NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017/1438 | $4.00 | WWW.ISNA.NET
THE GREAT AMERICAN SHARIA SCARE | EGYPTIAN IDENTITY IN TRANSITION
JERUSALEM The City of Three Hearts
VOL. 46 NO. 6 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 visit isna online at: WWW.ISNA.NET
COVER STORY 22 Jerusalem: City of Three Hearts The Need for Vision in Israel and America The Heart of Christianity Why Masjid al-Aqsa is Important to Muslims
The Great American Sharia Scare
Muslim Girls: Say “Yes” to Sports
44 Egyptian Identity in Transition
ISLAM IN AMERICA 35 38 40
Renewal, Revival, Reform Second-class Citizens Hand-in-Hand
MUSLIMS IN ACTION 52 When Praying Juma Can Be Risky
THE MUSLIM WORLD 46
DEPARTMENTS Editorial ISNA Matters Community Matters New Releases
DESIGN & LAYOUT BY: Gamal Abdelaziz, A-Ztype Copyeditor: Jay Willoughby. The views expressed in Islamic Horizons are not necessarily the views of its editors nor of the Islamic Society of North America. Islamic Horizons does not accept unsolicitated articles or submissions. All references to the Quran made are from The Holy Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Amana, Brentwood, MD.
Is Tunisia Still Colonized?
THE MUSLIM WORLD: PALESTINE 48 54
6 8 12 62
Disenfranchising the Palestinians Al-Aqsa at the Center
IN MEMORIAM 55
Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni
SPECIAL FEATURE 56 One Muslim’s Take on Soul Food 58 You Don’t Have to Get Yourself Steamrolled 60 Standing at Standing Rock
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 5
Overdue to Restore Humanity to Humanity
n May 6, 1846, the British East India Company sold Kashmir’s 84,471 sq. miles and 2.5 million people for 7.5 million Naulakhi rupees — the Sikh state’s currency — to their collaborator Gulab Singh. They had gotten Kashmir as a war indemnity after defeating the Lahore-based Sikhs in the first Anglo-Sikh war, which broke out in Nov. 1845. While the origin of the attribution is unclear, Britain was labeled “a nation of shopkeepers.” And London has lived up to this sobriquet, for it has never hesitated to sell the belongings of others. Between 1640 and Britain’s abolishment of the slave trade in 1807, it transported and sold an estimated 3.1 million Africans (of whom 2.7 million arrived) to its colonies in the Caribbean, North and South America and elsewhere. Thus the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, which transferred the ownership of Palestine and its inhabitants to the primarily European Zionists was another masterstroke of British shop keeping. It was not a cashless transaction, for the resulting decades-long conflict continues to generate scores of billions of dollars in weapons sales for Britain and other countries. The piling of ever more misery on the Palestinians is just a bonus for them. The land of Palestine is sacred to the three Abrahamic faiths. Muslim rulers, who recognized the rights of Christians and Jews to their holy city, allowed them to visit Jerusalem; many of them were also permitted to settle there. When Caliph Umar (radi Allahu ‘anh) signed the treaty, Patriarch Sophronius inserted the term that “No Jews will live with them in Aelia Capitolina,” the official name for Jerusalem. Later on, however, Muslim religious tolerance caused this rule to be relaxed and Jews were allowed to visit and settle there. After Salahuddin Ayyubi (1138-93) took it from the Crusaders in 1187, the Christian rulers’ ban on both
Jews and Muslims was lifted and the Jews’ rights were restored. We continue to see man-made turmoil all over the world. The various reminders of nature such as the recent Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, along with the almost simultaneous 8.1 earthquake off the southern Mexican coast, should be enough to convince us to accept the frailty of the edifices we build and learn to abstain from hounding each other. Yet the accumulation of wealth and power is never infinite. The list is never-ending: the current outbreak of the decades-long anti-Rohingya pogrom in Myanmar, the lynching of Muslims in India on the suspicion of having eaten beef, the extreme measures taken against Palestinians and the starvation imposed on residents of Gaza (ironically with the help of some Muslims), the ongoing rain of fire on Yemen, the unrelenting suppression of religious expression in Xinjiang, and the strict control over religion in Chechnya and so on. Indeed, the millennials are taking bold steps in many areas, such as taking up the rights of indigenous communities and preserving the God-given gifts of nature for the generations to come. It is time that they also focus on the ravages being caused by the mindless pursuit of “job creation,” which, in reality, only enhances the wealth of the merchants of death and misery. It is time to educate people that jobs created by promoting war and through “leisure” activities such as drinking alcohol, gambling and lotteries are nothing but a mirage. Each of these activities, just like weapons production and marketing, has its horrendous outcomes. Muslim organizations need to broaden their vision and mission and support activities that some of their mainstream compatriots are conducting to make our world a gentler, caring, and more humane abode for everyone. ih
6 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
PUBLISHER The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) PRESIDENT Azhar Azeez INTERIM SECRETARY GENERAL Habibe Ali EDITOR Omer Bin Abdullah EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Faryal M Khatri EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Iqbal Unus, Chair: M. Ahmadullah Siddiqi, Milia Islam-Majeed, Habibe Ali, Faryal Khatri ISLAMIC HORIZONS is a bimonthly publication of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Copyright @2017 All rights reserved Reproduction, in whole or in part, of this material in mechanical or electronic form without written permission is strictly prohibited. Islamic Horizons magazine is available electronically on ProQuest’s Ethnic NewsWatch, LexisNexis, and EBSCO Discovery Service, and is indexed by Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature. Please see your librarian for access. The name “Islamic Horizons” is protected through trademark registration ISSN 8756‑2367 POSTMASTER Send address changes to Islamic Horizons, P.O. Box 38 Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 SUBSCRIPTIONS Annual, domestic – $24 Canada – US$30 Overseas airmail – US$60 TO SUBSCRIBE Contact Islamic Horizons at (317) 839‑8157 / (317) 839‑1811 Fax (317) 839‑1840 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING For rates contact Islamic Horizons at (703) 742‑8108, email@example.com, www.isna.net Canada Post International Publications Mail Product (Canadian Distribution) Sales Agreement No. 0666300 CORRESPONDENCE Send all correspondence and/or Letters to the Editor at: Islamic Horizons P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
ISNA AT ARCHBISHOP INSTALLATION
Archbishop Charles C. Thompson
ISNA interim secretary general Habibe Ali attended the July 28 installation ceremony of Archbishop Charles C. Thompson and conveyed to him the greetings of ISNA’s members. Thompson, the seventh archbishop of Indianapolis, was appointed by Pope Francis on June 13. Aged 56, he is currently the nation’s youngest archbishop.
In his inaugural address, Archbishop Thompson asserted: “Far too often we are being confronted with an either/or mentality. We must dare to counter the growing polarization, division and radical individualism that breed fear, distrust, hatred, indifference, prejudice, selfishness, despair, violence and radical ideology. “Our role as people of faith — I especially hold myself accountable as bishop — is to be willing to stand in the breach of the divide, drawing people back from the ledges of extremism in self-indulgence and self-righteousness by serving as bridges of unity, ambassadors of hope and instruments of peace.” ih
AMSET ELECTS NEW EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Dr. Sohel Anwar was elected president of the Association of Muslim Scientists, Engineers and Technology Professionals (AMSET) for the 2017-19 term. Dr. Taher Saif was elected vice-president, Rasheed Rabbi, secretary, and Mohammad Asad as treasurer. Dr. M. Affan Badar is past president. ih
Dr. Sohel Anwar
ISNA DONATES TO HURRICANE VICTIMS
ISNA immediately donated $10,000 to relief efforts for those affected by the flooding in the Houston area. Acting ISNA president Pervez Nasim asked ISNA members to donate as much as they could. Since then, the amount had risen to $50,000. ISNA President Azhar Azeez, who had been traveling on hajj, has returned. He said: “ISNA is donating $10,000 to be distributed to masajid in Naples, Tampa, and Miami to help provide food, shelter, water and other community needs to the Hurricane refugees.”
“Allah gives us trials and hardships not to make us weak, but strengthens us through them. We are grateful that ISNA is contributing to help those who suffered losses in the wake of Hurricane Irma. This tragedy has provided us with a great opportunity to serve and help our brothers and sisters in humanity,” said Florida based ISNA Board Member Dr. Abdul Hamid Samara. The Houston funds were disbursed by the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, a local ISNA member organization that had set up an
8 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
ISNA MARCHES FOR CIVIL RIGHTS
Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, special advisor and former national director of ISNA’s Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances, marched with Rev. Al Sharpton and some 1,000 ministers in the daylong Ministers March for Justice, held in Washington on Aug. 28. This coincided with the 54th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, during which Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech calling for widespread racial equality. The march, one of the largest interfaith gatherings to protest racism in the U.S., was made up of Christians, Muslims, Jews and other faith-based communities. It began at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and ended at the Justice Department. “In Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, he talked about voting rights, health care, criminal justice and economic injustice,” Sharpton told HuffPost. “All four of these areas are at risk.” ih
assistance program for those in urgent need of rescue, food, water and/or shelter as well as distribution centers at various mosques for hygiene products, food and water. In a statement, Houston-based ISNA Board Member Zeyn Patel announced: “The unprecedented amount of rain and devastating flooding of Hurricane Harvey have affected many families. Seeing many families who have lost their homes and many with uncertainty about their futures underlie the great importance of both prayers and donations to help offset this damage and recover.” ih
MUSLIM YOUTH ELECT NEW EXECUTIVE The Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA) has elected and installed its 2017-18 National Executive Committee. President: Sana Baban (Fla.); Vice President: Sarah Siddiqui (Ohio); Secretary: Nabila Qadri (Ill.); Treasurer: Haroon Khan (Ill.); Program and Speakers Chair: Ozair Hasan (Ohio); Public Relations Chair: Shayan Bawaney (Calif.); and Outreach Coordinator: Yousef Abdeldaiem (In.). The six MYNA Regional Executive Committees are listed below. Midwest: Chair: Hoda Shalash (Ky.); Program Chair: Naumaan Hussain (Ohio); Secretary: Mariam Soliman (Ohio); Finance Chair: Uzair Khan (In.); and Public Relations Chair: Attaas Alvi (Mich.). North Central: Chair: Ameer Qadri (Ill.); Program Chair: Asmaa Abdeldaiem (In.); Secretary: Yasmeen Atta (Wisc.); Finance Chair: Anisa Qadri (Ill.); and Public Relations Chair: Abu Bakr Syed (Ill.). South Central: Chair: Dalia El-Giar (La.); Program Chair: Noor Sheikh-Khalil (La.); Secretary: Taha Asif (Tex.); Finance Chair: Ayan Malek (Kan.); and Public Relations Chair: Syed Hammad Hussain (Kan.). Pacific: Chair: Aliyah Rasheed (Calif.); Program Chair: Sameeha Shafik (Calif.); Secretary: Amal Shurbaji (Calif.); Finance Chair: Shafee Syed-Quadri (Calif.); and Public Relations Chair: Musaab Bin Farooqi (Calif.). Mid-Atlantic: Chair: Amani Hagmagid (Va.); Program Chair: Ayah Syed (Va.); Secretary: Ansar Baig (Tex.); Finance Chair: Yusuf Baig (Tex.); and Public Relations Chair: Aisha Qureshi (Va.). South Atlantic: Chair: Abdulrahman Abdullah (Fla.); Program Chair: Ayesha Khuddus (Fla.); Secretary: Noorah Baban (Fla.); Finance Chair: Hibah Khuddus (Fla.); and Public Relations Chair: Fariha Rahman (Fla.). ih
JAPANESE SCHOLAR STUDIES ISLAM IN AMERICA AT ISNA HQ Natsuki Nagai, a graduate student at Tokyo’s Sophia University, spent a week (Aug. 10-16) at ISNA Headquarters conducting research for her project on the Muslim American community. She is particularly interested in Muslim organizations and was able to gather a great deal of information from the many back issues of Islamic Horizons. Upon meeting with ISNA staff, Nagai was amazed to learn about the American community’s rich diversity. During her stay, she was able to deepen her knowledge about the contributions made by Muslims, both as individuals and as a community, to the U.S. and Canada. ih
DR. SYEED FEATURED IN TWO FILMS Senior advisor and former national director of IOICA Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed is featured in two films on drone warfare: Moral and Safe?: War, Peace, Drone Warfare and The Religious Community and Drone Warfare, both of which were produced by the Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare. Moral and Safe?, an introductory film that informs congregations about drone warfare, describes the history, use and nature of lethal drones as well as the human rights, legal and moral challenges posed by their use. His remarks,
which focus on concerns that are important to many Muslims, can be found at https://vimeo.com/212753066?utm_ source=email&utm_medium=vimeo-cliptranscode-201504&utm_campaign=29220. The Religious Community and Drone Warfare, which digs deeper into the religious concerns about this type of warfare, can be watched at https://vimeo.com/227077625?utm_ source=email&utm_medium=vimeo-cliptranscode-201504&utm_campaign=29220. ih
Khizr Khan, addressing Muslim youth on identity, unity and civility
At a small, intimate program, Gold Star father Khizr Khan, father of fallen U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, informed 300 young Muslims about how they can be exemplary Muslim Americans, proud of their faith and backgrounds and contribute to their community and society. He included stories of Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) — the best role model. The attendees, who included non-Muslim friends and guests, also enjoyed a post-talk dinner and the Q&A session. Khan also spoke briefly after the Friday prayer to a group of visiting university students on the importance of being “custodians of American values.” On Sept. 9, ISNA co-sponsored a community-wide “Talking through Unity and Civility” event with five other Indianapolis-area religious and civic organizations: the Desmond Tutu Center, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, the Muslim Alliance of Indiana, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and the Women4Change Indiana. The conversation was structured in such a way that Khizr Khan would respond to questions posed by John Krull, director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of TheStatehouseFile. com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. Khan spoke to the 1,200 attendees about his fervor for the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution and the values that they advance and uphold. He also addressed the need for everyone to promote and defend our universally shared values and to engage with society so we can work together for the common good. Congregation Beth-El Zedeck hosted a luncheon for Khan and the organizers, Patron Sponsors Bill and Lynn Jackson and the many volunteers who help make these events such a wonderful experience for everyone. ih CORRIGENDUM The photo of Maheen Ahmed, student director of MSA National, appearing on p. 29 of IH Sept./ Oct. 2017 issue was mislabeled. We apologize for this mistake.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 9
PHOTO © FATIMA HUSSAIN
ISNA HOSTS KHIZR KHAN
Power of Faith Manifests in Phoenix BY FARYAL KHATRI
Dr. Aneesah Nadir reflects on her recognition
SNA hosted its “Power of Faith” conference in Phoenix on Sep. 16. Attendees listened to many esteemed speakers, including Khalid Latif, executive director and chaplain for the Islamic Center at New York University, Gold Star father Khizr Khan, Ameena Jandali, a founding member of Islamic Networks Group (https://ing.org/), ISNA president Azhar Azeez and several area leaders and activists. After Sheikh Moataz Muftah of the Islamic Center of Northeast Valley in Scottsdale, Ariz., blessed this event with a beautiful Qur’an recitation, Azeez, ISNA Executive Council West Zone Representative Ahmed Shaikh and MYNA Representative Dania Albasha made opening remarks. The first panel, an inspiring discussion of transformative personal change, featured Jandali, who drew from stories of the Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi was sallam), and Nadia Katrangi of the Good Tree Institute (https:// www.goodtreeinstitute.com), who spoke on lessons from the story of Caliph Umar (radi Allahu ‘anh) and Khalid ibn al-Waleed. Jandali also reminded the audience of the importance of keeping good company and the influence they have on one’s self by quoting from the parable related by Azeez in his opening remarks. “A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy
YOU ARE NOT MUSLIM SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU WERE BORN INTO IT OR BECAUSE YOU WERE IN A PLACE WHERE IT WAS INTERTWINED WITH THE CULTURE THAT YOU ENGAGED IN. BUT IT IS WITH REAL CONVICTION THAT YOU MAKE DETERMINATIONS ABOUT THE VALUES THAT GUIDE YOUR LIFE. WHAT IS YOUR MORAL COMPASS, AND HOW DO YOU LIVE IT?” — Imam Khalid Latif
10 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.” During the next session, “Being an Agent of Change in a Time of Islamophobia,” Latif asserted: “You are not Muslim simply because you were born into it or because you were in a place where it was intertwined with the culture that you engaged in. But it is with real conviction that you make determinations about the values that guide your life. What is your moral compass, and how do you live it?” Imam Anas Hlayhel of the Tempe Islamic Community Center and Azeez also spoke. Following zuhr prayer and lunch, the program focused on the community and family. Latif and attorney Yaser Ali, religious director at the Islamic Center of the Northeast Valley, discussed how one can be an agent of change in his/her community. Ali, who recently returned from hajj, reflected on his experiences there and on this undertaking’s history. He also joined a panel discussion with local leader and activist Dr. Aneesah Nadir, director of social services for the Arizona Muslim Family Health and Social Services in Tempe, and Jandali to discuss strengthening family relationships, particularly during times of trial and tribulation. Latif also led a workshop on salah. The conference concluded with an informative panel that featured representatives from CAIR-Arizona and the ACLU, who left the audience with practical knowledge on how to handle certain situations that they may face. Along with the main sessions, the conference featured a bazaar with several vendors and a singles matrimonial networking event. Arizona State Representative Athena Salman (D) was present, along with Central Arizonans for a Sustainable Economy (CASE), to ensure that attendees were registered to vote and understood the voting process. ISNA concluded this day-long gathering with its banquet dinner, which honored Dr. Nadir for her dedication to community service. “To hear a speaker with such articulation is so refreshing!” said one attendee, reflecting upon the inspiring talks by Latif and Khan during the banquet. ih Faryal M Khatri, ISNA Communications Coordinator
August 31 – September 3, 2018
Houston, TX George R. Brown Convention Center 1001 Avenida De Las Americas • Houston, TX 77010
ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA
CONVENTION HIGHLIGHTS: ◉ More than 200 Renowned Speakers ◉ Plenary Sessions ◉ Main Sessions ◉ Parallel Sessions ◉ Round Table Discussions ◉ MSA & MYNA Sessions ◉ Enlightening Entertainment ◉ Largest Muslim Bazaar in America (550 Booths) ◉ Health Fair ◉ Art Exhibit ◉ Meet the Author ◉ Interfaith Reception ◉ Film Festival ◉ Photography Exhibit ◉ Qira’at Competition ◉ Matrimonial Banquets ◉ Community Service Recognition Luncheon (CSRL) ◉ Basketball Tournament ◉ Children’s Program ◉ Babysitting, and more
▶ ▶ REGISTER ONLINE AT WWW.ISNA.NET ◀ ◀ REGISTRATION INQUIRIES:
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CAIR California Reports Rise in Violations
On Aug. 29, CAIR’s California chapter released its annual civil rights report, which summarizes and analyzes all of the civil rights and immigration complaints reported to its offices in the Greater Los Angeles Area (CAIR-LA), the Sacramento Valley (CAIR-SV), San Diego (CAIR-SD) and the San Francisco Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA) during 2016. According to the report (https:// ca.cair.com/downloads/CAIR-CivilRights-Report-2017.pdf ), the chapter handled a total of 1,239 incidents throughout 2016, a 10 percent increase
in reported incidents from 2015. The complaints were related to religious-based discrimination received by all four CAIR California offices and immigration matters reported to CAIR-LA and CAIR-SD. Key highlights include a 49 percent increase in reported discriminatory treatment during travel from 2015 to 2016. The number of immigration matters handled also increased significantly. CAIR-LA’s Immigrants’ Rights Center alone assisted in more than 400 immigration applications, with an increase of 58 percent in naturalization petitions from the previous year. The categories receiving the most incident reports for 2016 were immigration (38.8%), law enforcement interactions (17%), hate incidents or hate crime (14.7%) and employment discrimination (10.6%). ih
Roshni Rides won $1 million and a trophy presented by Presdient Clinton for their rickshaw ridesharing transportation service for refugees
Million Dollar Winners Gia Farooqi, Moneeb Mian, Hasan Usmani (an alumnus of New Jersey’s Noor-Ul-Iman School) and Hanaa Lakhani — all from Rutgers Business School — won the $1 million Hult Prize 2017 Challenge at the UN headquarters on Sep. 16 for their Roshni Rides, a transportation network solution that provides accessible, affordable and reliable public transportation for urbanized refugees living in informal settlements
in South Asia. After winning the semi-final round, they raised $30,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to launch a two-month pilot project in Orangi Town, Karachi. The Hult competition challenged student teams from around the world to propose scalable start-up businesses capable of improving the lives of 10 million refugees by 2022. Roshni Rides competed against five teams for the prize. ih
12 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
Hijab Rights Legally Protected CAIR’s Greater Los Angeles Area office announced on Aug. 10 the settlement of a federal lawsuit that it had filed on behalf of Kirsty Powell, an African-American Muslimah whose hijab was forcibly removed by a male officer of the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) in view of other male officers and dozens of inmates. Forced to spend the entire night without it while she was in custody, she described the experience as deeply traumatizing. Powell, who was arrested during a traffic stop on outstanding warrants (since cleared), made several requests to be searched by a female officer and to wear her hijab while in custody. The officers informed her that they were “allowed to touch a woman” and that she was “not allowed to wear her hijab.” Two days earlier, the Long Beach City Council had voted to approve the settlement, which included $85,000 in damages. CAIR-LA brought the lawsuit under the First Amendment as well as the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), a federal law that protects the religious rights of prisoners. Her co-counsel, New York-based constitutional lawyer Carey Shenkman, said: “Long Beach did the right thing by admitting that stripping Kirsty’s hijab stripped her of her religious freedom. I hope more cities follow this example by adopting policies to ensure the constitutional rights of Muslims are protected.” Last November, after the suit was filed, the LBPD amended its policy to accommodate religious head coverings for persons in custody. Long Beach joins the neighboring jurisdictions of San Bernardino County and Orange County, which both adopted policies that allow a person to wear religious headwear while in detention after settling similar lawsuits in 2008 and 2013, respectively. ih
Al-Hibri 2107 Award
NASA Honors Young Muslimah
The El-Hibri Foundation recognized Imam Mohamed Magid, executive director ADAMS, with the 2017 El-Hibri Peace Education Prize Laureate for his decades of work as a tireless and vocal champion of inclusion, social justice, and interfaith collaboration. John Esposito, founding director of the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, was given the 2017 Fearless Ally Award for his close collaboration with national Muslim leaders to advance inclusion and understanding of American Muslims for over four decades. Kameelah Rashad received the 2017 Community Builder Award for her innovative work to build the capacity of American Muslim communities to improve mental health and wellness and promote more inclusive norms. She is the President of the Muslim Wellness Foundation (MWF), a nonprofit organization she founded in 2011 dedicated to reducing stigma associated with mental illness, addiction, and trauma in the American Muslim community through dialogue, education, and training. ih
NASA honored Fatima bint Abdel Moneim Al Sheikh by naming an asteroid after her, Okaz Newspaper reported on July 19. This 19-year-old Saudi Brown University student was recognized for her research efforts in “determining the effect of the novel Carl 2 Strigolactone analog on the seed germination of parasitic weeds,” Okaz wrote. Her project won an award at the annual Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) in 2016. This event, considered the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, brings together approximately 1,800 high school student competitors from around the world. In May, Saudi student Sara Alrabiah won NASA’s top award at the Intel ISEF for a project focused on “improving resistive RAMs’ performance by using single crystal Perovskites.” ih
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 13
Illinois Law Protects Religious Garb
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R) signed the Religious Garb Bill (SB1697) into Illinois law Aug. 11. The bill had been on the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago’s Illinois Muslim Action Day legislative agenda ever since state Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D) had sponsored it in
February and actively campaigned to garner support for it. This new law, which amends the Illinois Human Rights Act, states that employers cannot require a person to violate or forego sincerely held religious practices, such as wearing certain items (e.g., hijabs, yarmulkes, crosses, etc.) or having a beard. It was deemed necessary because although the Human Rights Act provided some protections for public and private employees numbering 15 or more, more specific laws were needed to safeguard the rights of individuals to represent themselves in accordance with the practices of their faith. ih
Illinois Creates Muslim American Advisory Council On Aug. 25, Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed into law the creation of the Illinois Muslim American Advisory Council, which will advise the governor and legislators on policy issues affecting Muslim Americans and immigrants. It will consist 21 members, appointed by the governor and legislative leaders, who are to meet monthly and issue policy recommendations. Former Gov. Pat Quinn (D) had established a similar group by executive order in 2011, but the group disbanded when Rauner took office in 2015. Proponents say this event sends a welcoming message to Muslims. Illinois has over 500,000 Muslims and more than 300 mosques. ih
Former Houston Rockets and University of Houston Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon donated $150,000 to Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Hurricane Harvey Relief fund. “I am heartbroken to see the devastation and loss caused by Hurricane Harvey,” Olajuwon said in a statement. “The people of Houston are in my thoughts and prayers as they work to rebuild their lives and communities. There is so much to be done, and I hope that my contribution can help make a difference in the lives of my fellow Houstonians.” ih
Muslim Workers Win on Prayer Rights On Aug. 9, the Star Tribune reported that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has found reasonable cause that Cargill managers violated the Civil Rights Act by refusing to allow Somali-American Muslim workers to pray during their breaks at its meatpacking plant in Fort Morgan, Colo. This determination, reached on Aug. 3, could lay the groundwork for a federal discrimination lawsuit should Cargill fail to seek a settlement agreement with the 140 fired workers. Only a small fraction of the thousands of discrimination charges filed with the federal government each year gain the commission’s backing. In December 2015, about 150 employees walked off their job after supervisors told them they would no longer be allowed to pray during their breaks. Cargill Meat Solutions, the Wichita-based subsidiary of agribusiness giant Cargill Inc., then fired the workers for violating attendance policies. Cargill maintains that the prayer break issue was a misunderstanding between plant managers and workers. Cargill, the largest private company in the U.S. and one of the nation’s largest beef producers, slaughters cattle and makes boxed beef product at Fort Morgan. The State of Colorado investigated, absolved the workers of any 14 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
fault and granted them unemployment benefits. The U.S. EEOC also found that Teamsters Local No. 455, the union at the Fort Morgan plant, failed to fairly represent Muslim workers. Last October, the National Labor Relations Board sided with the terminated workers. This ruling gives both sides the chance to settle the matter through conciliation. If they can’t reach a resolution, then the employees’ private lawyers — and the EEOC on behalf of the U.S. government — could sue Cargill. Cargill, which disputes the charges, has stopped short of committing to the conciliation process and issued the following statement: “We look forward to continuing a dialogue with EEOC to better understand the basis for their initial determination.” ih
Georgetown Welcomes Arsalan Iftikhar
ICNA Back-2-School Project
Arsalan T. Iftikhar joined the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU) at Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative as a senior research fellow. He will research and write about Islamophobia and its impact on today’s world. Prof. John Esposito, director of The Bridge Initiative and founding director for ACMCU, said on July 21 that “as a prominent Muslim human rights lawyer, Arsalan brings over a decade of prolific research and journalistic experience dealing with Islamophobia and Muslim issues in the global media.” Iftikhar’s most recent book is “Scapegoats: How Islamophobia Helps Our Enemies & Threatens Our Freedoms” (2016). As a
On Aug. 5, the Islamic Circle of North America Relief Division (ICNA-Relief), Project Downtown St. Louis (a Muslim-run feed-the-hungry program), the Dar-Al-Jalal Islamic Center, and the CAIR Missouri chapter hosted a Back-to-School giveaway for needy students. More than 300 backpacks and other supplies were distributed across the city, with over 100 supplies being distributed in the Ferguson-Florissant School District. This was part of ICNA-Relief ’s national Back-2-School Giveaway Project, which hosted 60 similar events nationwide to help over 100,000 children. ih
lawyer and scholar, he is a regular on-air commentator for National Public Radio, and his interviews regularly appear on prominent global media outlets. ih
Quebec City’s Muslims Acquire Their Own Cemetery
ADAMS Has New Eagle Scout Rehan Siddique of ADAMS Troop 1576, son of Troop Committee Chair Uzair Siddique, became the group’s 14th Eagle Scout on Aug. 1. Only 5% of the nation’s scouts ever achieve this prestigious award, which is the organization’s highest rank. His project consisted of building a food pantry at ADAMS’ Sully Center. He is the first hafiz al-Quran to achieve this rank at ADAMS. ih
A Times Square Eid An Eid message on Times Square’s largest billboard went live on Sept. 1 at 8 p.m. EST on the landmark NASDAQ MarketSite as Muslims in the U.S. and around the world celebrated Eid al-Adha. Wahed Invest, a Shariah-compliant investment platform, sponsored the billboard with CAIR’s New York office.
Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume and the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre (QICC) announced at an Aug. 4 news conference that the Muslim cemetery would be located next to the Notre-Dame-de-Belmont Cemetery, which is close to the mosque. This 6,000-square-meter parcel, a former city snow dump for which QICC paid about Can$270,000, requires no zoning changes. “For over 400 years, Quebec has been a welcoming city for all cultures, languages and religions,” said Labeaume, who said the French concept of “vivre ensemble” (living together) is “fundamental to the success of our society.” “It’s a historic day,” QICC president Mohamed Labidi told CBC News. In a tweet, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulated Labeaume for taking action, calling the move “an important and courageous step for dignity and decency.” The cemetery is expected to be ready this fall. The news came just three weeks after a proposal to set up a Muslim cemetery in a town southwest of Quebec City was defeated in a referendum by a 19-16 margin. Quebec City’s Muslims, who have spent two decades looking for a cemetery, made a renewed push after they made the final payment on the city’s main mosque in 2011. ih
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Toronto Hosts Halal Food Festival
Muslim Scouts Attend National Jamboree
More than 35,000 people visited the fifth annual Halal Food Festival Toronto 2017, held during July 15-16 in Mississauga, Ontario. North America’s largest halal fair took Muslim visitors back in time to see their predecessors’ achievements and contributions to Canada. Mississauga News related that over 200 food booths represented the Greater Toronto Area’s halal restaurants, bakeries, specialty stores and manufacturers. “The Muslim population continues to
grow in Canada, and because of it the halal food industry is also growing,” said Salima Jivraj, founder of Halal Food Fest. According to Nourish Food Marketing, this industry is now estimated to be worth Can$1 billion. At the same time, the fair celebrated Canada’s 150th birth anniversary with various exhibits. The unique booth of the online blog iHistory.co, “The History of Muslims in Canada,” showcased this community’s history since the 1800s. This population segment is expected to triple by 2031. ih
Yasmin Shafiq Heads ADAMS Board
Yasmin Shafiq, a Virginia Tech graduate who works in the environmental and
energy profession, has assumed office as the newly elected chair of the ADAMS Board of Trustees. Outgoing chair Rizwan Jaka served for four years. Board members votes on a new chairperson every year. Born and raised in Virginia, Shafiq grew up in the ADAMS community and has served on the board for over five years. Her family is one of the many that, during the 1980s, contributed so much of their time and effort to ADAMS. ih
CAIR Leader is Senior Fellow CAIR Michigan chapter executive director Dawud Walid was named a senior fellow of the New York City-based Auburn Theological Seminary on Sept. 13. This designation refers to prominent faithbased leaders who speak
up on social justice issues. Other fellows include Rev. Dr. William Barber II, pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, N.C., and Rabbi Sharon Brous of the IKAR Jewish community in Los Angeles. ih
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Muslim American scouts participated in the Boy Scout National Jamboree, July 18-28, which is held every four years. Over 40,000 Scouts and volunteers attended this event, held at West Virginia’s Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve. The 2019 World Wide Jamboree will be held there as well. Saffet A. Catovic, Scout Master of Troop #114 and board member of the National Islamic Committee on Scouting (NICS), said that during this two-week period, over 8,000 scouts and adult leaders visited the Faith Pavilion where NICS, along with other faith and religious groups, were gathered. NICS had an information booth on Islam and scouting, and its volunteers distributed informational materials and showed videos throughout the day. At the Interfaith Chapel, the world-famous inflatable replica of the Prophet’s Mosque was installed and used for the regular five daily prayers, including the Friday congregational prayer. NICS staff and volunteers took an active role in both the Jamboree’s Interfaith Chaplains teamwork and the event’s various interfaith programs and prayer ceremonies. ih
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Albert Einstein College of Medicine (New York), professor at Wright State University Medical School (Dayton); the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School (Dallas); and the University of North Texas Health Science Center (Fort Worth). During his professional career, he also found the time to set up and serve as president of the Hyderabad Cultural Society of North Texas, the Muslim Community Center for Human Services, the Institute of Medieval and Post Medieval Studies and the Institute of Quranic Research for Intra-Faith Acceptance.
Zaki Barzinji sworn in as member of the Virginia Small Business Commission
On Aug. 22, Zaki Barzinji, a senior policy advisor with the Muslim Public Affairs Council, was sworn in as a member of the Virginia Small Business Commission. Barzinji had served in the White House as senior associate director of public engagement and President Obama’s liaison to Muslim-Americans. As the first senior official to hold that position, he was responsible for significantly deepening engagement with and representation of Muslim communities across the country. He also highlighted narratives of both triumph and challenge at the highest levels of government. Prior to joining the White House, Barzinji had served as deputy director of intergovernmental affairs for Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D). As MYNA president, he served as an ISNA board member. ih was something that really helped me realize my potential for my humanity. ... When I realized that, with the help of both Christians and Muslims, I decided to use that newfound humanity to help others find it as well.” Along with this new representation, Ahmed told The Cornell Daily Sun (Aug. 27) that he plans to work with other faithbased groups at the Cornell United Religious Works meetings.
The Diwan Foundation for Cornell Muslim Life highlighted its years-long effort by appointing Yasin Ahmed as Cornell University’s first Muslim chaplain. Unlike other Ivy League institutions, its charter provides no funding for religious positions, and so this position will be funded by the donations of alumni and other supporters. Ahmed, who has a Masters in Christian and Muslim relations from Hartford Seminary, remarked, “When I found Islam, it
On Aug. 4, Marquis Who’s Who, publisher of biographical profiles, named Dr. M. Basheer Ahmed, MD, a Lifetime Achiever in his capacity as a leader in the psychiatry and community services fields. This accomplished listee, who started his medical career in 1968, celebrates many years’ of experience in his professional network and has been recognized for his achievements and leadership qualities as well as the credentials and successes he has accrued. Marquis profiles the people it selects on the basis of current reference value. Over the years, Ahmed has lent his expertise to many universities, among them the
Nora Zaki, a Master’s of Divinity graduate (the University of Chicago Divinity School), is Tampa General Hospital’s first Muslim student chaplain. She is currently completing Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) in the Pastoral Care Unit with chaplains. CPE, a form of theological education offered in clinical settings and an interfaith professional education for ministry, brings theological students and ministers of all faiths into supervised encounters with persons in crisis. Zaki’s concentration in chaplaincy, Islamic Studies and Arabic, as well as her Master’s thesis, was about translating pastoral care for chaplaincy into an Islamic spiritual approach. While in Tampa, she is working with the Progressive Caucus of the Tampa Democrats to better city and elect officials who care about all of the people.
The West Sacramento Planning Commission approved the Madinah Islamic Center’s building permit on Aug. 18, despite phone calls to city staff and social media posts sparked by an anonymous flyer left on car windshields and doors. The flyer didn’t explicitly oppose the center, at which about 20 families pray regularly, but warned that giving it a permit would make it the area’s “3rd Islamic Center.” Saad Sweilem, a civil rights attorney
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COMMUNITY MATTERS for CAIR’s Sacramento chapter who testified at the meeting, noted, “A lot of times Islamophobia isn’t blatant. It’s disguised.” Planning Commission head Bernadette Austin also described some of the social media comments as “hateful and frankly racist.” The leaders of the center, which has been operating for approximately 16 years from a small red brick house with rose bushes out front, applied for a building permit to repair the damage caused by a fire in a neighboring structure. They were then informed by city inspectors that they needed a conditional-use permit to operate a house of worship in the residential structure. City zoning allows the house to be used as a place of worship. The Planning Commission voted unanimously to grant an operating permit, praising its history as a good neighbor. Final approval could come in a few months. The project will keep the exterior of the 1,276-square-foot center as it is, but will add parking in the back and make some interior changes.
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St. Peter (Minn.) Islamic Centre held an open house on Aug. 19 to introduce its newly completed mosque to the community and to sample Somali food, reported the St. Peter Herald. “It is to bring the community together,” said Mohamed Abdulkadir, one of the mosque’s founders. “We can bridge the suspicions ... People can meet us, see that we are people like them and have faith like them.” The mosque will hold weekend classes for children on Somali culture, the Quran and mathematics. ih
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National Service Recognized Hossam E. Ahmed, who retired this year from Department of Defense after 34 years, completed his service with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which awarded him the Exceptional Civilian Service Medal. Born in Ann Arbor (Mich.), Ahmed earned MS degrees in systems engineering (Wright State University) and national security strategy (The National War College). He is also a licensed professional engineer in Maryland. Ahmed began his military career as a U.S. Air Force officer and was later assigned to various active duty and reserve positions, including tours with the Aeronautical Systems Center at Ohio’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Springfield’s Ohio Air National Guard, and Baltimore’s Maryland Air National Guard. As an environmental engineer with the Air Force Base Conversion Agency, he served as the environmental restoration project manager with the Air National Guard Readiness Center and directed the cleanup of ten Air National Guard installations. Before retiring as a colonel with the Air Force Reserve, he served as an Individual Mobilization Augmentee assigned to the Assistant Surgeon General for Health Care Operations at Rolling AFB, Washington, D.C. Ahmed, a son of MSA (now MSA National) pioneer Dr. Osman Ahmed, has led Juma prayers at the Pentagon. ih 18 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
Dr. Osman Ahmed hugs his son Hossam during the ceremony marking his retirement
CONVENTION #55 As Houston is scheduled to host ISNA’s 55th Annual Convention next September, we are introducing a six-part series highlighting the city’s uniqueness by interviewing extraordinary Houstonians and exploring various scenes in the country’s fourth largest city. This article serves as the first piece in this series.
A Storm of Compassion How Houstonians responded to Hurricane Harvey with compassion to all BY SAMAN ESSA
Prof. Bonner and his team helping the author and her neighbors
y no means were Houstonians prepared for their city’s shutdown in early September. “Fill up gas” signs lined the highway, and although not many believed they would be affected by the storm, the 30-minute lines for gas proved otherwise. Schools were cancelled the Friday before the storm, but the kids’ excitement quickly dwindled after Hurricane Harvey made landfall and swept through the nearby city of Corpus Christi on its way to Houston. Days of continuous rain resulted in previously unheard-of amounts of flooding. Numerous tornadoes passed through the suburbs, and enormous sinkholes formed on major highways. Roads turned into rivers nearly overnight, and houses were reduced to debris within minutes. Thousands of people were forced to evacuate and seek safety in shelters or with relatives and friends, and those who could not do so in time were rescued by first responders. Houston was in a state of emergency.
I remember feeling invincible. University started on Monday, we experienced a solar eclipse on Tuesday, and by Friday classes were cancelled. I didn’t take the storm seriously until that point, and even then I was nearly certain that my area would not be affected. The weekend went by and things were normal. Come Monday, however, the dynamics had changed. Every television channel flashed storm predictions headed right for our area, and calls were coming in from relatives around the world making sure that we were okay. Parts of Houston were underwater, but we were okay. I remember seeing the routes I took to school and work under water, street signs barely recognizable. There’s something scary about seeing a highway, an enormous, sturdy structure, completely submerged in water and, in some cases, transformed into a sinkhole. By Tuesday morning, my street looked like a river and the water was creeping up to our front doorstep. My family decided
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to move to my uncle’s house at 4 a.m. After frantically packing some clothes and other essentials, we geared up in boots and exited through our garage. The water was already so high that we couldn’t use the car. And so we trudged in shin-level water to the end of our street, where the people who lived there informed us that their backyard gate had a low point in the brick wall that separated our neighborhood from the main road. Those neighbors had already evacuated, but they told us that we could easily jump the wall if we used a chair to gain some footing. Dragging a folding chair over to the gate, one by one — even my grandparents — stood on it and jumped over the wall. My uncle, whose house is just a few minutes away, brought his car and another chair for us to land on. Obviously shaken up, no one could fall asleep after fajr. Exhaustion was clearly written on our faces, but the adrenaline and the shock did not wear off. I had been up nearly all night, so I found a pillow and curled up on the couch. I had just closed my eyes when the lights were turned on and my aunt called out, “Hurry up, Saman! We have to go!” “Again?” I thought. “I just left!” The water level in my uncle’s neighborhood was still low enough to drive a car through, but only if we moved quickly. I grabbed my backpack, which contained all of my belongings, and headed out with everyone else. We stayed with family-friends for a few days. My uncle and father checked on the houses every day. Our house had flooded, but my uncle’s had not. There was an unbearable tension, for the urgency to return to the comfort of our home was in us all. But there was nothing we could do until the water receded completely. I couldn’t help but think of refugees and how they must feel. By the Grace of God, at least we had a house to return to eventually and our city had only been hit by a natural disaster, not the violence of war. Thousands of people were in the same situation. Some had no family or friends and were forced to stay in shelters. But regardless of where they ended up staying, something extraordinarily beautiful came out of the storm. Hurricane Harvey may have brought a tremendous amount of destruction to people’s homes and possessions, but it did not destroy their humanity — in fact, it renewed it. One video I saw on the news illustrated this atmosphere perfectly in Houston: A white man, Confederate flag flying high on his motorboat, rescuing an elderly, African
American woman. It didn’t matter who you were, what you were, or where you were from — if you were in trouble, people would come. These days, we talk so much about our differences and the oppression faced by various groups. But there was no place for hate during Houston’s natural disaster. Everyone came together to rescue the stranded, and, after the storm had passed, even more came together to tear down houses and help repair what had been damaged. Muslims were at the forefront, opening mosque doors and converting prayer space into shelters. “We are welcoming anybody and everybody ... not just people from the Islamic community,” said M. J. Khan, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston. Over a dozen mosques became shelters and distribution centers for the displaced. “I’ve heard and seen so many stories where people are putting out their hearts in these difficult days. It’s amazing how much capacity human beings have to help and love,” he said with teary eyes. There was a huge line outside the NRG Center, the arena where Houston’s annual Livestock Show and Rodeo takes place every spring. My friend went to volunteer and was surprised to find a long line stretching around the building’s corner. Figuring it must be the line for people seeking shelter, she asked someone where the line to volunteer was. “This is the line, honey,” the lady replied. That long line wasn’t for people who needed help, but for people who wanted to help. Dr. Sheriff Zafraan, president of the Texas Medical Board and member of ISNA’s Founders’ Committee, was on the front lines of organizing medical help for those injured and/or sick. As eager-to-help doctors from neighboring states poured in, Zafraan helped issue temporary 30-day licenses to medical workers in U.S. hospitals. When a hurricane as devastating as Harvey hits the country’s fourth largest city, all hands are needed on deck. Come Sunday night, the water in my neighborhood had finally gone down and was out of our house. But now there was a lot more work to do, such as gutting the house. That night, a few friends from college messaged me because they saw my neighborhood on the news and wanted to check in. I told them what had happened and assured them that my family and I were safe. A few hours later I received a message from Dr. Andrew Hamilton, dean of the
College of Natural Science and Mathematics at the University of Houston and former director of the Bonner Program, a service-learning program at the university. I was part of the program, and when he heard
Charlottesville, wondering how people could be so violent, and here we are today in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, assured that compassion and goodness do exist in people. May the kindness toward people remain
ISNA BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEMBERS FLEW DOWN FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO HELP WITH RELIEF EFFORTS IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE HOUSTON-BASED RISALA FOUNDATION. THEY VISITED SEVERAL PARTS OF HOUSTON, GUTTING HOMES AND CLEANING UP DEBRIS. that my house was flooded he messaged: “I’m sending my cavalry tomorrow.” Sure enough, the next day, 30-40 kids in [University of Houston] Cougar-red T-shirts flooded my street. Most of these college students knew me; some didn’t. They hadn’t met my family or my neighbors, but that didn’t matter — they had heard that I was in trouble and they showed up. If that isn’t what community is all about, I don’t know what is. They took my kitchen cabinets apart, tore up the wooden floor of the family down the street, removed soaked carpet from the house a few doors down and threw out furniture from my next door neighbor’s house. They were there the whole afternoon, stopping only for short water breaks. After working until the sun was near setting and it was time for them to call it a day, they turned around and thanked my family for feeding them lunch and sending them home with dinner. They thanked us. The following weekend, the ISNA Board of Directors and Executive Council members flew in from across the country to help with relief efforts in conjunction with the Houston-based Risala Foundation. They visited several parts of Houston, where they gutted homes and cleaned up debris. Yes, the hurricane was devastating. Yes, many people lost their homes — I’m still not able to go back to mine, and my house thankfully was far better off than many others. It will take a while for us to rebuild our beloved city, but I believe we have the willpower, strength and positivity to get through the months that lie ahead. The worst of it is over. Importantly, the storm brought out the best in everyone — just a few weeks ago we were taken aback by the atrocities that shocked
and the positivity that penetrates the Houston air prevail long after our city is rebuilt. May God reward all those who have helped, and may He replace all that was lost with something better. Ameen. ih Saman Essa, who is majoring in psychology and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Houston, plans to become a psychologist with a focus on immigrant and refugee populations in the U.S.
