing was sentenced to life in prison and all his assets were COVETED RESOURCES The Chinese have long eyed the province. confiscated for “separatism” by the Intermediate People’s The Islamic Uighur Kingdom of East TurkeCourt of Urumqi, the capital of his native Xinjiang (officially dubbed the stan maintained its independence until “Uighur autonomous region”). Autonomous regions, however, essentially 1876 when the Manchu Empire invaded East Turkestan. After eight years of war, are seen as integral parts of China. After Tohti’s sentencing, dissident writer Wang Lixiong tweeted that the authorities had made Tohti the “Uighur Mandela.” A scholar, Tohti has spoken critically of China’s policies toward the Uighurs. He is considered a moderate voice for the 12 million Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking mostly Muslim minority that feels economically disadvantaged by China’s harsh ethnic policies — including government-induced colonization by ethnic majority Han Chinese to dilute the natives’ proportion from more than 90 percent of the population in 1949 to nearly 45 percent today. To further keep Xinjiang divided along ethnic lines and prevent the minorities from organizing against the Han, the Chinese state established ethnic prefectures and autonomous counties within Xinjiang, which comprises 10 different ethnic groups. On Aug. 18, 2000, China began applying the family planning policy — limiting each


family to one child — to ethnic minorities, including the Uighurs. Though Tohti always has advocated nonviolence and was a member of the Communist Party, the court said his writings for Uighur Online, a website he founded in 2006, had “encouraged his fellow Uighurs to use violence.” His blog called Uighurbiz. net is no longer working, and several of his students who worked on the website also have been detained. Since 2009, Tohti and his family had been under surveillance, house arrest and detention. In January 2014, the government captured him. After being secretly detained for six months, he was tortured and denied the right to see a defense lawyer between January and June 2014. According to the Uighur American Association (UAA), Tohti said he was deprived of food and provided with minimal water for days at a time, and chained in leg irons.

the empire annexed East Turkestan into its territory and renamed it “Xinjiang” meaning “new territory” or “new frontier” on Nov. 18, 1884. The name Xinjiang implies that, contrary to Chinese claims, the region did not belong to China from historical times. The region is surrounded by mountains on three sides and is situated roughly 2,500 miles from Beijing. “In 1884, Turkestan was incorporated to Manchu Empire as Xinjiang (“new border”). Between 1884 and 1949, 42 armed revolts occurred against the military governors. Seized in 1949 by the Chinese troops, the Uighur autonomous region was created in 1955. Independentists claim they never stopped demonstrations and clandestine actions until now,” according to Courrier International (No. 440, April 8, 1999). The short-lived state, established in December 1933 and suppressed in February 1934 with Soviet help, in present day Xinjiang, used both names, “Republic of ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015

EXILES AND ACTIVISTS SAY CHINESE CONTROLS ON THE RELIGION AND CULTURE OF THE UIGHUR PEOPLE HAS CAUSED MORE VIOLENCE THAN WELL-ORGANIZED MILITANT GROUPS. Uighuristan” or “Islamic Republic of East Turkestan.” This state used a star and crescent flag of triangular shape. Under the much-hyped Western Development Program, China has invested heavily in infrastructure, and oil and gas extraction. However, many of the best jobs and contracts for these projects benefit the Han. Xinjiang abuts South and Central Asian nations, including Pakistan and oil- and energy-rich Kazakhstan. It is of great strategic and economic value to Beijing. In September 2014, China signed a slew of contracts with neighboring nations to import oil and gas directly into the region. Uighurs are denied basic freedoms. Reporters are not allowed to interview them, as it’s a crime to say anything against Chinese policies toward the Uighurs. Cash incentives are offered to couples who intermarry between Han Chinese and Uighur cultures. The Uighur remain under constant surveillance of the Chinese government. Most Uighurs have no access to higher education, and if they do, history about their culture is no longer being taught in schools; they are not allowed to speak in their native language in certain places, nor can they practice their religion freely. They are not allowed to travel without onsite search and seizure restrictions, nor do they have access to applying for passports as they remain trapped by discriminatory Chinese policies. People with “large” beards or Islamic clothing are barred from traveling on public buses. Hijab is proscribed. In July 2014, China banned students and government staff from Ramadan fasting. In late March, a Kashgar court sentenced a 38-year-old Uighur to six years for growing a beard, while his wife was given a twoyear sentence for wearing a veil, China Youth Daily reported. The couple was pronounced guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” “Project Beauty” demands women to leave their heads bare and abandon the veil. Between 1964 and 1996, China conducted more than 40 poorly-controlled, nuclear tests in Xinjiang. An expert who ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015

studied radiation effects from tests by the United States, France, and former Soviet Union estimated as many as 194,000 people may have died from acute radiation poisoning, among a whopping 1.2 million people who received doses high enough to induce cancer and fetal abnormalities. These are “conservative estimates” of the damage caused in three decades.

