November/December 2012/1433-1434 | $4.00 | www.isna.net
Shortfalls of Media Coverage | Organ Donation | Parenting Pitfalls | Live From Inside Syria
Annual ISNA Convention
Brings Hearts and Minds Together in the Nation’s Capital
Vol. 41 No. 6 November/December 2012 visit isna online at: www.isna.net
Cover Story 20 One Nation Under God: Striving for the Common Good
From sessions with scholars such as Tariq Ramadan, making waves in the intellectual world, to Pakistani Pop Stars Salman Khan and Junaid Jamshed reverberating the halls with their melodies, this year’s convention brought Muslims of all backgrounds and interests together for a powerhouse of activity.
28 MYNA and MSA Programs Pack Halls and Enlighten Hearts
Young Muslims came together to hear the moving words of scholars like Nouman Ali Khan and the heartfelt calls of Yasmin Mogahed to hold fast to the path of God, all while enjoying much-needed leisure time together as well.
Muslims in Action
30 #MyJihad Makes Waves in New Campaign 31 The Mosque that Almost Never Was 32 Empowering Inner-City Communities
Politics and Society
34 If It Bleeds, It Doesn’t Always Lead 36 Muslim Physicians Fill Void in Doctor Shortage 37 Universal Healthcare is an Islamic Priority
Around the World
40 Live from Inside Syria 42 Libya: Coming Home 46 One Ummah, Raising its Voice
48 Speed Bumps in the Path of Parenting 50 4 Steps to Resolving a Parenting Conflict 51 Preserving Life While Maintaining Sanctity in Death
54 Samir Yousef Jaber 54 Mohammad Aslam Cheema 55 Khaja Qutubuddin
46 6 8 14 56 60
Departments Editorial ISNA Matters Community Matters Reviews Food for the Spirit
DESIGN & LAYOUT BY: Gamal Abdelaziz, A-Ztype Copyeditor: Meha Ahmad. The views expressed in Islamic Horizons are not necessarily the views of its editors nor of the Islamic Society of North America. Islamic Horizons does not accept unsolicitated articles or submissions. All references to the Quran made are from The Holy Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Amana, Brentwood, MD.
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
The Last of the Demons
am a savage. And you might be one, too. It’s only fair to warn you before you begin reading this. Now, you might have misgivings about this admission of mine, seeing as savages seldom possess the skills to construct a coherent sentence, let alone type them using a contraption as seemingly complex as a laptop. But I am not a self-professed savage—it is a label that has been maliciously slapped on me by some who would see themselves as my racial, religious and intellectual superiors. I am a Muslim. I am a Palestinian American. And in the twisted syllogistic logic of blogger Pamela Geller, I am also a savage. Of late, Geller, through the American Freedom Defense Initiative, has launched a campaign running ads on subways and buses nationwide, most recently in New York, proclaiming the following message: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” This statement proves you can succinctly offend multiple groups in under 20 words. I was of the impression that it is unacceptable to brand any human being a “savage” in the 21st century. Native Americans continue to struggle with this horrible misnomer from their past, as they still grapple with the oppression and discrimination their community has faced for hundreds of years as a result of this word. I thought the white man/savage binary was so 1672. Apparently it lives on in 2012. Civilized and savage men aside, the statement also equates “civilization” with the support of the state of Israel, quite a logical leap, and the defeat of “Jihad,” which is basically a reverse euphemism for Islam. This logic leaves me puzzled. It seems to say that if you are civilized, you must support Israel and defeat Islam. Can I be civilized, be Muslim and criticize Israel? Geller would say no. Am I civilized if I
am Christian, but criticize Israel and love Muslims? That’s a tricky one, but I’d say Geller would deem it a no as well. But what does Israel have to do with any of this? The danger of such propaganda is that it conflates several identities, drawing tenuous connections between unrelated ideologies. Leaving no room for discussion, this Islamophobic logic draws on the largely innocent ignorance of the masses to demonize an entire faith, culture and people. Are Muslims the last group whose demonization is acceptable in America? Would such an ad calling African Americans savages not draw outrage from people nationwide, calling it racist? Would such an ad against Jews not cause an uproar, condemning it anti-Semitic? Would such an ad about any other racial, religious or ethnic group be tolerated? The answer is a resounding no. While much media attention has been directed toward coverage of a film that has drawn protests in other countries, little to no attention has been directed at this much more insidious, targeted campaign to spread hate. As Americans, we cannot remain complacent, allowing such rhetoric to proliferate. Further entrenching our discourse in the “us versus them” and “good versus evil” mentality only alienates communities, painting all minorities as the Other, and discourages understanding. History has shown us how the “savage” of the past may become the “civilized” of the future. No human being deserves to be debased and degraded by such terminology staring them in the face on the subway. This issue features projects undertaken by Muslims nationwide, all living examples that Muslims enrich and inspire their communities. They are not a force to be defeated, but visionaries creating positive, progressive and tangible change in society.
Islamic Horizons March/April 2012
PUBLISHER The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) PRE SID ENT Mohamed Hagmagid Ali SECRE TA RY GENER A L Safaa Zarzour ED IT O R
Omer Bin Abdullah A ssistant Editor Deanna Othman ED IT O RIA L A DVIS O RY B OA RD
Susan Douglass (Chair); Dr. Jimmy Jones; Dr. Sulayman Nyang; Dr. Ingrid Mattson. ISL A MI C H O RIZO NS
is a bimonthly publication of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Copyright @2012 All rights reserved Reproduction, in whole or in part, of this material in mechanical or electronic form without written permission is strictly prohibited. Islamic Horizons magazine is available electronically on ProQuest’s Ethnic NewsWatch, LexisNexis, and EBSCO Discovery Service, and is indexed by Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature. Please see your librarian for access. The name “Islamic Horizons” is protected through trademark registration ISSN 8756‑2367 P O S T M A S TER
Send address changes to Islamic Horizons, P.O. Box 38 Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 SUB S C RIP TIO NS
Annual, domestic – $24 Canada – US$30 Overseas airmail – US$60 TO SUB S CRIBE Contact Islamic Horizons at (317) 839‑8157 / (317) 839‑1811 Fax (317) 839‑1840 E-mail: email@example.com A DV ERTISIN G
For rates contact Islamic Horizons at (703) 742‑8108, firstname.lastname@example.org, ww.isna.net Canada Post International Publications Mail Product (Canadian Distribution) Sales Agreement No. 0666300 C O RRE S P O ND EN CE
Send all correspondence and/or Letters to the Editor at: Islamic Horizons P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Email: email@example.com
Helping you to conn ect to friends & family th is Ramadan: A Gift from ISNA an d NetOne.
A free 10 minute in ternational call. *cer tain restrictions may apply
ISNA Elects Shura and Board Members
ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid, Vice President - USA Azhar Azeez, and Vice President - Canada, Mohamed Bekkari have been re-elected for a second term, said Dr. Mohamad Rajabally, chair of the ISNA Election Committee, as resulted were tabulated
after counting at ISNA headquarters in Plainfield, Ind. on Aug. 25. The results were officially announced during the General Assembly Business Meeting session at the ISNA annual convention in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 31.
The Election Committee had set the 2012 general election process in April 2012 with the call for nominations. The ballot also elected the Majlis asShura for 2012-13: Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, Dr. S. Imtiaz Ahmad, Asad Ba-Yunus, Dr. Altaf Husain, and Rizwan Jaka.
Glimpse into Muslim American History ISNA Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances National Director Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed addressed
approximately 1,500 people attendees at the Chautauqua Institution on Aug. 9, offering them a glimpse into the history
of Muslim Americans, how their collective identity has shaped, and how this fits into the pluralistic democratic society in America. The lecture was part of the program on “Creating Cultures of Honor and Integrity” held during the Aug. 5–11 segment of interfaith lectures. Chautauqua, located in the southwestern part of New York state, was originally founded in 1874 by two Methodists as the Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly. It served as an educational experiment in out-of-school, “vacation learning,” and due to its success, broadened almost immediately beyond courses for Sunday school teachers to include academic subjects, music, art and physical education. The institution now receives approximately 170,000 visitors over the course of nine weeks, providing them with a sampling of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. As part of their mission, “religious faith is perceived, interpreted and experienced as central to the understanding and expression of our social and cultural values.”
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
ISNA President Inaugurates NJ School
An Interfaith Connector Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, National Director, ISNA Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances, who spoke at launching of the book “Three Testaments: Torah, Bible, and the Quran,” in D.C. on Sept. 11, said that as much as the Peace Bridge connects the U.S. and Canada, “Three Testaments” connects three great religions. “We can move from one scripture to the other with utmost respect and appreciation for different traditions without losing our own,” Syeed said. “The new century has been described as the century of God. The role of religions has become paramount. The diverse messages of different religions with common themes of love, peace, empowerment of men and women without discrimination based on commitment to justice and equality will have to be bundled together as the three Testaments have done.” Syeed goes on to say that the three scriptures “testify each other.” “Quran uses the word musaddiq (testifying) 20 times. This word in various forms has been used to describe the role of the Quran and of the Prophet as one that testifies the earlier revelations before him,” Syeed said. “It is very natural to have these scriptures in one binding to speak for themselves. This is a powerful antidote to those who tear verses out of context and tear our humanity apart and reject our legacy of peace, love and harmony.” The event, hosted by the Canadian ambassador to the U.S., Gary Doer, was attended by ambassadors, faith leaders and government and civil representatives.
ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid attended the grand opening of the Noor-Ul-Iman School building at the premises of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey, on Sept. 8. ISCJ, which was established 37 years ago, serves the greater Central Jersey Muslim community, under the spiritual guidance of Imam Hamad Chebli. Chebli was honored and recognized by ISNA in July 2012 for his long time dedication and service to the New Jersey community. The Noor-Ul-Iman School, a renowned full-time Islamic School, was founded 20 years ago, serving students from pre-K to 12th grade. The new building is a state-of-the-art facility that can accommodate the school’s 570 full-time
students and will also serve the 600 weekend school students. Magid reflected on the important role that Noor-Ul-Iman plays in continuing the Quranic message of “Read!” that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad on Jabl Noor. “It is that noor from Jabl Noor that Noor-ul-Iman School is transferring to this country,” he said. Magid joined Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), Chebli and other dignitaries in the cutting of the ribbon and the school’s official opening. While touring the new building, Magid said, “It is obvious that no expense was spared on providing the best possible facility for the students’ education.”
ISNA Canada Finance Marks 30 Years ICHC chairman Pervez Nasim The Islamic Cooperative Housing touched upon ICHC’s historical developCorporation Ltd. (ICHC) celebrated 30 ment since its inception in 1980 with 17 years of service to the Muslim Canamembers, $17,000 of seed money and dian community on Sept. 23, at a event purchase of two houses. This hosted at the Islamic Centre has now increased to 4,200 of Canada, located within the members, combined share ISNA Canada headquarters in capital to $58 million (CanaMississauga, Ontario. dian) and purchase of 574 The occasion also marked houses. 2012 as International Year of The program culminated the Cooperatives, as declared Pervez Nasim in a recognition award from by the UN. the provincial government of Ontario The program was attended by about given to Nasim on the meritorious ser200 members of ICHC and guests including dignitaries such as Bob Delaney M.P.P. vices of ICHC, which was presented by Delaney. and the keynote speaker Jeffery Graham.
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
ISNA Joins NYC Interfaith Coalition to Denounce Hateful Ads On Tuesday, Sept. 24, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) participated in an interfaith press conference at NYC City Hall to denounce hateful ads posted on New York City subway platforms. These ads use the term “savage” and the phrase “defeat jihad.” People of all faiths came together to denounce the use of such harmfully provocative and inherently divisive language, and to reaffirm American values of religious freedom and mutual respect. “These ads promote anti-Muslim sentiment and aim to divide us, but we will all rise above this together,” said ISNA National Director Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed. “We are committed to the right to freedom of speech, but we ask people to speak responsibly, and not to use this right for hate speech.” Leaders from the Jewish Community
Relations Council of New York, United Sikhs, United Methodist Women, and others also joined the press conference. The Rev. Chloe Breyer, executive director of The Interfaith Center of New York, was one of the main organizers of the event. “Having worked in partnership with Muslim and other faith leaders across New York City for over a decade, we deplore these ads,” Breyer said. “While
Senate Holds Hearing on Hate Crimes
In August, a hate-filled shooter took the lives of six Sikhs and injured others at a house of worship in Oak Creek, Wis. That same week, seven mosques were attacked or vandalized. ISNA immediately responded by expressing condolences to the Sikh community and to the Muslim community whose mosque was burned down in Joplin, Mo. We also expressed our interest in strengthening gun laws to prevent future 10
tragedies as part of our work with the Campaign to Stop Gun Violence. In September, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights responded to the overall increase in hate crimes across the nation by convening a hearing to discuss “Hate Crimes and Domestic Extremism.” ISNA, the Shoulder-toShoulder campaign, and approximately 80 other organizations submitted testimony for the hearing (see below). Witnesses included legal experts, representatives from the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice and the FBI, and Harpreet Singh Saini, who lost his mother in the Oak Creek tragedy. More than 400 people of diverse backgrounds attended the hearing in person, with numerous others watching via webcast. Among several other recommendations, senators and panelists discussed the possibility of adding a category on federal government hate crime reports that identifies attacks against Sikh Americans. As
legal, the ignorance, prejudice, and disrespect the ads display betray the American ideal of E Pluribus Unim, ‘Out of Many, One,’ and dishonor the efforts of New Yorkers who, after 9-11, overcame their religious differences and worked together to rebuild our great city.” Syeed added, “There have always been and always will be people who will try to undermine this unity in diversity through subversive actions and misguided speech. They will use divisive statements to try to promote hatred and disrespect. But every time we have faced this kind of disruptive behavior, people of all faiths and no faith, people who believe that our diversity is our strength, have come forward and raised their voices to reaffirm the true values of our great country. I am proud to have seen yet another example of this today.”
Harpreet Singh Saini noted, “We cannot solve a problem we refuse to acknowledge.” Harpreet also added regarding his mother, “I want to tell the man who shot my mother, ‘You may be filled with hate, but my mother was filled with love. She was an American. This was not her American dream.’” He said that to avoid being targeted further, his community members will not resort to simply saying, “I’m not a Muslim,” because “an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.” U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, chairman of the subcommittee, said, “Our leaders have a responsibility to speak out against hate speech. That’s what President Obama has done in condemning the anti-Islamic movie that sparked the protests in the Muslim world. And that’s what President George W. Bush did. Six days after 9/11 — and 11 years ago this week — President Bush visited an Islamic Center in Washington D.C. to make it clear that our fight was with Al Qaeda, not American Muslims. President Bush said, ‘The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace’.... America is strongest when we lead by example. We are a country that can look ourselves squarely in the mirror and admit there is work still to be done to secure the promise of equal justice for all.”
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
One Of the actiOns mOst lOved by allah (swt) is the gOOd deed dOne
ElEctronic Funds transFEr is a good dEEd donE rEgularly. through EFt isna can rEcEivE your donation Each month automatically From your bank account or crEdit card saving you postagE and timE.
be the sOurce Of suppOrt tO isna’s lOng term financial stability and grOwth. benefits of the eft program include: Donor Convenience Less Administrative Cost and Time A Predictable Cash Flow for ISNA Ability to Stop at Any Time
To support ISNA please visit: www.isna.net or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Muslim Americans Feted at Official Iftars Muslim Americans presence noted at annual officially-hosted iftars. ISLAMIC HORIZONS STAFF
uslim Americans are part of the American fabric, and from the president to the Pentagon, Muslims are welcomed to iftars. Some events are now a regular feature, and newer iftar events are being held to join such a tradition. ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid and ISNA Director of Community Outreach Mohamed Elsanousi attended the annual White House Iftar with President Barack Obama. Magid was seated next to the president at dinner, providing him with the opportunity to discuss issues of concern to Muslim American communities. In his brief remarks, Obama recognized the incredible role that Muslim women play in enriching our nation and world. He reminded that Thomas Jefferson once held a sunset dinner here with an envoy from Tunisia—perhaps the first iftar at the White House—more than 200 years ago. “President Obama’s continued dedication to holding the annual White House iftar, despite the absurd political attacks he continues to face for engaging American Muslims, is reassuring in a time of great uncertainty,” said attendee Nayyer Ali, chairman on MPAC’s board. He added that the White House’s annual iftar—amidst a frightening escalation of attacks against houses of worship around the country—“sends a message to all Americans that Muslim Americans are a real and important part of our country, and that we have just as much right to participate in the government and in policymaking as anyone.” Islamic Relief hosted its Interfaith Capitol Hill Ramadan reception on July 19. The keynote speaker Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.)
Imam Magid with President Obama.
reminded “The month of Ramadan is about so much more than abstaining from food.” More than 250 attended the public event, along with six ambassadors and leaders of various religious communities. While Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) partnered to co-host the event, a number of prominent Congressmen ran between votes on the House floor to show their support for Muslim Americans observing Ramadan. Ellison wasted little time responding to some controversial comments of Rep. Bachman (R-Minn.). “No matter what some people might say, in America, you still need evidence for allegations,” Ellison said. “In America, it is still OK to be any faith you aspire to be, that’s your business, and all Americans should be enjoying the same rights.” Several more congressmen used the occasion to join leading political figures, such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and John Boehner (R-Oh.), in condemning Bachmann’s recent attacks.