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JERUSA City of Thr
22 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
SALEM: ree Hearts
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The Need for Vision in Israel and America We need an ethical vision that would be inspirational and relevant to all of our citizens BY RABBI RON KRONISH
n a Sabbath morning in synagogues around the world a few weeks ago (Fri., July 28, 2017), Jews read from the first chapter of the classical prophet of Isaiah. Known as Shabbat Hazon (the Sabbath of Vision), it is based on Isaiah’s (Prophet Dhul-Kifl) vision as recalled in this stirring passage, one of the most famous in the entire Hebrew Bible. On the one hand, the prophet offers a stinging rebuke of the Israelite leaders and the people’s immoral behavior. On the other hand, he presents a vision of what ought to be, the kind of righteous behavior that
Jews and others, who follow the prophets, including Muslims, must practice if they are to live justly in the Holy Land, and for that matter, in any land, including the United States. Among other things, the following verses offer the following critique: 1:4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that deal corruptly; they have forsaken the Lord, they have condemned the Holy One of Israel, they are turned away backward. 1:21 How is the faithful city
24 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
become a harlot! She that was full of justice, righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers. 1:23 Your princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves; everyone loves bribes, and follows after rewards; they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them. As I sat in the synagogue and listened to these verses being chanted, I felt that Isaiah was speaking as much to us today as he was to my ancestors. It was as if the prophet was up-to-date on the news concerning
WE NEED OF VISION FOR OUR SOCIETIES — IN JERUSALEM AND IN AMERICA — WHICH WILL CREATE SPACE FOR ALL OF GOD’S CHILDREN, WHO CAN LIVE IN PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE— WITH JUSTICE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS AS THEIR PRIMARY VALUES. corruption and wrongdoings of leaders in Israel, America and other parts of the world. If Isaiah were around today, he would also be shocked at how much injustice and lack of peace there is in Jerusalem and the major cities of America. He would be very disturbed by wanton violence and killing of innocent civilians, whether by Jewish or Muslim extremists, or by white supremacists, who blaspheme the name of God by their immoral actions. Isaiah’s greatness lies in the fact that he not only critiques the current malaise, but that he also offers a vision of what we should be aspiring to achieve in our personal and collective lives: 1:16 Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes, cease to do evil; 1:17 Learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. In very sharp and simple terms, Isaiah outlines the essentials of ethical living. The above passage is a clarion call for living moral lives and for developing a society that will live by the highest possible ethical norms. Note that this doesn’t happen by itself. It seems that this kind of life is not necessarily based on human nature. Rather, one needs to learn how to do good via a long-term process
of serious, sensitive and systematic education. Similarly, justice is not practiced automatically or inherently by human beings. Instead, one needs to seek it and work at it over a long period of time as well. But there is a need for a basic human consciousness that we desire a just society, as opposed to one that it only good for the ruling elites. Jews read Isaiah’s vision for seven weeks in a row every year at this time, in what is known as the seven “prophetic readings of consolation.” If that isn’t enough, they also read from Isaiah on the morning of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the holiest of all Jewish holidays, at which time we learn that the real purpose of fasting is to catalyze us towards ethical living. The same can undoubtedly be said about fasting during Ramadan for Muslims. Isaiah’s vision ought to be deeply embedded into who we are as Jews and what kind of Jewish society we are striving to establish, given the reestablishment of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel after 2,000 years. This is undoubtedly what the framers of Israel’s Declaration of Independence had in mind in 1948 when they wrote: “THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based
on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.” For a long time now, I have felt that we in Israel — as well as in America and other places — need to renew this vision of the moral society that we would like to build. Perhaps our leaders — in both countries — should re-read Isaiah more carefully these days, since it might help both of them to develop an ethical vision that would be inspirational and relevant to all of our citizens. And then, in the words of Isaiah, “Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and they that return to her with righteousness” (Isaiah 1:27). We need of vision for our societies — in Jerusalem and in America — which will create space for all of God’s children, who can live in peaceful coexistence — with justice and righteousness as their primary values. ih Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish is an interreligious peacebuilder, speaker, blogger, writer, and author of The Other Peace Process: Interreligious Dialogue: A View from Jerusalem, Hamilton Books, 2017.
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The Heart of Christianity Most mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics believe or at least accept the idea of finding a way to share Jerusalem politically between Israelis and Palestinians BY RON YOUNG
erusalem is at the heart of Christianity both as the geographical location of defining events in Jesus’ life (Luke 2:22, 2:41 and Mark 11:15), death and resurrection, as well as its status as being the “place” of his return for the “Last Judgment” (Rev. 21:1-3) and the symbol of a new and better world to come, namely, the “New Jerusalem” (Rev. 3:12). Small but vital Arab/Palestinian Christian communities continue to exist in Israel and the Occupied Territories, albeit in dwindling numbers due to the ongoing conflict: Israel (2.1 percent), the West Bank (2-2.5 percent), and Gaza (less than 1 percent). While the meaning of Jerusalem differs among the three Abrahamic religious traditions, clearly the city is holy and very important to all of them. Accepting and honoring the historical presence in and religious significance of Jerusalem to each tradition provides the basis for interfaith cooperation for peace. In June 1987, fifty American Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders met at an unpublicized meeting in Alexandria, Va., and committed themselves to working together for 26 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace. They formed the U.S. Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East (USICPME; http://www. nili-mideastpeace.org) and adopted a common statement, “A Time for Peace,” which was endorsed over the following six months by 500 Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders nationwide. Ever since its founding, the USICPME has advocated active and fair U.S. policies that the leaders believed were essential for achieving peace: principled support for the rights of both the Jewish people and the Palestinians to national self-determination, for a twostate solution, and for negotiating a way to share the holy city. The committee specifically declared: “Jerusalem is of vital significance to Israelis and Palestinians, and to Jews, Christians and Muslims worldwide. We believe negotiations, rather than unilateral action, can help assure that Jerusalem will be a city of peace.” Shortly after the founding meeting, I went to Atlanta to meet with Jimmy Carter. The former president expressed strong support for the committee and more than once wrote letters of introduction to Arab and Israeli heads of state and to PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat (d. 2004), requesting meetings on behalf of interfaith delegations of Christians, Jews and Muslims. I arranged to visit the Middle East.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with members of NILI delegation upon their return from a visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan. (From left to right) Mohamed Elsanousi (then at ISNA), Bishop Howard Hubbard, Chair, International Justice & Peace, US Conf. of Catholic Bishops, Dennis Frado, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Rabbi Peter Knobel, Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform), Peter Makari, United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, Dr Stephan Colecchi, Director, Office of International Justice and Peace, US Conf. of Catholic Bishops, Rabbi Amy Small, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Alex Baumgarten, Episcopal Church, Office of Government Affairs, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Former Archbishop of Washington DC, Secretary Clinton, Ron Young, Consultant, NILI, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religion Action Center for Reform Judaism, Archbishop Vicken Aykasian, Armenian Orthodox Church in America, Rev. Tracy Smith Malone, United Methodist Church, and Dawud Assad, former President, Council of Mosques USA.
ACCEPTING AND HONORING THE HISTORICAL PRESENCE IN AND RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE OF JERUSALEM TO EACH TRADITION PROVIDES THE BASIS FOR INTERFAITH COOPERATION FOR PEACE. Recognizing that the committee would likely be attacked by some narrowly partisan and extremist supporters, we believed it was essential to involve mainstream religious leaders from all three communities. Dr. Charles Kimball of the National Council of Churches and Fr. J. Bryan Hehir of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops played key roles in securing endorsements by Christian leaders. Christian Orthodox and mainline Protestant supporters included leaders of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, the National Council of Churches, the United Methodist Church as well as leaders of the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Disciples of Christ, and United Church of Christ denominations. Prominent Roman Catholic endorsers included four American archbishops. Jewish and Muslim leaders who endorsed the committee’s statement, including the warning against unilateral action and the call for negotiations to resolve the future status of Jerusalem, were equally prominent and mainstream. Jewish endorsers included Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg; Reform leaders Albert Vorspan, senior vice president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (renamed Union for Reform Judaism in 2003), and Rabbi Eugene Lipman, president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis; Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, executive vice president of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly; and Rabbi Mordechai E. Liebling, executive director of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, as well as scores of congregational rabbis. Muslim endorsers included Dawud Assad, the PalestinianAmerican president of the Council of Mosques USA, AfricanAmerican Muslim leader Warith Deen Mohammed, Muslim scholars Dr. Fazlur Rahman and Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub, and Maher and Hassan Hathout, Muslim American community leaders in Los Angeles. Different views about Jerusalem among Christians — and among Jews and Muslims — may reflect theological differences; however, they also often reflect various political views about the IsraeliPalestinian conflict and how it should be resolved. While individual members of these communities hold different views, the biggest difference among American Christians today is between most Christian Orthodox, mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics on the one hand, and many Evangelical Protestant Christians on the other. The percentages of people who identify with these groups have also been changing. Between 2007 and 2014, the number of American adults who identify as mainline Protestants declined from 18.1 to 14.7 percent, and as Roman Catholics from 23.9 to 20.8 percent.
The percentage of Evangelical Protestants also declined, but only slightly — from 26.3 to 25.4 percent. In other words, Evangelicals are now the largest single grouping of American Christians. Most mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics believe or at least accept the idea that finding a way to share Jerusalem politically between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as religiously among Jews, Christians and Muslims, is essential to resolving the conflict. Many, though not all, Evangelical Protestants, especially the more fundamentalist Evangelicals, support the idea of Jerusalem being controlled exclusively by Israel — a formula for continued confrontation and violence. However, a survey of Evangelical leaders conducted in 2014 revealed that a quarter of them had begun to show more understanding of and empathy for the Palestinians. TELOS (www.telosgroup.org), a relatively new national Evangelical organization, is seeking to build a movement that is simultaneously pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian, and pro-peace. Recently, tensions over Jerusalem’s present and potential future status have intensified and led to violent confrontations. Israeli government statements since 1967 that Jerusalem is united under Israeli rule and will remain so are belied by the ongoing deep divisions and tensions in the city. While he seems to have backed away from the idea, President Trump’s talk about moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem only added fuel to the fire. A creative, if controversial, idea circulated several years ago in the State Department: The U.S. should announce plans to have two embassies in Jerusalem, one for Israel and one for the projected Palestinian state. In a Jerusalem Post article (Nov. 3, 2014), David Newman, dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Ben Gurion University, expressed his own views about the holy city’s future. I believe that if Trump were to endorse them, they could win support among a majority of Jews, Christians and Muslims. Newman wrote: Under any future conflict resolution, a future which seems as far away as it ever has during past years, Jerusalem must be an open city without walls or any other form of physical division. If Jews wish to reside in “east Jerusalem,” Palestinians must equally be allowed to reside in the western parts of the city. There needs to be a single transportation system, unified electricity and joint municipal government covering both in the western and eastern parts of the rapidly growing city, and the holy sites of the Old City must be open to all, under some form of non-national and non-political supervision. There is no reason why the State of Israel and a neighboring Palestinian state cannot have their own political and administrative capitals in different parts of the same city, if that is what is required to satisfy the political and emotional demands of both sides. ih Ron Young is a consultant with the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (NILI; www.nili-mideastpeace.org). The views expressed in this article are his own and not those of NILI.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 27
Why Masjid al-Aqsa is Important to Muslims Muslim rulers recognized the rights of Christians and Jews to their holy city and allowed them to visit Jerusalem BY MUZAMMIL H. SIDDIQI
he Masjid al-Aqsa is one of Islam’s three most sacred mosques. It is also called al-Haram al-Shareef (the Noble Sanctuary), which includes the mosque, the Dome of the Rock and the surrounding compound. All Muslims without exception consider it sacred, just like they do the Ka’bah and the Prophet’s Mosque. Jerusalem, “the land of the Prophets,” “the blessed land,” “the land of the Ascent” and the first prayer direction, is held in high esteem for several reasons. First, the Masjid al-Aqsa and its surroundings are associated with the lives of many of God’s prophets and messengers, all of whom Islam accepts as legitimate. The Quran, which mentions
many of them by name, relates their stories and teachings at varying lengths. Muslims accept Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Zachariah, John and Jesus (‘alayhum al-salam) as among God’s honored prophets and messengers. Since Jerusalem is historically associated with them, Muslims naturally view it as a sacred city. Islam considers itself a continuation of the same spiritual and ethical movement begun by the earlier prophets and therefore, in historical and theological terms, the true inheritor of these earlier traditions. Thus the Quran calls Palestine, the land associated with many of the prophets, al-ard al-muqaddasah (the Sacred Land;
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5:21) and its surroundings barakna hawlaha (God’s Blessed Precincts; 17:1). According to Islam, Jerusalem’s sacredness lies in its historical religious reality. For example, this city witnessed the life and works of God’s greatest prophets and messengers, who lived and walked in its valleys and streets. Thus its soil has been repeatedly touched by the divine grace. Just as Makkah and Madinah are blessed cities due to Abraham and Ishmael (‘alayhum al-salam) and Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), Jerusalem is blessed and important because of David, Solomon and Jesus. As Jews and Christians do not consider Ishmael and Muhammad to be God’s
prophets and messengers, to them Makkah and Madinah are just regular cities; however, Muslims believe in Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus and therefore recognize Jerusalem’s special status in the eyes of God. Jerusalem and its sacred places of worship are also associated with Muhammad: “Glory be to Him who took His servant by night from the Masjid al-Haram to the Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him some of Our signs. He alone is the All Hearing, the All Seeing” (17:1). This refers to the isra’ (the night journey) and the mi’raj (the ascent), the Prophet's miraculous journey from Makkah to Jerusalem in 620, almost 1.5 years before the hijrah. One night, Angel Gabriel took him, via Buraq, from Makkah to Jerusalem and then ascended to the heavenly abodes, an honor and confirmation of the two cities’ spiritual link. It is reported that while the Prophet was in Jerusalem, he stood on the Sacred Rock and ascended to heaven, where he met with those prophets and messengers who had gathered together to meet him. He led them in prayers in the blessed compound and then returned to Jerusalem. During the ascension, God revealed to him the five daily obligatory prayers, which he instituted upon his return to Makkah. As he also made Jerusalem the Muslims’ prayer direction, that city is also called the “first qiblah” (ula al-qiblatayn). The Prophet and his Companions prayed toward it during
JERUSALEM CAME UNDER ISLAMIC RULE IN 638 DURING THE REIGN OF CALIPH UMAR (RADI ALLAHU ‘ANH). AFTER ITS PEACEFUL CONQUEST, THE CITY’S RULING PATRIARCH SOPHRONIUS (560638) OFFERED THE CITY’S KEYS TO HIM. their stay in Makkah and for almost seventeen months after they moved to Madinah. They only began praying toward Makkah when God told Muhammad to do so (2:142-150). Muslim commentators of the Quran and historians have detailed the meaning
and purpose of this change. Suffice it to say that this event did not diminish Jerusalem’s status. The Ka’bah was always meant to be the prayer direction, because it was the “first house” (awwal bayt; 3:96) of worship established for humanity. However, as it was full of idols when the Prophet began preaching his message of God’s oneness and transcendence, the new Muslims needed to be separated from their former pagan practices and the Ka’bah’s idolatrous associations. Jerusalem aptly served that purpose by distancing them from their past in this regard. Once monotheism was fully established in the believers’ hearts and minds and once the Ka’bah’s relationship with Abraham and monotheism was made clear, the way was open to restore it as the original prayer direction. Islamic legislation contains many instances of such changes (or abrogation [naskh]). For example, visiting graves was originally forbidden but permitted later after Muslims understood the difference between that custom and ancestor worship. The Prophet also forbade Muslims to write down his words, fearing that they might mix them with the Word of God. But later on, when they were able to distinguish between the two, he allowed them to write down the Hadith as well.
Jerusalem came under Islamic rule in 638 during the reign of Caliph Umar (radi
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Dome of the Rock
Allahu ‘anh). After its peaceful conquest, the city’s ruling patriarch Sophronius (560638) offered the city’s keys to him. Upon entering the blessed city, Umar asked about the location of the Masjid al-Aqsa and the Blessed Rock from which the Prophet had ascended to heaven. He found them in a desolate place, for after the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 no Christian ruler or Jewish group had sought to build any place of worship there. In fact, according to historians, the Jerusalemites used it as a garbage dump. Along with his companions, Umar cleaned and washed the site himself, after which all of the Muslims prayed there. The Masjid al-Aqsa was built there and, in 691, was joined by the Dome of Rock and a more elaborate mosque, the Masjid al-Aqsa — perhaps the Muslim community’s first really expensive and large purpose-built sacred monument.
According to the Prophet, “No journey should be taken (with the intention of worship) except to three mosques: the Sacred Mosque in Makkah, the Prophet’s Mosque and the Masjid al-Aqsa” (al-Bukhari, hadith no. 1115). Thus Muslims have always considered it a religious deed to visit Jerusalem, its mosque and its sacred and blessed precincts. Pilgrims to Makkah often made it a point to visit that city as well. Muslim rulers and philanthropists purchased land in and around the city upon which they built many hostels, schools and other religious centers. They dedicated these as waqfs (endowments) set up for religious purposes, meaning that they could not be legally sold, transferred or even given as a bequest to someone else. Many Muslim scholars also migrated and settled in Jerusalem, thereby making the Masjid al-Aqsa a great seat of learning. Thousands of pious people and scholars
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stated in their wills that they wanted to be buried there. As a result, thousands and perhaps even millions of Muslims are buried within the city and its environs. Muslim rulers, who recognized the rights of Christians and Jews to their holy city, allowed them to visit Jerusalem; many of them were also permitted to settle there. When Caliph Umar signed the treaty, he had to agree to Patriarch Sophronius’ insistence that “No Jews will live with them in Aelia Capitolina,” the official name for Jerusalem. Later on, however, Muslim religious tolerance caused this rule to be relaxed and Jews were allowed to visit and settle there. After Salahuddin Ayyubi took it from the Crusaders in 1187, the Christian rulers’ ban on both Jews and Muslims was lifted and the Jews’ rights were restored. ih Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, a former ISNA president, is chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America.