STIFLING UIGHUR FREEDOMS Hundreds have died in unrest in Xinjiang in the last two years alone. Exiles and activists say Chinese controls on the religion and culture of the Uighur people has caused more violence than well-organized militant groups. China, however, blames the East Turkestan Islamic Movement for carrying out attacks in Xinjiang, though many foreign experts doubt the group’s existence in a cohesive group, Reuters reported. In January 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized security would be Beijing’s top priority in the west. Henryk Szadziewski, senior researcher for the Uighur Human Rights Project, told the Business Insider Australia that Beijing is pivoting its priorities in Uighur territory toward more security-oriented policies. “What we’ve seen in the past year is a shift among the central leadership for policies in the region away from the emphasis on development,” Szadziewski said. Amnesty International’s 2013 report said Chinese authorities have criminalized “what they labelled ‘illegal religious’ and ‘separatist’ activities” and clamped down on “peaceful expressions of cultural identity.” China is not prepared to lose this resource-rich region, which it believes may lead to the communist state’s further breakup. It has long urged Pakistan to apprehend and repatriate “militants” from Xinjiang, who seek refuge in that country’s federally administered tribal belt. Uighurs have an ethnic legacy attached to the northern areas of Pakistan. They used

to be traders between Kashgar and northern areas under the British control of the South Asian subcontinent. After the communist revolution in 1949, some Uighurs came to Pakistan. However, Pakistan did not support their cause. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told Xi Jinping during a Nov. 8, 2014, meeting that his nation will help China with its fight against “extremists” Beijing claims are active in Xinjiang. The foreign-supported regime in Afghanistan, attempting to persuade China to use its influence with Pakistan to help start negotiations with the Taliban, also is targeting Uighur refugees. A Feb. 21, 2015, Reuters report cited Afghan security officials saying Afghanistan had arrested and handed over several Uighur to China. Beijing has a clear interest in exaggerating the ambitions of the Uighurs to justify heavyhanded policing in Xinjiang. To dehumanize the Uighurs resisting occupation of their homeland, Chinese propaganda includes tying them with ISIS. The Global Times, controlled by the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, claimed that “militants” [their label for Uighurs] are participating with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The official line is that Uighars are receiving “terrorist training” there and also expanding their connections in international terrorist organizations, and their ultimate goal is to fight back into China. China’s largest administrative region, Xinjiang, borders eight countries — Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India — and until recently its population was mostly Uighur. However, to cement its occupation, China continues to bring in ethnic Han Chinese who are being given all economic opportunities to settle there and become the dominant population. But development has brought new residents. Per the 2000 census, Han Chinese made up 40 percent of the population, and there are large numbers of troops stationed in the region and unknown numbers of unregistered migrants. In the 1990s, open support for selfactualization increased after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of independent Muslim states in Central Asia. While Chinese clout is too strong and prevents any sympathy or support for a people seeking their legitimate rights, the Uighur struggle continues. 



Health and Fasting during Ramadan Every Muslim should try to fast during Ramadan, but some exemptions do apply. BY SHAHID ATHAR


ood provides the body with energy for immediate use by burning up carbohydrates or sugar. Excess carbohydrates that cannot be used are stored up for future use as fat tissue in muscles, and as glycogen in the liver. Insulin, a hormone from the pancreas, lowers blood sugar and diverts it to other forms of energy storage, such as glycogen. To be effective, insulin has to be bound to binding sites called receptors. Overweight people have defective receptors, and therefore cannot use their insulin. This leads to insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. When a person fasts or drastically decreases carbohydrate intake, it lowers blood glucose and insulin levels. This causes breakdown of glycogen from the liver to provide glucose and the breakdown of fat from adipose tissue to provide for energy needs. In 1924, Dr. Russell Wilder of the Mayo Clinic designed the ketogenic diet for effective weight control. This high-fat diet supplies adequate protein and is low in carbohydrates. This combination changes the way the body uses energy, effectively lowering weight and blood sugar. However, due to side effects, the diet should be tried only under medical supervision. Total fasting reduces or eliminates hunger and causes rapid weight loss. “Fasting brings a wholesome physiological rest for the digestive tract and central nervous system and normalizes metabolism,” wrote Allan Cott, one of the world’s first orthomolecular psychiatrists, in his book, “Fasting as a Way of Life” (1975). Adverse effects of total fasting include hypokalemia (lower than normal potassium level in the bloodstream) and cardiac arrhythmia (also known as irregular heartbeat) associated with using unsupervised low-calorie starvation diets.

in Casablanca, Morocco, including one by the author. They concluded that Ramadan fasting had beneficial effects on health, especially on blood glucose, blood pressure, lipid profile, and weight. This panel noted no serious adverse effects.

