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November/December 2013/1434 | $4.00 |

Muslims Stand for their Rights  • Giving While Living  • Empowering Expression

ISNA's 50th Annual Convention

A Resolve to Continue Forward


Vol. 42 No. 6 November/December 2013  visit isna online at:

Cover Story 16 A Resolve to Continue Forward

For some attendees, this was their first ISNA convention, while some others had been participating for 10, 20 and even 50 years.

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Muslims in Action

From Sharecropper’s Daughter to Hajjah Risks Worth Taking Empowering Expression Muslim Americans Confront Burma Genocide Muslims Stand for Their Rights Leading Through Action Giving While Living Breaking Barriers


Politics and Society

Islamophobic Groups Well Funded Quebec Devalues Values Caring in Purple Muslims in Europe: Challenges and Opportunities Realizing the Ideal of Diversity


Family Life

54 What’s in a Name?


57 Mohammad Abdul Mateen Chida

46 Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

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Departments Editorial ISNA Matters Community Matters Reviews Food for the Spirit

DESIGN & LAYOUT BY: Gamal Abdelaziz, A-Ztype Copyeditor: Madihah Krishnamurthy. The views expressed in Islamic Horizons are not necessarily the views of its editors nor of the Islamic Society of North America. Islamic Horizons does not accept unsolicitated articles or submissions. All references to the Quran made are from The Holy Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Amana, Brentwood, MD.



50 Years of Shared Experiences


uring Labor Day weekend, thousands of Muslims and people of other faiths and traditions gathered to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of MSA and ISNA — a tradition witnessed by so many past generations, and one that likely will continue on for generations to come. The stories shared with future generations were stories of resolve and selflessness, illuminating how a small idea or project can develop into a higher institution. This issue of “Islamic Horizons” magazine shares an overview of the convention for those who could not attend the events, and will be a keepsake for attendees. This is not confined to reports of what transpired, but also captures the spirit of celebrating and success, and renewing a resolve to continue the task of serving the community. Some organizations celebrate landmarks with decorations and cakes that soon fade away from memory. In keeping with the occasion, ISNA recalled those who had served in founding and building this organization. And in keeping with its mission of service, ISNA joined with Islamic Relief, ICNA Relief and Zakat Foundation to mark this auspicious occasion with an enthusiastically participated Stop Hunger Now service event. Dozens of volunteers across the age spectrum did their part to help the needy by preparing some 40,000 meals. Such initiatives should be replicated at other Muslim events. Such celebrations reflect the Muslim way of thanking God Almighty for


all the achievements and blessings, and sharing with others. This issue includes a report on a Muslim American’s experience participating in a workers’ rights group walk of more than 125 miles in solidarity with undocumented workers. Of course, Muslims thank God for His many blessings but they also need to join with mainstream organizations to speak out for the rights of all people, and indeed initiate Muslimled efforts to serve the less fortunate. Years ago, ISNA began special services, such as sign language interpreters. Since then, more service and attention is being given to the needs of the differently abled. By Muslims taking the lead in being an inclusive and caring community, the support for such initiatives for the differently abled should continue to grow. With the tax year ending, this issue includes an informative article about giving while living. Muslims need to remember the Islamic principle of a balance in life’s matters also applies to giving — providing not only for their own families but also to worthy causes. ISNA has been at the forefront of such initiatives, and itself has a planned giving program within the ISNA Development Foundation that serves the needs of those who wish to institute continuing charity. Next Labor Day weekend, ISNA will host its 51st annual convention in Detroit, God willing. In 2011, Detroit played host to the ISNA Diversity Forum. Let us all join to make the Detroit sojourn another memorable journey in the Muslim American experience.  ■

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

PUBLISHER The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) PRE SID ENT Mohamed Hagmagid Ali Interim Secreta ry Gener a l Iqbal Unus ED IT O R

Omer Bin Abdullah Assista nt Editor Deanna Othman ED IT O RIA L A DVIS O RY B OA RD

Imam Mohamed Magid (acting Chair); Haroon Mughal; Sohaib Sultan; Wafa Unus. ISL AMI 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 @2013 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 MA S T ER

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ISNA Matters in the year of ISNA’s 50th anniversary, commemorating the decades of organized work for Muslims in America. “Fifty years is not a long time to evaluate the long term impact of a new community, but it is a long enough time to look at them and see how the ethnic, linguistic, and racial barriers are broken and how a new blend of American Islam is shaped,” he added. 

Job oppor t u n it ie s

Lifetime Honor Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, ISNA Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances (IOICA) national director, was presented with Council on American-Islamic Relations’ 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award during its 19th annual banquet Sept. 28 in Arlington, Va. The theme of the banquet was “Faith in Freedom.” Dr. Syeed has been actively involved in fostering understanding among world religions and has participated in interfaith dialogue on the local, national and international level. He continues to help further ISNA’s initiatives and partnerships through ongoing cooperation and engagement. During his speech, Dr. Syeed thanked CAIR for “looking after Muslims who may be discriminated against and whose civil rights may be denied … and for working hard toward a better America for everyone.”

Teachers needed “This award is not for me as a person, it is to celebrate the accomplishments of thousands of volunteers, activists, community and religious leaders, from California to New York island, who put their trust and confidence in our vision of building a Muslim community in America,” he said. Dr. Syeed came to the United States to complete his doctoral studies, and during this time, he said he had the “honor to work with a huge diversity of Muslim men and women, of all colors, races, ethnicity and schools of thought — sharing the vision of a common platform and in turn being strengthened and reinforced by their trust, confidence and sincerity.” Coming to live and study in the U.S. was a life-changing experience for him, as it is for many foreign-born students. It set the stage for an emerging generation of pioneers who nurtured and cultivated the Muslim American community to what we have today. Dr. Syeed said he was given this award

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State accredited Islamic school Full-time and Part-time position

MTI, Islamic School of Indianapolis is projecting a growth in its student population for the school year 2013-2014, and we would like to offer the opportunity of employment to qualified teachers in the following positions: · Elementary Homeroom Teachers (grades 1-5) · Arabic and Islamic Studies Teachers (Degree must be from an accredited Islamic or Arab University) · English Teachers (Middle School and High School) · Math and Physics Teachers (Middle and High School) · Social Studies Teachers (Middle and High School) · Studio and Visual Art Teacher (Middle and High School) JOB REQUIREMENTS: 1. Bachelor’s degree in the subject area or closely related field 2. Must have current authorization to be employed in the U.S. 3. Teachers must be certified (preferable) Islamic School of Indianapolis (ISI) is located in Indianapolis, IN. It is the home to a diverse Muslim population and many Islamic Centers in the greater city of Indianapolis area. There are a large variety of Muslim businesses, restaurants, stores and prominent colleges and universities. ISI’s mission is to provide the highest standards of education in an Islamic environment where academic excellence, critical thinking and cultural diversity are celebrated, respected and valued. ISI is a full-time private school with a current enrollment of approximately 200+ students from Pre-K through 12th grade. ISI has been selected and recommended as one of “the best school in Indiana” by “Great Schools” non-profit organization in 2012. Direct all inquiries to:  or  call at 317-923-0328

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

A Growing Partnership Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed spoke at the Religion Communicators Council (RCC) luncheon in Washington, D.C., Sept. 18. ISNA and RCC discovered each other 10 years ago, when RCC had its first conference in Indianapolis. It has been a mutually beneficial relationship. RCC, founded in 1929, was originally focused on communications needs for Christian organizations. Dr. Syeed was a keynote speaker at that conference, as was his close friend, the late Rev. Bob Edgar, secretary general of the National Council of Churches. “The two of us had worked very closely in the post 9/11 environment,” Dr. Syeed said. “At a time when many Islamophobes were trying to use the tragedy to whip up passions against Islam and ISNA, Bob Edgar stood firm in defense of ISNA.” At the time, ISNA invited the entire

RCC conference to dinner at ISNA headquarters in Plainfield, Ind. “Hosting RCC was one of those important steps to educate communicators about our community and about our organization,” Dr. Syeed said. “It was the first visit to a mosque for many of them and to the headquarters of the main Islamic umbrella organization in America.” This relationship launched many projects. In due course, RCC took notice of Islamic Horizons and twice gave it awards in several categories. RCC also opened up its executive board to welcome its first Muslim member. ISNA Director of Communications and Outreach Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi was nominated for the post. It created a channel of communication between the nation’s religious communicators and ISNA. In his address to the RCC in Washington D.C., Dr. Syeed evaluated the develop-

ISNA Chaplaincy Program Director

On Oct. 2, ISNA welcomed Chaplain Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad as its new director of chaplaincy and Islamic endorsing agent. Muhammad was affirmed into the U.S. Army as the first Islamic chaplain in the U.S. Armed Forces in 1993, and became the first full-time Muslim chaplain in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Now retired, he previously served in various positions throughout his military career in the U.S. and abroad. “As the chaplaincy profession continues to grow within our American society, I’m very excited about the role Islamic

chaplaincy will continue to play,” Muhammad said about becoming ISNA’s newest director. “I look forward to meeting [any] challenges and leading our many chaplains, chaplain candidates, and lay leaders, with the dignity and balance that reflect our Islamic faith, its traditions, as well as the mission and vision of the Islamic Society of North America.” ISNA is expanding this vital program, to ensure that Muslim chaplains are getting the appropriate professional training and support needed to help them become more successful. “We look forward to significantly enhancing ISNA’s chaplaincy programs in strength as well as scope under his leadership,” ISNA Interim Secretary General Dr. Iqbal Unus said introducing Muhammad. “Muhammad brings a wealth of knowledge, and expertise to this important area of work, and has been an integral part of ISNA’s chaplaincy program for decades.” 

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

ments during the last 10 years. He noted that ISNA has successfully built trust and confidence for the organization in government circles and how doors have been opened to our leaders for respectable dialogue about issues of common interest. These 10 years, he said, “have helped us to come out of a box where we had been placed by our detractors, only to be seen in the context of security and threats.” “Today, we are consulted on issues of national and international interest, as a mature and trustworthy American entity with respectable human resources, social and spiritual capital of immense significance for the good of our nation,” he added. 

CORRIGENDUM We apologize that we got a historical fact wrong in the Sept/Oct. 2013 issue of “Islamic Horizons” magazine on page 28, column 3, last paragraph. The correct information should read as: In 2008, ISNA started paving the way for the new generation to take over the body that their parents’ generation helped build from scratch. This led to the induction of Florida attorney Asad Ba-Yunus, whose father, the late Dr. Ilyas Ba-Yunus, served as ISNA’s first president. Other entrants were Rizwan Jaka, Sohaib Sultan, whose father, Dr. Talat Sultan, was MSA’s director of education, and Asma Mirza, whose father, Dr. M. Yaqub Mirza, had served as MSA president. IH, Sept./Oct. 2013, p. 60-61 There was an error where the original translation of the hikam, which was submitted, should read: “look to what He has established you in.” It was mistranslated throughout the column which distorts the original Arabic meaning. Page 60, first and second full paragraphs, should read: “or worse, do we miss our appointments altogether,” and, “Of course, because of life’s many callings, we might put off praying at the beginning of the time.”


Community Matters Scholar Honored

Dr. Suleyman Nyang, a professor at Howard University’s Department of African Studies, received the International Institute of Islamic Thought’s Distinguished Scholar Award on Aug. 31 on the sidelines of the 50th ISNA Convention in Washington, D.C.

“We start with what we know and build on what we have,” Nyang said as he accepted the award. Nyang advised young people to have “persistence, perseverance, and patience,” and urged those in the audience to “use your mind as a knife.” Several of Nyang’s colleagues and former students talked about their personal experiences with him and the effect of his scholarship and interaction within the community. Nyang, author/co-author of several books and papers, is the founding editor of the American Journal of Islamic Studies, now known as the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences. He serves as a director of Muslim Media Network, Inc. He also is co-director of Muslims in the American Public Sphere, a research project funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts. 

Construction of Mosque Projects Move Forward

The Islamic Society of Germantown held its groundbreaking ceremony on July 27, attended by community members, and civic and faith leaders. Construction of the three-story building will include a walk-out basement and an outdoor play area. The main level will be for the prayer hall along with several offices. The upper level will be the women’s

prayer area and also have classrooms that will be used for the preschool and afterschool programs. The lower level will house a reception hall. To generate income for the center there will be facility equipped with a commercial kitchen that will be open to the public and leased out to anyone who agrees to serve halal — Islamically permissible food. 

Delaware Teen Raises Funds for African Wells

Nur Kose, 15, a Newark, Del., 11thgrader, has been named one of 10 national winners of the Kohl’s Cares Scholarship program, earning her $10,000 for college. The scholarship recognized her work raising money for wells in drought-stricken Africa. After meeting with the Zakat Foundation, an international Muslim charity organization, Kose learned she and her friends could pay for the drilling of a well in an area where water is scarce and clean water almost nonexistent. She rallied a group of friends and started seeking donations. She made online videos explaining the plight of those she sought to help and keeping donors up-to-date on their progress. Kose and her friends raised enough money to drill 23 wells in countries like Somalia, Ghana and Kenya, providing easier access to water for thousands of people. In April, Gov. Jack Markell named Kose an Outstanding Youth Volunteer. She was recognized for helping students with writing and getting them involved in reading. An avid writer, Kose authored a series of children’s books about a Muslim American family. 

Journal of Muslim Affairs

Muslim Scouts Earn Special Badge

Muslim World Affairs Online (, an international journal, has started its publication from Greater Chicago area. The online journal provides a forum that offers candid discussion of religious, social, cultural, moral, and political issues of the global Muslim community. It probes the core reasons over the present condition of the world Muslim community. The primary goal is to initiate a critical inquiry into the reconstruction of religious thoughts in Islam, so it can be brought into living relations with modern thoughts and needs, said Abdul Basit, Ph.D., editor-in-chief.  For info contact:

Muslim scouts who performed 18 hours of inuniform service during the 50th annual ISNA Convention earned a special badge sanctioned by the national Boy Scouts Association, said Syed Ehtesham Haider Naqvi, chairman of the National Islamic Committee on Scouting. 


Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

Attorney Organizes Arab Poetry Contest

Greater Phoenix area attorney Mohammed Alzaidi organized a unique poetry contest for poets in the local Arab community. Contestants were encouraged to submit original poems with the theme, “Being Away From Home/Country.” The contest, which ran from April to July, attracted more than 25 poets. The award ceremony was held July 25 at Alzaidi’s law firm. The first prize winner, Muhamed AlAnsary, won a Samsung computer; second prize winner, Fadhil Altameemi, received a Samsung Tablet 3; and the the third prize winner, Rashed Al-Waeli, won a Samsung Tablet 2. Alzaidi, who established his law office in 1993, is active in civic affairs. 

Illinois Governor Hosts First Iftar

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who hosted the first official iftar — fast-breaking meal — at the Executive Mansion, said “I’m honored to open up the people’s house in Springfield to host this great tradition.” Quinn also formally accepted the inaugural report submitted by the Governor’s Muslim American Advisory Council. He noted the rich diversity of Illinois’ Muslim American community, which is reflected in the Advisory Council. 

USDA Iftar Reflects Common Calling

From left, Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, ISNA director of communications and community outreach, Dr. Abed Ayoub, president of Islamic Relief USA, Michael Scuse, then-acting deputy secretary of agriculture, and Imam Faizul Khan of the Islamic Society of the Washington Area, pictured at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s fifth annual Iftar.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture joined Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) to host USDA’s fifth annual Iftar, or fast-breaking meal during Ramadan, which is the largest among the iftars hosted by federal agencies. Nearly 200 USDA Muslim employees and those of other faiths from throughout federal agencies came together with community members and representatives of faith-based organizations to break the day’s fast and discuss their shared goal —

rebuilding and strengthening communities in need. Among the attendees was Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, ISNA director of communications and community outreach. IRUSA President Dr. Abed Ayoub discussed the group’s partnership with USDA and recognized SMILE, a New Jersey-based Islamic service organization, as being instrumental in helping people during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. 

Muslim Fashions in the Spotlight Relief on the Runway’s “Intercontinental Fashion Week” held Sept. 6 in New York City was a fusion of culture, charity and style, and represented clothing designs inspired by the designers’ cultural heritage. “Our ultimate goal with Relief on the Runway is to build bridges through fashion,” said Suraya Mahumed, the founder of Relief on the Runway and creative director of Nahda Designs. “We’re more than East meets West. (We’re) a platform that uses fashion as bridge between Muslim designers and designers of all faiths and cultures, their consumers and the mainstream fashion industry. Fashion celebrates beauty and is a universal language.” It was the third annual Relief on the Runway event, and proceeds from ticket sales supported ICNA Relief and the group’s Women’s Shelter. 

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013


Community Matters

Muslim Scholar on Harvard Law School Faculty

Intisar A. Rabb, a leading expert on Islamic Law and legal history, will join the faculty of Harvard Law School in 2014, as a tenured professor, according to an official posting.

“Intisar is a first-rate scholar,” Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow said. “We are delighted she is joining (us) and look forward to supporting her keen interest in using the web and other tools for sharing accurate information about the Middle East and Islamic legal traditions with students, scholars, journalists and people all over the world.” Rabb earned a bachelor of science degree in government and Arabic from Georgetown University, a doctor of jurisprudence degree from Yale Law School and a master of arts degree and doctorate in Near Eastern studies from Princeton University. 

First Burmese Mosque in U.S. The Muslim Burmese Americans in Fort Wayne, Ind., are building a mosque to accommodate the local Burmese community members. Prayer services are currently held in area homes, but space is not enough for the growing community. “This mosque is a symbol of the religious freedom which is way different from Burma,” Ye Win Latt, secretary of the Burmese Muslim Education and Community Center, told Wayne News. “(It) is a historical

building which is a good addition to the city of Fort Wayne, and this is something that everyone should be proud of regardless of our faith.” The mosque, funded through private donations, is set to be completed in four phases, including a prayer space for women and children. 

Muslim Elected Medical Staff President Dr. Suhail Shah was elected to serve two years as president of the North Shore University Hospital Medical Staff. Shah graduated from the Government Medical College in Srinagar, Kashmir, and completed his residency at Nassau University Medical Center. Shah joined the North Shore University Hospital at Manhasset in 1997, one of the leading tertiary care centers in New York. In 2002, he left the hospital’s employment and started a private hospitalist firm. Shah is an active member of several NSUH committees, and has been an officer of its Medical Staff Society for many years. Part of the society’s mission is to promote, provide and support medical education to maintain the highest scientific and educational standards. 

First Muslim Recipient of Interfaith Award

Dr. Mussarat Chaudhry, a radiologist at Ellis Hospital’s Bellevue Woman’s Center in Niskayuna, N.Y., received the Capital Area Council of Churches’ Carlyle Adams Ecumenical/Interfaith Award. She was honored at the council’s annual dinner Oct. 2, and is the first Muslim awardee since its inception 12

in 1983, according to the N.Y. Daily Gazette. “Our interfaith movement was originally about the Jewish-Catholic dialogue, but Mussarat saw the need to begin a dialogue with us and be a part of the already existing dialogue,” Capital Area Council of Churches Board President Deborah Riitano told the Daily Gazette. “She takes on the issues around the interfaith movement and helps people understand Islam for the wonderful religion that it is.” Chaudhry is an active member of the Capital District chapter of the Interfaith Alliance of New York State, and a board member of the Albert and Beatrice Sidney Lectureship Series and the Interfaith Story Circle of the Capital District. 

