Islamic Horizons November/December 2023

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The Malignancy that Confronts the Muslim World


ISNA Matters

Civil Rights

8 Reverence, Awareness, and Engagement 11 Charting the Course: Survival Guide for Muslim Youth 12 Convention Chit Chat 14 Silent Screams: Suicide within the Muslim Community 15 The Three Stages of Response 16 MYNA Summer Camps 2023


Cover Story 24 26

A Decade of Resilience Authoritarian Creep

Islam in America

The Muslim World 48


42 44

Tales from Working Hijabis


Islam’s Environmental Spirit


It’s Never Too Late The Lost Art of Letter Writing


Interfaith Marriages Factors to Consider

Departments 6 18 62

In Memoriam: Loai El-Gazairly

ISLA Marches Toward the Future Making Classrooms Truly Inclusive

Banning the Abaya



In Memoriam Education

Bosnia’s Balancing Act

Muslims Living As Minorities

30 Fifty Years of Preservation, Protection and Leadership 34 The Hijabi Jiu-Jitsu Star 36 Embracing Differences 38 IIIT’s Integration of Knowledge Summer Program 2023 40 From Basketball to a Brand


Your Rights as an Airline Passenger


Editorial Community Matters New Releases

The Rohingya Aren’t Safe Anywhere

Cover: Despite 76 years of independence, Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies continue in their colonial mindset. Police officers harass a bike rider whose “crime” was to display Imran Khan’s party flag. DESIGN & LAYOUT BY: Gamal Abdelaziz COPYEDITOR: Jay Willoughby. The views expressed in Islamic Horizons are not necessarily the views of its editors nor of the Islamic Society of North America. Islamic Horizons does not accept unsolicitated articles or submissions. All references to the Quran made are from The Holy Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Amana, Brentwood, MD.




Never-ending Authoritarianism


he Muslim world remains in the throes of authoritarianism. Some countries went straight from European colonial rule to an indigenous authoritarianism hinged on the ex-colonial rulers and their allies. They have become sources of the cheap natural resources that enable their former masters to maintain their overly inflated lifestyles. The news is full of how fossil fuels are riling the world and how resource exploitation is both causing environmental havoc and imposing untold hardships on so many people. Recent events in West Africa may have started a trend away from this prevailing status quo. Since the military took over in 1952, Egypt has never experienced freedom. Pakistan, ruled by the military since 1958, has had a similar experience. Other takeovers have been “hybrid,” as is the case of ousting Prime Minister Imran Khan through a vote of no-confidence on April 9, 2022. Ironically, those hungering for cheap and easily available natural resources happen to be the loudest voices calling for human rights. However, their actions reduce their calls to nothing more than empty slogans. In this issue, we include Luke Peterson’s view on how the CIA helped change the government in Pakistan, a country in which Washington seeks airbases and has killed thousands of civilians by drones. For instance, on October 16, 2014, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism report said that only 4% of drone victims in Pakistan were named as al-Qaeda members. And no information is available on what group most alleged “militants” belonged to. The carnage continues. Airwars’ study, to which The Guardian (Sept. 7, 2021) referred, said U.S. drone and airstrikes have killed at least 22,000 civilians — and perhaps as many as 48,000 — since 9/11. Egypt’s fresh period of authoritarianism started when Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader and Egypt’s first-ever democratically elected 6

president, was removed in a 2013 military coup. Ignoring their own rhetoric, both Obama (Time, March 31, 2015, “U.S. Resumes Weapons Flow to Egypt”) and Biden (Al Jazeera, “U.S. approves $2.5bn arms sale to Egypt, despite rights concerns”) have sold them weapons. Colonialism continues its ugly sway. The French abaya ban enacted on Sept. 4 tacitly bars Muslimas from pursuing their education in state-run schools. The hijab is already banned in schools and government buildings. Teachers, firefighters, police officers, and all other female public officials are barred from wearing a headscarf at work. A rather nice way of closing the doors of employment to observant Muslimas, wouldn’t you say? This ban was ostensibly imposed in the name of protecting French secularism, citing the case of a Chechen refugee who had beheaded teacher Samuel Paty. In 2020, he had shown students caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) near his Paris suburban school. This year, the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) celebrates its 50th year of service to the community, especially in terms of their assets (e.g., mosques and Islamic centers). This continues the sunna of setting up waqf (trusts), whose availability ensures protection against any problems. The Parliament of World Religions, held in Chicago, brought up the case of the Rohingya, who remain persecuted by Myanmar’s government, military and some of its Buddhist monks and laity on the grounds that they are “illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.” This past Labor Day, ISNA celebrated its 60th annual convention with some 20,000 attendees. It has become a ritual for many attendees not only to listen to and share new ideas, but also to meet with family and friends. ISNA is now gearing up for its West Zone and East Zone education forums that have become part of educators’ calendars, offering them new insights and ideas to share. ih


PUBLISHER The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) PRESIDENT Safaa Zarzour EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Basharat Saleem EDITOR Omer Bin Abdullah ASSISTANT EDITOR Kiran Ansari EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Iqbal Unus, Chair: M. Ahmadullah Siddiqi, Saba Ali ISLAMIC HORIZONS is a bimonthly publication of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) P.O. Box 38 Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Copyright @2023 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 On-line: For inquiries: ADVERTISING For rates contact Islamic Horizons at (703) 742‑8108, E-mail, CORRESPONDENCE Send all correspondence and/or Letters to the Editor at: Islamic Horizons P.O. Box 38 Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Email:


REVERENCE, AWARENESS, AND ENGAGEMENT ISNA’s 60th convention called upon Muslim Americans to reinforce their taqwa as a way to move forward BY RASHEED RABBI & CONVENTION REPORTERS TEAM HONORING FROM THE HEART

(L-R) Dr Hisham Altalib, Sh. Hamza Yusuf, Dr Jamal Badawi, Imam Mohamed Magid, Safaa Zarzour, Azhar Azeez, Dr. Iqbal Unus, Dr. Abdalla Idris, and Basharat Saleem


uring the late evening of Sept. 2, Chicago’s Donald E. Stephen Convention Center buzzed with the eagerness of thousands of Muslims awaiting a unique religious experience as distinguished scholar Yasir Qadhi stepped onto the stage. But instead of dazzling the audience with a complex theological discourse, he led them on a journey through his own humble beginnings. With warmth and authenticity, he shared memories of Jamal Badawi (former member, ISNA Board) and this year’s recipient of the prestigious presidency award. Sharing the same podium, Hisham Altalib, a living legend in ISNA’s history (one of the earliest leaders of MSA and among the founders of ISNA), requested an extra minute, as his time came to close, to complete the names and pay homage to those who had paved the path for Muslim Americans. On Saturday afternoon, hundreds honored Ihsan Bagby at this year’s sold-out Community Service Recognition Luncheon 8

(CSRL) event. In his celebratory speech, he acknowledged the influence of Iqbal Unus (president, 1970-72). His gratitude flowed for wife, Waheedah Amatullah Muhammad, the guiding force behind his achievements. On the evening of Sept. 3, a remarkable tableau unfolded. Twelve living ISNA presidents gathered on stage to receive well-deserved awards. All of them expressed their gratitude to those who had supported their leadership. If one missed a name, another swiftly rectified the oversight, thereby creating an awe-inspiring display of unity.

These moments are mere glimpses of ISNA’s 60th convention, an event at which people from every corner of the globe converged to honor others. But this was far from an orchestrated performance; rather, it was a heartfelt repayment of a debt owed and a realignment with the past leaders’ shared path to success. In this age of Western modernism, where predecessors are often dismissed as outdated, the convention shone as a rare gem, illuminating a culture of respect that is increasingly precious. Such reverence is well-deserved because they directed the audience toward the perpetually radiant source of prophetic inspiration. Within this enclosure, the echoes of history and the spirit of gratitude guided attendees to transcend the boundaries of time and space, forging a profound connection with the prophetic tradition. Each speaker implored the audience to embrace the prophetic model so they can thrive amidst modern society’s temptations and distractions while remaining mindful of the Divine’s immersive authority. The convention commenced with the jummah prayer, underscoring the significance of prophetic inspiration. President Safaa Zarzour invoked the intense ambiance of the Day of Judgment, when even a nursing mother will be consumed by the weight of her worldly deeds. Asking how many of our deeds will be accepted on that day, he shared the myriad initiatives offered by ISNA and invited all attendees to help alleviate the burdens of accountability.

This was an event at which people from every corner of the globe converged to honor others. But this was far from an orchestrated performance; rather, it was a heartfelt repayment of a debt owed and a realignment with the past leaders’ shared path to success.


Shaykh Yasir Qadhi and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf at the Saturday night main session.

ISNA’s endeavors have expanded exponentially over the span of its six-decade existence, ushering in the formidable task of encapsulating it all within a three-day convention. To fulfill this goal, it crafted a systematic blueprint that unfolded during scores of sessions, featuring 150 speakers to reach 20,000 longing hearts. This often spiraled into daily commitments and the complexities of contemporary crises, as attendees felt too imperfect in their quest to connect with a perfect God. Providing the minutia of those moving sessions is constrained by space, but I feel compelled to offer a high-level overview of how these pivotal sessions were intricately interlaced to heighten our awareness of God and enhance our level of engagement.


The convention commenced by delving into family dynamics. Shaykh Badawi shed light on the macro view of family, tracing it back to Adam (alaihi salaam) and how God ennobled

ISNA Board President, Safaa Zarzour, and local officials at the convention opening ceremony.

the Children of Adam (17:70). He also spoke on the micro aspects of maintaining nobility within marital relationships. Abdalla Idris Ali (president, 1993-97), emphasized the concept of marriage and the ideal mindset required for it. Muhammad Nur Abdullah (president, 2002-06) highlighted the unique Islamic approach to embracing differences in race, culture, and color by emphasizing compassion in marriage. Muslema Purmul (chaplain, University of Southern California; co-founder, Majlis) structured these ideas into three tenets: the spiritual foundation to bring spirituality into everyday life, the intellectual foundation to understand eschatology and the embodiment or application of spirituality and knowledge in daily life. Faith flourishes through interconnectedness and mutual support among families and broader communities. The next session delved into community cohesion. Imam Mohammed Faqih of Memphis stressed active listening and drawing inspiration from

Past and present ISNA Presidents and Board Members at the 60th anniversary reception on Friday.

the first four caliphs, who valued open communication even during times of conflict. Mustafa Umar (religious director, Islamic Center of Irvine) elaborated on the Quranic applications as a theoretical constitution. Muhammad Ninowy (scholar, author, and physician) addressed using usul and fiqh to explain how clashes of the mind can result in clashes of the heart, leading to a loss of faith. Friday’s final session concentrated on adab, defined as engaging in the prophetic model to become resilient. Abdul Nasir Jangda (founder and director, Qalam Institute) explained that religious devotion is a vehicle toward one’s goal. Muhammad Akram Nadwi (dean, Cambridge Islamic College) stated that the Quran teaches us how to improve engagement by incorporating faith in our lives. He drew examples from the Prophet’s (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) life. Ingrid Mattson (president, 2006-10), focused on keeping engagements positive during times of grief. Zaid Shakir

Registration in full swing




Dr. Ihsan Bagby being honored at the sold-out Community Service Recognition Luncheon on September 2nd.

(co-founder, Zaytuna College) stated that he held the attendees accountable for acting upon the Quran’s words to cultivate resilience in a world filled with multidimensional crises. Saturday morning sought to address this accountability by making Islamic education in this country more engaging. Habeeb Qadri (educator, author, and youth activist) shared his research on students’ engagement levels and how technology can help increase them. Susan Labadi (member, ISNA’s Education Forum Committee) focused on including AI tools, specifically the KhanAmigo and Muraqaba mobile apps, to navigate the “Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA) world facing unprecedented challenges” (https://

Quality education is essential to dealing with discrimination, racism, Islamophobia, and other aspects of global diversity. Margari Hill (co-founder, MuslimArch) and Ameena Jandali (founding member, Islamic Networks Group) sought to raise awareness of these aspects for better engagements. Hill explained DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access) training and the 4F (Fight, Flight, Freeze and Fawn) response to help people cope with uncomfortable situations. While these are internal aspects needed to change psychological mindsets, Jandali urged their application in external environments, such as hospitals and law enforcement teams, to facilitate a welcoming environment to engage unbiasedly with all. Ubaydullah Evans (executive director, American Learning Institute for Muslims)

ISNA recognizing the service of Chaplains.



concluded the session by applying these techniques to address the community’s enduring racism and inequality. On Saturday evening, the audience was ready to embark on the personal journeys of leading Muslim luminaries who overcame challenges and harnessed hope during difficult times. Dalia Mogahed (director of research, ISPU) shared a unique reflection on Quran 82:8: “when the girl [who was] buried alive is asked.” She noted that on the Day of Judgment, silent and inanimate objects will be given a voice, and then challenged the audience to reflect upon their accountability for the millions who silently suffer from discrimination, oppression, and injustice. Imam Shiraj Wahaj made a poignant reference to George Floyd’s death at the hands of Officer Derek Chauvin. He was convicted, and his fellow officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng were held accountable for their complicity. Wahaj cautioned against such complicity.


During the well-attended Saturday closing session, Shaykh Yasir Qadhi led us toward fulfilling that accountability simultaneously in this world and the hereafter. He urged the audience to sincerely acknowledge this country’s moral bankruptcy and family crises, even if “cancel culture” abandons us, because God is with us. He remarked that Muslims transcend the left-right and Democratic-Republican divides, because they are Muslims first, the Quran is their guide, and the Prophet is their role model. Hamza Yusuf (co-founder, Zaytuna College) explained that Quranic and prophetic engagement is a means to harness

Visitors and officials being gifted with a copy of the English translation of the Quran.

Charting the Course: Survival Guide for Muslim Youth Muslim youth leave ISNA Convention enlightened and energized BY MYNA STAFF “MYNA is the place to be.” This was the consensus of thousands of people set on making it inside the MYNA lecture hall throughout the ISNA Convention weekend. On Sept. 1, MYNA youth opened the doors of their lecture hall to kick off the 39th annual convention. Throughout the evening, people peeked through the doors and were drawn into the sessions, taking their seats with people from every corner of the continent. The biggest risk in facing the world as a Muslim youth is getting lost. ➤ When you need help, who are you asking? ➤ When you need a role model, who are you looking at? ➤ When you are lost, which path do you follow? The beauty of our deen is that we have been given answers to all these questions. In a world where it is so easy to get lost, it is important that we stick to divine guidance. Throughout the weekend, the MYNA track focused on “Charting the Course” and walking through a survival guide for Muslim youth. The weekend was designed as a comprehensive “Survival Guide” to equip young Muslims with the knowledge, skills, and support needed to thrive in their faith and identity. MYNA youth planned out an engaging weekend with lectures, workshops, and activities. While the sessions were targeted specifically towards youth, they attracted everyone including young children and adult attendees, all racing to get

the light of righteousness, which will make Muslims recognizable on the Day of Judgment. He urged everyone to assess their actions and engagements to determine whether they are a source of light or of fire

seats in the MYNA sessions. There were various thought provoking topics, including “Learning from Their Legacy: The First Believers” and “God, Are You There?” The MYNA hall quickly filled up and lines began forming outside the doors filled with people waiting to get into the MYNA sessions. MYNA was joined by a wide range of speakers, including Dr. Yasir Qadhi, Imam Mohamed Magid, Dr. Rania Awaad, and many others. Many people were learning about MYNA for the first time during the convention, and were pleasantly surprised to learn that every part of the youth sessions was planned and facilitated by youth from all over the country. As youth entered the MYNA Zone on the second floor, they were welcomed into an environment where they were surrounded by their peers — Muslim youth — all experiencing similar things and facing similar struggles. After experiencing the convention, quite a few of them were inspired to get involved with MYNA and continue to stay connected with their newfound community. The convention was a resounding success, leaving attendees equipped with invaluable tools to navigate the complexities of adolescence while remaining steadfast in their faith. The event served as a beacon of hope, uniting youth from diverse backgrounds under the common banner of Islam. It is anticipated that the knowledge and connections forged during this convention will serve as a guiding light for Muslim youth on their journeys of faith and self-discovery. ih

in the hereafter. Ieasha Prime (director of women’s programming, Dar-al-Hijra Islamic Center) assured the audience that everything Islam prescribes is for humanity as a whole, not just for Muslims.

Visitors enjoyed learning about ISNA's roots at the History Gallery.

Muslim Americans’ rationality and individual strength were the topics of discussion for Sunday morning’s session. Marium Husain (president, IMANA) explained how Islam makes complete sense when viewed

Relevant sessions attracted people from all walks of life.