WHY ISLAMIC FASTING IS DIFFERENT THAN OTHER TYPES OF FASTING? Compared to other diet plans, Islamic fasting and fasting during Ramadan causes neither malnutrition nor inadequate calorie intake since there is no restriction on the type or amount of food intake during suhoor or iftar.

M. Mazhar Hussaini conducted a dietary analysis of Muslim students at North Dakota State University at Fargo during Ramadan 1974. He found the calorie intake of Muslim students during fasting was at two-thirds of the recommended dietary allowances formulated by National Research Council, a working arm of the United States National Academies (The Journal of the Islamic Medical Association 14 (October 1982): 118; [now The Journal of Islamic Medical Association of North America,]). Fasting in Ramadan is undertaken voluntarily and not as a prescription from a physician. In the hypothalamus part of

STUDIES ON ISLAMIC FASTING There have been many scientific studies on Ramadan fasting. In 1996, about 50 papers were presented at the first International Congress on “Health and Ramadan” held 54


the brain, there is a center called “lipostat” that controls the body mass. When severe and rapid weight loss is achieved by starvation diet, this center does not recognize this as normal, and therefore reprograms itself to cause weight gain rapidly once the person goes off the starvation diet. So the only effective way of losing weight is slow, self-controlled, and gradual weight loss by modifying our behavior, and the attitude about eating while eliminating excess food. Ramadan is a month of self-regulation and self-training in terms of food intake thereby causing, hopefully, a permanent change in lipostat reading. The Quran reminds: “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint” (2:183). In Islamic fasting, Muslims are not subjected to a diet of selective food (such as proteins and fruits only). An early predawn


MEDICINE FINDS THAT FASTING HAS BENEFICIAL EFFECTS ON MANY DISEASES. HOWEVER, IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT MUSLIM PATIENTS WHO CHOOSE TO FAST, DO SO UNDER MEDICAL SUPERVISION. breakfast is taken, and then at sunset the fast is ended with something sweet, such as dates, fruits, or juices to ward against hypoglycemia — a condition of abnormally low blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. This fast-breaking meal is followed by a regular dinner. Additional nightly prayers — taraweeh — are recommended after the dinner, which helps metabolize the food. This author, using a calorie counter, found that 200 calories were burned during taraweeh. In terms of caloric

output, the Islamic prayer (salat), which uses all of the body’s muscles and joints, can be placed in the category of a mild exercise. Ramadan fasting is an exercise in selfdiscipline. For those who are chain smokers, or nibble food constantly, or drink coffee every hour, it is a good way to break the habit, with the hope that the effect will continue after the month is over. The psychological effects of Ramadan fasting also are well observed by those who fast. They describe a feeling of inner peace and tranquility. Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “If one slanders you or aggresses against you, tell them I am fasting.” Following this guidance, personal hostility during the month would be minimal. It is my experience that within the first few days of Ramadan, I begin to feel better even before losing a single pound of weight. I work more and pray more; and physical stamina and mental alertness improve. As a physician, I usually check my lab tests, including glycohemoglobulin, blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride counts before Ramadan begins and again at its end. I note marked improvement at the month’s end. As I am not overweight, the weight loss is minimal. The few pounds that I lose are regained soon after. Fasting in Ramadan will be a great blessing for the overweight whether with or without mild diabetes (type II). The Quran says: “On no soul doth God place a burden greater than it can bear” (2:286). Healthy school-age Muslim youth and athletes, whether training or in an actual game, and prison inmates who can stay without food and water for 12-16 hours can, and should fast. To prevent dehydration and low blood sugar, they should eat healthy suhoor and not over indulge at iftar. They should drink plenty of water before suhoor, after iftar, and during the night. They should take some rest in the afternoon between asr (afternoon) and maghrib (sunset) prayers, if schedule permits. They should practice nafil fast during the preceding month of Shaban. 55

FAMILY LIFE Today, more and more educational institutions and state authorities are becoming cognizant of Ramadan and Islamic dietary laws. More Muslims, including those living in custodial situations, are demanding their rights and the authorities are working to accommodate their needs, especially in an era when there is provision for providing dietary-specific products, such as glutenfree foods.