Electronic Funds Transfer —

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Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

Muslim Physicians Giving Back to the Community A community health fair held Sept. 28 in Kansas City, Kan., to assist the uninsured and underprivileged, was co-sponsored by the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA) Heartland Chapter and Mercy & Truth Medical Missions. “This is a wonderful event where Muslims and Christians are working side by side for the good of the underserved people of Wyandotte County,” Dr. DeTar Newbert, a physician with Providence Medical Center

Special Anniversary

The Silver Spring, Md.,-based Islamic Society of Washington Area (ISWA) celebrated its 40th anniversary on Sept. 21. The celebration commemorated ISWA’s humble origins from a few Guyanese families who congregated to pray and learn together, and to plant the roots of a small Muslim community in

Minnesota CAIR Recognized

told a local news agency. APPNA President Dr. Abdul Ahad Haleem said the health fair is part of the group’s preventative health initiative in 30 cities in the United States and Canada. About 40 physician specialists of Pakistani descent from across the area participated in the fair. 

the D.C. metropolitan area. The Ambassador of Guyana, His Excellency Bayyney Karran, as well as government representatives, faith leaders, and elected officials, attended and addressed the gathering. The event focused on the spirit of ISWA’s early pioneers in establishing the new center, and its future, which will be shaped by the youth. The society, an active and progressive Islamic movement in North America, regularly participates in programs involving federal, state and local government agencies, including the White House. Its outreach programs include providing social and humanitarian services, such as interfaith dialogue, and addressing issues of domestic violence and poverty. 

Louisiana Tech Series on Muslims Louisiana Tech’s history department launched a five-part program Oct. 1 on the historical journey and experiences of Muslims in America, according to an online news source. The program, divided into five weekly sessions, included appropriate readings and discussions. Topics included: women and gender in American Islam; Muslim Americans from the 18th century to World War I; Muslim Americans since World War I; cultural encounters and cultural integration; and Muslim American politics between identity and Sept. 11.

“Although the Muslim experience in America did not come to the forefront until recently, it has deep roots in the nation’s past and it is an integral part of our history, Dr. Atassi just like all the other immigration waves that have enriched the American experience,” Dr. Ahmad Nazir Atassi, Louisiana Tech assistant professor of history, told a news agency. The course was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association. 

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

On Oct. 4, the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) received the 2013 Difference Makers Award from the American Bar Association’s Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division for “making a difference through pro bono work” in Lexington, Ky. Last year, CAIR-MN handled 180 pro bono cases of discrimination, hate and bias, assisting nearly 500 Minnesotans. Cases include school bullying and harassment, land use opposition, hate crimes and vandalism, racial and religious profiling, and extra-judicial exile. The majority of the cases involve employment discrimination, including discrimination in hiring and firing, hostile work environments, and denial of religious accommodation. CAIR-MN Civil Rights Director Saly Abd Alla told the audience, “When we start seeing each other’s abilities and potential can we truly fulfill our Founding Fathers’ dreams and become the greatest nation in the world.” In August 2013, CAIR-MN was named a “Nonprofit to Know” by Minnesota Philanthropy Partners (MPP). MPP is a network of foundations, funds and organizations that share knowledge and services to make charitable giving thrive and benefit all Minnesotans. 





For more information, visit:

The Islamic Community Center (ICC) in Tempe, Arizona is seeking a reliable, energetic and friendly Office Manager to support ICC operations by maintaining office systems and supervising ICC staff. This is a full time position. The duties of the Office Manger include: organizing office operations and procedures; controlling correspondence; designing filing systems; implementing clerical functions and managing ICC membership. In addition, the Office Manager will assist in planning, organizing and coordinating ICC activities; preparing payroll and ICC annual budget.


Community Matters


Construction has begun on a 13,000square-foot mosque for the Islamic Society of Milwaukee in Brookfield, Wis. The Brookfield Common Council unanimously approved the mosque in May 2012, and it is expected to open next year.

Skokie Village Trustees unanimously approved a special use permit for Skokie’s first mosque Sept. 16, following the unanimous support of the Skokie Plan Commission in August. The Kaleemiah Foundation is moving into the vacant building that had housed a holocaust museum till 2008. The mosque can accommodate 60 people in two prayer rooms. The mosque fulfills a lifelong dream of 86-year-old Syed Hussaini who saved his money for years to build a place of worship in Skokie for the Muslim community. An engineer by education, Hussaini came to the United States and was unable to find work in his trade. He worked at O’Hare Airport for many years and saved his money.

The Virginia Beach (Va.) City Council voted 9-1 to approve the Crescent Community Center’s plans to build a 12,300-squarefoot facility on Sept. 24. 14

For about five years, Crescent Community Center has used commercial space for prayers. The new building will have a central dome over a prayer hall and a 34-foot minaret. It will accommodate roughly 225 people. The Virginian-Pilot reported that Councilwoman Barbara Henley, who voted in favor of the mosque, reminded the council that the city had approved other churches nearby in the past several years. She said the city needed to be consistent and “treat everybody the same,” and noted that the Constitution requires that “every religion is respected in our country.”

Lomita City Council gave unanimous approval of the Islamic Center of South Bay’s application to renovate and consolidate its aged and dilapidated facilities. In March 2010, the Islamic Center had sought approval of a similar plan to consolidate its facilities into a single structure building with an indoor community hall for dining and meetings and increased parking. At that time, the council unanimously denied the mosque’s application, despite the City Planning Commission’s approval of the plan. In response, the Greater Los Angeles Area chapter of the Council on AmericanIslamic Relations (CAIR-LA) and the center’s attorneys filed a lawsuit against the City of Lomita in March 2012. The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) subsequently filed suit alleging that the city violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA). In January 2013, the city and Islamic Center settled. The following month, DOJ also entered into a conditional settlement, where as part of the DOJ’s conditional settlement, the city will undergo training on RLUIPA. The University of Regina has installed “foot-baths” in a public washroom at its Riddell Centre, in order to allow Muslim students to easily perform wudu. An

“official opening” for the foot-baths was held by Muslim students on Oct. 2. Two foot-baths, resembling large sinks with seats, are in a men’s and women’s washrooms following their installation earlier this summer. The campus has more than 700 Muslims, and the effort was coordinated by the campus Muslim organization as well as the students union, and the university was very receptive.

Michael A Shipp, U.S. District Judge, ruled in favor of Al Falah Center Sept. 30 voiding a zoning change brought upon by Bridgewater, a central New Jersey township, which restricted a mosque from extending its boundaries into a residential territory. The township could not validate reasoning as to why the mosque could not be built, leading a judge to grant permission for the expansion of the mosque, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. The disagreement originally began in 2011 when only days after Al Falah brought upon their plan to build a mosque and Islamic community center on a once motel area, Tea Party activists and a number of residents came together to express their resistance against the idea. A month later, Bridgewater implemented a law which imposed religious sanctions to expand to main roads. Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Brooks was at hand for the formal dedication of the Eastchase Islamic Center in east Fort Worth, Oct. 4. Tarrant County’s sixth mosque, the $1.5 million mosque is part of the 6.5-acre Al-Hedayah Academy campus. The 10,000-square-foot mosque provides a convenient place of worship for Muslims who call east Fort Worth and north Arlington home, and it’s associated with a school that’s been serving the Islamic community since 1992. Tarrant County is home to an estimated 60,000 Muslims. More than half the building is its prayer hall. The pulpit and the mosque’s massive front doors were handmade by Lebanese craftsman Abbas Makki, reported the StarTelegram. 

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

LETTER TO THE EDITOR I read your article, “Building for the Community” (IH, Sept./Oct. 2013, p. 22-23) and frankly, was both saddened and annoyed at the same time, not because what was written, but because the manner in which The Onward JOurney — The FirsT FiFTy years the author presented his thoughts. To mention a man of the caliber, eminence and stature of Abu Bakr (‘alayhi Rahmat) with an ordinary man such as Abraham Lincoln is nothing short of blasphemy. Abu Bakr is the most respectable of all humans in the world after the prophets. No man or woman, past or present, regardless of their virtues, can ever attain the stature of Abu Bakr or could be compared with him. Lincoln was an ordinary man with some qualities that may be possessed by millions others. Abu Bakr was unique in his qualities and that was recognized by our Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). If the writer is so smitten by Lincoln, he could write an article about just him. He has blasphemed by comparing a towering personality with an ordinary man. I think you owe your readers an apology for hurting their sensitivities. By the way, the author seems to be obsessed with the word “paradox” and has used it multiple times quite inappropriately and, I might say, without making any sense. Sayed Ahmad the decade oF recognition and alliances

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FiFty years and strong

The Author Responds:

Thank you for your response and readership. Of course, I agree with you — the spiritual eminence of Abu Bakr (‘alayhi Rahmat) by no means is comparable to any other person in the post-Prophetic period. This is what I meant by “For all the obvious differences…” However, my article was absolutely unconcerned with Abu Bakr’s or Abraham Lincoln’s closeness to God, which is the plane upon which Abu Bakr is unparalleled, rather, it addresses his political role with the Muslim community. There is nothing wrong with drawing analogies between the unifying role two well-loved leaders played in their respective contexts. It helps to derive a lesson and allow people coming from a primarily American context to appreciate Abu Bakr through their own paradigm, which includes a deep respect for the political tact of Lincoln. Furthermore, our contexts are very different from Abu Bakr’s learning, and to find analogues in contemporary times is essential for the Muslim American community to navigate its most perplexing concerns — unity, understanding, and reinvigorating our intellectual tradition. Saad Ansari Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

A Halal Frat Debuts A group of young Muslim men in Dallas has integrated Islamic values and principles into a college setting, bringing together students to create the faith-based Alpha Lambda Mu (ALM) — the first official Muslim fraternity in the nation. Alpha Lambda Mu, or as fraternity leaders have shorthanded it for “Alif Laam Meem,” is founded on the values of branching out, and being one’s own person instead of adjusting to social norms. At ALM, members are immersed in a culture that encourages strong Muslim values while being involved with fraternity culture of raising funds for organizations, honors societies, and even networking with other ALM members nationwide. The organization, while in its elementary stage, aims to have a larger presence on college campuses nationwide. Already a few chapters are in the process of forming, including chapters at Cornell University and University of Pennsylvania. “ALM has a growing professional network and exclusive grants and scholarships in the future,” fraternity members said. One of the most valuable benefits Alif Laam Meem has to offer is lifelong relationships and a sense

of belonging that keeps college very fun, develops members as men, and remains within the constructs of Islam.” ALM hopes its chapters are not only fulfilling to members, but also to the communities to which they belong. The founders’ goal is to create an organization that Muslims on campus can rely on for support. “In the past, fraternities were made popular for elitism and favoritism. This assumption is false and it is important to encourage people to understand what it means to be part of a brotherhood fraternity,” members said. Group members emphasize there is more to fraternity life than “excessive shenanigans” and believe it can open members’ minds and allow an exchange of new ideas. ALM’s philosophy is based on core Islamic values that Muslims hold dear, and implementing those values into campus life. Schools interested in opening an ALM chapter can apply online at To check out the group’s activities, visit and “like” ALM’s Facebook page, Facebook. com/almfrat or follow @almfrat on Twitter. 

(Reported by Hamza Samin)


ISNA's 50th Annual Convention

A Resolve to Continue Forward By Aliya Karim, Asmaou Diallo, Melissa Lemon, Zahra Cheema


n the heels of the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, thousands of Muslim Americans gathered in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the 50th annual ISNA Convention over Labor Day weekend. Washington, D.C. Mayor, Vincent E. Gray, addressed the inaugural session.

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Mental Health & Physical Fitness Peace of Mind in the Family “Everyone experiences stress but how do we handle it?” asked Kameelah Rashad, founder of Muslim Wellness Corp. and chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania. Rashad said Muslims should be honest with themselves, their family and community. “A strong family is important. Family is our foundation,” Rashad said. “We must ask ourselves, ‘How can I reach those who love me?’ The goal of the family is to help us reach the creator.” Rashad said family counseling does not mean the family needs to be in the same room during counseling, rather, the counselor must look at the family dynamics. Dr. Omar Mahmood and a board of directors for Access California Services said the community’s biggest concern is depression and anxiety. He said Prophet Muhammad experienced turmoil and always sought refuge in God, and that Muslims should do the same by praying for refuge from anxiety, trials, tribulations, worry and sadness. “Believers will go through trials and tribulations,” Mahmood said. Mahmood and Rashad emphasized that Muslims are human and they need to correct the negative stereotypes surrounding mental health, and that it is important to discuss alcohol and drug abuse, and other issues like post-partum depression with family members.

Witness the Fitness Nadoona is a nationally known women’s health and fitness organization. Nadoona in Arabic means “to call on us,” and the organization reminds women that they are not slaves to food but slaves to God. Founder Nadine Adu-Jubara created a healthy way to lose weight and keep the weight off through a four-step system: weight loss, running groups, extravaganzas and fashion. Nadoona Vice President Zainab Ismail prays before each workout session and reminds herself that everything she does is for the sake of God. In this women-only MSA event, attendees were instructed on the importance of eating right, a healthy diet, and exercise. Women were able to ask questions about health and fitness in a comfortable setting and were presented with “Nadoona Extreme,” a cuttingedge workout video


Islamic scholars, activists, and community members carried the message of King’s vision for an America of inclusion and justice for all in their speeches and dialogue encompassing this year’s theme, “Envisioning a More Perfect Union: Building the Beloved Community.” “Dr. King dreamt for an environment where all citizens will be respected,” said ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid, encouraging the union of different communities to work together toward a more just America. Attendees participated in sessions on strengthening personal spirituality, families and communities. Session topics included a focus on respecting and embracing the diversity among Muslim Americans and developing inclusive mosques that reflect this diversity. Melissa Rogers, White House director of the Office of FaithBased and Neighborhood Partnerships also addressed the ISNA Convention.

Celebrating 50 Years With MSA’s emergence in 1963 — that provided the seed for ISNA’s creation in 1982 — came a new era for Muslims in America of community building, recognition and justice. At the convention, MSA National — formally The Muslim Students Association of the United States & Canada — announced that to ensure its viability, it was establishing its staffed full-time headquarters. “ISNA was shaped out of this successful and prosperous experience with open doors and open minds to all those who had decided to make America a home,” said Dr. Sayyid Syeed, national director of ISNA’s Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances. For some attendees, this was their first ISNA convention, while some others had been participating for 10, 20 and even 50 years. “Now that I’m a young father with children of my own, I’ve made it a point in my family to start coming back so that my kids can go through the same sort of feeling of having that identity (of being Muslim American),” said Ismail Mehr, president of the Islamic Medical Association of North America, who has been attending ISNA conventions since he was a child. “Growing up in a country Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

Film Reviews

that’s not predominantly Muslim, the ISNA convention is the one time, the one weekend a year for the young generation to really see and identify, and be proud of what they are.” Beyond the event-filled weekend, ISNA has taken on numerous initiatives that keep Muslim Americans active all year long. Some of ISNA’s activities include the Shoulder-to-Shoulder interfaith campaign, parenting and teacher workshops, matrimonial services, the annual Diversity Forum, regional conferences, and a youth branch called the Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA). A history gallery showcased the milestones traversed by the group during its 50 years serving and strengthening the Muslim American community.

Building Strong Families & Happy Marriages Muslims were reminded to follow the Quran and to use Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) as a role model. In the lecture titled “All In The Family,” Dr. Sameera Ahmed, director of the Family and Youth Institute and a professor at Wayne State University, explained individuals struggle with connections, adding that, when we lack support, we become stuck and need to free ourselves. Ahmed expressed the need to purify ourselves and direct our intentions to God. However, she believes intentions are not enough and stressed the value of making time and investing in our relationships. She added that building mutual trust and respect in our relationships is important. She highlighted the necessity of communication and one’s ability to verbalize needs. Ahmed reminded participants that when addressing others, to speak in the best of ways. Be respectful to children expressing love and affection, she said. Altaf Husain, an ISNA board member and chair of the ISNA Leadership Development Program, spoke of Prophet Muhammad’s life and how he treated his wives with compassion and mercy. He said to be honest with one another. “Truth is a mirror,” Husain said, adding that Muslims should be appreciative of those who tell them the truth. Husain said conflict will happen, and one should remember to smile and say salaam or peace. Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

Mozlym (2008): The film, directed by Edreace Purmul, tells the story of a young man fighting his way off the streets and into college. In the present day, he seeks a graduate degree in filmmaking and with influence from the media he takes on a film project about Muslims and terrorism. Through the filmmaking process, his interactions with local Muslim Americans changes his perspective. “Mozlym” highlights the lack of knowledge many Americans still have about their Muslim neighbors. The portrayal of diversity among Muslims in race, ethnicity, beliefs and practice is especially beautiful and simplistic, exhibiting a melting pot — or rather a tossed salad of sorts. Funny at times and thought-provoking, this film is a charming one. My Neighborhood (2008): This film, directed by Julia Bacha, tells the story of Mohammad Al-Kurd, who at the age of 11 was evicted from his Palestinian home in East Jerusalem. Mohammad lives in the village of Sheikh Jarrah. Israeli settlers evicted Al-Kurd and his family because they believe the land belongs to the Jews. Al-Kurd begins to feel deep anger toward Israelis. Israeli Tzvi Benninga and his family members begin to support the Palestinian community of Sheikh Jarrah. Soon, many Arabs and Israelis join in the protest that were widely publicized by the media. Eventually the Jewish settlers seize their evictions. There is news the Israeli government has approved of future evictions. Julia Bacha was able to capture the atmosphere of East Jerusalem. She was able to personalize each character from Al-Kurd, Tzvi, his family members and the Israelis. The viewers are given a glimpse of what these people go through every day. This documentary also illustrates what can happen if people come together to rally for the good, regardless of religion or nationality. California Muslims (2013): French Muslim director Hedjoudje Abderrahmane presented his film in which he takes viewers along on a journey as he speaks with Muslims in California to understand how they integrate Islam and Californian living. Abderrahmane meets with Muslims who are active in their communities, in cities like Los Angeles and San Diego. He visits Muslim-run health clinics, Muslim filmmakers, and Muslim-run organizations involved in civic activism. Abderrahmane even pays a visit to a French American Muslim couple, who feel more at home in California than they did in France. Throughout Abderrahmane’s travels, Californian Muslims expressed their concern for Muslims in France and abroad, praying that they become activists in their country and fight for their rights. “France believes there is freedom of religion but only in the privacy of your own home,” Abderrahmane explained in a question and answer session after the film. “Immigrant Muslims of the United States are not of the same status as the immigrants in France. Immigrant French citizens are from colonized countries whereas immigrant Americans are more educated.”


