Islamic Horizons May/June 2022

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MAY/JUNE 2022/1443 | $4.00 | WWW.ISNA.NET







SLAMIC HORIZONS MAGAZINE STARTED ITS JOURNEY as a very slim MSA newsletter in the early 1960s. Over the past several decades, the full-color magazine version has been welcomed into masjids, homes and Muslim organizations across North America. As the Muslim community grows, expands and diversifies, so does our content and how we get it to you. Last month we launched IslamicHorizons. net, a website dedicated to making our content more accessible. Read Islamic Horizons on the go and share our stories and your stories with friends and family. The team behind Islamic Horizons is also looking to broaden our scope of coverage. We’ve written about everything from domestic violence to the growth of Islamic institutions. But that's only the tip of what’s possible. There are so many stories


Islamic Horizons Adds a New Dimension

that still need to be told, which is why we’re asking for your help. In 2022, Islamic Horizons wants to unearth the stories and perspectives that are unique to the Muslim experience, produce insightful and raw reporting and provide a platform for Muslim voices. We want your humor, wit and curiosity, too. We aim to publish originally reported enterprise features, interviews, long-form journalism, personal essays and profiles. Pitch us the stories we haven’t written about, or maybe we have, but you have a new and interesting take. Pitch us topics you feel will challenge our readers or even us editors. And, yes, we do pay our writers. Help us redefine the future of Islamic Horizons. Send your pitches to

India: Rising Modicaust


14 Modicaust Works on Final Solution for Muslim Indians 15 Hindutva Seeks Manusmriti-based Constitution 18 Hindutva is Hinduism in the New India 19 The European Priestess of Nazis and Hindu Fascists 20 The World Ignores Public Calls for Muslim Genocide in India 22 A Voice of Conscience 23 Muslim Indian Women Brave Hindutva Terror 25 Common Socio-Religious Attitudes in India

42 Gabrielle Deonath Invites Women to Contemplate Gratitude

Education 27 The Best YA Books to Add to YOUR Classroom Library

American Heritage 46 Oppressing Others While Benefiting from Broken Treaties

Family Matters 48 How to Guard Muslim Youth from Pornography?

32 Gut Health Holds the Key to Good Health

Muslims Living As Minorities 50

Islamophobia Rages On in France

Social Service 52

One Woman and 400 Afghan Refugees




28 The UN General Assembly Unanimously Adopts Resolution on Combating Islamophobia

The Metaverse Explained for Muslims

Feature 56

Astrology: The Elephant in the Room

Health & Wellness

In Memoriam

30 A Disorder Worthy to Correct 34 Is Lab-Grown Meat Healthy? 36 In Conversation with Muslima Trainers

58 58

The Muslim World 38 When Will the United States Accept 100,000 Yemeni Refugees?

Environment 40

Environmentally Friendly Mosques

Fikret Karcic Mamdouh Rezeika

44 C hallenges of Living in an Alcohol Obsessed Society

Departments 6 8 60

Editorial Community Matters New Releases

DESIGN & LAYOUT BY: Gamal Abdelaziz 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.




Modicaust: The Holocaust That Some Prefer Not to Notice


eincarnation – A Hindu belief — seems to be working at least for some in India, where Führer und Reichskanzler Adolf Hitler, who committed suicide on April 30, 1945, was re-born as Narendra Damodardas Modi on September 17, 1950. In 1932, when Nazism was budding, Germany had 87 million people. In 1992, when a Hindu mob destroyed the 600+-year-old Babri Mosque and unleashed a wave of anti-Muslim violence, India’s population stood at 909 million. One might view that particular act as Hindutva’s Kristallnacht. Germany, a small market, eventually evoked the moral indignation of France, Britain, the U.S. and the former Soviet Union, who allied to fight Nazism. One wonders where all of this self-proclaimed morality is when 200 million Muslim Indians and 12 million Muslims in illegally Indian-occupied Kashmir are undergoing the Modicaust. But should one really expect the West’s weapons-exporting warlords to sacrifice their “legitimate” slice of India’s $635 billion foreign exchange reserves for a mere 212 million Muslims? And then there are those Muslim oil/gas autocracies who merrily oil India’s war machine via multibillion investments, purchases and special projects — more than a few of them located on stolen and/or illegally occupied Muslim land — Occupied Kashmir. As Uppsala University’s Prof. Ashok Swain told Sweden’s “Svenska Dagbladet” newspaper on Dec. 28, 2017, “In today’s India, it is easier to kill a Muslim than a cow.” The same outrage over Beijing’s suppression of Uyghur rights is completely absent when dealing with India and Palestine’s Muslims. We don’t even hear any faux whispers about claims to championing their human rights and religious freedom. Germany 1932 is here and now in India. It won’t matter to the latter’s 212 million Muslims when, years later, some sages clumsily whisper “never again” and then snicker. And yet the U.S. State Department 6

refused to categorize India as a “country of concern” on its religious freedom list. Dr. Aslam Abdullah, a veteran journalist and observer of India’s Muslim scene, offers a deep look at what this unrelenting Modicaust holds for the country’s Muslims. The mention of genocide invariably recalls former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who died on March 24. Who can ever forget her calm 1996 reply to CBS 60 Minutes Leslie Stahl’s question: “I think that is a very hard choice,” Albright answered, “but the price, we [the Clinton administration] think, the price [the death of 500,000 Iraqi children aged five years or less] is worth it” (Newsweek, March 24, 2022)! Monia Mazigh talks about France, the other major practitioner of Islamophobia, and the new low reached by two presidential candidates who are using their hatred of Islam and Muslims to attain political success. On March 21, the U.S. formally recognized Myanmar’s violent repression of the Rohingyas as genocide. In 2018, Canada was among the first nations to declare this publicly. Let’s hope Canada does the same thing for India’s Muslims. On March 15, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to declare March 15 an annual International Day to Combat Islamophobia. Unsurprisingly, India and France opposed it. Their reasons for doing so are stated in this issue. The ravages of Covid-19 have put a new focus on health and wellness. We invited several experts to discuss ways of maintaining good health, eating well and building up one’s immune system. Their advice and suggestions are embedded in Islam’s tenets and our Prophet’s (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) life and practice. We share the much-awaited news that the 59th ISNA convention will be an in-person event convened on Labor Day (Sept. 3-5). Keep an eye on our website (, subscribe to our newsletter there and follow us on Facebook (, Twitter and Instagram (@ISNAHQ). ih


PUBLISHER The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) PRESIDENT Safaa Zarzour EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Basharat Saleem EDITOR Omer Bin Abdullah EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Iqbal Unus, Chair: M. Ahmadullah Siddiqi, Saba Ali ISLAMIC HORIZONS is a bimonthly publication of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) P.O. Box 38 Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Copyright @2022 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 For inquiries: ADVERTISING For rates contact Islamic Horizons at (703) 742‑8108, E-mail, CORRESPONDENCE Send all correspondence and/or Letters to the Editor at: Islamic Horizons P.O. Box 38 Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Email:

COMMUNITY MATTERS Interfaith Leaders Meet in Texas

Rabbi David Saperstein, from left, Pastor Bob Roberts Jr. and Imam Mohammed Magid speak during the Global Faith Forum at Northwood Church in Keller, Texas, March 6, 2022. Photo courtesy of MFNN

The Global Faith Forum was held at Northwood Church, Keller, Texas, on March 6-7, under the leadership of Bob Roberts Jr. (pastor, Northwood Church) in partnership with The North Texas Islamic Council (NTIC). This event was reported by Aboobaker Ebrahim, a founding member and former board member at Richardson’s Islamic Association of North Texas. Also present were Mohammad Bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa (secretary general, Muslim World League), Imam Mohamed Magid and Azhar Azeez (past ISNA presidents), Rabbi David Saperstein (former U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom), Rashad Hussain (former special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi (executive director, Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers), Shpendim Nadzaku (imam/resident scholar, Islamic Association of North Texas), Rabbi Charlie Cytron Walker (Beth Israel Congregation), Sam Brownback (former U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom) and Dr. Yasir Qadhi (resident scholar, East Plano Islamic Center). NTIC president Mujeeb Kazi presented his vision of “A Collaborative and Impactful Community of North Texas Muslim Organizations with a Mission to Facilitate Collaboration, Communication, Cooperation and Coordination Among Member Organizations.” Al-Issa (former minister of justice; 8

president, the International Islamic Halal Organization) spoke about the 2019 Makkah Declaration (The Charter of Makkah) that seeks to create a pan-Islamic set of principles that supports anti-extremism, religious and cultural diversity, as well as legislation against hate and violence. The document — approved by Islamic leaders of 139 countries and signed by around 1,200 prominent Muslim figures — was announced at the conclusion of the four-day MWL conference, an event that was described as promoting “moderate” Islam. He said that the charter has been endorsed by religious leaders representing 27 different doctrines and sects of Islam, praised by Western commentators and likened to Martin Luther’s 95 Theses. The diverse gathering at Northwood Church also endorsed it, stating, “A gathering of unlikely allies that venture down an unlikely path with the goal of building flourishing communities. We are moving from a conversation about other faiths to a conversation with other faiths. A conversation that allows us to hear from those of different faiths, different worldviews, and different ideas that shape the way we communicate. Whether you’re a religious leader like a Pastor, Imam or Rabbi, or a person of faith, this is your chance to understand the realities of faith in the 21st century. This event brings together distinct bodies of faith for greater understanding while facing our differences with grace and humility.” ih


The Sterling Heights (Mich.) planning commission unanimously granted the American Muslim Diversity Association (AMDA) a special use permit to build a gym, banquet hall and classrooms. According to 101.9 WDET on January 26, the association can also create a separate prayer space for women, who currently pray in the mosque’s main worship area. “It’s kind of a big deal because we’ve seen, specifically in Sterling Heights, there’s been great animus towards any expansion or any inclusion of the Muslim community and their places of worship within the city,” says Amy Doukoure (staff attorney, CAIR-MI), who provided legal assistance to help it through the approval process. She added, “I also feel that after that lawsuit, some of the members of community have lost their appetite for trying to discriminate against Muslims.” In 2016, Sterling Heights had denied the American Islamic Community Center (AICC) permission to build a large mosque after community pushback. AICC and the U.S. Department of Justice sued Sterling Heights in response. Both lawsuits resulted in a settlement in the center’s favor.

The Islamic Center of Evansville, Ind., was runner-up in “Renewable Role Model” category for the Interfaith Power & Light’s (IPL) Cool Congregations Challenge 2022 ( In their remark, the judges said, “This small congregation is primarily immigrants including people of white and African American identities. Because of their faith, interest-bearing loans for their solar installation are not an option, so they relied on a successful congregational fundraising effort

Williamson County and northwest Travis County, includes the cities of Round Rock and portions of Austin and Cedar Park. Earlier this year, the community reviewed and provided feedback on potential calendars. The academic calendar committee, consisting of parents, teachers and administrators, reviewed the feedback and made their final recommendation to the trustees. ih

Weekend Schools Get WISER Muslim educators announced the launch of WISER (Weekend Islamic Schools Educational Resources; to provide guidance, training, resources and accreditation to Weekend Islamic Schools, reports Susan Labadi (founder, Genius School, Inc.; board member, WISER). Most Muslim youth, it was noted, are not enrolled in full-time Islamic schools. Parents’ options are typically weekend school, after-school programs, summer camp or homeschooling. Regrettably, some Muslim parents do nothing and wonder why their children don’t know their own religion. Several concerned leaders of youth Islamic education working under Necva Ozgur (founder and executive director, MERIT; founding school head, New Horizons School, Pasadena, Calif.) discussed how they could help Muslim children and their parents learn about and practice the faith. This led to the formation of WISER, a national organization. Besides Ozgur, the board includes Amal Sakr Elhoseiny (New Horizon School, Pasadena), Sufia Azmat (executive director, CISNA), Adita Arya (Afghan Literacy Foundation), Susan Labadi, Thouraya Boubetra (Aldeen Foundation), Shahida Alikhan (principal, New Horizon School - Los Angeles), Samar Ghannoum (Pasadena Language Center), Hanan Amaira (youth program coordinator, Rabata) and Dahlia Hamdi. WISER arranged a full-day pre-conference on May 13, at the ISNA Education Forum in Chicago to connect and share with weekend schoolteachers and leaders. The sessions focused on critical elements of the relevant best practices. Participants received a Weekend School Playbook to help them review and verify critical elements of best practices for their schools. ih that exceeded their goal. They reduced their grid electricity use by 50%. They are an EPA Energy Star certified congregation, one of only four in Indiana.” Every year IPL invites people of faith nationwide to explain how they’re responding to climate change by entering this challenge.

Illinois celebrated the first-ever Muslim American Heritage Month this January. There wasn’t much fanfare because the nonprofit organization, the Muslim American Leadership Alliance (MALA), which began celebrating Muslim American heritage in 2015, didn’t have much time to prepare after lobbying for the heritage month.


Governor JB Pritzker issued the proclamation last December to celebrate the contributions of the state’s Muslim Americans every January starting in 2022. “I would say at the beginning it was a shock,” said Ahmed Flex Omar, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somaliland [a self-proclaimed independent republic recognized by no country or international organization] when he was 19, adding, “Definitely going to be larger efforts next year, but we are very happy we have welcomed the new year with Muslim American Heritage Month.” A new state law that came into effect this year requires schools to teach the contributions of Americans of different faith groups. In January, the state also observed its first Muhammad Ali Day. The Round Rock Independent School District Board of Trustees approved the academic calendars for 2022-23 and 2023-24 at its regular meeting on February17. These new calendars recognize Eid al-Fitr on April 21, 2023, and on April 10, 2024. The district, located in southern Texas’

M. Affan Badar was named a 2022 Industrial Engineering and Operation Management (IEOM) Fellow and will be announced as a new fellow at the IEOM Annual Conference in Istanbul, Turkey, during March 2022. This distinction is the highest level of membership to recognize individual contributions to the industrial engineering and operations management profession. Fellows have distinguished themselves by conducting theoretical and applied research and implementing proven industrial engineering and operations management tools. Badar, who is a certified professional in engineering management, is a tenured professor and former chair of Indiana State University’s Applied Engineering & Technology Management department. In addition to being a member of ISNA’s Board of Directors, he has served on the ISNA board (2014-18) and election committee (2014-17), as well as the immediate past president of Association of Muslim Scientists, Engineers and Technological Professionals (AMSET). The Connecticut House of Representatives Gets Its First Muslim Member Maryam Khan (D) won a special election to the 5th House District of Windsor and Hartford on March 2, becoming its first elected Muslim member. She won nearly 75% of the votes in a three-way race to succeed former Rep. Brandon McGee Jr. (D). The election gave Democrats a 97-54 majority in the House. Khan has been a member of the Windsor (Conn.) board of election since 2017 and currently serves as its vice president. She



COMMUNITY MATTERS resigned as a special education teacher, citing inequity in education, which was one of the issues driving her campaign. Emigrating from Pakistan as a young child in 1994, she is also the second Muslim elected to the General Assembly. The first was Sen. Saud Anwar (D), a pulmonologist. With an estimated population of more than 100,000, Muslims are a small but growing community in Connecticut. Hamse Warfa took charge in January as senior adviser to the State Department on civilian security, democracy and human rights. He is the first Somali American presidential appointee in U.S. history. Warfa’s family fled Somalia after the civil war started in 1991. Living in various Kenyan refugee camps, he arrived as a teenager in 1994 with his family. After being recruited by the state’s largest philanthropic foundation, Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, he moved to Minnesota in 2012. The 2016 election season inspired him to become more active in civic engagement. In 2019, the Minnesota governor’s office appointed Warfa deputy commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, making him the highest-ranking Somali American official in the state’s executive branch. Warfa’s list of accomplishments includes being the co-founder of BanQu, Inc., a blockchain service created to broaden economic opportunities for low-income people worldwide, as well as being the recipient of a Bush Fellowship (2016), which is granted to help develop leadership skills, and an Ashoka Fellowship for social entrepreneurs. He served as an economic adviser to the Biden campaign, helping develop the administration’s plans to reverse the Muslim ban and increase refugee admission numbers. Pakistani-American Dr. Mark Salman Humayun was inducted as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellow. The council confers this distinction of members whose “efforts on behalf of the 10

advancement of science, or its applications, are scientifically or socially distinguished.” Humayun, who serves in many capacities in his professional field, is a former president of the American Society of Retinal Specialists, received the 2021 AAAS fellow distinction “for distinguished contributions to ophthalmology and to engineering, particularly in the invention of devices that can restore sight to the nearly blind.” His innovative research in ophthalmology and bioengineering led to the development of the Argus II retinal implant, an artificial retina that allows an unprecedented degree of sight to those with complete retinal blindness. Approved by the FDA in 2013, that year’s Time magazine named it one of the top 10 inventions. He has more than 100 patents and patent applications. Among his other accomplishments are the receipt of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation (2016) for his development of the Argus II; induction into the National Academy of Medicine, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Inventors; and being named among the top 1% of ophthalmologists by the U.S. News & World Report. After his confirmation, Ahsan Chugtai took charge as senior advisor to New York City mayor Eric Adams for South Asian and Muslim affairs. A civic and political leader for more than 20 years, he has helped elected officials create policies for all levels of government, founding non-profit charity organizations and liaising between community agencies and diverse communities in the city. Among the organizations he set up is the Pakistani American Youth Society (PAYS), which has been praised by community members. Assemblywoman Sadaf Jaffer (D.) named Hira Shaikh as her chief of staff on January 1. Shaikh, w h o pre v i ou s ly served as the deputy director for AAPI and faith-based outreach for Murphy for Governor, was a principal at a New Jersey public affairs firm. Shaikh becomes the first Muslima to


serve as a chief of staff in the State legislature, and Jaffer is the first Muslima and first Asian American woman to be sworn into the State legislature. Assemblywoman Jaffer’s office quoted her as saying. “[Shaikh] brings leadership experience, a wealth of knowledge in strategic communications, and a passion for policies that serve under-represented communities.” Jaffer, who teaches at Princeton University, has served two terms as mayor of Montgomery Township and is the first South Asian American woman elected mayor in New Jersey. “It is a privilege to work with someone who is not only a trailblazer, but amplifies the voices of those around her,” the statement quoted Shaikh, who also serves as the cochair for the New Jersey Young Democrats South Asian Caucus. Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, a Springfield, Mass. attorney, started as executive director of CAIR-Massachusetts on February 10. Amatul-Wadud, who has more than 16 years of experience in corporate, family and civil rights law, is a former staff attorney with Western Massachusetts Community Legal Aid. She also served as commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women (2014-20). In 2016, she rose to national prominence while serving as the principal attorney on behalf of the residents of Islamberg, N.Y., against Robert Doggart, an anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist who had planned a violent attack against the community. She has served as vice-president of the CAIR-Massachusetts board (2016-18) and as its president since 2018. During her tenure, she has overseen the organization’s restructuring and rapid growth. CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said: “We are honored to welcome Sr. Tahirah Amatul-Wadud as executive director of our Massachusetts chapter. She has done incredible work as an attorney and activist, and we are excited to see all the things she will achieve in this new role, God willing.” The U.S. State Department has appointed Dilawar Syed as special representative for commercial and business affairs. An entrepreneur for the past 20 years, Syed has

run several software, artificial intelligence and health care companies. During the Obama administration, he actively promoted the State Department’s Global Entrepreneurship Program and connected Silicon Valley innovators with emerging entrepreneurial ecosystems. As the founding chair of the California Entrepreneurship Task Force, he bridged coastal regions with the state’s rural heartland. He also worked to help small businesses impacted by Covid-19. In his new role, Syed is responsible for advancing trade, commercial and economic policies for U.S. workers and the middle-class and helping create well-paying jobs. Ajmel A. Quereshi was sworn in as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Maryland on April 18. In between his clerkships, Quereshi has

served as a Skadden Fellow at ACLU of Maryland, where he was recognized by the Maryland Daily Record as a member of its inaugural “Maryland VIP List,” which recognizes Maryland business and legal leaders. He served as a visiting assistant professor and director of the Civil Rights Clinic at Howard University School of Law during the 2000s. In 2016, Harvard Law School awarded him a Wasserstein Fellowship, which recognizes lawyers who have committed to mentoring junior lawyers who commit themselves to public service. Additionally, Boston College Law School awarded him a Rappaport Fellowship, which recognizes lawyers who have developed an expertise in the intersection of law and public policy. After leaving Howard, Quereshi served as staff counsel at the ACLU’s National Prison Project and, in 2015, joined the NAACP Legal Defense Fund as senior counsel. Marquette University’s alumni association awarded him and his wife, Jill Rauh Quereshi, the Spirit of Marquette Award. U.S. magistrate judges are appointed for

eight-year terms by district judges and are eligible for reappointment to successive terms. Ithar Hassaballa, a health equity evaluation project manager at the University of Kansas Medical Center, seeks to improve conditions for peoples’ health and well-being. She focuses on community health project management, evaluation, quantitative and qualitative interdisciplinary research, as well as university teaching. Her primary research focuses on improving social and built environments to promote healthy behaviors and reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases within communities. Having experience with monitoring and evaluating community interventions, she has provided consultation, training, and evaluation to 10+ organizations and universities through a nationwide type 2 diabetes initiative directed toward vulnerable populations, as well as over seven years of the same services to WHO’s African Regional Office in Brazzaville, Congo, including evaluation of the 2014 Ebola response effort in Liberia.



COMMUNITY MATTERS She has worked in the U.S., Egypt, Sudan, Kenya, the broader African region and in other countries. The 1000 Shades Of Women International Movement presented Dr. Sarah Sayeed with its Excellence Platinum Leadership Award in recognition of her outstanding work to support a cancer hospital for women and children in Senegal. During June 2015, former mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Sayeed a senior advisor in New York City government’s community affairs unit responsible for expanding outreach to Muslim communities across the city’s five boroughs. Before this, she had been a trailblazer in interfaith work and activism, which included being a board member of Women in Islam Inc. Sayeed has been instrumental in uniting religious leaders from diverse backgrounds in NYC and helping them cooperate on solving prescient social problems. She previously worked as a professor in public affairs at Baruch College in New York City. Sulayman Abdirahman, 12, won the 14th annual Boston Centers for Youth & Families Citywide Spelling Bee, correctly spelling the word “apres.”