FASTING FOR MEDICAL PATIENTS The Quran says: “Ramadan is the month in which was sent down the Quran, as a guide to mankind, also clear signs for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period should be made up by days later. God intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. He wants you to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful” (2:185). While patients are exempt from fasting, however, some do decide to fast. Muslim patients who do not have access to Muslim physicians can offer these ideas to their caregivers: Diabetic patients: Diabetic patients have to approach fasting with great care, consulting their physician. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 million Americans have diabetes but 7 million do not know they have it. About 86 million adults have pre-diabetes (or Metabolic Syndrome X). One in 500 children and teens have Type I diabetes. And Type II Diabetes Mellitus is becoming more common in children and teens, especially in minority groups. Worldwide, 382 million people are diabetic, and by the year 2035, the number will grow to 594 million. About 625,000 new patients are being added every year in the United States. Diabetes is an expensive disease, consuming one out of seven health care dollars in the United States. Diabetics who are controlled by diet alone can fast and hopefully with weight reduction, their diabetes may even be cured or at least improved. If diabetics taking oral hypoglycemia agents along with the diet decide to fast, they should exercise extreme caution. They should reduce their dose, and take the medicine not at suhoor, but with iftar in the evening. If they develop low blood 56

sugar symptoms during the daytime, they should break the fast immediately. Diabetics taking insulin should not fast. If they do, at their own risk, they should do so under close medical supervision and make drastic changes in the insulin dose. Diabetics, if they fast, should still consume a diabetic diet during iftar, suhoor, and dinner. The sweet snacks common in some cultures during Ramadan are not good for them. They should check their blood sugar before breakfast and after ending their fast. Hypertensive or cardiac patients: Those who have mild to moderate high blood pressure along with being overweight should be encouraged to fast, since fasting may help lower their blood pressure. They should see their physician to adjust their medicines. However, those with severe hypertension or heart diseases should not fast at all. Migraine headache sufferers: Even in tension headache, dehydration, or low blood sugar will aggravate the symptoms, but in migraine, during fasting, there is an increase in blood free fatty acids, which will directly affect the severity or precipitation of migraine through release of catecholamine. Patients with migraines are advised not to fast. Pregnant women (normal pregnancy): Pregnancy is not a medical illness, therefore, the same exemption does not apply. There is no mention of such an exemption in the Quran. However, the Prophet said the pregnant and nursing women do not fast. This is in line with God’s rule that He does not want anyone, even a small fetus, to suffer. There is no way of knowing the damage to the unborn child until the delivery, and then it might be too late. There are several hadith that provide guidance for such situations. A person who is sick, a pregnant woman who apprehends harm to her child, an old person who is not able to fast, and an extremely weak person who fears that he may die if he fasts do not observe the fast (Daylami). Bukhari, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, and Nasai record that God gave concession to pregnant and nursing women not to fast, if the fasting adversely affects her or her child’s health. In this author’s opinion, pregnant women should not fast during the first and third trimester (three months). If however, Ramadan happens to fall during the second trimester (fourth-sixth months) of pregnancy, a woman may elect to fast provided that her own health is good, and it is done with the permission and under the close supervision

of her obstetrician. The possible damage to the fetus may not be from malnutrition provided the iftar and suhoor are adequate, but from dehydration, from prolonged (12-16 hours) abstinence from water. Medicine finds that fasting has beneficial effects on many diseases. According to one hadith: “There is a zakat for everything. The zakat for the body is fasting” (Bayhaqi). However, it is recommended that Muslim patients who choose to fast do so under medical supervision. 

Shahid Athar, an endocrinologist with St. Vincent Medical Group, Indianapolis, is a clinical associate professor at Indiana University School of Medicine. He is the author of “Islamic Perspectives in Medicine: A Survey of Islamic Medicine: Achievements & Contemporary Issues” (Indianapolis: American Trust Publications, 1993) and “Health Concerns for Believers” (Chicago: Kazi Publications, 1996). He also is the recipient of the 2011 Dr. Ahmed El-Kadi Award from the Islamic Medical Association of North America. He has published on health issues in Islamic Horizons magazine.


