MAY/JUNE 2016/1437 | $4.00 | WWW.ISNA.NET
A RAMADAN LIBERATION | ALWAYS A LAND WITH PEOPLE | HATE-BORNE MENTAL DISEASE
SHAYKH TAHA JABIR AL-ALWANI A Man of His Times: A Pioneer of Islamic Reform
VOL 45 NO. 3 MAY/JUNE 2016 visit isna online at: WWW.ISNA.NET
SPECIAL REPORT 28
Muslims of the Silicon Forest Portland has gone from having three mosques in the 1990s to over 12 Islamic organizations and mosques in the Greater Portland area.
Shaykh Taha Jabir Al-Alwani
ISLAM IN AMERICA
34 And Hell Broke Loose 36 Muslim American Youth and Religious Literacy 38 Fulfilling a Trust 40 Islam in America: The Middle Period 1900-1950 42 A Ramadan Liberation
MUSLIMS IN ACTION
44 An Obligation Rendered 46 An EPIC Experience in Texas 48 Illusions that Hurt
50 Sowing Seeds
HEALTH & WELL-BEING
52 Advance Directives and Living Wills 54 Hate-borne Mental Disease
THE MUSLIM WORLD
56 Always a Land with People
54 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
6 12 14 60
DEPARTMENTS Editorial ISNA Matters Community Matters New Releases
DESIGN & LAYOUT BY: Gamal Abdelaziz, A-Ztype Copyeditor: Jay Willoughby. The views expressed in Islamic Horizons are not necessarily the views of its editors nor of the Islamic Society of North America. Islamic Horizons does not accept unsolicitated articles or submissions. All references to the Quran made are from The Holy Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Amana, Brentwood, MD.
Learning from the Past
uslim Africans were brought to the New World in chains, considered nothing more than beasts of burden. Engulfed in physical pain during the deadly Middle Passage, those who survived found their status as fellow human beings denied. Scholars, teachers, intellectuals and students became despised manual laborers, speaking animals bred to ensure the lavish lifestyle of a parasitic, racial supremacist elite. But not all of them were defeated by this deliberate negation of their humanity, for the scant evidence that has survived informs us of an enslaved man who created a stir among the self-deluded members of the elite when one of his slaves refused a “generous” payment of alcohol for his hard work, and another one whose master wondered why he only ate the meat of animals he was allowed to butcher. The overt movement conducted by Africans (now African Americans) toward regaining their heritage can be appropriately called Islam’s “middle period” in America (1900-1950), years that saw the establishment of the Moorish Science Temple and the Nation of Islam. Completely cut off from the traditional Islamic world, their leaders nevertheless sought to embrace Islam as they understood it and create a new identity for their people. In this issue, we include Amadu Shakur’s “A Ramadan Liberation,” which recounts the efforts of one man who realized what had been stolen from his people and made a good-faith, sincere effort to regain his people’s heritage. Shakur’s article also reminds us that Islamophobia has a long history in this country. What Muslim Americans are going through today is nothing new; it’s just a repeat of what happened before to various non-white communities, for yet another group of politicians, fear mongers and media outlets has discovered that fear of the racial and/or religious “other” still sells. The re-assertion of Ramadan is an example. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the son of a Christian preacher and a firm believer, understood how commercialization had trivialized Christmas and sought to counter it among his followers, all former Christians, by asking them to fast during December. They agreed, and so Ramadan became a Black holiday. Later on, when his son W. D. Mohammed led his centrifugal movement into Sunni Islam, he accommodated the reluctance of
many long-time pioneers and elders by allowing them to fast one last time on Christmas Eve and the last day of December. “We will do this fast commemorating the great service to Islam all over the world given by the Honorable Master Elijah Muhammad,” he proclaimed (Muhammad, W. D. 1975). Thus, a largely successful transition was affected without stepping on too many toes. Both this community’s particular experience and that of African Americans in general are a core part of the Muslim American heritage in terms of attaining civil rights and of how a deliberately destroyed people eventually regained their humanity and ancestral faith. The struggles through which they have passed remain relevant, for Muslim Americans have spent the first years of the new millennium once again dealing with Islamophobes, self-proclaimed “experts” on both them and Islam who aren’t very concerned about the accuracy of the sources or people they consult to attain “knowledge.” ISNA’s root organization, the Muslim Students Association of the U.S. and Canada (now MSA National), actively reached out to these communities and sought to lead their members toward a more traditional understanding of Sunni Islam. After 9/11, the challenge of spreading accurate knowledge of Islam and Muslims went national as Americans were bombarded with the supposed “truths” of what their Muslim neighbors and coworkers had really been up to all these years. All Muslim Americans should educate themselves about the Muslim African American experience, when men and women of all ages proudly asserted their identity – and sometimes paid a very high price for doing so. This is not the time for American-born Muslims to become “Mark” instead of “Muhammad” or “Amy” instead of “Ameena.” Rather, it is time emulate those who struggled before us and to stand firm, for as Q. 47:7 states: “O you who believe, if you will aid (the cause of) God, He will aid you and plant your feet firmly” (47:7). We have living examples in our midst. Muhammad Ali was stripped of his heavyweight title and barred for four years during the peak of his boxing career because he refused to violate his Islamic beliefs by fighting in Vietnam. And yet today he is recognized and respected worldwide. ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
PUBLISHER The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) PRESIDENT Azhar Azeez SECRETARY GENERAL Hazem Bata EDITOR Omer Bin Abdullah EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Faryal M Khatri EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Parvez Ahmed (Interim Chair), Iqbal Unus, M. Ahmadullah Siddiqi, Hazem Bata. ISLAMIC HORIZONS is a bimonthly publication of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Copyright @2016 All rights reserved Reproduction, in whole or in part, of this material in mechanical or electronic form without written permission is strictly prohibited. Islamic Horizons magazine is available electronically on ProQuest’s Ethnic NewsWatch, LexisNexis, and EBSCO Discovery Service, and is indexed by Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature. Please see your librarian for access. The name “Islamic Horizons” is protected through trademark registration ISSN 8756‑2367 POSTMASTER Send address changes to Islamic Horizons, P.O. Box 38 Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 SUBSCRIPTIONS Annual, domestic – $24 Canada – US$30 Overseas airmail – US$60 TO SUBSCRIBE Contact Islamic Horizons at (317) 839‑8157 / (317) 839‑1811 Fax (317) 839‑1840 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING For rates contact Islamic Horizons at (703) 742‑8108, email@example.com, ww.isna.net Canada Post International Publications Mail Product (Canadian Distribution) Sales Agreement No. 0666300 CORRESPONDENCE Send all correspondence and/or Letters to the Editor at: Islamic Horizons P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
No Breath Wasted: Shaykh Taha Jabir Al-Alwani BY ALI ALTLAIB
I-DEN-TI-TY! IDEN-TI-TY!” my grandfather yelled at the top of his failing lungs as my brother walked into his room in the ICU at Cairo’s al-Safa Hospital. He was referring to the Muslim American identity, a recurring topic that Jiddoh (grandpa) brought up every time my siblings and I visited him in Egypt. It was clearly an issue that was near and dear to his heart … and his lungs, considering that he brought it up again when he literally had seconds to speak before they put him back on the ventilator. He didn’t want us to let those conversations slip away, like the hemoglobin count in his red blood cells. This is not surprising, for Jiddoh was always a man on a mission. Every conversation with him was a dars (lesson), and every topic was filtered through the Qur’an and Sunnah. Regardless of worldly status, he treated everyone as an equal and welcomed partner in pursuit of proximity to the Almighty. On many occasions, he’d insist that we sit with him as he deliberated with his students from Al-Azhar on topics like jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh) and our Islamic heritage (turath). I was constantly humbled by his humbleness. “Who am I to be sitting among such a revered group of scholars?” I witnessed him brag to them about America, its values, and how the Constitution promotes freedoms that are ideal for Muslims to thrive as a beacon of light for Islamic thought around the world. I never felt prouder to be a Muslim American. He harped on the concept of getting to know each other (ta’aruf) and repeatedly quoted Q. 49:13: “O humanity, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you. Indeed, God is Knowing and Acquainted.” He pushed us to get to know our neighbors and allow them to get to know us. He frequently warned us that God entrusted us with a message, and that our duty as Muslim Americans is to understand it and share it with our neighbors. If we fail to do so, we risk becoming like the Muslims of al-Andalus. So, what was his perception of the Muslim identity? I can’t describe it better than his own words, which he wrote a few days before he was hospitalized for the last time: “I sanctify justice, celebrate freedom, and honor humanity. While demonstrating gentleness with the weak, I remind the strong that there is always
someone who is stronger than them. I advise the rich to fulfill the rights of the poor, while I remind the poor that the rich among them have been entrusted with God’s wealth to fulfill the rights of the poor. I love goodness and gentleness and reject evil. I invite to piety and reject violence. I cling to the rope of guidance and uphold the truth. I fight lies and deceit and forbid corruption. I seek reconciliation to the extent possible. I yearn for peace and despise war. I love humility and strive for a good life. Death beckons, yet I believe that this is a bridge I must cross, to cross from a fleeting life to one that is eternal. I desire the best ending and seek refuge in God from the contrary. I love heaven and detest hellfire. I seek security and hate instability. I hate authoritarianism. I am not profane, destructive, or corrupt. “My lineage extends to Adam and Hawwa (Eve), for Adam is my father and Hawaa is my mother. All members of humanity are my sisters and brothers. I do not disdain, betray, or humiliate a single human being. Rather, I work to guide human beings, to light their path and walk with them along the path to paradise. I seek to be a roadblock between them and falling into hellfire. I love the universe and belong to it. I love all my neighbors in the universe, including its trees, plants, rocks, animals, mountains, and rivers. God, most Majestic, has created me from this earth. To this earth He will return me, and from this earth He will restore me once again. To this earth I belong, and for its cultivation I call. My desire is to elevate the truth; my goal is to spread peace and security in it. My means is to struggle with my own soul in order for peace to be realized and security to prevail. I invite to God, to Whom is my ultimate return. Peace is my objective. Security is my desire. Terrorism is my enemy. Conflict is my adversary. Inner peace is my pursuit. “Do you recognize me? Do you know on this earth anyone who parallels this description? “I am a Muslim.” —Shaykh Taha Jabir Al-Alwani Ali Altalib is the son and student of Dr. Zainab Alwani, the daughter and disciple of Shaykh Taha Jabir Al-Alwani. He enjoys writing, playing sports, and taking nature hikes with his wife Sosan and son Kareem. An active ADAMS Center member, he currently resides in Northern Virginia.
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
A Man of His Times: A Pioneer of Islamic Reform BY HADIA MUBARAK
sign of the end times, according to a prophetic tradition, is the loss of religious knowledge (Sahih Bukhari, Book of Knowledge, no. 187). By implication, commentators have stated, scholars with sound religious knowledge will drastically decrease. The loss of Shaykh Taha Jabir al-Alwani, an erudite scholar, reformer and prolific intellectual, on March 4, 2016, is one of many testimonies to the loss of religious scholarship witnessed during the past 150 years. Born in 1935 in Fallujah, Iraq, to Rifa Abdullah and Jabir al-Alwani, at the tender age of five he loses his mother, whom he continues to remember fondly for the rest of his life. According to his daughter Zainab, during his early years he would hold his mother’s silver bracelets in order to fall asleep.1 This early experience of loss, however, instills within him deep resilience that would go on to become one of his defining characteristics. Al-Alwani grew into adolescence at a time when Iraq, like many of its neighboring Arab states, was witnessing a drastic change in the marginalization of religious education. In an interview that he ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
gave to Azhar Satellite TV,2 he recalls how religious education had become a worthwhile pursuit only for those with no ambition or academic potential, a reality accompanied by a cultural mindset that gradually led people to consider religious knowledge as both irrelevant and a mockery. He partially blames this attitude on the pedagogical approaches of traditional institutions of religious knowledge, which emphasized transmitted knowledge over critical thinking. As a result, “religious education became something tied to the past, not to the present.”3 Nonetheless, he harbored no regret for his decision to seek a religious education, stating that he had “combined the best of this world with the best of the afterlife.”4 During middle school, al-Alwani enrolls in one of Iraq’s last vestiges of traditional religious seminaries and studies with one of the country’s most learned religious scholars: Shaykh Abdul-Aziz Salim al-Samara‘i. Under his teacher’s mentorship, al-Alwani completes an intensive curriculum in theology, law, exegesis and all of the branches of Islamic sciences at an accelerated pace of 3 years by studying with the shaykh from the dawn prayers to the night 9
IN MEMORIAM prayers at al-Jami‘ al-Kabir (The Great Mosque). Upon completing this program, aged 16, he moves to Cairo and receives his high school diploma from al-Azhar in 1953, which is followed by Bachelor of Arts degree from al-Azhar’s College of Shari’ah and Law in 1959.
questions as a mufti and president of the Fiqh Council of North America (1986-2005). One of his most significant fatwas, according to Azizah al-Hibri, founder and president of Karamah: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights,9 was his legal opinion on the Supreme Court building frieze. Since its construction in 1935, this INTELLECTUAL LIFE frieze has depicted 18 of the world’s greatest lawmakers, among Like many intellectuals of his time, al-Alwani’s life was not without them the prophets Moses, Solomon and Muhammad. In 1997, turmoil. Upon returning to Iraq, he quickly gains popularity among certain Muslim American organizations asked that Muhammad’s the masses as the imam and khateeb (preacher) of one of Baghdad’s sculpture be removed.10 three largest mosques. Unafraid, he criticizes the rise of Arab soAl-Alwani’s fatwa on this case, as with many others issues cialism and speaks out against the regime; he is “rewarded” in 1961 unique to the Muslim American community, reflects a level of by being imprisoned for eight months. In 1968, after the Ba‘athist meticulousness, vision and scholarship of a very high intellectual military coup, he learns of the regime’s plan to execute him, along caliber. According to al-Hibri, “it was a critical juncture in the with a few other religious leaders,5 and thus flees to Lebanon and history of Muslims in America,” as it may have led to great friction lives under a pseudonym for two years. between Washington and the community. His ability to formulate a legal opinion in a timely manner brought closure to a case that could have snowballed into a major confrontation among the various parties, according to al-Hibri. A PIONEER IN ISLAMIC INTELLECTUAL Then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist acknowledges role of al-Alwani’s fatwa in resolving the controverTHOUGHT, AL-ALWANI IS PERHAPS MOST the sy.11 His 28-page fatwa12 meticulously and thoroughly REMEMBERED FOR FORMULATING A traces the treatment of imagery in the Quran, Hadith and legal discourse. Reflective of his own approach of NEW FIQH FOR MINORITIES. considering the sociocultural context of the question, he judiciously concludes, “In a culture whose literary heritage is replete with disIt is in Cairo, however, that he finds not only political refuge, dainful images of the Prophet Muhammad (SAAS), it is comforting but also intellectual refuge. Throughout his life he would continue to note that those in the highest Court in the United States were able to gravitate to this city that has occupied the center of religious to surmount these prejudices, and display his image among those knowledge since the early tenth century. In 1968, al-Alwani receives of the greatest lawgivers in human history. Isn’t that effort a noble his Master of Arts in comparative jurisprudence. Under the men- gesture that deserves from us, who believe in him as the Prophet torship of Shaykh Abdul-Ghany Abdul-Khallaq, he also completes and Messenger, every encouragement, esteem, and gratitude instead his Doctorate of Philosophy in Shari‘a with a specialization in usul of disapproval, condemnation, and outrage?”13 al-fiqh (principles of jurisprudence) in 1973. He begins his teaching Al-Alwani founded the first Muslim chaplaincy program in the career in Riyadh, teaching usul al-fiqh at the College of Shari‘a at U.S. in 1997, as well as the first M.A.-granting Islamic institution of the Imam Muhammad b. Saud University from 1975 to 1983. higher education: the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences. A turning point occurred in his intellectual thought when he His school was a practical application of his call for integrating the moved to the U.S. in 1983. He recognizes that the new circumstances Islamic and social sciences. facing Muslim communities in the West necessitate a new approach A prolific writer, Shaykh Taha authored more than 30 books and to Islamic law and, specifically, the issuance of legal opinions (fatwas). hundreds of articles. While the subjects of his books were diverse, his It is there that al-Alwani meets his future wife, Mona Abul-Fadl, most important ones dealt with the Islamization of Knowledge, the who introduces him to western thought.6 Throughout this period, ethics of disagreement, and the methodology of Quranic interprehe also serves as the vice president of the International Institute of tation. One of al-Alwani’s most important contributions to Muslim Islamic Thought (IIIT) in Herndon, Va. from 1984 to 1996. society was his encompassing view of the umma. He was deeply A pioneer in Islamic intellectual thought, al-Alwani is perhaps disappointed by the sectarian and ideological divides he witnessed.14 most remembered for formulating a new fiqh for minorities. His “I was struck by how keen he was to be inclusive, to bridge between theory was not to overturn classical fiqh, but rather to take these all intellectual affiliations and reach beyond all ethnic and religious rulings as precedents that would guide contemporary jurists in affiliations,” says Mounzer Sleiman, a self-identifying nationalist deriving principles of law.7 For al-Alwani, the need to construct and the founding director of the Center for American and Arab such a fiqh was of critical importance, one tied to the very iden- Studies.15 In Sleiman’s last conversation with al-Alwani, he says he tity and survival of the North American Muslim community. In expressed much frustration with the Sunni-Shia sectarianism in formulating the parameters of this fiqh, he argued that religious the aftermath of the war in Iraq. This became the subject of many scholars cannot rely on their own religious expertise to proper- of al-Alwani’s articles over the last few years, for he was alarmed ly answer questions related to the sphere of mu‘amalat (social, by the rising sectarian tide in the Muslim world. commercial and civil interactions), but must consult specialists in other fields, especially the humanities, while formulating their A MORE PERSONAL VIEW legal opinions.8 In his personal interactions, al-Alwani defied gender stereotypes. This position informed his own practical approach to legal Al-Hibri describes him as a man “ahead of his community.”16 “He 10
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
The Lover Departs to Meet His Beloved
Shaykh Taha Jabir Al-Alwani 1935 – 2016 BY ISLAMIC HORIZONS STAFF
bu Huraira reported: The Messenger of God (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam), said, “When the human being dies, his deeds come to an end except for three: ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge, or a righteous child who prays for him” (Source: Sahih Muslim 1631). At the end of a long productive life, Shaykh Taha left all three of these behind — in abundance. Below is just a partial list of what he has left behind for the ummah.
POSITIONS HELD •
• • • •
Founder, Qurtuba Institute for Research and Human Development Studies, Cairo (2006-2016), where he taught Qur’an and Hadith, Fiqh and Usul alFiqh, Sirah and al-Ta’rikh al-Islami President, Fiqh Council of North America (1996-2006) Founding Member (1981-1986) and President (1986-1996), International Institute of Islamic Thought Professor of Usul al-Fiqh, University of Imam Muhammad ibn Saud (1976-1984) Visiting Professor at Georgetown University (1998); International Islamic University, Malaysia (1994-1996); Al-Amir Abdulgadir University, Algeria (1990-92); Strasbourg University, France (1988); and University of Brunei, Brunei (1984-1985)
ACADEMIC DEGREES • • •
Ph.D., Islamic Law, Faculty of Shariah and Law, al-Azhar University (1973) M.A., Islamic Law, Faculty of Shariah and Law, al-Azhar University (1968) B.A. with Honors, Islamic Law, al-Azhar University (1959)
MOST IMPORTANT WORKS • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Editor and Authenticator of al-Razi’s Al-Mahsul fi ‘Ilm Usul al-Fiqh (The Sum and Substance of Usul al-Fiqh), 6 vols. (1973) Source Methodology in Islamic Jurisprudence: Usul al-Fiqh al-Islami (1990) Towards a Fiqh for Minorities: Some Basic Reflections (2003) Issues in Contemporary Islamic Thought (2005) The Ethics of Disagreement (Adab al-Ikhtilaf fi al-Islam; 1993) Apostasy in Islam (La Ikraha fi al-Din; 2011) How to Deal with the Sunnah (Kayfa Nata’amal ma’a al-Sunnah; 2014) Nahwa al-Tajdid wa al-Ijtihad (Toward Renewal and Independent Reasoning, 2008) Al-Jam’ bayn al-Qira’tayn (Combining the Two Readings of the Qur’an [the Book and the Universe]; 2014) Tafsir Surat al-An’am (Interpretation of Surat al-An’am; 2012). This book shows his methodology of “interpreting the Qur’an by the Qur’an.” Missing Dimensions in Contemporary Islamic Movements (Ab’ad Gha’ibah ‘an Fikr wa Mumarisat al-Harakat al-Islamiyyah al-Mu’asirah; 1996) Usul al-Fiqh al-Islami: Manjah Bahth wa Ma’rifah (1988) Mushkilatan wa Qira’ah fihima (1992). Tatawwur al-Manhaj al-Maqasidi ‘ind al-Mu’asirin (2012)
For more information, please visit IIIT.org and Alwani.net ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
knew the kind of potential Muslim American women could achieve in this country. He mainstreamed women’s participation in religious discourse,” she says of him. He regularly sought counsel from those women whom he deemed to be specialists in their fields. Although most known to the world as an intellectual, al-Alwani was a deeply spiritual man. His youngest daughter Ruqaia says, “Very few people know of my father’s deep spirituality and purity, but I have witnessed this since I was a young child … until the last moments of his life.”17 The last words she heard him utter were, “I long for the nearness of my Lord. I long to prostrate between His Hands.”18 Al-Alwani leaves behind three children, Zainab, Ahmed, and Ruqaia,19 fourteen grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Hadia Mubarak, a lecturer at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, did her doctorate in Islamic studies at Georgetown University, where she specialized in Quranic exegesis, legal reform and gender in Islam. Notes 1. Alwani, Zainab. Personal interview. 13 March 2016. 2. Al-Alwani, Taha Jabir. Interview with al-Azhar Satellite TV. 5 Dec. 2012. https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=EvqTweXnmEA 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid. 6. Alwani, Ahmed. Personal interview. 7 March 2016. Herndon, VA. 7. Al-Alwani, Taha Jabir. Towards a Fiqh of Minorities (Herndon, VA: IIIT, 2003), 8. 8. Ibid., 3. 9. Al-Hibri, Azizah. Personal interview. 12 March 2016. 10. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/supcourt/stories/sculpture.htm 11. http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2015/01/14/muhammad-sculpture-inside-supreme-court-a-gestureof-goodwill/ 12. Al-Alwani, Taha Jabir. “Fatwa Concerning the United States Supreme Courtroom Frieze.” Journal of Law and Religion 15 (January 2001): 1-28. 13. Ibid. 14. Alwani, Ahmed. Personal interview. 13 March 2016. 15. Sleiman, Mounzer. Personal interview. 18 March 2016. 16. Al-Hibri, Azizah. Personal Interview. 12 March 2016. 17. Al-Alwani, Ruqaia. 20 March 2016. http://ruqaia. com/ / 18. Ibid. 19. Zainab Alwani is a professor of religion at the Divinity School at Howard University. Ahmed Alwani is the executive director of Virginia International University. Ruqaia Alwani is a professor of Islam at Bahrain University.