Thomas Jefferson once held a sunset dinner here with an envoy from Tunisia— perhaps the first iftar at the White House—more than 200 years ago. 12
“We don’t have to hide and we cannot afford to be silent,” said Pascrell, encouraging attendees to be vocal and educate others on the true message of Islam and the month of Ramadan. “Although silence makes no mistakes, these are times we have to speak.” Syeed talked about the importance of work to provide aid overseas and thanked Islamic Relief USA for its many efforts. He talked about how it is important for the U.S. government to structure its budget according to Muslims’ moral values, so that the government would be sure to protect those in U.S. society both here at home and abroad. He said that this is something the U.S. works to do with all of our interfaith partners, and recognized those in attendance one by one. He especially recognized Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK: A Catholic Social Justice Lobby, which has led a bus tour of nuns across the nation to highlight our interfaith call for a Faithful Budget. Another regular feature is the iftar at the Pentagon. The Army News Service reports that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and dozens of members of the Department of Defense’s Muslim community and their families—including Muslim service members—attended the iftar on July 25. In 1999, the Pentagon Chaplain’s office first hosted such a dinner. “It sends a positive signal from our top leadership to thousands of Muslim service members and their families,” said Chaplain (Col.) Thomas Waynick, of the Pentagon
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Photo by Lance Cheung
Chaplain’s Office, which sponsored the meal. “That positive message is that we are a diverse and inclusive organization.” Waynick said his office was grateful to be able to host the iftar dinner at the Pentagon and to share in what is a key tradition of the Muslim faith. “We are also able to confirm one of the fundamental principals of our country: Our ability to freely practice our chosen faith, and to be able to worship our God, wherever we are,” Waynick said. Panetta described Muslim American service members as an important part of the military. “Our nation and our military are indeed stronger because of the service and sacrifice of people of all faiths, including Muslim Americans,” Panetta said. “I am grateful that Muslim Americans have been fighting for America on the front lines. They have sac-
vice to America as a soldier are in line with each other. “Islam requires me to be loyal to my country. I am very comfortable being an American, being an American in uniform, and being a Muslim,” Malik said. Ebrahim Rasool, the ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to the U.S., was the evening’s guest speaker. (For more ARNEWS stories, visit our homepage at www.army.mil/ARNews, or our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ ArmyNewsService) On Aug. 7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) held its annual iftar, “Feed the Future: Together We Can,” in collaboration with Islamic Relief USA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). “Ramadan is school for us,” said IRUSA CEO Abed Ayoub, addressing some 100
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah spoke at the Iftar event on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012, in the USDA Whitten Building, in Washington, D.C.
rificed a great deal for our country, and on behalf of all Americans, let me thank them and thank all of our troops for their service.” The emcee for the iftar, Army National Guard Maj. Jalal Malik is a theater action officer for both CENTCOM and AFRICOM, as part of the National Guard Medical Services Corps. He also serves as an Islamic Faith Leader in the National Capital Region. Malik, who joined the Army, initially in 1999, said that as a Muslim American, his government and his military are supportive of him and his faith. “There is probably not a Muslim that I know who doesn’t feel that our government supports us,” Malik said. “We are at least allowed to practice our faith and that is much better than many people can say—even in so-called Muslim countries.” Malik stressed that his faith and his ser-
guests came together for the event, “to connect with God and to feel with others … to think about those who are unfortunate, who cannot find food to eat.” Food security is one of the most basic human rights, according to USDA’s Darci Vetter. “That is the premise behind the Obama administration’s ‘Feed the Future’ initiative”—also, the namesake of the event, Vetter said. She said that the combined efforts of USDA with USAID, the American Refugee Committee, and Islamic Relief USA help alleviate poverty around the world. USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah spoke to the power of working together at the community level to bring attention to crises, like the one facing East Africa, and to effect change. “I had the opportunity to visit the Somali-
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
American community in Minneapolis, and in that visit, we spoke about ways we could collectively improve our response, we could urge the world to do more, and we could better leverage the capacities, the ideas, creativity and relationships of the Somali diaspora community,” Shah said. “I’m so pleased that the partnerships that have sprouted in that moment have persisted and, in fact, have helped us get over the worst of that crisis.” Shukri Abdinur, a Somali American with American Refugee Committee, exemplifies the power of grassroots action that Shah alluded to. Motivated to help the people of her country, Abdinur said that she and her friends began organizing local events in her neighborhood in Minnesota to build awareness and financial support for Somalia. The positive results of discussions and actions like Abdinur’s, Shah said, make it easy to recognize now, as food crises again face millions around the world, in Yemen, Afghanistan, the Sahel (West Africa) and still in East Africa, that discussion and collaborative efforts are integral to alleviating suffering. “The World Bank estimates that for the first time in the human race, we can virtually eliminate extreme poverty within a generation,” Shah said. That hope was visually represented and summed up in the closing keynote and gallery presentation by IRUSA’s creative director Ridwan Adhami. Through his “Scars and Smiles: Faces and Stories From the Horn of Africa” photos, Adhami took the audience on a journey through Somalia—to the places and to the people he met while there in September 2011. Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) hosted an iftar Aug. 17, in collaboration with the D.C. Muslim Democratic Caucus along with a distinguished list of co-hosts including the Council on American Islamic Relations. The event drew more than 100 Muslim business, religious, and political leaders along with distinguished non-Muslims like Franklin Garcia, chairman of the D.C. Latino Democratic Caucus, and several members of the Mayor’s cabinet. “Regardless of your race, culture or religious beliefs, the principles of fasting, reflection and discipline—which are upheld by the Muslim community year-round and especially in this season of Ramadan—are practices from which everyone can benefit,” Gray said.
Futile Muslim Targeting
In more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloguing mosques, the New York Police Department’s secret Demographics Unit never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation, the department acknowledged in court testimony unsealed Aug. 21, reported AP. The Demographics Unit, which operates today under a new name, the Zone Assessment Unit, is at the heart of a police spying program, built with help from the CIA, which assembled databases on where Muslims lived, shopped, worked and prayed. Police infiltrated Muslim student groups, put informants in mosques, monitored sermons and catalogued every Muslim in New York who adopted new, Americanized surnames. Police hoped the Demographics Unit would serve as an early warning system for terrorism. But in a June 28 deposition as
Golden Hoosier Indiana Lt. Governor Becky Skillman and Division of Aging Director Faith Laird of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration presented Dr. Sheikh Abdul Rahman, of Lawrenceburg, with the Golden Hoosier Award. A ceremony recognizing 24 individuals and two couples was held Aug. 15 at the 4-H Exhibit Hall on the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Rahman has been essential in the effort to get youth and minorities involved in civic activities. Rahman was the first Pakistani American to establish a fund at IUPUI to encourage minorities to become school teachers. He also established a scholarship for Hoosier children who place at local spelling bees and academic competitions. Rahman is closely involved in community organizations such ISNA and IMANA. “Our Golden Hoosiers provide inspira14
part of a longstanding federal civil rights case, Assistant Chief Thomas Galati, the commanding officer of the NYPD Intelligence Division, testified that information that has come in “has not commenced an investigation.” The NYPD is the largest police department in the nation and Mayor Michael Bloomberg has held up its counterterrorism tactics as a model for the rest of the country. After AP began reporting on those tactics last year, supporters argued that the Demographics Unit was central to keeping the city safe. This offered the first official look at the Unit, which the NYPD denied ever existed when it was revealed by the AP last year. He described how police gather information on people even when there is no evidence of wrongdoing, simply because of their ethnicity and native language. Galati testified as part of a lawsuit that
began in 1971 over NYPD spying on students, civil rights groups and suspected Communist sympathizers during the 1950s and 1960s. The lawsuit, known as the Handschu case, resulted in federal guidelines that prohibit the NYPD from collecting information about political speech unless it is related to potential terrorism. Civil rights lawyers believe the Demographics Unit violated those rules. Documents obtained by the AP show the unit conducted operations outside its jurisdiction, including in New Jersey. Local FBI personnel said those operations damaged its partnerships with Muslims and jeopardized national security. Galati said police were allowed to collect that information just because someone spoke in a language other than English. “This is a terribly pernicious set of policies,” said Attorney Jethro Eisenstein, who filed the Handschu case more than 40 years ago and questioned Galati during the deposition. “No other group since the Japanese Americans in World War II has been subjected to this kind of widespread public policy.” Dozens of members of Congress have asked the Justice Department to investigate the NYPD. Attorney General Eric Holder has said he was disturbed by the reports. However, John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, insists NYPD’s activities are lawful and have kept the city safe.
tion to citizens all over Indiana,” Skillman said. “From our smallest towns to our biggest cities, Indiana is a better place for our children and grandchildren because of their countless hours of service.” The Golden Hoosier Award is a collaboration between Skillman and FSSA that began in 2008. It is considered one of the highest honors given by the state to seniors, and recognizes individuals who have never received a state award before. Candidates for the award were nominated by area agencies on aging and local organizations.
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Experiential Environmental Education in Islamic Schools
Zaytuna College is partnering with The University of Vermont’s Institute for Environmental Diplomacy and Security (IEDS) to offer a weeklong environmental service-learning program for educators. Islamic educational institutions in America have frequently been the subject of scrutiny by researchers in terms of political and security considerations. However, scant attention has been paid to the important role that they can play in community outreach and service learning on issues of humanistic importance such as the environment that are of salience across Faith traditions, says IEDS founding director Dr. Saleem H. Ali. The program will train key Muslim educational leaders in these tools, who would in turn set up long-term environmental educational modules within their Islamic
IIIT Honors Islamic Scholar The Herndon, Va.-based International Institute of Islamic Thought honored Mahmoud Ayoub for his lifetime services and scholarly contribution to the study of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations, with the IIIT Distinguished Scholar Award for 2012. Jamal Barzinji, vice president of IIIT, lauded Prof. Ayoub’s outstanding career in the study, research and teaching of Islam and Christian Muslim relations and his contribution to interfaith dialogue, his service to the scholarly and religious communities worldwide, and his outstanding teaching career that extended over
schools and allow for positive systemic awareness of ecological ethics and motivate environmental consciousness in their communities. The participants will pledge to dissemination of the curriculum in as many schools as possible after the training. The program has a competent advisory board. Besides, Imam Zaid Shakir, it includes Imam Dawood Yasin, who is also the chaplain at Dartmouth College and will help to coordinate the outreach and curricular development. Other faculty includes Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, author of “Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet.” A former Outward Bound instructor, he helped to found the Brooklyn Academy for Science and the Environment in 2002. Nuri Friedlander is a PhD candidate in Study of Religion at Harvard where he is also a chaplain for the Harvard Islamic Society. Khalid Kadir received his PhD in 2010 from the University of California at Berkeley in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Interested educators should send an email to email@example.com and reference: “Islam and Environment program” in subject heading. Scholarships for attendance are available.
four decades and benefited generations of students of religion and other disciplines. A special recognition was made of Ayoub’s distinguished contribution to IIIT and its programs, including his leadership role in the Summer Institute for Scholars and the Summer Students Programs. The award was presented on July 18, during closing ceremony of the IIIT Summer Program for Scholars and Students.
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Dr. Jamal al-Barzinji Receives CAIR Lifetime Award
Jamal al-Barzinji, among the early workers of MSA, and founders of ISNA, was recognized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) with the “2012 Lifetime Achievement in Community Service Award” at CAIR’s annual banquet on Sept. 29 in Washington, D.C. CAIR’s award to al-Barzinji is for “a lifelong dedication to community service and for pioneering the development of Islamic thought in the United States and worldwide.” “Dr. al-Barzinji has been a groundbreaking pioneer in a number of fields that have advanced beneficial knowledge in our nation and in the world community,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. Al-Barzinji is a founding member and vice president of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in Virginia. He has more than 40 years of experience in the development and leadership of diverse business, educational, political, and charitable organizations such as Mar-Jac Poultry, Amana Mutual Funds and Bank Islam Malaysia. Al-Barzinji also holds leading positions with the International Islamic University Malaysia and North American Islamic Trust (NAIT). He is a founding member of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS) and the Association of Muslim Scientists & Engineers (AMSE) and has served as advisor and consultant to various educational, charitable and professional organizations.
Muslim Dentists Treat Haitians
Dental Relief is the newest branch of Muslims Without Borders, a studentbased relief organization, reached out to the impoverished people of Miragoâne, Haiti. MWB — Dental Relief sent a team of eight volunteers, including six dental profession-
als, on a four-day mission trip. While there, the team was able to successfully treat 450 patients, ranging from 6 to 90 years in age. Haiti was specifically targeted due to the lack of accessible dental care. “We were in the right place,” says Dr.
Scholarship Sponsors Recognized
Salman Ravala, founding director, Dollar-A-Day Scholarship Fund (D.A.D.) was invited to address the White House forum on Faith-Based Social Innovation. D.A.D was one of only nine (and the only Muslim American organization) to be highlighted at this forum, attended by more than a 150 leaders, including various senior Administration officials. D.A.D. was selected for this conference because of its “positive impact on our society and economy” and Ravala expressed D.A.D.’s commitment to advancing the ideals of scholarship, leadership, and public service. “They are American values. They are also Islamic values... and we are advocating for every Muslim American to get an education, engage in citizenship and to give back,” Ravala said.
Shuaib Malik, a Chicago-based oral surgeon on the mission trip. Only three of the 450 patients treated displayed evidence of any previous dental treatment. Despite the success of this trip, the harsh reality is that most of the conditions treated could have been avoided. Sulekha Abdi, a fourth year dental student at Ohio State University on the mission trip regrets how many patients lose out on early detection opportunities. “If those teeth were caught earlier, they could have been simple fillings,” Abdi says. “We did extractions on teeth that should have been kept for the rest of their lives.” As the MWB-Dental Relief continues to prosper, their goal is to transition from emergency to preventative and restorative dental care. The inaugural mission set the foundation for future service trips abroad. The Dental Relief team is applying the knowledge and experience gained towards a future mission trip to benefit the people living in the Palestinian territories, where they will visit refugee camps and provide a range of services to the area’s pediatric population in December 2012.
Fighting Childhood Obesity ISNA was represented by Janan Najeeb, a local Muslim community leader, alongside religious leaders in Wisconsin, who joined First Lady Michelle Obama’s fight against childhood obesity. They launched their state initiatives with representatives from the White House and the nonprofit Save the Children on Aug. 28 in Racine, Wis. “Each of us have a role to play in solving the problem of childhood obesity, and faith Dr. Janan Najeeb leaders are uniquely positioned to build healthy congregations and communities for our kids,” the First Lady said in a statement announcing the collaboration. Save the Children’s Campaign for Healthy Kids is hoping to organize 1,000 faith leaders in Wisconsin and five other states to promote Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Faith and Communities initiative. Leaders are being asked to convene health councils, and promote programs that create a healthy start for children, empower parents and caregivers, increase physical activity and improve access to healthy foods in schools and the community.
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Helping Cancer Patients
A night at a basketball game turned hospital but also by several organizations into a lifelong journey for the Abdelmoneim that provided non-medical support to Sereen family when daughter Sereen was diagnosed and the family. These organizations were with Wilms Tumor Stage III in December involved in bringing Wow Project services 2010. While watching the game, a family to them. member felt a lump in two-year-old Sereen’s abdomen. Hospital tests revealed that she had Wilms tumor. Wilms tumor is the most common form of childhood kidney cancer, occurring in about 1 in 225,000 children, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. “You always hear that your life can change in a heartbeat. I woke up on Wednesday thinking tomorrow starts our vacation, having no idea of what was in store,” said Eiman Abdelmoneim, Sereen’s father. Sereen Abdelmoneim Sereen underwent successful surgery, completely removing the three-pound “We learned firsthand when our little tumor as well as her right kidney, which was Sereen was going through her cancer treatfollowed by radiation and six months of che- ment that just as important to having access motherapy at the Advocate Hope Children’s to world class cancer medical facilities was Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill. Sereen undergoes the range of child life service organizations, periodic checkups, but her immune system both small and large, local and national, that has returned to normal, and she is enjoying we were exposed to that through their selflife as a healthy three-year-old. less generosity inspired us, giving Sereen While they will not soon forget that and our family as a whole the moral support emotionally trying time, they were not only to know we could deal with this challenge. impressed by the superb medical care at the The selfless generosity of their acts never
ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF BALTIMORE 6631 Johnnycake Road, Baltimore, MD 21244 410.747.4869 | www.isb.org | firstname.lastname@example.org
SEEKING FULL-TIME RESIDENT SCHOLAR
Assalam Alaykum. The Islamic Society of Baltimore/ Al-Rahmah Quran Academy is seeking the services of a full-time experienced & competent Islamic Scholar with Islamic Education from a reputable institution to serve the largest Muslim community in Maryland. Responsibilities include, but not limited to: • Teaching Quran, Ahadith, Seerah, Islamic Fiqh & Shari’ah, Islamic Sciences • Managing Youth and Family Counseling activities • Involvement community outreach and interfaith activities • Conducting workshops and other educational sessions • Conducting prayers as well as other community services • Experience managing and leading large and diverse congregations. • Ability to work efficiently with other Resident Scholars of ISB. • Strong oral and written communication skills are required for this position. Must be proficient in Arabic and English. If interested, please submit resume/biodata to: email@example.com. Should you need additional information, please contact the Al-Rahmah Quran Academy Chair Br. Amjad Mian at (443) 250-5391.
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
ceased to wow us which is why we call them ‘Wow Projects,’” said Asma Akhras, Sereen’s mother on the organization’s website. In thankfulness, they set up the Sereen Foundation (www.sereen.org) which brings such services to children with cancer in Egypt. This past spring, the foundation’s members traveled to assess the needs of two pediatric cancer centers in Egypt. In July and August, they delivered art and school supplies to the Children’s Cancer Hospital of Egypt. Sereen Foundation has also organized various fundraising activities in their area. On Sept. 8, they sponsored a team in the CureSearch Walk for a Cure on Chicago’s lakefront. To facilitate the donation process, Sereen Foundation has teamed up with the Egypt Cancer Network, which has existing contacts with cancer charities in the country. To read Eiman Abdelmoneim’s blog about the family’s journey during Sereen’s cancer, visit http://eimana.tumblr.com/archive
ICGT MASJID ZAKARIYYAH
Full Time Imam Needed Immediately 4699 Calder Ave Beaumont TX 77706
Roles and Responsibilities • Provide counsel and guidance in making ICGT a first learning institution • Conduct on time daily prayers. Develop attractive programs to improve prayer participation • Deliver motivating and thought provoking Juma Khutbah and sermons. Must be fluent in English • Concise and effective education of adults in Quran and Hadith. • Leadership of weekday and weekend Islamic school programs. Teamwork with teacher and lead role in administration. • Active involvement in the local community, organizing youth programs: community dinners, picnics, da’wah, interactions with non-Muslim groups, shelters. Qualifications/ Skill Requirements • Friendly “people person” with a natural inclination to attract young Muslims • Formal Islamic education and training from a recognized institution Send your Resume to Tahir Ashrafi: (409) 284-5309 or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
NEWS BRIEFS The All-Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) co-sponsored and participated the Interfaith Unity Walk on Sept. 9 in D.C.
University), and Jawad Khan (Oregon Islamic Academy). Previous recipients of the MET Dr. Riyaz Ahmed Scholarship are: Omar Sheikh (BS Engineering, Oregon State University), Summer Rife BA Liberal Arts, Oregon State University), Ahmed Aissi (BS, Portland State University), Manar Alattar (MS Biology, Portland State University), Sanaa Saifan (MA School Administration, Lewis & Clark College), Haroun Khalid (MS Health Management, Portland State University), Yasmine Sukhun (BA Communications, Portland State University), Holy Coppenhagen (MA Sports Science, Pacific University), Nadia Sheikh (BA Journalism, George Town University), Imran Syed Haider (MPA, Portland State University), Michelle Rintelman (MPH, Portland State University), and Amatullah Hussein (M. Ed., Portland State University).
provider of premium Halal chicken, is now available in retail stores including Walmart, in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. Crescent Foods prides itself in raising chicken and animals on a vegetable diet. “I am a big advocate of telling others how Halal isn’t limited to just the slaughter of animals, but how they are also raised and fed,” says Habeeba Hussein, Somerdale, N.J., a Crescent Foods customer.
The walk started from the Washington Hebrew Congregation, visiting churches and temples along the route, paused at the Islamic Center (located on Embassy Row) and finally concluded at the Gandhi Memorial Statue. This year’s speakers included Imam Mohamed Magid and other faith leaders. The walk instituted in 2005 has been bringing various faiths together.
In response to a consumer demand, on the East Coast, Crescent Foods, the leading
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a religious tolerance bill that requires universities to provide alternate assignments to students who miss work or exams to observe holiday. The signing was done when the governor joined about 15,000 Illinois Muslims in Eid al Fitr prayer in Bridgeview, Ill. He also spoke out against the attacks against Islamic institutions in the area. Illinois has more than 400,000 practicing Muslims, and during the event, Quinn vowed to “vigorously protect” their right to practice their religion freely.
Undergraduates Ameena Alattar (Portland State University) and Ibrahem AlJilani (Oregon State University) have been awarded Muslim Educational Trust ‘s annual MET Dr. Riyaz Ahmed Scholarship 2012-13 school year. The award celebrates Ahmed’s years of public service and contribution to the growth of the Muslim American community in Portland, Ore. For the past 23 years, Riyaz Ahmed has benefited countless people and worthy projects with his generous support and inspiring leadership. MET’s Dr. Riyaz Ahmed Scholarship Fund supports students, representing various area high schools and colleges or universities, toward completing their post-secondary education at the colleges and universities of their choice. The scholarship committee comprised Jahed Sukhun (Portland State University), Fatima Albar (Portland State 18
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
One Nation Under God: Striving for the Common Good Muslims flock to ISNA’s 49th Annual Convention in the Nation’s Capital By: Aliya Karim, Mariam Siddiqui, Melissa Lemon and Sadaf Hashmi
month after a series of attacks on American mosques and two months before the presidential election, ISNA held its 49th annual convention in Washington, D.C. The convention, which took place Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, focused on the theme, “One Nation Under God: Striving for the Common Good.” Featuring hundreds of speakers, multifaceted session topics, an expansive bazaar, film festival and matrimonial banquets, the convention welcomed thousands of Muslims from all over the U.S. and Canada.