North Austin Muslim Community (Masjid Aisha) is looking for a dynamic Imam to lead the biggest Muslim community in Central Texas. The interested candidate must have sound Islamic knowledge and prior experience as an Imam in the West to lead this diverse community.

Candidate must have very good communication skill to deal with media and other non-Muslim organizations. Proficiency in both Arabic and English language is must. Good portion of Quran memorization is required (hifz preferred) and the candidate must be able to provide counseling service to the community members as needed basis. Remuneration is commensurate with experience and skills. If interested please send your resume to: Claim # 53378545



Azhar Azeez (L) enjoys a light moment as Sayyid M. Syeed (R) signs the visitors book.

A Unique Visit Muslims, especially South Asian Muslims, visiting Jerusalem have a familiar place to stay — Zawiyah (lodge) al-Hindiya. BY ISLAMIC HORIZONS STAFF


he Muslim members of the interfaith delegation that visited Palestine Jan. 18-26 had a unique experience visiting the Khwaja Farīduddīn Mas’ūd Ganjshakar’s sanctuary in Jerusalem. The Muslim American visitors were ISNA President Azhar Azeez, Sayyid M. Syeed, national director of ISNA Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances, Mohamed Elsanousi, director of external relations, Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, and Muhammad Shafiq, director of the Hickey Center for interfaith studies and dialogue at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. At the Hospice, they were received with utmost love and respect. The fact that ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015

they represented ISNA resonated with the people in charge.

Sheikh Nazir Hasan Ansari

This institution, of special significance to South Asian Muslims, is Zawiyah (lodge) al-Hindiya, a hospice built 800 years ago in honor of Khwaja Farīduddīn Mas’ūd Ganjshakar (1173-1266), a Sufi mystic poet and daee’ (Muslim missionary) in the Punjab region of what is now Pakistan, belonging to the Chishti order. Khwaja Farīduddīn was performing Hajj and on the way stopped at Jerusalem where he spent time in prayers and meditation. Daniel Silas Adamson of BBC (Nov. 22, 2014) said that there are accounts of Khwaja Farīduddīn’s life that he spent his days sweeping the stone floors around alAqsa mosque, or fasting in the silence of a cave within city walls. However, no one knows how long he stayed in the city. Long after he returned to Punjab, where he eventually became head of the Chishti order, Indian Muslims passing through Jerusalem on their way to Mecca wanted to pray where he had prayed, to sleep where he had slept. Slowly, a shrine and pilgrim lodge, the Indian Hospice, formed around the sufi’s memory. This sanctuary has provided a special bridge between Palestine and the subcontinent for centuries. 57


Khawaja Farīduddīn is buried in the central Punjab city of Pakpattan in Sahiwal division. However, some people visit and revere his grave as a shrine. After the abolition of the Khilafat (caliphate), when Indian Muslims established the Khilafat Movement, Maulana Muhammad Ali Jouhar (1878–1931) visited Jerusalem and stayed in this sanctuary. In 1924, he delegated one of his trusted deputies, Sheikh Nazir Hasan Ansari, a police inspector’s son from Saharanpur, to take charge of the sanctuary. Over the next 27 years, Ansari worked not only to restore the lodge but to revive the idea of Jerusalem as holy ground for Indian Muslims. He married a Palestinian woman, Mussarra, who in 1928 gave birth to Munir. (Maulana Jouhar, who died in Jerusalem on Jan. 4, 1931, was buried inside al-Aqsa per his wishes.) The Muslim American visitors met with the son of Ansari, the 86-year-old Sheikh Munir Hasan Ansari and his son, who also is named Nazir. The younger Nazir, now in his 60s, graduated from University of Iowa, Ames, Iowa, as an engineer. In the 1920s and 1930s, Ansari traveled back and forth to India, persuading its Muslim princes to pay for rebuilding the lodge. The sanctuary was supported by the generosity of Mir Osman Ali Khan, the Nizam of Hyderabad before his state’s invasion and occupation by India in September 1948. The architecture of the well-maintained sanctuary stands out as a South Asian monument. It was bombarded and extensively destroyed during the 1967 Israeli invasion. Munir Ansari’s mother, sister, and his 2-year-old nephew were killed. His hands and hair were burned, and his eyes were 58

closed, but his five children survived. They returned and resurrected the building. It continues to be functional. However, the occupation has cut off the stream of visitors. The lodge, adorned by lemon trees in the quiet sun-lit courtyard, today has a library, a mosque and guest rooms for visitors. For Munir Ansari, there was no question of abandoning the lodge. Its history went back too far — to the days when Salahuddin Ayyubi (Saladin; 1137/1138–1193) was still consolidating his hold on Jerusalem. Baba Farid arrived in a city that had just returned to Muslim hands after almost a century. The

