NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021/1443 | $4.00 | WWW.ISNA.NET
THE EFFECTS OF WAR AND TERRORISM ON PALESTINIAN CHILDREN | WHITHER MUSLIMAS AND SPORTS?
CHOOSING THE RIGHT SPOUSE BE SURE TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE GETTING MARRIED
ISLAMIC HORIZONS | VOL. 50 NO. 6 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 | VISIT ISNA ONLINE AT: WWW.ISNA.NET
18 When Can I Get Married? 20 Choosing the Right Spouse
40 Embracing the Quran in Cyberspace
42 Making Hijrah Toward Climate Justice 44 Young Adults Call the Faithful on Climate 45 Congress Should Prioritize Climate
8 Reimagine and Rebuild with Renewed Resolve
22 Nurturing Native (and Foreign) Language Skills
Islam in America
24 A Place to Share Experiences 26 Headlining in Hijab 28 Reflections on the 20th Anniversary of “El Clon”
47 The End of an Era
hy is France Producing Such a W High Level of Islamophobia?
52 Whither Muslimas and Sports? 54 Promoting Hate via Tiktok’s Profile
Muslims Living As Minorities
56 Are Dogs Still Man’s Best Friend?
War & the Refugee Experience
34 Cambodia Doesn’t Have a Problem with Its Muslims, Unlike Other Countries
58 I Was Living in Saigon When it Fell
Muslims Living Under Siege
60 AbdulHamid AbuSulayman
36 The Effects of War and Terrorism on Palestinian Children 38 The Library, with Adeeba Jafri
50 Why Did an Eighth-Century AngloSaxon King Mint Islamic Gold Dinars?
Islamophobia & Hate
30 When the Call to Prayer Ushered in Each Sunny Andalusian Day
44 Food for Thought
6 Editorial 12 Community Matters 62 New Releases
DESIGN & LAYOUT BY: Gamal Abdelaziz COPYEDITOR: Jay Willoughby. The views expressed in Islamic Horizons are not necessarily the views of its editors nor of the Islamic Society of North America. Islamic Horizons does not accept unsolicitated articles or submissions. All references to the Quran made are from The Holy Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Amana, Brentwood, MD.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 5
Freedom Never Dies
he Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI; https://sipri.org) said on June 15, 2021, that India, which has 156 nuclear warheads, appears to be expanding its nuclear arsenal. No need to mention its hordes of conventional weapons, borne by 1.4 million active duty personnel and supplemented by 2.1 million reserve personnel. This might went into a tailspin on Sept. 1, when a 91-year old individual breathed his last. The force that caused India to tremble was Syed Ali Gilani — not a personality, but the name of the Kashmiri self-determination movement — who passed away in Srinagar, Illegally Indian-occupied Jammu & Kashmir, after being under house arrest for more than a decade. His “crime”? Leading several protests against India’s ongoing illegal occupation of the former princely state. India was keeping a strict watch. The moment his spirit departed his body, occupation troops heightened their siege of his house and imposed a curfew across the occupied territory. In a flash, the troops barged into his house and snatched his body, which they buried — according to their account — in an undisclosed location. The Duke of Wellington said of his opponent Napoleon: “His presence on the battlefield was worth 40,000 fighting men.” If a 91-year-old man’s body could cause India to mobilize its multi-trillion-dollar war machine, imagine what his presence was worth. Imagine what his legacy is worth. Rest assured; India cannot roost forever on stolen land. The lion has left for a journey of eternal peace. His soul could never be enslaved, nor his voice silenced or his vision deviated. Before his burial, despite India’s forced entry and massive deployment at his residence, Syed Ali Shah Gilani was draped in the Pakistan flag. His declaration Hum Pakistani Hein, Pakistan Hamara Hai (We are Pakistanis [and] Pakistan is ours) will stay with 8 Muslim Kashmiris
[living under Indian occupation] as they continue their struggle for self-determination — a right enshrined in successive UN Security Council resolutions. Kashmiris didn’t choose to live under Indian occupation, and they have every legal right to demand an end to it. They will prevail. Only, very recently, a South Asian occupied people have proved this in the face of a coalition of the world’s mightiest powers. This year, ISNA was once again obliged to host a virtual convention — its 58th. More than 3,000 registered participants heard 81 renowned speakers address 24 sessions, six of which were plenary and 16 of which were parallel sessions. In keeping with tradition, two entertainment sessions were also held. For this issue, we invited Pashmina Rashad and Khalid Iqbal to discuss the important issue faced by all men and women: when and whom to marry. Of course, both authors dwell on the issue from the Muslim perspective. Monia Mazigh writes on why France is producing such a high level of Islamophobia. Sean-Habib Tu, a Cham Muslim living in Saigon with his family when that city fell, shares his memories, and Luke Peterson analyzes how neoliberalism’s hollowing out of academia contributes to Washington’s foreign policy disasters. The ISNA Green Initiative Team continues to alert us to the challenges that face our world and the need to proactively create and leave a better world for our future generations. While we were preparing this issue, the Muslim world lost another luminary: Dr. AbdulHamid Ahmad AbuSulayman, a founding member of the International Institute of Islamic Thought and the Association of Muslim Social Scientists in the U.S. and Canada). During his career, he headed several international and academic organizations, including holding the post of rector at the International Islamic University, Malaysia (1989–99). ih
6 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021
PUBLISHER The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) PRESIDENT Safaa Zarzour EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Basharat Saleem EDITOR Omer Bin Abdullah EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Iqbal Unus, Chair: M. Ahmadullah Siddiqi, Saba Ali ISLAMIC HORIZONS is a bimonthly publication of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) P.O. Box 38 Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Copyright @2020 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, Questia.com LexisNexis, and EBSCO Discovery Service, and is indexed by Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature. Please see your librarian for access. The name “Islamic Horizons” is protected through trademark registration ISSN 8756‑2367 POSTMASTER Send address changes to Islamic Horizons, P.O. Box 38 Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 SUBSCRIPTIONS Annual, domestic – $24 Canada – US$30 Overseas airmail – US$60 TO SUBSCRIBE Contact Islamic Horizons at https://isna.net/SubscribeToIH.html https://isna.net/islamic-horizons/ For inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING For rates contact Islamic Horizons at (703) 742‑8108, E-mail email@example.com, www.isna.net CORRESPONDENCE Send all correspondence and/or Letters to the Editor at: Islamic Horizons P.O. Box 38 Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reimagine and Rebuild with Renewed Resolve ISNA holds 58th Convention virtually BY RASHEED RABBI
Front Row (sitting): Mukhtar Ahmad, Sandra Moore, Azhar Azeez, Safaa Zarzour, Basharat Saleem, Magda Elkadi Saleh, Malika Khan, Lubabah Abdullah Back Row (standing): Shayan Bawaney, Fiyyaz Jaat, Alaa Abdeldaiem, Anjum Khan, Tabasum Ahmad, Mauminah Raina
espite the lack of the traditional bedecked convention halls, enthusiasm and warm welcome for the speakers, ISNA 58th annual — and second virtual — convention, creativity and resilience were on full display over the Labor Day weekend. The 3,000+ registered attendees enjoyed 81 speakers, 20+ sessions and entertainment from the comfort of their remote locations. They all reflected collectively on reimagining an ideal future and therefore shared tools and insights to achieve that notional vision. Qari Ghafur Farid’s beautiful recitation of 42:24-26 instantly infused a strong urge to be sincere in our religious life and manifest it into everyday action. In every session, we’re compelled to contemplate and devise an effective strategy to defeat Covid-19’s adversities, along with pre-Covid complacencies, as we move forward. Such a religious pursuit in worldly resolution is part of ISNA’s almost six-decade
legacy. Safa Zarzour (president, ISNA), Magda Elkadi Saleh (vice president, ISNA-US), Mohammed Jalaluddin (vice president, ISNA Canada), Affan Badar (chair, Convention Program Committee) and Basharat Saleem (executive director, ISNA) highlighted some of the events and contributions. It was moderated by Azhar Azeez (treasurer; a past ISNA president), who also eulogized Founders Club members Dr. Farooq Selod and Dr. Husain Nagamia, who passed away this year Dignitaries and guests from across the world testified to ISNA’s history of service via their messages. Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison and Rep. Rashida Talib (D-Mich.) lauded ISNA’s initiatives amidst the pandemic and invited everyone to work with the new administration to rebuild the U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) underlined ISNA’s accommodation of diversity, which was reinforced by Cedric Levan Richmond
8 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021
(senior advisor to the president and director, the White House Office of Public Engagement). Richmond listed Dilawar Syed (deputy administrator, the Small Business Administration, and the highest-ranking Muslim American in any federal agency ever); Zahid Quraishi, the first Muslim federal judge; and Rashad Hussain, the first Muslim American nominated to be the U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona applauded ISNA’s commitments, which are fully aligned with President Biden’s vision of a new U.S., and urged all students to uphold diversity, unity and mutual respect. Indiana state senator Fady Qaddoura (D) reminded us that this country’s colorful narrative teaches us to confront new challenges to ensure equal treatment for all by rebuilding a more united U.S. Marium Hussain (president, IMANA) shared the organization’s top achievements to support that collective vision. Mufti Ekrima Sa’id Sabri (khateeb, al-Aqsa) affirmed that al-Aqsa is a shared space for both Palestine and Israel, a very timely statement meant to alleviate the tension that reappeared earlier this year. Thus, the scope of convention’s theme of reimagination encompasses the entire planet, of which we are God’s vicegerents (2:30). Plenary Session 1A, following immediately after the opening sessions and moderated by Fawad Yaqoob, delved into that reimagination: “Perhaps you dislike something which is good for you and like something which is bad for you. Allah knows and you do not know” (2:216). Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi's quoting of this verse lit that light of hope. He discussed 17 benefits, documented in ‘Izz al-Din ‘Abd al-‘Aziz’s (d. 1262) scholarship, to become receptive to that light and harness the hope. Tamara Gray shared the stories of the
Companions Salman al-Farsi how the involvement of domestic and Umm Salam’s perseverance Islamic organizations integrates to contextualize their lessons with ISNA’s core six strategic goals: and encouraged us to take brave, community development, youth bold and wise steps during hardinvolvement, Islam’s public image, ship. Utsad Obaidullah Evans leadership training and developdeepened that same thought by ment, interfaith and coalition building and creating a sound reflecting on the Prophet’s (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) Sunna. financial basis. We often associate difficulties Saturday’s last event, Session with a limited amount of time, 6A, expanded on that intewhereas the Prophet and the early grated view. Sheikh Zaid Shakir Muslims faced a three-year boy(co-founder and Board of Trustee A meeting of MYNA youth group with ISNA headquarters staff cott, followed by the assault upon member, Zaytuna College) noted that and board members during the Convention on Sept 5 the Prophet and his rejection at the rising awareness of women, transTaif, and the demise of Khadija and gender people, and black or white Abu Talib (‘alayhum rahma). Sheikh people facing discrimination is causing Waleed Basyouni brought examples them to advocate for social justice, but THE INSTITUTION OF FAMILY that those movements often lack an inteof Musa (‘alayhi as-salam), who was also threatened with death and tested grated vision. However, the light of faith IS OUR COMMUNITY’S throughout his life. can weave those disconnected threads All of the speakers echoed the asser- FOUNDATION AND THE CENTER together. Dr. Dalia Mogahed compared tion that our goal is not to overcome the year 2020 with the Prophet’s “year of OF ALL ACTIVISM. HENCE, problems, but to always uphold the right sadness” to reveal how hardship inspires THE CONVENTION’S FINAL attitude during difficult times to fulfill solidarity as we try to serve others. the divine mission, humanity’s ultiWhile characterizing the pandemic DAY STARTED BY FOCUSING mate objective. They reminded us that in some ways as a blessing in disguise, ON REVIVING THE FAMILY every challenge can be an opportunity Imam Dr. Yasir Qadhi (lecturer, author BY PRESERVING MENTAL to pursue only if we have a vision or a and orator) focused on appreciating dream like all the prophets and great our taken-for-granted mundane entitleWELLBEING. people beheld. So, we must cultivate our ments. Besides, he noted that increased own comprehensive visions. religiosity is an eternal trend that can The development of Islamic edube found even among history’s pagan cation in the U.S. also manifests that tribes. The Quran never criticized them effort, as detailed in Session 2A. Dr. Shaza survey report, conducted every 10 years and for remembering God during times of hardKhan (executive director, ISLA) provided led by Dr. Ihsan Bagby, came out in 2021. ship, but condemned them for forgetting a succinct picture of that historical prog- Mufti Hussain Kamani discussed the rise of Him afterward. So, while we are seeking ress. She related that 85% of Islamic school purpose-built mosques in the U.S. and their God’s help during this crucial moment, we teachers hold a master’s or higher degrees, increasing influence. Dr. Dalia Mogahed must include Him in our future vision. whereas this number is only 70% in public (director of research, ISPU) focused on ISNA’s annual convention traditionschools nationwide. Qur’an Shakir (founder, women and youth involvement to reimag- ally hosts the ISNA Community Service Powerful Youth in Charge and other faith ine a shared space, open to all, with freedom Award and the ISNA Presidential Award organizations) identified the difference of and abundant resources. Sheikh Mohammed ceremonies. Interestingly, both recipients of Muslim teachers and their teaching style, Nur Abdullah (imam and director, the the first award declined to accept it out of fully based on the Quran, from those of Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis; a personal humility and their desire to mainteachers in traditional public schools. former ISNA president) elaborated on this tain a low profile. To honor their decision, Sufia Azmat (executive director, CISNA) vision’s spiritual ramification. ISNA didn’t present it to anyone else. The shared the organization’s nonstop efforts to Parallel Session 3B reconnected ISNA’s second award went to Dr. Bassam Osman, facilitate the four goals of Islamic schools: role and credibility to developing a common one of ISNA’s founders. During the award accreditation, advocacy, professional devel- vision. Dr. Hisham Altalib (president, IIIT) ceremony, past and current ISNA presidents opment and outreach. In 2021 alone, 21 shared how MSA (the origin of ISNA), IIIT Dr. Ingrid Mattson, Azhar Azeez and Safa webinars were conducted to help readjust and other such organizations were founded Zarzour discussed how to get involved with their overarching vision. to advance freedom, justice, equality and the organization. To that effect, mosques in the West autonomy on the basis of Islam. Dr. Ilham Given that no vision can sustain itself are nurturing that vision more compre- Nasser (director, Mapping the Terrain alone, Islam considers solidarity as one of hensively than ever. Session-3A revealed Research; academic dean, The Fairfax its higher objectives. This was the topic of holistic pictures of American mosques’ state Institute) discussed current IIIT initia- Session 7A. Sr. Yasmin Mogahed (author and of affairs. Specifically, the largest mosque tives. Azhar Azeez (moderator) recapped speaker) noted that God designed human NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 9
ISNA MATTERS elaborated on the psychological distress of Musa and Maryam (‘alayhum-us-salam) in order to relate them to our own era’s difficulties. After family, solidarity must be extended to communities and then to national and international levels. The rest of the parallel sessions focused on global unity, which can be best fostered and nurtured by faith. Session 8B highlighted the collaboration among faith communities in the U.S. like the “faith for vaccine initiative.” Session 9A outlined comprehensive strategies to counter Islamophobia in everyday life. Three prominent activists in this field, Wael Alzayat (Emgage Foundation), Azka Mahmood (ISPU) and Salam Al-Marayati (MPAC), shared their engagements. Session 10A presented an overview of what our individual efforts could grow into in terms of renewing our commitment to global harmony. Dr. Ibrahim Rasool, a former South African ambassador, described the Muslims’ struggle to establish justice since World War II. Dr. John Esposito (professor, Religion and International Affairs, Georgetown) zoomed in on the various concerns of Western Muslims, and Ameena Jandali (founding member, Islamic Networks Group) advocated for climate change. In parallel Session 11A, Dr. Ghulam Nabi Mir spoke about Kashmir, and Wakar Uddin, Serwi Huseyin and Abdul Malik Mujahid (president, SoundVision) focused on the Rohynga. Huda Alkaff, Uzma Mirza, Saffet
SPACE DONATED BY THE ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA
beings as social beings and thus attending congregational prayers has 27 times more rewards; even hajj, the highest act of obligatory worship, finds its ultimate efficacy through collective performances. However, the pandemic hinders this innate human nature by generating feelings of loneliness. Dr. Aneesah Nadir (president and co-founder, ISSA-USA) highlighted available resources to address loneliness among lay people. Imam Siraj Wahhaj focused on exhibiting solidarity at all levels, from the political sphere to the correctional system, in which 35-40,000 inmates convert every year. They all stressed that efforts must speak for a radically inclusive vision, starting at the family level. The institution of family is our community’s foundation and the center of all activism. Hence, the convention’s final day started by focusing on reviving the family by preserving mental wellbeing. Veteran teacher Sufia Azmat (school executive council, Noor-Ul-Iman School) moderated Session 8A. Dr. Fahad Khan (deputy director, Khalil Center) talked about available resources to battle mental illness. Dr. Rokhsana Chaudhry, an expert clinical psychologist-practitioner, spoke on customizing a specific model for each individual, Islamic school or mosque. Dr. Shady Shebak looked at mental health as an essential tool to develop a sense of identity, which can flourish soundly by dhikr and daily prayer, as noted by Imam Mohammed Magid. He
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Catovic and Nana Firman discussed environmental social justice in Session 11B, and in Session 11C Mohammad Al-Hasan and Aatif Belal, on behalf of AMSET (Association of Muslim Scientists, Engineers & Technology Professionals), discussed how technology professionals should promote ethical development to advance global justice and peace. Session 12A recapped a high-level vision and how to engender holistic transformation. Ieasha Prime (director of women’s programming, Dar al Hijrah Islamic Center) referred to Hadith Jibreel, which describes a religion’s gradual development: defining Islam, mastering iman (faith) and finally exemplifying ihsan (excellence). Our visions and strategies need to follow a similar path. Dr. Mattson connected the dots by stressing our individual and collective obligations. Habeeb Quadri focused on consistency, and Magda Elkadi Saleh called for resilience to ensure that our voices overcome the barriers. Some in-person participation occurred during Friday evening’s town hall meeting. Discussions on both days concluded with an entertainment session. As this was yet another virtual convention, all of the sessions were recorded and are now available for free. ih Rasheed Rabbi, an IT professional (MA, religious studies, Hartford Seminary, ‘16), pursuing a Doctor of Ministry from Boston University, is also founder of e-Dawah (www.edawah.net) and secretary of the Association of Muslim Scientists, Engineers & Technology Professionals. He serves as a khateeb and Friday prayer leader at the ADAMS Center and a certified Muslim chaplain at iNova Fairfax, iNovaLoudoun and Virginia’s Alexandria and Loudoun Adult Detention Centers.
A Female Duo Heads a Major Muslim Medical Organization
Marium Husain, M.D., MPH, and Anam Tariq, D.O., MHS, both longtime leaders and supporters of the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA), were elected the organization’s president and vice president, respectively. Husain is heavily involved with its work to improve public health education and domestic projects related to food insecurity, women’s health, reproductive health and climate change. Tariq has long worked to promote public health education and access to preventive care with IMANA and
the World Health Organization. Husain and Tariq assume their roles as the association continues to respond to the global Covid pandemic and organize international public health missions. Husain is currently a hematology/oncology fellow at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center and founder of the Science Jummah. Tariq, a nephrologist, epidemiologist, clinical-researcher and educator in Maryland and Washington D.C., is nationally recognized for her international volunteer medical work in Pakistan, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. “I first became involved with IMANA’s work over 11 years ago, motivated by my values as a Muslim to work for social justice and promote human rights,” she said. They serve on the board alongside Dr. Mohseen Rahman (treasurer) and Dr. Labib H. Syed (secretary). ih
CAIR Defeats an Islamophobe
A federal court ordered Islamophobic propagandist Laura Loomer and her media company to pay nearly $125,000 to CAIR in legal costs to cover the costs incurred by fighting her frivolous lawsuit. This issue originated in 2018, when Twitter, taking notice of Loomer’s bigoted comments, made an internal decision to The Orange County Board of Supervisors designated August as Muslim American Appreciation Month in conjunction with the State of California. Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi accepted the proclamation on behalf of the Orange County Muslim community. The city of Fullerton introduced this month with a proclamation, issued on Aug. 17, to celebrate the heritage and culture of Muslim Americans. Councilmember
ban her from their platform. Of course, this caused an uproar in far-right media circles. In response, she began attacking CAIR and went so far as to file a lawsuit falsely claiming that it had conspired to have her banned to damage her business interests. After CAIR fought back in court, a federal judge dismissed Loomer’s “nonsensical” lawsuit and ordered her to cover the organization’s legal costs. “Loomer filed this lawsuit in large part to harass CAIR and to defeat its mission of protecting the civil rights of American Muslims. This ruling shows that tactics of legal harassment can backfire on those who use them,” said CAIR trial attorney Justin Sadowsky. ih Ahmad Zahra led this effort. In addition to supporting the designation of
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“Muslim-American Appreciation Month,” this proclamation seeks to “1. Honor the contributions and integral role of Muslim Americans in the economy, culture and identity of the city of Fullerton; 2. Urge Americans to honor the month with appropriate ceremonies, programs and activities that celebrate the contributions of Muslim Americans to the city of Fullerton; and 3. Recognize the contributions of the Islamic Center of Fullerton, Olive Community Services and ICNA Relief to the city of Fullerton and its residents.” “With the rise of Islamophobia globally, it is more important than ever to recognize the contributions of Muslims to our society. We are thankful to Councilmember Ahmad Zahra for making this proclamation possible. We have a long way to go to ensure the rights and humanity of Muslims in this country and abroad, but this is definitely a step in the right direction,” said CAIR-LA policy and advocacy manager Fayaz Nawabi. Tasneem Faridi, a Pakistani American who enjoys writing Urdu fiction and teach-
ing elementary-level Urdu as a foreign language, has published her children’s book “Chalne wali Machli” (The Walking Fish; https://www.meraqissa.com/). The 44-page illustrated book narrates the story of a friendship between a fish that can walk on its tail and Amjad, of how it affected his life and how he finally freed himself from the fish. It seeks to let children know that they should care for marine life, recycle, save money, develop their critical thinking skills and, most importantly, navigate life’s challenges without losing hope. She envisages that this work of fiction will be welcomed by teachers who want to introduce elementary-level Urdu language into their curriculum. The author’s 12-year-old niece Maheen Zohaib breathed life into the storybook’s character through her illustrations.
The Muslim community of East Brunswick celebrates a groundbreaking event. (PHOTO © SAUD ASIF)
East Brunswick’s Muslims celebrated the groundbreaking ceremony of their expanded new mosque, The Islamic Center of East Brunswick (ICEB), on Aug. 3. Several township officials, community leaders and founding members were in attendance. The rising 11,000-square-foot building includes an assembly and a prayer area, a multipurpose room, offices and accommodations for the imam. Plans call for a 95-space parking lot on an almost 2-acre-lot. The journey of ICEB, initially called IQRA Community Services, began in 2004 when a handful of congregants started praying in the East Brunswick Congregational Church under arrangements made with Pastor Robert Moore, his associates and congregants. In 2010, IQRA Community Service purchased the building and was allowed to continue praying in the center by the incumbent Christian community. In 2016, in order to meet the growing community’s needs, ICEB applied to the township to expand the facility. After securing the necessary and relevant approvals, the township approved the plan in 2018. It took another three years to raise funds to begin construction. Construction of this mosque will help the ICEB congregants’ achieve their vision: to have an Islamic center to build bridges, host interfaith colloquiums, enhance community services and expand social engagements. Dr Omar T. Atiq, M.D., FACP, was named chair of the board of governors of the American College of Physicians — the nation's largest medical speciality organization — at their annual scientific meeting in Philadelphia, April 11-13. Atiq, a board certified in medical oncology, hematology and internal medicine, is professor of medicine and otolaryngology — head and neck surgery at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
He most recently served as ACP Arkansas chapter governor. Local ACP members elect governors who serve four-year terms. Working with a local council, they supervise ACP chapter activities, appoint members to local committees, and preside at regional meetings. They also represent members by serving on the ACP board of governors. He has been an ACP fellow since 1993, which is an honorary designation that recognizes ongoing individual service and contributions to the practice of medicine. The Little Rock based physician, earned his medical degree from the Khyber Medical College, University of Peshawar, Pakistan. ih
ACHIEVERS Prof. Intisar Rabb (faculty director, Harvard Law School Program in Islamic Law) was appointed Special Adviser on Islamic Law to the International Criminal Court on Sept. 17. She is one of 17 experts selected to serve ICC prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan. The appointees, drawn from across the world, bring rich expertise and experiences from different legal systems and specializations. Khan appointed this group of experts to “reinforce the Office’s capabilities to effectively and efficiently discharge its mandate under the statute, and to strengthen specialization on a wide range of issues.” In a press release, Khan further stated, “I have no doubt that with their enormous experience and hugely impressive credentials, they will significantly contribute to the work of the Office and the cause of international criminal justice. I very much look forward to working with and learning from them.” Rabb (BA, Georgetown University; JD, Yale Law School; and MA and PhD, Princeton University) also speaks Arabic and Persian. She has held appointments as a Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, an associate professor at NYU Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and at NYU Law School, as well as an assistant professorship at Boston College Law School. She previously served as a law clerk for Judge Thomas L. Ambro of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, as a Temple Bar Fellow in London with the American Inns of Court and as a Carnegie Scholar for her work on contemporary Islamic law. Her research centers on methods of interpretation in Islamic, American and comparative law. She has published the monograph, "Doubt in Islamic Law" (Cambridge University Press, 2015), the edited volumes of "Justice and Leadership in Early Islamic Courts" (with Abigail Balbale, Harvard University Press, 2017) and "Law and Tradition in Classical Islamic Thought" (with Michael Cook et al., Palgrave, 2013) and numerous articles on Islamic constitutionalism, Islamic legal canons as tools for interpretation, as well as on the early history of the Quranic text. At Harvard, she launched SHARIAsource, an online portal that combines historical Arabic texts and data science tools, to facilitate research and new insights on Islamic law, with the help of AI and machine learning. Rabb is editor-in-chief of the Islamic Law Blog, the Journal of Islamic Law and the Harvard Book Series in Islamic Law (published with Harvard University Press).