He lasted 12 normal rounds and 29 final rounds against 18 other students. In May, Abdirahman will compete at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., where he might become the first Massachusetts student to win the national competition since 1939. Abdirahman also received the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, a 2022 U.S. Mint Proof Set donated by Jay Sugarman in honor of his father, and one-year subscriptions to Merriam-Webster Unabridged Online, Encyclopedia Britannica Online Premium and a trophy. He is among the 3,000+ student competitors from Boston public and parochial

CAMPUS CHAPLAINS SUPPORT The statistic that only 150 Muslim chaplains are attached to 4,000 American colleges justifies Nora Zaki’s ( attempt to widen such services for Muslim students beyond Vassar College’s confines. The clear and concise message on her website, a welcoming and encouraging example for Muslim chaplains awaiting their formal appointment, pioneers a template for both Muslim care-seekers and caregivers. The site’s intuitive navigation structure provides a smooth user experience and is aesthetically ensured by the simple design and visuals with light green shades emerging against a white canvas. Several testimonials, neatly presented on the homepage, harbor a sense of her services’ credibility. The “Frequently Asked Questions,” followed by a running Islamic calendar, is also very helpful. The “Latest Updated News” section adds more relevancy to her services. However, although each of them builds her tenability, creating a separate menu or submenus under other existing main menus could be more convenient. Using the same black font for all pages ensures consistency, 12


schools who qualified for this Boston Bruins Foundation-sponsored event. Abdirahman will compete at the national spelling bee against 200+ regional winners during Bee Week. Finalists will face off in a spelling bee hosted by LaVar Burton and aired live on ION on June 2. ih CORRIGENDUM We apologize for our typo that identified Abir Catovic (principal, Pillars Academy) as the principal at Noor-Ul-Iman School in the Community News section of IH March/April 2022, p.12. She had previously served at Noor Ul Iman as head of the religious department.

which works seamlessly both in mobile and desktop platforms, and offers easy ways to contact the chaplain. Zaki’s approach of sharing her background under “About Chaplain Nora” leaves a personal touch and conveys her qualifications in a range of core Islamic tenets. The website, a lightweight digital brochure, loads quickly and informs the readers about its variegated chaplaincy services. An instant list of a few basic campus services, like halal dining, maintaining the Ramadan spirit, battling Islamophobia and engaging in cultural activities means that deeper conversation is just clicks away. It also offers a more personalized services on an as-needed basis. The brief service list and terse description aptly justify the site’s stated mission of “meeting the faith-based needs of institutions of higher education, providing professional and holistic chaplaincy consultancy, and supporting individuals in processes of meaning-making.” An offer of a 30-minute free consultation is also a risk-free try-out option for campus students. Overall, the website leaves a genuine invitation for Muslim students to explore. ih (Review by Rasheed Rabbi)


MODICAUST WORKS ON FINAL SOLUTION FOR MUSLIM INDIANS The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh seeks to eliminate India’s non-Hindu minorities BY ASLAM ABDULLAH


ate against Islam and Muslims among the Hindu members of the militant Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) has crossed all limits in India. In almost all aspects of life, Muslims and their lifestyles have become the target of contempt and wrath. The hijab is under attack, and a mosque’s call to prayer is subject to objection. The boycott of small vendors with Muslim names is typical, and their entry into many areas is restricted. To further exacerbate Muslim suffering, the Karnataka state high court agreed with the state government – a stronghold of the fascist BJP – on March 15 that the “headscarf was not essential to Islam” and wearing a hijab/headscarf was not “part of essential religious practice in Islamic faith” as protected under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution. In its zeal to further humiliate Muslims, the court overstepped its authority and raised issues that were not part of the petition of the girls wearing the hijab. All they wanted was to wear the hijab along with their school uniforms. Essentially, the verdict has suspended fundamental rights to freedom of religion, culture, freedom of speech and expression, and opened a floodgate of countrywide bans, adversely affecting Muslim women’s education and employment. Men with beards and caps and women with veils are targets of regular insults, and burning Muslim homes and businesses is part of a pattern overtaking those states run by the RSS’s political wing, the BJP. As a result, India is beginning to resemble a rogue state, one with no safety for Muslim and Christian men, women and children. Who are these hate mongers, why do they hate Islam and Muslims, and what do they want to achieve from their bigoted 14

acrimony? The hate mongers include Hindus who want to establish a Hindu Rashtra and consider the Muslims’ presence a source of


continuous pollution in the land that the deities gave to them. Furthermore, they assert that Hindus have the sole monopoly on India, which in its original geography

included now Muslim-majority Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, as well as now Buddhist-majority Myanmar. In their view, Islam is a foreign religion, and the Muslim invaders introduced a way of life that challenged Hinduism’s caste system and customs, thereby instigating millions to switch their loyalties from Hindu deities to one Supreme God. The caste system divides society into four varnas or categories determined by birth. On top are the Brahmans, who enjoy this status and occupy the highest position because they are from the head of the creator. The lowest are the untouchables, also known as Dalits. In between are castes specializing in war, business, and producing various items for use and consumption. Brahmins form 5% of the population, Rajputs 4%, Vaishyas 2%, Dalits and tribals 23% and others, including Marathas, Jats and Kayasthas (6 percent). Muslims are 15%, Christians 2.5%, Sikhs 2%, and Buddhists and Jains less than 1% each. Hindu nationalists believe that Islam wooed Dalits to its fold because of its egalitarian values, which challenged the Brahmans’ supremacy. They insist that many of these conversions were forced and that the creation of Pakistan in 1947 as a separate Muslim homeland makes India a Hinduonly state. Their fear that Islam may increase its influence on tribals and Dalits, who still live in abject poverty and humiliation, makes them hostile to Islam and Muslims. A demographic shift in favor of Islam also poses an existential threat to them. Hindu nationalists view themselves as an extension of the Aryan race and believe they have maintained their purity by practicing a strict caste system. But on the other hand, the twice-born or the so-called upper castes, predominantly Brahman, consider themselves the purest of the pure. Their militant organization, RSS, consists of Brahman leaders. The RSS upper caste leaders have used the Dalits and tribals as pawns against Muslims in this context. They use the resources of other twice-born castes to incite these two groups to combat Muslims. For example, many people recruited to demolish the Babri Masjid in 1992 came from castes generally viewed as lower by the twice-born. The RSS teaches and systematically propagates hatred at grassroots levels. Founded by a physician named Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in 1925 in the western Indian city of Nagpur, it seeks to propagate the Hindutva ideology and to provide a “new

Hindutva Seeks Manusmriti-based Constitution


HE MANUSMRITI OR LAWS OF MANU (MĀNAVA-DHARMAŚĀSTRA) — BELIEVED to be the first ancient legal text and constitution among the many Dharmaśāstras of Hinduism — Concerning Dalits/Untouchables presented below require no further elaboration and commentary, for they are so glaringly hateful, fascist and degenerate in their approach to Untouchables, who Manu referred to as Sudras. Perhaps this was why the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), who contributed immensely to the growth of totalitarian ideas in Europe during the 20th century, fell in love with this work. Unsurprisingly, a copy of this legal code was burned as a protest in the presence of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar during the historic Mahad agitation of December 1927. [Editor’s note: The Roman numerals have chapters, and the non-Roman numerals have paragraphs or verses.] In fact, Brahmanism, the basis of the RSS worldview, is human history’s original fascism [p. xxiii]. ➊ For the sake of the prosperity of the worlds (the divine one) caused the Brahmana, the Kshatriya, the Vaisya and the Sudra to proceed from his mouth, his arm, his thighs, and his feet [respectively] (I/31). ➋ One occupation only the lord prescribed to the Sudras, to serve meekly even these (other) three castes (I/91). ➌ A once-born man (a Sudra) who insults a twice-born [Brahmin] man with gross invective shall have his tongue cut out, for he is of low origin (VIII/270). ➍ If he mentions the names and castes (jati) of the (twice born) with contumely, an iron nail, ten fingers long, shall be thrust red-hot into his mouth (VIII/271). ➎ If he arrogantly teaches Brahmanas their duty, the king shall cause hot oil to be poured into his mouth and his ears (VIII/272). ➏ He [who] raises his hand or a stick … shall have his hand cut off; he who in anger kicks with his foot shall have his foot cut off (VIII/280). ➐ A low-caste man who tries to place himself on the same seat with a man of a high caste shall be branded on his hip and be banished, or (the king) shall cause his buttock to be gashed (VIII/281). As per the Laws of Manu, the Sudras are to be given the most stringent punishments for even petty violations/actions; however, the same code is very lenient toward the Brahmins. Shloka 380 in Chapter VIII, bestowing profound love on Brahmins, decrees: “Let him never slay a Brahmana, though he has committed all (possible) crimes; let him banish such an (offender), leaving all his property (to him) and (his body) unhurt.” A selection of the Laws of Manu concerning women states: ➊ Day and night woman must be kept in dependence by the males (of ) their (families), and if they attach themselves to sensual enjoyments, they must be kept under one’s control (IX/2). ➋ Her father protects (her) in childhood, her husband protects (her) in youth, and her sons protect (her) in old age. A woman is never fit for independence (IX/3). ➌ Women do not care for beauty, nor is their attention fixed on age. (Thinking) “(It is enough that) he is a man,” they give themselves to the handsome and to the ugly (IX/14). ➍ Through their passion for men, through their mutable temper and through their natural heartlessness, they become disloyal toward their husbands, however carefully they may be guarded in this (world) (IX/15). ➎ (When creating them,) Manu allotted to women (a love of their) bed, seat and ornament, impure desires, wrath, dishonesty, malice and bad conduct (IX/17). ih MAY/JUNE 2022 ISLAMIC HORIZONS




figures and its second leader, first put forward this idea. When it came to non-Hindus, he supported Hitler’s creation of a supreme race by suppressing all minorities. This extremely intolerant leader wrote that “The non-Hindu people of Hindustan must either adopt Hindu culture or languages.


They must learn and respect and reverence the Hindu religion and entertain no idea but glorify the Hindu race and culture. They should wholly subordinate [themselves] to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less preferential treatment—not even citizens’ rights.” The RSS, which has an estimated 5 to 6 million members, has no formal membership. Instead, Hindu men and boys join the nearest shakha (basic unit). The sarsanghchalak (the movement’s head) is nominated by the predecessor. The sarkaryawah, equivalent to the general secretary, is selected by the elected members of the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha. It has four sah-sarkayavah (joint general secretaries). Its pracharak, which number about 4,000, are active, full-time missionaries who spread the doctrine. The karyakartas, active functionaries, undergo four levels of ideological and physical training in camps. Other positions are the mukhya-shikshak (head teacher and chief of a shakha), the karyawah (executive of a shakha), the gatanayak (group leader) and swayamsevak (a volunteer). Most of the roughly 60,000 shakhas (branches) are in the Hindi-speaking regions. They conduct various activities

for the volunteers, such as physical fitness through yoga, exercises, games and activities that encourage Hindutva and anti-Islam and anti-Christian teachings. Organizations that follow the RSS ideology refer to themselves as members of the Sangh Parivar. Some of them are: ■ Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), literally, Indian People’s Party. ■ Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, literally, Indian Farmers’ Association. ■ Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, literally, Indian Labor Association. ■ Seva Bharti, an organization for the service of the needy. ■ Rashtra Sevika Samiti, literally, National Volunteer Association for Women. ■ Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, literally, All India Students’ Forum. ■ Shiksha Bharati. ■ Vishwa Hindu Parishad, World Hindu Council. ■ Bharatiya Yuva Seva Sangh (BYSS), Youth Awakening Front. ■ Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, literally, Hindu Volunteer Association – overseas wing. ■ Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, Nativist Awakening Front. ■ Saraswati Shishu Mandir, Nursery. ■ Vidya Bharati, Educational Institutes. ■ Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram (Ashram for the Tribal Welfare), Organizations for the improvement of tribals; and Friends of Tribals Society. ■ Muslim Rashtriya Manch (Muslim National Forum), Organization for the improvement of Muslims. ■ Bajrang Dal, Army of Hanuman. ■ Anusuchit Jati-Jamati Arakshan Bachao Parishad, Organization for the improvement of Dalits. ■ Laghu Udyog Bharati, the extensive network of small industries. ■ Bharatiya Vichara Kendra, Think Tank ■ Vishwa Samvad Kendra, Communication Wing, spread all over India for media-related work, having a team of IT professionals ( ■ Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, National Sikh Association, a sociocultural organization with the aim to spread the knowledge of Gurbani to the Indian society. ■ Vivekananda Kendra promoted Swami Vivekananda’s ideas with Vivekananda International Foundation in New Delhi as a public policy think tank with six study centers. The RSS holds a firm grip on many Hindus and spreads the hatred at the grassroots in an organized manner. Its supporters in Europe, Australia, the Middle East, the U.S. and Canada provide extensive financial support. These supporters promote hatred worldwide, and their main targets are Muslims and Christian missionaries. The hatred has roots in the Hindutva’s vision of history and religion. The poison emitted in the 1920s by upper caste leaders in the name of Hindutva has spread worldwide, threatening peace and stability. ih Aslam Abdullah, Ph.D., is editor-in-chief of Muslim Media Network Inc., publisher of The Muslim Observer.




Save the date May 13-15, 2022 Chicago, Illinois Details coming soon. For questions:


HINDUTVA IS HINDUISM IN THE NEW INDIA Looking backward to resurrect yet another imagined long-dead “utopia” BY ASLAM ABDULLAH


n January 12, 1948, just 151 days after India won its independence from the British, a very emotional Gandhi wrote: “I see the Muslims of Delhi killed before my very eyes. At the same time, my own Vallabhbhai is the Home Minister of the Government of India and is responsible for maintaining law and order in the Capital. Unfortunately, Vallabhbhai has not only failed to give protection to the Muslims; he light-heartedly dismisses any complaint made on this count. Therefore, I have no option but to use my last weapon, namely, to fast until the situation changes” (cited by Harish Khare, “Why Was Mahatma Gandhi Killed?” January 30, 2019, mahatma-gandhi-assassination). Eighteen days later, Hindu nationalist Nathu Ram Godse, a member of the militant Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), assassinated the leader known in India as the father of the nation. Since then, the “children” of Godse have killed close to 3 million Muslim Indians in over 50,000 pogroms called “communal riots.” During the 72 years of violence, the RSS has destroyed over 30,000 mosques and shrines, removed scattered Muslim residents from villages and localities with a heavy Hindu population and destroyed countless handicrafts and small businesses of India’s most significant religious minority. Even though the country’s political leaders, including those who supported Godse, showed their loyalty to Gandhi, few stood for the rights guaranteed to Muslims in the constitution. Except for Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar (chairperson of the draft constitution) and Sir Syed Muhammad Saadullah 18

ON JANUARY 30, 2022, IN A RELIGIOUS CONCLAVE HELD IN PRAYAGRAJ (RENAMED BY THE MODI REGIME FROM ITS ORIGINAL ALLAHABAD), THE CITY WHERE THE GANGES AND YAMUNA, TWO OF INDIA’S MOST PROMINENT RIVERS MERGE, HINDU SAINTS CALLED FOR ELIMINATING MUSLIMS AND ISLAM FROM THE COUNTRY. (chief minister of Assam in British India), none of the remaining members, including K. M. Munshi (an Indian independence movement activist, politician, writer and educator), Sir Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer


(advocate general of Madras state, 192944), Sir Gopala Swami Ayyangar (prime minister of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and later a minister in the first cabinet of independent India) and Sir Nyapathi Madhava Rau (an Indian civil servant and administrator who served as the Diwan of Mysore from 1941-45) raised their voices for the rights of religious minorities. Ambedkar favored a comprehensive program for the social and religious minorities’ political representation based on the principle of balanced representation. On January 30, 2022, in a religious conclave held in Prayagraj (renamed by the Modi regime from its original Allahabad), the city where the Ganges and Yamuna, two of India’s most prominent rivers merge, Hindu saints called for eliminating Muslims and Islam from the country. Forty-five days earlier, a similar gathering had passed resolutions calling for India to become a Hindu Rashtra and to organize the genocide of Muslims. Why does India or, more specifically, the RSS want to eliminate over 200 million Muslims scattered in 29 states and nine union territories? Why do Hindu nationalists perceive 15% of Muslims as a threat, knowing that the community is India’s least educated and employed primarily in government and public sector jobs? According to a study conducted by the Economic Times Intelligence Group in 2015, Muslims constituted approximately 2.7% of mid- to seniorlevel executives in the private sector and only 1.33% of officers in the central government. In 2019, a study by Tata Trusts, the philanthropist arm of Tata Group, found that their representation in the national police force is 3-4 percent. Godse’s followers assert that Hindutva is Hinduism and that the RSS and its subsidiaries represent the ancient faith. They give five reasons for their anti-Islam and Muslim statements and actions: 1. Islam is a non-indigenous religion that negates inclusion and uses force to impose its exclusivism. 2. Muslim rulers forcibly converted millions of Hindus to Islam and destroyed Hindu institutions. They killed the glory of the Hindus. Unless India becomes Muslimfree, Hinduism will never flourish. 3. The Muslim population has grown faster than the Hindu population. If not restrained, Hindus will become a minority in their own country.

The European Priestess of Nazis and Hindu Fascists BY ASLAM ABDULLAH


NOWN AS HITLER’S PRIESTESS, SAVITRI Devi Mukherji (born Maximiani Julia Portas; Ph.D., philosophy, the University of Lyon) has remained an influential figure among such Hindutva groups as the RSS, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), and the Bajrang Dal as well the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh in North America. This is rather surprising, for this non-Indian woman died in 1982 (see https:// magazine-41757047 Savitri Devi: The mystical fascist being resurrected by the alt-right). An admirer of Hitler and an ardent proponent of Nazis, Savitri Devi advocated a synthesis of Hinduism and Hitlerism. Born in 1905 in France to English-Greek parents, she became a leading member of the Nazi underground, proclaimed Hitler an avatar of the Hindu deity Vishnu and that Jews were evil. After traveling to India, she volunteered at the Hindu Mission in Calcutta for 18 months and embraced Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s (1883-1966) concept of Hindutva. For the rest of her life, she devoted herself to reviving, spreading, and cultivating Hinduism throughout India with the support of Hindu fascists. Her booklet “A Warning to the Hindus” (1939) sought to alert Hindus to the threat of Islam and Christianity. Like most Hindu fascists, she believed in the supremacy of the upper castes. She advised those Hindus, whom she considered symbols of Aryan purity and superiority, to be assertive if they wanted to avoid the fate of pagan Greece. In the booklet’s concluding chapter, she envisioned an India that would revive Aryan supremacy in the world. She wrote:

4. Muslims opted for a separate homeland, and thus India is no longer their country. 5. By their religion, Muslims cannot pledge loyalty to India. The RSS, through its subsidiary

“And there would be nothing astonishing if such Hindus, enjoying complete independence, become conquerors, and rebuild Greater India. There would be nothing extraordinary even if, through them, one day (through their direct or indirect influence), the dream of the resurrection of Aryan Pagandom in the West also, which now seems impossible, becomes a reality. “Nobody knows what can happen, what might happen. And all hopes are natural to a young nation if it is secure.” She asked Hindus to militarize themselves, ensure that the Muslim population does not grow, and advocated systematic and organized violence to intimidate and make them feel insecure. She suggested that every Hindu should espouse four cardinal points: work for the creation of a Hindu Rashtra, accept the upper castes as representatives of pure Aryan ancestry and accept their leadership, defend Hindu interests as defined by the upper castes, and that upper-caste domination should facilitate the Aryans’ power in the world. The militarization of Hindutva groups in India and abroad is part of this scheme. Savitri worked tirelessly to bring neo-Nazis and white supremacists closer to Hindu fascist groups such as the RSS and the VHP. Many Hindu fascists have gradually infiltrated academic institutions, financial conglomerates, political parties and business houses through secretive connections in Canada, Europe and the Americas. Trump’s relations with Modi highlighted the close ties between white supremacist neo-Nazi groups and Hindu fascists, as well as their shared roots in white supremacy and neo-Nazism. ih

organizations, including the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, has set six significant goals to turn India into a Hindu Rashtra: 1. Change the written history of India’s independence struggle. The Hindu militant organization supported the British Raj, and

its leaders spied on India’s freedom fighters. The RSS, however, seeks to depict its members as true patriots who fought for India’s independence. 2. Rewrite India’s history to present Islam and Christianity as foreign invaders who destroyed the country’s Hindu heritage. 3. Control the Muslim population to ensure that they do not become a majority in any district. 4. Legislate a uniform civil code to marginalize minority religious practices. 5. Introduce anti-conversion laws in 29 Indian states and nine union territories to prevent Dalits from converting to Islam and Christianity. 6. Integrate Azad Kashmir into India. The Hindutva leadership believes that these six steps would consolidate upper caste rule over India, paving the way to implement the code of Manu (Manusmirti) as the new constitution. Therefore, the leadership is in a hurry to bring about changes in the legal framework. It hopes that a victory in the 2024 parliamentary elections will make it easier to achieve its goals by 2025. Will they succeed? The RSS, despite its grassroots militancy, has yet to tame 19 states, including West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Sikkim. But the ruling Hindutva leadership believes that the political polarization among Hinduism, Islam and Christianity would make the BJP the sole protector of Hindus and consolidate their power for the foreseeable future. India is fast moving into the orbit of unchecked religious fascism. Its Hindutva leaders feel absolutely no need to hide their intention to make India a Muslim- and Christian-free land. ih Aslam Abdullah, Ph.D., is editor-in-chief of Muslim Media Network Inc., publisher of the Muslim Observer, and also a resident scholar at






induism’s top religious scholars and leaders convened a Dharam Sansad, a religious parliament, in the Hindu holy city of Haridwar. During this event, which was held on December 17-19, 2021, they declared open war and urged Hindus to violently eradicate Islam and Muslims. However, the religious leaders of 900 million Hindus did not specify whether their genocide project would remain confined to India’s 200 million Muslims or also include the world’s approximately 2 billion Muslims ( south-asia/). Hindus can be found almost everywhere in the world. They have financed many of the leaders present there and have given their religious allegiance to temples that promote this ideology. But none of India’s significant Hindu religious or political leaders have condemned those who advocate such widespread terrorism. The police and intelligence forces have also failed to act against these merchants of death. Political experts believe that this genocide call is backed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the leading Hindu organization built on the sentiments of hatred against non-Hindu religions. They also suspect that it enjoys the support of the Research Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s premier intelligence agency run mainly by upper-caste RSSaligned Hindus. This specific call for violence aims to terrorize and intimidate Muslims into renouncing Islam and converting. Some Hindu religious leaders believe that by 2029, India’s Muslims will have enough political 20

power to install the prime minister. A 2015 Pew Center report said that Muslims make up 15% of India’s current population. It also predicted that by 2050 Hindus will be 1.3 billion, whereas Muslims will number only 311 million. This call for genocide is due both to electoral politics and their religious belief system, which has led them to say openly what they have been discussing in private for a long time. Without exception, all Hindu religious leaders and RSS operatives believe in the legitimacy of Manusmriti (Laws of Manu) as the guiding principle for a Hindu Rashtra — a purely Hindu nation. They believe that the prescriptions from this ancient law book, a collection of 2,690 verses, are the words of Brahma.


In coordination with India’s Ministry of Culture, Sanskar Bharti, the RSS’s cultural affiliate, plans to organize seminars, festivals and deliberations to promote this law book, which dates to 200 bce. The proposal to revive it comes from RSS stalwart Dr. Surakant Bali’s book “Bharat Gatha,” in which he argues that Manusmirti — one of the foundational texts of the upper caste’s hegemony of Hindu society — was a piece of reminiscence and therefore open to interpretation and variation. He contends that without understanding it, one cannot understand Hinduism properly. As Manusmirti is parallel to the constitution, the recently concluded Dharam Sansad expressed disdain for that document and demanded that the Law of Manu replace it as India’s governing law. Mansumriti’s chief target is the principle of equality enshrined in the constitution. Former RSS chief M.S. Golwalkar (1906-73) proposed in “We or Our Nationhood” (1929) that denying equality to some sections of Indian society, namely the minorities, is the Hindu nationalists’ goal. Interestingly, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (18911956), who drafted the Indian constitution, publicly burnt Golwalkar’s book during December 1927. A political figure who converted from Hinduism to Buddhism, he became the leader of the Dalit Buddhist movement. Dalits form Hinduism’s lowest caste. India’s history starts with the arrival of the Aryans, who devised a social system to ensure that not only would they always remain at the top, but they would also own all of the land’s wealth and power. They divided the people into four varna (groups) and assigned duties and obligations to each


one. In descending order, the Brahmans (priests), Kshatriyas (rulers, administrators and warriors), Vaishyas (artisans, merchants, tradesmen and farmers), and Shudras (the laboring classes) had their status and privileges fixed at birth. The Brahmans were the super-lords, and the other castes exist to serve them. Members of this caste could do no wrong and thus were always guiltless, a trait conferred upon them by Lord Brahma. The Kshatriyas were the protectors and defenders, the Vaishyas were tasked with producing food and the Shudras served as menials. Those who fell outside this system were known as Dalits, people who were considered untouchable, non-human, impure and unfit for Hindu civilization. This category also includes Jews, Zoroastrians, Christians, Muslims and 7,000 other religious traditions. There are more than 6,000 birth-based subcastes, each of which are socially isolated from and inimical to each other. This ensures that those on the lowest rung will always remain subjugated and exploited. Jainism and Buddhism, both born in the sixth century bce, challenged this Manusmriti-based system. As a result, thousands embraced these two faiths. However, under Chandragupta Maurya (321-297 bce), upper caste Hindus killed thousands of Buddhists and Jains and destroyed their places of worship.