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Vibrant Entertainers Showcased

This year’s entertainment session was filled with gifted and talented performers who expressed their love and devotion to God. Faran Tahir, a Pakistani American film and television actor, served as host for the evening. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America recited Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech in honor of the 50th anniversary of King’s March on Washington where he delivered the speech. Highlights of the evening included entertainment by Maher Zain, Washington D.C.’s own Native Deen, Mo Sabri and Najam Sheraz. Up and coming artist Alman Nusrat, also known as ANX, performed his new song, “Deep Blue Sea.” Zain, a Muslim Swedish singer and producer of Lebanese origin, had the crowd on edge as they waited for him to reach the stage. He performed: “Oh Allah,” “How Amazing Is It To Love You?,” “I Am Sorry,” and “Number One For Me.” The crowd sang along with every song. Native Deen with its fusion of steel drums brought the crowd to its feet. The group sang its new song, “Bilal,” which was well received. The audience enjoyed singing along to “I Am Not Afraid To Stand Alone“ and “My Voice.” East Tennessee native Mo Sabri performed his hit songs “I Believe in Jesus” and “Home Is Where the Heart Is…Aisha.” During his performance, Sabri asked the crowd, “Are you proud to be a Muslim?” Everyone shouted, “Yes!” Former Pakistani pop star, Najam Sheraz, sang many of the crowd’s favorites in his native language of Urdu. Najem has released 10 CDs in Urdu, but his latest one is in English. He sang one of the songs off this CD titled “Alhumdulilah.”

Ahmed and Husain agreed rituals are important for families. They suggested sharing meals, fasting on Mondays and Thursdays, and reading Quran as a family brings the family together. Yasir Birjas, imam of the Islamic Center in El Paso, Texas, highlighted a few major issues in the United States. One example is the trap of expectations, the “I Generation,” who are raised to think they are special. This is a generation of extreme individualism, where children use the word “I” a lot, and put their interests above all others, he explained. There is no harm in wanting the best options, he said. He stressed there is no such thing as lowering one’s expectations, 20

adding, “When we lower our expectations, it creates a feeling of negativity. It is better to adjust our standards.” One out of three marriages ends in divorce, and a lack of premarital preparation may be a contributing factor, per the experts. The panel discussed services available in the Muslim community that can help with being better prepared for marriage. Aneesah Nadir, the founder and current president of Islamic Social Services Association in the United States (ISSA-USA), explained that too many people prepare for the wedding ceremony and not the actual marriage. She emphasized the need to get to know the person one wishes to marry. Dr. Cheryl Amin, an ISSA-USA and SHARE Detroit board member, stressed the need for premarital counseling, which she has been doing since 2009. She spoke of instances where some people rented a wedding hall and sent out invitations without getting to know their soon-to-be spouse. Amin has her clients take online surveys during premarital counseling sessions. The purpose of the survey is to look at our levels of compatibility, which can be “discussed and modified,” she explained. “Love can be expressed by giving gifts and it can be expressed by acts of service — neither one better than the other,” she said.

Imam Magid said when it comes to marriage, we must be spiritually ready. He added, “Marriage makes us spiritually and emotionally vulnerable; we must check our spiritual state, and being God-conscious is important.” ISNA President Magid said Muslims must be able to define roles and communicate their expectations. “Expectations are based on what our parents have done or from our culture,” he said. He added, it is important to create boundaries for parents and other family members. “Marriage is a merging together of two families,” he said. “Strike a balance between rights, communication and mutual relationships. Extended family roles must be discussed. A marriage will struggle if parents do not understand their boundaries.” Nadir, Amin and Magid agreed it is essential to teach rules of communication and create a support system within the Muslim community, and that promoting counseling services would help take the burden off imams.

Political and Community Activism Throughout the weekend, scholars and community organizers pushed for local, political and international activism. They pulled from the Islamic ideology of freedom and justice to urge Muslim Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

ISNA Halal Forum

The ISNA Halal Forum included two sessions titled “Halal as Our Identity” and “Filling the Gap: Providing Halal Products to Consumers.” The halal industry is a powerful and growing economic force, but lingering issues still need to be addressed. Consumer awareness and confidence, a trustworthy business sector, and transparency within the standards and accreditation processes are a must, experts said. Key halal industry players — from religious scholars and certifiers to manufacturers and marketers — participated in the event. The first panel covered Muslim Americans’ dietary and religious requirements, and the need for a halal standards and accreditation body in the United States. The second panel was a candid and uplift-

Americans to play a role in fighting for the rights of their families, neighbors and brothers and sisters across the globe. “Everybody has their vision for America, but the question is, you as Muslims in America, what is your vision?” Imam Siraj Wahhaj asked. The speakers explained the role the Civil Rights Movement played for various people, including the Muslim American community that exists today — filled with not only blacks but also immigrant Muslims and converts of all races and ethnicities. “The Muslim community in America fits within this struggle today,” said Raheema Abdulaleem, a senior trial attorney for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. “We embody so much diversity within our community that I think that we are a perfect example to take the Civil Rights Movement into a new dimension.” The speakers stressed that it is essential for Muslim Americans to work to advance and aid the larger diverse community within which they live. “A perfect union is to respect each other and to get to know each other,” Imam Taleeb Shareef said. “America is a nation of nations. It is through cooperation that the greatest successes will be achieved.” Yet, as many scholars pointed out, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done for this movement, and the first steps to take are within local communities and mosques. “We are a walking contradiction to revelation when we fail to Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

ing discussion with three CEOs of American halal food companies. Their success stories transitioned the forum to an open discussion that allowed participants and speakers to brainstorm future plans regarding the halal industry, and ISNA’s role. Speakers included Ahmed ElHattab, executive director of ISNA Development Foundation, Dr. Muhammad Munir Chaudry, founder and president of IFANCA, Dr. Mohammad Qatanani of the Fiqh Council of North America, Abdalhamid Evans of Imarat Consultants, Mark Overland of Cargill, Rachid Belbachir, resident scholar of IFANCA, Shahed Amanullah from the United States Department of State, Ahmad Adam of Crescent Foods, Adnan Durrani of Saffron Road, and Sara Sayed of Midamar.

observe and pay attention to the priorities that sit right in front of us,” said Imam Suhaib Webb of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. Webb said when his mosque in the Boston area was first being developed, the Muslim community reached out to the neighborhood to ask locals if they needed any particular health care help. Over time, the community came to appreciate their Muslim neighbors because of their constant engagement and dialogue, and during the Boston Marathon bombings in April these neighbors supported the Muslim community. Engaging other Americans and ensuring civil and social justice for all is a Muslim’s duty; it is a part of the Prophet’s Sunnah (teachings and practices), professor Sherman Jackson of the University of Southern California told attendees. It is a long, hard road, he stressed. “When Martin Luther King (Jr.) was alive, for most of America he was not a hero,” Sheikh Yasir Qadhi said. “He was a scoundrel. He was a rabble rouser. He was an agitator.” Though much of King’s work went unappreciated during his lifetime, it created a foundation for the civil rights that most Muslim Americans benefit from today. Though it may be difficult to fight for such justices in the present era, it is important to remember the impact this work can have for future generations. Whether one is bringing up issues before the local school board, using social media to raise awareness about international crises, or lobbying Congress to pass legislation — these acts make a difference. 21

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ISNA Planned Giving ISNA’s Planned Giving session featured an interactive format with a panel of experts. Speakers included Salman Azam, an attorney at Azam About the Author Chanran & Gilani, LLP, in Chicago, Asad Ba-Yunus, an attorney at BaYunus Law Offices in Florida and New York, Fatima Iqbal, an investment advisor and certified financial planner at Azzad Asset Management, and Dr. Yaqub Mirza, the president and CEO of Sterling Management Group, Inc. Azam introduced the requirements and necessity of having an Islamic will in North America. Ba-Yunus explained the various types of living trusts from an Islamic perspective. Iqbal focused on the variety of planned giving vehicles and different estate planning tools. Lastly, Dr. Mirza, an expert in the field, gave an overview of the best practices and benefits of establishing and building an endowment. The goal was to provide useful information to help attendees make educated decisions about their estate planning. Speaker presentations were followed by an open discussion. Monzer Kahf Ph.D. (Economics): University of Utah, Salt Lake City, March 1975.

Publications: • More than 20 books and booklets: on aspects of Islamic Economics, Zakah, Islamic Banking and Financing, etc. • More than 50 articles and papers: on aspects of Islamic Economics, Islamic public and private finance, Islamic banking, Zakah, Awqaf, etc. Languages: Arabic and English

Work Experience: • Research Economist: Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) of the Islamic Development Bank, Jeddah: June 2, 1985 – present. • Private Business: (financial consulting) NY, New York: Sept. 1981 – June 1985. • Director of Finance: ISNA, Plainfield, IN: Aug 1975 – Sept. 1981. • Teaching Assistant: Dept. of Economics, University of Utah: Sept. 1971 – June 1975. • Auditor: Government State Audit, Damascus: May 1963 – March 1971. • Instructor: School of Business, University of Damascus: Sept. 1962 – May 1963.

Professional Experience: • Collaborating Expert: the Islamic Fiqh Academy of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and member of several of its technical and methodological committees on Shari’ah and economics. • Organized numerous seminars and conferences on Islamic Economics in the USA, Europe, Asia and Africa since 1975 to present. • Prepared detailed proposal for establishment of a Department for Islamic economics at Umm al-Qura University, Makkah, and writing its curricula, Nov 1978 – Feb 1979. • Attended many seminars and conferences on Islamic Economics, Zakah, Awqaf, Islamic financing, etc. • Presented scores of papers and lectures in professional seminars, conferences and training programs on aspects of Islamic Economics and Islamic banking. • Put together short and medium-term research plans and leading Islamic Economic research groups in IRTI. • Certified Public Accountant in Syria, since 1968.

Imam Zaid Shakir, Wajahat Ali and Najeeba Sayeed-Miller examined the problem of fear, hatred, dehumanization, and violence in society, and discussed solutions toward overcoming them with human values, education, and common sense.

Spirituality The largest Islamic conference in the United States, the convention included some of the brightest imams, sheikhs and scholars around offering attendees a wealth of knowledge to help them enhance their spirituality. Each speaker encouraged audience members to look within and perfect themselves before going on to serve the community. “Life here on earth is a test,” renowned author and scholar Jamal Badawi said. “Follow the core of Islam, have religious conviction, live a peaceful coexistence in cooperation with all in goodness, in brotherhood and mercy, with good manners and good behavior. It has to begin from the heart. Taqwa (piety) begins from the heart.” The scholars said by educating themselves on the context and meanings behind Islamic teachings, Muslims Americans will create a better understanding of what is really important in Islam and their daily lives. “Don’t worship knowledge. Use knowledge to worship better,” said Tariq Ramadan, a professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University. He said that by transforming ourselves and the ways in which we perceive our surroundings and loved ones, we create the behaviors and attitudes that can further benefit the larger community. “You can’t give what you don’t have,” Ramadan said. “If you have to spread extra salaam and spread peace, you have to get this inner peace.” The fiqh session moderated by Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah was addressed by former ISNA presidents Dr. Muhammad Nur Abdullah and Dr. 22

Muzammil Siddiqi, and Dr. Jamal Badawi, Dr. Muddasir Siddiqi, Abdur Rahman Khan, and Dr. Ihsan Bagby. Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, professor emeritus at George Washington University, and former ISNA president Ingrid Mattson spoke about what it means to live with purpose and how to confront modern challenges in living a spiritual life.

Are We There Yet? Building a More Inclusive Ummah Amid talks of celebrating how far the Muslim American community has come in the past 50 years, there also were serious discussions about changes and improvements needed for the future. Drawing on the convention’s theme of “envisioning a more perfect union,” several sessions took a critical and honest look at the divides that exist within the Muslim American community. Scholars and social activists led conversations on how to establish more inclusive mosques and communities that accurately reflect the rich diversity of their congregants, and how to respect differing views within these communities. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf presented his reflections on the core values that bring us together to build the community and offered a moral vision for the future. Dr. Abdulaziz Sachedina, the Frances Myers Ball (Chair) professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia, joined Dr. Asma Afsar Uddin of Indiana University in Bloomington, and Imam Mohamed Magid in discussing Medina’s Islamic model, and how Muslims can advance religious freedom for all in the Muslim world.

Women, Mosques, and Activism Ihsan Bagby, associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky, called for a movement to make mosques more women-friendly. Bagby presented the findings of a national study of more than 500 American mosques on women’s participation. The study examined women’s access to prayer space, and the existence of women’s programs and their involvement in decision-making bodies. The study found that overall, mosques have a long way to go to be more women-friendly. “Without women in the masjid, we’re going to lose,” Bagby said. Bagby and Aisha al-Adawiya, executive director of the New York City-based Women In Islam, Inc., a Muslim women-led organiza-

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tion focused on human rights and social justice, explained that if women do not feel welcome in mosques, it is likely that they will not bring their children to attend either, which in turn will relegate mosques into empty buildings. “This is not a women’s issue. This is a community issue,” said al-Adawiya, urging men and women to take a proactive role in ensuring that mosques in their communities are open to women’s full participation. “You have daughters; if you don’t make them feel at home in their spiritual dwelling, they will leave,” she added. Women in Islam, Inc., board member Sarah Sayeed referred to the prophetic tradition to show that women were not barred from entering this sacred space, and challenges Muslim Americans to live up to this example. “We have a Sunnah to follow, which is to include women in the masjid,” she said.   The conversation about women’s inclusion continued in a series of MSA sessions focusing on the issues faced by Muslim American women. During one such session on women’s community activism, scholar Omar Suleiman referenced the early Muslim community.   “Unfortunately when we talk about whether or not women should be in leadership positions, or whether or not women should be public speakers, or whether or not women should pursue activism, Islamic activism, outside of their homes, that question never existed in Islam,” Sayeed said. “The question was always ‘how’. The question was never if it’s okay or not, if it’s permissible or not.”

Supporting the Differently Abled In a session on the differently abled, panelists talked about their own experiences, or caring for someone who is like a child. Former ISNA president Ingrid Mattson, whose daughter she says has been bedridden for nine years, spoke from experience about the need for developing supportive communities and institutions that are accommodating and inclusive to all. “We have to map out the diversity of our community and then Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

think how will our institutions and programming reflect the diversity of our community and accommodate the needs of everyone: male, female, young, old, hearing, deaf, seeing, blind, those who are mobile on their own two feet, those who need wheelchairs or some other technical mobility devices,” Mattson said. Mohammed Yousuf, founder of the EquallyAble Foundation, talked about the significant moments in his life when caring community members looked beyond his physical disability and made space for him where others may not have — spaces to play in his childhood neighborhoods, in higher education classrooms where he obtained his engineering degree, and at the workplace alongside his peers. He noted the importance of community involvement. “A lot of what I am today is because of help from my family, but also from others who are not within my family,” he said. “You can do everything possible, you as a family, but at some point that stops, and that is where the community support starts to play a role. So you as community members, if you see someone in your community who has some of these issues, please reach out to them,” he said.

Embracing Converts The importance of community support was echoed by Khalid Latif, chaplain at New York University and also a chaplain for the New York Police Department. Converts to Islam candidly shared their stories of embracing the faith and the challenges they faced afterwards. Many panelists spoke about how they struggled to find a sense of belonging among fellow believers of their new faith community. Marci Moberg of the U.S. Agency for International Development said when she first embraced Islam, she felt isolated from her family and the life she had before Islam; she was hoping to find acceptance among her Muslim community in the mosque.“The one place that I was hoping for a home, for safety, there was none,” she said. “I was always being told I was doing things wrong.” 23

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Moberg said had it not been for her personal strength, independent study of the Quran and Sunnah, along with her understanding of the influence of culture on Islam, which she gained from living in the Middle East, she would have been very confused. This feeling of isolation and alienation resonated with the other panelists. Latif said he hopes the Muslim American community can learn and grow from the experiences of struggle faced by converts to Islam so that all Muslims are made to feel included and welcomed. “We weren’t present in the way that we were supposed to be present,” he said and asked the audience what they will take back to their communities and do differently to ensure that converts to Islam are made to feel at home in their new faith communities. “It’s something that I think we really need to think about as a community,” Moberg said. “What really attracted me to Rasulullah salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was his radical demonstration of love, and his radical demonstration of acceptance.”

Respecting Intra-Faith Diversity Scholars and activists also touched on the issue of respecting the intra-faith diversity that exists among Muslims as they follow different schools of thought and interpretations. There was a focus on Sunni and Shia relations as scholars from both groups encouraged attendees to build on the commonalities and create a united front. During the convention, Sunni and Shia members formed a committee in which both groups have agreed to stand up again sectarian violence. ISNA was in fact building on the Code of Honor which originated with Dr. Maher Hathout as a result of a meeting of Muslim American religious leaders called by the Muslim Public Affairs Council in March 2007. “We are the same ummah, (the) ummah of Prophet Muhammad,” said Muzammil Siddiqi, chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America. Convention attendees enthusiastically welcomed the announcement of an agreement of mutual respect and unity between Sunni and Shia Muslims, reached between prominent leaders of the two groups. This declaration was made on the occasion of the 13th annual conference of the Council of Shia Muslim Scholars of North America held Sept. 1. “It was a very moving moment for the history of Islam in Amer24

ica,” ISNA President Magid said. “ISNA is a platform for the unity of Muslims. Whatever brings Muslim together strengthens all of them.” Imam Nahidian, director of Manassas Mosque in Northern Virginia and convention moderator thanked ISNA, its staff and members for their hard work making the convention a reality. “I believe due to the sincerity and love of so many volunteers, this successful event was achieved and no doubt, Allah’s help is with a gathering bringing Muslims together,” he said.

Focus on Community Service In keeping with its tradition of honoring community service, the annual Mahboob Khan Community Service awards were bestowed upon two of ISNA’s great visionaries, Iman Abusaud Elkadi and Ilham Altalib. Both women’s accomplishments and work are visible through the many who benefited from them, either during a lecture, a personal conversation, or simply by knowing them. As pioneers, reformers and humanitarians, they devoted their resources and energy and dedicated their time and life for the sake of God, the Quran, their families and the global Muslim community. Another long due recognition was awarded to Mohammad Abdul Mateen Chida, a pioneer of MSA since 1964. At the convention, Chida’s wife, Maimoona Chida, received the award on behalf of her ailing husband. Abdul Mateen Chida was one of the early pioneers of Islamic work in North America during the 1960s and 1970s, and served as MSA internal secretary. In the early 1970s, MSA’s printer

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

More Convention Highlights

The Qira’at Competition, which is integral to the convention, had two categories: entire Quran, and advance reading from the entire Quran. Masiullah Bhaiyat topped in Level 1 of Category 1, which had 3 levels — the entire Quran, 20 Juz, and 10 Juz, while Fadima Dahir topped in Category 2. The Meet the Author sessions had Finding Faith, Art and Literature, and Youth and Children’s Literature events. In Finding Faith, Margaret King read from her book, “Unveiling the Messiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls” (Xlibris, Corp., 2012); Mucahit Bilici discussed his book, “Finding Mecca in America” (University Of Chicago Press, 2012); and Radwan Kouatli spoke about his work, “Patience: The Road to Success” (Love God Institute, 2012). Patricia Anton moderated the panel. The Art and Literature section was moderated by Sa’ad Omar. Zakiah Sayeed discussed her book, “Stray Thoughts/Winged Words” (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012); Freda Shamma talked about her book, “Treasury of Muslim Literature” (Amana books, 2012); and Ridwan Adhami introduced his book, “A Photo a Day: A Daily Photographic Journey” (RidzDesign, 2013). The Youth and Children’s Literature event, moderated by Freda Shamma, featured Umm Zakiyyah (Ruby Moore) presenting her book, “A Friendship Promise” (Al-Walaa Publications, 2012); Omar Khawaja shared “Ilyas and Duck Search for Allah” (Little Big Kids, 2012); and Alexis York Lumbard presented “The Conference of the Birds” (Wisdom Tales, 2012).

refused to print the newsletter because it had a photo of Al-Quds. It was then, MSA decided to acquire its own printing facility. A small press was purchased in Maryland when the late Mohammad Fazil Khan, an engineer, and Chida, also an engineer from Minnesota, left their jobs to run the press. MSA could print what it liked. Abdul-Mateen Chida, founder and owner of Halalco, a Falls Church bookstore and supermarket that opened for business in 1977, is a pioneer of halal (permissible) trade in Northern Virginia. Annette Khan, who works at the Al-Furqan Academy of Virginia, was among the nearly 100 volunteers who packaged about 40,000 meals with the Stop Hunger Now service project, which was cosponsored by ISNA and Islamic Relief, ICNA Relief and Zakat Foundation. These sealed bags with veggies, soy, and rice — nutritional meals are handed out at many schools. Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

The convention ended successfully with thousands of attendees, both veterans and newcomers. With 50 years behind the influential organization, ISNA’s vision continues to work through initiatives with Muslim Americans and the larger American community, and to carry on the ideals of freedom and justice. 

