Islamic Horizons November/December 2020

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Cover Story


22 Black America Doesn’t Live Here Anymore Black Muslimahs 25 27 Muslim Americans and Race Working to Build Bridges 30 “Terrorism” or “Marijuana-Induced 31 Psychosis”? Spot the Difference A Cham Muslim Immigrant’s 35 Perspective

ISNA Matters 8 ISNA's 2020-22 Leadership Team 10 Convention Report 11 Packing the Essentials


48 Green Earth: The Prophetic Vision

Finance 50 Evaluating Islamic Investment Standards


33 Slavery Remains Legal in the U.S.

51 Does That Halal Label Really Guarantee Halal Food? Honey, a Truly Miraculous Natural 53 Product

In Memoriam 55 Khadija Haffajee


20 Levitating the Muslim Vote

56 The Correct Way to Deal with Blasphemy

Islam in America

Muslims Under Siege 58 India’s Constitution Is Under Assault 60 Cambodia’s Cham Muslim Minority

38 Voice for the People 39 North Texas Muslims Establish a Cemetery

Profiles in Achievement


41 Stars in Scarves 43 Pay it Forward

6 Editorial 14 Community Matters 62 New Releases

Opinion 44 Are We Educating Muslims or Cowards?

Family Life 46 On Raising Girls

36 A Small Community’s Perseverance Pays Off

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.



The Moment of Reckoning


ince the murder of George Floyd on May 25, the embers of racism and exploitation continue to be rekindled — and violently. Not just a few lives, properties and businesses have been lost, but also, and more importantly, humanity has suffered. Muslim Americans, who are part of this country’s national fabric, continue to suffer right along with other despised minorities. The Muslim Ban notwithstanding, using spiteful and insulting language when speaking of and writing about Islam and Muslims has become a given. As we share the American space and all its moments with our fellow Americans, we are obliged to look at the situations and realities that confront us and those of our fellow citizens who are considered equally unequal to those who dominate this country and its wealth. Islamic Horizons invited our respected teacher and avid supporter Dr. Jimmy E. Jones (executive vice-president, The Islamic Seminary of America) to help enrich our readers. Not only he has contributed his erudite observations, but he has also blessed us with the seminary’s intellectual resources. Over Labor Day weekend, true to its longstanding tradition, ISNA hosted its 57th annual convention, which will go down in history as its first (and hopefully last) virtual convention. Although virtual events are new for most of us, the response was encouraging and rewarding. Let’s pray that God releases all of us from this pandemic and that we can resume, to the extent possible, our pre-pandemic lives. We need to be able to pray, work and play together again. Under the theme of “Struggle for Social and Racial Justice: A Moral Imperative,” 92 speakers participated in 28 titled discussions grouped into 10 sessions. These events, streamed for 26 hours over two days, were designed to open infinite avenues for individual-to-societal-to-global transformation. They successfully took participants on a

guided tour of some of those pathways and instilled within us a sense of bravery, personal piety and comprehensive integrity. Available recordings can help motivate us to advance toward the longsought goal of justice for all. This issue will reach quite a few subscribers before Nov. 3, Election Day 2020. In her timely op-ed, Prof. Nadia B. Ahmad (Barry University School of Law) argues that the Constitution is a living, breathing document that has space for all of us. She stresses that as a mother of three young children, “I cannot stand to hear the cries of children separated from their parents at the border. As the wife of an immigrant, I cannot bear the pain of the families ripped apart by the Muslim Ban.” Proclaiming one’s obligation to vote, she urges Muslims to mobilize our communities like never before and to educate ourselves, for “We cannot sit out the election. We have to take action to restore dignity, integrity and honor to our nation’s capital. We cannot backslide any further as a democracy.” On the international scene, it was satisfying to see Muslim Cham survivors of Pol Pot’s genocidal policies participate as witnesses during the proceedings of the UN-backed tribunal, officially known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, and unofficially as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal or the Cambodia Tribunal. Let’s hope that we will eventually see a day when similar tribunals will be set up to look into the perpetrators of crimes against Muslims in Palestine, Xinjiang, Myanmar, Illegally Indian-occupied Jammu & Kashmir and India itself. On the domestic scene, we have become more aware of the racism and discrimination within our own community, despite Islam and the prophetic Sunna’s clear condemnation of both practices. It’s long past time that we abandon these attitudes and embrace all of our fellow Muslims as real brothers and sisters.  ih


PUBLISHER The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) PRESIDENT Safaa Zarzour EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Basharat Saleem EDITOR Omer Bin Abdullah EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Iqbal Unus, Chair: M. Ahmadullah Siddiqi, Milia Islam-Majeed ISLAMIC HORIZONS is a bimonthly publication of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) P.O. Box 38 Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Copyright @2020 All rights reserved Reproduction, in whole or in part, of this material in mechanical or electronic form without written permission is strictly prohibited. Islamic Horizons magazine is available electronically on ProQuest’s Ethnic NewsWatch, 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) 204-0187 Fax (317) 839‑1840 E-mail: ADVERTISING For rates contact Islamic Horizons at (703) 742‑8108, E-mail, To subscribe, please e-mail: CORRESPONDENCE Send all correspondence and/or Letters to the Editor at: Islamic Horizons P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Email:


ISNA Presents its new 2020-22 Leadership Team ISNA’s new 2020-22 leadership team was inducted during the ISNA’s 57th — and first virtual — Annual Convention. Outgoing president Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed said, “We, as members of ISNA, celebrate the fact that no other Islamic organization in the world and no Muslim country has had uninterrupted and regular elections for choosing their leadership for more than half a century as ISNA has. This is a proud legacy of ISNA that we will reinforce for the future.” Dr. Mohamad Rajabally served as the election committee chair. The new team is composed of Safa Zarzour (president), Magda Elkadi (vice president-USA) and Mohammed Jalaluddin (vice president-Canada). The board members are Dr. Iqbal Unus, Dr. Affan Badar, Malika Khan and Mir Ziauddin Ali Khan.

Safa Zarzour, an educator, attorney and community activist, is cofounder of the ISNA Education Forum, superintendent of Universal Schools in Illinois and Indiana and principal of Zarzour Law LLC. A former ISNA secretary general (executive director), he has worked with the Zakat Foundation of America (general counsel and COO), IQRA International Foundation (CEO) and Loyola Law School (adjunct law professor). In addition, he is affiliated with CISNA (chairman), the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving (member and board of advisors), the Mosque Foundation (vice chair), Oak Lawn Community High School (board member) and the Syrian Forum USA (president).

Magda Elkadi Saleh, in her 29th year as an Islamic school administrator, is head of school at Bayaan Academy, an innovative school focused on achieving excellence in

Arabic, Qur’anic and Islamic studies and academics. As head of Universal Academy of Florida and Tampa’s American Youth Academy (AYA) for 11 years each, she led them through two successful accreditation visits and gained International Baccalaureate Diploma School authorization for AYA. Among her responsibilities are spearheading and overseeing strategic planning, marketing and fundraising, developing new school programs, training teachers and other administrators, as well as building relationships with regional schools and organizations. She has consulted with Islamic schools and with communities that want to open Islamic schools since 1998 and served on accreditation evaluation teams for both FCIS and AdvancEd (2009-15). In 2014, she became president of Radiant Hands, a nonprofit social services organization that helps empower needy women and families. Deeply involved with the community, she strives to empower others to achieve their full potential and help raise people’s awareness and knowledge of Islam and how much it values working for and serving all people.

Vice President-Canada Mohammed Jalaluddin, an ISNA life member, has served MSA/ISNA since 1972 as a board member and secretary of AMSET and as a speaker and moderator at ISNA conventions. With over 30 years of experience in


Islamic finance and senior business management, he is founding member and president of Ansar Financial Group, Toronto, as well as vice chairman of the Islamic Cooperative Housing Corporation in Toronto and president of IMRC Canada.

Serving the community since 1970, Dr. Iqbal J. Unus has worked with MSA (president), ISNA (secretary general; member, ISNA al-Majlis Shura), ADAMS (vice president; trustee), AMSET (president), the Council of Muslim Organizations of Greater Washington (executive member) and as member or chair of several local and national committees. He is a trustee of Amana Mutual Funds Trust, directorat-large of the UN Association of National Capital Area and recipient of community

service awards from CAIR National (2011) and ISNA (2012).

Malika Khan, an active community member, has served on the Muslim Community Association’s (MCA) board, renovation committee, women’s committee and Senior Club of its board. She has sat on CAIR-SF Bay Area’s executive board, worked for MSA and ISNA, been chair of ISNA West Zone’s conference program and held other posts. In addition to helping establish mosques and Islamic schools, she has organized fundraisers and other events. Khan, who holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry (University of Madras, India) and a master’s degree in biological science (California State University at Fullerton), has been meeting with and writing to government officials on various local, state and national issues. She has also worked as a precinct captain during presidential elections and volunteered with her area’s Congress members and public officials.

M. Affan Badar, PhD, CPEM, has served on ISNA’s board (2014-18) and election committee (2014-17). He holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering (King Fahd Univ. of Petroleum and Minerals) and a doctoral degree in industrial engineering (Univ. of Oklahoma). Currently a tenured professor and former chair of Indiana State University’s Applied

Engineering & Technology Management department, he was chair of the University of Sharjah’s Industrial Engineering & Engineering Management department (2016-18). He is also an ABET/ETAC commissioner and editor-in-chief of an InderScience journal. Dr. Badar has also served on Jahan­ girabad Institute of Technology’s (201418) operations management board, as president of the Islamic Society of Greater Indianapolis (2012-14), immediate past president of AMSET, vice chair of METIndia N.A., a board member of Indian Muslim Education Foundation of North America, vice principal of Al-Ilm Weekend School, secretary of IAMC-Indiana and on a few boards in India.

Mir Ziauddin Ali Khan, popularly known as “Mir Khan,” has worked with ISNA since 1983 and has served on several convention committees as chair, vice-chair and co-chair of the ISNA Convention steering committees. He has played an important role in the convention outreach and media relations. Khan has a bachelor’s of science degree (Osmania University, Hyderabad; Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago). An experienced IT professional with over 30 years of project management, he has led dozens of software-implementation teams at leading companies. He is a results-oriented individual with a track record of increasing operational efficiency and team building. While studying at Northeastern Illinois University, Khan was MSA president. He served for almost a decade as a school board member at Chicago’s MCC Academy and later as board member and president of suburban Chicago’s Averroes Academy, a Muslim private school. He is also the founding member and president of Chicago’s “Glory of Hyderabad” organization.  ih NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020  ISLAMIC HORIZONS   9


Struggle for Social and Racial Justice: A Moral Imperative ISNA’s 57th Annual Convention opened doors of inner transformation for global justice BY RASHEED RABBI


he first ever all-virtual ISNA convention, which took place over Labor Day weekend, continued the annual legacy of bringing Muslim Americans together to learn from each other and renew our faith-based ardor to work for a just society. Once again the pomp and enthusiasm were present, but this time on a digital platform. The participation of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, along with numerous scholars and activists beaming in from across the world, caused a leaping momentum throughout the digital convention. The theme, “Struggle for Social and Racial Justice: A Moral Imperative,” was both appropriate and appealing, given the massive unemployment and the Black Lives Matter protests, both of which reignited discussions about systemic racism. Calls for police reform brought thousands of people into the streets despite the risk of catching and perhaps dying from the virus to pursue the struggle for civil rights. Amidst this upheaval, thousands of Muslims registered to learn how 92 scholars, activists, politicians and professionals are navigating these new realities. The two-day event’s 28 titled discussions were grouped into 10 sessions, streamed for 26 hours and designed to open infinite avenues for individual-to-societal-to-global transformations and give a guided tour for some of those pathways. The recitation of “…persistently stand firm for God, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness...” (5:8-12) reminded the participants of the constant need to reevaluate their true worth and realign their moral imperatives. A quick glimpse of the core committee during the opening session assured ISNA’s adeptness in networking. Incoming

ISNA president Safaa Zarzour speaks from ISNA HQ

president Safaa Zarzour shared his vision of advancing individual growth and commitments in eradicating prejudices within communities for the coming years and bid a respectful farewell to outgoing president Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed. Executive director Basharat Saleem highlighted ISNA’s ongoing engagements, among them the Covid-19 task forces for the pandemic, interfaith coalitions to battle



institutional racism and regular spiritual reflections to empower individuals locked down at home. Inaugural session speakers included Salam Marayati (president, MPAC), Javaid Siddique (president, ICNA) and Edward Mitchell (deputy executive director, CAIR). Dr. Yusuf Ziya Kavakci (scholar) spoke from Turkey, Mohammed Jalaluddin (vice president, ISNA-Canada) and Azhar Aziz (past president, ISNA) shared this convention’s global significance. All of them reflected upon Islam’s pervasive nature in our lives. As any change expected to impact the world should start from within, the first Saturday morning session focused on transforming our mindset. Muslims find the signs of God within themselves and the horizon (41:53), which, as Tamara Gray adduced, builds a God-centered worldview that sustains our personal relationship with the Creator and our ability to associate with everything as solely His creation. As we fall short of facilitating that view, we become unfair to others and ourselves. This is exactly what happened to Satan, who considered himself superior to Adam (‘alayhi as salaam), imposed discrimination on God’s creations and was punished for doing so. To avoid making the same mistake, we must include God in all our affairs to strive for the equality and justice that characterize the Islamic worldview. Such an approach will adorn our daily lives with palpable confidence, serenity and security. Imam Mohamed Magid (former president, ISNA) reminded the participants “not to rely on our actions, but on God, who is in control of everything, is the secret of believers’ success,” for that is the key to cultivating the Divine’s continuous presence and ensuring internal and external peace. At times,

we become impatient for God to intervene. Ieasha Prime (executive director, Barakah, Inc.) provided the perfect answer: “God never leaves us, for He is always with us.” Along with Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi (chair, FCNA), she noted that difficulties allow believers to rediscover their true worth and revive themselves, thereby making us leaders and inheritors of this world (28:5). Each panelist stressed that prayers and worship can help us Islamize our habits, profit from adversity and become better leaders. Many Muslim Americans have used this stratagem to turn a predicament into a possibility. The next two sessions, each containing three parallel discussions, featured some of the leaders and activists who use their faith to remain resilient and deal with the difficulties they face. For example, Cleveland councilman Basheer Jones revealed how religion helped him adopt the role of Prophet Yusuf (‘alayhi as salam), a victim of politics who later participated in it to establish justice. Farooq Mitha, the Biden presidential campaign’s Muslim outreach director, said that he serves the American community because he is Muslim. He was worried about Muslim voters in the potentially crucial states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida. Abdul El-Sayed (D-Mich.; past gubernatorial candidate) proclaimed, “Misogyny is on the ballot, racism is on the ballot, public health and climate is on the ballot and we must vote.” Considering voting the bare minimum responsibility, Mitha expected his fellow Muslim Americans to get more involved in establishing equality and justice. The pandemic has exposed the ugly underside of our healthcare system and made Muslim involvement more impending. African Americans are 13% of the population, and yet 60% of them are subject to infections, with a 50%+ mortality rate and severe underfunding. Sana Syed (director, American Muslim Health Professionals) called for wider Muslim participation in preparing policies, strategies and advocacy. All speakers of this panel emphasized the need for increased participation, “if not possible by hand, then by words, and if not by words, then by hearts.” In its session, members of the Inter­ national Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) discussed the bifurcated educational system and possible ways to fix it. Dr. Ahmed Alwani (CEO, IIIT) shared some of their initiatives, among them Advancing Education in Muslim Societies (AEMS).


Packing the Essentials BY ALAA ABDELDAIEM


rophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) asked Muslims to live in this world as strangers and travelers, passing by this earthly life on our way to our final destination. He taught us to walk with a sense of purpose, to not get sidetracked by distractions, to pack only that which is essential. During its first-ever virtual convention, MYNA taught its youth to do exactly that. Hundreds of virtual participants gathered over Labor Day Weekend to explore this year’s theme, “Packing the Essentials: Living in this World as the Prophet Wanted us to Live.” “Coping with the lifestyle changes associated with quarantine create a space for reflection about what we truly need in order to live in this dunya, and it has been proven that a lot of our practices tend to be unessential,” organizer Maham Bawaney said. “There are several worldly matters that tend to distract us from what is truly important in terms of our akhira. Looking into the Hadith about living with ‘the essentials’ inspired us to create a message centered around the prophetic example for youth in today’s world.” This event’s several speakers touched upon the topic’s relevancy, diving deeper into what it means to focus on the essentials as a youth in today’s day and age. Sheikh Rami Nsour (scholar, Tayba Foundation) opened the virtual convention by discussing how we can replace nonessential worldly distractions with “essential” matters that will prepare us for success in both this world and the hereafter. He also referred to the prophetic example of living a simple life free of excessive distractions. Participants then explored tawakkul (trusting God) with Ustadha Khadija Bari (student career coordinator in the Workforce Development department at VISIONS/Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired). It is often hard, Bari reflected, to remain positive when facing struggles or uncertainty. Tawakkul helps

us seek closeness to God and can light up our lives. She emphasized that our Lord, who is the All-Merciful and the All-Rewarding, always has a plan for us and how believing this can strengthen our faith and trust in Him. This session also dealt with how our prophets turned to God in times of hardship. The weekend concluded with practical and timely lessons from Sheikh Ubaydullah Evans (executive director, ALIM) and Dr. Jawad Shah (neurosurgeon, Flint, Mich.), who discussed how youth can find their passions here — an artistic hobby, devotion to activism, social leadership or something else — which might help them stay connected to their communities while developing positive skills and characteristics. This session also delved into passion in regards to Islam, helping youth maintain that sense of devotion to it while excelling in doing what they love. “Listening to the speakers discuss concepts such as the limiting of distractions, reliance on God, worldly passions, and more, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of how to prioritize deen over dunya,” Bawaney said. “It can be easy to get caught up with the stress of worldly responsibilities, but the message that was related with this theme was a beautiful reminder. This dunya is a test from God, and we define our own success. The first step is to step back and reflect about what truly helps us reach where we want to be, both in this world and the hereafter.” While Covid-19 forced this year’s convention to go virtual, Bawaney believes the youth still walked away with transformational knowledge. “Though this convention was virtual, a lot of the lessons that were conveyed … are applicable to our lives moving forward as well,” she said. “Next year, when the convention is in person inshaAllah, we hope to continue to touch on such relevant topics that can guide our youth through the experiences of this dunya.”  ih Alaa Abdeldaiem is regional coordinator, ISNA Youth Programs and Services Department


CONVENTION REPORT dealt with in an age-appropriate manner, that more Muslimahs are seeking spiritual health and that almost 10,000 women had signed up for i‘tikaf (spiritual retreat) in her organization, the Khalil Center. These stories and statistics manifest the diverse types of support that our communities need and are waiting for us to provide.

physicist who has been serving Muslim Americans for about 50 years and expects to do so for many more years.

Sayyid M. Syeed

To facilitate the pursuit of excellence among youth, Rami Nsour (scholar, Tayba Foundation) advised his MYNA session’s audience to avoid distractions and temptations by continually classifying our deeds as obligatory, recommended, permissible, disliked and forbidden. Doing so will reveal one’s true level of faith and help improve one’s inner righteousness. In a parallel session, AMSET professionals shared Muslim researchers’ contributions to overcoming coronavirus in daily life. Dr. Taher Saif (University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign), Umbreen Nehal (MIT) and Santy Alexander’s (Lilly Careers) presentations stated that challenges are meant to convert problems into opportunities to enhance one’s individual abilities. The next round engaged health care professionals. Ismail Mehr (president, IMANA) spoke on providing personal protective equipment and raising awareness amidst pandemic uncertainties. Because of their due-diligent work, FEMA invited IMANA to travel across the nation to set up Covid19-related practice and policies. Dr. Hasan Shanawani highlighted his American Muslim Health Professionals’ collaboration with IMANA, ISNA and FCNA to form the National Muslim Taskforce for Covid-19, which quickly became a 30-member organization coalition. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) stressed extending our help towards the community. Rania Awaad (psychiatrist, Stanford University School of Medicine; clinical associate professor, Stanford Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences) spoke on Covid19’s impact on youth and women’s mental health. She remarked that children must be

Joe Biden

Ingrid Mattson

One of the pioneer responders was recognized by the ISNA Founders Committee, which helps ISNA and its development foundation formulate its strategic priorities and create a sound financial base, at the Community Service Award ceremony. Recipient Dr. Ingrid Mattson’s (former president, ISNA; chair, Islamic Studies, Huron University College, the University of Western Ontario, London, Canada) brief inspirational words motivated thousands of virtual participants.

Biden’s message, shared immediately after the ceremony, highlighted that there is no limit to a person’s aspiration to serve one’s people and country. ISNA, a nonprofit organization, contacted both presidential campaigns, but only the Biden campaign responded. Biden promised that if he were elected, he would remove the Muslim Ban as a first step toward promoting equality and justice.

Linda Sarsour

Saiyid Masror Shah

Prior to the evening session, the ISNA Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Dr. Saiyid Masroor Shah, a retired medical


The Sept. 5 evening session, “20/20 Vision on Racism,” featured Linda Sarsour, Dr. Bilal Ware (historian of Africa and Islam) and Imam Siraj Wahhaj. Sarsour stressed our lack of respect for other races, ethnicities or denominations and abrupt attitudes that are not often intentional but nevertheless very impactful. She envisioned 2020 as being

similar to the 1960s civil right movement, but being led by Muslims. Ware’s rhetorical approach exposed the non-interaction of many Muslim groups with African American Muslims, whose blood and sweat enabled us to reach the point where we are today. Referring to their commemoration of 400 years of brutality last year, he compared them with the Hebrew slaves liberated by Prophet Moses (‘alayhi as salaam) 426 years after Prophet Yusuf (‘alayhi as salaam) had welcomed them into Egypt. Siraj Wahhaj provided examples of key Black Companions who were very dear to Prophet Muhammad. The night ended with an update on Imam Jamil Al-Amin’s appeal against his incarceration. The entertainment program included Preacher Moss, Raef, Kashmir Maryam and Alman Nusrat. Eradicating internal reservation was a perfect transition for the Sunday morning session on community building. The second day’s events immersed us in thoughts of community engagements. Three philanthropists talked about how faith can help us reframe our mindset and guide a new community toward empathy, affinity and prosperity. Anwar Khan (president, IRUSA) noted that the growing participation of lay people empowered IRUSA to inaugurate new projects. New York University chaplain Khalid Latif shared how students are working together to combat coronavirus. In collaboration with the Celebrate Mercy and Penny Appeal, his community raised $520,000 for micro-grants. He said that about 3,900 people made pledges long before the government offered the stimulus check. Another 21,000 people donated $886,916 to the Ramadan Emergency Fund for needy Muslims. These were not big donations, but examples of regular people’s collective power and sense of urgency. Marium Husain (vice president, IMANA) stressed that all Muslims are obliged to participate in this endeavor, and only for His sake. The parallel sessions continued to shed light on unifying a vision fit for offspring, entrepreneurs and youth. Sameera Ahmed (director, The Family & Youth Institute) urged elders to demonstrate micro-resistance to combat micro-aggression. Magda Elkadi Saleh (head of school, Bayaan Academy) suggested reflecting on past mistakes to learn the way forward, and Habeeb Quadri (principal, MCC Academy) discussed how Islam could help solve them all. Abdalla Idris Ali (former president, ISNA) talked about the ISNA

ISNA Team: (l-r) Anjum Khan, Tabassum Ahmad, Basharat Saleem, Safaa Zarzour, and Azhar Azeez

ISNA Staff: (l-r) Anjum Khan, Tabassum Ahmad, Basharat Saleem and Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad

Elementary School at Mississauga, Canada, which has implemented these insights. The stories of Anwar Khan, Farooq Kathwari (chairman, Ethan Allen) and Mohamad Ali (president and CEO, IDG) inspired many prospective entrepreneurs. Their success stories were not confined to worldly achievement, but illuminated the religious and spiritual dimensions ensured through social welfare. Ubaydullah Evans (executive director, ALIM) and Dr. Jawad Shah (neurosurgeon, Flint, Mich.) explained how our mundane daily activities could be sources of worship. The following two parallel sessions sought to raise our awareness of the genocidal tendencies in South Asia; the importance of the U.S. census; interfaith and youth engagement for racial justice; climate change; and what’s going on in Myanmar, Palestine, Illegally Indian-occupied Kashmir, Syria and Xinjiang. In the concluding session, Imam Zaid Shakir (Zaytuna College, Berkeley, Calif.) circled back to Gray’s example of Satan and Adam and confirmed that every racist is a soldier of Satan, who introduced racism to humanity. He emphasized that sincere Muslims cannot simply show sympathy and remain silent. Evans talked about using the Quranic worldview to overcome racism. They both presented racism as a spiritual problem that requires purifying one’s heart and doing one’s best to establish justice. Imam Yasir Qadhi (resident scholar, East Plano Islamic Center, Plano, Texas) noted that the pandemic allows us time for

introspection and self-purification to fulfill our accountability toward humanity and its Creator. Prime provided prophetic examples of such reevaluations. All of these speakers shared different perspectives of faith toward injustice and called upon us to strive harder to realize justice. Global justice is imbued within Islam’s very fabric, and yet the Muslim American community has not paid much attention to it, a blind spot that is making us accountable before God. The ISNA virtual convention organized sessions to instill this sensitivity deeply and walked us systematically through various arenas. It highlighted the integrated solutions embedded within the Quran and Sunna to establish justice in all spheres of human life and urged self-reformation by embracing diverse ethnic groups. As we live in “the home of the brave” and faith makes us braver, this year’s annual convention sought to instill that bravery with personal piety and integrity. Available recordings can help motivate us to carry forward the struggle for justice.  ih Rasheed Rabbi, an IT professional who earned an MA in religious studies (2016) and a graduate certificate in Islamic chaplaincy from Hartford Seminary, is also founder of e-Dawah (; secretary of the Association of Muslim Scientists, Engineers & Technology Professionals; serves as a khateeb and leads the Friday prayers at ADAMS Center; and works as a chaplain at iNova Fairfax, iNovaLoudoun and Virginia’s Alexandria and Loudoun Adult Detention Centers.