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
One thing believers like to do is compare their ideal to somebody else’s real, but they also like to keep their mouths shut when it comes to dealing with their own realities.” —John Esposito Sharia, Life & Religion At the convention’s Friday night main session, scholars and imams discussed the rights to life and religion existing under Sharia. “The purpose of Sharia is to be a moral compass for Muslims,” said John Esposito, the founding director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. Esposito said Islamic law teaches Muslims about compassion, not the exclusion of non-Muslims or even of Muslims in different schools of thought. He referred to the divisions existing within Islam, within Catholicism and within other faiths. “One thing believers like to do is compare their ideal to somebody else’s real, but they also like to keep their mouths shut when it comes to dealing with their own realities,” Esposito said. Speakers also talked about how Muslims living in the U.S. must make the effort to define themselves as American. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the founder of the Cordoba Initiative, said the idea of “one
nation under God” is not just an American concept but an Islamic one as well. “These terms are not terms that are pagan to our way of thinking,” Rauf said. “It is this philosophical road-map that defines who we are, not only as a people but as a nation, and also our role in participating with other faith communities in defining the common good.” According to Imam Zaid Shakir, the co-founder of Zaytuna College, religion— Islam in particular—has historically been the best way to preserve life. “It’s rooted in realities that transcend this world,” Shakir said. “It creates unlimited human possibilities.” Shakir said the Sharia practiced by the Ottomans allowed for an environment in which Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus and others could sustain their ways of life for centuries. Without religion and instead with such ideas as materialism, he said there is a “devolution” in both politics and social thinking that pushes people to limit their possibilities. “We have equality—it’s in all the constitutions—but we have genocide and ecoside. We need to think deeply about that, and we need to think deeply about the implications of that,” Shakir said. “So if we’re serious about preserving life, we have to look at the foundations upon which life has been preserved, and time will restore those foundations.” Shareda Hosein, a cultural engagement officer for the U.S. Army Reserve and a Muslim chaplain, attended the session after having read the speakers’ works in depth for the last five years. “How do we be more inclusive? How do we be more accepting and tolerant of each other?” Hosein said as she discussed the panelists’ words. “As Muslims, how do we help the society around us to be more wholesome?” Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Islamophobia on our mind During two panel sessions at the convention, speakers provided tips on how to deal with Islamophobia in the media and society. Several panelists said Muslims should combat Islamophobia by supporting the creation of new media that focuses specifically on Islam, referencing such start-ups as Islam Central TV. “It’s pretty obvious that for people in mainstream media, that they’re not telling our stories, at least not the way they should be told,” said Zarinah Shakir, a radio host for WPFW’s “The Struggle Continues.” Other panelists supported how Muslim media can add to the success and synergy of the Muslim community but said joining the mainstream media has great value in reaching the rest of the American population. “The ignorance of the average American surprises me everyday,” said Waliya Lari, a producer for ABC in Houston, Tex. “How can I reach the people who have the least education? They can’t afford cable, they can’t afford newspapers, they don’t listen to the radio. To me, that was television, because it’s free. To me, I felt I could make a difference by working in the mainstream, because I could bring that perspective.” Houston Chronicle religion blogger Wardah Khalid said Islamophobes, like JihadWatch.org founder Robert Spencer, have effectively found ways to use social media to reach the general public. “We have the power to change that,” Khalid said, discussing how Muslims should become more active through blogs and such social media sites as Twitter. Muslims should hold more interfaith events within their communities in order to generate positive news and educate others about American Muslims, Shakir said. “What is the best way to market myself to news organizations?” Shakir said in reference to what Muslims should have in their minds.
Lari suggested every mosque and community should have a spokesperson who contacts all journalists in their local area to let them know they are available for interviews and local perspectives on Muslim issues. She said these spokespersons should remain in contact with news organizations, send in press releases and speak up about any misrepresentation they see in the news. “Local news has the potential to change the national conversation,” Lari said. She went on to discuss how Muslim journalists in the mainstream media should speak up about covering stories regarding Muslims and Islam, because others do the exact same thing. “The thing about journalists is they cover what they care about,” Lari said. “You’re the representative of your community. Other people who represent their communities will advocate for their stories, and when you bring your ideas to the table, it all balances out in the end.” With regard to the existence of Islamophobia in American society, Engy
We have equality—it’s in all the constitutions—but we have genocide and ecoside. We need to think deeply about that, and we need to think deeply about the implications of that.” —Zaid Shakir Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Abdelkader, a legal fellow for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, said Muslims must be aware of the issues they are facing from law enforcement, military personnel and more. “It runs counter to some basic ideals we hold fundamental here in the United States,” Abdelkader said. “We should be concerned with the way our state and federal governments are spending our resources, and this is not the way to do it.” Muslims must mobilize their mosques and attempt better visibility within their communities, said Ihsan Bagby, a member of ISNA’s board of directors. “Masjids are evolving, showing much more positive attitudes,” Bagby said. “Ninety percent of masjid leaders agree that Muslims should be involved in the political arena here in America, should be involved in American society.” Abdelkader agreed that Muslims must become more active within their communities. She said they should get involved in the school system and advocate against bullying, they should speak up against antiMuslim political platforms and hate crimes and they should vote during elections. 24
“That is where political power rests. It rests in being registered to vote, it rests in exercising your right to vote, it rests in making contributions to political candidates who serve your interests,” Abdelkader said. “If you are not using those powers, you are leaving yourselves vulnerable to these attacks.”
Forming a More Perfect Union An essential theme of this conference was encouraging American Muslims to be active in their communities and be politically engaged. During the Saturday morning session, “Forming a More Perfect Union,” speakers Nihad Awad, Azizah al-Hibri, and Mustafa Tameez engaged in a conversation relevant to the presidential election. Although most of the conversation during the 2008 election season was about Islam— whether it was about Obama’s faith or the wars—this year’s elections highlight issues on the economy or anti-Islamic rhetoric. Although he did not advocate for any particular candidate, Nihad Awad, the executive director and founder of the Council Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
on American-Islamic Relations, presented certain facts about both candidates and asked Muslims to do their research and be responsible citizens of this country. He asked the audience to hold politicians responsible for their promises and to always act smartly because of the amount of antiIslamic sentiment, the 73 legislations of anti-Sharia law and the misrepresentation of Muslims around the world. Awad said the Muslim population is greatly “disappointed” with the current administration because of racial and “religious profiling” of Muslims that is still seen in the U.S. from the media to airports and to work on a daily basis. The Muslim population greatly supported the Obama administration in the 2008 presidential elections, but it seemed like these votes were taken for granted, Awad said. He emphasized that Muslim Americans must clearly state their demands to the government and elected officials. As a civilized community, Muslims must question their leaders and make sure they are not just seen as commentators collaborating with the government but as playing an active role as citizens whose voices are heard.
Meeting of Faiths ISNA banquet highlights religious pluralism. By Aliya Karim
SNA’s Annual Interfaith Unity Banquet, coupled with the main session on “Faithful Alliances for the Public Good” addressed issues crucial to community building among various faiths at this year’s convention. At the banquet, guests from different faith traditions spoke about recent attacks on mosques and the Oak Creek shootings at a Sikh gurdwara. “Hate crimes are nothing less than an attack on those values and the pillars of our republic and the guarantors of our freedom. They erode our national well being,” said Rabbi David Saperstein, director and counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. “They seek to tear us apart from within, pitting American against American, fomenting violence and civil discord.” According to renowned historian Karen Armstrong, such acts are “failures of the religious spirit,” and people should not respond with similar actions. “It is important to put yourself in the position of other people and understand that those actions are in reaction to anger, fear and ignorance. We must understand that as human beings, we all behave badly,” Armstrong said. “How we take action is we remain compassionate every day.” Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
“It is not an option to stay at home,” Awad said. Muslims must make sure they have registered as voters, especially in states like Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Iowa and Ohio. Awad said Muslim Americans should look at this year’s elections with an open mind and look at what all the candidates have to offer. Azizah al-Hibri, a professor of law at the University of Richmond in Virginia and a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, supported President Obama, insisting that Muslim Americans should not be afraid of the anti-Sharia legislations or the antiIslamic sentiment seen in the media and society today. “We need to change,” Al-Hibri said, emphasizing that Muslims should implement democratic principles in their lives. Al-Hibri said that Muslim Americans must fund and create think-tanks, build national leadership and “be committed to all of it.” At this moment people are fearful of Muslims, and that is why a council of wise people is needed. Al-Hibri also mentioned that the political process is Saperstein said there have been historical periods of tolerance between Muslims and Jews that society tends to forget. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington, agreed that such tolerance must be practiced on a regular basis. “We are not just neighbors. That can be misinterpreted. We’re not just companions on a journey,” McCarrick said. “We’re brothers and sisters, brothers and sisters in God’s wonderful family […] and if we really believe it, then it affects the whole way we deal with each other.” During the evening banquet, Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, ISNA’s national director of the Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances, asked for a minute-long moment of silence for the Oak Creek, Wisc. victims. “As Muslim Americans and American Sikhs, we are resolved to fight against all forms of hate on all religions,” Syeed said. ISNA presented its Interfaith Unity Award to the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, an organization representing 11 faith traditions that promotes dialogue, cooperation and advocacy for social and economic justice in the Washington, D.C. area. At the main session earlier that day, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) referenced the story of Prophet Muhammad and his Companions arriving in what was then known as Yathrib. He said the Prophet allowed others to practice their own faiths and had a constitution written up that “recognized the unity of God and therefore the unity of all humanity.” “We stand up here in line with that essential recognition of all of our right to be human and who we are,” Ellison said.
Cover Story not everything, we must become socially engaged in our neighborhoods, “tell our own narrative,” live it, and make sure we are constructively engaged with the public. Mustafa Tameez, the founder and managing director of Outreach Strategists, recognized the amount of bigotry that exists in the U.S. He was hopeful, however, about ordinary Americans and the general public. It is true that Muslims make up a small percentage of the U.S. population, according to Tameez, but this small population stands out, that each and every Muslim is strong, and Muslims build programs and institutions. Fear Inc. by the Center for American Progress consist of the names and clarifies the roots of the Islamophobia network in America for those who want to learn more about individuals behind anti-Sharia law legislation. Tameez said Islam and Sharia law are represented in the most awful way today. He asked Muslim parents to empower their children, not to scare them when they decide to be engaged in their society, to be active where they live and serve the local community.
ISNA Bazaar: Something for Everyone By Eman Shurbaji
he annual convention’s bazaar had something to offer for your body, mind and soul. Nonprofit Islamic organizations such as CAIR, Islamic Scholarship Fund and Islamic Relief displayed elaborate booths, drawing passersby (and donors) with candy, pamphlets and other paraphernalia. Smaller nonprofits also abounded, with some representing their respective mosques and communities. Yet perhaps what was most striking was the number of clothiers, hijab booths and accessories. Vela Scarves was present from California, and a new line of scarves was debuted by a designer from Texas, called Covered Girl. Fetoun, a new “hijat” that boasts “no pins, no pressure, no pain,” was also present in the bazaar. In addition, the bazaar was filled with bejeweled caftans and jalabiyas in an array of colors. Book and media vendors proudly presented the CDs of up-and-coming Islamic artists and nasheed groups. Scholars and authors, such as Tariq Ramadan and Yasmin Mogahed, were present to sign their books in the bazaar as well. Mogahed’s book, “Reclaim Your Heart,” made its debut at the convention. The bazaar was free and open to the public. Thousands swarmed the aisles until closing time, eager to purchase everything from ceramics and carved calligraphy, to herbs and bean pies. With the innovative new products at the convention this year, one can only imagine what forthcoming years have to offer.
Echoing God’s Words The spirit and light of the convention was not at all dimmed when the MSA’s main session, “Echoes of God’s Words,” took place in the main hall Sunday evening. The session revolved around the Quranic ayah which says, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds” (6:162). Through this verse, the students of MSA organized an efficacious event, attended by more than 5,000 people. The young organizers placed an emphasis on how Muslim Americans can leave a mark—to walk with utmost conviction and use the stories and the deep wisdoms of our past as a torch to enlighten the dark roads ahead. This message was delved into by audience favorites Altaf Husain, Suhaib Webb, Siraj Wahhaj, Hamza Yusuf, and Tariq Ramadan. Through their wisdom, many in the audience were left inspired. Young American Muslims are placed with the responsibility of being the penholders, the carvers of the next chapter. “What is our signature? Our identity?” Wahhaj asked the audience early in the event. 26
Especially with the election looming ahead, many feel the responsibility has been placed on their shoulders to motivate change. “Change is coming in America… how we interact, how we manage,” Webb said. “You are the canvas of America. What you’re going to paint is still going to be seen.” Although the idea of being a leader in such difficult and dark times seems daunting, the scholars emphasized that all one has to do is to look at the past. Altaf Husain discussed the beauty of time—how generations build upon one another. With time, Husain said, the American Muslim identity will become more deeply woven in the fabric of society. “Nobody imagined that in 1963 that Muslims would even be here still. They psychologically packed their bags. The legacy we’ve left with today, the shoulders of the giants we stand on, everyone has a place. [People of the past] worked for an Ummah, and they know the investment they’ve made,” Husain said. Hamza Yusuf paralleled this message by relating the beautiful analogy of the olive Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
tree—how the planter does not get to enjoy the fruits, but instead seeks to give to those who come after him.
Pakistani Pop and Muslim Hip-hop On the evening of Sept. 2, many South Asians experienced a bout of nostalgia when two members of the once sought-after pop-music band “Vital Signs” reunited on stage. The flashbacks began when Salman Khan, on stage, invited his former partner Junaid Jamshed to join him to sing. It was their first-ever reunion since the band split 18 years ago. The emotional audience couldn’t hold back as they sang (the first of two songs) the popular song “Dil Dil Pakistan, Jaan Jaan Pakistan” (Pakistan My Heart, Pakistan My Soul), originally released in 1987. During his performance, Jamshed spoke of his love for Islam and why he decided to give up pop music at the peak of his career and start singing nasheeds instead. The entertainment session was filled with excitement from all age groups. The Boy Scouts of America performed the flag ceremony. A serving Muslim American stressed the important of supporting the American troops, adding that Muslim Americans have the right to protect and serve their country. The introduction of Native Deen included steel drums, which rapidly brought the young audience to their feet. Native Deen, from Washington, D.C., with their brightly-colored shirts and well-cho-
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
reographed moves brought the audience to their feet. They performed their most popular songs, “Subhan’allah” with Junaid Jamshed Khan and “I Am Not Afraid to Stand Alone.” Native Deen engaged with the audience and encouraged them to sing along. During their performance, Imam Mohamed Magid, the president of ISNA, joined them on the stage. The evening involved children dancing in the aisles, singing about the love of God and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad. With ongoing Islamophobic sentiments in American society and politics, attendees of the convention were encouraged to interact with other members of their communities, to work toward making their communities better places to live, to become politically active and to show others that there is nothing for them to be afraid of. Attendees watched as young children marched their way into sessions and events with the commitment and full attention they have learned as scouts. They mingled with members of other faiths, discussing what their different organizations were doing to promote service and the idea of compassion. They shared their views, asked complex questions and received spiritual guidance from scholars—guidance that might help them continue living both peacefully and constructively in America. As Reverend Jim Wallis, the CEO of Sojourners, said, “We are going to win the battle for truth and religion in this country.”
MYNA and MSA Programs Pack Halls and Enlighten Hearts By Ysra Zarzour
uhaib Webb, Nouman Ali Khan and Yasmin Mogahed all on the same stage? Talk about speaker star power. This dynamic line-up was courtesy of the MSA program at the ISNA convention. Zahin Hasan and Samah Beg, graduates of George Washington University and head chair members of the MSA National Conference at the convention, were prime examples of the energetic spirit running through the MSA and MYNA programs at this year’s convention. When speaking about MSAs on campuses, Beg says she appreciated the sort of home-away-from-home atmosphere her MSA provided during college. Both chair members stated the need for inclusion initiatives, as certain events could become somewhat exclusive. Hasan went on to say that, as with many organizations, the focus is usually on Muslims that are already inter-
Yasmin Mogahed 28
ested in learning about Islam, while others are often forgotten. “Rather than putting together conferences for people who are already into religion, we need to target people who could potentially be interested in religion and give them a reason to want to come,” Hasan said. Topics addressed ranged from self reflection and emotional well being, to civic engagement and community-building initiatives. Also offered were sessions on how college students could improve and expand their own MSAs. Attendee Eman Faris, who last attended ISNA in 2009 as a MYNA participant, said she loved many of the speakers and their ability to engage with the younger audiences.. “They can really relate to the youth. They grew up here in the U.S. and are able to talk about what the youth here are facing, as well as give solutions to the different problems,” Faris said.
However, Faris did wish there were more parallel sessions, as many panels featured too many speakers at once and different speakers were not able to delve deeper into their topics. MYNA president Uzair Siddiqui, who has been with MYNA for five years since the age of 14, spoke fondly of the group, especially when referring to the national
Nouman Ali Khan Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
weekend-long camps offered throughout the year. “I enjoy the whole experience, everyone coming together for whatever period of time, meeting each other, learning together,” he said. “It’s nice knowing there’s someone I can build bonds with and rely on.” When asked about what projects MYNA is currently working on, Siddiqui explained
that while they have a strong national presence, there is almost no grassroots presence, and so a major goal of the organization is to reach out to a wider array of youth on a more local level. First-time MYNA participant Marwa Sahloul seemed particularly pleased with the speakers, which included such figures as Imam Zaid Shakir, Habeeb Quadri and Altaf Husain. “I like hearing what different people have to say about finding who you are and making the right choices,” she said. Sahloul voiced concerns similar to Faris in that speakers should have either been given more time or separate panels to extend their talks, but this did not stop her from expressing her wish to possibly participate in a future MYNA camp after her positive experience at ISNA. The three-day long youth program also had a competitive streak. The National Muslim Basketball Tour, which strives to build bridges between Muslims as well as non-Muslims throughout North America with a focus on Islamic teachings and creating a healthy environment, brought its program to ISNA this year. Young Muslims from across the country came together this year to participate in a series of 5-on-5 basketball
Suhaib Webb Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
competitions, having registered prior to the convention. Horon Saadeh, president of the organization, oversaw the event for the weekend, which took place over a span of six hours on Saturday, then again on Sunday. Saadeh spoke enthusiastically about the tournament, explaining that the tour was initiated in 2010. He said that it has been quite successful in creating fun in an Islamic way, as well as keeping kids off the streets and creating a family for the players. Mohammad Alwahaidy, MVP from the Buffalo district of the competition, said his motivation to play came, not only from the prestige and awards the competition offered, but from the family-like environment it created. The youth program also featured a Quran competition for participants up to the age of 21. Those registered could either compete in reading or recitation depending on their age, as long as they weren’t a professional Quran reciter. Whether the youth participated in competitions or attended multiple sessions, the MSA and MYNA tracks of the convention proved to be highly engaging and capable of equipping the future generation of leaders with skills and knowledge.