From the eighth to the 16th century, Islam and Christianity attracted the so-called lower and oppressed castes to their fold. Most of them were the early inhabitants of India before the Aryan invasion. The Manusmriti-based laws have weakened India while empowering the upper castes to reap the available benefits. It denied knowledge to women, people of lower castes and the untouchables. The upper castes distorted

history, destroyed records, eliminated those who opposed them, created their new deities and orchestrated lynching and mass hysteria to ensure their continued hegemony. Neither the RSS, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Parishad (BJP), nor the Hindu religious leaders have ever spoken against the caste system, let alone condemned it. Instead, they have unleashed violence against anyone who stands against it. Dharam Sansad’s call to commit genocide against the Muslims is no more than a continuation of the upper-caste’s determination to eliminate those who promote egalitarianism. Their hatred of the constitution is proof of their arrogance. Haridwar’s Hindu religious parliament was not an exception to, but rather a continuation of, Hindu history. India is a multi-caste, multiracial, multireligious, multilingual and multicultural country. Its constitution reflects a humanist, universal, rational and scientific vision. The Hindu religious leadership that met in Haridwar has another vision, one of hatred based on its lack of vision and wisdom and its failure to recognize that diversity is the essence of life. No one is born high or low, for all are equal and deserve a dignified human existence. Through their hateful call, Hindu religious leaders unequivocally prove that they do not even understand the meaning of humanity and dignity. ih Aslam Abdullah, Ph.D., is editor-in-chief of Muslim Media Network Inc., publisher of the Muslim Observer; and a resident scholar at




A VOICE OF CONSCIENCE Muslim Indian Americans reach out to fellow citizens as India advances toward genocide



he consistent deterioration of human rights, especially the fundamental rights of Muslims in Hindutva-ruled India, has caused a group of Muslim Americans to initiate an effort to inform their fellow citizens as India hurtles toward a situation akin to 1939 Germany. Mohammed Ahmadullah Siddiqi, a retired professor of journalism and member of Islamic Horizons editorial advisory board, talked to Rasheed Ahmed, executive director of the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) MAS: Could you please describe your association with IAMC? RA: I am currently serving as IAMC’s executive director. I was one of its co-founders in 2002, when it was established in the aftermath of the Gujarat pogroms [at that time, nowPrime Minister Narendra Modi was that state’s chief minister]. I started out as vice-president and subsequently served as president until 2010. The Gujarat pogroms, in which thousands of Muslims were brutally massacred, men and women were burnt alive, the stomachs of pregnant women were cut open and unborn babies were killed, was a wakeup call for Muslims, especially Indian Muslims living in the U.S. MAS: What activities is IAMC currently focusing on? RA: Briefly, we have three objectives. First, peeling off the façade that India is still a democracy and raising the awareness of people of conscience that regular calls for the genocide 22

of Indian Muslims goes unpunished. According to Genocide Watch, this process has begun in India ( genocide-emergency-india; Sept. 7, 2021). Second, educating Muslim Americans that Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) is alive and well in the U.S., even in our neighborhoods, from local governments to congressional spaces and in the nation’s policy infrastructure, businesses and academia. We are also sounding the warning that this reality represents a serious challenge for Muslim American interests, that it is no longer just an Indian or a Muslim Indian issue. The root of social discord and Hindu nationalism’s stronghold on most of India’s state institutions and governance is Hindutva, a militant political ideology, not the Hindu faith. To express it mildly, Muslim American inaction to blunt this danger in our neighborhoods and the policy infrastructure would be a blunder. Third, mobilizing global opinion as a way to persuade the Indian regime to act as a responsible global citizen. MAS: We see anti-IAMC propaganda on the internet and


in some media. What is IAMC doing to combat it? RA: Our work poses a serious challenge to our adversaries. As their propaganda has limited efficacy, it isn’t surprising that they try to shoot the messenger by attempting to discredit us when they cannot refute the facts. We start with rebuttals and present facts and credible references in the same media spaces that originated the disinformation. If the disinformation is not retracted, we escalate it to the media’s leadership and/or senior management. We are in constant consultation with our legal team to pursue legal avenues. However, the freedoms of speech and press provide a high level of protection against slander and lies. Although we have a good success record, it’s not nearly sufficient. As this disinformation seeks to malign IAMC, there’s a strong resistance to all corrections. MAS: One can guess that the Hindu lobby must be active against IAMC in Congress. What is being done about it? Are any Congressmembers listening to you? How do you inform American lawmakers? Do any Hindu lawmakers listen to you? RA: We have an active and robust congressional outreach through our office and staff in Washington, D.C., in coordination with IAMC chapters and constituents, as well as donor outreach through the Representatives and Senators’ district offices. There is a high level of concern on Capitol Hill. Although many lawmakers have expressed their concerns publicly about the deteriorating

human rights and religious freedom situation in India, due to the country’s [assumed] strategic value, there is no real shift in American policy toward it or policy impact so far. Congress now has four Indian American Hindu Representatives in Congress. One is an open sympathizer, if not a Hindutva supporter, one is indifferent, and two have spoken against Hindu nationalism. However, their enthusiasm appears to be waning. This is where Muslim Americans can leverage their influence. Only secular Indian voices may make it politically viable for Congressional offices to speak against Hindutva. MAS: How will the BJP’s victory in four of the five states in the recently held elections impact the Hindutva forces here in the U.S.? RA: The impact on Hindutva forces is not so much connected to elections in India because it is a result of the silence of secular Americans, and particularly the absence of Muslim Americans’ leadership in terms of informing American politicians about the dangers to the social cohesion due to the spread of Hindu nationalism in American society. MAS: How would you further strengthen IAMC activities to combat Hindutva here? RA: We are engaging with progressive Americans as well as making a case that Muslim American leaders can play a critical role, for this is both an issue for the U.S. as a nation and for Muslim Americans as a community. Since Hindutva ideology is perhaps the most potent and fastest-growing Islamophobic ideology, it’s a serious threat to democratic values and Muslims worldwide. MAS: Does IAMC appeal to Muslims only? RA: IAMC appeals to all people of conscience, for this is not just a Muslim, Christian or Hindu issue. This is an issue of social justice for everyone. ih

MUSLIM INDIAN WOMEN BRAVE HINDUTVA TERROR Self-advertised Indian secularists are covering up the dismantling of the Muslim minority’s rights BY AFSAR JAHAN


ndia, the world’s largest democracy — in numbers — is known as the most religiously and ethnically diverse – self-claimed secular — country with about 204 million Muslims (2019 estimates) living in an overtly Hindu-majority country. While religious fault lines have existed in India for a long time, anti-Muslim violence has risen since 2014 under the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During his first term in office, there were numerous incidents of Muslims being attacked by gau rakshak (cow-vigilantes) merely over rumors that they had eaten beef or were trying to smuggle cows for slaughter — an animal that many Hindus consider sacred. He did not condone such attacks,

Muskan Khan

but was criticized for not condemning them quickly or strongly enough either.


In 2019,, which counted hate crimes in India (and was pulled down on Sept. 11 that year), reported that more than 90% of victims in the past decade were Muslims and the perpetrators of these attacks not only remain unpunished, but also in fact enjoy the Modi government’s political patronage. For example, in July 2018, Jayant Sinha, the federal minister of state for civil aviation, honored eight men who had been convicted of lynching Alimuddin Ansari, a

Muslim, by garlanding them after their bail was paid. This was a message that it was alright to attack Muslims. After Modi’s reelection in 2019, anti-Muslim violence spiraled. Often the violence is not physical but assumes subtle insidious forms as well that seek to vilify and demonize the minority community. For example, when Covid-19 began to take hold in India, Hindu leaders, including several Cabinet members, accused Muslim men who had attended a religious gathering in New Delhi of launching a “Corona Jihad” by indulging in behavior that would spread the virus. Then followed the “Roti Jihad,” which included unfounded allegations that Muslim cooks were spitting on roti (handmade flat bread) to spread the virus to Hindus.



INDIA: RISING MODICAUST Apart from this, several states have introduced laws to curb “Love Jihad,” an Islamophobic term that fringe Hindu groups use to imply that Muslim men prey on Hindu women to convert them through marriage. Muslim women haven’t been spared either. In July 2022, more than 100 Muslim women found that they had been put up for sale (with uploaded photos) online on Bulli Bai and Sulli Deals apps hosted on web platform Git Hub. The purpose was to degrade

state High Court of Telangana for the state department of industries and mines, for the past 14 years I have also been serving as a panel member of a family dispute resolution forum, the Telangana Marriage Counseling Center for Minorities (TMMC Hyderabad) — an arbitration council. I am also actively involved in community services, as we all are aware of the plight of our country’s Muslims. I strive to inform them of their constitutional and fundamental rights and


and humiliate these women, many of whom have been outspoken about the rising tide of Hindu nationalism under Modi. An Indian court granted bail to the two men accused of creating separate apps on the grounds that they were first-time offenders, and that continued incarceration would be detrimental to their well-being. On the other hand, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) is being freely used as a political weapon to silence activists and demonize Muslims. In 2021 in a public meeting held in Haridwar, located in the northern state of Uttarakhand, participants were asked to take up arms and conduct mass killings of Muslims. No serious legal action has ever been initiated. In January 2022, some hijab-wearing Muslima students at a junior college were denied entry on the grounds that the hijab violated the college’s uniform policy. This controversy instantly took the shape of a nationwide wave of communal unrest. In addition, the state court ruled that the hijab was not an essential practice and thus denied the students’ right to education. An appeal to the Supreme Court is still pending. I and many fellow Muslims face a chaotic situation in which basic human rights are denied. We are struggling and standing for our fellow citizens’ human and constitutional rights. In my capacity as an attorney serving at 24

work to bring legal awareness to the people, as most of them are unaware of their legal rights due to the predominance of illiteracy. Considering the situation as it exists today, they have no voice in their own country, the “world’s largest democracy.” As an TMMC member, an entity formed by Telangana state for Muslims, I work with Islamic scholars and attorneys to help settle marital discords via Sharia-compliant laws as well as the law of land. However, the organization functions more as an arbitration board, a weak string, but nevertheless serves an important role. Unfortunately, one major drawback of India’s judicial system is that Muslim family matters, such as marriage and divorce, are not adjugated according to Muslim personal laws in regular courts, despite a provision to the effect. More often than not, the Hindu federal state governments try to interfere with personal laws by bringing amendments, be it Triple Talaq (some Muslim scholars interpret that three consecutive utterances of the word talaq [divorce] legalizes the separation) matter or increasing the marriage age. I continue urging the Telangana government to upgrade TMMC to enable amicable Islamic settlements of Muslim marital disputes. I work to protect the rights of Muslimas and their education while providing free legal services to those who are subjected to domestic violence or are abandoned and neglected by their husbands.


I am actively involved with NGOs that seek to protect awqaf (Islamic trusts) properties from encroachment. After filing several public interest litigations in Telangana courts, the investigation revealed that over 75% (estimated 78,000 acres) of such lands have been encroached on. Similar situations face Muslim-owned properties in other parts of India. Considering these circumstances, Muslims are forced to continue to live below the poverty line. As a result, most of them work as daily wage laborers with no financial stability and development and thus end up with having no voice in such a big democracy.


I have initiated criminal proceedings against the attack on Muskan Khan, the hijab-wearing student who was attacked in Karnataka state. This was not just an attack on her. As an attorney, I look at it in the broader perspective that the mob was involved in a crime against the state. This incident therefore comes under the purview of the Indian Penal Code because it involves unlawful assembly, criminal conspiracy and outraging the religious sentiments of a particular community by insulting its religious feelings. This was a case of criminal intimidation, for the mob demanded that Muskan remove her hijab while shouting the Hindu religious chant of Jai Shri Ram at her. It also involves outraging the modesty of a woman, an act that should be penalized. The Karnataka police overlooked such serious crimes by the mob, which had been sent by the RSS Bajrang Dal, a wing of the BJP government, by labeling it a “communal unrest” between Hindus and Muslims. The matter resulted in nationwide violence flaring up, when the matter could have been amicably settled. After all, it was already pending in the court and before the National Human Rights Commission. Thus, as a law-abiding citizen, I registered a complaint and had an FIR (first incidence report) lodged against the mob for instigating this unrest. I, along with my team, are the attorneys on record in this case. My aim is to draw the court’s attention to how law and order is broken and that the administration closes its eyes to such crimes against the state. For Muslims in India, all of us face a long and unstoppable struggle. ih Afsar Jahan is a lawyer licensed to practice before the high court of the State of Telangana, India.



he Pew Research Center’s “Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation” survey, published on June 29, 2021, found that Indians generally feel that their country has lived up to one of its post-independence ideals: a society in which religious adherents can live and practice freely. India, a primarily Hindu nation, is also home to millions of Muslims, Jains, Sikhs, Christians and Buddhists. The survey, based on nearly 30,000 face-to-face pre-Covid-19 interviews of adults conducted in 17 languages between late 2019 and early, reveals the following facts, among many others: Indians of all religious backgrounds overwhelmingly say they are very free to practice their faiths and consider religious tolerance as a central part of who they are as a nation. Most people assert that one must respect all religions to be “truly Indian” and that tolerance is a religious and civic value. Indians are united in their belief that respecting other religions is an important part of what it means to be a member of their own religious community. Some beliefs also cross religious lines. For example, 77% of Hindus and Muslims believe in karma; 32% of Christians and 81% of Hindus believe in the river Ganges’ purifying power. In northern India, 12% of Hindus, 10% of Sikhs and 37% of Muslims identity with Sufism. Most Indians state that respecting elders is very important to their faith. And yet they often feel that they don’t have much in common. For example, 66% of Hindus and 64% of Muslims see themselves as very different from each other; however, two-thirds of the Jains and about 50% of the Sikhs say they have a lot in common with Hindus. This perception is reflected in the traditions and habits that separate India’s religious groups. For example, 65% of Hindus oppose Hindu women marrying non-Hindu men and 67% oppose Hindu men marrying non-Hindu women, whereas 80% of Muslims oppose Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men and 76% oppose Muslim men marrying non-Muslim women. All religious groups also overwhelmingly form friendships within their religious community: Hindus (86%), Muslims (88%), Sikhs (80%) and Jains (72%). In many ways, Indian society resembles a “patchwork fabric” with clear lines of separation between religious communities. Although fewer Indians say that their neighborhoods should consist only of co-religionists, many would prefer to keep certain religions out of their residential areas or villages. For example, 45% of Hindus say they are fine with having non-Hindu neighbors; however, another 45% disagree. In addition, 36% of Hindus don’t want a Muslim neighbor, 61% of Jains say they are unwilling to have neighbors from at least one of these groups, including 54% who would not accept a Muslim neighbor. Additional key findings include: ➤ 64% of Hindus say it’s very important to be Hindu to be “truly” Indian, and 59% of Hindus link Indian identity with being

able to speak Hindi and being Hindu. A full 80% of Hindus who hold the first view also hold the second view. ➤ 53% of Indian adults say India’s religious diversity benefits the country, whereas 24% see it as harmful. The figures among both Hindus and Muslims are similar. ➤ 95% of India’s Muslims are very proud to be Indian. A full 85% of them agree that “Indian people are not perfect, but Indian culture is superior to others.” ➤ 24% of Muslims say their community faces “a lot” of discrimination in India; 21% of Hindus say Hindus face widespread religious discrimination in India. ➤ 95% of Sikhs say they are very proud to be Indian, and 70% of them say that a person who disrespects India cannot be a Sikh. Only 14% say Sikhs face a lot of discrimination in India. ➤ Sikhs are the most likely to see communal violence as a huge problem — 78% of them consider it a major issue, compared with 65% of both Hindus and Muslims. ➤ 20% of Indians say members of Scheduled Castes face a lot of discrimination, 19% say there is a lot of discrimination against Scheduled Tribes, and 16% see high levels of discrimination against Other Backward Classes. Members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are slightly more likely than others to perceive widespread discrimination against their two groups. ➤ 72% of Indians say they would be willing to have a Scheduled Caste neighbor. But 70% of them say that most or all of their close friends share their caste. ➤ 64% of Indians say it’s very important to stop their community’s women from marrying into other castes; 62% hold the same view about their community’s men marrying into other cultures’ castes. MAY/JUNE 2022 ISLAMIC HORIZONS



➤ 91% of Indian Muslims consider religion very important in their lives; 84% of Hindus do too. A full 84% of Muslims


are more likely to claim that they know a lot about their religion than Hindus (75%). ➤ Significant portions of each religious group pray daily: 77% of Christians do so — even though they are the least likely to say religion is very important in their lives (76%) — and 59% of Hindus and 73% of Jains do so. Both groups also say they perform puja daily (57% and 81%, respectively), either at home or a temple. ➤ 97% say they believe in God, and roughly 80% of people in most religious groups say they are certain that God exists. The main exception is Buddhists, 33% who say they don’t believe in God. Still, among Buddhists who think there is a God, most say they are certain in this belief. ➤ The prevailing view is that there is one God “with many manifestations” (54%); 35% say “There is only one God” and 6% say there are many. ➤ When those Hindus who believe in God were asked which god they feel closest to, 84% selected more than one god or indicated that they have many personal gods. This is true among Hindus who say they believe in many gods (90%) or in one God with many manifestations (87%), as well as among those who say there is only one God (82%). The God that Hindus most commonly feel close to is Shiva (44%). In addition, about one-third of Hindus feel close to Hanuman or Ganesha (35% and 32%, respectively). ➤ Many Indians embrace beliefs not


traditionally associated with their faith: 77% of all Muslims and Hindus believe in karma, as do 54% of Christians. In addition, 27% of Muslims and 29% of Christians say they believe in reincarnation. ➤ Most Muslims and Christians say they don’t participate in the Diwali celebrations, the Indian festival of lights, traditionally celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. But 31% of Christians and 20% of Muslims report that they do. The survey covered all states and union territories except of Manipur and Sikkim, where the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation prevented fieldwork from starting in the spring of 2020, and the remote territories of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Lakshadweep archipelago, which are home to only about 0.025% of India’s population. The survey covered the IllegallyOccupied Jammu and Kashmir; however, no fieldwork was conducted there due to Indian-occupation’s security concerns. Therefore, the margin of sampling error for the full sample of 29,999 respondents is ± 1.7 percent. This study, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation, is part of a larger effort by the Pew Research Center to understand religious change and its impact on societies worldwide. The full report is available at ih

EDUCATION The Best YA Books to Add to YOUR Classroom Library More great reads are available for young Muslim readers BY AMANI SALAHUDEEN


s a Muslim Sri Lankan American, these are the books that resonate the most with me and make me feel seen. I adore them because for the first time I was reading about things I had heard about or seen in my community. I wish I had had them while growing up. I am ecstatic that there are writers out there writing about Muslim protagonists who are proud of who they are. Unfortunately, I often see characters who are written as Muslim but who have very little, if any, relationship to Islam or its culture. I present the following books and hope that you will include them in your high-school classroom library. “LOVE FROM A TO Z,” BY S.K. ALI First off, I have to say that I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing S.K. Ali before, and she’s one of the nicest authors I’ve “virtually” met. This book talks about having mixed cultures, disability awareness, being a practicing Muslim and a chronic illness in a way that I have never seen anyone do before. I love how readers got a glimpse of how the main characters spend Eid together in the future as S.K. Ali’s Eid gift to her readers. Alright, alright, back to the review. Islamophobia is the first thing that’s introduced in the story, but I like that it wasn’t done in a cliché form. The story starts off with Zeynab being expelled for a comment she made after a teacher made Islamophobic comments. I was initially worried about how this story was going to go, but I loved how it was resolved and the different events that took place because of it. Another thing I adored about this book was that its protagonists came from different backgrounds and that absolutely nothing felt out of place! I hope that one day I can write characters as lovable as them. Second, the representation of such a diverse community was incredible. I really liked that we got to know each character’s quirks, what they thought about each other and how even the side characters like the Emmas had a role. Additionally, the disabilities were represented in a way that made the story feel real, which I really appreciated. My only con is that I would’ve loved to see what went down at the school board meeting. You’ll know what I mean when you read the book. In case you didn’t know, “Love from A to Z” recently got a new paperback issue. And, if you want to know more about why it’s one of the best love stories I’ve ever read, then you should definitely check it out! “THAT CAN BE ARRANGED” BY HUDA FAHMY This comic depicts how Huda met her husband Gihad. She talks about the shenanigans that ensued when she was on a mission to find a husband and how she dealt with having chaperones. Huda also talks about the suitors she met before Gihad came into her life. This is a book you don’t want to miss, especially if you’re a fan of Jane Austen and comedies! It’s also extremely heart-warming and a book anyone can enjoy.

“SAINTS AND MISFITS,” BY S.K. ALI Trigger Warning. This book discusses sexual assault in the Islamic community. The book’s premise is that 16-year-old Jenna is assaulted by a boy who is a hafidh. This word refers to those who have memorized the Quran, which often causes the highest level of respect to flow toward them. The story details how she processes it, tells her family and the aftermath. Such stories aren’t discussed nearly enough within our community. Ali’s story is written in gut-wrenching style, and Jenna is an incredibly brave teenager. If this isn’t a trigger for you, I urge you to read it! Furthermore, next-year’s sequel, “Misfit in Love,” includes a big, fat Muslim wedding by the lake! “CROWNING SOUL” BY SAHIRA JAVAID This is the first time I’ve encountered a Muslim protagonist in a fantasy series! Muslim writers often draw from cultural experiences or backgrounds (which is great), but this author wrote her story in such a way that I could almost see myself in Nezha’s story. What’s unique about this book is that Javaid self-published it and announced on Twitter that she’s working on the sequel and the novella to it! Nezha Zaman can control fire but believes it’s a perilous gift to have or the way she views it: as a curse! Weeks after her encounter with a demonic being, she transports to another dimension far away from the familiarity of her backyard. If Nezha doesn’t stop the unjust prince, then a nefarious jinn will destroy her soul. The stakes are high, and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds! “ONCE UPON AN EID,” EDITED BY AISHA SAEED AND S.K. ALI This anthology features 15 published Muslim authors: G. Willow Wilson (“Alif the Unseen” and “Ms. Marvel”), Hena Khan (“Amina’s Voice” and “Under My Hijab”), N. H. Senzai (“Shooting Kabul” and “Escape from Aleppo”), Hanna Alkaf (“The Weight of Our Sky”), Rukhsana Khan (“Big Red Lollipop”), Randa Abdel-Fattah (“Does My Head Look Big in This?”), Ashley Franklin (“Not Quite Snow White”), Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow (“Mommy’s Khimar”), Candice Montgomery (“Home and Away” and “By Any Means Necessary”), Huda Al-Marashi (“First Comes Marriage”), Ayesha Mattu (“Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women” and “Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex, & Intimacy”), Asmaa Hussein (“Snatched,” “A Place of Refuge,” and others”) and Sara Alfageeh (an illustrator). Each contributor has a short story with its own lesson and involves the characters celebrating Eid. There’s a comic in this, and it’s perfect for ALL ages! Overall, each book has its own unique charm and wit, shows what it means to be a practicing Muslim and what that involves. All of these books are worth adding to your bookshelves! ih Amani Salahudeen, who is pursuing a Master’s in secondary English education, has a B.A. in journalism and professional writing from The College of New Jersey.