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COMMUNITY MATTERS Scholarship Benefits the Children of Islamic Workers The Sterling Charitable Gift Fund and Amana Mutual Fund, along with the UIF-Corporation and Shenandoah University’s Center for Islam in the Contemporary World, have joined hands to offer 10 “Imam Generational Scholarships.” Worth $5,000 each per year and administered by the Islamic Scholarship Fund, these scholarships are dedicated to the children of imams, chaplain and Islamic workers. Students can apply for the annually renewable scholarships of up to $5,000. A minimum of ten scholarships will be awarded each grant cycle for the fall semester. The checks will be sent directly to the chosen university’s financial aid office. Imams, associate or assistant imams and/ or chaplains serve their communities and mosques/centers as spiritual guides, counselors, advisors, consultants and even problem solvers. But while the community appreciates their dedication, distinction and friendship in this regard, its limited resources mean that these valued employees don’t receive fair market salaries. As a result, they are hard-pressed to save or pay their children’s expensive college or university tuition fees. This is a sad reality facing our community leaders and their children. Both the application and list of requirements and criteria are available at https://www. If you have any questions, please contact us at  ih

The Zakat Foundation Supports Fellowship in Muslim Philanthropy

Amir Pasic

Shariq Siddiqui

The Zakat Foundation Institute (ZFI;, in collaboration with IUPUI’s The Muslim Philanthropy Initiative, located at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy (LFSP), launched an 18-month Fellowship in Muslim philanthropic and humanitarian studies that will begin in the fall 2020 semester. During this period, students will earn a graduate certificate in philanthropic studies by taking two LFSP graduate courses per semester. They will also receive ZFI’s Graduate Certificate in Muslim Philanthropy and Humanitarian Studies. All required courses may be completed online. “I am thrilled that our Muslim Philanthropy Initiative has this opportunity to collaborate with the Zakat Foundation to bring this terrific opportunity to students


who are passionate about making a difference in their communities,” said Amir Pasic, the Eugene R. Tempel Dean of the school. Up to 10 students admitted to the school’s graduate certificate or its MA in Philanthropic Studies degree program will be considered for the fellowship. Priority will be given to displaced people, refugees and/or volunteers or nonprofit sector employees. Shariq Siddiqui, director of the initiative and an assistant professor of philanthropic studies at the school, said “This program lifts up those [Muslim] communities by providing them the tools to navigate their challenges through the philanthropic and nonprofit sector.” “The professionalization of the Muslim nonprofit and humanitarian sector is a critical need of the moment,” said Rasheed Ahmed, director of ZFI. “What better way to meet that need than to partner with the first school of philanthropy in the world?” Prospective students interested in applying for the ZFI Fellowship may contact Luke Bickel (  ih

Waraich Family Fund Strengthens Muslim American Nonprofits The Waraich Family Fund’s gift to the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI will help Muslim American nonprofit organizations acquire the skills needed to expand their collaboration and fundraising efforts. The gift creates and supports the Community Collaboration Initiative (CCI;  Dilnaz Waraich lim-initiative/programs/cci/index.html) of the school’s Muslim Philanthropy Initiative (MPI https://philanthropy. This three-year initiative enables 25 Muslim American nonprofits in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, California and Washington, D.C., to acquire additional beneficial knowledge and training. In his remarks, MPI director Shariq Siddiqui, Ph.D., stated, “Research suggests that due to heightened external scrutiny, Muslim American nonprofits have been very effective in interfaith collaboration due to the need to have external legitimizing partners. However, meaningful intra-faith collaboration is important too, and it can help these nonprofits strengthen their missions, develop specialization, create economies of scale and build more effective nonprofit organizations. We thank the Waraich family for this generous gift, which will not only help make such collaboration possible but also help us learn how a highly diverse, under-resourced and scrutinized minority can collaborate. This knowledge will help develop new models of collaboration.” Three key themes stood out from a Waraich Family Fund survey to its Muslim American nonprofit grantees: (1) many of the nonprofits reported their desire to collaborate with other nonprofits but lack the time and resources to implement this initiative, (2) many would like to learn more about fundraising and become more strategic

On Aug. 1, Dr. Timothy J. Gianotti, an accomplished scholar of classical Islamic theology, philosophy, and spirituality, assumed office as the American Islamic College’s (AIC; https://aicusa. edu/) new president. He has strong interests in Islamic psychology, moral theology, ethics, political thought, comparative religion and spirituality, as well as interfaith relations. A scholar of Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d.1111), one of the classical Islamic era’s most important religious thinkers, Gianotti is also recognized as a Muslim theologian, pastoral leader and committed interfaith advocate with extensive experience in promoting interfaith engagement worldwide. Originally from Portland, Ore., Gianotti received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto (Islamic philosophy and theology), with periods of study at the University of Jordan’s College of Islamic Studies in Amman and elsewhere in the Middle East. His 20+

in that regard, and (3) many of the nonprofits surveyed recognize the importance of increasing their level of diversity, equity and inclusion, want to become more inclusive and are working to implement such initiatives. Fund spokesperson Dilnaz Waraich said, “There are many Muslim American organizations that have empowering missions that drive social impact. Our family works towards using our resources to uplift missions that apply innovative thinking to old problems, processes, and systems. We are pleased to make this gift, which is a vehicle for social change that is motivated by our faith.” The CCI brings together Muslim American nonprofits’ board members and staff dealing with the same types of constituents or issues to engender collaboration on one shared project to solve a common problem. Participating nonprofits must be community organizing organizations, public policy and advocacy organizations, legal organizations, masjid/community center organizations, and wellness and welfare organizations. Participants will work with conveners from the MPI and other organizations to create useful intra-sectoral collaborations by building trust, creating programs and developing sustainability. The initiative is organized in partnership with the Pillars Fund and the Center on Muslim Philanthropy. Amir Pasic, Ph.D., the Eugene R. Tempel Dean of the school, displayed his appreciation of the Waraich gift by saying, “Increasing understanding and advancing the practice of philanthropy within and across diverse cultures and communities is at the core of our school’s mission. This thoughtful gift offers a great opportunity to accelerate the work of our Muslim Philanthropy Initiative, and we look forward to the achievements of the nonprofits who are joining us in this new endeavor.”  ih

years of university-level teaching experience in North America include being an associate professor at Canada’s University of Waterloo and the York-Noor Chair of Islamic Studies at York University and an assistant professor of Arabic and Islamic thought at the University of Virginia, the University of Oregon and Penn State University. Beyond the academy, he is also the founder and principal teacher of Toronto’s Islamic Institute for Spiritual Formation and was one of Muhammad Ali’s two religious advisors who helped the Champ carefully plan his final statement to the world in the form of his funeral. AIC’s new president is the author of “Al-Ghazali’s Unspeakable Doctrine of the Soul” (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2001) and “In the Light of a Blessed Tree: Illuminations of Islamic Belief, Practice, and History” (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2011), scholarly articles and book chapters. He has also written theological essays on contemporary issues and traditional topics, such as the inner (psycho-spiritual) processes of moral beautification (ihsan) and character formation within an Islamic framework. Gianotti, who has been closely connected

with AIC since 2013, was its inaugural director of Islamic studies and an associate professor of Arabic and Islamic studies. During 2013-15 he helped redesign and revitalize its undergraduate and graduate curricula, taught a range of graduate and undergraduate courses for AIC’s degree programs, designed its Master of Divinity in Islamic Studies and was active in the college’s institutional and interfaith outreach. In January 2020, Gianotti rejoined the college as vice president for academic affairs. “I am deeply grateful to my predecessor, Daoud Casewit, for his faithful stewardship, and to the College Board of Trustees for entrusting me with this responsibility as the College begins to spread its wings, diversify its curriculum, and realize the dream of becoming a full-fledged, fully accredited University that will serve as a cornerstone for the American Muslim community for generations,” Gianotti said. “Beyond that, our vision embraces people of all backgrounds, faiths, and walks of life, and so I envision AIC to be an intellectual hub for all those seeking transformative education, intellectual rigor, critical yet respectful engagement, and a more global perspective.”


COMMUNITY MATTERS Prof. Peter Mandaville, Schar School of Policy and Government and interim director of George Mason University’s Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies, received $50,000 from the Henry R. Luce Foundation to help establish the first podcast dedicated to academic Islamic studies. The podcast will be associated with the center’s existing digital scholarship platform, The Maydan, now a leading forum for online publishing in this multidisciplinary field. Overseen by Ahmet Tekelioglu, The Maydan’s editor-in-chief and a research fellow at the center, the podcast will feature discussions on a range of contemporary and historical topics and themes across multiple academic disciplines of interest to both academic and non-expert audiences.

The Canadian Muslim community announced a record-breaking donation of Can$5 million to support the development of the Mississauga Hospital-owned Trillium Health Partners (THP). This is the largest such gift to a hospital by the Muslim community in Canadian history. According to a THP press release in August, Ontario prime minister Doug Ford said, “I want to thank Abdul Qayyum Mufti and the Muslim community for showing the true Ontario spirit in making this generous contribution to support our frontline heroes at Trillium Health Partners. “Our strength as a province and as a people comes from our diversity and shared values, and it’s needed now more than ever. By having each other’s backs, we can get through these extraordinary times.” Mayor Bonnie Crombie stated, “I want to thank Mississauga’s Muslim community for once again stepping up to show how much they care about our city. “Their generosity never wavers, and this is yet another example of the true spirit of Mississauga. This historic pledge will help THP get one step closer to building a new and modern hospital that will care for our growing, diverse and ageing population.” Mufti, a THP board member since 2012,

has been raising funds for THP for many years, having established the Family Day Walkathon in 2010. To date, after completing the 2020 event in February, he and his fellow walkers have raised hundreds of thousands of Canadian dollars. ICNA Relief gave out 50 grants worth up to $2,000 each to empower classroom teachers ( While there are student and parent support programs, as well as hunger prevention in-classroom programs, there are no teacher support programs for at-risk communities. These grants can be used for projects and materials related to core subjects and supplies. In addition to juggling low budgets, high stress and poor working conditions to create a learning environment that allows their students to flourish, teachers in neglected communities now have to deal with social distancing and create virtual classrooms with minimal training, abysmal tools and limited funding. A panel of experts evaluated the applicants based on a 32-point value scale: Impact of meaningful instruction on students inside and outside the classroom (+6 points), funds will be used to develop an impactful and innovative experience for students (+6 points), 30-120 seconds video (+10 points), optional points and a letter of recommendation from school (+10 points). Sadaf Hossain, who has a career background in business strategy, B2B and B2C enterprise software, health care and entrepreneurship, joined the board of the Washington, D.C.based Institute for Social Policy and Understanding on August 1. A global business strategist at SAP (, he has founded and/or cofounded three natural food and health care brands. He’s also an active angel investor for early-stage start-ups and a managing director at Golden Seeds, an early-stage investment firm. Hossain, who enjoys supporting nonprofits, has been a cofounder and former board member of the Mariam Clinic in Raleigh, N.C., and a strategy consultant with Compass DC. He holds an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, as well as master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The American Islamic Community Center (AICC; of Sterling Heights, Mich., celebrated the groundbreak-


ing of its new facility on Aug. 19. The building will eventually contain a mosque, a community center and a school. Youth and sports programs will also be offered. The quest for this building started in 2015, when the AICC requested the Sterling Heights Planning Commission to accept the building’s special approval land use proposal. After it refused to do so, the AICC sued the city in 2016, citing the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The U.S. Justice Department launched its own separate lawsuit against the city later that year. The AICC settled its suit with Sterling Heights in 2017, and the city agreed to pay an undisclosed amount of money and let them build their house of worship. AICC chairman Jeff Chehab said the building will eventually be around 20,000 square feet, or around twice as big as their old center. Most of the AICC’s approximately 200 members live in Sterling Heights. The Illinois Institute of Technology, which hosted its 2020 Alumni Awards on Sept. 26, recognized the late Syed “Zaheer” Zaheeruddin (M.S., IE, ‘75) with its Lifetime Achievement Award. His son Sameer Syed, accepting this award on his father’s behalf, said that his father “would have been extremely honored and humbled to be recognized by Illinois Institute of Technology.” He related that while visiting Chicago in 1999, Zaheer had proudly brought his family to the campus, which he credited for his professional and career success. An accomplished engineer with work in Saudi Arabia, India and Australia, Zaheeruddin worked in building construction, engineering and building materials for more than 30 years. After retiring, he volunteered as a bookkeeper and office administrator for a local nonprofit in Melbourne, Australia. Ever since 1946, the Illinois Institute of Technology has presented the Alumni Awards to its most accomplished, innovative and influential alumni. Its recipients add to the university’s rich history of visionaries who make the Illinois Tech community proud. The ceremony took place during Illinois Tech’s virtual Homecoming & Alumni Awards Weekend on Sept. 25-26.  ih

COMMUNITY MATTERS ACHIEVERS Azadeh Dastmalchi, 34, CEO and co-founder of the Montreal-based start-up VitalTracer, received the Social Entrepreneur Award on Sept. 2. Mitacs is a nonprofit Canadian research organization. Her company’s VTLAB smartwatch combines biosensors and artificial intelligence to measure human vital signs, blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygen saturation, body temperature and electrocardiogram (ECG) and photoplethysmography (PPG) signals. This “all-in-one” device, which needs no blood pressure cuff, ECG halter or similar external components to conduct the monitoring, can be enhanced to detect and monitor for early Covid-19 symptoms. “It measures all of them, sends it with Bluetooth or WiFi to their smartphone, or directly to the online cloud. For hospitals, we can localize the cloud for them to use their own server. This is very important [for keeping] the confidential information of the patient in a hospital,” Dastmalchi told Yahoo News Canada on Sept. 2. For the device’s Covid-19 component, she has received Mitacs’ C$150,000 grant to support research and development, postdoctoral fellow salaries and PhD students. She also received a grant of C$500,000 from Quebec’s Ministry of Economy, Science and Innovation to support two clinical trials through two companies. VitalTracer’s broader use is set to begin clinical trials in 2021 for Health Canada and FDA approval. The company is currently manufacturing 200 units. For Dastmalchi, a PhD candidate in the University of Ottawa’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, it all started 10 years ago when her father was diagnosed with hypertension. Instructed by his doctor to check his blood pressure three times a day and take pills daily, he used to complain that the pressure was too painful. And so he didn’t always follow the doctor’s orders. He died at 62. Unable to find a smartwatch on the market that could monitor his blood pressure, Dastmalchi, as his caregiver, started conceptualizing the project during her master’s and doctoral programs. She noted that while uniform uptake may not be as needed, it may be worth having

it downloaded in certain populations like young adults who frequent restaurants and similar public places. She reasoned that these people may be more open to anonymously telling an app, rather than their employers, that they have Covid-19. Nana Firman was among the four climate activists presented with the Alfredo Sirkis Memorial Green Ring Award by former Vice President Al Gore at the 44th Climate Reality Leadership Corps Global Training on July 26. The virtual event trains attendees how to build an equitable and inclusive movement for climate action and climate justice. Firman is the Muslim outreach director for GreenFaith (, an international multifaith partnership that engages faith communities in environmental leadership and action. Since training as a Climate Reality Leader in Melbourne in 2009, she has worked with various organizations to raise awareness of the climate crisis and advocate for improving urban sustainability and building a green economy. After earthquakes and tsunamis imp­ acted her homeland of Indonesia, she worked with the World Wildlife Fund to direct green recovery efforts in the country. In 2015, President Barack Obama named her a White House Champion of Change for Climate Faith Leaders. The award honors climate reality leaders who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to their roles as climate communicators and activists. Previously called the Green Ring Award, it was recently renamed to honor the life and legacy of former Brazil branch director and climate champion Alfredo Sirkis, who passed away earlier this year. The World Economic Forum, in its report “After John Lewis: 21 civil rights leaders who are shaping America,” noted July 30, “[I]n recent years, new leaders have emerged across the United States to champion rights — not just for African Americans, but also in the fields of migration and gender. They are using politics, social media campaigns and publishing in new ways to amplify and spread their messages” ( Its list of “21 current and emerging civil


rights leaders who will shape struggles in the United States and the wider world for years to come” includes CAIR executive director Nihad Awad, citing him as “one of America’s leading Muslim voices condemning the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the anti-Muslim rhetoric that followed, and [who] has remained a prominent face of the community in the U.S. He has received numerous awards for his work.” Qorsho Hassan, a fourth-grade teacher at Echo Park Elementary in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school district, was named the 2020 Minnesota Teacher of the Year on Aug. 6. Hassan, the 56th recipient of the prestigious award, is the second awardee from her school district. Principal Logan Schultz said Hassan brings passion and an equity-driven approach, which is a win for the community. An independent selection committee representing Minnesota leaders in education, business and government chooses the “Teacher of the Year” from individuals who are nominated and then choose to become candidates. This year there were 134 candidates and 10 finalists. In her submitted essay, Hassan, a Somali-American educator, wrote, “Being aware of the lived experiences of my marginalized students and their communities makes me fight harder to ensure they receive a high quality-education. “I build strong relationships in order to know every single student as an individual. I challenge systems of oppression such as poverty and racism by demanding more resources for my students and their families. I believe that if students are in a learning space where they feel safe, seen and heard, they will succeed.” Hassan, who taught for one year in Kuala Lumpur as part of a Fulbright Fellowship, holds a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University and a bachelor’s plus from Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio. Education Minnesota, the 86,000member statewide educators union, organizes and underwrites the “Teacher of the Year” program.  ih


Levitating the Muslim Vote Never forget that people died so you could vote! BY NADIA AHMAD IT’S 1:25 A.M., SEPTEMBER 15, 2020.


am writing this article, which will hit mailboxes the week before the November 2020 elections. I hope so much that a voter mobilization strategy has been put in place between now and when this publication goes to press, and that you read it. The dialers. The signs. The bumper stickers. The apps. The mail-in ballots. The early voting. The voter registration. The precinct locations. The friends and family. The community. The mosques. The supersonic GOTV. The full-throttle nationwide voter mobilization strategy. But even more than that, I want to make sure that you set aside whatever you are doing and make sure to vote in this historic election. People died for the right to vote. Here and in our countries abroad. If the “I voted sticker” didn’t get you excited, then those purple thumbs should have worked.

The rights in our Constitution to speak out and to have a free press are so critical. When we are silent, we cannot have our problems magically solved. I am not sure how I went from being auto-banned from the Daily Kos ( community to CBS News and the Washington Post, except by the help of God. The more people tried to silence me, the more others stood up. We formed the Muslim Delegates and Allies (https://www.muslimdelegates­ coalition to hold our government accountable and to make our agenda as Muslims in the U.S. known.

LEVITATING THE MUSLIM VOTE The Pew Center reports statistics on partisanship and ideology. A solid twothirds of U.S. Muslims identify or lean toward the Democratic Party (66%). A far lesser amount indicate they are Republican or lean Republican (13%), while one-in-five say they prefer another party or are political independents and do not lean toward either major party. Statistically speaking, the Muslim Americans’ partisan composition has changed little over the past decade. In fact, more than other populations, they remain far more strongly Democratic than the public does as a whole. I remember last fall being in a classroom with students discussing Selma’s Bloody Sunday. Those innocent days before the pandemic. But it still felt so dreadful. Even after the canons and the guns of the Confederacy fell silent, the racism remained in place in the Jim Crow South. The Selma-to-Montgomery march was part of a series of coordinated civil rights protests that occurred in Alabama. The year was 1965. Earlier that year, in order to register Black voters in the South, protesters marched the 54-mile route from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery. Those brave protesters were confronted with deadly violence from local law enforcement and White vigilante groups. After much negotiation, the National Guard protected the protestors as they completed the march to their intended destination. Those protestors, including Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis [later representative from Georgia], defined their generation. They were emblematic of an era. They rose against the tide of bigotry to shape the laws and uphold the principles of the Constitution. I am of the opinion that our Constitution is a living, breathing document that has space for all of us. Meanwhile, the Muslims are having their civil rights moment right now under President Donald Trump. The reckoning we are having is with how far we will go to protect our constitutional rights and the ideals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. I figured that if people could go vote while being beaten by batons, pelted with teargas and sprayed with bullets, then we could figure out a way to the vote in the pandemic. I have caught a lot of flak for my political positions, whether about prison abolition or the Green New Deal. But it’s my faith and trust in God more than the concerns of individuals and tainted organizations that carries me through the day. 20    ISLAMIC HORIZONS  NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

But one thing I realized through all of my bursts of complaining about Muslim institutional powers and hierarchies was how decayed and decrepit our systems are and how much we have tolerated them. In Urdu, we have a saying, “Chorh Day [Let it be].”

IT’S 2:25 A.M. SEPTEMBER 26, 2020. I am missing my submission deadline. I wanted to share my speeches that were delivered as a part of the Muslim Delegates and Allies Assembly, which was the first official Muslim event at the Democratic National Convention and the American Muslim Democratic Caucus’s Fifth Quadrennial event. As a law professor, I am troubled by how Donald Trump is ruining our democracy and the rule of law. As a mother of three young children, I cannot stand to hear the cries of children separated from their parents at the border. As the wife of an immigrant, I cannot bear the pain of the families ripped apart by the Muslim Ban.

We cannot sit out the election. We have to take action to restore dignity, integrity and honor to our nation’s capital. We cannot backslide any further as a democracy. In no other country than the U.S. would I have the freedom and the capacity to even exist, to study, to teach and drive change in my community. My father, an immigrant from Pakistan, was born a colonial subject of the British Raj who came here

to educate ourselves. The Muslim Delegates and Allies coalition sought to take ownership of our democracy, to be a part of the win that will open a new page in U.S.-Muslim relations. Yesterday my partner took out the book I had co-edited in 2002, Unveiling the Real Terrorist Mind. He gave it to my son Senan, who is now 9, and told him, “Your mother wrote this book a long time ago for you to read now.” When I was Senan’s age, I made my Dad take me to see the Nasir Bagh Refugee camp in Peshawar — the tented camp set up in 1980 as the first wave of Afghan refugees fled the Soviet occupation of their homeland. When I was 13, my parents and other community members organized a bus so we could march MEANWHILE, THE MUSLIMS ARE HAVING on Washington against the embargo on Bosnia. The THEIR CIVIL RIGHTS MOMENT RIGHT NOW bus was literally parked in front of our house, and we UNDER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP. THE boarded it with our friends in the community to participate in the largest Muslim rally in the U.S. at that time. RECKONING WE ARE HAVING IS WITH Estimates ranged from 50,000 to 100,000. This also HOW FAR WE WILL GO TO PROTECT OUR became what is probably the first Muslim American CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND THE IDEALS event to receive national news media coverage. When I was 20, I organized a protest with antiwar ENSHRINED IN THE DECLARATION OF activists at my college commencement at the University INDEPENDENCE. of California at Berkeley. We made the national news for our protests against the commencement speaker, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who had callously said the price of the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq by the Clinton administration — the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children – had been worth it. The Muslims, the Columbians and the Serbians were all at it. When I was 21, I visited the Palestinian refugee camps in Sabra and Shatila just as the Second Intifada was underway. And seeing the depravity of humanity to each other really shattered me. When I was 22, I was the lead speaker at an antiwar protest held in front of New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, which had 20,000 protesters and 5,000 police officers. The World Economic Forum was held there that year instead of in Davos, Switzerland. In 2014, I marched with my two kids at the Climate and worked the night shift as a security guard in the Rally in New York in what was the largest single event on climate that has been Pan Am hanger at John F. Kennedy International organized to date — one so large and diverse that it could not be ignored. One Airport. He worked his way through graduate school year later, the Paris Climate Agreement was signed. and moved to Orlando in 1973, the year SeaWorld In 2018, I rallied with my kids in Anaheim, Calif., against the Muslim Ban. Orlando opened. Through his hard work and sacri- Later that year, I joined the Women’s March Bus in Orlando for early voting. We fices, he now designs highways and airports all across were told that we were foreigners, that people who should be voting were voting. the country as an engineer. He built America. In 2020, I protested in front of Orlando City Hall with my three children My mother came to Canada alone with a medical against going to war with Iran. degree from India and started working as a coupon Not once or twice but so many times over the course of my life I have seen counter in Montreal because she couldn’t get any people with limited means move against all odds to bring about change. Because other job — she didn’t speak French. Moving to the we cannot lose hope. If we lose hope in peace and hope for a better tomorrow, U.S. for more opportunities, as a pediatrician she we lose everything. And now I stand before you to tell you that protesting is the lifeblood of this is now standing on the front lines of the pandemic treating patients. country. The defining moments of my life and yours are those when we said, My parents met and married in Orlando. They “No.” We said, “No to racism. No to war.”  ih came from two nations always on the brink of war. But here in this country, they built family, love and Nadia B. Ahmad, JD, LLM, is a law professor in Orlando, Fla. She is co-founder of Muslim Delegates and Allies Coalition. She also serves as an editor of the Race & the Law Profs Blog, an editorial board member of community. Florida Bar News & Journal, and co-author, “Environmental Justice: Law, Policy and Regulation (3rd Edition). And in this election, we have to mobilize our com- In 2020, she was appointed as a Council Member of the American Bar Association’s Section of Civil Rights munities like we have never done so before. We have and Social Justice and to the Advisory Board of the ABA Center for Human Rights, Dignity Rights Initiative. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020  ISLAMIC HORIZONS   21