Crusaders, ensconced along the Mediterranean coast, had not gone away. Navtej Singh Sarna, an Indian author, columnist, diplomat, and a former Indian ambassador to Tel Aviv, has published a book about this hospice, “Indians at Herod’s Gate: A Jerusalem Tale” (2014: Rain Light). In 2011, Sheikh Munir Ansari received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman (Overseas Indian Award), an award given to Indian expatriates by India’s President for exceptional service to the country. The Ansari family speaks Urdu, Arabic and English. They have intermarried with Palestinians but maintain the spicy presence in the area. 

7350 W. 93rd Street, Bridgeview, Illinois 60455  •  (708) 599-4100  •  Fax (708) 599-1588 • email:

Universal School

Open Positions for the 2015 – 2016 • We offer our teachers competitive salaries, health insurance, sick and personal leave, and a tuition discount for children of faculty members. • Universal School is one of the largest Pre K – 12th grade Islamic Schools in North America with nearly 700 students. The 70,000 square ft. modern building houses 32 classrooms, regulations size gymnasium, fitness center, state of the art science lab, one journalism lab, 2 computer labs, a library, cafeteria with a full service kitchen, an inside regulation size basketball court, soccer field, and playground. • Send resumes to: Universal School, Chairman of Staff Selection Committee, 7350 W. 93rd St., Bridgeview, Illinois 60455 or via email to Visit for more information.

Positions Available:

Elementary Education  •  High School Math & Science & English Computers  •  Arabic & Quran  • Secretaries All applicants must be U.S. certified in their respective fields, and/or have experience in the area of interest. Resumes also accepted for all teaching positions.


NEW RELEASES Introduction to Islam: Beliefs and Practices in Historical Perspective Carole Hillenbrand 2015. Pp. 314; 79 color illus. PB. $35 Thames & Hudson, New York, New York arole Hillenbrand, renowned as a preeminent authority on Islam, offers an introduction to the religion. She establishes in historical and global context the beliefs and ideals of Muslims and the branches and movements within the faith. Rather than portraying Islam as a monolithic entity, Hillenbrand emphasizes its diversity and variety. It is an essential introduction to the religion, spanning from the life of Prophet Muhammad (Salla allahu alayhi wa sallam) to the challenges facing the Muslim world in the 21st century. Featured chapters include law, diversity, jihad, and women. Hillenbrand is the only non-Muslim and the only female recipient of the King Faisal International Prize for Islamic Studies (2005). She has studied (and taught) Islam all her adult life, and has acquired knowledge of languages spoken in Muslim countries. She makes direct use of Arabic, Turkish, and Farsi sources in her published work. However, she notes that she is not a Muslim, so “cannot speak from personal experience about Islam as a faith lived from within.” 


Before You Tie the Knot: A Guide for Couples Salma Elkadi Abugideiri and Imam Mohamed Hag Magid 2014. Pp. 347. PB. $20 CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform ohamed Hag Magid, imam of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society and past ISNA president, and Salma Elkadi Abugideiri, a licensed mental health professional, who have 40 years of combined experience in counseling couples, provide an Islamic framework for the marriage process. They present marriage as a partnership while underscoring the ingredients for successfully finding a spouse, and for establishing and maintaining a healthy marriage. This book caters to those seeking marriage, and for parents who are involved in their children’s marriage process. And for those getting remarried after a divorce or death of a spouse. They raise thought-provoking questions that help increase self-awareness, clarify what is desired in a spouse and in a marriage, and help them get to know a potential spouse. Topics addressed in detail include, finding a spouse, the role of family and in-laws, the marriage contract and wedding, intimacy, spirituality and finances. They also address mental health, domestic violence and threats to a marriage. This marriage guide provides a toolkit with concrete skills that can be used throughout a marriage to ensure a healthy relationship that is grounded in the Islamic values of love and mercy—qualities that are necessary to achieve the ultimate purpose of marriage: mutual tranquility. 


Textbook of Muslim Funerals in the West Amjad R. M. Syed 2014. Pp. 256. PB. $15 Fair Share Marketing, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada his book is the outcome of 15 years of combined hands-on experience of a husband and wife team, conducting funeral services at Islamic Society of North America-Canada (ISNA-Canada). The easy-to-follow practical guidebook details comprehensive funeral procedures for laypersons and scholars, researchers and organizers who are involved in establishing complete funeral services. 