Aliya Karim is studying toward a master’s degree in media and public affairs at George Washington University. Zahra Cheema is a Maryland-based freelance writer. Asmaou Diallo is Amina magazine’s permanent correspondent to the United States. Melissa Najeedah Lemon is involved in assisting adolescents with social and emotional development in the public school system.

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51 Annual ISNA Convention st

Cobo Center

1 Washington Blvd  •  Detroit, MI 48226

August 29 – September 1, 2014 CONVENTION HIGHLIGHTS Main Sessions (ISNA, MSA, MYNA)  «  More than 200 renowned speakers  «  Parallel Sessions Bazaar with 550 booths  «  Entertainment Program  «  Interfaith Reception Qira’at Competition  «  CSRL Luncheon  «  Matrimonial Banquets  «  Art Exhibit Islamic Film Festival  «  Health Fair  «  Meet the Author Program Photography Exhibit  «  Children’s Program  «  Babysitting Contact:

Phone: (317) 838-8129  |  Email:  |  Web:

Muslims in Action

From Sharecropper’s Daughter to Hajjah A life dedicated to serving humanity By Ahmad Nurriddin


rom sharecropper’s daughter to Hajjah — that is the inspired and remarkable journey of Aidah Nasheed Sabir-Jenkins. She performed the pilgrimage three times: 1980, 1994 and 2003 at ages 62, 76 and 85. This was an amazing accomplishment for a young woman, with limited education, who spent most of her career as a domestic — working in a shirt-making factory and doing housework. She also authored two books and at 94 regularly assisted with the preparation of food for iftar, the fast-breaking meal, at Washington, D.C.’s Masjid Muhammad. She published her second book of poetry at age 92. Born Ada Steen on July 29, 1918, in Union, S.C., Sabir-Jenkins died Feb. 12 while crossing the street near her home in Northwest Washington, D.C. Sabir-Jenkins was a devout, talented, and religious woman raised in the church where she often recited religious material, played the piano, and wrote and sang gospel songs with the choir. She traveled through South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., as she performed with various choirs and gospel quartets. Sabir-Jenkins joined the “social reform mission” of the Nation of Islam in Washington, D.C., at Temple No. 4, in 1957, under the leadership and teachings of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad. She used to say that she embraced Islam because, “after hearing the teachings, it was as if it fit my life and it was what I was waiting for.” Following Elijah Muhammad’s death in 1975, as a devoted student of Imam Wallace D. Mohammed, Sabir-Jenkins’ devotion to the Quran and the hadith was smooth. Sabir-Jenkins was an industrious and

enterprising woman. She was grateful that she was blessed at 90 to witness and contribute to the election of the first bi-racial president, Barack Hussein Obama. Sabir-Jenkins was known for her bold taste and style. She was featured in several Muslim fashion shows. She took great pride in the stylish looks of First Lady Michelle Obama. Her portrait hangs in the (Washington) District of Columbia Office on Aging, reflecting her tastes in clothing and accessorizing. She was vital to the establishment of KIBAR Senior Feeding Center, located at Masjid Muhammad, the nation’s only Halal Feeding Center funded by a municipal government agency — the DCOA. “Sister Aidah was one of my best seniors in Washington, D.C.,” DCOA Executive Director Dr. John Thompson said. “It was a huge blessing to meet her and to learn that she was from my home state of South Carolina. I admired sister Aidah because she always smiled and showed love to everyone who came into contact with her. In her 90s, she remained a source of inspiration to many

Despite losing her hearing, Aidah Nasheed Sabir-Jenkins rarely missed a Friday congregational prayer and during Ramadan was faithful in making taraweeh, the late night prayers. 28

seniors as she was not home bound and was actively connected in her community. I miss her tremendously, but will never forget her smile and the positive energy that always exuded from her.” Despite losing her hearing, Sabir-Jenkins rarely missed a Friday congregational prayer and during Ramadan was faithful in making Taraweeh, the late night prayers. She was a frequent attendee at the National Muslim Convention led by Imam W.D. Mohammed, and for several decades attended numerous major meetings — traveling to Chicago, New York, Philadelphia Texas, Florida, and Georgia. Comfortable with her hearing loss, SabirJenkins penned a poem titled, “Can’t Hear a Thing.” Can’t Hear a Thing I cherish your gifts of kindness and loving care, For smiles you bring. Thanks for the beauty I am seeing, But I can’t hear a thing. Knowing that it’s a trial For a better world to go As from difficulties brings ease, Makes you want to love Allah more, Allah’s will on His time. To give peace of mind, much laughter it brings, When I say I can’t hear a thing. With some of the smiles and laughter We do tell each other I love you, That we show love with truth Helps us to believe One G’d like you. I learnt your name, To call upon Allah the Creator, G’d is One. Loving Allah, who forever brings I say with joy, “I can’t hear a thing.” Sabir-Jenkins continues to epitomize the sacredness of charity and education, as her estate sale in April netted more than $1,500 for the Sister Clara Muhammad School of Masjid Muhammad. 

Donations may be sent to: Sister Aidah Sabir Estate Fund For Clara Muhammad School, c/o Masjid Muhammad, Inc., 1519 Islamic Way, NW Washington, D.C., 20001. Ahmad Nurriddin assisted Sabir-Jenkins during her last Hajj, and returned to Washington, D.C., to contribute to her “independent” living until her passing.

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

Risks Worth Taking

Can Muslim Americans make headway in the mainstream without compromising their principles? by ISLAMIC HORIZONS STAFF


ome Muslim athletes believe compromises don’t work. They have risked their life’s most cherished goal, and the expected lucrative contracts, and triumphed. Hakeem Olajuwon auctioned off his first NBA championship ring because Islam forbids men to wear gold. And there are major league Muslim athletes in North America who observe Ramadan while training and playing. The celebrated Abdullah brothers sacrificed their NFL earnings and possibly endangered their playing careers when they took a break to perform hajj. Such examples continue to enrich the Muslim presence in sports the world over; and of course to show that faith outshines glory on the field and its financial returns. The latest winner is Fawad Ahmed — the second Muslim to be selected to play for the Australian national cricket team. An achievement many cricket-less Americans may not be able to fathom because this sport is a national obsession Down Under. Indeed Ahmed had reasons to step out with caution. In July 2013, a special parliamentary act was needed to grant him citizenship based on his skills to induct him into the team. The Pakistani had sought asylum there in 2010. Ahmed objected to wearing the logo of one of Cricket Australia’s two major sponsors — a beer company whose products account for nearly 25 percent of the country’s domestic beer consumption. The cricketer was included in the team for the five-game limited overs series played against England in summer 2013 after he made his debut in the briefest form of cricket — the Twenty20 series. There are no provisions in Australian cricketers’ contracts for objections to sponsors’ logos. Ahmed’s move was however considered a reasonable personal or professional objection that the employers could exempt a player. However, this has ignited attacks from the country’s Islamophobes. While sports and the corporate sector are intertwined, even such symbolic dissent is worthy.

Fawad Ahmed

Hashim Amla

First, it was South African cricketer Hashim Amla, also a Muslim, who was exempted from wearing a beer logo on his shirt. Again, it was a career-threatening risk for Amla. He was the first Muslim selected

When Manchester City’s Yaya Toure politely refused to accept his award — a bottle of champagne, on religious grounds, the competition organisers were forced to sit up and take notice. Champagne was phased out and now all players receive a small trophy instead.

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

for the national team, and he risked ending his dream by standing for his principles and prevailed. Not only that, he does not pocket a cent from his match fee where the beer company is a sponsor. Amla is currently ranked by the International Cricket Council as the world’s top batsman in Test and One Day Internationals. Amla, who has been cited as a future team captain since he started, was named as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 2013. Wisden is considered as the bible of the cricketing world. “Until recently, all Premier (soccer) League players named man of the match were awarded a bottle of champagne,” according to a July 5 BBC report. “Yet for Muslims, alcohol is forbidden. So when Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure politely refused to accept his award on religious grounds during a television interview, the competition organisers were forced to sit up and take notice. Champagne was phased out and now all players receive a small trophy instead,” per the report. The BBC Religion report by Rob Cowling noted that many Muslim soccer stars are observing fasting during Ramadan while playing in tournaments, which concerns their employers. Also, in cases of celebration, care is taken that popping champagne does not spill on Muslim players or on their clothes and kit. The fans also are getting an education in Muslim practices. Cowling writes when Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew suggested Demba Ba’s slow start to the 201112 season was due to his fasting, fans picked up on it and marked every subsequent goal with a song celebrating how many goals he had scored since the beginning of Ramadan.  “Children playing football in the parks of Newcastle have even been spotted falling to their knees as if in prayer themselves after scoring a goal,” Cowling notes. “They may not completely understand what it means, but it’s a sign that Muslim practices are becoming a more familiar part of popular British culture,” he adds. Initially, English Premier League soccer star Papiss Cisse, a Muslim, refused to wear his Newcastle United team shirt featuring a sponsor, whose business is to offer shortterm, high interest-bearing loans. Later, however, Cisse, who performs prostration in thankfulness after scoring a goal, consulted his inner circle and withdrew his objection to wearing the logo. 


Muslims in Action

Empowering Expression Muslim American benefit from the Al-Talib experience and enrich their communities' voices. By Habib Hamidi


ne of the best kept secrets of the Muslim community is Al-Talib, (, a student-run news magazine birthed in 1990 in a 400-square-foot office at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as part of Student Media UCLA. Student Media UCLA, which produces one of the nation’s best campus student publications, the Daily Bruin, is home to seven community-oriented magazines, including Al-Talib, Fem, Ha’Am, La Gente, Nommo, OutWrite and Pacific Ties. Each magazine offers opportunities for students to get involved in the publishing process, and take on roles ranging from reporting, designing, to selling advertisements. Since its inception, Al-Talib has grown to success-

June 2005


fully produce more than 40,000 quarterly issues, and having as many as 3,000 paid subscribers. Al-Talib News Magazine has been Student Media UCLA’s undeniable success, outproducing and outperforming other campus magazines in terms of sheer volume and readership, as well as being the most fiscally responsible. For that reason, Al-Talib has established a positive reputation and a position of leadership among its peers,

a welcomed accomplishment not only for UCLA’s Muslim students but also for the Muslim community at large. In the last five years, Al-Talib has received the prestigious Campus Progress, (, grant for being a top, student-driven publication in America. In these challenging times for the Muslim American community, the role of the informed, engaged and proactive student has never been more important. AlTalib’s goal is to give students the tools to become just that. Through its website, social media channels and quarterly print edition, Al-Talib strives to inform young Muslims about issues within their own communities while connecting them to broader events within American society. More importantly, because it is youth driven, the magazine has an impact on future generations by providing a platform for Muslim youth to articulate their views, experiences and perspectives on current events and issues. Al-Talib recruits dedicated, graduate and undergraduate students with an interest in writing, blogging, photography, illustration, video, business, copy editing and graphic design to become part of its team. The experience is valuable for Muslim stu-

Jumada al-Awwal 1426

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

Al-Talib News Magazine has been the undeniable success of Student Media UCLA, outproducing and outperforming other campus magazines in terms of sheer volume and readership, as well as being the most fiscally responsible.

dents, most of whom will pursue graduate degrees in fields not traditionally associated with media or journalism. The Al-Talib experience equips them with the ability, confidence and experience to express their opinions, views and perspectives on issues affecting Islam and Muslims, as well as broader issues affecting humanity. And perhaps, a few of those students may end up pursuing a career in journalism and represent the Muslim voice in traditional media. Either way, Al-Talib’s presence positively contributes to the overall conversation about Muslims and offers the community a voice in American society. As rightly noted in a Allied Media report, “The Growing Muslim-American Market” (, which finds that “American Muslims are underrepresented in occupations that make public policy and influence public opinion.” The under-representation of Muslims in these fields is not indicative of a lack of education or money. Muslim Americans are more affluent and better educated than the average American. While Muslims are overrepresented in the fields of medicine, engineering and business, their contributions to those professions do not have a significant impact on how Muslims and Islam are presented to the larger non-Muslim audience. Al-Talib is one of the last venues by which this sad reality can be mitigated. One of Al-Talib’s major accomplishments has been and still is to inform society about issues within the Muslim community from the Muslim perspective. Reporting or storytelling is an intricate science that often involves interpreting facts and putting them into perspective. The writer and the publication, which are limited by experience, history and context, largely determine the “angle” by which a story is written. True investigative reporting based on research with the

appropriate perspective serves the interest of the Muslim and American community by providing a more accurate depiction of real events. Al-Talib also serves to encourage society to become more involved in addressing problems affecting humanity. Some of AlTalib’s older issues highlighted the genocide in Bosnia, unveiled the autocracies in the Middle East, and highlighted the reality of domestic violence and racism in society, especially within the Muslim community. Al-Talib’s coverage of these issues that were at the forefront of mainstream media, was well researched, balanced and pragmatic challenging readers to think about the problems and come up with solutions. Al-Talib was a harbinger for many events happening today, such as the Arab Spring and revolutions across the Muslim world against despotic and ineffective governments in the Middle East. Articles published in

previous Al-Talib issues predated the Arab Spring by nearly 10 years. In the late ’80s and through the ‘90s, Student Media UCLA was replete with resources and financially supported the operating cost of Al-Talib. As the national economic situation worsened, the bulk of the production cost was generated by the news magazine through advertisements and subscriptions. The magazine is now making the transition to becoming an online news resource, while institutional support and advertising revenue have dried up. The community’s support of Al-Talib is vital to its sustainability. One way to help is by simply following Al-Talib on Twitter, “liking” Al-Talib on Facebook or visiting the website ( The increase in traffic will translate into greater exposure and more advertising revenue. Al-Talib is a nonprofit entity that accepts direct financial assistance. Al-Talib started out as a black and white newsletter distributed solely on UCLA campus and read by Muslim students. In the past 23 years, the magazine has grown tremendously with a presence in all major cities and universities nationwide. It’s a testament to the hard work, vision and sincere intentions of its founding members. We are indebted to them and pray for their success and we are grateful that such projects exist for the betterment of the Muslim community and the greater society. 

Dr. Habib Hamidi is a UCLA alumnus.




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Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013


Muslims in Action

Muslim Americans Confront Burma Genocide Burmese Muslim refugees arriving in the United States tell terrible stories

Burmese refugees join others to speak of almost unspeakable violence. One Muslim refugee, recorded on video produced by HEART speaks of a father forced to rape a family member. Choked by emotion, an imam from Burma recalls seeing his uncle murdered in front of him on Eid day. (

By P. Adem Carroll

Are Muslim Americans doing enough to end anti-Muslim pogroms in Burma? 32


f the over 40 million refugees and displaced people fleeing war and disaster around the world, reported by the United Nations, 20 million of them are Muslim. And hundreds of thousands of Muslims continue to be forced out of Burma (renamed “Myanmar” by the military rulers). Many of these Burmese refugees capsize their little boats and drown in rough seas; others are turned back at the Bangladesh border and returned to face oppression and possible murder; traffickers enslave others. Burma Task Force USA (, a nonprofit network of some 20 national and regional Muslim American organizations is helping raise awareness about the oppression of Muslim minorities

in Burma/Myanmar and the related refugee crisis. Despite the mainstream media’s inattention, the Task Force has mobilized Muslim Americans to partner with Buddhists, meet with policymakers, engage with

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

government, and push for peace and justice in Burma. However, much more needs to be done. In early Oct. 2013 the Task Force, in response to appeals from stricken Burmese Muslims, contacted Amnesty International and the U.S. embassy in Rangoon, Burma’s capital. The U.S. embassy released a strong statement. And yet by then the cycle of violence had escalated, resulting in yet more killing — continuing tragic recent trends. In late August 2013 AP reported from northwestern Burma that another “1,000strong Buddhist mob” attacked and torched 42 houses and 15 shops in Htan Gone village. This rampage followed many others during the last year, often provoked by rumors of crime or insult against Buddhists, but resulting in rape, killing and the expulsion of countless Muslim families. The military and police are often passive, usually ineffective and occasionally seen participating in the massacres. Months earlier another wave of apparently state orchestrated attacks resulted in the murder of schoolchildren in Meiktila as well as destruction of towns and neighborhoods

Many are surprised to learn that some Buddhist monks in Burma promote anti-Muslim violence. (see Physicians for Human Rights report Aug. 2013). Islamophobia is raging throughout the region from India to Sri Lanka to Thailand. Reflecting this combination of nationalism and persecution of the “other,” the “969 movement” and other Buddhist nationalist groups are orchestrating much of the anti-Muslim violence in Burma. Many are surprised to learn that some Buddhist monks can promote

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

violence. However there are many precedents as an Oct. 2013 report from International Crisis Group report explains (p. 5). Though unfortunately religion has inflamed passions, the ongoing persecution is rooted in the military authorities’ policies to marginalize sectors of the local population. Serious restrictions on the rights of one major Muslim ethnic group — the Rohingya Muslims — go back thirty years, and even to the country’s constitution proclaimed after the British granted independence in 1948. Burmese Muslims have even faced restrictions on intermarriage and the number of children they may have. Finally, the international community has expressed concern over Burmese Jim Crow style laws and ethnic cleansing. On Oct. 4, the Burma Task Force


Muslims in Action

convened and moderated a panel discussion at the People’s Global Action on Migration, Development, and Human Rights conference in New York City, timed to coincide with the UN High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development. Speakers were from highly regarded advocacy organizations that have been working on Burma related concerns for many years. One question that panelists asked was why the anti-Muslim pogrom when Burma is opening up to foreign trade along with some political reforms. And, disturbingly, it turns out that development policy is actually a contributing factor in the violence. For instance, in the last two years alone, more than 2 million acres of land have been stolen from the communities. The government is able to steal land since they simply do not recognize ownership and in the case of ethnic groups like the Rohingya are not even acknowledged as citizen. In areas like Sandoway and stillsmoldering Kyaukpyu this land expropriation is linked to mall and “mini-Singapore” infrastructure development schemes implemented by military and other elites, in some cases with foreign investors. “It’s so important to follow the money, reminded Debbie Stothard, Secretary General FIDH one of the oldest international human rights organizations in the world 34

(having initiated the formation of the International Criminal Court, among other achievements) . She added, “… the international community only sees the government of Myanmar as part of the solution rather than the problem. There is a gold rush situation with new investors flooding in, but meanwhile there are no labor laws. Because of the land theft some Burmese tell me that these development projects are harder to deal with than the decades of war. We need to hold the government of Myanmar accountable before we allow foreign investment to profit.” Commenting on lifting of the sanctions, panelist Jennifer Quigley the Executive Director of US Campaign for Burma remarked, “The United States seems to imagine that development will automatically lead to human rights reform, which is just false, given the link between investment and theft of land.” In late August 2013, the jam-packed session on “Responsible Investment in Burma” at the prestigious Asia Society in New York, none of government and business leaders mentioned “human rights” or “refugees” nor any discussion of these issues was allowed. While the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has been advocating for Burmese Muslims, public awareness needs to grow to support their efforts. As important

stakeholders, Muslim Americans need to ask that the State Department protect human rights as well as investment opportunities. However, Muslim Americans can offer indirect support by insisting that their retirement and investment funds are responsibly invested, and that businesses like Procter and Gamble and Nissan already active in Burma, have a plan to assist impacted Muslim communities there. Another panelist was Wai Wai Nu, a slender and upright young Rohingya woman who at the age of 17 was arrested with her entire family and held in terrible tomblike conditions for seven years, suffering from cruelty and lack of healthcare. She was released last year. She told the panel: “I was never political before but this experience caused me to find my political beliefs. Even though my father was afraid for me at first, I have founded an organization called the Women Peace Network Arakan (WPNA) to promote women’s rights, peace and justice.” 