ISLAM IN AMERICA
Muslim Girls: Say “Yes” to Sports Struggles and efforts remain ongoing around the world to make sports accessible to observant Muslimahs of all ages
U.S. Olympics fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad
BY SABINA MEHDI
uslimahs have been involved in sports since Islam’s early days, ever since Prophet Muhammad’s (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) races with his wife Aisha (radi Allahu ‘anh). In one hadith, she fondly recalls racing with him and even winning one when she was young and fit (“Ahmad” and “Abu Dawood”). They enjoyed these races so much that they even raced to the Battle of Badr, one of the most important battles in the young community’s history. Islamic belief is based upon respect for one’s body and soul, and the Prophet himself emphasized the role of exercise by advocating that people take care of their health and body, “Anyone who has a healthy body is secure, is able to meet his daily tasks and own the world” (al-Bukhari, “al-Adab al-Mufrad,” hadith no. 300; al-Tirmidhi, “al-Sunan,” hadith no. 2346). Importantly, he did not differentiate between sexes: “The right of the child is one of obliging his father to teach him writing, swimming and archery” (al-Kulyani, “al-Kafi,” vol. 6, p. 47, h. 4, narrating from Caliph ‘Ali [radi Allahu ‘anh]). Given this strong emphasis, one would surely assume that believing Muslims would
integrate sports into their lives as well. Islam is the first major religion to give equal rights in many aspects to women. The Prophet mentioned that teaching certain sports to a child was imperative but did not specify a girl or a boy, because he meant it for both. So why don’t we see even a fraction of Muslimahs involved in sports as compared to men? This is an important question upon which Muslims must ponder. It’s true that a lot has changed over the years. Muslimah athletes have achieved success in volleyball, tennis, association football, fencing, basketball and other sports. In the 2016 Olympics, fourteen Muslimahs participated in a wide range of sports and even won some medals. Still, overall they remain underrepresented in athletic arenas from school and amateur sports to international competitions. Did you know that their participation rate in sports is about half that of their non-Muslim peers? Among the many causes of this negative situation are cultural or familial pressures and the lack of suitable programs. But perhaps one of the biggest barriers is the modest clothing that the Quran prescribes for Muslimahs. For example, the hijab is routinely banned and looking “different” on the field is frowned upon, which requires observant Muslimah
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athletes who want to follow their sports-related passion to have a special kind of courage and faith to overcome these hurdles. A senior friend informed me of the obstacles faced by his own daughter. A young and fit Virginia 9th grader, she had to jump through several hoops to play her favorite sport: field hockey. An excellent player, she was chosen for the school’s team and went to the trials wearing a tracksuit. However, when she was given the team uniform, it was an obvious no-no for her because it was just too revealing: short skirt and a tank top! Therefore, this observant Muslimah found herself in quite a fix, because she didn’t want to abandon her chosen sport and the hard work she put into it. And so she offered to design her own uniform. The coach, who had never faced such an issue, tried to convince her that playing a hectic sport in the summer heat required “airy” attire. When she insisted otherwise, the coach asked her parents to come in for a talk, after which they signed a disclaimer absolving the authorities from any claims if the player faced any problems wearing full-body covering. The catch was that the student-selected clothing had to be worn under the skimpy team uniform. She agreed and played for the school throughout her high school career. When I heard this story, my first reaction was to think “hats off ” to that young girl who had stood her ground for the pleasure of God. I would have been too cowered by peer pressure at that tender yet tenacious age, so I really am proud of the fact she did not give in. This incident took place during the 2000s, and I am wondering if it might be a bit easier now. There is more awareness, social media platforms advocating for the rights of Muslims, more focus on better health and lifestyle changes and more designers coming forward with appropriate uniforms. On the flip side, we are also witnessing the worst negative press against Islam. Perhaps “skirts for the ladies” is a hangover from the days when it wasn’t culturally acceptable for women to wear pants, and the rules-making men of a certain cultural and religious identity crafted the rules. However, an investigation by Indianapolis’ IndyStar newspaper (Nov. 5, 2016) found that, as a general rule, women can choose whether or not to wear revealing uniforms. IndyStar tracked down uniform rules from middle school to professional levels of play and found that most allow female athletes to cover up if they wish. The motivation for changing volleyball
Cathy Freeman sprints to gold
PHOTO (C) VICTORIA INSTITUTE OF SPORTS
uniforms is reinforced by Craig Carracher, former CEO of Volleyball Australia, who remarked, “If we can show off these bodies at the same time as presenting our sport, then we are going to do that” (Barbeliuk A, 1999, “Good Sports or Good Sorts?”, The Daily Telegraph, 9 Jan: p. 34). The Canberra Times (May 27, 2000) quoted Shelly Andrews, Australian Hockeyroos player, “When we take our clothes off, we get more exposure than for actually playing the game.” The Lingerie Football League began as a pay-per-view gimmick in 2009. However, the fact that it still exists proves that a fanbase exists somewhere for barely dressed, professional female football players. Understandably, in 2013 founder and chairman Mitchell Moraza decided to take the rapidly maturing league in a new direction — he changed its name to the Legends Football League and changed the players’ attire from lingerie to actual performance wear. But even that uniform is unfit for publication in a family magazine. That said, it is heartwarming to see glimmers of hope emerging in the fashion industry. In March 2017, Nike announced that it would release a Pro Hijab for Muslimah athletes in spring 2018. This item, which is expected to cost $35, is made of lightweight, stretchy breathable mesh polyester. Throughout its several stages of development, the product was tested by a group that included Zahra Lari, the first figure skater from the UAE to compete internationally, Manal Rostom, a runner and triathlete currently living in Dubai, and Amna al Haddad, an Olympic weightlifter also from the UAE. The presence of hijab-wearing athletes at the Olympics is becoming increasingly common. But the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the international soccer organization, only lifted its ban on religious headgear in 2014. After much debate, on May 4, 2017, the International Basketball Federation’s (FIBA) first-ever Mid-Term Congress, which brought together representatives from 139 national federations, unanimously ratified the FIBA Central Board’s decision to allow players to wear headgear. It was developed in a way that minimizes the risk of injuries and preserves the uniform’s color consistency. The new rule came into effect on October 1, 2017. No statistics exist about the number of Muslimah professional golfers. And yet on July 2, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) issued rules that players either start covering up or get ready to
THE BIG FLAP ABOUT THE BURQINI SHOULD SURPRISE THOSE WHO RECALL CATHY FREEMAN, THE FIRST AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINE TO WIN A GOLD MEDAL AT AN INTERNATIONAL ATHLETICS EVENT IN 1990 AND, TWO YEARS LATER, THE FIRST ONE TO COMPETE AT THE OLYMPICS. IN THE SYDNEY 2000 OLYMPICS, SHE LIT THE GAMES’ CAULDRON AND WON A GOLD MEDAL IN THE 400 METERS FULLY COVERED, THEREBY CLEARLY PROVING THAT SCANTY CLOTHING ISN’T NECESSARILY MORE AERODYNAMIC. pay up. The tighter rules tamped down on recent, less traditional athletic wear trends that have popped up on the courses, including racerback tank tops, leggings, joggers, “plunging necklines,” and players’ “bottom area.” Players who do not comply face penalties of $1,000 for the first offense, and, according to an email sent by LPGA player president Vicki Goetze-Ackerman and reported by Golf Digest’s Ashley Mayo, the fine “will double with each offense.” In addition to sharing the new dress code and recourse for violations, Goetze-Ackerman told players that they are “responsible for letting their sponsors know about the new policy.”
SENSIBLE THINKING While banning the hijab may seem pointless even to many non-Muslims, the struggle is real and we have a long way to go in the world of sports, where we so often see inherent sexism behind female athletes’ wardrobes. Except
perhaps for basketball, soccer and softball, female athletes dress in tight skimpy outfits. I am not a feminist, but I do find it unfair when women are expected to fulfill some sort of preconceived gender role. In tennis, volleyball and lacrosse, for example, female athletes seem to fulfill two roles: (1) dressing for competition and (2) to please the crowd. Sometimes the skimpy outfits could detract from the sport’s real purpose. Athletics should not be a place to exploit beautiful women. Long before Nike came up with its campaign, some designers had already helped create certain modest athletic attire. I got very interested in Dutch designer Cindy van den Bremen’s Capsters, a basic jersey sport headscarf with a Velcro fastening. She had become involved in this issue because Holland had experienced a lot of controversy about hijabi schoolgirls participating in sports. Claims had been made that the hijab would get caught, could strangle people, was
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 33
ISLAM IN AMERICA dangerous and so forth. There was a great deal about it in the press. It was said that Muslimah athletes should start wearing polo neck shirts with swim hats. Van den Bremen, who came from a secular background, felt that all of this fuss was ridiculous and that she could use her talents to create something appropriate that could mediate these tensions, something that could actually fit in visually and aesthetically with what the other female athletes were wearing. And so Capsters was born. This was long before the press started going after the rather “infamous” burqini/burkini so popular among beach-loving observant Muslimahs worldwide. Originally designed in Australia in 2004 by Aheda Zanetti, an Australian Muslimah, where water sports is life and considered integral to social acceptance, it covers everything but the wearer’s face, hands and feet, while being light enough for swimming. This swimsuit came to everyone’s attention when Surf Lifesaving Australia introduced a program to integrate Muslim boys and girls into surf lifesaving after the December 2005 Cronulla riots, during which Middle Eastern-looking people had been attacked. A young Muslimah wanted to compete in her burqini. This swimsuit was much maligned and banned in France after a very publicized incident. Years later the ban was overturned by the country’s highest administrative court on the grounds that, according to the BBC, it “seriously and clearly illegally breached fundamental freedoms.” One can find many versions of the burqini now in online Muslim stores. The big flap about the burqini should surprise those who recall Cathy Freeman, the first Australian Aborigine to win a gold medal at an international athletics event in 1990 and, two years later, the first one to compete at the Olympics. In the Sydney 2000 Olympics, she lit the games’ cauldron and won a Gold Medal in the 400 meters fully covered, thereby clearly proving that scanty clothing isn’t necessarily more aerodynamic. Not only do women now have a lot of options to cover and still participate in almost any sport of our choice, but guess what? — covering up has an added advantage: backing from science. Well, who knew? In recent times, science has pointed out the risk of increased skin cancer among athletes. A large study by Stanford and published in 2017 showed that increased sun exposure puts many athletes at a higher risk than most people for skin cancer. It went on to say that
an estimated 65 percent of melanomas and 90 percent of keratinocyte cancers in fair-complexioned populations are attributable to sun exposure. Therefore, prevention through avoidance of excessive ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure is critical. That same fall, Stanford launched Sunsport, a partnership that pairs its medical experts with the university’s athletics department to increase awareness among student athletes and study their sun habits. “Athletes are exposed to excessive UV radiation, and there is really substantial evidence to show that they are at increased risk for skin cancer,” says Dr. Susan Swetter, director of Stanford’s Pigmented Lesion and Melanoma Program. “What we are really looking at in this young athlete population is really something analogous to frequent tanning bed use.” The program also promotes “shade structures” for athletes. The American Cancer Society’s guidelines include avoiding direct sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., covering up with clothing, hats [emphasis added] and sunglasses and reapplying sunscreen every two hours. Yes you read that correctly — covering up with clothing and hats to avoid direct sun exposure in order to avoid risk of a deadly form of cancer called melanoma. So, what the coach advised my friend at the parent conference years ago about “airy and skimpy clothing” for his daughter has been overruled by science. So yes, a lot of things are going well for us, but the fact of the low turnout of Muslimahs on sport fields remains. As we work our way through the plethora of reasons for this, I wonder if our society, communities and families need to change their perspectives as well. We all know that in addition to promoting good health, exercise and fitness, Islam encourages both men and women to engage in physical activity in order to maintain healthy lifestyles. But we often see culture getting mixed up with religion. Many cultural expectations and norms still hold that women must be careful when it comes to choosing a sport, or parents who prefer that sons play cricket with dad and get football coaching on Sundays, while daughters take cooking and art classes. Some parents encourage and advocate for their daughters to participate in sports. Many parents also have valid concerns about the attire. But times are changing. Muslimahs can pursue their chosen sports while wearing religious attire and adhering to their values.
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How else can attitudes change? By Muslimahs themselves becoming change agents. You’ve got to care about this, to see sports and exercise as priorities and to value your health, because it eventually catches up with you and interferes in the roles that God has assigned to you: a woman of this world, a daughter seeking knowledge, a wife and mother and so forth. Physical inactivity catches up with you as you age — you can’t stay up later, and fasting and praying become harder. Taking up a sport even as a hobby is one of the best ways to stay fit, and a strong body is more capable of fulfilling the obligations of life and religion. By the way, Muslimahs can even become bridesmaids and accept other honor roles by adding an Islamic flair to the dress selected by the [non-Muslim] bride! Muslimahs need to remind themselves that the Prophet noted, “A strong believer is better and dearer to God than a weak believer, though there is good in both” (“Sahih al-Muslim,” hadith no. 2664). ih Sabina Mehdi, a freelance writer based in Jersey City, N.J., is an IT engineer by profession and a devoted mother. Her passion lies in writing about lifestyle, fashion, travel, food, culture and similar topics.
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Renewal, Revival, Reform The International Institute of Islamic Thought’s Summer Student Program of Islamic Studies BY NORA ZAKI
I I T, u s ua l ly c a l l e d t h e International Institute of Islamic Thought by the umma, is well known abroad for its work and mission. However, for some reason it is less known among Muslim Americans. The institute’s month-long Summer Student Program (SSP), held at the Fairfax Institute in Herndon, Va., from July 10 to August 8, was filled with six hours of daily classes in Islamic studies and related subjects. Also featured were weekend lectures on topics such as “Islamophobia in North America” and an “Introduction to ‘The Study Qur’an’” by one of the editors, in addition to picnics and gatherings at the homes of generous IIIT-affiliated scholars and professors. On Friday, we were able to visit and pray jum’ah in one of the nation’s largest mosques: the nearby ADAMS Center. The program’s piece de resistance was twofold: the student presentations made during our classes and focused research. I attended this program as a recent Master’s graduate in Islamic studies (University of Chicago) looking for extra enrichment in my field. Growing up in a Muslim family and with an Egyptian father, I had heard of IIIT all my life, and several of its books lined our bookshelves. Attending the intensive immersion program with scholars like Jonathan Brown (Georgetown University), Engy Abdelkader (then at Bridge Initiative, Georgetown University), Aminah McCloud (DePaul University), Ovamir Anjum (University of Toledo), Maria Dakake (George Mason University) and Jasser Auda (International Peace College South Africa), among others, gave me a greater grasp on IIIT’s objective of reform of Islamic thought. When I first heard the word reform at one of the opening sessions, I cringed. I thought to myself, “The Islamic religion does not need reform! It is the Muslims who need to reform.” Nevertheless, I listened and tried to understand what this term means. Indeed, revival and reform have been used to assert the need for an awakening in the Muslim world. A sound hadith in “Sunan
MODERNITY HAS CAUSED PEOPLE TO SEARCH FOR ANSWERS AND SEEK ROOTEDNESS. IIIT ATTEMPTS TO GROUND ALL MUSLIMS IN THEIR FAITH BY LOOKING AT CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS AND CONSIDERING THE TRIFECTA OF RENEWAL, REVIVAL AND REFORM. Abu Dawud” states, “Indeed, God will send to this community someone/some people every 100 years who will renew their religion.” Given that Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was the last and final prophet, these people are thought to be inspired renewers who will undertake the task of restoring the faith. Furthermore, one of the speakers noted that reform is a Quranic concept, “I only intend reform as much as I am able” (11:88). Hence, it was argued, societal reform is a prophetically sanctioned practice. The Quran lists some of these practices as doing good to orphans, reconciling married couples as well as quarreling parties, establishing order on Earth and making peace among people. Dr. Ermin Sinanonvić, IIIT’s director of research and academic programs, taught a course module on “Contemporary Islamic Thought.” According to him, Muslims are currently in a state called “the great interregnum,” an in-between period in terms of Islamic thought. The modern period of
Islamic reform started 150 years ago and, he argued, may have run its natural course. Although reform and revival were major aspects of some of the courses, we also learned about “Approaches to the Quran,” “Approaches to the Sunna,” “Islam in America,” “Islamic Jurisprudence,” “Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution,” “Muslim History and Civilization,” “Maqasid al-Sharia” and the “Foundations of Belief, Knowledge and Science.” The courses required extensive reading and occasional reflection papers. Another highlight was that we, along with the SSP scholars, attended the presentations of alumni from previous years on such topics as patriarchy in the field of Islamic studies, a new perspective on the Arab Spring from a Moroccan scholar, “progressive” Muslims in America, Islamic finance in Indonesia and how the printing press impacted culture in the 20th-century Middle East. In addition to learning what these alumni are currently working on, we also attended the Summer Institute for Scholars and listened to international professors, lecturers and other researchers’ papers on “Theologies and Ethics of Justice: New Directions in 21st-Century Islamic Thought.” In terms of living arrangements, we were graciously accommodated in a hotel with one roommate — there were 18 of us. The hotel was a short five-minute walk to the Fairfax Institute. As student scholars, we also received stipends to use for food at the numerous nearby halal restaurants and chain restaurants, not to mention the 24-hour Safeway grocery store right next door. As someone interested in chaplaincy and teaching in academia, I can say that this program personally changed my area of interest (hopefully for the better!) by opening my eyes to paradigms in Islamic thought that I had never thought of before. As a cohort of students, we had challenging conversations and frequent disagreements in classes. One of our fellow students was a Christian, for this program is open to non-Muslims. Modernity has caused people to search for answers and seek rootedness. IIIT attempts to ground all Muslims in their faith by looking at contemporary problems and considering the trifecta of renewal, revival and reform. ih Nora Zaki is a graduate of the University of Chicago’s Master of Divinity in Islamic Studies and Arabic. She is interested in university chaplaincy and academia, fluent in Arabic and has lived and studied in Morocco, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 35
ISLAM IN AMERICA
The Great American Sharia Scare Do Sharia and other religious laws have a role to play in America?
BY M. BASHEER AHMED
ith the growing hysteria created over Sharia and Sharia laws and Islam’s ongoing spread within America, 22 states have now banned Sharia law. And yet the nationwide “March against Sharia” rallies held on June 10 by the Islamophobic ACT for America were met by counter-rallies that outnumbered them 10:1 in many places. How does one account for such an obvious contradiction? Such rallies, laden with false and exaggerated claims, held in the recent past have generated fear and animosity toward fellow Americans, as well as a surge of harassment of fellow Americans who happen to be Muslim on the streets and in schools and other public places. Who benefits by making the subject of Sharia and Sharia law so controversial and inflammatory that it
can lead to public violence? And why are Americans being scared into believing that Sharia threatens their “land of Budweiser and bikinis”?
JUSTIFICATIONS AND CLARIFICATIONS
This opposition, which purposefully shrouds the organizers’ anti-Muslim bigotry, is being presented in the guise of “protecting” the public from Islam’s “primitive laws” and denying equal rights to women. To be fair, however, such punishments are implemented in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran, and Afghanistan. On the other hand, some American lawmakers are worried that Sharia laws may influence American courts when it comes to enforcing American laws. David Yerushalmi, the lawyer and anti-Muslim activist who leads American Laws for American Courts (ALAC; www.
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actforamerica.org/alac), has written reports and drafted model legislation (http://publicpolicyalliance.org/legislation/american-laws-for-american-courts) emphasizing that Sharia law is one of the greatest threats to American freedom. His legislation, which consciously discriminates against Muslims, may also affect the followers of other faiths. Former CIA director James Woolsey, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), and former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) have all endorsed his message. Such legislation only creates fear and panic among Americans. Most people do not distinguish between Sharia and the laws passed by Muslimmajority countries in its name. On its own, Sharia is nothing more than a set of guidelines based on Quranic principles and practiced by Muslims. This includes, among many other things, everyday interpersonal relationships, observing the five daily
prayers, fasting during Ramadan, giving charity, eating halal food and abstaining from alcohol, wearing hijab and/or dressing modestly and avoiding investing in certain companies (e.g., those that deal with tobacco, alcohol, weapons, gambling and pornography). For many Muslims, especially those who are observant, Sharia provides the guidelines for how they can live according to Islam in terms of belief, worship, maintaining their relationship with God and honoring their parents, family members and the elderly. It guides them in every sphere of life, from society to commerce to the sanctity of human life. And thus many believe that giving up even a part of it means giving up Islam. Sharia is overwhelmingly concerned with personal religious observance, not with regulations and laws. Many Muslims in the West may show their preference for it in terms of its principles, as opposed to in terms of the law itself. Defining Sharia as a threat only turns all Muslims, but primarily the observant ones, into a threat. A major contention of the anti-Sharia crowd is that its laws are anti-women. However, studying the texts shows that these laws actually created safety nets for women long before modern Western alimony and maintenance strictures even existed. For example, a central part of all Islamic marriage contracts is the inclusion of a mutually agreedupon mehr (roughly translated as dowry), either in cash or in kind, or a combination of both. Many prefer to give it when the contract is signed; others agree to give it when the wife demands it. For instance, the marriage document presented during a divorce case in a Canadian court read: “In the event of a separation, the defendant [husband] agrees to deliver to the plaintiff [wife] the following: I. One volume of the Holy Qur’an; II. One crystal sugar stick; III. One basket of narcissus flowers; IV. 3,000 gold coins [worth Can$750,000 when the case came to court in 2012]” (from Delvarani v. Delvarani, British Columbia Supreme Court). The judge threw out her right to mehr when the husband’s lawyer argued that mehr was Sharia law. In some countries where Sharia is enshrined, a husband can be arrested for not providing the dowry when the wife demands it. Sharia law, which represents the selective opinions of Muslim jurists who lived mostly during Islam’s early centuries, is not divine and thus can be reinterpreted to meet the needs and realities of the time and location.
If Sharia law had always been as exclusivist or brutal as it has been (and remains) under ISIS and the Taliban, then how does one account for the centuries-long general peace and harmony that Christians, Jews, and all
a synagogue is a more appropriate venue to solve certain disputes. Although U.S. judges may decide to reference a religious court’s decision in a public court, it cannot legally supersede state or federal laws.
A MAJOR CONTENTION OF THE ANTI-SHARIA CROWD IS THAT ITS LAWS ARE ANTI-WOMEN. HOWEVER, STUDYING THE TEXTS SHOWS THAT THESE LAWS ACTUALLY CREATED SAFETY NETS FOR WOMEN LONG BEFORE MODERN WESTERN ALIMONY AND MAINTENANCE STRICTURES EVEN EXISTED. other non-Muslims enjoyed for centuries in various Muslim-ruled lands? In fact, most of these countries’ populations remained non-Muslim. For instance, Muslims ruled big chunks of pre-modern India for more than 800 years, and despite the open immigration over the centuries India’s Muslim population today is only 15% of the total. Sharia has two components: personal and public. The first category refers to the relationship between an individual and God, whereas the second one applies to society at large (e.g., marriage, dowry, divorce, inheritance, and business or personal contracts). It also includes punishments for rape, theft, and murder. Certain brutal practices (e.g., cutting off a thief ’s hands and whipping or stoning adulterers) are enforced in very few countries today — the most notable one being Saudi Arabia — and only a tiny minority of Muslims condone these primarily culture-based practices. Thus, it is crucial to distinguish between Islam the religion and the culture of whatever country claims to practice it.
RELIGIOUS LAW AND THE AMERICAN LEGAL SYSTEM
Religious laws are often used to draw up civil contracts, and many mainstream religious groups have tribunals that issue non-binding rulings on civil disputes. Sharia is in some ways similar to the Jewish Halacha law, which is practiced by Beth Din (https://bethdin.org) — a Jewish court system that functions within the U.S. Sharia court systems have been established in a few American Islamic centers mainly to deal with family matters. Importantly, their judgments are neither binding nor enforceable. Some people believe that a mosque, a church or
Sharia is sometimes relevant in a U.S. court, such as when the provisions of a Muslim marriage contract have to be enforced. Like the majority of Americans, Muslims opt for a religious marriage ceremony. The couple signs a contract, which includes the groom’s non-retractable gift (i.e., dowry) to the bride. In case of dispute, American judges can ensure the contract’s validity based upon the parties’ expectations.