BONDS CANNOT BE SPRAYED OVER
Neighbors and friends flocked to ISNA headquarters to share and know each other.
As a few people prayed fajr in the ISNA headquarters’ mosque in Plainfield, Ind. on Feb. 27, security cameras recorded three young men spray-painting the front wall with racial slurs and vulgar epithets. No one was hurt, and the vandals did not try to enter the building. ISNA reported the incident to local law enforcement and the FBI as a hate crime.
TO THE VANDALS, WE SAY THANK YOU The next morning, ISNA hosted about 100 people at a press conference. Among those present were members of the media, faith leaders and community members. “I want to thank the vandals for highlighting the fact that the bond between Muslims and their fellow Americans, and the bonds between Muslims and their brother and sisters of other faiths, is stronger than the bond between spray-paint and brick.” ISNA secretary general Hazem Bata told the audience.
Jewish Community Relations Council executive director Lindsey Mintz, Marian University Professor Pierre Atlas, Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light Organizing Director Mike Oles III and Center for Interfaith Cooperation executive director Charlie Wiles spoke on behalf of their congregations and organizations. They expressed their support and solidarity with the Muslims. In a statement read by his staff member Kathy Souchet-Moura, Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.) said, “I stand in strong solidarity with my friends at ISNA to condemn these acts. In Indiana and across this nation, respect and healing can and must happen. It is essential for the future of our nation and for the wellbeing of our children, families and communities.”
OPEN DOORS BUILD BRIDGES On March 19, ISNA opened its doors to the community by holding an interfaith open
house for neighbors to meet and talk with their Muslim neighbors. The approximately 300 attendees watched Unity Productions Foundation’s short film “American Muslims: Fact vs. Fiction.” Following the screening, they heard stories of resilience, love and hope from veteran Steven Lucas, Quaker Linze Southwick, Indianapolis’ first Muslim judge David Shaheed and Rev. Hector J Hernandez from the Latino community. Rev. Darren Chittick said, “I was so grateful to be able to attend an open house at ISNA today. It was an incredible show not only of hospitality for all who came, but also a wonderful opportunity to hear the voices of an American veteran, Disciples of Christ pastor, and a Quaker leader unite with Muslim voices for the cause of peace and the call to not only tolerate, but to embrace those who might seem, at first, to be ‘other.’ It was a beautiful gathering and a beautiful facility.” Several learning and activity stations were set up around the lobby. Hassan Hummeid’s calligraphy station was the most popular, and people stood in line to have their names written in Arabic. Information and free literature on Islam, including English-language translations of the Qur’an, were available for attendees to take home. They also had the opportunity to learn about ISNA and its services, such as youth development, mosque development and interfaith. Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad led them through the ISNA History Gallery, which showcases ISNA’s origins from 1963 to the present day. During the open house, nonperishable food items were collected for a local food pantry.
ISNA SUPPORTS SACRED JOURNEYS EXHIBIT The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis featured a Na- featured in a television commercial promoting the exhibit. ISNA tional Geographic exhibit on world religions entitled “Sacred Jour- headquarters staff and Indianapolis Muslim community members neys” during Aug. 29, 2015–Feb. 21, served as advisers on the exhibit, led pre2016. ISNA loaned the museum a sentations for the visitors and contributed piece of the kiswah (cloth covering) display items. from the Ka‘bah, ihram clothing, Each year, more than 330 million prayer rugs, prayer beads and other people around the world journey to a small items. sacred place. Through awe-inspiring ISNA President Azhar Azeez was immersive environments created with recognized as a community curator photography from National Geographic, for his donation of a bottle of Zamzam families were be able to observe, discuss water, the first display visitors saw at and begin to understand sacred journeys the entrance. ISNA Secretary Gen- ISNA secretary general Hazem Bata and his family at the ranging from personal acts of faith to eral Hazem Bata and his family were Children’s Museum. pilgrimages. 12
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE FOR PEACE Sayyid M. Syeed, national director of the ISNA Office of Interfaith and Community Alliance, delivered a keynote address at “Deepening Interreligious Dialogue and Community Alliances.” The event was hosted by the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice and the Kroc School of Peace Studies on Feb. 17. The Most Reverend Bishop Robert McElroy of the Catholic Diocese of San Diego also gave a keynote address, and USD Peace Studies associate professor Ami Carpenter offered remarks and then hosted a discussion with McElroy and Syeed. “We at the School for Peace Studies have been very concerned about the rise of violent extremism around the world and the rise of radicalization in some of our own communities and the rise of Islamophobia. It’s a dangerous combination,” said Carpenter. She said women should have prominent peacebuilding and peacemaking roles because of their ability to frame discussions in terms of broader issues. McElroy offered three challenges to the
country’s Catholic community in response to the anti-Islamic stance, saying that “[i]n both Catholic doctrine and in our history in the U.S., Catholics find a residence with the experience of the Muslim community in the present moment.”
He stated that there are three challenges: (1) “to recognize and confront the ugly tide of anti-Islamic bigotry that’s arisen in the U.S. since 2001,” (2) to “actively come to know in greater depth the Muslim community in the U.S. and the tenets of Islam,” and (3) “the need to forge an effective relationship with the Muslim community in America to witness and to fight for a future
in the Middle East which embraces the vital presence and freedom of Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities of faith.” Syeed said Muslim Americans are working to align themselves with other faiths to build common values of mutual respect and recognition to “shape a new millennium. ... All faiths,” he continued, “are striving to promote the divine values enshrined in our sacred texts and scripture so [that] those who exploit them for reinforcing hate, extremism, violence and instability are identified as the enemies of all faiths.” “Once you understand your neighbor, co-worker and you see the difficulties, dilemmas, joys of life through their eyes and as a Muslim believer, that makes it much more difficult to caricature that person, to put them in a box and make them a threat,” McElroy said. “This dialogue is meant to be dispersed by people in all levels of our faith and to come to understand them. It’s why the Pope keeps talking about the personal encounter. It means you belong to someone, not just in a discussion and not momentarily, but you belong to someone on a certain level. You walk in their shoes for a mile and then see how it looks.”
ISNA ELECTS GOVERNING BOARDS
STANDING TOGETHER FOR PEACE
ISNA Executive Council: President Azhar Azeez, Vice President USA Altaf Husain, Vice President Canada Pervez Nasim, and East Zone Officer-USA Osama Idlibi, Central Zone Officer-USA Fatima Salman and West Zone Officer-Tahir Anwar. Mohamed Magid Ali is past president. ISNA Majlis Ash-Shura: President Azhar Azeez, Vice President-USA Altaf Husain and Vice President-Canada Pervez Nasim. Shura Members: S. Imtiaz Ahmad (Canada), M. Affan Badar, Asad Ba-Yunus, Manzoor Ghori, Rizwan Jaka, Ziauddin Mahmood, Muzammil H. Siddiqi, S. Masroor Shah (professionals delegate, Association of Muslim Scientists, Engineers & Technology), Mohamed Bekkari (chairman, Canadian Islamic Trust Foundation), Safaa Zarzour (chairman, Council of Islamic Schools of North America), Asif Malik (president, Islamic Medical Association of North America), Jawad Shah (chair, Muslim Students’ Association-National), Sayeed Siddiqui (president, Muslim Youth of North America) and Mujeeb Cheema (designated representative, North American Islamic Trust). Safiah Chowdhury, Faizul R. Khan, Muhammad Farooqi-Azam Malik, Ahmed J. Quereshi, and Abdul Hamid Samra are community representatives. Imam Faizul Khan of the Islamic Society of Washington (ISWA) was elected chairman of the Montgomery County Faith Advisory Council, an agency approved by county executive Ike Leggett.
On Feb. 24-25, ISNA Development Manager Fahad Tasleem spoke at the two-day innovative program, “First Year Explorations: Standing Together for Peace: Muslim Lives in America,” conducted by the Lone Star College in Cypress, Tex., to inform freshmen college students about Islam in the U.S. This event sought to let Muslim Americans narrativize their own experiences -- theological, historical, political, social, cultural and economic -- and contextualize the Muslim/non-Muslim relationship for students and community members to re-vision that relationship in critical and mutually respectful ways. In addition to offering sessions facilitated by Muslim community members and interfaith leaders, specific disciplinary and interdisciplinary sessions to provide and model scholarly engagement with many of these topics are being planned. Speaking on “How does your faith impact how you deal with others?” Tasleem stated, “In Islam we have a belief in something called the ‘Fitrah,’ which is the natural base state that we believe God has placed in all human beings. That nature or base state is one of goodness and purity and therefore, our faith points us to see good in all people, no matter what their faith or background, because God has honored them as such.” The program included a number of panels and topics ranging from “The Role of Muslim Women in Society” to “The History of Muslims in America.” The program was well received, and many of the attendees commented that it opened up a view of Muslims in America that they had not been exposed to before.
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
COMMUNITY MATTERS Hartford Establishes First Shi’i Chair in North America
On Jan. 22, Hartford Seminary inaugurated the Imam Ali Chair for the Study of Shi’i Islam and Dialogue Among Islamic Legal Schools. This is the first academic chair in North America dedicated to Shi’i studies. Scholars, students and friends from around the world attended the event. Sayed Ammar Nakhjavani, a British Iraqi historian, lecturer and author, as well as a
prominent Shi’i scholar, is the chair’s first occupant. In 2014/2015, The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, an independent research entity affiliated with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought headquartered in Amman, Jordan, named him one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims. The chair provides a voice in the academy for Shi’i Islam and encourages intra-Muslim dialogue among the diverse legal schools. Hartford president Heidi Hadsell said that the chair would contribute to this dialogue and was a perfect fit for the seminary’s interreligious and intra-religious environment, as well as a natural extension of its long history of scholarship in Christian-Muslim relations. She said that Mahmoud Ayoub, a recently retired faculty associate member, was the driving force behind establishing and raising money for the chair. The reason for the chair, Ayoub stated, is not to create a rival program to the study of Sunni Islam, but to include the voice of Shi’i Islam at an institution that has such a special history and role in Christian-Muslim relations.
The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), a coalition of leading Muslim American groups, joined leaders from Muslim organizations in the West to announce the “Washington Declaration” on Feb. 4: A new body known as the Coordinating Body of Muslim Councils in the West (CBMCW) will address issues of common concern. CBMCW grew out of consultations at the “1st International Conference of Muslim Councils in the West” held in Arling14
ton, Va. This first-of-its-kind conference, organized by USCMO, brought together some 200 delegates, including representatives from Muslim councils and member organizations in the Americas, the Caribbean, Australia and Europe, to discuss the rising tide of Islamophobia, the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) project, formulating strategic priorities and other important issues. Participants heard from U.S. officials, diplomats, community activists and leaders,
Honoring the Three Winners
It has been one year since Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were murdered on Feb. 10, 2015. All of them were remembered at the couple’s condominium in Chapel Hill, N.C., by converting a house that Barakat owned into “The Light House” community center. Older brother Farris Barakat said he hopes that the work done since his brother’s death will continue to inspire understanding toward Muslim Americans. “It’s an opportunity for others to reflect and to learn from the examples they left in death and in life,” he said. Neighbor Craig Stephen Hicks, who has been charged with murder, could face the death penalty if convicted. academics and elected representatives. They presented reports on the status of Muslims in their respective countries. “We will continue to engage in civic, social, political and educational areas to better integrate the Muslims in their own countries, as well as internationally,” said Oussama Jammal, secretary general of USCMO. The founding members are American Muslims for Palestine, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Circle of North America, the Muslim Alliance in North America, the Muslim American Society, the Muslim Legal Fund of America, the Muslim Ummah of North America and The Mosque Cares (Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed). ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
The non-profit IslamInSpanish inaugurated the nation’s first Spanish-speaking mosque in Houston on Feb. 30. The center also features an exhibition on the history of Islam in Latino America and a state-ofthe-art production studio for broadcasting and streaming live Spanish programs online. “We’re creating a whole new identity. It’s a subculture literally, Latino Muslims,” said CEO Jaimie Mujahid Fletcher, a Colombian-American who founded the organization. The Islamic Society of Augusta, Ga., celebrated its 40th anniversary on Feb. 13. Nadeem Gill, president of the Islamic Society of Augusta and an oncologist, told Steve Crawford of Columbia County NewsTimes that what began as an effort by five Muslim families to put down roots has blossomed into a community of approximately 400 families. The center’s congregants come from at least 35 countries. The open house featured tours, educational displays and presentations on Islam and Islamic history, including the display of centuries-old hand-written copies of the Quran.
nities, the intersections of law with minority religious communities, and interfaith just peacemaking. She advises local and federal agencies on interfaith dialogue, cooperation and public engagement, and has facilitated conflict resolution processes for school, community, environmental, and public controversies. A regular blogger, she has been featured in the Los Angeles Times and on NPR and PBS. Syeed says, “In a year when Muslims are being told they can’t run for president or should not be allowed to migrate here, I am thankful for Claremont School of Theology, a Christian school of theology that epitomizes the Christian commitment to hospitality and social justice ... This is a beautiful tribute to my seminary’s commitment to faculty diversity.”
Members of Ibrahim and Mariam table outside the Student Union. (Photo: Courtesy Hanan Elsayed)
During its February meeting, the Claremont School of Theology board of trustees voted to promote Najeeba Syeed from assistant to associate professor of interreligious education. A recognized leader in peacebuilding, she has chaired national conferences on Muslim and Interfaith Peacebuilding. In addition to serving as a mediator in many cases, she has started mediation programs and established a track record has made her a sought-out advisor for government-sponsored initiatives at all levels both at home and abroad — in international conflicts in Guam, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, India and France. Syeed’s research has focused on mediation between law enforcement and commuISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
Muslim students at the University of Central Florida are running a different kind of club: the Ibrahim and Mariam organization. Open to all faiths, this registered student organization is in its first year on campus, reported the Central Florida Future on January 28. Club adviser Bassem Chaaban, director of outreach for the Islamic Society of Central Florida and 2001 UCF graduate, says that the members’ main mission is to build bridges of understanding between Muslim students and other students on campus and beyond. He is also a professor world religions, director of outreach at American Islam, and director of the Center for Peace. President Hanan Elsayed said that the group collaborates with other faith-based organizations. For example, when they organized an interfaith girls’ tournament, each team was required to have three girls of at least two different religions or faiths. Vice President Noor Hashim, a finance major, said that this was another way of having people collaborate and have fun at the same time. Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, 30, will make history this summer in Rio de Ja-
neiro by being the first U.S. hijabi athlete to compete in the Olympics. The African American New Jersey native and Duke alum, who specializes in women’s saber fencing, was the first Muslimah to compete for the U.S. in fencing several years ago . In addition to bronzes from the 20152016 season, she claimed the silver medal at a World Cup stop in 2013 and has seven team World Cup medals. Muhammad has also been part of the U.S. teams that have medaled at the past five world championships, including winning gold in 2014. She tried out for the 2012 Olympics, but that dream was thwarted when she tore a ligament in her hand months before the Games.
Iowa state Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad was among the winners of the 2015 “I’ll Make Me a World in Iowa” (IMMAWII) Heritage Legacy Award, which recognize Iowans whose creative and civic activities in African American life and culture in the state have contributed to making the world and the state a better place for all. Brazosport Islamic Center and food bank opened early February in Angleton, Tex., to serve Brazoria County’s growing Muslim population, estimated at 5,000 in 2010, according to figures compiled by City-Data.com. That is almost five times the number of adherents in the county a decade earlier. Imam Mujahid Al-Islam, the former Kenny Bomer, hopes to make the center a place where Angleton’s residents can come for information, fellowship, a good meal or help with their problems (e.g., recovering drug addicts and alcoholics). He is also interested in holding informational sessions at churches to teach Christians about Islam, reported Mary Newport of The Facts, on Feb 5. Al-Islam knows a lot about needing prayer. At age 11, he and his younger brother were abandoned on Freeport’s the streets and lived on their own for almost a year. After that, they went into foster care at the Brazoria County Youth Homes. 15
COMMUNITY MATTERS In high school, he discovered a talent for rap and thought that he had it made when his band, Def Squad, signed a record deal with Houston-based Mr. Henry Records and later on with Ichiban Records. When that group dissolved, he tried again with a band called Hit Squad; it didn’t work out. Dakota County (Minn.) district judge David L. Knutson ruled on Jan. 29 that Castle Rock Township must issue a permit to the Al Maghfirah Cemetery Association for its cemetery located near Farmington. The association plans to develop the first 20 acres of the 73-acre site to accommodate an estimated 35,000 burials and meet the needs of the state’s Islamic community. Minnesota’s two Islamic cemeteries, located in Roseville and Burnsville, are nearing capacity. The Castle Rock cemetery will address a growing need, as the metro Twin Cities’ Muslim population continues to grow, while also making Islamic burials more affordable for lower-income families. The association, which first proposed to use the land as a cemetery in March 2014, purchased it in November 2014 and reapplied for a permit. It sued in May 2015 after the township rejected its application, claiming a loss of tax revenue, a concern that the property wouldn’t be maintained and that the cemetery would be closed to the public. In October, the township board changed its zoning ordinance to block the cemetery, even though cemeteries were permitted at the time of the application. The township’s claim that the cemetery would mean the loss of $17,000 in property tax revenue was rejected when, in 2014, the judge said that it had collected just $1,285 in taxes for the property. Al-Huda School, College Park, Md., participated in C-SPAN’s prestigious 2016 StudentCam competition. The competition received 2,887 files from almost 6,000 students — the highest level of entries and student participation since the competition began twelve years ago. Entries came from 45 states, as well as Washington D.C., the Virgin Islands, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates. Al-Huda 8th graders Wadi Ahmed, Habeeb Hijazi and Rayyan Nahavandi’s documentary “The State of the Corporate Tax System” received an honorable mention. Janan Najeeb, a prominent member of Wisconsin’s Muslim community and longtime interfaith participant, offered the 16
Tutu Honor for Parvez Ahmed
Parvez Ahmed, professor of finance at Jacksonville’s University of North Florida (UNF), received UNF’s 2016 Desmond Tutu Peace and Reconciliation Award on Feb. 18. A former Fulbright Scholar who also serves as an interim chair of Islamic Horizons editorial advisory board, he was presented with the award at the Martin Luther King Luncheon. He said, “Fifty years after the Civil Rights Act, racial inequality remains an indelible part of our American landscape. Martin Luther King’s dream remains unfulfilled. In addition, income inequality threatens the fabric of our social cohesion. These systemic inequities are the result of our political system that benefits too few at the expense of the too many. “And so the anxiety has begun to metastasize. And then to appeal to the darkest recesses of our humanity, political leaders have resorted to demonizing Muslims; marginalizing African Americans; stereotyping Hispanic Americans; fear mongering about lesbian, gays and transgender people; and caricaturing refugees. “Our fear of the other remains our hardest mountain to climb. But climb we must, so that we can truly honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
opening prayer on the floor of the Assembly at noon on Feb. 11. This is thought to be a first for Wisconsin. She was invited by Milwaukee Rep. Mandela Barnes (D). Najeeb, a mother of five and dedicated community volunteer, is president of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition and founder of the Islamic Resource Center, the state’s first public Islamic lending library. She also sits on the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts and several other boards.
Students from Houston’s Al-Hadi School secured first place in the 57th annual Science and Engineering Fair at the University of Houston, held on Feb. 26. The school placed second out of 25 teams participating in the 9th grade division and received several achievement awards in other subjects. Students were given gift cards and other prizes. Al-Hadi School, part of the Islamic Center of Houston, is run by Hujjatolislam Badiee and has a program of multiple religious and cultural activities.
The following students, all seniors at the Islamic Foundation School in Villa Park, Ill., have been chosen as 2016 Illinois State Scholars Seniors: Umme Salmah Abdulbaseer, Osama Ahmad, Sultan Ahmed, Zayd Ahmed, Safia Ateeq, Abdullah Damra, Nabeel Ghani, Hebah Hussain, Haroon Khan, Deema Martini, Muhammad Nouman, Mahrukh Raheem, Marifa Saber, Fardeen Sayed and Isra Taha. They are among the 10 pecent of Illinois high school seniors who are chosen based on their outstanding academic achievement. The private all-girls Aqsa School, a college preparatory Islamic school in Bridgeview, Ill., celebrated its 30th anniversary with a gala dinner on Feb. 13. A founding member of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago in 1986, it was North America’s first-ever all-girls Islamic school. Ever since, it has been a pioneer educating young Muslimahs. For the third year in a row, Al-Amal School received the Best School Award in the 66th Annual Central Minnesota Regional Science Fair at St. Cloud State University on Feb. 20. It also received the Most Projects Award. For the third year in a row, at least one Al-Amal student will participate in the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), to be held in Phoenix, Ariz. in May. Eighth grader Ahmed Shahkhan, who received the Wayland Ezell Memorial Scholarship to St. Cloud State University, is ISEF-bound as an observer. ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
Azzad Asset Management Recognized as Top Manager Azzad Asset Management was recognized on Feb. 17 with one of the institutional asset management industry’s highest honors. The firm’s REIT (real estate investment trust) strategy was awarded “Top Guns” distinction from Informa Investment Solutions’ PSN manager ranking database for the fourth quarter, 1-year and 3-year periods ending December 31, 2015. “The PSN Top Guns ranks products in six proprietary star categories in over 50 universes,” said Leno Toich, managing director of Informa Investment Solutions. “This data-driven award recognizes elite performers on the leading investment manager database in North America and provides high-level exposure to hundreds of institutional clients and investors across our platform.” Achieving this distinction means the The Best School Award recognizes the school that wins the highest percentage of the competition’s premium awards. Premium award winners advance to the Minnesota State Science and Engineering finals held in April. Al-Amal’s awards tally at this competition includes one ISEF Award, 17 Premium Awards in Exhibits, 5 Premium Awards in Research Papers, 9 Special Awards, 16 Merit
Azzad REIT strategy, which manages eight investment portfolios and two mutual funds, is among the top 10 performers within one or more peer groups reporting to Informa, North America’s longest running investment manager database. The strategy ranked #1 out of all products and firms in the Informa REIT universe. The REIT strategy also finished in the top 10 for the U.S. equity category for the 4th quarter and 1-year period ended December 31, 2015. PSN’s U.S. equity universe comprises 3,124 products from 947 firms. Azzad also earned similar recognition during the third quarter of 2015. Awards, one honorable mention and one scholarship. The 41st Annual ICNA-MAS Convention, “Quran: The Divine Guidance,” will be held on Memorial Day weekend, May 28-30, in Baltimore, Md. More than 20,000 attendees and over 130 scholars, acclaimed speakers and world leaders are expected.