ISLAMOPHOBIA The UN General Assembly Unanimously Adopts Resolution on Combating Islamophobia Pakistan moved the resolution on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation BY ISLAMIC HORIZONS STAFF


resolution proclaiming March 15 as the “International Day to Combat Islamophobia” was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly at its 61st meeting held on March 15, 2022. While introducing the resolution (Document A/76/L.41) calling for this day’s establishment, Munir Akram, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, stated that Islamophobia has emerged as a new form of racism that includes, among others, discriminatory travel bans, hate speech and the targeting of girls and women for their dress. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had assigned Pakistan to present the resolution. He stressed that his country’s president, Dr. Arif Alvi, has repeatedly called for efforts to address the phenomenon. Hate speech, discrimination and violence are proliferating in several parts of world, causing great anguish in the Islamic world. The special rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief 28

noted that since 9/11, other violations have escalated to epidemic proportions. Muslims often experience stigma, negative stereotyping, shame and feel like suspect communities that bear a collective responsibility for the actions of a fringe minority. This new form of racism, he continued, has an added gender aspect, as Muslimas who wear traditional attire are targeted due to their clothing and oppressed. Islamophobia is also being used in the political sphere, including discriminatory travel bans, visa restrictions and discourse among far-right groups for electoral gains. The situation remains poorly understood, he affirmed, with numerous UN officials and world leaders underscoring the need to address it. Turkish representative Ümit Yalçın, who stressed that “We can never allow hate to take over society,” said the resolution is intended not to divide, but to unite. Islamophobia, he argued, is an injustice that plagues humanity, a rising threat that takes many forms, among


them racism, xenophobia and violence. Examples abound in textbooks and social media, but often receive little attention, and the targeted Muslimas receive no protection or empathy. Everyone must do what he or she can to defend places of worship, protect human rights and combat intolerance. Indonesian representative Arrmanatha C. Nasir, speaking as an OIC member, stated that the resolution’s adoption is heartening, and that this day seeks to promote understanding. Indonesia, he pointed out, is a multireligious nation that hosts the world’s largest Muslim population. Trust between peoples and cultures need to be promoted, and positive narratives need to be constructed around Islam, he said, voicing the hope that the international community will stand united and create a harmonious world. Iranian representative Majid Takht Ravanchi said the growing discrimination against Muslims is daunting. The UN, he declared, needs to strongly condemn hate

speech and actions against Muslims and address this discrimination. No form of terrorism should be associated with any civilization or ethnic group. Iran supports all initiatives to challenge this trend, he proclaimed, conveying his country’s determination to address Islamophobia around the world constructively.

dialogue between religions and civilizations that promotes tolerance and coexistence. Iraqi representative Mohammad Hussein Bahr al-Uloom said the continuing growth of hate speech and Islamophobia require a message of tolerance among religions. Incitement must stop, as it impacts local, regional and international peace

ISLAMOPHOBIA IS ALSO BEING USED IN THE POLITICAL SPHERE, INCLUDING DISCRIMINATORY TRAVEL BANS, VISA RESTRICTIONS AND DISCOURSE AMONG FAR-RIGHT GROUPS FOR ELECTORAL GAINS. Guyana’s representative Carolyn Allison Rodrigues-Birkett declared that designating an international day is an important way of countering Islamophobia and its associated negative trends, such as limited access to housing, education and employment. Global action will help counter the increasing number of violent acts against Muslim individuals and communities around the world, she said. Jordanian representative Sima Sami Bahous termed this resolution a landmark event, one that sends a message that the international community will not tolerate hate speech. It’s an important step to creating social inclusion and a culture of peace. Extremists use negative stereotyping as a recruiting tool. Jordan is at the forefront of combating Islamophobia and, he continued, promoting social inclusion and forging the common aim of creating international peace. Qatari representative Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani welcomed the resolution’s adoption by consensus and noted that it helps promote a culture of peace in the face of discrimination. Qatar has created programs and institutions to build nations and people. The resolution demonstrates concern regarding discrimination against Muslims due to Islamophobia. It will help create an international dialogue that promotes peace, he said. Moroccan representative Omar Hilale welcomed the consensus adoption, a reflection of the international community’s commitment to counter Islamophobia and promote a culture of peace. He added that this day should also be a moment of reflection and

and security. The resolution is a message of solidarity, he argued, adding that his government undertakes to fight all hate speech and incitement to violence against all religions. He pointed to Pope Francis’ Feb.16 visit to Iraq as an example of this national approach and an illustration of a day of tolerance in his country. Egypt’s representative voiced his support for the resolution, adding his rejection of all forms of racism, discrimination and other negative stereotypes of Muslims. With this resolution, the international community is paying attention to and rejecting this phenomenon. Welcoming the UN Secretary General’s efforts in this regard, he noted that the resolution reflects serious efforts to counter Islamophobia. Saudi Arabian representative Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi proclaimed the resolution a step forward, one that corrects wrong thinking and is important to ending the mix-up of Islam with terrorism. Saudi Arabia has refused extremism in all its forms, he noted. Further, his country will mobilize the international community’s efforts to create a dialogue of international peace that will protect everyone’s rights. The adoption by consensus shows the intention to formulate a dialogue for life without racism. Omani representative Mohamed al-Hassan said there is a clear reality, reflected in several resolutions, that Islamophobia is a growing phenomenon that affects the rights of millions of people worldwide. Covering it up with different words such as “freedom of expression” counteract the UN’s principles. He stressed the need to avoid attacking the symbols of any religion or belief, stating that

respect is an obligation and that coexistence is a necessity.


India, which continues its upward spiral as a perpetrator of Islamophobia, opposed the resolution. Its representative, T. S. Tirumurti, expressed deep concern over intolerance and violence directed at various communities around the world. India is a pluralistic country, he said, home to almost all religions of the world. While there was a global rise in sectarian violence, anti-Semitism, Christianophobia and Islamophobia, he alleged that anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist and anti-Sikh examples abound as well. It’s time to acknowledge the abundance of phobias, rather than just one form. He contended that the resolution, which elevates one phobia to an international day, may downplay the seriousness of phobias toward all other religions. Noting that November 16 is already an International Day of Tolerance, he called on member states to always be inclusive, especially in the UN. While his country, he said, believes in pluralism, he noted that there was no mention of that word in the text. Another expected opponent was France. French representative Nicolas de Rivière aligned himself with the European Union’s statement. Islamophobia, he stated, has no agreed-upon definition in international law. France supports the protection of all religions and beliefs. However, creating an international day doesn’t respond to concerns about fighting all forms of discrimination. His country had proposed a text that endorsed the freedom of religion and belief, he declared, voicing his regret that none of those proposals were considered. All discrimination should be condemned with equal condemnation and vigor. Although the proposals hadn’t been considered, his delegation had decided not to oppose the resolution’s adoption. Ambassador Olof Skoog, head of the European Union delegation to the UN [as observer], who spoke after adoption, stressed that the bloc is strongly opposed to all forms of hostility and violence. However, he noted his concern with the approach of singling out one religion, an approach that, he contended, risks undermining the universal approach. There should be a right to debate and criticize religion, he said. While not all concerns were considered, he nevertheless noted that the EU delegation had decided not to oppose the consensus generated around this day. ih




A Disorder Worthy to Correct Nature-deficit disorder means that people who spend less time outdoors can suffer from a wide range of behavioral problems BY NOOR SAADEH


mericans love psychological disorders and their prescriptions. There seems to be a new one in the news every day. One of my recent favorites is prolonged grief disorder. A loved one dies, and you are still grieving after two weeks? Well, we have a pill for that! Yet this one caught my eye — nature-deficit disorder, meaning that humans are spending less time outdoors than they have in the past and thus are afflicted with a wide range of behavioral problems. I recognized this one as legitimate, for it has resonated within me for a long time.


I love the great outdoors. My family found God in the natural world. A popular saying among hunters’ families is that there are no atheists in a duck blind. Away from the hustle and bustle of city life, with only the sounds of animal and bird calls or the rustling of leaves or wind in the trees, gave my family an opportunity to tune out the city and into God’s finest creation, nature. Nature, unlike humanity, is obedient to God’s commands at all times. With the advent of spring, I once again explore the many walkways and trails surrounding my home. I believe


that God rewards these adventures, as I seek to connect with Him and the natural world. I have encountered the elusive and normally nocturnal armadillo, the possums and raccoons that visit my yard, along with every type of predatory, wading or songstress birds that inhabit the area around the creek running below my home. Coyotes and bobcats, both of whom have come calling, constantly remind us that we inhabit what was once their territory and therefore should be mindful and responsible caretakers of it. During Covid-19’s restrictions, I found

refuge in walking. This was not only beneficial spiritually, but also emotionally as well. As an added bonus, it’s a pleasant and simple form of dawah. Walkers, bikers and the like are a friendly and social bunch. Most approach with a smile or a friendly hello. As a covered woman, I am ready with a welcoming smile and greeting as we pass by. Those who seek nature comprise a community of like souls. We relish the outdoors for the sunshine and fresh air as a healthy

as well as parental fear magnified by news and entertainment media. Since 2005, the number of studies of how nature impacts human development has grown from a handful to nearly one thousand. This expanding body of scientific evidence suggests that nature-deficit disorder contributes to a diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, obesity and higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses.


escape from the media and the sedentary lifestyle that surrounds it. It’s an essential way to connect with God. Having recognized God through His creations in the outdoor world in my younger days, I found Him again in the many Quranic verses that focused the early Muslims’ attention on their Creator via the world so apparent around them. Before God laid down Islam’s basic creed, those early verses drew attention exclusively to the natural world. We need to revisit those verses and immerse ourselves in the outdoors now more than ever. Although human beings have been urbanizing and then moving indoors ever since the introduction of agriculture, the social and technological changes of the last three decades have accelerated our disconnect from the natural world. Among the reasons are the following: the proliferation of electronic communications, poor urban planning and disappearing open space, increased street traffic, diminished importance of the natural world in public and private education,

Research also suggests that this particular disorder weakens ecological literacy and stewardship of the natural world. These problems are linked more broadly to what health care experts call the “epidemic of inactivity” and to a devaluing of independent play ( what-is-nature-deficit-disorder). The good news is that all of these ills can be reversed. As always, the Quran can lead humanity out of this morass. As Muslims, we hold the keys to the solutions if we exemplify them in our actions and words. If we take hold of our Book of Guidance and read it to learn, to adapt and grow, we can be the first who unplug from this sedentary and screen-obsessed lifestyle and plug back into nature once again. Rather than merely memorizing with little comprehension, the Quran’s ayat will speak to us, redirecting our thoughts toward the creation. ➤ Have they not seen the birds above them, spreading and folding their wings? None holds them up except the Most Compassionate. Indeed, He is All-Seeing of everything (67:19).

➤ With Him are the keys of the unseen — no one knows them except Him. And He knows what is in the land and sea. Not even a leaf falls without His knowledge, nor a grain in the darkness of the earth or anything — green or dry — but is “written” in a perfect Record (6:59). ➤ There is not an animal that lives on Earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but they form communities like you. We haveomitted nothing from the Book, and they all shall be gathered to their Lord in the end (6:38). These are but a few of the verses that immediately draw our attention to the world around us and compel us to marvel at God’s magnificent creation and glorify Him. Just as our predecessors who saw a Golden Age of Islam did, we have replaced struggle with ease. We are becoming lethargic and ill, lacking the energy to struggle physically or spiritually. Yet God relates, “Indeed, We have created humanity in struggle” (90:4). Muslims lost Islam when we became too affluent, too comfortable. We saw our empires fold, one after another, upon relinquishing these struggles. The best months are ahead of us. Spring, just like the resurrection, returns as a guarantee each year. The long days of summer quickly follow. It’s an excellent opportunity for all of us to get off the couch, shut off the electronics and head outdoors. Like any spring flower, we must bloom where we are planted. Google where to find a park, take a hike or merely head out to the backyard. Make some time every day to experience life outdoors unplugged and marvel at God’s magnificent creation all around us! ih Noor Saadeh is production manager at Noorart, Inc. (




Gut Health Holds the Key to Good Health It is important to know that most illnesses begin in your gut BY TAHIRA ISMAIL


he flu made Sarah miserable. Her body ached and her temperature spiked. She could barely stand and felt as if her world was ending. For her, and many others, having your body break down is considered normal. We all get the flu. But then came the Covid-19 pandemic, which heightened her fear of getting sick so much that just the thought of leaving her house made her anxious and nauseous. All this changed, however, when she started making small changes to her diet and lifestyle, such as eating more vegetables, cutting out gluten and practicing self-care. In other words, creating a new baseline for health. While trying to regain a sense of normalcy, it’s important to realize that Covid19 is just one of many illnesses present in our environment. Rather than focusing on the old normal of waiting to get sick, it’s 32

imperative to strive for a new normal in which health isn’t an obstacle. Our bodies are built to bounce back quickly and easily. However, accomplishing this requires a change in one’s mindset and habits. Yes, it’s challenging but worth the effort, for an increased energy level and a stronger immune system speak volumes. Approximately 70-80% of illnesses can be prevented via diet, lifestyle and environmental factors. While diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other diseases might be genetic, personal choices can turn certain genes on and off. Maybe you can’t avoid Covid-19 completely, but how quickly you recover may depend on your daily decisions. Focusing on one’s gut health makes this possible. Most illnesses begin in the gut (the gastrointestinal tract), where approximately 70% of the immune system resides,


mainly in the small intestine. An unhealthy gut equals a poor immune system and vice versa. Additionally, approximately 90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the intestines. One of serotonin’s most important roles is regulating mood. Unbalanced serotonin levels can lead to depression, anxiety and other mood disorders, whereas balanced serotonin levels mean feelings of calm, happiness and better focus. Obvious ways of knowing if your gut health is off are diarrhea, constipation, bloating and stomach pain. The not-so-obvious ways are acne and other skin conditions, allergies, fatigue, anxiety, weight gain, autoimmune conditions and more. Essentially, almost all conditions can be linked back to the gut. Among the multiple steps to repair gut damage and build your immune system, the main ones are adjusting nutrition, addressing stress levels and engaging in adequate physical activity. Start by looking at what you’re consuming. “O you who have believed, eat from the tayyib things which We have provided for you and be grateful to God, if it is indeed Him that you worship” (2:172). We should be eating halal and tayyib foods, meaning those that are pure, clean, wholesome, gentle and lawful — basically harmless.

Consider how fruits, vegetables, grains and other foods were grown. Are they filled with chemicals and pesticides that can lead to gut damage, cancer and other diseases, or grown organically and filled with nutrients? Were the slaughtered animals raised in a stress-free environment eating foods that are natural to them, or in factory farms on diets that cause disease and distress? If the latter, they would pass on illnesses to consumers. Thus, one can maximize the benefits from

vitamin and mineral deficiencies and gut and autoimmune disorders. The wheat we consume is definitely not what our ancestors used; it’s been modified, and its nutritional value has been changed. Another common gut irritant is pasteurized milk and dairy products. While many may safely consume and benefit from yogurt and some cheeses, others must avoid dairy completely. You can get calcium from sesame seeds and leafy green vegetables.

AMONG THE MULTIPLE STEPS TO REPAIR GUT DAMAGE AND BUILD YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM, THE MAIN ONES ARE ADJUSTING NUTRITION, ADDRESSING STRESS LEVELS AND ENGAGING IN ADEQUATE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY. food and reduce damage by choosing pure, organically produced food. One helpful step toward gut health is to reduce or remove certain foods from your diet. The first one is sugar, whose consumption has rapidly grown over the last several years, along with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other health issues. The average American consumes over 150 lbs. of sugar per year! Sugar, especially refined sugar, lacks nutrients and kills good gut bacteria, thereby letting bad bacteria flourish, all of which leads to gut-related damage. As avoiding it completely may not always be possible, choose better options. Eating more fruits satisfies cravings and doesn’t cause addiction like regular sugar. Whole fruits also provide vitamins, minerals and fiber. Dates contain disease-fighting antioxidants and fiber to help promote regular bowel movements and may help control blood sugar levels. Honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar are good sugars that may be eaten in moderation. Processed foods and fast foods also fall outside of what’s tayyib, since they are usually filled with artificial colors, preservatives and chemicals. Try to avoid fried foods, for they cause bloating, indigestion and other gut-related issues and can also lead to inflammation — the cause of all diseases — when consumed regularly. People are increasingly avoiding gluten, which is mostly found in all wheat products and can damage the gut. The effects can range from immediate gut discomfort and diarrhea to longer-term effects such as

Optimizing health means eating a combination of high-quality proteins, fats, fibrous foods and drinking plenty of water. Protein is vital for our bodies to function properly. Our blood is made from it, and our nervous system, immune health and ability to repair and recover require protein. Protein sources can be from organic grass-fed or free-range animals, eggs, or plant-based foods, such as seeds, nuts, beans, lentils, sea veggies and leafy greens. A common misconception is that meat needs to be eaten daily. Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) rarely ate meat. Surprisingly, high-quality fats don’t make you fat! Our brains are 60% fat and need to be fed to function. Healthy fats come from organic animals, wild-caught fish, eggs, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil and other sources. Fibrous foods slow down the absorption of food, helping to keep one full longer. It also adds bulk to stools, promotes regular bowel movements and prevents constipation. Examples of high fiber foods include non-starchy vegetables, leafy greens, beans, lentils, fruits and whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, oats, millet and sorghum. Water is essential for life. Human bodies are approximately 70% water, so dehydration can cause constipation, abdominal and/or muscle pain, brain fog and fatigue, among other symptoms. Drinking approximately 8 cups a day, depending on your size and activity level, will keep all your systems functioning properly. People confuse thirst with hunger and eat when they should

drink, which leads to overeating. Prophet Muhammad said, “No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink, and one third for his breath” (“Sunan Ibn Majah,” 3349). Focusing on stress levels is ideal for gaining optimal gut health. Regardless of how nutritious one’s diet is, stress wreaks havoc on the body. If stress is not manageable, talk with a professional so you can avoid damaging your physical and mental systems. Selfcare or other stress-reducing strategies such as gardening also may provide needed relief. Since the pandemic began, gardening’s popularity has grown. Exposure to dirt is necessary for healthy bacteria in the gut. Research has shown that gardening has a positive effect on mental health (see J. Environ. Hort. 37(1):30–38. March 2019). Planting a garden can improve one’s mood, focus and concentration. And when vegetables, herbs and fruits are successfully grown, the sense of accomplishment is priceless. Even if the attempt fails, just being outdoors will grant similar mental health benefits. When stress is reduced, blood pressure levels may also be normalized. Finally, physical activity is another key component in this regard. Abu Hurayra reported: The Prophet said, “The strong believer is better and more beloved to God than the weak believer, while there is good in both” (“Sahih Muslim,” 2664). This refers to both one’s faith and physical strength. Exercise not only improves microbial bacteria and its diversity in the gut, but also helps improve motility or more efficient bowel movements. Exercise is also a stress reliever, for it improves mental health, supports weight management, strengthens muscles and bones, and more. You don’t have to go to the gym every day or run a marathon. Go for a walk, stretch, weight train or do whatever you enjoy — just move. Improved nutrition, stress management and physical activity can improve gut and immune health, reduce the duration and severity of Covid-19 and other illnesses and improve one’s overall quality of life. Therefore, implementing these elements can make a world of difference. ih Tahira Ismail is a certified consistency coach and registered health coach who specializes in gut health. She helps women suffering from digestive imbalances repair gut health, balance weight naturally and regain energy (




Is Lab-Grown Meat Healthy? The production process of meat-like products includes unethical practices BY MOHAMMAD ABDULLAH


help mitigate climate change and minimize animal suffering. Researchers have been looking for alternatives to traditional meat production for some time. Singapore was the first country to greenlight the marketing of a cell-based meat product for human consumption. Although sales so far have only been in the form of “product demos” — most consumers aren’t willing to buy it because of the high production costs — lab-grown meat is hyped as eco-friendly, clean and healthy. Yes, it would significantly reduce the number of animals to be raised and the amount of feed for them, which would divert hundreds of millions of gallons of water and hundreds of thousands of acres of land to produce food for humans. According to Briana Dodson (https., a 2019 study published in the journal Frontiers of Sustainable Food Systems found that producing lab-grown

meat could generate even greater concentrations of CO2 over time, as CO2 takes much longer to dissipate. Yet, there are many companies worldwide that can’t wait for their governments to give them greenlight to get started. But that would be like putting the cart before the horse, because it’s a brand-new industry and the regulatory agencies need time to review the submitted documents related to production procedures and practices. I retired from the USDA, FSIS, after many years of working in various positions. One of those was as a program review officer in the review and evaluation branch, where I conducted reviews of slaughter and processing plants nationwide. I can understand why the FDA and the USDA may be taking their time — after all, they need to carefully review all the information provided so they can formulate the appropriate rules and regulations for oversight.


he growing business of food technology is revolutionizing the way we eat. In fact, some industry experts consider cellular agriculture the wave of the future. A growing number of startups are focused on developing labgrown meat. According to a report, 99 companies worldwide are now developing lab-grown meat components, services and end-products (“Global Market for Cultured Meat - Market Size, Trends, Competitors, and Forecasts (2022)”, One reason for this paradigm shift is that traditional beef production makes a lot of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide — greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming. According to Tom Philpott of Mother Jones (March-April 2022), the situation is so dire that many Generation Z and Millennials are held to have become vegans or vegetarians to



When these plants finally become operational, the government inspectors assigned there will need those rules and regulations to ensure that these processing plants are complying with the regulatory agency’s rules and regulations.


Instead of raising and then slaughtering an animal for meat, the cellular technology used to produce “lab-grown” meat, also called “cultured” or “cultivated” meat, allows us to grow only the parts we eat, without bones and gristle. It’s a complex energy-intensive process that will require sophisticated expensive machinery and very clean production facilities.


Various reports have revealed the following information: ➤ Lab-grown meat’s prototypes are currently unavailable for independent technological, sensorial and nutritional assessment. The reason for this could be that the industry is new and therefore the exact production processes and inputs needed for large scale production are either unknown or not being disclosed. As a result, it’s currently impossible to gauge all the potential issues related to these products’ nutritional value that will be entering the market in the coming years. However, based on the available information, it can be said that lab-grown meat cur-

INSTEAD OF RAISING AND THEN SLAUGHTERING AN ANIMAL FOR MEAT, THE CELLULAR TECHNOLOGY USED TO PRODUCE “LAB-GROWN” MEAT, ALSO CALLED “CULTURED” OR “CULTIVATED” MEAT, ALLOWS US TO GROW ONLY THE PARTS WE EAT, WITHOUT BONES AND GRISTLE. This meat process involves using stem cells from a food animal to inoculate fetal bovine serum (FBS), or a specially formulated growth medium — the blood of unborn cow fetuses extracted from their mothers after slaughter. It’s worth mentioning here that whatever is put in the growth medium will end up in the cultured meat. So, the stem cells needed to produce labgrown beef will come from a line of cow cells, just as the stem cells needed to produce lab-grown chicken will come from a line of chicken cells. Slowly, the stem cells will begin to multiply into muscle fibers and, when there are enough of them, you’ve got a piece of cultured meat. Cultured animal cells are alive, meaning that they can become infected just the way living animals can because the culture has no immune system to protect it. So, if the cultured cells become contaminated, they just die and must be thrown away. This, as Joe Fassler wrote in The Counter (Sept. 22, 2021) shows how important it is to maintain sterility in cell culture facilities. This fact should be enough for Muslims to shun lab-grown meats, especially when it also involves such unethical processes.

rently differs significantly from traditional meat and that additional research is needed before cultured meat’s composition could resemble that of traditional meat. In contrast, traditional meat is considered nutritious due to the presence of highly digestible proteins with excellent amino acid, minerals and vitamins, especially B12, which is synthesized exclusively by microorganisms and then absorbed and utilized by animals. So, if cultured meat is to be regarded as a substitute for traditional meat, it must contain vitamin B12 ( ➤ Despite the lack of any information on lab-grown meat food products’ nutritional profile, it may be possible to manipulate it so that it has the same nutritional value as conventional meat or even better. This depends on what is achievable when making lab-grown meat on an industrial scale and what consumers want from these products ( ➤ Although the goal of producing labgrown meat is good, this undertaking is still in its infancy and the relevant underlying science requires more scrutiny as regards potential safety issues. One particular concern is the genetic engineering of cells and

their potential cancer-promoting properties. Information as to how the cells are engineered and kept growing is needed, and yet many of the companies claim that such information is confidential and a business secret. The scale required for making lab-cultured meat available for mass consumption will be the largest form of tissue engineering to exist and could introduce new kinds of genetically engineered cells into our diets ( ➤ The lab-grown meat producer Vow Food says, “There are two million species that are available for human consumption, yet only four animals comprise almost all of the meat we eat — the company is on a mission to extract cells from all manners of animals to find new means to cultivate.” IntegriCulture, which is involved in designing new meat experiments, claims “that it can combine meats such as lobster, chicken, and beef to produce an entirely new type of steak” ( ➤ The “Daily Mail” notes that even if the price is lowered, it isn’t clear that anyone will eat it, as a recent study revealed almost 75% of Australia’s Gen Z are “disgusted” by the idea of lab-grown meat ( Cultured meat, however, does come with a few major health benefits over conventional meat, especially given the pandemic. Because it’s grown in controlled conditions and without antibiotics, it could minimize antibiotic resistance, foodborne illnesses and other diseases transmitted by animals. The CDC reports that 75% of new or emerging infectious diseases in humans come from animals (


Proponents of lab-grown meat tout it as a more efficient way of animal protein production and as opening a new era in meat consumption that offers all kinds of new flavors and varieties. But based on the available information, it’s not entirely clear just how healthy lab-grown meat will be and how its nutritional contents will compare with those of traditional meat. As this new production technology improves with time, the nutritional quality of lab-grown meat could be controlled by adjusting the fat and other ingredients. But whether consumers will like it as much as they like traditional meat remains to be seen. ih Mohammad Abdullah, DVM, MS, MPH, retired as deputy district manager at USDA-FSIS.