BLACK AMERICA DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE “Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity” (Quran 3:104). BY JIMMY E. JONES



frican Americans, whose ancestors were forcibly transported from Africa to what would become the United States of America, are ideally positioned to answer the Quran’s call to be the ones “enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong” in both the American and international contexts. This assessment is repeatedly heard from those within and outside this particular community. However, this phrase is unlikely to become a reality if we don’t abandon some of the narratives that helped enable the brutal racism, xenophobia and nativism that still afflicts this country today. Three of these narratives are particularly disempowering: 1. The contextual situation of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) is irrelevant to the situation that African Americans find ourselves in today. The facts speak for themselves. Muhammad ibn Abdullah was born into a very tribalist society. He never knew his father Abdullah, who died almost six months before he was born; lost both his mother Amina and his doting guardian grandfather Abd al-Muttalib at the age of six; and was raised by his uncle Abu Talib who protected him, even though the two didn’t share the same faith. All of these themes are familiar to many in today’s African American community. Nevertheless, the Prophet rose above all

despite the fact that the negative social and economic consequences of such “revolutions” are heavily borne by economically stressed urban African Americans. Additionally, such “revolutions” often leave all African Americans in a worse political position. A riot is riot, no matter who precipitates it or participates in it. U.S. history tells us that the deadliest riots in this country have been carried out by people identified as “Whites” against African Americans, other people of color and additional marginalized groups. When we are justifiably outraged by these wanton killings, the PVEE syndrome often causes us to lose our minds (rationality) and morals (ethics). 3. The “Black Community” is monolithic. This particular narrative portrays the “Black community” as a group of mainly poor YES, THE “BLACK COMMUNITY” IS FAR LESS POOR people who are almost all descendants of those who survived the Atlantic Slave Trade. This THAN IT WAS HALF A CENTURY AGO, WHEN ABOUT notion is thoroughly debunked in Eugene’s 60% OF US LIVED AT OR NEAR THE POVERTY LEVEL. Robinson’s paradigm-shifting “Disintegration: THIS DOESN’T MEAN THAT RACISM HAS GONE AWAY; The Splintering of Black America” (Anchor Books, 2011). RATHER, IT MEANS THAT WE SHOULD RECONSIDER In the first chapter, “Black America Doesn’t THE MONOCHROMATIC WAYS IN WHICH WE TEND TO Live Here Anymore,” he uses census data and the historical election of Barack Hussein PLOT OUR STRATEGIES FOR OBTAINING JUSTICE. Obama as the 44th president to show that the “Black community” of 2010 was/is very of them to become the leader of and moral exemplar for a small, different from the “Black community” of the 1960s and 1970s. marginalized multicultural community that ultimately conquered He argues that instead of one “Black community,” there are now the Arabian Peninsula and spread throughout the known civilized four: “A mainstream middle class” — the largest group, “A large, world of that time shortly after his death. abandoned minority” — approximately 25%, “A small, transcendent The Prophet’s life example is extremely relevant to the African elite” — like the Obamas and Oprah and “Two newly emergent Americans’ situation today. He clearly loved his hometown Makkah groups” — mixed race and communities of recent Black immigrants. and his people. However, he never let that love silo him into a narrow Surprisingly, the largest group is what he calls the “mainstream tribalist view of justice, as many of the leaders in Makkah had done. middle class,” as opposed to the large, abandoned minority “with 2. The Post-Victimization Ethical Exemption Syndrome. less hope of escaping poverty and dysfunction than at any time Much like combat-induced Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder since Reconstruction’s crushing end.” Yes, the “Black community” (PTSD), Post-Victimization Ethical Exemption (PVEE) is a mental is far less poor than it was half a century ago, when about 60% state that comes upon those who have been traumatized. In this of us lived at or near the poverty level. This doesn’t mean that case, various active forms of violent prejudice and discrimination racism has gone away; rather, it means that we should reconsider are the causes. The impact of the almost weekly wanton killings of the monochromatic ways in which we tend to plot our strategies people like Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd by for obtaining justice. For instance, do the terms “Blackamerican,” police or vigilantes are the most recent public manifestations of the “Black Muslim” and “Black America” really make sense in the curracism that has permeated the U.S. since its inception. rent U.S. reality, which is substantially more diverse than the one The PVEE syndrome often allows survivors to promote a narrative we faced half a century ago? that defends, rationalizes or minimizes the unethical acts done by Prophet Muhammad was a synergistic visionary leader who them or other members of their group because their people, either faced some of the same issues that African Americans face today. are or have been oppressed, traumatized, brutalized and/or terror- Nevertheless, he did not choose to silo himself or other people ized. Therefore, an urban riot is no longer a riot but a “revolution,” based on tribal/geographical affiliations — even as they sought to NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020  ISLAMIC HORIZONS   23

COVER STORY kill him. We would do well to revisit and learn from his Prophetic paradigm and clear Quranic imperatives that formed the basis of his praxis. Practicing devout Muslims read, recite and study the Quran each and every day. However, even a cursory reading of the Quran by Muslims and people of other faith traditions reveal, among other things, three interconnected imperatives: God is one, humanity is one and justice is one. God is One. “… And there is none like unto Him” (112:4). This last verse of this oft-recited surah pretty much says it all — nothing in creation can compare to the One who created it all. The second verse proclaims that “God [is] the eternal, absolute” and succinctly emphasizes the Creator’s timelessness while reaffirming God’s incomparable Oneness. Somehow, the English word “monotheism” doesn’t measure up to God’s ineffable existence. This surah begins by admonishing the believer to “say: He is God [Allah] the one and only” (112:1). Consequently, the strong belief in and constant affirmation of God’s Oneness is essential to the Muslim’s being. Humanity is One. “O mankind [humanity] revere your GuardianLord, who created you from a single person, created of like nature his mate and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women. Reverence God through whom you demand your mutual (rights) and (reverence) the wombs (that bore you), for God ever watches over you” (4:1). Even militant atheistic Darwinists like the infamous Dr. Richard Dawkins, a British ethologist and evolutionary biologist, agree that all humans who currently live on this planet have one common ancestor. Nevertheless, we English-speakers have fallen in love with this idea of “race.” In referring to “race,” Anglophones usually mean that people who look different than they do belong to what is essentially a different species. Consequently, we talk about the “White,” the “Black,” and the “Asian” races, as if these terms are grounded in biological reality. In 4:1 and elsewhere, the Quran makes it clear that we all belong to one human race.

Science has only recently discovered and proven this critical point. “Race” is clearly a biological fiction and social construct that has been used to divide and conquer human beings for centuries. Much of the rhetoric we are hearing today from American political leaders and social activists on the “left,” “right” and “center” is a part of what has become a well-worn, tried and true tactic that tends to downplay the commonalities among humanity. Justice is One. “O you who believe, stand out firmly for justice as witnesses to God even as against yourselves or your parents or your kin and whether it be (against) rich or poor, for God can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts) lest you swerve. And if you distort (justice) or decline to do

justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that you do” (4:135). Another English rendering of this oftquoted verse appears as a part of the “Words of Justice” exhibit hand-stenciled on the wall of Harvard Law School building. The European Enlightenment popularized the notion that all people should be subject to one standard of justice. However, the concept is found much earlier in 4:1 and throughout the entire Quran. While this is not an easy standard for individuals, groups and societies to abide by, it is pretty much agreed that to the extent that we hold everyone to one standard of justice, we would have fairer and freer societies. According to the 2016 Sentencing Project (https://www.sentencingproject. org/) report, “African Americans are more likely than White Americans to be arrested; once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted; and once convicted, they are more likely to experience lengthy prison sentences. African American adults are


5.9 times as likely to be incarcerated and Hispanics are 3.1 times as likely. As of 2001, one of every three Black boys born in that year could expect to go to prison in his lifetime, as could one of every six Latinos — compared to one of every seventeen White boys” (Ashley Nellis, Ph.D., The Color of Justice: Racial and Ethnic Disparity in State Prisons, June 14, 2016). These stunning statistics and other indices tell us that the U.S. has a long way to go before it lives up to the Quranic imperative of “justice is one.”

THE WAY FORWARD These stunning statistics and the almost constant vigilante and police-involved killings of Black and Brown people should also outrage God-conscious people. However, just because we are outraged doesn’t mean that we are free to lose our morals and minds. Our moral compass should be rooted in the Quranic imperatives, and our minds should be firmly fixed on how to make the world a better place for all members of the human race. Currently, there are people who call themselves “Muslim” who do things that impede our push for just societies. First, there is a group that denies the existence of any racial prejudice inside the Muslim community. We live in a society permeated by many forms of prejudice, with one of the major ones being racism. If the society of our Prophet could not escape its version of racial prejudice, what about us? Second, there are African Americans and other cultural groups among Muslim Americans who analyze absolutely everything through a lens that privileges their own people. If we are to be witness for all humanity (2:143), we must push back against and dismantle these tropes as primary modes of analysis and action. As the Quran proclaims, “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for God as witnesses to fair dealing and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just, and that is next to piety, and fear God because God is well-acquainted with all that you do” (5:8).  ih Jimmy E. Jones, DMin, is executive vice-president and professor at The Islamic Seminary of America.

Black Muslimahs: Meanings and Manifestations Hajar’s legacy and the countless generations that came after her BY BAHEEJAH AALIYAH FAREED

Summayah Abdullah


Baiyinah Abdulla

ajar (‘alayhi rahmat), the wife of Prophet Ibrahim and mother of Isma’il, was an African woman whose legacy continues to be performed every year by millions of Muslims. During hajj and umra, we are required to run between the Safa and Marwa, thereby observing a ritual that signifies her resiliency and patience and what the success of her efforts to feed her son ultimately brought to humanity. Another African woman, Summayah Bint Khabbat (‘alayhi rahmat), played a significant role in Islamic and world history as Islam’s first martyr. Abu Jahl killed this elderly former slave by stabbing and finally impaling her with his spear. Additionally, Haleema Al-Sa’diyyah (‘alayhi rahmat), the Prophet’s (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) wet nurse (again of African descent) is honored for nurturing him as a baby and a child. Many “Black” Muslimahs (some descendants of slaves and servants and others not) have made significant impacts that continue to inspire us all to live for God. Although “Black” American women are often stigmatized as less than anything special in every aspect of life, we now know that this mindset is a mere consequence of the colonization/ slave-owner enforced mentality.

Chaplain Tahara Akmal

Among the Black women descendants of slaves and well known here and abroad are Harriet Tubman (1822-1913), the abolitionist, political activist and spy for the Union Army in the Civil War, and Madam C. J. Walker (1867-1913). Walker, a community activist and held to be the first female selfmade millionaire, thanks to her cosmetics and hair care products for Black women, was an extremely generous philanthropist and community activist.

LABELS Anyone who looks like they have African ancestry, especially those with brown skin, is often labeled “Black.” Many “Black” people now claim this title with positivity, although it has been used negatively throughout history. The new mindset uses the analogy of the “black credit card,” which is considered the premium card and represents status. Likewise, Blacks, including and especially descendants of American slaves, have built a legacy of perseverance and making significant contributions to improve their societies and the world at large — a legacy largely created by Black women. Still we have to choose whether to refute or own the labels the placed upon us by the white supremacist mentality.

Aisha Ruth M. Pratt

Perhaps the most common label put on Black women is the “angry black woman,” meaning one who even slightly disagrees with another person, makes her tone firm and asserts her and other peoples’ rights. A young Black Muslim girl named Isra Hirsi decided to tackle this concept and turn it into a positive in her TEDxWakeForestU talk ( reload=9&v=zHvH6ArQV4o). To be confident, courageous and unapologetically human should not cause Black women to be labeled as “angry.”

MARGINALIZATION Many Muslim families who arrived during and after the 1960s still feel that Blacks, particularly Black women, are fine to befriend but not to marry. Others pay homage to the strides of Blacks, including Black women, and revere Blacks as worthy of friendship, marriage and any other interactions, just as their own race is worthy. There is strength and triumph in not focusing on what is trying to work against us, but rather on what we are doing that is good for God’s sake. Despite marginalization, we can operate with serenity, peace of mind, courage, confidence, character and spiritual light. If we concentrate on how


COVER STORY we see others in a positive light, bettering ourselves and, most importantly, how God sees us, we’ll have more success in this life and the hereafter. When we talk about the marginalization of Black Muslimahs, we also have to talk about marginalization, meaning and manifestations of everyone to some degree. All humans face prejudice in some form, and we all sometimes feel alienated. A blonde, blueeyed White Christian woman (although

women, Eid al-Adha Carnival Celebrations for orphaned and refugee children, financial aid in times of emergency and marriage counseling (with her husband Malik). She has helped develop a school for over 600 students in an African village. ■  Ustadha Ieasha Prime (http://www. converted over 20 years ago, after her term as an International Youth Ambassador to Morocco and Senegal. During that time, she officially began study-

WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THE MARGINALIZATION OF BLACK MUSLIMAHS, WE ALSO HAVE TO TALK ABOUT MARGINALIZATION, MEANING AND MANIFESTATIONS OF EVERYONE TO SOME DEGREE. ALL HUMANS FACE PREJUDICE IN SOME FORM, AND WE ALL SOMETIMES FEEL ALIENATED. A BLONDE, BLUE-EYED WHITE CHRISTIAN WOMAN (ALTHOUGH PAINTED AS THE EPITOME OF BEAUTY WORLDWIDE) MAY HAVE STRUGGLES FAR MORE CHALLENGING THAN SOME BLACK MUSLIMAHS. painted as the epitome of beauty worldwide) may have struggles far more challenging than some Black Muslimahs. Spending time to get to know one another is important. However, with this pandemic in full effect, it is not the only step in crushing white supremacist control over how we view each other. We first need to do the work within our own hearts, minds, speech and actions by cultivating them in order to reflect our genuine love one another for the sake of God.

BLACK MUSLIMAHS MAKING A DIFFERENCE ■  “No matter what people think, Allah manifests the status of humans. The manifestation of the Black women, in particular, the Black Muslim women are not needy. We are spiritual beings, resilient, survivors, achievers and contributors,” says Sakinah A. Kareem, founder of the nonprofit community-based Jabalu-Nur Foundation (http:// The Texas-based Jabalu-Nur, originally incorporated in New York State, has been providing sources of aid and technical support to families challenged financially, socially and otherwise for over 25 years. This community organizer, along with her team of family members, volunteers and donors, provides job training programs, food programs, Our Sacred Space resource center for

ing Islam. Upon her return, while enrolled in an Islamic studies course taught by professor and scholar Mohammad Arafat at the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C., she embraced Islam. Since then, she has spent her life as an educator, artist, activist and entrepreneur committed to empowering Muslimahs to maximize their full potential as female servants of God and His vicegerents on this planet. ■  Baiyinah and Summayah Abdullah are directing and facilitating Houston’s ArtworkIn-Residence’s “There Are Black People in the Future” ( program. A University of Houston graduate, Baiyinah is a ninth grade biology teacher based on Karankawa land in Houston. As an educator, she promotes culturally responsive pedagogy and scientific literacy. As a scientist, she is a birder, bird banding volunteer and student of environmental justice. As a Black birder and educator, Baiyinah is fully involved in community healing, restorative justice, equity in education and the outdoors. Summayah, a University of Houston senior, is majoring in human development and family studies and minoring in psychology. A passionate worker in the nonprofit sector, she believes that sector can help bridge social inequities. She has held various titles at Helping Hand for Relief and Development


( in Houston. As marketing director at Muslim Inter-Scholastic Tournament (MIST; in that city, she thoroughly enjoyed working with competitive Muslim youth. With parents from Ohio and having grown up in a 12-person, 4-generation household in Galveston, Texas, she shares a passion for understanding local Black history, the connectedness of Houston/ Galveston and how migration connects Black American stories nationwide. ■  Chaplain Tahara Akmal, the mother of two sons and a daughter, joined Moravian Theological Seminary in 2017 to teach in the chaplaincy program. She now serves as Manager of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) and Chaplain at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. An Islamic Seminary of America board member, she has had years of training and experience in chaplaincy. Her graduate studies internship project focused on end-of-life care practices and rituals in Judaism, Catholicism, Islam and Buddhism. She also conducted a research project entitled “Islamic Law and Medical Ethic; Organ Transplant, Defining Death, and Life Sustaining Devices.” In October 2016, Chaplain Tahara received the Muslim American Chaplain’s Association lifetime Achievement Award, which is given annually to an individual who demonstrates excellence in service to humanity (https://www. ■  Karima Al-Amin, an immigration lawyer in Clarkston, Ga., graduated from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and has been a Georgia State bar member since 1996. She has also joined several legal and community organizations, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Clarkston Business Association and the Georgia Association of Muslim Lawyers ( ■  Nurse and personal trainer Tahira Osama, who has a 16-year background in nursing and a passion for fitness, opened her Acapella Dance Fitness (ADF; https:// studio in April 2016. Her goal in doing so was to inspire women to put themselves first and live healthier lives and provide a safe non-judgmental environment where they can focus on becoming healthier mentally, physically and emotionally. ■  Bahiyah AmatuAllah Diouf, who now cares for her 91-year-old mother who

is challenged with Alzheimer's Disease,” took shahada some 44 years ago, impressed by the character and conduct of the Sunni Bilalian Muslims who had recently left the Nation of Islam. As a mother of three sons and two daughters, she lost one son in a car accident and one to police violence. Bahiyah hopes that Muslims will help uplift Black boys and men and asks them to remember her sons in their prayers. Her surviving son, a University of Houston Clear Lake graduate, has created his own legacy in the Muslim poetry scene in Houston as well as his Firm Apparel and Know Resources businesses. Raised in a good home but living as a single mom on food stamps for a few years, she accessed college programs and earned her nursing degree while navigating through the Tablighi Jamaat and other Islamic groups. Like most Black Muslimahs of her generation, she rose from socio-economic distress to socio-economic gains and leadership. Her daughter Aisha R. M. Pratt followed in her mother’s legacy as a loving wife, mother and nurse. These are the types of strides that Black women (descendants of slaves) are accomplishing as models for the entire community and society at large.

MOVING FORWARD Many of us are raised to believe that we are better than others. For example, I grew up believing that Blacks were superior to Whites. Somehow this seemed okay because I had White friends. I had nothing against Whites, although privately my friends and family had our jokes about them. The jokes seemed harmless, especially since we were the race that some Whites were trying to oppress. However, practicing Muslims cannot accept such thoughts and ideologies, for the Quran and Hadith condemn them. God knows what’s in our hearts, and thus all of us would be well advised to remember the dua “ya muqalab al-qulub, thabat qalbi ‘ala dinik” (Oh controller of hearts, establish my heart on the deen). Moreover, we need to take a deep look at why we feel the need to subscribe to racial supremacist ideas that determine who is worthy and who is not. Are we ascribing to these notions because they are just so deeply ingrained in our subconscious and culture that we never thought to challenge them? Do we ascribe to these stereotypes because it makes us feel that we are better than others and because we just have to feel that way? If so, what does that say about our true character, who we really are and our actual relationship with God? Whatever the reasons for the stereotypes and values placed on Black women through the lens of white supremacy, it is time to dig down deep and challenge how we think, to not continue to be blinded and controlled in how we view the world.  ih Baheejah Aaliyah Fareed, administrative coordinator at The Islamic Seminary of America, is a global student, writer, traveler and cofounder of various successful startups.


Muslim Americans and Race: The Way Forward Muslims, especially Muslim Americans, need to understand the daily realities faced by their Blackamerican brothers and sisters


O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa [i.e., one of the Muttaqun (pious)]. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware” (Quran 49:13, Muhsin Khan trans.)


ome of the most prolific commentators of the Quran explain that Allah’s oft-cited verse 49:13 is an admonishment and reminder to humanity that they emanated from one source, the offspring of Adam and Hawaa (Eve) [‘alayhum as salaam]: whom Allah created from dust. Allah then reminds us that from this one source, Adam and Eve, He distinguished and differentiated us, male and female, by nations, tribes, languages, skin colors, and cultures. Allah signifies his stark, vast, and infinite power by the vast and stark differentiations and distinctions among people and nations. Furthermore, Allah reminds us that the purpose of these differentiations and distinctions were so that we would come to know each other as family and attribute such vast differences to Allah’s immense power. Moreover, the most important reminder is that Allah says none of these differences, gender, tribe, culture, and skin color, make any individual or group better than the other. However, Allah established that At-Taqwa determines those best among humanity. At-Taqwa refers to

COVER STORY Allah’s pious and obedient worshipers, who follow the guidance and examples given to us by his messenger. There are no other criteria. It is not one’s Arab ethnicity, lineage, nor tongue. Additionally, it is certainly not any one’s whiteness or proximity to western Europeans. Additionally, in what is known as the Prophet Muhammad’s (salla Allahu’ alayhi wa sallam) farewell speech, he stated: All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black, nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim, which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves. This context is central to much of the stagnation in Muslim communities throughout the U.S. and worldwide.

ON THE PATH TOWARD RACIALIZATION We live in an era that imposes Western European norms and values upon nations and people globally. This hegemonic imposition began with the sacking of Al-Andalusia, which comprised a significant number of African Muslims from various Northwest and West African tribes. The settler-colonial regime of genocide and colonization that enveloped the Americas began in Al-Andalusia and later traversed the globe. The Black Muslims, identified as Moors, were central to Al-Andalusia, many of whom, along with their descendants, later showed up on America’s shores, enslaved by Europeans. This historicity is significant and underdeveloped in both the Islamic and Western European historiography. Thus, the European enslavement of Blacks became the cornerstone for much of the global antiblackness that persists today; it is the darker side of western modernity that is permeating the globe, and which comprised the economic base that fueled the growth and spread modernity.

ISLAM, MODERNITY, AND COLONIALITY Many Muslims, like so many other people and nations, have been stifled by European

WE LIVE IN AN ERA THAT IMPOSES WESTERN EUROPEAN NORMS AND VALUES UPON NATIONS AND PEOPLE GLOBALLY. THIS HEGEMONIC IMPOSITION BEGAN WITH THE SACKING OF AL-ANDALUSIA, WHICH COMPRISED A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF AFRICAN MUSLIMS FROM VARIOUS NORTHWEST AND WEST AFRICAN TRIBES. THE SETTLER-COLONIAL REGIME OF GENOCIDE AND COLONIZATION THAT ENVELOPED THE AMERICAS BEGAN IN AL-ANDALUSIA AND LATER TRAVERSED THE GLOBE. colonization. Thus, they have rejected much of their historicity, internalized deficit Eurocentric interpretations of their past, and as a result, exchanged Islamic traditions for Western ones. To further analyze and critique this effect of colonization, we have to name it. Coloniality identifies and critiques these contemporary effects of colonization, including exchanging and mimicking Western values and norms. Coloniality is a term most notably used by scholars throughout the U.S. and helps to identify the other side of western modernity. Modernity is constructed upon racialization and capitalism, resulting in the expansion of Eurocentric models of governance and hierarchies of knowledge, cultures, and systems. The genealogy of coloniality, the other side of modernity, is rooted in what Cedric Robinson called Racial Capitalism. Racial capitalism, hence coloniality, is useful to help expose the perils of modernity by understanding the legacy of colonization and its impact on modern knowledge systems. Coloniality is exemplified by resistance to struggle against, and an analysis of modernity, Eurocentrism, and the hierarchy of Whiteness that it birthed. In the U.S., this resistance and struggle against modernity/ Eurocentrism, Robinson (1983) called the Black Radical Tradition, culminating with the Civil Rights Movement and the Black radical movement of the 1960s. The Black Radical Tradition of the 1960s consisted of a prominent collective of Blackamerican and Black-Caribbean intellectuals and freedom fighters, who influenced generations of non-Whites seeking liberation across the globe. The Civil Rights Era was the byproduct of the Black Radical Tradition, and many of its most prominent members included many Blackamerican


reverts to Islam. The term Blackamerican is in agreement with Prof. Sherman Jackson (“Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Toward the Third Resurrection,” Oxford, 2011), as celebrating the African origin of the Blacks in the U.S. but that the force of American history and experiences had essentially transformed the descendants of Africa into a new people replete with new ontologies, epistemologies, cultures and traditions.

THE BLACK RADICAL TRADITION: THE INCUBATION FOR ISLAM IN THE U.S. This thesis is critical to the future of Islam in the U.S. and the way forward. Before the 1960s, most Muslims in the U.S. were Blackamerican reverts to Islam, the former enslaved’s descendants. These Muslim reverts, sheltered and allowed to incubate within the Black Radical Tradition, reconnected with their African roots and pre-enslavement Islamic ancestry. Notwithstanding, and more importantly, it was the Black Radical Tradition that propelled the Civil Rights legislation. One specific legislation that is pertinent to this inquiry is the Immigration Act of 1965.

CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, IMMIGRATION LAWS, AND BLACK MUSLIMS Dating back to the 1920s, the U.S. banned immigration into the U.S. for non-Northwestern Europeans as part of 1790 enslavement era citizenship laws. The immigration Act of 1965 legislation opened the floodgates for eastern and southern Europeans, Asians, Africans, Latin Americans, including Muslims, to migrate to the U.S. Before this legislation, most of the immigration into the U.S. came from Northwestern

Europe and Canada. The 1960s was pivotal, as Blackamericans in the U.S. were establishing global connections to and making inroads with formerly colonized people across the globe who were awakening and becoming empowered against colonial-era power dynamics. Perhaps two of the most global and identifiable figures of this era were two Blackamerican Muslims, Malcolm X, and Muhammad Ali. Both unapologetically embraced and promoted their Islamic identity. The fearlessness and charisma that they displayed forever carved Islam into the U.S.’s mainstream, popular culture. They are the foremost crafters of the Muslim mold and blazed a trail for Muslims in the U.S. for decades to come. They also embraced the broader Muslim community throughout the globe. It is essential for Muslims in the U.S., particularly those who are either unaware or indifferent to the U.S.’s racialized history and the Black Radical Tradition’s role in changing legislation that opened legal pathways for Muslims to migrate to the U.S. post-1965. This immigration legislation, also known as the Hart-Celler Act of 1965, was ratified in the House and the Senate in September 1965, just seven months after the assassination of Malcolm X. In April 1964, Malcolm X went to Hajj. He later embarked on a one-month-long excursion in and across the Middle East and North Africa, where he met and engaged with heads of states, all of whom were equally grappling with Eurocentric power dynamics and modernity discourses. Upon his return to the U.S., he spoke highly of the Muslim communities abroad.