THE MYTH OF A FUTURE SHARIA-COMPLIANT AMERICA
No Muslim individual, group, or organization is working to replace American (or any other country’s) law with Sharia law. In fact, Sharia mandates that Muslims respect the law of the country in which they are living — a reality with which the vast majority of Muslims living in the U.S. and outside the traditional Muslim heartland have no problem. Moreover, as the First Amendment bars all religious laws, Sharia laws cannot be implemented. Furthermore, passing such legislation would require the support of a majority of legislators. Obviously, no House and/or Senate majority would ever allow such a thing to happen. Muslims make up less than 3 percent of the American population, and the majority of them have no desire to see Sharia implemented here. Given that implementing Sharia law is impossible and that not even Muslim Americans want to see this come to pass, why do so many Americans continue to listen to our resident Islamophobes and anti-Sharia activists/experts? ih Dr. Basheer Ahmed, a former professor of psychiatry at South Western Medical School (Dallas), is the current president of IQRA, a peace initiative organization located in northern Texas.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 37
ISLAM IN AMERICA
Second-class Citizens How long will North America’s Muslims continue to consider themselves children of some lesser god? BY MAHJABEEN ISLAM
t’s one thing to be stereotyped and marginalized, but quite another to be active participants in those processes. Muslim Americans have been under siege since 9/11, and time is not playing the healing role that it typically does with trauma. The multimillion-dollar Islamophobia industry is ubiquitous and now blatant on social and mainstream media, movies and legislative lobbying. Our community’s response to this has taken various forms, most of which have been ineffective and patently disorganized. For example, every Muslim community in the U.S. has an older immigrant “Uncle” who knows it all, for, after all, he’s been here for decades and knows everyone that matters. And so he gets to direct us when we want to engage in some activism. Uncle, an import from a previously colonized country, is also characterized by servility and a deep sense of inadequacy. Despite all these years with
citizenship and all, Uncle still thinks that he’s a guest in this country. Uncle’s most prominent issue is his conviction that the white man is superior to all other races — which proves to be rather problematic in many areas. We elect all Congress members to represent us and work for all American citizens. But Uncle doesn’t think so. In fact, he’s deeply delighted that he has a sibling type of relationship with the congressperson, one to whom only he has access and who will agree to grace any Muslim event only after a great deal of groveling. But reality, however, is rather different. Our votes got these officials elected, and therefore they are obliged to attend the political events of all members of their electorate. In the age of the Internet, no groveling is needed. If they want to be reelected, they should attend events. Have you noticed the hierarchy with which these Uncles and their types categorize people? At the top of the totem pole of deference stands the white man, followed
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by the white woman. Blacks and Hispanics are next, but only if they hold positions of influence. If not, they drop to the basement level. After the whites come Arabs, IndoPakistanis and, again right at the bottom, Africans and African-Americans. The Quran dispels all such racism and bigotry: “The most noble of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you” (49:13). Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) further underscored this in his Farewell Sermon: “There is no virtue of an Arab over a non-Arab nor of a non-Arab over an Arab, and neither of white skin over black skin nor of black skin over white skin, except in terms of righteousness.” Pre-Islamic Arab society was replete with racial and monetary inequality, the abuse of rights, corruption and injustice. Islam specifically addresses these issues and seeks to demolish all such man-made barriers. And yet Muslims all over the world largely ignore this simple premise. The resulting economic and societal inequity is painful to see. Sadly, this mentality has followed many immigrant Muslims to North America. For example, Arab-Americans have drawn unwritten lines of superiority among themselves on the basis of skin color. Lebanese- and Syrian-Americans are venerated for something they did not create — their light skin color. Instead of
respecting individuals for their knowledge, our communities have created these artificial lines of demarcation. Yemenis, Saudis and Egyptians are not dealt with on their individual merits, but on something as ludicrous as how dark-skinned they are. Racism is deeply ingrained in the South Asian mindset as well. For example, in Urdu songs and folklore a pretty girl is referred to as gori — “white” or “fair-skinned.” An incident many years ago opened my eyes. My mother’s aunt was looking for a bride for her son. When I asked her what type of woman they wanted, she simply said, “She should be gori.” I remember feeling so disillusioned. “What about other qualities?” I asked. She gave me that how-stupidcan-you-get look. African-Americans also consider lighter-skinned members of their community to be better looking. These individual and small community biases have permeated our larger Muslim communities and greatly affect our future as Muslim Americans. Have you noticed that we are extremely punctual for events held by white non-Muslims? But for events held by non-white Muslims, even Juma, or by non-whites in general, we arrive anywhere between 30 and 90 minutes late. I think this is due to a deeply ingrained, even subconscious, feeling that whites are superior and so we need to be deferential to them. I could have lived with deference. But when Uncle and his clan transform this into sickening servility in their speeches, I cringe inwardly and get alternately sad and mad. In fundraising events for a political candidate, one would think the candidate would be grateful. But no — Uncle and his clan show him or her around like a man displaying his trophy wife. When introducing the candidate to the audience, they pretty much thank him or her for the honor of agreeing to attend. In events held to raise Muslim political consciousness, where the political candidate is being done a favor, he or she is given celebrity treatment and welcomed with “thank you for protecting us and thank you for letting us practice our religion.” The 1970s, known as the third wave of Muslim immigration, brought professionals to North America. The American Medical Association reports that 10 percent of physicians in the U.S. are Muslim. Muslims are law-abiding, voting and taxpaying citizens, and yet for some reason we don’t feel good about ourselves. Our sense of internalized
racism belittles and demeans us. We have begun to believe the propaganda that all terrorists are Muslim and that we deserve to be second-class citizens. We don’t even call ourselves Americans or Canadians; we have reserved that distinction for a white person. In her “The Trouble with Reality” (2017), Brooke Gladstone writes, “Stereotyping is like eating, an act essential to our well-be-
die out as the older generation passes on because millennials don’t identify with it. The problem with this rationalization is that Uncle and his clan still have a chokehold on power, and by the time they leave the political scene untold damage will have been done and a tenor will have been set, both within Muslim communities and nationally with the larger community.
THE PLACE OF NORTH AMERICA’S MUSLIMS IS DEEPLY COMPROMISED BY WHAT I CALL AUTOSTEREOTYPING — OUR INGRAINED COLONIALISM AND DEEP SENSE OF INFERIORITY THAT FORCES US, AS A COMMUNITY, TO PLAY INTO ISLAMOPHOBIC PROPAGANDA. ing. And like eating there is a tendency to overindulge. For this disorder, there are no sure cures, and most treatments are deeply unpleasant.” The place of North America’s Muslims is deeply compromised by what I call auto-stereotyping — our ingrained colonialism and deep sense of inferiority that forces us, as a community, to play into Islamophobic propaganda. And the Uncles of our communities believe that we deserve to be stereotyped and should basically just live our lives cowering in the corner. I came to Toledo, Ohio, in 1982 and noticed lard in the bread of a Muslim family. “This is America!” I was reminded, and I just had to deal with it. I remember trekking to Wonder Bread — the then-reigning source — and getting bread made with vegetable oil. Noticing my recalcitrance, the attacks only worsened. “What will you do when you are at a company dinner and the steak is served with bacon strips?” Stating that I would send it back and order another one without bacon resulted in the same rebuke: “This is America. You can’t make that fuss!” I quietly reminded the glowering person that my father had been an ambassador of Pakistan and that in formal dinners no one had ever served pork to my parents, and that they had substituted grape juice for red wine and 7-Up for champagne. We forget that we command a great deal of respect when we stand up for our principles and our faith. When we discuss our community’s servility and inferiority, some say that it will
We must remind ourselves and raise our children to remember that we are equal citizens with the same rights and responsibilities as non-Muslims, that no government official does us any favors by “protecting” us and that the Constitution guarantees us the right to practice our religion. In other words, we have not rented our American or Canadian citizenship — we own it. We should endeavor to replicate the following spirit of community belonging wherever we live. M. J. Khan heads the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH). As soon as roads were made passable after Hurricane Harvey, four Islamic centers opened their doors and began functioning as shelters. Aid poured into Houston from Islamic charities, and a poignant ISGH statement proclaimed, “We are opening more mosques as shelters. We are not turning anyone away, and whatever we have we will share.” The ISGH also rounded up 50 physicians who were willing to treat hurricane victims. Great praise has been heaped on this effort, and it was an effective portrayal of how we live our faith. We need to change the current paradigm of subservience and inferiority and inject a large dose of self-respect and self-love into our communities. The ISGH model of helping the larger community is a beacon for us. As first-class American and Canadian citizens, let’s strengthen our great countries with our values and faith. North America will be so much better off with our contributions. ih Mahjabeen Islam, a freelance columnist and specialist in addiction and family medicine, has a practice in Toledo, Ohio.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 39
ISLAM IN AMERICA
First Nations and Muslims meet
Muslim Canadians and the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island are expanding and strengthening their links BY SHAHINA SIDDIQUI
he relationship between Muslim Canadians and the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island, part of which is now called Canada, has been evolving toward a solid common ground of mutual respect and reciprocity, collaboration and cooperation. Today, I share from the perspective of one who calls Treaty One land — the heartland of the Métis people — my home. My journey to understanding the history of the Indigenous, First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples started four decades ago when I immigrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba, and settled there with my family. The history of colonization, as it relates to Canada’s first peoples, is horrific and extremely painful. Moreover, their persecution continues in various ways to this day. Muslim Canadians have an obligation to stand up for justice and advocate against
persecution and oppression. But they can do so only after educating themselves on how Canada has historically treated the Indigenous peoples and their ongoing struggles with social, economic and political injustice. God has clearly spoken about what matters to Him about His creation. He says, “O humanity, We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. The most noble of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you. God is Knowing and Acquainted” (Quran 49:13). This is yet another reason for Muslims to become aware of the biases and racist stereotypes that they may have picked up about these communities, for they are both prevalent in the larger society and have prevented outreach efforts. Working on the
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assumption that an in-depth education of their history will remove these barriers, the Islamic Social Services Association (ISSA; www.issacanada.com) continues to educate Muslims, especially the youth, through its Canadian Muslim Leadership Institute (https://cmlichangemakers.wordpress.com) program. Indigenous elders are constantly invited to come and speak. While most of my interactions with the Indigenous community had been on a personal level since the establishment ISSA eighteen years ago, we have made it our mission to foster close relationship with Indigenous Nations. We stand with each other on human rights, justice and social issues (https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=yU7nOA9CKqU). ISSA has an Indigenous board member. In May, the organization recognized the community service effort of the Bear Clan Patrol — a grassroots group of volunteers who hit the streets to make the city safer — at its gala celebration by awarding it the Ihsan Award. ISSA holds events with Indigenous and new Muslims to address racism and foster positive relationships.
STANDING WITH THE OPPRESSED
The Quran orders Muslims to stand up for justice. In Canada, the following facts are
compelling Muslims to reach out to their Indigenous kin in humanity: • Half of all Canadian children in foster care are Indigenous (Statistic Canada, April 13, 2016). • Over 150 First Nations communities have no access to clean drinking water (https:// www.canada.ca). • 37 percent of housing units on First Nations reserves need major repairs (https://sencanada.ca). • The murder rate of Indigenous women is 4.5 times higher than of non-Indigenous Canadian women (www.amnesty.ca) • 1 in 4 federal inmates are Indigenous (www.oci-bec.ga.ca). • The suicide rate among Inuit youth are among the highest in the world — 11 times the national average (https://www. winnipegfreepress.com). The 2016 Environics study (http://www. environicsinstitute.org) found that: • Six out of ten non-Indigenous Canadians believe there is a large gap in the standard of living between themselves and Indigenous peoples; • Two-thirds of non-Indigenous Canadians have heard or read something about Indian residential schools; • 42 percent of Canadians report being aware of how the Indigenous peoples were mistreated in the residential schools, including the abuse and molestation of students; and • 84 percent of non-Indigenous Canadians are aware that individuals have a role to play in bringing about reconciliation. All Canadians need to come together to erase these black spots on our nation’s soul. Muslims must take a leading role in this effort. All Canadian settlers are treaty people, and the best way to honor treaties, as exemplified by Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), is to embrace the spirit of reconciliation. ISSA also promotes bridge building during the Islamic History Month Canada (IHMC), which the federal government proclaimed in 2007. In 2015, the theme was “Know Each Other,” inspired by Quran 49:13. The IHMC Board displayed this attitude by organizing educational, social and recreational events about Indigenous peoples across Canada. Winnipeg held a “sister to sister” luncheon for Muslim and Indigenous women and girls at the mosque to celebrate their common humanity and share their cultures and spirituality. The
13 Fires project is now a regular meeting place for Muslim and indigenous youth. Our communities socialize together, and family-to-family relationships are growing. Muslim youth in Winnipeg are also actively campaigning against conditions on the reserves and vigorously advocating for
Canadian Muslims, have pursued outreach and relationships with Indigenous Nations and have worked hard to extend these relationships and help the Muslim community fulfill its obligation to stand up for justice. The Elders recently adopted Jeewan Chanicka and David Suzuki into The First
MUSLIM CANADIANS HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO STAND UP FOR JUSTICE AND ADVOCATE AGAINST PERSECUTION AND OPPRESSION. BUT THEY CAN DO SO ONLY AFTER EDUCATING THEMSELVES ON HOW CANADA HAS HISTORICALLY TREATED THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND THEIR ONGOING STRUGGLES WITH SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL INJUSTICE. access to clean water there. Muslims have marched in support of families and advocated for the inquiry for the 1,500 murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. Every year Manitoba’s Zubaidah Tallab Foundation collects meat on Eid-ul-Adha and sends it, along with other eatables and essentials, to the Attawapiskat First Nation reserves in northern Ontario. ICNA Manitoba women’s chapter continues to work with Indigenous women on various projects, and the Winnipeg Central Mosque hosts Indigenous groups from across Manitoba who come to learn about Islam. In addition to what ISSA is doing in Manitoba and also through IHMC, Muslim individuals and organizations are actively making connections and championing reconciliation in an effort to show their commitment to treaties and thereby follow the Prophet’s example. Such efforts are also active in Ontario. Elder Dave Courchene from Turtle Lodge in Manitoba responded to an invitation by Muslim scholars and leaders in Ontario to learn from him. At this meeting, they signed a letter that focused on strengthening the relationships between Indigenous Nations and Muslim communities across Canada. Muslim women such as Asma Maryam Ali, a Hamilton, Ont.-based mental health counselor and social justice activist, Sanaa Ali-Mohammed, a Mississauga non-profit worker, and Gilary Massa, an advocacy coordinator with the National Council of
Nations. Chanicka is ISSA’s education advisor and superintendent of the Toronto District School Board’s Equity, Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression unit. The adoption ceremony was held at the Turtle Lodge. Chanicka has been at the forefront of building relationships and mobilizing communities to support and stand for Indigenous causes. Working alongside a dedicated group of allies, they continue to deepen relationships with Indigenous Nations to support self-determination and governance, both of which are guaranteed by treaties signed by the Canadian government. In the Greater Toronto Area, champions such as Dawud Zwink (community development worker, Scouts Canada; ISNA-Canada Halal Certification Services) and Muneeb Nasir (president, Olive Tree Foundation) continue to strengthen relationships with Elders and Muslim organizations. Hopefully, through mutual efforts all of Canada’s people will be able to build a just and compassionate nation, one that is moving forward in the spirit of reconciliation with its Indigenous peoples. ISSA, which has signed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted in Dec. 2007, asked Muslim Canadians to remind their MPs to vote for Bill C-262 — that Canada’s laws are in harmony with this declaration — when it came up for its second reading in October. ih Shahina Siddiqui is president, Islamic Social Services Association Inc.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 41
MUSLIMS IN ACTION
Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error. Whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that never breaks. Allah hears and knows all things. (al-Baqarah 2:256) from the Quran about Jesus, I was knocked off my feet. These verses were synonymous with everything I [had] believed all my life,” he recalls.
PHOTO (C) US ARMY
A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING
Lt. Col. Khallid Shabazz
Lt. Col. Khallid Shabazz is the first Muslim to serve as a division-level chaplain in the U.S. military BY SUMAYYAH MEEHAN
istory was made this summer when Lt. Col. Khallid Shabazz became the first Muslim to be named a division-level chaplain in the U.S. military. He is one of only 10 Islamic chaplains in the Department of Defense and one out of five Muslim chaplains in the U.S. Army, which has approximately 1,400 chaplains. Holding a doctorate degree and four master’s degrees, Shabazz has dedicated his life to serving others instead of the more common practice of categorizing them according to their faith and beliefs or lack thereof.
This American convert’s story began simply enough. While still a Christian, he challenged a Muslim soldier stationed with him in Germany to an interfaith debate. Growing up as a Lutheran, the very confident Shabazz found himself in the very uncomfortable position of having to meet his fellow soldier’s clear facts from the Quran with nothing more than his own assumptions about Islam. “I was unprepared because of my previous assumptions. I thought, based on the information I had, that Muslims didn’t believe in Jesus. So when he quoted verses
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That chance encounter proved to be life-changing, as it caused Shabazz to embark upon a quest for knowledge that would change everything he thought he knew about Islam and challenge much of what he had while learned growing up as a Christian. Trusting facts instead of mere sentiment, as his military training had taught him, Shabazz began a rigorous self-study in comparative religion. “I studied the Quran and the Bible 9 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure I could understand the difference. And if I decided to convert to Islam, it would be based on solid facts, not emotion.” After much study and reflection, he converted shortly thereafter. New Muslims commonly face strongly negative reactions from family members upon announcing their conversion — shock, disbelief, anger, and personal betrayal of the family’s deeply held religious beliefs. Coming from a devoutly Christian upbringing, Shabazz’s family members did not understand his decision and were displeased with it: “There were some trying times in that I changed my name from Michael Barnes to Khallid Shabazz. I think they felt it was an insult to change our family name. Secondly, I put down some of the old habits of social drinking, eating pork and going to church every Sunday, which is a family tradition. I think they felt a little slighted and [that] maybe I didn’t respect what they had taught me throughout the years.” Doing his best to deal with the various fractures occurring in his family, Shabazz remained patient and went to church on occasion to bring about a sense
of understanding. Over the past 15 years, he has been able to uphold family ties and maintain precious bonds. It was at work, however, where he had to face so many difficulties. Upon announcing his conversion and changing his entire identity, he discovered that many of his co-workers were unhappy with his decision. “As a new convert to Islam, the challenges were many. I changed my name, my identity and the way I saw the world. I was in the military and most of my subordinates, leaders and supervisors thought I was in direct opposition to them,” he says. “This posed a lot of problems for me as a soldier. I had many difficult days seeking to be understood.” However, all through the process of trying to find common ground, Shabazz cultivated confident maturity and was determined to educate others about Islam.
TURNING A PAGE AND STRIKING A BALANCE
With a renewed sense of purpose to educate others about Islam, Shabazz joined the Chaplain Corps, a transition that was facilitated by a devout Christian U.S Army Chaplain. “He took me under his wing and mentored me in the spirit of maintaining his faith in Christianity, while helping me, as a Muslim, become a chaplain to serve Muslim soldiers in their time of need.” As a chaplain, Shabazz works hard to help each one of his soldiers, regardless of their faith or lack thereof, be the absolute best they can be. When a solider enters his office, the only thing Shabazz has on his mind is how to ensure that he/she leaves stronger than when he/she entered. Possessing a unique ability to attract others with a strong faith or deeply held principles, Shabazz ultimately relies on the power of love to uplift all of the soldiers he meets, for “I think people understand authenticity, and after talking to somebody a couple of times they know I only care about them and their well-being. The Army respects, places a high value on, and supports the right of all soldiers to observe the tenets of their respective religions, or to have no religious beliefs at all.” Although the exact number of Muslims serving in the U.S. Army is unknown, an estimated 2,000 of them self-identify as practicing Muslims. Shabazz nurtures his own faith daily by his “reading of the Quran, prayer and through helping others become better people.” This approach has served
him well, especially when he was assigned to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to replace the previous Muslim chaplain. During his first few weeks there, he felt a sense of mistrust and suspicion from his fellow soldiers. But all of that vanished one day when he told himself, “I will not live based on other people’s perception of me any longer” and “began coaching basketball and other sports, like I always have and along with some other events in the military. And the community’s heart started to change for me.” Through his faith, he walked away from the experience stronger and admits that “my faith in humanity was sealed.” Even though Shabazz is devout, he keeps his own faith in the background so he can put each individual soldier’s needs first. In fact, at first some of them do not even realize that he is Muslim because he always looks for ways to bring everyone to the table under a banner of humanity and love. Shabazz believes that other Muslim leaders can have a positive effect in their own communities as well by being more attuned to interfaith dialogue and outreach. Thus he urges them to “be the change you want to see in the world. Dr. Martin Luther King said, ‘An injustice
anywhere is an injustice everywhere.’ Muslim leaders can’t just be concerned with Muslim problems. We have to be concerned with world problems. Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was sent as a Mercy to the world, not just Muslims.”
Lt. Col. Shabazz has been married for 27 years to Rhonda Shabazz of Wills Point, Tex. They have three children: Yvonne Shabazz, Jalen Shabazz, and Najala Shabazz. Rhonda has a master’s in human relations (the University of Oklahoma) and works as a soldier and family readiness specialist at Joint Base Lewis-Mcchord, Wash. Her official title is Community Ready & Resilient Outreach Program Coordinator. Yvonne is in home health care; Jalen is a fulltime student, a soldier in the military reserves and a personal trainer; and Najala is a junior majoring in Victims Studies under the Criminal Justice Department at Sam Houston State University. Imam (Lt. Col.) Shabazz and his wife Rhonda also have four grandchildren. ih Sumayyah Meehan is a North Carolina-based journalist and marketer.
The Islamic Association of Collin County of Plano, TX — located 30 miles north of downtown Dallas — seeks full-time Imam. Required: § Comprehensive knowledge of Islamic Aqeedah, Fiqh, Sunnah & Shariah § Complete adherence and practice of sunnah § Recitation of the Qur’an with proper Tajweed § Aalim degree from recognized traditional Islamic seminary/institution § Bachelor’s or higher degree in any discipline from a mainstream higher education institution § Memorized a good portion of the Qur’an § Fluent in English & Arabic (spoken and written) § Ability to teach Qur’an and religion § A dynamic personality & motivational speaker § Experience in teaching & outreach § Ability to interact with & relate to youth § At least 5 years of experience as an Imam, Assistant Imam or Resident Scholar in North America § Approachable i.e. dedicated office hours, availability via phone/email/office visit § Collaborative relationship with Shura § Authorized to work in the U.S. Email resume at hr@PlanoMasjid.org
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THE MUSLIM WORLD
Egyptian Identity in Transition Muslims battle the government’s scheme to define religious discourse BY ABEER ALOUSH
public figures chosen by the president due to their interest in culture, socio-political issues and international affairs. Also included are the National Research Center and the National Council for Women, all of whose representatives are nominated by the president. After his nomination, the grand imam would have served a maximum 12-year term. If he had violated any of his duties, he would have had to face a committee of inquiry formed of the council’s seven oldest members (in terms of age), who, if they had voted to find him guilty, had the right to force his resignation. Under the provisions of this law, the grand imam would have had his powers transferred to the Supreme Council of al-Azhar and, thus stripped of all power, would have become just another powerless state employee who could be summarily dismissed.
n May 7, 2017, Ali Abdel Aal Sayyed Ahmed, president of the Egyptian Parliament, announced, “The draft law of al-Azhar has been withdrawn and did not touch the Grand Imam.” Egyptians welcomed this official proclamation because al-Azhar occupies a sanctified position in the hearts of Muslims worldwide and is a fortress for the defense of Sunni Islam, one that has nothing to do with fanaticism and extremism. For the past several centuries, it has also served as the Sunni world’s highest institution of Islamic religious sciences and the only legitimate representative of Islamic thought and jurisprudence that defends Sharia in the face of misinterpretation. In short, it is the most important state institution for serving Islam in Egypt and the world. But despite all of this, for the last year at least many of its critics, reinforced by the media, have entered the national political discourse that emerged after the April 2017 bombings of two Coptic churches. Why? Because according to them, al-Azhar was an extremist and radical institution as one could clearly see from its curriculum as well as its head: Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb.