Convention Chit Chat We made a special trip from Turkiye especially for the ISNA bazaar. We come with our ethically produced handmade toys made by artisan women in Turkiye. It is definitely worth it because of the amount of traffic we get and the interaction we get with our American customers. We love the feedback and look forward to coming again in the future. The only thing I hope is better next time is the accuracy of the booth location. Some fellow vendors and I were disappointed that we did not get the original location that we had booked online. Other than that, we were very satisfied. — Madiha from @ oakcreativedesigns It was a great experience, better than last year. I received several compliments on my hijabs. The best part was I saw people wearing what they bought from me and then coming back for more. Neighboring vendors were also helpful. I just wish the bazaar hours were even longer on Monday, as people come looking for last-minute deals. Moina from @monas_souq I have been a vendor at ISNA for a few years now. And every year has been a great experience. My daughter loved to attend the talks, while I tended to my stall. I find it to be a great opportunity to connect with people, the attendees, and vendors. Even if sales are low, the experience and exposure are worth it. My daughter finds the speakers and topics very engaging. She attends all the youth talks. What stood out to me this year was the support I got from the organizer through the lens of medical science. Imam Shamsi spoke on harnessing physical, intellectual, spiritual, mental and familial strength with faith to yield peace and tranquility in families. Uzma Syed (chair, National Muslim COVID-19 task force) elaborated upon nurturing a relationship with oneself, and Rania Awaad (clinical

for herself. The only thing I don’t like is the overpriced food and limited choices. — Sana from @woodsignsbysana It was a great opportunity to meet so many friends and family from across the country. I liked that they had many more food vendors this year. The choices were diverse. People complain about food prices, but when we go to carnivals, amusement parks, and movie theaters, we know concessions cost more at such places. I am glad ISNA provided free water to all the people that were attending the sessions. I wish they could have just asked food vendors to control the price of water bottles at their booths. — Pervez The variety in the type of sessions was great. There was something for every member of my family. The youth sessions were packed too! That is so encouraging to see. The bazaar just was a little cramped for my taste. I wish there was more space between aisles. And there were far too many people selling South Asian clothes. We are not all “desi” — Ahmad ih

associate professor, Stanford Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science) explained the Sunna’s teachings to utilize available resources to accept and manage overwhelming emotions. The subsequent session brought together political leaders and figures to share the progress of American Muslims with the

Entertainment sessions kept the crowds engaged into the night.


and fellow vendors when my stall crashed due to the mistake of another vendor. The organizer readily offered me compensation for any losses incurred and the other vendors offered help setting it back up. One of them even offered to raise money for any losses I had incurred. The bazaar is my family’s favorite place to hang out. My husband gets his modest clothing, my older kids get Islamic books and my toddler always finds knick knacks


audience. Mazen Basrawi, the White House’s liaison to Muslim Americans, confirmed that President Biden had prioritized addressing Muslim American concerns and presented a letter from him. Representative Summer Lee (D-PA-12) voiced her concerns against the forces that work against minority communities like Muslims and African Americans.

Village of Rosemont officials and other local dignitaries.

Dr. Yasir Qadhi joins in honoring the leaders that shaped ISNA's vision.

The hardworking ISNA staff that puts together such a large scale event each year.

Jam-packed sessions educated and motivated listeners from all across North America.

The concluding Sunday main session was dedicated to youth empowerment. Hadia Mubarak, former MSA president, stressed the need to withhold judgment in order to radiate the unconditional love necessary to fostering a welcoming environment in our ever-diverse society. Yasmin Mogahed (author and international speaker) highlighted the current identity crises as a resulting complexity of extensive diversity without godly references. She pointed out that we used to question our national or ethnic identity, but now face basic questions about our gender or species. To counter the challenges posed by immoral societal norms, she pointed out the necessity of embodying a lifestyle rooted in constant engagement with godly guidance.

Yahya Rhodus (founding director, Al-Maqasid) referred to Surah al-Kahf to illustrate how God strengthened the hearts of those youth who demonstrated their faith both in words and action. Finally, Abdul Wahab Waheed (co-founder, Mifta Institute) ended the session by mentioning the impactful actions prescribed by the Prophet, highlighting that true influence means impacting more people rather than accumulating individual success and wealth. The final session brought all 12 living ISNA presidents on stage, thereby exemplifying how to become impactful individuals. This convention stood as a powerful testament to unity, respect, and dedication, all central to ISNA’s mission. Additionally, the

Q&A session with the Fiqh Council of North America’s scholars addressed a full-room audience to explain the Sharia rulings on such issues as mortgage, niqab, and divorce. ISNA’s History Panel covered the fascinating tale of ISNA’s emergence. The “Intentionally Parenting the Next Generation” session called for investing time in our children’s spiritual growth, and two AMSET sessions delved deeper into global warming and cognitive health. Each session echoed the call for Muslim engagement in mainstream society. This year’s convention served as a vibrant celebration of shared values, a living embodiment of prophetic inspiration, and a resounding call to engage in pursuits aligned with our passions. What set it apart was the continuous appropriation of each session’s engagement with the eschatological purpose of life, nurturing our “religious conscience” throughout. For the three days of the Labor Day weekend, these enriching sessions let us dwell in God’s presence, which is not a faraway heaven but resides within our awareness and engagement in every fleeting moment. We were offered a taqwa-infused framework to cultivate a reciprocal closeness to God as the most rational, comforting, and guiding force in our American lives. ih Rasheed Rabbi is an IT professional who earned an MA in religious studies from Hartford Seminary and is pursuing a Doctor of Ministry from Boston University. He is also the founder of e-Dawah (www. and secretary of the Association of Muslim Scientists, Engineers & Technology Professionals. He serves as a khateeb and Friday prayer leader at the ADAMS Center and a certified Muslim chaplain at iNova Fairfax, iNova Loudoun and Virginia’s Alexandria and Loudoun Adult Detention Center. Other contributors to the report are Kiran Ansari, Sundus Abrar, Rabiyah Syed, and Tasnova Khan




Silent Screams: Suicide within the Muslim Community ISNA cosponsors a day-long suicide response training at its 60th Annual Convention BY SUNDUS ABRAR

Dr. Rania Awaad presenting to community leaders and imams.



ccess to mental health treatment is not something new to Islam. Dating back to the 8th century, maristans (Farsi: a place of healing) were dedicated specialized wards for psychological illnesses within the larger Islamic hospital complex. They later became standalone institutions dedicated solely to treating the mentally ill. In the U.S., Maristan is a registered nonprofit based in California. Along with ISNA, it co-hosted a day-long suicide response training for community leaders at this year’s convention. It was led by Dr. Rania Awaad (co-founder of Maristan; clinical associate professor of psychiatry, Stanford University) 14

and Dr. Sadiya Dhanani (fellow physician, Stanford University). The U.S. Department of Health and

Human Services recognizes Maristan’s training as a model to emulate and create best-practice guidelines in faith-based and

Stigma around mental health care is deep rooted within the Muslim community, and suicide is a prevailing concern. Assessing the risk of suicide is challenging, for Muslim families seldom report suicide deaths and attempts because such actions are considered sins. However, it’s still very much present.


The Three Stages of Response Prevention: Having access to mental health and being aware of resources, such as calling 988. The community needs to address mental health issues seriously. Maristan has prepared khutbas on the topic. For more information on Maristan’s Community Suicide Response work specifically, please visit: muslimsuicideresponse. Intervention: Addressing individuals with suicide ideation and responding appropriately. Trained professionals have specific guidelines that can ensure that the situation is handled in a helpful way and not escalated. Postvention: Addressing a suicide loss and guiding the community’s leaders on how to address it in order to avoid a contagion effect and reassure family and community. There are guidelines on how to report/discuss suicide. For example, people should not disclose specific details to prevent other attempts. Instead of saying “committed suicide,” we should say, “death by suicide.” Maristan also has a response team ready in the community to respond to events. ih

interfaith communities that will be disseminated nationally. Stigma around mental health care is deep rooted within the Muslim community, and suicide is a prevailing concern. Assessing the risk of suicide is challenging, for Muslim families seldom report suicide deaths and attempts because such actions are considered sins. However, it’s still very much present. “As a North American Muslim community, we have fallen short. Our community has held mental health as a taboo, and suicide as a taboo within a taboo,” said Dr. Awaad. “It has taken far too long for us to acknowledge it.”


“It really is strange that we are not ready to talk about it,” said Farhiya Ahmed, one of the training’s attendees. She was referring to the devastating occurrence of a young engaged couple’s murder-suicide in her hometown of

Imams and community leaders flew in from all across the country to learn how to respond to suicide in their hometowns.

Attendees received a certificate of completion at the end of the day-long training.

Columbus, Ohio — the third such death by suicide in the state’s Muslim community in three years. The couple was well known in the young women’s halaqa group that she mentored. Ahmed has an associate’s degree in Islamic studies and is currently pursuing a master’s in psychology. She felt compelled by her community’s uncertainty to make a one-day trip to Chicago solely to attend the training. “I didn’t even know how to verbalize around what happened and what words to use to calm the family and community.” Attendee Umbreen Akram from Dallas recounts her uncertainty prior to attending the training around how to compassionately respond to a family’s recent loss due to a murder-suicide in the neighboring suburb of

Allen. “I didn’t know if I should even attend the janaza. I questioned my intent. Would I be able to truly help beyond just being a spectator?” A software engineer by profession, Akram also serves as chaplain for a women’s prison and volunteers for Calls for Comfort, a call and text service for Muslimas who need support. She found deep reassurance in Dr. Awaad’s credentials in Islamic law and medicine. “It is important to have both included to understand the religious aspect and medical side of the issue to know how we can genuinely show up and hold space for families affected,” she said. The training, which occurred on the convention’s final day, enabled community leaders from across North America to participate. It was the sixth event of its kind — but the first at ISNA — and included imams, mosque board members, chaplains, teachers, doctors and therapists from 11 American states and Canada. “I appreciate ISNA’s support in making this happen. It would have been really difficult to reach smaller remote communities without it,” said Dr. Awaad. Dr. Dhanani commended ISNA on its approach to addressing mental health and the convention’s relevant sessions. “ISNA’s forward thinking has helped bring this to the community,” she said. If you or someone you know are in need of mental health support, please refer to resources on In the event of a mental health crisis, please call/text the crisis hotline 988. ih Sundus Abrar is a parent of two, residing in Chicago.




MYNA Summer Camps 2023 More than 500 young Muslims learn about a sound heart BY MYNA STAFF


he Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “There lies within the body a piece of flesh. If it is sound, the whole body is sound; and if it is corrupted, the whole body is corrupted. Verily this piece is the heart.” (Al-Bukhari, 52 and Muslim, 1599). Prophet Ibrahim prays “…Oh Allah, do not allow me to be put to shame, on the day when all will be brought forth, on the day when nothing will avail anyone from money or children except he who comes to God with a sound heart (that is saleem) (26:87–9).” What can give you power to stay grounded as you move through the challenges of life? What is the thing that can keep you in a state of gratitude? How can you adopt and maintain a zoomed out perspective that allows for reflection without emotions clouding your rational thoughts? It is a sound heart. Al-qalb al-saleem. A sound heart is free from any blemish, illness, or issue. It recognizes life for what it is: a test for the believer, a place to worship and to practice patience while the promise of happiness awaits in the hereafter. But while many of us focus on how to keep our physical bodies healthy, we pay little attention to 16

I’ve been going to MYNA camps since I was 12, and I experience every camp as if it’s my first. MYNA has played a vital role in my childhood and upbringing. It taught me that no matter where I live, I can always find friends that can bring me closer to Allah. Every camp has taught me a new aspect of our religion.”


what it means to have a healthy, sound heart. Between July 23 and August 5, MYNA hosted week-long summer camps in six different states. From Pennsylvania, California, and Texas, to Wisconsin, Indiana, and Georgia, 504 campers explored the foundations of tazkiyah (purification of the heart). They learned about the signs, symptoms, and cures of some of the most common and detrimental spiritual diseases. The campers took a deep dive in this essential prophetic practice and cultivated their consciousness, character, spirituality, and morality as young Muslims in America. Camps featured speakers such as Shaykh Mikaeel Ahmed-Smith, Shaykh Rami Nsour, Ustadha Hosai Mojaddidi, Shaykh Hunzla Zaidi, Shaykh Sa’ad Quadri, and more. Lecture topics included in-depth reflections on detachment from the world, intentions and fighting off arrogance, adopting an attitude of gratitude, and not being heedless of death and our final day. They also participated in a number of interactive workshops and recreational activities, including swimming and high ropes courses. Some camps even included boat rides across serene waterfronts. “I don’t know where I would’ve been without MYNA,” Mahmoud El-Malah said. “I’ve been going to MYNA camps since I was 12, and I experience every camp as if it’s my first. MYNA has played a vital role in my childhood and upbringing. It taught me that no matter where I live, I can always find friends that can bring me closer to Allah. Every camp has taught me a new aspect of our religion.” Visit to find out about MYNA Winter Camps. ih

COMMUNITY MATTERS The Fiqh Council of North America elected Dr. Yasir Qadhi as its new chairman for a three-year term on Aug. 2. Since 2001, Qadhi has served as dean of The Islamic Seminary of America and dean of academic affairs at the Al-Maghrib Institute, an international Islamic educational institution with a center in Houston, as well as a teacher in the religious studies department at Rhodes College. He is currently the resident da’i of the East Plano Islamic Center in Texas. The Council thanked Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi for his long and innumerable services.

Santa Clara City Council mayor Lisa Gilmour proclaimed August as American Muslim Awareness and Appreciation Month on Aug. 16. This initiative honors generations of Muslim Americans for their social, cultural, and economic contributions to the city and communities nationwide. In Santa Clara, community organizations and mosques, including the Muslim ComMayor Gilmour with area residents munity Association (MCA), have helped by providing funds, food distribution, and resources to those in need since the pandemic. CAIR has also provided civil rights and immigration services throughout the Bay Area to Muslim residents. Samer Darwish (president, MCA), Mohammed Islam (treasurer), and Sameena Usma (senior government relations coordinator, CAIR) accepted the proclamation.

Gov. JB Pritzker (D-Ill.) signed bill HB 3768, which will recognize Arab Americans and minority groups from the Middle East separately when collecting public data. It will be implemented on Dec. 1, 2024. Illinois is the first state to create a Middle East and North Africa (MENA) category. Arab Americans are currently categorized as white. “It happened, right? I mean, oh my God, it feels unbelievable!” said Itedal Shalabi (co-founder and executive director, Arab American Family Services). “It was just an unbelievable feeling. It was like, ‘O my God, we did it.” It took decades to get here. Shalabi and Nareman Taha (co-founder, AAFS) have seen the struggle firsthand. Having to check “white” or “other” on forms means Arabs couldn’t get funding when they needed it the most.

held at City Hall with State Senator Ghazala Hashmi, Ammar Ammonette (The Islamic Center of Virginia) and Imam Michael (Masjid Bilal). “I ask each of you — every single Richmond resident — to humble yourselves and try to better understand and appreciate the rich histories,” said Stoney, “cultures, and shared principles of Muslim Americans. We should be working each day to show this kind of respect and compassion to one another. “No matter the color of your skin, whom you love, or whom you worship — I want you to feel welcome, recognized, and appreciated in the City of Richmond. And I will fight hard each day to ensure we live out our ideals as a City of Compassion and one that upholds equity and inclusion for all.” Stoney is also calling on lawmakers to designate July as Muslim American Heritage Month on the federal level. This is in line with the stances of other states that have recognized the Muslims’ contributions and achievements. Earlier this year, Muslims celebrated the signing of the Muslim Heritage Month Resolution into law by New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy. Also in July 2022, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox declared July as Muslim American Heritage Month. Earlier in 2021, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker issued a proclamation in December to celebrate January as Muslim History Month. Also in 2021, the city of Fullerton (Calif.) recognized August as Muslim-American Appreciation Month. On July 11, the Olympia (Wash.) City Council signed a proclamation designating July 2023 as Muslim Heritage Month. At city council meeting, Dr. Amna Qazi of the Islamic Center of Olympia thanked the city council: “Muslim American Heritage

New York City has launched a new initiative that will allow the city’s mosques to broadcast the adhan on Fridays between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. as well as for maghrib throughout Ramadan. It thus joins Minneapolis and other cities that have introduced similar measures. “For too long, there has been a feeling that our communities were not allowed to amplify their calls to prayer,” New York City mayor Eric Adams said in a statement on Aug. 29. “Today, we are cutting red tape and saying clearly that mosques and houses of worship are free to amplify their call to prayer on Fridays and during Ramadan without a permit being necessary.” Richmond, Va., has designated July as Muslim American Heritage Month. Mayor Levar Stoney announced at a roundtable 18


Month is a way to educate all Americans on our positive impacts in American society.” Qazi noted that Islamophobia is on the rise and that anti-Muslim sentiment has spiked in recent years, manifesting itself in burning the Quran or mosque vandalism. “The only way forward for all of us is to work with each other. In case of this crisis, we can reach out to our officials to help in that regard.” In proclaiming the Muslim American Heritage Month, the city council “recommits itself to standing against hate and injustice in all forms, and combatting anti-Muslim rhetoric through awareness, education, community, and meaningful action.” Superintendent Alexandra Estrella announced on June 13 that the Norwalk (Conn.) city’s education board added Eid al-Fitr to the district’s holiday calendar, following pressure from students and the community. Prior to this, students had organized to advocate for it. Public school students in Trumbull (Conn.) will get a day off for Eid al-Fitr 2025-26. Maryland’s Baltimore County public schools and Montgomery County’s public schools have made halal meal accommodations for Muslim students. They encouraged families and students to notify their teachers and school’s cafeteria manager of their preference on August 28, the start of the 2023-24 academic year. “By offering halal meal options, school systems enable observant students to uphold their beliefs while participating fully in school activities, including lunchtime,” said Zainab Chaudry, CAIR’s Maryland director. “We welcome these developments as the availability of halal meals in public

schools not only meets the dietary needs of Muslim students but also promotes a sense of belonging and inclusion. It contributes to creating an educational environment where students can thrive without compromising their religious values.” “As a former public-school student, I know just how difficult it is to consistently have pizza for lunch because you have no other options,” said Dua Hussain, CAIR’s legislative intern. “Working on halal meals, however, has given me so much hope because we’re going to be seeing more options for these students’ meals.” Earlier this year, CAIR developed a halal meals proposal for school systems. It has been in touch with the department of food and nutritional services for various school systems over the summer to ensure this accommodation. Radiant Hands of Tampa, Fla.. has become the first — and only — Muslim agency to help with resettlement of refugees in the state. “We’re very excited in welcoming the escalation of the services and the expansion to increase the capacity of the resettlement in the state of Florida,” said Ghadir Kassab (executive director, Radiant Hands) told ABC Action News on Aug. 9. Under the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees & Migration, Radiant Hands is now a federal resettlement agency. It joins Lutheran Services, Church World Service, and Gulf Coast Jewish Family as the city’s official resettlement agencies. “These people have been displaced from their country, and they’re coming into a place that they know nothing about. They don’t know anything about the people. They don’t know anything about the culture and the land. And so being able to have a Muslim organization or an establishment that’s familiar with their heritage, it makes it feel a little bit more like home,” said Chaikirah Parker (founder, The African American Muslim Alliance of Tampa Bay). Radiant Hands has spent months training under Islamic Relief USA and the International Rescue Committee to welcome refugees. “By the end of September, there’s going to be 30 individuals. But for 2024, we’re working on 120 individuals, and the population is coming from all around the globe,” added Kassab.