In Conversation with Muslima Trainers Muslims have a fitness role model in the Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) BY SARAH PERVEZ


osing weight was the last thing on Asma’s mind, a 50-year-old client who contacted Jabeen Jabbar of JabsFitLab’s (JFL). She couldn’t bend or sit on the floor due to knee problems and general mobility issues caused by periods of Covid-imposed inactivity. She had just one goal in mind when she reached out to her fitness instructor: “I want to prostrate to my Lord for more than 20 seconds, Jabeen. And I want to stand up and pray.” Asma put away her salah chair after three months of determined and consistent workouts four times a week. Her workouts included posture correction, flexibility movements to increase the range of hip and knee mobility and, finally, strength training. She now stands before God every day and prostrates to Him to her heart’s content. Muslimas seem more inclined to share grandma’s recipes than workout techniques. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But somewhere along the way, Muslims forgot about the prophetic traditions of staying fit and treating our bodies as a precious trust (amana) from God. Popular fitness culture focuses on extra lean, fit and toned bodies along with the newest fad diet — a reality to which most Muslimas can’t relate. In their bid to lead modest lifestyles, mixed gyms and spandex workout fashion keep them away from these spaces, where they feel unsafe, uncomfortable and self-conscious. Counting calories at home is tedious because the sodium-free, fat-free and food-free recipes are a far cry from their staple delicious foods. “Community centers and mosques should hold health fairs, seminars with trainers and nutritionists, talks on healthy meal ideas and benefits of physical activity. Engage and educate.” said Kifah Muhammad of GetFitWithKifah. Muslims should do more to encourage women to get into fitness, because as caregivers they often let their own health take a backseat. 36

fierce as the ones you find on Peloton. These pioneers and trailblazers took charge of their own health. When the pandemic hit, they went online and started countless women on their own fitness journeys. These online Muslima trainers provide fun and flexible results-driven workouts and a partner on their fitness journeys. Muslimas no longer worry about feeling uncomfortable or modestly attired. And because of the trainers’ diversity, they’re also getting culturally sensitive and sustainable nutrition guidance. We spoke to personal trainers who are paving the way and inspiring Muslimas to return to the Sunna of fitness as a form of worship, fitness and strength.


Jabeen Jabbar

BUT SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY, MUSLIMS FORGOT ABOUT THE PROPHETIC TRADITIONS OF STAYING FIT AND TREATING OUR BODIES AS A PRECIOUS TRUST (AMANA) FROM GOD. Muhammad also feels this is an excellent opportunity for Muslim entrepreneurs. “The market is wide open for healthy halal meal kits and modest activewear, as more and more Muslimas become aware of their fitness needs.” Muslimas such as Muhammad saw this situation as an opportunity to create just such a space. While Muslima fitness trainers may still be few in numbers, they’re just as


Zainab Ismail has 25+ years of experience as a movement specialist, holistic nutritionist and master personal trainer (PT). She was among the first to teach the foam roller in the U.S., now a staple at gyms nationwide. Foam rollers help athletes relieve muscle tightness, soreness and inflammation, and increase a joint’s range of motion. She was also among the first instructors at the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), teaching at their institutes nationwide and in Asia. Having worked with top-level athletes and celebrities, she now works with people with injuries, prenatal and postnatal women and, occasionally, athletes. When Ismail reverted to Islam 13 years ago, she brought her knowledge to Muslim spaces, where her expertise remains unmatched. She founded Fit for Allah, which promotes prophetic traditions regarding health, medicine and food, and merges them with fitness practices. Her Ramadan guides focus on staying hydrated and energetic during fasting by eating foods that the Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) liked. Her stress-free sleep guide suggests making wudu, dusting the bed three times, reciting sleep du’as, clearing your heart and following other bedtime-related sunnas. She even has tips to improve physical stamina and getting mentally fit before leaving for umrah and hajj, all of which incorporate the teachings of the Quran and Hadith. Ismail is a strong advocate of getting fit for the sake of God by following the Sunna’s wisdom so we can worship Him to the best of our abilities.

During the Covid closure, she stopped in-person training and started training her clients live online. These classes have thrived to the point where she might not return to online. She has expanded and diversified her clientele to include Muslims around the world. What Ismail finds alarming is that she sees more young Muslimas with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) than nonMuslims. Women with PCOS have ovaries that may develop small collections of fluid due to a hormonal disorder. This has a lot to do with a sedentary lifestyle and food choices that lead to fertility issues and weight gain. “There are girls who don’t know how to ride a bike!” she exclaims. Diabetes and prediabetes are also a matter of concern among her clients. She says that Muslims should encourage girls and women to become more active by incorporating enjoyable physical activity in their daily lives. Muslims are consuming nourishing halal foods, but they need to know how to eat them in moderation. They must separate culture from faith and embody prophetic teachings in matters of food and active lifestyle. She admonishes them, “Forget the gimmicks! Have real food, be consistent and follow the Sunna!”


Jabeen Jabbar, “Coach Jabs,” founder of Jabs Fit Lab, an online fitness hub for women, is a NASM certified personal trainer, group personal trainer specialist, youth exercises specialist and an mental toughness coach. Jabbar, who became a trainer after losing 55 lbs., has developed a unique understanding of the struggle and discipline required to achieve such a transformation. “Basically, there are no shortcuts to achieving good health. Physical activity and good nutrition — unprocessed foods and avoiding junk food is key. I did High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) twice a week and ran when I first started.” Jabbar was certified by NASM in 2019, shortly before Covid hit. When the lockdown started in June 2020, she announced an online bootcamp that became so popular that there was no turning back. “I’ve gained confidence, got my strength back and recovered from surgeries quicker thanks to JFL. My journey has inspired and motivated my husband to start his own fitness journey,” said Zainab Valimohideen,

Zainab Ismail

Kifah Muhammad

who started with Jabbar three years ago and loves working out with her. JFL offers a holistic approach to weight loss and health goals. Jabbar was concerned when her 31-year-old clients came to her complaining of tiredness, knee pains, joint pains and just not knowing why their bodies crashed after 8 p.m. “It’s a vicious cycle. Our bodies are like machines. For them to work well, they need to be used well, otherwise they’ll rust and stop working. This is not rocket science. Consistency is key. Move more, eat well, hydrate and get your sleep. Watch your energy levels and mood improve with these four steps.” Jabbar firmly believes that mental strength affects physical strength. Her classes are tailored to suit individual needs and include mental coaching apart from HIIT, cardio, Pilates and yoga. Jabbar, who wants to help women build their spiritual connection with God, starts every class by stating the right intention and reminds them, “Nothing can hold you back when Allah has your back.”


Salwa Qadir is a national level PT, nutrition coach and stretch therapist at GoodLife Fitness — Canada’s largest gym franchise — in Toronto. She has been a trainer for over eight years and is the gym’s first Muslima PT instructor. Having worked exclusively with women both in-person and online, Qadir struggled with her own weight and was bullied until her mid-20s. However, she turned her life around after finding her calling in strength training and weightlifting. Now a PowerLifter who can lift 200+ lbs., she states, “All fitness journeys are won in the mind. We all experience days when we don’t want to get

Salwa Qadir

up and move. The successful ones are those who move even when they don’t feel like it.” It was hard for her when the pandemic closed the gyms. Viewing her home as her comfort zone, she didn’t think home workouts were possible. But when clients reached out, struggling with their mental health due to inactivity and Covid stress, she decided to offer Ramadan online classes. “Exercise is an instant mood booster. It is incredible to see how gaining strength transcends a client’s life and increases their personal and professional confidence,” she said. Qadir sees women with low functional strength, which causes joint pain and weight gain. Her classes focus on building strength using either one’s body weight or actual weights. She wants people to understand that strength training can give far more benefits than just weight loss. Women, she says, must prioritize their health while they still are healthy. By working on developing strength now, they can prepare for old age when basic movements become challenging. She recommends setting small, realistic goals to get started to help build a consistent habit while improving stamina and endurance. A huge advocate of strength training, she says, “Physical strength is the first form of empowerment. People don’t make the connection that strength training will eventually lead to independence in their old age. Want to get up from the toilet seat on your own at 70? Do squats. Want to walk up the stairs easily? That’s what lunges are for. Get strong for functional life strength. Always choose strength over skinny.” ih Sarah Pervez, a storyteller, avid reader, spirituality seeker and published author, loves telling simple stories, finding meaningful lessons in life and looking at things through other people’s perspectives. After years of reading whitewashed literature, she is slowly building a bookshelf full of color and loving it.




When Will the United States Accept 100,000 Yemeni Refugees? Apparently, not all wars produce acceptance-worthy refugees BY SARA SWETZOFF


n March 24, the Biden admin- permit is taking a long time right now, and and Covid backlogs. They also impact refistration announced that the U.S. (2) a security discrimination long predating ugee policy. will accept 100,000 displaced Trump. Yemeni and Iranian nationals have Ukrainians. And yet, in fiscal year always had a difficult time securing visas EIGHT YEARS OF SUFFERING 2021 not a single Yemeni refugee was because of the extensive background checks. One wonders why, after eight years of admitted. These stringent “security advisory opinion” war, Yemenis weren’t offered resettlement Yemen, devastated by war for more than guidelines can cause significant delays to opportunities as soon as the crisis initially seven years, has seen hundreds of thousands applications already impacted by the ban unfolded. Most refugees left during the first of its citizens leave for neighboring two years, when the internal concountries. More than a million are flict escalated into a regional coninternally displaced. Ukrainian flict in March 2015. But instead of refugees can readily access five offering sanctuary, Obama offered welcoming neighbor states by aerial refueling to the Saudi military’s bombing campaign. road and rail; Yemenis are unwelcome in Saudi Arabia, separated “I feel lucky,” said Labib from Oman by a desert and bound Nasher, one of just 50 Yemeni refuon all other sides by the Red Sea gees admitted to the U.S. since the and the Gulf of Aden. war began in 2015 and prior to the Even if the April 1 ceaseban. This 2019 article published by fire brings a lasting truce and the Guardian was one of the few pieces of journalism that I could peace, Yemen will need decades   Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister Khalid bin Salman meets even find about Yemeni refugees to rebuild ( with Yemen’s president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Dec. 22, 2021 in the U.S. Washington can help immediately © kbsalsaud by offering resettlement to those Obama moved swiftly to get who face the most urgent security and health involved in the war. In April 2015, just one month after the “official” start of the war by risks. Many seeking resettlement have already many accounts, Military Times magazine THE DOUBLE been registered as refugees in Djibouti and reported that Washington had begun daily STANDARDS IN aerial-refueling of tanker flights to support Ethiopia for seven years. Meanwhile, the the Saudi-led coalition (April 8, 2015). Covid-19 pandemic and Tigray war in MIGRATION AND Ethiopia have strained the region’s refugee Robert Malley, Obama’s key advisor REFUGEE POLICY — support services. on the Middle East, told TRT World in an Even Yemenis whose immediate family interview that the administration “got it WHO GETS TO BE A members are U.S. citizens have found it in supporting the Saudi-led coaREFUGEE VERSUS WHO wrong” hard to access standard family reunificalition (Feb. 14, 2019). He admitted that IS CATEGORIZED AS tion immigration pathways. Despite Biden’s this military support helped escalate and rescinding of Trump’s Muslim ban more than entrench the ongoing conflict between the A “MIGRANT,” AND a year ago, nearly 500,000 applicants worldHouthi warlords and the Saudi-led coaliWHICH REFUGEES wide are waiting for scheduling. tion called in by Yemen’s president-in-exile, Chris Richardson, an immigration attorAND IMMIGRANTS ARE Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. ney, offered further insight on the unique The timing of Malley’s interview coinDESIRABLE — HAVE challenges facing Yemenis. Richardson, who cided with bipartisan congressional efforts left his foreign service post in protest after to pass the “war powers resolution” and thus NEVER BEEN MORE Trump enacted the ban, states that two things end U.S. military support for the Saudi war OBVIOUS THAN NOW. are working against those people impacted effort. Trump used a presidential veto to by the ban: (1) the backlog, for every kind make sure it failed, thus preserving his close of immigration or temporary residency relationship with Riyadh. 38



The double standards in migration and refugee policy — who gets to be a refugee versus who is categorized as a “migrant” and which refugees and immigrants are desirable — have never been more obvious than now. While Yemenis are far from the only ones disproportionately impacted by current immigration policy – remember the Haitians, who are the Biden administration’s main target of detention and deportation — their extreme   A US Air Force B-1B bomber refuels while in flight to Saudi Arabia, October 24, 2019. US Air Force situation sheds light on the current shortcomings of Washington’s. Middle East policy. Biden continues to utilize the were admitted last year. “The refugee system legal loopholes or “soft ban” policies that was destroyed by Trump,” Richardson Trump implemented and exploited. While explained. He says the combined defunding lifting the Muslim ban, Biden has done little of refugee resettlement organizations and to remedy its impacts or expedite Yemeni slowing down of the administrative backend family reunification or refugee resettlement through excessive security checks severely opportunities. “atrophied” the system and will take years In March 2021, the State Department to rebuild. Richardson also elaborated on the chalannounced that people denied visas during the Trump travel ban should seek a revised lenges Yemenis have faced for decades. He decision or reapply. However, the admin- mentioned that at one point during his work istration didn’t open any special office or with the State Department, the Office of pathway for them to do so. Instead, it seems the General Inspector cited the American that they joined a massive visa processing embassy in Yemen for revoking the passbacklog. ports of Americans of Yemeni origin. “This In February 2020, 75,000 applications is emblematic of the State Department’s ‘wild were pending at the National Visa Center; west’ view of certain places like Yemen,” within a year, that number had increased to Richardson explained. “In Spain that would nearly 500,000. According to the most recent never happen. But in a place like Yemen, numbers logged in late February 2022, about if you get an unscrupulous officer, they 500,000 individuals were cleared for inter- might actually be rewarded by the State views and about another 500,000 eligible Department.” applicants were still waiting for an interview. To expedite the rebuilding of the refugee Only 32,317 “documentarily complete IV infrastructure and prioritize vulnerable applicants” were scheduled for March 2022 populations such as Yemenis, Richardson appointments worldwide. asserts that we would “need the entire According to Subha Varadarajan, an government to change the way it operattorney with the National Immigrant Law ates.” Some in Congress have listened: Coalition and Asian Law Caucus and who Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Reps. is affiliated with the “No Muslim Ban Ever” Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Joe Neguse campaign, it’s very difficult to know how (D-Calif.) introduced the Guaranteed many of these applicants are Yemeni. One Refugee Ceiling Enhancement Act during year after the ban’s end, she is still trying to March 2021. If passed, this “GRACE Act” determine this number and how many sub- would set the 2022 cap of 125,000 refugees sequently secured visas. A sign-on letter at as the permanent floor for annual refugee the No Muslim Ban Ever website explains the resettlement ( remedial steps that the coalition is requesting media/press-releases). With a long-term to reunite families and repair the damage guarantee of funding, refugee agencies done by the ban. could maintain and expand their services Refugee policy is similarly bogged down. without having to worry about shuttering The president sets the refugee quota num- their doors and cutting staff every time a bers; despite raising it to 62,500 immediately new administration decides to weaponize after coming into office, only 11,000 refugees immigration policy.


Washington’s distinct responsibility toward Yemenis has become more urgent since Russia invaded Ukraine. Biden’s campaign promises to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition remains unfulfilled (https://www. Instead, his administration has continued to do business with both Saudi Arabia and the UAE, even allowing a controversial Trump administration weapons deal to go through after freezing it temporarily. Since the Russian invasion, the U.S. has become increasingly reliant on Saudi oil. Meanwhile, both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have apparently maintained open communications with Putin while Mohamed Bin Salman (MBS), the architect of the war who had a warm rapport with Trump, is refusing to take Biden’s calls. In a recent op-ed, lawyer Charles Pierson explains that some political analysts believe MBS might increase oil production if Biden expands support for the Saudi-led coalition. It is heart-wrenching to think that when the current ceasefire ends, Washington might once again exchange blood for oil by continuing to sell weapons and provide logistical support. One might think that if the U.S. is complicit in this war, we might at least accept some refugees to offset its toll. But acknowledging refugees is a charged political act. Unequivocally referring to those Ukrainians fleeing the war as “refugees” (even if they are not technically registered as such with the UN) and providing them with asylum in the West is a political choice that signals condemnation of Russia’s attack. In the case of Yemen, Washington’s complicity in the Saudi airstrikes means that it doesn’t want to irk Riyadh and fault our own foreign policy by recognizing Yemeni refugees. Now, more than ever, Washington must take a clear ethical stance on the Yemen war by ending all material support for Riyadh’s offensive attacks and creating a Yemeni refugee program — effective immediately. We cannot condemn the current human rights crisis in Ukraine while ignoring that of Yemen any longer. Nor we cannot sacrifice the Yemenis’ chance for lasting peace to satisfy our need for Gulf oil. ih Sara Swetzoff is a Ph.D. candidate in African Studies at Howard University and a Fulbright Ethiopia 2020 awardee.




Environmentally Friendly Mosques ISNA has taken the initiative to create national awareness in making mosques environmentally friendly as part of the prophetic green mosque campaign BY ISNA GREEN INITIATIVE TEAM


magine the scene when after 22 days of a difficult journey, Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) reached the little town of Quba on the outskirts of Yathrib. He stated, as Jabir Abdullah al-Ansary narrates, “Earth has been made sacred and pure and a mosque for me…” (“Sahih al-Bukhari” and “Sahih Muslim”). During his three-day stay, he began building the first mosque of the hijra period. Proceeding toward Yathrib, he performed the noon prayer in Ranuna valley, performed the Friday prayer with the Companions and started raising the second mosque. After reaching Yathrib, he set about erecting the third one. For Muslims, these three post-hijra projects signified the mosque’s importance and centrality in relation to God, space and community affairs. Therefore, an ideal mosque is a central place for activities that bind the congregation together and serve humanity at large. Climate change is an existential threat, and environmental degradation continues unabated. God states, “It is He (God) who has made you successors upon Earth and has raised some of you above others in degrees (of rank) that He may try you through what He has given you” (6:165). Therefore, both mosques and Islamic centers have a special responsibility to adopt and promote environmentally friendly practices. The U.S. now has 3,000+ mosques; more are being built. As they are more than just places in which to strengthen our faith, they must also develop programs that preserve HISTORICALLY, MOSQUES WERE ALWAYS and protect the environment. Educating INCLUSIVE IN BOTH REGARDS AND ALSO everyone about the perils of climate change SERVED RELIGIOUS, EDUCATIONAL AND and adopting environmentally friendly practices is vital, for God disdains the wasteful SOCIAL CHARITABLE NEEDS, AS WELL AS (6:141). CONTRIBUTED TO ECONOMIC GROWTH. Existing buildings cannot change their structure and other features; however, the people who use them can reduce their energy usage and adopt the following practices to help the environment and reduce our carbon footprint. Sa‘d performing ablution and asked him why he was Reduce, recycle, reuse and rethink. Don’t use bottled water during social activ- being extravagant. When Sa‘d asked if such a thing ities, for 70% of them are not recycled. Moreover, these bottles are one of the were possible, the Prophet replied, “Even if you were worst environmental hazards; minimize the use of plastic items by replacing them on the banks of a flowing river.” with quickly degradable or paper products; stop using Styrofoam products, as Energy conservation. Energy-efficient heating and they do not degrade for centuries; and minimize food wastage, especially during cooling systems, insulation, LED bulbs, energy use Ramadan or other social activities. regulators and smartphones can reduce energy conWater conservation. Abdullah ibn Amr reported that the Prophet once saw sumption and save money. Installing solar panels 40


and contains no waste. In one cubic foot of soil, the waste of one is food for another. We are hurting, polluting and destroying God’s beautiful and efficient cyclical creation. Therefore, Muslims must try to see the systems and materials as affecting the community’s overall health and thereby reduce the mosque’s waste and carbon footprint, as well as the waste our community produces, and stop making our planet a landfill. Such a mosque will resonate the beauty of Islam. “And there is no creature on (or within) the earth or bird that flies with its wings except (that they are) communities like you. We have not neglected in the Register a thing. Then unto their Lord they will be gathered” (6:38). Today, LEED is the most well-known tool for measuring environmental efficiency in architecture. This green rating certification program evaluates a building on six categories: site, energy, water, indoor air quality, materials and innovation. Other programs are Green Globes ( and the Living Green Challenge (, independent programs specific to those materials that promote recycling, reusing, refurbishing, renewing and reducing materials and system emissions, or the carbon footprint, for a new or an existing building. However, the goal isn’t to create a “model green mosque” as a one-size-fits-all solution. The site’s context and community’s inclusivity and social needs are vital to sustainable design. To be green, instead of seeing linear costs and systems, we need to see lifecycle costs and systems. Fundamentally, green design is called “common sense economical design.”

A GREEN MOSQUE IS ABOUT INCLUSIVITY Islamic Center of San Diego (Photo: GreenEnergy EPC Inc.)

can significantly reduce the carbon footprint and offer substantial reduction in energy costs. Plant trees and establish vegetable and fruit gardens. As the Prophet said: “If a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds and then a bird or animal eats them, it is regarded as a charity.”