MOVING FORWARD Blackamericans suffered the most casualties due to the Civil Rights Movement. Members of the Black Radical Tradition in the U.S., such as Malcolm X, countless other Muslims, and non-Muslims such as Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others, were targeted, assassinated, politically imprisoned, and otherwise isolated and marginalized. As blackamericans and as Muslims, we cannot forget nor be indifferent to these realities. Moving forward, we must recontextualize and remind Muslims in the U.S. that the bravest men and women and the vanguard of Islam in the U.S. are part of a broader Black Radical Tradition. Contrarily, in their quest for power in the U.S., many upwardly mobile migrant Muslims deviated significantly from Islam’s trajectory in the U.S.

paved by the blackamerican Muslims as part of this Black Radical Tradition. Some very troubling trends need to be addressed regarding Muslim migrants into the U.S. in the 1970s ability to: 1. Locate and settle in blackamerican communities as the primary source of much of their entrepreneurial endeavors. 2. Exploit black communities with stores selling every sort of illicit products. 3. Remove black dollars from black communities that would never return. 4. Espouse the worst sort of antiblackness, mimicking white-supremacy, many sought to escape in their homelands that they fled. 5. Lastly, display a resounding sentiment of antiblackness in masjids causing many Muslims to turn away from attending Masjids and Islam altogether. As a blackamerican Muslim, I admire the legacy and road paved by Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and many others far less notable but not less impactful in the U.S. It is sad to witness antiblackness plaguing Muslim communities not just here but across the world. Lastly, it is critical to understand that President Trump’s Muslim Ban does/did not happen in a vacuum. It directly responds to the impact of the global antiblackness campaign that weakened the Black Radical Tradition, particularly here. The Muslim Ban was simply part of a much broader rollback of Civil Rights Era legislation. The way forward for Muslims in the U.S. addresses antiblackness head on, truthfully, even if it is against their own selves. Black people are best suited to articulate the antiblackness that they live and breathe every moment that Allah allows them to breathe, so listen to them. A significant amount of Islamic history is missing, ignored, or not taken seriously within the Muslim American communities. Imagine blackamerican relocating to Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, or any similarly populous Muslim country and self-appointing themselves as better knowers of these countries’ sociohistorical and sociopolitical realities above and beyond the local and indigenous peoples knowledge and perspectives. It should be clear by now that Muslim’s aspirations and or proximity to whiteness are a major stumbling block in the path forward for Muslims in the U.S. and abroad. For the community of Muslims to establish the brotherhood prescribed of us, and that many of us long for, we have

first to address a very significant problem as I have sought to identify here. I have no intention to divide what is already a divided community. Instead, addressing some of these divisions’ sources, despite how uncomfortable they are, is a better long-term solution rather than pretending they do not exist and or choosing to ignore the white supremacy and the antiblackness plaguing our communities.  ih James Wright, PhD, MBA, is assistant professor of educational leadership at San Diego State University.

Suggested Reading List (Andreotti, 2011; Grosfoguel, 2016; Jackson, 2005; Kane, 2016; Maldonado-Torres, 2007; Mignolo, 2011; Quijano, 2000; Roberts & Foulcher, 2016; Robinson, 2000; Wallerstein, 2006; Wright, 2008) Andreotti, V. de O. (2011). (Towards) decoloniality and diversality in global citizenship education. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 9(3–4), 381–397. https:// Grosfoguel, R. (2016). What is Racism? Journal of World-Systems Research, 22(1), 9–15. jwsr.2016.609 Jackson, S. A. (2005). Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking toward the third resurrection. Oxford University Press. Kane, O. O. (2016). Beyond Timbuktu. Harvard University Press. Maldonado-Torres, N. (2007). On the Coloniality of Being. Cultural Studies, 21(2–3), 240–270. https://doi. org/10.1080/09502380601162548 Mignolo, W. (2011). The Darker Side of Western Modernity: Global Futures, Decolonial Options. Duke University Press Books. Quijano, A. (2000). Coloniality of Power and Eurocentrism in Latin America. International Sociology, 1 5 ( 2 ) , 2 1 5 – 2 3 2 . http s : / / d oi. org/10.1177/0268580900015002005 Roberts, B. R., & Foulcher, K. (Eds.). (2016). Indonesian Notebook: A Sourcebook on Richard Wright and the Bandung Conference. Duke University Press Books. Robinson, C. J. (2000). Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition (2nd edition). University of North Carolina Press. Wallerstein. (2006). European Universalism: The Rhetoric of Power (1 edition). New Press, The. Wright, R. (2008). Black Power: Three Books from Exile: Black Power; The Color Curtain; and White Man, Listen! (First Edition edition). Harper Perennial Modern Classics.



Working to Build Bridges Among all Americans Are Muslims aware that they are obligated to support calls for justice in this moment and always for everyone — not just for fellow Muslims? BY ROULA ALLOUCH


e have recently been experiencing a long overdue reckoning with an awakening to the Black experience and the history of anti-Black racism in all areas of our society, be they in housing, education, our failing criminal justice system or elsewhere. The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd pushed these issues to the forefront, and thousands of protestors, led by the millennial generation, are doing their best to keep them there. As Americans struggle with these issues, each of us is surrounded with opportunities to talk with others about this reality and how to eliminate it. Muslims in the U.S., who must begin to confront their own racism and discrimination, also have an opportunity to lead by example, showing how we can use our faith’s authority to move forward together, united shoulder to shoulder. “O humanity! Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female and have made you into nations and tribes so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware” (49:13). This verse is often cited to signal that our Creator intended our vast diversity so that by

living together we would come to know each other. We’re not expected to remove our differences or to know one another despite our unique backgrounds, but to do so as members of various nations and tribes. Notably, this verse reminds us the noblest among us are those who are the most conscious of God. Read as a whole, this verse constantly reminds us that how we interact with and treat our fellow human beings, regardless of gender, ethnic background or national origin, reflects our level of God consciousness. As Americans, history and current experiences inform us that our society has not yet achieved this goal. In fact, 49:13 states that



we weren’t meant to know one another as a melting pot, but as a diverse population rich in terms of both our differences and the equitable opportunities available to each one of us. Our diversity is one of the qualities I appreciate most in my beloved community. According to the 2011 Pew Research Center study, the Muslim American community is among the country’s most diverse, for no racial or ethnic group makes up more than 40% of its population. We are Americanborn and immigrant, young and old, reverts and born Muslims — all struggling to understand Islam as our own. Many times I’ve walked into a prayer hall or community gathering and caught my breath at the sheer beauty present in the space. I firmly believe that our diversity, when coupled with our faith tradition and the prophetic example, enables our community to serve as a shining example of how to eliminate anti-Black racism in our country (and community) and build bridges of true brotherhood and sisterhood. After all, as Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) stated in his Farewell Sermon: “An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a White has no superiority over a Black, nor a Black has any superiority over a White except by piety and good action.” Muslim Americans often struggle with how our country’s systemic and institutionalized racism impacts us as a faith community, particularly when we recognize that racism and discrimination are un-Islamic. Even worse, many non-Black Muslims express shock at the very fact that racism exists even among themselves. As a collective, we should be mindful of the hurt and harm that this willful ignorance and disregard for the experiences of our brothers and sisters causes them. At times when I’ve personally confronted or even just delicately addressed intra- and inter-Muslim racism, I’ve encountered defensive reactions that such things are impossible because Islam doesn’t allow them. If only we each applied our beloved Prophet’s example so perfectly that this was true! In reality, nothing will change until we name, call out and stop accepting these realities. Using derogatory language, operating liquor stores in majority-Black neighborhoods and accepting media portrayals that misrepresent and stereotype the Black community (even while generally recognizing the media’s predominant anti-Muslim bias) are just a few of the challenges we face.

These issues don’t even touch on social matters, including how non-Black Muslim families view interracial marriage or perpetuate European standards of beauty as ideal, likely the result of centuries of Western colonization. And what about our own actions, whether intentional or not, that contribute to injustice or divisions among us? While our faith teaches us that only our own level of God consciousness and good deeds elevates us above others, we’re still naïve enough to believe in our own immunity to the systems of oppression and inequity that surround us. There is far greater good in confronting such realities than pretending they don’t exist. In fact, acknowledging and accepting them will enable us to unite and challenge all aspects of anti-Black racism so that we may grow closer to one another as a collective, become a stronger ummah and unite as one community to advance the common good and advocate for justice in all spaces. Such resources already exist and are readily available. We don’t have to look very far to see the incredible opportunities to learn and grow together, thanks to the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC; www., the Muslim Wellness Foundation (www. and similar organizations. As we strive to educate ourselves, we must also learn about the larger Muslim experience in the U.S. While working as a community to eliminate Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bias, we should also recognize the work and sacrifices made by Black Americans, many of whom were Muslim, during the Civil Rights era. The laws we use today to argue for equal treatment of Muslims only exist because of their struggles. We would do well to remember: “O you who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in upholding justice, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against your own selves or your parents and kinsfolk” (4:135). As Muslims, we must support calls for justice in this moment and always for everyone — not just for fellow Muslims. Neither the above verse nor our tradition supports such a limitation. And yet some Muslims remain silent until one of our own faces injustice and oppression. Too many of us became enraged over police officer’s Rusten Sheskey shooting at Jacob Blake’s back seven times on Aug. 27 in Kenosha, Wis., which paralyzed this 29-year-old man from the waist down and caused several non-fatal internal injuries — but only after learning that his father is Muslim and recited Surat al-Fatiha at the beginning of a press conference to address his son’s condition. By remembering to love one another for the sake of God, our Creator, who made us into nations and tribes so that we may know one another, we might also know that we must strive to eliminate each and every act of injustice both in ourselves and each other.  ih Roula Allouch, who says she “went to law school to be an advocate for civil rights, access to justice and the rule of law,” is a litigation attorney with Graydon Law. She is chair of CAIR’s national board.

“Terrorism” or “Marijuana-Induced Psychosis”? Spot the Difference Disturbing trends in Canada’s judicial system BY AZEEZAH KANJI


he grossly disparate treatment of two similar cases highlights Canada’s double standards on extremism. The first is the “Canadian Tire attacker” — Rehab Dughmosh, a Syrian immigrant woman — which stimulated an outpouring of consternation in the Canadian media. National security consultant Jessica Davis warned in the Globe and Mail that “The government must … identify and mitigate the threat that radicalized women could pose to the security of Canada.” As columnist Christie Blatchford hyperventilated in the National Post even before Dughmosh had been found guilty, the defendant “appears for all the world to be the face of the modern new (alleged) terrorist.” The June 2017 attack’s actual details, however, indicate that it was a minor (Canadian) tire-fire involving more pathos than peril. Dughmosh had swung a golf club and a knife at store employees, bruising and biting one of them before being subdued. No one was seriously injured. Despite swearing allegiance to ISIS, she had no functional connections with it. A court-appointed psychiatrist diagnosed her as likely schizophrenic and possibly “not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder” (a defense not pursued during the trial, at which she represented herself). Her years-long episodes of paranoid delusions and hallucinations had caused her to cover all phone jacks and light fixtures because she was being “surveilled.” Moreover, at the time of this episode she was displaying “intense psychotic symptoms.” And yet Dughmosh was charged with 14 counts of terrorism and sentenced in February 2019 to seven years’ imprisonment: three for the assault and four for having traveled to Turkey in 2016 with the alleged intention of joining ISIS. Although Superior Court Judge Maureen Forestell noted that Dughmosh’s punishment was reduced because of her mental illness, it NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020  ISLAMIC HORIZONS   31

COVER STORY was still comparatively extreme, given that the average sentence for major assault in Canada is between 157 and 185 days. The three years she received for the golf club incident is comparable to the prison terms imposed for acts of violence causing significant injuries like brain hemorrhages or bone fractures. Clearly, the sentence’s severity is due to why she had supposedly done these acts. “Terrorists … pose an existential threat to the

discharge because his behavior was attributed to “marijuana-induced psychosis.” This was rather surprising, for Canadian law generally doesn’t consider “voluntary self-intoxication” to be a mitigating factor, whereas “hateful animus” is supposed to be an aggravating factor. In stark contrast to the Black and Indigenous communities, which are disproportionately criminalized for nonviolent possession of pot, Phillips was not only

WHILE MUSLIMS ARE REPRESENTED AS A SOURCE OF REGULAR VIOLENCE, ORDINARY CANADIANS OFTEN DISMISS WHITE ACTS OF RACIST VIOLENCE AS FREAK OCCURRENCES, THE RESULT OF TEMPORARY INSANITY, MISHAP, MALFUNCTION OR MISTAKE. Canadian community and to the Canadian way of life,” Forestell wrote in her sentencing decision, quoting a previous terrorism case: “They are not criminals in the normal sense. They are worse. Terrorists stand prepared to engage in virtually any form of murder or mayhem if it furthers their ideology.” Terrorism offences are a glaring exception to the general legal principle that crimes are defined by the perpetrator’s intentional actions, not his/her motives. University of Toronto law professor Kent Roach has cautioned that Canadian criminal law’s definition of terrorism as violence committed for a political, religious or ideological motive “authorizes state inquiries into the deepest convictions and beliefs of the accused … turning [terrorism trials] quite literally into religious or political trials … From the perspective of public safety, it should not matter why someone explodes a bomb” — or brandishes a golf club. This particular case stands in revealing juxtaposition to the legal treatment meted out to Toronto lawyer Mark Phillips’ December 2017 rampage against a Colombian migrant family whom he believed to be Muslim. His weapon of choice was also a sporting implement — a baseball bat. Phillips screamed that his victims were supposed “members” of ISIS. Moreover, he caused considerably greater damage by cracking one of his victims’ ribs. And yet he was neither prosecuted nor convicted of terrorism. In fact, he received no permanent criminal record and served no time in jail. Phillips did plead guilty to assault, but was granted a conditional

not criminalized for his drug use, but also managed to escape criminalization for his violence because of it. In delivering his decision, Ontario high court judge John Skowronski informed the victimized family that racism is an aberration in Canada: “This is something that took place because of a mental illness … Canada is a country of immigrants, different nations, skin colors, accents, names,” he maintained — a statement that itself demonstrates a troubling dissociation from reality. The “country of immigrants,” the judge describes, was built by European settler colonists on stolen Indigenous land. Nationwide, at least 130 active far-right and White supremacist groups have been permitted to openly engage in live-fire paramilitary training exercises, border patrols, mosque stakeouts and convoys to Parliament without attracting the surveillance and police brutality seemingly reserved for the anti-racist protesters that oppose them. The public square named after Phillips’ great-grandfather, former Toronto mayor Nathan Phillips, has been a site of regular anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rallies. Ironically, Skowronski’s decision itself manifests the pervasive racism he claimed doesn’t exist. This is just one of a series of recent cases in which judges or juries have either excused or explained away White men’s attacks on racialized targets. In February 2018, for example, an allWhite jury acquitted Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley for the point-blank killing of a Cree man, Colten Boushie — apparently accepting Stanley’s far-fetched defense that


his handgun fired by accident directly into the back of Boushie’s head, even though an expert witness testified that the gun was not malfunctioning. In June 2019, former military reservist Peter Khill was found not guilty of murdering an unarmed Six Nations man, Jon Styres, in Ontario. Although Khill admitted that he had shot and killed Styres when he caught Styres breaking into his truck, the extremism of his deadly overreaction was rationalized as the product of “military training.” One year later, in June 2020, off-duty cop Michael Theriault and his brother Christian were acquitted of aggravated assault against Black teenager Dafonte Miller, who was beaten so badly that he permanently lost one eye. While Muslims are represented as a source of regular violence, ordinary Canadians often dismiss White acts of racist violence as freak occurrences, the result of temporary insanity, mishap, malfunction or mistake. In his comprehensive 2019 study of all Canadian terrorism prosecutions, University of Calgary law professor Michael Nesbitt concluded that “the terrorism charges laid to date in Canada would seem to disproportionately target one threat, implying that almost 100-percent of the (criminal) terrorism problem in Canada is related to

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Islamist extremism and zero percent related to right wing extremism, although we know that not to be the case.” The data reveal that the acts of White supremacist and right-wing extremists have resulted in more than nine times as many deaths (19 known) as the acts of Muslim ideologues have (2) since the passage of Canada’s anti-terrorism law in 2001. Last year, the Quebec Superior Court refused to sentence Quebec mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette as a terrorist because the judge deemed his targeted mass murder of Muslims to be “strictly personal and non-ideological.” Many of those who have been convicted of terrorism are Muslims whose struggles with mental illness and addiction have not been sources of exculpation, as in the case of Mark Phillips. Instead, state security agencies have exploited them as points of weakness and control. The longest terrorism sentence meted out in Canada so far was against Chiheb Esseghaier, who was diagnosed with a severe mental illness, probably schizophrenia. He was given two life sentences for planning an attack with extensive involvement by a state informant, a punishment he is currently challenging now that he is receiving treatment. In December 2018, an American court sentenced 20-year-old Canadian Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy to 40 years in prison after, according to his lawyer, a sting operation in which Canadian federal police shared medical records regarding his history of bipolar disorder and drug addiction with the FBI. “Both the FBI and the RCMP knew about Abdulrahman’s mental illness, the latter unlawfully providing the former with Abdulrahman’s medical reports; however, it was this fact that made him an easy target for entrapment” reads an ongoing petition to return El Bahnasawy home to serve his sentence in Canada. “Canadian Tire attacker” Dughmosh is not so much “the face of the modern new terrorist,” as Christie Blatchford proclaimed. Rather, she is yet one more face of an old and deeply entrenched dynamic: scapegoating the most vulnerable for causing violence in order to justify society’s projects of violence, including a “war on terror” that continues to inflict state terror upon so many people with no end in sight.  ih Azeezah Kanji, JD, LLM (Islamic Law), is Toronto-based legal academic, writer, and director of programs at the Noor Cultural Centre.

Slavery Remains Legal in the U.S. Have you actually read the 13th Amendment? BY ANTON KURATNIK

Wait, that can’t be right,” you might say, “because the 13th Amendment abolished slavery.” That’s a conveniently common misconception that misses a glaring loophole that was left in the text of the amendment: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. That’s the exact loophole Southern legislators used to get around this amendment. By inventing new crimes, such as vagrancy, using obscene language, selling cotton after sunset, being unemployed and similar behaviors (Douglas A. Blackmon, “Slavery by Another Name,” 2008), they were able to imprison recently-freed African Americans and force them to work for free once more. In fact, so many of these new “criminals” were Black that “Negro” and “convict” were often synonymous in official records. Under the convict lease system, these “criminals,” now called “temporary workers,” could be leased out to companies and their former plantations and forced to work under even more appalling

Tayba students conduct Eid congregation

conditions and with no health care provisions (Bryan Bowman and Kathy Roberts Forde, “Exploiting black labor after the abolition of slavery,” Feb. 6, 2017, https:// W.E.B. Du Bois pointed out that the “slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery. … Slavery was not abolished even after the Thirteenth Amendment. There were four million freedmen and most of them on the same plantation, doing the same work they did before emancipation …” (“Black Reconstruction,” 1935). Fast forward 150 years, and the U.S. has the world’s largest prison population: over 2.3 million people — more than China, nearly three times more than Brazil, four times more than Russia and five times more than India. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that close to 40% of all prisoners are Black, although Blacks comprise just 13% of the nation’s population. Moreover, this $80 billion dollar industry ( continues to profit off prisoners and forced labor.


COVER STORY The nonprofit Tayba Foundation (https:// offers a distance-learning program in basic Islamic education to incarcerated Muslims and their families through its holistic education, life skills and re-entry program, as well as helps them rediscover their inherent goodness and value as they reconnect. Tayba students report being paid rates that often start at pennies per hour (pre-tax!) for high-impact jobs like teaching, cooking and manufacturing — sometimes without proper workplace safety measures in place. Many now produce Covid-19-related gowns and masks, ironically without themselves

The common rebuttal is that such labor provides vocational training and reduces recidivism. The recent example is prisoners fighting California’s wildfires. Left unmentioned is the fact that California bars felons from working as firefighters. Prisoners earn between $2.90 and $5.12 per day, plus an additional $1 per hour during active emergency, while their fellow firefighters earn an average of $91,000 each year before overtime pay and bonuses (Nicole Goodkind, “Prisoners Are Fighting California’s Wildfires on the Front Lines, But Getting Little in Return,” Nov.1, 2019,

CRIME, IT SEEMS, DOES PAY. WHEN IT BECOMES PROFITABLE TO IMPRISON AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE, THERE’S LITTLE INCENTIVE TO CHANGE THE SITUATION. being properly protected. This work is often nonvoluntary, as prisoners in some states can be forced to work for free or face solitary confinement. Although “crime shouldn’t pay,” calling relatives or attorneys ( html) and purchasing other essential services require money. For example, a female prisoner may need to work several weeks just to buy an extra tampon. One Tayba student reported having no money left for halal canteen items after spending his paycheck on bare necessities. Federal prisons, which contain only 10% of prisoners, accommodate religious dietary restrictions, whereas eating halal in a state prison can sometimes mean little more than daily peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for years. Two companies control most of the correctional phone market, which is characterized by outrageously expensive telephone calls. These prices were poised to go even higher, until Securus, purchased in 2017 for $1.6 billion by a private equity firm headed by Detroit Pistons’ owner Tom Gores, failed to acquire ICSolutions (Inmate Calling Solutions). Relatives can sometimes cover these expenses, which ends up costing those who didn’t commit the crime while enriching those who run the prisons. And let’s not forget that hundreds of thousands of prisoners shouldn’t even be there.

But for all the talk of recidivism, 77% of released prisoners are back within 5 years ( once-a-criminal-always-a-criminal). In the meantime, companies like the publicly traded Nashville-based CoreCivic (; formerly the Corrections Corporation of America) bring in nearly $2 billion in revenue and $200 million in profits every year (https:// According to Tanay Tatum-Edwards (; June 30, 2020), CoreCivic considers lowered incarceration rates a material risk and thus spends millions of dollars every year lobbying for increased criminalization and longer sentences ( who-profits-from-prisoners). Crime, it seems, does pay. When it becomes profitable to imprison as many people as possible for as long as possible, there’s little incentive to change the situation.

population — the overwhelming majority convert while incarcerated. They see Islam as a way to transform themselves for the better, but have a hard time accessing its resources, especially in state prisons. Many prison imams are themselves prisoners, for the Muslim community hasn’t provided one. Some students report waiting three years for a basic fiqh question to be answered. Tayba fills that vacuum with a comprehensive, tailored Islamic curriculum of basic courses (e.g., praying and fasting) to complex studies in Hadith, fiqh, ‘aqeeda and other subjects (see As many students were involved with drugs or suffer from mental health issues, our programs help them recover and prepare themselves for a successful post-prison life. The foundation also provides post-release support in terms of finding a job, renting a place and pursuing an education. Several Tayba students have become community leaders, earned undergraduate and graduate degrees and even joined our faculty and staff.  ih Anton Kuratnik is online fundraising consultant for Tayba Foundation.

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IMPROVING LIVES Tayba Foundation ( is among the many nonprofits working to help prisoners turn their life around and succeed on the outside. Thanks to Malcolm X and Warith Deen Mohammed’s community, Islam has become a beacon of hope and transformation for many prisoners. Muslims are nearly 10% of the prison population, despite being just 1% of the national


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A Cham Muslim Immigrant’s Perspective on the Black Lives Matter Movement Cham-American youth join the struggle for social justice BY SEAN-HABIB TU


uring May 2020, with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in full swing, the world woke up stunned at the brutality unleashed on Black Americans. Across American, African and European cities, people rose up to support the movement and protest against police brutality and racism. Amidst the social upheaval engendered by youth and others who are eager to change the social order, Cham — the nomenclature for Muslims in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam — immigrants and their families in the U.S. are caught in the crossfire. Historically, the vast majority of Cham in this country have been unconcerned with social equality or justice issues due to their economic uncertainty and adjusting to their new lives here. Arriving in the 1980s, the first generation remains largely unattached to their new land or its mainstream “American” culture. Even today, they often speak with great nostalgia about their homelands and express feelings of belonging and genuine care for one another. However, life in the U.S. is vastly different. Everyone is working to make ends meet, and all the while family members are drifting apart due to work-related responsibilities and schedules. The communal feelings they once had are faint memories, and feelings of alienation pervade their present lives. In essence, BLM does not really resonate with the first generation, who feel out of place for various reasons. The younger Cham generations view life very differently. They speak this land’s language and live its culture, dress like the kids around the block, communicate in slang with their peers and dream the same dreams as any other second-generation Asian American kid. Their childhood was part of the American culture fabric, and so they are more aware of the significance of slavery, the Civil Rights movement and the daily oppression faced by Black Americans. The younger generations,

Asma Men conducts a workshop

THE YOUNGER CHAM GENERATIONS VIEW LIFE VERY DIFFERENTLY. THEY SPEAK THIS LAND’S LANGUAGE AND LIVE ITS CULTURE, DRESS LIKE THE KIDS AROUND THE BLOCK, COMMUNICATE IN SLANG WITH THEIR PEERS AND DREAM THE SAME DREAMS AS ANY OTHER SECOND-GENERATION ASIAN AMERICAN KID. all of which have grown up as a minority within a minority, have experienced “being different” because of their ethnicity and faith. In a twist of fate, they shared the feeling of alienation with the minorities and Black communities who came before them. Thus, BLM resonates with their line of thought as the movement takes on the mainstream. Those who are socially conscious join it, knowing that their stand is linked with that of the BLM movement and all people of color. Yet some of the negative actions during the BLM protests have reignited a generational

split. When civil unrest erupted in Los Angeles in 1992 because the mostly White, middle-class jury acquitted the policemen who beat Rodney King, many communities witnessed the ensuing destruction. In Long Beach, local Cambodian businesses were also looted. Many hearts were broken, and the Black community was stereotyped. Having witnessed similar events during recent BLM protests, a flood of negativity has surfaced. Yet these moments have also inspired attempts by youth to level with their parents about what’s been going on. Even as these generations share a common understanding of police brutality against Blacks, Indigenous populations and people of color, communities and the older generation cannot vent their anger outward due to the language barrier and cultural differences. On the other hand, the younger generations have actively supported the movement on social media and on the streets. They took on the challenge of providing an intergenerational workshop at the Islamic Center of Santa Ana about Black American history and the struggle for equal rights. Those who attended were amazed about the wealth of information provided. We came to learn that Blacks advocated the admission of Southeast Asian refugees during the late 1970s. Our connection to the Black community is much deeper than we knew. This event provided knowledge to bridge generational gaps and overcome cultural barriers with other races. The BLM movement has opened a window in the Cham community. It’s like looking into a community through a prism of time and history hidden from plain sight, one on top of the other through layers of their history and experiences. Just like any other community, those who refuse to live under injustice joined the movement to shatter systemic racism, and those who are content with their lives continue on, never making a sound. The Cham immigrant communities that face injustice and oppression may not vocally join in the protests on the street, but they are participating through donations and prayers, each in their own way, depending on their own historical context and upbringing. The oppression of Blacks in the U.S. has a deep history and is full of righteous struggles. The BLM movement continues to give people of all races an opportunity to rethink this nation’s justice system as well as racism not only here but all over the world.  ih Sean-Habib Tu is president of the Islamic Center of Santa Ana, Calif.