No Let Up in Islamophobia Hate groups operating in the U.S. went up from 784 in 2014 to 892 in 2015, a 14 percent increase, said director Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) Intelligence Project. Its annual report was released on Feb. 17. The year 2015 was one of “enormous rage” among extremists. Among the country’s hate groups and other extremist organizations are the three most notorious organized anti-Muslim groups: ACT! for America, Frank Gaffney’s Center For Security Policy (CSP) and the David Horowitz Freedom Center — their first entry in the list. The report lists 34 active anti-Muslim groups, noting a 42 percent increase in anti-Muslim groups since last year. Brigitte Gabriel, who heads ACT! for America, the nation’s largest anti-Muslim grassroots organization, has stated that “every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim.” The group uses its nationwide network of chapters to lobby for discriminatory policies, including model anti-Shariah laws known as American Laws for American Courts. Most recently, it has been focusing
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
Programs for all ages and interests have been arranged, as well as activities for children and toddlers. The bazaar will span nearly 400+ exhibitor and sponsor booths. Farhat Zahoor Abbasi has become the first Muslimah to join the Las Vegas Police Department (LVMP). She scored sixth (rank 6) among 4,000 applicants and then completed the training with a gold medal. In Pakistan, the Abbottabad-born Abbasi had a brief brush with journalism. She moved to the U.S. fourteen years ago and is married to an oral surgeon who serves as a major in the army reserves. Last year, this mother of three decided to work when her youngest child started kindergarten. She found an opportunity in LVMP. Baltimore City’s first purpose-built masjid, Masjid Al-Ihsan in Gwynn Oak, was formally inaugurated on March 5 when the Gwynn Oak Islamic Community (GIC), welcomed approximately 200 guests, including civic and faith leaders, to their facility near the city’s western border. The community building effort started when John “Yahya” Cason and several Muslim families moved into the Howard Park-Gwynn Oak neighborhood during the last fifteen years and began renovating and remodeling some of the old, large single-family homes, mostly within a one mile
on blocking humane refugee resettlement programs for Muslims. Mark Potok, editor-in-chief of SPLC’s Intelligence Report, announced that the center is not expecting anti-Muslim sentiment to lessen anytime soon, citing the exploitation of terrorist groups like ISIS and politicians who are mainstreaming anti-Muslim fear and prejudice. Late last year, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump cited a shoddy poll commissioned by Gaffney’s CSP to justify a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Gaffney, a former Reagan-administration official, is notorious for using CSP research to peddle anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and falsehoods. The eponymous David Horowitz Freedom Center sponsors and funds numerous far-right populist and anti-Muslim platforms, among them FrontPage Magazine, Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch blog and Ben Shapiro’s Truth Revolt project. It also funds campaigns to counter the so-called liberal and Islamic bias in the media and on college campuses nationwide. Potok warned that the SPLC is projecting an increase in anti-Muslim violence, citing recent FBI hate crime statistics, and that “[i]t’s going to get worse, not better.”
The First Woman-Built Mosque
Masjid Ibrahim, the first North American mosque to be fully paid for by a Muslim American woman, was formally inaugurated on Jan. 29, reports Director Aslam Abdullah. Sharaf Haseebullah, 71, a pharmacist and real estate investor, turned her dream into reality by building the $3 million mosque and community center in Northwest Las Vegas without seeking any donations. Masjid Ibrahim had existed since 1995 as a small facility inside a single family residence with a huge lot. The couple’s original plan had been to build a pharmacy. Instead, they turned the house into a prayer area for themselves and a few friends. Over time, the number of congregants increased and the home became a mosque. In 2005, after the original initiator Syed Haseebullah died, his widow Sharaf was inspired to build a new, larger mosque on the site with the money they had earned
radius. About 60 Muslim families make up the 5th district community. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who had to cancel her attendance, sent a certificate of recognition with a representative. Citations and certificates of recognition also came from Gov. Larry Hogan (R), presented by the head of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives Jennifer Gray, the Baltimore City Council, the Office of State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, and the office of junior United States Senator Ben Cardin (D). Delegate Hasan “Jay” Jalisi (D), the only Muslim in the State Legislature, said he is confident that “[GIC] will do great work for the community and for Maryland.” GIC vice-president Presley Cason, III, thanked Baltimore City zoning officials, some of whom were present at the ceremony, for guiding GIC through the process. Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) conferred an honorary doctorate on Frank 18
from their pharmacy. Construction on the 7,000-square-foot mosque began in 2012. In addition to a prayer room and facilities, it will contain a library of Islamic literature, the Quran in English and Spanish, job guides, reference materials and computers for schoolchildren as well as material to help the locals learn English. The mosque also features TV screens in most of its rooms so that attendees can watch and listen to prayers from the prayer room. Abdullah noted, “Indeed, this is unique moment in our Muslim history. Women have built masajid in India, Morocco as well as in Medina even during the time of the Prophet. But they were influential women. Either they were the rulers or the wives of rulers or they came from a family of wealthy merchants. Sharaf, born in Bihar, India, raised in Pakistan and who migrated to this country in 1974 with her husband [and very few] resources.”
Islam, the keynote speaker at its 63rd annual convocation on Feb. 27 in Aligarh, India. Islam, an American entrepreneur and philanthropist, has donated $2 million to his alma mater to establish the Frank and Debbie Islam School of Management and create an endowed chair. In addition, he has contributed funds to build a technical college for women in Azamgarh, U.P., in memory of his mother. Islam serves on various boards and advisory councils, such as the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Woodrow Wilson Center, the Brookings Institution, The Johns Hopkins University, American University, and George Mason University. Khabib Nurmagomedov, 27, a Muslim Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter, turned down an offer to appear at the UFC 200 show in Las Vegas, one of the year’s biggest mixed martial arts events, because it conflicts with Ramadan.
Simon & Schuster Creates Muslim-Themed Children’s Books In February, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers launched a new children’s imprint, Salaam Reads, dedicated to publishing books that feature Muslim characters and stories. The imprint, headed by executive editor Zareen Jaffery, 37, will issue nine or more books a year, ranging from board and picture books to middle grade and young adult titles. The books will highlight the experience of being Muslim through their characters and plots, said Justin Chanda, the publisher of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. When Jaffery, long bothered by the lack of Muslim characters in children’s literature, presented the idea of seeking out books about Muslims, Simon & Schuster decided to create a new imprint and chose the name Salaam (peace). “We have a chance to provide people with a more nuanced and, in my estimation, a more honest portrayal of the lives of everyday Muslims,” Jaffery said. Salaam Reads will release four books in 2017, including “Salam Alaikum,” a picture book based on a song by Harris J, the British teen pop singer. Several titles are planned for release in 2017, among them “Musa, Moises, Mo and Kevin,” a picture book about four kindergarten friends who learn each other’s holiday traditions; Karuna Riazi’s “The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand,” about a 12-year-old Bangladeshi American who sets out to save her brother from a supernatural board game; and “Yo Soy Muslim,” a picture book by poet Mark Gonzales, a convert alumnus of HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam.” “I could not take part in the anniversary tournament. When the UFC asked me, I realized ... [that] UFC 200 is between Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr. We will probably watch it on TV,” he told riakchr.ru. This is not the first time that “The Eagle,” a Dagestani-born Avar and top contender in the UFC’s lightweight division, has done this. In 2014, he rejected a fight with Donald Cerrone for the same reason. The Russian grappler will face Tony ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
The Northernmost Mosque
After years in the making, Iqaluit’s new mosque in Nunavut, Canada’s newest, largest, northernmost, and least populous province, held its formal inauguration on Feb. 12, CBC reported CBC on the following day. It serves as a prayer hall, community center, and school for Iqaluit’s diverse Muslim community of 100 or so engineers, doctors, teachers, government workers and taxi drivers. “By establishing this mosque, we are saying one thing: We are now an integral part of Iqaluit. We are now a part of the
Iqaluit community,” said Hussain Guisti, the Zubaidah Tallab Foundation’s general manager. “The guys were working outside underneath the mosque in -56C (-68.8 F) below. I mean, that’s treacherous. If you can build a mosque in Iqaluit, you can build it anywhere else on the planet.” The foundation, which has helped build mosques in Inuvik, N.W.T., and Thompson, Manitoba, worked with the Islamic Association of Nunavut to build this Can$800,000 mosque. It is hoped that the mosque’s presence will encourage more Muslim families to move to Nunavut’s capital city. There are also plans to operate a food bank at the site. Iqaluit, with its total population of 8,000, has the highest number of Inuit people in both numbers (3,900) and percentages (59.1%), of all Canadian cities with populations greater than 5,000 people.
Ferguson, number 3 in the lightweight division, at the UFC event on Fox 19. A win could boost his chances to win the title. The UFC features most of the world’s top-ranked fighters in the sport.
Hopkins University named this the Eyaid Syndrome. She said couples with this syndrome can have in vitro fertilization, with the eggs being examined before being placed in the uterus.
Among those who presented their ambassadorial credentials to President Obama at the White House on Jan. 28 were Haris Hrle (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Serbini Ali (Brunei Darussalam), Mohamed Siad Douale (Djibouti), and Prince Abdullah Faisal Turki Al Saud (Saudi Arabia). This traditional ceremony marks the formal beginning of an ambassador’s service in the U.S.
Dr. Mark Salman Humayun, co-director of the University of Southern California (USC) Eye Institute and director of the USC Institute for Biomedical Therapeutics, received the nation’s highest award for technology achievement — the National Medal of Technology and Innovation — from President Obama at a January 22 White House ceremony. Humayun, one of this year’s nine recipients, was chosen for his lifelong dedication to bridging medical science and engineering to restore a person’s sight. He holds more than 100 issued patents and patent applications, most in the area of bioimplants for ophthalmology. His innovative work is best exemplified by the development of the Argus II, the only FDA-approved retinal prosthesis system that allows those with certain blinding diseases to regain some useful vision. The award, administered for the White House by the U. S. Department of Commerce’s Patent and Trademark Office and presented by the sitting president since 1980, recognizes individuals and small teams that collaborate on innovative systems or divi-
The John Hopkins University has named a new genetic disease – the Eyaid Syndrome — after Wafa bint Mohammad Al-Eyaid, a consultant in endocrine diseases and genetics at Riyadh’s King Abdulaziz Medical City, in recognition of her research contributions. Al-Eyaid, who followed 12 cases involving six Saudi families between 2002 and 2010 in order to study causes and cures for certain birth defects, presented these cases at a conference on genetics in Canada in 2011. The final analysis of the disease was unveiled at a genetics conference in North Carolina in 2012. In early 2015, the human mendelian inheritance website of The John 20
sions of companies that have contributed to the nation’s economic, environmental and social wellbeing. Humayun merges medicine and engineering to focus on developing treatments for the most debilitating and challenging eye diseases. In addition to holding the inaugural Cornelius J. Pings Chair in Biomedical Sciences, he directs the National Science Foundation and serves as the principal investigator of a California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) disease team grant involving a multi-university consortium to develop a stem cell implant for age-related macular degeneration. The Argus II, also known as the “bionic eye,” received approval from the FDA in 2013 and, since then, the USC Eye Institute has been one of the centers of excellence for patients receiving this implant. Humayun has trained ophthalmologic surgeons worldwide in how to implant this device. A team led by Samir M. Iqbal, associate professor of electrical engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington, has developed a new cancer cell detection method that will help improve the early diagnosis of cancer. Iqbal detailed his team’s results in Nature’s Scientific Reports paper: “Effects of Nanotexture on Electrical Profiling of Single Tumor Cell and Detection of Cancer from Blood in Microfluidic Channels” (Scientific Reports 5, Article number: 13031; 2015). The tool works by tracking cellular behavior in real time using nanotextured walls that mimic layers of body tissue. He worked with Young-tae Kim, a UTA associate professor in the Bioengineering Department; Muhymin Islam, a STEM doctoral candidate; and engineering students Mohammad Motasim Bellah, Adeel Sajid and Mohammad Raziul Hasan. They observed the many tissue layers in the human body and decided to develop something to mimic that layering. They used the cell walls’ inherent properties to create a diagnostic tool. “The cancer cells behave differently as they come into contact with the nanotextured walls. They dance,” he added. Identifying those “dancing cells” will help doctors pinpoint cancer cells and start treatment earlier than allowed with current technology. ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
COMMUNITY MATTERS Iqbal explained that his device has the potential to discover cancer before it metastasizes, which is essential to surviving it. Iqbal is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Urology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, directs the UTA Nano-Bio Lab and is an affiliated faculty member at the UTA Bioengineering Department.
Sayeef Salahuddin, University of California, Berkeley (National Science Foundation) and Muhammad F. Walji (The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston) are among the 106 researchers named by President Obama on Feb.18 as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers. This is the government’s highest honor for science and engineering professionals in the early
stages of their independent research careers. It was established by President Clinton in 1996 to highlight and encourage American innovation. Salahuddin, who joined Berkeley’s electrical engineering and computer science faculty in 2008, received his B.S. from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology in 2003 and his PhD from Purdue University in 2007. Walji, associate dean for technology services and informatics and a professor in the Department of Diagnostic and Biomedical Sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Dentistry, has an M.S. and a Ph.D. from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Dany Doueiri, associate professor of world languages and literatures, California State University San Bernardino (CSUSB), was awarded the Golden Apple, his university’s highest teaching award, on March 9. Doueiri, who joined CSUSB in 2001, was honored for his teaching, work with students and with the university’s Summer Language Intensive Program, which he helped to grow
from its initial offering of three beginning-level courses taught in six sections during the 2001-02 academic year. It is now a burgeoning program that offers 55 different courses in 75 sections, serving more than 1,000 students from across the nation per year, according to President Tomás D. Morales. CSUSB is the only California State University campus to offer an Arabic Language B.A., and one of two, the other being UCLA, in the state to offer such a degree. Doueiri and the Arabic program has received rave reviews outside the university. A recent external evaluator who had researched more than 150 Arabic programs around the nation concluded: “Cal State San Bernardino’s Arabic program is offering one of the most vibrant and rigorous undergraduate major and minor programs, on par in many respects, with programs offered at some of the most respected Arabic programs across the country at institutions such as Princeton, Yale, Georgetown, Urbana-Champagne, UT Austin, Brigham Young University, University of Arizona, Michigan State University, and at the renowned Middlebury Language Schools.”
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
ST. LOUIS CONFERENCE REPORT
THE ST. LOUIS CONFERENCE WAS THE FIRST STOP OF ISNA’S 2016 CONFERENCE TOUR, WHICH WILL BE VISITING VARIOUS MAJOR CITIES AROUND THE NATION THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.
Imam Siraj Wahhaj speaking at the St. Louis conference.
Striving for Justice BY FARYAL M. KHATRI
ome 400 attendees participated in the “Striving for Justice” ISNA conference and community service project in St. Louis, Mo. The Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis estimates that about 100,000 Muslims live in the St. Louis area. This conference was the first stop of ISNA’s 2016 conference tour, which will be visiting various major cities around the nation throughout the year.
Featured speakers Linda Sarsour and Imam Siraj Wahhaj called upon Muslims to become civically engaged and to stand up against injustice not just for their own community, but also for all people. ISNA president Azhar Azeez discussed Islamophobia and how we can change the narrative to counter the recent rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric. ISNA Executive Council member Fatima Salman addressed the importance of social justice. Two of the conference sessions focused on ways to deal with Islamophobia. Azeez said that while a faction of the population is working to demonize Muslims, he is optimistic that those efforts can be overcome. He extended that analogy to the anti-Muslim rhetoric spoken on the campaign trail: “I personally believe that no one single party, no one single individual can shake the fabric of this nation because the values, the ideals of this nation are very deeply rooted. I believe our biggest enemy is ignorance. And ignorance leads to prejudice. So if we are going to educate people about who we are, then definitely we are going to be able to eliminate this challenge (of anti-Muslim sentiment).” ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
Linda Sarsour speaking at the St. Louis conference.
Area community leaders and activists, among them Mustafa Abdullah, Faizan Syed and Imam Djalali Kacem, discussed Ferguson, Black Lives Matter and other local issues. In December 2015, Muslim leaders said that St. Louis had seen an increase in anti-Muslim sentiment. Ghazala Hayat of the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis said that it’s too soon to say whether much has changed. She added that many St. Louisans have shown their support by sending cards and well wishes to her organization. “I’m very hopeful that after the election year is over that this will die down. But it also depends on the results of the election, where we stand.” “If we are on the (school) boards, if we are on the national-level committees, they will hear and then if somebody is making some decision which is anti-Muslim or for that purpose any other group
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
‘anti,’ we will be able to speak up and say ‘You know this is not acceptable,’” said Hayat. Azeez and local Muslim leaders urged Muslim Americans to get more involved in the political process to make sure their votes and voices are heard. The press conference held during the event was addressed by Azeez, conference co-chairs Helal Ekramuddin and Ghazala Hayat of the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis and ISNA board member Rashed Nizam. In the evening, ISNA held a celebration banquet to honor Professor Emeritus Mohammed Waheed-uz-Zaman Rana, Department of Anatomy, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, for his lifelong devotion to community service. He was heavily involved in the local and national MSA, a forerunner of ISNA, and in 1981 chaired the MSA national convention. For almost half a century he literally fed and sheltered the St. Louis Muslim community. Hayat shared touching words as she reflected upon how Rana had influenced and mentored the community. Keynote speaker Imam Siraj Wahhaj and Azeez also spoke. Talented musical artist Mo Sabri concluded the banquet on a high note. The following day, ISNA co-sponsored a Stop Hunger Now food packaging event with Islamic Relief, the North American Bangladeshi Islamic Community (NABIC) and the Islamic Foundation of Greater St Louis. Over 150 volunteers helped package 20,000 meal packets, each one containing rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and a flavoring mix of 21 essential vitamins and minerals. Faryal M Khatri, ISNA Communications Department.
53RD ANNUAL ISNA CONVENTION
Chicago #53 is Unfolding Volunteers in Chicago and ISNA staff are continuing their work to welcome guests to the 53rd Convention. BY ISLAMIC HORIZONS STAFF
(left to right) Hazem Bata, Mir Khan, Chair of the 2015 Steering Committee, Azhar Azeez, and Asra Ali.
resident Azhar Azeez, secretary general Hazem Bata and several staff members returned to Chicago to show their appreciation for those who volunteered at ISNA’s 52nd Annual Convention. The Jan. 24 luncheon was attended by some 100 workers, all of whom reunited with their committees and interacted with the ISNA leadership as they recounted the highlights and best moments of the past convention. Bata commended all of them, as well as the steering committee, for a successful convention and making them feeling welcomed as ISNA returned to Chicago for another year. Azeez invited these talented people, whom he called “the heart and soul of the Convention,” to ISNA’s 53rd Convention in the Windy City. Vice-president-USA Altaf Husain said that the ISNA Convention Program Committee (CPC) has adopted the theme, “Turning Points: Navigating Challenges, Seizing Opportunities,” which builds upon last year’s successful theme, “Stories of Resilience: Strengthening the American Muslim Narrative.” During the last part of 2015 and the early part of 2016, he stated “we have seen incred-
ible concerted and collaborative efforts on the part of Muslim communities to promote the teachings of Islam and to engage not only with each other, but also with allies and partners within society at large. These efforts are a positive response to the rise of anti-Muslim bigotry. “This year’s convention theme addresses turning points, challenges and opportunities. This theme will allow scholarly deliberations and engaging conversations in the plenary sessions, main sessions, parallel sessions and round-table discussions. The broad goal will be to look at how we can navigate through challenges and respond effectively. Sessions will explore how to organize and empower our communities to seize the opportunities to strengthen our faith, to impart its teachings and to address socially complex issues facing Muslims and society at large.” The Chicago-based CSC met with the ISNA leadership and the convention director at the end of the appreciation luncheon to get a head start on planning this year’s Convention, which promises to be one of the best ones to date. The CPC is working to ensure that attendees are once again provided with a fulfilling program. After agreeing on a theme, they
had it approved by ISNA Executive Council. It has invited formal proposals from ISNA members, supporters and organizations. A call for Parallel Session Proposals was widely publicized through ISNA’s weekly e-newsletter, social media and website. The ISNA Founders Committee met regularly during January to plan for the 2016 Community Service Recognition Lunch. Its members held their preliminary discussion on choosing the keynote speaker and assigned the Core Committee to work on selecting the Community Service award recipient for 2016. Online registration (convention@isna. net) opened in January. Multiple events, forums and conferences have also been lined up. ISNA has arranged for room discounts with four hotels — Hyatt, Embassy Suites, Crowne Plaza, and Double Tree. More hotel accommodations will be added, as needed. In keeping with the demand, two matrimonial banquets will be held on Saturday and Sunday. More than 800 people participate in these events, which offer networking opportunities to single people who want to get married. ISNA Program Development Director Mukhtar Ahmad said that by mid-March — as this magazine was going to press – 18 of the 36 invited speakers had confirmed their participation. The others’ responses are awaited. In keeping with its tradition, ISNA will host an Interfaith Reception. ISNA Conventions Director Basharat Saleem said that the bazaar will feature more than 550 booths offering a wide variety of goods and services. Also, a Qira’at competition will be convened for several age and proficiency levels, as well as a film festival, “Meet the Author” programs, an art and photography exhibition and a health fair. An engaging children’s (ages 6 to 11 years) and babysitting program (ages 2 to 5 years) well be provided for the registered children. Meals are not included in the childcare program; however, ISNA will provide light snacks. Parents are required to take care of their own children during the lunch and dinner breaks. According to Saleem, both sign language interpreters and special accommodations will be arranged. He advised that those who need such serves to visit the ISNA homepage and fill out the form at www.isna.net/ special-accommodations.html. ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
53 ANNUAL RD
September 2 – 5, 2016 Donald E. Stephens Convention Center 9291 Bryn Mawr Ave • Rosemont, IL 60018
Turning Points: Navigating Challenges, Seizing Opportunities 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
REGISTER ONLINE AT WWW.ISNA.NET CONTACT: Registration: (317) 838-8129 or email@example.com Booths & Sponsorships: (317) 838-8131 or firstname.lastname@example.org Website: WWW.ISNA.NET
MUSLIMS OF THE
Why are Portland and the Pacific Northwes PORTLAND HAS GONE FROM HAVING THREE MOSQUES IN THE 1990S TO OVER 12 ISLAMIC ORGANIZATIONS AND MOSQUES IN THE GREATER PORTLAND AREA.