Altaf Husain 29
Muslims in Action
#MyJihad Makes Waves In Campaign Against Islamophobia The struggle against Islamophobia begins by creating awareness about the true meanings and implications of the word “jihad.” By Ahmed Rehab
here has been a lot of commotion recently in broadcast and social media about hate ads placed in New York subways by noted Islamophobe Pamela Geller. The ads read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” While the use of the word “savages” has been the focus, what many on both sides of the debate are missing is that at the heart of the problem is the blatant misuse of the word “jihad,” implied as an acceptable synonym of “terrorism.” By asking Americans to defeat “jihad,” a central Islamic concept, Geller is in effect asking to defeat Islam and Muslims. Islamophobes aside, many Americans remain confused about the term and the concept behind it. The best response to the hateful ad campaign is to convert it into an opportunity to get to the heart of the problem and to
My Grandma’s jihad was against diabetes and MS while bedridden for seven years. #MyJihad is against bigotry and hatemongering. What is your personal jihad?
reclaim the word “jihad.” In fact “jihad” is a word that many Muslims have shied away from and left to the ravaging of the ignorant in both the Muslim extremist and anti-Muslim (and ironically the Muslim “liberal”and “secular”) extremist circles. They seem to ironically agree on a bloody definition for the word. In response to this, the Chicago branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has helped launch a new campaign to spread awareness of the various definitions of jihad. The drive hopes to become a grassroots, independent endeavor sponsored by multiple organizations and made possible by everyday people. I love jihad! Not jihad in the perverse way Osama Bin Laden and Pam Geller define it, but as a struggle against ignorance, injustice and hate. It is the struggle against the darkness in one’s own soul. It is the struggle to be patient in times of adversity. It is the struggle to find strength in God to overcome your own weaknesses. Jihad is not savage, except in the minds of those who are too lazy or too careless to wish to understand a well-documented, 1,400-year-old concept in both Islamic literature and Muslim life. My grandma’s jihad was against diabetes and MS while bedridden for seven years. #MyJihad is against bigotry and hate-mongering. What is your personal jihad? By tweeting using the hashtag #MyJihad, Muslims across the globe can discuss their personal trials, challenges and triumphs. To accompany the social media campaign, #MyJihad will also run as an ad campaign in various media, as well on public transportation nationwide. The campaign has found great reception from Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Thousands of tweets have been logged from people in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and South Asia. Many Christians and Jews have tweeted and joined in solidarity. Besides Twitter and the public transportation ad campaigns, a YouTube campaign, flash mobs and public service Jihad campaigns are under works. Campaign organizers are currently accepting donations at www.myjihad.org. For more information, aslso visit the Facebook page at www.myfacebook.com/myjihad.org.
Ahmed Rehab is the executive director of CAIR-Chicago.
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
The Mosque that Almost Never Was The Murfreesboro community embraces success after facing years of oppostion.
Dr. Ossama Mohamed Bahloul, center, greets worshipers after leading midday prayers at the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
uch like the story of the train that chugged its way up the hill slowly but surely, the mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn. can definitely be called the mosque “that could.” The story of Muslim community that made its home in Murfreesboro, a city about 30 miles south of Nashville, in the late ’70s is fairly typical. But the road it has taken, from its fledgling years to its current situation, has been anything but smooth. The community started gathering for prayer in basements of homes, later graduated to an apartment, and then to a mosque set up in commercial building. Finally, they moved to their new center, which became headline news for all the wrong reasons. Having faced emotional struggles, court battles and even physical threats, the mosque almost never made it to completion. Imam Ossama Mohamed Bahloul says the community has a record of cordial relations with the outside community and has a robust interfaith program, but was targeted by outsiders, political interest groups and publicity seekers. Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee had noted: “The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro now sits empty because of a protracted, two-year campaign by antiMuslim groups. Rampant xenophobia is
being fueled by the election season and its accompanying political posturing.” In fact, the imam, who has led the Center since April 2008, says the local community was indeed sympathetic and cooperative. “Vandalism and arson, notwithstanding—even the prolonged legal maneuvering, notwithstanding—the tranquility of opening day in Murfreesboro suggests that most Christians in this mostly Christian area don’t have much of a problem with the Islamic Center,” wrote David Mason, an associate professor at Rhodes College in Memphis, for the “Washington Post” in August. The imam is most appreciative of the U.S. Department of Justice who let it be known that laws must be followed and bigotry cannot succeed. For two years, the opposition in this city of 110,000 had been small but vocal. In 2010, vandals painted “not welcome” on
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
construction signs at the mosque and set fire to construction equipment. A Texas man was indicted in June on charges that he left messages threatening to detonate a bomb at the center on Sept. 11. On July 18, a federal judge in Memphis ordered Rutherford County to conduct a final inspection on the building, setting aside a local judge’s ruling from June that voided a planning commission’s approval. The Center had argued that the local judge’s ruling violated the mosque’s rights under Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), the Free Exercise Clause, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The 4,500 sq. ft. prayer hall that accommodates up to 500 people forms just one part of the center, which will eventually be expanded to more than 50,000 sq. ft. to include a gym, a swimming pool and other facilities, including a community hall for interfaith events with churches, synagogues and other religious groups. Bahloul reminded that success lies in unity, and we should try to achieve our goals regardless of the obstacles in our path. He added that he is proud to be a Muslim American in America, where laws are applied. At the Murfreesboro Islamic Center, he has established numerous community activities and encouraged community involvement of all ages. In his first Friday khutba at the new center, Bahloul told the congregation that sometimes people, worried about the opposition they have faced, ask him, “Why us?” He answers, “Maybe it’s because God knows we are strong enough to deal with this. So be proud.”
Sometimes people, worried about the opposition they have faced, will ask him, “Why us?” Imam Bahloul answers, “Maybe it’s because God knows we are strong enough to deal with this. So be proud.” 31
Muslims in Action
Strengthening and Empowering Inner-City Communities Group aims to replace shelves of liquors with fresh foods in local stores. By Zahra Cheema
hen Shamar Hemphill interacts with Chicago’s inner city youth, he understands their struggles and dreams because they were once his as well. “I see myself in them,” says Hemphill, youth director at the community-based nonprofit, Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) in Chicago. Raised on Chicago’s South Side, Hemphill remembers a community territorialized by gangs, with heavy drug selling; a community where people didn’t really go to school. 32
Describing it as a divested African American community, Hemphill credits his mother, who he calls the love of his life, along with elders in his community, with helping to keep him on the straight path. “She really created space for me to develop, like whatever I wanted to do, whatever I was interested in,” he says. “If I was interested in something rather than the street gang, she definitely put time and energy to put me towards that direction.” In this same way, IMAN creates safe spaces for Muslim and other marginalized
urban youth to develop through mentoring programs, youth leadership development, and arts and cultures program, among others. In the West African Drumming and Storytelling Program, youth, ages 15 to 21, hone their interpersonal and public speaking skills, while working with a professional drummer and learning about each other’s backgrounds. “There’s not enough safe spaces nowadays for young people to develop, to articulate their issues, to really become who they are, what they want to do, and IMAN serves as
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
that vehicle organization for that,” Hemphill says. In addition to youth services, IMAN works with the urban Muslim community, as well as the general inner-city community, by providing services and programming to combat social injustices that often plague poverty-stricken and neglected inner-city communities. Formed in 1995 by a group of Muslim students, community residents and leaders, IMAN is driven by the spiritual conviction of serving and advocating for those in need in order to affect positive change. Executive associate Alia Bilal says that there are three layers to IMAN’s work: direct services, such as its flagship service of the free community health clinic; community organizing and advocacy; and arts and cultures. It was at one of IMAN’s arts event in 1997, Takin’ It to the Streets—an annual Muslim-led arts and music festival that draws people by the thousands—that Bilal was captivated by IMAN’s ability to mobilize the greater Muslim community in Chicago in support of inner-city work. “It was the first time that I really saw so many different types of Muslims from all across the city of Chicago coming together in the inner-city, […] to support an organization that was doing work for the city and for people that were in the city, which was for me, it just blew my mind,” she says. Born and raised in Chicago’s South Side and attending Islamic school in the suburbs, Bilal not only witnessed the fact that Chicago remains one of the most racially segregated cities in the country, but also the socioeconomic differences between communities. She remembers participating in food and clothing drives to help Muslims in need abroad, understanding as she grew older, that there existed a need in her own community as well. “I started realizing, ‘You know, this coat that I’m bringing for the coat drive that’s going to go to someone in another country, someone in my backyard needs this,’” she says. This is another reason Bilal was drawn to IMAN. “It was just so eye-opening to come across a Muslim organization that really cared about what was going on in their very own backyard. And for me, I just knew that I had to be a part of that someday,” she says. Bilal wears many hats in her position, including sitting at the community organiz-
ing and advocacy table at IMAN, which has a number of community-driven campaigns. One of the campaigns which Bilal is most excited about is the Muslim Run Campaign for Health, Wellness and Healing, which focuses on the dynamics of the corner store and its relationship to community residents. Muslim-owned stores that dominate innercity street corners, often are liquor stores, or junk food havens, leaving people with limited access to healthier food options because area grocery stores are scarce. “These stores are just plagues on our community [and] are only helping to fuel the dysfunction of some of our communities,” says Bilal. She realizes that the issue is a sensitive: the store owners trying to earn a living, and residents trying to survive. “We have to be able to work out ways for both parties to be able to live in healthy ways, to be able to live in a healthy community,” she says. “Some of these stores, there’s hope for them to become transformative spaces for both community engagement and for education around health and wellness and that’s not what they are right now.” In addition to his work with youth, Hemphill also works on the Muslim Run Campaign, which started in 2007 by surveying community residents and store owners views on the issue. Hemphill notes that sadly, often community residents, who are primarily African Americans, associate these stores with Muslims. “A lot of times, African Americans’ first contact with Muslims, the younger ones, are in these corner stores because these are kind of like the intersections of the community,” he says. IMAN is working to help create viable business models for the corner stores.
“IMAN wants to be an entity that is working toward creating that alternative, to really creating the avenues for cultural exchange for the real dialogue between some of the store owners and the people that [frequent] their stores,” Bilal says. IMAN is currently focusing on the corner stores to help provide healthier alternatives to junk food, such as fresh produce. For those in a neighborhood where IMAN is making a difference, Muslims are being recognized as agents of change. “It’s been beautiful to be a part of an organization that is […] being the face of Islam in America and the face that people recognize for the really good things that we attempt to do, and for the community we attempt to build and the space that we provide, and the services that we give,” Bilal says. Hemphill sees IMAN’s work as crucial to the lives of Muslims in America and abroad. “IMAN is a very critical organization for the Muslims, here in the West, and beyond,” he says. “We really serve as an institution that bridges [and] connects communities of all backgrounds, all ethnicities; Muslims doing work around social justice, around the very key issues that are prevalent in some of the most hard hit communities, hard to reach communities. This is what keeps the larger ummah relevant; this work right here.” This year, IMAN celebrates its 15th anniversary, in the same neighborhood it initially started in. “It’s a community space that no one person built, but that really the people in this neighborhood built through their attendance, through their participation in the programs, through their will and their need for a space like this to exist,” Bilal says.
Zahra Cheema, a freelance writer, resides in Maryland.
Electronic Funds Transfer — A good deed done regularly! Through Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) ISNA can receive your donation each month automatically from your bank account or credit card, saving you postage and time.
Be a key that opens the door to ISNA’s long-term financial stability:
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Donate through EFT!
Politics and Society
If It Bleeds, It Doesn’t Always Lead Overwhelmingly white newsrooms and lack of cultural exposure may be to blame for shooting coverage discrepancies. By Aruba Mahmud
n July 20, suspect James Holmes allegedly stormed into a packed movie theatre in Aurora, Colo., during a special midnight showing of the latest Batman film, “The Dark Knight Rises,” and opened fire, killing 12 and injuring 58 people. On Aug. 5, barely two weeks later, a lone gunman, Wade Michael Page, who had been a member of racist, Neo-Nazi white supremacist groups, opened fire on a Sikh temple, or gurdwara, in Oak Creek, Wisc., murdering six and injuring three more before turning the gun on himself. Both shootings were violent and unprovoked attacks on innocent citizens living in small American cities. Yet despite the similarities, there are also differences between the two shootings, and perhaps one of the most concerning of these differences is the enormous discrepancy in the amount of news coverage of the two events.
nalism in Toronto, says that if there is much less coverage of the Sikh temple shooting, “then that influences and impacts what people are talking about, and that includes politicians.” Some relatives of the victims of the Wisconsin shooting have spoken out at the lack of response and outreach from government officials, particularly in comparison to their response to the Colorado shootings.
A lack of diversity and understanding in newsrooms Evans acknowledges that one of the “completely indefensible” reasons for less coverage of the temple shootings is likely “straight ignorance.” He adds that it is always difficult for any member of a minority (whether it be racial, ethnic, religious, etc.) to “get and
Media Coverage of the Shootings As of early September 2012, a review of online articles posted on the websites of some major American news outlets found that the coverage of the Colorado theatre shootings greatly outnumbered the coverage of the temple shooting. As the following table illustrates, there have been well over four times as many articles published online about the theatre shooting than of the shooting at the temple. News Outlet
67, 743 articles
20, 900 articles
16, 900 articles
The Huffington Post
7, 310 articles
4, 420 articles
97, 253 articles
21, 932 articles
Possible Reasons for the Discrepancy Prof. Mike Evans, at the Indiana School of Journalism, explains that in terms of the amount of coverage of the two events, there are “a few relatively legitimate reasons for that, and some that are much more difficult to defend.” From a journalistic perspective, he believes that some of the reasons for more coverage of the Colorado shooting are that more people were killed and injured by Holmes, that Holmes is still alive and in custody awaiting trial, and also the fact that the Colorado shootings took place in a movie theater, a location and target that most Americans could relate to, while they would be much less likely to relate to or imagine themselves being victims of the shooting in Wisconsin. While Evans does not personally feel that this is a “valid” argument on behalf of news outlets, he notes that editors must select stories which appeal to readers and which reflect the demographics of their audience. Prof. Vinita Srivastava, of the Ryerson University School of Jour34
keep the attention of the media, simply because the media and the news, the news editors and reporters and producers, are mostly white Americans… who tend to, by default think of white American audiences, and they are not good at thinking in terms of, ‘these are all just us and our neighbors, and we need to think about them just as much as we care about the other things.’” Arlene Morgan, associate dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism, expresses similar sentiments, saying that the “media does not do a good job [in terms of having the] sensitivities and knowledge to cover these things” and that generally, most coverage of events involving non-dominant or marginalized groups “is not accurate in terms of the cultural issues that are involved, and is typical of the sensationalism and stereotyping that is often present in coverage of such events.” As noted by Evans and Morgan, another reason that the media may not have covered the temple shooting in as much depth simply because they do not have the cultural knowledge and/or understanding in order to do so sufficiently. As a result, as Evans says, non-dominant groups such as Sikhs feel even more marginalized and then seek their news elsewhere, often from culturally-specific news sources where they feel they are represented fairly and equally. Many Indian news sources, including the “Times of India” and the “Hindustan Times,” as well as several American-based South Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Asian bloggers, covered Sikh temple shootings much more closely and extensively than many American news outlets. However, Evans laments that this unfortunately means that the mainstream media outlets, who are required to maintain profit and readership, may note that their news audiences are becoming “increasingly more homogeneous and white,” and in turn, they may then report even less on minority communities, thus worsening the situation. He says that newsrooms, while they have made an effort, must continue to diversify their workforce, as should American schools and colleges of journalism.
Feeling marginalized and stereotyped by the media An oft-repeated concern, particularly raised by Sikhs, Muslims, South Asians, and other marginalized and/or non-dominant groups in North America, is that the inconsistency in media coverage of the two shootings is due to more than just logistical or journalistic concerns, and is, simply put, an indication of ignorance and discrimination. As Riddhi Shah asks in The Huffington Post, “Why is it that the American people, and the American media in particular, care less about this attack?” She goes on to present the following question to readers: “Consider, for a minute, a situation in which the skin colors of the victims and attacker were reversed. What if, instead of a white supremacist, the attacker had been a Muslim fundamentalist, and the place of worship a synagogue or a church? Would Fox News have aired a segment about a Latin American prison just hours after the shooting? Would we be talking about the Olympics right now?” Many other bloggers and writers, both on “The Huffington Post” and elsewhere, have asked similar difficult, yet necessary questions in regards to the news media coverage of the Sikh temple shootings. Their concern is not just in response to the fact that there has been much less coverage of the Wisconsin shootings, but also due to Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
the blatantly stereotypical and discriminatory tone and coverage of certain news items published by the media in response to the shooting in Wisconsin. Perhaps the most controversial media item was an illustration published in “RedEye,” a free daily magazine distributed daily by “The Chicago Tribune.” The piece, titled “Turban Primer,” was printed directly underneath an article about the Sikh temple shootings, and features illustrations of five South Asian and Middle Eastern men, each of whom is wearing a different style of turban. The captions under each image label each type of turban and the men who wear them, including “Sikh men,” “Indian men,” and “Taliban members.” This misguided attempt at priming readers takes such diverse, varied, heterogeneous, and populous groups, such as Indian, Muslim, and Sikh men, of whom there are millions across the world, and simply groups them all together, labels them, and reinforces that idea that these men are the “Other” and that the average Chicago commuter requires an illustrated guide with oversimplified (and misleading) descriptions in order to understand them. While this piece was presumably meant to help readers to identify peaceful Indian, Sikh, and Muslim men from those who are deemed to be Taliban members, or Iranian leaders simply based to the cultural clothing they may wear, it reinforces the discriminatory attitudes, beliefs, and fears surrounding Sikh, Muslim, South Asian, and Arab men which have been especially prevalent post-9/11. Ironically, it is these very attitudes which are propagated by the media and, in their worst manifestations, lead to tragic and deadly attacks such as the Sikh temple shooting that “RedEye” was reporting on. As Srivastava reflects on the media in general, she says that, “What gets represented in the media is the way that we think about people… if the Sikh community is always represented as kind of alien and the other and distant and not one of us, then it does impact that way that our society [thinks].”
Aruba Mahmud is an M.Ed Candidate at the University of Western Ontario whose research is focused on religious accommodation, multiculturalism and anti-racism education.
Politics and Society
Muslim Physicians Fill Void in Doctor Shortage Muslim Americans have greater opportunities to contribute towards the nation’s heathcare. By Jonathan Hayden
new study by The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) titled “A Window into American Muslim Physicians: Civic Engagement and Community Participation,” finds that many Muslim physicians have expressed an interest in reaching out to non-Muslim communities after 9-11, inspired by their faith to practice medicine and serve the community, local place of worship and charities. Many of these physicians devote their careers to areas of country where healthcare professionals are sorely needed. Before the passage of the Hart-Cellar Act in 1965, U.S. immigration policy excluded non-white immigrants, specifically Asians and Africans. The legislation, passed under President Lyndon B. Johnson first opened the door for foreign-born, non-white Muslims to enter the country. Thus after 1965, the numbers of immigrants from the Middle East and Asia increased dramatically, with more than half from these regions being Muslim. The new policy, combined with other initiatives like visa programs, has led to Muslims as the fastest-growing religious population in the country. That year also marked the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, increasing the availability of medical care in the U.S. The legislation, however, created a void, as there were too few doctors to treat the growing number of patients. Enter foreign-born physicians, many of whom were Muslim, and who, just years before, were denied visas under the preHart-Cellar immigration policies. In the second half of the 20th century, the federal government began encouraging immigration of international medical graduates by easing the path to permanent residency for those who would work in under-served areas for at least three years. While the immigration laws for foreign-born doctors remain complex, for most there is a 36
clear path to residency. The programs have succeeded in attracting foreign-born physicians to the U.S. But population growth, increased physician visits and an aging population have now created additional demand for primary care physicians. The Association of American Medical Colleges reports that the shortage of physicians could balloon to as many as 150,000 in the next 15 years. As was the case in the 1960s, foreign-born physicians have the potential to keep the shortage from reaching a crisis point. Today, it is estimated that about one-quarter of U.S. physicians are foreign-born, many of whom are Muslim. While one-time G.O.P. primary front-runner Herman Cain proclaimed his fear of using Muslim doctors, about 50,000 Muslim American physicians are practicing in the U.S. The ISPU study offers the first look into the demographics of Muslim American physicians. The report used survey and focus group discussions with more than 500 respondents, many of whom were foreign-born. The study offers the first portrait of Muslim American physicians, including analysis of demographics, values, civic and political engagement and the challenges faced.
Muslim physicians are in an ideal position to be a natural bridge to their non-Muslim neighbors.