A Small Community’s Perseverance Pays Off The Darulislam Masjid is an example of creative riba-free financing BY NABIL RAGEH

Darulislam Masjid Sunday School


ome of us are blessed with the opportunity of relating inspiring stories to our grandchildren. Remember the phrase made famous by the 1966 comedy “What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?” Muslims of Walnut Creek, a city located in San Francisco’s East Bay region, have such a tale to tell, one that their grandchildren will proudly relate to their own grandchildren, about how a community of around 400 people bought and founded the Darulislam Masjid. The center’s journey started more than 40 years ago, a time when the fledgling community was renting small houses in the East Bay Region to hold prayers and arrange celebrations and religious activities. A few years before acquiring their current premises, they were renting a space in a shopping mall. As their means were modest, it was not always easy to pay the rent. Thus, several community meetings were held to discuss the situation and formulate feasible future plans to house the mosque. Eventually, a large lot in Concord was purchased and a series of development plans were considered. However, the City Planning Board’s

decisions eventually obliged them to seek alternative solutions. A break came in early 2010 when a Korean church group decided to sell its facilities — five buildings with a total space of approximately 7,000 square feet, located on a 37,000+ square feet lot, which has a 51 car parking lot — in the adjacent city of Walnut Creek. The facilities’ design was ideal. Moreover, the city is located at the junction of I-680 (from Sacramento to San Jose) and SR-24 (from San Francisco to Oakland) and is easily accessible by the Bay Area Rapid Transit public transit system. Today, in addition to the main prayer area, the center features a library, a youth center, an office, four separate classrooms, a kitchen and storage spaces. Gatherings after prayers and for the Eid and special occasions are held in the spacious courtyard.

THE DEAL The right facilities were there, but the small community’s limited financial resources became clear when the church’s asking price was revealed: $1.65 million.


A 20+ member task force was immediately formed and met regularly to find ways to raise this large amount. Their quest led them to knock on all accessible doors, including several Islamic banks, overseas sources, as well as local businesses and individuals; however, these approaches met with little success. The several fundraising events didn’t even come close to meeting the actual needs. The total available funds, including the possible sale of the Concord land, amounted to only $1 million. But never losing faith or hope, they continued working as hard as they could. God answered their prayers and guided them to propose a very unique solution: The church would carry an interest-free $650,000 loan, which would be paid over three years, and no payments would be made during the first year. To their great surprise and gratitude, the church elders agreed. Upon the deal’s closure in early May 2010, the real estate agent stated that this creative and unique financial plan should be written up as a case study to be taught to interested college students. The loan was paid off in early 2013. Darulislam Masjid’s financial position has continued to grow even stronger over time. The masjid is actively involved with the region’s other mosques in sharing lecturers and fundraising events, as well as cosponsoring activities designed to meet some of the members’ needs — especially those of the youth. It also enjoys a long and mutually beneficial relationship with their region’s interfaith council. The faith communities frequently attend each other’s events and always show solidarity through large gatherings, especially during difficult and trying times.

SERVICES OFFERED The Board of Trustees is committed to offering a wide range of ongoing services and programs, such as: ■  Being open for all daily prayers, in addition to the Friday, taraweeh and Eid congregational prayers. ■  Offering classes for memorizing the Quran, tajweed and other religious subjects. ■  Arranging a guest-lecturer series featuring the region’s leading Muslim scholars. ■  Arranging regular sports, picnics, hiking, special studies and other youth programs. ■  Holding women-only study groups. ■  Initiating a cooperative program with

Darulislam Masjid Iftar

a medical doctor, a university professor and two federal government employees. Young, active and multicultural groups are carefully being canvassed to identify possible new members. ■  Hiring a full-time imam. Despite several attempts, the masjid only enjoys short periods of having a qualified imam due mainly to visa-related issues. The search remains ongoing. ■  Upgrading facilities and practices. Several upgrading projects have been carried out; others remain in the planning and implementation stages. Necessary reconfigurations of the facilities and modifications of our practices are underway to protect all attendees from COVID-19 and financial dangers.

GOD ANSWERED THEIR PRAYERS AND GUIDED THEM TO PROPOSE A VERY UNIQUE SOLUTION: THE CHURCH WOULD CARRY AN INTEREST-FREE $650,000 LOAN, WHICH WOULD BE PAID OVER THREE YEARS, AND GRATITUDE NO PAYMENTS WOULD BE MADE DURING THE FIRST The community appreciates all of its members who continue to volunteer their time YEAR. TO THEIR GREAT SURPRISE AND GRATITUDE, and resources to help the masjid expand its THE CHURCH ELDERS AGREED. services and upgrade its facilities.  ih area mosques to connect young people wishing to get married. ■  Participating with other mosques to help the homeless. ■  Advancing interest-free loans to individuals planning to start their own businesses. ■  Holding special events, including weddings, celebrating a child’s birth and private events. ■  Making burial services and plots available for community members and offering financial assistance when needed.

SUNDAY SCHOOL The region’s lack of religious and Arabic lessons necessitated the establishment of a Sunday school. Volunteers at all needed levels stepped forward to help. Opening with just five students per semester in 1995, the school now has around 70 students. The school teaches a wide range of ethnicities and ages, ranging from 5 to 60 years of age. The curriculum covers Arabic classes, which are designed around the skill levels, religious studies, as well as Quran memorization and recitation classes. One of the community’s proudest achievements was to graduate three huffaz. Future plans call for the setting up of a K-12 Islamic school to meet the needs of the

greater San Francisco Bay Area’s Muslims. One school graduate recalled, “My sister and I attended the school from 1995 to 2006. In the beginning, we made up every excuse possible not to go to school. This hesitancy quickly faded due to the openness, care and excitement that the teachers brought to school every Sunday. The lessons and programs, which were well-designed and -delivered, also added to this experience. This amazing experience we had at Darulislam Sunday school motivated me to continue my Arabic studies at a local community college and also motivated my sister to pursue a degree in religious studies.”

Dr. Nabil Rageh is chairman of the Board of Trustees, Darulislam Masjid, Walnut Creek, Calif.

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FUTURE PLANS The Board of Trustees is currently focused on four major areas: ■  Enrolling Darulislam Masjid in the North American Islamic Trust. This decision is motivated by the board members’ strong desire to keep the masjid true to the purposes for which it was established and to avoid any loss due to neglect and/or demographic changes and conflicts. This important project was recently initiated. ■  Adding new members to the board. Most of the current members are founding fathers and/or members of the early task force: three accomplished project managers, (317) 839-8157

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Voice for the People Those who want to enter politics must look into the role they want BY JIHAN AIYASH

Jihan Aiyash is sworn into office as her brother, Abraham Aiyash, holds a copy of the Quran.


ihan Aiyash, the first Yemeni woman elected official in Michigan and the nation’s second, serves as secretary of the Board of Education for Hamtramck Public Schools (HPS) and on the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) Resolutions and Bylaws Committee (2020-21). She is the first HPS Board of Education member to be appointed to an MASB committee. Her campaign was unique in that she ran and won a write-in campaign. Those usually do not go well for candidates, and she had no time to raise funds. She spent nothing on her campaign and still won with more than double the votes for her opponent: 542 to 290. Here is my story. My strategy was to relational organize. The district was unique in that it was small and tight knit. I did a lot of personal outreach, texted and called every person I could think of and posted all of my campaign efforts on social media. It was overwhelming to see the support I received! Alhamdulilallah! I did not realize the magnitude of my role until I was sworn in! I’m a voice for the

people. The Board of Ed had been entirely White [and mostly male] for a very long time. There is no issue with whiteness, but there is an issue with a majority Brown/Black district being represented by the White minority. At one point there was one Black member, but he had passed away. The board acquired some Brown representation within the last six years, but it was still majority male. My being elected empowered the girls and women in my district. For the first time in the district’s history, girls who looked like me — visibly Muslim and ethnic — saw that we are not bystanders in our own story. Positions of power are not reserved for White saviors. We can be our own representatives and our own spokespersons.

Our district has lots of improvement to do, especially with student and parent communication. Administration and teaching staff had gotten away with neglecting or ignoring concerns for decades. Students and parents started approaching me with concerns and becoming more vocal about the weak curricula, prayer in schools, the limited afterschool programs, the language barriers and so much more! I didn’t realize how just being in a position of power empowers constituents. Don’t underestimate what you’re doing. God tells us, “O you who have believed, fear God and speak words of appropriate justice” (33:70). I serve on a seven-member board, with colleagues of diverse interests. Even though a Board of Ed is non-partisan, everyone has their own purpose for running for a seat. For example, business owners see the district as an essential part of their business strategy. Some have kids in the area charter and private schools and thus have conflicting interests. Some just want to “maintain tradition.” As a Muslim, I’m obliged to be responsible for my society. It is irresponsible to stay in a bubble as part of the model minority and pretend that oppression of those around you does not exist because you are not impacted. In my weekend Quran school, I learned that I’m responsible for working toward justice for my family, neighbors, friends and colleagues. So I started doing grassroots work through community and social organizations. Even in doing grassroots work, I avoided politics as often as I could. During graduate school, I realized that I wouldn’t be as effective as an organizer if I didn’t get involved in the mess of politics. It’s impossible to be apolitical! You just can’t let people write policy about you, without you, and think you don’t need to know it. Policies at all levels affect everyone. If I had gotten involved politically earlier on, I would have been more effective as a vessel for justice. But it’s okay that I’m learning in my mid-20s! I also learned perception matters! I am



adamant that I’m responsible for my own actions. I carry that with me a lot. If I did something wrong, I’m held accountable and I’m fine with that. It doesn’t matter how it’s perceived, as long as I know what I’m doing. However, I realize this is not true technically. There is a hadith about it being better to explain yourself and avoid being misconstrued than to have people assume things about you. This is true especially in the public sphere. This role made me have more akhlaq (character) and adab (manners). In many state- and national-level events, conferences and meetings, I’m the first Muslim many people get to meet. If I am your first Muslim interaction, I will be a learning lesson for you. You will not shake my hand or hug me as a person of the opposite gender, because I’m conscious about having boundaries respected. When we have a meeting from 6:10 p.m., I’m adamant about taking a recess for prayer. Your actions have implications for people who look like you. Be mindful. I never really grasped this until entering politics. You are taught certain mannerisms, and your behaviors are a part of your faith. I want to be more responsible. I don’t want to be the one who prevents another Muslimah from reaching her potential and/or ambition because of my behavior. This role also made me have stronger convictions on the pursuit of justice, especially at expulsion hearings. The Board of Ed decides if a student gets expelled. Once you’re expelled, you’re not welcome in any other public school for a full academic calendar year. A student’s future is in the board’s hand. Expulsions are systemic ways to hinder students of color. I can’t be a part of a system that hurts students, especially Black or Brown kids. So I have to be mindful of the choices I make. I’d rather go down alone knowing that I didn’t agree with a policy or decision held by my board. The Quran reminds us, “O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for God, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, God is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed God is ever, with what you do, acquainted” (4:135).

SEEKING TO REPRESENT I strongly encourage people to enter politics, but only after they look into the role that they want. If it’s a partisan position, build your name up in the party you are filing under. Gain some insight on the job by working or volunteering on candidate campaigns. I learned about campaigning from working on campaigns. There’s nothing like hands-on experience, getting your feet wet. Don’t underestimate the position you’re looking into. Many positions are not contested, so the same candidate ends up winning again and again. In fact, people are often unaware of the large number of positions that are available. We’re not taught about these things in school. Don’t assume that tokenizing yourself will work, for you need to have a real platform and know your issues to succeed. Take the hard preparatory work seriously and try to win.  ih Jihan Aiyash, MPH (Wayne State University), who serves on the Hamtramck Board of Education, is the first Yemeni American woman elected to public office in Michigan. In addition, she is the student section chair president on the Michigan Public Health Association board and has volunteered as a math instructor with the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services. [Editor’s Note: Adapted from the author’s article published at https://www.]

North Texas Muslims Establish a Cemetery The five-year struggle for the Farmersville Muslim cemetery, a joint project of seven Islamic associations, has finally ended BY ABOOBAKER EBRAHIM

Dr. Yasir Qadhi, resident scholar, East Plano Islamic Center [EPIC] (third left), conducted the groundbreaking ceremony with Ustadh Mohamd Baajour, director of Tarbiyyah and community development, EPIC (second left) and others


n June 7, Muslims living in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex finally broke ground for their Farmersville Muslim Cemetery, a project that they have pursued since 2015. The anticipated construction cost of this project, which will contain 11,000 burial sites, is approximately $2.67 million. A contractor to develop the land has been selected, and the contract is being finalized. The participating Islamic associations continue their fundraising drive and are well on their way to achieving their targeted dollar amount and goals. In 2015, Muslims from and around Dallas and Collin County purchased a 35-acre lot on Lake Lavon in Farmersville for a new cemetery when the existing Muslim cemeteries in Denton and at Restland in Richardson began reaching near capacity and became very costly. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020  ISLAMIC HORIZONS   39

ISLAM IN AMERICA Farmersville was chosen because most other Collin County cities had restrictions on building cemeteries. Two acres adjoining the highway will be used for commercial purposes to help fund its maintenance costs, 17.4 acres for gravesites and the remainder for landscaping and maintenance. Consequently, seven Islamic associations of Collin County and North Texas – the Islamic Association of North Texas-Dallas Central Mosque, the Islamic Association of Allen, the Islamic Association of Frisco, the Islamic Association of McKinney, the East Plano Islamic Center and Masjid Ar-Rahman — came together to acquire the land.

outspoken opponents. Despite being rebuked by Southern Baptist officials for being “on the wrong side of the fence,” he called Islam a “quasi-pseudo religion” and declared that he felt “the danger is so real that I must do everything I can to stop it.” He further claimed that the cemetery would become a Muslim enclave within the rural community: “They will expand. How can we stop a mosque or madrassa training center from going in there?” (Joe Holley, “Dispute over Islamic cemetery splits N. Texas community,” Houston Chronicle, July 24, 2015). When it became known that the proposal submitted to the Farmersville

A PREDOMINANTLY WHITE COMMUNITY OF AROUND 3,500 PEOPLE, FARMERSVILLE IS LOCATED ABOUT 35 MILES NORTHEAST OF DALLAS. THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES UNANIMOUSLY GRANTED PERMISSION FOR THE PROPOSED CEMETERY, AS REQUIRED BY LOCAL AND STATE PLANNING REGULATIONS. Ever since this idea was introduced, some Farmersville residents have greeted it with outrage and controversy. Their opposition is based on potential health violations and/or contamination, despite the fact that Muslims have been laid to rest in Dallas County and surrounding areas for decades without any such concerns being raised. A predominantly White community of around 3,500 people, Farmersville is located about 35 miles northeast of Dallas. The local authorities unanimously granted permission for the proposed cemetery, as required by local and state planning regulations. The local residents, who expressed anti-Islamic sentiments and were extremely critical of Muslims and their beliefs, vehemently denounced the proposal. Council members and planning officials reported receiving death threats, and calls were made to desecrate the site with the blood and/or severed heads of pigs. The council, emphasizing that it was bound by local and state planning regulations, stated that there was little it could do to prevent the cemetery from going ahead. Pastor David J. Meeks of the Bethlehem Baptist Church became one of the most

Planning and Zoning Commission in May 2015 had been approved, opposition began mounting. Residents intensified their campaign when, in nearby Garland, two Islamic extremists — Elton Simpson, an African American convert, and Nadir Hamid Soofi, the son of a Pakistani father and an American mother — were killed as they attempted to attack an exhibition that sought to insult Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). In the 2016 local elections Greg Gomez, who had run for mayor on an anti-Muslim, anti-Islam and anti-cemetery platform, was elected. He used various delaying tactics to stall the project. In February 2017, the Planning Com­ missions again unanimously approved the project and sent it to the City Council, now led by Gomez, for consideration. Citing flooding concerns, the council denied it. This caused further delay, expense, uncertainty and financial loss to the Muslim community. The First Amendment, together with state and federal laws such as the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), “protect individuals, houses of


worship, and other religious institutions from discrimination in zoning and landmarking laws” ( crt/religious-land-use-and-institutionalized-persons-act). Despite the Farmersville Planning and Zoning Commission’s initial approval of the land purchased in extra-territorial jurisdiction to Farmersville, the City Council denied the preliminary plan application. After more than three years of obstruction and blatant discrimination, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Texas instituted an investigation and filed a complaint alleging that the city’s denial of the application imposed a substantial burden on the Islamic associations’ religious exercise and discriminated against them on the basis of religion. In April 2019, they announced a settlement agreement with Farmersville to resolve allegations that the city had violated RLUIPA when it denied the application.  ih Aboobaker Ebrahim, LLM (Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law), a long-time Dallas resident, has served as vice president at the Islamic Association of North Texas and is a lifetime member of ISNA.

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Salam Stars (2019-20): Top row, left to right: Kishmala Arshad, Ayishah Ayub, Zainab Malik, Ameera Jaber, Jumana Badwan, Hooda Hasan, and Basmallah Salahat. The bottom row, from left to right: Heba Dalieh, Sana Abubaker, Esraa Salim, and Lily Hamed (Photo by Najma Abdi)

Stars in Scarves The Salam Stars of Milwaukee’s Salam School are putting hijabi hoopers on the map. BY HABEEBA HUSAIN


girls’ basketball team that didn’t see support even from their own classmates has blossomed into their school’s pride as the squad improved their skills, recorded wins and attracted national attention. “All throughout middle school, we never won a game,” says alumna Safiya Schaub, Class of 2019 and team captain of the Salam Stars. She played center as a student and returned the following year to coach the younger teams while pursuing her college degree. During her sophomore year, newly hired head coach Kassidi “Coach Kass” Macak, a Milwaukee native and former college basketball player, saw the girls’ potential but needed a lot more gym time to tap into it. Salam School had one elementary-sized gym that nine competitive teams rationed out for practices throughout the week. Adamant about turning the team around, she got the girls a daily practice slot instead of the 2-3 times a week to which they were accustomed. As she expected, they improved quickly. “I hit the sweet spot — it was a good time for me to come in,” says Macak. “Those girls

Safiya Schaub in action

were committed, they wanted to get better… they didn’t want to be the ‘joke’ of the school.” Soon enough, the Salam Stars attracted fans, tallied wins and caught the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s front-page attention. The Stars thought that was their five minutes of fame — their picture on the front page — and that was that. But soon enough, reporters from The Washington Post, CNN and Bleacher Report contacted school athletic director David Petrick to meet them. “We were blown away, our little Muslim

school,” says Petrick. “We had a very good team, and Coach Kass is a very dynamic individual. We are very lucky to have found her and included her as a part of our team.” Petrick, who joined Salam School in the early 2000s as a physical education teacher, set the foundation that put the girls’ team in motion. He first established the boys’ basketball team, despite the school’s lack of a regulation-sized court. “Our first basketball game we ever had here, I ended up taping the court with floor tape so that we could actually play a game… taping a circle is very difficult,” he said. “I did it all on my hands and knees — I was younger then and more ambitious.” The teams had their share of blowout losses, but the players were dedicated. When the girls approached Petrick to establish a team of their own, he knew he would have to overcome hurdles with some conservative community members. The decision was made to have a girls’ team, as long as they played within a closed gym and had zero male spectators. As the team improved, Petrick pleaded with the community to allow men to watch the games, since the girls would be covered in long sleeves, pants and scarves. As a father of two girls, he said he wouldn’t want to miss those special in-game moments and emotions. “Hats off to the [Islamic Society of Milwaukee] shura. This community is quite diverse,” he said. “They agreed.” However, home games were still not allowed since visiting teams’ uniforms could


Salam Stars (2018-2019): Top row, left to right: Jenin Ismail, Zayna Tubishat, Jumana Badwan, Lojian Gamar, Rula Sarsour, and Safiya Schaub. Bottom row, left to right: Nadira Ali, Hooda Hasan, Esraa Salim, Heba Badwan, Weam Kaid, and Nida Afzal (Photo by Najma Abdi)

WHEN BLEACHER REPORT HAD 3-TIME WNBA CHAMPION AND 11-TIME ALL-STAR SUE BIRD FLY OUT TO COME SCRIMMAGE WITH THE GIRLS, THEY COULDN’T BELIEVE A PERSON OF HER CALIBER WAS IN THEIR GYM. not be modified and the board wanted to keep the community members who came to the campus to pray comfortable. “There were some reservations about the girls having home games, and we were able to work through this by building a culture of no fear,” says Wanis Shalaby, head of school. “As an educator you have to be a person of an open mind. You have to be progressive too. We, as educators, always have to push the boundaries and always have to challenge ourselves.” Petrick patiently continued to advocate for the girls’ team with Shalaby’s help. Making progress slowly, they finally were able to incorporate a full schedule with both home and away games without disrupting events at the mosque. As the Salam Stars gained momentum in the media and on the court, Petrick noticed a heightened representation of female Muslim athletes in Nike advertisements. He got back into his recruiting days’ mindset and contacted the company to see if they would sponsor the girls’ basketball team. It took quite a lot of back and forth, but Petrick got through. Nike sponsored the

Salam Stars’ sneakers and provided both white and black Pro Hijabs. “All of the media attention we got — it was a shock,” Schaub says. “We were winning a lot, and we knew that. We were proud of ourselves, but we didn’t think anything would come of it except us being happy and enjoying it.” Schaub says she didn’t understand why anyone else cared that her team improved and saw success. When Bleacher Report had 3-time WNBA Champion and 11-time AllStar Sue Bird fly out to come scrimmage with the girls, they couldn’t believe a person of her caliber was in their gym. “You would never think somebody like her would come all the way to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, just to play with us,” she says. The cultural impact of the Salam Stars’ on-court success is relevant and does matter, even if the girls may not have realized it immediately. When Schaub returned to her alma mater to coach the younger students, she saw something of herself in them. “I can see their passion for the sport. It’s nice to see the next generation — I was in their exact same shoes,” the current


University of Wisconsin student says. “I always think about how I would feel or what my coaches did, and I try to be a good role model and help them love the sport.” Not only will the younger girls at Salam School look up to Schaub and her teammates that helped put the Stars on the map, but so will girls around the world. They’ll see someone who looks like them and believes in what they believe making strides and hopefully find that confidence within themselves too. It’s not easy being the recipient of hostile or even confused glances. “The stares that you get ... you can just tell that they don’t like you being there,” Schaub recalls of walking onto a new opponent’s court. Many times, opposing teams would fool around during warmups, clearly not taking the Salam Stars seriously — but it only took a few minutes of game time for reality to set in. “I think people were underestimating them, and it was an advantage almost,” says Macak. “I think that’s the coolest thing — you’re the underdog, and you go out there and prove someone wrong.” From zero support to homegrown heroines, the Salam Stars showed their Milwaukee school, their community and the world not only what they can do, but what Muslim girls can do.  ih Habeeba Husain is a freelance journalist based in the New York tri-state area. She blogs for Why-Islam and helps manage Muslim-run businesses WuduGear and Kamani. Her work has also appeared in SLAM Magazine, and, among other online and print publications.


Pay it Forward

After fulfilling his childhood dream of competing on the international stage, professional tennis player Fazal Syed coaches the next generation BY HABEEBA HUSAIN

Fazal Syed


ot many people can say they achieved their childhood dream of becoming a sports star. Fazal Syed, however, can. “As a kid, I remember going to the tennis match, and my dream was to play in the Davis Cup — the premier international team event in men’s tennis — for India,” Syed says. “I imagined that I would play for the country in front of the crowd of people cheering you on.” Years later, Syed accomplished just that when he played for India in the 2001 Davis Cup. Coming from an athletic family, Syed’s sports journey began at a young age. His father, Syed Nayeemuddin, considered one of the best soccer players India has ever seen, was captain of the Indian National Team that won the bronze medal at the 1970 Asian Games. Nayeemuddin had many friends in sports, and thus his son was exposed early on. He was also shot down early on, too. When he first began playing, Syed recalls people telling his father to focus more on his younger brother because he didn’t seem to


possess enough talent. But by age 12, Syed was No. 1 in his state. People then said he wasn’t good enough for the national level. But by 18, he was No. 1 in India. They then said he wasn’t good enough for the international level. But by 21, he had made it onto the international stage. “It’s good when people tell me I can’t do something,” Syed says. Syed took the doubters and converted them into believers through his incredible work ethic — “You have to be twice as good to be considered equal” — which he credits his father for teaching him. After reaching the top tier in India, Syed’s friend Gautam Anand from the University of California-Berkeley advised him to move to the U.S. if he wanted the sports world to open up for him. It took some convincing, but eventually Syed complied. Anand informed him about an opening for a scholarship at Temple University. Syed then signed up for the SAT, obtained high marks despite his lack of preparation and landed the scholarship at the Philadelphia school. “My first week, at night there were these sirens going off,” Syed recalls. “I remember asking my roommate if there’s a dignitary coming, and he says, ‘Dude, someone just got shot.’ He looked at me like I had five heads.” Ranked No. 1 in both singles and doubles, Syed was elected captain of men’s tennis at Temple University. He turned pro during his senior year and, in 2001, fulfilled his childhood dream. Syed’s professional career took him to about 35 different countries. He specifically remembers visiting a local bakery while in Greece for a tournament. Neither he nor the worker spoke each other’s language, but gestures and smiles did all the communicating. It was enough to grab a bite and even get on a moped for a spontaneous tour of Athens. “I thought that was very, very profound,” Syed says. “I realized people are people, and there are good people everywhere.” After his playing career ended, Syed returned to Temple to finish his degree. He then landed a job in Dallas in interest rate derivatives, what he calls “riba on steroids.” He fit whatever he could into his two-door Acura and made his way south. At that time, Syed wasn’t a practicing Muslim. He admits he originally didn’t see what was wrong with interest. But while living in Dallas, he slowly started to inch closer to the deen. He began observing the Ramadan fast, attending the fajr prayers in



PROFILES IN ACHIEVEMENT Irving and listening to lectures about the Quran, all while working his corporate job that he eventually ended up despising. After the market collapsed [on Sept. 29, 2008, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 777.68 points], Syed found his way back to Philadelphia in 2010 to coach tennis. Accepting his friend’s invitation to join him on a prophetic tour of Turkey, he found traveling proved to be an eye-opener. He was in deep reflection, visiting prophetic relics around Istanbul. As he connected to his religion, Syed realized he had to pursue that which had caused him to feel passion, fulfillment and joy — coaching tennis and benefiting others. An ambitious Syed finally listened to his peers and “got in line with what God gave him.” He founded Level 7 Tennis Academy in Malvern, about 30 miles west of Philadelphia. Starting out with only two or three kids, membership has now skyrocketed to 600-700 kids. Syed says he never cared if he had two students or 20; he simply put in the work and witnessed God’s bounty. “[The growth] was overwhelming,” he says. “I don’t have much to do with it — it’s truly from Allah.” At Level 7 Tennis, Syed tries to instill seven virtues in his players: wisdom, knowledge, courage, industry, courtesy, compassion and contribution. As Syed explains, “[The name of Level 7] is based on the Islamic principle of the seventh heaven being for the people of the highest character and manners.” He feels that these traits are quite lacking in Muslims today and advises them to look at sports not merely as entertainment, but as a method of personal growth and character building. “I think Muslims can learn a lot from sports. It gave me an incredible work ethic — you cannot be good at anything in life until you have a commitment and a certain amount of consistency. [In that way,] sports can be a spiritual experience as well.” Syed hopes to produce a number of players better than him, both on the court and off. He wants them to be able to serve the tennis ball and the community. “I came [to the U.S.] and became a professional tennis player, and it’s my duty to return the favor,” he says. That’s my driving force — that I return what I took from this country.” The doors of professional tennis opened for Fazal Syed in this land, and he wants to pay it forward for the next kid who shares the same dream he once had. “It’s [the] connecting of dots, and Allah puts you in this situation when He takes you where He wants to take you,” Syed says. “I wouldn’t do it any other way.”  ih Habeeba Husain is a freelance journalist based in New York. She blogs for Why-Islam and helps manage small Muslim-run businesses WuduGear and Kamani. Her work has also appeared in SLAM Magazine, and, among other online and print publications.