Islamic Center of Portland.
BY WAJDI SAID, BRANDON MAYFIELD, SAHAR BASSYOUNI AND JAWAD KHAN
he bulk of Oregon’s Muslim population is concentrated in Greater Portland, commonly known as the “City That Works” or “The Rose City.” An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 Muslims call Oregon and Southwest Washington home. Oregon, the nation’s ninth largest and 27th most populous state, provides abundant employment and recreational opportunities as well as options for higher education and mass transportation. In 2009, factoring in such things as personal freedom, crime, housing availability, education and public services, the U.S. consulting firm Mercer ranked Portland 42nd worldwide in quality of living — all of which are enjoyed by the city’s residents. Employment opportunities in the state’s “Silicon Forest” hi-tech sector attracts many Muslims, hundreds of whom are employed by Intel, Tektronix, Mentor Graphics, Radisys and similar companies. Muslims also work in research and/or clinical positions at the Oregon Health Sciences University and as professors, instructors and researchers at area institutions of higher learning. ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
st home to more than 20,000 Muslims? Since the 1990s, many companies have moved their headquarters to Portland, among them such big names as Adidas and Daimler Trucks. Other Portland-based companies include Nike; film animation studio Laika; advertising giant Wieden+Kennedy; financial services companies Umpqua Holdings and StanCorp Financial; Standard Insurance Company; law firms Stoel Rives, Schwabe and Williamson & Wyatt; the data-tracking firm Rentrak; utility providers PacifiCorp, NW Natural and Portland General Electric. These companies employ many Muslims in the Portland metro area. In addition, there is a wide array of Muslim-owned consulting or accounting firms, medical and dental practices, restaurants and other small businesses. Many foreign Muslim students come to
Portland to pursue their education and then settle down in the area. Among the local area colleges and universities are Portland State University, at which more than 1,000 Muslims are currently studying, the University of Portland, Lewis & Clark College and Reed College. Some who attend the University of Oregon and Oregon State University graduates also end up calling Portland home. Others have arrived due to push factors — Somalis, Kurds, Bosnians and Iraqis — and are now a vibrant part of the community. Due to Portland’s unique political and cultural environment, as well as its pride in its own diversity, Muslims of all ethnic and other backgrounds and identities feel free to be themselves and celebrate their rich cultural identities. Of the approximately
20,000 Portland-area Muslims, 25 percent are Arab, 25 percent are Somali, 25 percent are South Asian and the remainder is a mix of African American, Turkish, Bosnian, European American, Iranian and Afghani individuals. Perhaps because no one ethnic group dominates the community’s life, a relatively harmonious relationship exists and is enjoyed. For the past 16 years these Muslims have started Ramadan on the same day and celebrated one Eid ul-Fitr. Many masjids and organizations work, sometimes together, to help refugees, the elderly, the unemployed and those who are seeking social services. One of the community’s most important achievements has been in its key organizations that have catapulted into the forefront of interfaith dialogue.
Oregon Catholic, Jewish and Protestant Leaders’ conversation with Dr. Sayyid Syeed (center), May 2013. ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
Portland community support for the Arab and Muslim community, 1991.
For example, the Muslim Educational Trust (MET), a leading organization in the Portland metro area founded in 1993, helped co-found the Arab-Muslim Police Advisory Council (AMPAC), the Interfaith Council of Greater Portland (www.ifcgp. org), the Institute for Christian-Muslim Understanding (ICMU, www.icmuoregon. org), The Arab-Jewish-Muslim Dialogue, the Islamic Social Services of Oregon State (I-SOS, www.i-sos.org) and the Between Women (Jewish-Christian-Muslim) Interfaith Group. Other key organizations include the Oregon Islamic Chaplains Association and the Islamic Society of Greater Portland (ISGP). In the early 1970s, some families began hosting Islamic-oriented social gatherings, an undertaking that eventually culminated in its formal registration as the non-profit religious organization Islamic Society of Greater Portland. In 1986, it founded the Muslim School of ISGP at Masjid As Saber, at the time
LIKE ALL MUSLIM COMMUNITIES, PORTLAND-AREA MUSLIMS ARE PASSING THE BATON TO THE NEW LEADERS. located in a house that had been converted into a mosque in Southwest Portland. Like all Muslim communities, Portland-area Muslims are passing the baton to the new leaders. In that respect, numerous Muslim youth organizations have sprung up in the area; the Muslim Youth of Portland; the MSAs at Portland State University, Lewis & Clark, Oregon State University, and the
The Muslim community of Portland and SW Washington, as well as Oregon’s interfaith community, welcome Imam Warithuddin Mohammed (d. 2008; 5th from left) in 2006. 30
University of Oregon; the Somali Youth of Oregon and Oregon’s Muslim Youth. There are also quite a few other programs, such as Geo Bee, the Art Club, Career Day, the Chess Club, Energy Fair, Poetry Night, Tae-KwonDo, Math Carnival, Lego Robotics, Quran Contest, Basketball Club, the Jump Rope Club, College Advisory, Weekend School, Buddy Mentorship, Science Fair, the Youth Essay Contest, Speech Tournament, MET Youth Ambassadors Club and Toastmasters Youth Leadership. The pioneer generation of Muslims is leaving behind a great legacy for the next generation. In the late 1970s, primarily Arab students from Portland State University (PSU) and the University of Portland began holding congregational prayers in various temporary locations. A Saudi PSU student bought a house for a would-be mosque. Eventually funds were raised to build a larger permanent mosque where Masjid As Saber, Oregon’s largest mosque, is situated today in SW Portland. A number of individuals in the West Portland suburbs, some affiliated with ISGP, sought a permanent place of prayer located closer to the congregation’s houses. With money raised by the local Muslim community, the house-converted Bilal Mosque was purchased in 1994. Additional fundraising enabled purchases of other property and structures were added to include a more traditional mosque structure. The Muslim Community Center of Portland, in NE Portland, established in the early 1970s, is recognized as the state’s oldest surviving organized community of Muslims. Most of its founders trace their roots back to over 1.7 million African American men and women who followed Imam Warith Deen Mohammed into Sunni Islam. The Muslim community in the Vancouver area organized the Islamic Society of Southwest Washington, which acquired its own property in 2007 and erected Masjid Al-Noor. Members of Portland’s Shia community have held services at the Islamic Center of Portland since 1993 and, more recently, acquired and updated Al Mahdi Center in Beaverton. They have been praying together since at least 1983, when an Iraqi student had fled Saddam’s Iraq, visited the city and met with other PSU Shia students. The community has grown significantly since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the first and second Gulf wars. The ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
Muslim Educational Trust partners with Lewis & Clark Law School and the US Attorney’s Office to offer “MUSLIMS and ISLAM: What Justice Officials and Law Enforcement Professionals Should Know” Workshop with Dr. Jamal Badawi (3rd from right), 2013.
various Sunni and Shia communities have established respectful and cordial ties with each other. As the community continues to grow, in part due to the recent influx of refugees, Portland and its surrounding suburbs have seen the establishment of several new mosques to meet all of their needs. The Muslim communities and mosques throughout Portland and the Greater Portland area have done a commendable job of supporting and interacting among themselves as well as, establishing organizations that seek to unite, educate and help Muslims and the community at large. The Muslims in and around Portland come from varied ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, but generally display an attitude of inclusiveness. The 9/11 tragedy served as the impetus for gatherings of concerned Muslim and Christian leaders in Oregon and Southwest Washington to identify and strengthen their ties. In the words of the Institute for Christian-Muslim Understanding, an opportunity for “valuing their deepening relationship and desiring to help eliminate negative ste-
reotypes and prejudices which may exist in both faith communities and the public.” Since 9/11, there have been instances of profiling of Muslims by local law enforcement (primarily federal). A number
of Portlanders have, without cause, found themselves on the no-fly list. But perhaps because of the Oregonians’ general inclu-
Henna art at Islamic Socity of Greater Portland walk. ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
siveness and some of the interfaith and community ties, many of the attempts to marginalize the city’s and state’s Muslims have met with serious resistance. For example, Portland chose not to have its officers perform a function historically reserved for immigration customs officials, citing the mistrust that it would create. Also, as a result of the mishandling of Brandon Mayfield, a local Muslim attorney who was wrongly implicated in the 2004 Madrid (Spain) train bombing, city officials temporarily barred Portland police officers from participating in the JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force) citing the risk of profiling without probable cause. Oregon is unique in this respect, for it prohibits collecting or storing information based on religious or political associations without reasonable suspicion the subject is involved in criminal activity. In 2010, with help from Muslim activists, the House Education Committee voted 6-4 in favor of a bill ending Oregon’s 87-year ban on school teachers wearing religious attire at work. In addition, several challenges to the nation’s no-fly list involving Portland area Muslims are currently being litigated in Oregon’s federal district court. Due to Portland’s general atmosphere of openness to diverse thoughts and celebration of personal freedom, interfaith dialogue has been relatively fluid and constructive. Local area centers of worship and affiliated organizations find Portland a good place for dialogue, for all sides are willing to seek common ground and common solutions. For example, MET has partnered with the Ainsworth United Church of Christ, the First Methodist Church Beth Israel, the Havurah Shalom Synagogue, Neveh Shalom Synagogue and others. Some of the local area masjids provide Open House tours and information nights. Masjid Bilal regularly 31
Salman Al-Farisi Islamic Center.
hosts George Fox University students and instructors and many local churches and synagogues. The Turkish community and cultural center has forged educational and friendly ties with the Portland Police Bureau. As a whole, Portland’s Muslim community, due to the partnerships and friendships it had forged through years of dialogue and outreach, felt protected and secure after that tragedy. A MET representative also sits on the Arab Muslim Police Advisory Council, which was formed by the Portland Police Department after 9/11. Moreover, the metro area’s favorable political environment has allowed the community, led by a visionary leadership, to build relationships with mayors, senators, councilmen, judges, and university presidents. Bolstered by an active leadership with a vision, Portland’s burgeoning Muslim community finds itself on the verge of new horizons — new full-time schools and community centers, updated mosques, newly forged in addition to already strong relationships with city and state leadership, continuing active dialogue with other faith groups and a feeling
of possibility of what can be accomplished. Oregon’s Muslim youth are poised to led the next generation of Muslims.
EARLY SETTLERS Small numbers of Muslims have lived in Oregon virtually since its inception. Judging from some of the native names in the Americas, some were likely here before Oregon became a state (1859), probably as refugees from the ongoing Spanish Inquisition or as displaced slaves. Punjabi immigrants from British-occupied India began arriving after 1906 due to Canadian and other regions’ racist restrictions. Many worked at mill jobs from Portland to Astoria. In fact, some of the key members of the Ghadar Party, among the first to try to overthrow British colonialism in India, had settled down in Portland. Muslims from all over the world begin trickling into Oregon in larger number during the 1960s in hopes of pursuing their education via a Fulbright scholarship, finding a better life for themselves and their families or fleeing from their war-torn homelands. Many of the first immigrants were from
the Middle East and South Asia, followed by refugees from Afghanistan, Chechnya, Somalia and Iraq. Many of them faced various obstacles: a language barrier, a lack of community support and a lack of knowledge about how to become citizens. Over the years, the community has developed programs to ease these people transition by providing ESL classes, job search help, citizenship services orientation, business franchising sessions and so on. The newer immigrants face a huge generational cultural gap: full integration into mainstream American society versus positive assimilation and their children’s Islamic identity. As more Islamic organizations are established with a special focus on bringing the youth together, the whole concept of the mosque or musalla as a place of worship is evolving into that of a community center that offers recreation, education and family/ community events. In the early days, Muslims tended to convene and meet weekly in each other’s homes to socialize and teach their children the Quran and Arabic. In the early 1970s, African American Muslims established Oregon’s first official mosque. The first weekend school appeared in the early 1990 and was followed by a fullfledged full-time Islamic school by the end of the decade. Portland has gone from having three mosques in the 1990s to over 12 Islamic organizations and mosques in the Greater Portland area. The city is home to the Pacific Northwest’s first K-12 full-time Islamic school — the Oregon Islamic Academy — which has, so far, graduated five classes of seniors, all of whom have enrolled in 4-year colleges. Moreover, MET and ISGP are actively working to set up Islamic community centers in an effort to build a stronger community and develop an environment where all Muslims — especially the youth — can intermingle, worship, play and have fun.
Bilal Masjid hodts open house. 32
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
Muslim School of ISGP.
MUSLIMS ACROSS OREGON Being the home to two of Oregon’s largest public universities, the cities of Eugene and Corvallis have attracted Muslims both at home and abroad for 50 years. Students and families came to complete their graduate or undergraduate studies; some never left. Muslim students and instructors introduced MSAs into the local universities, and the schools provided space for the weekly Friday prayers and an annual Islamic Awareness Week and International Fair. The Muslim presence in Corvallis is especially marked by the purpose-built Salman Al-Farisi Islamic Center and the state’s first and only Islamic cemetery that is available to all Muslims free of charge. The 10-acre cemetery was established in 1992 and paid for by community donations. This college town is located about 75 miles southwest of Portland. The state capital, Salem, has also attracted Muslim professionals, engineers, and doctors to work in its ever-growing professional community and governmental agencies. Muslim communities in these cities worked long and hard to establish musallas and mosques alongside youth and weekend school programs. OSU Muslim students founded the Corvallis community in the late 1970s. They
raised enough money to begin erecting the Islamic Center, which is now home to a flourishing and diverse community. About 1,000 Muslims, many of whom are OSU students or staff, now live in the Corvallis area. Two spectacular green-topped white minarets point out the Salman Al-Farisi Islamic Center’s location. On Nov. 28, 2010, when it became the target of an arson attack, the entire faith community stood shoulder-to-shoulder with its Muslim neighbors. Its imam, Yosof Wanly, declined the honor of “Man of the Year” for his community service on the grounds that Islam calls upon people to be humble and not aggrandize themselves. Muslims in Eugene come from a staggering array of countries, from South Africa to Palestine to China. The Islamic Center of Eugene, also known as Abu-Bakr As-Siddiq Islamic Center, was upgraded in 2012 and can now hold up to 350 persons.
EMPOWERING MUSLIMAHS Neighbor-nets and other halaqas and study circles are shaping the present society and, through mothers, the next generation. Portland’s Muslimahs have been instrumental in pursuing community coherence and Islamic education for their children. Muslim organizations are working to em-
power them by recognizing and trying to meet their needs via workshops in education, career counseling, fitness, sports, marriage and parenting. Additionally, Muslimahs are holding home study circles to uplift their spirits, enrich their knowledge of the Quran and Hadith, and bring Islam to life through the Seerah. Islamic organizations regularly arrange special workshops and sessions for successful Muslimah and non-Muslim professionals in the public square. From time to time, Muslim organizations gauge the community’s needs, especially those of its women and youth. In response, the MET Community Center houses a private swimming pool and gym, which will have a women-only schedule. All-girl and all-boy athletic teams will be formed and compete with area teams. The center also houses an art museum and gallery in which Muslimahs can hold and lead workshops as well as express themselves through art and design. Wajdi Said, President and Co-founder of the Muslim Educational Trust; Brandon Mayfield, Attorney at Law, Advisory Board Member, Islamic Society of Greater Portland; Jawad Khan, Teacher and College Counselor, Oregon Islamic Academy, a program of the Muslim Educational Trust. This article was coordinated by Rania Ayoub, MET director of public relations.
Sen. Jeff Merkley visiting the Muslim Educational Trust Community Center, February 26th, 2016. ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
ISLAM IN AMERICA
OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO BY PETE SOUZA
Despite attempts by some at appearing moral, Islamophobia is bipartisan.
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque and Al-Rahmah School in Baltimore, Maryland.
BY RISHAT FATIMA
or American conservatives and the Right, all hell broke loose when President Obama spoke at the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque on Feb. 3, 2016. The “moderate Muslim” Zuhdi Jasser, an internist turned “terrorism expert” and president of the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy, told Fox News said that “as an American-Muslim, I am just insulted” by the choice of the [ISB] venue. His conservative credentials are impeccable: In March 2012, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appointed him to a two-year term on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Right-wing politicians, talking heads and media spun all sorts of oft-repeated tales such Hamas, al-Qaeda, etc. connections to tie the Baltimore mosque with radicalism. One remembers presidential candidate Ben Carson’s pontifications that the only Muslim who could possibly qualify to be president is the one who would abandon his religion. Asra Q. Nomani and Ify Okoye criticized Obama’s visit in an opinion piece for the New York Times (Feb. 3) that they were protesting the visit to draw attention to
what they believe is institutionalized sexism. “To Muslim women’s rights activists fighting for equal access to mosques as part of a broader campaign for reform — from equal education for women and girls to freedom from so-called ‘honor killings’ — the president’s visit to a mosque that practices such blatant inequity represents a step backwards,” they wrote. They and Nasrin Afzali also staged a protest near the mosque. Despite its claims to journalistic standards, the Times never invited a commentator to balance their vitriol. The proliferation of online information, journalists can still sort, interpret and lend credibility to news on behalf of the public. Despite their carefully phrased questions, the tendency to link Islam and Muslims with terrorism was never absent. And so it was interesting to observe the journalists’ pre-speech exchange with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. He put many minds at ease about the president’s message being “overshadowed by this pulled focus of these criticisms and concerns that are being raised,” when he told them, “There is no one who has been covering politics over the last year who is surprised to see that
OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO BY PETE SOUZA
And Hell Broke Loose
the President’s visit to a mosque is going to be criticized by the President’s political opponents. We’re not concerned about that at all.” Responding to another reporter’s inquiry about how the round-table participants were selected, he stated, “All of them know what they have in common is [that] they’ve all made an important contribution to the community in which they live, and that makes them important representatives of how much Muslim Americans across the country have to contribute to the communities in which they live.” In response to a question about criticism about this mosque and its alleged ties to extremist groups, and how this particular site was chosen, Earnest replied: “I know that there has been some criticism. But I think you all have had the chance to spend a little time here, just in the last few minutes. I think you can see that there is — that this is an institution that is making a valuable contribution to its community. There is a school here that’s educating children. There are medical services provided in this facility. And this is a faith community that regularly speaks out against extremism.” Earnest, who assured the reporters that no Republican member of Congress was intentionally excluded, added, “I’m not aware of any interest that was expressed by Republicans to attend the event....” Trump and other Republicans are fervently furthering Islamophobia. The amount
President Barack Obama signs remarks for introducer Sabah Muktar backstage prior to speaking at the Islamic Society of Baltimor. ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
of irrationalism they are spewing can be gauged from just reading comments on one Pamela Geller posting. A reader posted: “I wish someone would have killed him [Obama] seven years ago. We’d all be better off. It’s not too late though, I’d still like to see him go down.” Another commentator of her homepage wrote: “I was hoping for a lightning strike on that mosque yesterday.”
queried (pamelageller.com): “So what is he going to do? Destroy the First Amendment and disallow politicians to insult Muslims?” This self-proclaimed constitutional crusader believes that the First Amendment’s reason is to insult Muslims. Of course, Geller can’t insult her own, or Christians or even Satanists. Despite Obama’s long-delayed visit, his
DESPITE THEIR CAREFULLY PHRASED QUESTIONS, THE TENDENCY TO LINK ISLAM AND MUSLIMS WITH TERRORISM WAS NEVER ABSENT. The Rev. Moon-owned Washington Times, always eager to fan Islamophobia, had its own commentators on its Baltimore report. One said, “All I see is a traitor bowing to our enemies.” Another commented, “Can you imagine FDR sitting down with the Nazi Party during WWII? Yeah, me either.” In reply, when someone responded, “You’re comparing Islam to the Nazi Party? Tell us: Do crazy people know they’re crazy?” The original poster declared, “You are right, Islam is way worse.” Geller, among the doyen of Islamophobes, objected to Obama’s advice: “We’re not going to strengthen our leadership around the world by allowing politicians to insult Muslims or pit groups of Americans against each other. That’s not who we are. That’s not keeping America safe.” She
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
administration hasn’t fared too well either. Chicago Tribune’s report on the visit had 17 sarcastic, ill-informed and typical rightwing comments. The conservative National Review called the celebrating of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has publicly abandoned Islam, through the State Department’s official anti-ISIS Twitter account [“Think Again Turn Away”] as a “dense gesture.” The magazine noted: “If the people running it believe in promoting a commenter who rejects Islam as essentially corrupt will do anything other than further alienate the people it seeks to reach, then the State Department’s propaganda apparatus is even more blinkered than it initially seemed.” Patrick G. Eddington, policy analyst for Homeland Security and Civil Liberties, Cato Institute (Huffington Post, Feb. 11, 2016) writes that Obama’s own Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, as well as members of Congress, have taken actions that directly contradict his claim [in his mosque speech] that “we have to reject a politics that seeks to manipulate prejudice or bias, and targets people because of religion.” Legal and policy scholars at the Brennan Center, Eddington writes, have noted that “the three existing U.S. government sponsored Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) pilot programs running in Boston, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis, are conducting outreach to Muslim communities and are not making any effort to address other types of domestic terrorism. This focus paints American Muslims as inherently suspect and alien from American society, feeding into the anti-Islam narrative that is becoming increasingly dominant in our public discourse.”