Nomaan Husain was appointed to the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. Husain, founder of the Houston-based Husain Law + Associates, serves as a commissioner on the Harris County Houston Sports Authority, an advisor to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez (Ft. Bend County District Attorney) and as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Committee for University of Texas at Austin’s College of Liberal Arts and University of Texas School of Dentistry.
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Abidullah Ghazi Memorial Event: Scholars from Around the World Pay Tribute “The death of a scholar brings a void all over the world.” This expression, found in almost all of the world’s cultures with minor differences, came to life on Aug. 22 when the internet community and Chicagoans witnessed a group of Muslims observe a fourhour long program to remember Dr. ‘Abidullah Ghazi three months after his demise. Dr. Ghazi was a poet, writer, researcher, scholar, orator, a religious leader in the traditional way, a spiritual guide and a modernist. With his wife Dr. Tasneema Ghazi, he co-founded Iqra International Educational Foundation, the world’s only Islamic international children’s curriculum development institution. The program was the brainchild of his admirers, students and friends, who gathered Muslims worldwide to pay a glowing tribute to the scholar who left a permanent imprint on this specific field. Intellectuals and activists from Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Australia and Bangladesh shared their interaction with him and shed light on his personality — a mix of traditions and modernity with a sense of responsibility to God and His creation. The organizing committee comprised Dr. Hafiz Ikhlas Ansari (imam, Muslim Community Center, Chicago), Dr. Tasneema Ghazi, Dr. Ahmadullah Siddiqi, Dr. Musa Azam, Dr. Ahmed Murad, Maulana Qari Adnan, Amin Haider, Dr. Aslam Abdullah, Javed Aslam, Prof. Masroor Qureshi and Shahab Khan. The memorial service was a fitting tribute to one of the country’s best-known educators. As his wife stated in her keynote address, “he was a visionary who perceived the needs of the emerging generation in the field of education and created the infrastructure to achieve it.” His son described him as a practical man who knew how to weave dreams and bring He has also served as the chairman of City of Houston’s Ethics Commission, chairman and president of the South Asian Chamber of Commerce, member of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee for South Asia and as the legal counsel to the Pakistan Chamber of Commerce. Shahana Hanif made history in August when she became the first Muslima elected to the New York City Council, one of the first South Asian reps and first woman of color to represent her BrookSHAHANA HANIF (PHOTO © lyn district. She won ANNA AND JORDAN RATHKOPF AT SHAHANA HANIF CAMPAIGN) 57% of the vote. At the age of 17, she was diagnosed with lupus — a chronic illness that impacts predominantly women and women of color
them into reality. His long-time disciple Dr. Ahmadullah Siddiqi, quoting from his autobiographies, highlighted Ghazi’s vision of a pluralistic community that learns from its traditions and adapts modernity within its value system. During the program, the organizing committee released two significant works: Dr. Ikhlas Ansari’s work on Iqra’s curriculum and Dr. Abidullah Ghazi’s four-volume autobiography. Speakers from different walks of life also paid rich tribute. Among them were Shahab Khan, Dr. Tasneema Ghazi, Rashid Ghazi (son), Abdullah Mitchell, Dr. A. Siddiqi, Prof. Omer Muzaffar, Amin Haider, Prof. Masroor Quraishi, Dr. Qutbuddin, Dr. Omar Shaheen, Dr. Seema Imam, Habeeb Quadri, Dr. Kaiserduddin, Dr. Wasiullah Khan and Dr. Shaikh Mohammed ArRaee. Joining via video call were Dr. Aslam Abdullah (Los Angeles), Moulana Sufyaan Qasmi (rector, Darul Uloom Deoband, India), Azra Taufeeq (Australia), Dr. Hannan (Singapore), Mufti Barkatullah (U.K.), Dr. Ashhad Jamal Nadwi (Aligarh, India) Salman Ansari (Saudi Arabia), Maulana Jahangir (Karachi) and Saba Ghazi (daughter). Tayyab Younus was keynote speaker. The organizing committee also awarded Dr. Rami Nashashibi, Dr. Saba Khan, Ismail Umar and Mirza Muhammad Baig for their services. The program concluded with the dua of Dr. Hafiz Ikhlas Ansari. Among the sponsors were the Iqra International Educational Foundation, the Islamic Food and Nutritional Council of America, S.C.S. Technology Solutions, Sahara, Saturna Capital, the World Council of Muslims for Interfaith Relations, Elmhurst University, Indian Muslim Relief and Charities, Gain Peace, Helping Hand and Mazhar Khan. ih
and receives little funding. As such, those afflicted have a hard time receiving adequate, supportive health care. Throughout her time in and out of the hospital, Hanif experienced firsthand the city’s accessibility barriers. Although New York has some form of accessible transportation through a paratransit service, it’s often difficult to be approved and is notorious for being incredibly late to pick up passengers. After having both hips replaced and suffering from the pain of lupus, Hanif felt stuck — unable to adequately move and be a part of the city. During her frequent hospital trips, she also uncovered language barriers in New York hospitals. At first, Hanif channeled her rage through writing and founding both the Muslim Writers Collective chapter in New York and the Naree O Shongothok (Bangladeshi Feminist Collective). Since then, she has broadened her impact and, in September
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2019, announced her candidacy for Brooklyn’s District 39. Hanif ’s election holds many firsts, among them the first Muslima elected to the NYC Council and a member of the first cohort of South Asians in City Hall. She is also a part of the 30 women who were elected to City Hall, surpassing the goal of 21 elected women to office (Source: Ms. Magazine). Arefin Shamsul was elected to represent Richardson, a Dallas suburb, in the at-large Place 6 on City Council in June 2021. In addition to sitting on the City Council’s education and retail committees, he has been an active community volunteer. Prior to being elected to the
Muslims on the Force New York Police Department (NYPD) has a robust Muslim presence. Lt. Filastine Srour, born in the Bronx and raised between there and the Occupied West Bank’s Kalandia Refugee Camp, was promoted to captain on April 23. She joined the NYPD as a Police Cadet Corps member, aged 18, while completing her bachelor’s in criminology and master’s in forensic psychology from John Jay College. Her studies and experience enabled her to achieve her lifelong dream of becoming an NYPD officer in January 2004, aged 21. Srour, a NYPD Middle East & Turkic Society board member, is the first Arab American woman and the first Muslim female police captain in U.S. history. Ismile Althaibani, born in Brooklyn to Yemeni immigrants, was promoted to detective. A former Marine, he had enlisted in the Marine Corps, aged 20, and received numerous medals and commendations, among them the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon, as well as the Presidential Unit Citation. Captain Jamiel Altaheri, a 16-year service veteran, was appointed commanding officer of the NYPD’s 115th Precinct. The NYPD’s first-ever Yemeni American commanding officer, he is the highest ranking Yemeni American police executive and among the department’s highest ranking Muslim officers. He was Council, he was a member of the Richardson Zoning Board of Adjustment and the Building and Standards Commission for almost 10 years, as well as a member of the Richardson Complete Count Committee in support of the 2020 Census, the RISD Bond Steering Committee and Richardson Chamber of Commerce Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force. Shamsul, president of the Dallas-based Islamic Association of North Texas for the past five years, resigned his position to focus on the City Council. A 15-year resident of Richardson, Shamsul also served as a board member for the Highland Terrace Neighborhood Association. A graduate of Leadership Richardson Class XXV and Richardson Citizens Police Academy (Class ‘41), Shamsul (MS, civil engineering, University of Maryland at
been featured as one of the most influential American Immigrants in Sara Novic’s “America is Immigrants” (2019). Altaheri (BS, Brooklyn College (CUNY), MA, Seton Hall University and co-founder of the NYPD Muslim Officers Society) is director of public relations for the NYPD Middle East & Turkic Society. Both Bronx Borough president Ruben Diaz and the society acknowledged him for mobilizing his community to purchase its first community center in the Bronx, where he founded the Yemeni-American Community Center. His passion for community service and youth empowerment helped him create the Yemen United Soccer Club, which has 400+ members throughout the tri-state area. Altaheri also works to bridge the communication gap between law enforcement officers and the Muslim community by conducting lectures and discussions on the importance of diversity, collaboration and religious sensitivity to members of the U.S. military, law enforcement personnel, universities and community organizations. He’s been featured on many media outlets and, in 2016, became the first Muslim police executive to graduate from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va. Sgt. Kenan Akaydin Brooklyn, born and raised the son of Turkish immigrants, graduated from Stony Brook University with a major in economics before joining the NYPD, aged 23. He is now the chief of detectives, Investigations Unit, and is awaiting his promotion to lieutenant. ih
College Park; BS, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology), a professional civil engineer with 30+ years of experience, heads his own civil engineering consulting firm that specializes in municipal infrastructure. Shamsul and his wife of 27+ years have a son and three daughters. Mohammad Bader is the new director of Multnomah County’s (Ore.) Department of County and Human Ser vices (DCHS). Prior to becoming DCHS interim director in February 2020, Bader (MS Counseling ‘91; MS Education ‘88) had served in several of the county’s leadership roles, including director of the
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Division and then its interim deputy director. He’s been a part of the organization since 1996. Since Covid-19 began, DCHS has distributed more than $10 million in direct rent assistance; disbursed over $3 million in direct financial assistance to 5,000+ households, focusing on Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color living in historically underserved and overlooked areas; and worked with community-based organizations to leverage more than $1 million in CARES Act funding for culturally specific senior meal services. Bader, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1986, has taught as an adjunct instructor at Portland State University. His poems have appeared in several books, and he is the author of “The Traveler” (2011).
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 15
A Dozen Muslim Canadians Win Parliamentary Elections
Muhammad Saeed Sheikh of the Houston Karachi Sister City Association (HKSCA) won the Sister Cities International 2021 Volunteer of the Year Award. The award honors an exemplary volunteer for contributions to the sister city movement and recognizes the leadership and talent that benefit local sister city programs and the larger sister city network. Mayor Sylvester Turner, Reps. Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee, and Pakistan’s Consul General Abrar Hashmi honored Sheikh for his leadership and community service during the pandemic. A founding member of and current president of HKSCA president, Sheikh is also coordinator of Alliance for Disaster Relief and the Houston Iftar-Annual Ramadan Dinner with Huston’s mayor. In recognition of his community service, President Donald Trump awarded him the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award 2018. Last year, Sheikh initiated and led “Covid-19 Relief Efforts,” a united community collaborative including HKSCA that raised over half a million dollars through the generous support of Chief Patron S. Javaid Anwar. In response to the 2020 rain and floods in Houston’s Sister City Karachi, Sheikh coordinated and led the HKSCA collaborative “Karachi Floods Relief Efforts,” which impacted over 25,000 people there. Pakistan also recognized Sheikh on the “Foreign Minister’s Honor’s Roll List 2020” by awarding him on its Independence Day in August 2020. ih
A dozen Canadian Muslim candidates, including two women, emerged victorious in the country’s 2021 general elections to the lower house, the Canadian House of Commons, despite the rising anti-Muslim climate of hate. Ziad Abultaif (Conservative), a Lebanese Canadian who has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) since 2015, was returned to parliament. He was appointed official opposition critic for national revenue (2015-17), shadow minister for international Development (201719) and shadow minister for digital government (201920). He is a strong advocate for live organ donations. Iranian Canadian Ali Ehsassi (Liberal), a lawyer who has served as MP since 2015, retained his seat. He graduated from the University of Toronto (B.A.), attended the London School of Economics (M.Sc.) and received degrees from Osgoode Hall Law School (LLB) and Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. (LLM). Syrian Canadian Omar Alghabra (Liberal), first elected MP in 2006 and again in 2015 and 2019, retained his seat. He served as minister of transport and parliamentary secretary to the prime minister, as well as to the ministers of foreign affairs (consular affairs) and international trade diversification. Shafqat Ali (Liberal), an entrepreneur who has volunteered with youth, has formed a youth sports club, organized festivals and raised funds for the local hospital and food bank. He was a leading voice in successfully advocating for the cricket pitch in Mississauga neighborhood. Somali Canadian Ahmed Hussen (Liberal), a lawyer who has served as MP since 2015, retained his seat. From 2017, Ahmed served as the minister of immigration, refugees, and citizenship. In 2019, he was appointed as minister of families children and social development. Iranian Canadian Majid Jowhari (Liberal), who was elected MP in 2015 and 2019, retained his seat. In 2021, he was the first federal nominee and candidate of Iranian heritage. Jowhari (BTech, Ryerson University, MBA, York University’s Schulich School of Business) is the first
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Iranian-born MP of Iranian heritage. Jowhari is one of the first two Iranian Canadian MPs, with the other being Ali Ehsassi. Pakistani Canadian Iqra Khalid (Liberal), who has served as MP since 2015, returned to parliament. She chairs the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and is a member of the International Human Rights Subcommittee. She also serves as chair of the Liberal Women’s Caucus and the All-Party Women’s Caucus. Pakistani Canadian Yasir Naqvi (Liberal), first elected MP in 2007, was reelected in 2011, 2014 and 2021. He served as the attorney general of Ontario, government house leader, minister of community safety and correctional ser vices, and minister of labor. Taleb Noormohamed (Liberal), CEO at an online marketplace for apparel and home goods, was a senior official in the federal government (2002-07), which included establishing the cross-cultural roundtable on security. He served as director of the Air India Review Secretariat and special advisor to Bob Rae, Permanent Representative of Canada to the UN. Ugandan Asian Canadian Arif Virani (Liberal), who has served as MP since 2015, retained his seat. He was an analyst with the Canadian Human Rights Commission and an assistant trial attorney at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He founded the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario. Pakistani Canadian Salma Zahid (Liberal), who has served as MP since 2015, chairs the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, and is a member of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. She presented a successful private member’s motion designating June as Filipino Heritage Month. Sameer Zuberi (Liberal), who is of South Asian and ScottishItalian heritage and was elected MP 2019, retained his seat. He holds degrees in law from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and in mathematics from Concordia University. He served in the Black Watch, a Canadian Forces Reserves unit. ih
When Can I Get Married?
BY PASHMINA RASHAD
ost Muslims have grown up hearing the dictum that marriage completes half of their faith. Yes, this institution is the only legitimate path to becoming parents, and Islam teaches that it will protect people from sin. Many Muslims reach young adulthood and start feeling the weight of cultural expectations regarding marriage, whereas others may feel the internal pull of wanting a partner to meet emotional, logistical and sexual needs in a way that is allowed by and pleasing to God. What many future spouses don’t know, however, is that very real steps need to be taken before considering marriage or finding that perfect mate. Being ready is about much more than just being old enough and having the financial means. Well before we can sign up for “match made in Jannah (Heaven),” we must understand the Quranic model for marriage, intentionally cultivate the building blocks of a healthy partnership and ensure
that there are no valid reasons to delay getting married. As with all other aspects of life, the Quran provides humanity with a blueprint not only for what a healthy marriage entails, but also for who we need to be to build it. When speaking about finding a partner, most of us think about the qualities we want in a potential spouse. Very few of us, however, consider whether we have cultivated in
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ourselves the habits and attributes needed to fulfill our core responsibilities of marriage as prescribed by Islam. In their guide for couples, “Before You Tie the Knot: A Guide for Couples” (2014), Salma Abugideiri and Imam Mohamed Hag Magid outline the core Quranic values that serve as the cornerstones of marriage: equality, love, mercy and mutual tranquility. They wisely suggest that each partner must take
charge of his/her spiritual growth in order to create a family that rests on the foundation of these four cornerstones. Ultimately, the purpose of marriage is mutuality — mutual love, mutual comfort and mutual mercy — all of which lead to mutual sakeena (tranquility). Before trying to find someone who can provide all of this for us, we must be sure that we can provide all this for our future spouse.
moving? What balance of financial responsibility are we expecting, and how might we want it to shift with the arrival of children? What is our general approach to money and expectations about raising children? What is our understanding of gender roles, and how flexible is that worldview? What role is our existing social system (family and friends) likely to play in our married lives….? These are just some practical questions
MARRIAGE IS A PROTECTIVE INSTITUTION THAT PROVIDES SECURITY, LOVE, COMFORT AND THE POSSIBLE JOY OF PARENTHOOD. BUT ITS BIGGEST ROLE IS SERVING AS A SHIELD AND CONDUIT FOR OUR FAITH.
There are many paths to becoming a good spouse, and simply being a nice person isn’t enough. Intentional self-reflection to understand our own fears, insecurities and points of pain is necessary to prepare ourselves for marriage. If we don’t understand our own “baggage,” we are likely to foist it upon our future spouse, who carries his/ her own. Both individuals must be aware of their own context so that they can hope to understand why they respond to life as they do. In addition, we must take the time to learn how to understand the context of others. Do we know how to listen actively? Can we see another person as a product of his/her environment and offer empathy? Most of us hope to get this type of understanding and compassion from our partner. But do we hold ourselves accountable for providing the same to others? All of this, of course, connects back to the Quranic model for a mutually comforting and loving marriage. While getting married is certainly a sunna, learning about the self and pursuing the level of emotional maturity needed to participate in a healthy partnership should begin before we pursue marriage and continue throughout. Single Muslims should think about what the practical building blocks of a healthy marriage looks like to them. Before we can negotiate the outlines of our future with another person, we need to have some sense of what we expect for ourselves. Do we envision living near family or are we open to
that Muslims getting ready to pursue marriage should be able to answer for themselves so that they can engage in meaningful discussions with a prospective spouse. For men, it is important to be honest with themselves about whether they can fulfill the financial obligations that God places on them, among them providing an appropriate mehr (see Islamic Horizons, Sept./Oct. 2021). Imam Magid suggests setting mehr at 10% of the groom’s annual income. Reflection, accountability and emotional reciprocity are important aspects of the self-rooted in the Quranic advice on how to become a good spouse. In the same vein, our reasons for wanting to get married must be explicitly understood as rooted in the Prophetic tradition and the Quranic directives. Many Muslim cultures treat marriage as a social steppingstone, whereas Islam characterizes this institution as a foundational block of society. In other words, using it to attain social prestige or out of fear of social judgment are not good reasons to get married. The effort to meet societal expectations will last only until the wedding day, after which everyone else will go back to their own lives and the couple is left to navigate a marriage they may not be ready for. Another commonly practiced motivator for getting married is the consideration that doing so protects us from extramarital sins. The only Islamically appropriate way to satisfy sexual needs is through marriage.
However, sexual attraction alone doesn’t support a long and healthy marriage. Maintaining chastity, the desire for intimacy and companionship, a search for stability and wanting children are all valid reasons to pursue marriage. However, within each of these healthy incentives resides a potential for misguided ones. For example, a yearning for stability can sometimes be a symptom of a traumatic history. Getting married to run away from trauma does little more than introduce a subversive force that may harm the marriage without either partner understanding what is happening. Other issues that may indicate one should delay looking for a spouse are financial troubles or excessive debt. Marriage is a protective institution that provides security, love, comfort and the possible joy of parenthood. But its biggest role is serving as a shield and conduit for our faith. The first and most important consideration of choosing a spouse is ensure that he/she will not hinder our commitment to Islam. If we have the choice of marrying someone who is likely to pull us away from Islam or stay single, protecting our faith and God’s pleasure must rise above all else. Likewise, it is imperative that we clearly define our relationship with our faith so that we can honestly communicate its role in our lives to our prospective spouse. One of the most unfair things we can do to our potential partner is to misrepresent our level of religiousness or our faith practice. Of course, we want to put our best foot forward to a potential partner or even, when talking about our idealized self, to present the kind of Muslim we want to be rather than where we are in the present. Not being honest in this regard is a disservice to any future relationship. In addition, we must recognize that marrying someone in the hope that he/she will “fix” our faith or vice versa is likely to set up your relationship for many complications. Therefore, make sure to prepare yourself for being married so that each spouse’s spiritual, emotional and sexual needs can be met in a way that pleases God. Doing the internal work needed to become a good spouse helps us build tranquil marriages. But more importantly, it helps us fulfill the Quranic and prophetic directives that will help us attain jannah. ih Pashmina Rashad, a licensed mental health counselor, is director, Sukoon Therapy (http://www.sukoontherapy.com), Poughkeepsie, N.Y., which offers individual counseling, premarital counseling, marriage counseling and family therapy.
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Choosing the Right Spouse Be sure to do your homework before getting married
BY KHALID IQBAL
nteresting discussions are taking place during workshops, seminars and on social media about marriage among Muslims. Individuals who want to marry have concerns about the ever-increasing separation and divorce rates among couples of all ages. They see their close friends or “ideal” couples breaking apart before their eyes. Many Muslims have outlined some of the key reasons for such events, among them anger, domestic violence, addiction, outside interference, lack of intimacy, poor communication, distrust, extramarital relations, financial issues and overspending. The issue is that Muslims are struggling to find the right spouse but aren’t exactly sure how to recognize him or her and move to the next stage.
At 36, Hafsa (not her real name) felt physically exhausted and mentally drained after another sleepless night. After meeting a potential spouse through a Muslim matrimonial site, it took several weeks for her and her family to decide to meet the other family in person. Hafsa was adamant that she would handle this meeting positively. The son, who seemed like a nice and charming fellow, held a senior position at a reputable company, was recently divorced and shared custody of his daughter with his ex-wife. However, their levels of education weren’t equal: she had more than a decade of college and university education; he didn’t. They didn’t share the same ethnicity, and she still had questions about why he had gotten divorced. She was also worried about sharing parenting duties, especially if they had their own children. Her many questions and doubts kept her awake all night. She had always thought that her rigid demands were the result of maturity, not realizing that her inflexibility was restricting the choices available to her. Also, now aged 36, the available choices weren’t as many or as good as they had been 10-15 years ago. Hafsa often wonders if delaying marriage because of “education” or “financially settling down in life” was a wise idea. She feels frustrated, as most of her friends are married and settled in life. She has changed her circle of friends, finding others like her who are single, never married or divorced. But she feels that life in that circle is gloomy and miserable. A Pew Research Center report based on U.S. Census statistics finds that a person’s first marriage has continued to rise over the past 50 years. In 2011, the median age was an estimated 28.7 for men and 26.5 for women. In 1960, the median age for both men and women was in the early 20s (https://www. pewresearch.org/social-trends/2020/05/27/as-millennials-near-40-theyre-approaching-family-life-differently-than-previous-generations/). In addition, since then American culture has become far more accepting of unmarried individuals cohabiting. This stigma, along with the resulting children, has lessened significantly. This trend, unfortunately, is also increasing among Muslims, but possibly for different reasons. The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding’s 2020 study shows that 35% of Muslims of marriageable age are still seeking a potential spouse (https://www.ispu.org/five-facts-about-divorce/). Abdullah narrated: “We were with the Prophet while we were young and had no wealth. So, God’s Messenger said, “O young people! Whoever among you can marry should marry, because it helps him lower his gaze and guard his modesty, and whoever is not able to marry should fast, as fasting diminishes his 20 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021
sexual power” (“Sahih al-Bukhari,” 5066, book 67, hadith no. 4). Marrying at a younger age has many other benefits, including better choices, the excitement of enjoying marriage and growing together, time to enjoy each other’s company and work through life’s challenges together, having the energy to enjoy children and taking advantage of a young wife’s higher fertility rate. Couples who marry earlier evolve together and support each other through the earlier years, rather than develop entrenched habits over a decade or more before marrying.