Are We Educating Muslims or Cowards? Following time-honored traditions is not always a good idea BY ALIJA IZETBEGOVIĆ*

Alija Izetbegović


magine this article as a small conversation with our parents and religious teachers. Not too long ago, I found a close friend of mine, who is a good and excitable Muslim, writing an article about the education of Muslim youth. I read the article. Although it was unfinished, its main ideas were already expressed. Having insisted on education in the spirit of our faith, my friend called upon parents to inculcate in their children the characteristics of goodness, good behavior, humbleness, humility, benevolence, forgiveness,

acceptance of fate, patience and so on. He especially warned them to protect their kids from the street, from Western and thriller movies, useless print press and, among other things, sports that stimulate aggressiveness and competition. The most often used word in my friend’s article, however, was obedience. At home, a child should be obedient to his or her parents, in religious school (maktab) to the imam, in school to the teacher, in the street to the police officer and in the future to his boss, director or superior.

To illustrate this “ideal,” the writer uses an example of a boy who stays away from everything bad, who never fights in the streets, watches Western movies (instead he takes classical piano lessons), plays soccer, has long hair or dates girls (his parents will marry him off “when the time comes”) or yells. His voice is never heard (“as if he is not alive”) and he is grateful and apologetic everywhere he goes. The writer does not say it, but we can

who run away from reality and seek refuge in passivity and solace. Only in this way can we explain the fact that even today, during the era of the [Islamic] revival, the very carriers of Islamic thought — or those who claim to be such — keep losing battles at every turn. Their hands tied with the philosophy of prohibitions and dilemmas, these people, who in general have high morals, end up being inferior or unfit in the conflict with less upright

WE HAVE EDUCATED (AND GATHERED) NOT MUSLIMS BUT COWARDS, ALMOST SERVANTS. IN A WORLD FILLED WITH VICE, SLAVERY AND INJUSTICE, TEACHING YOUNG PEOPLE TO ABSTAIN, BE PASSIVE, BE OBEDIENT — IS THAT NOT COLLABORATING IN THE SUBJUGATION AND OPPRESSION OF ONE’S PEOPLE? continue: When the boy is wronged, he keeps quiet. When he is hit, he doesn’t return in kind but instead convinces others that “it’s not alright.” In a word, he is one of those who would never so much as “step on an ant.” While reading this article, I understood fully the meaning of the saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Not only that, I think I have grasped one of the causes of our decline in the last few centuries: wrong education/upbringing. In fact, for centuries, as a consequence of misunderstanding original Islamic thought, we have educated our youth wrongly. While the enemy, educated and merciless, subjugated Muslim countries one by one, we taught our youth to be nice, to “not think ill even of a fly,” to accept their fate, be docile and obey every type of rule, for “every rule is from God.” This sad philosophy of subservience, whose real origin I don’t know but surely originated outside Islam, serves two functions that complement each other perfectly and unhappily: On the one hand, it renders the alive dead; on the other, it highlights wrong ideals in the name of faith. It gathers around the idea of Islam those who have died before they have even started living. It creates insecure people out of normal human creatures, people who are persecuted by the feelings of self-guilt and sin. This philosophy becomes attractive to those failed creatures

and less cultured, but nevertheless resolute and reckless, enemies who know what they want and who don’t care about the means used to achieve their goals. What could be more normal than for Muslims to be led by leaders who are educated in Islam and inspired by Islamic thought? But they are not being successful due to a simple reason: They have been educated not to lead, but to be led. What could be more natural than for Muslims living in Muslim lands to lead the revolt against the rule of the foreigners and their ideas, their political and economic violence? But they cannot do that, again for a simple reason: They have not been taught to raise their voice, but to obey. We have educated (and gathered) not Muslims but cowards, almost servants. In a world filled with vice, slavery and injustice, teaching young people to abstain, be passive, be obedient — is that not collaborating in the subjugation and oppression of one’s people? This psychology that we are writing about has several aspects. One of these is the ever-recurring story about the past. Our youth aren’t taught what Islam should be, but what it used to be. They know about the al-Hambra and old conquests, about the city of “The thousand and one Nights,” about the libraries of Samarqand and Cordoba. Their spirit is always oriented toward the

glorious past, and so they start living off it. The past is important, of course, but it’s far more useful to repair the worn-out roof of a simple mosque in one’s street than to count all the beautiful mosques built by our illustrious predecessors. It seems that it would be better to burn all that glorious history if it is becoming a refuge for sighs and for living on memories. It would be better to destroy all those monuments if that is a precondition for finally understanding that we cannot live off the past and that we must do something about our present. Paradoxically, this fatal pedagogy of subservience and lack of resistance refers to the Quran, despite the fact that at least 50 of its verses mention the principles of struggle and resistance. As a code, the Quran abolished subservience. Instead of subservience to multiple false authorities and majesties, it established only one obedience — to God. In this obedience to God, it built human freedom, the human being’s liberation from all other forms of subservience and fear.

WHAT, THEN, CAN WE ADVISE OUR PARENTS AND TEACHERS? More than anything else, we can tell them not to kill the energy present in young people. Rather, let them guide and shape our youth. The eunuch they created through their education is not a Muslim, nor is there a way to lead a dead person to Islam. To educate a Muslim, let them educate human beings in the most complete and comprehensive manner possible. Let the teachers talk to the youth about pride instead of humility, about courage instead of obedience, about justice instead of benevolence. Let them raise a dignified generation of Muslims who will know not to ask for anyone’s permission to live and be what they are. And let us remember that the progress of Islam, just like any other progress, will not come from the docile and the subservient, but from the courageous and the rebellious.  ih [*Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Preporod (Renaissance) newspaper, Sarajevo, Bosnia, during October 1971. Alija Izetbegović (1925-2003) went on to become the first president of the Presidency of the newly independent Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-96) and member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (1996-2000).] Translated by Ermin Sinanović, PhD, executive director and scholar-in-residence, Center for Islam in the Contemporary World at Shenandoah University.



On Raising Girls Jahili attitudes toward women persist, despite Islam’s 1,410 years of historical existence BY NOOR SAADEH


aising practicing Muslim children amidst Islamophobia and a very jahili society is a difficult task. This is especially true in terms of raising and interacting with girls and women. Parents are influenced by Western society’s idea of freedom, children view Islam as terribly restrictive and the umma privileges boys and men while relegating girls and women to narrowly defined roles and goals. I asked several young women from a variety of ages, socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds to evaluate how their parents and community have succeeded or failed them. The results are discussed below. Appearance. For girls, appearance remains paramount. One need only recall the (now largely discontinued) matrimonial sections: “Family seeks bride: beautiful, slim, tall, white, educated…” Oh yes … “and religious.” There still appears to be less focus on character development and a deep practical understanding and implementation of the deen. Yes, pursuing higher education is far more the standard today, and yet they stated that their parents too often view an advanced degree as a carrot to dangle in front of a prospective groom’s family or yet another element of their bragging rights. Matrimonials now read: “Family seeks bride with university degree.” But the reality is she’ll often be expected to stay home and have babies. So are we hypocritical when proclaiming that the mother’s lap is the child’s first school? Was the degree’s goal acquiring knowledge WE HEAR FATHERS CRY, “SPOIL THE GIRL,” or just another item on the matrimonial list? Education = Career = Conundrum. Islam requires WHICH MEANS TO CONDITION HER TO AN EASY everyone to seek knowledge. A woman’s mind and LIFE, DRY HER TEARS AND DECIDE EVERYTHING voice are necessary to complement those of men. But FOR HER, INCLUDING HER FUTURE AND HER as we concentrate on moving Muslimahs into higher education and the workforce, are we losing sight of HUSBAND. SO WHAT ELSE CAN WE EXPECT their basic nature, psychology and physiology? BUT A CHILD RAISING CHILDREN AND WOMEN Traditional gender roles and responsibilities are WHOSE WORLD IS LIMITED TO THE HOME, THE changing and merging. Too many young women, attracted by the glamor of working life, are forsaking MALL AND THE BEAUTY SALON? traditional homemaker roles. More worrisome, they are debating whether to have children at all and, when they do, are leaving them to be raised by hired help and schools. longish shorts — as do many non-Muslim men — Modesty. Modesty invariably dominates any discussion of Muslimahs, thanks perhaps choosing not to remember that the early to “O ye Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your Muslims adopted a defining dress code that was worn shame, as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness at all times, not just for Friday prayer or Eid celebra— that is the best. Such are among the Signs of God, that they may receive tions, which today are more cultural than Islamic. admonition!” (7:26). Muslim men apparently expect Muslimahs to fend We may all “remember” an image in our history books of the fully clothed for themselves. European discoverer calling the scantily clad natives (accurately depicted?) “savCulture. “And they attribute to God daughters ages.” In contrast, provocatively baring our flesh now denotes our urbanity and — exalted is He — and for them is what they desire. sophistication, while covering it relegates us provincial at best, if not backward When the glad news of the birth of their daughter is and oppressed. brought to them, their faces turn gloomy and black Conversely, today’s modest Muslimahs represent Islam’s vanguard, for they alone with anger” (16:57-58). It’s 2020 and we’re still dealing with the “problem” are its very visible ambassadors. As a result, they have become targets for others’ wrath and ridicule. Do we provide them with the tools to combat this negativity? of women — that a man and a family’s honor are Muslim men defensively claim they have a beard and wear loose pants or connected to their womenfolk. A sin is still a sin, 46    ISLAMIC HORIZONS  NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

but who bears the often fatal rage over the family’s perceived loss of honor? We hear fathers cry, “Spoil the girl,” which means to condition her to an easy life, dry her tears and decide everything for her, including her future and her husband. So what else can we expect but a child raising children and women whose world is limited to the home, the mall and the beauty salon? Champions of Women. A beautiful interpretation of the infamous interpretation and subsequent translation of 4:34 is: “All men are champions [instead of ‘in charge’] of all women.” What a difference choosing from among a specific word’s multiple meanings makes! From a benevolent protector, a guardian lord who alone knows what is best for his flock, to a man who makes jihad to ensure women’s rights. “Mentioning the defense of women, children, and orphans beside each other in the Qur’an, 4:127, is a sign of the existence of transgression against them through the length of the history. The support of God from the rights of women is an unchangeable pronouncement of God.” ( enlightening-commentary-light-holy-quran-vol-4/ section-19-dealings-orphans-and-women). History bears out that men always try to diminish women’s rights. Consider the following realities: Ancient Greek and Roman men considered women possessions and chattel; Chinese men bound their feet

for 1,000 years; the Bible commands female submission and obedience to men; European men, both in Europe and the conquered “New World,” devised pro-men inheritance and nuptial agreements; modern India has abortion centers adjacent to ultrasound clinics; female genital mutilation remains a reality in Africa; and many Afghani girls are still denied a modern formal education. In all of these and other instances, women and mothers were — and still are — persuaded or coerced to be accomplices in these horrific acts, all of which deny girls and women the Prophet’s (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) implementation of their God-given rights. The gender-based discrimination found in many Muslim countries, which is rooted in cultural and family traditions, is based on physical and mental strength; socioeconomic status; and being trained to serve the family’s male members, taught to always repress her own will and to forsake her home and family. All of this conflicts with Quranic proclamations: Men and women share the same spiritual nature; are God’s trustees on Earth; are equal in terms of practicing social, moral, economic and political rights, as well as in terms of sharing certain responsibilities; and are responsible only for their own deeds and receive an equal reward/punishment in return (Jamal Badawi, “Gender Equity in Islam,” 1995). Fathers as Champions of Daughters. God created men and women to complement each other as spouses, and vitally so as parents affect and teach each child from their different abilities and perspectives. This reality is part of the divine master plan. Research reveals that 80% of incarcerated American women come from homes with a non-existent, absent or abusive father. Studies also show that a supportive and present father in the home helps them develop a much better self-esteem and confidence, as well as have a more successful marriage. Girls who tend to seek attention, experiment with sex and look for vindication and love in all the wrong places typically lack a present and engaged father who champions them at home ( Both parents need to see their daughters as equal and unique persons who have their own abilities and to be dealt with according to their particular fitra, which is different but equal to that of their sons. “The Status of Women in Islam,” a much-shared post, states that a daughter opens the door to janna for the father, a wife is half of her husband’s faith and a mother has janna at her feet. This all sounds good, but where is the girl in all of this? Is her worth only what she provides for others? This smacks of colonialism and the pre-Islamic Makkan/ Arab patriarchy. Nary a mention of her as a servant of God to be rewarded and ultimately judged for her own acts. Role Models. We praise all the women of the Prophet’s family, especially His beloved independent businesswoman wife Khadija; Aisha, the delight and spice in his later years and the most known sahih source of hadith; and Fatima, the joy of his heart (radiallahu anhumma). So why do we seem to forget them when raising our own daughters? Given the numerous and more visible female role models in every sphere of contemporary life, we as parents are obliged to share their stories and successes to convince our daughters that the sky’s the limit for them as well. Balancing Act. As we move toward this Islamic ideal, we must balance our society’s norms and whims with God’s mandates. “Yes!” to education, to modest visibility and to girls and women as “half the sky’” and “half our deen” – but always keeping in mind their physical, physiological, emotional and mental make-up and God-mandated responsibilities. Consider the following practical tips: Let your daughters know that they are loved, be a good listener, build their love for modesty, teach them about their role models, give them love and affection and understand the true blessing of daughters (Adapted from and  ih Noor Saadeh is production manager at Noorart, Inc. (, Richardson, Tex.



Green Earth: The Prophetic Vision Earth is so much more than just a “dead” planet for us to abuse and exploit BY IBRAHIM H. MALABARI


pward of 50,000 acres of forests are cleared by farmers and loggers per day worldwide primarily for animal agriculture, reports Taylor Meek ( Such clearing results in habitat loss, amplifies greenhouse gases, disrupts water cycles, as well as increases soil erosion and excessive flooding. It also threatens biodiversity, decreases carbon absorption and magnifies natural disaster damage. Forests and rainforests are the only livable habitats for a variety of species and store massive amounts of carbon. Clearing them pushes frontline and Indigenous communities out of their homes, thus violating their human and land rights and destroying their way of life. Abdullah ibn Habashi reported that the Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “He who cuts a lote-tree [without justification], God will send him to Hellfire” (“Al-Tirmidhi,” hadith no. 5239). The lote-tree is the perfect symbol because it requires little but provides a lot and can thrive in the harshest environments. The Prophet even prohibited cutting down trees during wartime. This last item was affirmed by Article 3 of the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights, issued and adopted at the Nineteenth Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers in Cairo in 1990. The Prophet contended that Earth has a spiritual dimension, as we can see in 17:44 and 13:15. Moreover, they brought a different dimension to the idea of protecting Earth and its environment by encouraging people to be fascinated by nature’s wonders, as proclaimed in 13:4 and 27:60. Reflecting this, the Prophet’s stated: “If the Day of Judgment comes while one of you holds a sapling in his hand, let him hurry and plant it” (“As-Silsila as-Sahiha,” hadith no. 9). The Quran relates that God appointed humanity to look after Earth and not abuse or spoil it (7:56), that Earth and all of its creatures are His dear obedient servants who prostrate for His sake (22:18) and that Earth is an intelligent being entrusted with taking account of humanity’s deeds (99:1-4). The Prophet implemented these verses by telling his followers: “Earth has been made a place of worship and source of purification for me” (“al-Tirmidhi,” hadith no. 317). Now, consider some of the illustrative anecdotes from the Prophet’s life that may seem superstitious but nevertheless emphasize this attitude: The trees and hills would greet him during his walks, and a rock in Makka would greet him before his prophethood. His kindness and mercy embraced all creatures, things and beings, whether living or not. Moreover, he told people that if they were merciful to all that is on Earth, then God will be merciful to them. The Hadith literature reports that when the wooden stump that had served as his pulpit was changed, it began to cry. When he stepped down and put his hands on it, it stopped crying. After he told it that he would give it the choice of being returned to its original garden so it could flourish once again or of being planted in Heaven “so that God’s friends might eat of your fruits,” it chose the latter option. The Prophet replied: “It is done. It has chosen the abode of eternity over the abode of transience” (“al-Bukhari,” hadith no. 4927). He also revealed that whatever is on Earth, regardless of whether we perceive it as living or not, is not only sensible but also deeply sensitive. Once pointing 48    ISLAMIC HORIZONS  NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

to a well-known mountain in Madina, the Prophet said: “The mountain (Uhud) loves us, and we love it” (“Sahih Bukhari,” hadith no. 2889). In addition, he frequently used trees as symbols to display and demonstrate heavenly and spiritual realities, such as, “In Paradise, there is a tree so large that in its shade a rider may travel for one hundred years without being able to cross it” (“Sahih Muslim,” hadith nos. 2827 and 2828). In other words, the Prophet viewed nature not merely as a united body, but as a united body that flows from and returns to God’s eternal mercy — a spiritual ecosystem that eclipses, both ethically and practically, what we have only recently come to grasp in terms of a material ecosystem. The Prophet’s teachings concerning Earth and its human and non-human inhabitants are critical today, given the dangers of environmental disaster, ecological imbalance, the depletion of the ozone layer, climate change and so on. We need to pay attention to this holistic approach that recognizes the importance of humans, of all of their co-inhabitants and of Earth itself. Earth is God’s creation, and its resources are His bounties to humanity. Thus, He “does not love the wasteful” (7:31) and states that “the squanderers are, indeed, of the ilk of satans — inasmuch as Satan has indeed proved most ungrateful to his Sustainer” (17:26-27). Given this reality, the Prophet taught his Companions to be extremely conscious of using any natural or other resource, such as not wasting water when performing ablution. Tariq Ramadan writes: “The Prophet’s insistence on not wasting any natural resources, ‘even when using the water of a running stream,’ indicates that he placed respect for nature on the level of essential principles that must regulate behavior whatever the situation

THE PROPHET’S TEACHINGS CONCERNING EARTH AND ITS HUMAN AND NON-HUMAN INHABITANTS ARE CRITICAL TODAY, GIVEN THE DANGERS OF ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER, ECOLOGICAL IMBALANCE, THE DEPLETION OF THE OZONE LAYER, CLIMATE CHANGE AND SO ON. WE NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO THIS HOLISTIC APPROACH THAT RECOGNIZES THE IMPORTANCE OF HUMANS, OF ALL OF THEIR CO-INHABITANTS, AND OF EARTH ITSELF. and whatever the consequences. This is not an ecology springing from the anticipation of disasters (which result from human actions) but a sort of ‘upstream ecology’ that rests on people’s relation to nature on an ethical bedrock associated with an understanding of the deepest spiritual teachings. The believer’s relation to nature must be based on respect and contemplation of the deeper nature of things. Thus the believing conscience must, to the very end, be sustained by this intimate relation with nature, even to the extent that one’s last gesture should be associated with the renewal of life and its cycles.” Thus, wasting water is not only practically wrong, but also immoral, for water is one of God’s blessings, as pointed out by 23:18, 67:30 and 56:68-70. Moreover, his approach to the environment was transcendental, as depicted in “Sahih al-Bukhari,” hadith no. 7519. In sum, the Prophet was telling his audience that one of the People of Paradise will ask God to let him cultivate the land. God will ask if he doesn’t already have all that he desires, to which he will reply that he does but that he wants to see the

resulting harvest “piled in heaps like mountains.” When the Prophet replied that “on that God will say, ‘Take, here you are, O son of Adam, for nothing satisfies you,’ a Bedouin who was present remarked that “such a man must be either from Quraysh or from Ansar, for they are farmers while we are not.” Hearing his reply, God’s Messenger smiled. The Prophet’s sacralization of approximately 750 square km. of land surrounding Makka should be realized as a model of a green Earth. He stated: “The grass of Makka and its thorns should not be removed, and its trees should not be cut” (“Sahih Muslim,” hadith no. 3143). He called the area haram (a sacred or inviolable sanctuary), in which peace, tranquility and greenery should be fostered. His teachings lend themselves to the idea that those who are conscious of their accountability to God are likely to avoid abusing Earth and its natural resources. The Qur’an invites humanity to reflect on Earth’s awe-inspiring beauty and greenery (6:99 and 6:141). In fact, according to 21:105-07, Earth will eventually become the Paradise in a completely different form and shape. God will change the universe’s current system on the Day of Judgment. And as we read in Psalm 37:29, He will turn the Earth into Paradise, in which His true servants will dwell forever: “The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.” As Prophet Muhammad was a continuation of the divine mercy and grace sent to humanity by God through Moses and Jesus (‘alayhum as salam), his love for a green Earth transcended this world. He gave his contemporaries picturesque descriptions of the gardens of the deepest green and of many wondrous hues, trees with blissful shade and heavy with fruit, along with running streams. He even prophesized that “the Hour will not begin until the land of the Arabs once again becomes meadows and rivers” (“Sahih Muslim,” hadith no. 157). Unfortunately, instead of being at the forefront of efforts to keep Earth green, Muslims are lagging far behind other people. If the Prophet were alive today, he would be encouraging the environmental movements and supporting all such attempts.  ih Ibrahim H. Malabari is president, Messenger of Mercy Foundation International, and founding member, International Union of Muslim Scholars and the Imam’s Council of Canada.



Evaluating Islamic Investment Standards Islamic investing has evolved from niche to mainstream BY MONEM SALAM AND STEPHANIE ASHTON

average of 22% more than the S&P 500. But hospitality, too, is typically excluded from Islamic portfolios because it cannot pass the 5% haram revenue threshold. By avoiding exposure to alcohol- or gambling-derived revenue streams, Islamic-compliant funds have been insulated from the hotel, cruise line and restaurant industries as well.



ver the last four decades, mutual funds have proven to be an effective investment solution for Muslim investors. Not only do they foster partnership in shared risk and reward (musharaka), but they also provide an ideal vehicle to diversify assets while avoiding haram industries. This exclusionary screening, characteristic of Islamic and other faithbased mutual funds, is the primary method used to pursue values compliance. In times of crisis, Islamic screens have also provided — to investors of all faiths and of no faith — some buffer from high market volatility. In any economic disruption, certain industries are more susceptible to negative performance relative to others. During the 2008 financial crisis and most recently in the Covid-19-related “crash” in March, Shariacompliant screens helped funds avoid some of the worst-faring industries. During the ongoing pandemic, hotels, restaurants, leisure, airlines and financial services have tended to do worse due, in part, to negative consumer sentiment or because they carried a high debt load. Airlines, for example, tend to carry a high percentage of debt and therefore don’t meet Sharia-compliant financial screens. Given that industry’s exposure to interest,

BECAUSE APPLYING INTERPRETATIONS OF ISLAMIC LAW TO BUSINESS ACTIVITIES IS NUANCED AND HALAL INVESTMENT GUIDELINES CAN VARY, FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS ARE ADVISED TO RELY ON GUIDANCE FROM ISLAMIC SCHOLARS TO HELP DETERMINE WHETHER AN INVESTMENT IS HALAL. similarly Islamic screens exclude banking. Between the recent sell-off of financial stocks (as investors feared potential damage from missed loan payments) and the extreme decline in air travel since March, Shariacompliant funds have been largely shielded from these losses. The hospitality industry has also suffered tremendously. Many stocks have booked their highest losses in history, falling an


While Quran 2:275 encourages trade and investment and guides Muslims on how to approach these activities, formalized financial processes only began to develop in the mid-20th century. As the modern Western financial system grew, banks operating according to Islamic principles popped up as a way to avoid riba (interest), gharar (speculation) and investments in industries engaging in haram activities. When Malaysia launched the first Shariacompliant mutual fund in 1979, the guidelines for Sharia investing were far from standardized. When the second Sharia-compliant fund was launched in the U.S. during 1986 — the Amana Income Fund — there still were no formal guidelines for investing practices. The 1990 meeting of several Islamic financial institutions, out of which emerged the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI;, finally developed and issued industry standards. It currently has members from more than 45 nations working among several areas of finance. Although it was formally established by 1991, the AAOIFI was already somewhat late to the game, for investment vehicles worldwide had been operating successfully under a variety of guidelines for years. Because applying interpretations of Islamic law to business activities is nuanced and halal investment guidelines can vary, financial institutions are advised to rely on guidance from Islamic scholars to help determine whether an investment is halal. That being said, there are some basic standards. •  Debt. One goal of a Sharia-compliant portfolio is to have as little conventional debt as possible: The less conventional debt carried by the issuer, the better. Islamic financiers originally looked for issuers with zero debt, but that limited the universe of investment

FOOD options too severely. Criteria had to develop over time, and a 33% debt to total assets or total market capitalization ratio opened up the greatest opportunities for investment while still limiting potential downsides. The stipulation for 33% or less debt within a portfolio was inspired by a conversation between Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas. When Sa‘d asked whether he could give 33% of his inheritance away in charity, the Prophet stated, “Yes, but less is better” (paraphrased from “Sahih Bukhari,” 80:725). •  Cash. Another well-known standard is that investable companies must not have cash or accounts receivable of more than 45% of total assets. A large amount due in accounts receivable may trigger a company to cover its expenses through borrowing and debt. Islamic law clearly states that those characteristics that comprise the majority of an entity are assumed to be the characteristics of the entity as a whole, and that the minority should not impede the majority. A company holding 50% or more in accounts receivable is therefore considered a cash-based company and thus, by the rules concerning riba, cannot be traded for a premium or discount. Even 49% in cash or accounts receivable comes too close to the majority. Ultimately, scholars determined that 45% would be a comfortable limit. •  Haram Revenue. This commonly accepted rule stipulates that any revenues received from haram sources must be limited to 5% or less of the company’s total revenue. This threshold was established in the belief that any percentage of business activities above 5% changes the company’s character. When first determining this rule, scholars referred to the “smell test” used when making ablution: If a Muslim encounters a pond while walking through a forest, he or she must determine whether it’s pure enough to perform the pre-prayer ablution. If it has no detectable smell, abnormal coloration or taste, one can assume that it’s suitable. Although a somewhat arbitrary number, scholars settled on 5% as the way a company could also pass a “smell test.” While 5% is a commonly accepted limit in this regard, generally the Sharia-compliant investment managers’ intention is to avoid haram revenues altogether. These three rules, which have been evaluated and re-evaluated for decades, illustrate how standards can evolve over time while maintaining allegiance to God’s intentions. The Dow Jones Index’s original proposal that a company’s debt be measured as a ratio to its assets led to an investible universe that was too small. Eventually, they settled on the convention of comparing debt to market cap. Some criteria use cash and marketable securities as a percentage of market capitalization instead of the accounts receivable mentioned above. However, the intent is the same. As standards cannot remain static, the complexity of financial markets must be discussed and explored in practice, rather than set in stone. Although the AAOIFI has helped ground and formalize the tenets of Islamic finance, it’s not the only voice in the field. In fact, since Islam encourages difference in opinion, no one standard can claim to be the most authentic. The critical issues for investors to evaluate when it comes to securities are whether an asset manager is using scholar-approved criteria and whether there is an audit process. All other standards should be determined by the individual investor’s unique needs.  ih Monem Salam is executive vice president and portfolio manager at Saturna Capital. Stephanie Ashton is business analyst and manager of corporate social responsibility at Saturna Capital.