New facilities must be designed to be inclusive, aware of the communities’ changing needs, and conform to Green Building LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards ( Being Green is cost effective over time, energy efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly. Incorporating solar panels is the best use of a God-given gift, for they produce clean energy, reduce the use of fossil fuels that are the most harmful to the environment and are cost effective over the period. As Quran 14:33 says: “And He subjected for you the Sun and Moon, continuous in orbit, and subjected for you the night and day.” Today, sustainability is a way of doing things in balance, and green is a tool to achieve balance. One of the greatest signs is the natural world, which is cyclical

As an umma, making a green and sustainable mosque should be instinctive. It should be a communal space that serves the community’s needs in harmony with the natural palette. Historically, mosques were always inclusive in both regards and also served religious, educational and social charitable needs, as well as contributed to economic growth. Across the centuries, planting trees and gardens were hallmarks of Islamic architecture. Today, many Muslim North American architects could lead by incorporating green mosque principles in their designs. ISNA has taken the initiative to create national awareness in making mosques environmentally friendly as part of the prophetic green mosque campaign and appreciates Muslims who have been voicing and initiating green activism. You too can join the ISNA Green Masjid campaign and help fulfill this vision. The need for green sacred spaces is overdue and very needed. Let’s leave Earth a better place for its coming stewards. ih ISNA Green Initiative Team members Huda Alkaff, Saffet Catovic, Nana Firman, Uzma Mirza and Saiyid Masroor Shah (chair)




Gabrielle Deonath Invites Women to Contemplate Gratitude A writer with a mission to represent minority and marginalized communities BY RUTH NASRULLAH


abrielle Deonath is a 25-yearold Guyanese-American Muslim writer and author of the new book “Shukr: An Inspirational Dua and Gratitude Journal for Women” (Ulysses Press, 2022). Each of its five sections, whose titles relate to different aspects of daily life, contains a du’a, hadith or Quranic verse along with writing prompts and space for journaling. Her intention is to inspire women and give them a practical way to increase their iman. I sat down with Deonath and we talked about the hijab, being a writer and the challenge of maintaining a steady level of faith. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Q: Please talk a little about your start as a writer. A: My career really started without me knowing it at the age of 15. I had been contemplating wearing a hijab full-time for almost a year. I had been wearing it for about four days when my aunt sent me a post from, in which she said, “I think you should start your own blog.” But she sent me the submission page to their website, so I thought she meant for me to submit it there. I sat down on my bed around 11:00 p.m. and just wrote about my hijab journey. Never thinking it would ever be published, I sent it off. To my surprise, they really loved it and told me that they were going to publish it. Later, I published another essay with them about my hijab decision. My career as a writer really started from there. I continued writing personal essays about the experience of navigating the world as a Muslim teenager. At Brown Girl magazine I was on the entertainment beat. In college, I shifted from personal essays to cover the more niche topic of Islam. Q: Can you share some details of your “hijab journey”? A: I haven’t met a lot of Guyanese 42

Gabrielle Deonath

ONE OF MY GOALS AS A WRITER IS TO REPRESENT MINORITY AND MARGINALIZED COMMUNITIES. I THINK THE REPRESENTATION OF MUSLIM WOMEN IS INCREASING ON TELEVISION, IN MOVIES AND BOOKS, AND THAT IS AMAZING. Muslim women who wear the hijab. I didn’t really know what its purpose was until I started attending a sisters halaqa here on Long Island. That was where I met Hamida Khan, to whom the book is dedicated. It was in this class that I learned the “why” of many things we do as Muslims. Why do we pray five times a day? Why are


women encouraged to wear the hijab? Why do we fast, not even drink water, for so many hours? And upon learning the answers to these “whys,” I became more invested in my faith and decided to wear the hijab just before my 16th birthday. Sister Hamida taught me that hijab is about being valued for your qualities and talents as a person, rather than what you look like. As a teenager going through a period of self-discovery and also looking for a deeper connection to Islam, there is nothing that could have been more intriguing. I thought to myself, What will I discover about myself if I do this? So I spent eight months really thinking that decision through. I knew it would be a lifelong commitment if I decided to do it. Eventually I told my family and talked with them about it. Right as the school year ended, I decided I would take the summer to kind of adjust, ease into it and then introduce it to everybody once the school year began. Q: Fast forward a few years to “Shukr.” The book is divided into sections: “Belief & Worship,” “Relationships,” “Growth & Progress,” “Health,” and “Community.” How did you decide on those topics for each section? How did you select the verses and hadith? A: Just from thinking about what is important to me and women like me. Every section is structured with prompts for journaling. The first question is “What does this ayat, dua or hadith mean to you?” The second is “How does this relate to your daily life?” Third question: “What are three things that you can express shukr for today?” and then the final question is “What is one thing you need today? How would it help if Allah granted it to you?” After coming up with those questions, the next step was searching online. I used

stories about the gray area; prejudice and discrimination – and that is something we face. Although those are important stories to tell, the internal struggle is also important. I want to write novels with Muslim main characters and tell stories about the “gray area” – where we struggle with how to live a balanced life and still do the things that we are supposed to do as Muslims. It can be challenging not shaking hands or being a teen and going to parties. Sometimes we struggle with prayer or fasting, sometimes not understanding Allah’s wisdom. I want to write stories about Muslims who aren’t perfect, who struggle with their faith. Q: So what’s next? Do you have an idea for another book, or have you started working on another one? A: There are three projects I have in the pipeline. I don’t want to slow down; I want to keep exploring things that I haven’t done before and completing more of that mission as a writer. It’s been a very busy time but I’m very grateful for all of it. Read more by and about Gabrielle at ih Ruth Nasrullah is a freelance writer (

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the Clear Quran translation [by Dr. Mustafa Khattab] because it’s very accessible. Even for me, a born Muslim, most translations I have had to read multiple times to understand. I would look through the index for keywords related to the section topics. I also went online to look for authentic sources for hadith, which I then asked a local imam to authenticate. So that was the process. It was educational for me to read through these things, and the way that I picked them was just by asking “Which ones resonate with me? Which ones do I feel that people need to hear today?” Q: Do you feel you have a mission?

A: One of my goals as a writer is to represent minority and marginalized communities. I think the representation of Muslim women is increasing on television, in movies and books, and that is amazing. For example, I am looking forward to the release of a film adaptation of a book by Uzma Jalaluddin, which features a female Muslim character. However, there needs to be a middle ground. A lot of books deal with external struggles – prejudice and discrimination – and that is something we face. Although those are important stories to tell, the internal struggle is also important. I want to write novels with Muslim main characters and tell (317) 839-8157

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Challenges of Living in an Alcohol Obsessed Society Muslims need to educate their own about the health consequences of drinking alcohol BY SABIHA S. BASIT


or some, despite the centuries-long religious and legal strictures, alcohol has been a pivotal source of enjoyment in celebrations, social settings and as a “blissful” escape from problems. Cassio, in Shakespeare’s “Othello,” wondered, “O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains! That we should with joy, pleasance, revel, and applause transform ourselves into beasts!” (Act 2, scene 3). Alcohol is extensively advertised on all media, showing beautiful women and expensive cars surrounding the man who buys the alcohol, thereby associating wealth and social approval with those who drink. Oftentimes, grocery stores have a significant shelf space dedicated to alcoholic drinks that one must walk by to get to the other products. Society as a whole is obsessed with alcohol consumption, so how can Muslims avoid it? Moreover, why INSTEAD OF IGNORING THE FACT THAT SOME should they? MUSLIMS CONSUME ALCOHOL AND JEOPARDIZE The Quran forbids alcohol, “O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedicaTHEIR HEALTH AND LIFE, MUSLIMS MUST tion of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, ACKNOWLEDGE THIS REALITY SO THEY CAN GIVE are an abomination — of Satan’s handiwork; THEM THE HELP THEY DESERVE. MUSLIMS WHO eschew such (abomination), That ye may prosper” (5:90). Furthermore, while the STRUGGLE WITH ALCOHOL ABUSE AND ADDICTION Quran does mention that alcohol can have ARE OFTEN DETERRED FROM SEEKING HELP some good in it, it states that “the evil is greater than the good” (2:219). BECAUSE THIS TABOO SUBJECT CAN MAKE IT Additionally, Prophet Muhammad (salla HARD FOR THEM TO DO SO. Allahu ‘alayhi was sallam) instructed his followers to avoid all intoxicating substances and in any amount, “Every intoxicant is unlawful and whatever causes intoxication in large amounts, a small amount of and behavioral disorders, including alcohol depenit is (also) unlawful” (“Sunan Ibn Majah” 3392). Al-Harith reported that Caliph dence, major noncommunicable diseases such as liver Uthman (radi Allahu ‘anh) said, “Stay away from alcohol, for it is the mother cirrhosis, some cancers and cardiovascular disease.” of wickedness. By God, faith and addiction to alcohol cannot be combined but However, the effects of drinking among youth that one of them will eventually expel the other’’ (“Sunan al-Nasa’i” 5666). From and adolescents are often forgotten about or ignored, the outside, it seems that people who drink are only living in the moment, not despite the Center of Disease Control stating alcohol partaking in an evil act. Can it truly be that destructive? is the most used substance among young Americans. Drinking is commonly romanticized in the media, which portrays it as a The consequences of underage drinking are arguably “cool” thing to do. Many people fall into this trap, especially youth, believing just as severe as drinking in adults, if not more so. it will open a new world of enjoyment and memories. However, the reality of “The Effects of Alcohol on Physiological Processes consuming alcohol is anything but fun, as it has detrimental effects on the and Biological Development” (The Alcohol Research body and mind. and Health Journal, 2004) found that alcohol can lower The medical and health consequences of drinking alcohol are well known. the growth and sex hormones in young people. These According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “drinking alcohol [among hormones are extremely vital for sexual maturation, adults] is associated with a risk of developing health problems such as mental growth, muscle mass and bone development. Once 44


they are inhibited, a person’s body is unable to function and develop properly. The researchers also found that adolescents can be more sensitive to alcohol’s effect on the brain. A group of adolescent rats were found to be more impaired in terms of spatial memory than adult animals. But why should Muslims care about abstaining from alcohol? God has forbidden it, and that surely should be enough. Unfortunately, Muslim youth use and abuse alcohol, especially in college. Although attending college offers many benefits — making friends, connections and opening career paths — parents and students often overlook one of the most negative aspects: peer pressure. Oftentimes, parents believe their children in college are adults now and are able to overcome and handle peer pressure, which is false. Merriam Webster defines peer pressure as “a feeling that one must do the same things as other people of one’s age and social group in order to be liked or respected by them.” Our peers can influence us to take part in risky activities. The transition from adolescence to adulthood often causes college students to feel vulnerable because they are alone in a new place with no parental supervision. This reality leads many of them to change their behavior in order to fit in. Since consuming alcohol is a popular activity among college students, many students are pressured to drink. And Muslims are no exception. In 2010, an Institute of Social Policy and Understanding-conducted study on alcohol usage

by Muslim American college students found that of the 10,401 individuals they surveyed, 60% “were in an environment where alcohol was easily assessable” and that 76.7% of those who consumed alcohol had been exposed to it before entering college. The study concluded that although Muslim students have the lowest prevalence of drinking (46.6% compared to 80.4% of non-Muslim students), that number is still considerably high for a religion that prohibits alcohol. When the researchers asked the students why Muslim students drank alcohol, the top reasons given were to have a good time with friends and to celebrate. Instead of ignoring the fact that some Muslims consume alcohol and jeopardize their health and life, Muslims must acknowledge this reality so they can give them the help they deserve. Muslims who struggle with alcohol abuse and addiction are often deterred from seeking help because this taboo subject can make it hard for them to do so. Muslims making business, investment and employment decisions should remember that, according to the hadith narrated on Ibn ‘Umar’s authority, the Prophet has cursed alcohol, as well as those who drink, pour, sell, buy and squeeze it (process the ingredients), as well as those for whom it is squeezed and carried [transported; served] and to whom it is carried (“Al-Tirmidhi’ 1295, “Abu Dawood” 3674 and “Ibn Majah” 3380). A few ways to deal with this negative reality: ➤ Communicate with parents and close friends. As noted above, most of the Muslims who consumed alcohol in college had been exposed to it earlier. The best things parents can do is lead by example, teach their children about the dangers of alcohol and act as good role models. Parents, who have a great influence on their children, should instill strong values and morals in them while they are growing up in order to set them up for a successful life. ➤ Choose your friends carefully. The people we associate and surround ourselves with can significantly impact our perception and judgment. Peer pressure, which has a negative connotation to it, also has a positive aspect. This takes the form of one’s peers influencing the individual to do something positive and grow in life. Having a good support system, such as family and friends, can also reduce the chances of being addicted to alcohol and similar substances. ➤ Ask God for guidance. God will surely reward those who turn onto Him during trials and seek His forgiveness from sins. “And the retribution for an evil act is an evil one like it, but whoever pardons and makes reconciliation – his [or her] reward is [due] from God. Indeed, He does not like wrongdoers” (42:40). ➤ Seek professional help. As the common proverb states, “Trust in God, but tie your camel first.” We should have faith that God will work things out for us, but at the same time we should also do whatever we can by seeking out mental health professionals, rehab centers and medical attention. As alcohol continues to take control of society and harm its members’ physical and mental wellbeing, we as Muslims are the lucky ones because leading an observant life will save us from the destructive properties of this prohibited substance. God forbade alcohol because of its harmful effects on the individual’s mind and body, which leads to anger, violence and misery. In reality, He has forbidden everything that harms the body and mind. Thus, it’s important to educate ourselves, surround ourselves with good company, constantly seek God’s mercy and forgiveness and pray for those who are misguided. In addition, always remember that “if one trusts, obeys, and follows the guidance and commands of God and His Messenger, one can be assured of never ever being misled; but if one believes, obeys and follows any other guidance, other than that of God and His Messenger, one can be assured of being led astray” ( ih Sabiha S. Basit, a biology graduate from George Mason University, was staff writer for the Fourth Estate, the school’s official student-run news outlet. She is currently working as a freelance writer and in education. She reverted to Islam with her family in 2021.




Oppressing Others While Benefiting from Broken Treaties Muslims living in North America are party to the contracts and agreements signed with the Indigenous Peoples BY ZAINEB SURVERY

From left: Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Oren Lyons; Tadodaho of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chief Sidney Hill; Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee), guest curator of the “Nation to Nation” exhibition; Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the National Museum of the American Indian; and Jim Gardner, Executive for Legislative Archives, Presidential Programs, and Museum Programs at the National Archives, welcome the Treaty of Canandaigua to the museum. (Kevin Wolf/AP Images for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian)


he importance of honoring contracts cannot be overemphasized: “O you who believe! Fulfill the contracts” (5:1). Short and sweet, yet severely profound. The longest verse in the Quran 2:282, is about contracts. Muslims recognize that contracts are not confined to what is signed on paper, but could also be verbal agreements exchanged with an individual, one’s child, spouse, community or corporation. A lie is a lie — breaking an agreement — and disobedience toward God. This situation (and punishment in the Hereafter) worsens when the broken agreement leads to zulm (oppression). But what if we didn’t directly break the agreement, and yet know that someone did and that we continue to benefit from that lie? 46

How does this reality make us any different from the jahil (the ignorant)? This is exactly how most of the approximately 5 million Muslims on Turtle Island (Canada, the U.S. and Mexico) live today

– unaware of or ignoring the living circumstances of the First Nations or Original Peoples of these Lands. Even after five centuries, most of them continue to be economically, racially and politically marginalized and oppressed in their own homelands. In short, Muslims need to realize that they constitute a contractual party just by living on Turtle Island and enjoying its benefits. On February 17, the University of Toronto (UT) hosted its third annual Indigenous-Muslim panel, “Indigenous and Muslim Perspectives on Colonization” ( Attendees explored the cohabiting relations on Turtle Island within the realm of state agreements. Kathy Bullock, Ph.D., a UT lecturer in political science, hosted the panel outlining one’s responsibility with regards to truth and reconciliation. These two undertakings must be always paired and spoken together, for one cannot reconcile or correct without first knowing the truth of what happened and why. After all, haqq (truth) and islah (reform) are among the many moral values shared by both peoples. She said we cannot claim to live by truth and reconciliation if we continue to benefit from the injustices stemming from broken treaties. Three research panelists highlighted treaties in the Islamic domains as covenants, Indigenous agreements of non-surrendered land and utilizing vocabulary to decolonize. Dr. John Andrew Morrow, a Métis Muslim, highlighted upholding covenants as Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did when interacting with multiple ethnicities and faiths versus “only a hypocrite breaks his oath,” thereby creating blueprints for subsequent Muslim civilizations, namely the Umayyad and Ottomans with Christians and/or Europeans. In fact, Christians would remind Muslims of the just prophetic tradition if the treaty was not being honored. He contrasted the obligation of fulfilling



one’s promises against the 500 treaties broken by the U.S. against Native Americans, and the 70 treaties signed in Canada, as a “history of broken promises” against the First Nations, Métis and Inuit for the 1,000+ tribes living on Turtle Island, as well as the fact that treaties were established either by “hook or crook” to begin with. However, he pointed out the (only) silver lining of broken treaties: the influx of immigrants who are increasingly relating with and advocating for the First People’s struggles against racism and colonization. Dr. Susan Hill, a historian from Six Nations of the Grand River, outlined the three types of treaties among the Indigenous: those between Nations pre-dating European colonization, those with European empires, and Land Section treaties (“numbered treaties”). She noted that while Canada is most comfortable with Land Section Treaties, conversations on those treaties with the colonial empires — such as the Nanfan Treaty of 1701 or the first-ever treaty made with outsiders: the Tawagonshi Treaty of 1613 between the Five Nations of the Haudenosaunee and the Dutch — remain vital. The Tawagonshi treaty is more commonly known as the Guswenta, or the Two Row Wampum Belt. These belts are not something to be worn, but rather are visual forms of communication. These pictorial format treaties, created by the Indigenous peoples of the time, conveyed the respective treaty through symbols and mutual understandings, versus the written letter and word. Ultimately, the “oral agreement is still the agreement.” For example, each row in the Two Row Wampum Belt represents the two societies: European/settler and the Original People. Visually, the Wampum belt refers to the two peoples governing their own people or living life in their own way: the canoe streaming down one river of the blue line, and the ship travelling on the other line. (Canoes and ships were the first mode of long-distance transportation on Turtle Island). If someone tries to govern using both systems or to be present on both modes of transportation at once, then he/she falls in the water and mayhem ensues. Now the question arises: How can two systems be implemented on one landmass, particularly when there is a conflict of interests regarding resources? The Indigenous manner is via respect, peace and friendship. Respect must be first, for everything flows from it, along with cooperation and social

Onondaga Nation Chief Irving Powless Jr. displays the two-row wampum belt at the Onondaga Land Rights forum at Syracuse Stage. (Photo © Mike Greenlar)

harmony. If any element is missing, then zulm begins. Dr. Salman Sayyid (professor, Rhetoric and Decolonial Thought, the University of Leeds) equates zulm with racism. He highlighted how colonization and racism are “synonymous” or twin phrases, given that they are continuous threads from the past

to the present. He pointed out that while the common Western narrative contends that there was no Islam in the Americas until large-scale Muslim immigration began in the 1960s, we must acknowledge that Muslims made up 30-50% of slaves forced to live in the Americas during the Atlanticslave trade. In addition, while Dr. Sayyid states the “concept of racism emerges from the Germans’ treatment of Jews in the 1930s” — really, their views and actions are no different from how European empires have subjugated continents. He elaborated after the common thread between “colonialism” and “racism” is that “colonialism” is for developing states and “racism” for developed ones. He further elaborated that acknowledging and counteracting zulm can be accomplished by decolonizing: to “reactivate mobility using cultural resources to think about the future, rather than think about the past.” Yet is that not what Islam is all about? Where we accept all divine commands that no matter how difficult a situation is, we need to have faith in Him, as He has enabled us to function as mediums or vehicles to alleviate any form of oppression — or at least try to do so. After all, the prophetic tradition is to have hope and find commonalities in all of our relationships with other people, no matter how different we may seem, and to do the greater good. ih Zaineb Survery is a Canada-based community writer and educator.

POSITION FOR AN IMAM AT THE ISLAMIC CENTER OF SOUTH JERSEY PALMYRA, NEW JERSEY Islamic Center of South Jersey is looking for a full time Imam. Applicants must possess a minimum of the following qualifications: • Graduate from an accredited Islamic Institute. • Fluent in Arabic and English. • Knowledge of Islamic Fiqh, Shariah, Quran and Hadith. • Ability to teach and communicate effectively with all age groups. • Excellent skills in delivering Khutbas, lectures and public speaking. • Good understanding of other religions and interfaith dialogue. • Highly desirable to be a Hafiz of the Quran. • A USA citizen • Salary according to qualification and experience Please forward your resume to Br. Miftahul Ain Khan @




How to Guard Muslim Youth from Pornography? Muslim youth are not immune to pornography BY AMBER KHAN


ornography is a multi-billion-dollar global industry whose products are easily accessible, free and private. According to Farrah Marfatia (principal, Maingate Islamic Academy, Mississauga, Ont.), 100% of all calls from 11-14-yearold Muslim males to Naseeha (a Canadian Muslim youth helpline) in 2013 were about addiction to pornography and masturbation (Marfatia, “Let the Quran Speak,” July 11, 2015). More recently, a 202021 online survey conducted by The Family & Youth Institute and Young Muslims reported that 61% of Muslim young adults of the same ages were exposed to pornography. With minimal to no understanding of what sex is, many young children are watching pornography and continuing to do so as they get older. In fact, 59.23% of Muslim youth aged 16-22 reported viewing pornography, with a majority of them viewing it weekly (FYI and YM study).

reported that 56% of all divorces involved one party viewing pornography (2002). Seeing Sexual Promiscuity as Normal. Pornography promotes sexual abstinence as unhealthy and encourages non-marital sexual activity and infidelity. This can lead to greater acceptance of such activities by



According to David Perry (“The Impact of Pornography on Children,” 2016), the following are the most common side effects of watching pornography for young viewers. A Distorted View of a Healthy Relationship. Pornography can lead to greater acceptance of common sexual stereotypes and dysfunctional beliefs about relationships (L. Monique Ward, Journal of Research on Adolescence, 2006). This can impact a young viewer’s ability to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy relationships. With longtime use, pornography can negatively impact a couple’s marriage, thereby increasing the likelihood of divorce. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers 48

addition, viewers often become more interested in more extreme and deviant forms of pornography, which can lead to a rise in many forms of sexual violence, including pedophilia and sex trafficking. Addiction. Pornography impacts the brain’s biological reward system like intoxicants. This can lead viewers, especially young ones, to develop lifelong struggles with pornography. A significant percentage of viewers develop a preference for this fantasy world over actual sexual activity with partners (Jill Manning, “The Impact of Internet Pornography on Marriage and the Family: A Review of the Research,” 2006).

young viewers, as studies have found a link between exposure to pornography and an increased likelihood of having more than one sexual partner during the last three months (Journal of Adolescent Health, 2009) as well as teenage sexting (Brenda K. Wiederhold, editor-in-chief, “Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking,” 2014). Becoming Less Sensitive to Violence. Most pornography promotes sexual aggression, and can impact their developing sense of what is expected sexually for men and women. For example, male viewers consider rape less serious, that women cause rape or that women enjoy rape or sexual assault (Perry, 2016). In


Be Productive. The most common reason Muslim youth view pornography is to cope with boredom (FYI and YM study). Therefore, create a daily routine that keeps them busy and productive. This can include working out, cooking, joining a club or sports team, being involved in your local youth program, getting a job, studying or taking extra classes, praying at the masjid, listening to podcast, learning a new hobby, volunteering or spending time with others. Help Yourself. Another common reason is to forget about one’s worries or process sadness, frustration and other negative emotions (FYI and YM study). Pornography, similar to intoxicants, is a coping mechanism that neither solves issues nor provides relief other than as a means to escape reality. Seek healthy and effective coping methods that work for them, such as a mood booster like reading a book or playing with a pet; a basic need like eating, taking a bath or a nap; processing feelings like journaling or crying; or asking for help like talking to a parent, friend or healthcare professional.

Socialize. A third reason is to feel less lonely (FYI and YM study). One longtime addict said, “… it can leave one emotionally empty or lonely. There is no warmth or closeness, no one to share pleasure with, no companionship” (Shere Hite, “The Hite Report on Male Sexuality,” 1981, p.489). Real closeness can be sought in friendships, family, community engagement and seeking a spouse. Even solitude can bring warmth when in the company of others, like eating alone at a restaurant, studying at a coffee shop, window-shopping, or reading at a masjid community center.