MARRYING FOR THE WRONG REASONS
Many unmarried individuals in their 30s are self-conscious and start to think that something is wrong with them. They feel pressured to make a hasty decision, especially when family and friends start pressuring them with sarcastic jabs and subtle suggestions. This dynamic is worse for those who have younger siblings waiting for their turn. Some individuals with family problems like domestic violence or financial issues feel lonely or desperate. As a result, they are likely to make a poor marriage choice and to lower their standards. We all have our own ideal spouse in mind. Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) guided
Recently Divorced or Widowed. They can make wonderful spouses, but the issue here is how recently those events happened. If such traumas are still fresh, they may cause anger or a sense of loss. Thus, as such people might not be ready for a new relationship, it’s better to wait until more time has passed. Habitual Divorcers. This type, which marries only for pleasure, easily find faults in others, even with the smallest of issues. They have no resilience or staying power to see the marriage through difficult times, and so might marry for the wrong reasons. Ungodly People. They have little or no connection with God, for what interests them is this world. Their lack of faith has a negative impact on the family members’ religious practice and sets a poor example for the children. Mama’s Boy or Girl. Spouses who are MANY UNMARRIED INDIVIDUALS IN THEIR 30S influenced and controlled by their parents ARE SELF-CONSCIOUS AND START TO THINK will never escape the multiple conflicts that THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH THEM. THEY will inevitably arise. When newly married couples are forced to live with either set of FEEL PRESSURED TO MAKE A HASTY DECISION, parents, who will make the financial and ESPECIALLY WHEN FAMILY AND FRIENDS START other important decisions for the new family is often a source of continual tension. Such PRESSURING THEM WITH SARCASTIC JABS AND acrimony can easily subvert the Quranic SUBTLE SUGGESTIONS. understanding of marriage: the union of a man and a woman legally united to fulfill each other’s sexual and emotional needs: Players. These people don’t respect the sanctity “Glory to God, Who created in pairs all things that the earth produces, as well of a monogamous relationship and thus become as their own kind and (other) things of which they have no knowledge" (36:36). involved with other people. They undermine trust and feelings of marital intimacy and hurt the mar- POSITIVE APPROACH riage’s foundation. The Quran enjoins Muslims to select good and pure (tayyib) spouses: “… and Debtors. Financially irresponsible people buy women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of things unnecessarily, carry debt, don’t pay bills on purity…” (24:26). People wanting to get married have different criteria, ranging from the supertime and frequently borrow money from financial institutions or family and friends. They may also use ficial (e.g., looks, beauty, wealth, status, hijab or not, beard or not) to the more this money for items or activities that the spouse would serious (e.g., religion, character, compatibility and outlook on relationships, find objectionable. domestic violence, anger, finance, children and personal habits). We recommend that people set three types of standards and qualities: • Core standards that shouldn’t be compromised, such as religion, spirituality, morality and character. • Peripheral standards, like age difference, the same culture, profession, status and physical features. • Bad and questionable qualities, all of which should cause you to reject the person. We also strongly recommend enrolling in a good premarital course. Doing so will help intending spouses create a harmonious and tranquil family, practice patience and show our best character while overcoming life’s challenges. As the Quran says: “Among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts). Verily, in that are Signs for those who reflect" (30:21). “There is no greater happiness for you approaching the door of your home at the end of a day knowing someone on the other side of that door is waiting for the sound of your footsteps.” This quote, attributed to Ronald Reagan by https://quotefancy.com/, has meant so much to me during these 50 years of my married life. ih us to look for a number of things in a spouse, but especially deen and good character. We recommend that you avoid getting involved with the types of people listed below. Addicts. All types of addiction negatively affect healthy relationships. Such people are often prone to inconsistent and unpredictable behavior, outbursts of anger and violence, irresponsibility, emotional emptiness, lack of sexual desire and bad moods. As a result, the relationship will be full of ups and downs.
Khalid Iqbal, a mechanical engineer and founder of Rahmaa Institute, created the institute because of his passion for working with nonprofits dealing with marriage, conflict resolution, divorce, domestic violence and anger prevention. The author of “Anger and Domestic Violence Prevention Guide for the Muslim Community”(2016) and a speaker on family and marital issues, he has developed a comprehensive eight-hour premarital counseling course. He can be contacted at: Rahmaa.Institute@gmail.com.
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Nurturing Native (and Foreign) Language Skills How do you do it?
arents whose attempts to pass their native language on to their children have been met with resistance often ask, “How do you do it?” They are amazed that my U.S.-bornand-raised children are fluent in Spanish. The truth is that I’m also struggling. It’s a daily uphill battle that can be overcome only by prayer and keeping our eyes on the prize at the summit. Being bilingual or multilingual has huge advantages in terms of cognitive development, academic performance, literacy and finding a job. Priscilla Blossom highlights some of the biggest benefits of learning a second language as a child. Mainly, it “encourages empathy,” “boosts brain function” and provides an
BY WENDY DÍAZ “academic advantage” (Parents Magazine, April 2021). So much has been written about the impact of bilingualism and multilingualism on an individual’s success. But how can we successfully teach our children while living in a majority English-speaking country? There are a few ways. First and foremost, just like when it comes to other forms of worship, we must purify our intentions. Anything that is beneficial for us and can be used to please God can be a form of worship. Nurturing a native or heritage language can fall into this category by further strengthening family ties, improving our livelihood and spreading the message of Islam. Notably, many well-known
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Companions of Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), among them Abu Hurayra, Zaid ibn Thabit and Salman al-Farsi (‘alayhum rahma), were bilingual. After we make our intention clear, we should develop a plan. The next steps are what I recommend based on research and trial and error. • Start early (or start now). The earlier you start your children off with another language, the better. (There is an exception here for English. More about that later.) Decide on the one you want them to learn. As soon as you bring your little bundles of joy home, start speaking to them in that language to ensure that they will recognize its sounds and nuances. Talk, read and sing to them in
that language. Once they are older, you can introduce them to television shows, audiobooks and books. Here’s the secret formula I learned while studying world language education and teaching my children. If there is one thing you remember from this article, let it be this: The keys to early language acquisition are reading, rhyme and repetition. • Get other caregivers on board. We’ve all heard the saying, “It takes a village to
other languages (or English if it cannot be avoided) only with Z.” As our children get older, they will question and even try pushing limits, especially if we’re not practicing what we preach. Consistency is key! • Don’t combine languages in conversation. If you’ve ever seen the cartoon show “Dora the Explorer,” then you’ll understand the meaning of Spanglish, a hybrid language. And now a confession: Spanglish is my archenemy! It lurks in television shows,
HERE’S THE SECRET FORMULA I LEARNED WHILE STUDYING WORLD LANGUAGE EDUCATION AND TEACHING MY CHILDREN. IF THERE IS ONE THING YOU REMEMBER FROM THIS ARTICLE, LET IT BE THIS: THE KEYS TO EARLY LANGUAGE ACQUISITION ARE READING, RHYME AND REPETITION. raise a child.” Equally, teaching our children another language or preserving their native language takes teamwork. If you have a spouse, relatives and/or other caregivers who speak it, let them know that you want your children to become bilingual or multilingual. Ask them to provide that immersive environment and implement all the strategies listed in this article. Everyone must play by the rules, which leads to the following step. • Set a rule and follow it yourself. “Spanish inside, English stays outside,” is what I’ve been telling my children since they were toddlers. There is no English at home among family members. Ever. Although this may seem strange or even cruel to some people, my children went straight to preschool or kindergarten knowing only Spanish. Once in school, they were speaking English like pros after a couple of weeks. They didn’t even have to take special ESOL classes. Really. It can be done. Our children will be exposed to English their entire lives. Delaying their formal introduction to it doesn’t mean they will fall behind their peers. Focus on your target language and build a solid foundation so it won’t be lost once English is introduced (outside). The native-language-at-home-only model almost guarantees that they will retain the target language. However, we must be strict about following the rules ourselves. It helps if other caregivers also speak the language. If not, then the rule can be modified to “target language only with X and Y, and
books, songs and slang. And even though I hate it, I end up using it sometimes. There are other hybrid variations out there like Arabish, Urdish, and Hinglish. The problem with them is that they are the beginning of a slippery slope on your quest to reach the pinnacle of multilingualism. Although it seems like it would be helpful to watch a show like "Dora" or "Handy Manny", in which the main characters teach Spanish words in English conversation, therein is the problem. It fails to teach children proper usage, grammar and sentence structure in the target language (Spanish, in this case). It’s not the best method for language acquisition and can even be counterproductive. Your children will eventually start stringing together the few vocabulary words they know with their stronger language, which will inevitably be English if they are living in the U.S. To be frank, any hybrid language is impractical for everyday use and, to me, sounds ridiculous. In the case of language learning, segregate your targets; separate but equal works well here. • Create cultural connections. Language and culture go hand in hand. When I was a public high school Spanish teacher, the textbooks I taught from focused on a different country per unit. This integrated approach focused on geography and social studies, along with Spanish, and helped students connect the language they were learning with its native speakers. Teaching children to be proud of their
heritage (without being arrogant!) is important for their self-esteem and to foster a strong identity. Connect their language with lessons about the culture it represents. Watch documentaries, shows and movies in the native language that showcase cultural traditions. And, if they’re learning a foreign language, they can build empathy and appreciation for people of other backgrounds. Our many languages testify to our Creator’s majesty: “And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed, in that are signs for those of knowledge” (30:22). As Muslims, we learn Arabic by default, even if it is limited to prayers, supplication, dhikr and reading the Quran. Consequently, we are already one step ahead of most people in this country. By encouraging children to learn and preserve other languages, we help them become vessels for this wonderful gift from God.. ih Wendy Díaz is a Puerto Rican Muslim writer, award-winning poet, translator and mother of six. She is the co-founder of Hablamos Islam, Inc. (https://hablamosislam.org), a non-profit organization that produces Spanish-language educational resources about Islam. She is the Spanish content coordinator for the Islamic Circle of North America’s WhyIslam Project and has also written, illustrated and published a dozen children’s books. [Editor’s note: Reprinted with permission. This article was originally published in Sound Vision›s Muslim Home parenting newsletter: https:// www.soundvision.com/article/nurturing-native-foreign-language]
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ISLAM IN AMERICA
A Place to Share Experiences The Islamophobia.io website has a novel approach toward tackling hate BY RABIYAH SYED
n our current political climate, there have been an increased number of hate crimes, discrimination and racism. The amount of overt, covert and institutionalized racism continues to escalate globally. In large cities, people of color are often stopped and frisked. Muslims are often stopped at airports or borders just for being Muslim. Instead of taking the time to learn and understand other races, religions and cultures, many view others through the stereotypes embedded in their societies. Muslims are often stereotyped as terrorists, a prejudice that leads some individuals to attack defenseless Muslims physically and verbally — even those who they think are Muslims. For example, on June 6, a man deliberately drove his truck into a family he didn’t even know. The result? Five dead Muslims who had been out for an evening walk in London, Ont. This horrendous attack’s only survivor is a seriously injured preteen boy. This is just one of many heinous hate crimes that has occurred around the world over the last few years. Islamophobia is the fear and hatred of Muslims and Islam caused by long-term perpetuated negative stereotypes. This reality, seen in the intolerance directed toward Muslims because of their beliefs, is now fully integrated and embedded within our society. Initiatives like Islamphobia.io are needed now more than ever, especially as Islamophobia is on the rise. Islamophobia. io is a newly launched website created by @ StudentAsim – as Asim Hussain prefers to be known professionally — a creative producer who is using different methods to combat issues that are important to him. His website is a place not only for Muslims to tell their stories, but also for their allies to tell stories about the Muslims they know. It contains
stories ranging from everyday events to accounts of discrimination. By reading them, we can learn about what members of our community are facing daily. Moreover, we can connect and bond with those who have had similar experiences. @StudentAsim seeks to demonstrate the importance of giving. He began by writing picture books before creating Islamophobia. io. One of his stories, “Khadijah Goes to School” (2011), follows Khadijah as she learns the importance of helping yourself and
24 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021
others — the importance of giving. As he says, “Giving is the foundational premise in which everything else is based off of.” His website is designed to give average Muslims a voice, a chance to be a catalyst for change, to encourage another person to look at something from a new angle. This innovative approach allows everyone to participate and share their perspectives with the world. Discrimination is a major issue, with people of color as well as with Muslims. @StudentAsim’s book on this subject, “My Skin: Brown” (2018), presents the discrimination faced by kids with a certain skin color. People who have faced discrimination can use Islamophobia. io to express their emotions and concerns. Their stories can help others who may have or have had similar experiences. Sharing such stories allows people to learn how others handle similar situations. Islamophobia.io seeks to shed light on these untold stories and to dispel negative portrayals of Muslims. Prejudiced people may see Muslims as terrorists or evil people, but not as humans like themselves. @StudentAsim believes that the root cause of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate is a growing trend because of the “missing context.” His website wants to fulfill this gap by encouraging average Muslims to share their stories — from discrimination to gardening — to show their daily experiences and to help the readers understand that they are just like everyone else. Such anecdotes can influence people to change their views by having the chance to glimpse into another person’s life. This repository for stories hopes to achieve that very goal: to enable average people to become change agents. Reading the various accounts at least gives you the chance to see things from a different perspective or have your curiosity piqued.
PREJUDICED PEOPLE MAY SEE MUSLIMS AS TERRORISTS OR EVIL PEOPLE, BUT NOT AS HUMANS LIKE THEMSELVES. @STUDENTASIM BELIEVES THAT THE ROOT CAUSE OF ISLAMOPHOBIA AND ANTI-MUSLIM HATE IS A GROWING TREND BECAUSE OF THE “MISSING CONTEXT.”
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Many people post things on social media to combat hate. But social media is like an ocean — a vast space full of so many things circulating around that they are seen only if those who post them have many followers or supporters who spread the message. Islamophobia.io combats anti-Muslim sentiments in a different way. @StudentAsim envisages it as a “dedicated hub for the lived experiences of the Muslim community.” All the stories are in one place and easily accessible, which is definitely not the case with social media, where information is scattered. Misinformation is something that can easily occur. As we all now realize, social media has become a source of not only information, but also of misinformation. One example of this is the many myths and misconceptions surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine, which have been addressed by leaders as well as health care workers. Similarly, @StudentAsim is using Islamophobia.io to combat misinformation and misconceptions about Islam and Muslims by humanizing them to the larger public. Islamophobia.io’s unique approach is designed to give individual Muslims a voice and a place where they can share their experiences about living as a Muslim in North America without judgement. Visit Islamophobia.io to share your personal story. ih
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Rabiyah Syed, a Naperville Central High School student, loves photography and aspires to be a speech pathologist.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 25
ISLAM IN AMERICA
Headlining in Hijab Born and raised in Connecticut, 25-year-old Ayah Galal broadcasts local news into homes across the state. BY HABEEBA HUSAIN
hile many Americans would describe their workday as the typical “9 to 5,” local television news reporter Ayah Galal cannot say the same. “I have a pretty unique schedule — my shift starts at 3 a.m.,” the 25-year-old Connecticut native says. That means her alarm is set for 1:30 in the morning to give her enough time to wake up, shower, get ready and look over emails from producers containing her assignments for the morning news live broadcast. By 4:30 a.m., she is in front of the camera filming her first live shot for the show. “Every day is something different,” says the Quinnipiac University alumna. “I could be reporting on weather conditions one day and the next, reporting on the latest on the Coronavirus.” That spontaneity of each day is one of the things Galal loves most about her job. But being a journalist was not always on her radar. Galal entered her college career on the
pre-medicine track, but quickly learned that advanced calculus and biology courses were not for her. “My parents were very adamant about me doing something that I was passionate about and I enjoyed,” she says of her Egyptian immigrant parents. After some soul searching, this lifelong lover of reading and writing decided to pursue journalism and political science. The pairing was quite fitting for a girl who made her high school morning announcements and dutifully watched the NBC Nightly News on television every evening with her family at dinner time. Galal got involved at Q30TV, her university’s television station, trying her hand at both on-screen anchoring and reporting. From there, she landed an internship at News 8, a Connecticut ABC-affiliate, where she shadowed reporters and producers during the summer of 2017. That gig eventually turned into a behind-the-scenes producer job at the channel. At first, Galal thought behind-the-scenes
26 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021
was the only job she could land due to her hijab and the increased anti-Muslim sentiment during and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. “I’ve seen the way that Muslims are often misrepresented in the media. Things like that were always in the back of my mind as I was starting to apply for jobs,” Galal said. “I started having doubts that any TV station would want to hire someone who wears a hijab … I talked myself out of going after an on-air position.” Although she learned a lot and enjoyed her producer role at News 8, she longed for the on-air life she had experienced during her Q30TV days. Her coworkers were supportive of her endeavors and encouraged her to go after her dream instead of settling. “I ended up going in on my days off, working on putting a reporting reel together and trying to get more experience out in the field in front of the camera,” Galal says. “Al-hamdu lillah (all praises due to God). It wasn’t easy, but I did land a position at Channel 3 where I was able to report and produce.” The CBS-affiliated Channel 3 granted her a hybrid position that involved producing behind the camera, reporting, filming her own stories and conducting her own interviews. After proving herself capable of her craft, which included donning so many hats, she accepted a full-time reporter position at the station about a year ago. “Being able to see things from the behindthe-scenes aspect has made me a stronger reporter because I know what producers are expecting timing-wise, story length-wise, things like that,” she says. “Al-hamdu lillah, I think it ended up really helping me become a better reporter.” Galal reports on local news in Con necticut, and the assignments vary greatly each morning. She never knows what she’s going to get — crime, politics, local businesses, weather, or, of course, the Coronavirus. The pandemic has played a huge role in news coverage so far — from forcing reporters to stay in the newsroom, to conducting socially distanced interviews and to even infecting Galal herself earlier this year. “There is always that risk in the back of your mind. You don’t know what you could be exposed to,” she says, now thankfully recovered. “[But] it also shows the importance of the work that journalists are doing right now — our job in educating the public
AFTER SOME SOUL SEARCHING, THIS LIFELONG LOVER OF READING AND WRITING DECIDED TO PURSUE JOURNALISM AND POLITICAL SCIENCE. THE PAIRING WAS QUITE FITTING FOR A GIRL WHO MADE HER HIGH SCHOOL MORNING ANNOUNCEMENTS AND DUTIFULLY WATCHED THE NBC NIGHTLY NEWS ON TELEVISION EVERY EVENING WITH HER FAMILY AT DINNER TIME.
on the importance of getting vaccinated, trying to report the truth and stop the spread of misinformation and, ultimately, educating the public on what they can be doing for their own health and safety.” Galal’s journalistic work is certainly important, as she says — today’s Covid-19 world would call it “essential.” She is a part of many early birds’ morning routine across Connecticut and even gets recognized while out and about from time to time, whether it is thanks to her hijab or her voice. “People get really excited to be able to meet someone they see on TV,” she says. “It’s always nice meeting viewers, especially the really devout Channel 3 fans who wake up early to watch our morning newscast … it means a lot when people take the time to stop and say hello.” While Galal has always called Connecticut home, she is open to branching out to a larger
city in the future, if that’s God’s plan for her. For now, she is happy to broadcast the news to her home state, especially to fellow young Muslims. “I just want them to know they should not doubt themselves or think that their faith will get in the way of an opportunity,” Galal says. “If there’s something you want to do, or if there’s something you want to accomplish, go after it. You do your best, and you leave the rest to Allah.” After overcoming her own initial doubts, that’s exactly what Galal did. Through the help of God, she accomplished her goal of reporting the headlines all while wearing her hijab. ih Habeeba Husain is a freelance journalist based in the New York tri-state area. She helps manage Muslim-run businesses WuduGear and Kamani. Her work has appeared in SLAM Magazine, WhyIslam. org, and Narrative.ly, among other online and print publications. Connect with her on Twitter @HabeebaHusain.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 27
The world we live in is constantly evolving and ISNA is committed to being a positive driver of change. ISNA has long recognized the importance of engaging with other faith communities as a fundamental part of its mission, and therefore, we continuously host and participate in interfaith events, meetings and webinars to educate our friends, partners, officials and activists about Islam. These interreligious initiatives have helped break down barriers of misunderstanding, formed genuine partnerships of faith and ethics, and established a platform to advocate for social justice issues for the common good. We aim to work together to fight Islamophobia and share knowledge about the true teachings and understanding of our religion in all sectors. The gift of education has a ripple effect—it creates change locally, nationally and globally. Ignorance is our enemy, and with your support we can make a difference. Please donate to ISNA today.
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ISLAM IN AMERICA
Reflections on the 20th Anniversary of “El Clon” Teaching religious and cultural understanding through soap operas BY WENDY DÍAZ
n October 1, 2001, the epic telenovela or novela “O Clone” was released in Brazil on Rede Globo Television. After its successful debut, this soap opera was syndicated, dubbed in Spanish, and picked up all over Latin America. Aired from October 2001 to June 2002, with 221 episodes, it went on to be broadcast in 90+ countries. The first show of its kind to feature a Muslim main character, it radically changed how Latinos thought about Islam. In fact, “El Clon” was the latest sensation when I traveled to Puerto Rico as a hijab-wearing Muslima for the first time. And just like its opening song, it was maktub (written) that it happened then. About three years after my conversion, I was ready to visit my family in Puerto Rico fully covered. Most of my relatives were aware that I had left Catholicism. However, I was afraid of how they would react to my hijab, for it would be something foreign to them. On a statue or painting of the Virgin Mary, the veil was a symbol of devotion; but on a Muslima, it represented a distant tradition. I wasn’t sure if my family would understand that it was just as much a part of me as my Puerto Rican identity. During this time, I was living with my Egyptian Muslima best friend, Heba, and her family while finishing my bachelor’s degree at the University of Maryland. I invited her to accompany me for moral support and so that I wouldn’t be the only hijab-wearer in my grandparents’ house. At that time, I didn’t know that Puerto Rico had nine mosques and thousands of Muslims. Before leaving the island, I had never seen a Muslim woman in hijab. This led me to believe that I might be the only Puerto Rican Muslima in existence. Besides, the shadow of 9/11 still loomed over the whole Islamic community. These things compounded my worries. Prior to my trip, I wrote letters to my grandparents and sent them copies of the Quran, explaining my new way of life and urging them to read and open their minds. I let them know that they could ask me anything; but the questions never came. Heba and I packed baggy jeans, long-sleeve t-shirts, skirts, and light-weight hijabs that would withstand the tropical heat. We even took matching outfits for fun. If we were going to be the only two hijab-wearers, then we may as well be color-coordinated! When we arrived in San Juan, my uncle picked us up from the airport. He was the first family member to see me wearing it. But my mother had warned him ahead of time. We chatted casually, ignoring the elephant in the room; it helped that Heba had come along. And yet there was something more. I expected more of an uproar —people in the airport to stare at us like we were strange or treat us with hostility. Instead, their eyes lit up in admiration. It was so odd. As we walked outside and into the humid breeze of San Juan, people nodded and smiled at us. I would look over my shoulder and see them still beaming. It wasn’t a mocking sneer, but a genuine look of contentment, as if the hijab was something familiar. At first, I attributed it to the fact that Puerto Ricans have a great reverence for the Virgin Mary. Maybe the hijab reminded them of her. Upon reaching my mother’s house at night, I finally caught a glimpse of the real reason for our warm reception: A TV channel was playing “El Clon.” 28 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021
This telenovela, set in Brazil and Morocco, had as its main character a young Muslima named Jade who was coming of age in Brazil. After her mother’s death, she returns to her family in Morocco. Although she was born Muslim and wears the hijab, her upbringing leaves her confused. She falls in love with a Brazilian man who visits Morocco, and a crazy love story develops that involves twins, a clone, arranged marriages and a lot of culture shock. Because the story takes place in both countries, viewers were exposed to different aspects of Muslim life, including the hijab. “El Clon” showed Latin Americans another side of Islam, contrary to the U.S. media’s violent terrorist narrative. Viewers learned about Muslims through some of its characters, especially Jade’s uncle and
caretaker Ali. While teaching Jade about Islam, he would recite Quranic verses and oral traditions of the Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). This exposure made the Muslim world less foreign and the viewers more tolerant. While "El Clon" was neither free of stereotypes nor completely accurate in its portrayal of Muslims in Morocco, I could see that this series was changing people’s perceptions. Puerto Ricans were fascinated with Islam, curious about its rituals and everything else, captivated by Morocco’s beautiful scenery and drawn to idea of the hijab. Finding many similarities between themselves and the Muslim characters, they could relate to Jade’s struggles to fit in, her overprotective
uncle’s efforts to protect his family’s honor, the women looking for a suitable husband and the bachelors influenced by their elders’ whims. Just like Muslims, Puerto Ricans are brought up in strict, God-fearing households. To Latinos, our faith, family values and modesty are equally important. The added lessons on Islam taught them that there was another option to consider when thinking about our relationship with our Creator. One day while walking around the plaza, the city center of my hometown, a young man called out to me with the word, “Bendición.” When it finally dawned on me that he had mistaken me for a nun, I responded, “Dios te bendiga” (God bless you). Another time, a group of children in a school playground saw Heba and me buying some ice cream from a local vendor. They approached us and said, “You look like the ladies in ‘El Clon.’” My family members agreed. During our time in Puerto Rico, my cousins asked Heba and me countless questions about the hijab, including where they could purchase some. Even strangers stopped us in the street to ask the same. I wish I had packed scarves to give away. In a nutshell, “El Clon” made it cool to be a Muslima when we had almost lost hope. THIS NOVELA CHANGED OUR LIVES AND THOSE I was so grateful back then and now. I couldn’t have gone back home at a better OF PEOPLE IN LATIN AMERICA, WHETHER THEY time! This novela changed our lives and those PERCEIVED IT OR NOT. MY FRIEND AND I WERE of people in Latin America, whether they WELCOMED WARMLY IN PUERTO RICO WHILE perceived it or not. My friend and I were welcomed warmly in Puerto Rico while MUSLIMS WERE BEING DEMONIZED WORLDWIDE Muslims were being demonized worldwide AND ISLAM WAS BEING PUT ON TRIAL. and Islam was being put on trial. Yet there we were, being praised for our faith in a land where Islam was something strange. It was as God says: “Whoever fears God, He will find a way out for him (from every difficulty) and He will provide for him from sources that he could never have imagined” (65:2-3). Who would have thought that a telenovela would teach Spanish-speakers about Islam? Fast forward to my last trip in 2018. Accompanied by my family, 15 years after that first encounter, we had a similar experience. Instead of “El Clon,” we arrived to find a new king, or should I say sultan, of telenovelas in town. Turkey, which has been exporting its series to Latin America for seven years, has won the hearts of Puerto Ricans and other Latinos. Turkish dramas now dominate the entertainment industry and are continuing what “El Clon” began 20 years ago — opening a gateway to Muslim life, Islamic history and Middle Eastern culture. The result is that Puerto Ricans recognize and respect Islam now more than ever. In many ways, I feel more comfortable there than in the U.S. Here, I’m a Muslim Latina, part of two marginalized groups, while back home I’m just another Boricua, a Puerto Rican native, who happens to wear the hijab. During this visit, while walking around the plaza in Ponce with my family, someone again stopped me in my tracks. A fellow Puerto Rican slowed his car down, lowered the window and shouted, “Ma sha’ Allah!” I smiled and waved as he and his family drove away. My children asked me, “Did you know that person?” And I said “No” and explained that it was a greeting of respect to acknowledge our presence there as Muslims. That family must have been watching Turkish novelas! Yet, I wondered if they knew the heavy significance of that phrase, “What Allah has willed has happened.” Or perhaps it was I who needed to understand it most, as a reminder to be grateful. It was maktub. “O Turner of the hearts, affirm our hearts upon Your religion!” (Dua of the Prophet, in “At-Tirmidhi”). ih Wendy Díaz is a Puerto Rican Muslim writer, award-winning poet, translator and mother of six. She is the co-founder of Hablamos Islam, Inc. (https://hablamosislam.org), a non-profit organization that produces Spanish-language educational resources about Islam. She is also the Spanish content coordinator for the Islamic Circle of North America’s WhyIslam Project and has also written, illustrated and published a dozen children’s books.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 29
When the Call to Prayer Ushered in Each Sunny Andalusian Day The Met Museum’s spectacular exhibition takes us to Spain, 1000-1200: Art at the Frontiers of Faith BY MISBAHUDDIN MIRZA
n Aug. 30, New York’s Met Museum invited the world to witness Muslim Spain, which is on a visita corta there until Jan. 30, 2022. “Spain, 1000-1200: Art at the Frontiers of Faith,” the meticulously curated exhibition being displayed at The Cloisters in uptown Manhattan, takes your breath away. While viewing it, you travel back to the time when Muslims were the world’s sole superpower. And they used this might to rapidly spread justice, peace and equality within the known world. In 711, a tiny Muslim force landed at Jabal Tariq (Gibraltar), defeated the Visigoth king Roderic at the decisive Battle of Gaudete, and then swiftly overran the entire Iberian Peninsula. Six years later, they crossed the Pyrenees and poured into Septimania — a historical region in modern-day southern France — that had been ceded to the Visigoths’ king Theodoric II in 462. By 759 they had captured several areas in Gaul — modern-day France — and
incorporated them into the newly established province of Andalusia, marking the caliphate’s new northern borders. This rapid conquest transformed a decaying land into the fabled Andalusia — a center of learning, a flourishing culture of art, architecture and opulent living. Impressed by Islam’s message, most of the local Visigoths converted and contributed new ideas to Islamic architecture, such as the famous Iberian horseshoe arch, and then spearheaded the establishment of the Emirate of Sicily. The Muslims’ 800-year rule of Andalusia also provided a haven to the historically persecuted Jews, who were now allowed to develop their education, culture and religious traditions in peace. To this day, this period marks Judaism’s golden age. This exhibition showcases articles that give a brief glimpse into Andalusia’s magnificence, which was light years ahead of its European neighbors. As you enter the exhibition, you are wowed by a 13th-century
The province of al-Andalus in 750 (source: Wikipedia)
30 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021
Bifolium from the Andalusian Pink Quran. ca. 13th century. Country of Origin Spain Ink, gold, silver, and opaque watercolor on paper H. 12 1/2 in. (31.8 cm)W. 19 3/4 in. (50.2 cm) ( (c) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Friends of Islamic Art Gifts, 2017) .