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced in September 2015 the establishment of the innocuously sounding “Office of Community Partnerships (OCP)” — an entity dedicated to detecting extremism in only Arab- and Muslim-American communities. So far, writes Eddington, DHS has provided no details on the scope of its mandate or whether its Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) will be involved in monitoring its programs for compliance with the Bill of Rights. Indeed, DHS/CRCL’s own CVE “best practices” document focuses on al-Qaeda and lists only Arab- or Muslim-American-focused local police liaisons, university research programs, or cooperating Arab- or Muslim-American groups in its “For More Information” section. That bias raises questions about CRCL’s ability to prevent OCP from deepening DHS’s CVE focus on Arab- or Muslim-American organizations and communities. Imam Khalid Latif and Linda Sarsour, who declared, “We welcome President Obama’s words in his mosque visit. Now we need actions” (The Guardian UK, Feb. 4, 2016), wrote: “We hope that this current administration uses their remaining months to strengthen existing federal guidance aimed at ending racial and religious profiling of American Muslims and other communities of color. We must eliminate policies and programs that result in the surveillance of mosques, Muslim schools and restaurants and put in place more robust policies that track, monitor and effectively address civil rights violations, discrimination and hate violence targeting our communities.” Rishat Fatima is a freelance writer.
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ISLAM IN AMERICA
Muslim American Youth and the Problems of Religious Literacy Do Muslim communities provide safe spaces for youth who are asking difficult and controversial questions? BY HADIA MUBARAK
lthough Muslims comprise an estimated one percent of this country’s population, they have occupied a far greater percentage of recent political debates, now that the presidential campaign season is in full swing. As they struggle to deal with the post-9/11 fears inflamed by the Paris and San Bernardino attacks, they also wrestle with significant internal issues, one of which is how best to bridge existing religious literacy gaps among their youth nationwide. An Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) convening held on June 6-7, 2015, in Washington D.C., brought together 31 Muslim American experts and stakeholders, aged 18 to 68, on the state of the community’s youth, the problems facing them as they navigate adolescence and the fact that these problems are compounded because their lack of any profound knowledge on key aspects of Islam. The meeting identified the following key aspects: (1) a broader understanding of the Islamic tradition beyond doctrine, rituals and practices; (2) the interpretive pluralism that is characteristic of Islamic legal thought and jurisprudence; (3) theology; (4) Islamic history, including the emergence of sects and orientations; and (5) questions related to the legal doctrines of jihad, gender; and sexual orientation. All of this stems from a broader concern, that of developing a wholesome, confident and intellectually honest identity among Muslim American youth. When religious education is taught through the narrow lens of doctrine and ritual, a host of problems ensue. For one, these youth cannot appreciate the rich and complex processes underlying the tradition’s legal, cultural and historical development. An understanding of these internal processes would cultivate within them the flexibility and ingenuity necessary for responding to their changing environments in a way that is connected to their own tradition. 36
BY CULTIVATING A CONFIDENT AND INTEGRATED IDENTITY THAT IS AUTHENTICALLY ROOTED IN ONE’S RELIGIOUS TRADITION, MUSLIM AMERICAN YOUTH CAN CONFIDENTIALLY NAVIGATE THE INCREASINGLY DIFFICULT CHALLENGES OF BEING A MUSLIM IN AMERICA. Second, there is a complete non-awareness of the diversity and pluralism that has existed within Islam for centuries. This is not simply a diversity of sects, although that too is important, but one of thought within scholastic disciplines, of the cultural variations of Islamic practices and of historical contexts that have impacted the development of Muslim communities worldwide. Such non-awareness creates rigid polarities among our youth, which can potentially exacerbate extremist inclinations or a crisis of identity. The ensuing ISPU report (http://www. ispu.org/pdfs/repository/youthliteracy.pdf) identified several ways to overcome these problems: (1) enhance and broaden existing religious educational resources; (2) create new educational resources and programs that are comprehensive and relevant to the youth’s contexts; and (3) introduce pedagogical practices that embrace critical thinking, engaged learning and emotional intelligence. ISPU’s findings are related to the broader national context. According to Pew Research
Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study, one in five Americans are religiously unaffiliated, or “nones” (See “America’s Changing Religious Landscape.” Pew Research Center’s Religion Public Life Project. May 11, 2015). Further, one in three millennials claims no religious affiliation. As more of them become adults, the number of “nones” continues to increase. Muslim Americans are not immune to this trend. Nonetheless, with the increasing politicization of Islam in the public discourse, many Muslim youth are turning to religious education to come to terms with their own questions about their religious identity. This event highlighted the need to create safe spaces for youth in our communities, to welcome their difficult and controversial questions instead of shunning them. Our youth need these safe spaces to fully explore topics that are important to them from multiple angles: religious doctrine, history, secularism, politics, gender and race. By adopting a cross-sectional approach to questions of religion, Muslim educational programs can be made more relevant to their members. While the Pew Research Center found that a growing number of Americans do not affiliate with a religion, substantial numbers still believe in God or a universal spirit (“Religion and the Unaffiliated.” Pew Research Center, Oct. 9, 2012). Similarly, ISPU’s convening on Muslim youth also emphasized the need for programs to embrace spirituality and eschew exclusivity. More specifically, it recommends that Muslim communities create experiential learning opportunities for their youth. In a departure from traditional pedagogy and curricula-based learning, these broad-based programs would focus on promoting identity development, empowerment, spirituality and confidence-building. Muslim American youth find themselves at the intersection of many volatile challenges facing this country: race and violence, immigration and politics, Islamophobia and racism, and religion and extremism. By cultivating a confident and integrated identity that is authentically rooted in one’s religious tradition, these youth can confidentially navigate the increasingly difficult challenges of being Muslim in America. Educational programs that succeed in building a healthy sense of identity serve as powerful buffer to extremism, marginalization and fear. Hadia Mubarak, a lecturer in religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is a member of the ISPU network of experts.
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
ISLAM IN AMERICA
Fulfilling a Trust The ISNA Green Masjid Task Group mission’s to improve environmental safeguards goes national. BY THE ISNA GREEN MASJID TASK GROUP
uring 2015, climate change and environmental degradation received great attention. Pope Francis’ Environmental Encyclical highlighted the problem’s cognizance and seriousness. This detailed 40,500 word-document (English translation) identified the main problems: (1) pollution and climate change, (2) the issue of water, (3) the loss of biodiversity (e.g., the extinction of various plant and animal species), (4) the decline in the quality of human life and the breakdown of society; and (5) global inequality. In August 2015, Muslim scholars meeting in Istanbul issued their “Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change,” which highlights the consequences of humanity’s massive exploitation of Earth: (1) global climate change (primary concern); (2) contamination and befoulment of the atmosphere, land, inland water systems and seas; (3) soil erosion, deforestation and desertification; (4) destruction, degradation and fragmentation of human and non-human habitats, with devastation of some of our planet’s most biologically diverse and productive ecosystems (e.g., rain forests, freshwater wetlands and coral reefs; (5) impairment of ecosystems’ benefits and service; (6) introduction of invasive alien species and genetically modified organisms; and (7) damage to the human health, including a host of modern diseases. The declaration calls upon Muslims to tackle the habits, mindsets and root causes of climate change, environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity wherever they can in order to resolve these issues. At the Paris Climate Agreement of December 2015, an unprecedented occurrence in recent history, almost 200 countries — superpowers, those economically dependent on fossil fuel, and vulnerable low-lying island nations — agreed to a globally coordinated action plan. Although this agreement is hardly ideal, given the many conflicting interests and complex issues involved, just the fact that it exists is a major achievement.
ISNA MASJID COMMITTEE “GREEN MASJID TASK GROUP” In the Quran, God states that He has entrusted humanity with taking care of the Earth. Therefore, in December 2014 the ISNA Masjid Committee established a “Green Masjid Task Group” to create environmental awareness, guide mosques/Islamic centers toward environmentally friendly actions and promote sustainable practices. This project seeks to (1) raise their awareness of conservation issues so that Muslims can become true stewards of Earth and create an eco-friendly community, (2) develop standards for transforming mosques into eco-friendlier green facilities, (3) draw up standards that will enable future mosques to be green and (4) promote a green Ramadan. In 2015, ISNA and this task group initiated a “Greening Our Ramadan” campaign to encourage mosques/Islamic centers to observe an environmentally friendly Ramadan. In his letter to mosque leaders, ISNA president Azhar Azeez stated, “Being sensitive to the harm that we do to our environment and committed to living in harmony with nature, we, as Muslims, must seek to implement practices and policies that are environmentally friendly. So this Ramadan, let’s live up to our role as caretakers of the earth by Greening Our Ramadan.” To begin with, the task group and the Green Muslims of New Jersey conducted a webinar on “Greening Your Ramadan” in collaboration with Green Faith, an interfaith organization dedicated to environmental
issues. Mosques/Islamic centers were requested to (1) conserve food at iftars and donate the excess to the needy; (2) replace Styrofoam cups and plates with degradable products; (3) recycle whatever you can, especially plastic water bottles; (4) install energy saver light bulbs to conserve electricity, and (5) give a khutbah on the Islamic imperative to conserve and protect the environment. After Ramadan, each of the 37 mosques/ Islamic centers that pledged to adopt these practices received a tree sapling from the Ain Foundation to acknowledge their participation. Their names are listed in the project’s brochure. Several other achievements are worthy of note. For example, Azeez’s Friday khutba during the ISNA 2015 convention, which had been designated a “Green Convention,” stressed the adoption of environmentally friendly practices. The task group also published “The Green Masjid Project” brochure, which highlights Islam’s statements on humanity’s environmental responsibilities and provides simple steps that help one implement the relevant practices. In brief: Keep in mind that each person
MOSQUES/ISLAMIC CENTERS NEED TO BE MORE THAN PLACES DESIGNED TO STRENGTHEN ONE’S FAITH. A GREEN MASJID MUST DEVELOP PROGRAMS THAT ACTUALLY PROTECT AND PRESERVE THE ENVIRONMENT. ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
expenses. Moreover, grants are available to promote the reduced fossil fuel usage and might help defray the cost.
living in a developed country wastes almost 220 lbs. of food per year. Non-degradable plastic bottles, Styrofoam plates and cups, aluminum cans, and other items continue to pour into landfills and cause enormous environmental problems. The task group urges everyone, especially community leaders, to join the campaign by pledging to improve the environment by adding environmentally friendly activities designed to increase the community’s awareness and involvement in sustainable and conservation practices.
REDUCE, RECYCLE, REUSE AND RETHINK Each mosque/Islamic center should develop a recycling program for specific items, for all of them help the environment. In 2011, an average American drank 29 gallons of bottled water; approximately 70 percent of them ended up in landfills. These bottles take a lot of time to decompose and cost us taxpayers a lot of money. Ninety percent or more of this water’s cost goes to bottling, packaging, shipping, marketing, retailing, and profits. Not using it during community activities reduces the amount of waste. Education and frequent reminders are necessary to make recycling second nature. Thinking about our purchases in terms of their potential to harm the environment will make us better stewards of the environment and reduce expenses.
WATER CONSERVATION Abdullah ibn Amr reported that the Prophet once saw Sa’d performing his ablutions. ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
Upon being asked, “What is this extravagance?” Sa’d replied, “Is there extravagance with water in ablution?” The Prophet said, “Yes, even if you were on the banks of a flowing river” (Sunan ibn Majah, 425). Water consumption can be reduced and minimized by adhering to at least some the following actions: (1) Installing water-reducing aerator caps and sensory faucets, especially in wudu areas, will save an estimated 70 percent of the water, (2) Installing a dual-flush water system will save about half of your toilet’s water and (3) Minimize water wastage by fixing leaky faucets or plumbing joints, which will save about 20 gallons of water per day per week.
NON-DEGRADABLE PRODUCTS A Green Masjid should use only washable cups, plates, and other utensils if the facility has a dishwasher. Otherwise, use degradable items rather than those made from Styrofoam and plastic.
Mosques/Islamic centers need to be more than places designed to strengthen one’s faith. A Green Masjid must develop programs that actually protect and preserve the environment. Educating adults, youth and children is vital, for, as Q. 6:141 states, God does not like those who are wasteful. Community service and conservation activities (e.g., recycling, clean ups, and cleaning the neighborhood) should be a part of Green Masjid activities. Wherever possible, allow garden space for vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers that can be shared with local food banks. Plant trees and beautify the surroundings, for this is a hallmark of Islamic architecture and was encouraged by the Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). The Green Masjid Task Group has many plans for the future: conducting webinars, promoting Green Ramadan, formulating a Green Masjid Certification Program, preparing Green Masjid guidelines, devising guidelines for building new environmentally friendly mosques and holding workshops at the annual ISNA Convention. Environmental preservation and conservation, along with working toward achieving a sustainable environment, requires everyone’s participation. Here we would like to recognize the grassroots efforts of the Green Muslims of New Jersey, Green Muslims, Wisconsin Green Muslims, The Eco Muslims, and a number of other dedicated organizations and individuals. The ISNA Green Masjid Task Group: Huda Alkaff, Ihsan Bagby, Saffet Catovic, Nana Firman, Uzma Mirza and Saiyid Masroor Shah (chair)
ENERGY CONSERVATION Energy-efficient heating/cooling systems and other appliances, LED bulbs, insulation, and energy lights with sensors can save energy. Energy-use regulators and smart thermostats also save both energy and money. In relatively hot regions, tinting windows can save both energy and money. Solar energy is just one option that can lead to long-term energy conversation and reduced 39
ISLAM IN AMERICA
ISLAM’S HISTORY OF CIVILIZING CLIMAXED IN THE MIDDLE PERIOD WITH AFRICAN AMERICANS EMPOWERED BY THE MOORISH SCIENCE TEMPLE AND THE NATION OF ISLAM
Islam in America: The Middle Period 1900-1950 BY AMADOU SHAKUR
rior to the Civil War, the face of Islam in America was West African. From the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, slavers kidnapped and brought literate Muslims, former teachers from prestigious centers of learning and students trained in Islamic scholarship to this land. Despite these realities, these non-whites were seen in colonial America simply as slaves. By the nineteenth century, America forced Muslims to transition from societies shaped by various ethnicities to an American architype based upon race. Regrettably, under Christian coercion their descendants neither inherited their Islamic faith nor received an Islamic education. The generational disconnect curtailed Islam’s existence in America. The North’s military defeat of the South implied an era of change surrounded by a transcontinental exchange that birthed the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Atlantic world. The trade necessitated racial and ethnic diversity, but the aftermath failed to integrate the newly emancipated African Americans into the national identity. After the Emancipation Proclamation (1863), dynamic social factors surfaced and industrialization replaced agriculture. Both led to the rise of the voluntary migrant “outsider” who embraced a burgeoning America without any religious rivalry from the indigenous community. However, by 1910 some 45,000 to 50,000 Muslims lived somewhere in America. Conversely, because of low numbers and a non-European immigrant status within a society shaped around race and religion, they lived on the threshold of social transition. For this discreet and far-flung community, the middle period was a time of mass relocation, mental readjustment and cultural concessions. The damage done by the First World War, Middle Eastern instability and the abolition of the Ottoman Empire in 1924 compelled refugees to settle in unforeseen locations throughout America. Late nineteenth-century Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was the home of the “Mother Mosque.” During this transition, they reoriented their cultures and formed a synthesis, which gave birth to unique American identities. This process could only have taken place in America, where they lived with fluid distinctiveness and incorporated religion. However, their reasons for doing so differed markedly from the expectations that twentieth-century African Americans had of Islam. Islam’s history of civilizing climaxed in the middle period with African Americans empowered by the Moorish Science Temple (MST) and the Nation of Islam (NOI), both of which were intent upon changing America’s religious and racial landscape. Strategically, Muslim leaders knew that the community would never rise to a level of pride comparable to Euro-Americans unless they claimed a flourishing, innovative African civilization founded by Islam. By the second decade of this period, like the phoenix, Islam
was resuscitated. And as the 1920s opened, a vision emerged in a destitute African American Baltimore neighborhood and began to be spread by one Noble Drew Ali (1886-1929). Shortly after, Ali established the Moorish Science Temple and, in its charter, proclaimed: “Islam is a very simple faith. It requires man to recognize his duties toward God Allah, his Creator and his fellow creatures. It teaches the supreme duty of living at peace with one’s surroundings…” Born in North Carolina as Timothy Drew, little is known of his youth. However, as Noble Drew Ali he reinvigorated African American optimism for social change through promises made by his mythological version of Islam. He said, “Teach people [that] calling themselves Black, Negro, Colored, or Nigger, even Ethiopian etc. that they should NOT call themselves those names.” Trapped by a race-based America, Ali sought a solution to the African Americans’ destitution through a religion that would redeem the original dignity that the Black Man had in North Africa, digress from a discriminatory Christianity and embrace a philosophy that informed and directed the Black Man. He emphasized that “the Church and Christianity” should return “back to European nations, as it was prepared by their forefathers for their early salvation. While we, the Moorish Americans are returning to Islam, which was founded by our forefathers for our earthly and divine salvation.” In his 1927 64-page manifesto “The Holy Koran of the Moorish ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
ELIJAH MUHAMMAD’S MOVEMENT FOUND SUCCESS BECAUSE IT CAREFULLY NAVIGATED ITS IDEOLOGY BETWEEN PARTICULARIZED CONCERNS AROUND SELFSUSTENANCE, HEALTH CARE, EDUCATION AND FAMILY LIFE WHILE JUDICIOUSLY TYING BLACK NIHILISM AND ECONOMIC DEPRIVATION TO CHRISTIANITY. Science Temple of America,” the text said to have been “divinely prepared by the Noble Prophet Drew Ali,” he argued for Islam as the original way and natural religion for the Black Man. With some modicum of contradiction, the MST demanded reparations but neither voted nor paid taxes, believed in racial exclusivity and singular cultural development. The Ahmadiyya Movement and its founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (d. 1908), presenting themselves as “Muslims,” were the first to respond to the African American’s situation. In their recruiting drives, they reasoned that while Christianity pointed to scientific, medical and technological advancements as proof of the advanced Euro-American Christian civilization, the Ahmadiyya noted Mirza’s insurgent prophecy as evidence of Islam’s superiority. However, their momentum was stalled because they preached generalist universal principals purported by the three world religions and avoided confronting American racism, discrimination and segregation — all matters of paramount importance. Duse Mohamed Ali was one of the influential personalities in the Ahmadiyyas’ early years in America as well as their future split. Born in 1866 in Alexandria, Egypt, to an Egyptian officer and a Sudanese woman, he was educated in England, where he came into contact with Indian Ahmadiyya. He realized the African American predicament and believed that an Islamic movement could achieve specific goals. Taking into consideration their blighted state of dignity, he manufactured a bastion of myths that advanced their historical image. In 1921 he travelled to New York and, after several successful lectures, was invited to Detroit to meet with Muhammad Sadiq (1872-1957). This latter man, who was close to Mirza and arrived in Philadelphia in 1920, is credited as the first Ahmadiyya missionary to the U.S. Together, they helped establish “a prayer room with a regular system of weekly prayers which had been sadly neglected.” They published the Moslem Sunrise and organized the American Asiatic Society to “call into being more amicable relations and a ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
better understanding between America and the Orient.” The newspaper turned out to be the earliest and longest-running American “Muslim” publication. By the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Ahmadiyya’s influence began to wane. There were two hemispheres of thought concerning two critical areas: (1) why decisions about distributing the money collected among the American community were left in the hands of Indian authorities and (2) how the racial impasse with America was interpreted and handled. Contrary to the Ahmadiyyas’ wishes, the MST demanded the immediate end of institutional racism, rescinding all Jim Crow laws and implementing an economic blueprint. Clearly, two intellectual rhythms were pulling from two ideological directions. African Americans took a more aggressive stand against discrimination in housing, jobs and education, while immigrants who debarked at Ellis Island in New York chose a less militant approach. Tensions grew between the minority people on the ground and the movement’s exclusively South Asian leadership. As the anxiety increased, African Americans rejected the Ahmadiyyas’ foreign authority, Mirza’s alleged “prophetic” role and accepted him only as a reformer. This decision led to an African American splinter group in Cleveland, Ohio (1936) and Pittsburgh, Penn. (1936), where two of the earliest Sunni mosques were located. According to some accounts, Wallace Fard was also in Detroit during the 1930s preaching his own version of Islam. Fitting himself into the established styles of recruiting, he created a myriad of myths that captured the imagination of the same people attracted to Noble Drew Ali. Georgia native Elijah Poole heard Fard’s message, as well as Noble Drew Ali’s call, and ended up inheriting their religious models and then launching the NOI, the fastest-growing minority movement during the middle period. As Elijah Muhammad, Poole reinterpreted the MST’s mythology and announced the “Hidden Secret.” Also using an unorthodox mythological base designed to concoct an indigenous religious identity, he set out to draw a distinct line in the sand between the found African Americans aware of their origins and the lost ones groping in the wilderness. The movement found success because it carefully navigated its ideology between particularized concerns around self-sustenance, health care, education and family life while judiciously tying Black nihilism and economic deprivation to Christianity. By 1934, Detroit’s NOI community reportedly numbered 8,000 members, the majority of them unemployed, unskilled and living in public housing. Four years later they had left welfare behind, had jobs and lived in private housing. The historical significance of the NOI and the MST may be misunderstood if they are perceived solely as religious movements. They created hope, an indigenous national identity wrapped around Islam and surrounded by a humanitarian component with American overtones. Regardless, a basic ideological contradiction repeatedly surfaced when they castigated America for inhuman crimes but simultaneously promoted white upper-middle class values and, unlike Noble Drew Ali, demanded that land be legislated for the Black Man. The NOI had no desire to integrate with America, the “Arab World,” practice African religions or Pan-Africanism. While its leader promised Paradise, the movement was sustained on a persistent claim that argued that the NOI had a divine potential, rather than measuring its actual earthly success. 41
ISLAM IN AMERICA
A Ramadan Liberation
Elijah Muhammad reinvented fasting in December as a counterweight to the one American symbol of religious preeminence. BY AMADOU SHAKUR
B The NOI directed the frustration of non-Christian non-white people trying to make sense of religion. Ideologically, the NOI gave these people hope within the dark hole into which Christianity and Darwin’s classic Origin of the Species had cast Africans, who dwelled at the bottom of the intellectual order. The movement’s appropriation of Islam set out to de-Negro a mis-educated Black Man, deconstruct the American pseudo-science relegating African descendants to the lowest social level and serve as a receptacle for Black militancy. The NOI was founded and grew up during a time of extreme social instability caused by white supremacy, class and the economy. Its leadership amassed a following greater than any other non-Christian organization because they catered to a specific spiritual and political demographic, one that wanted to alter the Black Man’s deplorable social reality. In order to do this, they tried to surgically remove the old cultural residue that accumulated during and then came down from plantation slavery and uncompromisingly discard all destructive social behaviors, beginning with Christianity. The NOI, which operated at the crossroads of race, economy and religion, also clandestinely promoted universal moral excellence, which surgically stitched the guarantees of Pan-Islam to the prerequisites of Afro-optimism. Therefore, even reducing the NOI or the MST to operators only on the economic level might risk overlooking the social appetite within the African Americans who gravitated toward their versions of the “original religion.” Amadou Shakur, professor of Islamic history, and executive director, Center for the African Diaspora, Charlotte, N.C.