Does That Halal Label Really Guarantee Halal Food? The robust U.S. meat and agriculture domestic and export market deserves to have a standard for halal certification agencies BY SHAKEEL SYED


n an industrialized world where one must continually prove oneself to one’s investors and stockholders, the bottom line matters. This also holds true in the food processing and packaging sector. With profits in mind, cor  Salah Obediallah porate wizards seek to source materials that reap the best yields, be it the end product or manufacturing and marketing efficiencies. As it’s always possible that animal-sourced ingredients may be part of a very complex production process, the presence of a halal logo may not always be enough. In fact, the Muslim consumer’s halal literacy should range from the farm to the fork, for the halal ethos also requires the humane treatment of animals at all times. The definition of halal, which used to be restricted to products and services only, has expanded so much that it has triggered intra-Muslim deliberations focused on what is definitively halal and who makes this determination. Although almost everyone agrees on this term’s general definition, not everyone agrees on a baseline halal standard. As certification standards can vary when there is no single governing body, there is little data on the industry. According to Nielsen, recent halal food sales in the U.S. reached $1.9 billion. Thomson Reuters has pegged the global market at about $415 billion (Esther Honig, NPR, April 5, 2018, “You Might Be Eating Halal Meat And Not Even Know It”). In response, in 2020 the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), one of the nation’s oldest Islamic organizations, launched the American Halal Institute ( This fully owned subsidiary seeks to develop a halal standard for North America so that Muslim consumers anywhere in the world will no longer be shortchanged. This is a particular problem for incarcerated Muslims. For instance, on Feb. 15, 2019, Roman Lee Jones, a Muslim inmate of the Indiana Department of Correction, successfully obtained court intervention after the department refused to provide him with halal meals. His lawyer argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit that such a refusal substantially burdened his client’s exercise of religion under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (42 U.S.C. § 2000cc).

FOOD U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz, considering rights under the same act, ruled in favor of prisoners on May 2, 2015, and directed the Florida Department of Corrections to provide halal meals. Indeed, several jurisdictions have ruled in favor of Muslims. A reliable halal certification authority will make the procurement departments’ work much easier.

In 2013, the country’s estimated 5.7 million Muslims had $98 billion in spending power. The board hopes that some of that money is being spent on locally raised lamb. Every step in the company’s process is approved by the federal Safe and Humane Slaughter Act, which every slaughterhouse must follow, as well as a certifying board. Additionally, the plant is required to prevent

THE DEFINITION OF HALAL, WHICH USED TO BE RESTRICTED TO PRODUCTS AND SERVICES ONLY, HAS EXPANDED SO MUCH THAT IT HAS TRIGGERED INTRA-MUSLIM DELIBERATIONS FOCUSED ON WHAT IS DEFINITIVELY HALAL AND WHO MAKES THIS DETERMINATION. Honig noted, “With the Muslim population on pace to possibly become the second-largest religious group in the United States by 2040, the demand for halal meat and other foods is on the rise to the point that Nielsen reports U.S. sales increased 15 percent from 2012 to 2015. Some of the largest meat producers in the country — [the Green Bay, Wisconsin-headquartered] American Foods Group — are providing more that’s halal (in part to satisfy global, not domestic, demand). But industry experts say U.S. consumers may not be aware of it, because some large grocery chains choose not to label products halal.” “The reality of it is some [retailers] are actually concerned about the halal insignia,” Superior Farms’ vice president of sales Greg Ahart said, adding that large retailers generally don’t use the label in areas that have no large Muslim populations. Superior, one of the country’s largest lamb producers, sells to small ethnic grocery stores as well as retail giants. As demand rose, Superior Farms, which mostly handles lamb with some goat, became all-halal all the time. Luke Runyon noted on May 12, 2015, that “A report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Research Center puts it bluntly: ‘The majority of U.S. residents do not consume any lamb’” (“Sheep Ranchers Count On American Muslims To Keep Lamb On Menu,” NPR, May 12, 2015). For the most part, the report notes, growing ethnic populations in the Northeast and on the West Coast have kept the American lamb industry afloat. After the market crash of 2012, the American Lamb Board sought to create new demand among Muslims and Latinos.

any contamination by non-halal foods, such as pork and alcohol, or use of antibiotics, which tend to contain pork byproducts. Rancher A. J. Nelson, who helps run Cactus Hill Ranch near Windsor, Colo., agrees. His family has been raising sheep since 1918. Nearly all the sheep in his feedlot end up in halal-certified processing plants and are bound for grocery stores in the Northeast and on the West Coast. “Marketing it towards the Muslim and Mexican communities, that’s definitely the way to do it if you’re gonna want to sell it in any real volume,” he says (“Sheep Ranchers”). Because the halal food industry requires a few extra steps from the market food processing, which means a higher product price, some in the food industry have resorted to dubious practices. A research report estimates that in 2016, the U.S. market value of halal food amounted to approximately $22.6 billion and was forecasted to increase to $26.8 billion (https:// The global halal market’s numbers are tantalizing: $2.2 trillion in 2018 (https://crescentwealth. Another area is goat farming. Information Resources, Inc.’s 2017 data indicate that goatmilk cheese indexes the highest with millennials and households making more than $100,000 per year. The number of U.S. households buying goat-milk cheese increased 0.5 percent over the past year to 8.5 percent. While female goats can be used for their milk, male goats are fairly useless in this respect and thus are destroyed. Halal certification could do wonders for this segment


and also please the farmers and organizations such as Farm Sanctuary, which estimated that 40,000 male goats are killed at birth in the U.K. ( goats) every year ( In turn, it can help expand the goat milk and cheese segment. Goats are popular in both Mediterranean and South Asian diets. This dramatic expansion of the halal food and beverages market can be seen from meat products, packaged and pre-prepared snacks and meals to a robust halal restaurant culture. Simply put, the global halal business runs into trillions of dollars. The halal industry produced an “Islamic” Barbie doll just by changing its name and adding a hijab and also created halal and wudu-compliant “breathable” nail polish. Such products translate Muslims’ piety into corporate profits. As a NAIT subsidiary and sister organization of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA;, AHI is working with Muslim American jurists and American halal certifying agencies to establish a first-ever “American Halal Standard.” “This is imperative and will be mutually beneficial for the entire supply chain of [the] halal industry,” said AHI executive director Salah Obeidallah.  ih Shakeel Syed is a consultant with the American Halal Institute.

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Honey, a Truly Miraculous Natural Product Honey bees, which are central to our lives, face possible extinction BY MOHAMMAD ABDULLAH


he greatest gifts sometimes arrive in odd wrapping. I am thinking of honey, that nutritious, healthy and natural food produced by honeybees. In fact, these tiny animals are critical to the continued functioning of our ecosystem, because they are the ones that pollinate so many of the plants that both animals and we eat. Researchers have also discovered other fascinating facts about them, such as their practice of physical distancing. One thing that we seldom think about, however, is how hard they work to extract nectar from flowers and transform it into honey. Surat an-Nahl (The Chapter of the Bees), reveals that God inspired the bee, saying, “Build yourselves houses in the mountains and trees and what people construct. Then feed on all kinds of fruit and follow the ways made easy for you by your Lord. From their bellies comes a drink of different colors in which there is healing for people. There truly is a sign in this for those who think” (16:68-69).

Bees have lived in these places for millions of years. The numerous types of boxes used by beekeepers today are relatively recent inventions. The scientific study of bee colonies, which began in 18th-century Europe, gradually uncovered their amazingly complex yet purposeful and dedicated life. Dr. Ahmed Zaki Abu Shadi, a U.K.based Egyptian Romantic poet, publisher, physician, bacteriologist and bee scientist, is credited for patenting a removable honeycomb in 1919, the same year that he founded the Apis Club, an international organization of individual beekeepers and bee scientists (https://shodhganga.inflibnet. chapter%203.pdf). Honeybees build their single-entrance hives by preparing its walls with a thin layer of propolis (“bee glue”). This antimicrobial substance is derived from the plant resins that worker bees collect, along with the nectar and pollen they need for food. Upon their return to the hive, other bees pull the sticky substance off their legs.

The plant resin is then mixed with saliva and wax, which they secrete by chewing it until it is soft, and then bond bits of it together to form individual hexagonal cells — the honeycomb. These cells are later used to store nectar, pollen, honey, eggs and larvae. Honey is stored in the uppermost cells, pollen in the rows below that and below those rows we find the workers’ brood cells. The queen’s cells are at the bottom. As the hive grows, the bees’ activities increase. An average honey bee hive comprises one fertile queen, whose main activity is egg-laying; between 20,000 to 80,000 sterile female worker bees, which do almost everything that needs to be done; and between 300 to 800 fertile males, called drones. In addition, there are about 5,000 eggs and the brood, about 25,000 to 30,000 immature bees in various stages of development. Of these, some 10,000 newly hatched are the larvae, while the remainder are pupae sealed into their cells by the workers to mature. All the larvae are fed during their first three days of life with “royal jelly.” After that, worker and drone larvae are fed a mixed food composed of honey and pollen, while the larvae destined to develop into queens are fed royal jelly during their whole fiveday larval life. A honeybee’s brain is about the size of a sesame seed, and yet it has a remarkable capacity to learn and remember. They may travel up to 3 miles in search of nectar and return to the same hive. They communicate through a “waggle dance,” which provides directions to other bees about a nectar/ pollen source ( t0104e05.htm). Honey originates from the thousands of flowers and trees that honeybees visit during the spring, summer and fall. They suck, collect and store the flowers’ nectar in their special stomach, where enzymes help convert it to honey. Once the honey sac is full, they return to the hive and regurgitate it into the honeycomb’s cells. Non-foraging bees then transform the nectar into honey by manipulating it many times with their mouthparts, reallocation and evaporation. After using their wings to evaporate the liquid from the nectar, the bees seal off the mature honey-containing cells with a lid of wax. As one honeybee produces about onetwelfth of a teaspoon of honey during her lifetime, a 16-ounce jar of honey represents the efforts of tens of thousands of bees flying


FOOD a total of 112,000 miles or so to forage nectar from about 4.5 million flowers. They flap their wings over 11,000 times per minute, which requires a great deal of energy. Producing and then storing their own honey helps guarantee their self-sufficiency throughout the year, especially during the winter and droughts. Although honeybees produce more than they need, beekeepers must remove only the excess honey. Aside from the definition found in “Codex Alimentarius,” there are additional defini-

international official testing methods have limitations and need to be further improved and enforced. Also the European Commission is encouraging the development of harmonized analytical methods to enable the verification of compliance with the quality specifications for different types of honeys (Vlasta Pilizota, Ph.D., and Nela Nedic Tiban, Ph.D., “Advances in Honey Adulteration Detection,” Aug./Sept. 2009, Adulterated honey has become a seri-

AS ONE HONEYBEE PRODUCES ABOUT ONETWELFTH OF A TEASPOON OF HONEY DURING HER LIFETIME, A 16-OUNCE JAR OF HONEY REPRESENTS THE EFFORTS OF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF BEES FLYING A TOTAL OF 112,000 MILES OR SO TO FORAGE NECTAR FROM ABOUT 4.5 MILLION FLOWERS. tions in the regulations of many countries and various types of honey for sale in the market. The USDA publishes a grading system that provides general standards. U.S. Grade A is the highest quality of extracted honey. Honey is classified by the source from which the bees gathered the nectar, because the source influences its flavor (mild to distinctively bold), color (nearly colorless to dark brown) and viscosity. Pure honey can be kept for a long time — provided it is tightly sealed — as it neither spoils nor molds and doesn’t require refrigeration. In addition to being a sweetener, it also contains several minerals, enzymes, vitamins and proteins that provide unique nutritional and medicinal benefits. Most of the honey found in grocery stores is processed and pasteurized, and thus clear, in comparison to the raw unfiltered, unpasteurized honey, which contains bee pollen and propolis and is loaded with important health benefits. Its medicinal benefits include fighting infections and coughing, being a natural energy source and a powerful antioxidant, promoting restorative sleep and healing wounds. Because of its high nutritional value and unique flavor, natural honey is rather expensive. New Zealand’s Manuka honey and Yemen’s Sidr honey are considered among the best. However, authenticating claims through traceability is limited to the quality of each processor’s documentation. Existing

ous economic and regulatory problem for, among other reasons, honey is becoming expensive to produce and a source of potentially big profits. Methods of adulteration include dilution with cheaper sweeteners (e.g., corn syrup, sugarcane syrup, wheat syrup and rice syrup); harvesting immature honey, which is further dehydrated; and artificial feeding of bees during a nectar flow. According to the U.S. Pharmacopeia’s Food Fraud Database ( solutions/food-fraud-database), honey is the third “favorite” food target for adulteration, behind milk and olive oil. Another report states that more than three-fourths of the “honey” sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t exactly what the bees produce, for the pollen frequently has been filtered out (https://; March 6, 2020). Honeybee colonies have declined due to multiple factors, including pesticides. During January 2019, the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Associations stated, “As long as honey fraud, customs fraud, and the violation of national and international trade laws persist, the wellbeing and stability of beekeepers around the world remains in jeopardy.” ( Climate change has emerged as an additional threat. In fact, new research confirms


that if Earth continues to warm and bees don’t find a way to adapt, they might go extinct (Lisa Spear, “Could Climate Change Lead to The Extinction of Bees?” Newsweek, June 28, 2018). Imagine what the coastal cities would look like if the current warming trend continues and how our planet’s 7 billion+ population would sustain itself if we lose all of the plants that bees pollinate. Julio Jacobo, reporting for ABC News on July 9, 2019, stated that bee populations nationwide have been declining due to exposure to insecticide and fungicide, disease and mites, ultimately causing colonies to collapse. From April 2018 to April 2019, beekeepers in the U.S. lost over 40% of their hives. For instance, Jon Cooksey, writer and director of “How to Boil a Frog” (a 2010 Canadian eco-comedy documentary), said, “In the last four years, the chemical industry has spent $11.2 million on a PR initiative to say it’s not their fault, so we know whose fault it is.” Something so important for our own survival should not be taken for granted. We should do whatever it takes to protect these precious creatures, who provide humanity with so many benefits.  ih Dr. Mohammad Abdullah retired after serving for 29 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA, FSIS), which regulates the meat industry. He is the author of “A Closer Look at Halal Meat from Farm to Fork” (2016), which is available at

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Khadija Haffajee 1937-2020


A Muslim Canadian teacher, motivator and social worker


hadija Haffajee, a pioneer Ottawa Muslimah, passed away Sept. 17. “Aunty” to the young and old alike, about 100 mask-wearing mourners, among them her husband Dr. Mazhar Hasan and some children, attended her outdoor janaza and sunny burial at the Beechwood National Cemetery the following day. She told Khadijah Vakily (, June 22, 2016) that based on her experience in South Africa, she had avoided meeting Muslims. She only became a very committed Muslimah in 1968, when her newfound Pakistani friends encouraged her to attend the MSA conference at Hamilton’s McMaster University. She said, “I went, and subhanallah it changed my life. Because it was the first time in my life that I heard highly educated — this means Western-educated — Muslims speak positively about being Muslim. I’d never met them before. My father was one of them, but I didn’t know him [because] he died when we were young.” The following year, Haffajee was introduced to the Ottawa crowd when the MSA conference was held at Carleton University. Moving to Ottawa at the end of the school year, she started attending prayers at a

makeshift mosque located in the small home that would eventually become the Ottawa Muslim Association. Toward the end of her life, Haffajee was closely associated with the Lotus Community-Rhoda Masjid in Ottawa’s Eastend. Representing its resident imam at the burial, Stephane Pressault said “Khadija’s hand worked in the community with her heart in Allah,” for she was a familiar face in the Ottawa community and beyond, a woman whose hand touched almost every North American Muslim community. During her career, she was founding board member and treasurer (1976) of the Ottawa Muslim Association and its treasurer, teacher at the Ottawa Mosque’s weekend Islamic school, president of the former Ottawa Muslim Women’s Auxiliary (later the Ottawa Muslim Women’s Organization) which played a big role in starting the first Ottawa Mosque and collaborated with the Islamic School of Ottawa-sponsored Long Bay Summer Camp for youth, Human Concern International and Islam Care’s Social Service. She also traveled nationwide as the Council of Muslim Communities in Canada woman’s representative and the MSA. In December 1989 she married Dr. Mazhar Hasan, a physicist from Illinois, to whom she had been introduced by mutual friends. As they both held teaching positions, they devised a commuter marriage — seeing each other every two weeks and during vacations. Five years later, they settled in Ottawa. Within one year, she acquired a ready-made family when she became a wife, stepmother and grandmother! Dr. Hasan fully supported her work. For instance, they were members of the Christian Muslim Dialogue Group of Ottawa for several years. Dedicated to outreach, she was a member of the Multicultural Advisory Committee at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, the Children’s Aid Society, the Multifaith Housing Initiative and Religions for PeaceCanada movement. Haffajee was also active overseas. She was invited to Malawi and Zimbabwe to train young Muslimahs, worked on location with Afghan refugees in Peshawar (1986) and within Afghanistan with an interfaith organization (2003). She attended the Muslim Women’s Conference in Sudan and was elected its

assistant secretary for International Affairs for the International Muslim Women’s Union (1996) and the World Conference on Religion and Peace Assembly in Amman, Jordan (1999). In 2000, “The Ottawa Citizen,” assigned her to be one of the writers of a weekly column “Ask the Religious Expert,” which included other faith leaders. Haffajee was the first Muslimah and at that time the only woman to be elected (1997) to ISNA’s Majlis Shura, a post she retained until 2008. At the same time, she remained active in ISNA Canada and also presented at several ISNA Conventions in North America. She was part of a ground-breaking 1972 event — MSA, convening its annual meeting in Toronto, invited her to address a mixed-gender session. At the 2002 ISNA Convention, she participated in the “Overcoming Obstacles to Women’s Participation in our Communities” session. She presided over marriages, gave talks on matrimonial relationships, held halaqas in her home for English/French revert women married to Muslim immigrants and Muslimahs in intermarriage relationships, held suicide prevention and other seminars, hosted at her home a vice-chancellor of Yarmouk University (Jordan) who gave a talk on Islam and Muslims and initiated the annual “Expressions of Muslim Women” event so that those living in the National Capital Region could showcase their talents in poetry, music, theatre and comedy. Born in Pietermaritzburg, in then apartheid South Africa, she moved to England and then to Canada in 1966, where she eventually became a citizen. She taught at the Henry Munro Middle School. She was knowledgeable about the Quran, Hadith, Muslim issues in general and Muslimah issues in particular; an articulate communicator at ease with public speaking; and a friendly teacher even after retirement to whoever sought her out. A great lover of people, she was widely loved in return and was well known for her friendliness, hospitality, sociability and laughter. Her legacy to the Ottawa Muslim community is huge, and she will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her.  ih Zulf M Khalfan was a two-term member of the OMA’s executive board, former editor of its Ottawa Muslim Newsletter and chair of OMA’s joint board and trust committee. He is also a former editor of Islamic Horizons.



The Correct Way to Deal with Blasphemy Anti-blasphemy laws actually increase the incidents of alleged blasphemy BY M. BASHEER AHMED

When it comes to blasphemy cases, even if the court declares you innocent, public sentiments are so high that they’d deliver their own verdict and be the judge, the jury and the witness, resulting in mob-killings.” BBC, “The Accused: Damned or Devoted?” February 2020 Angelina E. Theodorou writes that as of 2014, 26% of the world’s countries and territories had anti-blasphemy laws or policies (Pew Research Center, “Which countries still outlaw apostasy and blasphemy?”). In a number of (formerly) Christian-majority states, such laws may criminalize abusive or scurrilous speech about Christianity and often other religions and students accused him of posting derogatory comtheir adherents, because such incidents “have the tendency to lead to a breach ments on social media about the Prophet. Rashid of peace” (Kamran Hashemi, “Religious Legal Traditions, International Human Rehman, a prominent human rights lawyer who Rights Law and Muslim States,” 2008, p. 45). took up his case, was shot dead on May 7, 2014. In However, the injudicious application of these laws and policies often defeats December 2019 Hafeez, who maintains his innocence the intended objectives. Consider the British colonial era the Indian Penal Code, and states that he comes from a religious family, was which remains in force in India and Pakistan. It was ostensibly enacted in 1860 to found guilty and sentenced to death. He remains in create harmony among the Subcontinent’s diverse populations through a uniform solitary confinement. application of the law. Rising commuHafeez’s case is not unique. In April 2017 a vigilante mob nal tensions during the 1920s due to PUNISHING ALLEGED killed Mashal Khan, a 23-yearvarious Hindu and Muslim revivalist BLASPHEMERS VIOLATES THE movements, caused the relevant laws old university journalism student, QURANIC AND PROPHETIC to be amended in 1927 largely to mainand mutilated his corpse on the tain public order. On May 8, 2008, the TEACHINGS. IN FACT, PEOPLE WHO grounds that he had posted disreCriminal Justice and Immigration Act spectful statements on Facebook. SEEK TO “PROTECT” GOD OR HIS 2008 abolished the blasphemy laws of In 2010 Asia Bibi, a Christian MESSENGER VIA LYNCHING OR England and Wales (but not Scotland). female farm laborer from cenISSUING DEATH THREATS ARE The British-era section 295A, tral Punjab, was accused of which includes an anti-blasphemy THEMSELVES AN INSULT TO ISLAM insulting the Prophet, charged law, of the [now] Indian [Pakistani and with blasphemy and sentenced AND THE PROPHET. Myanmar] penal code, has not been to death. Pakistan’s Supreme repealed. Both India and Pakistan have Court acquitted her in January used it to prevent a free and honest discussion on religious issues, a policy that 2019. Punjab governor Salman Taseer and federal threatens free expression. minority affairs minister Shahbaz Bhatti were killed Muslim scholars define blasphemy as insulting or showing disrespect, contempt for supporting her. or lack of reverence to God, Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alyahi wa sallam), Angry Muslims demonstrated against Charlie the Quran and the prophets mentioned therein. The five main jurisprudential Hebdo of Paris, a satirical magazine, for publishing schools — Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi, Hanbali and Ja‘fari — regard it as a capital offense. cartoons that ridiculed God and the prophets. On Jan. Hanafi, Shafi, and Ja‘fari scholars pardon those who repent; Maliki scholars do not. 7, 2015, two Muslims killed 12 of its employees. The Let us consider the case of Pakistan as an example. During 1987 to 2017, more subsequent edition had a print run of 7.95 million than 1,500 cases were registered in Pakistan and some 75 extrajudicial killings copies in six languages, compared to its typical print have occurred. The ongoing Junaid Hafeez case illustrates the dichotomy between run of 60,000 in French only. Clearly, the Muslims’ negative reaction only made the Quran and the juristic position. A Fulbright scholar in Mississippi, Hafeez returned home in March 2013 the magazine more popular. In response, an anti-Musand joined the faculty of a university in Multan. He was arrested after some lim group in Texas held a cartoon contest specifically to 56    ISLAMIC HORIZONS  NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

Some argue that earlier scholars feared that those who renounced Islam and joined the enemy might annihilate Muslims. Some rulers have often misused such laws to rid themselves of political opponents. Given that there are 1.8 billion Muslims today, is this “fear” still realistic? There is also freedom of speech and religion. Of course any criticism of one’s religion hurts one’s feelings, but it in no way lowers the value of religion in its adherents’ eyes. Most of the prophets sent by God throughout history were ridiculed, mocked and even tortured (36:30). And yet the Quran states that their opponents will be punished only in the Hereafter. As did Prophet Muhammad, these men only showed kindness toward such people.


insult the Prophet ( shooting-outside-draw-muhammad-contest-texas-n352996). Copies of the Quran were burned in the U.S. and other countries. A few Baha’is in Iran, Qadianis in Pakistan, Shias in Saudi Arabia and Christians in Egypt and Indonesia face blasphemy charges. In some instances, mobs don’t wait for the allegations to be substantiated. Seemingly, some Muslim jurists have also become judge, jury and executioner in such cases.

NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES Many deemed novelist Salman Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses” offensive to the Prophet. The vast majority of Muslims supported Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa of death against him, held rallies worldwide and burned copies of the book. Hitoshi Igarashi, the novel’s Japanese translator, was stabbed to death. The fatwa only led some to turn against Islam and increased the book’s sales. Rushdie received honors and recognition in many countries, including a knighthood from the U.K. Sheikh Ahmed Deedat (d. 2005), the well-known speaker on Islam, once stated: “The biggest enemy of Islam is an ignorant Muslim. His ignorance leads him to intolerance, and his actions destroy the true image of Islam. The people, in general, think that he is what Islam is.” Many classical-era Muslim scholars justified capital punishment based on their understanding of the relevant texts. However, their opinions are not eternal norms. Mohammad Hashim Kamali (“Freedom of Expression in Islam,” 1994), Taha Jaber Al-Alwani (“La Ikraha fi al-Din: Apostasy in Islam,” 2003) and other scholars oppose such rulings.

•  “If you hear God’s revelations being mocked and ridiculed, don’t sit with them unless they delve into another subject. Otherwise you will be as guilty as they are. God will gather the hypocrites and the disbelievers together in Hell” (4:140) •  “Do not befriend those among the recipients of previous scripture who mock and ridicule your religion, nor befriend the disbelievers.” (5:57) •  “... but indeed, they uttered blasphemy. If they repent, it will be best for them. But if they turn back (to their evil ways), Allah will punish them ... (9:74) •  Their just requital is Hell, in return for their disbelief, and for mocking My revelations and My messengers. (18:106) •  He had punished these people, annihilated them and destroyed them as they did not take the truth seriously. (36:30) •  The evil of their deeds will become evident to them, and the very things they mocked will come back and haunt them. (45:33) •  Furthermore, have patience with what they say and leave them with noble (dignity). (73:10) Verses 33:60-61 indicate that hypocrites were to be executed for committing treason against the state, not for blasphemy. According to Kamali, the dominant Quranic meaning of fitna (tumult) is “seditious speech that attacks a government’s legitimacy and denies believers the right to practice their faith.”

PROPHETIC GUIDELINES The Prophet never called for executing his opponents. When an old woman who regularly threw garbage at him fell sick, he visited her. He didn’t take revenge on Suhail bin Amr, the poet who blasphemed him, but asked his Companions to treat him kindly after he was captured during the Battle of Badr. He also rejected his Companions’ advice to execute Abd Allah b. Ubayy, the chief hypocrite, because “People will say that Muhammad kills his Companions.” Pro-death penalty scholars often cite the execution of the Jewish poet Ka‘b ibn al-Ashraf to justify the death sentence, disregarding the fact that he was killed for treachery, not blasphemy. While negotiating the Hudaybiyah treaty, the Makkan delegation asked Muhammad not to sign his name as the “Prophet of God.” He did so, reminding the upset Companions yet again that an angry response is counterproductive, for even the worst offenders could become friends by humility and gentle treatment. He forgave his archenemy Abu Sufyan and his wife Hind, who promised to free the slave Wahshi if he would kill and then mutilate Hamza’s corpse. Hamza was one of the Prophet’s uncles. When a Companion slapped a Jew for saying that Moses was superior to the Prophet, the Prophet admonished him not to indulge in such a comparison. Prophet Muhammad, sent as a mercy to humanity and a blessing to the universe, was entrusted only with getting all people to live in peace and harmony. Punishing alleged blasphemers violates the Quranic and Prophetic teachings. In fact, people who seek to “protect” God or His Messenger via lynching or issuing death threats are themselves an insult to Islam and the Prophet.  ih Dr. M. Basheer Ahmed, a former professor of psychiatry in South Western Medical School, is chairman emeritus of Muslim Community Center for Human Services in North Texas.



India’s Constitution Is Under Assault Detention centers in Assam violate all norms of fundamental rights BY AMAN WADUD


abeda Begum was born in India in 1970 to Muslim Indian parents. Her father’s name was recorded in the 1951 National Register of Citizens (NRC) and appeared on all voters’ lists until his death. But despite her submission of 15 documents to prove that she is her parents’ daughter, the Foreigners’ Tribunal, which adjudicates citizenship status in Assam, declared her a “foreigner” and stripped her of her citizenship. It then declared that she may be interned at a detention center until she is repatriated to Bangladesh. The provincial high court agreed with the order. Her case is now pending before India’s Supreme Court, and the police are searching for her (“Coronavirus impact: ‘Declared foreigners’ released from Assam detention camps,” Deccan Herald, April 25, 2020). A “declared foreigner” is detained not as a punishment, but for deportation to what the court decides is that person’s “country of origin.” According to the Assam government’s “White Paper on Foreigners” (2012), such people are interned immediately after they are classified as such to ensure that they “do not perform the act of vanishing.” In its affidavit filed before the Supreme Court in February 2019, Assam stated that only four declared foreigners have been repatriated to their country of origin since 2013. In March 2020, the Federal Ministry of Home [Interior] Affairs told the National Assembly that only one declared foreigner was deported in 2019 and none at all in 2020. Begum’s failure to prove her citizenship changed neither her country of origin nor the fact that she is the daughter of an Indian citizen. Thus, even if she is detained she will never be deported, because why would another country confirm her nationality when India is her country of origin? Upon her arrest, like hundreds of other Assamese mothers, she will be separated from her children and released only after two years of detention, as per a Supreme Court order passed in a petition filed by the Justice and Liberty Initiative, an Assam-based organization founded by this author. Before May 2019, “declared foreigners” were detained indefinitely without any chance for parole and prospect of release. Many have been detained since 2010 without committing any crime. In 2018 Harsh Mander, an Indian author, columnist, researcher, teacher and social activist who directs the Center for Equity Studies, filed a petition before the Supreme Court challenging indefinite detention. Prashant Bhushan, a public interest lawyer, argued the case. On May 10, 2019, the Supreme Court directed that those who had completed three years in detention could be released, provided that they could execute bonds with two sureties of Indian Rs. 100,000 ($1,347) each of Indian citizens. About 300 detainees were released; many others couldn’t meet this condition. One beneficiary was Mamiran Nessa, who was detained in 2010 when, despite having all of the required documents, she failed to prove her citizenship because she couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer. She was separated from her three minor children — her youngest son was only 2 years old — and released only in December 2019. Why? Because she was born in India and all her family members are citizens, she couldn’t be deported. Four months before her release, when her heartbroken husband died, she was denied parole because “declared foreigners” cannot be paroled. In the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, the Supreme Court initiated a suo 58    ISLAMIC HORIZONS  NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

motu — an act of authority taken without formal prompting from another party — petition with regard to prisons. The court issued notices to all states and Union Territories to explain why directives shouldn’t be issued for dealing with the present health crisis arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis with regard to prisons and remand homes (detention centers). However, its timely intervention didn’t include Assam’s six overcrowded detention centers, which are located inside the state’s jails — 802 people were detained in March 2020. Consequently, the Justice and Liberty Initiative filed an intervention application for the release of all “declared foreigners” by dispensing with the earlier three years period of detention and the harsh financial bonds. In response, the Supreme Court reduced the period


Aman Wadud (second left) testifies at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s hearing on Citizenship Laws and Religious Freedom

to two years and the financial bond with two sureties of Rs. 5,000 ($ 67.34) each (Deccan Herald, April 25, 2020). As a result, around 350 “declared foreigners,” including Minara Begum of the Karimganj district, who had been detained in the Kokrajhar detention center since 2010 with her 15-day-old daughter, have been released. Although this new order is welcomed, any detention is unreasonable because such people are neither deportable nor convicted criminals. Their only “crime” is their failure to prove their citizenship before the Foreigners Tribunal, which often classifies citizens as “foreigners” for minor name and age variations in documents. In fact, a contradictory statement from a poor and illiterate relative can cost one his or her citizenship. In most cases, the Foreigners Tribunal declares people to be foreigners not because of their lack of documents, but by cherry-picking very normal anomalies

in the relevant documents. If this parameter of such minor variations were to be applied nationwide, hardly any Indian would be able to prove his or her citizenship. The Foreigners Tribunals, governed by the Indianadopted [British] colonial Foreigners Act of 1946, mandates that supposed foreigners have to prove their citizenship. If they don’t appear before the Tribunal after the notice has been issued, they can be declared foreigners by ex parte order (in absentia). But such notices are commonly never received. In July 2019, for example, 63,959 people out of a total around 120,000 foreigners were classified as such by ex parte orders. In fact, many of those detained have been declared “foreigners” by this very procedure. During the last three years, 30 people died in detention, including 10 in 2019. The detainee’s corpse is handed over to his or her Indian family. Dulal Chandra Paul, 65, was mentally unstable when he was detained. When he died during October 2019 (“Send him to Bangladesh: Assam family refuses to accept body of man declared foreigner,” India Today, Oct. 17, 2019), his family only agreed to accept his corpse after nine days of persuasion by the administration and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s personal intervention (“Dulal Chandra Paul’s kin firm on shunning ‘foreigner’ body,” The Telegraph Online, Oct. 26, 2019). Most detainees experience severe depression, primarily for being held without having committed any crime and being separated from their families. The “declared foreigners” claim they are citizens, and most of them definitely are. And yet they are denied both a dignified life and a dignified death. These are serious constitutional concerns, for how can a democratic country intern its own citizens, strip them of citizenship and leave them to die in detention centers? This is not what India’s Founding Fathers envisaged. In addition to these severe civil consequences, “declared foreigners” are treated worse than convicted felons. The centers’ conditions are deplorable. About 350 people who will never be deported remain in six detention centers across Assam. What purpose does it serve to detain them for two years? They must be released, and this historical wrong must be corrected.  ih Aman Wadud, an Assam-based human rights lawyer and founder of Justice and Liberty Initiative, provides pro bono legal aid to those accused of being “illegal migrants.” On March 4, 2020, he testified at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s hearing on Citizenship Laws and Religious Freedom (



Cambodia's Cham Muslim Minority and the Khmer Rouge Genocide Trial Living among people who have suffered no legal consequences for murdering your loved ones BY SLES NAZY

Mr. Ysa Osman appears before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in Case 002/02 against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan on Feb. 9, 2016. Photo: ECCC/Nhet Sok Heng


etween 1975 and 1979, the communist-led Khmer Rouge regime unleashed an explosion of mass violence that resulted in the deaths of nearly one-quarter of all Cambodians. To this day, the exact figures on this genocide remain hotly disputed. After decades of French colonialism and the subsequent foreign involvement in the ensuing civil war that gradually became a brutal Cold War proxy war, the Khmer Rouge assumed power. Led by Prime Minister Pol Pot (d. 1998), at that time known to the outside world as “Brother Number One,” the Khmer Rouge instituted a radical reorganization of Cambodian society by forcibly sending the city people into the countryside to farm, dig canals and tend crops. This decision also split up family units, as did assigning people to labor brigades based on their age and gender. The regime’s subsequent gross mismanagement of the economy led to food and medicine shortages and widespread death from disease and starvation. While Christian, Buddhist and ethnic minorities were repressed, Cham Muslims were singled out — as many as 500,000 of

them — 70% — were exterminated. Because the Khmer Rouge emphasized rural peasant superiority, those classified as “intellectuals” — teachers, lawyers, doctors and clergy — were all at-risk populations. Some maintain that even people who wore eyeglasses were deliberately killed. The Khmer Rouge made several attempts to eliminate the Cham Muslims’ core identities. Among their “soft” approaches were prohibiting all outward manifestations of Islam, forcing them to eat pork, cutting women’s hair short, eliminating their traditional attire, burning the Quran, closing or destroying mosques, prohibiting the Cham language and changing Cham names to Khmer names. The Khmer Rouge also broke the Cham communities into small family units and put them in Khmer villages across Cambodia. Traditionally, the Cham had tended to live in concentrated communities in which they had erected a self-sufficient Islamic and cultural infrastructure. The “hard” approach consisted of executing prominent Cham figures, including religious teachers (hakims and tuons), hajjis, politicians and ordinary Cham people.


The Cham protests and rebellions that broke out in Koh Phal and Svay Khleang (Kampong Cham province) in late September and early October 1975 had profound consequences for the Cham living in Kroch Chhmar district (Tboung Khmum province) as well as those in the entire Eastern Zone and beyond. In 1978, many survivors reported widespread racial killings directed at those who had Cham names or had been linked to the Cham ethnicity. Such racial killings also resulted from the unstoppable momentum of the purges that occurred in the Central and Eastern zones during the same period. On Nov. 30, 1975, a high-ranking Khmer Rouge cadre named Chhon wrote and addressed Telegram 15 to Pol Pot. It was subsequently copied to Nuon Chea and then to Doeun and Yem, two other Khmer Rouge officials. According to the telegram, Chhon was responding to a previous order(s) on evacuating the Cham from their villages along the east bank of the Mekong River and the entire Eastern Zone. The original message had come directly from the party center in Phnom Penh. Chhon specifically referred to this as the “dispersal strategy discussed in previous meetings” and estimated that 150,000 Cham in the Eastern Zone would be deported to the Northwest and Northern zones. Nearly one-fourth of all Cambodians died under the Khmer Rouge. A conservative estimate places the Cham deaths at about one in three, a slightly higher rate than that of the Buddhists. The Khmer Rouge’s top-down approach decimated the Cham elite, and the destruction of one-third of their population is a serious challenge to their ability to maintain their core identity. A report by Eng Kok Thai of the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DCCAM; relates that only 45 of 339 hakems, 38 of 300 touns, 30 of approximately 1,000 hajjis and 2 of the known 26 overseas students who returned

Cham Villagers at the Court, ECCC

A REPORT BY ENG KOK THAI AT THE DOCUMENTATION CENTER OF CAMBODIA (HTTP://DCCAM.ORG/HOME) RELATES THAT ONLY 45 OF 339 HAKEMS, 38 OF 300 TOUNS, 30 OF APPROXIMATELY 1,000 HAJJIS AND 2 OF THE KNOWN 26 OVERSEAS STUDENTS WHO RETURNED SURVIVED. survived. Grand Mufti Raja Thipadei Res Lah and his two deputies were also killed Due to the destruction of Islamic schools, mosques, Quranic texts, name changes and the prohibition of the Cham language, the Cham have had a tough time restoring their identities. Part of this has involved compiling evidence and testifying against those Khmer Rouge leaders put on trial several times based on the almost three years of judicial investigations conducted by the UN-Backed Tribunal known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) — informally known as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal or the Cambodia Tribunal. This special Cambodian court receives international assistance through the United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials (UNAKRT). According to the Chambers’ findings in the verdict announced on Nov.16, 2018, Case 002, about the crimes against humanity specific to a special group from April 17, 1975, to Jan. 6, 1979, Nuon Chea allegedly served as deputy secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (hereinafter referred to as “CPK”), a full-rights member of the CPK Central and Standing committees, chairman of the People’s Representative Assembly

and, on occasion, acting prime minister of Democratic Kampuchea. Khieu Samphan allegedly held various positions in the CPK and Democratic Kampuchea, including resident of the State Presidium, chairman of Political Office 870 and a member of the CPK Standing Committee. In relation to the Cham, these two individuals were accused and charged with crimes against humanity (i.e., murder, extermination, imprisonment, torture and persecution on political and religious grounds); other inhumane acts through attacking human dignity, conduct characterized as forced transfer and conduct characterized as enforced disappearances; and genocide by killing. The Chambers sentenced them to life imprisonment. The case was then closed, a decision that many Cham have found very hard to understand and/or accept. The now Phnom Penh-based Yar Rorsart, a young Cham from Spiu Village (Kampong Cham province), expressed his support for the Khmer Rouge tribunal, saying that its putting some of the former regime’s top leaders on trial provides justice because most of what had happened during their rule was recorded by the Cambodian and UN experts involved in the tribunal.

He added that all these stories represent the proof that the world needs to learn and remember what happened to his people. Moreover, he said that he learned that the tribunal collected and archived many formerly unknown stories about the Cham. He hopes that these stories will be published in the future for both learning and research purposes. Ser Sayana, a Cham in her late 30s now working as the deputy director at the Peace Institute Cambodia (, argued that the trial was unfair to her personally, “because I lost my grandparents… My cousin was orphaned, and I never knew what they looked and sounded like. But socially and collectively, it’s proper/ fair in a way toward knowledge and proof that one must take responsibility. At least ethically or morally,” she added,” we’ve gained legal judgments, and the loss and pain are being acknowledged. Even though it is rather late, in the end it’s a lesson for the coming generations and future leaders to learn from. It hasn’t been in vain.” Osman Ysa, aged 49, appeared at the trial as a witness to provide evidence accrued during his years spent as a DCCAM researcher. He is also an expert the period and author of “Oukoubah: Justice for the Cham Muslims Under the Democratic Kampuchea Regime” (DCCAM, 2002) and “The Cham Rebellion: Survivors’ Stories from the Villages” (DCCAM, 2006). He believes that the court was very unfair and that no justice was obtained for the Cham people. Osman adds that the case against Commander Ta An, who killed thousands of Cham in Sector 41, to which the majority of our people from the east side of Mekong were deported, has also been closed. In general, he doesn’t feel that this is fair, for charging just a few people for killing thousands of people is just a little bit better than doing nothing at all. Even though no proper research has been conducted on the Cham’s reaction to the verdict or to the genocide trail in general, our people remember their horrific experience under Pol Pot and his genocidal regime. We hope that a similar regime will never arise in the future, for now we are enjoying life under the peace and harmonization policy established by the Royal Government of Cambodia.  ih Sles Nazy, president, Cambodian Muslim Media Center, and advisor, Ministry of Information.


NEW RELEASES Demystifying Shariah: What It Is, How It Works, and Why It’s Not Taking Over Our Country Sumbul Ali-Karamali 2020. Pp. 256. HB. $24.95. Kindle. $13.95. Audio CD. $24.99 Beacon Press, Boston, Mass. li-Karamali, who earned a degree in Islamic law after becoming a corporate lawyer, offers a direct counterpoint to fear-mongering headlines about Sharia law by eliminating stereotypes and assumptions with compassion, irony and humor. Published in August 2020, this book may have helped those influenced by scare tactics and deliberate misinformation campaigns, as well as anti-Muslim propaganda that the Sharia is a draconian and oppressive law that all Muslims must obey. During the last few election cycles, the Right has pushed Islamophobic narratives, specifically about the Sharia, to circulate horror stories that encourage Americans to fear it and even to mount anti-Sharia protests ... with zero evidence that it has taken over any part of the country. Ali-Karamali explains the Sharia as it really is — religious rules and recommendations that guide various aspects of a Muslim’s life, not some rigid and enforceable law. In her lawyerly approach, she informs readers of the Sharia-based legal system’s various meanings, development, history and operation — especially what the modern calls for it mean and whether it is the law of the land in any country. It is a book that not only Muslims but also other sane-minded people can share with Islamophobes to help them overcome their disease.


How Millennials Can Lead Us Out of the Mess We’re In: A Jew, a Muslim, and a Christian Share Leadership Lessons from the Life of Moses Iqbal Unus, Mordecai Schreiber and Ian Case Punnett 2020. Pp. 146 HB. $21.95. eBook. $20.50 Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Lanham, Md. uring troubled times, millions have been inspired by the stories and spiritual lessons of the selfless leadership of Prophet Moses (‘alayhi as salaam). In a world increasingly affected by political, social, and racial imbalance, we need strong, innovative leaders who have not forgotten or ignored these valuable lessons. This volume brings together an Israeli-born rabbi, a Pakistani-born Muslim scholar, and an ordained Midwestern American to inspire the next generation of leaders with a timeless story of Prophet Moses. This book, which serves to synthesize the religious views of Judaism, Islam and Christianity into one unified, harmonious voice singing a single hymn, aims at sincerely spiritual but church-resistant Bible readers as well as those who are familiar with the Moses narrative.


Muslim American City: Gender and Religion in Metro Detroit Alisa Perkins 2020. Pp. 264. HB. $78.80. PB. $30.00. Kindle. $16.50 New York University Press, New York, N.Y. erkins explores how debates over Muslim Americans’ use of public and political space have challenged and reshaped the boundaries of urban belonging. Drawing on her more than a decade of ethnographic research in Hamtramck, Mich., home to one of the country’s largest Muslim concentrations, Perkins shows how they have grown and asserted themselves in public life. For example, in 2004 a Hamtramck mosque won the right to broadcast the adhan. The author also deals with Muslim American women’s efforts to maintain gender norms in neighborhoods, mosques and schools, as well as Muslim Americans’ efforts to organize public responses to municipal initiatives. She incorporates the perspectives of Muslims, Polish Catholics, African American Protestants and other city residents. Perkins questions the popular assumption that Muslims’ religiosity hinders their ability to become full citizens in secular societies. She shows how Muslims and non-Muslims have, by negotiating issues over the use of space, invested Muslim practice with new forms of social capital and challenged nationalist and secularist notions of belonging.


Stealing from the Saracens: How Islamic Architecture Shaped Europe Diana Darke 2020. Pp. 328 + 142 color illus. HB. $29.95 Hurst & Co., London, U.K. gainst a backdrop of Islamophobia, Europeans are increasingly erasing their cultural debt to the Muslim world. However, this legacy lives on in some of Europe’s most recognizable buildings, from the Notre-Dame Cathedral to the British Houses of Parliament. She writes that her book was ignited by the Notre-Dame de Paris April 2019 fire, a tragedy that moved highly secular France and the world because the cathedral is something that “truly” encapsulates French nationhood. However, it is a little known fact that the Gothic style of architecture so deeply associated with Catholicism in Europe was inspired by the Islamic architecture brought into Europe centuries earlier.



This beautifully illustrated book reveals the Arab and Islamic roots of Europe’s architectural heritage. Darke traces ideas and styles from vibrant Middle Eastern centers like Damascus, Baghdad and Cairo, via Muslim Spain, Venice and Sicily, into Europe. She describes how medieval Crusaders, pilgrims and merchants encountered Arab Muslim culture on their way to the Holy Land and explores more recent artistic interaction between Ottoman and Western cultures, including Sir Christopher Wren’s inspirations in the “Saracen” style of Gothic architecture. Darke’s deep look into this long but overlooked history of architectural “borrowing” offers a rich tale of cultural exchange that sheds new light on Europe’s greatest architectural landmarks. Apart from being enjoyed by practitioners and students of architecture, this book should also help open a few eyes, especially those of the Islamophobes. Varieties of American Sufism: Islam, Sufi Orders, and Authority in a Time of Transition Elliott Bazzano and Marcia Hermansen (eds.) 2020. Pp. 240. HB. $95.00 Kindle. $33.95 State University of New York Press, Albany, N.Y. azzano (associate professor of religious studies, Le Moyne College) and Hermansen (professor of theology and director of Islamic World Studies, Loyola University, Chicago) offer a collection of eight participant-observation-based historical, ethnographic and documentary studies that explore a range of Sufi movements operating across the contemporary American religious landscape. Spanning more than a century of political, cultural and embodied relationships with Islam and Muslims, this volume introduces readers to diverse expressions of contemporary Sufi religiosity in the country. It also offers a provoking, stimulating reflection on a range of issues relevant to contemporary Islamic studies, American religions, multireligious belonging and new religious movements.


Western Families in Crisis: Muslims Resurging Siraj I. Mufti 2019. Pp. 340. PB. $14.99 Self-published, Tucson, Ariz. ufti argues that secularism is the root cause of the West’s societal problems. Starting at the time of the Enlightenment, it now pervades all state and public institutions and is fervently propagated by the mainstream media. He contends, citing contemporary research, that faith is intimately tied to families, fertility and growth and that the lack of it is responsible for declining Western populations. Muslims, he says, were a great world power for a thousand years but then became weak and were colonialized by European powers. The U.S.’s hegemonic agenda, he asserts, supports corrupt authoritarian regimes opposed to democracy and human rights. Muslims also have to contend with Islamophobia, stereotyping, Washingtonled wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the “global war on terrorism.” These wars have killed thousands of civilians and devastated their countries’ land and economies, and have cost the U.S. as well, in terms of soldiers killed and treating physically and mentally injured veterans. Billions of dollars wasted in anti-terrorism strategies chasing “ghosts” could have been used to save Americans lives, as pointed out by John Mueller and others. American Muslims organizations have actively built coalitions with other faith communities, thereby serving as a model community involved with people of other faiths. They serve the sick and needy and are among the first responders during disasters. Thus Americans of all persuasions opposed President Trump’s Muslim Ban, and leaders of all faiths rebuked him and the Republican Party by standing with Muslims as their “siblings-in-faith.” The world’s Muslims are actively working to root out corruption and uplift their communities, firm in their belief that dedication and commitment will enable them to regain their former position of honor and live in cordiality with others by working for justice, peace and welfare for everyone.


Sport, Politics, and Society in the Middle East Danyel Reiche and Tamir Sorek (eds.) 2019. Pp. 256. PB. $34.95 Oxford University Press, New York, N.Y. port in the Middle East has become a major issue in global affairs. Sports scholars Danyel Reiche and Tamir Sorek’s eleven contributors discuss the intersection of political and cultural processes related to sport in the region, tracing its historical institutionalization and role in negotiating “Western” culture. Sport is found to be a contested terrain in which struggles are being fought over the inclusion of women, competing definitions of national identity, preserving social memory and press freedom. Also discussed are the implications of mega-sporting events for host countries and how the region’s elite sport policies and sports industries are being shaped. This book may benefit those who are interested in studying and examining the power dynamics around sport in the Middle East.  ih


The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168-0038


Articles inside

New Releases

pages 62-64

Assault Cambodia’s Cham Muslim Minority

pages 60-61

India’s Constitution Is Under

pages 58-59

Khadija Haffajee

page 55

Does That Halal Label Really Guarantee Halal Food?

pages 51-52

Honey, a Truly Miraculous Natural Product

pages 53-54

Evaluating Islamic Investment Standards

page 50

The Correct Way to Deal with Blasphemy

pages 56-57

Green Earth: The Prophetic Vision

pages 48-49

On Raising Girls

pages 46-47

Are We Educating Muslims or Cowards?

pages 44-45

Pay it Forward

page 43

Stars in Scarves

pages 41-42

Terrorism” or “Marijuana-Induced

pages 31-34

Voice for the People

page 38

Psychosis”? Spot the Difference A Cham Muslim Immigrant’s Perspective

pages 35-37

North Texas Muslims Establish a Cemetery

pages 39-40

Working to Build Bridges

page 30

Muslim Americans and Race

pages 27-29

Community Matters

pages 14-19

Black America Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

pages 22-24


pages 6-7

Levitating the Muslim Vote

pages 20-21

Packing the Essentials

pages 11-13

Black Muslimahs

pages 25-26

Convention Report

page 10

ISNA's 2020-22 Leadership Team

pages 8-9
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