Tiraz Fragment. Fustat, Egypt, 11th century Linen and silk; tapestry weave. ( (c) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY. Rogers Fund, 1927).
Bifolium from the Andalusian Pink Quran. Copied in the elegant Maghribi script and featuring gold verse counters and prostration marks to guide the reader, this two-page spread was part of a luxurious, multivolume Quran made for an elite Andalusian patron. Its distinct pink paper, used at a time when most fine Andalusian copies of the Quran were still written on parchment, was milled in Jativa, a town near Valencia that was celebrated for its fine paper production. Two 12th-century marble gravestone fragments from Almeria are also on display. The outline of a horseshoe arch, its cinched curve accented by delicate leaves, is visible on the first fragmentary grave marker. The single arch suggests the form of a mihrab, a
niche that indicates the prayer direction. This is appropriate, given the Muslim burial practice of orienting the deceased toward Mecca. This grave marker was made for Princess Asma, a granddaughter of al-Mu’tasim (d. 1091), a king who ruled Almeria, one of the small kingdoms that emerged after the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba (1009-31) fell. While nothing is known about her, the verses on it tell us something about the world in which she lived: a contemporary gravestone in Sicily includes the same verses, underscoring Andalusian participation in the broader cultural practices of the western Mediterranean.
that named the ruler. Over time, the nature of its inscriptions changed. Although the words have merged with the fragment’s overall decorative pattern, the inscription appears to read “Allah.” This example is similar to the tiraz created in Andalusia at the same time. The frames containing hares and peacocks resemble those seen in the exhibition’s other nearby camel painting. An 11th-12th century elephant (bishop) chess piece and rook chess piece from the western Mediterranean region are neatly encased in a glass display. Chess came to Spain from Islamic lands and quickly became popular among people of all faiths. An elite
Wood Panel with Calligraphy. 11th century Attributed to Spain, Toledo Wood; carved H. 3 13/16 in. (9.7 cm), W. 8 1/16 in. (20.5 cm), D. 9/16 in. (1.5 cm) ( (c) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Dr. Walter L. Hildburgh, 1951)
THE MUSLIMS’ 800-YEAR RULE OF ANDALUSIA ALSO PROVIDED A HAVEN TO THE HISTORICALLY PERSECUTED JEWS, WHO WERE NOW ALLOWED TO DEVELOP THEIR EDUCATION, CULTURE AND RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS IN PEACE. TO THIS DAY, THIS PERIOD MARKS JUDAISM’S GOLDEN AGE. A beautiful 11th-century wood panel with calligraphy from Toledo displays the Nasirid dynasty’s motto of La ghalib illa Allah (There is no victor except Allah) and rests delicately inside a glass enclosure. A 10th-century capital with acanthus leaves from Cordoba rests on an eye-level display so visitors can better appreciate the intricate art that adorns the columns and pillars found in Andalusia’s mosques and palaces. The style of this capital, which became a standard form in Andalusian architecture during the Umayyad caliphate (929-1031), was based on the composite order found in Roman-era ruins throughout Spain. Although Andalusian sculptors paid homage to the overall shape and composition of the antique examples, they turned the curly acanthus leaves, blossoms and volutes of traditional models into stylized, attenuated stalks, slender leaves and geometric blooms accentuated by a deeply excavated background. One of the capital’s four sides includes an inscription that seems to identify its maker: Khabara. A tiraz fragment made from linen and silk in a tapestry weave from 11th-century Fustat, Egypt, is also on display. Tiraz, a type of textile embellished with a decorated, inscribed band, was woven in royal workshops and traditionally featured inscriptions
secular activity, chess and its rules and strategies were likely first shared in princely courts, where high-ranking Muslims, Jews and Christians regularly came into contact. Most Islamic chess pieces were abstract, like this cylindrical fil (elephant; a bishop in the European tradition), although figural pieces, such as this rukh (rook) in the form of two riders, do survive. Near the exhibition’s exit are two maps showing the northern Christian armies’ gradual encroachment as they took advantage of the constant intra-Muslim infighting and disunity that fragmented this mighty Islamic state into petty ta’ifa kingdoms that allied themselves with Christian armies in petty feuds with neighboring Muslim ta’ifa chiefs. In the early 11th century, the Umayyad caliphate — the centralized Andalusian state based in Córdoba – collapsed and fragmented into smaller kingdoms known as the ta’ifas. These kings ruled from cities such as Seville, Granada and Valencia and were known for their patronage of the visual arts, literature and scholarship. Their exquisite palaces featured fine furnishings, opulent textiles and other objects crafted from precious materials, like those on view in this gallery. During the late 11th century, the Almoravids, a North African dynasty, overtook the ta’ifa and ruled until the mid-12th
Elephant (Bishop) Chess Piece, and Rook Chess Piece. Western Mediterranean region, 11th – 12th century. Ivory. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
century, when they were deposed by another North African faction, the Almohads (al-Muwahhidun — the Berber Ash’arite dynasty [1112–1269]). Though court culture changed under these dynasties, their rulers continued to commission magnificent works of art and architecture. Emboldened by Andalusia’s political turmoil, the armies of the northern Christianruled kingdoms overtook its key cities. Leon and Castile subdued Toledo in 1085, and Aragon conquered Zaragoza in 1118. And these kings, just like their Muslims counterparts, also battled each other for control of the land, which engendered alliances between rulers of different faiths. It was this shortsightedness of the petty Muslim ta’ifa kings that eventually enabled the Christian armies to steadily swallow up all of them, until the final ignominious mass expulsion of the Kingdom of Granada’s remaining Muslims. The exhibition runs through Jan. 30, 2022. ih Misbahuddin Mirza, M.S., P.E., a licensed professional engineer, registered in the states of New York and New Jersey, served as the regional quality control engineer for the New York State Department of Transportation’s New York City Region. He is the author of the iBook “Illustrated Muslim Travel Guide to Jerusalem” and has written for major U.S. and Indian publications.
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MUSLIMS LIVING AS MINORITIES
Why is France Producing Such a High Level of Islamophobia? Secularism and “being French” vs. acceptance of difference on full display BY MONIA MAZIGH
hile watching a video OF a group of young French Muslimas being interviewed about their lives and experiences (https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=VS7YQ4yqRbg), I was shocked when one of them mentioned that they are relatively lucky to live in northern France so they can quickly go for a dip in a public swimming pool in a nearby German town and come back home. The reason is, of course, that France doesn’t allow women to wear a burkini, a modest bathing suit worn by Muslimas that covers their entire bodies, at public pools. But this isn’t the only thing France’s Muslimas are prevented from doing. It all began in the late 1980s, when the first media controversy about Muslimas’ attire began making headlines (https://enseignants.lumni.fr/fiche-media/00000000448/ l-affaire-du-foulard-islamique-en-1989. html). Two teenage Muslimas were excluded from their lycée (high school) because they insisted on wearing their foulard (hijab) in the classroom. Since then, things have
spiralled, with one controversy after another. Starting out as a local matter about what constitutes a religious sign, it soon grew into cases that drew international attention. Gradually, the exclusion of young hijab-wearing girls from public schools was replicated nationwide; a decade later, this discriminatory decision became a law — “in the spirit of secularism” claimed its proponents. This law is widely called the “veil law.” In 2004, under Jacques Chirac (president [1995-2007]; prime minister [1974-76 and 1986-88]), this so-called law banned the headscarf, as well as the Jewish kippa and the Christian cross, in government schools. However, things didn’t stop there. In 2009, another controversy emerged over the niqab. Even though only a handful of women wear it in France, a new law was introduced and passed in 2010 banning it in public spaces. The ban, it was said, was justified by the will to promote open and equal interaction in society. Violating it can lead to a fine of €150 (equivalent to $162).
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The ban remains in effect even during the Covid-19 pandemic, when Paris made the mask obligatory in enclosed public spaces. The double standard vis-à-vis Muslim rights is certainly obvious here. “Can the Islamophobia be any more transparent?” Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth said on Twitter. “The French government mandates masks but still bans the burqa” (https://www.cbsnews.com/ news/france-burqa-ban-islamic-face-coverings-masks-mandatory/). The situation in swimming pools and at beaches remains challenging. In 2016, a few police officers awoke a burkini-wearing Muslima napping on a beach in Nice. Her scared face, not knowing what wrong she had committed, was sad evidence of the state of fear and continuous harassment faced by Islamically attired Muslimas in the public space. That image of a Muslima surrounded by police officers on the beach made the global headlines and gave rise to a new saga: the burkini on French beaches. Needless to say, the newly improvised ban was not legally sanctioned by the state; rather, it was a personal decision left to the discretion of some mayors who were trying to please a certain public right-wing votership. In swimming pools, the stories are almost similar, for the banning the burkini remains a municipal decision implemented for public health reasons in some towns. Last year, a Muslima and her group started a grassroot movement in France, Citizen Alliance of Grenoble, which has initiated “Operation Burkini” to stop this discriminatory ban. Some observers even saw parallels between what Rosa Parks did during the 1960s in the US (https://www. bbc.com/news/world-europe-48744153), defying the discriminatory laws of not letting Black people sit in the front of buses, and the civil disobedience acts of these Muslimas who, once kicked out of the pool, installed an outdoor inflatable pool near the venue and spent time swimming there.
But beyond this, the policing of French Muslima bodies, the attempts of Paris to “erase” their religious visibility from the public space and the overall situation of French Muslims continues to be a source of several controversies, polarization and, most of all, the subject of a “normalized” form of Islamophobia that very few call by its real name.
French Muslims declared that they were subjected to discrimination because of their religious beliefs (https://www.lemonde.fr/ societe/article/2019/11/06/selon-un-sondage-40-des-musulmans-de-france-ont-faitl-objet-de-racisme_6018225_3224.html). Nevertheless, this new Islamophobia continues to grow in more “décomplexée” and particularly more gendered manners.
GRADUALLY, THE EXCLUSION OF YOUNG HIJAB-WEARING GIRLS FROM PUBLIC SCHOOLS WAS REPLICATED NATIONWIDE; A DECADE LATER, THIS DISCRIMINATORY DECISION BECAME A LAW — “IN THE SPIRIT OF SECULARISM” CLAIMED ITS PROPONENTS.
WHY IS ISLAMOPHOBIA GROWING IN FRANCE?
France has a long history with “la problématique islamique.” It didn’t start with the terrorist attacks conducted by some French Muslims between 2012 and 2020 or with the debate about the “Islamic veil.” The latter debate, as we know, has been ongoing since the end of the 1980s — before being eclipsed by the more recent burkini ban controversy on beaches and swimming pools. With over 5 million Muslims, France is home to Europe’s largest Muslim population. And yet Muslims’ relationship to the French political class and media is extremely tense — a troubling situation that is the result of two main reasons. First, France’s colonial past has not been erased from the collective memories and specially from the actions and foreign policies of successive French governments. The majority of the 5.7 million French Muslims originate from the former French colonies in North and West Africa. Many of them arrived after World War II and worked in the booming factories during that era. Later, many of them brought their families, mainly from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Today it’s members of the third generation who are facing all of this discrimination, along with the ongoing discrimination related to jobs, housing and police brutality. In 2019, a survey conducted by a French think tank found that 42% of
The second reason is that identity politics has been a winning card for parties across the political spectrum. Presidential hopeful Emanuel Macron, a finance minister under the socialist president Francois Hollande, started his La République en Marche political party without a distinct affiliation to either the traditional right or left. Many observers optimistically thought that this new “non-partisan” style would clear the existing toxicity and expel identity politics from the political arena. But such optimism was all in vain, for President Macron has been playing the identity card very hard to gain more support than his right-wing political adversary, Marine Le Pen, who lost the last election but remains determined to win the 2022 presidential election. This political rivalry is usually done on the back of French Muslims. In a nutshell, it’s a race about who can show that his/her party or government is the toughest on Muslims. Every time a tragic event is committed or claimed by Muslim extremists on French soil (regardless of whether the perpetrator is of French descent or not), the media and political machines start a cycle of blaming and targeting Muslim citizens with laws — like the “Islamist separatism” bill that Macron announced a few days before the horrifying beheading of the school teacher, Samuel Paty, in Paris in October 2020. Last spring, the bill passed into law and gave Paris more power to control Muslim citizens when it comes
to educating their children and organizing their religious affairs. Indeed, after a young Chechen refugee living in France brutally murdered Paty for showing his students the Charlie Hebdo caricatures of the Prophet, voices in the media and political class were very quick to pinpoint an imaginary link between this appalling act of violence and Islam and, by extension, between terrorism and French Muslim communities. The killer’s mental state was largely unquestioned. Only his religious affiliation seemed to matter. And, by association, so did the faith of French Muslims. Paris cracked down on 50+ Muslim organizations, while vigilante groups attacked mosques. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin proposed a ban on the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) — an association that tracks anti-Muslim hate crimes — prompting opposition from both academics and civil society groups. However, considering the hysteria, the CCIF was dissolved in a matter of few weeks by government decree (https:// time.com/5918657/frances-muslim-citizens- republican-values/). And each time, the debate is simplistically described as a fight between “good and evil,” where evil is always attributed to French Muslims with terms like “Islamism,” “jihadism,” “terrorism,” “separatism” and “barbarism.” The “good,” meanwhile, is always attributed to French republican values described by words like laïcité, civilité, liberté and égalité. Yet none of these ideals ever seem to be extended to French Muslims — as if they’re a monolithic, backward block who are incapable of accepting the Republic’s values. But the on-the-ground reality is totally different. For the first time, French Muslims are becoming actively involved in politics, the arts and in civil society (https://press.princeton.edu/ books/ebook/9781400831111/can-islambe-french). It’s this new visibility — their pride in being both Muslim and French — that bothers, that disturbs some staunch secularists who are nostalgic for an era when an Arab (understood in the French context as a Muslim) is and will remain the eternal “colonized.” ih Monia Mazigh, PhD, is an academic, author and human rights activist. She is an adjunct professor at Carleton University. In 2008, she published “Hope and Despair: My Struggle to Free My Husband, Maher Arar” (2008). She is also the author of three novels: "Mirrors and Mirages" (2015), "Hope Has Two Daughters" (2017) and "Farida" (2020). She is currently working on a collection of essays about gendered Islamophobia.
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MUSLIMS LIVING AS MINORITIES
Cambodia Doesn’t Have a Problem with Its Muslims, Unlike Other Countries Cham Muslims and Buddhist Khmers craft a new life in Cambodia BY SLES NAZY
An interfaith meeting bring together Cham Muslims and Buddhists
ambodia is home to about 700,000 Cham Muslims, about 5% of the country’s population. This minority is composed of three major groups: Chams (the descendants of Champa, conquered and integrated into southern Vietnam centuries ago), Malays (Chvea), and Cham Jahed (those who belong to the Imam San community, which is well-known for preserving Cham customs and traditions). Even though the Kingdom of Cambodia espouses Buddhism as its official religion, the Muslim minority enjoys full rights. They live in peace and harmony, which is, unfortunately, not the case in such Buddhistmajority countries as Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka. Ysa Osman, an independent Cham researcher at the Documentation Center of Cambodia (dccam.org/home) and author, told a local news agency that their community’s relations with Buddhist Cambodians are particularly friendly and warm. Osman is the author of three books about the Cham: “Cham Muslim and Khmer Buddhist Intermarriage” (2010),
“The Cham Rebellion: Survivors’ Stories from the Villages” (2006) and “Oukoubah: Justice for the Cham Muslims under the Democratic Kampuchea Regime” (2002). “Cham people don’t normally have extreme ideas,” Ysa said. "The Cham and the Khmer have a common culture — before and after the Khmer Rouge period — and live together peacefully. In some villages, Cham women wear the veil, and in others they dress the same as Khmer girls. Some Cham men go to entertain during Khmer New Year, so we have a lot of exchange of culture between the Cham and Khmer.” According to his findings, Cham Muslims invite their Buddhist neighbors and friends to their weddings and are invited to Buddhist weddings. If we look at history, the Cham have coexisted with the Buddhist majority and others, despite some misconceptions, such as ethnic jokes, negative perceptions and the belief that the Cham practice black magic. In his book “Cambodia: 1975-1982," Michael Vickery states, “Much more important in prewar Cambodian society
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than Christians were the Chams, who were both a minority ethnic group and followers of another ‘foreign’ religion, Islam. They … were accepted as Cambodians, if not really Khmer; their religion, albeit viewed as very strange, was somehow more indigenous than Christianity and not linked to the European colonialists or to any other threatening foreign source” (p.181). As Ben Kiernan writes in his “The Pol Pot Regime” (1996), "[Marcel] Ner [b.1888] considered Khmer-Cham relations in general ‘a happy symbiosis’: ‘The Khmers get on well with them. They feel that they have brought an element of activity that the country needs, and I have never heard expression of the fears or irritation that they often display about other ethnic groups” (p.256). The Khmer Rouge’s Democratic Kampuchea (1975-79) was an exception to this historical reality. During their reign, between 100,000 and 500,000 Cham Muslims were murdered or died due to starvation, illness and other man-made causes. According to Osman, Democratic Kampuchea’s constitution proclaimed, “Every one of the
people has the right to believe in faith or religion … [But] reactionary religions that damage Democratic Kampuchea and the Kampuchean people are absolutely forbidden” (“Oukabah,” p.95). As all religions were “reactionary,” Islam’s religious duties were prohibited, haram activities were forced upon them, and children were separated from their families and indoctrinated. In recent years, misperceptions about the Cham have been intensified by events such as terrorist attacks and the revival of “radical” Islam. Senior Islamic figure Harkum
trafficking and other activities. Buddhist monks were also invited to attend interfaith programs held in mosques. The reporter quoted Othman Hassan, senior minister in-charge of special missions, who said that while Cambodia is a Buddhistmajority country, it has made substantial efforts to provide equal opportunities for its Muslim citizens. The government has enacted a legal provision requiring prayer halls in all public hospitals, and Muslimas are free to wear hijabs at school. He also noted that Muslims are widely represented
IN RECENT YEARS, MISPERCEPTIONS ABOUT THE CHAM HAVE BEEN INTENSIFIED BY EVENTS SUCH AS TERRORIST ATTACKS AND THE REVIVAL OF “RADICAL” ISLAM. SENIOR ISLAMIC FIGURE HARKUM SALEH DEPLORES SUCH LINKAGES, SAYING “DON’T COMPARE US WITH MUSLIMS IN EUROPE OR THE MIDDLE EAST WHERE THERE HAVE BEEN MANY PROBLEMS. … WE ARE PEACEFUL. WE ARE NOT INVOLVED IN JIHAD EVEN IF OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD ARE.”