Arts and Crafts of Morocco 2015. Pp. 160. 200 illustrations, 151 in color. PB. $24.95 James F. Jereb Thames & Hudson, New York, New York orocco’s unique geographical location place it as a center of cultural exchange, and its remarkable arts and crafts are the product of a centurieslong intermingling of influences from other parts of



Africa and the traditions of Islam, and from the singular cultural alliance of the Moors and the Spaniards. This new edition, illustrated with more than 150 specially commissioned color photographs, illuminates the wonders of this thriving tradition: textiles, jewelry, leather, wood, and metalwork. James Jereb’s in-depth study is made complete with guidance on Moroccan arts and crafts from expert collectors and a revealing analysis of the belief systems, festivals, and ceremonies that inform the predominant techniques and visual motifs of Moroccan art. 

The Virtues of the Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal by Ibn Al-Jawzi: Volume Two Abu al-Faraj ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Ali Ibn al-Jawzi, Michael Cooperson (translated & edited) 2015. Pp. 544. HB. $40 New York University Press, New York, New York translation of the biography of Ibn Hanbal (d. 241 H/855 CE) by Baghdadi scholar and writer, Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 507 H/1200 CE). This volume includes the account of Ibn Hanbal’s confrontation with the caliphal inquisition, including his imprisonment, trial, and punishment. And how ultimately, the Baghdadis came to respect his scholarship. This book is part of New York University Press and NYU Abu Dhabi’s Library of Arabic Literature, which publishes Arabic editions and English translations of the great works of classical Arabic literature. 


One Nation, Under Gods: A New American History Peter Manseau 2015. Pp. 480. HB. $28 Little, Brown and Company, New York, New York rguing for taking a new look at the story of America, Peter Manseau says Thomas Jefferson himself collected books on all religions and required that then-recently established Library of Congress take his books, since Americans needed to consider the “20 gods or no god” he famously noted were revered by his neighbors. Looking at the varied faiths favored by Americans, Manseau fills his book with stories of traditions from the “witches” persecuted at Salem to the Buddhists persecuted during World War II in California, from spirituality and cults in the 1960s to the recent presidential election where both candidates were non-traditional Christians. 


God, Islam & The Skeptic Mind: A Study on Faith, Science, Religious Diversity, Ethics and Evil (2nd Edition) Saiyad Fareed Ahmad and Saiyad Salahuddin Ahmad 2014. Pp. 382. PB. $19.95 CreateSpace, North Charleston, South Carolina he authors answer questions some raise about God and religion’s compatibility with science, in a language that responds to the challenges presented by the age of skepticism and science. They provide an approach representing not only theistic and atheistic perspectives, but also importantly the Islamic perspective that often has been ignored or misunderstood. 


Derailing Democracy in Afghanistan: Elections in an Unstable Political Landscape 2014. Pp. 304. HB. $45 Noah Coburn and Anna Larson Columbia University Press, New York, New York The authors examine presidential, parliamentary, and provincial council elections, conducting interviews with candidates, officials, community leaders, and voters to show how international approaches to Afghan elections have misunderstood the role of local actors who have hijacked elections in their favor, alienated communities, undermined representative processes, and fueled insurgency, fostering a dangerous disillusionment among Afghan voters. 



Overcoming Fears with Ease Fear can either empower us, or paralyze us. BY SAYEDA HABIB


s we navigate through this life, God, the Most High, constantly reminds us to keep our eye on the akhira — the Last Day. If we focus on our belief in Him, and do what is right, then we shall have no worries on the Day when we will meet Him. However, we can’t say that we don’t have any worries or fears in life? Would you be able to say that you fear nothing in this life? If we are deeply honest with ourselves, we will admit that we have some lingering fears and worries. One’s list may include losing a job, being alone, parents passing away, not getting married, losing a promotion, getting hurt and so on. Some fear is inevitable for every human being. We are clearly reminded of this when God tells us: “Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere” (2:155). So, why do we fear? Certain challenges give rise to fears, and that’s natural. For example, if a loved one gets sick, we may fear losing them, and that is a fear based on circumstances. However, certain fears are more deeply rooted and we may not even be aware of them. These fears can be divided into two main categories: productive and unproductive. A productive fear is one that has a purpose, and the ability to help us fulfill our potential in some way (when 60