While some scholars permit masturbation as a last resort to avoid non-marital sexual activity, pornography use is prohibited and sinful. Al-Mardawi, a Hanbali scholar (d.1480) said, “If one resorts to masturbation out of fear of falling into fornication, it is mubah (permissible); it might even be obligatory so that he avoids the bigger sin of sex outside of marriage.” Ibn Hazm (d.1064) said, “We dislike it, for it is not from the virtuous characteristics, nor from the good qualities” (“al-Muhalla”). Protect oneself from environments that can lead to uncontrolled sexual urges, such


Don’t Become Desensitized. FYI and YM’s study also found that despite understanding that pornography is immoral or even “irreligious,” Muslim youth admitted to viewing it. The Quraysh employed such tactics to distract people from listening to the Quran. If they heard that someone was thinking of converting, Nadir bin Harith would bring them to a courtesan and ask her to entertain them. Such company, he suggested, was far better than what Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) had to say. Pornography doesn’t just lower one’s mental and emotional health, but can also weaken one’s spiritual health. To counteract such desires, seek guidance and protection from God and maintain awareness of its evils through resources such as the docuseries “Brain Heart World” (www.brainheartworld. org) and “Defend Young Minds” (www. Maintain Self-control. Some youth consider masturbating while watching pornography as a form of protection or release from pent-up sexual urges. In Islam, the default is to enjoy sexual pleasure with one’s spouse. Until then, Muslims are encouraged to fast regularly to maintain sexual self-control: “O young men, whoever among you can afford it, let him get married, for it helps him to lower his gaze and protect his chastity. And whoever cannot do that, let him fast, for it will be a protection for him” (“Sahih Muslim,” 1400).

as listening to vulgar music, reading erotic novels, viewing sexually explicit content on streaming networks, social media or music videos, or attending certain parties or concerts. Seek Help for Addiction. A person who has lost control and masturbates and views pornography obsessively may skip daily activities, cancel plans with family and friends, avoid eating and sleeping and miss important events. This condition can even last into marriage, for an addict may choose to masturbate over being intimate with his or her spouse. Others may prefer their addiction to getting married at all. Some ways to gain control are installing software that blocks explicit sites, limiting solitude and talking with a parent, imam, or healthcare professional. Helpful Muslimbased resources include Purify Your Gaze ( and The Family & Youth Institute’s Porn Addiction Toolkit ( Sex education and other health-related topics that center the Muslim narrative is the basis of my book series “Islamic Health” (Noorart, 2022), the first of its kind to address Muslim youth’s most common health questions. It is designed for Islamic schools, weekend schools, youth study circles and at-home discussions between parents and children. ih Amber Khan, D.O., author of the “Islamic Health” (Noorart, 2022) book series, shares the importance of teaching Muslim youth about health from the Islamic perspective.



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.

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Islamophobia Rages On in France Far-right French politicians have institutionalized denigrating Islam and Muslims BY MONIA MAZIGH

French Muslims and fellow citizens worry their country is now headed towards a radically anti-Islamic political future. (Photo Credit: Anadolu Agency)


n their article “The Quiet Flight of Muslims from France” (New York Times, Feb., 2022), journalists Norimitsu Onishi and Aida Alami gave examples of several young Muslim French-educated professionals who left the country they love, were born and grew up in, and resettled in the U.S., Canada or the U.K. There, they feel, they can practice Islam and find jobs in their fields without being worried, for instance, “about raising an Arab child,” like one French spouse of these Muslim couples told them. These “quiet” moves aren’t a romanticized praise of the new places as a heaven of multiculturalism free of racism, but rather un état des lieux (accounting) on how perilous the situation has become in France for Muslims, particularly for those who choose to retain and practice their faith. On social media, several French commentators criticized the article and attacked the authors’ objectivity and strength of their arguments, giving the impression that it was a sort of anti-France propaganda. But their examples are far from being propaganda or handpicked to badmouth France. Sadly, 50

many Muslims who have been struggling with this reality for decades — especially during the presidential elections’ perennial “Muslim question” in terms of immigration, values and the famous “foulard” (hijab) issue — have chosen to leave their homeland. The first round of this year’s presidential election will be held on April 10. If no candidate secures a majority, the second round will be held two weeks later (April 24). During the preparations for the second round, these questions took a new sharp bend that left many academics and commentators wondering what has brought France to this level of blatant Islamophobia. Far-right presidential candidate Éric Zemmour, a French journalist and TV pundit of Jewish Algerian ancestry, has lowered the bar to some worrying and unprecedented levels. He once declared on TV that child migrants are “thieves, killers, they’re rapists. That’s all they are. We should send them back.” But being fined €10,000 didn’t deter him at all (https://www.france24. com). As of last week, he promised that if elected president, he will create a “ministry


of remigration” sending back home a million foreigners in five years (https://www. zemmour-wants-to-create-ministry-to-expel-unwanted-foreigners/). His cacophonic and aggressive debate with presidential candidate Valerie Pécresse, representing the conservative Les Républicains party, became more like a bidding war to see who could promise more anti-Muslim policies. Despite coming from a conservative party that would normally be more interested in promoting neo-liberal policies, Pécresse pushed the identity issues with far-right similar slogans (Le Monde, March 11, 2022). In her attempt to best Zemmour, she used the “Great Replacement” (Grand Remplacement) conspiracy theory disseminated by French author Renaud Camus: White Christian populations are being replaced by waves of immigrations who will eventually outnumber them and impose their religions and culture on France (New York Times, Feb. 15, 2022). Even far-right Rassemblement National’s

Marine Le Pen, who challenged many of these campaigns, never mentions or targets Macron in the 2017 election and is seen as his most likely Islam. Instead, it rather uses important rival in this one, “Sharia,” shorthand for the whole centuries-long body has refused to use this theory of legal decisions made by publicly in her speeches. Nevertheless, both Pécresse Muslim scholars, to scare the and Le Pen agree on banning people about an “imminent the hijab if elected. danger” that wants to cancel While Le Pen said clearly their freedom and impose that she would ban it entirely Sharia upon everyone. Another conspiracy theory from public space, Pécresse PHOTO CREDIT: İNSANI VE SOSYAL ARAŞTIRMALAR MERKEZI (İNSAMER) took to Twitter on Feb. 13 and that is currently very widespread in France is one that proclaimed that “Marianne [who symbolizes the French focuses on immigration. Some FOR MUSLIMS LIVING IN NORTH republic] is not a veiled politicians use this issue in their woman.” Joan Wallach Scott, campaign to divert the voters’ AMERICA, THESE STORIES WOULD an American historian of attention from those dealing France, wrote that the topless PERHAPS LOOK HORRIFIC AND UNLIKELY with the environment, health Marianne has become “...the care, poverty and inequity by TO HAPPEN TO THEM. HOWEVER, WE embodiment of emancipated making them believe that the SHOULDN’T BE SO SURE ABOUT THIS. French women in contrast to sources of their problems are the veiled woman said to be immigration and Islam. JUST LOOK AT WHAT’S HAPPENING IN subordinated by Islam.” In our globalized world, QUEBEC, WHERE SOME POLITICIANS political tactics are neither Understandably, some Muslim French families HAVE BEEN USING A SIMILAR ANTI-HIJAB special nor particular to one migrate for both better ecocountry. During Canada’s RHETORIC FOR YEARS. nomic opportunities and quiet 2015 federal election, Stephen places where their religious Harper, at that time prime and/or ethnic visibility won’t minister, invited an Australian be an election issue. Terror” ( report about strategist known for securing victories for Recently, in the northern city of Lille, the situation in France. British prime minister David Cameron and French lawyer Sarah Asmeta lost her fight This report notes that the French state other right-leaning leaders, to help boost his to wear her hijab in court. She contested “has swiftly dismantled the foundations of campaign. That campaign was mainly run the lower court’s decision but lost her battle the Muslim community’s autonomy through on promises like banning the niqab during after France’s highest court upheld the ban a calculated persecution, spreading terror the citizenship ceremony and introducing on barristers wearing the hijab and other among an entire religious community. 718 the “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural religious symbols in the city’s courtrooms. closures, 24 884 inspections and 46 million Practices” act. Just because the campaign was Asmeta said she is thinking about taking euros extorted by the State later, it is time a fiasco doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen her fight to the European Court of Human to stop this witch hunt against Muslims.” and won’t happen again in Canada or another Rights. Ironically, in 2021 the same European For Muslims living in North America, country. Court sided with similar decisions regarding these stories would perhaps look horrific If the French Muslims mentioned by the wearing of hijab in workplaces. and unlikely to happen to them. However, Onishi and Alami were lucky enough to Political debates influence legal deci- we shouldn’t be so sure about this. Just look find the U.K. or the U.S. relatively free of sions, for judges are human beings who at what’s happening in Quebec, where some racist communities, places where their would interpret the laws depending on their politicians have been using a similar anti-hi- “Islamicness” won’t be scrutinized from understanding of what the population con- jab rhetoric for years. In 2018, the province the hijab the halal snack their kid eats sider “right” and “wrong.” And these days, officially and legally banned the hijab (and in school, this might be a short reprieve hijab is never “right” in France and many other religious symbols) for public servants, because Islamophobia is a global phenomother countries. police officers, teachers and other profes- enon. We should be engaged and remain But beyond these anti-hijab polemics, sions. Very recently, a hijab-wearing teacher vigilant in order to fight and denounce it these presidential debates were a sad and was fired in Quebec despite being so liked and everywhere it exists. ih worrying reflection of Islamophobia’s “insti- appreciated by her students and their parents. Monia Mazigh, PhD, an academic, author and human rights activist, tutionalization.” CAGE, a U.K.-based orgaAlso, Idaho, Florida and other American is an adjunct professor at Carleton University (Ontario). She has nization who for years has fought for British states have passed “copy and paste” anti-Sha- published“Hope and Despair: My Struggle to Free My Husband, Maher Muslims detained in Guantanamo and ria legislation that many experts consider Arar” (2008) and three novels, “Mirrors and Mirages” (2015), “Hope Has Two Daughters”(2017) and “Farida”(2020), which won the 2021 tracked Islamophobia in Britain, recently useless and irrelevant. American Laws for Ottawa Book Award prize for French-language fiction. She is currently released its “We Are Beginning to Spread American Courts, the organization behind working on a collection of essays about gendered Islamophobia. MAY/JUNE 2022 ISLAMIC HORIZONS



One Woman and 400 Afghan Refugees Afghans repatriated to U.S. face the pains of a poorly managed resettlement program

elissa Marrama’s phone does not stop pinging. In the one hour that she sat with me to answer questions for this article, she received over 25 messages. Most of the texts were pleas for help, but some came from people who wanted to offer services or donations. Many were from complete strangers who knew only of her reputation as a trustworthy local philanthropist. As a wife, mother, full-time financial planner, landlady, community activist and cofounder of the Andover Islamic Center, Melissa wears too many hats to enumerate. It seems impossible that one woman can accomplish so much, especially since Melissa’s most outstanding trait — after her generosity — is her humbleness. She avoids the spotlight and is always focused on quietly serving others. That is why people from all walks of life in New England trust this unassuming, gentle and hardworking convert.

Why is one woman, who already has a full-time job and a family of her own, taking on so much responsibility for a large group of refugees? “Because,” Melissa says, “the system is failing them and someone has to do it.” The U.S. government, which allowed the refugees to enter the country, has entrusted their fate to privately owned resettlement agencies, most of which, Melissa relates, are terribly inefficient and unprepared to offer even the basic support that the families need. For instance, a few local resettlement agencies were tasked with providing housing for the Afghans in the Merrimack Valley. Instead of providing safe accommodations, they placed several refugees in a sober house, a place designated for recovering drug or alcohol abusers, some of them just out of prison. One young refugee was assaulted there. Other refugee families are living in substandard housing with unreliable heat. Although they are entitled to government aid, they cannot access it without transportation. Like everyone else these days, refugees depend on technology for job applications, school and medical forms and crucial documentation. However, many still don’t have internet access (even though they are entitled to get it for free, along with food stamps) because they have no way to get to the relevant office to set it up. Their caseworkers are, for the most part, inefficient and unempathetic. “Most caseworkers don’t even know how to navigate the system themselves, much less help others,” says Melissa. Without a strong command of English or the resources to advocate for themselves, these Afghans are often stuck in a vicious cycle of dependence and helplessness. Melissa steps in to try to help them. Effectively, she is one woman trying to carry a load of 400 people.





Currently, most of Melissa’s considerable energy is focused on the 400+ Afghan refugees resettled in the Merrimack Valley, a region that includes parts of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Several months ago, a professor at the University of Massachusetts approached Melissa and asked her to help collect donations for incoming refugees. To say that the scope of Melissa’s work has broadened since then is a huge understatement. These days she is deeply enmeshed in the day-to-day lives of many of “her new Afghan friends,” as she tends to call them. She drives them to and from English classes, finds translators for them and lets them use her name as an emergency contact on their children’s school forms. In addition, she coordinates meals, collects household goods and donations, fills out paperwork and tries to find jobs for them. She is, literally, a lifesaver. 52


But Melissa is not entirely alone. In a beautiful example of interfaith cooperation, the local Jewish, Catholic and Hindu communities have collected a great deal of money and household goods to aid the refugees. “Jewish children made blankets and care packages, and the Indian Chinmaya Mission community collected laptops and clothing,” says Melissa. “The Jewish community and Catholic Charities have been exceptionally generous,” she adds. I asked Melissa if the local Muslim community was helping. “A handful of people and a few local mosques

are helping,” she says. “Not as many as you would expect, though. Honestly, it’s been the Christian and Jewish communities that have donated the most. We wish there was more Muslim support.” A secular, nonprofit organization in Lowell (Mass.) called “The Bike Connector” has agreed to teach some of the refugees how to repair old bicycles. Once they have fixed them, the refugees get to keep the bicycles. The organization donates the helmets, locks and other necessities. This provides the much-needed transportation for men who need to get to work but have no car. A few local foundations have, unasked, offered sizable grants. Thanks to one, 110 refugee families now have computers. Other companies have donated tablets and English language apps. A local thrift store has opened its doors and allowed the Afghans to try on clothing and take whatever they need. One woman in Andover donated a used car worth $14,000 to be given to the refugee who needs it the most. Melissa says it is “one of the hardest decisions of her life” to decide which refugee family will get the car, since so many desperately need transportation. One vehicle — though very generous — is not nearly enough for 400 people.


The refugees’ plight has mostly brought out the best in people, but sometimes the worst, Melissa observes. One local businessman who owns a large conglomerate of hotels and restaurants tried to take advantage of the refugees’ desperation by offering them jobs paying less than minimum wage. Melissa, who was there to intercede on their behalf, reminded the shady businessman of the legal repercussions of violating the mandated wage laws. On the other hand, a local Greek immigrant who owns a chain of Dunkin Donuts stores sympathized with the challenges of settling down in a new country. He has kindly offered jobs to several of the Afghan arrivals at fair wages. A U.S. servicewoman in New Hampshire reached out to Melissa, offering her assistance, because “We [the U.S. military] never should have been in Afghanistan, but we were. Now we need to help them and make things right.”


As exhausting as the process can be, some success stories buoy Melissa’s spirits. “There are 14 refugees who have been here for two-and-a-half months,” she says. “All, except one, are now employed. All have food stamps. Now we’re working on long-term planning.” Melissa’s goal is to help all the refugees stand on their own two feet. They won’t be able to rely on government support or donations forever, so they need to lay a good foundation for self-sufficiency. But this requires having steady employment, safe housing, transportation, internet access, medical care and schooling for their children. Many of their children have been unable to attend school for at least five months. Melissa estimates that about 30% of them know some English, 70% do not and some are illiterate even in their own language. Securing a steady job requires work permits, social security cards and, in some cases, recertification in their professions. There are engineers, journalists, pilots

and bankers among the Afghan arrivals. Until they are certified to practice their profession legally in the U.S., they are taking whatever minimum-wage jobs they can get. Affording housing in Massachusetts on minimum wage is nearly impossible, though, especially for those with large families. To make a comfortable life here, the refugees are facing a daunting uphill battle. “Afghans are eager to work and thankful,” says Melissa. “They are not lazy.” A positive, hardworking attitude is only part of the solution, though. Looking at the big picture, Melissa says, “We need a true social service agency to train people so they’re self-sufficient and not a burden to our government. Right now, that’s not available.”


The Afghan refugees who fled violence and upheaval in their homeland didn’t land in an ideal situation. While their new life here might be safer, it’s full of obstacles and challenges. It will definitely take more than one hardworking woman in Massachusetts to help them achieve a sustainable, productive life. The Messenger of Allah (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever” (“Sahih al-Bukhari” and “Sahih Muslim”). Irrespective of what happened in Afghanistan, the new arrivals need kindness, compassion and sympathy. To donate to those resettled in the Merrimack Valley, contact Melissa Marrama via the Andover Islamic Center’s Facebook Page ( Andover-Islamic-Center-357289161540899). ih Laura El Alam, a prolific author who has contributed to numerous publications since 2009, is the founder of Sea Glass Writing & Editing (seaglasswritingandediting. com/), where she provides a wide variety of content writing and editing services.




The Metaverse Explained for Muslims Is it a source of liberation or a force of captivity? RASHEED RABBI


apturing the imagination of enjoying an immersive and interactive digital experience, the Metaverse has lately become the buzzword on almost everyone’s lips. The idiom is not new. However, its vision and ongoing development were reoriented on Oct. 29, 2021, when Mark Zuckerberg renamed Facebook as Meta and outlined his futuristic vision with a formalized focus on the Metaverse. Other tech giants and even small companies have confirmed a shared interest and their biggest investments, projecting a potential market value of $15 to $30 trillion, almost 493 times the growth for the total market capitalization of metaverse-related stocks ( Such an enormous enterprise and bulk investments for Metaverse, proclaiming to build the new “base of human life,” won’t disappear in the short term. Rather, we are to get entrapped into its lasting consequences, about which many religious communities have already expressed deep concerns. A realistic approach to address those concerns is not to bluntly dismiss such a laborious and high-budget concept that may cast criticism on faith communities’ reservation in adopting technology. Instead, we need to claim our portion of ownership to set the parameters for it. Instead of sitting back and just inheriting its estranged reality, which lacks the flexibility of adjusting it to our personal space, sharing concerns early on would increase the possibility of shaping a more inclusive Metaverse for everyone. “Metaverse” is a compound word: meta (after or beyond) and universe. It first appeared in Neal Stephenson’s novel “Snow Crush” (1992), in which the author looked for a “universe” with the meta-meanings of things. He imagined a dystopian future in which human beings inhabit a conceptual reality built on the virtual world. Since then, what has been drawing dramatic attention, particularly in cyber technology, is the keywork “meta,” which 54


leaves a vast leeway for individuals and technology practitioners to adopt the idea, yet adjust and even alter it within their personalized context. Integrating this idea within the contemporary hype of IT industry, however, doesn’t fulfill the original vision. Exploring the background of this catchphrase will give us a deeper understanding of its meaning and origin.


Being tired of his outside world, Stephenson posited an alternative virtual world. Such a longing to find a solace outside of a hectic world is eternal. A similar quest can also be found in Vernor Vinge’s “True Names” (1981) and in a series of William Gibson novels from the 1980s. If we dig deeper, they all owe a debt to Morton Heilig’s 1962 Sensorama machine.We can go even further back, all the way to Plato’s shadows on a cave wall around 375 bce ( ar-AATIvCy). Plato’s “The Republic” presents an allegory of prisoners chained to the wall of a cave with an outlet above it for the light to enter. They watch the shadows projected from behind them by puppeteers passing objects in front of a fire. Having been imprisoned since birth, they consider the shadows to be true reality, even competing to predict which ones will come next. Due to divine intervention and knowledge acquisition, a few of them become “chosen prisoners” who question the competition’s utility and eventually escape the cave. Similarly, virtual users sit in a metaphorical cave, experiencing 2D/3D shadows on the digital walls. Tech giants are working like puppeteers to present more elaborate and precise appearances of

the “shadows,” reflecting minute bits and pieces of our human body. Like the prisoners, the metaverse users care less about their locations or circumstances; the former care about the shadows on the walls, whereas the latter care about the simulation composed around them. As a result, given that the true reality and source of light remain unknown, the prisoners cannot distinguish the shadow of real reality from mock reality. This is also the case with virtual reality. However, none of the authors and philosophers from Plato to Stephenson looked for a way to escape into a shadow reality. Rather, they appropriated Plato’s strategy of becoming a “chosen prisoner” and worked out personal escapes from their respective caves. In

the master of the philosophy of illumination, shared a similar inspiration in his philosophical and mystical fable, the allegory of the western exile (alghurba al-gharbiyya). He even provided a detailed ontology of the two worlds: the material world akin to a cave and prison of the soul, known as the world of bodily form (alam al-nasit), and an immaterial world as a locus of light, knowledge and perfection, often known as the “world of the image” or “form” (‘alam al-mithal or ‘alam al-muthul). He stressed that being accustomed to the cave symbolizes those souls deceived by the material sensible world, attachment to which hinders us from seeing our gradual agreement to being enslaved. Unshackling these captivities requires embarking on an inner journey to explore the underlying form by detaching us from material bondage and OFTEN COMPARED TO A “CHOSEN PRISONER” BY freeing us from these chains of materialism. Closer reflection on the outer forms proDIVINE POWER, PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SALLA duces a greater understanding of their shalALLAHU ‘ALAYHI WA SALLAM) RECEIVED HIS FIRST lowness, and thereby increases our quest for REVELATION DURING HIS ANNUAL RAMADAN freedom from the contingent world’s domain of shadows. The prisoners require education RETREAT. INSTEAD OF MEDITATING ON WORLDLY and knowledge to begin this quest. In conAFFAIRS, HE WAS STAGING THE GATEWAY FOR trast to that liberating vision, the freedom being espoused by the Metaverse is a freeHIS SOUL’S FREEDOM. dom from material existence to its shadow. Some social media take a further step and trap human beings to the shadows of their contrast to this liberating concept, the Metaverse adds degrees of own minds. All these virtual bubbles merely act as a version of Plato’s suspended reality and increases the sense of allurement by the cave, and the Metaverse helps make that cave a reality in which we shadow – generated by commercial interest, of course. Even worse, would live happily. But in reality, we would be living in shadows. this allure of the Metaverse compels participants to freely make a Such a twist in “looking beyond the horizon” that the Metaverse choice and then sit back, relax and live in their chosen illusion. In advocates calls for our greater attention, not only to identify its short, to chain themselves further to the solipsism of their own depravity but also the vital points of deviation, where its original minds. This defeats the purpose of Plato’s allegory, which is a story vision can be reinforced. The Metaverse could be the unified body of the soul’s exile from the captivity of material affairs to shed light of knowledge that triggers frequent leaps beyond the projected on humans’ true emancipation. shadows of material reality to the immaterial universe. It should be The soul's emancipation, as per Plato's allegory, emphasizes the the place to which we can retreat to step out of our normal mode two-phased elevation of one’s mind: understanding the shadows’ of existence and reflect upon our lives and gain more clarity on hollowness and the quest for the meta world, the source of true life’s real objectives. To that end, envisioning the Metaverse as our personal “Hira” reality. Initially, the Sun outside may be painful to the prisoners’ eyes, but over time they become accustomed to it, can understand wouldn’t be too much of a leap ( “true” forms, shapes and reality, and become truly free. Similarly, ic-philosophy-can-help-us-understand-islam). Often compared to the early Metaverse was meant to optimize our understanding of a “chosen prisoner” by divine power, Prophet Muhammad (salla captivated lives to conquer the cave’s dogma and draw us into a more Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) received his first revelation during his fluid, dynamic and inclusive relationship of life with the invisible annual Ramadan retreat. Instead of meditating on worldly affairs, he world. Sadly, the contemporary Metaverse, as it is developing now, was staging the gateway for his soul’s freedom. The first revealed word shows more similarities to the cave than to true reality. – “Read” – also alludes to a sacred emphasis on seeking knowledge and uplifting one’s intellectual capacity to God in order to include REIMAGINING PLATO’S CAVE AS THE Him in the anthropology of one’s soul and worldly activities. At first the light of the truth struck the Prophet with many difficulties, but PROPHET’S CAVE OF HIRA Plato’s views resonate with Islam’s view of the soul and its goal of he persevered in his quest. Similarly, while the shattering moment freeing it. To stress the urgency of looking beyond the visible world, of learning true reality might be difficult, remaining focused on Rumi says “This world is a dream, but only a sleeper considers it that vision will open up new horizons beyond the binary bytes of real,” based on the authentic hadith that “the world is a prison for the simulated Metaverse to unleash the soul’s liberation. ih the believers and a paradise for non-believers” (“Sahih Muslim” 2956). Understanding the context of prison within the purely earthly Rasheed Rabbi, an IT professional who earned an MA in religious studies (2016) from Hartford Seminary commitments that leave no gratification for the soul is crucial for and is pursuing a Doctor of Ministry from Boston University, is also founder of e-Dawah (www.edawah. net) and secretary of the Association of Muslim Scientists, Engineers & Technology Professionals. He Muslims to hold on to Islam amidst worldly temptation. serves as a khateeb and Friday prayer leader at the ADAMS Center and a certified Muslim chaplain at Shihabuddin Suhrawardi (d. 1191), the Shaykh al-Ishraq or iNova Fairfax, iNova Loudoun and Virginia’s Alexandria and Loudoun Adult Detention Centers. MAY/JUNE 2022 ISLAMIC HORIZONS