Radiant Hands has helped Muslim immigrants since 2015 with housing, food, and jobs. The organization even operates a kitchen and tailoring shop to give immigrants a chance to use their skills to earn a living. Wajdi Said (co-founder, Muslim Educational Trust [MET]) was recognized as the Amazing Neighbor by the Tigard (Ore.) community. Tigard-based MET was the natural outgrowth of a more informal United Muslim Aid, an effort by Said and like-minded Oregon Muslims to assist victims of strife and famine, as well as support refugees from Afghanistan, Albania and elsewhere. MET officially incorporated as a nonprofit group in 1993 and moved to Tigard in 1999. The group now operates two small Islamic schools. A founding member of the Interfaith Council of Greater Portland, during the Covid-19 pandemic it became a vaccination site and a food box distribution center. It regularly hosts community events at its center in Tigard, which opened in 2015. MET regularly collaborates with interfaith leaders. It also trained more than 300 workers to help conduct the 2020 Census, registers people to vote, provides a halal food pantry for needy families and partners with local governments to distribute rental assistance checks for tenants struggling to pay their bills. In addition, it partners with the Tigard Police Department to build bridges between law enforcement and Tigard’s immigrant community. MET kept its center open during the pandemic, with social distancing measures in place and mandatory masking and handwashing. Starting this fall, Salam Al-Marayati (president, Muslim Public Affairs Council) will become a Senior Fellow at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. Established in 1997, the Luskin Senior Fellows Mentor Program features policy, public service, private enterprise and community leaders who act as professional role models to guide UCLA Luskin students to careers in the public interest. While in this position, Al-Marayati will work to inspire and shape young leaders who share a passion for creating meaningful change in their communities.

On September 8. Zainab Chaudry, CAIR’s Maryland director, was appointed to Attorney General Anthony Brown’s newly formed Commission on Hate Crime Response and Prevention. Chaired by Brown, the commission is composed of 20 stakeholders from a cross-section of law enforcement, state/local institutions and organizations representing communities targeted by hate bias. Its members will evaluate state laws and policies on hate crimes and develop strategies to address them. In 2015, Chaudry became the first Muslim appointed to the Maryland State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. CAIR previously served in the OAG’s Hate Crimes Task Force, which joined this permanent body with the passage of HB 1066 in May 2023. It now offers Marylanders a permanent long-term mechanism to address hate crimes at the state level. In addition, it testified in support of the HB 1066, which was among the organization’s 2023 legislative priorities. After Governor Wes Moore signed the bill into law, the commission went into effect in June. The commissioners’ inaugural convening was held on Sept. 7. Beginning on Dec. 1, 2024, the commission will submit annual reports on its policy and legislative recommendations to the Maryland State Department of Education and the Maryland General Assembly. The Fayette County (Ky.) Detention Center is changing its rules regarding religious clothing after a complaint from a Muslima who was told to remove her hijab while being processed. The new policy will allow people to wear hijabs, kippahs, turbans, and other religious clothing. If the person must remove religious clothing for security reasons, such as an inspection, it will now be done in the presence of a same-sex staffer in a private area. Director Scott Colvin developed the new policies after CAIR asked him to look at the jail’s policies after the above-mentioned incident and helped him and the jail draft new policies. Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch appointed Illinois State Rep. Abdelnasser Rashid (D) to serve as co-chair of the state’s new AI task force. The task force will consist of legislators, technology




O n S eptember 22, after delivering the Friday sermon and performing prayers at the Islamic Cultural Centre of New York (ICCNY), Malaysian prime minister Anwar Ibrahim took the unique opportunity to lead the shahada (declaration of faith) for a man, known as Andrew. Prime Minister Ibrahim was in New York City in connection with the UN General Assembly. The event was coincidental and not part of the official agenda. The prime minister — the first foreign head of state to be granted the honor of delivering a sermon at the historic ICCNY mosque, which was the first mosque opened in New York City on Sept 25, 1995 — greeted the congregants and presented a donation of the Quran from the government to the mosque. During his sermon, Anwar urged Muslims to remain united in the face of challenges,

experts, educators, and other stakeholders to provide informed policy recommendations on AI to the legislature. Its members will look at the impact of AI on schools, the economy, and civil liberties. Once complete, the task force will submit a report to the state General Assembly. Rep. Rashid (B.A., Harvard University; MBA, University of Chicago) said, “Artificial intelligence presents opportunities, but also serious and complex public policy challenges for our state, and I look forward to spearheading the effort to place the proper guardrails around it. I intend for this task force to play a critical role in protecting

ISNA Vice President, Kareem Irfan and his wife at the International Interfaith Peace-building Delegation meeting with Ukraine Deputy Foreign Minister, Emine Dhaparova.


including threats to the religion posed by Islamophobia. "We are advised by Allah through the Quran and Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to engage in missionary work to provide an understanding to

non-Muslims. "In addition to promoting Islamic unity, we also need to foster relationships with non-Muslims so that we can help them better understand Islam," he said. He called on Muslims not only to deepen their religious knowledge but also to acquire a wide range of knowledge and skills in technology fields. The prime minister also informed them about Malaysia Madani, which he established after becoming prime minister, based on the Islamic state of Madinah led by Prophet Muhammad. ih

Illinois families from both immediate and long-term risks posed by AI.” “Representative Rashid’s fresh perspective and background in computer science will help guide Illinois’ approach to this emerging technology,” said Speaker Welch. “Artificial intelligence offers opportunities for innovation, as well as important conversations that must be had regarding privacy, security and workplace fairness. I look forward to seeing Representative Rashid lend his perspective and insight to these important discussions.” ih

ACHIEVERS Maryland Governor Wes Moore named Asma Mirza as the state’s chief performance officer. In her new role, Mirza will work closely with the governor’s staff and cabinet secretaries to design and implement strategies to enhance performance and service delivery to all Marylanders. “I am thrilled to welcome another talented, dedicated, and experienced senior staff member to our team,” said Gov. Moore. “Asma’s expertise in leading through change and creating new approaches to solving big challenges will be an exceptional asset to our state and help deliver on our mission to build a stronger Maryland.” Mirza most recently served as the deputy for Implementation Management for the White House Infrastructure Implementation Team and Special Assistant to the President,


where she helped oversee the implementation of Biden’s historic $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. She has spent her career working on some of the hardest issues facing the country and its economy, from the response to Covid-19 to rebuilding America’s infrastructure and to ensuring a peaceful transition of presidential power in 2016 and 2020. “Asma Mirza has spent her career in public service working on some of the toughest challenges facing the country, from the response to Covid-19 to rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure,” said Mitch Landrieu (senior advisor to the president and White House Infrastructure coordinator). “Asma has been a critical part of our success implementing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, from setting up the process for federal hiring to creating a data process so Americans can see how the law is impacting their community. She will be a tremendous asset for Governor Moore as he drives Maryland’s state government performance to new heights.” Mirza (Leadership and Change Management and Operations Information Management; Georgetown University; M.B.A., the University of Maryland) is a lifelong resident of the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia region. Yasmina Mokhtar of Joplin, Mo., was awarded the Girl Scouts of the USA’s organization’s highest honor: a $10,000 scholarship. Her Gold Award project sought to help children learn English as a second language. She is one of approximately 3,100 Gold Award winners for 2023. Yasmina Mokhtar is a Gold Award Girl Scout Mokhtar is also from Joplin. Courtesy a “Gold Award” — Girl Scouts of Missouri Heartland the most prestigious award in Girl Scouting. It is given to individuals who have developed and executed a project to tackle an important issue in their community and earned her a $10,000 scholarship. This award recognizes her work in helping local Afghan refugees learn English. She’s also been doing the same thing in her family’s native country of Egypt, which she visits every summer. “To make it a little more fun, I taught

COMMUNITY MATTERS them how to embroider while I was teaching them English. We would do one class of embroidery, one class of English, and then they would switch so it wasn’t just like summer school,” she said. She also started three “Little Libraries” — two in Joplin and one in Egypt. Judge Rabeea Sultan Collier will serve as the 2023-24 president-elect of the Texas Association of District Judges. Collier, judge of the 113th District Court of Texas since 2018, is dual board-certified in civil trial law and personal injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She has been recognized with several awards. Judge Collier (B.A., the University of Texas at Austin; J.D., Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Houston) serves on the Curriculum Committee for the Texas Center for the Judiciary, which is composed of approximately 15 judges who develop judicial education for all Texas judges. She is also an executive board member of the Association of District Judges, former board member of the Asian American Bar Association of Houston, and chair of the Jury Committee for the Board of District Judges in Harris County, which manages and sets policies for that county’s jury system. Previously, she was a board member and integrated the committees of many organizations. For eight consecutive years, she received the Rising Star Award by Super Lawyers. In addition to being a board member of the Harris County Democratic Lawyers’ Association and Association of Women Attorneys, she also served on the Women in the Profession Committee of the State Bar of Texas. A former co-chair of the Solo Practitioners Section of the Houston Young Lawyers Association, she is a current Silver Life member of the NAACP’s Houston Branch.

perseverance, collaboration, and entrepreneurial spirit, as well as show outstanding potential as the nation’s future leaders and innovators of health care. Recipients must have an established track record of community leadership, superior communication skills, and a demonstrated interest in advancing knowledge. Gemae’s interest in medicine began when he realized there was a general lack of cultural safety in health care — a point brought home to him when his mother’s health care provider dismissed her neck mass by assuming it was caused by ‘her tight hijab.’ “That was my wake-up call. I realized that biases could kill patients,” says Gemae. “This is a concept that I plan to carry with me for the rest of my career.” As the 2022-23 Aesculapian Society president, Gemae has been focused on advocating for equity-focused initiatives. As co-executive for the Queen’s Muslim Medical Association, he helped open a multi-faith prayer space and was the lead organizer of the inaugural Health Sciences Ramadan Iftar event. He holds a Kinesiology degree from the University of Ottawa, where he graduated with a Faculty Gold Medal. While there, he was a lead mentor to high school students and helped them prepare for their academic and social transition to university. Gemae also volunteers with Kingston Youth and Employment Services by helping refugee families settle in Kingston. “I am honored and humbled to have been selected for this award, but I also recognize the responsibility that comes with it. This award fuels my drive to break down barriers and biases in healthcare and to continue advocating for the needs of my community,” he said. As part of his CMHF Award honor, Gemae receives a cash prize of $5,000 and a travel subsidy to attend the 2024 Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Vancouver, where he will interact with health leaders from across the country.

Queen University’s medical student Mohamed Gemae has been named a 2023 recipient of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (CMHF) Award for Medical Students. The CMHF celebrates Canadian heroes whose work advances health in Canada and the world. This award recognizes second-year medical students who demonstrate qualities such as

Samir Arif (B.A., University of Kansas) was appointed the state’s chief of staff and director of public affairs. He will oversee the Office of Public Affairs (including Legislative Affairs), ensure that assigned projects are completed, see that all of the department’s teams have the necessary resources and be responsible for assisting the state budget director.



The director of public affairs also serves as the agency’s legislative liaison, facilitates internal and external communications within the agency, communicates with media and constituents concerning the agency’s affairs and helps legislators make laws that pertain to the agency. Salima Suswell was appointed by Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro (D) to serve on the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Women. This commission advises the governor on policies and legislation that impact women, supports economic and civic opportunities for them, and identifies programs and opportunities that benefit and advance women. It also advocates for legislation it feels serves the best interest of the state’s women and girls. A senior litigation paralegal, Salima was honored to sit on former Wolf ’s Advisory Commission on Women and is looking forward to working with the current governor and representing the state’s women. In 2018, Salima founded the Philadelphia Ramadan & Eid Fund, a nonprofit organization that hosts the annual City Hall Iftar Dinner, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha holiday celebrations. She has received distinguished honors and awards from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Pennsylvania State Senate, Philadelphia City Council, the Women-UP Organization, City and State Magazine, the Muslim Youth Association, The Philadelphia Public Record, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the prestigious Faatimah Gamble Legacy Award. In November 2019, Salima was honored by The Philadelphia Inquirer as a Diversity and Inclusion Pioneer. Sameer Ahmed was appointed by the U.S. Department of Justice as federal judge at Boston Immigration Court and began hearing cases in August. Ahmed holds degrees from Stanford University, University of London, University of Oxford, and Yale Law School. He was a clinical instructor at the Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program at Harvard Law School. Previous positions were assistant teaching professor at Northeastern University School of Law, attorney at the ACLU of Southern California, and an attorney at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and

Dorr LLP in Boston. Judge Ahmed is a member of the Massachusetts Bar and the New York State Bar. Ausma Malik has served as Toronto’s statutory – and first hijabi — deputy mayor since her appointment by Mayor Olivia Chow on Aug. 10, 2023 She became the first hijabi elected to public office in the country when she served as a Toronto District School Board trustee (2014-18) and is also the first Toronto city councilor to wear a hijab. She was elected to represent Ward 10 Spadina in the 2022 election. In 2013, Malik earned her B.A. from St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto. In 2007, she was a member of the Canadian Federation of Students’ Task Force on the Needs of Muslim Students, which published a report based on the failure to properly accommodate Muslim postsecondary students in respect to food choice, prayer space, religious holidays and racial abuse. Before entering politics, she worked on education policy for the Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP), as a labor organizer in the Association of Management, Administrative and Professional Crown Employees of Ontario, as well as a staffer at the Stephen Lewis Foundation.


Attorney Roula Allouch is among 10 exceptional women chosen for the 2023 Enquirer Women of the Year Award in recognition of her efforts with national advocacy organizations. “Allouch is a trial attorney at the Bricker Graydon law firm. Her passion for protecting civil rights, especially for Muslim Americans, led to positions with national advocacy organizations, including chair of the American Bar Association’s Center for Human Rights and former chair of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ national board,” the paper said. “Roula has been fiercely true to who she is, always advocating for others who may or may not be the same as her,” her nominator added. Named among 10 exceptional women, Allouch will join the over 500 women recognized for excellence in Greater Cincinnati since 1968. That is the 55th year of the annual Enquirer Women of the Year award, created to celebrate local women who contribute to

their communities through philanthropy and investing their time and effort to improve the lives of others. Allouch, an active member of the legal community and the community at large, is the current chair of the CAIR National Board of Directors, chair of the American Bar Association’s Center for Human Rights and serves on the leadership council for the Association’s Section for Civil Rights and Social Justice. The Muhammad Ali Center has recognized her as a “Daughter of Greatness.” She also sits on its board of directors and is a faculty member of the Islamic Seminary of America Uzma Aziz was honored with the 2023 Difference Maker Award by B Magazine, a publication of Southeast Missourian newspaper. She was selected from a pool of 70 nominees. She is the operations director at Southeast Missouri Network Against Sexual Violence (SEMO-NASV), which she joined in 2004. SEMO-NASV was formed in 1997 as a first-response agency to provide timely, compassionate and coordinated care for child and adult survivors of sexual violence. Because of sexual violence’s long-term and far-reaching effects, it offers advocacy, counseling and forensic care for survivors living in southeast Missouri. Both Uzma and her husband Umar are active members of the Islamic Center of Cape Girardeau, Mo. Ashfaq Hussain Syed was appointed as the president of Naperville, Ill. Public Library Board on July 19. “Naperville Public Library has been named the No. 1 Public Library in the U.S. in the 100,000 – 250,000 population category for the last 10 years and has been a beacon of pride to the entire community,” he stated. Well-known for his community work with zeal and dedication, Syed has been associated with many nonprofit organizations in the Chicago and Naperville areas. He is a trustee on the Naperville Public Library board, Loaves & Fishes Community Services, a board member of Naperville Neighbors United and diversity advisory member for the Daily Herald. He is also a civic engagement committee member of the Islamic Center of Naperville.