P. Adem Carroll is New York Director Burma Task Force USA.

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Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

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Muslims in Action

Muslims Stand for Their Rights Muslim Americans broaden their outreach with mainstream organizations to protect their fundamental rights. By Janne Louise Andersen


n June 26, defying Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Police Department (NYPD) Chief Raymond Kelly, the New York City Council voted with veto-proof majorities for bills to create an inspector general’s office to oversee the NYPD. The bills also allow people to sue over racial profiling by police, as part of the Safe Communities Act Legislation. Other important accountability bills addressing surveillance issues, as well as Stop and Frisk, include the End Racial Profiling Act introduced on May 23 to the United States Senate by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), which prohibits racial profiling by law enforcement officials. In August 2013, a federal court ruled against the Stop and Frisk tactics. In Aug. 2011, Muslim Americans learned that since 9/11, the NYPD has been running a surveillance program to monitor Muslims in New York and a few other states. Since then, a team of lawyers and civil rights activists have been researching the impact of the undercover program on Muslim communities. On June 18, they filed a federal lawsuit against Kelly, head of NYPD intelligence division, former CIA agent David Cohen and Bloomberg for having breached constitutional guarantees, such as the right to free worship. This move was announced by the American Civil Liberties Union, the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility (CLEAR) project of Main Street Legal Services at City University of New York (CUNY) Law School at a press conference in front of the police headquarters in Manhattan. They demanded that the surveillance program be stopped, all the records destroyed and that a monitor be appointed to oversee the NYPD. During the conference, three of the plaintiffs talked about their encounters with NYPD’s secret informants. Imam Hamid Hassan Raza of Brooklyn’s


Shamimur Rahman (left).

Masjid Al-Ansar said that he began recording his sermons, fearing that he was being watched and that the police would take his words out of context. After it was discovered that an informant had been assigned to the mosque, he said there has been increased suspicion towards new members and attendance has dropped drastically. Raza, fearful of further police attention, doesn’t talk to congregants about current affairs or subjects, he believes, the NYPD may find objectionable. Another witness, City University of New York student Asad Dandia, 20, who leads a nonprofit organization called Muslims Giving Back, said the NYPD used an informant to spy on him and the association. The informant, he said, had approached him stating that he “had a very dark past, and he wanted [his help] to become a better practicing Muslim.” The informant, Shamimur Rahman, 19, acknowledged last year to Associated Press that he had spied on Dandia and others and practiced the technique known as “create

and capture”, by which an informant creates a conversation with a Muslim New Yorker about jihad or terrorism and then captures and reports that individual’s response to the NYPD. The police recruited Rahman following his third arrest on misdemeanor drug charges and paid him $1500 a month to serve as informant. “I felt betrayed and hurt because someone I had taken as a friend and brother lied to me and used me,” said Dandia. He added that it has become difficult to collect donations and that friends no longer want to associate with him. It is his first time to publicly speak out about his experiences “I am very emotional but also very excited,” he said about taking part in what he called “a historical lawsuit.” This is the third legal action filed against NYPD’s Muslim surveillance program, but this one may be historic since the decision of the Supreme Court will set a precedent for other profiling and surveillance cases. “Those criticisms, whether ill-informed or calculated, will not deter the NYPD from fully respecting the Constitution and protecting the public from those intent on killing more New Yorkers,” the NYPD’s top spokesman, Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne told the Daily News. Mayor Bloomberg, insisting that, “We are doing the right thing. We will continue to do the right thing,” declared that criticism of the program is “misplaced” and “pandering.” Muslim Americans United The NYPD surveillance case has, if anything, strengthened the position of Muslim American organizations who are today working in crisscross alliances including mainstream civil rights organizations and other groups subject to profiling and discrimination by police. Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition (MACLC), a coalition of 13 Muslim and civil rights organizations, was formed in 2007 out of concerns for how local, state and federal government and law enforcement entities were criminalizing Muslims in the name of national security through broad-based racial, religious, national security and gender profiling. For the past two years, MACLC has been working with the team of attorneys researching for the lawsuit. Linda Sarsour, who coordinates press and helped identify plaintiffs, says that “they are pretty confidant it is the best case we could have put together.“

Janne Louise Andersen, a freelance journalist based in New York City, covers issues among Arab diaspora communities.

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

Linda Sarsour

Leading Through Action

Muslim civil rights defender, Linda Sarsour, fights injustice with spunk. By Janne Louise Andersen


n Sept. 28, Linda Sarsour was presented with CAIR’s first American Muslim of the Year award at its 19th annual banquet. So who is Linda Sarsour? When Sarsour is not on the streets rallying against the New York Police Department (NYPD), teaching Muslim Americans their civil rights, challenging the image of Islam in the media or lobbying policymakers on Capitol Hill, she is parenting her three children and visiting family in Palestine. When the Arab-American Anti-discrimination Committee held its annual convention in Washington, D.C., on June 13, they invited the 33-year-old Muslim civil rights activist to speak about her work as the director of Arab-American New York and the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), where she serves as the national advocacy director. “In this room, I am sure there’s an informant right now,” Sarsour said half-jokingly. She spoke about the NYPD’s surveillance program, its impact on Muslims in New York and how to fight it. “Agitate, legislate and litigate!” A week later, Sarsour joined a group of civil rights lawyers and activists at a press conference in front of the police headquarters in Manhattan, announcing that they

had filed a federal lawsuit against the city of New York and the NYPD. “Everyone should be concerned. If this is allowed to happen to Muslims, I guarantee that it will happen to others,” Sarsour cautioned. Sarsour, who was named a “Champion of Change” by the White House in 2011, is also part of the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition, which since 2007 has worked to create more accountable law enforcement agencies and has assisted the legal team with research for the lawsuit. Below are Sarsour’s responses to a Q&A: How do you personally feel about this lawsuit? As a Muslim watching what our community has gone through the past 10 years, I see everything as a win. The actual filing of the lawsuit is a milestone and a proud moment. Muslims embarked on a lawsuit that will not only help Muslims, but future groups that potentially could also be targeted by wholesale spying. Do you feel the Muslim community has been strengthened by the NYPD case? I said in an interview five years ago that we feel we are under surveillance. I believed that, imams felt that, but we couldn’t prove it. When the Associated Press story and the NYPD secret documents came out, we saw the names of our mosques and restaurants

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

and finally we had the proof. That got people ready to organize. Now we have built a coalition of South Asian, African-American and Arab Muslims. What are your thoughts about Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly dismissing this case? These people need to be ashamed about their unequivocal stands on profiling. All we want (Mayor Bloomberg) to say is that this is really concerning. We have certified mail letters inviting him to town hall meeting to listen to the stories of the people. He declined all the invitations. How do you feel about being dubbed the Champion of Change by the White House? I’m young, Muslim, woman in hijab. For me and my family it was big deal. I have people asking me, why would you accept an award from the White House? I have criticized them publically. But they recognize people even though they don’t agree with them. What are your own political aspirations? I would like to run for the New York City Council. Perhaps stay for two terms and run for another office or go back. Sometimes I think twice about getting involved in the corrupt system, but it’s probably good to have more good people in there. We’ll see. You are a mother of three, and with everything you are involved in, how do you do it? What’s the secret? A wonderful, supportive family is the secret. The second secret is that I overly believe in what I am doing. I believe it will make the community my children live in better. The hardest part is when I’m coming home and only able to spend a few hours with my kids. But I am lucky; my kids are excellent in school and after school they go to their grandparents’ house. What advice would you give to Muslim parents? Always encourage your kids to have free thought. Oftentimes the way we teach Islam is by memorization. It alienates young people. They want to have conversations. That’s what we do here in the organization. We have kids who are not perfect and we embrace them. Girls can wear the hijab or not and it’s okay, wear tight pants and it should be okay. We should provide them with the right information and trust that they make the right choices. Kids are already struggling with their identity. 

Janne Louise Andersen, a freelance journalist based in New York City, covers issues among Arab diaspora communities.


Muslims in Action

GivingWhileLiving Do Muslim Americans know why giving while living is more worthwhile? By M. Yaqub Mirza and Firas Barzinji


he Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), once asked about which charity was the most superior in reward, replied, “The charity which you practice while you are healthy, niggardly [miserly] and afraid of poverty and wish to become wealthy. Do not delay it to the time of approaching death and then say, ‘Give so much to such and such, and so much to such and such.’ And it has already belonged to such and such (as it is too late)” (Narrated by Abu Huraira; Sahih Bukhari; Vol. 2, Book 24, No. 500).   This Hadith strongly supports the cause of giving while living. Why? Giving while living provides an opportunity to see the effects of the gift. While living, the donor can direct or redirect the use of the contributions. If a supported project does not succeed, the donor has the opportunity to refine or even contribute to another one. Imagine what would happen if no one gave while living and only willed, upon death, a portion of their wealth (up to onethird of their estate, according to Islamic law)


to the poor or needy and non-inheritors. Perhaps, then the needy would be praying for death of the givers. Instead, once the loved ones are provided for and zakah has been paid, one should give back (sadaqah) to the community during one’s lifetime. Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported the Prophet as saying, “It is better for a man to give a dirham as sadaqah (charity) during his lifetime, than to give a hundred at the time of his death” (see Dawud, “Readings on Charity and Kindness in Islam,” ISNA Development Foundation, 2002, p.19). Gifts can be made in favor of a living person capable of holding property. However, unless you use your lifetime exemption, under IRS rules, gifts per person per year that exceed the gift tax exemption ($14,000 in 2013) are taxable. While unlimited personal gifts can be made to a mosque, a community center, a school, or any charitable institution (as well to your spouse, provided your spouse is an American citizen). At the time of making a will such questions often arise if a trustworthy administra-

tor could be found, how will the inheritance be distributed, and would the administer do exactly as willed. In order to avoid such issues, one should distribute most, if not all assets to his or her spouse, children and to various charities while living, only keeping some reserves to live on. This can be accomplished by using the lifetime exemption ($5 million in 2013) to give to anyone one desires, including children, siblings, friends, charities, etc. However, the Prophet established the upper limit of what one can be willed to non-inheritors. When a person insisted on giving virtually all his wealth to the poor, the Prophet advised him to bequeath only onethird of it to the needy, and leave at least twothirds for the dependents. The Prophet said, “Leaving your dependents well off is better than leaving them poor as they are looking up not to the mercy of others. Every expenditure which you expend on your dependents is a sadaqah (charitable expenditure), and therefore meritorious” (Ahmad, al-Tirmidhi, ibn Majah, and Abu Da’ud).

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

In giving while living, we can see the benefits of our efforts immediately, especially when we know where it is going.

There appear to be lingering questions within the Muslim community about the distribution of wealth among one’s children. Importantly, all children, male or female, must be treated equally (i.e., upbringing, clothing, education, cars, marriage, and travel) while the parents are alive. However, necessary provision must be made for a special needs child. A hadith which supports this principle is where, the Prophet asked a man who had given a gift to his son: “‘Do you have other children besides this one?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ The Prophet asked, ‘Have you given a gift like this to all of them?’ The man said, ‘No.’ The Prophet said, ‘I am not going to bear witness to this act of injustice’’’ (Sahih al-Muslim, Book of Gifts, No. 3965). The Prophet taught that it is obligatory for a father to treat his children equally, especially in the matter of giving gifts. The hadith forms the argument of scholars (‘ulama’) who maintain that a person distributing his property among his children during his lifetime, should not discriminate among his male and female progeny and should give

an equal share to each of them. “Each one of you is a caretaker (ra’iy), and is responsible for those under his care. Wasting the sustenance of his dependents is sufficient sin for man” (Abu Daoud, al-Nisai, and al-Hakim). While you are living, you can freely give equally among your children, irrespective of their gender. It is only upon one’s death that the Shari‘ah schedule of distribution applies. While living, we may want to give to charity, or gift to deserving non-inheritors, and distribute the rest equally among the children, leaving little to nothing for the inheritance. However, one should remember the Prophet’s guidance: “Leaving your heirs free from want, is better than they should be begging to other people.”   Also, if a person wants to give more than one-third of the inheritance to non-inheritors or to a charity (or charities), he or she can do so with the inheritors’ consent. A child with special needs can also be taken care of this way. Additionally, an inheritor can gift or forego his or her share in favor of someone else. “Giving While Living” is not a uniquely Muslim or Islamic concept. Andrew Carnegie in his famous 1889 essay, “Wealth,” argued that the wealthy have a duty to give back and help their communities during their lifetime, and not merely in death. He strongly referred to those who mainly give away wealth after death: “men who leave vast sums in this way may fairly be thought men who would not have left it at all, had they been able to take it with them.” It is an obligation on the wealthy to support their communities and to focus on giving back while living. We also know that the Prophet taught that giving charity would not in any way decrease our wealth. Consider Captain Levy, a pious Philadelphian, asked how he could give so much to the Lord’s work and still possess great wealth, replied, “Oh, as I shovel it out, He shovels it in, and the Lord has a bigger shovel” (Frank R. Shivers, Christian Basics 101: A Handbook on Christian Growth, p. 103; 2009, Columbia, S.C.). Thus, we have no excuse not to give

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

while we are living, as the benefits are many and the negatives are non-existent. In giving while living, we can see the benefits of our efforts immediately, especially when we know where it is going. We can also be instrumental in ensuring that our wealth is put to good use. Moreover, we know that no matter how much we give, God will not decrease our wealth. And though we are limited to giving only up to one-third of our wealth in death, we have no such limitations during our lifetime. It is time to start giving! 

M. Yaqub Mirza, Ph.D. is president and CEO of Sterling Management Group; Firas Barzinji is general counsel of Sterling Management Group.

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Muslims in Action

Breaking Barriers Young Muslim American women adapt to leading national organizations. By Samana Siddiqui


n 2004, Hadia Mubarak made Muslim American history when she was elected the first female president of the Muslim Students Association National (MSA) — the first woman to lead the body since its founding in 1963. Today, Mubarak is a doctoral student in Islamic Studies at Georgetown University. Her research interests include the development of classical Quranic exegesis; Islamic family law; Islamic reform and gender issues in Islam. She received her master’s degree in contemporary Arab studies with a concentration in women and gender from Georgetown University. In this interview with Islamic Horizons, she shares how her election was a culmination of the sacrifices of women who built MSA/ISNA, and its legacy for Muslim women. Islamic Horizons: You were the first female president of the MSA. How did it happen? Hadia MubaraK: My involvement with MSA National first began in the fall of 2003 when I moved to Washington, D.C. I had just


left Florida State University, where I had served on the local MSA board for three years. Dr. Altaf Husain, the former MSA National president, had heard about our MSA chapter’s political activism, specifically our success in mobilizing the student community against a bill in the Florida legislature that discriminated against students from certain Muslim countries. In that fall of 2003, he invited me to become the vice-chair of MSA National’s Political Action Task Force (PATF). I agreed and during that academic year, PATF helped MSA National become more politically involved. We created a voters’ information guide for the 2004 presidential elections, encouraged MSA chapters to set up voter registration booths, helped unify the Muslim American vote by working with AMT (American Muslim Taskforce), and put out statements on important political issues that affected Muslim students. By the end of that academic year (spring 2004), I was quite surprised to learn that the outgoing board had selected me as their nominee for president. The nomination of the outgoing board serves as equal to the nomination of any affiliated MSA chapter. As far as I recall, the position was not contested and therefore, as a historic coincidence, I was elected as the first female president of MSA National. Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

At the 2004 ISNA conference, where I was introduced as MSA National’s first woman president, a handful of scholars, religious leaders and activists all enthusiastically applauded this as something that was long due. I felt like the community was waiting for this barrier to be overcome.

IH: Your family has been involved in MSA/ISNA since the 1970s. Did their example encourage you to participate? HM: My paternal grandfather, Muhammad Al-Mubarak, who passed away when I was in my mother’s womb, has been a source of my inspiration for religious, political and intellectual engagement. I grew up hearing about his religious activism, knowledge, and sense of individual responsibility toward society. He was a man of vision and deep-rooted knowledge who made his mark on Syrian politics, leading it toward a more God-conscious orientation. I knew that I wanted to be someone who followed in his footsteps, God have mercy on his soul. I believe we have a responsibility to attempt to make the world a better place than we found it. Our contributions to the world are never dramatic or sudden. They are the product of hard work, dedication, organization and sincere trust in God as the master of all affairs. The world is not a perfect place. God doesn’t expect us to change the world, but to do our part. We cannot sit on the sidelines as apathetic bystanders, while injustices occur and oppression exists in the communities in which we live. Each one of us has a role to play in improving our communities and those roles will surely vary. But the trajectory should be one and the same: serving God through serving people and the community at large. IH: How did the work of the early pioneers influence this acceptance for female leadership? HM: Women have been involved from the very beginning of MSA and ISNA’s early years of existence. There was a women’s committee in which my paternal aunt, Mayssun Mubarak Kahf, was involved in the ’60s and ’70s (IH, Sept./Oct. 2013, p. 39). Many other women paved the way for the community’s acceptance of female leadership through their own positive contributions and examples. From the beginning, these hardworking and dedicated women made themselves indispensable to the organization. I believe without question that I stand on the shoulders of those women by becoming the first female president of MSA National. IH: Can you describe the day of the election and its aftermath? How you felt, reactions, etc. HM: I personally did not feel that I had done anything extraordinary or unique. I do not believe that becoming the first female president was due to any attributes or merit of my own. It was entirely a matter of God’s will and fadl, or grace, that this occurred. In Arabic grammar, we have the concept of al-fā’il, the one who takes action, and al-maf ’ūl, the one upon whom the action falls. In the case of the elections in specific, I felt like the maf ’ūl, a person upon Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

whom this position unexpectedly befell. As Muslims, we believe that everything that happens in our lives and the world is a matter of divine wisdom, so I have no doubt that there was a reason this happened. I was amazed by how receptive and welcoming the community was of the news that a female had become MSA National’s president. At the 2004 ISNA conference, where I was introduced as MSA National’s first woman president, a handful of scholars, religious leaders and activists all enthusiastically applauded this as something that was long due. I felt like the community was waiting for this barrier to be overcome. IH: Did your election open the door for other women? HM: Absolutely. I feel like it made community leaders more inclined to look for qualified female candidates around them, instead of seeking male candidates by default. There have been two very exceptional female presidents of MSA National after me, Asma Mirza (2007-09) and Iman Siddiq. In 2006, Ingrid Mattson, who had served on ISNA’s Shura Council for a number of years, was elected as the first female president of ISNA. She honestly transformed the organization and raised its standards beyond anyone’s imagination. Not only has the last decade witnessed a strong emergence of female leaders of Muslim organizations, but it has also witnessed the timeless contributions of these women. Despite the significant progress made by national Muslim organizations in accepting and encouraging female leadership, it is unfortunate that there are still many Muslim communities in the U.S. that lag far behind. We need to broaden our outreach to these different communities and empower the members of those communities who want to seek change. We can do so by providing them with practical tools and evidence of religious texts to help them challenge the existing status quo and push forth change. The truth of the matter is that there are still many women out there who feel disenfranchised and disempowered by their Muslim centers or organizations that primarily cater to male congregants and fail to include women as equal participants of the communities. Not only does this cause me pain, but I am certain without doubt, that it would have also caused great pain to the mothers of the believers, who set the historic precedent of active participation, leadership and religious guidance for all women who came after them. The early Muslim community was one in which women could openly speak and be heard, not where they were relegated to being mere observers in some secluded, segregated space. I believe this is the sunnah that we need to revive in our communities, rather than the cultural baggage that has held us back for so many years. 