The findings provide valuable insight into their contributions to the medical field and in the Muslim community. Many of those interviewed expressed an interest in reaching out to non-Muslim communities after 9-11. Many Muslim American physicians are inspired by Islam to practice medicine and serve the community, local place of worship and charities, the study finds. Despite the challenges faced, especially by those who are foreign-born, many Muslim American physicians have established themselves as community leaders. Several large associations — The Association of Physicians of Pakistani descent of North America (APPNA) and the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) mobilize members, help foster continuing education and offer a platform for discussion of issues relevant to the community. Both APPNA and IMANA, for example, offered significant support for this study. In the surveys and focus group discussion, Muslim physicians reported discrimination based on their names. However, the response to discrimination took the form of greater religiosity and an effort to “exemplify good acts as ambassadors of Islam.” The report, authored by ISPU Fellows Farid Senzai, Wahiba Abu-Ras and Lance Laird, offers detailed recommendations for Muslim physician communities, national physician organizations, and health service organizations. These include increasing the diversity of medical professionals, training fellow doctors and staff to increase cultural awareness, engaging Muslim physicians and organizations in global health outreach, and conducting more research on workplace discrimination. Muslim physicians are in an ideal position to be a natural bridge to their non-Muslim neighbors. Some respondents reported making efforts to work more in the community to help improve the perception of Islam locally. They identified heavily with both their Muslim and American identities. With the shortage of healthcare professionals at a near crisis point and expected to increase with the recent passed Affordable Care Act, Muslim physicians are helping bridge more than just the religious gap. This group of professional can help increase the cultural competency in an increasingly diverse country and continue to serve their communities.
Jonathan Hayden is communications manager for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Universal Healthcare Is an Islamic Priority Can Muslim Americans serve to advance healthcare reform? by Umbereen S. Nehal
uring the election season, we heard contrasting viewpoints on healthcare reform. The Democrats framed it as a social justice issue and about providing every American access to quality care. Republicans, so concerned about preventing government overreach, offer no specific alternative to what they call “Obamacare.” However, they indicate that they may keep some parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Some politicians have suggested scrapping the law entirely and starting over. The Supreme Court ruled the construct of the law constitutional. But what is the Muslim perspective?
bimar (sick) and stan (place). Bimaristans had wards, departments, pharmacies, and trained young physicians—why some consider them to be the first true hospitals. At times zakat was used to fund them, implying a religious obligation to provide medical care to the poor. Bimaristans were staffed by and provided care for both Muslims and non-Muslims. The American Muslim Health Professionals (AMHP) lobbied for the passage of the ACA as a faith-driven imperative. Laud-
Faith-driven imperative Muslim support for universal healthcare access has a historical precedent. In medieval Islamic societies, hospitals were built to provide care to the sick regardless of ability to pay. These institutions were called bimaristans, derived from the Farsi words Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
ing the Supreme Court decision, AMHP cited Quran 3:92: “Never shall you attain true piety unless you spend on others out of what you cherish yourselves; and whatever you spend—verily, God has full knowledge thereof.” ISNA Secretary General Safaa Zarzour said, “The U.S. healthcare system has long been in need of reform in order to ensure that people who get sick can be treated, regardless of how much money they have. Muslims have been at the forefront of this
Muslim support for universal healthcare access is built upon historical precedent; in medieval Islamic societies, hospitals, or bimaristans, were built to provide care to the sick regardless of ability to pay.
Politics and Society
Timeline & Provisions 2010: • N o lifetime dollar limits on essential benefits. • No coverage rescissions/cancellations except for fraud or intentional misrepresentation. • No cost-sharing obligations for preventive services in network. • Dependent coverage, if provided, required up to age 26. • Enhanced internal and external appeal processes and requirements. • No preexisting condition exclusions for enrollees (under 19 years of age). 2011:
work for some time, establishing free health clinics across the country to help those in need. It is time the government did its part, and ISNA is proud to support the goals of the Affordable Care Act.” The ACA provides vital support and funding for University Muslim Medical Association (UMMA) a federally qualified Los Angeles health center that provides free medical care in low income areas with minority and immigrant populations. Currently, Americans obtain health insurance through a variety of means. For the majority, it is offered as a benefit from an employer. Others purchase it on the individual market but face steep premiums or denial of coverage based on “pre-existing conditions” like high blood pressure or cancer. Medicaid provides benefits to low income, vulnerable populations like children or those with disabilities. Medicare is for those who are over 65 years old and have paid 10 years of Medicare taxes. This excludes elderly immigrants without a U.S. work history; they are not eligible for Medicare benefits and may be denied coverage by private insurance. Per 2011 census data, 48 million Americans 38
are uninsured—that is about one in six Americans.
Consumer-driven Approach This summer, the Supreme Court ruled the premise of the ACA was constitutional. The centerpiece of the law, the individual mandate, was considered a “tax” and within the scope of the federal government. The individual mandate is a consumer-driven approach that preserves the marketplace and choice of health plans while adding regulation and consumer protections. All individuals must show proof of adequate health insurance coverage or pay a “free rider” penalty. Likewise, large employers are mandated to offer affordable and comprehensive health insurance coverage—defined as premiums not more than 9.5 percent of the family’s income and where at least 60 percent of health care expenses are covered—or pay a penalty. Small employers with 25 or fewer employees receive a tax credit if they do offer health insurance and are not assessed any penalties if they do not. Therefore, rather than fundamentally changing the current system of employer-
• M edicare beneficiaries who reach the “donut hole” get a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs. • Primary care doctors and general surgeons practicing in underserved areas, such as inner cities and rural communities, get a 10 percent Medicare bonus. • Increased funding for community health centers to provide care for many low-income and uninsured people. 2012: • H ospitals, doctors, and payers encouraged to join forces in “accountable care organizations.” • Hospitals with high rates of preventable readmissions facing reduced Medicare payments. 2014: • S tate individual and small group health insurance exchanges operational. • Guaranteed issue, guaranteed renewability, modified community rating and minimum benefit standards (“essential benefits” plan) effective. • No more lifetime or annual dollar limits for essential benefits. • No more excessive waiting periods. • No preexisting condition exclusions. Adapted from: http://www.aetna.com/ health-reform-connection/reform-explained/ health-care-reform-timeline.html.
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
sponsored health insurance, the ACA adds an affordable option to individuals purchasing health insurance on their own. Practically speaking, that means those who like their current health insurance can keep what they have while those without insurance must purchase it. To facilitate this, government-regulated health insurance exchanges will be set up by 2014 that offer a choice of plans. Each state can set up its own exchange or participate in a federal program. In this way, the ACA is anticipated to allow an additional 30 million Americans to obtain health insurance. The ACA is modeled after “RomneyCare,” which was passed in Massachusetts in 2006. Six years later, Massachusetts has 98 percent of its population insured and healthcare reform remains popular among patients, doctors, employers, and insurance companies. Various polls in Massachusetts show 59-75 percent of respondents favor healthcare reform. This year, Massachusetts built on this success to pass a new healthcare payment reform law. The coalition that drove this legislation forward included the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization with representation from the Muslim American Society of Boston.
ACA Provisions Though the ACA was signed into law in 2010, aspects of the law are being phased in over time. An implementation timeline can be found here: http://www.healthcare. gov/law/timeline/index.html (see table for select provisions) For individuals, there are numerous benefits in the ACA. Children cannot be denied health insurance due to preexisting conditions like asthma, diabetes, or Down’s Syndrome. That means Muslim families who may not believe in abortion to prevent the birth of a child can rest assured they can afford necessary care for that child. There will no longer be lifetime limits on insurance coverage nor can insurance companies rescind coverage for finding a typo on an application form. Additionally, adult children can stay on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26—a vital provision at a time many recent college grads are unemployed. A recent Commonwealth Fund report by lead author Sarah Collins found 36 percent of 19-29-year-olds are paying off medical debt or having trouble paying medical bills. More than 50 percent of personal bankruptcies in the U.S. are related
to medical bills, according to a 2009 study published by Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., of Harvard Medical School. “Unless you’re a Warren Buffett or Bill Gates,” Woolhandler said, “you’re one illness away from financial ruin in this country.”
Prevention: The Islamic Way Chronic and preventable diseases are the cause of 7 of 10 deaths in America and account for 75 percent of healthcare spending. Therefore as a way to reduce costs—both to individual patients and to the system over the long term—the ACA makes preventative services free. Keeping Americans healthier at every stage of life reduces the need for costly, hospital-based sick care. Free prevention services include screening for high cholesterol, diabetes, breast cancer. Also covered is smoking cessation; this is highly relevant to Muslims who have a 6 percent higher rate of smoking than the rest of the country. As science has now proven without a doubt that smoking is deadly, multiple scholars have revised their opinion to proclaim it to be not just mukrooh (disliked) but haram (forbidden). This interpretation is based on the Quranic verses, “And make not your own hands contribute to your destruction” (2:195) and “And do not kill yourselves (4:29).” Hadith instructs that our bodies have rights over us. One hadith tells us “There are two blessings in which most people are in great loss: good health and free time” (Bukhari). Therefore the ACA’s focus on health maintenance mirrors the Islamic perspective and the sunnah of the Prophet Mohammad.
November Decision Amid the rhetoric and sound bites, it’s important for voters to focus on the facts. As one sixth of the U.S. GDP, healthcare expenditure is irrevocably tied to the economy, the focal issue in the 2012 election. Democrats see the ACA as the step toward making healthcare more affordable, accessible, and cost-effective. Republicans have vowed to repeal the law in part or in total but have not offered a specific alternative. It will be up to the 113th Congress to craft and pass new legislation that modifies, repeals, or extends the law.
Umbereen S. Nehal, MD, MPH, FAAP, an academic pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital and Instructor at Harvard Medical School, serves as the co-director for the Massachusetts chapter for Doctors for America.
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Immediate Opening For An Outreach and Marketing Specialist Mercy-USA for Aid and Development, a dynamic nonprofit international relief and development organization, has an immediate opening for a full-time Outreach and Marketing Specialist. Minimum Qualifications: BS in Marketing or similar field. Minimum one year of experience in marketing, fundraising, communications and digital campaigns. Ability to manage multiple projects, highly organized, analytical and detailoriented communications professional with a proven track record in identifying and cultivating potential donors and managing databases. Ambitious person who can set high fundraising goals and ensure their timely achievement. Interest in international development and/or previous experience in similar organizations to Mercy-USA is a plus. Energetic personality with strong interpersonal/people skills who will thrive in a team environment. Exceptional verbal and written communication skills. Responsibilities: Grow and engage Mercy-USA’s donor base nationally utilizing all effective communication, including personal, public, verbal, written, as well as all digital platforms, including web, email, and social media. Oversee an expansion of donor database, various fundraising campaigns, outreach programs (digital and otherwise) and produce actionable strategies that will help shape Mercy-USA expansion and national outreach campaigns. Salary commensurate with experience. Health, 401K match & other benefits included. Email resume to: email@example.com Mercy-USA for Aid and Development 44450 Pinetree Dr., Ste. 201 Plymouth, MI 48170-3869
Around the World
Live from Syria A correspondent’s journey through Idlib and Aleppo tells of death and destruction.
An Ever-Changing Landscape Binnish, about 30 kilometers south of Reyhanli, a border town of city of Hatay, boasted 40 thousand people before the Syrian Revolution began about 20 months ago. That number now has been more than halved due to regime attacks and arrests, though the town has also experienced an influx of about 900 families from other cities, such 40
About another 15-20 kilometers to the east, there is a town called Bleen where the family of the legendary defected Syrian Army Lieutenant Colonel Hussein al Harmoush who, until recently went missing from a refugee camp in Turkey last August, was the selfstyled leader of a rebellion of mutinous soldiers against the Syrian government known as the “Free Syrian Army.” Harmoush first attracted international attention in June of 2011, when he made an online video calling on other Syrian soldiers to desert and join an anti-government group he labeled the “Free Syrian Army.” Harmoush regularly met with opposition activists and journalists at the camps in Turkey, until Aug. 29, when he was kidnapped and handed over to the Syrian authorities by some of the Turkish intelligence officers. Bleen only got rid of the regime forces on the fifth day of the Ramadan, a couple of weeks before I arrived in town.
The Harmoush Family
Hussein Harmoush’s family house in Bleen, near Jebel al-Zawiya, Idlib.
ntering Syria for the third time in 2012, I felt anxious once more as to what I would face this time. I visited Damascus in January 2012 posing as a restaurant owner, looking for new ideas for my cousin. I stayed in the of suburbs Duma, Qaboun and Miseraba about two weeks before I got arrested, along with hundreds of Syrians, in Harasta and deported. I visited Aleppo in early August, going through the Turkish border town of Kilis, where I stayed 10 days and watched MIGs and helicopters dropping bombs in Salahaddin and other neighborhoods in Aleppo, while families ran away for their lives. I had no idea what I’d see this time in Idlib, at the end of August.
Heading to Bleen
as Damascus and Hama, fleeing violence elsewhere. About 90 percent of the shops are closed down, giving the appearance of ghost towns, like many other cities I have seen in Syria. There is no conflict within Binnish. Last time the regime forces were in Binnish in November of 2011 for only a few days. Surrounding towns are constantly hit by airstrikes, which one can see from Binnish. About 20 kilometers from this town, there comes Jebel al-Zawiya, a mountainous region where Free Syrian Army battalions are trying to defend their areas, though the conditions are much worse. After an adventurous trip to Jebel alZawiya, due to a constant shifting balance of power between the militias and the regime army in surrounding cities and the the nervousness that stems from it, we end up at the headquarter of the local battalion in Nahle which is a part part of the Damascus falcons. Ismail el-Safi, a former captain in the Syrian Army who defected in the beginning of 2012, commands about 200 men to defend this mountainous area. Since the militias don’t have heavy arms, during my two-day stay, I witnessed them watching over
Harmoush’s family house was raided by the regime forces and burned only a day after he announced his defection. The walls smudged with dirt and debris remain, though the house has been cleaned since then by the people of the village, with some revolutionary signs still written on it. Hussein Harmoush has six brothers.
Photo by Ilhan Tanir
Photo by Ilhan Tanir
By Ilhan Tanir
the Syrian MIGs and helicopters bombing in despair.
Neighbor, Ismail el-Safi and myself.
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Photo by Ilhan Tanir
According to local accounts, one Ismail el-Safi and other militias looking up as the helicopters Syrian town. Most families left town of his brothers, Mohammad, was of the regime army circling, bombing near distant places. and surrounding towns to either seek arrested only a few days after Harrefuge in other countries or move to moush’s declaration of rebellion. safer areas, though of late, none seem Another brother, Ahmed Sheik, was to exist. killed by the Syrian regime. Hasan Though shocking at first, seeing and Walid have been arrested and a destroyed tank, armored vehino one knows their whereabouts. cle or blown-up regime building became just part of normal life in His only living brother Mahmoud was around, but during our dayIdlib. However, unlike the northern long trip we could not locate him. Aleppo, where the FSA has a firm Women of the family, on the other control over its territories, northhand, ran away and were able to ern Idlib’s is in constant flux; main escape to Gaziantep, a Turkish roads between the towns are unseborder city. cured and therefore carry a big risk to move around. Before taking a trip Abu Abdul, a long-time neighbor anywhere, members of different batand distant relative of the Harmoush talions call each other to make sure family, hosted us for some coffee and that roads are safe. One also needs to tea to talk about Hussein Harmoush. Abu Abdul’s wife also wanted to ask incoming vehicles —which are speak of Harmoush, seen as a true very few— the situation on the road they are coming from. hero by the FSA militias. “Since Hussein’s family was poor, they couldn’t afford his colNephew of Hussein lege expenses and Hussein had to Harmoush go to the military school instead. Because Even though about all members of the of the poor economic conditions, the family Bleen’s Empty Streets family left the town, Hussein Harmoush’s sold most of their land in Bleen in the past. Bleen’s streets, like many towns I have seen nephew, Assad Harmoush, was still in the During his time in the army, he went to during August in Aleppo and Idlib, were town and now leads a small FSA battalion Moscow and spent years for education and empty. There is only one bakery open in the called “Vengeance of Hussein Harmoush.” training, as part of the close relations and town, and people from neighboring towns During the regime presence, Assad Hararrangements between the Syrian and the who do not have any functioning bakeries moush was stricly watched over and faced Russian armies. Therefore, Harmoush, for left, like Nahle, come here to get their daily with the increased harassment from the most of his military college years, spent his bread. Consequently the line in front of the regime army and told me in our brief interyears away from home, only to come and bakery is hours long. Abu Abdul told us that view that he preferred staying home most visit during holidays.” they had sent their son to the bakery early of the time, which is a couple of kilometers in the morning that day and were still wait- from Harmoush’s family house. ing for him to come home, five hours later. According to FSA militias and locals I Bleen has been “liberated,” as the FSA talked to, Hussein Harmoush is still alive terms it, only a few weeks before I visited and under arrest in Damascus, most likely there, when the biggest military station in at an airforce intelligence facility. It was Meshrua was taken over by the local FSA reported some months ago that Harmoush militias. I heard many horror stories about was hanged by regime forces but there were the dreaded intelligence building, now com- never any pictures made available to back pletely deserted despite the tortures, killings up those claims. and raids conducted inside it in the past. I Syrians insist he is being held hostage had no other way to confirm those horror for a day when the regime can use him. It stories independently. When the FSA attacks is a hope. And hope is what Syrians need on the regime posts increased and the biggest more than ever. cities of Syria, namely Damascus and Aleppo Ilhan Tanir is the Washington, DC correspondent for Turcame under intensifying attacks by the FSA, key’s Vatan Daily. He has written extensively on the Syrian the regime forces decided to withdraw from uprising for think tanks such as Carnegie Endowment for many northern towns like Bleen and sent International Peace’s Sada Journal, WINEP’s Fikra Forum, Turkey’s ORSAM, UK’s the Henry Jackson Society as well as some of them as reinforcements to Aleppo. some other leadıng publications. He recently returned from The rest were restationed in Arami, another a two-week trip to Aleppo and Idlib provinces of Syria where he met with members of the Free Syrian Army and activists. town a few kilometers out to the south. Early 2012, he was in Damascus suburbs for two weeks to Gas, electricity and essential nourish- watch the uprısıng before he was arrested by the regime ment remain scarce, just like every other forces and deported.
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Around the World
A Libyan American journalist finds a somber reality after making her journey back. By Sumiah Aduib
efore this revolution, I visited Libya three times. I’d say four but my first “visit” was in 1993 and I was seven. We were smuggled in through the Tunisian border (my siblings and I laid under the seats of the 18-seater van my uncle rented specifically for this purpose) only to spend a couple weeks quickly hopping from one household to another, barely saying hello and goodbye and never mentioning America or my father, who was blacklisted and convicted to time in prison in absentia years before. My three visits all started off the same way: with tremendously large knots in my stomach and obvious anxiety and fear in my eyes. I knew that once my passport was scanned, both my husband and I would be pulled to the side for several rounds of questioning. The questions were always nonsensical and all dancing around the whereabouts of my father. On my second visit they sepa-
rated me from my husband, then told me he is not my husband and instead I was being smuggled into the country for a man named “Ismail Burgaya.” The only thing that kept me from laughing was how badly I wanted to cry.
Collapse of the Regime My anxiety surrounding visits to my home country seemingly dissipated with the public
capture and killing of Muammar Gaddafi in Sirte, on Oct. 20, 2011. Watching the footage over and over, I was overwhelmed with such a strong mix of emotions I immediately broke out into a cry that lingered and randomly erupted the following two days. It was nearly unthinkable to me: Libya … free. I never thought in a million years my people would muster up the strength and courage to wage such a war. And win such a solidly profound revolution. And with this end came a new beginning for the Libyan diaspora. Within a few months of his death, I was hearing of families packing up their life of 30 years (or more) in countries as far as the UK, Australia, Malaysia and the U.S. and returning to their beloved Libya. A country that had been completely transformed; first, by the madness and self-hatred of the late leader; and second, by the brutal ground war fought by nearly every able-bodied man hoping for freedom in the country. Within my own family, several family members who have returned and readjusted in their longforbidden homeland. Having spent the entire revolution pregnant with my first child (who we named Idrees, a name forbidden by Gaddafi as it was the name of the king he overthrew in 1969). I was eager to book a trip home to
Government buildings that lined Tripoli Street, the main thoroughfare of Misrata, were shelled, bombed and burnt by Gaddafi Forces. They stand as reminders of the viciousness of the battle for the city.