Shammas Malik, elected presumptive mayor of Akron, Ohio — the first Muslim and first non-White to hold the position — has no challengers in the fall on the ballot. Born and raised in Akron, Shammas (B.A., Ohio State University; Harvard Law School) has been dedicated to public service, first as an assistant director of law for the city, and most recently as the elected representative to City Council for Ward 8. As a city lawyer, he gained a firsthand understanding of every department in city government. In 2019, he successfully ran for Akron City Council in the neighborhood where he grew up. Since starting with council in January 2020, Shammas has helped respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring his constituents had the information they needed as the crisis unfolded. Asma Khalid joined the ABC News Political Team as contributor. She also will continue as White House correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR) and cohost of The NPR Politics Podcast. Khalid reported on the 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections. She joined NPR’s Washington team in 2016 to focus on the intersection of demographics and politics. She has also studied at the University of Cambridge, the London School of Economics, the American University in Beirut and Middlebury College’s Arabic school. Before joining NPR’s political team, Khalid was a reporter for Boston’s NPR station WBUR. She also led a new business and technology team at the station that reported on the future of work. An Indiana native, in addition to traveling to countless American counties, Khalid’s reporting has taken her to Pakistan, the U.K., and China. She got her start in journalism in her home state of Indiana but fell in love with radio through an internship at the BBC Newshour in London during graduate school. She’s been a guest on numerous TV programs including ABC’s This Week, CNN’s Inside Politics and PBS’s Washington Week. Her reporting has been recognized with the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism, as well as awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Gracie Award. ih




A DECADE OF RESILIENCE Egypt’s unyielding pursuit of freedom and justice BY HAMID ELNAGGAR


decade has now passed since Egypt bore witness to one of the largest massacres in recent human history — a dark day that stained the world’s conscience forever. As an exiled academic deeply intertwined with post-revolution Egypt, I have borne witness firsthand to the devastating consequences of this gross violation of basic human rights, freedom, and democracy. That tragic event’s aftermath has left hundreds of thousands of us impacted, with many still languishing in prison under inhumane conditions. The human price that was paid and continues to be paid is beyond comprehension, and yet, we, the resilient Egyptians, have not — and will not — give up. But first, how did all this all begin? In 2011-13, Egyptians were making slow strides toward establishing a civilian democratic alternative, poised to mark a pivotal moment in the Arab world’s relation with the West. Across the Arab world, there was a palpable readiness to shed the remnants of colonialism and transcend the perceived inferiority complex that had long characterized these relationships. However, its universal celebration necessitated a reciprocal transformation on the other side — a willingness among the former colonizers and their partners to relinquish their deep-seated superiority complex and abandon their ingrained Islamophobic stance. Unfortunately, at that critical juncture, the Obama administration, rather than championing the cause of democracy, effectively provided a tacit endorsement of the Egyptian military’s actions, granting a “green light to overthrow the country’s first-ever democratically elected government.” This trend continued under President Biden, who had pledged during his election campaign 24

our two countries. However, the current American administration needs to take substantial steps to ensure Egypt’s return to the path of civilian democracy. It is not lost on me that Egypt now “enjoys” its worst economic condition ever, due to the regime’s political oppression and lack of accountability. For too long this reality has been normalized in order to place democracy on the back burner in the name of security and stability. And yet Egypt remains far from stable and secure. The pain and suffering have become deeply entrenched in our daily lives, forcing ordinary people to forego essential commodities like meat and eggs due to unaffordability. The spark of democracy that was kindled during the Jan. 25, 2011, revolution had been, many thought, brutally extinguished, along with the lives of hundreds of Egyptians.


not to provide “Blank Checks for Trump’s favorite dictator” (Foreign Policy, July 3, 2023) referring to General Abdel Fattah el Sisi. Regrettably, this promise remains unfulfilled and Egyptians continue to suffer. The marginalization of Egypt’s civilian democratic aspirations stands contrary to Washington’s strategic interests. The Biden administration’s apparent indifference presents a disheartening impediment to the promotion of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Egypt. While the allure of profitable American investments in this central nation is understandable, these investments will remain perpetually exposed to significant risks and danger as long as democracy is not embraced and aid is not made conditional. Egyptian Americans appreciate the importance of fostering and expanding economic relations between


Egyptians remain deeply impacted, collectively dealing with profound trauma that shadows our day-to-day existence. The scars run deep, and the memories of that fateful day continue to haunt us. Yet, amid the darkness, the flicker of hope remains undiminished. Egyptians in exile and even those who remain in the country are tirelessly working to heal and rebuild our nation in our own ways. I’m often asked how I still have hope, and I always respond: because it is my best option (Human Rights Watch, Aug. 2014). In the face of Gen. Sisi’s brutally oppressive regime, many Egyptians have fled abroad to find safety and solace. Even from afar, they retain their dreams of freedom and justice for Egypt. Their voices echo across international borders, drawing attention to the plight of those still trapped within Egypt’s borders. Brave souls both in and outside of the country’s prisons continue to resist the

The marginalization of Egypt’s civilian democratic aspirations stands contrary to Washington’s strategic interests. The Biden administration’s apparent indifference presents a disheartening impediment to the promotion of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Egypt. shackles of tyranny. Their lives and freedoms are constantly at risk, and it is our — the free citizens of the world’s — collective responsibility to advocate for justice and democracy. Still today, I am taken aback when I hear of their unwavering commitment to freedom that lives on to today. So many different iterations and approaches, yet all with the

common denominator born in Tahrir Square over a decade ago. If I’ve learned anything in my years of studying and teaching evolving civilizations, I know that the road to freedom is far from easy. The struggle for justice inevitability faces numerous and often extreme challenges, especially with authoritarian governments

relentlessly tightening their grip on power. Basic human rights are trampled upon, dissent is silenced, and opposition voices are suppressed. The international community must not turn a blind eye to these abuses and must hold the Egyptian regime accountable for its oppressive actions. The global community is obligated to support the Egyptian people’s aspirations for democracy, freedom, and human rights. Diplomatic pressure should be applied to ensure the release of the 60,000+ unjustly detained political prisoners. We cannot allow for this absurdity to continue. It never ceases to amaze me how many world leaders are so ready to normalize and turn a blind eye to the gross human right violations uncovered day by day. Egyptians need to remain committed to working with all domestic, regional, and international stakeholders to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law in their country. Together, we can create a future in which the rights and dignity of each Egyptian are protected and respected. Moreover, it is crucial for Egypt’s allies and international partners to prioritize human rights and democracy in their dealings with the nation. Economic interests shouldn’t come at the expense of basic freedoms and human dignity. Support should be offered to civil society organizations and independent media, as they play a vital role in advocating for accountability and transparency. As we reflect upon the past ten years, we must acknowledge the pain and suffering that so many continue to endure. I am hopeful but not naïve, for change will only come with collective and united force against injustice. The blood of the Egyptians killed for wanting freedom stained the world. We can’t let their lives be in vain. The world acknowledges that Sisi’s military government has committed the worst human rights abuses in modern Egypt (https://www.hrw. org/middle-east/n-africa/egypt). The human price paid in my country’s pursuit of freedom and democracy has been immeasurable. The scars of the past remain fresh, and the challenges ahead are daunting. Only through collective efforts and unwavering global support can we Egyptians envision a brighter future. And we remember that seeds sprout into seedlings that develop into vibrant green trees. The work has only just begun. ih Prof. Hamid Elnaggar is an academic.




AUTHORITARIAN CREEP Pakistan, the United States and the American Global Order BY LUKE PETERSON


n August 5, 2023, former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan was sentenced to three years in prison on corruption charges that have hovered over him ever since he was ousted in April 2021. His removal came after a hastily organized vote of no-confidence — many of which were openly bought by the propped up opposition alliance — in the National Assembly. This ensured that 26

Khan, the popular figure who still garners broad nationwide support, will be unable to participate in elections intended to be held before the end of 2023. Elections have now been postponed until 2024. The majority of Pakistanis, living within and outside the country, firmly believe Khan would likely win if he was allowed to run. Khan’s ouster has substantially altered nuclear-armed Pakistan’s political landscape


for the foreseeable future. But a recent disclosure of diplomatic cables between the U.S. and internal anti-Khan factions reveal that the problems facing him may not have been exclusively homegrown. Recently published documents — ironically provided by an unnamed military officer — received by independent journalists at “The Intercept,” an online American nonprofit news organization, indicate that

the plan to marginalize and discredit Khan originated in Washington. One particular diplomatic cable known as a “cypher” points to a March 2022 meeting between the U.S. State Department officials and Asad Majeed Khan, the then Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., as the moment when Khan’s fate was sealed. In plain view, the ambassador’s secretary was writing all what was being said. At that meeting, the ambassador was allegedly informed that the prime minister’s position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which started as Khan was about to land in Moscow, was in error. Instead of the balanced approach Khan had been pursuing, U.S. officials warned that Khan needed to be much more aggressive toward Putin’s Russia to remain in the Biden administration’s good graces. The penalty for stepping out of line, Khan’s opponents were told, would be Pakistan’s international isolation and demonization.

that Khan’s middle-of-the-road policy would not be allowed to continue. In the leaked cable in question, Lu even floated the idea of a no-confidence vote in Khan’s administration. Khan’s opponents moved it forward a mere day after the U.S. State Department meeting. Officials in the Biden administration from the State Department and elsewhere have continued to deny direct interference in Pakistan’s electoral processes. And yet

in league with his political opponents and arguably stand to benefit most from this sudden foreign policy sea change. In the months since the change in government, the military leadership has assumed an unprecedented role in the country’s legislative processes, spearheading the passage of laws that authorize warrantless search and seizure and arbitrarily imprisoning Khan supporters on baseless charges. Worse still, some unknown number of those arrested

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu assured his Pakistani colleagues (and enemies of their sitting prime minister) that Khan’s middle-of-the-road policy would not be allowed to continue.


Undeterred by American and international pressure, as well as those U.S. officials who were also threatening a reduced status for Pakistan in European eyes, Khan continued to chart an independent path. He appeared at a rally shortly after the beginning of this latest European conflict in 2022 assuring the crowd that, “We are friends of Russia, and we are also friends of the United States. We are friends of China and Europe. We are not part of any alliance.” He loudly championed Pakistani sovereignty and independence to thousands of his enthusiastic supporters by rhetorically asking the international community, “What do you think of us?” (March 1, 2021). Pakistan will “absolutely not” allow the CIA to use bases on its soil for cross-border counterterrorism missions after American forces withdraw from Afghanistan, Imran Khan told Axios on HBO in a wide-ranging interview which aired on June 21, 2021. Predictably, this bold opposition didn’t sit well in Washington, and U.S. officials were quickly dispatched to Islamabad to explore alternative leadership options that would shift its foreign policy priorities toward a more Amero-centric position. Calling Khan’s policy “aggressively neutral,” Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu assured his Pakistani colleagues (and enemies of their sitting prime minister)

the close timing and coincidental occasion of a change in Pakistan’s leadership, and the subsequent realignment of its foreign policy to align precisely with U.S. policy preferences, have continued to provoke troubling questions for Biden’s diplomatic team. Under the corrupt Zardari and Sharif regimes, the U.S. enjoyed free will to drone Pakistanis. Secret U.S. documents reveal that senior Pakistani government officials have for years known of and endorsed CIA drone strikes, The Washington Post said it had obtained CIA documents and Pakistani diplomatic memos which indicated officials were routinely given classified briefings.


For Khan and his supporters, the diplomatic cypher amounted to what his National Security Council called “blatant interference into the internal affairs of Pakistan … which was unacceptable under any circumstances.” Nor are the consequences of this meddling restricted to the foreign policy outcomes emanating from Islamabad. The drones originated from Shamsi airbase in southern Pakistan. Khan’s ouster and the tarnishing of his personal and political reputation have dramatically emboldened the military, which is

have been tortured and killed while in military custody. Further, new laws implemented this year have criminalized criticism of the military and provided unique veto powers to its leadership. Riots, beatings, and mass arrests have ensued, all symptomatic of a chaos fomented by coordinated efforts between Khan’s internal political enemies and U.S. officials insisting upon their own policy priorities in Washington’s continuous drive for global, imperial oversight. Widespread outrage spread in late August over highly inflated electricity bills — a move demanded by the IMF. Ironically, assembly members, senior government military officials and judges are given deep concessionary rates. Indeed, the insinuation of the military into Pakistan’s civil affairs since Khan’s dismissal and subsequent imprisonment has led to an authoritarian creep within the South Asian nation. However, the Biden administration, which claims to champion global human rights, seems content to ignore this reality. On Nov. 3, 2022, Imran Khan survived a shooting at a political rally — the deflected bullets pierced and fractured his leg. To date, and ostensibly under military pressure, no report of the attempted murder has been filed; nor has any investigation been carried out.





Arshad Sharif, a well-known Pakistani journalist who had been close to the Khan administration, was assassinated in Nairobi during October 2022. Sharif had knowledge of the diplomatic cypher and the allegations of American interference, having been briefed on them before Khan’s ouster. To this day, the circumstances surrounding this event remain unclear. In May 2023 the military detained Imran Riaz Khan, another nationally known reporter; he has not been heard from since. Major news outlets within the U.S. like The Washington Post and The New York Times gladly report on the political chaos that has taken hold since Khan’s removal while habitually neglecting to mention the overwhelming evidence of American interference in that country’s internal politics that has catalyzed these conditions. On Aug. 29, 2023, a Pakistani appeals court suspended Khan’s three-year prison sentence stemming from alleged corruption charges after his forcible removal from office. But he’s hardly out of the woods — he remains in a state prison awaiting his next trial for divulging state secrets (a law the president has yet to sign), the penalty for 28

which, if he is found guilty, may lead to even more severe punishments in keeping with the military’s expansive new powers justified in the name of that infamous euphemism of “national security.” In the meantime, newly installed — and now former — prime minister Shehbaz Sharif claims to have righted the political ship and has assured interested parties that there will be “free and fair” elections to decide Islamabad’s new direction in early 2024. The National Assembly, having completed its five-year term in August, installed an interim prime minister who is basically an army plant and extension of the regime. Sharif has remained conspicuously quiet, though, about the role that the military will have to play in those elections, or indeed, in the coming, turbulent years of Pakistan’s socio-political history. In Washington, business as usual is the order of the day as Biden officials continue to seek the expansion of the war in Ukraine via direct weapons supply and proxy designations. As coincidence would have it, in the absence of the restrictions placed upon it by Imran Khan’s government, the military has proven more than willing to serve as a proxy by sending its own weapons to


Ukraine like 10,000 MLRS “Grad” missiles and 122 mm high explosive Yarmuk rockets (images of Pakistani-made ammunition on Russian-Ukrainian battlefields have begun to circulate on social media sites). “The Intercept, Sept. 17, reported that the U.S. had helped Pakistan obtain an IMF bailout in exchange for arms sales that “were made for the purpose of supplying the Ukrainian military — marking Pakistani involvement in a conflict it had faced U.S. pressure to take sides on.” And undoubtedly as a reward for a job well done, in August 2023 the Pakistani military received a massive extension of its contractual cooperation with the U.S. military in a deal promising “joint exercises, operations, training, basing and equipment” sharing until at least the year 2035. The deal, worth untold billions, goes a long way toward demonstrating what a military dictatorship might gain from the U.S. in exchange for a minor coup and just a little bit of authoritarian creep. ih Luke Peterson, Ph.D., Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, The University of Cambridge — King’s College, investigates language, media and knowledge surrounding political conflict in the Middle East. He lives in Pittsburgh, where he regularly contributes to local, national and international media outlets.


Fifty Years of Preservation, Protection and Leadership NAIT reflects upon its accomplishments BY SADIA QURESHI

Ahmed Sakr


Jamal Al Barzinji

his year witnesses the North American Islamic Trust’s (NAIT) 50 years of community service, an inspiring story of preservation, resilience, and success of one of this continent’s pioneering and oldest Islamic organizations. “At this proud moment, we pay tribute to the torch bearers of NAIT whose vision guided us to where we are today; the founding leaders, the former and current board, staff, volunteers — we thank them all for their relentless contributions,” said Maqsood Quadri (executive director, NAIT). “We are also grateful for the support from the community that allowed us to serve for so long. Thank you for your trust. Many of the initial founders have passed away. May Allah have mercy on them and reward them for their service. Ameen.” Born in 1973 as an Islamic waqf, NAIT sought to revive the Prophet’s (salla Allahu alaihi wa salaams) sunnah by helping to preserve and protect North America’s Islamic institutions. The trust has grown into a comprehensive solution provider with 400+ waqf institutions in the U.S. and Canada with three subsidiaries primarily serving Islamic institutions and the community community. Among its many programs are halal investing for families, mosques and institutions, halal certification and education, legal services for entrusted institutions, dispute resolution, stock donation liaisonship for institutions, Islamic literature publishing 30

Mohammed Shamma

Hisham Altalib

and several other on-campus programs for Hometown, Ill. and neighboring areas. Some of you may be able to recall that 50 years ago, North America was a very different place for Muslim immigrants. Even though Muslims arrived long before Columbus (Muslim Roots of America murraystate. edu), their migration to North America only reached significant numbers after the U.S. changed its immigration laws in the 1960s. Before then, Muslims were primarily enslaved Muslim Africans and their emancipated descendants. The institutions necessary to shaping and strengthening a Muslim culture had not established a foothold yet. Many of their mosques and Islamic centers were lost or forgotten due to socio-political or financial factors.