Politics and Society

Islamophobic Groups Well Funded

New CAIR report identifies organizations, people who promote prejudice toward Muslim Americans. By Aya Khalil


hirty seven American organizations that promote Islamophobia received funding of more than $119 million over four years, according to a report released Sept.19 by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The report, titled “Legislating Fear: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States,” names organizations and people who actively promote Islamophobia, including Herman Cain, U.S. Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican, Lowe’s, Bare Naked Islam, Atlas Shrugs, Florida Family Association and The Clarion Fund. “To make $119 million over four years is really troubling to me, especially since this is a low-ball estimate. That’s a lot of money being spent on prejudice,” said Corey Saylor, director of CAIR’s Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia and the report’s lead author. Many of the groups are linked to one another as one organization funds several inner core Islamophobic networks. For example, Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum (MEF) has channeled millions of dollars to Islamophobic networks. Between 2009 and 2011, MEF gave $1,242,000 to Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism, according to the CAIR report. In 2009, the David Horowitz’s Freedom Center received $6,000 from MEF. The David Horowitz Freedom Center helps fund

Pamela Geller, who established the Atlas Shrugs website, and Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch who received $161,206 from the Horowitz Center. The report is based on findings and research conducted between January 2011 and December 2012. The report used materials from within the network of Islamophobia. Islamophobic groups were counted and grouped into inner and outer cores. The report examined the groups’ revenues from 2008-11. The report’s findings were also based on the Islamophobia rate in the Unites States from a “survey conducted with subject matter experts,” said Nihad Awad, CAIR executive director. “This report includes a listing of known anti-Muslim law enforcement and military trainers derived from a number of critical exposés,” Awad said. Many Muslim Americans were not shocked by the report’s revelations. “I think it’s great that CAIR put in the time and effort to research and type up this comprehensive study,” said Greater Boston resident Hamza Dawud Flanagan. “I can’t say I’m surprised by much of the information as I’d been following aspects, such as legal measures aimed at “Sharia,” law enforcement and military being taught to use hate in training, the socially acceptable nature of Islamophobia, etc.” Laila Alawa, a Boston social activist and writer, said it’s a common perception in the United States that “Islamophobia isn’t real.”

Corey Saylor

“That it’s made up and Muslim Americans are being over-sensitive,” she said. “So having it come out and actually document who was perpetuating acts of hatred was not gratifying in a sense, but now we can actually put it out there; that there are groups that are trying to cause harm. We can’t jut say (Islamophobia) isn’t present. It’s racism in a sense. It’s xenophobia, but it’s definitely present.” Bonni Intall, founder of Bare Naked Islam, an anti-Muslim web blog, denies there is such a thing called Islamophobia. “I am honored to be named in CAIR’s report,” Intall said in an email interview. According to the report, there are comments posted on Bare Naked Islam’s website that encourage violence toward Muslims. One commenter even said, “I want (Muslim) blood on my hands.” Intall said that she deletes comments that promote violence. “The comment, ‘Muslim blood on my hands,’ was not my words but one of my reader’s,” she said. “All calls for violence (except against terrorists) are deleted, but unfortunately some, as the one above, was missed. I do not condone or promote vio-

To make $119 million over four years is really troubling to me, especially since this is a low-ball estimate. That’s a lot of money being spent on prejudice,” said Corey Saylor, director of CAIR’s Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia and the report’s lead author. 44

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

Remziya Suleyman

lence against innocent Muslims.There are hundreds of thousands of comments on my website, and this is the only one CAIR has been promoting for the past 18 months to denigrate my blog.” Remziya Suleyman of Nashville, Tenn., director of policy and administration at the American Center for Outreach, was not surprised by the report’s findings. “We track and monitor Islamophobic movements,” she said. “We’ve been on the front lines of this issue through organizing efforts in our community and organizing interfaith (activities) in the community to ensure Muslim voices are reflected in Tennessee. For us, we’ve seen everything from political attacks to special hearings against refugee resettlement programs in Tennessee by the same groups that are doing the anti-Sharia bill.” Another example of Islamophobia that grabbed national media attention was when hundreds of people tried to stop the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro’s mosque expansion. “The mosque opened in November (2012), but what we saw with the incident heavily outweighed the attacks we were getting — the community support,” Suleyman said. “I’ve never seen our state come together in that way and it was a beautiful thing to go to the opening ceremony and see diverse community members and officials … come to support the mosque and supporting the constitutional rights of minority groups.” The Tennessee Freedom Coalition tried to halt the mosque expansion, according to the report. “This isn’t a mosque. They’re

building an Islamic center to teach Sharia law. This is what we stand in opposition to,” Lou Anna Zelenik, a Republican was quoted in the report. Suleyman said though many organizations mentioned in the report are from Tennessee, they do not represent all Tennessee residents. “It’s important for the average American to know that it’s not a movement that randomly came up,” she said. “This is a very wellorganized, well-orchestrated and funded movement.” CAIR’s Saylor said there has always been prejudice toward certain minority groups in the U.S. “It’s the same unfortunate hate that was directed at other minorities throughout the history of our country,” he said. Saylor said he hopes people understand the seriousness of the report’s results. “It’s a very serious thing when people (are) trying to pass laws that vilify your faith. It’s a whole new level of discrimination,” he said. He hopes now that people will know clearly who the Islamophobes in society are and will make them reject the hatred. “We now put names to the Islamophobia network,” Saylor said. “(We) now know who the people who are involved in it are. With that knowledge, if someone was not familiar with Robert Spencer before the report, they now know who Robert Spencer is when he’s coming to speak to the local community. Something should be said about that. Or when Pamella Geller is coming to speak to the (National Federation of Republican Women) something should be said about that. The materials are now there to show the statements and their records of prejudice. The goal is to show that racism is socially rejected in this country and the same should be done to Islamophobes.” The report also documents how Islamophobia declined from 2010 to 2012. In 2010, Islamophobia was rated as 6.4 on a scale from one to 10. In 2012, Islamophobia was rated 5.9. It offers reason for optimism, Saylor said. “It’s excellent that it dropped and I was surprised that was the result we got,” Saylor said. “It reinforced to me that this is a country where people stand up and advocate for themselves. When you stand up and are vocal in defending yourself and the principles of our faith and nation that will be recognized.” Saylor said CAIR’s next report will be about how to tackle Islamophobia.

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

“People who know Muslims or about Islam are less likely to discriminate against us,” he said. “We have to get out of our comfort zone. We need to get out in society and let people see us interact. If you have an interest, go volunteer. You don’t have to wear your religion on your sleeve. In this society, you have to push back prejudice within the boundaries of the law by using advocacy tactics used by other communities. We have to push back.” Alawa agreed it’s important for Muslim Americans to be proactive rather than reactive. “Be part of the community and show them what Islam is,” she said. “For most of the time, Prophet Muhammad was going out and helping his community and helping the elders and orphans. (He) was always stressing community members to be involved. Devote your time to the community, not to just help the image, but doing it because you have a genuine interest and love for the people around you.” 

Aya Khalil, a freelance journalist and educator, can be contacted at

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Politics and Society

Demonstrators take part in a protest against Quebec's proposed Values Charter in Montreal on Sept. 14, 2013.

Quebec Devalues Values Muslims in North America must confront discriminatory moves fueled by Orientalist myths. by Aruba Mahmud


insists the Charter is necessary to “maintain social peace and promote harmony” and that “clear rules on religious accommodations will contribute to integration and social cohesion,” particularly for “newcomers.” Public officials envision that private employers will follow suit and implement similar workplace rules.

n 2003, French President Jacques Chirac’s plan outlawed any “conspicuous” religious symbols in the country’s schools, a law which was passed in 2004, much to the dismay of Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, and others who wear religious clothing. Muslims around the world raised voices in solidarity with their French brothers and sisters, but it seemed that there was also a sense of gratitude, even smugness, that such laws were improbable Inconsistent at best, discriminatory at worst in North America. The Charger is riddled with inconsistenHowever, now 10 years after Chirac’s bans, public employees in Quebec are facing a similar situation. The ruling Parti Quebecois (PQ) and the province’s Prime Minister Pauline Marois unveiled the long-dreaded “Charter of Quebec Values” on Sept. 10. Only then Quebecers, and Canadians realized the proposed law’s implications in a nation that has long prided its diversity, pluralism and multiculturalism. The Charter would bar state employ-


ees from wearing “overt and conspicuous” religious symbols, including hijabs, niqabs, turbans, large crosses and kippas (skullcaps). State services would be denied to any violators. The Quebec government’s website informs that the Charter sets “clear rules for everyone,” particularly in light of several religious accommodation cases which have occurred in the province since 2006, cases which the PQ argues have “given rise to a profound discomfort in Quebec.” The PQ

cies and contradictions. For example, Philip Authier (National Post, Sept. 10) reported that municipalities and certain institutions, such as universities, may allow exemptions (except for hijab) that “would be valid for a period of up to five years and renewable.” The Charter defines that “inconspicuous” religious symbols, such as small cross necklaces, earrings with a crescent and star design, or a ring featuring a Star of David, would be acceptable. However, the government seems

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

While for the time being it seems that the Charter is indefensible, due to its discriminatory and legally questionable nature, it also reflects a disturbing trend facing religious minorities, particularly Muslims, living in Western countries.

Photo by Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS

to assume that religiously observant Quebecers would consider a pair of earrings with a crescent and star design or other religious symbols a fair substitution for an act of worship and religious duty as significant and important as the hijab, turban, or kippa. The Charter has other inconsistencies. While claiming to uphold Quebec’s values and ensure “secularism” and the “equality” of sexes, Marois largely exempts Christian symbols such as the cross and Christmas trees. Yet, several Christian symbols will remain in government and public buildings. The cross on Quebec’s provincial flag will remain, as will the large crucifix which hangs in Quebec’s legislature behind the speaker’s throne. Christmas trees in government buildings also would be exempt. Another notable exemption is the cross atop Montreal’s Mount Royal, a landmark which

stands 30 metres (over 98 feet) high and can be seen from miles away. Christmas and Easter will remain public holidays. Marois and Quebec’s Democratic Institutions Minister Bernard Drainville say exemptions such as Easter and Christmas are “civic” holidays, and no longer have religious significance. “The crucifix is there to stay, in the name of history, in the name of heritage,” Drainville said. Ironically, elected public officials don’t have to remove their religious clothing once they enter office. Yet, a hijab-wearing elected official would “have to force employees to remove theirs.” Drainville struggled to respond to questions about the Charter’s inconsistencies, per Authier’s report. Marois has said in an interview that a

daycare worker or teacher wearing hijab gives “a connotation of a gap with respect to the equality of men and women, a kind of submission.” According to the Montreal Gazette, Marois said a hijab-clad “educator could also want to show children she is ‘a very good practicing (Muslim)’ and incite them to religious practice … she is in authority, this woman, with children.”

Reaction to the Charter Support for the Charter is higher in Quebec, a province which has long prided and promoted itself for having a distinctive FrenchCanadian identity and history, an identity which some believe is now threatened by immigration and increasing diversity. In 2007, the tiny village of Herouxville — which had not seen an influx of immigrants — drew national attention when it released

Demonstrators take part in a protest against Quebec's proposed Values Charter in Montreal on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013.

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013


Politics and Society

Marois is spreading the Orientalist myth that all Muslim women, particularly those who observe hijab, are oppressed, marginalized, and submissive. Yet Marois fails to see how her own proposed Charter would oppress and marginalize Muslim women by forcing them to either remove their hijabs or leave their jobs in the public sector. Quebec Premier Pauline Marois

a Charter of Standards for newcomers that noted: “we consider that killing women in public beatings, or burning them alive are not part of our standards of life” and that “no law or work condition imposes the employer to supply a place of prayer or the time during the working day for this activity.” The province also has presented legal challenges against the niqab, and earlier in 2013, Quebec’s Soccer Federation banned Sikh soccer players from wearing turbans drawing international outcry. FIFA, soccer’s international ruling body, challenged the move. The Charter of Quebec Values is the latest in a series of progressively more overreaching and discriminatory measures to be taken in the province. It has received considerable criticism in Quebec and especially across Canada. Some federal and provincial opposition leaders have spoken out against the Charter in its current form. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has expressed doubt whether the Charter will be adopted, but has vowed to challenge it if it passes because it is discriminatory and violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Anticipating legal challenges, Marois’ party aims to “entrench” the Charter with the “religious neutrality of the state and the secular nature of public institutions.” Political Science professor Emmett Macfarlane said the Charter could still be challenged because it is unconstitutional and “grossly discriminatory,” essentially targeting “religious groups that tend to be comprised of visible minorities, such as Sikhs and Muslims” (The Globe and Mail, Sept.11). 48

The Charter has been challenged by several Quebec politicians and sovereigntists, and countless editorials and columns published throughout Canada by religious and non-religious individuals and organizations. Polls indicate that the Charter’s erstwhile public supports is dwindling. Recent protests held in Montreal against the Charter have drawn thousands of participants, while a pro-Charter rally drew only hundreds.

wrote Toula Foscolos in an opinion piece about the Charter for the Huffington Post (Aug. 21, 2013). Considering all of the underlying tensions the Charter has raised, one can hope that Quebecers, and Canadians as a whole, would choose the latter.  

Aruba Mahmud is a freelance writer who is currently pursuing a PhD in Education at Western University in London, Ontario.

A disturbing and growing trend While for the time being it seems that the Charter is indefensible, due to its discriminatory and legally questionable nature, it also reflects a disturbing trend facing religious minorities, particularly Muslims, living in Western countries. Even in Canada, a religiously and culturally diverse nation, a 2012 poll found that 52 percent of Canadians “distrust” Muslims and Islam. There have been numerous acts of violence and discrimination against religious institutions and individuals in Quebec since the Charter was first discussed earlier this summer, with Muslim women being targeted. Minority religious groups have once again been highlighted as the “other,” an enemy who must assimilate or leave, even if their practitioners are third generation Canadians. “We can choose to batten down the hatches against all sorts of imaginary enemies, or we can choose to co-exist in a dynamic, symbiotic, and mutually beneficial relationship that enriches both those seeking to retain their way of life, and those aiming to begin a brand new one here,”

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Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

Caring in Purple

Muslims women. “I want the community to step up and do its part, inshAllah,” she added.

The Struggle

because they weren’t sure they would be able to pray five times a day or find halal food, and acceptable living conditions.

Hanif finds it disheartening that compared to other faiths, Muslims give considerably little monetary help to female victims of domestic violence. “We have to stop victimizing the victim,” she said. “We really don’t care for women to the degree that we should. People who have money send it home, overseas. The grassroots people who have experienced something similar try to help. If each masjid that sends victims to the shelter would, for example, allocate to the shelter just $100 a month, that would be very helpful. We could budget on it. What is very sad, we are the perfect religion, and we lack so much in that sense. People do not want to hear the truth but it has to be told.”

The Calling

Successes and Hopes

In 2005, Hanif and her friend Maryam Funches, a social worker, started working to gather support for a shelter exclusively for Muslim women, operated without any public funding. With the donations they received, the pair purchased a house to convert into a shelter. Hanif moved out of the crack house and into Muslimat Al-Nisaa. But before the shelter took in its first client in 2007, Funches died (see IH, March/April 2007, p. 49). Hanif vowed to continue to do the work, alone. She then opened the shelter for Muslim women in Baltimore. Hanif questioned how much money the community would be willing to give to support her with the daily work, and cover the utilities and bills for the shelter. Her clients are usually foreign-born women who need to learn English, and to get an education to be able to earn a living and support themselves. It’s a challenge to manage the work without any staff, except for volunteers. Hanif also lives among her clients so she doesn’t have a life of her own. She believes it shouldn’t be the work of one person and that the community should play a role in helping these women. “I really appreciate those who do help as I understand that this is a bigger test,” she said. “No one wants this work to consume their lives but I can’t walk away. I am their principal caretaker and I can’t just let go and go away.” Hanif said she wishes the community knew how much this work matters to abused

Hanif said her greatest fulfillment is when a woman comes to her and goes out the door being self-sufficient. Her greatest sorrow is she feels alone in this work. Hanif has children but they are grown up and busy with their own lives. “I don’t have a husband to share with,” Hanif said. “Where will I go when I am alone, lonely, in need of comfort myself? Usually, the men see my work as cutting from their time. I don’t need someone that just helps me, I need someone in my life that supports me in the work I do.” Hanif said she cries often and easily, especially when she remembers her late mother whom she neglected while doing this work. “A husband would share my sadness, my burdens, and my sorrows,” she added. “Without having someone to share with, it’s difficult.”

Asma Hanif: A Candid Story of the Most Caring Person One Knows By Asmaou Diallo


sma Hanif, an advanced practice nurse, has devoted her life to operating Al-Nisaa Holistic Health Center, a free clinic for women who are homeless, uninsured, or victims of domestic abuse, and Muslimat Al-Nisaa (, a shelter for Muslim women. She shares her challenges, successes, and hopes with “Islamic Horizons.”

The Nurse Practitioner Growing up as an African American in the segregated South, Hanif ’s mother encouraged her to become a nurse. After graduating from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and the Medical University of South Carolina, Hanif began working as a nurse practitioner and midwife. She moved to Atlanta and, in 1987, started a clinic for the uninsured. She got married, divorced, and raised four children. In 2000, she closed the clinic and headed to New York to live with a friend. But at a pit stop in Baltimore, she called the friend who said her husband didn’t want a houseguest. She had no money, no state nursing license, and no home.