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Ex-pats, Mahmoud Traina, son Idrees Traina and wife Sumiah Aduib (seen here at the Misrata Revolution Museum) stand at the foot of ‘The Fist’ statue once only seen in TV footage of the previous dictator addressing citizens from his compound, Bab al-Aziziyah.
witness with my own eyes a Free Libya. For months, my husband and I would talk about the types of changes we would see on the streets and amongst the people.
Great Expectations and Somber Reality
What once was the central fruit market in Misrata, became the government stronghold for Gaddafi’s men throughout the fight for the third largest city in Libya. NATO delivered exact missiles that destroyed the tanks, changing the course of the war in favor of the opposition. Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
As with anything that one has hyped up, dreamt of, and anticipated for a whole lifetime (literally), it is only right that I be disappointed and letdown. Not completely, but almost. What I witnessed on my 14-day trip to Tripoli and Misrata was depressing and saddening. And this sentiment all rooted from the strong sense of depression I felt amongst the people. It is similar to the delayed mourning that happens to a family who lost someone and hasn’t felt the pain and true reality of it until all the guests stop coming and the phones stop ringing and the reality of what is left becomes vivid and too clear. The immediate post-war vigor and excitement had waned and the truth of the situation had settled in. The truth of the absence of power, order and control became a daily reality. Since Gaddafi’s reign was almost omniscient in its presence throughout the citizens’ lives, there remained a large void upon the collapse of his regime that has been naturally filling itself since his demise. Gaddafi was sure to never allow anything—not a university, medical program, civil union or even thriving market place—to live long. He wanted so badly to have the Libyan identity and national sense of self to be entangled in his existence that once he was gone, an empty space of nothingness and mourning for the dead lost in the revolution was all that seemed to be left. Visiting the homes of as many people as possible, I was stricken by the number of family members lost or seriously injured during the revolution. The somber, nonemotional manner in which people describe the missing or killed family member(s) is indicative of a nation hit so hard by so many obstacles, deaths, tragedies and a looming unknown future that emotion is either impossible or pointless. Or both. Every single street wall is graced by the names of the fallen accompanied by a date and maybe a prayer; war slogans as well as curses and mocking caricatures of the exdictator in compromising poses and forms (the most popular is Gaddafi in the form of a rat since this is what he called the freedom fighters); and more and more graffiti blasting 43
Around the World the newly elected government has begun to pop up as well. “Why do government officials have security guards, yet the people of Libya have no security?” reads graffiti on a wall overlooking Martyrs’ Square, the main square of the capital city, Tripoli.
Mayhem and Tragedy “There is no police authority present in the streets,” says Sarah Enayn, a Tripoli medical doctor. “Because they have no real bite. They actually have no bark. They are dealing with an armed population, many of which are resentful of what has been stolen from them all these years and have yet to see any dramatic change. So a cop will not stop someone who is driving erratically since there is a high chance he may be confronted and engaged in a violent interaction.” Another noticeable trend was the increased presence and activity of the Salafi Movement, now banned. The group, widely known as Ansar Al Sharia Brigade, has been linked by Libyan authorities to the bombing and destruction of historic ruins, mosques containing Sufi shrines and most recently the Sept. 11 attack of the American consulate in Benghazi which resulted in the killing of four Americans—most notably, Ambassador Chris Stevens. Stevens’ murder highlighted just how unstable the sociopolitical state is and further emphasized the
lack of any substantive security presence in the country. Once upon a time, open religious activism (be it in appearance or speech) was not allowed. Yet now, the ultraconservative group has found a voice and is challenging the authority of the democratically elected government. During my short stay alone, there were three bombings of mosques containing shrines in the capital city—all credited to the works of the Ansar Brigade. Walking by one of the demolitions the day after it was bombed, I was asked by guards dressed in army fatigues to put away my camera if I wanted to pass the site. I was both shocked and saddened to see a large group of men standing in front of the rubble laughing and jesting with absolutely no consideration for the fact that they had brought down one of the oldest, most recognizable and loved mosques in the capital city. However, there was relief: finally Libyans were able to speak their mind and openly challenge these occurrences, a seemingly small liberty that did not exist under Gaddafi a mere two years ago.
Freedom to Speak The most compelling change was the emphatic joy Libyans displayed at being able to finally speak freely about their political and social state, of the past, present and most definitely future. It is not uncommon
Visual metaphors depicting the Revolutionary Forces as lions, doves and eagles forcefully make the point of ultimate victory over the 42-year-reign of the Gaddafi Regime.
to hear even preteens discuss political topics and make reference to NATO, the UN, the plethora of political parties that have formed in the past year, as well as local political feuds and debates that have sprung up in the new, free, democratic political stage. On one occasion two young cousins, who couldn’t have been older than six, were fighting over a toy and as I approached them to break up the fight, I heard one of the bystanding kids say, “Jatkoom NATO,” meaning, “NATO has come to end this fight.” I couldn’t help but to laugh at the moment, but later, as I considered this loaded statement,
Tanks tagged with names of the numerous Libyan cities that sent soldiers to fight in Misrata are strategically parked on busy street intersections as reminders of the efforts made to accomplish a full victory.
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
I realized how deeply this new generation of children has been shaken by the war they witnessed and lived through. It is not uncommon for neighborhood kids to break off into two “kitayib,” or battalions, and fight a game of war, screaming out authentic war jargon mixed in with political lingo. The innocence of childhood is completely lost on them as they struggle to catch up on the year of schooling they missed; as they casually process the deaths of siblings, fathers, neighbors, and cousins; and as they shift their mentality from one of constant shelling, bombing and fear back to relative normalcy.
Worth the Sacrifice “I would re-live this war all over again just to have this freedom,” says Najat Ahmed, a mother of six.
She sent off her oldest son, who was 19 at the time, to fight on the front lines. She participated in cooking for the troops as well planting a “victory garden” in her backyard to help provide her family with basic staples during tough times when food supplies were scarce. “I am proud to say I lived through the treachery of Gaddafi and aided in his downfall. Just as I used my hands to bring him down, I will use them to rebuild my beautiful country,” says Najat, holding back tears. The worst is behind us. This is the general notion held by young and old. Days of inexplicable fear, days when family members could be “erased” from existence without explanation or redemption have been replaced by unfiltered out-spokenness. Places that once hung colossal grandeur images of Gaddafi now carry a variety of posters for political candidates running for office, promoting their platforms. This is a sight that has never been seen in this country. This is a process that has never existed. And the citizens’ excitement at finally being able to choose who governs them is mixed with the trepidation and apprehension of a people unaccustomed to an open, diplomatic political environment.
as he never expected to raise a family of eight in a foreign land, he also never expected that a revolution would occur almost sporadically and organically as we watched, cheered, protested and prayed from afar. “There is nowhere to go except up,” he reminds me when he hears my disheartened tone. “The blessing of having nothing after this madman’s death is that we have a clean slate to start.” He says this to me over the phone, with hope in his voice. Thousands of miles away, I know precisely the look on my father’s face as he says this. His eyes are downcast and he means every word. My belief in my country is founded in my father’s unshakable certainty. “We are a people who believe in the Greatness and Majesty of God, above all else,” he says. “We know [that] just as things fall and [shatter], they are rebuilt into a something we cannot even dream of yet. It is just a matter of time. Our people sacrificed their own blood for this freedom. It will not be lost.” And just like any daughter listening to her father’s words of hope and faith, I believe.
Sumiah Aduib, a California-based Libyan American journalist, visited her homeland for the first time after the Feb. 17th Revolution.
Hope and Faith I lived my whole life hearing stories of my beloved homeland. I remember watching my father’s eyes glaze over as he spoke of the wondrous desert he missed, the Bedouinlike methods used to thrive in the heat, the siblings he no longer knew, the father who passed away in his absence. Libya was our Promised Land. And just
Images of the former dictator in compromising poses and degrading forms fill the streets of the cities he once ruled with an iron fist.
Electronic Funds Transfer —
A good deed done regularly!
You can make a significant impact on the quality of ISNA’s services by contributing through EFT. As little as $10 per month will help ISNA to serve the Muslim American community through effective communication to media organizations, government and civic agencies on behalf of all Muslim Americans.
Sign up today to donate through EFT. www.isna.net/donate Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Around the World
One Ummah, Raising Its Voice ISNA convention attendees rally for Syria near the White House By Eman Sahloul
n Sunday Sept. 2, several hundred Americans marched across D.C. in protest of the 18-month regime crackdown in Syria. With more than 30,000 people killed, close to 3 million displaced, an increasing medical and food crisis unfolding and a continued paralysis of the international people, the American community reached a breaking point in its ability to just sit back and wait. “The protest is necessary to show the world that 18 months in, we are still as adamant as ever about the need to help Syria and that we will be relentless until our country
is free,” said Lilah Khoja, a Syrian living in Los Angeles. The march that started from the convention center and was led by an embellished pickup truck, decorated with Syrian flags, equipped with loudspeakers blaring leading chants like “Leave us, Oh Bashar,” and “This is a Revolution, not a Civil War.” As the procession reached the White House, dozens of volunteers escorted the march away from the White House and across the street toward Lafayette Square, where the protest continued in front of a preset stage. “We stood in front of the White House
to tell Americans that their silence is killing Syrians and to support the Syrians who refuse to be silenced. We will stand with the Syrian people till the end,” said Sana Khatib, one of the organizers of the protest. The speaker list included Imam Zaid Shaker, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, Sheikh Jamal Said, Dr. Hatem Bazian, and spoken-word performances by Omar Offendum and Amal Kassir. “The rally on Sunday was timed perfectly to capitalize on the presence of the ISNA convention; not only in terms of guaranteeing a larger turnout but also by securing some of the most well-respected Muslim-American voices in Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir -- each of whom had their own personal connection to Syria that they shared
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
about two hours, with acknowledgements of the Iranian and Kurdish community that came out to support the Syrian cause, a prayer made by Sheikh Jamal Said and some final revolutionary chants by Ammar Sunbulli, another Chicagoan organizer of the protest. “The D.C. protest, in my eyes, was a huge success,” said Abdullah Al Dahhan, an activist who drove out from Michigan for the
rally. “A few dedicated and hard-working activists were able to gather individuals from across the country in one location to voice their anger and show how they oppose the brutal regime of Syria. That alone was a feat worth commending.” A nationwide “Walk for Syria” also took place spanning 18 cities on Sept. 8.
Eman Sahloul is a junior at Benedictine University studying biochemistry and global affairs.
with passion and nuanced perspective,” said performer Omar Offendum. “The other speakers displayed the plurality of Syrian society perfectly, with AssyrianChristian and Alawite representatives energizing the crowd and dispelling sectarian myths about the opposition. The youthful, poetic voices of Amal and all the various chant leaders reminded us of how positive the future of our beloved homeland can truly be, and just how important it is to remain hopeful and optimistic in these difficult times,” he said. The protest continued for Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Speed Bumps in the Path of Parenting Resolving parental conflicts and sending a unified message to our children By Kiran Ansari
ou see pictures of the “ideal Muslim family” in brochures and nasheed videos. A bearded dad with a son in a kufi and Mom and daughter, donning hijabs, are smiling from ear-to-ear as they walk hand-in-hand to the mosque. Or you might see images of families gathering after dinner to discuss a hadith, the father leading the prayer at home and a bevy of kids eagerly following him. Yes, some families are lucky to have this ideal scenario in their lives, but others are not. If both partners have a similar R.Q (religion quotient), parenting is much easier. There is no bickering about waking up for fajr, about not eating from a particular restaurant or clothes shopping with pre-teen girls. Everyone is on the same page and life is good. However, in many cases like the Sidiki* family in Trenton, NJ, this Utopian existence is limited to magazine advertisements. At their home, Dad stays home while Mom is 48
bitter about chauffeuring the children to the mosque. Dad feels his only responsibility is to earn. He doesn’t stop them from attending mosque activities, but he is never a part of it. “It bothers me when my sons don’t see their Dad go to the masjid,” Habeeba Sidiki says. “I am singlehandedly responsible for my children’s tarbiyah [moral development]. If I don’t do it, they won’t develop a strong bond with the masjid and will end up like their Dad.” The roles are reversed in the Hammad* household in San Diego, Calif., but the issues
are eerily similar. Tarek is concerned that since his wife does not wear the hijab and wears capris and sleeveless tops, she is setting the wrong example for their young daughters who may want to dress like Mom. “My wife is a fabulous mother and may Allah accept all her good deeds, but when it comes to dressing, we get into fights for the sake of our girls,” Hammad says. “I became more aware of my religious obligations much after we got married and I hoped she would change, too.” We posed these scenarios to Madiha Haroon, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Naperville, Ill. She has been counseling individuals, couples, families and adolescents since 1998. “In such situations, I hear more of an ‘I’ than a ‘we,’ which raises a red flag right,” Haroon says. “If I don’t take them to the masjid, they won’t go and I want my girls to dress more modestly. Our conversations need to begin with what both parents want and how you will come to a decision as a couple. The ‘we’ needs to be there.”
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Intention Check In Islam, actions are based on intentions and it is crucial to keep that in check. Do we take our teens to religious study circles to portray a holier-than-thou attitude to our partner or are we doing it to raise better children? If you are doing it for the right reasons, than any effort needs a prerequisite, and that is duaa. Whether it is specific duaa you read in times of difficulty or just utilizing your personal hotline with your Creator in any language, we need to couple our effort with right intentions and prayer. “If you take the kids to the masjid as a way to ‘get back’ at your husband, then it is not going to work for you or your children,” Haroon says. “Mom shouldn’t shoulder more responsibility as a way to belittle Dad.” Instead of saying how Dad needs to get his act together, phrases like, “Dad isn’t ready to go to the mosque regularly yet” and “We should respect his decision and pray he joins us soon” may be more honest responses as opposed to always making excuses for him. “As two adults, spouses cannot be clones of one another,” Haroon says. “You cannot force something on another adult, but you
should try your best to have a united front for the kids.” It may sound hypocritical to show the kids that the parents agree when they actually don’t, but for a five-year-old, the stability they get from knowing the two most important people in their lives want the same thing can be worth it. For older kids already picking up on parental disagreements, it might be more realistic to explain that while Mom and Dad don’t see eye-to-eye on an issue, they have agreed to meet in the middle for the sake of family unity. For a Mom to say, “I am not ready to wear the hijab yet, but I am very proud of your decision” is better than having your
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
head in the sand and ignoring that this conflict exists. Haroon is seeing more of a trend these days where one parent is more religiously inclined than the other. She feels that there is not enough research done as it is a relatively newer phenomenon, but it is something that should not be ignored. Perhaps nowadays people have Islamic information at their fingertips—literally—with smart phones and tablets. The average age of couples going for Hajj has been decreasing. Add to that, seminars on weekends and webcasts by young scholars, there is an abundance of information available. Younger Muslims are learning that you can practice your faith while going to school or climbing the corporate ladder.
Rewind: Choosing a Partner Some parenting conflicts can be avoided if you marry someone close to you on the piety spectrum; but it is not a guarantee. Oftentimes, even though a practicing Muslim realizes that his potential spouse is not as religiously inclined as he is, he hopes “she will change over time” and some parents just find solace in the fact that “at least he’s marrying a Muslim.”
Family Life However, if we were to follow our role model, we would learn from the Prophet Muhammad that: “A woman is married for four reasons, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her piety. So you should marry the pious woman otherwise you will be losers.” (Narrated by Abu Huraira, in Sahih al-Bukhari & Muslim) “Whoever comes to you and you’re pleased with their deen and character (khuluq) marry them! If you don’t, there will be corruption and great harm in the earth.” (Narrated by At-Tirmidhee)
Uncovering the “Why” Behind the “No” “Everything is not this black-and-white. We cannot make sweeping assumptions about why a dad is not taking his children to the masjid (or any other issue) without acknowledging that there might be many factors involved,” says Imam Khalid Latif, chaplain and executive director of the Islamic Center of New York University. “He might have been hit by the Quran instructor when he was young, he might not be comfortable going to a particular masjid or there might be a bevy of other concerns that only he knows.” Latif believes that it is crucial for both parents to sit with someone that knows the family dynamics and can make an evaluation specific to their circumstances. Is the father robust in other relationships or parenting duties, and is he just lacking in the religious education department, or is he an uninvolved parent all around? The communication between the couple shouldn’t be argumentative or confrontational, but should try to unearth the root of the problem. He believes that at times, adults also need incentives and positive reinforcement rather than always being nagged. And while taking the children to activities and playing an active role in their lives is important, so is letting the children know that they are loved unconditionally. You need to tell them how much you love them, like the Prophet did, says Latif. In a hadith narrated by Bukhari, a companion, Al-Bara’ said, “I saw the Prophet, peace be upon him, when al-Hasan was on his shoulder. He was saying, ‘O Allah, I love him, so love him.’” According to Barbara Frazier, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist in Gainesville, Fla., different parenting styles 50
4 Steps to
Resolving a Parenting Conflict
Conflicting parenting styles can leave children confused as to what the “real” rules are. They might feel responsible for a conflict between parents and feel they have to choose sides. The tug of war can leave them anxious, depressed and confused or valuing one parent more than the other. So what can you do?
❶ Review Your Parents’ Parenting Styles
Begin by talking about how each parent was raised in their family. Pick four points of interest such as discipline, decision making, show of love and affection, and participation in activities. How were these areas played out in each family? Ask each other questions: Who was the disciplinarian? What kinds of consequences were levied? Were the parents strict or lenient? Sometimes adults have not really thought this through in a way that puts together a real picture of how they were raised, how it impacted them, what went well, what didn’t and more importantly, how they feel about it. Also, by going through the process together and listening to what the other has to say, they begin to establish “cooperative working ground” to begin to build their own parenting style.
❷ Define Values and Parenting Strategies
List the primary values you wish to impart to your children and what kind of parenting strategies you will use. For example, under “enhancing self-esteem,” you might list activities such as making use of praise and recognition, encouraging specific talents, helping your children voice their feelings etc.
❸ Identify Conflicts and Compromise
List the areas of disagreement in values and parenting strategies. After you have recognized the differences, begin to work toward a compromise. Remember that all values and strategies must have the best interest of the child as the goal.
❹ Seek a Third Party for Help
The important point is not to let the problem go on as your children will pay the price, and so could your marriage. It’s in everyone’s best interest to solve parenting issues as quickly as you can so you can enjoy the experience of being a parent while also giving your children the best that you have and they deserve. Excerpted with permission from Barbara Frazier, MSW, from The Successful Parent.
is the No. 1 issue that couples bring to marriage counseling. “Parents feel a great deal of responsibility where their children are concerned, so parenting decisions have a high level of importance that often is quite emotionally charged,” Frazier says. “Most of us come with a parenting style, even though we may not be aware of it. When we become parents ourselves, the blueprint from our own families of origin are already set.”
Fast Forward: Do Not Despair Parenting can come with some pride, but it should come with an ego. We shouldn’t feel like I am the only one who can do a good job raising the kids Even if both parents were on the same page in the parenting guidebook, there is no guarantee that they will raise stellar kids. Even prophets had problems with their children.
Prophet Nuh preached for more than 900 years, but his son did not accept his teachings until the very end. Similarly, Prophet Yaqub had exemplary children like Prophet Yusuf but he also had other sons who were willing to abandon their younger brother in a well. Just like the quantity of children you are blessed with is ultimately decided by Allah, so is their quality. We need to do our best effort by providing them with a stable environment by resolving conflicts amicably, by ensuring they move in good company to practice their faith and then after we have tried our best—we need to leave the rest to the Most Knowing, the Most Wise.