➤ A highly mobile society. This impacted Muslim communities nationwide. Their assets, both tangible and/or intangible, sometimes became subject to conflicts of ownership after their founders and caretakers moved to take up new jobs or died. ➤ Lack of financial stability for Islamic work. Despite vigorous fundraising within North America, the growth of Islamic work was outpacing donations to sustain the already scarce institutions. Muslim leaders understood that institutions financed by members and other stakeholders through prudent development and management of funds in investment-driven endowments,


Osman Ahmed

Bassam Osman

like awqaaf, were more likely to succeed than those dependent on a raise-and-spend basis. This latter option only distracted the leadership from its central role: carrying out the mission. ➤ Need for a waqf. The influx of immigrants in the 1960s and early 1970s led to the rapid increase in mosques and Islamic centers. This revealed the need for an integrated nationwide body to develop, acquire, maintain and protect these centers from being lost again.


Several valuable pioneering projects were subsequently reorganized: the Islamic Book Service, the Islamic Supplies Service and the International Graphics Printing Service. This process ended in the formal establishment of NAIT as a nonprofit corporation in 1973. Its provision of free waqf services soon made it a central organization in shaping the Muslim presence in North America. Among the instrumental incorporating leaders were Dr. Hisham Altalib, Mohammed M. Shamma, Dr. Ahmad Sakr (d. 2015), Jamal Al Barzinji (d. 2015) and Dr. Osman Ahmed. NAIT soon became vital with the responsibilities to act as trustee for the assets of organizations set up for religious, cultural, scientific, educational and charitable purposes; initiate and manage business ventures according to the shariah; support and subsidize projects beneficial to Islam and Muslims; and develop sources of income for these activities.

➤ Pioneering halal investing in America. With the help of Islamic finance experts and scholars, between the late 1970s and early 1990s NAIT started developing halal investment vehicles. It thus became the pioneer of halal investing in North America. In 1979, it launched the Islamic Centers’ Cooperative Fund (ICCF), a mosque-focused halal investment tool. The ICCF pools the community’s funds and invests in halal stocks, real estate, properties, leases and other opportunities.

halal mutual fund in 2000, the AAA-offered Iman Fund, which continues to serve the community. The Iman Fund is managed by Dr. Bassam Osman, its fund manager and NAIT’s longest serving board member. The fund continuously monitors the companies for shariah compliance and is supervised by a shariah board. “We are currently exploring to introduce more products in the near future to expand investing options for our community, InshaAllah,” Obeidallah stated.

The influx of immigrants in the 1960s and early 1970s led to the rapid increase of mosques and Islamic centers. This revealed the need for an integrated nationwide body to develop, acquire, maintain and protect these centers from being lost. Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi (board member of NAIT and the Fiqh Council of North America) stated, “Centers that have extra money, instead of putting that in interest-bearing savings accounts, deposit that in the ICCF. The money is safe; in the last three decades, no center has lost a penny on their principal. Up to 12-15% of the money in ICCF has been extended in short-term interest-free loans to the entrusted institutions for critical projects.” According to Salah Obeidallah, president, Allied Asset Advisors (AAA) was established in 2000 as NAIT’s wholly owned, for-profit subsidiary. ICCF protects the principal through a yield equalization reserve (YER) that consists of a part of the funds’ net gains. Thus, any market decline is borne by the YER instead of the investor. This means that part of yearly gains in profitable years is retained in the YER to shoulder losses during a market decline. Earlier in 1989, NAIT pioneered the Amana Income Fund to help Muslim families secure their financial future while following Islamic values; however, NAIT is no longer associated with the fund. Later, NAIT also introduced The Dow Jones Islamic Index Fund — a mutual fund. After over a decade’s experience of designing and managing halal financial products, NAIT launched another


In 1979, NAIT established American Trust Publications (ATP) to produce Islamic books for all ages, as well as a scholastic book series. In coordination with NAIT’s oldest division, the Islamic Book Service (IBS), NAIT published and sold over 2,600 book titles. These books are now printed on demand and available through online platforms. One of NAIT’s big achievements was the first Audio Visual Center, established in 1981 to produce a large inventory of AV materials. In 1983, it set up the world’s largest Muslim-owned commercial audio cassette duplication facility, with a production capacity of 1.2 million cassettes per year. This enabled NAIT to reproduce the tapes required for Quranic albums and Islamic recordings. In 2020, NAIT established the American Halal Institute (AHI) to offer and help standardize halal certification, provide consumer and business owner education and training, and advocate for halal accessibility. America’s certified halal food market is poised to grow to $8.7 billion by 2024 (Business Wire. March 15, 2021). Many countries are now requiring this certification on certain imported products. “It’s a tremendous growth opportunity for both

Muslim and non-Muslim businesses,” said Qadri Abdallah (director of operations, AHI). “However, the halal process is not standardized. We aim to eventually eliminate that need by helping to develop a transparent, standard criteria according to shariah for all to follow.” Another problem AHI aims to address is certification fraud. In Illinois and other states, placing a halal logo or certificate falsely on the products or services is now a punishable crime. Among NAIT’s other notable programs are legal guidance and services, as well as stock donation liaisonship offered free of charge. The Stock Donation Liaison Program, a first of its kind, was launched in 2019 to help Islamic nonprofits incorporate valuable stock donations into their financial strategy and to encourage Islamic institutions to use sustainable fundraising methods.


The vision is to connect mosques nationwide in a way they can learn and support each other as a connected body. Part of this vision is to also engage our local community, Muslim or non-Muslim, through the new building complex in Hometown, Ill. We have already launched an on-campus mosque (Hometown Mercy Mosque) with a young, knowledgeable imam and youth director. It can accommodate up to 1,000 congregants and offers weekly youth halaqas, games, monthly potlucks, women’s programming, spiritual counseling, and other activities. Expanding on the vision for the next decade, Quadri shared plans of launching a Quran institute later this year. This institute will teach the Arabic alphabet, reading, memorization, and understanding the Quran to all ages. Other planned on-campus initiatives in the next two years include an Islamic school, a health clinic, and providing services to underserved neighbors via social and entitlement service programs and guidance. “It is very rewarding when we get calls from coast to coast, from major cities to small towns, commending NAIT’s services,” Quadri said. “It’s a privilege, I say. Preserving our assets for the coming generations is all that matters. May Allah bless all those working to help our communities and accept our service, Ameen.” ih Sadia Qureshi is a communications consultant.




Tales from Working Hijabis Racism, Islamophobia, and ignorance, along with empathy and respect, can be found in surprising places BY UMM IBRAHIM



ummer in California’s Inland Empire is hot, with daily highs averaging more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the summer months. Sometimes dry heat, sometimes muggy if it’s the desert monsoon season with its sudden bursts of thunder, lightning, and heavy downpours that last just a few minutes. One morning I came in sweating after taking my 15-minute walking break outside in the gated parking lot. On the way back to the front door, a female departmental colleague asked, “Aren’t you hot in that?” She meant, isn’t my hijab and anklelength, flowing dress too warm? I gave my typical response, “Yes, I am warm, but it’s hot for everyone. As a Muslima, I wear 32

loose, modest clothes. The fabrics I wear are lightweight, airy, and cover my skin. I am comfortable and don’t have to use too much sunscreen. Here, touch my dress and you’ll see.” I held out a portion of my ample skirt so she could rub the velvety soft cotton. She agreed that the fabric was amazing and wasn’t a bad choice in the heat compared to her skintight leggings and fitted dress made from a jersey fabric that was wet with sweat by this point. Going back to my cubicle, I met a male manager from the superintendent’s communications department. He asked if my attire was due to my having cancer. Taken aback for a moment — I don’t have cancer — I gathered my thoughts and responded, “No, I’m a Muslima and we dress modestly. However,


the hat and sunglasses I wear are due to my extreme sun sensitivity and are not required by my faith. Covering the hair and body loosely with fabric is all that is required for females in Islam, and there are many different styles.” He nodded in polite understanding and kept going. Every so often we would meet again in the hallway and nod greetings, but no more questions were raised.


Contemplating the wide assortment of breakfast choices for my kids in the cereal aisle one day, I heard a sound. Coming out of my sugar-fueled reverie, I spotted a woman next to me with a smile and her mouth moving. I quickly focused on what she was saying. (You might think this is odd, but no one ever talks to me at Target, so it took a

moment to understand that she wanted to have a conversation.) She was trying to tell me how lovely my scarf was, and how she and the people from her church supported Muslims and knew we were just regular people, despite the recent news reports (This was a few days after a Muslim had bombed something, somewhere). She then told me about

request. After sending the email, she suddenly found the lactation room locked and “not ready for use.” A few weeks later, a memo was circulated to all employees stating that the lactation room was now available. To gain access, an employee would need to send in a written request to HR with their requested timings for use. Upon approval, HR would open

After summarizing her background, they asked her name and then said she wouldn’t be a good fit. When I asked why, they replied that she wears the niqab. When I said, “So…,” I was informed that seeing a niqabi either at the front desk or in the classroom would scare potential and current parents away. her study group’s initiative to bring people together from different backgrounds, their successes, goals and so on. We exchanged numbers and continued shopping in our respective aisles. I did call her once, but the number was incorrect. I never bumped into her again.


My friend Jennifer is a building inspector in an affluent, seaside city. She had worked her way up, starting as a contractor, to an employee, before being promoted. Having started as an outside contractor, she didn’t feel confident enough to ask for a place to pray. When she asked, she was initially told that she could pray in the closet or in the office of any manager not on-site that day. Neither option was practical. Most days she prayed in her car during her lunch break. About a year ago, a lactation room was installed in her building. A private room with carpet, a chair, a/c and, most importantly, a lock on the door. Perfect for prayer! With no employees needing a lactation room at that time, Jennifer thought this would be a great place to pray. However, when she asked her supervisor for permission, she was directed to speak with HR. The HR rep directed her to submit a written

the door, or the direct supervisor would be given the key to open the door at the stated times. Strike out for using the room as a default prayer room. Fortunately, Jennifer was promoted and moved into her own office a couple months later. She can now shut her own door and pray as she wants.


For several years I worked at a local Islamic educational institution. Women were mandated to wear hijab and loose attire: longsleeved shirts, ankle-length skirts or dresses, knee-length tunics and/or wide pants, with minimal make-up and jewelry. The men could wear “traditional” or “Western” attire, which included short-sleeved shirts and pants. These rules applied even when staff accompanied students on field trips or attended school events outside of work hours. The female staff would be orally reprimanded or sent an email if attire was too tight, too short, or form-fitting. Non-Muslim staff as well as janitorial and security staff were exempt from these restrictions. Free-flowing hair, short-sleeves, leggings, jewelry, and shorts were permitted. No one was reprimanded when young male janitors came to work in the summertime with muscle shirts and knee-length shorts.

Non-Muslima staff could also work with short-sleeves, shiny embellished fake nails, and cut-off pants. When regular staff commented about how the janitorial attire could give the wrong message to students. Their comments were swept aside. At this same institution, Nora, a long-time female community member approached me to look for a job. She had volunteered frequently at the school, had a bubbly personality, and was a college student with a flexible schedule. She had completed coursework in early childhood education and had a great rapport with younger students as well as with adults. I suggested that she submit her resume immediately and apply for job openings at that time: part-time position paraprofessional or clerical work. While she updated her resume, I put in a good word for her with the administration. After summarizing her background, they asked her name and then said she wouldn’t be a good fit. When I asked why, they replied that she wears the niqab. When I said, “So…,” I was informed that seeing a niqabi either at the front desk or in the classroom would scare potential and current parents away. And for this reason, they would never hire her, despite her qualifications. While I never related this conversation to Nora, she seemed to know. Later, she commented that with her niqab, even though it was in non-black fabrics, Muslims didn’t want to hire her. It turned out that she had applied at several Muslim-run businesses and had always been turned down. A very sad reality.


While my friend Jennifer faces a wide range of challenges daily in her pioneering role as a hijabi building inspector in a conservative town, she does experience wins. In a recent ad campaign, her department used her as their star actor in a short video explaining the different processes for obtaining a building permit in their city. Photos of her have also been highlighted in city news as part of their diversity efforts and in recognition of her dedication and hard work. The Community Relations department has also included the silhouette of a hijabi in their generic montage of individuals that is now used in all city communications. ih Umm Ibrahim, a long-time hijabi, lives and works in California. All names have been changed to preserve confidentiality.




The Hijabi Jiu-Jitsu Star Michigan tween wins world championship BY SANAA ASIF

other better.” This spirit of teamwork and collective success motivates her to work harder for a more inclusive Jiu-Jitsu community. Jiu-Jitsu is truly a family affair for the Abdrabbohs. Aaminah trains at Metro JiuJitsu in Southgate, Mich., which is partly owned by her father, who holds a first-degree black belt. Aaminah’s brother Jibril is her head coach, and her elder sister Nuzmeya, also a hijabi, is a purple belt and head coach as well. These are the people Aaminah looks up to the most.


Aaminah Abdrabboh


arlier this year, 12-year-old Aaminah Abdrabboh became the first hijabi to win gold at the PAN Kids IBJJF (International Brazilian JiuJitsu Federation) Championship, the largest international children’s Jiu-Jitsu tournament. In this competitive male-dominated sport, Aamina credits her family and faith in Islam as the primary reasons why she has achieved such success at such a young age — and while wearing the hijab. Jiu-Jitsu is a ground-based martial art that focuses on grappling with an opponent to maintain control. Unlike karate, it doesn’t involve striking. Training, which takes place with partners, emphasizes live sparring or rolling — an excellent form of self-defense because it allows you to protect yourself without unnecessarily harming the opponent. Aaminah’s story is remarkable not only because of her age, but also because of the uncertain pathway to such a victory. Prior to 2014, the IBJJF banned hijabis from competing. However, after years of pushback the ban was lifted and they were allowed to compete in international competitions. 34

The sport’s historical limitations impacted opportunities for women. “As we have seen with my older daughters, who are fifteen and eighteen, there can be a challenge in having other females to roll against,” said Mohammad Abdrabboh, Aaminah’s coach and father. “Our sons also only roll against males, but they have double the amount of participants to choose from each day.” “In Jiu-Jitsu you need other people to practice against and compete with,” noted Aaminah. “It’s not like another sport where you have a ball or racket. You need other people, so we work as a team to make each

Aaminah started her Jiu-Jitsu journey when she was just seven years old. “As a female who wears a hijab, my experience is different from other girls who train because I have to think about my hijab slipping,” she stated. “In competitions, not only am I contemplating my next move, but I also have to ensure my hijab doesn’t come off. If that happens, either I won’t be able to see or I will be distracted. In Jiu-Jitsu, one moment of distraction could give my opponent a huge advantage to overtake me.” To keep her skills sharp, she trains four days each week for two hours after school, as well as on Sundays. “The biggest challenge is to continue to encourage her to do what she loves without compromising her faith,” her father explains. “Aaminah has been asked by many media outlets how she feels, and she always says she is so happy [that] she can practice the sport she loves while still practicing her faith.”


The new champion’s parents make sure that their daughter knows about the women who paved the way for her and other hijabis to compete internationally. One of them is Caroline De Lazzar. As the coach of the UAE women’s Jiu-Jitsu team, in 2011 she launched and led a campaign to lift the ban. Her efforts proved rewarding when the IBJJF abolished it three years later.

Jiu-jitsu is all about discipline. It teaches me to slow down and think. For me, Islam is like that too. I have to slow my day down and offer prayers on time.”


Aaminah’s tremendous accomplishment caused waves of encouragement throughout the Muslim community, especially for young girls. With this huge step, Aaminah is now a role model for many young hijabis aspiring to compete in their sport. “In our Muslim community she is showing others not to stop their daughters from sports like Jiu-Jitsu,” Mohamed Abdrabboh proclaimed. “She is showing that hijab can make them stronger in sports.”


Jiu-Jitsu has both improved Aaminah’s physical strength and helped her become closer to her faith. “Jiu-jitsu is all about discipline. It teaches me to slow down and think,” she said. “For me, Islam is like that too. I have to slow my day down and offer my prayers on time.” Her father emphasized that he and his wife encourage such training in their home so their children can always defend themselves. “Stats show that 85% of street fights end up on the ground. Jiu-Jitsu empowers them and gives them confidence and self-worth that they are strong mentally and physically,” he added. He hopes that Aaminah will continue to compete and earn her black belt so that one day she can also become a coach and inspire other young Muslimas. ih Aaminah Abdrabboh and her dad

Sanaa Asif, a student at Hinsdale Central High School, is an avid reader and loves to learn about other people’s stories.