ORGANIZE OR SABOTAGE?
The law’s articles were, in fact, part of a scheme to diminish al-Azhar’s leadership role by turning it away from teaching to actually fighting Islam. First, the new law sought to control, dismantle and reduce the university’s size. In addition, the country’s president would have the authority to select one of three approved candidates nominated for the post of grand imam by the mostly appointed Council of Senior Scholars. For instance, one-third of the council’s members come from outside the university: six are officials from the Ministries of Justice, Education, and Youth, and another five are
DISMANTLING AND REDUCING AL-AZHAR’S SIZE
Several of the proposed law’s other provisions were rather controversial. For example, all of al-Azhar’s scientific and literary colleges would have siphoned off to form the new Imam Muhammad Abduh University for Scientific Studies. Its religious institutes would have been allowed to dry up by banning the establishment new ones for the next 15 years. The number of institutes would have been reduced from 9,000 to 3,000, and their properties would have been confiscated. The other 6,000 institutes were to be annexed by the Ministry of Education and turned into secular institutes.
THE MEDIA HAS PLAYED AN ENORMOUS ROLE IN WEAKENING ISLAM BY PURSUING A RELENTLESS CAMPAIGN AGAINST MAJOR HISTORICAL ISLAMIC FIGURES, SUCH AS THE COMPANIONS AND MAJOR HADITH COLLECTORS — EVEN THE HIGHLY RESPECTED IMAM AL-BUKHARI.
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collectors — even the highly respected Imam al-Bukhari. The liberal journalist Ibrahim Issa and the controversial religious scholars Sheikh Mizo and Ibrahim el-Behairi have led this campaign.
THE TUNISIAN LESSON
Ali Abdel Aal Sayyed Ahmed
In addition, the Islamic Research Academy would have been tasked with “purifying” al-Azhar’s curricula by excising anything its members considered “inhumane,” “irrational” and “difficult” to understand, or that allegedly called for violence and extremist ideas. All of the interpretations of the Prophet’s Companions or predecessors, such as the Hadith collections of al-Bukhari and al-Muslim, were scheduled to be revised before being announced in public. As for the university’s external role, the new law would have created an advocacy body abroad to revive those Islamic centers sponsored by the university and to immunize all Muslim communities against “extremist” ideas, including takfiri (labeling people as apostates) and subversive calls. Such a role can be regarded as very dangerous, for it would have reduced the Islamic world’s most famous and respected university to nothing more than a propaganda tool that foreign governments could have used to serve their own objectives. Not only would such a clear domestication have eradicated these centers’ credibility, but it would also have created animosity between them and the indigenous Muslim communities, for the former would no longer be viewed as representatives of the true faith. La Grande Mosquée de Paris has already been recognized as an Algerian tool in the service of the French government to discriminate against French residents and citizens of North African descent.
CAN THE OFFICIAL DISCOURSE OF “RETREAT” BE CONSIDERED A “DEFEAT”?
In a clear confession of defeat, Ali Abdel Aal Sayyed Ahmed visited the grand imam in his office and apologized to him after Parliament blocked this nefarious law. This official retreat was based on the fear that destroying al-Azhar, which has served Islam faithfully for more than a millennium, might just ignite the country’s streets.
Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb
However, the government remains intent upon pursuing its systematic plan to domesticate the nation’s religious discourse under the slogan of “Seeking Moderate Islam.” During the last two years, signs proclaiming “Closed and no Prayers” have been officially placed on many mosques, especially the small ones. Minister of Awqaf (religious endowments) Mokhtar Gomaa also decided to close the major mosques in Cairo and the governorates after each prayer via other official signs: “Entry Forbidden due to Security Concerns.” And yet another new law calls for arresting those who convene prayers without obtaining an official permit to do so. The penalty: one year in jail and a fine of 50,000 Egyptian pounds ($2833). Some 3,400 mosques were forced to close their doors due to what the ministry called “budgetary difficulties.” But many people found this quite hard to believe, for around the same time the ministry had donated about 4 billion Egyptian pounds to the Suez Canal project. Moreover, if the ministry were really struggling with its budget, why would it insist on affiliating hundreds of mosques currently run by various charities to itself? The ministry also took additional measures to create a new religious identity for Egyptians, such as prohibiting taraweeh (the late-night Ramadan prayers) in major mosques, trying to unify the Friday sermon by making all imams read an officially approved text, summarily firing thousands of imams and closing many small mosques for “security purposes.” The Ramadan practice of itikaf (spending the last ten nights in the mosque) was to be pursued only in specific mosques designated by the security forces. And as if all of that wasn’t enough, all participants had to be local residents who had registered with those same security forces at least one week in advance. The media has played an enormous role in weakening Islam by pursuing a relentless campaign against major historical figures, such as the Companions and major Hadith
Habib Bourguiba (r. 1956-1987) came to power with a similar plan to domesticate Islam in Tunisia in order to establish radical secularism there. Positioning himself against everything that bore the “germs” of Islam, he closed many mosques, even the famous el-Zaitouna. He also transferred the religious courts’ authority to the civil courts, nationalized those religious endowments that provided ongoing Islamic education and charity, attacked the Ramadan fast, nullified various Islamic laws (e.g., the prohibition of adoption, polygamy, and inheritance), mocked the Quran and ridiculed the Prophet, stopped the Friday prayers in mosques, arrested those who insisted on praying if they did not obtain the necessary permit from the security forces, criminalized those who let their beards grow, passed Law 108 that outlawed the hijab in schools and state institutions, and so on. Such policies infuriated the public and prepared the ground for the Islamic movement that spread in the country in 2011. Thus, Tunisia gave birth to the Arab Spring that enabled the Ennahda Party to assume power with an a practicing Muslim president: Dr. Monsif el-Marzouki. Another case to look at is France, where the indigenous process of secularizing the state deprived religion of its temporal functions. Catholicism, for example, found its spiritual role limited almost exclusively to the rites of Sunday mass, marriage, baptism, and others. In view of this, it has been hypothesized by secularists that Islam is a fixed religion because it cannot modernize itself in order to adapt to the needs of society as other religions, such as Judaism, have supposedly done. Muslims view the Western practice of enforcing a strict religion-state separation to avoid any conflict between them as totally foreign to Islam. If the el-Sisi regime is heading down this same path, then there is a chance that Egypt will once again experience a nationwide surge of anger and rage. After all, every action is nothing but a reaction to what some may consider an unacceptable act. ih Dr. Abeer Aloush is professorial lecturer in World Languages and Cultures at the American University.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 45
THE MUSLIM WORLD
Is Tunisia Still Colonized? What are the demands of independence when the struggle over Tunisia’s identity remains ongoing? BY ABEER ALOUSH
ecember 17, the day of Tunisia’s first post-Arab Spring election, is on the mind President Baji al-Sibsi (also spelt Beji Caid Essebsi) and his Nidaa Tounes Party (usually translated as “Call of Tunisia”), both of which want to attract the votes of the country’s liberals and feminists. To achieve this end, el-Sibsi has proposed reinterpreting Quranic texts to favor women’s “rights.” He is focusing on two areas: exactly when and how much a woman (as opposed to a man) can inherit and lifting the Quranic ban on women marrying non-Muslims (Q. 60:10 and 2:221). This has raised a debate about his objectives. Why is he doing this now, and is this a priority for Tunisia? In practice, by attempting to reject the results of the post-Arab Spring elections that brought the Islamists to power, he and his party are revealing their ideological hatred and political understanding of democracy as a means of exclusion. And thus they are repeating the mistake made by earlier generations of Arab secularists: adopting secularism’s most extreme form, one that calls upon the state
to impose its view of religion in line with its own interests, which turns democracy into an instrument of oppression based upon political triumph. Although Tunisia has been an independent democratic republic since 1956, many Tunisians are forced to look at the past to assess what this independence has engendered. For example, if the country has gained a political identity, how does one define citizenship in relation to independence? Have Tunisia’s citizens, if we are to accept the common definition of citizenship, actually become true citizens? Did they really get rid of the French domination that had deformed their indigenous culture for so long? Has their country reclaimed its original Arabic-Islamic identity after colonial France’s generations-long effort to erase it? In order to better understand the historical meaning of independence, one must deal with the concept of independence per se. The true goals of a postcolonial society are freedom and dignity, not an authoritarian monopoly run by a colonial-trained elite. However, the absence of actual public freedom has delayed Tunisia, a socially and culturally prepared country, from becoming a pioneer Muslim- and Arab-majority nation in terms of true democracy and power-sharing.
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
THE TRUE GOALS OF A POSTCOLONIAL SOCIETY ARE FREEDOM AND DIGNITY, NOT AN AUTHORITARIAN MONOPOLY RUN BY A COLONIAL-TRAINED ELITE. HOWEVER, THE ABSENCE OF ACTUAL PUBLIC FREEDOM HAS DELAYED TUNISIA, A SOCIALLY AND CULTURALLY PREPARED COUNTRY, FROM BECOMING A PIONEER MUSLIMAND ARAB-MAJORITY NATION IN TERMS OF TRUE DEMOCRACY AND POWER-SHARING.
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First, Tunisia’s demand for freedom must be considered within the historical context of colonialism. This does not require the existence of a sophisticated reading that establishes an alternative community, for it served as a way to fight the “other”: imperial France. Before independence, citizenship was a means to express the existence of the long-delegitimized national (i.e., Tunisian) ego. Independence, however, does have one serious problem: It grows out of the colonized people’s lived experience, a reality that the indigenous post-colonial elite, trained by the now-departing colonial elite, is denying by setting up a surveillance-based patriarchal system. In other words, Tunisia had moved from the colonial era’s negation of its national identity to that identity’s actual demise under the proxy colonizer: Habib Ben Ali Bourguiba (r. 1956-1987) and his followers, all holders of Tunisian citizenship. Thus the victims of the past became caged [abstractly incarcerated] in the present. In comparison to many post-independence Arab countries, Tunisia remains distinct. For example, it has taken important
steps at the social, institutional and even economic levels that we do not find in neighboring countries. But two critical questions remain: (1) How does one evaluate the Tunisian experience and (2) were its achievements enough to create a progressive, developed post-independence state? Despite what it has achieved so far, the ground reality is quite different. For example, unemployment is on the rise, especially among university graduates — a reality that the deficit-plagued current government is trying to overcome via privatization. But Bourguiba’s secularist movement, as well as the hybrid cultural policy of the overthrown Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (r. 19872011), created an arena that has nothing to do with the depth of Tunisian culture. The currently highly secularized elite is concerned only with women’s emancipation and other feminist-related issues, and thus the symbols of original identity have somehow faded, besieged by the elite’s flooding of society with declining and completely inauthentic cultural models. As a result, many young Tunisians have returned to Islam’s ethics in an attempt to give meaning to their existence. “The danger lies in the democratic process itself in Tunisia, not in the political parties,” said Abdelfattah Mourou, co-founder and vice-president of the Ennahda Party and first vice-president of the Parliament. He expressed his willingness to sacrifice his party so that the democratic process would succeed. Mourou had explained through the “Without Borders” program launched on Feb. 24, 2017, that the home-grown democratic process is threatened by the lack of political wisdom, Proclaiming that Tunisia is in a dangerous situation, one that requires some
serious attention, he stressed his lack of desire for any personal gain and called upon the people to take responsibility for their own fate. On the other hand, he said that al-Sibsi and Rashid al-Ghannouchi, head of the Ennahda Party, need to transform their personal reconciliation into one that reconciles their respective political parties. Mourou said that it is in Ennadha’s interest to follow the democratic path to the end, not to govern but to make Tunisia a true democracy and to transcend the original “Islamic” project by becoming a “national” one that seeks achievement and efficiency.
THE NEWBORN DEMOCRACY EMBRACES THE COERCIVE STATE
Under al-Sibsi, the secularists clearly regenerated the colonial-era project after the rise of a post-Arab Spring Islamic movement. His regime is seeking social development via the coercive-state model: monopolizing politics and imposing the secularists’ own style. How does this differ in any way from Bourguiba’s envisioned “Tunisian Nation”? And as history has shown, this earlier anti-Islam and anti-Arab project failed to sever Tunisia from the Arab-Islamic “nation.” In fact, it only drove such realities underground. And yet the bourgeois state left its mark, as its imported cultural markers prevented any “natural” growth that concurred with the people’s free choice. Bourguiba’s successor Ben Ali, who continued to feed the concept of the “etat malade” (a very weak state, one than cannot escape its ordained destiny, has no potential and is almost dying) focused on turning it into a metaphysical authority, a decision that only accelerated at the end and eventually caused his downfall.
The forced modernization adopted by the Bourguibian state and its authoritarian regime led to deep social fissures. The emergence of heterogeneous patterns of materialism and/or symbolism, the monopoly of authority and the regime’s arbitrary decision to impose French-inspired modernism and secularism caused Tunisian society to grow unnaturally and fail in its attempt to build a flourishing European-style state. And thus the goal of the “coercive state” — a society that believed only in the “Tunisian nation” — was largely stillborn. In order to exclude the committed Muslims or to justify oppressing them, the secularists accuse them of using democracy to impose their ideology, all the while ignoring the fact that their own view has nothing to do with fighting committed Muslims; rather, it only foments conflict with the religious conscience of large numbers of fellow Tunisians regardless of the ballot box. On Sept. 15, al-Sibsi took another shot at his re-election when he overturned a law that banned women from marrying non-Muslims. The new inheritance law, which will make women equal to men, clearly shows that the proposed reinterpretation and amendments are not limited to the code of jurisprudence, but rather are the result of the secularists’ opposition to Islam. The religious text is straightforward with regard to such topics. For instance, a woman receives half of what a man receives in four cases; however, in 30 other cases she receives twice as much of what a man does. Thus, any attempted reinterpretation of the text is just another part of the radical secularists’ ideological apparatus. ih Dr. Abeer Aloush is professorial lecturer in World Languages and Cultures at the American University
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 47
THE MUSLIM WORLD: PALESTINE
Disenfranchising the Palestinians Imperial Britain gave Palestine to the Zionists when it was still part of the Ottoman Empire BY HATEM BAZIAN
n Nov. 2, 2017, Palestinians mark the hundred-year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, a letter from British foreign secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild that committed Britain to establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Its 67 words dispossessed the Palestinians and incubated Zionism, imperial Europe’s last settler colonial project. Certainly, the ongoing conflict is linked to the broader colonial legacies in the Global South. British colonial policies and political machinations were designed to aggravate existing ethnic, religious, economic and political conflicts. The Balfour Declaration and the British ruling class’ adoption of Zionism represented a broader regional divide-and-rule strategy as well as a global plan to protect its colonial possessions of Egypt and India. On this anniversary, we must revisit the development of and strategy behind this Declaration and how it has affected the Palestinians. More importantly, London owes the Palestinians an apology, restitution and a verifiable end to all forms of support to this colonial project. The Balfour Declaration reads: “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” In reality, the Declaration is a colonial legalism that reeks of dishonesty in each word used and at its very foundation, for its sole purpose is to provide a cover for the
Arthur James Balfour
outright “civilized” thievery of Palestine. Why does this colonial legalism attempt to masquerade as a type of civilized international law? First, the Declaration was issued on Nov. 2, 1917, at a date and a time when the British had not yet become the occupying power — the Ottoman Empire surrendered Jerusalem on Dec. 9, 1917. In other words, London promised a territory over which it had neither sovereign power nor control to a third party. Second, the Declaration is contained in a letter to a private citizen. Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, lacked any national or international legal standing to claim Palestine as a national home. This British promise concerning a land and country that was inhabited and belonged to its own people, namely, the Palestinians, represents the highest form of illegality. Third, the letter was intended to be transmitted to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, which likewise lacked the legal standing to receive and represent claims over Palestine. Clearly, Balfour communicated and granted to British subjects a
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territory to which Britain had no legal rights. Also, the Zionist Federation did not represent a legal body that could speak on behalf of all Jews inside and outside of Palestine on this subject. Fourth, the indigenous Palestinians, who made up 97 percent of historical Palestine’s population, were neither consulted nor considered. Fifth, Palestine’s Jewish population was not consulted and, whenever Theodor Herzl sought their support, forcefully rejected it. Sixth, the Declaration’s actual text is problematic. For example, it doesn’t define “a national home,” which is not the same thing as a nation-state. It also introduces “the Jewish people” as a singular national identity that most of Jews living as citizens in various Arab and European countries as well as in the U.S. opposed. The Declaration stated at the end that “the rights and political
Certainly, the Declaration fits into British colonial plans that started much earlier than 1917 and involved colonial expansion into Ottoman territories. London’s fomenting of the June 5, 1916, Arab Revolt and the Sykes-Picot Agreement fitted perfectly into its colonial plans. At present, it is taken for granted that the Arab world’s current borders were drawn by British and French colonial administrators, for an Arab’s passport,
and forth between U.S. and European Zionist leaders and political operatives. Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann held that it was critical to get Wilson’s support. This support arrived in the form of a note sent on Oct. 13, 1917, and was due to the intense work of Brandeis and his dedicated Zionist group. In his “Zionism” (1926), Leonard Stein notes that the Declaration “was by no means a casual gesture. It was
IN REALITY, THE DECLARATION IS A COLONIAL LEGALISM THAT REEKS OF DISHONESTY IN EACH WORD USED AND AT ITS VERY FOUNDATION, FOR ITS SOLE PURPOSE IS TO PROVIDE A COVER FOR THE OUTRIGHT “CIVILIZED” THIEVERY OF PALESTINE.
status enjoyed by Jews in any other country” — a way to create a “peoplehood” out of a diverse religious community. Seventh, the Declaration completely erased the Palestinians, for it spoke only of the “non-Jewish” communities. Affirming their “civil and religious rights” is a mockery masquerading as a form of legal protection to a soon-to-be dispossessed indigenous population. No political rights are mentioned for the Palestinians, despite constituting 97 percent of the population, whereas the Zionists are granted “a national home” and “the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” All of this translates into a British government intent on denying political and national rights to the indigenous Palestinians. Why London issued the Declaration and what political forces brought it into existence are important questions.