Experiencing Homelessness Firsthand Hanif walked past drug dealers on the front stoop of an abandoned apartment building and climbed the steps to the top floor. She disinfected an empty apartment and decided to remain there until she could afford her own home. In about a year, she had a nursing license and a job. In 2002, she founded Healthy Solutions, a neighborhood clinic in Baltimore serving the poor of all faiths. At the clinic, she cared for women who were victims of domestic violence, but many Muslim women worried about seeking help at a shelter

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

Her Love for Purple When Hanif ’s brother contracted HIV and was shunned by the rest of her family, she took him in and cared for him. His death in the late 1990s prompted an overwhelming sadness. Hanif wanted to find a happy place in her mind with something tangible. She found the color purple, lavender and amethyst (the stone) soothing and surrounded herself with it because it made her smile. “But of course, we all have Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala),” she added. 

Asmaou Diallo is Amina magazine’s correspondent to the United States.



Muslims in Europe: Challenges and Opportunities by Engy Abdelkader

Engy Abdelkader

Lee Rigby


he senseless murder of Lee Rigby, a British soldier, by self-professed Muslims this past summer propelled the country’s minority religious community into the media’s harsh spotlight as politicians and pundits debated whether Muslims had more of a propensity for violent extremism than their neighbors who belong to other faiths and traditions. Rigby’s gruesome murder triggered a backlash against those perceived to be Muslim. The more than 200 hate incidents reported in the weeks that followed, included mosque arsons, vandalized graves, physical assaults and harassment, public graffiti and incidents related to hate rhetoric on social media sites. Anti-Muslim sentiment in particular segments of Europe, however, is hardly a Corey Saylor new phenomenon. And, it comes with its challenges and opportunities. According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s September 2012 report, Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion, more than 75 percent of the world’s population lives in countries — including European nations — where official or private entities restrict the ability to practice one’s faith freely. Pew also found 63 percent of nations experienced increased limitations on religious freedom and nearly half (49 percent) witnessed worsening societal hostilities due to religion or belief.


While several European nations work to protect, respect and uphold the religious freedom of their citizenry, increased government restrictions and related social hostilities involving religion persist in the region with adverse implications for its Muslims, states the Pew report. Notably, Pew attributes the atmosphere of religious intolerance to growing immigrant Muslim communities in Europe. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2013 annual report documents increasing restrictions and varied initiatives designed to limit religion or belief, including those that manifest in banning distinctive religious attire, religious male circumcision, mosque and minaret constructions and ritual slaughter practices. Notably, the commission finds that governmental restrictions on religious freedom commonly arise from and help to perpetuate a societal atmosphere of intolerance against Europe’s Muslim minority. This increasingly hostile climate may help foment

increased incidence of private discrimination, including violence, against Muslims and/or those perceived to be adherents of the Islamic faith. The 2012 U.S. Department of State’s annual report surveying the status of International Religious Freedom found rising anti-Muslim rhetoric and actions in Europe. While confirming Pew’s findings, the state department report depicts official restrictions on Muslims’ religious freedoms as undermining the group’s access to education and employment opportunities while also compromising the population’s personal safety. Notably, the state department highlighted increasing limitations against Muslim women’s religious garb in educational settings, employment contexts and the public square. The Pew, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and the Department of State findings reflect a growing atmosphere of intimidation confronting European Muslims, culminating in isolation, exclusion and stigmatization even before Rigby’s killing. Anti-Muslim policies, practices and attitudes disproportionately impact Muslim women and girls whose religious beliefs can manifest outwardly thus identifying themselves as such to the public. In Europe, the headscarf is commonly viewed as a symbol of oppression and non-integration. A Muslim woman dressed distinctively often confronts false assumptions informed by a range of political, social and religious dimensions. She is commonly perceived as radical, disloyal, foreign, unfriendly, unwilling to assimilate, oppressed, uneducated, among other stereotypes. In too many instances, myriad misconceptions — as opposed to any particular article of clothing — undermine her social

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

integration, financial independence, professional advancement and physical safety. We frequently denounce the interpretation and misuse of religious texts and doctrines that deny Muslim women choice and freedom — from coercing individual decisions concerning dress to her exclusion from educational and employment opportunities to a wife or daughter’s inability to resist allegedly religiously-sanctioned violence in private. This theme concerning religion’s deleterious effects is a prominent one that dominates our public discourse regarding gender, religion and the law. The religious restrictions depicted above represent laws, regulations and internal policies that have the effect of coercing women’s individual choices about appropriate attire. They have the effect of excluding Muslim girls and women from pursuing educational and employment opportunities. They also encourage social hostilities and intolerance towards those who are identifiably Muslim, thus rendering girls and women more vulnerable to violent hate crimes in the public square. Moreover, these women who are so often mistaken as “the enemy” represent natural

partners in our shared struggle countering violent extremist ideologies. Muslim women make natural partners because research indicates that terrorist organizations are increasingly targeting middle class Muslim youth through the Internet, and Muslim women may be in the best position to identify and address behavioral changes in their children. They can help educate those who may be unaware of Islamic opposition to terrorism, provide guidance and a sense of belonging to ward off isolation and alienation, and identify at risk individuals who react violently to issues. Rather than expend resources that serve to alienate the Muslim community, it is important for governments to develop programs that help harness the power of community trust, collaboration and cooperation. European governments need to set the national standard to be emulated by private entities, groups and individuals. In satisfying international legal commitments to ensure religious freedom, governments must refrain from discrimination against individuals or groups on account of their religion or beliefs

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

that do not threaten public safety, public order, public health, public morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others. Government officials must also prevent violations against religious freedom by enacting, implementing and duly enforcing anti-discrimination laws. These governments must also create enforcement mechanisms facilitating the proper collection of complaints, provision of legal support to victims, avenues of redress, and sanctions for discriminatory conduct. Such laws must apply equally to employment and education while safeguarding against internal policies and regulations that discriminate against Muslims. Arguably, such official actions will have far-reaching, positive sociological effects culminating in enhanced tolerance towards members of the minority Muslim faith — and, perhaps even acceptance. 

Engy Abdelkader, Esq., serves the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as an expert on religious freedom in an honorary capacity. This article reflects her views alone and was adapted from her remarks delivered at an international conference for high-level European officials last spring.


Politics ISNA Moments and Society

Muslim Americans must devise ways to build diverse friendships within in the community.

Realizing the Ideal of Diversity by Samana Siddiqui


oughly 40 percent of white Americans and about 25 percent of non-whites socialize exclusively within their own race, says an ongoing Reuters/Ipsos poll released in late August. This is at a time when the United States has become one of the world’s most diverse nations, and cultural acceptance for racism has drastically diminished. In this context, how do Muslim Americans fare? “We have not realized the ideal,” says Dr. Ihsan Bagby, associate professor of Islamic Studies at University of Kentucky, and a member of the Islamic Society of North America’s Majlis Shura. “We have acquaintances across ethnic lines, but do we really have real friendships and brotherhood? No, I don’t think so.” “The issue is becoming acquainted with them, understanding them, appreciating their point of view, that’s what I think is missing … a deeper brotherhood as opposed to a superficial awareness of people outside one’s own ethnic group,” he adds. Islam puts a premium on a spiritual kinship that crosses racial and ethnic lines. God reminds believers that, He created human beings into nations and tribes so that they could know one another (49:13). In his Last Sermon, Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) rejected the notion of racial superiority. In Medina, he established the muakkha system, pairing up one migrant from Mecca (Muhajir) with a “helper” (Ansar) from Medina, transcending geographic, tribal, and racial lines. For instance, Bilal ibn Rabah, an African migrant from Mecca and an ex-slave, was paired with Abu Rawahah Abdullah ibn Abdul Rahman, a Medinan Arab. The 2009 Gallup survey, “Muslim Americans: A National Portrait,” finds that Muslim Americans are the nation’s most ethnically and racially diverse religious group. The community’s experience in terms of diversity in friendship and close social relations is a reflection of the reality revealed by the Reuters poll. “It is an issue in the greater society and is mirrored in Muslim communities,” says


Ihsan Bagby

Tayyibah Taylor, editor of the Atlanta-based Azizah magazine, a publication aimed at Muslim American women. “It has much to do with how we are conditioned to ignore our interconnectedness. Islam teaches us our value and worth is not contingent on our tribe or ethnic group, but the condition of our hearts. Islam makes it clear the differences are there to expand us in understanding and faith, not to contract us.” Long-term and sustained exposure to diversity also “helps children grow into more confident adults who are comfortable with the difference they will encounter at college, in the workplace and in the larger world,” says Maureen Costello, director of the Teaching Tolerance program at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala. “Confidence and comfort in the face of difference are really important,” she says, adding that this variety offers a “richness of experience, the chance to hear and understand different perspectives, and a larger understanding of what it means to be human.”

Pull of ethnicity remains “Muslims are ethnocentric wherever they are,” says Dr. Aminah McCloud, director of the Islamic World Studies program at DePaul University in Chicago, and author of “An Introduction to Islam in the 21st Century.” “The friends they take home are of the same ethnic group and so is who they marry.”

Bagby notes that in bigger cities where various immigrant Muslims have congregated based on ethnic or linguistic similarity, it is clearly cultural preference that dictates where Muslims live and who they choose to interact with. “An overriding factor is the comfort of one’s ethnic background,” he says. “It is not a sign of racism. It’s typical of first generation immigrants who feel more comfortable in an environment where their language and culture is reflected.” The ethnic makeup of a particular mosque, Taylor believes, may be due to location but not exclusion. “There are many masajid across the country in which worshippers in one prayer line represent a multitude of ethnic backgrounds,” she adds. American-born children of Muslim immigrants face a choice to retain the ethnocentrism of their childhood or seek a different path. “Any person growing up has two poles,” Bagby says. “One is the pull of their background, the mindset and culture of how they grew up. And then they have other pulls of new people and new ideas and new cultural settings. The second generation in particular is struggling with both.” “Overall though, I see an improvement and not the negativity of it,” he adds. He cites as an example the increase in intercultural marriages among Muslim Americans over more than two decades. “I remember when a Pakistani and an Arab married and it was a big issue in the community in the late 80s,” he recalls. “But now, it’s not so much of an issue anymore and you see more and more of these marriages.” Yet, Bagby says, there are still strides to be made in some areas. “You see more of (mixed marriages), but not between African American and immigrant communities. And when it does happen, it often still is an issue,” he says. “I still hear kids say, ‘I’d better not bring someone outside of my ethnic group for marriage,” “my parents would reject someone who is dark-skinned.’ It’s struggling against those attitudes.” Joshua Salaam, youth director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS)

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

Center in Sterling, Va., agrees true kinship across racial and ethnic lines is lacking but he believes things are better than in the past. “Rarely do I see a group of youth who are only friends with their own ethnic background,” he says. “I really think it depends on where you live. If you live in a big metropolitan area, it’s extremely common for youth to have friends from a different cultural background.” However, Muslim youth in suburban areas, where racial diversity may be harder to encounter, find themselves with Muslim friends who are of the same background, or friends of other faiths and traditions who are predominantly white, he says. “This is the challenge of the Muslim American community — for people to come outside of their comfort zone and get to know Muslims (outside of their own ethnic background),” says Bagby. Evolution of a community: from survival to social In some cases, the growing number of Muslim Americans has actually led to less diversity than 30 or 40 years ago, when many Muslims in the U.S. were just starting to build today’s established communities. “When the numbers of Muslims was small, there wasn’t the move to separate into ethnic groups,” recalls Taylor. “The focus was on spiritual needs and establishing Islamic institutions. Now, communities are much larger, and many of our institutions are already built. The focus has shifted to social needs. Part of that is relating to others with similar social traditions.” Taylor saw this first-hand in at least one Muslim American community. “In the 70s and 80s, the community in Seattle was a great example of working diversity,” she says. “As the community population increased, however, certain ethnic groups broke off and built their own schools and masajid.” “When we live with more and more subdivisions and splits, our loyalties and connections are to the small subsets, not the larger community. We are conditioned by societies to value the interests of the smallest subset long before we are to value humanity,” she explains.

Diversity efforts can start early The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program annually organizes an event at schools across the United States

The American-born children of Muslim immigrants face a choice to retain the ethnocentrism of their childhood or seek a different path. called Mix It Up at Lunch Day (http://www. Once a year, students at participating schools are asked to move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new over lunch. The initiative is based on the organization’s survey in which students said the school cafeteria is the place where divisions between kids are most apparent. It is also based on studies that show that interactions across group lines can lessen prejudice, biases, and misperceptions. “In elementary schools, kids are usually thrilled to have something fun and different to do at lunch,” says Costello, director of Teaching Tolerance. “In some schools, it’s a welcome exception to the ‘eat in silence’ rule.” However, that changes in just a few years. “As they get older, students sometimes are more resistant,” she explains. “Group identity is closely tied to personal identity, especially in middle school, and students worry about how they’re perceived. We advise schools to overcome this potential resistance in a number of ways, by making sure the event is low-risk, fun, and planned by students. We find that the more students are involved in the planning or running of the day, the more successful it is.” But schools can only do so much to build friendships across racial and ethnic lines. “This a job for families and individuals,” says McCloud, adding that even Muslim children who attend public schools where diversity is encouraged by initiatives like Mix It Up fail to learn its lessons because “they and their parents are ethnocentric and sometimes racist.” Intentional, practical measures needed “You can only teach what you’ve been taught. A lot of our parents, I don’t think

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

have been mentored by the previous generations on how to foster true brother- and sisterhood,” says Salaam. “Even the Prophet paired people up in a concerted effort that we’re going to create brotherhood.” That intentionality is necessary to foster closer relationships across race and ethnicity. “Once a quarter, invite guest Imams from other communities to give Friday khutbah,” suggests Taylor. “When planning conferences, forums and events, be intentional about having speakers from different ethnic groups. Support events at various masajid and communities around town, not just the ones sponsored in your area.” Salaam emphasizes grassroots level efforts such as purposely encouraging Muslims of different backgrounds to work on long-term projects, whether that is cleaning up the masjid on a regular basis, planning an annual fundraising dinner, or establishing a soup kitchen. Besides hosting iftars (fast breaking meals), he recommends Muslims promote kinship through hosting events during the year where they invite fellow believers of different racial or ethnic backgrounds. Costello agrees the key to widening one’s social circle is to “be open, start conversations and ultimately, break bread with others.” In his hometown masjid of Lexington, Ky., Bagby says a small initiative may lead to positive results. An anonymous person has started putting name tags at the door during Friday prayers. “This was one little effort,” he says. “Now I see more and more people with their name tags. Then next thing is to get to really know people.” Samana Siddiqui, content manager of Sound Vision Foundation’s website (www., is a writer for “Chicago Crescent.” 


Part-time imam position available at the Islamic Association of Ypsilanti, Mich. Must be fluent in English and have a sound understanding of the Quran and Sunnah. For more info, contact: (734) 604-0253


Family Life Muslim Americans face compromising identity when their names are altered for convenience.

What’s in a Name? by Kiran Ansari


n “Romeo and Juliet,” Shakespeare asks: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Apparently he wasn’t a Muslim living in the West where a Muslim name can arouse suspicions during airport screenings, result in fewer job interviews, or taunts from school bullies. When Abeer Najjar transferred schools in fifth grade, someone asked if they could call her Abby. Having been teased about her name for what seemed like an eternity in the eyes of a child, she agreed. “A part of me didn’t like it, but a part of me thought it would be so much easier,” Najjar said. Najjar and her siblings were born and raised in the United States. They attended public schools and lived in mixed neighborhoods. Several other children had “weird-sounding” names but “A-beer” often stood out. Looking back, the now 26-year-old feels what used to be annoying actually shaped her personality and armed her with comebacks. She doesn’t want to live as Abby for the rest of her life, so sometimes she chuckles along and at other times she has a witty response.

To keep or to shorten? In college, Abeer reverted to her given name using the opportunity to reintroduce herself. She still got the occasional puzzled face or smirk, but for the 54

most part felt many college professors actually were accommodating and asked how to pronounce her name. It’s not just Muslims who have different names. Many ethnic communities struggle with multi-syllable names that are even harder to pronounce. The issue, however, is some Muslim names come with extra baggage that raises red flags. Whenever there is a terrorist attack anywhere in the world, Muslims wait to hear the names of the suspects. While the perpetrators could belong to any faith group, the Muslim community is always on edge during such times. To prevent their children from being

teased, some Muslim families may choose “easier” names, like Sarah or Adam, that can blend seamlessly into society. Others may Anglicize their given names, turning Yaqub into Jacob, for ease or to assimilate. Muslim professionals, especially those who engage more with the public, such as car dealers and brokers, change their names entirely because it’s easier for customers to relate with a Dave rather than a Dawood. Dr. Asma Mobin-Uddin, a physician and author, says Muslims should not second guess why people change their names and should respect their decision, realizing there might be deeper reasons. She urges parents to not make a big deal, if their teenage children go through a phase where they shorten their names to fit in. As children mature and approach young adulthood, they naturally may become reattached to their given Muslim name and develop a new appreciation for it. “A name is intimately connected with a person’s identity,” Mobin-Uddin said. “In my children’s book, ‘My Name is Bilal,’ Bilal’s name is a metaphor for his Islamic identity. Bilal initially doesn’t like the way his name makes him feel different from his classmates. But he grows to value it and gain strength from it. I really want kids to be at a place in their hearts where they can cherish their Muslim names as symbols of their Islamic identity and not wish to hide them. But kids have to get to this place themselves. We as adults cannot force this acceptance on them. We can only encourage them.” Some Muslims argue people should use good judgment when shortening names. Mohammed, for instance, is one of the most revered and popular names among Muslims because of its association with Islam’s last Prophet. It is a common enough name for people to recognize and pronounce, therefore it may be considered disrespectful for someone named Mohammed to go by “Mo” instead.

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

Yes, it can be annoying at times, but if it’s any comfort, Muslim American kids should know that they are a part of a nation where you can have a very different name and still get elected to live in the White House — twice.

Choosing a baby name Mobin-Uddin believes it can be tough on children who don’t have a choice about having a name that may come with extra baggage. She encourages parents when naming their child to first choose a name with good meaning to reflect the guidance of Prophet Muhammad (Salla allahu ‘alayhi was sallam). The Prophet said: “You will be called on the Day of Resurrection by your names and the names of your fathers, so have good names.” (Abu Dawud) She also urged parents to avoid names with negative sounding transliterations in English, and to have a native English speaker read out the name to see how they would pronounce it. At times, a simple spelling tweak can make all the difference. Having her own name often mispronounced as “asthma,” Mobin-Uddin says even though parents should make a conscientious decision, they cannot be prepared for everything. For instance, she has had people ask her why she named her son Hamza, when Muslims are not fond of pigs and don’t eat ham. While Muslim immigrants with traditional names don’t have much of a choice, naming a child “Jihad” in 2013 poses obvious questions in this country. Fatima Mohammadi’s family was divided on the decision, but she and her husband, Omar, were determined to name their now 18-month-old son Jihad for a number of reasons. “Alhamdulilah, Jihad is a vibrant, intelligent child who lives up to his name in his determination to succeed,” Mohammadi said. “Those family members who didn’t like it now say that they can’t imagine him being anything but Jihad. We believe that it is up to us as Muslims to reclaim Islam and the vocabulary associated with it, and use every opportunity to educate others. If he faces any difficulties because of his name, we pray he receives ajr (reward) for it.” Mohammadi suggests that parents not be

overly concerned with what others would think. They should be brave in their name selection and, if needed, can “tone down” powerful names by using them as middle names too. “We hope to teach our son, Jihad, and have him teach others that the true definition of his name is not ‘holy war’ as the mainstream media has defined it, but ‘to strive,’” she said. “To strive to become better, to do more good, to perfect our practice of Islam, and to overcome struggles with dignity, humility, wisdom and patience,” she adds.