Embracing Differences Navigating Christmas and other non-Muslim holidays BY TASKEEN KHAN


he winter holidays are filled with emotion. They can be hectic — schools are closed, family is visiting, and the house is often full. But the season can also be full of joy. Starbucks is carrying your favorite peppermint mocha, you can finally go on vacation, and someone is always bringing cookies to the office. For Muslims, the holidays can have an added layer of complexity. From putting up a Christmas tree to reserving the light and decorations for Eid and Ramadan only, Muslim have found a variety of ways to navigate the holidays. Younas Ali is a life-long resident of the Minnesota suburbs. Growing up, his family didn’t celebrate Christmas; however, he still remembers the winter holidays as a time of excitement. His family would travel during the break, he would participate in the holiday-related arts and crafts at school and his 36

neighborhood would always be decked out in beautiful lights. His family would send holiday wishes and desserts to his Christian cousin. Looking back, Ali never felt like he was missing out, for the season was always filled with fun, even if he wasn’t celebrating Christmas.


Insiya Syed’s family changed how they celebrated Christmas as she grew older. When she and her sisters were young, their parents wanted to make the holidays a fun time. Her family put up stockings, exchanged small gifts, and went out to see the lights. However, as the sisters got slightly older the festivities fizzled out, not only because everyone was growing up, but also because they no longer fit in with her family’s shifting religious values. And yet Syed never recalls feeling left out. She would still go caroling


with her Girl Scout troop and enjoyed the lights, decor and festive spirit. Her family also began to decorate more for Eid and Ramadan, inspired by a desire to increase the holiday feel of these special occasions and because appropriate décor was no longer so hard to find. Today, Syed doesn’t celebrate Christmas, but she has maintained the tradition of making Eid and Ramadan a special, festive time. Even as a young child, Deniz Namik grew up knowing that Christmas wasn’t one of the traditions and holidays her family celebrated. Her mother wanted to ensure that her family kept sight of their own traditions and holidays, so lights, elves and anything Christmasthemed never entered the house. School was her only exposure to the holiday, although she still developed a love for Christmas movies. Namik has observed her younger sister, who is still in elementary school, grow up in the same environment. Although her little sister absolutely loves the holiday, Namik has watched her grow into someone who can differentiate what holidays she and her family celebrate while also appreciating those of other families and cultures. Christmas was absent from Sara Raja’s childhood. While she was growing up, it was clear that participating in non-Muslim religious practices was strictly forbidden. Although she was allowed to enjoy hot chocolate and a candy cane at school, she knew that Christmas would forever remain outside her home. Going to a public elementary school, she sometimes felt left out and wanted to join in the festivities. But Raja explained that as she grew older and more secure in her Muslim identity, this faded away. As a parent, Raja is following in her parents’ footsteps. While Christmas and non-Muslim holidays aren’t celebrated in her house, she does make Eid and Ramadan exciting times for her little one, a time filled with decorations and activities. As her daughter grows up, she plans to focus on connecting her to her Muslim identity by immersing her in the mosque and Muslim youth groups. By fostering pride and excitement in their faith and community, Raja hopes that her own children will feel secure, even if they are not joining in their fellow students’ holidays. A licensed professional counselor, Raja suggests that parents worried about navigating the holidays should “foster a healthy line of communication with children, so that when/if their child is struggling, he/she feels comfortable enough to come to them.”

Job Position:

Director: Religious Affairs and Outreach Islamic Center of Rochester, NY 727 Westfall Road, Rochester, NY 14620

In fact, not only Muslim parents are trying to address this issue. From universities to TV shows, this has become an increasingly prevalent topic. The Michigan State University Extension has developed a set of guidelines to help parents teach their children about holidays and beliefs other than their own. BOOKS AND RESOURCES

The worry that children will feel excluded during the holidays is not uncommon. Aisha Dawood wrote “Yusuf and Yusra’s Merry Dilemma” (2023) to address this very concern. She remembers feeling fascinated by Halloween as a child and wanting to be part of it. This inspired her to write the three-book “Yusuf and Yusra’s Holiday Dilemma” series, which focuses on Christmas, Halloween, and Hanukkah. Her intention is to show Muslim children that their mixed feelings about the holidays are valid and that not all children celebrate these holidays. These books emphasize that even if you’re not celebrating a holiday, you can still enjoy the time off by spending time with friends and family. Dawood’s books not only provide enjoyable alternatives, like youth nights at the masjid, but also educate readers about other faith communities’ celebrations. It’s not just Muslim parents who are trying to address this issue. From universities to TV shows, the holiday hoopla has become an increasingly prevalent topic. The Michigan State University Extension has developed a set of guidelines to help parents teach their children about holidays and beliefs other than their own. The guidelines

emphasize that people can learn about and respect someone else’s holidays without celebrating them. Sesame Street, a show that many of us can remember growing up with, has an episode in which children share the different holidays they celebrate during the winter, including Ramadan, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah. Even PBS had an article on navigating the “December Dilemma” (2015). These resources are not just for parents and teachers, but for anyone who wants to better understand how to appreciate a holiday without feeling pressured to conform. Speaking with these families provides a snapshot of the many ways Muslims navigate Christmas and other holidays. While some have incorporated various elements of Christmas into their own celebrations, others have created clear boundaries. As we move forward, let’s work to create an environment that enables us to respect the many ways Muslims deal with the holidays, because there is no one-size-fits-all approach. ih Taskeen Khan has a bachelor’s degree in integrative biology and a minor in sustainability, energy, and the environment from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is passionate about science, communication and research.

Duties and Responsibilities: ➤ Advisor to religious schools including Westfall academy. › Coordinate and organize seminars on religious and social programs. ➤ Coordinate Rochester area Imam’s meetings, maintain relationship and coordination with other Rochester area Muslim organizations, including philanthropic organizations, e.g., Barakah. ➤ Lead Interfaith and civic engagement as well as attending and participating in meetings in the Greater Rochester area. ➤ Delivering motivating Khutbahs ➤ Share input and provide directions to the Board of Directors and the Council of Trustees on religious matters, community issues, and activities. › Coordinate youth programs ➤ Maintain communication with the community. Qualifications: ➤ A degree in Islamic Studies or related field from an accredited educational institution. ➤ Effective speaking ability and dynamic leadership. ➤ Adequate knowledge of Quran, Sunnah and Fiqh of all schools of thought. ➤ Fluency in English with sufficient knowledge in Arabic language ➤ Must be a US Citizen or a Permanent Resident ➤ Welcoming to all Muslims and non-Muslims of different backgrounds, cultures & schools of thought. ➤ Experience as an Imam/Director in Islamic Centers is preferable. Attractive, negotiable, financial package with fringe benefits salary range: $65K to $110K commensurate with qualifications and experience. Location: Rochester, NY is nestled in the picturesque Finger Lakes Region on the shore of Lake Ontario with easy driving distance to Niagara Falls at the Canadian border. A hub of corporate businesses, home to world class public & private schools, Universities, and health care facilities. Please send your resume and appropriate references to:




IIIT’s Integration of Knowledge Summer Program 2023 Integrating all knowledge to deal with our mission(s) in life BY MD. MAHMUDUL HASAN AND BOSHRA ZAWAWI


he deepening crisis in education is the root cause of many other problems and felt across religious, national, and racial divides. Harry Lewis’ “Excellence Without A Soul: How a Great University Forgot Education” (2006) states, “Society is going to hell in a handbasket, and the great universities are going to get there first.” Roughly a decade earlier, the late Taha Jabir al Alwani’s “The Islamization of Knowledge: Yesterday and Today” (1995), said, “By virtue of our submission to Western intellectual, cultural, and institutional influences and the impact that these have had on our lives, we are now full partners in the worldwide crisis.” As president of the International Institute


of Islamic Thought (IIIT), headquartered in Herndon, Va., he and his team advocated intellectual revival and reforming education by promoting the integration of moral and religious (Islamic) elements in education and pedagogy. One of the institute’s educational reform efforts is directed to integrating knowledge, which involves complementarity between moral and material aspects of education and between religious and scientific epistemes in various disciplines. The institute’s Integration of Knowledge Summer Program 2023, held from July 24 to Aug. 12, opened with inaugural speeches by Hisham Altalib (president, IIIT) and Ahmed Alwani (vice president, IIIT). Altalib gave a


brief history of the journey of the knowledge movement and of the idea of establishing an intellectual institution — IIIT. Students were then familiarized with the instructors, program goals and expectations, IIIT publications and journals and the onsite facilities, including the al-Alwani and al-Faruqi reference libraries. Both have been featured on the Religious Collections of the Library of Congress. Zainab Alwani (Howard University) was the subject matter expert and lead instructor. Other instructors were Ahmed Ali Salem (Zayed University, UAE) and Md. Mahmudul Hasan (International Islamic University Malaysia). The three-week program was designed collaboratively by Boshra

Zawawi (senior instructional designer, Fairfax University of America [FXUA]) and Maimoona Al-Abri (Sultan Qaboos University, Oman), and guided with content feedback from Alwani. Wafia Alchurbaji (project manager, FXUA) was in charge of coordination and logistical support.


In addition to weekday sessions, on Saturdays the students listened to prominent U.S.-

The students began a transformational journey that started with their hearts and the importance of purifying them continuously to build a solid relationship with the Quran. The journey continued as they learned about how to contemplate it in a more purposeful manner and how to use the Sunna as the highest example of applying the Quran. It was stressed that the practices of the Prophet and his Companions help guide the interpretation of Quranic verses.

IIIT summer programs are generally designed for (active) graduate students who wish to become better acquainted with various debates involving Islam, Muslims, and the modern world. Participants interacted with the instructors and peers both as individual and group learners. based public intellectuals and scholars of contemporary Islamic thought, among them Ingrid Mattson, Imam Suhaib Webb, and Imam Mohamed Magid. They also visited places of educational and historical interest, as well as guided tours and other monuments of political, cultural and historical importance, located in Washington, D.C. IIIT summer programs are generally designed for (active) graduate students who wish to become better acquainted with various debates involving Islam, Muslims and the modern world. Participants interacted with the instructors and peers both as individual and group learners. A notable by-product of such programs is for the participants to establish friendships and network ties with people of diverse backgrounds. Doing so has the potential to benefit them far beyond this short program’s span. For many students, this program was transformational in terms of understanding the purpose of their life on Earth as divine vicegerents, discovering and shaping their worldviews, connecting with revealed sources and cleansing their hearts by faith. The summer program included a small cohort of 11 students who met daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to learn about the integration of knowledge methodology, which allowed them to analyze contemporary issues in the light of Quranic principles.

The students developed a coherent understanding of the maqasid al-qur’aniyyah (Qur’anic principles or objectives), which gave them a lens to assess and evaluate humanity’s intellectual heritage. The program helped them connect deeply with the Quran by approaching it with questions that seek to identify the root causes of real-life problems. Instead of relying on one source to understand specific Quranic verses, the students learned to use multiple translations that relate different perspectives to expand their thinking and broaden their views. The students often started their days with a beautiful Quran recitation that lifted their emotional state and opened their hearts to receive new knowledge. They constantly reflected on their journey, their desire to stay connected, how exceptional it was, their surprise about how much they were learning, and their wish to offer such programs to Muslim youth to help them develop personally, intellectually and spiritually. They left the program convinced that Islam allows them to produce, confirm and/or question for the sake of learning and truth-seeking. ih Md. Mahmudul Hasan is a professor of English and postcolonial literature at the International Islamic University Malaysia. Boshra Zawawi is a senior instructional designer and guest lecturer at the Fairfax University of America.



The world we live in is constantly evolving and ISNA is committed to being a positive driver of change. ISNA has long recognized the importance of engaging with other faith communities as a fundamental part of its mission, and therefore, we continuously host and participate in interfaith events, meetings and webinars to educate our friends, partners, officials and activists about Islam. These interreligious initiatives have helped break down barriers of misunderstanding, formed genuine partnerships of faith and ethics, and established a platform to advocate for social justice issues for the common good. We aim to work together to fight Islamophobia and share knowledge about the true teachings and understanding of our religion in all sectors. The gift of education has a ripple effect—it creates change locally, nationally and globally. Ignorance is our enemy, and with your support we can make a difference. Please donate to ISNA today.

P.O. Box 808 • Plainfield, IN 46168 (317) 839-8157 • ISNAHQ •



From Basketball to a Brand Modest Activewear Business Learns from Target BY SANAA ASIF benefit from her product line. “If investors looked like me or my community or even understood the problem, I think the results would have been different,” she said.



hen Muna Mohamed was younger, all her goals revolved around playing basketball. It was an easy way to make friends, connect with people, and build a community. However, there was one issue: As most basketball leagues at that time didn’t allow women to wear the hijab while playing, Mohamed would often find herself sitting on the bench. This continual frustration inspired her to become a youth basketball coach for her community and, later on, the founder of her activewear brand, Kalsoni. As a youth basketball coach, Mohamed wanted to empower girls to play basketball regardless of where they came from and, most importantly, to embrace and wear their hijab proudly. Her interest in advocating for more inclusion in sports, regardless of religion or culture, became an initial steppingstone for her brand. This interest peaked at Augsburg University, where Mohamed participated in an undergraduate research project that proved clothing was the number one reason why East Asian Muslimas weren’t physically 40

active or participating in sports. Her interest grew when she became involved with a University of Minnesota project that encouraged young women to design their own activewear. These experiences provided her with the encouragement to let her creativity flow. Her first design project was to create a modest uniform for her team. She then drafted a business plan and started pitching in competitions where entrepreneurs competed for funding. However, Mohamed found that these competitions weren’t a good fit for her ideas, because her audience didn’t usually include people who could see a direct

Mohamed shifted her focus to grants and incubator programs, specifically through Target. “They selected ten businesses to work with, from clothing and food to baby products, and they taught us so much — concepts such as marketing and sales strategies, how to build a business, social media techniques and other important skills.” Mohamed and her fellow members graduated by crafting and presenting a pitch. She continued learning and wasn’t afraid to edit her business plan. “I wanted to make sure I know how to build a business, as well as find the best fabric for hijabs and tops. I wanted to ensure that I provide the best quality clothing for women,” she added. In the beginning of 2022, Mohamed launched Kalsoni. In Somali, Kalsoni means confidence. “I wanted to ensure that any woman who wants to dress modestly while being active should feel confident about what she’s wearing,” Mohamed said. While she built Kalsoni to create modest activewear for Muslimas, her customer demographic evolved as women from diverse backgrounds began looking for more modest clothing while being physically active or traveling. Kalsoni products are now being shipped to Canada, Norway, and Africa. Eventually, Mohamed joined a program through REI, a retail and outdoor recreation

If investors looked like me or my community or even understood the problem, I think the results would have been different.”



In Memoriam: Loai El-Gazairly A Man of Integrity 1958-2023


store, and was able to display her products in two of their Minneapolis locations. “That opportunity of building relationships with major retailers took Kalsoni to the next step in showcasing that we don’t have to go shopping at the men’s section,” Mohamed said. “Folks didn’t have to shop online and wait for their orders to be delivered.”


As Kalsoni continues to grow and reach new customers, Mohamed hopes to exhibit her products in more stores outside of Minnesota. “Alhamdulillah, I’m really lucky that in our Somali community that when one sister wins, we all win,” she said. “My goal is to be able to spread out the production and bring it over to different states and countries so that it’s easily accessible.” She also hopes to not only build collections, but also experiences. To carry that vision forward, Mohamed now closely works with Girls on the Run, a national nonprofit that combines exercise and education to promote healthy lifestyles for young girls. She provides sports hijabs for girls running the annual Girls on the Run 5K. “I want to continue building relationships with organizations that work with Muslim athletes and strengthen partnerships with schools, nonprofits, and sports organizations,” she said. Through clothing, Mohamed hopes to connect women from all over the world. “I want to be of service to people and bring together a community of women, not only Muslim women but all women in a space where they can be comfortable with one other.” ih Sanaa Asif, a student at Hinsdale Central High School, is an avid reader and loves to learn about other people’s stories.



oai El-Gazairly, the husband of Dr. Julie A. Belz (former member, ISNA Majlis Ash Shura) passed away on Aug. 22 in Richmond, Va. He was a man of integrity and a model professional who contributed to the Muslim community and American society at large. He was a graduate of the University of Alexandria’s (Egypt) School of Engineering as the valedictorian of his class. He received his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech in civil engineering with a specialization in bridge design. During his 35-year career, El-Gazairly designed and served as project manager for numerous multimillion-dollar bridges and interchanges worldwide, including Boston’s Central Tunnel, Maryland’s Purple Line Metro, Delaware’s Indian River Inlet Bridge, the I-64 Interchange in St. Louis, Louisiana’s John James Audubon Bridge and Virginia’s I-895 Pocahontas Parkway. At the time of his death, he was the project manager for the District of Columbia’s 11th Street Bridge Park. El-Gazairly was the son of Judge Farid Fahmy El-Gazairly, former chief justice of the Egyptian Court of Appeals, and Siza El-Gohary, a certified descendent (musharif) of the Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). His paternal grandfather was a poet and scholar whose works are housed in the Library of Alexandria and featured in an Egyptian documentary. His maternal grandfather was a navy admiral who commanded the defense of Egypt’s 1,000-mile Mediterranean coast. While El-Gazairly’s career accomplishments are considerable, his greatest qualities were his devotion to his family and his deen, the practice of which was interwoven throughout his community and domestic life. He was constantly participating in sadaqa, including housing and feeding refugees, tutoring math students, and funding medical procedures and hajj for the miskeen. A warmhearted and fun-loving husband, he was generous and kind, always smiling at his wife, praying with her at home before work and after dinner and taking her to the mosque for tarawih prayers. One of her best memories is a shining example of his kindness and deen. Although he had made hajj and umra several times, he wanted to complete another umra with his wife before his passing. However, when the time came for their trip in December 2022, she had to stay home to care for her mother in home hospice. While in Makkah, he facetimed with her so she could view his running between Safa and Marwa and when he was close to the Ka‘bah so she could make du’a for her dying mother in its view. El-Gazairly is survived by his wife, two daughters, one stepdaughter, two stepsons, two nephews, his mother and brother. ih


ISLA Marches Toward the Future Understanding Full-Time Islamic Schools in the US BY SAMAR AL-MAJAIDEH


n the dynamic, data-oriented domain of education, full-time Islamic schools in the U.S. require a comprehensive understanding and strategic analysis. First established in the 1990s, their roots can be traced back to the 1930s University of Islam — renamed the Clara Muhammad Schools in 1978 — which initiated this country’s Islamic education movement. Despite these schools’ growth, substantial knowledge gaps persist about their status, trends, governance, and societal integration. To bridge these gaps, the Islamic Schools League of America (ISLA) launched its groundbreaking ISLA Database Project in November 2021. This study builds upon two previous studies conducted to form a comprehensive picture of Islamic schools in the U.S. The first one, published in 1989 by ISNA in an obscure booklet entitled “In-Depth Study of Full-Time Islamic Schools in North America: Results and Data Analysis,” estimated the number of full-time Islamic schools at approximately fifty. A second study was conducted in 2011 by ISLA’s executive director Karen Keyworth (d. 2017). Entitled “Islamic Schools of the United States: Data-Based Profiles” and published by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), it stated that “the number of Islamic schools recorded was 235 schools” (2011). Today, ISLA’s Directory of Islamic Schools provides the figure of approximately 320 such schools.

and strategic planning.