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the interviewees Kiran Ansari lives with her husband and two children near Chicago, Ill. When she is not writing, fixing dinner or sorting sibling squabbles, she works on her new business venture, www.upanotchgifts.com
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Preserving Life While Maintaining Sanctity in Death Examining the religious, ethical and personal questions Muslims face in joining organ donation lists. By Majid Mohiuddin
n 2009, the PBS series “Wide Angle” ran a documentary called the “Heart of Jenin” about a 12-year-old Palestinian boy. Ahmed Khatib was shot in the West Bank in 2005 on Eid-alFitr by Israeli soldiers who thought his toy gun was real. When his life could not be saved, his family donated his heart, lungs, kidneys and liver, and saved the lives of four Jews and two Arabs. “We saw a lot of painful scenes in the hospital. I have seen children in deep need of organs, in deep pain,” said Ahmed’s mother, Abla, after receiving clearance from the mufti of Jenin. “It doesn’t matter who they are. We didn’t specify that his organs would go to Arabs, Christians or Jews. I didn’t want my son to suffer; I didn’t want other children to suffer, regardless of who they are.” Tissue and organ transplantation is an emotionally charged issue everywhere. In 2011, 72,700 Americans were on the active transplant organ waiting list. Every 12 minutes, another name is added to the national list. An average of 18 people die each day waiting. While 85 percent of Americans support the concept of organ transplantation, only 42 percent have made any personal decision on the matter. Where do Muslim Americans stand on the issue? What is Tissue and Organ Transplantation? Many of us are familiar with living donations of blood and bone marrow. Common organs that can be transplanted from humans after death are the heart, liver, lungs, pancreas, and eyes. A person only needs one kidney and can donate the other whether alive or dead. There are also many tissue donations that can be given after death (cadaveric), like bone, skin, cornea, arteries and veins, tendons and ligaments, and heart valves. All greatly improve the lives of many patients.
The major barriers to tissue and organ transplantation include the preservation and transport of organs, inequitable distribution of resources and medical expertise, high costs in developing countries, black market trafficking, and a lack of education on the topic. These raise many ethical concerns and require communication between Islamic jurists and the medical community about evolving technologies and the growing needs of patients.
Overview of Islamic Bioethics Since every science impacts society, it necessarily has an ethical dimension attached to it. Fatwas (legal opinions) by ethical jurists are based on the sharia, but if there is no explicit precedent, then an opinion is deduced using ijtihad (personal effort), taking local customs (‘uref) and habits (‘aadah) into consideration. This allows Islamic ethics to remain grounded in tradition but flexible to contemporary Muslim needs. Fatwas may vary geographically given the differing legal, medical, and financial situations of each nation. The Muslim jurist usually follows four guiding principles: necessity overrides prohibition (usually in dire circumstances, such as eating pork if starving); removal of harm at every cost if possible; accepting the lesser of two harms if neither can be avoided; and the public interest overrides the individual interest. Islam shares the same four biomedical ethical principles as the West— autonomy, beneficence, non-malfeasance, and justice—but tends to emphasize justice and beneficence over autonomy when a conflict with the public good arises.
Transplantation and Islam Tissue and organ transplantation has been addressed as early as the 1960s by both Sunni and Shia’ thinkers. The issue is a balance of two beliefs. The first view of seeking medical attention is reflected by the hadith, “Seek
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
treatment, for God the Exalted did not create a disease for which He did not create a treatment, except senility” (Abu Dawud). The second belief, forbidding mutilation of corpses, is seen in the hadith, “Breaking the bones of the deceased is like breaking it when he was alive” (Abu Dawud). Based on the first guiding principle that a necessity outweighs the prohibition, the majority of Sunni and Shia jurists say that tissue and organ transplant is permissible because the needs of the living outweigh the dead. The Quran [5:32] says that “if anyone saves a life, it is as if he saved the life of all mankind.” Another hadith states that “whoever helps a brother in difficulty, God will help him through his difficulties on the Day of Judgment.” Therefore, in 1988 the Assembly Council in Saudi Arabia passed Resolution 26.1.41 that allowed the use of living or cadaveric organs for transplantation. Some differences in opinion appear among Muslim jurists when weighing special considerations about the donor source of the organ.
Living Donors Organ donation by living donors is allowed as long as two criteria are met: the life of the living is not put in risk (i.e., makes the donor too sick to live or kills him), and the donation is made with free will since there is no compulsion for non-obligatory acts in
CURE BILAL Unfortunately, bone marrow is not donated nearly enough. At ISNA 2011, a bone marrow registry drive called “Cure Bilal” was held in honor of a 15 yearold boy suffering from acute leukemia, Bilal Mallick. Unfortunately, his siblings were not a similar donor match for transplantation and so his family had to look to the US national pool of bone marrow donors for a close genetic match along ethnic lines. Since South Asians as a community are reluctant to register, Bilal only had a 2% chance of finding a donor, and he consequently died in February 2011. Unfortunately, it never seems to be ‘your’ issue until it affects you or someone you know.
Family Life organ may become compromised as there is a limited time to transplant. In actual practice in the U.S., 99 percent of deceased organ donations come from “brain-dead” donors, usually in the ICU due to trauma, according to Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.
Brain Dead Donors
religion. The third guiding principle accepts this situation because it chooses the lesser of two harms: one patient dies and one lives, or two live with slight physical deformities. The Muslim Law Council of UK, based on Sunni and Shia consensus, stated in 1995: “It is permissible for a living person to donate part of the body such as the kidneys to save the life of another, provided that the organ donated would not endanger the donor’s life and that it might help the recipient.” This is considered an act of merit and in certain circumstances an obligation and has been upheld by the Shariah Academy of the Organization of Islamic Conference (all Muslim countries), Grand Ulema Council of Saudi Arabia, Iranian Religious Authority, and AlAzhar of Egypt. The benefit of using living donors is that it provides healthy organs, there is time to ensure proper genetic matching, and there is time for psychological preparation of donor and recipients.
Cadaveric Donors Cadaveric transplantation refers to use of the tissues and organs after a person has died. The rights of the dead include sanctity and wholeness of the body, but the need to save a life can override this injunction. Earlier opinions that worried more about body mutilation reversed when the benefits were seen with increasing medical expertise. If there is no will or organ donor card, then the family may consent but is not obliged. There are three concerns when it comes to cadavers: body mutilation, proper burial, and the concept of body’s ownership and 52
its consent. Regarding the dead body, the hadith about “breaking the bones of the deceased is like breaking it when he was alive” (Abu Dawood 2792) can be interpreted two ways—are the living and dead similar “in respect to the dignity given to the body”, or the “actual pain felt” by the dead body. Most jurists believe the former, while a few South Asian scholars believe the latter and therefore do not allow body parts to be removed. Muslims bury their dead promptly along with any body parts that have been separated from the body. Organ donation should not cause a delay in burial in the U.S., especially if articulated clearly by the family in advance, but some Muslim and orthodox Jewish scholars have expressed reservations. Some South Asian scholars view the body as a trusteeship from God and must not be desecrated at all. They allow xenotransplantation (from animals into humans). Other Muslim jurists view “ownership of the body and its parts” as similar to our ownership of wealth and property. They belong to God and we take care of them, but they should be shared as needed and are of greater use to the living. The Quran Chapter 57, verse 7 states: “Spend of that whereof He has made you trustees. And such of you as believe and spend (in God’s Way), theirs will be a great reward.” The benefit of cadaveric transplants is that no harm is done to a living donor, and that multiple organs can help many people. A deceased body can save or improve the life of up to 10 people. In 1998, one deceased volunteer firefighter was able to help 422 people with tissue transplants. The problem with cadaveric organ transplant is that the
The majority opinion is that “braindeath” is an acceptable definition of death, but there is still a lack of consensus on the issue. The traditional Islamic definition of physical death is when the heart stopped beating and the body grew cold. Metaphysical death is when the ruh (spirit) departs and the body is not animated, and consequently the nafs (soul) separates from the body. Scholars were initially fearful because in brain-death, the heart can still beat and the body is not necessarily cold. They did not want to allow potential homicide if the soul had not yet departed. Brain-death represents a case where the brain no longer functions but the patient can be kept “alive” via artificial breathing machines and medications. The 1968 Harvard definition of brain-death (see table) was adopted in 1970 by the U.S. President’s Council on Bioethics and soon by the majority of international associations and countries, with a few exceptions like China and Japan. In most cases, if the medical interventions are removed, the “brain-dead” body would expire naturally. In such a case, Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s recommended the cessation of intensive medical support because braindeath represents such profound damage and is irreversible. He issued a fatwa to create legal mechanisms for a transparent organ donation system from brain-dead donors and as a means to prevent a black market. Thus, most modern Shias have allowed the harvesting of brain-dead patients as long as an expert can pronounce death. Many Sunnis have also allowed it, but it is not at the same level of consensus amongst Sunni jurists. The Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) states that organs can be donated after “death,” which should be determined by a specialist physician, “when cardiopulmonary function has come to a permanent stop” and “the function of the brain, including the brainstem, has come to a permanent stop, even if some other organs
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
may continue to show spontaneous activity.” The Muslim Law Council of UK has also stated that brain-death is an acceptable diagnosis of death.
Other related issues The majority of Muslim opinions do not bar the receiving or donating of organs from or to Muslims or non-Muslims. The donated organ is no longer unclean when put in a new body and Islamic jurists allow xenotransplantation of porcine (pig) hearts or valves into Muslims when necessary. In most countries, donor organizations need to be perceived as fair and non-discriminatory towards both the donors and recipients. In addition, in North America, there are no additional costs to the deceased or family if organs are donated after death.
Harvard Definition of Brain Death, 1968 • Unresponsiveness • No spontaneous movement • Apnea (not breathing) off ventilator for 3 minutes • No reflexes present including brain-stem • No evidence of depressant drug use • Isoelectric Electrocardiogram • Above, repeated after 24 hours
Beliefs Translating into Actual Practice About 90 percent of Americans support donation, but only 30 percent know the essential steps to become a donor. Only 40 percent of potential organ donors and 24 percent of potential tissue donors actually become one. Beyond religious belief, there are emotional responses and cultural values that translate into actual practice. In reality, most potential organ donors are identified after trauma in the ICU, meaning the family is facing an enormous emotional crisis and not ready to think about it. Those most likely to donate are younger women of higher educational, socioeconomic status who are knowledgeable about organ donation or personally know someone who has donated/ benefited from the
FATWA IN FAVOUR OF ORGAN TRANSPLANT SOURCE
Sheikh H Makloof, Grand Mufti EGYPT
Sanctioned Corneal Transplant
Sheikh H. Mamoon, Grand Mufti EGYPT
Sanctioned Corneal Transplant
Islamic Hureidi, Grand Mufti EGYPT
Sanctioned Organ Transplant
Islamic International Conference MALAYSIA
Sanctioned Organ Transplant
Islamic Supreme, Council ALGIERS
Sanctioned Organ Transplant
Shaikh Khater, Grand Mufti Egypt
Allowed harvesting skin from unidentified corpses
Jordanian Supreme Council for Fatwa
Sanctioned organ Transplants
Saudi Grand Ulama
Sanctioned Corneal Transplants
Sheikh Gad Al-Haq, Grand Mufti Egypt
Sanctioned Liver from Cadaver donation
Kuwaiti Fatwa (Ministry of Endowment)
Sanctioned organ transplant
SAUDI Grand Ulama
Sanctioned Organ Transplant
Islamic World League Fatwa
Sanctioned Organ Transplant
3rd International Conference of Islamic Jurists (OIC)
Equated Brain Death With Cardiac Death
4th International Conference of Islamic Jurists (OIC)
Sanctioned Transplant and prohibited commercialism and trafficking
8th International Conference of Islamic Jurists (OIC)
Discussed transplantation from embryo
1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6)
CONCLUSION: ORGAN TRANSPLANT
Transplantation is ethical. Live donor (multiple organs) and cadaver organs can be used. NO FINANCIAL transaction should be involved. Cadaver must be certified by a group of physicians to have suffered Brain Death. Decision of brain death should be made by more than one doctor. The doctors taking the decision should not be members of the transplant team.
process. They usually demonstrate altruistic behaviors like volunteer work or blood donation. They often trust the doctor and the medical system, unlike minorities.
Bringing it home
Islam actually encourages live and cadaveric donation, but because death is a difficult issue, many Muslims err on the side of inertia. Unfortunately, this means many “parts of the Ummah body” are suffering without end in sight. This unwillingness to deal with issues of our own mortality is ironic given Islam’s promotion of the awareness of death, the Afterlife, and the need for a legal will. Abuses in countries overseas may color our impression of transplantation, despite many safeguards in U.S. hospitals. As a minority, we may feel distrustful, but this also puts us at great risk, as Bilal Mallick’s case demonstrates. Relying on the general donor pool is not enough to save our own communities.
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
People wishing to designate themselves as a tissue and organ donors should discuss the issue (along with their will) with family much in advance, to lessen their additional emotional crisis in an untoward event. In the U.S. and Canada, most cadaveric organ donations are from brain-dead patients, and IMANA here and most Islamic organizations elsewhere allow it. Muslims should trust their bodies back to God, as this body was never ours to begin with. Many have a conservative Muslim fear of maintaining the “integrity of the body” in the grave, but the Quran (75:3-4) reminds us, “Does man think that We will not assemble his bones? Yes. We are able even to proportion his fingertips.” In death, the charity we give back in terms of knowledge, money or organs may help build me a more lasting abode in Paradise.
Majid Mohiuddin, MD is an oncologist and writer currently living in Houston, TX. He often deals with end-of-life issues and medical ethics.
Obituaries Samir Yousef Jaber
Mohammad Aslam Cheema
1945 – 2012
1927 – 2012
By Asma Jaber
A Life of Service to Islam and Muslims
loving husband; a selfless father of five; an exemplary grandfather of eleven; a devout leader of a mosque; a knowledgeable teacher to his entire community—Samir Yousef Jaber passed away in Greenville, S.C. on Aug. 5 at the hands of a drunk driver. Born in the holy city of Nazareth, Jaber grew up in Palestine as a refugee in a small village north of the West Bank city of Ramallah. Orphaned at nine years old, he was the sole provider for his family and survived multiple wars in the Middle East. He migrated to South Carolina in 1971 with his wife in order to seek a better life for his children. Rima and Nawal are now school teachers; his only son, Naser, an engineer; Laila works in federal government, and Asma is a graduate student at Harvard University. Jaber’s history with the Muslim community in Greenville dates back to the 1980s when he and several other Muslims in the area began praying and offering classes within the homes of Muslim families. Soon, when the Muslim population outgrew these homes, a few committed Muslims (with Jaber as a key player)—established The Islamic Society of Greenville (ISG) in 1987. Jaber standing in front of the mosque Jaber served as an imam he helped established and beside the of the mosque in the early fig tree he planted. 1990s; in addition, he held several positions, such as secretary, vice president, and ISG executive member. Finally, Jabir was a key player in uniting diverse Muslim communities in Greenville. If tensions ever arose, he would smooth the situation. He once lectured the Arab community that unity is power; with his grace and articulate delivery, they listened, and the community remained united. “He was very instrumental in uniting our community. He guided our community and was helpful to everyone, young or old,” said a fellow Muslim and a long-term friend of the late imam. Although he was unable to continue formal education due to the brutal Israeli occupation and to economic hardships, Jabir will be remembered for the fact that he was a scholar of Islam, history, and politics. He will be remembered for his stories of Palestine and for his impeccable command of Islamic knowledge and the Arabic language. He will be remembered for the fig trees he planted, for his joyful chuckle, and for the candies and pastries he distributed to bank tellers, his nurses and doctors, and to workers at every grocery store he ever entered. He will be remembered for his resilience and for his heart of gold. He is survived by his wife, Saida Jaber, his sister and his five children—Rima, Nawal, Naser, Laila, and Asma.
r. Mohammad Aslam Cheema, who devoted his life to serving the Muslim community, died in Milwaukee, Wis., on Aug. 22. He served as a member of the ISNA Majlis Shura from 1985 to 1988; as trustee of the North American Islamic Trust from 1988 to 1990; president of the American Muslim Council from 1993 to 1996, serving for many years on its board of directors; and most recently working to form a political action committee to defend the rights of U.S. Muslims. Cheema lived in the Milwaukee area since 1972. He was one of the early founders of the organization that later came to be known as the Islamic Society of Milwaukee (ISM). He served as the president of the ISM from 1986 to 1988. In recent years, Cheema has served on the ISM Board of Trustees, first as its secretary from 2004 to 2009 and then as its chairman from 2009 until his death. In addition to serving as ISM president in its early years, he held a variety of other positions with the ISM or its predecessor organizations from 1976 to 1986. Cheema was born in present-day Faisalabad, Pakistan. He graduated from college in 1946 and from King Edward Medical College (now University) in Lahore, Pakistan in 1951. He came to the U.S. and completed an internship, residency and postgraduate training in cardiothoracic surgery at Chicagoarea hospitals from 1956 to 1962, obtaining a diploma from the American Board of Surgery and American Board of Thoracic Surgery in 1962. He was a fellow with the American College of Surgeons, American College of Cardiology and the American College of Thoracic Surgeons. Cheema is survived by his daughter, Tehmina Akbar (married to Dr. Nisar Akbar), a grandson, Firaas Akbar, and a granddaughter, Emaan Akbar. Cheema’s wife, Sorraiya, preceded him in death. “Dr. Aslam Cheema was a great Pakistani, a great American, and a great Muslim physician, but more importantly, he was a great human being of our preceding generation,” said Ghulam N. Mir of the ISNA Founders Committee. “Beside possessing many wonderful attributes, he was a humble professional with many accomplishments.” Dr. Ahmad Totonji, a founder of MSA, said Cheema “was indeed one of the pioneer Islamic workers in North America, since 1960s. I feel honored to have known him and have worked with him to make the Islamic work in America and bring it to the level which has reached. The Muslim Ummah in the U.S. has really lost a great leader.” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said of him, “Dr. Cheema was known for his kind and gentle nature, for his calm wisdom and for his commitment to community service. His presence in the state and national community will be truly missed.”
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Khaja Qutubuddin 1937 – 2012 Engineering a Dream of Faith
haja Qutub-ud-Din, who came to the U.S. in 1964, was a pioneer in many ways. Orphaned at the age of four, he survived the partition of India, and lived through and overcame extreme poverty. A graduate of Chicago State University, he served as civil engineer for the City of Chicago until his retirement. He died Sept. 11, 2012, after a threeyear battle with cancer. Seeking a clear justification for himself for choosing to live and raise his family in the U.S., he made a conscious effort to commit to do dawah. He was appointed the first “Ameer” of the Tabligh Jamat in Chicago. However, within six months, he offered it to someone whom he felt would do greater justice to such an enormous task. He traveled both nationally and internationally spreading the Deen, investing from his time and his money. He organized and led the first dawah group from the U.S. to travel to South America, to spread the word of God. He was the first to lead a dawah group for families from Chicago to New York in 1978; a journey by train. He was the first to bring together a group of like-minded individuals in search of Muslims in their neighborhood, and invite them to prayer. His efforts were not limited to his community, but he made a choice to reach out to the larger Muslim and non-Muslim community, as well. In 1966, Qutubuddin met with Elijah Muhammad in an effort to build bridges and convey Islam’s true message. Subsequently, he met with boxing champion Muhammad Ali. He was one of the first volunteer groups that formed for the MSA for delivering Islamic books and resources to Muslims who requested them. He strived to work under the umbrella of “one Ummah” and purposefully chose not be identified by a group or label, but as a Muslim American. Qutubuddin was a visionary. He knew that the success of Muslims in America was dependent on their ability to retain their Islamic identity while knowing and fulfilling their rights as Muslim Americans. He sent his 14-year-old son to London to become an ‘alim (scholar), one of the first American-born Muslims to travel down this path. In 1986, concerned that there were no Islamic schools in the U.S., he directed his daughter to obtain a degree in education to serve Muslims in America. He believed in raising his children with faith and haya’ (modesty). His desire to do the right thing regardless of personal sacrifice was evident by the fact that he raised two of his daughters in India, because then the community was too small to support an environment that was conducive to raising children with a proper upbringing. Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
As a city engineer who was assigned to the reconstruction of O’Hare Airport for more than a decade; he would bring home Muslims who landed in Chicago and had no family. They stayed with him, often for months until they could find a job and a place to live. He was always concerned about his neighbors. Although he was battling cancer for the last three years, he remembered his neighbor Joe, who was sick as well. When he visited India each year, he would bring back a year’s medications—the prescription equivalents being much cheaper there—for him without ever taking a penny. When he became too sick to travel to India himself, he made sure that his children would bring back the medicines for Joe, when they visited. He did this until Joe passed away in 2011. For the past 10 years, when he visited India each year, he would walk though the neighborhoods after Fajr prayer. He would seek out those who faced difficulties, and assist them in whatever way he could; from helping to feed a family, to freeing a wrongly imprisoned young man at his father’s request, to providing a means of livelihood for a family, by purchasing them an auto-rickshaw. He was one of the main supporters of an orphanage for 250 girls in Gulburga, India. He chose to spend his vacation and retirement time living among them, to ensure that they were being properly taken care of and educated. He made great efforts to expand the educational program of studies at the orphanage; starting with a high school program to eventually adding a college program. He offered scholarships to top students. He tried to help anyone whom he came across in a meaningful and beneficial way, on a personal and individual basis. Qutubuddin is survived by his devoted wife of 52 years, five children—Baseerat Javed, Nusrat Ahmed, Farhat Siddiqui, Khaja Shuaibuddin and Khaja Mohiuddin—sixteen grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Electronic Funds Transfer — A good deed done regularly! You can make a significant impact on the quality of ISNA’s services by contributing through EFT. As little as $10 per month will help ISNA to serve the Muslim American community through effective leadership and state of the art training seminars for imams, Muslim chaplains and community leaders.