Choosing a new name When Madhu Krishnamurthy embraced Islam in college 17 years ago, she learned that it was not necessary to change her name and so she didn’t. It wasn’t until a few years later when she started wearing hijab — head covering worn by Muslims — and began attending Islamic gatherings and lectures that she realized her name confused people and that she would have to explain her conversion story to absolute strangers. The obvious clash prompted her to adopt a Muslim name she uses in Islamic circles. “While I haven’t officially changed my name and gone through the hassle of all the paperwork, I am now used to responding to two names,” Krishnamurthy says. “After researching many Muslim names and their

meanings, I decided to go by Madihah in my Muslim social circles, partly because I liked the meaning — praiseworthy — and also because I had a childhood friend by that name and she was called Madhu at home. It just seemed to fit.” Having a “different” name can be an opportunity to break stereotypes. If someone has a generous neighbor who always shares steaks when he grills and helps shovel the snow, he is showing by example that the “Osama” next door doesn’t fit the stereotype. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, minorities now make up about one-third of the population and are projected to become more than half (54 percent) of the population by 2050. Foreign sounding names are more commonplace today, and it’s up to Muslim families to decide whether compromising their identity and giving up a rich tradition of naming children after prophets and their companions is worth it to assimilate into American society. While it can be a nuisance at times, American Muslim children can take comfort in being part of a nation where one can have a different name and still get elected president — twice. 

Kiran Ansari is a writer and entrepreneur in Chicago. She has been asked to go by Karen since its easier for others; but she prefers to stick to her given name, because that’s easier for her.

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The Muslims are Coming A new film breaks barriers while also blurring the line between acceptable Islamic practices and personal choices. By Leena Suleiman


he Muslims Are Coming” is a documentary film that follows the exploits of seven Muslim comedians on tour in the United States. The cast includes John Stewart, Lewis Black, Keith Ellison, Negin Farsad, Dean Obeidallah and others. The film succeeds in humanizing Muslim Americans in the face of Islamophobic stereotypes perpetuated by media outlets by literally demonstrating that Muslim Americans can be funny. The film is not a representation of Islam; it is a representation of a portion of the diverse and colorful demographic of Muslim Americans, specifically ones who have assimilated into the mainstream American culture and who declare having neglected a couple of core Islamic practices. One crucial point that was overlooked by the producers is that Muslims should not be apologetic about their faith and should not sacrifice their beliefs to fit in any culture they are a part of. In fact, in a couple of specific scenes, the film contradicts the very thing they set out to accomplish. Negin Farsad uses explicit language and talks about


needing to get tested for STDs, and a group of three ladies, two wearing hijab, leave because of what seems to be discomfort caused by Farsad’s jokes. Farsad is shown later in tears expressing she feels judged by

“hijabis” because she is a woman, making hijabis out to be sexist. At no point in the film is hijab represented positively. Farsad answers pedestrians’ questions about hijab and describes it as a choice, and repeatedly tries to make it seem like she is more liberated than a Muslims woman who does wear hijab. These scenes reinforces the stereotype that the visibly practicing Muslims are radical and unAmerican while the ones who practice less and lead lives that do not distinguish them as Muslim are the ones who are better. Perhaps those ladies left because of the actual content of Farsad’s jokes, which were just as bad as her male colleague’s joke about selling porn while in a Middle Eastern country. Farsad did not explain that her type of comedy could make a person who is not accustomed to that language cringe. Omar Elba tries to be the sound of conservatism, but ends up being judgmental when he questions Farsad’s Muslim-ness. Obaidallah mentions his girlfriend, which is not an acceptable practice by Islamic standards. Not practicing one’s faith is between a person and her/his Creator, but to say they one’s actions are a representation of the faith when they stand in contradiction to the laws of that faith, and then to vilify those who protest inappropriate content by leaving your show is an injustice to any people across the world. In the end, the film did what TLC’s “All-American Muslim” for the Muslim community in that it humanized an otherwise demonized group of people who have undeniably become a part of the American cultural fabric. However inaccurate and sometimes downright false information the comedians relayed, the intention of the directors and producers came through the light-hearted and somewhat funny film. 

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Spy Princess

“Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story” to be screened across U.S. starting Feb. 2014 by Samana Siddiqui


he was a petite, Muslim princess who wrote fairy tales and studied child psychology at the Sorbonne – which is why her role as a spy who died fighting the Nazis is remarkable. It’s why filmmakers Alex Kronemer and Michael Wolfe decided to produce “Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story.” “Michael and I were looking at several stories about Muslim heroes during World War II. Michael came across a reference to Noor Inayat Khan, and we both looked into her story. We were overwhelmed,” says Kronemer, who co-founded Unity Productions Foundation ( with Wolfe. Khan was the daughter of an Indian Muslim prince, Hazrat Inayat Khan, and Ameena Begum, an Muslim American convert. In 1940, Khan fled to England after the Nazis invaded France. She trained as a wireless operator and in 1943, began secretly transmitting messages to Britain from Paris. “For six months she was the only link between the U.K. and the French Resistance, pursued by the Gestapo, betrayed by French collaborators,” says Kronemer. The Nazis arrested her and sent her to Dachau prison camp in Germany where, “she fought back against her captors. She escaped twice. She never gave up one name or even her own name,” says Wolfe. In 1944, after torturing her, the Nazis executed Khan. Her last words were “Liberte!” Freedom. She was 30 years old. Kronemer and Wolfe hope the film will clarify the issue of Muslim involvement with Allied and Nazi forces. “There are a lot of detractors of Islam who say Muslims collaborated with Nazis, but by comparison, they were a virtual handful and this is overemphasized,” says Wolfe. “There were many Muslims who fought against the Nazis,” says Kronemer. “Not only other Indians, but Arabs and Balkan Muslims, too. Despite the fact that many Muslims played brave roles and sacrificed during World War II, the prevailing narrative of that conflict usually doesn’t include any mention.” “Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story” will be screened in major cities across the U.S. beginning February 2014, followed by a national broadcast, and a DVD release. 

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Despite the fact that many Muslims played brave roles and sacrificed during World War II, the prevailing narrative of that conflict usually doesn’t include any mention” — Alex Kronemer Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

Obituaries A Dedicated Islamic Worker

Mohammad Abdul Mateen Chida 1940 – 2013


ohammad Abdul Mateen Chida, one of the pioneers of Islamic work in North America during the 1960s and 70s who served as MSA internal secretary, died Oct. 11 in Northern Virginia. Burial was Oct. 12. At the 50th ISNA Convention in Washington, D.C., Chida was recognized for his service to Islam and Muslims but illness prevented him from attending. He sent a recorded message instead, while his wife Maimoona accepted the plaque on his behalf. In 1977, Chida founded Halalco that became a pioneer of halal trade in Virginia and its environs. He came to the U.S. from Hyderabad, India, in 1963 for graduate engineering studies at the University of Minnesota. In 1971, he gave up his corporate career and moved to Washington, D.C., and spent the next seven years operating a printing press for the MSA. Challenged by mainstream printing companies’ refusal to print Islamic literature, the MSA bought International Graphics to produce competitively priced Islamic literature and publications and to generate some income for the organization. A few years later, as the area’s growing Muslim population started demanding halal meat, Chida joined a friend to help operate the area’s first halal meat market. Driven by the desire to conform to Islamic dietary laws, he scoured the region for a place that would allow him to slaughter animals for his retail customers. He ended up slaughtering cattle in Baltimore, Md., goats and lambs in Manassas, Va., and chickens near Frederick, Va. All profits were reinvested in the store so they could avoid borrowing money from banks to expand their venture. Today, Halalco is Northern Virginia’s largest selfservice Muslim supermarket, taking up half a strip mall in a mixed commercial and residential neighborhood. It sells books in-store and online, groceries, meats, Islamic clothing, artifacts, and other items. There also is a restaurant on the premises. Chida, who played a central role in creating MSA’s Islamic Book Service, has built up an amazing catalog of books on offer. As a vendor at ISNA conventions for almost three decades, he was always one of the first to register. He is survived by his wife, Maimoona, his mother and an older sister. 


Reviews A Guidebook in Raising the Future

Short Takes

Parent-Child Relations: A Guide to Raising Children Hisham Altalib, Abdulhamid AbuSulayman and Omar Altalib 2013. Pp. 528. HB. $37.95 International Institute of Islamic Thought, Herndon, Va.

How to Nurture, Manage and Discipline Your Muslim Child With Special Needs Grandma Jeddah 2013. Pp. 95. Spiral Bound. Summit Garden Press, Los Angeles, Calif. This affordably-published book, by the author who uses the pseudonym Grandma Jeddah, contains material guided by more than 30 years of the author’s experience in teaching and dealing with special needs children. By design, she has focused only on five disabilities which are: learning disabilities, mental retardation/cognitive disabilities, autism, ADHD, and Tourettes syndrome. Written in an easy to follow style, the book is accompanied by a poster of reminders advising patience when disciplining children. While dispensing advice, the author utilizes Islamic guidance and resources. Especially useful is the “29 Quick Tips for Parents,” and information about parenting resources. This book should be a helpful addition to any parent or special needs teacher’s collection.


ince the physiological foundation of values and personality is largely developed in early childhood at home, the authors of “Parent-Child Relations: A Guide to Raising Children” focus on how cultural, educational and social skills training in the home form the basis for the child’s proper intellectual, psychological and emotional development. The book’s narrative is interesting and easy to read, touching almost every subject people face when raising children. It is a well-researched, comprehensive, timely and an effective guide for parents, not only Muslims, but also those of other faiths and traditions, on how to raise mentally and physically healthy children and how to maintain a healthy parentchild relationship in today’s challenging environment. A must read for Muslim parents, it proposes Islamic solutions to problematic issues in raising children in modern society. Importantly, the book emphasizes how to develop effective communication between parents and children, and further highlights many innocent mistakes made by parents and commonly faced problems. The book is highly recommended for societies where mothers in wellto-do families, especially in Muslim countries, become so overprotective of their children that they spoil them. The paradigm of right and wrong is also distorted. Being arrogant, drinking, smoking and revealing attire become a fashionable norm — not only considered acceptable, but deemed right — and where the sole purpose of education is to attend expensive private schools for show, instead of becoming a good human being and a professional who is beneficial to society.  (Reviewed by Mohammad Raees)

Relevance of Islamic Laws Modern Perspectives on Islamic Law Ann Black, Hossein Esmaeili, & Nadirsyah Hosen 2013. Pp. 320. HB. $135.00 Edward Elgar Publishers, Northampton, Mass.


rofessors Ann Black, Hossein Esmaeili, and Nadirsyah Hosen explain, reflect on and analyze Islamic law in the classical legal tradition of Sharia, and also in its modern, contemporary context. The three leading Australian scholars — a non-Muslim, a Sunni and a Shia Muslim, respectively — offer their collective insight into the role of Islamic law in secular Western countries and reflect on the legal system of Islam in its classical context as applied in its traditional homelands. In his foreword, Sir William Blair, a judge of the high court of England and Wales, acknowledges that Islam continues to play a vital role, not just in the Middle East, but also across the wider world, and states that the discussion on which the authors embark is a crucial one. As an attorney, Blair specialized in domestic and international banking and finance law. The authors deal with issues, such as seeing a Western nation through Muslim eyes with respect to citizenship and Sharia in modern nation-states; fatwas and muftis; Islamic family law; mediation, arbitration and Islamic alternative dispute resolution; Islamic law and economics; property rights, inheritance law and trusts (waqf); and Islamic criminal law. This book should interest researchers and students of Islamic law, or Islamic studies in general, and lawyers. 


Islamic Geometric Patterns Eric Broug 2013. Pp. 256 + illustrations. HB. $75.00 Thames & Hudson, New York, NY Eric Broug offers one way to understand and create patterns. He offers this approach from his own experience as an artist, designer, and researcher. The book is a rich collection of 800 illustrations in color and black and white, including more than 350 line drawings. Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD’s Secret Spying Unit and Bin Laden’s Final Plot Against America Matt Apuzzo & Adam Goldman 2013. Pp. 336. HB. $22.79 Touchstone (Simon & Schuster), New York, NY Pulitzer Prize-winning investigators Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman offer an expose of the New York Police Department’s aggressive efforts to monitor the Muslim American community. Despite this program, which violates many fundamental laws protecting civil rights, NYPD missed detecting the plot to bomb the New York City subway system in 2009. The authors’ investigative work raises the question about the efficacy of such monitoring programs. Iran: A Beginner’s Guide 2013. Pp. 192. PB. $14.95 Oneworld Publications, UK An Iran expert and university instructor, Katouzian explores Iran’s rich past and the many stages and epochs to offer a useful resource for understanding the current situation in the region. Colours of Islam Dawud Wharnsby; Shireen Adams (Illus.) 2013. Pp. 44. HB. $22.95 The Islamic Foundation, UK Read, listen, and sing along with this songbook by Dawud Wharnsby, illustrated by Shireen Adams, and comes with a free audio CD. Children and adults will be inspired and absorbed for hours. 

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

Food for the Spirit

The Path of Peace Are Muslims utilizing available resources to proclaim peace within and around them? By Imam Mohamed Magid with Samuel Ross


o turn on the television today is to open a window to a world in chaos: war, environmental catastrophe, famine, and crime. In such times as these, we are called to reach ever deeper into ourselves and our tradition to ask, “what can we as Muslims offer to humanity?” If we are true to our religion, we will heed its call not only to surrender but to be a source — indeed a beacon — of peace. For the Arabic roots of the word Islam connote not only surrender, but also wholeness, health, peace, and security. Our scholars have identified at least three avenues in which we can pursue peace. The first is within; the second, with our fellow human beings; and the third, with the rest of creation. But just as ripples in a pond must all begin from a single point, so too must our own efforts. “God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves” (Quran 13:11). Our path to peace must begin with the purification of our own hearts. In the Quran, God Almighty suggests the method of diagnosing our ailments by drawing our attention to the harmonious balance in which He has created the universe: “Blessed be…He Who created the seven heavens in harmony: No lack of proportion will thou see in the Creation of the Most Gracious” (67:1-3). He further links


the outer world to our inner world: “On the earth are signs for those of sure faith, as also in your own selves. Will you not then see?” (51:20-21). Our hearts can only be at peace if they mirror the harmonious balance of the universe. For just as an ecosystem becomes dysfunctional if its predators outnumber prey, if animals cannot find water or if plants cannot reach light, so too will we become dysfunctional if our physical, spiritual, emotional, or intellectual needs are neglected, ailing, or not integrated with one another. Muslims are called to pursue a unity of self, mirroring the divine Oneness. For example, a Muslim may submit to God intellectually but not physically, or interact with his family physically but not emotionally. In such situations he fails to be balanced, and his heart loses the beautiful harmony that is his birthright. There are many things we can do to restore a sense of peace to our hearts. If a part of ourselves is neglected, ailing, or partitioned aspects of selves we must seek to heal it and reintegrate it. If our connection with God has become frayed, we can strengthen it through remembrance of Him, and observance of His commands and prohibitions, and seeking answers to our questions and concerns. As God says in the Quran, “Peace is on him who follows the guidance” (20:47). If we have become impatient we must strive to

become patient, for those in Heaven will greet one another, “Peace be onto you because you were patient, how excellent is the final home” (13:24). We must also seek to cleanse our hearts of hatred, jealousies, and anger. Like a lighthouse, tranquil hearts radiate peace to all those around them. Our Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) commanded us to radiate peace to the very horizons of humanity: to people of every race, religion, and class. In a hadith that specifies neither Muslim or those of other faiths and traditions, he commanded, “Verily none of you truly believes until you love for your fellow human what you love for yourself ” (Al-Nawawi #13; Bukhari, Muslim). The first place we can spread peace outside ourselves is with our families. All of us by virtue of our kinship bonds are engaged in sacred trusts of peace with our spouses, siblings, children and parents. Indeed the word for house in Arabic, sakan, is related to the word sakinah, or tranquility. It is imperative that we honor our trusts by seeking to always protect rather than expose one another to harm. Our homes should never be occasioned by abuse — verbal, physical, or emotional. As parents, we must seek to equip our children with the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual resources they need to weather the world’s challenges. In practical terms, this can mean monitoring what they watch with their eyes, what they hear with their ears, and where they go with their feet. According to statistics, the average child by the end of grade school will have seen more than 8,000 murders on television if he watches just three to four hours of television a day (Dec. 2003; reports/stateindustryviolence/main.asp). Psychological studies have further shown a link between exposure to simulated violence

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

and aggressive behavior. It is imperative that we make a stand that murder is not entertainment. As the Prophet taught, “if one murders a human being it is as if he murdered all mankind.” Next, we can advocate for peace with our tongues. Imam Nawawi, one of our greatest scholars, said that when Muslims extend the greeting of peace, they should do so loudly. Let us take his advice figuratively, and make our greeting, “peace be upon you” heard around the world. In our mosques and schools let us not tolerate anyone who calls to violence or conflict. In our city streets, let us call upon governments to end unjust practices that terrorize civilians. Our role model in so doing can be the prophets who called to justice, promoted peace, and gave a voice to the voiceless. Our demeanor must communicate that we will never be a source of harm to another. ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Amr reported on the authority of the Prophet that “the true believer is one for whom humanity is saved from his tongue and his hand.” Is humanity safe from our tongue and our hand? Conversely, this hadith also suggests that one cannot claim

WHAT SPIRITUAL TOPICS MATTER MOST TO YOU? Please help “Food for the Spirit” better meet your needs by completing a two-minute survey at: to be a devoted Muslim if others do not feel protected in our presence. Do others feel safe in our presence? Third, we can advocate for peace with our environment. During the past two centuries mankind has done much to upset the harmonious balance in which God created the planet. Muslims must strive to restore this balance by seizing upon their rich tradition of environmentalism and lifting the green banner of Islam. The Prophet taught “all creatures are like a family of God; and He loves the most those who are the most beneficent to His family” (Hadith Mishkat 3:1392). The message of Islam is a message of peace. In just 23 years, the warring tribes of Arabia once overcome with mutual hostility were

Islamic Horizons  November/December 2013

purified of their hatred and united together. The pilgrimage to Mecca today continues to serve as a beacon of peace to the world. Where else can so many human beings from such diverse backgrounds congregate with so few police and so much love? Let us strive to extend our greeting of peace to the furthest horizons. May God make us among those who reside in the House of Peace, where the greeting is “Peace! Peace!” 

Editor’s Note: This column first appeared in IH Nov./ Dec. 2005 issue. It is being republished as suggested by the authors. Below are some exercises you can use to help promote peace. Please feel free to cut them out and use them in your home, car, office, etc. • Reach out to your neighbors in the spirit of brotherhood • Advocate for peace in your family, masjid, school, and community. Make a stand against violence in all forms and shapes • Become involved in helping those in need • Resolve a dispute with someone you love. Forgive them and follow with an act of kindness to them • Use the Prophet’s du’a with contemplation, “O God, you are the source of peace, and from you comes peace. All glory to be You, for You are full of majesty and honor”


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Islamic Horizons Nov/Dec 13  

Islamic Horizons Nov/Dec 13  

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