Saleh deplores such linkages, saying “Don’t compare us with Muslims in Europe or the Middle East where there have been many problems. … We are peaceful. We are not involved in jihad even if other parts of the world are.” Cham Muslim bodies, such as the current Grand Mufti Haji Kammarudin Yousuf, foreign and local Muslim NGOs and grassroots activists have been working hard to prevent ethnic and/or religious violence and to enhance harmony and maintain good relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims. They are doing their best to present accurate information about Cham Muslims and Islam, offer interpretations of Islam through private media (i.e., such as radio programs, publications and social media) and support interfaith dialogue at all levels of society. To promote mutual understanding, Muslim scholars are being invited to speak and participate in some interfaith activities, dialogues and seminars. Cham Muslims are also invited to join in such interfaith campaign as environmental, anti-human
in the political sphere, with two senators, six members of Parliament, 11 deputy ministers and 21 undersecretaries of state. This increased Muslim representation helps secure the peace and protects the community from marginalization. Most of Cham representatives come from constituencies with large Cham Muslim populations. They speak on behalf of their constituents’ issues related to community and religious affairs. However, success in this effort greatly depends on the leaders’ commitment to helping the community. Muslim institutions, both private and public, are also working to maintain a relationship with the government and to gain the trust of their non-Muslim counterparts so that they can continue to enjoy the freedom of religion. This good relationship partly contributes to religious tolerance and acceptance of Muslims. Prime Minister Hun Sen, who grew up with Chams living nearby, has asked the “international media to be prudent in placing the blame for terrorist attacks on the Muslim community.” Moreover, he has called upon people and the media not to
use the phrase “Islamic extremism” on the grounds that there can be extremists in any religion. Every year he issues a public statement wishing all Muslim communities a happy Ramadan and attends an iftar and sends his best wishes on the Eid Day. Recently, when the government implemented stricter health measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the Ministry of Health had separated Muslim Cambodians from other Cambodian citizens — into their own “Khmer Islam” category — in official government statistics on infections. After receiving some criticism for doing so, the government began issuing official infection counts with a single “Khmer” category for all citizens. Unlike other Buddhist-majority countries, Cambodia has implemented a nationwide policy that allows Muslim who have died during the pandemic to be buried according to Islamic customs, but in a separate area of the cemetery. The government allocated the new land in each province. Anthropologist Alberto Perez-Pereiro notes that “Government encouragement, the weeding out of militants like [the Indonesian-born] Hambali [official name: Riduan bin Isomuddin], and sharper checks on funding have improved life for the Chams who, as citizens, enjoy all the same benefits as other Cambodians — a very different situation to Muslims in Thailand and Myanmar. Chams are famed for their hard work ethic — which is helped along by an abstinence from alcohol — and making the most of dramatically improved opportunities through education.” Ly Mohammed, a religious teacher at the Kilometre Nine Mosque, states that, “There are some religious rules that we need to follow and we do not accuse others of being bad just for eating pork or drinking alcohol. Before, we would not even wear a traditional skull cap in a photo for a passport or an ID card, but now as Cambodians we are free to practice any religion we want. The future is bright” (https://www.ucanews.com/news/ cultivating-cambodias-chams-with-religious-freedom/78693#). In a recent meeting with Othman Hassan in Jeddah, Yousef Al-Othaimeen (secretary-general, Organization of Islamic Cooperation), praised Cambodia for encouraging positive relations between religious communities and for being a role model for other countries in the region. ih Sles Nazy is president of the Cambodian Muslim Media Center and advisor to the Ministry of Information.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 35
MUSLIMS LIVING UNDER SIEGE
The Effects of War and Terrorism on Palestinian Children The “forever cycle of violence” continues without any end in sight BY M. BASHEER AHMED
or last several decades, millions of Muslim children have been exposed to trauma due to wars, terrorism and displacement. No child is immune, whether they are in the U.S., Bosnia, Occupied Palestine, Indian-occupied Kashmir, Myanmar, or China. Millions of people around the world view such events on television, whereas countless Palestinian children experience it firsthand via bombs destroying buildings; killing family members, relatives, neighbors, and friends; and personal mistreatment. The media seldom describe how the survivors are affected, for they do not make headlines. The May 2021 Israeli bombing of Gaza killed 260 Palestinians, including 66 children
and 39 women. The ensuing intense psychological stress on Palestinian children disrupts their mental growth and psychologically weakens parents who are attempting to comfort them. In the past two decades alone, Israelis have killed more than 3,000 Palestinian children. War-related stressors may include shelling, bombing, home demolitions and exposure to the wounding and killing of family members or loved ones. In Palestine, 54.7% of children have been exposed to at least one traumatic event during their life (https://pubmed.ncbi. nlm.nih.gov/15664427/). Even when the threat is over, children tend to be over-vigilant and constantly preoccupied with the trauma they have
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experienced. This affects both their daily life and also their normal growth and development. According to recent information from Gaza, a father of five children recalled the sound of an explosion that left his six-yearold daughter in total panic. The next day she became speechless, withdrawn and unable to sleep for 24 hours. When she heard that the bomb was dropped on the next-door building, she was horrified and kept on asking what happened to the children. When she saw the demolished building, she still asked whether the kids were alive under the rubble. The parents found it extremely painful and hard to explain what had happened. Children remained terrified of any
noise that reminded them of the bombing. One mother tried unsuccessfully to calm her daughter during one of these episodes when she recognized that she was experiencing the same feelings of anxiety. Children know everything happening around them, and their parents’ love and reassurance don’t help them. Many children lost sleep, appetite and stopped socializing — even playing games. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, 12 of the 66 children killed in the recent Israeli air attacks were participants in its program to help Gazan children over-
A few years ago, I met with Palestinian mental health professionals visiting the U.S. under a State Department program to study the treatment strategies for children with PTSD. Shafiq Masalha, a Palestinian psychologist who studied the psychological consequences of prolonged trauma on 114 Palestinian children, studied the dreams of children (9-10-year-olds) to measure their psychological state. He found that 79% of them dreamed constantly about political violence, and 13% dreamed that
EVEN WHEN THE THREAT IS OVER, CHILDREN TEND TO BE OVER-VIGILANT AND CONSTANTLY PREOCCUPIED WITH THE TRAUMA THEY HAVE EXPERIENCED. THIS AFFECTS BOTH THEIR DAILY LIFE AND ALSO THEIR NORMAL GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT. come trauma from previous wars. Those who survived were likely to relive the experience of the bombing. Although 90% of Gazan residents need mental health support, there is very little help available. The need is far beyond the available resources. Please consult the following articles for more information on this tragedy: https://www.trtworld.com/ magazine/how-israeli-attacks-psychologically-damage-palestinian-children-46773; https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/ trauma-haunts-gaza-children-after-israeli-war/2268147; https://www.aa.com.tr/ en/middle-east/trauma-haunts-gaza-children-after-israeli-war/2268147; https:// www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/5/30/waking-up-screaming-gazan-children-traumatised-by-israeli-war. Most children respond to terror in two stages: (1) the immediate reaction of fright, disbelief, denial, grief and feelings of relief if loved ones were not harmed and (2) a few days to several weeks, when many of them start exhibiting signs of developmental regression and emotional distress such as anxiety, fear, sadness, depression, hostility, and aggressive behavior, apathy, withdrawal, sleep disturbance, somatization, pessimistic thoughts of the future, and play demonstrating themes related to the traumatic event (arabpsynet.com/Archives/OP/OP.Qouta. PTSD.htm).
they were killed or sacrificing their lives. They were preoccupied with death in one form or another. (https://pij.org/articles/82/ children-and-violent-conflict). These dreams and preoccupations with the violence ultimately resulted in violent behavior. Psychiatrist Mahmud Sehwail stated that the Palestinian children do not suffer from PTSD, but from continuing traumatic stress disorder. (https://pij.org/ articles/125/a-legacy-of-violence-for-future-generations). In the U.S. and elsewhere, a traumatized person lives in a protected environment. In Palestine, children have no such luxury (https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/ national-trauma-what-are-consequenceswar-middle-east). Their most significant experiences are of intense fear, helplessness and horror. Mothers reassure them that they are safe, but they also give a realistic explanation that if something happens to them, they will go to heaven and have eternal peace. Most of these parents, who themselves were exposed to terror, suffer from PTSD and find it very hard to reassure their children. The 10-12-year-olds recall how their friends were throwing stones at soldiers and how they were shot dead. The children are angry, and their parents cannot help them reduce their fear, anger, and feeling of helplessness. Others aged 14-16 verbalize the loss of their family, lands, homes and
persistent humiliation. They do not believe the elders’ reassurance that one day Palestine will become an independent state, for all they see is suffering, pain and despair. They believe that they have nothing to look forward to except even more misery, humiliation and terror. These feelings re-enforce their anger and suicidal thoughts. They think of retaliation without worrying about the consequences. Gaza City psychiatrist Dr. Iyad Sarraj has watched suicide bombings with growing alarm. Having grown up with the idea of suicide attacks, Palestinian children are equating death with “power” and creating a new kind of culture to compensate for their parents’ continued powerlessness. Some suicide bombers had no connection with groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and most of them didn’t go through the alleged months of preparation repeatedly parroted in Western media. These young adults die with the hope that giving their lives will give life to others, based on the principle that it’s better to die in dignity than to live in humiliation and shame (https://www. nytimes.com/2002/06/21/world/mideastturmoil-bombers-rash-new-suicide-bombers-exhibit-no-patterns-ties.html). Quota and Sarraj summarize that the Palestinian children, having grown up in a highly political environment and becoming involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at a younger age, perceived that their parents cannot protect them from trauma when they witness their parent’s humiliation. Their subsequent loss of trust in their parents destroys their psychological development (arabpsynet. com/Archives/OP/OP.Qouta.PTSD.htm). Palestinian children with traumatic experiences live in the same environment of misery and suffering, but with severely limited therapeutic intervention. In the absence of therapeutic assistance and no end to occupation, their suffering and the ongoing cycle of violence are likely to continue. It is time for the Palestinian leadership to unite and develop a strong movement to gain independence for the sake of Palestine’s children. ih M. Basheer Ahmed, MD, a former professor of psychiatry, SouthWestern Medical School, Dallas, is founder chairman emeritus, Muslim Community Center for Human Services.v Revferences: American Academy of Pediatrics, Work Group On Disasters. "Psychosocial Issues for Children and Families in Disasters: A Guide for the Primary Care Physicians." Washington DC: US Department of Health and Human Services; 1995. Publication No, (SMA) 95-3022.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 37
The Library, with Adeeba Jafri BY SABA ALI
slamic Horizons’ new section, The Library, will showcase the work of new and emerging authors and artists to provide our readers with a peek into their lives through a Q&A with IH board member Saba Ali. In this issue, we share the work of Adeeba Jafri, who just published her first novel, a fiction for teenagers: “Show Yourself ” (2021). She has also written children’s books, including “The Baby Garden,” “The Path that Allah Made,” “Alia and the Story of the Rose,” and her most recent release “A Zoom with a View.” SA: Adeeba, you and I were friends during our teenage years. We lost touch, so I was so excited to find out that you have published a novel. Can you start off by catching me up on yourself and your work? AJ: I’m a writer and high school social studies teacher from New York, currently based in Doha, Qatar. I have four children (ages 14-21) and am a certified IB (International Baccalaureate) coordinator. The IB is designed for inquiry-based learning. Although the curriculum can run from ages 3-18, I work primarily with those 11th-12th graders interested in completing the DP (Diploma Program). In a nutshell, it’s a rigorous and highly structured curriculum for 11th-12th graders who want to earn college credit both here and abroad. As a coordinator, I have experience in administering and running the program. During my 12-year sojourn abroad, I’ve taught Islamic studies courses Adeeba Jafri to Muslim expat teens and tweens. Despite living in a Muslim country, teen- youngest had just turned two). I was very agers have few opportunities to receive an nervous about raising them without the close Islamic studies education. The curriculum friends and family support that we were used administered in most schools is meant to to. But God is the best of planners (3:54). My accommodate citizens, not expats. Within cousin, who was living in Doha at the time, a year of moving to Qatar, I took it upon and her husband were incredibly helpful myself to teach children from my home. One in explaining the different processes in the weekly class became two or three weekly Middle East, among them how to get SIM classes. During the [Covid-19] pandemic, cards and identification cards. They even these classes moved online and began to helped us move into the compound where include students from all around the world. they were living. We connected with other SA: What was it like as a parent to move families with young children, and once I saw from the U.S. to Doha? How did you and your that my children were happy, I felt content. We’ve been in Qatar now for over 12 years. family adjust? SA: I really loved reading your new book AJ: We moved to Doha in 2009 when my husband secured a job at one of the region’s “Show Yourself.” You did a really great job of main oil and gas companies. My children narrating sibling relationships. Can you tell were all young (my oldest was eight, and my us why you felt it was important to focus on 38 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021
them and how much of it was pulled from your own life? AJ: During the past decade, I’ve worked extensively with Muslim expat teens and tweens. Nearly all the books’ characters reflect the different relationships I’ve witnessed. The playful tension between Lena and her brother is commonplace in our own home; my daughter would agree wholeheartedly that her younger brothers are fun to be around but sometimes really annoying! The relationship between Hana and her sister was inspired by my own daughter. It would hurt me, as a mother, when I would see her being unintentionally ignored by other girls who were distracted by their cellphones. I developed Sara with her in mind, wondering “What would happen if the girl who was ignored had a real problem? How long can it go unchecked?” SA: How are the lives of expat teens and tweens different from their counterparts living in the U.S.? AJ: Their lives are very different. For example, they have more opportunities to travel and explore new places. They are more mature in some ways, as they’ve been exposed to different cultures. However, they have less of a connection to their “home country.” They may have been born in one country, lived in another country and are being schooled in yet another country. They’re used to moving from one place to another, so they generally lack a consistent group of friends on whom they can rely. At the same time, these teens and tweens are usually closer to their immediate family. A lot of times, Muslim expat teens and tweens have less of a connection to their faith. Their Islamic studies and Quran education may have been disrupted on multiple occasions. I’ve taught students in their early teens who haven’t grasped the basics of prayer or know the sirah because they’ve moved around so much. Knowing that I might teach a child (on average) for about six months and then never see him or her again, my courses have always been more about forging connections with their faith,
and less about knowledge. If they have that spiritual connection, they’ll be more open to gaining that knowledge later on. SA: In your book’s acknowledgment, you tell your own children this book was for “all for you.” What do you want your children to know about your work? AJ: My daughter inspired my first three published books. At the time, I was constantly looking for books with Islamic content and kept coming up short. I was particularly looking for books that could answer preschoolers’ questions from an Islamic perspective. I was expecting my second child at the time, and I wanted a
book that would simply answer the question “Where do babies come from?” This inspired me to publish “The Baby Garden,” followed by “Alia and the Story of the Rose,” which answers the question “Why does my mother wear the hijab?” My children were very young then, so they have no recollection of what my writing process looked like. The [Covid-19] lockdown was really the first time they saw me work as a writer. They now know that my process is all over the place! They got used to seeing their mom surrounded by books, laptop open while I was in the kitchen (in case I got an idea) and even got used to
having me pull the car over to jot something down. One of the best moments I had was when I walked into my daughter’s room and saw that she had started writing a book as well. It’s important to me that now they know what their mom looks like as a writer. And if that’s a path that they eventually come across, then the process of writing the book in front of them was all for them. SA: It’s hard enough getting adults to talk about feelings and mental illness. Given that you work with teenagers, how do you get children to talk to each other or to an adult when they need help? AJ: I’m definitely not an expert on how to help teenagers who may be suffering from a mental health illness. I do, however, know what it’s like to be ignored or overlooked in the face of technology. I saw it on my daughter’s face every time she was around her childhood friends, and I see it in the hallway when walking down the corridors of the high school at which I currently work. The first step to getting children to talk to one another or an adult is acknowledging their presence. This seems like an impossible feat for teenagers who are easily distracted. But actually putting their phones aside and really looking at one another, talking face to face, is the first step toward forging a connection. SA: This is your first book for this age group, but how long have you been writing about Aliya, Lena and Hana? AJ: The first step to writing a book is picking and developing characters to such an extent that you come to love them. I initially conceived of Lena as someone based on my own niece, who is named Lena and loves to play basketball. Aliya is loosely based on my experiences of seeing my mother struggle with depression and not having anyone to go to for help. In the initial outline, Aliya was the one who struggled for help; however, I eventually chose Sara to be the character who is struggling to “show herself.” As a writer, I purposely pushed her out of the main plot. She only shows up in sections here and there, and as a character she is quite forgettable. Her placement throughout the book is a metaphor of her struggle: a desire to come into the light and be acknowledged by her sister. Interested readers can contact Adeeba Jafri on Twitter (adeeba_jafri), Instagram (adeebajafri_official), Facebook (Dessert in the Desert) and adeebajafri.com. ih Saba Ali, a journalist, is a member of Islamic Horizons editorial advisory board.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 39
THE VIRTUAL REALITY
Embracing the Quran in Cyberspace
Fostering Intimacy with Revelation to Realize Spiritual Maturity of Umma 2.0 BY RASHEED RABBI
uring the ongoing Covid pandemic, Muslim communities have blossomed in cyberspace. And yet their core focus on the Quran hasn’t changed. The virtual umma continues to unravel the Quran’s message (47:24) via innovative programs to fulfill the religious promise of umma 2.0 (IH, Sept.-Oct. 2021). Previously, the virtual umma mostly focused on democratizing religious debate and discoursing on “controversial” verses. While these discussions underscored the Quran’s uniqueness and literary value, they also objectified sacredness by inadequately addressing its sacrosanctity, for the Quran is nothing less than God’s actual words. In short, it is the source of complete guidance, both living and lifegiving, that continues to feed humanity. As such, the Quran repeatedly urges Muslims to reflect on it to connect with the Divine via recitation: “Recite (with
contemplation): “In the Name of thy Lord who created, created humanity from a bloodclot. … “Recite (with contemplation): And your Lord is the Most Generous, who taught by the pen, taught humanity what it did not know” (96:1 and 5). These verses’ human imagery implies that the pen and the Tablet, ink, paper, letters, words and verses and, over time, the Quran itself, became a multilayered Arabic text. Without challenging this universal perception, Yasir Qadhi (resident scholar, the East Plano Islamic Center, Texas), offered the “30 Juz’ in 30 Days” during Ramadan 2020. His 30 sessions of verse-by-verse translation helped explain the Quranic message and added the fervor that a fasting Muslims experience while exemplifying Ramadan as the month of revelation (2:185). His discussions enabled more than half-a-million digital viewers to revel in the divine wisdom. These precise and preliminary
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discussions, being served as indexes, were followed by multiple khutbas and khatiras throughout the year to share the interpretations and divine signs (ayat) of each chapter and theme. The “30 Parables in 30 Nights" offered during Ramadan 2021 enabled the participants to grasp the abstract concepts common to our shared experiences. Over 72,000 viewers explored the Quran’s heavenly message. However, the Quran’s textual form is a second-order revelation, for it was compiled after the Prophet’s (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) demise. Its translation into English is a third-order revelation, and its dissemination in cyberspace is a fourth-order revelation. Further factored by our ignorance and insincerity, these orders of revelation create degrees of separation from the source, leaving our understanding divergent and fragmented. For omitting such distances from the divine message, Omar Suleiman’s (founder, Yaqeen Institute) contextual analysis on the “Quran-30-for-30” YouTube program (https://yaqeeninstitute.org/series/quran30-for-30) during Ramadan 2020 was very effective. Along with Abdullah Oduro (imam, the Islamic Center of Coppell, Texas) and daily guest speakers, he explained and extracted gems from each juz’. Approximately 172,000 viewers were pulled into this journey to unfold unbounded sacredness. Correlating the occasions of revelation to our everyday experiences, the speakers presented the Quran as a contemporary and timeless scripture that even caused a few non-Muslims to convert. Ramadan 2021’s “Quran 30 for 30” season-2 zoomed in on the Prophet’s life, love and legacy. Mapping his emotional states with Quranic verses enabled him to “transcend” his own historical environment and “enter” ours. Crafting his invisible presence in cyberspace helps us lessen
the degrees of separation and imitate his practices. Nouman Ali Khan (founder, Bayyinah Institute) took a deeper dive into Surah Yusuf in 2020 Ramadan. His micro-focus familiarized 381,000 viewers with Prophet Yusuf ’s unshakable faith so that they could better navigate their way through Covid’s adversities. During 2021, he presented similar exercises of other prophets to eliminate the historical barriers to exploring the Quran in its fuller, richer and more representative contexts.
manners with the sacred text and scripture. To improve one’s relationship with the Quran in a self-paced manner, some websites like www.quran.com try to accommodate all features simultaneously, including the conventional naskh style of Arabic calligraphy, translations (in multiple language), recitation styles, transliteration in the Roman script, as well as brief summaries of contexts and the occasions of revelations. Together, these and other ingenious programs appear to be an overarching, long col-
PREVIOUSLY, THE VIRTUAL UMMA MOSTLY FOCUSED ON DEMOCRATIZING RELIGIOUS DEBATE AND DISCOURSING ON “CONTROVERSIAL” VERSES. WHILE THESE DISCUSSIONS UNDERSCORED THE QURAN’S UNIQUENESS AND LITERARY VALUE, THEY ALSO OBJECTIFIED SACREDNESS BY INADEQUATELY ADDRESSING ITS SACROSANCTITY, FOR THE QURAN IS NOTHING LESS THAN GOD’S ACTUAL WORDS.
The pandemic is, hopefully, a temporary trial (fitna). But according to Hamza Yusuf, this era’s biggest trial is covert deceit: the madness of post-modern people with so many non-religious commitments. He therefore started a podcast, “The Sacred Text Messages,” to instill an eagerness to embrace the Quran and extract its timeless wisdom. A sense of gnosticism is currently nurturing 19-20,000 searchers, marking an exponential surge from 6-8,000 in just two years. Alongside these exegetical and analytical engagements are online oral and aural opportunities to reconnect with the Quran’s very original form. Not only the very first revealed word “recite,” but also the word “Quran” itself mean recitation. Hence, El-Hajj Hisham Mahmoud (founder, Lanturna; https://www.lanturna.com), before translating a juz’ for an immersive experience, hosted Hafiz Mohamamd Samir during the nights of Ramadan 2021 to recite the juz’. Wisam Sharieff (Quran Revolution; www.quranrevolution.com) offers a variety of programs to find an individual’s unique Quranic voice. Even social media sites like Arabic Calligraphy (https://arabiccalligraphy.com), with 26,800 members, focus on the Quran’s aesthetic aspect. There are endless opportunities to engage in textual, non-textual and sensorial
laborated and coordinated single curriculum in cyberspace. It’s as if an all-encompassing curriculum is being developed to omit distances from the source and to encompass the Quran holistically. To support such an undertaking, several online organizations design solely Quranbased programs during Ramadan as well as year-round programs for all interested individuals. The Institute of Knowledge (https://www.instituteofknowledge.com/) reflected on Surah al-Mulk’s 30 verses during the 30 nights of Ramadan 2021, in addition to offering Quran certificate programs. The Imam al-Ghazali Institute’s (www. imamghazali.org/) Ramadan Telegram channel provided short “Ramadan Moments” videos to help revive the Ramadan 2021 spirit, emailed daily tafseer selections and launched a special Quran program for children. The institute even declared 2021 “The Year of Tafseer” and provided the greatest classical-era commentaries for 12 important suras. Rabata (www.rabata.org) seeks to savor the spiritual joy in being with the Quran via Quran Chat, Speed Quran Memorization and the Daily Quran Reflection with Dr. Tamara Gray. Celebrate Mercy's 40-minute session during the last 10 days of Ramadan 2021 focused on reviving Surah Yasin, the heart of the Quran.