Through this initiative, ISLA aspires to elevate the Islamic school community by promoting a culture of informed decision-making through data and nurturing bonds both within and beyond this community. Its mission is to identify and understand these schools’ characteristics by building an updated directory and a data-based profile. Eight key research questions guide its scope: ◆ How many full-time Islamic schools are there in the U.S.? ◆ What are their key characteristics? ◆ What is their demographic profile? ◆ How do they manifest leadership? ◆ How do they approach teaching and learning? ◆ What resources do they have access to?


The ISLA Database Project’s focus revolves around full-time Islamic schools in the U.S., with two pivotal objectives: ➤ Developing an Updated, Compre­ hensive Directory of Islamic Schools: Its goal is to craft an exhaustive current directory of these schools. This target serves as a crucial resource for stakeholders in education. ➤ Building a Data-Driven Profile of Islamic Schools: This endeavor seeks to formulate a wide-ranging, data-base profile that will provide insights into facets of Islamic schools to drive informed decisions 42


◆ What are their growth trends? ◆ What are the top three challenges they face? Answers to each research question will provide a foundation for future research and allow full-time Islamic schools in the U.S., organizations that serve them and researchers interested in American Muslims education to build upon in seminal ways and/or direct their services and programs to address the established needs.


To fulfill these objectives effectively, ISLA embarked on a comprehensive initial study that harnessed diverse resources (e.g., scholarly articles, industry reports and expert opinions) that offered significant information on how to design an effective survey and identified pertinent data points. In addition, ISLA ensured a collaborative approach in the survey’s development by

engaging various stakeholders, among them Islamic school principals, board members, parents, Muslim educators, and education researchers.


Since its inception, the ISLA database project has realized numerous key accomplishments: ① Promoting Data Culture: The project instilled a data-driven culture among Islamic schools, thereby highlighting the signifi-

project has made significant strides in data collection, with 110 full-time Islamic schools completing the Islamic School Profile Survey. ④ Stakeholder Reports: Preliminary reports about the initial findings have been shared with stakeholders and donors, promoting transparency and inclusivity. ⑤ In-Depth Data Analysis: Currently, ISLA is deeply involved in analyzing the data to draw valuable insights.

Through this initiative, ISLA aspires to elevate the Islamic school community by promoting a culture of informed decision-making through data and nurturing bonds both within and beyond this community. cance of data for strategic decision-making and educational advancement. ② Community Engagement: A broad engagement with the Islamic school community has been achieved, fostering a sense of shared purpose, and promoting growth. ③ Extensive Data Collection: The

⑥ Updated School Directory: The collected data has been used to update ISLA’s existing school directory. ⑦ Collaborative Efforts: The project has greatly benefited from collaborations with organizations like ISPU (Institute for Social Policy and Understanding).


As the ISLA database project continues, we are committed to expanding its scope and enhancing its impact. ① Research Collaborations: We plan to partner with more research organizations for in-depth data analysis, thereby enabling us to reveal valuable insights into trends and challenges in Islamic education. ② Variety of Reports: We aim to convert our findings into various report formats, ensuring the information is accessible and beneficial to a wide range of audiences, including school leaders, parents, and researchers. ③ Communication and Sharing: We will share our findings as broadly as possible, thereby maximizing their use for the benefit of Islamic education. ④ Interactive Map: We are developing an interactive map on our website to visualize the updated Islamic school directory, providing a more intuitive user experience. ⑤ Continuous Data Collection: A brief survey collecting public information will remain active to capture new data from emerging and evolving schools. This ongoing

data collection will help keep the ISLA directory current and valuable. ⑥ User Feedback and Volunteer Com­ mittee: Feedback from users will guide our future enhancements to the project. Additionally, a volunteer committee will be established to help identify new Islamic schools. ⑦ Regular Updates: We plan to schedule regular database updates to ensure that it remains an invaluable resource for the Islamic school community. The ongoing ISLA Database Project signifies a major step forward in understanding and leveraging the role of Islamic schools in the U.S. By equipping school leaders with robust, comprehensive data, the project aims to stimulate informed decision-making, efficient governance, and progressive growth. By balancing past insights with present needs, the project holds a promising future in shaping the Islamic educational landscape. For a more detailed overview of the project’s progress, visit the project blog post at ih Samar al-Majaideh, Ed.D. is research project manager, ISLA.

Position Title: Imam Location: ICSJ 612 Garfield Ave, Palmyra NJ Duration: Full-time Salary: Commensurate with qualification and experience. About us: Islamic Center of South Jersey (ICSJ), located in Palmyra, NJ, is a nonprofit organization serving the religious, educational, cultural and social needs of Muslims in South Jersey, NJ. Our Center serves as a masjid (daily prayers, Friday/Jummah prayer, Eid prayer, collection and distribution of Zakat, Fitra, and Sadaqa funds), as well as a Sunday school, and a gathering place for the Muslim community in the region, offering various classes and programs. ICSJ promotes closer cooperation and understanding among the people of all faiths and strives to contribute to the social, cultural, spiritual and economic betterment of the whole community. Position Qualifications: • U.S Citizen. • Fluent in Arabic and English (Urdu a plus). • Graduate from an accredited Islamic Institute. • Knowledge of Islamic Fiqh, Shariah, Quran and Hadith. • Ability to teach and communicate effectively with all age groups. • Excellent skills in delivering khutbahs, lectures and public speaking. • Good understanding of other religions and interfaith dialogue. • Highly desirable to have memorized the entire Quran. To apply., please forward your resume to:




Making Classrooms Truly Inclusive How special education experts aim for equity for all students BY LISA KAHLER


Among visible and invisible disabilities are the following: autism, blindness or visual impairment, deafness or hearing impairment, emotional disturbance, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, specific learning disability, speech or language impairment and traumatic brain injury. Alam is a strong advocate for changing how people think of a disability. She believes that we need action, but before that we must change our perspective to act effectively. We need to acknowledge that people with disabilities and special needs have so much to offer as well. After all… “The best charity a Muslim can practice is acquiring knowledge and teaching it to his/her brother/sister” (“Sunan Ibn Majah”).




onsider for a moment how you view individuals with disabilities. Are they a benefit, a burden, or a friend? How did our Prophet Mohammad (sallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) treat others? He taught us by differentiating his words and demeanor based on the individual’s needs. The prophetic model provides us with an example of teaching and learning that can be implemented in every school and Muslim organization for the benefit of all Muslims. Today we may see children of all abilities to have access to some form of education. However, it wasn’t always this way. With the advent of industrialization came the need for social conformity and mass schooling. During the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 60s, educators realized that some students were different or “neurodivergent.” Differentiation became part of the special education classroom but didn’t enter mainstream classrooms in various forms until the latter part of the 20th century, and has since gained momentum.


In the U.S., special education is considered a civil rights issue. All students with disabilities are entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). U.S. federal law 44

requires public schools to provide such programs and the federal government to fund a significant portion of them. Islamic Horizons spoke with Omaira Alam at the 24th Annual ISNA Education Forum in May 2023, where she gave a presentation on “Special Education: Praxis & Pedagogy for Islamic Schools.” Currently, special education is moving toward inclusive classrooms. “According to a 2018 Education Next report, more than 60% of students with special needs are now included in general education classes for at least 80% of the day,” Alam said. “This reflects society’s acceptance of children with special needs. However, this does not mean that all schools treat them equitably. Physically including students in the classroom is only the foundation.” Private schools that receive any type of federal funding must not just include such students, but accommodate students with disabilities as well, provided that only minor adjustments are needed. Schools in general can accommodate students with mild to moderate disabilities, or with invisible needs such as a learning disability. Private schools that receive no federal funding are not required to accept or accommodate students with disabilities.


Alam said that differentiation is the creation of multiple paths so that students of different abilities, interests, or learning needs experience equitably appropriate ways to absorb, use, develop and present concepts as a part of the daily learning process. It allows students to take greater responsibility and ownership for their own learning and provides opportunities for peer teaching and cooperative learning. By explicitly addressing each student’s needs, we can provide the best possible environment for everyone to learn and succeed and become successful Muslims. “Special education or inclusive education isn’t just about differentiation, but differentiation is a big component of it,” she added. “Islamic schools would do well to include proper training on differentiation to give teachers the tools to reach all students. Many of the disabilities, like learning and emotional disabilities, are also known as hidden disabilities. Teachers may not even be aware that they have students with mild to moderate levels of these disabilities. With proper training, differentiation is not expensive and can alleviate issues before they become unmanageable and schools end up removing students. Even with all neurotypical students, differentiation should be used in any classroom. MUHSEN (Muslims Understanding and Helping Special Education Needs) is filling this void in the Muslim community. It has certified more than 20 weekend schools so that individuals with different disabilities,

ages, and learning abilities can come together for the sake of Allah and sense of belonging in their community. Students with special needs are given individualized lesson plans that focus on their needs, but also provide them the opportunity to learn and achieve success in their deen. MUHSEN believes that the Muslim community needs action, but before that we need to change our perspective to act effectively. We need to acknowledge that people with disabilities and special needs have so much to offer as well.

Fatima may prefer visual aids along with verbal cues. She cannot sit still for long and enjoys participating in discussions, particularly debates. Meanwhile, Ahmed enjoys being the center of attention, has a keen understanding of nature and biology and is an audio learner.


Learning even occurs outside of the classroom in areas that students have access to, including restrooms, hallways, playgrounds,

Currently, special education is moving toward inclusive classrooms. According to a 2018 special Education Next report, more than 60% of students with special needs are now included in general education classes for at least 80% of the day. DIFFERENTIATION IN THE CLASSROOM

In addition to classroom observation, having access to each student’s individual education plan (IEP) is important. IEPs should be requested from all parents at the beginning of the school year in case they may not be as forthcoming about the support their child needs. There are five main areas of differentiation in school settings: instructional, engagement, environmental, classroom, and prevention strategies.


Some ways to differentiate include reducing reading level, peer tutoring, opportunities to discuss, shortened assignments, highlighted text, assignment notebook, and manipulatives. Some teachers also have success with preferential seating, extended time on assignments, positive reinforcements, reading supports, small group instruction, frequent and immediate feedback, and graphic organizers.


Educators should learn students’ interests and fears and examine triggers for stress and disengagement. They should assess each student’s abilities, not for grading purposes, but to observe and create a chart. For example,

musalla, etc. Inclusive schools should have an accessible playground, green spaces, and perhaps even a school or community garden. Several studies have shown that nature provides a nurturing, healing environment for students that can increase overall concentration and focus. Students that are hyperactive, have minimal attention spans, and/or have an inability to remember classroom routines can all benefit from learning that incorporates nature. A study by the California Department of Education showed a 27% increase in science scores due to classes in outdoor education settings.


Educators should prepare their daily classroom routine to incorporate elements of prevention, redirection, and intervention. The classroom routine should be consistent. Post class schedules and transitions, and include visual cues and oral reminders. Students should be informed of changes. Use work blocks and timers to help chunk student learning. Verbal communications should be concise, clear, and literal to help students focus on the task at hand and not become distracted or confused. Sensory breaks and designated quiet spaces allow students space and time to withdraw from over-stimulation. It is important to remember that the teacher sets the tone for the classroom. “One strategy that can help all students would be for educators to clearly repeat instructions. They should include visual cues (handouts, whiteboard) and model the expected steps,” Alam concluded. ih Lisa Kahler is a longtime educator with experience in private Islamic schools, nonprofits, and county offices of education. She currently sits on the Steering Committee of the Shura Council’s Annual SoCal Educator Retreat and is co-chair of ISLA’s Annual African & African American Muslim History Contest. Omaira Alam, MA, George Washington University, is an educational consultant with 20+ years of school experience. She works with the U.S. Department of State, MUHSEN, Muslim Kids TV, and has founded an education consultancy: BlackBoard / WhiteChalk. (

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Observe the classroom’s arrangement. The teacher’s desk should be at the back to allow them to actively engage with the students instead of a place for sitting during class. Desks and learning centers should be arranged to allow for maximum movement, group work, and hands-on activities. Decor should be intentional and related to class learning without being overstimulating. The classroom should be neat, organized, and contain a dedicated mindfulness space that provides a respite for overstimulated students and an opportunity for the teacher to model prayer and reflection daily. • (317) 839-8157

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Your Rights as an Airline Passenger BY CAIR STAFF


ravel in the United States as a Muslim has become a challenge for many. Muslims are often subjected to the discriminatory behavior because of the color of their skin and are disrespected on account of their faith. The introduction to CAIR’s watchlist report states in part: “For more than twenty years, the FBI has detained, surveilled, harassed, and destroyed the lives of innocent Muslims. The public record amply documents how this abuse, inflicted via always-expanding FBI powers, led not to a reduction in terrorism, but painful, farcical, and often dangerous abuse of Muslims...It has long been clear to the Muslim community that the FBI’s list is nothing more than a list of innocent Muslims...Of the watchlist entries we’ve reviewed, we estimate that more than 1.47 million of those entries are aboutMuslims – more than 98 percent of the total...” It is important to know that as an airline passenger, you are entitled to courteous, respectful and non-stigmatizing treatment by airline and security personnel. It is illegal for law enforcement officials to perform any stops, searches, detentions, or removals based solely on your race, religion, national origin, sex, or ethnicity. If you believe you have been treated in a discriminatory manner, you should: ■ Ask for the names and ID number of all persons involved in the incident. Be sure to write down this information. ■ Ask to speak to a supervisor. ■ Politely ask if you have been singled out because of your name, looks, dress, race, ethnicity, faith, or national origin. ■ Politely ask witnesses to give you their names and contact information. ■ Write a statement of facts immediately after the incident. Be sure to include the flight number, date, and the name of the airline. 46


■ Contact CAIR to file a report. If you are leaving the country, leave a detailed message with the information above at 202-4888787 or at It is important to note the following: ■ A customs agent has the right to stop, detain and search every person and item. ■ Screeners have the authority to conduct a further search of you or your bags. ■ A pilot has the right to refuse to fly a passenger if he or she believes the passenger is a threat to the safety of the flight. The pilot’s decision must be reasonable and based on observations, not stereotypes — a move initiated by the American Civil Liberties Union.