citizenship and the name of his/her state is largely shaped by the former European colonial powers. The records show that as early as December 1914, Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith and his cabinet held lengthy discussions on Palestine’s fate — discussions in which the British Zionist leader Herbert Samuel, who held a seat due to being president of the Local Government Board, participated and provided input. Samuel’s very influential memoirs, “The Future of Palestine,” which he presented to the Cabinet in 1915, state: “I mentioned that two things would be essential—that the state should be neutralized, since it could not be large enough to defend itself, and that the free access of Christian pilgrims should be guaranteed... I also said it would be a great advantage if the remainder of Syria were annexed by France, as it would be far better for the state to have a European power as neighbor than the Turk.” The Declaration was the result of deliberate and careful considerations and the involvement of Zionist leaders in Britain and the U.S. with a group led by the secular Jewish U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis (1856-1941). This group offered to help with the drafting and lobbying efforts directed at President Woodrow Wilson and the State Department. The final 67-word text was agreed upon after at least four known drafts and language changes were sent back
issued after prolonged deliberations as a considered statement of policy.” In his “History of the Peace Conference in Paris” (1920), H.W.V. Temperly (ed.) states, “Before the British Government gave the Declaration to the World, it had been closely examined in all its bearings and implications, and subjected to repeated change and amendment.” In his two-volume “History of Zionism: 1600-1918” (1919), Nahum Sokolov, who served as president of the World Zionist Federation from 1931-35, writes that “every idea born in London was tested by the Zionist Organization in America, and every suggestion in America received the most careful attention in London.” Lastly, “The Balfour Declaration was in process of making for nearly two years,” writes Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, chairman of the Provisional Zionist Committee in New York, while adding, “its authorship was not solitary but collective” (Noha Tadros Khalaf, “Falastin versus the British Mandate and Zionism (1921-1931),” Journal of Palestine Studies, no. 45 ). Not all British Jews agreed with the Zionists’ plan, and thus two camps gradually emerged. Believing that this split could damage the efforts underway to secure Wilson’s and American support, the Jewish assimilationist camp led by Edwin S. Montagu spearheaded the counter-Zionist effort in London. For Montagu and others, the Declaration threatened the status
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 49
THE MUSLIM WORLD: PALESTINE of Jewish communities in Europe and the U.S. with the possibility of dual allegiance, a subject of intense debate and draft changes that brought about the phrase “the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” Furthermore, Montagu took offense at the Declaration and charged London with forcing him and other British Jews into a new ghetto. The then-Prime Minister Lloyd George, whose legal firm had represented Zionist interests in terms of securing Uganda as a possible homeland, testified before the Royal Commission in 1937 that “stimulating the war effort of American Jews was one of the major motives” for issuing it. It was also issued to counter the changes brought about by the Czar’s overthrow and the decreased “bitterness of the Jews in Russia,” who were increasingly turning toward supporting more revolutionary movements and were less inclined to continue to support the war effort. More importantly, the prime minister thought of constituting a “Jewish ‘garrison colony’ in Palestine as a buffer for Egypt and the Suez Canal.” Critically, among London’s interests and needs in the region were (1) securing the status quo in Egypt (occupied and administered since 1882), (2) creating a buffer protection for the vitally strategic Suez Canal, (3) retaining its commercial and military advantages, and (4) maintaining broader links with its Asian and African colonial possessions. Furthermore, incubating a client Zionist colony would counter any threat to British supremacy in that part of the world. The Zionists and Weizmann did not shy away from making explicit offers to connect themselves to British interests and proclaim Jewish Palestine “an essential link in the chain of the British empire.” Britain, the Zionists asserted, needed “somewhere in the countries abutting on to the Suez Canal, a base on which, in case of trouble, she can rely to keep clear the road to Imperial communication.” Here is the idea of the Zionist state function of securing for Britain the “vital Cape-to-Cairo and Cairo-to-India routes” (John Quigly, “Palestine and Israel,” 1990, p. 9). Even at this early stage, the discovery of oil played an important role in British designs, as can be seen in the proposed IraqHaifa pipeline passing through transJordan, which was already on the drawing board. Interestingly, this idea was revived during and after the 2003 American invasion of Iraq, as well as the new imperial design of
a water supply channel to satiate Zionist settler demands. Indeed, London largely viewed the Zionist state as constituting a buffer state that would protect its regional interests with an emphasis on Egypt, a critical gate to the empire’s vast trade network and territories. Unlike India, held to have a set of natural buffer zones in the north, geographically strategic Egypt had no such protection. However, a buffer state allied to or incubated by Britain would serve the same purpose. The Balfour Declaration must be situated both within imperial Britain’s broader designs to protect its interests and the Zionist leadership’s machinations to secure a foothold in Palestine. As such, Zionism and the Zionist project were born in the imperial womb and functioned within its epistemic foundations. According to the GermanAmerican political theorist Hannah Arendt (1906-75), when it came to London’s colonial alliance and machinations, Zionism “sold out at the first moment to the powers-that-be.” The British promise to the Zionists must be examined within Herzl’s broader strategy. Essentially, the London-approved Declaration was a Zionist authored document that involved more than Englishmen before the Cabinet made it the effective policy of successive governments. This reality gives rise to a critical question: What is its significance for the Zionist settler colonial project? Answering this question takes us back to August 29-31, 1897 and, in particular, to Herzl’s declared intent for his movement: “to obtain for the Jewish people a publically recognized, legally secure homeland in Palestine.” The Declaration, the first public document sanctioned by Washington and the imperial European powers, established the needed framework for securing an internationally sanctioned Zionist foothold in Palestine. Even before it was issued, on May 20, 1917 Weizman announced, “while the creation of a Jewish commonwealth is our final ideal… the way to achieve it lies through a series of intermediary stages… Under the wing of this Power (Great Britain), Jews will be able to develop and to set up the administrative machinery which, while not interfering with the legitimate interests of the non-Jewish population, will enable us to carry out the Zionist scheme.” In other words, the Declaration was part of a multistaged approach to set up a state under a major Western power’s protection to facilitate immigration and build an institutional
50 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
framework for its future emergence. While its text is rather short, its implications and inclusion in all subsequent legal documents pertaining to Palestine made it a trans-historical knife directed at the heart of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination. In conclusion, the Declaration created “legal colonial facts” on paper that were then mobilized to create settler colonial facts on the ground by encouraging and facilitating Zionist immigration, building settlements and systematically dispossessing the Palestinians. In the years following WWI, representatives of the World Zionist Organization were included and actually became parties to the negotiations and agreements pertaining to the status of Palestine and other parts of the Arab world. All of the Palestinians’ efforts in this regard were either curtailed or blocked. Furthermore, early articulations on how London should facilitate the Zionist project are almost identical to those that were included in the League of Nations’ British Mandate for Palestine. This British-incubated settler colonialism achieved success with the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. The British Occupation and Mandate should be designated as the actual date for this colonial project, which culminated in the dispossession and eventual expulsion of vast numbers of indigenous Palestinians. The Mandate provided the systematic infrastructure that led to the eventual establishment of a Jewish homeland while denying Palestine to the Palestinians. The actual Mandate, adopted by the League of Nations on July 24, 1922, came into effect on Sept. 29, 1923. On the 100-year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, we must re-center the discussion of Palestine around colonial discourses and place as much emphasis on the British, European, and the major Western powers’ contribution to the Palestinians’ dispossession as we do on the Zionists in this regard. The time is right for London to publically admit that this Declaration was a major historical mistake, was illegal, led to ethnic cleansing and created a 12-million member Palestinian diaspora. Achieving peace is contingent on justice and can begin to take shape only when this original sin is admitted and recognized as such. ih Hatem Bazian is provost at Zaytuna College, co-editor and founder of the Islamophobia Studies Journal, director of the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project, and a senior lecturer in the Departments of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
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THE MUSLIM WORLD: PALESTINE
Praying under Zionist guns PHOTO (C) OSAMA AHMED
BUT WHEN A JEWISH ISRAELI SOLDIER STOPPED ME AND INSISTED THAT I PROVE MY FAITH, I REFUSED, FOR WHAT RIGHT DOES ANYONE, LET ALONE THIS PARTICULAR PERSON, HAVE TO AUTHENTICATE MY FAITH?
When Praying Juma Can Be Risky Palestinians continue their struggle to keep the Masjid al-Aqsa accessible to all Muslims BY SHAKEEL SYED
or North America’s Muslims, the biggest (and self-generated) challenge to praying Juma is finding a place to park. Mosque parking woes are discussed in the popular media and in private gatherings. Perhaps some of the complainers need to visit the Holy Land and attempt to pray Juma inside the al-Aqsa mosque. This breathtaking experience, however, does have one very disturbing side — the trials and tribulations that thousands of Palestinians worshippers face every Friday. I visited al-Aqsa for the third time in late July 2017. But this time, given that it was under total lockdown by the Israeli military,
52 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
I couldn’t follow my usual routine of checking in at the hotel and then heading over to the mosque. But nothing would have come
Watching wrinkled hands raised in prayer after Juma inside al-Aqsa was a moving experience. After finishing my supplications, I greeted my neighbor (Abdur Rahman Abu Sneh), who had prayed beside me, and introduced myself. Almost instantly, he kissed my forehead and welcomed me to Jerusalem. I had to struggle hard to excuse myself from his insistence that I have lunch with him at
PHOTO (C) OSAMA AHMED
of that, for the occupation soldiers heavily guarded its ten entrances and no one was allowed in. This was not the first time that al-Aqsa had been shut down. But it was the first time that metal detectors and cameras had been installed, allegedly to monitor and protect Muslim worshippers from other Muslim worshippers. This apparent logic still remains beyond my comprehension. The mosque leadership, which refused to enter the premises for this very reason, asked the community to do the same. Everyone responded with discipline. In solidarity with the locals, all foreign visitors continued to pray outside the mosque. This peaceful resistance eventually forced the occupation authorities to dismantle the metal detectors and remove the cameras. I was overjoyed to enter the Masjid al-Aqsa on Friday (July 28) and pray with tens of thousands of locals and foreigners, men and women of all ages and ethnicities. Some of them only had to cross the street; many others had undertaken long walks from neighboring villages and cities, thereby subjecting themselves to arbitrary checkpoints and passing through what many locals and foreigners call the Apartheid Wall. As an American, it was relatively easier for me. But when a Jewish Israeli soldier stopped me and insisted that I prove my faith, I refused, for what right does anyone, let alone this particular person, have to authenticate my faith? Eventually, and without answering any of their illogical questions, I was able to enter. The Friday prayers were so much sweeter this time! My mind called up the ritual of the Friday prayers back home, where all I do is drive a few miles, park and pray. And yet I know that millions of fellow Muslims find it difficult to pray, especially the Friday prayers, for any number of reasons: their work schedule, fear of getting fired or of having to explain their faith.
Resolute for freedom to pray Juma
his house. The Islamic spirit of hospitality, offered by a person who is living under such a bitter occupation, welcomes a stranger in his midst due to their shared faith. As we parted, I asked Abu Sneh if he had a message for his American brothers and sisters. His answer: “Please reassure your community that their brothers and sisters in Palestine will defend (come life or death) the Masjid al-Aqsa for them and their children and grandchildren. Tell them to come and visit us!” Similar to the Occupy movement in the U.S., young Palestinians camped outside al-Aqsa around the clock for profoundly different reasons and in radically different circumstances. In recognition of their peaceful resistance to the besieged mosque, I call them the al-Aqsa Protectors. Despite their own meager means, the local residents constantly brought them food, water and, of course, knafeh, the cheese pastry soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup. Doctors and nurses walked the streets, looking for those who needed medical attention. On Thursday, July 20, after salat al-isha (the last of the day’s five prayers), the occupation soldiers raided al-Aqsa, confined the worshippers to one of its corners, and began to physically abuse unarmed men and women (mostly over 40 years old). When they were finally released, thousands of al-Aqsa Protectors greeted them with food, water and medical help. Among them was a Muslim American (who prefers to remain
anonymous), who was injured while trying to protect his family from the soldiers who were beating the worshippers with the butt of their guns. When the mosque was reopened on July 19 around the time for salat al-asr (the late afternoon and the day’s third prayer), I heard (on the radio) people crying with joy and celebrating their success by thanking God.
THE REAL ROLE MODELS
Muslim Americans need to learn from their Palestinian brothers and sisters. Despite living under a brutal and inhumane occupation and abandoned even by those who wax poetic on the blessings of being one ummah (kinship), once again they have fought for their right to pray freely and without fear while risking their lives to be shot at by American-made guns. Such determination and courage forces the occupiers to observe the right of both indigenous Palestinian Muslims and Muslims from all over the world to worship inside Islam’s third holiest mosque. All of us should admit that we are indebted to them. I salute them for their resilient and graceful struggle for freedom, and I invite my brothers and sisters in the U.S. to join me. ih Shakeel Syed, former executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California and board member of American Muslims for Palestine, is executive director, Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 53
THE MUSLIM WORLD: PALESTINE
Al-Aqsa at the Center The Palestinians’ ongoing will to physically resist such a well-armed and powerful occupier continues to inspire awe and respect worldwide BY TAHER HERZALLAH
t was an epic battle at the end of a mediocre movie: Balian, the reluctant Crusader, comes out from behind the walls of a besieged and embattled Jerusalem to offer his terms of surrender to Salahuddin Ayyubi. After the two parties reach an agreement, he curiously asks Salahuddin, “What does Jerusalem mean to you?” Salahuddin nonchalantly responds “Nothing” and walks away. But then this warrior, who had fought for years for this moment at the expense of thousands of lives, immediately turns around and says, “Everything!” While we don’t know if this conversation actually took place, Salahuddin’s statement reflects a deep Muslim connection to and reverence for Jerusalem. In fact, the Islamic narrative of this city pre-dates Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), thus making Jerusalem a fundamental part of the Muslim creed. Today, the al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem in general are symbols of our identity as Palestinians. Bayt al-Maqdis holds a special spiritual and political place in our hearts. Al-Aqsa represents our deep-rooted historic connection to this blessed land as an indigenous faith-driven people. The prophets of God roamed this land, and our beloved Prophet Muhammad praised and cherished both it and its people. Some of his Companions are buried there, as are those who fought in Salahuddin’s army of liberation. In June of this year, Israel tried to impose new measures to restrict Palestinians’ freedom of worship and change the status quo by closing al-Aqsa entirely for the first time since the late 1960s. The Palestinians stood up and launched the largest anti-occupation demonstrations in recent memory, proving that al-Aqsa was — and remains — a political and spiritual red line. In the context of the city’s ongoing Judaization (i.e., forcibly removing Palestinians and imposing Jewish authority), not to mention the constant allegedly archaeological digs that undermine the mosque’s foundations in 54 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
addition to the efforts to replicate what the Jewish settlers achieved at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron (i.e., the government gave them 60 percent of the mosque’s space after the U.S.-born Baruch Goldstein gunned down 29 Palestinians who were praying and wounded another 125 in 1994) in al-Aqsa, Palestinians and Muslims around the world remain deeply concerned that the al-Aqsa Mosque, the first qiblah and the world’s second purpose-built mosque, will be lost forever. Therefore, the mass uprising at the end of July 2017 was a natural reaction to years of erasure and denial of our history. As a Muslim living in the U.S., I felt that the Palestinians were fighting for our identity, were resisting Israel’s attacks for all of us as an ummah. In a world where Zionism is slowly eating away at the crippled Muslim world, the Palestinians have essentially become our last line of defense. If Israel were to take over the entire compound or possibly even destroy al-Aqsa, it would be the death knell of the Muslim world, the last dagger driven into the heart of an ummah already struggling with wars, famine, genocide and atrocities due to colonization, imperialism and its own corrupt rulers. So when I saw that the Palestinians had once again risen up and were fighting back against such a violent and powerful force, it gave me a glimmer of hope. The continued resilience of this people, a people that has endured so much for so many decades in the face of a brutal occupying power, showed me that no matter what happens we will always have noble individuals willing to sacrifice for justice — that we shall rise again! Their resilience inspired me and many others in the U.S. to act. Whatsapp groups were blazing with messages and videos about the on-the-ground situation. Email chains were started to plan demonstrations and call-ins to elected officials. A community that was truly angry and in shock had found its inspiration and started to organize. Within a week, demonstrations had been organized
IN MEMORIAM AS A MUSLIM LIVING IN THE US, I FELT THAT THE PALESTINIANS WERE FIGHTING FOR OUR IDENTITY, WERE RESISTING ISRAEL’S ATTACKS FOR ALL OF US AS AN UMMAH. across the country with the support and endorsement of a broad spectrum of Muslim groups from Los Angeles to Chicago to New York City to Washington, DC. Thousands of Muslims signed petitions and called their congressperson. Mosque leaders and imams preached on Friday about the importance of al-Aqsa and Jerusalem. It was a very impressive response to a situation that was getting more explosive. All of this made me think: What makes al-Aqsa such a red line? Why is it that despite the so many outrageous things happening across the Muslim world, al-Aqsa is the source of so much anger and inspiration? There is a crippling siege on Gaza, a brutal crackdown in Kashmir, massacres of Muslims in the Central African Republic and horrific scenes of Rohingyas being persecuted in Myanmar. Are all of these somehow not as important as al-Aqsa? This was certainly a question, I presume, on many people’s minds. Muslims in the U.S. are neither separate from nor unaffected by what happens to their co-religionists elsewhere. First, they are spiritually obliged to understand, care for and work to end the plight of Muslims wherever they may be. Second, in the context of Palestine, they have an even more unique role, given Washington’s unwavering support for Israel’s colonial project and the inter-connectedness of Zionism and Islamophobia. Third, they follow the lead of our Muslim sisters and brothers abroad when it comes to pursuing justice and freedom. The fact that the Palestinians had once again stood their ground and resisted the occupier peacefully energized the Muslim Americans. Moreover, the oppressor and the oppressed in this case are clearly identifiable, something that is not always the case, at least for Muslim Americans, with events overseas. And finally, a strong campaign has been underway for decades to educate Muslims on matters related to Palestine because of the longevity of its indigenous population’s struggle for liberation. Therefore, unlike other situations abroad that many people only hear about for the first time when the media declares it a “crisis,” there has always been a long-term and worldwide relationship of solidarity with the Palestinians. Al-Aqsa and Palestine will remain critical issues for Muslim Americans. As this community starts to become more important to mainstream politicians, those of its members with political aspirations will be pressured to abandon causes that may hurt them politically. Palestine, being one of those causes, will inevitably become a litmus test to distinguish those who stand for truth and justice from those who simply use their Muslim identity to secure some personal political goal(s). We ask Allah to make us among those who pursue the truth and struggle for justice. ih Taher Herzallah is associate director of Outreach & Grassroots Organizing at American Muslims for Palestine (https://www.ampalestine.org).
Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni A Human Rights Doyen 1937 – 2017
n 1967, Dr. Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni, a young Chicago lawyer who would later emerge as an internationally recognized voice for human rights, helped the MSA of the U.S. and Canada (now MSA National) obtain recognition as a nonprofit from the federal government and the U.S. Postal Service. This was a landmark move so early in the the establishment of the MSA. Also, by virtue of being a U.S. citizen then, he was the first to sign the document of incorporation of MSA with the state of Illinois. Bassiouni, who died in Chicago on Sept. 27 after battling cancer and related complications, was an emeritus professor of law at DePaul University, where he taught from 1964-2012. During those years, he also held numerous UN positions and was a consultant to the Departments of State and Justice on many projects. A cofounder of DePaul University’s International Human Rights Law Institute in 1990, he served that body as president from 1990-97 and then as president emeritus. Often referred to by the media as “the godfather of international criminal law” and a “war crimes expert,” Bassiouni also served on the steering committee for the Crimes against Humanity Initiative. In 2010, he donated his personal papers to the DePaul University Special Collections and Archives; they are open to researchers. This humanitarian par excellence was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999 for his dedication to promoting peace and understanding in various regions struggling to heal from conflict and war. He successfully strove to create the first International Criminal Court in the Netherlands, which prosecutes the most egregious human rights abuses that traditionally got a political pass. The youngest and longest serving professor at DePaul (45 years), he also taught at universities around the country and the world. Among his students were future well-known judges, jurists, governors, mayors, public servants and diplomats. During his long and distinguished career, he was appointed to 22 UN positions and, against all odds and the international diplomatic establishment’s heavy rebuke, defiantly gathered his personal resources and connections and set out to single-handedly investigate the war crimes in Bosnia. This monumental effort, which documented mass killings, human rights abuses and 67,000 cases of rape, resulted in the prosecution of hundreds, including the top man, Slobodan Milosevic. At a ceremony honoring him at the Bosnian Islamic Center, he gifted them his grandfather’s prized possession, the kiswa (cover) of the Ka’bah, which continues to grace the center’s wall. Bassiouni, the author of 35 books, editor of 45 and author of hundreds of scholarly articles, has left such an indelible mark on his discipline that it would be almost impossible for any international criminal law student anywhere to have not been assigned one of them during his/her academic career. He received the highest civilian medals from several countries, including France, Germany, Egypt, Austria and Italy, and was awarded honorary citizenships from half a dozen countries and multiple honorary doctorates from several American and European universities. Trinidad and Tobago honored him with a stamp. In addition to being the founder and president of three international human rights law institutes in the U.S., France, and Italy, he was officially recognized by the City of Chicago by having a street close to his home named after him. Besides his native Arabic, he spoke English, Italian and French, German and Spanish. His wife Elaine, his daughter Lisa and his grandchildren Szofia and Antonio survive him. ih
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 55
One Muslim’s Take on Soul Food In Islam, food, like health, is a divine gift to be cared for, nurtured and shared for the betterment of society BY ZAHRA NASIRUDDIN JAMAL
cross multiple faiths and philosophies, one find common ethics — gratitude for our daily bread, generosity and compassion for the weak, humility when sustenance is abundant and faith when it is not. In examining Muslims’ relationship to food, we find that their religion is far more than dietary restrictions, like abstaining from pepperoni pizza and beer. Below, I offer five ways in which Islam’s food practices are deeply spiritual, environmental and moral acts that enable the subordination of the ego, the cultivation of communal life and identity, and the individual’s connection to the creator and to creation. First, from a Quranic perspective, we may surmise that the purpose of life is to return to the divine origin and to leave this world improved through prayer and stewardship, which I view as “food” for the body and the soul, respectively. The world around us, that which is delimited by time and space and referred to in Islam as duniya, is believed to be a gift of God, a bridge to and a preparation for the life to come. As His vicegerents on Earth, our ultimate worth depends upon our response to divine favors, such as the body, the mind, the soul, time, knowledge
IN ISLAM, FOOD, LIKE HEALTH, IS A DIVINE GIFT TO BE CARED FOR, NURTURED AND SHARED FOR THE BETTERMENT OF SOCIETY. and material wealth. In Islam, one acquires food, wealth and other resources to benefit all of creation, not just himself or herself. The question motivating Islam’s social conscience is not only “What have I achieved?” but also “What have I helped others achieve?” Indeed, God warns against excess, “Eat and drink but waste not in extravagance, for God loves not the wasters” (7:31). For example, the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change, created by some 20 Muslim leaders from across the globe in
56 ISLAMIC HORIZONS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
August 2015, called for a green economy, including food security, the rapid phaseout of fossil fuels, the dramatic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and a 100 percent renewable energy strategy. The leaders asked, “What will future generations say of us, who leave them a degraded planet as our legacy? How will we face our Lord and Creator?” Second, we learn from the Sunna that Prophet Muhammad’s (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) compassion for the ill and the hungry, regardless of their character or creed, demonstrates how breaking bread enables interfaith fellowship. This credo is beautifully illustrated in what we might consider an Islamic “good Samaritan story,” in which the Prophet’s family fasts for three days to cure his gravely ill grandchildren, Hassan and Hussein. His daughter Fatima, her husband Ali (radi Allahu ‘anhum) and the two sick boys are about to eat their first meal after sunset when a beggar asks them for food. They give him all they have. The second and third nights bring a starving orphan and a newly released prisoner looking for food, respectively. They give both of them all they have. On the third night, God sends a revelation to the Prophet: “They feed out of love for God, the needy, the orphan and the prisoner. They say, ‘We feed you only for the sake of God. We desire from you neither reward nor thanks’” (76:8-9). Third, reflecting on the Muslims’ key religious holidays, like Nawruz, Ramadan and the hajj, we see how food plays a role in connecting a community of believers, nourished by God. Nawruz, Farsi for “new day,” marks the new year and the equinox for Perso-Islamic, Zoroastrian, and other faith and cultural communities globally. Believers across faith traditions often display the haft-seen, a tabletop with seven symbolically significant foods — wheat, dried olives, sweet pudding, garlic, apples, sumac berries and vinegar — that “represent spiritual recommitment and gratitude for the rebirth of vegetation.”