Several academic scholars have initiated informal programs to appreciate and spread the Quran’s sacred dynamics. Muqtedar Khan (professor, Delaware University) hosted a series of conversations with Quran scholars on his YouTube channel “khanveration.” He invited Dr. Celene Ibrahim, Dr. Carl Earnst, Dr. Musharraf Hossain and Imam Faisal Abdur Rauf to share their scholarship with lay Muslims. Omid Safi (director, Islamic Studies, Duke University) offered an online course (www. illuminatedcourses.com/) for lay Muslims to focus on the Quran’s mystical aspects so they could soar on the wings of humility and transcendence. These various participants, who come from all walks of life, continue to embed sacredness in cyberspace and make the virtual Quran’s curriculum universal. Other virtual communities enrich this curriculum, among them the Tanzeel Foundation (https://www.tanzeel.org/), which stresses tanzeel (descended; 26:192), and the Al-Furqan Foundation (https://al-furqan. com), which emphasizes furqan (criterions; 25:1). Besides these two primary names, the Noor Facebook community (www.facebook. com/thenoooor), with 14,000 followers, and the An-Noor Academy (www.annooracademy.com) draw attention to the Quran’s divine light (5:15). Similarly, Dr. Ibrahim Jaffe (www.sufi.net) focuses on healing (10:57), the Mercy Academy on daily blessings (16:89) and the Al-Huda Academy on the ultimate guidance of life (2:185) via the Quran. Such organizations, which can make the connection more explicit, embody the Quran’s significance in cyberspace. These online Quran programs and organizations are competing to integrate Quranic spirituality and philosophy with technology. Scattered into digital bits, they are nevertheless connected by countless individuals’ quest for sacredness. With rapid development and versatile learning modes, they embody the Quran in electronic space. While we may not find the ideal program right away, there are many options available from which to choose. ih Rasheed Rabbi, an IT professional (MA, religious studies, Hartford Seminary, ’16), pursuing a Doctor of Ministry from Boston University, is also founder of e-Dawah (www.edawah.net) and secretary of the Association of Muslim Scientists, Engineers & Technology Professionals. He serves as a khateeb and Friday prayer leader at the ADAMS Center and a certified Muslim chaplain at iNova Fairfax, iNovaLoudoun and Virginia’s Alexandria and Loudoun Adult Detention Centers.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 41
Making Hijrah Toward Climate Justice It’s time to move beyond individual efforts BY ISNA GREEN INITIATIVE TEAM
s a human society, we are currently consuming more than 1.5 times of Earth’s natural resources globally. In short, we are using up our natural resources faster than nature can regenerate them. Global Footprint Network’s Ecological Footprint Calculator (https:// www.footprintnetwork.org/resources/footprint-calculator/), introduced online in 2007 and refreshed in 2017, currently draws almost 4 million users per year. It calculates Earth Shoot Day, the date during any given year when humanity’s use of natural resources and services exceeded Earth’s ability to regenerate them. Humanity’s footprint first exceeded Earth’s biocapacity in the early 1970s and has done so every year thereafter. By 2019, the annual overshoot had accrued into an ecological debt that exceeded 17 years of Earth’s total productivity. This year’s overshoot day was July 29. So, due to our continued gobbling up the natural resources at an unsustainable rate, we’ve been living in ecological debt since that date. Americans, who make up just 5% of the world’s population, consume 25% of its resources. In the last decade, all of us have noticed the unprecedented increase in the number and frequency of heatwaves, storms, wildfires, droughts, tornadoes and hurricanes — all of which are directly related to our oceans rising due to the increase of global temperatures. Higher temperatures result in faster evaporation, and more water vapor results in more frequent and more torrential storms. The increasing temperatures are exactly why we need to make some serious changes now. It’s no exaggeration to say that the changes you make right now are necessary to safeguard the quality of life for future generations and, hopefully, to save this beautiful green planet that we call home. This year’s Islamic New Year (Aug. 9) coincided with the release of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC; htp://www.ipcc.ch) report, which lays out in stark terms the disastrous environmental impacts on the planet’s natural systems and worsening extreme weather events worldwide. The news was 42 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021
staggering — a code red for humanity (http://news. un.org/en/story/2021/08/1097362). Corporations, governments, as well as cultural and religious forces aren’t doing enough, and, in many places, are actually making things worse. While the Islamic New Year honors Prophet Muhammad’s (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) migration from Makka to Madina, it’s also considered a time for prayer and reflecting on the sacrifices that led to Islam’s beginning. But it’s far more than just that, for many Muslims view it as a constant process, mentality, philosophy and code of life — a constant activity designed to help us avoid that which is wrong and do what is right, even a state of mind. Given this reality, how can our global community put this wisdom into practice by caring about the ongoing devastation of our planet? Muslims around the world are united by a fundamental belief that all people, living things and Earth are sacred. The Prophet observed: “All of Earth is a mosque. God has created the universe in all its splendor, and our duty as human beings is to be stewards who cultivate the greater good for all people and all His creations.” Earth, as the Prophet taught, is our umm (mother), and we must respect, care for and protect her as we do our own birth mothers, for he said: “Take care of the earth for she is your mother. No one does good or evil on her except that she will
speak of it (on the Last Day)” (“Faydul Qadir,” hadith no. 3260; “Al-Sirajul Munir,” vol. 2 pg. 158). But as we consider the world’s actual state, our hearts overflow with sadness and concern. Climateinduced floods, droughts and wildfires now happen more frequently, and it’s always those who have done least to cause these problems — racial and ethnic minorities, the poor, the elders, young children and women — who suffer first and the worst. There are significant demographic and geographical disparities as well. In the U.S., it is well-documented that
Declaration on Global Climate, which called upon all Muslim nations to transition from fossil-fuel to clean-energy-based development and was followed by ISNA’s 2016 decision and public announcement to divest from fossil-fuel industries. We also acknowledge the Fiqh Council of North American’s (FCNA) 2109 statement affirming that the means exist to transform all of North America’s energy systems into fully renewable energy systems, as well as the call for shifting to clean renewable energy-based electric transport systems worldwide. FCNA encourages Muslims to participate in as many tree-planting projects as possible with others, for such projects enable carbon sequestration, including reforestation and improving forest management. It also urges Islamic financial institutions to direct fossil-free investments and portfolios toward renewable and clean energy companies. But changing one’s personal behavior and WE ARE ALARMED BY THE VAST GAP BETWEEN WHAT divesting from fossil fuels aren’t enough to turn the tide, for the reality is that governIS REQUIRED TO LIMIT CATASTROPHIC GLOBAL ments, financial institutions and multinaTEMPERATURE RISE AND THE ACTUAL CLIMATE tional corporations have massive power over CHANGE COMMITMENTS MADE BY THESE ENTITIES. the environment. We are alarmed by the AFTER DECADES OF KNOWING EXACTLY HOW SERIOUS vast gap between what is required to limit catastrophic global temperature rise and the THE CLIMATE CRISIS IS, THE GAP BETWEEN WHAT’S actual climate change commitments made NEEDED AND WHAT’S HAPPENING IS MORALLY by these entities. After decades of knowing exactly how serious the climate crisis is, the INCOMPREHENSIBLE. gap between what’s needed and what’s happening is morally incomprehensible. This November, Glasgow, Scotland, will communities of color suffer disproportionately from host COP26, a major UN climate change summit that is being hailed as the climate change-induced heatwaves and severe storms. biggest climate moment since the Paris Agreement at COP21 (2015). On that Internationally, many of the predominantly Muslim occasion, 196 countries agreed to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees North African countries are among the most impacted Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels, although preferably below 1.5 degrees. parts, despite having done very little to contribute to Right now, the planet is 1.1 degrees hotter than it was between 1850 and 1900. the current climate crisis. [Editor’s note: Former President Trump withdrew the U.S. from this treaty on Islam calls for action to both protect the envi- Nov. 4, 2020; President Biden rejoined it on Feb. 19, 2021.] The IPCC’s report is a stark warning of what might happen if COP26 doesn’t ronment and to oppose climate change. The Quran calls on us to recognize that God established the result in a serious commitment to radical action. COP26 also takes on a special natural world in a life-sustaining balance, which we significance as the fifth summit since the Paris Agreement. According to that should both respect and protect. It also recognizes treaty, this means countries must come with their updated nationally determined that people are responsible for all forms of human contributions (NDCs), defined as the commitments a country makes to reduce its wrongdoing, including that which affects the land, carbon emissions. Every five years, the agreement’s signatories must put forward updated plans with the highest possible level of ambition. sea and air (30:41). To integrate these values into their personal lives, Many global climate activists, among them Green New Deal (https://www. more and more Muslims are trying to change their gp.org/green_new_deal) and Faiths 4 Climate Justice ((https://greenfaith.org/ consumption habits so that they may realize the fol- faiths4climatejustice/) are calling for countries to meaningfully commit to the global lowing ideal in their own lives: “The servants of the environmental movement. It’s time to call upon our governments and financial All-merciful are those who walk on the earth gently” institutions to admit their serious responsibilities: ending their support for new (25:63). Many of us, for example, are reducing the fossil-fuel infrastructure and tropical deforestation; committing to provide universal amount of water we use during our wudu, thereby access to clean and affordable energy; supporting policies that create green jobs following the Prophet’s words concerning the value of and job training, placement, healthcare and income maintenance for workers and water: “Do not waste water even if you are at a running communities who will be affected by this transition to a clean energy economy; and enacting policies to support those forced to migrate due to climate impacts. stream.” These words take on new meaning today. At the same time, we must demand and strive for climate justice now. Such Muslims also have started approaching Ramadan with a more climate-centric attitude. Some Muslim are the kinds of commitments and actions that define us as an umma, of what activists are pushing for greater energy efficiency, the it means to make our hijra, which represents adl (justice) and rahma (compasuse of renewable energies in their mosques, training sion) to our planet and our fellow human beings, regardless of faith or the lack imams and others about the importance of saving thereof. Through the Green Initiative, ISNA is doing its part and urges other energy and encouraging pilgrims to make the hajj Muslims to join us. ih more sustainable. Furthermore, we recognize the 2015 Islamic Green Initiative Team: Huda Alkaff, Saffet Catovic, Nana Firman, Uzma Mirza and S. Masroor Shah (chair). NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 43
Young Adults Call the Faithful on Climate BY HUDA ALKAFF
he 2021 Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Young Adults Faithful Climate Action Fellowship (March-Nov. 2021; http://www.faithfulclimateaction. org/) is a collaborative interfaith fellowship program with Creation Justice Ministries, GreenFaith, Interfaith Power and Light, United Methodist Women and Wisconsin Green Muslims. It is supported by a US Climate Action Network collaborative grant. The 2021 fellowship is a paid opportunity for BIPOC Christian or Muslim young adults (aged 18-26) living in the Midwest and Southeast who are concerned about the climate crisis. The
cohort explores how faith traditions can support and guide our climate activism. This year’s fellows engaged in nine months of joint study, leadership training and action. From March through November 2021, they participated in monthly interactive webinars, were put in touch with young faith and climate leaders in their region and were guided by both peer leaders and professional mentors to develop their own voice as faith and climate activists. The fellows are responsible for publishing an op-ed, delivering a message to their faith community, and taking part in faith-based resource development. ih Huda Alkaff is founder and director, Wisconsin Green Muslims
Food for Thought BY AFRAH YAFAI
xperts project that 42 million Americans, including 13 million children, will experience food insecurity in 2021. According to Feeding
America (https://secure.feedingamerica. org), in 2019, food insecurity, at its lowest, affected 35 million people. Yet the amount of food waste in this country remains
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dangerously high, with more than $161 billion worth of food wasted each year — nearly 40% of all food. What exactly is food waste? This term is defined as any food thrown away at homes, restaurants and stores. It is also common for crops to be left in fields due to low prices (less profit for farmers), transportation costs and if the crops don’t meet the appearance
standards. So, when you hear “108 billion pounds of food is wasted in the U.S.,” don’t be shocked that this is a common occurrence. Wasted food either ends up decomposing in landfills or is incinerated. However, both are detrimental to our health and environment. When food waste decomposes in a landfill, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is at least 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide, despite its shorter lifetime. Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere. Nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases are also present. Their effect on climate change depends on how much of them are in the atmosphere, how long they stay and how strong their impact is. Methane alone accounts for “about 10 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities” (https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases). If this doesn’t scare you, just look at the most recent outbreaks of wildfires worldwide due to climate change and increased global warming. According to the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA; (https:// www.no-burn.org), 4.4 million Americans live within three miles of this country’s 73 incinerators, and 79% of them are in low-income communities, which are often communities of color. The clearly discriminatory zoning policies target communities that are already very vulnerable, including children and the elderly. The Alliance’s Precautionary Principle, which we must follow, states, “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause-andeffect relationships are not fully established scientifically” (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm. nih.gov/15968832/). Not only does incineration pose a higher risk of cancer and other respiratory diseases, but it significantly contributes to the rise in global warming. So why does any of this matter? Why am I spending my time explaining how human activities are a major contribution to climate change? In short, being a Muslim, it would be wrong of me to not care. It would violate my values and those of Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), namely, justice and mercy, both of which are a core part of our faith: “The worshipers of the Most Gracious are those who tread the earth gently, and when the ignorant speak to them, they only utter peace” (25:63). This can be interpreted in many ways;
Congress Should Prioritize Climate Adaptation and Resilience to Strengthen Communities BY RAIHAN AMIR RASHIDI
his summer, we witnessed wildfires rage through the American West, stronger hurricanes storm the Gulf and East coasts, severe drought in the Upper Midwest and record-breaking high temperatures in the Pacific Northwest. Clearly, extreme weather patterns are becoming highly unpredictable and more intense due to climate change. This affects people’s lives and livelihoods, for these disasters destroy homes and crops and cause the public’s health, as well as air and water quality, to deteriorate. Although this is nothing new, some policymakers continue to stall or preempt urgent climate policies because they claim that the price tag of implementing policies to reverse these negative realities is “too high.” The costs of continued inaction, however, far outweighs that of taking action. Islam and many other faiths link the ecological crisis to humanity’s ethics and values. The balance of our ecosystem has long been disrupted and, unfortunately, the overconsumption and overexploitation by a few have inflicted a disproportionate level of injustice upon the most vulnerable. For a community to become resilient, it really comes down to centering justice at the foundation of climate adaptation and resilience strategies. Marginalized groups, such as communities of color, low-income, older, and disabled people, are more impacted by climate disasters than other communities. On top of the global pandemic looming over our society, they also face greater barriers when it comes to recovering from power outages, housing displacements, mobility limitations and food shortages. Community organizations have been key leaders in fostering climate justice on the local level. Last summer, Iowa experienced a derecho — a line of intense, widespread and fast-moving windstorms
and sometimes thunderstorms that moves across a great distance and is characterized by damaging winds — that greatly impacted communities through the loss of power and even, for some, of their homes. Cedar Rapids, a city in eastern Iowa, was the hardest hit. After the derecho, many individuals and organizations showed up to help its people recover. “My sister-in-law works at a church in Cedar Rapids where they provided food, water and [other] supplies to their neighbors who had been hit by the derecho. They showed grace, care and compassion to anyone who needed help,” says Irene DeMaris, associate director at Iowa Interfaith Power and Light. A year later, Rama Muzo and his colleagues at the Intercultural Center of Iowa are still working hard to help those communities who were deeply impacted by the storm — mostly people of color, refugees and immigrants who live in poorly maintained buildings on the city’s south side. “[The disaster] shed light on the lack of investments and exacerbated the housing crisis in this part of the city. Our people are still struggling, and we are helping them secure good housing and employment, and ultimately build sustainable family health and wealth,” says Muzo. While faith and BIPOC leaders and organizations often step up to lift up their communities, lawmakers must finally begin to strategize and implement legislation that will ensure effective and longterm disaster preparedness on the local and state levels. Climate adaptation and resilience strategies for cities and states can take the form of installing distributed solar panels in key locations like hospitals, schools or grocery stores to reduce reliance on power lines, which are vulnerable to extreme weather. This could be paired with battery
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ENVIRONMENT however, it is also simply telling us how to care for our people and planet and how to handle the ensuing backlash. We see taking care of Earth as a responsibility given to us by God, an amana (trust) that we must uphold and fulfill. So, when I’m told that issues of environmental justice aren’t for me and are larger than me, I respectfully disagree. Yes, there are policies put in place made by public officials who socially hold more power than I do — that is a loaded statement. However, because of who I am and what my faith teaches me, absolutely nothing can make me second guess my responsibility and capability. Islam is justice expressed not only through the words of God in the Quran, but also by the actions of Prophet Muhammad. He emphasized the importance of the rights of women and children, liberation from slavery and debt, and standing up for those who felt overshadowed. It’s normal to feel despair when looking at the issues surrounding our world today. But, as Muslims, we believe that any injustice will be dealt with on the Day of Resurrection, when everyone will be held accountable for what they did while living on this planet. This doesn’t mean that we should lay back and wait for God to deal with this, for we are required to care about these matters. It is our faith. As Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri narrates: “Whosoever of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith” (“Sahih Muslim”). This emphasizes the importance of acting against injustice, even if the most you can do is to hate it within your heart. While discussing the command to be merciful in his paper “Mercy, The Stamp of Creation” (https://www.theoasisinitiative.org/ nawawi-mercy), Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah states: “In imitation of the Prophet [peace be upon him], Muslims are expected to be merciful, to bring good, and to seek the benefit of others ...” He emphasizes that he and other commentators point out that this mercy is not exclusive to Muslims, but is for the believing and unbelieving, and our mercy extends beyond humans. We are commanded to be merciful to animals, birds, plants, trees and to everything on Earth. To not be merciful is to go against what God has commanded of us — to care and show respect for all the blessings that God has bestowed upon us. And this is the beauty of Islam. ih Afrah Yafai, a student at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, was a fellow with the 2021 Faithful Climate Action Fellowship.
storage to serve as a backup generator. This system played an important role in Puerto Rico’s recovery after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island in September 2017. Other efforts include developing stormwater management practices, such as promoting natural buffers that control soil erosion and reduce flooding impacts. Policymakers must also begin to understand the wisdom behind increased funding for emergency services, especially in rural areas, as well as community centers that provide shelter and sustenance. The budget reconciliation package currently being negotiated in Congress
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includes provisions related to the physical, natural and social infrastructures that not only better prepare communities for disasters, but also reduce climate change’s various impacts. Congress needs to follow through with this legislation, as this is a rare opportunity to ensure a sustainable future for our communities and younger generations. After decades of ignorance and inaction, it’s long past time that lawmakers put people and the planet first and choose justice and compassion over all other concerns. ih Raihan Amir Rashidi was a fellow with the 2021 Faithful Climate Action Fellowship
The End of an Era: The U.S., Afghanistan, and the Death of the American Academy “The virtues [empires] claim to uphold and defend, usually in the name of their superior civilization, are a mask for pillage, the exploitation of cheap labor, indiscriminate violence and state terror.” — Chris Hedges (https:// scheerpost.com/2021/08/30/hedges-the-empire-does-not-forgive) BY LUKE PETERSON
ugust 2021 has become a noteworthy month in the annals of U.S. foreign policy — a macabre and shameful episode marking the unceremonious end of its longest war. After two decades of violence, bloodshed and unfulfilled promises, the last American soldiers departed Afghanistan, finally terminating a military occupation so lengthy
and nebulous as to be appropriately dubbed the “forever war.” An entire generation of Americans and Afghans grew up with this de facto reality, which was just as reliable as death and taxes. As of August of 2021, however, all of that changed. The Biden administration’s decision to complete what had been attempted in fits and starts by the Obama and Trump
administrations shocked, maddened and dismayed a great many. Some railed against Biden for turning his back on the military (a Republican initiative to impeach him over this decision arrived in Congress stillborn). Another group approved but criticized the withdrawal’s chaotic nature and the unspeakable number of casualties among allies and activists who have been or will be lost in its
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OPINION wake. A smaller cadre of critics feared the humanitarian costs of a newly triumphant Taliban gaining ground and material as quickly as the U.S. military and the Afghan National Army could surrender it. Another regularly blamed scapegoat for this defeat is Pakistan, which has lost more than 70,000 civilians and suffered $150 billion in related damages due to American and various Afghanistan-based groups. However, addressing the Sept. 14 Senate
devastation in Afghanistan have been mirrored on the domestic front by a no less total (though undeniably less bloody) assault on the parameters of fact, objective truth and professional expertise. Clearly, the latter begets the former. The U.S./Global North economy’s neoliberal overseers have cored out the academic profession, thereby making the comfortable pursuit of an intellectual expertise the purview of a tiny elite of sheltered Ivory Tower dwellers. Those
AFGHANISTAN IS A CRITICAL EXAMPLE OF WHAT CAN HAPPEN TO A LATE-STAGE EMPIRE WHEN INTELLECTUAL CAREERS BECOME THE PURVIEW OF EFFETE ELITES, AND WHEN THE REAL STUDENT ENGAGEMENT THAT COMES WITH TEACHING IN HIGHER EDUCATION NO LONGER EXISTS AS A VIABLE PROFESSION WITH A SECURE ECONOMIC FUTURE FOR QUALIFIED PROFESSIONALS.
Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the withdrawal, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) pointed out that it was in Pakistan’s interest to “prevent chaos and civil war” in its neighborhood. He then added that it was the Trump administration, and not Pakistan, that had enabled the Taliban’s takeover. After all, that administration had released three top Taliban commanders to push the peace process forward.
THE ACADEMIC BOONDOGGLE
In truth these critics, while frustrated and shamed by yet another American military boondoggle, should not be at all surprised by this most recent misadventure’s outcome. Indeed, this precise unprepared-for retreat was all but assured from the moment America’s imperial boots stepped on Afghanistan’s equally famous empire-killing ground. Even casual students examining the history of empire predicted this disastrous outcome and warned us of its cataclysmic potential early in the U.S. occupation. Unfortunately, the American body politic has proven itself incapable of learning from history and, as such, incapable of avoiding the chaos and destruction of imperial overreach. Indeed, the last 20 years of financial waste, civilian destruction and countrywide
fatted few make up only about one-fourth of teaching professionals in higher education in the U.S. today; the remaining three-fourths are on short-term contracts that terminate during the summer and provide no guarantee of future employment. In addition, most of them provide no medical insurance, retirement benefits or regular inflation-related rates of pay increase despite the instructor in question’s level of seniority. In short, successful social scientists in academia are isolated from the rest of the world, forced to become grant-chasing archive dwellers authoring obscure and uncontroversial articles, yearning to receive notice from the most prestigious journals and the institutions that publish them. As such, it’s no longer possible to be a working-class academic who is just as steeped in the real and unfolding political world as he or she is in academic theory and intellectual trends. Three-fourths of us live paycheck to paycheck, hoping against hope for an eventual escape from academic precarity. The rest grow wealthy in the professional and intellectual space carved out for them by the aforementioned adjunct professors, building career plaudits and academic credits while being careful to avoid antagonizing the halls of institutional, state or imperial power.
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Afghanistan is a critical example of what can happen to a late-stage empire when intellectual careers become the purview of effete elites, and when the real student engagement that comes with teaching in higher education no longer exists as a viable profession with a secure economic future for qualified professionals. A weakened, cowed and increasingly unstable American intelligentsia leads to unchecked and unconstrained state power. The occupation of Afghanistan was an obvious pitfall that should have been avoided at all costs by the American imperium. A country with a largely rural population characterized by largely unpredictable levels of devotion to a national flag, not to mention one with poor infrastructure, a heavy dependence on foreign aid and a history of resisting foreign military occupation, was always a doomsday scenario for the American military. Neither the Soviets nor the British, even at the height of their military prowess, managed to conquer Afghanistan for an extended period. Even the mighty Alexander the Great, often cited as “one of history’s greatest military minds,” failed to do so. The lessons of history were plain to see, and had our country managed to avoid the death knell for the most important profession offering critical, public evaluation of U.S. foreign policy over the last 30+ years, these blatant mistakes in policy, military commitment and
overseas expenditure may well have been mitigated, if not avoided. Instead, decades of a deliberate power shift within academia have robbed working-class professors of all but a pittance — most adjuncts make around $2,500 per class per semester in the U.S. — and have robbed public discourse of the kind of critical mass that comes with economic and professional stability among the most read and educated members of any population. We have whittled away academia as a viable career path for all but a few highly qualified individuals, and we long ago began to judge education’s value by how much the graduating student can earn in the free market. Thus, wages now trump wisdom, and critical thought takes a distant second place to cash and credit. We no longer teach or value critical thought, media literacy, theory or introspective history. We denounce critical race theory, epidemiology and anthropogenic climate change. We openly mock the existence of an objective truth as we lambaste science, training and expertise as partisan parlor tricks designed to produce a liberal bias among the educated classes. These fractures in our collective intellectual development, in combination with our military Keynesianism (the endless pumping of public money into the military) have led
us to ignore history and to demonize the Other both at home and abroad.
AND THE RESULT IS …?
A creeping process of American imperial overreach and a gathering and justified global anti-Americanism are now realities. Seen through this prism, Afghanistan may not represent the end of the failed American imperial experiment, but may only be the beginning of its predictable and violent demise. Today, the U.S. is utterly bound to its bloody historical legacy even as it maintains an incredibly destructive presence around the globe. Without a resurgence in the academy and the intellectual tradition it claims to uphold, we can expect more destructive, dead-end military operations in the decades to come. That academic resurgence and a renewed value being placed on critical thought will have to come with a sweeping change in our economic priorities, along with an end to our current bellicosity and learning how to function as a peaceable society. As it is, the U.S. is fully committed to enriching the few in the guise of serving the many. In short, it is indubitably chained to its own ceaseless folly. These contingent economic parameters — the quintessential neoliberal ideal — drive this country’s economy, impoverishes its
most educated people and denudes the weight and power of critical, political discourse. Popular media and the pervasive culture instruct us to idolize those human dragons whose hordes of gold now outstrip the resources of countries with populations in the millions, and inform us that we should be uncritical, deferential and completely unquestioning supporters of the warrior caste that bestrides the globe to sustain and support this iniquitous system. The U.S. continues to run headlong into these existential pitfalls because the few critical voices that still try to make themselves heard are so drowned out by the mainstream’s chatter that they can no longer mount a “legitimate” challenge. Moreover, very few such academics possess both the historical expertise and the institutional security to challenge the architects of the 21st-first century American Empire. By stopping these trends or at least creating alternatives, we bring hope to future generations — American, Afghani, Iraqi, and Palestinian alike. Arrest them not, and we remain passive bystanders scrambling for scraps, witnesses to our future’s demise. ih Luke Peterson, PhD (The University of Cambridge --King’s College), Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, investigates language, media and knowledge surrounding political conflict in the Middle East. He lives in Pittsburgh, where he regularly contributes to local, national and international media.
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Why Did an Eighth-Century Anglo-Saxon King Mint Islamic Gold Dinars? A long-ago time when the caliphate’s currency was held in awe and dominated the then-known world’s economy BY MISBAHUDDIN MIRZA
ing Offa (d.796), the ruler of Mercia and the most powerful Anglo-Saxon king of the latter half of the eighth century, extended his supremacy over most of southern England. He is also famous for the lengthy “Offa’s Dyke,” which stretches along the kingdom’s western border to keep out the Welsh. Asser, a Welshman and Bishop of Sherborne during the 890s, described it as “a great dyke built between Wales and Mercia from sea to sea.” This Christian monarch, praised by Charlemagne’s advisor Alcuin, had come into conflict with Jænberht, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Many historians believe that Offa was the most powerful Anglo-Saxon king before Alfred the Great (848/49-899). So, why did he mint golden coins that imitated Caliph al-Mansur’s (r.754-775) gold dinar? This unique and interesting coin, now in the British Museum, was first discovered in Rome. European numismatists started discussing it during the 19th century. Adrien de Longpérier, a 19th-century French numismatist, archaeologist and curator, was the first one to describe this amazing coin in Paris, in 1841. His paper was published the same year in the society’s Numismatic Chronicle (vol. iv, pp. 232-34). European numismatists’ fascination with this coin continued throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. In the U.S., an image of it first appeared in Philip Hitti’s “The History of the Arab Peoples” (1937). Maj. P.W.P. Carlyton-Britton, F.S.A., founder and president of the British Numismatic Society, published a notable paper on it in 1908, entitled “The Gold Mancus of Offa, King of Mercia,” in the British Numismatic Journal (vol. 5, 1908, pp. 55-72). The word mancus is derived from the Arabic manqus, which signifies a coin made of gold, silver or copper. Compare this 157 hijri Abbasid gold
Abbasid al-Mansur Gold Dinar from the author’s collection. Inscription translation: There is no god but Allah alone He has no partner In the name of Allah this dinar was struck in Madinat al-Salam in the year 157 Hijri.
dinar of Caliph al-Mansur (from the author’s collection) with a photo of the Offa Gold Mancus, which is an exact replica of the former coin with the addition of “Offa Rex’’ (Offa King) on the reverse. The slight spelling mistakes are, of course, understandable, because the Anglo-Saxon die-maker didn’t know Arabic. Carlyton-Britton provides various opinions as to why Offa might have issued this coin, before agreeing with Longpérier’s original opinion – that these dinars were minted in order to pay Rome the promised tribute. He quotes D.H. Haigh’s “Notes on the Old English Coinage,” Numismatic Chronicle, N.S. (vol. ix, p. 180): “I cannot think that the gold dinar with the name Offa was ever meant for circulation in England; nor that a coinage such as this could have been devised for the purpose of payment of the tribute promised to Rome. It could only have been intended for the purposes of commerce with Spain, Africa, or the East; or for the use of pilgrims to the Holy Land. The latter I think is more probable; and Rome, where it was found, was in the route of all pilgrims.” During his conflict with Jænberht, Offa persuaded Pope Adrian I to split the archdiocese of Canterbury in two, thereby creating the new archdiocese of Lichfield. This
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This unique coin carries the inscription offa rex, showing that it was made for Offa, king of Mercia (reigned 757–796). The design is directly copied from a dinar coin of Offa’s contemporary, the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur (ah 136–58/ad 754–775). It is closely enough copied to identify not only the ruler but also the date of the coin from which this design was copied, which was issued in ah 157 (ad 773–74). However, it is clear that the die-cutter did not read Arabic, as minor errors have been introduced into the Arabic inscription, which is upside down in relation to Offa’s name and title.
reduction in Canterbury’s power could have been motivated by the king’s desire to have an archbishop consecrate his son Ecgfrith as king. Carlyton-Britton refers to the charter of 788, signed by both Offa and Ecgfrith, which contains a direct reference to Offa’s vow to the pope through the legates George, bishop of Ostia, and Theophylact, bishop of Todi — the latter individual was one of the most famous Byzantine biblical scholars and exegetes — to send 365 mancuses annually to the pope, or to the church of St. Peter, as alms for the poor. This tribute is called the romfeoh (Peter’s Pence). A slight digression here. In July 1944, delegates from 44 countries met in Bretton Woods, N.H., to create a new monetary system, one that would peg their currencies to the American dollar. In turn, this was fixed to gold at the-then existing parity of $35/ounce. This was an acknowledgement of the dollar’s tremendous economic power. Although Richard Nixon disconnected the dollar from its gold backing
his gold mancus over the Byzantine gold solidus because of the consistent metal purity, weight, “universal” recognition and unparalleled prestige associated with the dinar. ih Misbahuddin Mirza, M.S., P.E., a licensed professional engineer, who served as the regional quality control engineer for the New York State Department of Transportation’s New York City Region, is author of the iBook “Illustrated Muslim Travel Guide to Jerusalem” (https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/illustrated-muslim-travel/id1200311340?mt=11). He has written for major U.S. and Indian publications.