properly utilized and managed). However, an unproductive fear can stop us from doing so. For example, the most productive fear a Muslim can have is the fear of God. When we are aware of His presence, we will naturally ponder over our choices and consciously make better ones. Another productive fear is that of getting caught doing something wrong. Whether we worry about breaking the law, hurting loved ones, or losing a job, this fear is a powerful motivator to stay on the right track. Some fears, however, are more unproductive than productive, such as when we excessively worry about what others will think of us. Granted, it is healthy to think about how our behaviour will impact others, but when we start to mould our lifestyles solely to fit in with society, or we worry excessively about how we will look or come across, then such fear stops us from being who God intended us to be. Another common fear is the fear of getting hurt. Sometimes, it can be productive, if it helps us exercise caution when it is due. However, it may be unproductive, if we allow this fear to stop us from engaging in new friendships or relationships for the fear of how things may turn out. We also may fear what we can’t understand. For example, one may fear positive aspects of mainstream American life. Instead of learning and engaging within the wider community, the fear may stop us from learning and benefiting from people we see every single day (such as our neighbors and coworkers).

Let us accept that we face a combination of fears. Though some may be productive, others, especially if they are excessive, may be less than desirable. We need to learn to manage our fears so that we can live purposeful and fulfilling lives. Let us explore some strategies on how to manage our fears so that we can live up to our full potential, God willing.

BREATHE! Fear will manifest itself with multiple physical and emotional symptoms. Some people feel anxious or feel their heartbeat racing, get angry or frustrated. Take a moment to ask yourself, “How does fear show up in my body? What symptoms do I notice?” Make a note of your symptoms. The next time you are feeling some of them, stop, and take three long and deep breaths. Hold each breath for a count of three, and exhale. Breathing is one of the most effective ways of combating the symptoms of anxiety and fear.

CLOSE OUT THE PAST Each time we worry about events from the past, we unconsciously put the fear of it into our future. Each time you hesitate to make a new friend because you fear that this person also will hurt you, you’ve taken one event from the past, and projected that fear into your present and your future. The way to free oneself from this is to close out past events in the most effective way you can. One way of doing this is to write a letter of forgiveness. Write a letter to yourself, or others concerned, sharing all the feelings and thoughts that have been unexpressed ISLAMIC HORIZONS  MAY/JUNE 2015

about the past situations. Be clear about your intention to let go, and forgive the people concerned. Once you feel you’ve said what you need to, then tear up the letter and dispose of it. Remember, this is not to burden anyone else, or to re-read, it is a symbolic gesture of letting go. You may need to do this more than once. This is an extremely effective strategy in letting past hurts heal, so that one can move on toward a more hopeful future.

GET MORE INFORMATION: We often fear what we do not know or fully understand. Take a few minutes to reflect on what is causing you to be fearful. Next, ask yourself, “What information do I need now that would help me deal with this situation with more ease?” Focus on this question until you find one or two things that you really need more information on. Perhaps there may be people you need to speak with, or research you need to do on your own. Whatever it is, carve out a plan to get the information you require. By knowing a little bit more, you will be able to take action being more informed. This will help the fear to dissipate.



Please help “Food for the Spirit” better meet your needs by completing a 2-minute survey at: SHIFT YOUR FOCUS: Think about of what you are fearful. It may involve what others may or may not do, or a concern about what may or may not happen. Fear often arises if we are focused on things that are out of our control. We never ever control what other people may think, feel or do, just like we don’t control the weather. If you are fearful of something, then your focus is most likely on something other than what you can influence. Ask yourself, “What is in my control in the context of this situation?” Write everything that comes to mind. Then ask yourself, “Which of these might I now put my focus on?” Choose one or two things that you can do something about, and start taking action. God willing your confidence will grow, and your worries will reduce.

USE ITS WISDOM: Our fears have an inner wisdom. Even the unproductive fears may be guiding us to make a change. Ask yourself, “What’s the most productive thing this fear is doing for me?” You will, God willing, discover that the fear has a purpose; a message. Perhaps, it is trying to protect you, or even empowering you to act. With a little reflection, you can find its true purpose. Next, find another way of meeting the purpose so the fear no longer stops you. This is where you can choose what actions you wish to take next. Fear can either empower us, or paralyze us. I invite you to use these strategies, in the ways that feel appropriate for you. May God put His blessings in our endeavours to help us reach our full potential: “Those who believe (in the Quran), those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Sabians and the Christians, any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve” (Quran 5:69). 

Sayeda Habib is a professional life coach who works with Muslims to help them overcome obstacles and to achieve their goals.


The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168-0038


Islamic Horizons May/June 2015  
Islamic Horizons May/June 2015