Sign up today to donate through EFT. www.isna.net/donate 55
Reviews Video Reviews
Neglected Voices Unveiled Muslim Canadians have initiated a documentation project that can be replicated across U.S. and Canada.
By Tendesai Cromwell
uslims have been a part of the fabric of Canadian society for generations, and many have embarked upon the difficult task of forging a balanced Canadian Muslim identity. Even with the passage of time and deeper roots in Canada, little has changed for Muslim youth who still endure many challenges in their search for identity. During times when Islam and Muslims are under immense scrutiny, a great need exists to document and express the Canadian Muslims’ oftneglected narratives. In recognition of this priority, The Tessellate Institute, Torontobased nonprofit research institute, undertook two timely initiatives: “Neglected Voices” and “Giving Ourselves a Voice.” “Neglected Voices,” funded by the Olive Tree Foundation, and cosponsored by MENTORS (Muslim, Education, Network, Training and Outreach Service) features four Canadian Muslim youth who, in short five minute “point-of-view” films, recount their unique experiences of being Canadian Muslim with all the attendant challenges and successes. “Giving Ourselves a Voice,” funded by the Toronto Arts
Council, and sponsored by several Muslim community groups (see website for sponsorships), was an intense media training workshop, run by Jawad Jafry—the brain behind many aspects of the Adam’s World series, as well as the director and producer of the “Neglected Voices” films—and a team of media professionals. Aspiring young Muslim documentarians spent two weekends learning the art and skills of pre- and post-production. The products are almost entirely that of the young filmmakers, with the professional media team providing oversight and guidance. Each video presents a short snapshot into the lives of these youth in their own words. “Giving Ourselves a Voice” features two Canadian Muslim women who spoke about their relationship to Islam as it relates to aspects of their daily lives. One of them a convert, who discussed the transition to Islam in her life. Both video series are honest retellings of the experiences, both positive and negative, of being Muslim from mainly in and around the Greater Toronto Area. They spoke of alienation alongside belonging, despair alongside hope, and failure alongside accomplishment. The experience of Muslims in Canada is one of contradictions. Celebrated poet Boona Mohamed, one of the featured youth in “Neglected Voices,” gave a personal testimony, succinctly describing the condition of the Muslims in Canada when he revealed that “sometimes I’m a disappointed Canadian and sometimes I’m a proud Canadian.” Ahmed Saleh spoke of the prejudice he faced on several fronts: his identity as an Arab-African, his association with an urban community, and finally his faith. As he aged, the relationship to Islam transformed so too did his relationship to others and himself as did Kate Kassem, who began wearing hijab after moving to Toronto from western Canada. Fatima Ahmed spoke of the post9/11 Islamophobia she and her family faced. But each of the young Muslims persevered. The featured youth are a diverse group whose only commonality is their mutual faith and the individual paths of success they have tread upon. For instance, one woman is a martial arts instructor; another is an activist and educator. One person is an academic, while another is a poet. Each of them have made valuable contributions to Muslim community and Canadian society at large. It is also a celebration of the diversity of experience for which Canada is celebrated. From these documentary film’s inception, there was a commitment to giving Muslims command over their own narrative, essentially giving them Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
As successive generations of Muslims firmly plant their feet in Canadian soil, narratives that documents the journeys of Muslims will be invaluable tools to aid with navigating society. tools to tell their stories from their own perspective. And because the projects involved connecting established media professionals with young Muslims, it created important and necessary mentorships to advance. Also, by documenting their narratives, the youth are validating their experiences and others like them. It is a familiar conversation to hear many youth talk about straddling two worlds and feeling estranged yet engaged with the wider Western world.
Perhaps the videos will reach the ears of those unfamiliar to the lives of Muslims. Most people are fed a singular representation of Muslims from the media which tends to homogenize and stigmatize. The films will be available online year-end.
Tendisai Cromwell, a Toronto-based journalist and creative writer, most recently contributed a short story to Basodee, a Canadian Black History Month anthology.
On the Convention Screen Festival highlights 19 Films By Eman Shurbaji
he 2012 ISNA convention not only featured fascinating lectures and entertainment, but also a film festival that screened 19 films from around the globe. Films covered a variety of issues, ranging from social ills to nations
struggling to define their existence. For some moviegoers, it was likely an educational experience, but for hundreds of others, it was rare glimpse at the many talents and messages of producers of diverse backgrounds and talents behind the camera lens.
« The Last Message of God
Directed, written and produced by Mujtaba Roozbahani 61 min.
All the films at the festival had a unique storyline or message. Some spoke of demographic or geopolitical barriers, and others spoke of finding reason for our existence. “The Last Message of God” spoke of this motif: questioning human behaviors, all while searching for a higher power. In “The Last Message,” Iranian-Swedish filmmaker Mujtaba Roozbahani presents the compelling story of Michael, a young American man living in New York who begins to question the meaning of life. He wonders what our true purpose is on earth and what life is all about. He first begins to ponder these questions in the vicinity of his home, over breakfast and on his way to work. Michael then embarks on a spiritual quest to find a sense of self and purpose. He visits local places of worship, beginning first at a church. There, he meets a priest who explains how Christianity is an uproot of Jewish tradition, and that “God is love.” He then visits a synagogue, where he meets a rabbi who tells him of the seven basic principles of Judaism. In his quest Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Reviews for answers, he travels to different countries, learning about cultures and religions to find the ultimate answer. He first visits Athens, Greece and learns of the ancient Greek Gods and the polytheistic nature of their beliefs. For the ancient Greeks, there was no holy book or moral code; they simply strove to please the gods. After Greece, he visits Egypt, where he learns of the philosophy behind the pharaoh and pyramids. Still searching, he go goes to India to learn more about ancient faiths. There, he meets a Hindu spiritual teacher who explains the beliefs of his respective religion. During his journey, Michael visits Mecca and the Kaaba and discovers the last message of God. He declares that in the struggle against capitalism and creating meaning in our lives, “we carry a mission of God.” The film’s storyline gives the audience the viewpoint of a man who is contemplating life and how to live it. By exposing the audience to other belief systems, he shows why Islam is a religion complete in its tenants and methodology. The film was was a simple one, but had a profound message and gave viewers a taste of what it means to wonder and question. Filmmaker Roozbahani surely sought to bring forth a compelling storyline to his audience, and presenting the ideals of Islam was surely a powerful way of doing that. « Crossing Borders
Written, produced and directed by Arnd Wächter 1 hr., 37 min. Four American and four Moroccan university students unite in Morocco in an effort to better understand each other. Discussions arise about the Western world, religious views, and their similarities and differences. Bonds of friendship are strengthened as they experience Morocco together. « 5 Broken Cameras
Directors: Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi 94 min. Directors Emad Burnat, a Palestinian, and Guy Davidi, an Israeli, document a first-hand account of non-violent resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village threatened by land-grabbing Jewish colonists. The struggle escalates as olive trees are slashed, and a wall is built, further alienating the town. Other featured titles:
Saving Face « Fordson « The Pillars « Pakistan « The Light « One On One In Her Eyes
« Illusive Peace In Kashmir « Soul « Dialogue in Nigeria « BESA: The Promise « African American Pioneer Muslimah in Washingtion D.C. « Islam in America: The Christian Truth « Seder « An American Mosque 58
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Islamophobia Unveiled Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire Deepa Kumar 2012. pp. 220. PB. $17 Haymarket Books, Chicago, Ill.
utgers Prof. Deepa Kumar, neither a Muslim nor an Arab, became deeply conscious of the rising antiIslam and anti-Muslim trend particularly in the U.S. and the West at large when, then a schoolgirl, she was taunted in days following 9/11. Her book is the result of her ten-year study which she exposes the genealogy of this malady that is rooted in colonialism. She deftly unveils the players who are exploiting the created fear into a weapon for imperial dominance. She argues how racism is central to contemporary U.S. imperial politics in ways similar to previous imperial wars, including the one that constituted the United States over the dead bodies of Native Americans. Kumar, demolishing the myths that historical encounters between Islam and the West can be understood through a clash of civilizations framework, highlights that Islamophobia is did not arise spontaneously after the end of the Cold War but is rooted in centuries of conquest and colonialism, from the Crusades to the “War on Terror”. This volume serves as an important means of understanding the malady engulfing the non-Muslim world.
The Spring Examined Islam and the Arab Awakening Tariq Ramadan 2012. pp. 256. HB. $27.95 Oxford University Press USA
amadan offers a thoughtful and nuanced examination of the events being popularly termed the “Arab Spring.” he explores the uprisings, offering a peek into their origin, significance, and possible futures. As early as 2003, he informs, there had been talk of democratization in the Middle East and North Africa. The U.S. government and private organizations set up networks and provided training for young leaders, especially in the use of the Internet and social media, and the West abandoned its unconditional support of authoritarian governments (often in countries traditionally not associated with the “West”). The West, however, he adds did not create the uprisings. The one lesson that emerges is that these mass movements and their consequences cannot be totally controlled. Something irreversible has taken place: dictators have been overthrown without weapons. The democratic processes, he points out, are only beginning to emerge, and unanswered questions remain. The questions are what role will religion play? How should Islamic principles and goals be rethought? Can a sterile, polarizing debate between Islam and secularism be avoided? He offers the palate to understand the issues facing the Muslimmajority nations today.
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Short Takes The Global Offensive: The United States, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Making of the Post-Cold War Order Paul Chamberlin 2012. Pp. 336. HB. $34.95 Oxford University Press USA Chamberlin offers new insights into the rise of the Palestine Liberation Organization in its full international context; the first international history of the Palestinian liberation struggle that draws on Arabic language sources. He reinterprets Arab-Israeli conflict and international terrorism; and connects the PLO to revolutionary struggles in Vietnam, China, Cuba, and Algeria. Anthropomorphic Depictions of God: The Concept of God in Judaic, Christian, and Islamic Traditions: Representing the Unrepresentable Zulfiqar Ali Shah 2012. Pp. 764. PB. $29.95 International Institute of Islamic Thought, Herndon, Va. This study (the print version of his University of Wales doctoral thesis) examines issues of anthropomorphism in the three Abrahamic Faiths, as viewed through the texts of the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and the Quran. Shah also examines Islam’s anti-anthropomorphic stance and Islamic theological discourse on Tawhid as well as the 99 Names of God and what these have meant in relation to Muslim understanding of God and His attributes. Islamic Debt Market for Sukuk Securities: The Theory and Practice of Profit Sharing Investment Mohamed Ariff, Munawar Iqbal, Shamsher Mohamad 2012. Pp. 256. HB. $120.00 Edward Elgar Publishers, Northampton, Mass. The relatively new Arguably the first of its kind, this pathbreaking book provides a highly unique reference tool relating to key issues surrounding sukuk markets, which are found in 12 major financial centers, including Kuala Lumpur, London and Zurich. The internationally-renowned contributors present an in-depth study of sukuk (or Islamic debt securities) markets that have grown to more than US $800 billion over the past decade, and continue to grow at a rate of around 20-30 per cent per year, beginning with a comprehensive definition and history. They discuss Islamic financial concepts and practices that govern how sukuk securities are issued, how markets are carefully regulated to protect investors, and how securities are designed to safeguard invested money. The Quran: With or Against the Bible?: A Topic-by-Topic Review for the Investigative Mind Ejaz Naqvi MD 2012. Pp. 394. PB. $25.95 iUniverse, Bloomington, Ind. Naqvi conducting a topic-by-topic review of the Bible and the Quran, argues the two guidance available to humanity have much similarity, offering an addition to interfaith literature. Going to Mecca Na’ima B. Robert (Author), Valentina Cavallini (Illustrator) 2012. Pp. 32. (age 5+). HB. $17.99 Kube Publishing, Markfield, Leics., Britain Poetic text and illustrations combine to capture the ethos and excitement of this important religious practice and how its rituals are related to the stories of the Prophet Ibrahim and his family. Heavenly Bites: The Best Muslim Cooking Karimah bint Dawood 2012. Pp. 104. PB. $18.00 Kube Publishing, Markfield, Leics., Britain An illustrated multi-national Muslim cookbook, offering
the cuisine from Morocco to Bangladesh — the offerings are as varied as her experiences, a British-Mauritian, born a Catholic, she dabbed with Rastafarianism and later entered Islam.
Food for the Spirit
The Blinding of Spiritual Sight By Imam Mohamed Magid and Samuel Ross
Your striving for what has been guaranteed to you, and your remissness in what is demanded of you, are indications of the blinding your spiritual sight.” The traveler is ever in need of reference points from which to take his bearing and adjust his course: a landmark on the horizon; a star in the night sky, the needle of a compass. This holds true for success in both worldly and spiritual travel. In this beautiful maxim, Ibn ‘Ata Allah draws our attention to a subtle reference point within ourselves: the relationship of our worldly and other-worldly exertions. The commentators explain this maxim that by “what has been guaranteed to you,” Ibn ‘Ata Allah intends that our worldly needs have been guaranteed to us because God is al-Razzaq, the Sustainer (Quran 11:6). This is not to deny the necessity of working for our livelihood; but to remind us that live within our means and according to His commands, we will always be able to eat. By “what is demanded of you,” Ibn ‘Ata Allah intends our worship and adherence to His guidance. As God counsels us: “Worship your Lord and do good, that you may be successful” (22:77). By “spiritual sight [basira],” Ibn ‘Ata Allah intends that a cleansed and purified human heart is capable of perceiving metaphysical realities beyond what the eye can see. The Quran rebukes the Quraysh, “Truly it is not their eyes that are blind, but their hearts which are in their breasts” (22:46). What then are the ways in which we
might be striving for what is guaranteed to us and remiss in what is demanded of us? If we are like most Americans, we probably exert great effort in earning our living. Most are now dual-income families, with the majority of men and women working more than 40 hours per week. Many of us forego vacations and check our work email on weekends. Working hard, of course, in and of itself, is commendable. In a sound hadith, the Prophet has commanded us to work: “Verily God has prescribed excellence in everything” (Sahih Muslim). But does our work ethic extend to our spiritual lives? Worse, does it ever distract us from our connection with God and fulfilling our religious obligations to family and neighbor? To assess our state, let us ask ourselves a few clarifying questions: 1) How often do we think about work? How often do we think about God? 2) How often do we try to please our boss, colleagues, or customers? How often do we try to please God? 3) Are we more likely to delay our work to pray, or to delay our prayers to work? 4) How often do we delay our devotions until just before going to bed and then struggle to focus in them? If our answers are not as we’d like, there are several steps we can take to rectify our work-spirituality balance. First, we should remember that God is
al-Razzaq, the Sustainer, and in ultimate control: our paychecks and expenses originate from Him. For proof, one need look no further than the times we have been the recipient of an unexpected gain, made a fortuitous contact, or chanced upon an opportunity. Similarly, we can recall the times we have lost money to an accident, act of forgetfulness, or illness. The quantity of our labors is thus but one small factor in determining our overall financial state. Second, we should remember that the real reason we labor is to be happy, through the satisfaction our work entails and the material comforts it generates. But ultimately neither of these can ensure happiness; happiness is a state created in the heart by God. Moreover, He has made happiness conditional upon following His guidance. As He promises: “Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer, We will surely cause him to live a good life” (16:97). And “Whosoever turns away from My Reminder, verily, for him is a life of hardship” (20:124). When our connection with God languishes, even if we amass material goods, we will fail to find contentment in them. How many are the examples of wealthy people we may know who are nonetheless depressed or angry? But when we are connected with God, we find contentment in however much we have been apportioned. Indeed some of the poorest people on Earth are among the happiest we will ever meet, because their hearts are rich with the love of God.
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
Third, whenever possible, we should try to pray at the beginning of the time. Doing so helps us prioritize God in our lives, and by consequence, to put our labors in their proper place. Moreover, we should avoid relegating prayers, dhikr, or reading Quran to the final parts of our day when our minds are worn out. God’s Message to us deserves more attention than any other message, speaking to Him with more concentration than any workplace meeting. Fourth, we should ensure that we are fully aware of what God has asked of us. This can only be known through studying our religion, and we should not assume that there is no room for improvement. If we have not studied worship, the major sins, and the diseases of the heart recently, we should make every effort to do so. Fifth, we should think carefully about our priorities in life. Every time we make a purchase we should ask ourselves how much time we will have to work to pay for it. Would this time be better spent in work or in worshipping God? Unfortunately, one common mistake we can fall into is assuming that our hearts are
WHAT SPIRITUAL TOPICS MATTER MOST TO YOU? Please help “Food for the Spirit” better meet your needs by completing a two-minute survey at: www.isna.net/foodforthespiritsurvey in good health merely because we are working for commendable ends. God has made us responsible for our families for example, so by working hard we are fulfilling their God-given rights upon us and thereby worshipping Him. Or by working hard we are making money some of which we give in charity. If we find ourselves saying such things to ourselves, we have to ask if in fact they are the real intention behind our work, or merely an after-the-fact justification for a different real intention. One of the best ways to discern this is to examine the quality of our prayer. As our scholars have observed, our prayer is like a barometer of our relationship with God. If our hearts are truly connected with Him, we would not think of anything but God
Islamic Horizons November/December 2012
when we pray. When we pray, do we find thoughts straying into our minds? Do we find it difficult to stand? If so, it is a good indication that our labors may not be entirely for Him alone. We must strive to improve the quality of our prayer. Until our prayers are characterized by focus, humility, reverence, and love, we should question the extent to which are other daily activities are truly for His sake. We should also remember that children usually become who we are, not what we say. If we neglect our own spiritual lives, we are also neglecting theirs, and there is no greater wealth we could give them than a loving relationship with God. In a famous sound hadith, God says that when His servant draws sufficiently close to Him, he reaches the station of Divine love and “I [God] am his hearing with which he hears, and the sight with which he sees… Were he to ask of Me, I would surely grant it to him. If he were to seek refuge with Me, I would surely protect him” (Sahih Bukhari). May God help us to trust in His sustenance, work sincerely for His pleasure, and may He illumine our inner sights. Ameen.
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168-0038
NON PROFIT ORG. US POSTAGE PAID PERMIT #15 KENT, OH