Astrology: The Elephant in the Room A pseudoscience used to manipulate the gullible BY MISBAHUDDIN MIRZA


aladdin, a fortune-telling app created by Mangal) — that ‘his buildings are triangular (musallas).’ Anyone Turkish entrepreneur Sertaç Taşdelen, presently has worth his salt in medieval India would know that the planet 5 million monthly users and generates an annual Mirrikh was considered inauspicious in the Indic, Persianate revenue of $5 million using its fermium model (It and Hellenistic traditions. So, it was no surprise that Nizam is highly ranked in Apple’s App Store — 60% of this revShah ordered the demolition of a stunning garden upon enue comes from ads — and is 12 times larger than it was seeing triangular structures.” According to Marika Sardar’s (Department of Islamic three years ago). According to “every day, more than one million Faladdin users upload photos Art, the New York Metropolitan Museum) essay of their coffee cup grinds, and Tasdelen’s team pro“Astronomy and Astrology in the Medieval Islamic vides personalized ‘readings’ of them within 15 World,” “Horoscopes were also devised at the founminutes. Of these readings, 700,000 are in dation of Capital Cities such as Baghdad, Capital Turkish, 200,000 are in Arabic and 100,000 of the Abbasids and al-Mahdiyya, capital of the are in English.” With a million-dollar ad Fatimids, to foretell their futures.” Emperor budget, Taşdelen plans to expand to the Jahangir (d. 1627) minted coins with zodiac West. Although fortune-telling is illegal symbols, which are now very expensive and in Turkey, it continues to be a scourge in hard to find — especially his gold zodiac coins. It is widely believed in numismatic Muslim societies worldwide. In 1576 Murtaza Nizam Shah I, circles that this dearth is due to his son and the Nizam Shahi dynastic ruler of successor Emperor Shah Jahan’s order that Ahmadnagar in southern India, ordered all these coins be melted down to eliminate the construction of the Farah Bakhsh (Joy this heretical practice/belief. Bestowing) garden adjacent to the Farah At the Battle of Khanwa (1527), when Bakhsh Palace, with a subterranean canal. Emperor Babur’s 12,000 troops were facing Tabataba’i, a Nizam Shahi historian, writes a sea of 250,000 enemy soldiers, and when 750 “After a few days such a garden and of his elite horsemen on a probing   Astrolabe, Muhammad b. Abi-I-Qasim b. al-Najjar al-Isfahani edifices were built that the highest mission had just been surrounded al-Salihani, Iran, AD 1102-3 Image by Franca Principe, paradise melted in the fire of envy” and killed, he was suddenly faced courtesy Museo Galileo, Florence ‘Umar Khayyam (d.1131), (Emma J. Flatt, “The Courts of the with a new dilemma: An astrologer best known today as a poet, was a leading astronomer Deccan Sultanates: Living well in newly arrived from Central Asia had and mathematician of the Seljuq world. He helped devise the Persian Cosmopolis,” Cambridge appeared in his camp, “foretelling” an accurate calendar and established the vernal equinox, University Press, 2019). So, what that any army in Mars’ house would celebrated today as Nowruz or Persian New Year. is strange about this? Well, upon surely be defeated. Babur’s army was its completion, the ruler visited the in Mars’ house, and this “prophecy” was garden and became so furious that he having a negative impact on his army’s ordered the immediate demolition of morale. And yet despite this, Babur’s both the building and the garden and army emerged victorious in the secthe rebuilding of a new structure. Why? ond-largest battle ever fought in India, which consolidated his position as the Because the structure consisted of triangles — a geometric shape considered Subcontinent’s unchallenged emperor inauspicious in astrology. — and, more importantly, revealed the absurdity of astrology. The online magazine https://Scroll. in, writing about this incident, explains Astrology itself has a long history that to understand this Shia ruler’s of failed predictions. For instance, actions, one must look at the neighborduring India’s crucial 1971 elections, ing Kingdom of Bijapur, ruled by his The Astrological Magazine overflowed brother-in-law Ali Adil Shah I. “The with predictions that Indira Gandhi would lose; she won with an overBijapuri ruler had written a significant treatise called Nujūm al-‘Ulūm (The whelming majority. During the 1980   Inkwell with twelve zodiac medallions, late 12th to Science of the Stars). This text had a parinternational conference organized by early 13th century, Courtesy: Metropolitan Museum, ticular description for Mirrikh (Mars/ the Indian Astrologers Federation, both NY, NY. 56


Emperor Jahangir’s Zodiac coins, Courtesy: Metropolitan Museum, NY, NY.

WHOEVER APPROACHES AN ORACLE, OR A FORTUNE-TELLER HAS DISBELIEVED IN WHAT WAS REVEALED TO MUHAMMAD” (“SUNAN ABU DAWUD,” VOL. 3, P. 1095, NO. 3895). IN OTHER WORDS, SUCH A PERSON FALLS DIRECTLY INTO KUFR (DISBELIEF), A MAJOR SIN. its president and secretary predicted a war with Pakistan in 1982, which India would win, and a world war between 1982 and 1984; no such events happened. Ironically, no astrologer on the planet predicted Gandhi’s 1984 assassination or, lest we forget, the devastating outbreak of the global Covid-19 pandemic. The word astrology comes from two Greek words, astron (a star) and logia (treatment of), and refers to the study of the movement of the planets and the stars and their supposed influence upon people’s daily lives. Babylonian omen ideas arrived in India around 450 bce when Persia occupied various north-western portions of the Subcontinent (sixth to fourth centuries bce), followed, around 200 ce, by Greek astrological ideas. To these were added new ideas to suit Indian culture. Indian astrology also incorporated a major change — a Hindu zodiac fixed to the constellations instead of, as with the Western zodiac, Earth’s poles. This created a difference of 22 degrees. The Indian astrological system remains in use today, which leads to the question: What does Islam say about astrology? First, astronomy is a physical science field that is completely halal. Moreover, the following hadith indicates that one of the reasons why God placed the stars in their positions is to help people with navigation.

Muslims have used astronomy for 1,500 years to navigate the seas and the deserts, as well as to determine the prayer direction. Various Quranic verses and hadith clearly distinguish between these two, encourage astronomy and prohibit astrology. “God created these stars for three purposes: to adorn the heavens, to stone the devils and as signs by which to navigate. Whoever seeks anything else in them is mistaken and does not benefit from them, and he is wasting his time and effort in seeking something of which he has no knowledge” (“Sahih al-Bukhari,” Bab fi al-Nujum, 2/240). Ghayb means future in Arabic. These verses show that astrology cannot predict the future: “Say: None in the heavens and Earth knows the ghayb except God, nor can they perceive when they shall be resurrected” (27:65). “Say (O Muhammad): I possess no power over benefit or hurt to myself except as God wills. If I had the knowledge of the ghayb, I should have secured for myself an abundance of wealth, and no evil should have touched me. I am but a warner, and a bringer of glad tidings unto people who believe” (7:188). “Whoever approaches an oracle, or a fortune-teller has disbelieved in what was revealed to Muhammad” (“Sunan Abu Dawud,” vol. 3, p. 1095, no. 3895). In other words, such a person falls directly into kufr (disbelief), a major sin. Ups and downs are part of everyone’s life. The Quran instructs us not to despair of God’s mercy. So if we are going through a rough patch, instead of falling prey to the astrologers’ deceptions, amulets and talismans, we should put our trust in God and hope for the best, as He has promised to hear and answer our pleas for help. During difficult times, therefore, we should follow the Quranic advice of resorting to prayer and patience. ih Misbahuddin Mirza, M.S., P.E., is a licensed professional engineer registered in New York and New Jersey. He served as the regional quality control engineer for the New York State Department of Transportation’s New York City Region, authored the iBook “Illustrated Muslim Travel Guide to Jerusalem”and has written for major U.S. and Indian publications.

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IN MEMORIAM Fikret Karčić

Mamdouh Rezeika


1946 -2022

Professor, Intellectual and Author


Pioneering Islamic Media


ikret Karčić, a professor at the University of Sarajevo’s faculty of law and of Islamic studies, passed away in Sarajevo on March 16. He had served as president of the Constitutional Court of the Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as a professor at Marmara University (Istanbul), the International Islamic University Malaysia, the University of Oslo and Boise State University. His main academic interests were the post-Ottoman history of Islamic law and institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, reformist movements in Islam, Balkan Muslims and comparative legal culture. In addition to numerous academic papers published in journals around the world, he published various significant works, among them “Sharia Courts in Yugoslavia: 1918-1941” (Sarajevo: Islamic Faculty of Theology, 1985), “Socio-legal Aspect of Islamic Reformism” (Sarajevo: Islamic Faculty of Theology, 1990), “The Bosniaks and the Challenges of Modernity: Late Ottoman and Hapsburg Times” (Sarajevo: El-Kalem, 1999), “Studies in Sharia Law and Institutions” (Sarajevo: Center for Advanced Studies and El-Kalem, 2011), “Research Methods in Islamic Sciences” (Sarajevo: El-Kalem and Center for Advanced Studies, 2013), “Balkan Muslims: The ‘Eastern Question’ in the 20th Century” (Sarajevo: Center for Advanced Studies, 2014) and “The Other European Muslims: A Bosnian Experience” (Sarajevo: Center for Advanced Studies, 2015). This editor of Glasnik, the herald of the Riyasat of the Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, also wrote columns in the Preporod and Oslobođenje newspapers for a number of years. In 2018, the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (U.K.) bestowed upon him and Prof. Enes Karić its Lifetime Achievement Award. In recent days, many dignitaries from the academic and public spheres have paid tribute to Karčić. Among them are many of his students as well as those who had the opportunity to communicate and cooperate with him or benefit from his works. He will be remembered as one of the most prolific and respected academic workers in his country’s recent history. A respected scholar, many cited the example of his family, all of whom actively contribute to their country’s academic and other segments of social life. With his wife Hamida Karčić, he raised three sons, Hamza, Harun and Hikmet. ih

pioneer in the field of Islamic media in North America, Mamdouh Rezeika, aged 75, passed away in Herndon, Va., on March 2, 2022, after facing extended health challenges with exemplary fortitude and patience. A native of Egypt, Rezeika graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a master’s degree in media production. He started his career as ISNA Vision’s convention coordinator and director. In 1997, Rezeika founded and became executive director of Islamic Media Foundation (IMF). IMF aimed at educating the public about Islam and Muslims via broadcast media and the internet through a variety of standard programming. Under his energetic leadership, IMF sought to improve understanding between Muslims and their neighbors through a series of well-received public service announcements seen on hundreds of TV stations. In 2001, IMF launched the Islamic Broadcasting Network, which “offered programs for the entire family, including youth programs, educational entertainment, talk shows, and news perspectives and analysis.” Rezeika’s passionate and energetic appeals for Muslim community’s support for an Islamic media reverberated at conferences and board meetings hosted by ISNA and other local and national organizations. Ahmed El-Hattab, who met Rezeika in 1984 and quickly became his “closest friend and brother,” remembers Rezeika as “a big man with a big heart; his optimism and humor were a great source of inspiration for all who knew him.” He adds, “Mamdouh was a pioneer in realizing the critical role of media in shaping people’s minds and perceptions. He devoted four decades of his life to promoting a positive image about Islam and Muslims in North America.” Despite patiently suffering for many years from a severe illness, Rezeika “never gave up his vision or commitment to establish a sound Islamic media. He will always be remembered with a smile.” As a former manager of NAIT, Dr. M. Yaqub Mirza knew Rezeika as a “committed, gentle and passionate person who tried very hard to present Islam through media” at a time when no people were thinking of this field. Despite Rezeika’s hard work, the IMF finally closed due to the lack of sustained funding. However, this did not take anything away from his pioneering initiative. A seasoned finance professional and entrepreneur, Mirza advocates establishing endowments “to support activities [such as IMF] without relying on ongoing but unreliable grants.” Azhar Azeez, a former ISNA president, recalls the pleasure of working with Rezeika, remembering him as “an extremely polite person who always had a beautiful smile on his face” and who “dedicated his entire life to educating the public about Islam and Muslims through the medium of mass media.” Azeez adds that Rezeika’s “immense contributions and commitment to Islamic work in North America has touched many lives and has inspired many American Muslims.” Walden University professor Dr. Magdy Hussein, who once shared housing with Rezeika, was impressed with his “pure and reconciled nature” and says that he “liked to cherish his company and to create pleasant surroundings.” Senior data control manager at Medidata Ala’a Sallam, who had worked, traveled and accompanied Rezeika for 30 years, remembers him as “most dedicated, sincere, persistent, loyal and true to his beliefs and ideas.” A beloved activist in his community, Rezeika is survived by his wife Omaia Youssef. His memory will be cherished dearly by friends and family. ih

Contributed by Hasan Hasić, journalist-associate with the Islamic newspaper “Preporod.”

Contributed by Dr. Iqbal Unus, chair, Islamic Horizons Advisory Board.



NEW RELEASES Bridging the Gap: Islam’s Challenge for America Ashraf W. Nubani 2022. Pp. 264. PB: $17.99. Kindle: $0.99 New Degree Press, Potomac, Md. ubani argues that building a bridge between Islam and Western principles leads to a bigger, muchneeded discussion. Islam, as more of an ideology than an idea that resolves the oft-misunderstood paradox of freedom through submission, offers a powerful message in the marketplace of ideas. Citing its tenets, Nubani sets out to reframe Western values in a way that can accentuate and foster human dignity. Delving deep into the philosophy behind Islam’s rulings and codes of ethics, he argues that a firm grasp of Islam’s core beliefs could provide a deeper and more realized appreciation of the U.S. In the U.S., where religion is declining, this is an eye-opening and inviting assessment.


Rebellious Wives, Neglectful Husbands: Controversies in Modern Qur’anic Commentaries Hadia Mubarak 2022 Pp. 368. HB: $29.95. Kindle: $19.99 Oxford University Press USA ubarak explores significant shifts in modern Quranic commentaries on the subject of women by placing three of the 20th century’s most influential Sunni Quranic commentaries — “Tafsir al-Manar,” “Fi Zilal al-Qur’an” and “al-Tahrir wa’l-Tanwir” — against the backdrop of modern North Africa’s broader historical, intellectual and political developments. She shows how colonialism, nationalism and modernization set into motion new ways of engaging with this topic. Focusing on commentaries as a scholarly genre, Mubarak offers a critical and comparative analysis of these three commentaries along with seven medieval commentaries, spanning from the ninth to 14th centuries, on neglectful husbands (4:128), rebellious wives (4:34), polygyny (4:3) and divorce (2:228).


Jihad: What Everyone Needs to Know Asma Afsaruddin 2022. Pp. 224. HB: $74.00. PB: $18.95 Oxford University Press USA onsidering the over-abundance of misinformation, Afsaruddin has written this book for a general audience. The word “jihad” generally appears in the context of violence waged against the West by “militants” in or from Muslim-majority societies. This usage, which she argues overwhelmingly colors popular discourse about Islam and Muslims, has resulted in highly simplistic, distorted and ahistorical understandings. She addresses the great need for a discussion that explores jihad’s dimensions by examining it from scriptural, theological, moral and ethical, legal and socio-political perspectives. This historically grounded scholarly and yet accessible treatment stretches from Islam’s formative period until the contemporary period.


A Caliph for Our Time: How Abu Bakr’s Inaugural Address Can Transform Leadership Today Iqbal J. Unus 2022. Pp. 100. HB: $11.90. PB: $5.50. Kindle: $0.00. Jonah Publishing, Herndon, Va. eadership is complex. The common threads running through its fabric may be around us as well as bound up in the folds of history. The inaugural addresses of exceptional political leaders give us an idea of how they envisioned leadership in different times and circumstances. Unus pries loose such leadership




lessons in Abu Bakr as-Siddiq’s (‘alayhi rahmat) extraordinary inaugural sermon, in which he finds meanings that illuminate the context of our own time and space. Islam and the Arab Revolutions: The Ulama Between Democracy and Autocracy Usaama Al-Azami 2022. Pp. 392. HB: $70.00 Oxford University Press, USA he 2011 Arab “Spring” was a transformative moment, as people revolted against long-standing autocrats — most of them installed and propped up by Western democracies — to call for “bread, freedom and dignity.” The results have been mixed: tentative success stories like Tunisia and even more repressive dictatorships in places like Egypt, with the backing of several Western and Gulf states. Focusing primarily on Egypt, al-Azami considers a relatively understudied dimension: the role of prominent religious scholars, including Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Ali Gomaa and Abdullah bin Bayyah. Pro-revolutionary ulama have justified activism against authoritarian regimes, whereas counterrevolutionary scholars have provided religious backing for repression and, in some cases, the mass murder of unarmed protestors. He finds that while a minority of noted scholars have enthusiastically endorsed the counterrevolutions, their approach is attributable less to premodern theology than to their distinctly modern commitment to the authoritarian state.


Mantle of Mercy: Islamic Chaplaincy in North America Muhammad A. Ali, Omer Bajwa, Sondos Kholaki, Jaye Starr (eds.) 2022. Pp. 320. HB: $24.95. Kindle: $11.49 Templeton Press West Conshohocken, Penn. his collection of 30 Muslim chaplains’ essays reveals how they skillfully apply the mercy and compassion exemplified by Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to the people in their care, how their faith guides their service, how they navigate the obstacles of a predominantly Christian profession and how they minister to the spiritual needs of non-Muslims. Working in hospitals, prisons, universities, the armed forces and elsewhere, Muslim chaplains encounter unique challenges that require them to call upon their faith’s resources with wisdom and tenderness. The contributors explore these circumstances and offer personal stories showing how Islamic principles can be joined with spiritual insight to strengthen and comfort the sick and suffering.


We Uyghurs Have No Say: An Imprisoned Writer Speaks Ilham Tohti 2022. Pp. 192. PB: $24.95. Kindle: $9.99 Verso Books, Brooklyn, N.Y. lham Tohti, an intellectual and economist, prolific writer and former host of Uyghur Online (Uyghurbiz), has been called “a Uyghur Mandela.” He was arrested in 2014 and accused of advocating separatism, violence and the overthrow of the Chinese government. After a two-day trial, this winner of the PEN/Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was sentenced to life imprisonment. Nothing has been heard from him since. This volume are Tohti’s own words — his plain-spoken calls for justice, scholarly explanations of Xinjiang’s history and poignant personal reflections. While his courage and outspokenness about the plight of the Muslim minority is extraordinary, these essays sound a measured insistence on peace and just treatment for the Uyghurs.


Heavenly Returns: What the Abrahamic Faiths Teach Us About Financial & Spiritual Well-Being M. Yaqub Mirza, Gary Moore 2022. Pp. 84. PB: $4.99. Kindle: $1.00 Center for Islam in the Contemporary World irza and Moore start from a radical premise: We need more religion in finance and more finance in religion. Although these ideas go against the grain of much conventional theology, they show that the Abrahamic faiths are replete with wisdom on how followers should manage their wealth. Drawing on their knowledge of Islamic and Christian teachings, they call for believers to align their spiritual lives and investing choices toward a more holistic, integrated and compassionate existence.


Downpour of Blessing (2 vols.) Khalid Baig 2022. Pp. 904. PB: $50.00 Open Mind Press, Garden Grove, Calif. his book is a collection of nearly 1,000 hadiths on beliefs, acts of worship, social interactions, business dealings, family life, gender relations, food and clothing, medicine, attitudes, insights, emotions, etiquette, character building, outlook on life and worldview. The compiler’s selection is mainly guided by Maulana Manzoor Nomani’s (d. 1997) “Ma‘arif al-Hadith.” Subject indexes both in English and Arabic will facilitate searching for hadith texts.


Islam’s Reformation of Christianity Zulfiqar Ali Shah 2022. Pp. 337. PB: $20.00 Claritas Books, Swansea, UK esus (‘alayhi as salam), a product of Semitic monotheism, moral law, piety, and humility, proclaimed the otherworldly kingdom. According to Shah, the Roman Empire and mythology transformed his ethical monotheism. Islam, the author argues, was revealed as an intellectual cure to Christian paradoxes, as well as an egalitarian pluralistic alternative to its ongoing inquisitions and religiopolitical absolutism. It spread in the Eastern Christian territories like a fire. This newer revelation reformed Pauline Christianity’s paradoxical incarnational theology, antinomianism, grace-based salvation scheme, divine right for the Vatican and Europe’s monarchies, interventionist cosmology and religious persecution. Shah provides an in-depth study of the Islamic, southern reformation of Christianity — a reformation seldom acknowledged or studied by historians. He further explores how the Islamic reformative scheme emphasized ethical, transcendental monotheism, natural theology and rational discourse by limiting monarchical power and emphasizing an inclusive, pluralistic and free society. Islam’s natural, rational, moral, republican and egalitarian southern reformation of Christianity occurred long before the partial northern reformation of Martin Luther (d.1546) and John Calvin (d.1564).


St. Thomas Aquinas and Muslim Thought Zulfiqar Ali Shah 2022. Pp. 313. PB: $20.00 Claritas Books, Swansea, UK t. Thomas Aquinas (d.1274) was one of Western Christianity’s best known medieval philosophical


theologians, a stalwart of scholasticism and among its most influential figures. Shah argues that he was greatly influenced by Muslim synthetic thought. The gulf between reason and revelation, faith and philosophy, and Jesus (‘alayhi as salam) and Aristotle were wider in Christianity than in Islam. Aquinas bridged that gap with the help of Islamic philosophical thought. This work, Shah states, highlights his intersections with the great Muslim philosophers and their impact upon his personality. Aquinas widely quoted such Muslim philosophers and theologians as Ibn Rushd, Ibn Sina, al-Farabi, al-Ghazali and al-Razi and acted upon their wisdom. Aquinas’ upbringing in southern Italy and geographical and intellectual affinity with Islamic civilization played a significant role in his intellectual development. His 13th-century Christendom was fully engaged with Muslims on multiple levels. In fact, his greater family was involved with the neighboring Muslims of Lucera and Apulia and in the army of Frederick II. Medieval Christianity’s transition from the Dark Ages was facilitated by Aquinas’ philosophical theology, which was also shaped by the translation of philosophical and scientific manuscripts from Arabic to Latin. He was what he became partly due to these interfaith interactions, which this revelatory new book lays bare for the first time. Islam and the English Enlightenment: The Untold Story Zulfiqar Ali Shah 2022. PB: $25.00 Claritas Books, Swansea, UK hah’s cross-fertilization of Western and Islamic ideas ensures that readers will never see these two world’s relationship in the same way again. He documents how the thinkers of English Enlightenment were indebted to Islamic sciences and thought and how its foundational principles of rationalist thought, scientific inquiry and religious toleration were deeply anchored in the Islamic tradition. This book brings forth Islam’s central role in shaping the values and ideas of John Locke (d.1704), Isaac Newton (d.1727) and other reformers who helped produce the modern world.


Did Santa Forget About Me? Susan El Yazgi 2021. Pp. 30. PB: $19.99 SS Publications, Dale City, Va. t is the day before Christmas break, and many of her classmates are excited about Christmas and Santa visiting them. At home, a young Muslima student asks her parents why Santa doesn’t love her. Her mom explains the differences, points out that they celebrate Eid-al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha and describes their beautiful holiday traditions.


One Sun and Countless Stars: A Muslim Book of Numbers Hena Khan (Mehrdokht Amini, Illus.) 2022. Pp. 32 HB $17.99 Chronicle Books, San Francisco ena Khan has brought companions to her earlier works. Counting and culture come together in this stunning companion to Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns. Using one Sun to countless stars to create a gentle introduction to numbers also celebrates the many diverse traditions of the Muslim world, encouraging readers young and old to reflect upon — and count — their many blessings. It is equally at home in the classroom or being read on a parent’s lap. ih




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