eing highly mobile and malleable, Islam was transformed in twentieth-century America. And yet the Muslim world did not grant it official recognition. During Islam’s middle period in America (1900-1950), the early African American Muslim community, which consisted of the Moorish Science Temple (MST) and the Nation of Islam (NOI), was both geographically and theologically distant from the Islamic world. The lines of communication between them were nonexistent, primarily because of European colonization. Nonetheless, this distance pressed African Americans to embrace Islam, create a new identity and battle the whites’ belief in their own inherent superiority. The MST and the NOI claimed U.S. citizenship but underscored their American contract by using religion as an alternative space to reclaim their dignity. Islam was part of the solution, for building indigenous “Islamic” institutions challenged whites’ self-perceptions of superiority. These new Muslims borrowed and reshaped institutions born in the Islamic world and installed them as key features in their protest discourses. The unbuilt bridges with Muslim Americans did not prevent what Dar al-Islam considered religious liberties and heresies. The NOI appropriated Islam and restructured its themes to shape an African American resistance movement that did not readily relate to or reverently submit to the “East,” the finality of Muhammad’s (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) prophethood, or the consensus around the Quran. In fact, they perceived the Muslim world as being no more than old prototypes anticipating the arrival of African Americans as the conclusive realization of Islam; Muslim Americans who acknowledged the first wave from Mecca but realized the second resurrection had to surpass the first. It now had to be acquiescent and sensitive, for in the West Islam would be defined through the African American struggle. The NOI’s engagement with America demonstrated some latent components of neo-Islam that may never have been obvious in the Islamic heartland. Against the worst social conditions, they captured the imagination of people who were used to religious traditions. They came from a self-styled American Christian but Africanized heritage and, with Islam, predicted ownership of religion as well. As the NOI grew it eventually carved out religious customs and institutions that satisfied the African American urge for true Islam, the religion of the Black Man. Most familiar with Christianity, African Americans celeISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
brated the Christmas fast in the month of Ramadan … of course this holiday as part of a nais the Arab way, in their tional observance. The Honorable Elijah Mureligious beliefs, that they hammad recoiled from should fast. But I do not the misguided carousing say that it is not necesof mis-educated Negros sary to fast to get somewho misappropriated thing that you already and honored the “white received” (Muhammad, man’s religion.” To conElijah1972 in Islam and test the energy spent on the Search for African colossal Christmas revelAmerican Nationhood; ries, he reinvented fasting Dennis Walker). In August 1975, soon after Elijah’s death, his son Wallace Muin December as a counterweight to the one American symbol of religious preeminence. His goal was to overshadow the gravity of hammad (later spelt as Mohammed) announced that the NOI would Christmas with a month of fasting that dislodged suggestions of pursue another religious direction, one headed East. From this day white religious salvation. Fasting in December signified an authentic onward the community “will be observing the month of Ramadan Black holiday, an event easily explainable to people desperately in fast in the proper month and will be celebrating the completion of need of a history to shape a collective identhis fast with our Muslim brothers and sistity. The month was an index that registered ters the world over” (In the Name of Elijah NOI loyalty, a barometer that measured the Muhammad, Louis Farrakhan and theNation DEPARTING FROM intensity of Elijah’s message and the anthroMattias Gardel). THE DECEMBER FAST of Islam: W.D. Mohammed skillfully added an adpology so desperately needed by a searchSLOWLY CLOSED ing community. He absorbed the old energy dendum in which he allowed the old pioneers that Christmas consumed, but measured his and elders to fast for the last time on ChristTHE DOOR TO THE mas Eve and the last day of December. “We preaching through “Fasting” dollars sent to PAST BUT OPENED (NOI) Detroit’s treasury. will do this fast commemorating the great The NOI came to accept the deeply seated service to Islam all over the world given by A CONVERSATION Christmas tradition by tampering with one of the Honorable Master Elijah Muhammad” ABOUT THE Islam’s five pillars. The Quran positioned the (Muhammad, W. D. 1975). In October 1975, Muhammad Speaks beannual fast as obligatory; Elijah reinterpreted AUTHENTICITY OF that authority by tracing fasting’s history to gan printing hadiths about the importance THE NOI’S VERSION the original Asiatic tribe of Shabazz. Fasting, of fasting; the authors illustrated the stanOF ISLAM SINCE he contended, “was practiced before Muhamdard method of making prayers, zakat and mad ibn Abdullah” and well before Arabs. In performing hajj; and the verses were printed 1930 AND THE fact, the tradition itself was identified with in Arabic for the first time. This transition FUTURE OF ISLAM the original Black Man. prompted Muhammad Abdul-Rauf, director Elijah considered the Ramadan fast a hisof the iconic Islamic Center in Washington, IN AMERICA. D.C. (1970-80), to applaud the NOI’s efforts torically unjustified mistake committed by the to come closer to orthodox Sunni Islam. He Arab world. Nonetheless, as the purported “messenger of Allah,” he held the distinction of being the only one said that there was “very little difference” now, even though before who could correct the Arabs’ historical blunders. Repositioning the the NOI had been giving Islam “a bad and confusing image” (ibid.) fast was further proof of his majesty and prophecy, the singular Over the first few years, Imam W.D. Mohammed worked tirelessly to persuade the NOI to embrace the conventional Sunni schools of representation of Islam in the West. The Muslim world believed that the fast was observed during the Islamic thought. With these followers, who anticipated the eventual month in which the Quran began to be revealed. Elijah, who found transition to conventional Sunni Islam, he achieved great success; this thinking spurious, argued that the Quran was revealed over a he confronted the old myths and discarded the December fast that twenty-year period, not delivered within a single month and not his father had established. Nonetheless, many long-time members to a Meccan community that fasted. Therefore, he alleged, why fast refused to go along. in Ramadan? Establishing December as the month of fasting was a While the conversion was not perfect, the elimination of the sign of release from a history written by outsiders. And so, in typical December fast caused an initial pause, for it threatened Elijah’s American fashion, as a protest movement and an “underground foundation and ideology and caused an uproar unsurpassed since railroad,” Elijah’s message was a clear indication of NOI autonomy. the assassination of El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (Malcolm X). Depart“Why fast in that month; if you can convince me it is necessary ing from the December fast slowly closed the door to the past but to fast in the month of Ramadan because of Muhammad receiving opened a conversation about the authenticity of Islam in the NOI the Quran, or the first revelation of the Holy Quran, then I will go since 1930 and the future of Islam in America. along with it. However, since the Quran was revealed over a period of years, I am very much baffled in trying to understand why we should Amadou Shakur, executive director, Center for the African Diaspora, Charlotte, N.C. ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
MUSLIMS IN ACTION
An Obligation Rendered Muslim Americans led the way in quenching the thirst of Flint’s deprived residents.
Muslims to help the needy and those who are suffering.
Flint (pop. 102,434), the largest city and county seat of Genesee County, is located approximately one hour’s drive from Dearborn, the city with the nation’s highest Muslim population by percentage. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, its population is more than 29 percent Arab. After World War II, Flint became an automobile manufacturing powerhouse for GM’s Buick and Chevrolet divisions, both of which were founded there, and enjoyed the nickname “Vehicle City.” However, by the late 1980s the city sunk into a deep economic In January 2016, the Chicago-based depression after GM closed and demolished BY RAMADAN ALIG Compassionate Care Network’s (CCN) vol- several factories in the area. unteers traveled to Flint with over 11,000 On Jan. 16, 2016, President Obama, while lint, Mich., was in need and bottles of clean drinking water. Working with declaring a state of emergency there and in Muslim Americans nationwide re- area organizations like the American Red the surrounding county, which authorized sponded. Just in two weeks of Jan- Cross, the National Guard, AmeriCorps, lo- the Federal Emergency Management Agency uary, the Michigan Muslim Com- cal African American and Hispanic churches to provide up to $5 million in aid, said that munity Council (MMCC) — a statewide as well as mosques, the MMCC, Catholic he “would be beside myself ” if he were a umbrella organization — estimated that Charities and CCN volunteers delivered parent in Flint. He could not, however, made Muslims had donated more than 400,000 hundreds of cases of water to families. a disaster declaration, which would have bottles of water to Flint residents and provided even more funds, The Detroit provided 400-plus volunteers. Free Press explained; however, his hands Area and national Islamic organiwere tied: A disaster declaration can only zations not only organized fundraising be issued after natural occurrences, such drives but also put shoes on the ground, as hurricanes or floods, whereas the crisis delivering bottled water to homes. Islamengulfing Flint is man-made. Months after warning signs emerged ic Relief USA allocated $100,000 from its United States Humanitarian Aid about the city’s water problems, city, state Fund for the project, delivering some and federal officials responded to the 150,000 bottles of water. MMCC joined public health emergency. High levels of Flint’s Sylvester Broome Empowerment lead had leached from pipes into the waVillage, a Michigan domestic nonprofit Michigan Muslim Community Council volunteers ter supply. The Michigan House approved corporation, as well as others to buy and delivering bottled water in Flint, Michigan. (Photo the $28 million requested by Governor distribute clean water in the city. Besides Courtesy of the Michigan Muslim Community Council.) Rick Snyder (R) to assist the city. On Jan. water aid distribution, MMCC also or5, 2016, he had declared a state of emerganized food pantries and medical testing Abrar Quader, CCN’s Director of Gov- gency for Genesee County. During her Feb. for lead exposure. ernment & Community Partnerships, said 7, 2016, campaign visit presidential candidate Broome board member physician Jawad that what’s happening in Flint is about more Hillary Clinton said that “[W]hat happened Shah is leading the screening. Omar Kam- than just about water. “It’s about justice. More in Flint is immoral ...” and that Congress ran, director of the Broome center and leader specifically, the Flint crisis is an example, seen should immediately approve $200 million to of the “Flint Coalition,” which is advocating in far too many poor and minority commu- replace its water infrastructure and expand for the system’s infrastructure overhaul and nities across America, of how public health health programs for children. As Brittany Greeson reported two years other improvements, proclaims, “We want disparities are caused by societal inequities.” everyone to understand that there is no quick “Who is Hussain?” donated 30,000 bot- ago for The New York Times, in April tles of water to the city’s Red Cross. This or- 2014, the city switched its water supply fix to this catastrophe.” Donors included Life for Relief and ganization was founded in 2012 as tribute to from Detroit’s system to the Flint River as Development, Amity Foundation and the the Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) a cost-saving measure for the struggling, Kalamazoo Muslim Community. The first grandson, Hussain ibn Ali (‘alayhi rahmat) majority-black city. The river water was corgroup was sending three truckloads of bot- who was martyred in Karbala, Iraq. rosive, and lead from pipes began seeping The Quran and Hadith constantly urge into Flint residents’ drinking water. In some tled water three times a week.
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
neighborhoods, the percentage of children with high levels of lead in their blood doubled or tripled. Lead does irreversible damage to children’s developing brains as well as other organs. No amount of lead is safe. Soon thereafter, residents began to complain about the water’s color, taste and odor,
On Feb. 27, 2015, E.P.A. expert Miguel Del Toral, who had expressed concern about the high level of lead in the water supply, said that the state was testing the water in a way that could profoundly understate the lead levels. Oct. 19, 2015, DEQ director Dan Wyant, who resigned two months later, ac-
[WHAT’S HAPPENING IN FLINT] … IT’S ABOUT JUSTICE. MORE SPECIFICALLY, THE FLINT CRISIS IS AN EXAMPLE, SEEN IN FAR TOO MANY POOR AND MINORITY COMMUNITIES ACROSS AMERICA, OF HOW PUBLIC HEALTH DISPARITIES ARE CAUSED BY SOCIETAL INEQUITIES.” —Abrar Quader, Director of Government & Community Partnerships, Compassionate Care Network and to report rashes and concerns about bacteria. Emails released on Feb. 26, 2016, reveal that Jarrod Agen, Snyder’s then-communications director, was told of a sharp increase in Legionnaires’ Disease in and around the Flint area as early as March 2015. In October 2014, city officials issued boil-water advisories after coliform bacteria was detected in tap water. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), however, blamed cold weather, aging pipes and a population decline. Also, the local GM plant stopped using municipal water, having discovered that it corrodes car parts. Millions of feet of lead pipes still move drinking water in the U.S., even though they’ve been banned for 30 years. In January 2015, Detroit’s water system offered to reconnect Flint, waiving a $4 million connection fee. Three weeks later, Flint’s state-appointed emergency manager, Jerry Ambrose, declined the offer. In a Feb. 18, 2015 memo for the governor, officials downplayed the problems, saying that the water is not an imminent “threat to public health.” Dismissing fears, they said, “It’s also clear that folks in Flint are concerned about other aspects of their water — taste, smell and color being among the top complaints.” Amid rising public concerns, the city hired Veolia, a French water service multinational, as a consultant on water quality. The company issued a report last February recommending some improvements, but gave the water an overall clean bill of health. A water expert from the E.P.A. and the DEQ discussed the high levels of lead found in a resident’s water sample. ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
cepted that his staff had used an inappropriate federal protocol for corrosion control. On Jan. 15, 2016, the Governor’s thenchief of staff Dennis Muchmore told ABC12 that the Flint water issues have been on the governor’s radar for at least two years, especially after all of the concerns that were tied to using the Flint River as a source of water. On March 3, 2015, he suggested supplying residents with bottled water from Ice Mountain. The Detroit Free Press pointed out that his wife Deborah is a lobbyist and public relations consultant for Nestlé, which bottles Ice Mountain water. Muchmore denied any possible conflict of interest. Marc Edwards, an expert on municipal water quality and professor at Virginia Tech, reported on Sept. 2, 2015, that the water’s corrosiveness is causing lead to leach into the supply. However, the DEQ quickly disputed those conclusions. In September 2015, a group of physicians led by Mona Hanna-Attisha of Flint’s Hurley Medical Center urged the city to stop using Flint River water after finding high levels of lead in the children’s blood. On Oct. 1, 2015, after government epidemiologists validated her findings, city officials urged residents to stop drinking tap water. Snyder ordered the filters be distributed, that water in schools be tested and that water and blood testing be expanded. On Oct. 16, 2015, Flint reconnected to Detroit’s water. Residents were advised not to use unfiltered tap water for drinking, cooking or bathing. State regulators, however, insisted that the water was safe.
On Dec. 29, 2015, the independent Snyder-appointed Flint Water Advisory Task Force said that the DEQ must be held accountable. Additionally, Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit advocacy group, found that Flint was the “most expensive” provider of the nation’s 500 largest community water systems in January 2015 and that its residents paid $864.32 yearly for 60,000 gallons of water.
FINANCIAL CRISIS AND HEALTH In January 2015, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan (D) and members of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department accepted a donation of $100,000 from the MMCC and Islamic Relief USA, each giving $50,000 to the Detroit Water Fund — a partnership between the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and the United Way for Southeastern Michigan — and Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency, which offers aid for utility bills and other services to low-income people. More than 30,000 residents with outstanding balances would benefit. Sue McCormick, director of the water department, said in a statement. “I salute the MMCC and Islamic Relief USA for helping to further empower Detroiters who are in need. When we all work together to alleviate a problem and help Detroiters keep their water on — we all win.” Michael Brennan, president/CEO of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, added: “The partnership between the MMCC, Islamic Relief USA, DWSD and Wayne Metro creates real impact for families in our region.” Ironically, however, the Flint fiasco may lead to another fiasco: Privatization of the water supply. The fever may be spreading nationwide; lawmakers in Wisconsin, Illinois, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have proposed or passed measures to ease the privatization of water infrastructure. The controversial Water Infrastructure Protection Act signed into law by Governor Chris Christie (R-N.J.) on Feb. 5, 2015, removed the public vote requirement to sell water systems throughout the state under emergency conditions that many systems currently meet. Muslim Americans and others may have to do more than delivering water bottles to doorsteps. They will need to stand against interest groups hoping to profit from such governance fiascos. Ramadan Alig is a freelance writer.
MUSLIMS IN ACTION
An EPIC Experience in Texas Muslim outreach inspires many in turbulent times BY EKRAM HAQUE
uslim Americans and Islamic centers are opposing the rising Islamophobia by opening their doors to their non-Muslim neighbors to share their faith. This was on display on Feb. 20 at the East Plano Islamic Center in northeast Texas. Texas is home to some of the nation’s grandest mosques. The East Plano mosque, popularly known as “EPIC,” invited civic and public leaders, clergy and officials to its gleaming new facility. Among them was a new EPIC community resident, ISNA president Azhar Azeez, who recently moved here after living for two decades in nearby Carrollton. Guests were treated to a Mediterranean lunch. The moderator, Saiyad Salahuddin Ahmad, a healthcare professional, related how Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) emphasized hospitality and kinship. One way to counter Islamophobia is to explain to Americans that Islam has been a part of American history since the country’s birth. Ever since 9/ 11, Muslim Americans have become increasingly involved in interfaith dialogue and helping fellow Americans in need. In December last year, when a tornado flattened neighborhoods in the north Texas cities of Garland and Rowlett, Muslim organizations like the Islamic Circle of North America went into action and area Muslims not only donated money but also assisted with relief and reconstruction aid. Richardson mayor Paul Voelker stressed that even though the first responders do a marvelous job, “it is the faith-based organizations that we have to rely on … because the reconstruction and healing are a multi-year challenge and religious organizations are well-suited for that.” Among the attendees was Owais Siddiqui, the young Harvard-educated deputy mayor pro tem and city council member of Murphy, who said that while “Muslims are the current outcast group,” Americans who personally know a Muslim are less likely to have a negative view of Islam. In the present hate-filled environment,
made worse by Donald Trump’s and other candidates’ incendiary remarks and negative media portrayals of Muslims, the fear of a backlash is not far from Muslim minds. Asked if Richardson was ready to deal with an act of violence against Muslims, Voelker, who assured that he would defend the citizenry if the need arose, recalled his support during the December 2015 armed protest in front of the Islamic Association of North Texas IANT), the area’s oldest mosque. Speaker Michael Phillips, a professor at Plano’s Collin College, author, and former journalist, recalled his participation in the counter-protest in front of the Irving Mosque when Irving mayor Beth Van Duyne (R) accused a local Islamic mediation panel of being a Shariah “Court” (Dallas Morning News, March 19, 2015) Phillips exclaimed, “They had American flags, we had American creed.” Phillips lauded the work that EPIC and other Islamic centers are doing to building coalitions and hosting interfaith events. He was optimistic that things will get better for Muslims, just as they did for Catholics and Jews after years of ostracism. He said that today, of the nine Supreme Court Justices, five were Catholics and three were Jews. (Justice Antonin Scalia died on Feb. 13, a week before the EPIC event.)
A MOVING STORY The guests included Father Joshua Whitfield of Dallas’ St. Rita Catholic Community, who related that after he had concluded a Sunday
ONE WAY TO COUNTER ISLAMOPHOBIA IS TO EXPLAIN TO AMERICANS THAT ISLAM HAS BEEN A PART OF AMERICAN HISTORY SINCE THE COUNTRY’S BIRTH.
Lunch scene at EPIC inauguration
service in early December, a member of the congregation shouted at him that he had missed something in his sermon. “What did I miss?” he asked the visibly angry congregant. “Father, you forgot to say, ‘Kill all the Muslims.’” Shocked, he gave a moving homily a few days later to denounce the man’s suggestion as “un-Christian.” The speech drew a standing ovation from the audience. The Dallas Morning News interviewed him and published his entire sermon. St. Rita’s serves 3,600 families. Across the U.S., there are many such stories about how Christians and Jews have come together to defend the rights of Muslim Americans and denounce Islamophobia; however, the mainstream media has found them un-newsworthy. Father Joshua stressed, “America should be a place of genuine coexistence … not to speak out against hate is evil.” He told the Dallas Morning News, “Hatred is born of a small, distorted, bitter view of the world,” adding that “some of the Muslims have died for peace, but the hatemongers had not heard about them.” In his homily, he told his parishioners, “I am a minister of Jesus Christ and a preacher of his gospel, and so in His name, let me be clear: If you agree with that sentiment — ‘Kill all the Muslims’ — then this may not be the place for you.” There are many such uplifting stories around the country, stories of peace, brotherhood and sisterhood that we must tell to counter the voices of doom and gloom. ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
year, Perkey, who would like the youth from EPIC to join his students on a project of common good, invited an EPIC member to speak at his church and recently brought his students to EPIC in a reciprocal visit to immerse themselves in interfaith conversations. In addition, there are the stories of interfaith groups, “Sons of Abraham” and “Daughters of Abraham,” that are working to promote understanding and mutual acceptance among members of the Abrahamic faiths.
Azeez highlighted such engagements as “an imperative on all Muslims to bring greater good to our respective communities and the society at large.” “The scourge of hate that plagues us today,” said Nadim Bashir, EPIC’s imam and religious director, “can only be addressed by connecting with others and respecting each other’s differences.” He added, “Before we can address prejudice, we must eradicate ignorance.” Ekram Haque, a former journalist, lives in Murphy, TX.