During Ramadan, the ummah is linked through shared experiences of fasting from food and water, as well as from vices like greed and jealousy, from sunrise to sunset; increasing charitable works; reading the entire Quran over thirty days; and commemorating God’s first revelation to Prophet Muhammad. Many break their fast with a date, thereby following his example. Communal iftars of Muslims and non-Muslims are becoming increasingly common in this country and elsewhere to enable religious literacy and celebrate diversity. Additionally, soul food, like halal jerk chicken or the halal taco and tamale food trucks frequented by Latino Muslims and their neighbors, reflect the growing conversion rates. And during hajj, the world watches as some 3 million Muslims collectively reenact the physical and spiritual journey undertaken by Prophet Abraham and his family — his wife Hajar and son Ismail (radi Allahu ‘anhum). Through a series of communal rituals, we witness lines of racial, socioeconomic and sectarian difference fade, just as Malcolm X famously observed during his pilgrimage in 1964. On the final day, Eid al-Adha, the distribution of meat from a sacrificed animal among family, neighbors and the poor connects believers as a family of submitters to God’s mercy. This holiday’s commemoration of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his beloved son is a story shared among the Abrahamic faiths, although the son to be sacrificed is Ishmael in the Islamic tradition and Isaac in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Fourth, while exploring the histories of Muslim communities, we discover that from the 8th to the 15th centuries the Moors globalized their practices of ecological balance, environmentalism and agricultural advances by transcontinental trade and travel, thereby impacting food production, consumption and commodification for the benefit of all. Muslim farmers created aqueducts through deep ravines and improved the pre-existing Roman irrigation system to address local starvation. Scholars of various creeds led the knowledge society of their time with cutting edge research on soil types, water procurement, nutrition and the maximization of agricultural productivity. The fruits of their labor were made available to all. The Umayyads of Spain, like other Muslim societies, considered education an important Islamic ethic. As a result, women, the lower class and non-Muslims were given
Public Iftar at the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah
the opportunity to attend free schools on paved, lit roads and to enjoy more than 70 public libraries. Such amenities would not be available in Europe for another thousand years. Fifth, in the contemporary context, we know that several Muslims inspired by their faith have founded civil society organizations to address hunger, poverty and other global challenges. According to a 2015 report of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, nearly 800 million people globally are “food insecure,” meaning they lack reliable access to enough affordable, nutritious food. Abdul Sattar Edhi (1928-2016) known as the “angel of mercy,” founded The Edhi Foundation (https://edhi. org) to lower this number among the poor in Pakistan via food pantries, schools, hospitals and orphanages. In recent years, massive flooding, energy shortages, conflict, inflation and rising food prices have driven even the middle class to solicit free food from his shelters. Before his demise in 2016, Edhi had personally adopted 20,000 orphans, raised $100,000 for groceries for victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and sent food aid to victims of the Ethiopian famine of the mid-1980s. Another exemplar is Karim Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam of the world’s 25 million Shia Ismaili Muslims, a direct lineal descendant of Prophet Muhammad through his cousin and son-in law Ali and daughter Fatima. As part of his institutional mandate as Imam, a position he has held for 60 years,
he founded the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN; www.akdn.org) to improve the quality of life for the world’s poor people. Its partnerships with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Tajikistan, the World Bank and others have been crucial in providing humanitarian relief and increased food security in post-Soviet Tajikistan from 15% in the early 1990s to 70% in the early 2000s. In Islam, food, like health, is a divine gift to be cared for, nurtured and shared for the betterment of society. From Prophet Muhammad and Ali to the Moors, from hajj pilgrims to Eid celebrants, and from Abdul Edhi to the Aga Khan, we find people of faith inspired to strive for social justice. They show us that in the two touchstones of the faith, the Quran and the Sunna, and throughout Muslim history to contemporary times, the intersection of food and faith has been — and continues to be — a deeply spiritual, moral and socially just set of practices that sustain the body and the soul, diminish the ego and create community. ih Zahra Nasiruddin Jamal, Ph.D., is associate director at Rice University’s Boniuk Institute for Religious Tolerance. Note: This article is an adaptation by Dr. Jamal of her “Food for the Soul: A Muslim Perspective” lecture at the Chautauqua Institution, a famed Methodistfounded, ecumenical, not-for profit family educational community located near Jamestown, N.Y. Part of the movement that President Teddy Roosevelt called “the most American thing in America,” it promotes humanistic values and learning through lectures, the arts, current events and non-denominational religious study in order to create informed and actively engaged citizens.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 57
You Don’t Have to Get Yourself Steamrolled
We citizens often fail to exercise our power to say “No” when approached by law enforcement. Often times we willingly waive our rights to remain silent or decline a search to our own detriment. BY ISMAAIL QAIYIM
hen we think about interactions with law enforcement personnel and agencies, what generally first comes to mind are power, for the officials of these agencies are legally empowered with the right to use lethal force. The natural assumption is that the police hold the power and thus the civilians must comply with their requests and/or orders. This assumption is not only misinformed, but actually reverses the power dynamic enshrined by law. The cardinal rule is that you, the civilian, have the power. Without a warrant or a reasonable suspicion that a crime has taken place, law enforcement officials and agents usually can only use the information or items that you voluntarily give them. The nature of such an encounter is inherently adversarial due to the way the courts understand and apply the Constitution’s 4th Amendment, which protects the people against unreasonable searches and seizures. As a result, any search of a home is considered “reasonable” only if and when the law’s representatives have a warrant. This document, which requires the official signature of a magistrate judge, authorizes them to search a specific place for a specific thing within a specific window of time based on the information they have provided to the magistrate. Since it is neither legal nor feasible to search everyone when looking for information, law enforcement resorts to asking people questions often without informing them of their right to not answer or to simply walk away. In addition, they do so while knowing full well that most people are unaware of their rights. This means that you, whether or not you are an American citizen, must unflinchingly (and respectfully) assert your rights
whenever you are approached by a law enforcement official. These officials can be from the police force, the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or any other state agency with the power to detain you. However, they can legally search you or your home (or car or office) without a warrant only if you give them permission to do so.
DEALING WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL
You may be unaware of the fact that while representatives of the law have the right to lie to you, lying to them is a crime. Therefore, talking to police officers creates potentially unforeseen risks for you and others because your forgetting or misstating a simple fact can be construed later on as a lie. Also, anything that you say can be used against you or against others. For example, law enforcement agents may pretend to be people from your utility company or may simply say there was a case of identity theft and then proceed to ask questions and even look around your home. Anything in plain sight can be used as evidence against you if it is illegal (e.g., narcotics). The goal here is to protect yourself and your loved ones. People often have nothing to hide, and yet they are afforded the right to lock their doors and seal their mail as a form of personal protection. Asserting your rights is your personal protection. • You would do well to remember the following general principles: • Whether you are a citizen or noncitizen, you have the right to refuse to answer any questions (e.g., place of birth, immigration status, and who you voted for). • It is safer to refuse to talk until you have an attorney present.
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• If asked, you have the right to deny any request to search your car or home. • Have law enforcement contact your lawyer, even if you don’t have one yet. Contact Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility (CLEAR) for free representation or a referral. CLEAR is rooted in the CUNY School of Law’s relationship with community-based organizations. Its members work to address the unmet legal needs of Muslim, Arab, South Asian and other communities in the New York City area that are particularly affected by national security and counterterrorism policies and practices. • Be persistent and firm, yet respectful, in asserting your rights. • Never physically resist any law enforcement agent, even if he/she searches you and/or your home without your consent. • Practice asserting your rights with your family at home.
WHAT IF I AM APPROACHED AT HOME?
First, remember that you are under no legal obligation to talk with any law enforcement personnel or let them inside your home unless they have a warrant signed by a magistrate judge. An administrative warrant — one without a magistrate judge’s signature — does not grant them the right to overrule your objections.
AS A SOCIETY, WE ARE CONDITIONED TO TREAT LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS AND AGENTS WITH BOTH FEAR AND RESPECT. BOTH OF THESE GROW OUT OF THE REALITY THAT THESE INDIVIDUALS HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE LEGAL RIGHT TO USE LETHAL FORCE AND THE POWER TO DETAIN US. HENCE, ASSERTING YOUR RIGHTS IS A PSYCHOLOGICAL HURDLE THAT YOU MUST CLIMB OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
Do not open the door. If they claim to have a warrant, ask them to slip it under the door. If you feel you must open the door, step outside and close it behind you. Do not invite them inside. Officers will often try to obtain your permission for a search by asking questions such as “May I come in and take a look around?” Always say “No” to such requests. If they begin to search your house anyways, DO NOT PHYSICALLY stop them. NEVER PHYSICALLY RESIST AN OFFICER OR A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL. Emphasize that you did not consent to the search by proclaiming repeatedly and loudly: “I do not consent to this search.” Take note of any witnesses, such as others in the home, who can verify your stated opposition to the search at a later date. If these officials and agents ask you questions, politely and firmly demand: “May I please have your business card? My attorney will follow-up with you.” Do not answer any other questions, and contact a legal organization such as CLEAR at the earliest possible opportunity. Remember that “home” here is defined as your place of domicile where you would have a reasonable expectation of privacy. This includes an apartment, a rented space, and so on.
WHAT IF THEY HAVE A WARRANT?
If law enforcement approaches your home with a warrant, ask to see a copy of it. If it
is a search warrant, it should have the following data: the correct name and address of the person(s) being searched, the date and a magistrate judge’s signature. Point out any errors in these facts. Regardless of everything else, remain silent and deny their request to search any areas not specifically listed on the search warrant. If it is an arrest warrant, remain silent and call your attorney, or wait for your court-appointed attorney to meet with you.
WHAT IF I AM STOPPED IN A PUBLIC PLACE?
Police officers often target specific communities and community institutions for surveillance under the guise of counterterrorism and/or crime prevention. Places of worship and social outlets (e.g., restaurants and hookah bars) are especially susceptible to such activities. Representatives of law enforcement may also choose to approach individuals at their places of work. For these reasons, always be ready to assert your rights wherever you are. If you are stopped in a public place, they can ask you for your name and address. While some jurisdictions do not require you to show an ID, others might. Hence it is best to provide an ID with the least amount of information, such as a credit card with a photo or a student ID. If you are a non-citizen, you must carry proof of your immigration status. Obviously, don’t carry and/or show false immigration documents or a fake ID, as these could lead to criminal charges and/or deportation. A police officer is allowed to pat you down if he/she reasonably fears for his/her safety. Again, never physically resist a law enforcement agent. If an agent begins to ask you questions, politely and firmly refuse to respond. You can do this by asking “May I please have your
business card? My attorney will follow-up with you.” You will likely have to be persistent and repeat yourself quite a few times before he/she will leave you alone. It is a good idea to end any such conversation by politely asking “Am I being detained? Am I under arrest? Am I free to go?” Legally speaking, you are always free to remain silent (beyond giving your name and address and possibly showing an ID) and walk away if you are not being detained. As a practical matter, asking these questions is a respectful way to assert your constitutionally guaranteed and recognized rights. It is important to realize that you cannot legally be arrested for refusing to answer questions. Depending upon your circumstances, you may have more to lose by choosing to engage with law enforcement personnel rather than directing them to your attorney or simply remaining silent, because it is a criminal offence to lie to them. Moreover, you have no control over how the information you give them, no matter how innocuous it seems, will be used or who else will be impacted by it.
THE BOTTOM LINE
As a society, we are conditioned to treat law enforcement officials and agents with both fear and respect. Both of these grow out of the reality that these individuals have been given the legal right to use lethal force and the power to detain us. Hence, asserting your rights is a psychological hurdle that you must climb over and over again. Practicing these scenarios at home is vital to acting in a respectful and legal manner during an actual encounter. ih For further information on your rights or legal representation, please contact CLEAR at (718) 340-4558 or email@example.com. Ismaail Qaiyim is a freelance writer currently enrolled in law school in New York. Follow him on twitter @ismaailqaiyim.
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PHOTO (C) KHADIJA MEHTER
The protest camp at Standing Rock
Standing at Standing Rock Solidarity with Native Americans to protect and maintain our planet’s natural resources fits perfectly into Islamic values BY KHADIJA MEHTER
ver since the arrival of European colonizers, Indigenous communities and tribes have courageously defended themselves and their lands. Kidnapped children who were taken to government-run boarding schools often acted, both individually and collectively, to resist forcible conversion to Christianity and European culture. For example, their long hair would often be cut upon entry despite its religious, spiritual and cultural importance. Many also did their best to resist these school’s cruel methods to stamp out their languages, religions and cultures.
A MUSLIM OBLIGATION
One of the world’s greatest evils is oppressing an entire people. North America’s Indigenous peoples have experienced a creeping oppression for centuries. And the relatively recent violations of their sovereignty by Washington and Ottawa are no more than a continuation and maintenance of settler colonialism. All North American Muslims are obliged to stand against
such actions, for as Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) stated: “Whosoever sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; if he is not able to do so, then [let him] speak out against it; if he is not able to do so, then with his heart. That is the weakest of faith” (relayed on Abu Sa’id al-Khudri’s authority; confirmed by Muslim). This hadith constantly reminds me that this duty is a mandate, not a suggestion, for each Muslim.
The Native American nations’ level of resistance has varied at times. The core issue is the more than 500 treaties they signed with Washington — all of which Washington has unilaterally broken, amended or nullified. An exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian featured the Treaty of Canandaigua, also known as the Pickering Treaty, one of the first such compacts. Signed in 1794 by Washington and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, or the Six Nations, based in what is now New York State, the Haudenosaunee
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allied itself with the United States after the Revolutionary War and received back more than a million acres of land. However, over time, Washington retook the territory and has, to this day, honored only one part of the treaty: Giving goods valued at $4,500 every year — a mere drop in the ocean compared to the amount of land seized. Treaties are laws, and breaking or attempting to break them is a criminal offense. Even though criminal acts typically have legal consequences, such is not the case when Washington breaks these treaties. Many Americans are aware of this and yet view it as no more than an unfortunate but inevitable fact of life that cannot be changed. However, Native Americans and those in solidarity with them don’t agree, for they seek to stop Washington’s continued violations of these people’s human rights and national autonomy. The most recent and formidable example is, of course, the now well-known #NoDAPL. In early 2016, this grassroots-led movement launched a protest at Standing Rock against Energy Transfer and Partners, the natural gas and propane company building the Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline, planned to run from western North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields to southern Illinois, beneath the Missouri and Mississippi rivers as well as under part of Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Indian reservation, threatens the quality of the drinking water of the Indigenous nations in the area and also violates the sanctity of Standing Rock Sioux’s ancient sacred burial grounds. To prevent this project, Standing Rock Sioux elder LaDonna Brave Bull Allard established a cultural and spiritual resistance camp in April 2016 that drew thousands of people from around the world. I had the honor of spending a week there. Members of more than 300 federally recognized tribes, along with over 4,000 supporters, stayed in three resistance camps to (1) protect the area’s drinking water, (2) stand in solidarity with those fighting for their autonomy and human rights, and (3) be a part of a truly democratic community where everyone contributed, participated and had their human needs met. This was the largest event of its kind held so far, and many more non-attendees donated money, food and supplies. Every day during this nearly yearlong struggle, protesters blocked the pipeline’s construction despite enduring
water cannons to police dogs, high-pitched sound cannons to strip searches. Amnesty International deployed several observer delegations to monitor police treatment of protesters. They called upon the Obama Administration to stop the project and investigate claims of excessive police force. This shocking use of force toward nonviolent protesters was simply the latest example of Washington’s long history of using violence to subdue Native Americans to protect the corporations profiting from exploiting their valuable resources. But thanks to social media, millions of people worldwide were paying attention and supporting the protesters. As of September 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice had received 33,000 petitions to review all permits and order a full review of the project’s environmental impact. In December 2016, Washington stated that it would not grant an easement for Energy Transfer Partners to drill under Lake Oahe: “Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do. The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.” But just four days after his Jan. 20, 2017 inauguration, President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum to advance construction under “terms and conditions to be negotiated.” This order effectively expedited the environmental review, which Trump found to be an “incredibly cumbersome, long, horrible permitting process.” It is incredibly telling that Trump views this review with such disregard, especially since the pipeline’s construction can literally determine if the area’s residents will have clean drinking water. The ongoing construction continues to raise maintenance issues, increasing fears about how the pipeline is affecting the region's clean drinking water.
THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES
Although the Standing Rock protests are over, we learned so many things. First, standing in solidarity with Native Americans to protect and maintain Earth’s natural resources fits perfectly into Islamic values. Being God’s stewards means that we are responsible for protecting and preserving it for all living beings. Abu Hurairah (radi Allahu ‘anh) relates that God forgave all of the sins of
a prostitute who tied her shoe to her scarf and lowered it into the well to get some water for a panting dog. Second, pipelines affect both humans and animals. Ahmed Shakir has authenticated the following hadith: Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Al-’Aas (radi Allahu ‘anh) reported
were at Standing Rock. But as we know, as Muslims we stand on the side of justice, no matter who it’s for or against. And if standing with Indigenous people in protecting their water isn’t standing for justice, it’s difficult to imagine what would be.” Major organizations, such as the ones
BUT AS WE KNOW, AS MUSLIMS WE STAND ON THE SIDE OF JUSTICE, NO MATTER WHO IT’S FOR OR AGAINST. AND IF STANDING WITH INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IN PROTECTING THEIR WATER ISN’T STANDING FOR JUSTICE, IT’S DIFFICULT TO IMAGINE WHAT WOULD BE.” that the Prophet once once saw Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqas (radi Allahu ‘anh) making wudu and asked him: “Why this wastage?” When Sa’ad replied: “Is there wastage in wudu also?” he was told “Yes, even if you are at a flowing river.” Surely if we are not allowed to waste water, how can we do anything that might damage it as a drinking source, thereby causing it to be wasted?
STANDING WITH FIRST NATIONS AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Many Muslim individuals and organizations see efforts aimed at solidarity and resource protection not only as a religious obligation, but also as a personal duty. Abdullah Baig, founder and CEO of the nonprofit Abdullah Baig Consulting, is one of these people. Based in McLean, Va., he went to Standing Rock in December 2016 to represent several Muslim organizations, Deen TV, Veiled Beaut (a modest clothing company), and the Islamic Circle of North America for Social Justice. He created a docu-series for Deen TV and distributed winter scarves. These organizations agreed with Baig that they needed to learn from this living, thriving and united display of solidarity. Baig stressed the importance of such solidarity: “If Muslims want to properly support the Indigenous peoples of this land, we need to stop speaking for them and instead use our resources to help them use their voices. Silence is our enemy. Now is not the time to pipe down or put pipes down. And certainly, there are many Native American Muslims today, some of whom
that Baig represented, underscore the genuine interest many Muslims have in supporting Indigenous peoples’ struggles for dignity and human rights. Before I left for Standing Rock in December 2016 and even while I was there, I was overwhelmed with donations and well wishes from Muslims who wanted to donate and convey their heartfelt solidarity. Standing Rock was a historic moment in our history, for the staggering number of supporters showed us what’s possible in terms of supporting Indigenous peoples’ struggles. For up-to-date information on their nationwide struggles, visit www.rednation. org. Many of this country’s pipelines impact Indigenous communities, which also face some of the highest rates of police brutality. As Muslims of conscience, we must stand in unequivocal and unapologetic solidarity with them as well as learn about their history, rebellions and resistance leaders. I end with a quote from a particularly important Native leader of the Lakota people, Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake (Sitting Bull), the Hunkpapa Lakota holy man who was killed at Standing Rock Reservation, aged 58, while defending his people: “It is with this mysterious power that we too have our being, and we therefore yield to our neighbors, even to our animal neighbors, the same right as ourselves, to inhabit this vast land.” ih
Khadija Mehter, a Syracuse native, who now makes her home in Northern Virginia, is a program tester. She is an activist and organizer with over 15 years of experience, with particular interest in supporting mass peoples’ movements.
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NEW RELEASES FORWARD STEPS
MODESTY IS NOT OPPRESSION
Rethinking Reform in Higher Education: From Islamization to Integration of Knowledge Ziauddin Sardar & Jeremy Henzell-Thomas 2017. Pp. 226. PB. $14.95 International Institute of Islamic Thought, Herndon, Va. he authors argue that the reform of higher education in Muslim societies involves a fundamental change in perspective driven by important considerations, including the aims of education itself. They make the case that this might require reforming existing disciplines and inventing new ones, as well as working in conjunction with current knowledge(s) and discourses by taking account of Muslim society’s ethical and spiritual norms and the guiding principles under which it operates and that in turn, mark the underlying basis of its makeup and spiritual identity. In addition, they maintain that rather than creating divisions, the reform process recognizes the modern networked world’s plurality and diversity and seeks to replace existing sterile and uniform approaches to knowledge with a broader, more creative understanding of reality as lived on different soils and in different cultures. Moderation, balance and effective communication are paramount features of this approach’s underlying philosophy. ih
Pious Fashion: How Muslim Women Dress Elizabeth Bucar 2017. Pp. 248 +21 color illus. HB. $29.95 Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA or many Westerners, the hijab is the ultimate sign of women’s oppression. Bucar, who does not buy this older feminist attitude, argues that modest clothing represents far more than social control or religious orthodoxy. More than just a veil, this is pious fashion that, from head to toe, engages with a range of aesthetic values related to moral authority, consumption and selfhood. She defines modesty in Islamic dress as an ever-changing social practice among Muslimahs who, much like non-Muslimahs, choose from a range of available clothing items and accessories in order to create styles they think will look both appropriate and attractive. ih
The Moor’s Last Stand: How Seven Centuries of Muslim Rule in Spain Came to an End Elizabeth Drayson 2017. Pp. 224. HB. $40.00 PB. $20.00 Interlink Books, Northampton Mass. n presenting an account of the life and times of Boabdil, the last Muslim king of Granada, Daryson considers the impact of his defeat then and now. She relates how his family betrayed him, how faction and internal conflict undermined him and how, in 1492, the forces of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, rulers of the newly united kingdoms of Castile and Aragon defeated him. Their victory marked the completion of the long Christian reconquest of Spain and ended seven centuries
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in which Christians, Muslims and Jews had, for the most part, lived peacefully and profitably together. Drayson argues that five centuries after his death, Boabdil remains a potent symbol of resistance to the forces of western Christendom, a ruler whose image endures in contemporary culture. Yo Soy Muslim A Father’s Letter to His Daughter Mark Gonzales Illustrated by: Mehrdokht Amini 2017. Pp. 32. Ages: 4 – 8. $17.99 Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, N.Y. onzales, a Muslim Latino poet, presents a touching and lyrical picture book about a parent who encourages his daughter to find joy and pride in all aspects of her multicultural identity. The 32-page picture book is, in fact, his message to his daughter Sirat. This poetic celebration of heritage and faith, past and future, will be appreciated by Muslim families seeking to boost their children’s confidence and of interest to non-Muslim families. ih
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