DONATE BLOOD, AND MAYBE YOU WILL SAVE A LIFE BY THE BEGINNING OF THE EIGHTH CENTURY, THE ISLAMIC DINAR’S POWER THROUGHOUT THE THENKNOWN WORLD WAS ANALOGOUS TO THAT OF THE AMERICAN DOLLAR OF TODAY.
in 1971, the world continues to be so in awe of the country’s economic strength that even today the dollar remains the most actively traded currency on Forex. By the beginning of the eighth century, the Islamic dinar’s power throughout the then-known world was analogous to that of the American dollar of today. Back to the eighth century. CarlytonBritton uses the map presented above, which shows the coinages of various nations at that time, to argue that “At this period the only sovereign states which could have sent Peter’s
Pence were apparently England, Francia, the Kingdom of Italy under Charlemagne, the Duchy of Beneventum, also under Charlemagne, and the Eastern Empire. The two first were normally only silver striking countries, the three last issuers of both gold and silver.” The map “discloses at a glance the circumstance that Offa, in regard to coined gold money, had practically only the Arabic dinars and the solidi of the Eastern Empire to make choice from, and he appears to have preferred the former.” Regarding the Arabic inscriptions, Carlyton-Britton states: “It seems to us to be unlikely that either the Pope, or so powerful and enlightened a king as Offa of Mercia was, would be ignorant of the circumstance that the characters on a gold mancus, or dinar, were Arabic.” As we see from the above, Offa had only two choices when selecting a gold currency to fulfill his oath to the pope. He could have chosen the Christian Orthodox Eastern Byzantine Empire’s currency, with its associated Christian religious icons inscribed on them, or the Abbasid gold dinar with its associated Qur’anic religious inscriptions on them, which were at odds with his own Christian beliefs. Yet, Offa chose to mint
As a public service, every healthy Muslim can donate a unit of blood every six months. Doing so is a win-win situation. The body replaces the donated blood with fresh blood within two months, which helps the immune system prevent diabetes, high blood pressure and various kinds of cancers. Donate your blood, even if you have had Covid-19, because it will have antibodies. The Quran tells us: “Whoever saves a life, it is as though he [or she] had saved the lives of all humanity” (5:32). Remember that blood donation is an easy and wonderful way to spread Islam’s message. In many cases, just as American Muslims benefit from the blood and organs donated by others, we are obliged to reciprocate this generosity. Moreover, the blood donated by practicing Muslims is sure to be free of alcohol and drug residue. Space donated by: Dr. S.A. Rehman
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 51
Whither Muslimas and Sports? Have feminists and sports figures found a common cause? BY NOOR SAADEH
t may seem that the sirat al-mustaqim (Straight Path) gets harder to navigate every passing day. Nowhere is this more apparent than in all issues relating to Muslimas, dress codes and women in general. To some extent we might say that the strong and very vocal support of male and female Western feminists for women’s right to choose is helping Muslimas as well. In the build-up to the recent Covid-delayed 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, a great deal of media attention was focused on several international women’s teams opting for new and less revealing athletic wear (https://www.npr. org/2021/07/21/1018768633/). Women and even men the world over supported the more modest — although still immodest under any Islamic view — uniforms. One can’t help but wonder if Muslimas had started this trend whether the outcome and level of support would have been the
same. Methinks not. But I appreciate that the acceptance of ever more immodest sportswear is at least being questioned as to its purpose (https://www.wsj.com/ articles/bye-bye-bikinis-athletes-at-theolympics-and-beyond-fight-sexist-uniforms-11627684035). It’s the elephant in the room. Men’s fashions simply have not changed much over time. We might see a few trends toward tighter pants and shirts, but not among the majority. Happily, I spent this summer in Jordan after a long hiatus due to the pandemic. I didn’t think I could manage yet another summer in hot, humid Dallas, where women’s clothing seems to be shrinking yearly and nothing seems prohibitively provocative anymore. At least in Jordan there is a balance, and even as a woman I don’t need to drop my gaze before the dress or undress of other women. Why is this so? If the female figure is not
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all that alluring, or if men should get over themselves as #MeToo’ers would insist, why are men not convinced or pressured to dress in the same revealing, objectifying manner as women? As Muslims we get it — or we should. Men and women are created equally but different. How we are attracted to one another, as well as our impulses and desires, are different. This is part of the Creator’s plan. Women insist on getting ahead by behaving and competing with men on the same level, but are still subjected to the whims of fashion that says “yes, be equal but sexier!” It’s still a man’s world. It’s there for all to see, but no one wants to admit it. Men certainly aren’t complaining at the cornucopia available to them wherever they look. Even when it comes to sporting attire, men and women’s clothing is vastly different. We’ve seen some game changers in worldwide sports. Role models like 2016 Olympic Bronze Medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad
challenged the fencing world by insisting on completing her already somewhat modest fencing attire with a hijab. Others have followed suit (https://www.rollingstone.com/ culture/culture-sports/hijab-in-sports-howmuslim-women-athletes-are-fighting-foracceptance-115443/). Sportswear retail giants like Nike and Adidas now offer lightweight, flexible hijabs suitable for sports and workouts. Other brands may not be far behind. In fact, the Sunna encourages partici-
— why I felt it necessary to leave my former profession. Just as Halima states, you start off with good intentions, but little by little others convince you to loosen that scarf, remove some of the more flowing clothes, and before you know it you look like everyone else on the runway or the stage. Fame is seductive and illusory. Continuing to sing before mixed audiences in beautiful gowns and costumes no longer seemed appropriate for me either. The gift of God’s guidance
WHY IS THIS SO? IF THE FEMALE FIGURE IS NOT ALL THAT ALLURING, OR IF MEN SHOULD GET OVER THEMSELVES AS #METOO’ERS WOULD INSIST, WHY ARE MEN NOT CONVINCED OR PRESSURED TO DRESS IN THE SAME REVEALING, OBJECTIFYING MANNER AS WOMEN? pation in sports, a healthy and important choice for both genders (https://www. hrpub.org/download/20181030/UJER3219512203.pdf). Yet some doubts lurk about Muslim women’s participation. We need only reflect on the latest public outcry and firing of several male coaches accused of inappropriate behavior with their young trainees. It’s all too easy to objectify and sexualize women, but none more so than in the sports industry. True, as a life-long swimmer I was delighted when the Burkini™ and other Islamic swimwear appeared on the market. But as we see more and more young women participating in sports, particularly in the public eye in compromising positions and revealing attire, it remains to be seen how far we can go yet remain true to what our faith requires while continuing to protect the vulnerability of women. Previously, Islamic Horizons published an article about some Muslim women entering newer, more controversial arenas such as interviews with Playboy and modeling Islamic swimwear. Since then, Muslima supermodel Halima Aiden announced she was quitting the fashion industry on the grounds that her career was incompatible with her strong Islamic beliefs (https:// youtu.be/zK4joMN7nEs). Even though her intentions were good — she wanted young Muslimas to see themselves represented in the fashion world — she found modeling to be a slippery slope. As a one-time professional singer, I am often asked — particularly by non-Muslims
couldn’t be compromised, no matter what fame or prestige the world offered. In a world turned upside down with gender confusion, overt promiscuity, titillating dress codes and the feminists’ very compelling argument for women to compete on every level with men, is it any wonder that Muslims struggle? From the time they are born, girls are bombarded with images and posts that revealing, proactive dress, pose and prose are all part and parcel of being a woman. Not many other choices are out there, except for their “restrictive” Muslim parents trying to rein all that in and “ruin their lives.” Girls lament that boys won’t even talk to them unless they share intimate photos of themselves on social media first. What kind of a world is this? And what can we, as parents, do? We struggle to keep our kids close to us. We struggle with our own selves to not be deluded by what appears more normal and acceptable every day. But struggle is part and parcel of life and a fard kifaya in Islam (https://yaqeeninstitute. org/read/paper/fard-kifayah-the-principle-of-communal-responsibility-in-islam). This phenomenal gift we have received to know and practice Islam is well worth all that we must struggle against and strive for. It’s rather sad that it’s the non-Muslims calling for change. Shouldn’t it be us? Shouldn’t we be the ones calling others to the Prophet’s (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa salam) way as our Prophet and his Companions did? I fear that God will ask me what I did to call attention to this society’s ills. Where
is the duty to enjoin the right and forbid the wrong? We fear that if we put our neck out there, it might be chopped off by society’s hue and cry. Why aren’t we more vocal? Why do we seem to be content with sitting back and waiting for others to do our job? We need to be reminded that God has blessed us greatly in terms of modest attire and demeanor for both sexes: “O Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness, — that is the best. Such are among the Signs of Allah, that they may receive admonition!” (7:26). In his groundbreaking 1978 text “Orientalism,” the late cultural critic and theorist Edward Saïd (d.2003) argued that a dominant European political ideology created the notion of the Orient to subjugate and control it. Westerners chose to perceive the harem, for example, according to their imaginations and perhaps fantasized about what they were forbidden to see behind the closed doors. They no doubt dreamed of all manner of concealed lewd and lascivious behavior. And yet they compared Muslims so very unfavorably with their decent and modest Western women! How times have changed! These once unseen women are now derided for adhering to the very same virtues that they used to extol in their own women! So, fashion, fad, feminism and the nagging voice of social media are merely passing fancies that may soon fade completely away ... only to be replaced by something even more bizarre. So, struggle, we must — even with the benefits of sports and sportsmanship. Just as sports enthusiasts are calling for more modest sportswear and uniforms, so must we consider both the clothing and the environment in which our girls and women participate. Perhaps we need more focus on women entering sports education and coaching. A sterling example is Native Deen performer Abdul Malik Ahmad’s mother Llanchie Stevenson, who left her very promising career as one of the few premier African American ballet dancers when she embraced Islam. She now teaches and coaches ballet (https:// youtu.be/CdozALNBhZs). As in so many areas of our lives, we Muslims need to find alternative ways to use our talents and abilities in keeping with God’s commands. ih Noor Saadeh is production manager at Noorart, Inc. (www. noorart.com).
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 53
ISLAMOPHOBIA & HATE
Promoting Hate via Tiktok’s Profile Details The culture of hatred and extremism is also found in images BY ISLAMIC HORIZONS STAFF on the platform based on such attributes as ethnicity, religion and gender and (2) how its profiles, hashtags, share functions, video effects and music features are used to spread hate. Also dealt with are starting a conversation on how TikTok-like platforms can improve their practices to protect users from harm and to underscore the need for independent oversight – currently, such platforms leave users and the wider public open to significant risks to their health, security and rights. This article is excerpted from “Creators, Profiles and TikTok Takedowns,” a chapter that looks at how TikTok creators use their profiles to encourage hate and extremism. The research analyzed 491 unique TikTok accounts (i.e., creators), 78 of which included more than one such profile feature. Those features were:
Profile Feature Username Profile image Nickname Profile biography
he London (U.K.)-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue report, issued on August 24, is a culmination of three months of research. The sample’s 1,030 videos, posted on TikTok between July 1-16, 2021, and equivalent to just over eight hours of content, promoted hatred and glorified extremism and terrorism. Entitled “Hatescape: An In-Depth Analysis of Extremism and Hate Speech on TikTok” (https://www.isdglobal.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/HateScape_ v5.pdf) and authored by Ciarán O’Connor, ISD’s report had two goals: to (1) analyze how individuals or groups promote hateful ideologies and target people 54 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021
No. of accounts 71 31 57 27
Among the sample’s most popular references are: ◆ “Remove Kebab,” also known as “Serbia Strong,” an anti-Muslim propaganda song written during the Yugoslav War in the 1990s (2 profiles). ◆ Brenton Tarrant and the Christchurch, New Zealand, terrorist attack (6 profile images). ◆ “88,” a popular white supremacist numerical reference to “HH” (“Heil Hitler”) (26 profiles). ◆ The SS bolts, a common neo-Nazi symbol that references the Schutzstaffel (SS). In particular on TikTok, these were typically referenced using lightning bolt emojis (24 profiles). ◆ Versions of “fascist” or references to famous fascists in their profile images or biographies (16 profiles). ◆ The Sonnenrad (sun wheel) in their profile image (16 profiles). ◆ “14,” another popular white supremacist reference for the “14 words” (“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”) (15 profiles). ◆ The terms “national socialist” or “nat soc” in one of their profile elements (9 profiles).
◆ The [far-right extremist] Paul Miller through numerous profile elements (6 profiles). ◆ The Atomwaffen Division’s logo in their profile image (4 profiles) ◆ Oswald Mosley [leader of the British Union of Fascists; d.1980] in their profile image (4 profiles). ◆ Antisemitic slurs and references to Holocaust denial (4 profiles). ◆ Images of prominent Nazi collaborators from World War II, such as Leon Degrelle, Ion Antonescu or Jonas Noreika (4 profiles).
Ahmaud Arbery. This account also contains two other known white supremacist terms. Lastly, the profile image features a selfie taken by an alleged member of a white nationalist group outside Al Noor Mosque close to the first anniversary of the Christchurch terrorist attack. This public account, which is still live, follows hundreds of accounts but has not posted any video content. It could be active in posting comments on other user’s videos, but manually searching for comments from a specific user through the TikTok platform or API to confirm this is impossible. Extremist creators on TikTok routinely use all of their profile’s features to promote hatred and likely signal their interests to ideologically similar users. For example, the screenshot seen in Fig. 26 features numerous extremist references: the white supremacist slogan “white pride” (the username); an image that includes a flag TIKTOK STILL NEEDS TO LEARN THAT OBVIOUS TERMS displaying support for the Serbian Nazi collaborator Milan Nedić [d.1946] (profile), and AND VEILED OR CODED REFERENCES TO HATEFUL two lightning bolt emojis, likely references to TERMS, “OUT GROUPS” OR EXTREMISTS ARE USED TO the SS, and a white hand emoji, another likely SIGNAL SUPPORT FOR SUCH IDEOLOGIES. IF THESE white supremacist reference (the biography). This still-live account has posted numerous FACTORS AREN’T INCLUDED IN ACCOUNT REVIEWS videos that glorify famous fascist politicians WHEN CONSIDERING WHETHER OR NOT TO ISSUE and war criminals, promote the Ku Klux STRIKES AGAINST IT, THEY SHOULD BE. Klan and feature antisemitic content.
◆ “ ” in one of their profile elements. These were typically used to refer to white power and white supremacy (4 profiles). ◆ George Lincoln Rockwell [founder, American Nazi Party; d.1967] in their profile image (3 profiles) ◆ A biography that contains a link to an article promoting Black-on-white crime (1 profile). Some profiles also featured coded terms and references. These included one profile featuring the fictional name “Nating Higgers,” in which each word’s first letter is meant to be swapped around to reveal the true meaning. Another profile, seen in Fig. 25, references the username “jogger exterminator.” This racial slur, used to describe people of color, originated as a meme on 4chan following the Feb. 23, 2020, fatal shooting of
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TikTok’s policies on promoting extremism or glorifying terrorism through profile characteristics are unclear. Each insight and example presented above raises questions about the ease with which such support is being allowed through its profiles. These examples suggest that the platform has failed to act against content that doesn’t explicitly support extremism or terrorism, particularly those that do so via symbols and emojis. This may prove to be a significant gap if this sample’s insights are extrapolated. How do we determine whether a reference featured in a profile supports such causes? In most cases there are clear and obvious references in text or photos, such as admiration of a high-profile extremist, extremist ideology or a known racial and/or ethnic slur. In other cases, it’s vital to consider an account’s full nature to understand the reference. Some TikTok accounts featured photos of known Nazi collaborators. These, along with videos glorifying Hitler, Himmler, or other central Nazi figures, could be interpreted as expressions of support. There are exceptions, of course, and not all of the study’s accounts that included such references were selected for analysis. The intricacies of classifying such profiles suggest that content-moderation judgments should be based on an account’s full activity, rather than its characteristics in isolation. TikTok still needs to learn that obvious terms and veiled or coded references to hateful terms, “out groups” or extremists are used to signal support for such ideologies. If these factors aren’t included in account reviews when considering whether or not to issue strikes against it, they should be. Of the 1,030 videos analyzed, 18.5% are no longer available. The majority of the removed videos come from accounts that are also no longer live. Of the 461 accounts captured, almost 13% are no longer active and have been deactivated or banned. It’s encouraging to see TikTok take such actions; however, the vast majority of hateful and extremist content and accounts identified during this research are still live. ih Editor’s Note: This article is a copyedited excerpt from “Hatescape: An In-Depth Analysis of Extremism and Hate Speech on TikTok,” a new ISD report. Founded in 2006, ISD is dedicated to understanding and innovating real-world responses to the rising tide of polarization, hate and extremism of all forms.
Ciarán O’Connor, an analyst and investigator on ISD’s Digital Analysis Unit, focuses on the intersection of extremism and technology and has specific expertise on the far-right and disinformation environment online and use of open-source research methodologies.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 55
Are Dogs Still Man’s Best Friend? The pros and cons of dog ownership BY MOHAMMAD ABDULLAH the death of his dog Bo, former President Obama described him as a “true friend and loyal companion.” But in addition to being “man’s best friend,” dogs are also big business. PetKeenit estimates that $109.6 billion will be spent on pets in the U.S. during 2021 (https://petkeen.com/ pet-food-industry-stats/). Muslims often ask if they can own dogs. The Shafi‘i and Hanbali schools contend that as a dog’s nasal area is often wet, it is considered najis (impure) and that you must perform ablution before praying if it touches you or your clothes. The Maliki school, however, considers a dog’s nasal area to be pure thus it’s no big deal if it touches you. In a 2016 advisory, Dubai’s Grand Mufti Dr. Ahmed Al Haddad told the Khaleej Times that keeping a dog at home is not advisable, as affirmed by Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam); however, “If a dog is needed for guarding, herding, or hunting, it must be kept in a proper place and as per need.” The Qur’an mentions dogs in 5:4, 18:18 and 18:22.
DOGS’ IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT
President Biden pets the family dog Champ in the Oval Office (Official White House photo by Adam Schultz; Feb. 24, 2021)
ogs are never off the media circuit. And with the departure of “no-dogs” Trump, dogs continue to make news in the Biden White House, even viciously – one of them, after biting a staffer, had to be sent back to their Delaware home for training. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (https://www.aspca. org) said, on May 23, that 23 million American households acquired a pet — usually a dog — during the Covid-19 pandemic’s enforced isolation and that most of them will not consider rehoming their pet in the near future. This rush to seek companionship, however, has not gone well for all. Fortune reported on July 26, “Shelters in New York and Los Angeles are nearing capacity as more and more people who got pets during the
pandemic are dumping them as the world inches back to normal” (https://dearpandemic.org/update-on-pandemic-pets/). It added that “intakes at the Humane Society of Dallas County are twice as high as they were before the pandemic.” Not all shelters have the resources to bar euthanizing unwanted pets. On July 8, Reuters cited Chloe Esperiquette of the Los Angeles’ Wags and Walks adoption center, who noted that “Every year in the United States, 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized, including 670,000 dogs” (https:// www.mercurynews.com/2021/07/08/dogsfill-shelters-as-pandemic-lockdowns-ease/). “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog” has become a popular saying. It’s believed that dogs were the first animal to be domesticated and became “man’s best friend” many centuries ago. Announcing
56 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021
The book “One Nation Under Dog: America’s Love Affair with Our Dogs” (2010) claims that 83% of American pet owners referred to themselves as their animal’s “mommy” or “daddy.” Around the world too, most people regard their dogs as part of the family and do everything possible to keep them healthy and comfortable. Some even provide them with endless services, such as taking them to members-only dog runs and dog swim therapists, dressing them up in various outfits and fighting over pet custody when getting divorced. Dog love keeps getting more expensive. Although dogs will eat anything offered to them, three years ago Petco signed a deal with JustFoodForDogs™, a Southern California purveyor of handcrafted meals with human-quality ingredients. Many owners feel that no one understands them better than their dogs. But some reports paint a different picture. For example, a commentary in The San Diego Union-Tribune (July 11, 2018) stated, “Let’s be honest, America: Dogs are parasites, not
man’s best friend.” The Daily Beast (https:// www.thedailybeast.com) ran an article entitled “Dogs Weren’t Always Man’s Best Friend” on June 25, 2017, arguing that “canine behavior is contextual. As long as they have food, dogs are devoted companions — deprive them of it for long enough and we start to look good enough to eat.”
ALL DOGS HAVE THEIR PLACE
Science 101 argues that not all breeds are meant to be pets (https://www.science101. com/dog-breeds-werent-meant-forhome/). In fact, some countries regulate and proscribe aggressive breeds. Notably, most dogs involved in attacks are family dogs
caretaker (the “alpha wolf ”) (http://www. psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/happinessis-state-mind/201711/how-mans-bestfriend-is-more-just-companion). The American Pet Products Association 2017-18 National Pet Owners Survey says there are 89.7 million dogs in the U.S., and the global dog population is estimated to be 900 million and rising (http://www.statista. com/statistics/198100/dogs-in-the-unitedstates-since-2000/). With the rising pet population, the pet industry has become one of the world’s largest, and most of its $95 billion value comes from pet food (http:// spots.com/pet-ownership-statistics/). Not long ago, the major concern about
ROBERT AND BRENDA VALE’S “TIME TO EAT THE DOG?: THE REAL GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE LIVING” (2009) ARGUES THAT DOGS MUST BE INCLUDED IN THE EXAMINATION OF OUR LIFESTYLE’S ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT. FOR EXAMPLE, 2.07 ACRES (0.84 HECTARES) OF LAND ARE NEEDED TO FEED A MEDIUM-SIZED DOG. IN CONTRAST, IN 2004, THE AVERAGE VIETNAMESE REQUIRED 0.76 HECTARES AND AN ETHIOPIAN 0.67 HECTARES. (https://caninejournal.com/dog-bite-statistics/). Some argue that owners are the problem, for they failed to train their dogs properly or raised their dogs to fight, and that leash and other dog-related laws are ineffective. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that dogs bite about 4.7 million Americans every year. Worldwide, about 60,000 people die from rabies caused by dog bites (https://allpetslife.com/dog-bite-statistics/). A bite by any large size dog can result in serious injury and even death. The bite force of an average dog ranges around 230-250 psi, enough to rip apart a small child’s body (https://www.topdogtips.com/ dogs-strongest-bite-force/). Dogs generally bite as a reaction to a stressful situation, for all dog breeds come from a common ancestor: wolves. As pack animals, wolves are fiercely loyal to the pack and submissive to the alpha wolf. In the case of domesticated dogs, this innate characteristic results in loyalty to their human families (the “pack”) and obedience to their primary
dogs was their aggression. Robert and Brenda Vale’s “Time to Eat the Dog?: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living” (2009) argues that dogs must be included in the examination of our lifestyle’s environmental impact. For example, 2.07 acres (0.84 hectares) of land are needed to feed a medium-sized dog. In contrast, in 2004 the average Vietnamese required 0.76 hectares and an Ethiopian 0.67 hectares (Britain’s Problem with Pets: They’re Bad for the Planet, The Guardian, Nov. 13, 2009). The book’s solution represents a microcosm of a larger conversation: dog overpopulation. According to ASPCA, about 670,000 abandoned dogs are euthanized each year. Dogs, which can pick up smells 10,000 times better than humans, can smell diseases, predict an oncoming seizure and the weather, warn you about migraines, feel the presence of things that we can’t see or hear and sense many human emotions (Unbelievable Things Dogs Can Detect That Humans Can’t, 12UP, June 10, 2021). Consequently, they perform many
important jobs. For example, they can help farmers herd cattle or sheep, sniff out meat products at airports and illegal substances, chase down and hold criminals, locate victims of disasters, help the visually impaired and deaf people and PTSD sufferers, visit patients in hospitals and the elderly in the nursing homes and provide companionship for those who have been diagnosed with mental and physical ailments (7 Types of Working Dogs and the Jobs They Do, The Spruce Pets, March 9, 2021). Recent studies show that dogs can identify Covid patients in much the same way they sniff out bombs, drugs or other diseases, using body odor samples on masks, socks, and shirts (Bloomberg News, May 23, 2021).
INTERESTED IN OWNING A DOG?