ELECTRONIC FUNDS TRANSFER — 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. Jordan Perkey, a student Perkins School of Theology at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, had rushed to defend the Muslims at IANT when armed protestors tried to intimidate the congregation. Last
Be a key that opens the door to ISNA’s long-term financial stability:
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Good deeds are easier to do than you think. Nearly all of us would have seen construction workers doing their job in the summer heat, or even shivering in the winters outside. Any Muslim family can earn their respect and win their hearts, and of course the blessings of Allah, simply by putting an icebox at their work site with 2 or 3 dozen water bottles. And during winter, a carafe filled with coffee will also be welcome. Such a project would cost about cost $5 to $7 only, but imagine the blessings and smiles you will earn. Muslims can do this for the sake of Allah to serve fellow Americans, and lay foundations of understanding that will benefit their future generations too. This may be a small way that we can show America that Muslims love America and serve everyone. Sponsored by Sh. Abdul Rahman, M.D. Lawrenceburg, IN
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
MUSLIMS IN ACTION
Illusions that Hurt Do toys children play with impact their psychosocial development? BY RIZWAN WADHERA
igerian medical student Haneefah Adam’s rendition of Mattel’s brainchild provides parents with an alternative to the iconic Barbie franchise that has captivated the hearts of young girls for generations. This hijab-clad Barbie seeks to meet the needs of parents who are looking for dolls that are more consistent with their religious values. In contrast to the original, “Hijarbie” dons colorful headscarves, flowing abayas, and full-length couture dresses: she is outfitted with an air of modesty. Adam posted the first photo of Hijarbie, clad in a bright blue skirt and black hijab, and by December 2015 it had garnered more than 24,000 followers. I have seen the enthusiasm with which young girls live out their worldviews through the many derivatives of Mattel’s most infamous creation. As a vice-principal and educator, I am fascinated with Hijarbie’s emergence. When considering the value of this reconceptualization, I found myself asking
the question: “Do the toys children play with impact their psychosocial development?” Advertisers design messages that resonate with their demographic target(s), creating conditions for their product’s success. Every word carries its weight in gold, television spots being both pricey and coveted. The melodiously sung opening phrase of the first television commercial for Barbie that aired in 1959 was, “Barbie, you’re beautiful…” The opening vignette of any media platform is paramount to its whole, insofar as it offers viewers a glimpse into the product’s centrality. In this sense, the opening vignette subtly, yet actively, helps establish a pathway to interpreting the media experience by evoking both tonal and atmospheric qualities. The social constructs and gender archetypes embedded within the opening phrase of this commercial is rather disheartening. Barbie, the archetype of womanhood, is first identified by her beauty. The phrasing continues, “…you make me feel my Barbie doll is really real…,” almost suggesting that the
doll’s physical representation is so unequivocal that one must question her womanhood’s authenticity in the real world. The onset of learning is critical to human development, insofar as it constructs the lens through which we view the world. The experiences and expectations encircling our childhood influence our developmental trajectories as adults. In this sense, Barbie is in a league of her own. For many young girls, Barbie is the overarching archetype that underpins their understanding of beauty and womanhood. Barbie’s exaggerated physical dimensions further problematize this. Her wide blue eyes, full lips, big bust, and slender physique are this iconic brand’s staples of idealized womanhood. When young girls realize they do not fit into this narrowed construct, they feel dissatisfied with their physical forms and feelings of deficiency begin to appear. For young impressionable minds that are still developing their concept of reality, these unrealistic expectations of beauty can subconsciously damage their self-esteem and sense of worth. It is these internal emotional deficits that lead women to contort their identities and physical forms in an attempt to chase an archetype of womanhood that only exists in the world of fiction. Educators strive to help students grow not only as learners, but also as human beings. As Barbie’s sense of worth is first tied to
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
her physical beauty, Mattel has built an empire on the remains of a woman’s self-respect. More specifically, Barbie perpetuates the very archetypes that educators are trying to uproot. This one-dimensional presumption of femininity snowballs into larger stereotypes that negatively affect the developmental trajectories of women.
SCHOOLS THAT WORK TOWARD COUNTERING GENDER STEREOTYPES ADVANCE A CHILD’S POSITIONING ON THE PSYCHOSOCIAL LEARNING SPECTRUM. People are byproducts of their social realities; gender, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and social culture all influence our worldview. From the rise of eating disorders among woman to the shortage of females in STEM professions — all of these can trace their origins to the proliferation and blind acceptance of gender stereotypes. The effects of this social engineering also spring to life in the classroom. The diversity encircling the classroom requires educators to be responsive to student needs. This level of responsiveness extends beyond the acquisition of core knowledge and encompasses all facets of learning and development: behavioral, cultural, emotional, psychological and social. As a gamut of conceptual orientations competes for dominance, educators must guide student thinking to the precepts of valuing human dignity of both those within and beyond the classroom. At Mississauga’s Maingate Islamic Academy, Principal Farrah Marfatia and I strive to create a school culture for our students that is uninhibited by gender stereotypes. Our school staff collaboratively works toward breaking gender stereotypes through physical statements that force students to reconfigure those values that may have been incorrectly assigned through culture, tradition and/or media platforms. For example, I was conducting a teacher evaluation in pre-kindergarten. My stay seeped into their snack time. As I sat in one of the student chairs, a girl requested that I open her bag of chips. Her teacher was within close proximity. As educators we strive to capitalize on learning opportunities, and so I told her that the bag was sealed too tightly for me to open. She responded by saying, “…but you are so big and strong.” I responded by asking the female homeroom teacher to help me open the bag — which she did. Although this seems like a trivial act, it was a small step toward reshaping this young girl’s perspective on who and what it means to be strong. Schools that work toward countering gender stereotypes advance a child’s positioning on the psychosocial learning spectrum. This ultimately assists them to move toward higher levels of achievement and better equips them with the ideas and thought patterns they need to be meaningful members of society. Parents seeking an alternative to Mattel’s Barbie have found something that is more consistent with their values; however, they continue to dream of the day where women will no longer be defined by their physical forms. Rizwan Wadhera, vice-principal of Maingate Islamic Academy, Mississauga, Ont., Canada, is completing his certification in student affairs and services from Seneca College and Master of Education in educational leadership from Western University.
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
IMAGE COURTESY OF JANET KOZAK – COPYRIGHT-FREE IMAGE
BY JANET KOZAK
hat started as a calendar here and a book there grew into a self-publishing consultancy company, says Zarinah El-Amin Naeem, founder of Niyah Press — a business that she
grew out of a hobby. Naeem’s background is in international development and anthropology. Both her companies began as a way for her to push the cultural messages and values that she wanted to see reinforced in her community. She explains, “For me, it’s [only been] in the last three years, since having my last children, that I’ve had a major shift in mindset.” It took time for her to pinpoint the core motivation for growing her business. When she did narrow it down, it was a transformational “ah-ha” moment that gave her inspiration and energy to make her own way. She explained, “I do a lot of philanthropy projects and I was finding it difficult to do them. I discovered you can’t be a broke philanthropist! You have to make money if you want to do good in the world. So I switched from giving away all of my services to charging fairly for them.” Charging a fair price for services is a beast of a reality that many people with giving and creative spirits, and especially hobbyist-turned-entrepreneurs, have to learn to grab by the horns and harness. Though Naeem started her LLC early on, she admits that many things remained merged between her personal and business finances for years. It wasn’t until she decided to grow her business that she
got serious and kept more detailed records. Delineating between private and professional funds made it easier for her to both monitor growth and file taxes. For entrepreneurs, it’s imperative to treat our side projects as business start-ups from the get-go. This involves organizing our finances for success early on and setting systems in place that allow us to better manage our assets and track our progress.
START OFF ON SOUND FINANCIAL FOOTING Before finances tangle, make a clean break. Err on the side of keeping your side endeavor a start-up and separate the business money from your personal finances. Open a new bank account, register your business and apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). All of this can usually done in less than a day. Aside from the stress reduction facilitated by some initial organization, setting apart personal and professional finances gives us peace of mind, for we know that we are maintaining the highest ethical and moral standards for our business. A solid business plan can give you goals and direction. Also consider educating yourself on important financial considerations or even hiring an accountant to analyze the numbers and project your growth. A regular accountant can help with year-end computing, while a full-service accountant can assist with cost-cutting recommendations, projected earnings and reinvestment strategies for growth and expansion. Accountants can also help a small business owner focus on profit ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
and cost-cutting early on. Boutique accounting firms offer comprehensive services to their small business clients after a thorough study of their details. Accounting firms specializing in entrepreneurial ventures, small businesses and start-ups can create highly useful reports presenting quantified suggestions and solutions at periodic intervals – almost like a freelance Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
WHAT STOPS ENTREPRENEURIAL IDEAS FROM TAKING OFF IS REFUSING TO SURROUND OURSELVES WITH THE RIGHT SUPPORT TEAM FROM THE BEGINNING AND THEREBY UNINTENTIONALLY STUNTING OUR GROWTH.
all struggling with different areas and have questions on how to implement Islamic principles into our everyday dealings. Surround yourself with a supportive team and make time to give and receive honest in-depth analysis — offering applicable advice and support to other business owners. A sounding board of diverse professionals at different stages of their careers and with different backgrounds will help keep our struggles in perspective. It will also allow us to help others as much as they’re helping us. No matter what our motivations — financial independence, saving for future expenses or just more cash for our philanthropic projects — having a sound plan for growing our business is best achieved with help and advice from experts. Establish strong, honest and financial habits early on to ensure compliance with divine guidance and local laws. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals to create an environment conducive to learning and growth. With a great idea and some careful planning, we can all achieve our wildest dreams. We can grow our hobbies into thriving, successful businesses that feed our families from halal income and fuel our humanitarian projects. Janet Kozak is a business writer who is driven by company dynamics, CEO insights and creative outputs.
If your goal is to make your first million in the next ten years or to reach a certain number of people in need, turn that goal on its ear and ask, “What would it take to make this a reality in one.” Bring a team on board as volunteers or interns, in a paid capacity or through partial ownership options, to help you reach your longterm goals faster and more efficiently. Implementing best business practices as you grow entails bringing in a team of consultants, marketing managers, accountants and many other professionals to ensure that you’re working toward your long-term goals as efficiently as possible.
BUILD A STRONG BUSINESS-FOCUSED TEAM What stops entrepreneurial ideas from taking off is refusing to surround ourselves with the right support team from the beginning and thereby unintentionally stunting our growth. For entrepreneurs who are essentially “me-based” businesses, it can be especially difficult to delegate tasks to others. It’s usually easier to unload the tasks we dislike, so start with those. If you’re not a fan of posting social media updates, designing your newsletter or invoicing clients, hire someone to take care of such things so you’ll have more time to focus on the things you love and need to be doing every day: dreaming, planning, networking and ensuring stellar service. Without a strong team we could spend multiple lifetimes learning and implementing new techniques and technologies on our own, exhausting ourselves in the process. It’s much easier to bring in some extra hands to handle specialized tasks. For Naeem, the next two people she plans to bring onto her team are marketing and financial experts: she recognizes that both areas are not in her “zone of genius.”
JOIN A MASTERMIND GROUP Another way to surround yourself with professionals is to join or establish a mastermind group of entrepreneurs who are struggling along similar lines but in different niches. In weekly or monthly meetings, discuss ongoing challenges and get fresh perspectives on how to tackle them. You may be surprised to find that we’re ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
7350 W. 93rd Street, Bridgeview, Illinois 60455 (708) 599-4100 • Fax (708) 599-1588 www.universalschool.org • email: email@example.com
Open Positions for the 2016 – 2017 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 95,000 square ft. modern building houses 42 classrooms, regulations size gymnasium, fitness center, state of the art science lab, STEAM Lab, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.universalschool.org for more information.
Positions Available: Elementary Education • High School Math & Science English & History • Arabic & Quran 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.
HEALTH & WELL-BEING
Advance Directives and Living Wills Muslim Americans need better documentation for emergency health situations. BY SHAHID ATHAR
n life and in conscious health, one would like to have their input into all day-to-day decisions. However, in the absence of a patient’s wishes, namely, the advance directives (AD) and living will (LW), the relevant health care decisions lie with health care providers, families, institutions and even the state. Most Muslims are unprepared to deal with end-of-life issues and thus do not have an AD or an LW. These are based on the ethical principle of self-autonomy, and their absence becomes a problem if there are issues between the Muslim patient and the healthcare provider, or among family members, about prolonging care or increasing costs while debating the possible futility of any further care. The health care provider’s lack of awareness about a Muslim patient’s values may also complicate the care given and decisions made. Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) stressed that every Muslim who has any item for someone to inherit should have a last will and testament written and kept ready (narrated Abdullah bin ‘Umar; Sahih Bukhari). Such things happen: JW, 74, father of a physician who is also an ethicist in a hospital, suffered a massive stroke that left him paralyzed with receptive and expressive aphasia. One directive stated that he did not want mechanical ventilation or nutrition or hydration in terminal state. But he is not terminal — he is semi-conscious. His caregivers decided to insert a feeding tube. When he lapsed into coma after 150 days, the tube was removed so he could die peacefully at home under home hospice care. His son thanked God for giving him another 150 days to serve his father. MN, 76, visiting the U.S., had elective surgery and suffered acute myocardial infarction and coded during procedure. He had no living will, but his hosting son had signed “Do not resuscitate” (DNR) form. However, the older son back home disagrees and the patient’s wife, also back home, is being kept in the dark. What should the
physician do? This case brings up the need for communication. CW, a 70-year-old woman with metastatic lung cancer and a signed DNR form, is admitted with an acute intestinal obstruction. Should she have emergency surgery, which may require intubation and mechanical ventilation, or nothing in view of her signed will and DNR? The patient’s right of autonomy: Even people in persistent vegetative states do not lose their right to basic human dignity. Can Muslims insert Sharia-based clauses in the AD and LW in terms of autopsy? The Sharia forbids any desecration and mutilation of the corpse. An autopsy is not encouraged unless the law requires it, such as when the death was suspicious or a medical mystery has to be solved. The constitution and law should protect one’s dignity. If a person does not have an LW, then the body becomes state property. As the state now controls it, the physician who pulls the tube can be charged with murder. In its position paper “The Physician and the Hopelessly Ill Patient: Legal, Medical and Ethical Guidelines” (New York, 1985), The Society for the Right to Die outlines the different state laws. The right to exercise autonomy is in informed consent, better described as shared mutual consent, where the physician participates in the informative process and the patient discusses matters the family and care provider. A patient has the right to refuse treatment, but should be warned about the consequences of doing so. For instance, refusing to have a gangrenous leg amputated may lead to sepsis — a life-threatening complication brought on by an infection. Communicating with the patient: The patient is given the consent form the night before or during the early morning before the surgery,
times when most people are drowsy. In such a case, there is also a great deal of additional stress. Perhaps the patient signs it without understanding the legal terminology. So the physician has to break it down, after which the patient has the right to make an AD and consult a healthcare representative. An AD is a personal directive about one’s wishes, healthcare preferences, and religious moral values before a critical illness, disability or incapacity strikes. One of many widespread beliefs about ADs include that a physician will not treat a patient who has one or that accepting a healthcare representative means that the patient loses control. The truth is that one can change it whenever one wants to, provided that one is conscious. An AD is not just for the terminally ill and elderly, but also for adult children. In fact, each family should discuss each member’s AD maybe once a month, and any expressed wishes should be recorded. Other misconceptions are that ADs cannot be changed, that verbal wishes are not legal and that a physician may override it. Physicians have to know and follow the patient’s wishes. An AD may contain a living will
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
about life-prolonging procedures that may be futile. Never forget that Terri Schiavo, who was in an irreversible persistent vegetative state and was kept alive for 15 years (19902005) via a feeding tube while politicians, her husband, her parents, courts and lawyers fought over her fate.
mentioned. It also permits the withholding of nutrition and hydration to someone in a persistent vegetative state. The patient has right to say “yes” or “no” even to futile treatments or to let the healthcare representative decide. The LW and autonomy: A competent patient has the right to refuse any medical
EACH FAMILY SHOULD DISCUSS EACH MEMBER’S ADVANCE DIRECTIVES MAYBE ONCE A MONTH. Appointing a health care representative, power of attorney, or psychiatric AD: Psychiatric patients, not being mentally competent, need somebody to represent them. The LW should fulfill these requirements: The signer should be an adult of sound mind, give voluntary consent in writing, and have it dated and signed. The witness should not be the signatory, a parent or spouse, the child, a beneficiary of the person’s estate, and someone who is not responsible for healthcare. It should clearly state that one’s life should not be artificially prolonged in case of incurable injury, disease, or illness and contain wording like “if my physician will know that my death will occur in a short period of time.” The end of life-prolonging procedures permits the patient to die naturally, at home and at peace, provided with appropriate pain control medications. Pain control should be
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
treatment whatsoever; however, she or he should understand the consequences. A healthcare representative may allow another individual to make medical decisions if and when one is competent but lacks the capacity to do so. If the patient is competent, then he or she can override the representative; however, the representative will speak for an unconscious patient. The representative, who acts only when the appointer lacks capacity, acts in all healthcare matters and only in the patient’s best interest. Such people may delegate that power to someone else if for some reason they are not medically competent. If they have a physician in the family, they can share that responsibility with that person, who must act in good faith. The power of attorney is a more of a legal term for someone who is financially responsible for writing checks on one’s behalf, as well as in the case of healthcare. Usually the power of attorney can be given to a relative. As this is a shared responsibility, a wife has her husband’s power of attorney and vice versa. If both of die at the same time, then one of their children can have the power of attorney drawn up and transferred with the help of an attorney. But this can be done only when the patient is conscious. An LW/AD must be in writing and notarized and list the specific powers conveyed to avoid any confusion about that that person can and cannot legally do. When used in terms of healthcare, the power of attorney in fact is referred to as
healthcare power of attorney. Thus there are two types of financial as well as of healthcare powers of attorney. The question of competency as well as capacity: Competence is a legal word, which is used by courts. On the other hand, capacity is a physical word and whether the patient is able to comprehend, deliberate, and communicate. There are two issues regarding tube feeding: (1) to insert it initially for hydration and nutrition and (2) when to remove it. In the first case, this is an automatic procedure with a surgical patient. After general surgery or abdominal surgery, patients are unable to eat and require total parenteral nutrition (TPN) to supply the body’s nutritional needs by bypassing the digestive system and dripping nutrient solution. If the body has experienced respiratory failure, then the second thing is to withdraw the tube. For example, when Pope John Paul II was hospitalized, a feeding tube was inserted, he improved and went home. When he again became sick, he declined to go back to the hospital because he wanted to die at home. And what if the family members disagree? What happens when there are four children, two of whom are caring for their mother? The other two, maybe living in different states, are the most vocal about what needs to be done because they have a guilt complex. So they fly in and begin to argue. It is in everyone’s interest to have such conferences in advance, to appoint someone to speak for the family and to see that the patient’s wishes are enforced. Shahid Athar, MD, FACP, FACE, a physician, is former chair of medical ethics committee of the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA). See IMANA’s position paper on line at www.imana.org
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HEALTH & WELL-BEING
Hate-borne Mental Disease Hate can lead to serious mental health and social consequences for individuals and the nation.
faced by Muslim schoolchildren, such as increased verbal and physical harassment and bullying both inside and outside the school. Researchers are just beginning to explore the toll that Islamophobia can have on our community’s mental and physical health. According to a 2012 study conducted by a group of Norwegian psychology professors, “Studies have shown that many Muslims not only experience religious discrimination in their daily lives, but are fully aware of their devalued position in society.” Their study found that perceived Islamophobia has a “distinct effect on Muslim minorities’ physical and mental health. Discriminatory behavior toward Muslims is the largest contributing factor to their deteriorating mental health. However, this isn’t anything new. Muslim-bashing is now an expected reaction to any terrorism attack here or abroad, regardless of who carries it out.
THE MEDIA AND ISLAMOPHOBIA
BY M. BASHEER AHMED
n March 4 a friend’s daughter, a freshman at a prestigious university, went out for dinner with three girls (one wearing hijab). While they were waiting to be served, they heard someone shout from another corner, “You Muslims go back to your country!” They ignored him. However, a few minutes later someone from the same group shouted, “We don’t want terrorists here!” Now very scared, they looked around. There were a lot of people in the restaurant, but no one seemed to care what was happening. Even the waiters didn’t say a word. Suddenly the noise level increased, and now really frightened, they left without waiting for their food. My friend’s daughter called home and, crying, told her parents that she wanted to leave her university and come home. Her parents immediately went to visit her. I also talked with her and reassured her that hooligans who humiliate and shout at Muslimahs, especially hijabis, in public places seldom attack or cause any physical harm. The girls felt humiliated, angry, sad and disgusted. Moreover, they were afraid to leave their apartments. Their parents contacted the
university administration and the restaurant. The manager sent a letter of apology, promising that such a thing would not happen again. Incidences of Islamophobia have been increasing steadily since 9/11. Since the start of the election cycle, the Republican presidential candidates have been competing with each other in terms of who can come up with the vilest anti-Muslim rhetoric and serve up even more Islamophobia to the public. Prejudice and negative views have skyrocketed, and Muslim Americans are facing increased institutional and organizational discrimination. Donald Trump currently leads the GOP troupe in belittling Muslims, African Americans, Latinos and women with his ongoing Islamophobia, racism and misogyny. His behavior, which has greatly impacted a large number of Americans, is inspiring a troubling rise in harassment and violent attacks on Muslims and other minorities. Trump’s divisive rhetoric and policies has earned him the open support of the KKK and various white supremacist groups. Some Muslim Americans fear that Washington’s internment of Japanese Americans during WW2 might be about to repeat itself. Islamophobia is causing mental stress among Muslims, some of whom are showing clear signs of depression, paranoia and other mental health problems. Parental stress may exacerbate the effects of similar experiences
A study conducted by Toronto-based 416 Labs, “Are Muslims Collectively Responsible? A Sentiment Analysis of the New York Times” (Mar. 16, 2016), revealed that between 1990 and 2014 the newspaper’s headlines “associated [Islam and Muslims] with negative terms” at least 57 percent of the time; only 8 percent of them were positive. While Muslims have overwhelmingly and repeatedly condemned all terrorist attacks, the media has largely abdicated their crucial responsibility of offering balanced coverage in order to pursue sensationalism and thereby firmly linking Islam with terrorism, violence and security. This substitution of caricature for reality underscores the urgent need to study how the media portray Islam. According to researchers, these findings are important because (1) the media plays a powerful role in influencing public perceptions and (2) such reporting is likely to distort the perceptions of its audience. The report notes that “the average reader of NYT is likely to assign collective responsibility to Islam/Muslims for the violent actions of a few.” Since Trump declared that he would ban non-U.S. citizen Muslims from entering the U.S., attacks on Muslims have increased. If Muslims write anything against Israel, they are accused of anti-Semitism. But when Muslims are subjected to the same kind of rhetoric, few people complain. As a psychiatrist, my major concern is the psychological effects of Islamophobia ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
upon vulnerable young people. The GOP candidates’ persistent degrading and humiliating anti-Muslim rhetoric is causing strong feelings of negativity and anger in such individuals. Some of those who are losing faith in the American system may actually be lured into radicalism as a result due to being marginalized and experiencing high levels of anxiety and depression. Islamic centers have to prioritize helping them via support groups. In addition, mental health professionals and community leaders must assure them that American values of decency will prevail. These supportive group sessions will give them a sense of identity, hope and guidance that might prevent them from embracing radicalism. Trump’s campaign has been one long night of fear and hate. He has recommended that Muslims carry special ID cards and that non-U.S. citizens Muslims shouldn’t be allowed into the country. He shows no concern about how his remarks impact any population segment. During the last 40 years, the civil rights movement has transformed our country. Many people have learned how to deal with those who are not mirror image of themselves and to accept diversity and equality. The racism and negative attitudes toward minorities and refugees had been declining. However, during this same period white Christian men were losing their traditional power, dominance and prestige; many of them found it extremely difficult, if not impossible, that they were now “being forced” to share power with those who were so clearly “different.” There is a lot of anger among the working white class and middle class, who are seeing things being taken away from them. Trump is appealing to these angry white men and women by promising to make them powerful once again, passing strong anti-immigration laws and describing his plan to deport immigrants. He also degrades women by mocking their capabilities and appearance. These people believe that Trump will MAKE AMERICA GREAT (read: WHITE) AGAIN. Unfortunately, people are acting on his anti-civil rights rhetoric. More non-whites, immigrants and refugees, especially Muslims, are being assaulted. A Sikh temple was vandalized in Washington State; the perpetrator thought it was a mosque. Two brothers were charged with beating a homeless immigrant in Boston, saying they were inspired in part by Trump’s comments about deporting illegal immigrants. ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
In mid-January, San Diegan Dustin Wynn carried out a rather disturbing “public experiment.” Posing as a Trump campaign worker, he offered people $40 to hand out ID badges to help ‘track’ Muslims and record their name and contact details. Not one person opposed what he was doing. In fact, people either readily agreed to his request or simply walked on without a second thought. One person actually told him: “Thank you for what you’re doing. If you talk to Trump, you tell him that the homies are with him.”
points out: “We were in a world where children could look up to their leaders and emulate them, and it would make others proud. And this new world we’re in seems frighteningly and dangerously like the old one we were finally making progress leaving behind.” He has stirred people up: “We’ve been told our whole lives not to say bad things about people, to not be bullies, to not ostracize people based on their skin color. We have these social mores, and he breaks all of them and he’s successful. And people
IT’S NOW EASY TO UNDERSTAND HOW THE NAZIS CAME TO POWER ... BECAUSE BYSTANDERS LIKE US DIDN’T INTERVENE WHEN WE SAW DISCRIMINATION.” —Dustin Wynn His YouTube video, “Forcing Muslims to Wear Badges — Public Experiment,” has been watched by tens of thousands of people. This study is another warning of how hate speech is affecting American perceptions of proprietary. One fact needs to be pointed out here: If we follow Trump’s rhetoric, everyone except Native Americans should be deported because immigrants, refugees and their offspring comprise the country’s overwhelming majority population. His derogatory statements about minorities and Mexican immigrants caused an upsurge of hate and led to the creation of new white extremist groups, with the total jumping from 784 in 2014 to 892 in 2015, according to the report released on Feb.17 by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The list, which includes domestic Islamist radicals and African American separatist groups, also highlights the jump in the number of antigovernment militias, white supremacists, neo-Confederates and neo-Nazi groups nationwide, as well as organizations that target Muslims, immigrants and LGBT groups (https://www.splcenter.org/ news/2016/02/17/splcs-intelligence-report). Another major concern is how his supporters, especially white Christian men, will react if he loses the election. Certainly, violent attacks on minorities can be expected. Americans in general need to be concerned about this. Unfortunately, Trump has a negative effect on young Americans. Petula Dvorak (Washington Post, Mar. 7, 2106) rightly
are wondering how he gets away with it.” Muslims are facing serious challenges both here and abroad. The rising level of domestic Islamophobia is causing mental stress and may result in excessive anxiety, depression and paranoia. The Muslim community must proactively develop appropriate programs to help its members, prevent serious mental problems and keep vulnerable individuals away from terrorist activities. President Obama stated that those who aspire to lead the country “should be trying to bring us together and not turning us against one another.” In a society that has grown increasingly diverse, we need to work together by reaching out and building relationships with each other. This is the most effective way to reduce violence and radicalization. Some 70% of peace-loving Americans who respect American values of freedom, racial harmony, equality, respect and dignity toward all citizens must wake up, for it will become irrelevant if it keeps quiet. History shows what happened when a peaceful majority remains silent: Nazi Germany, Rwanda, and other countries. Wynn’s warning at the end of his video should be taken seriously: “It’s now easy to understand how the Nazis came to power ... Because bystanders like us didn’t intervene when we saw discrimination.” M. Basheer Ahmed, M.D., a Texas psychiatrist, is chairman emeritus of the Muslim Community Center for Human Services, which provides a broad range of health and social services to the needy.
THE MUSLIM WORLD
Always a Land with People Palestine and its name are living realities, despite Zionist colonial contestations. BY HATEM BAZIAN
hile visiting my mother, who was recuperating from a major operation in Jordan this past December, I took the time to go through family photos and documents. Aside from the usual collections of early childhood photos and funny faces at events, my late father’s Palestinian passport from the British mandate period captured my attention. It was still in excellent condition and full of stamps and travel details. I had seen, held, and examined it while growing up; however, this time I approached it as a historian who writes on colonialism and Palestine. His passport is both an important family possession and a piece of history that verifies Palestine’s presence on the map before Zionism began to erase it. Issued in 1943, it is a British passport bearing the number 169390, which is designated for the Mandate of Palestine. The passport, maps, currencies and all colonial documents use “Palestine,” including, interestingly enough, the British-Zionist discussions before, during and after WWI. Likewise, the name Palestine (hereinafter “Palestine”) was used during the late Ottoman period. The area’s indigenous population used the land’s major cities and towns as points of reference to its identity; however, this does not mean that they somehow failed to identify with and conceptualize Palestine as their cohesive homeland. Zionist settler colonialism continues to ask Palestinians, erroneously, to present their nationalist credentials to validate their asserted right to the land. But nationalism, which is a modern phenomenon, cannot be used as the measuring stick to ascertain the indigenous people’s right to the land, for this right predates European nationalist concepts. The aim is not to establish rights or claims, since the name of a land or a region shifts even among its indigenous populations. Moreover, the presence or the lack of a name neither changes nor removes 56
the indigenous Palestinians’ right to their own land. What’s in a name? The answers to this very profound question are connected to every aspect of the human experience, including our own individual names and identity. A name enables us to construct a mental map by which we can shape our understanding of objects, things, and concepts in the world.
At a higher level, it allows us to formulate abstract and complex ideas that we can use to innovate and reach new horizons. If a name can help us unlock human potential and shape the mental map that makes it possible for us to relate to the physical world and abstract thinking, then the critical question is what happens when that particular name faces structural erasure and political obliteration? Why is this specific goal such an important part of every colonial project? Is it coincidental, or does it point to something deeper at work? Palestine. The asking of what’s in a name. Clever people will immediately want to focus on the name’s etymology and trace its origins, as if this will somehow answer the question of how “Palestine” threatens Zionism as well as its adherents and supporters. Certainly, one aspect of this name revolves around a mistaken or imperfection in the word’s etymology or origins. Those who are determined to negate its validity on the basis of etymology claim that the word’s imperfect etymology removes the Palestinians’ rights to their land. The absurdity of this proposition should be obvious to all; however, such clarity has never stopped people from making legitimate fools out of themselves in public. It seems that this has become a valuable skill in the current Israeli Knesset.
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
Another approach can be traced to those who consider themselves true history buffs and more sophisticated: The Romans were the ones who coined the name “Palestine.” But how does their decision to call it “Palestine” or “a piece of land down below” answer “What’s in a name?” and why are so much human effort and financial capital being spent to erase this word from public discourses? In short, their argument is that Palestinians had no political structure or understanding of themselves as a people until the Romans “formed” this name to disassociate the land from its “rightful” owners: the ancient Israelites. Of course, there is no need to remind them that they themselves changed the land’s original name — the Land of Canaan — when they invaded it under Joshua, according to the Old Testament that they cite as evidence.
ISLAMIC, Egypt & Syria (Pre-Fatimid). Ikhshidids. Muhammad al-Ikhshid. AH 323-334 / AD 935-946. AV Dinar (23mm, 3.42 g, 3h). Filastin (Palestine) mint. Dated AH 333 (AD 944. (Courtesy: CNG Coins)
If the long-ago Arabs “invaded” Palestine, then the current Palestinians, being part of the current Arab world, have no right to this land. Moreover, the Zionists are only reclaiming their “own ancient homeland.” But there is a problem here: History does not substantiate this asserted linkage of an Arab military invasion with religious con-
NATIONALISM, WHICH IS A MODERN PHENOMENON, CANNOT BE USED AS THE MEASURING STICK TO ASCERTAIN THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S RIGHT TO THE LAND, FOR THIS RIGHT PREDATES EUROPEAN NATIONALIST CONCEPTS. In other words, they seek to prove their claim by citing a text that actually disproves their fundamental claim. Yet other people will point to the Muslim Arabs who arrived in the mid-seventh century and, after a while, began referring to the region as “Palestine.” Not to leave things simple and intellectually unpolluted, this group likes to speak of an Arab invasion, forced conversion and a host of other Orientalist toolkit arguments to substantiate the non-existence of “Palestine.” The invasion argument implies that Arabs were interlopers who suddenly arrived in the form of a small army and managed to transform the demographic landscape for the foreseeable future. This is a simplistic argument at best, and yet it continues to get considerable mileage and appears even in supposedly scholarly texts. This particular claim seeks to disassociate Palestine from its Arab heritage and, at the same time, pushes a classical form of Islamophobia that posits Islam’s violent nature and supposedly forced conversion policies. ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
version or that the region’s conversion was slow and forced. At the beginning of the 7th century, Palestine’s population was Arab and the Arabic-speaking tribes inhabiting the Jordan Valley, Al-Khalil and around Jerusalem had been trading with Arabian tribes, even those that lived in Mecca, before the appearance of Islam. In addition, the Zionist attempt to remove all references to Arabic-speaking Arab Christians who have always lived in the region, and to maintain a singular focus on Islam and Muslims, is deliberately designed to play into existing Orientalist tropes. The narrative of Palestinian Christians is problematized by concentrating only on those periods of contestation between Arab Muslims and Arab Christians, while inserting as often as possible the West and Zionism as supposed defenders of Eastern Christians. Yes, the Arab world’s Muslims and Christians have their conflicts, contradictions, and periods of utter hostility, for such is the nature of the human experience. But West-
ern and Zionist “civilizational” colonial and post-colonial missions have hardly solved or ended such realities. Recent history shows that Zionism is still making a concerted global effort to erase “Palestine” from books, maps, official documents, tourist information and films. Some efforts have reached such extreme levels of censorship and contesting its mere mention in any context that one wonders that if saying “Palestine” out loud would end time itself. The Zionist dream is to root out the very word “Palestine” in order to disassociate it from the land and the people who relate to it as part of their ancient and continued identity formation. Their very normative colonial discourse seeks to remove the indigenous people’s association with their colonized land so that, at some point in the future, their actual title to the land can be transferred to the colonially implanted citizenry, as happened in the Americas. Here again, a religious text and the colonizers’ God were dragged into the mix to justify the unfolding humanly constructed dispossession and transformation. If the colonizers can maintain the land’s new name for generations, then there is “hope” that one day its future inhabitants will only be able to recall and affirm the colonial name. But the Zionists are after something deeper: erasing Palestine’s name in order to erase the land’s inhabitants. And yet the more they pursue this goal, the stronger the Palestinians’ attachment to “Palestine” becomes. The organic relationship between the name and the people can only be broken by totally eliminating the latter to make everyone forget the former. The mere fact that a people refers to it land by name “X” and holds it to be the depository of their historical, cultural, ethnic, religious and social values is sufficient as a point of departure. A settler colonial community that contests an indigenous population’s point of reference to its ancestral homeland can have no standing, regardless of how much paper and ink it wastes to justify itself. I entered into this “Palestine” discourse because the front cover of my father’s British passport bears this name. The passport, like everything else in Palestine, is contested by settler colonialism and negated on the basis that it is a British invention and undertaken, according to hardcore Zionists, to appease the Arabs at the expense of the Jews. The British, being themselves a most conniving 57
THE MUSLIM WORLD
colonial power, acted in their best interests before, during and after WWI. In this case, it meant incubating Zionism to protect their Egyptian colony and secure more territory from the collapsing Ottoman Empire. Moreover, and importantly, the British upper crust and racist elites didn’t like Jews and sending them to Palestine was one way to solve the “Jewish question.” As is often the case, the British said whatever was necessary to secure more power, territory, interest and resources for the Crown. One should never forget their heavy involvement drug dealing
in Asia, most notably during the Opium Wars (1839-42 and 1856-60) in China. Accusing the British of appeasement is certainly entertaining and qualifies for a Comedy Central special or a Saturday Night Live skit, rather than as a legitimate response to using “Palestine” during the Mandate period. The British colonial legacy and machination leave much to be desired when it comes to using such terms as truth, honesty, justice and fairness. It is preposterous to accuse the British of being honest in their colonial policies, as the Irish people’s 800 years of experience with them shows. But the Zionists take their own claim quite seriously. The existence of my father’s passport is significant on one level but completely irrelevant on another level. Palestine exists regardless of this British passport or any other colonially produced document. The British did not invent “Palestine” to inscribe it on the passport, for Palestine and its people existed before the British arrived, remained after their departure, and are permanently affixed to the land despite their current dispossession. Once after I had given a long lecture on Palestine’s history, a very angry man insisted that there is no such thing called “Palestine,” to which I replied by thanking him for affirming the name in his effort to negate it. The more
the Zionists attempt to contest and negate the existence of “Palestine,” the firmer it is established in people’s mind and in the collective imaginary of the Palestinians. Hatem Bazian, director, The Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project, editor, Islamophobia Studies Journal, Dept. of Near Eastern Studies/Asian American Studies, University of California, Berkeley.
NEW RELEASES MORE THAN MORTAR AND BRICKS The Transnational Mosque: Architecture and Historical Memory in the Contemporary Middle East Kishwar Rizvi 2015. Pp. 296. HB. $34.95 The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, N.C. izvi offers an analysis of the role of transnational mosques, built with either local or foreign funds, in the construction of contemporary Muslim identity. By concentrating on mosques, especially those built at the turn of the twenty-first century, as the epitome of Islamic architecture, the author elucidates their significance as sites for both validating religious praxis and constructing national and religious ideologies. She demonstrates how the built environment is a critical resource for understanding culture and politics in the contemporary the Islamic world.
MUSLIMS ARE INTEGRAL TO AMERICA The Bloomsbury Reader on Islam in the West Edward E. Curtis IV, ed. 2015. Pp. 304. PB $34.95 HB. $128.00 Bloomsbury Academic, New York, N.Y. his reader, which embraces a wide range of scholars, documents how Muslims have always been an integral part of the West’s history and how they continue to shape its present forms. The book’s remarkable geographic diversity takes us from North America and Europe to Russia and Spain to Africa. Ideal for those interested in the exchanges between the “West” and “Islam,” with an invaluable point of reference that fills an important void.
Silver in Turkish Art M. Zeki Kusoglu 2015. Pp. 128. PB. $29.95 Blue Dome Press, Clifton, N.J. n this study, Kusoglu, a celebrated scholar of art history who introduces the Ottomans’ arts and culture to contemporary audiences, is also a master who personally executes the arts and crafts about which he writes. Here, he introduces some of his beautiful silver works along with those from the Ottoman era.
On British Islam: Religion, Law, and Everyday Practice in Shari‘a Councils John R. Bowen 2016. Pp. 288. HB. $35.00 Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J. owen examines the history and everyday workings of Islamic institutions in Britain. He focuses on Shari‘a councils, which concern themselves with religious matters, especially divorce. These councils have a higher profile in Britain than in other Western nations. The author examines how these Muslims have created distinctive religious institutions and how Shari‘a councils interpret and apply Islamic law in this particular country’s secular context. He highlights the community’s efforts to create institutions that
make sense in both Islamic and British terms, a balancing act is rarely acknowledged in Britain or elsewhere. However, we must understand it if we are to build new ways of living together. Islamic Art of Illumination: Classical Tazhib from Ottoman to Contemporary Times Sema Onat 2015. Pp. 176. PB. $39.00 Blue Dome Press, Clifton, N.J. nat, a prominent illumination artist, presents a mixture of classical Turkish illumination patterns and their contemporary interpretations. Her publication illustrates how this art form, also known as tazhib, was applied to various articles during the Ottoman era and how it is still applied extensively today to architectural surfaces, book covers, manuscripts, carpets, textiles, ceramics, glass and wood panels, and metal works. This book should interest those interested in exploring the long, rich history and profundity of this wonderful Islamic art form.
The Ottoman Touch: Traditional Decorative Arts and Crafts Mehmet Zeki Kusoglu 2015. Pp. 168. PB. $29.95 Blue Dome Press, Clifton, N.J. n introduction to the Ottoman era’s classical arts and crafts by academic and artist Mehmet Kusoglu. After explaining the subtle secrets of various traditional arts and crafts, he depicts their productions along with lucid texts and vivid images. A handbook for those interested in Ottoman and Turkish history and art.
Islamic Art and Architecture: Memories of Seljuk and Ottoman Masterpieces Laurelie Rae 2015. Pp. 147. HB. $34.95 Blue Dome Press, Clifton, N.J. rtist and author Rae takes readers on a journey through Asia Minor, one of the world’s oldest and most important trade routes along the Silk Road, as she wanders through the ancient streets of the Ottoman capitals of Istanbul, Edirne, and Bursa or enters into the Seljuk period stone-carved masterpieces throughout Anatolia. The illustrations serve as your guide to the vast world of Turkish Islamic art and architecture as you forge your own path and discover the treasures left behind by the Seljuks and Ottomans.
Niki’s Honor Laila Anwarzai Ayoubi 2015. Pp. 152. PB. $12.95 Page Publishing, Inc., New York, N.Y. his book is about an innocent victim of “honor killing” practises and the family she seeks to protect. Based on actual events that still occur in many parts of the world, Ayoubi reveals the realities of these unspeakable acts committed against girls and women that are usually carried out by their own [predominantly male] family members. The author, who grew up in Afghanistan and knows its history, traditions, and customs, adds her unique voice to the story.
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2016
The world we live in is constantly evolving and ISNA is committed to being a positive driver of change. ISNA has long recognized the importance of engaging with other faith communities as a fundamental part of its mission, and therefore, we continuously host and participate in interfaith events, meetings and webinars to educate our friends, partners, officials and activists about Islam. These interreligious initiatives have helped break down barriers of misunderstanding, formed genuine partnerships of faith and ethics, and established a platform to advocate for social justice issues for the common good. We aim to work together to fight Islamophobia and share knowledge about the true teachings and understanding of our religion in all sectors. The gift of education has a ripple effect—it creates change locally, nationally and globally. Ignorance is our enemy, and with your support we can make a difference. Please donate to ISNA today.
P.O. Box 808 • Plainfield, Indiana 46168 • (317) 839-8157 • www.isna.net
ROAD MAP TO IMPROVE THE IMAGE OF MUSLIMS/ISLAM in USA Your mosque can do it, but you can do it by yourself Today, the image of Muslims is under attack. However, we should not forget, that it is our responsibility to correct it collectively and individually: it is every Muslim’s responsibility. YES, if we do it seriously we can see positive results emerging in a few years. Muslims, who are spread out across the United States, should place this ad. in their local newspapers and magazines. Below is a sample text for the ad. that you can use:
Islam is a religion of inclusion. Muslims believe in all the Prophets of Old & New Testaments. Read Quran — The Original, unchanged word of God as His Last and Final testament to humankind. More information is available on following sites: www.peacetv.tv • www.theDeenShow.com www.Gainpeace.com Or 877whyIslam • www.twf.org Such ads are already running in many newspapers in the United States but may not be in your area of residence yet. Placing these ads can be a continuous reward (sadqa-e-jaria) for yourself, your children, your loved deceased ones and with the prayer for a sick person that Allah make life easy here and in the Hereafter. Please Google the list of newspapers in your state and contact their advertising departments. Such ads are not expensive. They range for around $20 to $50 per slot and are cheaper if run for a longer time. Call your local newspaper and ask how many print copies they distribute, and run it for a longer period of time to get cheaper rates. Don’t forget that DAWAH works on the same principles as that of advertisement, BULK AND REPEATED EXPOSURE CREATES ACCEPTANCE. Printing continuously for a long period of time is better than printing one big advertisement for only once. Let your advertisement run for a longer time even if it is as small as a business card. NOTE: If you are living East of Chicago, choose in the ad 877-whyIslam, but also please call 877-WHYISLAM before putting the ad and check if someone is already running an advertisement in the same newspaper as yours. If that is the case choose another newspaper. And if you are living West of Chicago, choose www.GainPeace.com and also call GainPeace.com before putting your ad. Also, after the ad appears, please send a clipping to the respective organization. If you have any questions, or want copies of the ads that others have already placed in their area newspapers/ magazines, please contact me, Muhammad Khan at: email@example.com so that I can guide you better. You can also contact 1-877-why-Islam or Gainpeace.com
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