Owning a dog is a long-time commitment, as they can live for up to 16 years depending on the breed. Selective breeding and genetic variance mean that they come in all shapes and sizes and personalities: aggressive, serious, playful and “gentle giants.” Doing research before acquiring a dog will bring you better results. All dogs need a lot of care and affection — sometimes perhaps more time than a young family can afford to give them. This includes spending time getting to know each other, improving mutual communication, training them to behave properly, ensuring that they stay within the yard, walking them, getting them used to a leash and cleaning up after them in public places. This latter duty is important, for dog poop is an environmental pollutant and may carry fecal coliform bacteria, hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms. Moreover, the eggs of certain parasites can linger in the soil for years. When adding a dog to your family, make sure that it comes from an animal shelter and get it spayed or neutered. Some veterinary hospitals provide this service at a reduced fee when dogs are adopted from an animal shelter. Benjamin L. Hart and et. al. (https:// doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2020.00388) state that for some dog breeds, neutering may be associated with an increased risk of debilitating joint disorders and some cancers. To help pet owners and veterinarians make such decisions, guidelines that avoid increasing such risks are laid out for neutering ages on a breed-by-breed and sex basis. ih Mohammad Abdullah, DVM, MS, MPH, served as deputy district manager (retired) at USDA-FSIS.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 57
WAR & THE REFUGEE EXPERIENCE
I Was Living in Saigon When it Fell
And now more families are going through what my family went through so many years ago BY SEAN-HABIB TU
t was painful to watch the events at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai airport on August 15. The chaotic scene, the people running in total panic, thousands jamming the airport trying to get out of the country, people clinging on to a U.S. Army C17 and falling as it took off. All of these images caused me to relive the day when Saigon — now Ho Chi Minh City — fell to North Vietnam’s communist regime on April 30, 1975. What should I write about while watching history repeat itself in the space of just a few decades, from the fall of Saigon in 1975 to the fall of Kabul in 2021? I began writing this article on Sept. 18, only a short month after that fateful day in the Kabul airport, but it seemed as if that particular event had almost become part of a distant past. Except for those who fought in Afghanistan and those who have escaped from war and persecution, very few Americans will pause to think about or even remember a war that happened decades ago in another distant Asian land. And perhaps only five or ten years from now, no one will think twice about the destroyed country known as Afghanistan. When the war ended in Vietnam, I was barely a teenager. Like many Saigon residents, during those last few weeks the siege and constant bombing by the North Vietnamese forces rendered us hopeless. The only way in or out of the city was through the main airport. When the battle got closer to the city, the bombing of the airport became so intense that no planes could take off or land. On the radio we heard talk of American personnel and advisors frantically leaving the country via helicopters that were landing on the U.S. Embassy’s roof. Our family friends and relatives constantly gathered in my father’s house, where they would try to predict what the
future would look like in communist-ruled Vietnam. Based on past events that had occurred in communist-ruled North Vietnam during the 1950s, we knew that many of those who had worked for the previous government, as well as intellectuals, businessmen and landowners, had perished or been disappeared without a trace. So, fear started to creep into our household and grip us — our father had worked for the South Vietnamese government. Planning for the worst should the city fall, we all hunkered down and waited for the inevitable. I ventured outside out of curiosity. Who are the North Vietnamese? What is a communist? There were a lot of thoughts in my young mind during those days. People were saying that the communists had killed millions of people in the Soviet Union as well as in the People’s Republic of China after their respective communist parties had come to power. I also learned that after Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (the future North Vietnam) on Sept. 21, 1945, the communists had killed hundreds of thousands of “enemies of the state.” Those who did not embrace their ideology went into hiding or migrated to the south, just as many Chinese had migrated to Vietnam after Mao Zedong proclaimed the PRC on Oct. 1, 1949. I gave no thought to what the communists might do to the people in Saigon. All I knew was that communist governments were very repressive, anti-intellectual and anti-religion. During those days, martial law was declared. I saw deserted streets devoid of cars and people, paper and trash flying everywhere. The only vehicles dashing back and forth were military vehicles and convoys of troop reinforcements. The officers looked nervous. There was no sign of the police or
58 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021
traffic controllers. The markets were open, but not many people were talking or smiling. Everything came to a standstill. Those were very eerie days. Saigon fell about a week later. Early that morning, I saw a lot of people rush into the street and nervously watch the convoys of North Vietnamese troops enter the city. I also dashed out to see what was going on. For the very first time I saw a train of T54 tanks speeding toward the presidential palace. Riding on them were young North Vietnamese soldiers with their AK-47s on hand. Their uniforms looked just like the photos I had once seen on a propaganda poster. The tank convoy knocked down the presidential palace’s gate and took over the grounds. The entire country was then placed in lockdown for a few days. After the government of North Vietnam declared the war over, it announced that the entire country would now be called the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. In other words, the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) ceased to exist. They then began dismantling the regime in the south and running the country from the north. My family went back to our village, located about 350 miles north of Saigon. The new regime sent my father and all of the former government’s workers to reeducation camps as prisoners. We struggled to survive without him — he was released three years later. Seeing no future for himself under the communist regime, he decided to escape in 1979. I tagged along with him on the arduous journey through Cambodia and into Thailand, struggling all the way with hunger and thirst and not knowing in which country we might end up. Ultimately,
indicated, the Vietnam war left over 2 million people displaced, another 2 million dead on the battlefield and thousands more dead on the open seas as they struggled to make their way to freedom in foreign lands.
THE CLASH OF IDEAS RESULTS IN THE CLASH OF ARMIES
After World War II, when the Cold War was at its height, the world was divided into two spheres: capitalist and communist. Both sides, locked in this ideological war, sought to destroy the other. Fearing that the Soviet Union–China alliance would facilitate the spread communist ideology in Indochina, Washington worked with Saigon to form a vanguard against the Hanoi-directed advance of communism.
AS A MUSLIM OBSERVER WHO HAS LIVED IN THE U.S. FOR DECADES, AS WELL A PERSON BORN IN VIETNAM WHO GREW UP DURING THE WAR AND EXPERIENCED ITS AFTERMATH FOR FOUR YEARS, SEEING SUCH FAMILIAR SIGHTS WAS HEARTBREAKING. in 1981 we ended up in the U.S. Fast forward to the fall of Kabul on Aug. 15, 2021. I saw history repeat itself in front of my very eyes. I watched in horror at the scenes of people rushing to the airport and trying their best to force their way inside it. On top of those sufferings, a bomb exploded in the crowded area and killed innocent people who were trying to get out of the country. It was all so real to me, for seeing all of those images caused me to relive what had happened in Saigon. As a Muslim observer who has lived in the U.S. for decades, as well a person born in Vietnam who grew up during the war and experienced its aftermath for four years, seeing such familiar sights was heartbreaking. Those who sided with the U.S. will feel the loss, and those who sided with the Taliban will feel the triumph. At the end of the day, those on the winning side will have it all, and those on the losing side will write books to tell the tale of what, at least according to them, happened. Having lived through my birth country’s war from childhood until it ended has left an indelible mark on me. As statistics have
The two countries fought a bitter war that lasted from 1955 until 1975. The amount of bombs dropped by the U.S. and its allies on the small strip of land comprising Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia actually surpassed the number of bombs dropped in all of Europe during World War II! The Agent Orange pesticide sprayed so freely over the jungles, forests and villages, not to mention the landmines planted in so many areas, continue to threaten peoples’ lives even today. The former has resulted in the birth of many deformed children, and the latter continues to kill people indiscriminately. Who would have predicted the millions of refugees fleeing the new communist regimes in their countries, hoping to reach the West’s more open political atmosphere? As a result of this development, Congress passed the Indochina Migration and Refugee Act of 1975. In short, the fall of Saigon culminated in a cataclysmic event that triggered waves of refugees that started in 1975 and only officially ended in 2001, coincidentally just when Washington became militarily involved in Afghanistan. What does Washington have to show
for its 20-year involvement in Afghanistan other than trillions of dollars going up in smoke? From the Taliban’s point of view, they liberated their country and proudly added yet another empire to the list of earlier empires that have perished in their country’s backyard. Wars end, but the costs do not. The U.S. will continue to pay for the veterans’ health care, disability and burials, as well as for resettling an as yet unknown number of Afghan refugees. These costs will compound the national debt that our future generations will carry for decades to come. Such is the folly of man and the hubris of a government that thinks it can bomb its way in and out of poor and distant lands. At the core of the struggle between nations, history proves repeatedly that freedom, sovereignty, self-governance and self-determination will conquer all odds. When Western colonialism started in the 18th century, European nations colonized vast territories and thought that they were the master of all races. But by the end of the 20th century, all of them had gone home in defeat.
EVERY STRUGGLE NEEDS A CAUSE
In the case of Vietnam, the North’s war effort capitalized on nationalism and unification, whereas that of the South was built on nationalism — but on the defensive level. One side was bent on attack and unification, the other on defense and preserving its national identity. In the case of Afghanistan, the U.S. sought to destroy the terrorists who, its leaders alleged, had inflicted harm upon them. Washington painted a blurred line between the Muslims and the terrorists, for the Mujahideen who had fought against the Soviet Union were reclassified as jihadists when they turned their weapons on the U.S. But many laypersons don’t make such a distinction, for they only see Washington targeting Islam and Muslims as a whole. In its effort to root out terrorists, the U.S. tried to build a democratic Afghanistan and an American-style army. But neither of these goals were compatible with that country’s realities. For a vast number of Afghans, elections and democracy are just fancy words. At the end of the day, whatever the local imam tells the villagers is the truth in which they believe. ih Sean-Habib Tu (BSEE, Iowa State University, 1988) has worked with Santa Ana’s Muslim community since 1994. A trained engineer by profession, he has found his passion in community service.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 59
AbdulHamid AbuSulayman Thinker, Scholar, Educator
AN ORIGINAL THINKER
r. AbdulHamid Ahmad AbuSulayman, 85, co-founder of International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), and former rector of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), passed away on Aug. 18, 2021, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He was laid to rest in his birthplace, Makkah al Mukarramah. He was also a founding member of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS, 1972); secretary-general of World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY, 1973-82); and chairperson, department of political science at King Saud University (1982–84). AbuSulayman obtained his college degrees in commerce and political science from Cairo University. Later, he attended the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1973 with a Ph.D. in international relations, writing his thesis on “Towards an Islamic Theory of International Relations: New Directions for Islamic Methodology and Thought.” Following a tenure at King Saud University, AbuSulayman moved to the U.S., where he led IIIT until his departure in 1989 to Malaysia to head IIUM as its second rector. He returned to IIIT in 1999. Condolences and remembrances poured in from close colleagues and friends, near and far, professional and personal. Several memorial events and reflections captured the essence of his accomplishments and the quality of his character.
A PIONEER OF INSTITUTIONS
Dr. Hisham Altalib, a fellow co-founder of IIIT and a longtime friend, remembers his initial meetings with AbuSulayman in 1969 and 971 where the latter “crystallized the need for reformation of Islamic thought, which sowed the seeds for the formation of IIIT.” AbuSulayman was always intent on analyzing the ills of the Muslim ummah and searching for a diagnosis and solutions. He was the “intellectual dynamo” behind AMSS and IIIT, focusing on renewal of Islamic thought, with acquired knowledge and wisdom, as Hisham Altalib saw it.
of humor and gives a feeling of present comfort.”
Dr. Ahmad Totonji, another co-founder of IIIT, and also co-founder of MSA that graduated to ISNA, traces his relationship with AbuSulayman to a 1964 meeting in Philadelphia, which transformed their
thinking from “proclaiming Islam is good to … why Islam is good and what is next.” Totonji credits AbuSulayman for transforming IIUM from a small college of some 600 students to an international university of some 15,000 students. AbuSulayman, says Totonji, was a man of principle, and one hundred percent of his commitment was non-partisan. He was exceptionally persuasive, cordial and generous, even putting his salary in an endowment for student scholarship. “I am proud,” says Ahmed Totonji, “to be associated with him” According to Dr. Fathi Malkawi (Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics), a colleague and friend, AbuSulayman believed in the integration of effort, and that belief enabled him to “contribute to the establishment of many institutions in many countries over half a century.” Malkawi also remembers that, despite his high prestige, AbuSulayman displayed “extreme humility and a present intuition, which is accompanied by a sense
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Dr. M. Yaqub Mirza, a colleague and friend, remembers him as “a unique person who believes in original thinking and creates new knowledge. He is a contemporary intellectual/thinker who focuses on Quran and Hadith and tries to interpret and understand the deeper meaning rather than just the literal or superficial. Most of the time he is contrarian with solid evidence. His views and understanding are often ahead of the time. and his opinions often take time to become the norm.” Mirza lauds AbuSulayman’s attention to the design of the unique mosque centered Gombak campus of IIUM. Mirza admires AbuSulayman’s belief in “good governance and strong institutions as the foundation of free speech and creativity leading to a strong civilization.” Dr. John Esposito, founding director of Alwaleed Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, met AbuSylayman in 1979 during an event for the book “Voices of Resurgent Islam” (1983), then stayed in touch with him at the University of Pennsylvania, where AbuSulayman was doing “original and sophisticated piece of work.” Esposito met him often during AbuSulayman’s tenure at IIUM and remembers him as “very calm and centered and very relaxed.” He was “clearly intimately involved in developing campus plans,” while continuing to write on religious issues and reform. “I was honored to know him,” adds Esposito.
A RATIONAL THINKER
Dr. Omar Kasule, secretary general of IIIT, remembers AbuSulayman as being generous with his time. “He expanded my intellectual horizons,” Kasule says, “Consistency in principle guided his thinking. He looked for Islamic solutions based on Qur’an and Sunnah, guided by his analysis and rational thinking, but dealing with modern realities. He was a rational thinker.” In personal affairs, he was flexible and easy going and when judging a person, he judged them as a whole person. “I have lost my teacher of 45 years,” says Kasule. Dr. Ahmad Alwani, vice president of IIIT, reminisces about his interaction with
AbuSulayman from his pre-teen days. He knew him to be a very rational person who was also a visionary and an organizer. His interest in reform of education spread over all levels from developing school curriculum to leading a university. Dr. Talat Sultan, then ISNA’s director of education, who accompanied him in a mid1980s visit to Brunei at the education minister’s invitation, recalls that “AbuSulayman was deeply committed to reshaping children’s education in an Islamic mold.” This commitment also led to his co-authored book “Parent-Child Relations: A Guide to Raising Children” (2013).
COMPASSIONATE, CARING, CONSISTENT
Dr. Anas Sheikh-Ali, director of IIIT-London, who had met AbuSulayman on numerous occasions around the world, recalls a trip in the mid-nineties which opened a window to AbuSulayman’s character, and displayed the depth of his commitment, compassion and care for his students. On that occasion AbuSulayman felt deeply responsible for a problem faced by a student he had not even seen, showing that he was not only an educator but also a human being who genuinely cared for and about others. “I have not found a president or rector who was as involved in the well-being of his students,” opined Anas Sheikh-Ali. Muna AbuSulayman remembers her father for his love of and belief in Islam, and as one for whom institutions and experts both mattered. His work and thought “didn’t not die because IIUM will keep on producing … (and) continue progressing,” says Muna. In her view, what made her father different was “his ability to deeply think about issues and put them in a modern and historical context and hold contradictory ideas together and bring them to a conclusion that makes sense.” Muna remembers her father as being consistent in his values, having high morals, exercising extreme politeness and consideration, even in sickness towards the end. She recalls him saying: “I always work with the strong points of somebody … it is only through inclusion that the ummah can rise.” Ayman Abusulaiman admires his father’s dedication to the care of his family, which went beyond his children and grandchildren to his brothers, sisters, nephew and nieces. He was always there to give unconditional help and support to family, friends, and strangers.
AbuSulayman left IIUM in 1999 after a ten-year tenure. On that occasion, Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy prime minister, who, as Malaysia’s education minister, had invited him to lead IIUM, wrote: “It is gratifying to note that there is such popular acclaim for you within the University, notably for your dedication, diligence and magnanimity. … Despite the limitations and constraints of the system, and with the help of selected colleagues, you have expanded its academic programme, initiated a new university culture (and caused some resentment in the process), advanced staff and academic training schemes, increased substantially the intake of both local and foreign students and embarked upon an ambitious and impressive physical development of the new campus.” Ibrahim remembers his early experience with AbuSulayman as one who would expect us to do our best. “He asked very penetrating questions, spoke with deep reflection and critical thinking,” Ibrahim recalls. He presents his most articulate thesis in “Crisis of the Muslim Mind”, and later in “Qur’anic Worldview”, making a “compelling case about the challenge to underline, appreciate and actualize the ideals of Islam in the light of strong environmental pressures.” AbuSulayman”, says Ibrahim, was “singularly responsible for creating that marvellous institution (IIUM) and ensuring that … it is bound to be a center of excellence.”
THE CROWN JEWEL
Undoubtedly, the growth of the IIUM was the crown jewel of AbuSulayman’s many accomplishments. The current IIUM president, Dr. M. Daud Bakar, lauds AbuSulayman’s groundbreaking work on the mindset of the Muslim ummah. “He was a visionary leader, but very humble and reputable as a person (who) liked to work in a team and liked to consult with everyone in the ecosystem of the organization,” the president recalls. IIUM’s current rector Dr. Dzulkifli Abdul Razzak acknowledges that IIUM owes a great deal to AbuSulayman “for what he has done, and this will be his legacy now that he is gone,” adding that we now stand at a threshold to move the university forward the way he has done. “AbuSulayman has taken the university out of this region in Malaysia into the world as a truly international university,’’ the rector notes. Dr. Kamal Hassan, who succeeded AbuSulayman as IIUM’s third rector,
remembers meeting him at an MSA regional conference in 1969, where AbuSulayman, still a doctoral student, delivered a paper on Islamic economics which marked him as a thought provoking, rationalistic and analytical scholar. Hassan considers “my experience with him a great privilege.” According to Hassan, AbuSulayman translated dreams and expectations into reality with his very practical approach to life, laid down the ideological and philosophical foundations of IIUM, and transformed the mindset by “desecularization, dewesternization, and Islamization of human knowledge and Muslim higher education.” Kamal Hassan credits AbuSulayman with working for the “reconstruction of an alternative civilization based on the worldview of tawhid.” Hassan points out that AbuSulayman was responsible for the creation of “a new kulliyah which brought together social sciences, humanities and theology”, and which will now be named AbdulHamid AbuSulayman Kulliyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences (AHAS-KIRKHS). “KIRKHS is a great experiment in reunifying reason and revelation,” says Kamal Hassan. *** AbuSulayman authored several influential books in English and Arabic, with some translated in other languages. A few of the outstanding titles are: “The Islamic Theory of International Relations: New Directions for Islamic Methodology and Thought” (1993); “Crisis in the Muslim Mind; Revitalizing Higher Education in the Muslim World” (1993); “Marital Discord: Recapturing the Full Islamic Spirit of Human Dignity” (2003), “Revitalizing Higher Education in the Muslim World” (2007), “The Qur’anic Worldview: A Springboard for Cultural Reform (2011), and Parent-Child Relations: A Guide to Raising Children” (2013). Dr. Nadia Mostafa, editor of a collection of AbdulHamid AbuSulayman’s writings, describes him as “a pioneer of an institution that carries a thought and works on implementing it through multi-dimensional projects. He is a pillar of an ‘idea’ that establishes an institution and that implements projects across the globe.” Dr AbdulHamid AbuSulayman will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and colleagues. He is survived by his wife, Faika Salih Malaika, and children Hanan, Ayman, Yaser, Muna, Sheraz, and 19 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. ih (Contributed by Dr. Iqbal Unus, who chairs Islamic Horizons Advisory Board.)
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NEW RELEASES Innocent Until Proven Muslim: Islamophobia, the War on Terror, and the Muslim Experience Since 9/11 Maha Hilal 2021. Pp. 336. HB. $29.99. Kindle. $20.99 Broadleaf Books, Pine Bush, N.Y. aha Hilal, co-founder of the Justice for Muslims Collective (https://www.justiceformuslims. org/), is an expert who has spent her career researching, writing on, advocating and organizing against institutionalized Islamophobia. She relates the powerful story of the 20-year War on Terror, exploring how the official narrative has justified the creation of a sprawling apparatus of state violence rooted in Islamophobia and excused its worst abuses. Hilal offers both an overview of the many iterations of this “war” in law and policy and examines how Muslim Americans have internalized oppression, how some influential members of this community have perpetuated collective responsibility and how Muslim Americans’ lived experiences reflect what it means to live as part of a “suspect” community. Along the way, this marginalized community gives voice to lessons that we can all learn from: its members’ experiences and how to create a better future.
Tolerance and Risk: How U.S. Liberalism Racializes Muslims Mitra Rastegar 2021. Pp. 303. HB. $108.00. PB. $27.00. Kindle. $25.65 University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Minn. astegar argues that portraying Muslims as beneficiaries of liberal values has helped racialize them as a risky population since 9/11. These discourses, which hold up some Muslims as worthy of tolerance or sympathy, reinforce an unstable good Muslim/bad Muslim binary in which any Muslim might “change” sides. The author explores these discourses in this light — being portrayed as a highly diverse population that nevertheless is seen to contain a threat that requires constant vigilance. She offers several case studies to examine the interrelation of Muslims’ representations both here and abroad. She outlines how representations of tolerable or sympathetic Muslims presents them both as a population with distinct characteristics, capacities and risks and circulates the standards by which individual Muslims’ trustworthiness or threat must be assessed.
Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire: Twenty Years After 9/11 Deepa Kumar 2021. Pp. 304. PB. $17.95. Kindle. $9.99 Verso Boks, Brooklyn, N.Y. umar, a leading scholar of Islamophobia, traces the history of anti-Muslim racism from the early modern era to the “War on Terror.” Importantly, Kumar argues that Islamophobia is best understood as racism rather than as religious intolerance. An innovative analysis of anti-Muslim racism and empire, “Islamophobia” argues that empire creates the conditions for anti-Muslim racism that, in turn, sustains empire. Updated to include the end of Trump’s presidency and with a new foreword by Nadine Naber (a public speaker on Islamophobia), Kumar offers a clear and succinct explanation of how Islamophobia functions in the U.S. both as a set of coercive policies and as a body of ideas that take various forms: liberal, conservative and rightwing. The matrix of anti-Muslim racism charts how the media, think tanks, the foreign policy establishment, universities, the national security apparatus, the legal sphere and other institutions produce and circulate this form of bigotry. Anti-Muslim racism not only has horrific consequences for people in Muslimmajority countries who become the targets of this endless “war,” but for Muslims and those who “look Muslim” in the West as well.
Before the Nikah: Proven Principles to Help Single Muslims Choose Wisely and Build Strong Marriages P. Aneesah Nadir 2021. Pp. 172. PB. $16.95. Kindle $0.99 Book Power Publishing, Mesa, Ariz. sually, most people spend more time preparing for their wedding than their marriage. Dr. Nadir’s “Before the Nikah” provides Muslim singles tools to help them choose wisely and prepare for a healthy, long lasting,
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sakinah (tranquility) filled marriage. Based on two decades of teaching Muslim singles in her eponymously named course, she helps answer questions such as what does a loving, compassionate, peaceful marriage look like? How to choose someone who is compatible? What skills are needed to build a fulfilling relationship? What if parents don’t agree with one’s selection? What are the questions that need to be answered before a couple marries?
BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS The Sleepy Farmer: The Farmer Who Almost Missed Fajr Shazia Afzal (Illus. Ingy Hamza) 2021. 10 Page Board Book. C$15.75 Compass Books, Toronto, Canada hazia Afzal’s “The Sleepy Farmer” offers the perfect balance when it comes to Islamic teachings and the storyline. The story is about a farmer who almost missed fajr, and how all the farm animals tried to wake him up by making different sounds. In this engaging tale, young readers can get involved in the reading by repeating the sounds each animal makes on every page. “The Sleepy Farmer” shows how important it is to do everything to wake up your family for fajr.
Lina, the Tree and the Woodcutter Eman Salem (Author & Illus.) 2021. Pp. 24. Age: 4-8. PB. C$10.00 Compass Books, Toronto, Canada ina is in the company of the old wise tree when suddenly they are interrupted by a loud hacking. It turns out that a new woodcutter has been testing his new axe to cut down trees in the forest. Lina and the old tree tell the woodcutter why it’s important to leave trees unharmed. This bilingual book, the third in the “tree” series, offers an important lesson about the environment, especially because Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) linked it to Islam.
Esa and Sol’s Adventures: The Hunt for the Saphaea Asma Maryam Ali 2020. Pp. 80. PB. C$11.55 Compass Books, Toronto, Canada an Esa and Sol find Zarkali’s missing astrolabe? Help them choose what to do on their adventure as they search for it. The right choices will lead to discovering some ancient missing Hebrew and Arabic scriptures along the way; the wrong choices will lead to dead ends. Ali, a former elementary school teacher and now a practicing psychotherapist who resides in both Canada and Granada (Spain), offers 14 possible endings.
The Sugar Monster and Leyla Esra Aslan 2021. Pp. HB. $19.95 Blue Dome Books, N.J. slan, a clinical therapist specializing in child and family therapy, employs Mike the Sugar Monster and his best friend Leyla to help her readers understand that while we love to eat candy, chocolate, soda and all those sugary foods, we should instead eat watermelons, bananas, dates or other sweet fruits. The story relates how sugar affects our lives and what we should eat to be healthy.
Cave Time Journal: Intellectual Lift-off Towards Self Discovery Shazia R. Anwar 2021. Pp. 104. PB. $9.99. Kindle $ 0.99 Principled Approach, Allen, Tex. ‘Cave time’ denotes time for reflection, introspection, and getting answers pertaining to one’s creation and life purpose. This Self Discovery leads to the fulfillment that puts one at peace with themselves and others.This intellectual lift off aids to improve our mental and physical health as well as our relationships and creativity. Aimed at children aged 13 and up, the book seeks to serve as a stepping stone toward the journey of self-discovery in relation to God. This journal is a collection of 25 powerful concepts, which she has used as coaching techniques over a period of 10 years with her students and clients. ih
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