Individuals experiencing difficulties during travel at airports, train stations, or U.S. borders may be on either the no-fly or selectee list. It is very difficult to determine if you are on one of these lists. You may be on the selectee list if you are unable to check in online or at airport kiosks and have to line up at the ticketing counter instead. You should eventually be permitted to fly. The no-fly list, on the other hand, prohibits individuals from flying at all. If you are able to board an airplane, regardless of the amount of questioning or screening, then you are not on the no-fly list. If you are constantly subjected to advanced screening or are prevented from boarding your flight, you should file a complaint with DHS TRIP at Most people who file with DHS TRIP are not actually on a watch list and that service can resolve most problems. If you are experiencing difficulties traveling, you should contact CAIR to file a report at 202-488-8787 or ih




Bosnia’s Balancing Act Navigating the Chasm between Collapse and Renewal BY EMIN POLJAREVIC



osnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is diplomatic triumph that ended the Croatian a Muslim-majority state in south- aggressions and Serbian forces’ three-year eastern Europe that encapsulates the genocidal aggression against BiH, the newly complexities of post-1992-95-war — and now independent — former Yugoslav politics and ethno-religious divisions. Its society is constituted primarily of three large ethnic groups divided along religious lines: Bosniaks (Muslims), Serbs (Orthodox Christians), Croats (Catholics) and other minorities. After Yugoslavia was dismembered during the 1990s, BiH was divided into two autonomous administrative entities with their own parliaments: the Republika Srpska (RS [49%]) and the Federation of BiH (51%), as dictated by the U.S-hosted Dayton Agreement peace plan. This peace agreement serves as the legal basis upon which this current state project is based. It outlines the country’s weak presidency, which is essentially a council of three representatives of the constitutive ethnic groups, that is in charge of the cross-entity security agencies, fiscal policies and border control. Other autonomous cantonal and municipal A view of the Old City of Travnik in Central Bosnia entities decide issues pertaining to healthcare, education and other policies. republic located in eastern BiH. At the same time, however, the peace agreement has also EUROPEAN RAJ contributed to institutionalizing these ethnic The Dayton Agreement reserves the coun- and religious divisions. try’s most powerful political role for the Almost three decades after the agreement European Union’s High Representative was signed, the metamorphosed extremist (EUHR). Briefly, this person is a mod- Serbian and Croatian nationalist forces are ern-day European Raj, a guardian over the calling for BiH’s disintegration. The EUHR is state’s political framework with exclusive mostly sitting and observing what’s going on, wide-ranging powers that include the right taking no significant action to stop this proto remove any publicly elected government cess, and thereby enabling the Serbian and officials and to appoint judges and justices. Croatian nationalists’ destructive campaign It is worthwhile remembering that the to continue. Such passivity also contradicts Dayton Accords of 1995, the precursor its institutionalized role — to support BiH’s to the peace agreement, were hailed as a territorial integrity and sovereignty. 48


Added to this, the combination of the current political structure, endemic corruption and economic hardship, persistent Islamophobia and the Bosniaks’ internal political disunity has produced an unsustainable sociopolitical and volatile environment in the country. Milorad Dodik, the polarizing extremist nationalist Serb leader and president of Republika Srpska, currently under the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctions, embodies the separatist ambitions threatening Bosnia’s territorial integrity. His controversial stances, ranging from secessionist policies to explicit denials of the Bosniak genocide, have made him not a cause, but rather a catalyst for instability. His recent political maneuvers, such as refusing to obey the Constitutional Court’s legislative decisions, have both destabilized RS and had a ripple effect on the entire country. This situation further strains inter-ethnic relations and complicates the functioning of other legislative and diplomatic efforts. In the light of these factors and the geopolitical situation, the fragility of the country’s state institutions is not merely a local issue, but has broader implications for regional stability and international peace. If left unaddressed, these layers of complexity can cascade into instability across the Balkans, thereby leading to another bloody conflict that will inevitably lead to a range of humanitarian crises.


There are no easy answers to this question. What we do know is that any realistic answers depend on the ambition and

awareness of those competent and informed individuals who can provide them. For example, the EU and its allies, primarily the U.S., would need to assert their commitment and resources to guarantee BiH’s territorial integrity. This will only happen if the EU member states and its political elite muster enough political will to do something constructive. Mustering such will in political environments dominated by increased levels of ethno-fascism and Islamophobia is even more difficult. We might also wonder why domestic political parties aren’t proposing any substantial improvements. The fact is that no major political party — especially those dominated by the Bosniaks — offers a coherent political vision in which a unified and stable BiH would be possible and where all citizens, regardless of their religious or ethnic belonging, could be safe and integrated. But regardless of any visions and concrete propositions coming from designated foreign or domestic political actors, any change requires a plan that reforms the entire constitutional framework and institutional structure. In a world dominated by hardwired nation-states, constitutions are operating systems. The desire to construct a constitution anchored in a widely accepted and publicly agreed upon document by the citizens, one that offers clearly defined institutional functions and balance of powers among the various branches and levels of government, is a distant dream in deeply divided BiH. As of now, incentives for radical and constructive change and for integrating the disunited BiH are few and far between. The existing political elites seem to be chronically paralyzed and unable to generate any new ideas and initiatives to resolve this deadlock. Both the EU and the U.S. seem to be uninterested and unable to aid and sustain any constructive solution(s).


If the goal is to generate a sustainable coexistence, spark political creativity and produce coherent visions, then this ambition must come from the people themselves. Consider the following: A significant number of Bosnian youth are largely disillusioned, highly educated, and cosmopolitan in their outlook on life. As such, they can be said to have the potential to generate, spark, and produce needed solutions.

I would argue that they can be a constructive force in terms of creating a fertile ground for future reforms and conflict resolution so that BiH can survive as the Bosniak’s only homeland. I further believe that this potential, in combination with the domestic tradition of tolerance and coexistence in BiH, is an important part of the solution to a list of endemic internal problems. This domestic tradition of tolerance and coexistence is, anthropologically speaking, a deep-seated part of Bosniak culture that is rarely separated or distinct from everyday life. It is worthwhile to reflect on the slow and organic Islamization of the Bosnian

Ottomans. Despite difficulties, the historical records and subsequent analyses show that Bosnian Muslims were resilient and committed enough to maintain their intellectual and religious connections with the Muslim East, while at the same time being flexible enough to adapt to Western ideas and realities of the nation-state. Out of these collective experiences and subsequent traumas, this relatively small Muslim community developed the Bosniaks’ ethic of merhamet — goodness and compassion. This ethic was both praised and criticized internally during the 1992-95 aggression on BiH. A number of Bosnian intellec-

The EUHR is mostly sitting and observing what’s going on, taking no significant action to stop this process, and thereby enabling the Serbian and Croatian nationalists’ destructive campaign to continue. vilajet, which became an Ottoman province during the 15th century. This historically analyzable process of toleration and coexistence developed in several of its urban centers, especially from the early 16th century onward. Bosnian Muslims from that era, as well as today, experienced Islam as a global phenomenon that cut across political, cultural and social divides. The existence of Orthodox Christian or Sephardic Jewish congregations (millets), Catholic institutions and cultural communities existed side by side with their Muslim neighbors under the auspices of Ottoman sultans, appointed viziers, pashas and other officials. The Sephardic community was composed primarily of refugees from the Catholic conquests of Iberia’s Emirate of Granada during the late 15th century. Despite short periods of intercommunal tension, the religious diversity allowed for a thriving coexistence in which toleration was the norm. This was also true when the Bosnian polity and its diverse populations came under the rule of the Habsburg Empire in the second half of the 19th century, even though the Bosniaks suddenly lost any privileges they might have enjoyed under the

tuals criticized it as too pacifist or rather naïve, especially during the period preceding the war. Others praised it because it discouraged the Bosniaks from taking revenge or destroying Orthodox and Catholic symbols and places of worship. This centuries-old resilience, based on the Bosnian Muslims’ collective experiences, shared ethic and heightened sense of toleration, represent important cultural resources that are sorely needed for generating coexistence, creativity, and visions of a brighter future. One can only hope that youth of other ethnic minorities will be able to overcome their respective ethno-chauvinistic political agendas. One potential answer to “What can be done?” is to construct positive ways through which today’s generation of hyperconnected and cosmopolitan Bosniak youth can engage with these cultural resources in order to at least start addressing the currently unsustainable and endemic problems of disunity, corruption, hatred and separatism. The first step in this engagement process must be education. After all, the first word of the Quranic revelation was iqra’ — Read! ih Emin Poljarevic is an associate professor of Islamic studies at Universiti Brunei Darussalam.




The Rohingya Aren’t Safe Anywhere A people living in limbo BY JUSTICE FOR ALL AND ITS BURMA TASK FORCE STAFF

On August 25, 2023, Rohingya attended a rally at the Kutupalong Rohingya camp in Ukhia, Bangladesh. They commemorated the sixth anniversary of a mass exodus from Myanmar and paid tribute to slain leader Mohib Ullah.


or decades, Myanmar’s government, military and some of its Buddhist monks and laity have persecuted the Muslim-minority Rohingya of Rakhine State on the grounds that they are “illegal immigrants from Bangladesh” (BBC, Jan. 23, 2020). On August 25, 2017, the military launched its genocidal “Area Cleansing” operation, claiming to avenge attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a selfstyled armed group, on local police posts after weeks of a military enforced lockdown that created hunger in the state’s villages. The infamous and brutal battalions arbitrarily killed, burned and bulldozed hundreds of dwellings, looted properties and destroyed all signs of the Rohingya’s existence. Since then, Cox’s Bazar has hosted 1 million Rohingya refugees in its Kutupalong refugee camp.


uneducated Rohingya males. Ruling as a government in exile, it gained greater influence around 2019 and, according to many Rohingya, seemed to be colluding with the Bangladesh Armed Police Battalion (ABPN). For example, ABPN supported ARSA’s destruction of the Munna gang in 2020. Drug smuggling, extortion, kidnapping, torture, arbitrary imprisonment, and other

The international community and organizations, especially Islamic ones, need to seriously start advocating for their rights as refugees. They need to recognize that since the 2021 coup, the extremist Myanmar junta has little incentive to restore their rights and homes.

ARSA members and other gangs now control the camp and are recruiting young and 50

crimes have increased. ABPN couldn’t secure the rule of law due to large-scale internal corruption and accepting bribes from drug smugglers. ARSA extorts money and sometimes tortures drug smugglers if they don’t pay the full bribe. As these smugglers recruit young Rohingya boys for their security and give them weapons, the number of weapons and gangs have increased. These gangs, grown strong due to ABPN’s weakness, have become a threat. When prominent leader Mohib Ullah (of the Arakan Rohingya Society) was assassinated in 2020, he was working to unite Arakan’s villages. The authorities and ARSA, feeling threatened that ordinary Rohingyas were following his instructions, sought to maintain their control by killing him. Since then, the ensuing instability has led to more of the following: gangs, arbitrary arrests, human trafficking, destruction of sources of livelihood and a higher level of insecurity for everyone. During their first year in the camp, the refugees tried to recover from their communal trauma. However, the hardships experienced now exceed what they faced in Arakan (Rakhine) state. Within six years, 1,000 Rohingya died in camps and thousands more languished inside prisons across Asia. The Rohingya crisis has gone international. One camp-based activist mentioned, “We are going through dark days in the camp … as it seems this unstable situation is … created intentionally so that we would never


How Much Longer?


decades of violence and discrimination in Myanmar. Those refugees living in Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia seek what all refugees seek: safety, a better life, and an end to their stateless condition. However, they face similar negative realities wherever they find themselves. The international community and organizations, especially Islamic ones, need to start seriously advocating for their rights as refugees. They need to recognize that since the 2021 coup, the extremist Myanmar junta has had little incentive to restore their rights and homes. ➤ Bangladesh. This country’s estimated 1 million Rohingya, living in an area of just over 115 square miles, face severe overcrowding, which leads to a lack of privacy, poor sanitation and the spread of disease. Many live in makeshift shelters of bamboo and tarpaulins, which are not durable and offer little protection from the elements. Their limited access to food and water leads to malnutrition and dehydration, especially among children. The inadequate number of health care facilities means that many refugees have no access to essential medicines and thus have to contend with outbreaks of cholera, malaria, diphtheria, and other diseases. And as if all of that isn’t

enough, they also have to contend with their children’s limited access to education as well as the ongoing violence (e.g., kidnappings and assassinations) and exploitation. Women and children between 12-18 years are particularly vulnerable. ➤ India. The 40,000 Rohingya in India face detention in camps/prisons, are often denied access to legal representation and subjected to poor conditions. They also face discrimination from the locals and are often denied jobs, housing and education. Perhaps worst of all, New Delhi refuses to grant them asylum, which leaves them in legal limbo with no clear path to citizenship or permanent residency. ➤ Malaysia. Many of Malaysia’s 180,000 Rohingya have to contend with their “undocumented” status and thus are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. In addition to having limited access to basic services such as education, healthcare, and housing, they risk being deported back to Myanmar. ➤ Saudi Arabia. The 558,000 Rohingya in Saudi Arabia face deportation to Bangladesh, given that Riyadh has forcibly returned thousands of them in recent years. Not only are they refused asylum, but they are also exploited by employers and often denied basic rights.

return to our country and will end our lives as displaced people.” According to an on-the-ground analysis, crime rates have doubled over the past three years. Gangs kill at least one or two people every day, and several smaller ones fight each night. Each gang has its own territory; however, given that ARSA has tried to dominate them, all gangs are trying to destroy it. Beyond this, almost 95% of them are jobless because Dhaka has blocked all income sources and local politicians don’t want them taking jobs from locals. And then there is the fear, according to one Rohingya youth, of going to another camp “because any gang there may torture me if they don’t know me personally. … Just a few days ago, a religious scholar was stabbed to death in

front of others at around 10 a.m. and no one spoke up because they would also be killed if they did.” Understandably, some Rohingya have begun searching for a secure life elsewhere either by sea or by land to Malaysia via human traffickers. In the last two years, nearly 5,000 refugees have left the camp — only half have reached Malaysia. Others were arrested in Myanmar and charged with traveling illegally or died due to capsized boats or starvation in the jungle. A Rohingya humanitarian worker who entrusted his son to a broker stated, “The broker brought them to Rathidaung, Arakan state. As soon as my son reached Sharmila, a village in Rathidaung, the broker beat him and forced me to pay. I paid, but my son

his persecuted minorit y has faced

couldn’t go to Malaysia. They sent him back to the camp.” As one camp resident explained, many Rohingya women are sent to Malaysia to be married. Rohingya men leave to make a better life. Sometimes women and girls are sold to brokers and gang raped on the way. Currently, hundreds of girls are in prisons. Her own daughter and others, taking the sea route, were continually harassed by the brokers and abandoned when they reached the Thai jungle. Saved by the Thai Navy, they are now languishing in a Thai refugee camp. Bill Frelick writes that the UN World Food Program’s reduction of monthly food rations from $12 to $10 to $8 a head, which made hunger a serious problem (June 2, 2023), has caused more refugees than ever to leave the camp despite the above-mentioned dangers. But it seems that whether they stay or go, they always encounter abuse. Half of the Rohingya who’ve made it to India have been sent to detention centers. When they demanded to be released in early August 2023, the Indian security force fired tear gas at them, injuring many and killing a baby. They live in fear of sudden deportation to Myanmar, as India has used that option before. A Rohingya mother asked, “Why can’t India, a large country and the biggest democratic nation in the world help her very small minority of people, the most persecuted minority in the world?” ih Prepared by Justice For All and its Burma Task Force staff on the occasion of the Sixth Anniversary of the Genocide against the Rohingya people (https://www.justiceforall. org/burma-task-force/; August 2023). Copyedited with permission.




Banning the Abaya What else is to be banned for French Muslimas? BY MONIA MAZIGH


t the end of August, a few days before the schools opened, the newly appointed French education minister Gabriel Attal announced in a memorandum that wearing the abaya, a large and long traditional dress worn by women on top of other attire, will be prohibited in public schools. The ban extended also to the qamis, a long tunic usually worn by men in several Muslim countries. The minister justified the ban as an urgent act to defend and preserve the principle of laïcité (secularism) in the French school system. “L’abaya has no place in our schools,” emphasized Attal in a press conference. He insisted that this ban is a response to school principals who requested clear instructions about this type of attire. What’s really strange here is that this “pick and choose” much anticipated dress code only applied to the abaya, despite the fact that the minister never clearly defined what it looks like. Thus, school principals can interpret and apply the ban as they wish. The same memorandum made a dangerous and misleading association between the assassination of high school teacher Samuel Paty in 2020 by a Chechen refugee with the increase of religious attire worn by students — understood here as Muslim students. (Reported by B.F. with AFP, www., Aug. 28, 2003).


But how did such an association come to be normalized and accepted as a justification of the ban? What does the wearing of this traditional garment have to do with killing and violence? In an interview with a French journalist, President Macron mentioned Paty’s killing in his reply to a question about the abaya ban. Cornered by the journalist Hugo Travers, Macron denied “making any parallel” between the two events (BMFTV). Nevertheless, the impression Macron left was his subtle attempt to “weaponize” abayas worn by a minority of young Muslimas and make it sound like a dangerous item 52

that is “testing the principles of the French Republic.” Banning the abaya is neither surprising nor unexpected. Ever since this obsession with Muslima’s bodies began in 1989, the debate on religious symbols in French schools hasn’t stopped. It started with “the scarf affair,” when three middle school Muslima students were suspended for refusing to remove their headscarves. At that time, the French minister of education issued a statement that gave the school principals the latitude to judge on a case-by-case basis whether to remove or keep the headscarves. Thirty years later, things remain pretty much the same, for this latest additional ban makes the school principals the sole interpreter of the memorandum. Instead of stopping, the debate continued and became even more controversial. In 2003, President Jacques Chirac appointed a commission to examine the “interaction between secularism and religious symbols in schools.” That same commission released a report that recommended the banning of ostentatious religious signs in school.


In 2004, the first official law banning the “conspicuous” religious sign was born, and the hijab became its first target. Muslimas who wanted to wear it as a sign of religious observance or modesty had to remove it before entering the school. The principals would stand in front of the main entrance to check and prevent them from entering if they refused to do so. Many Muslimas tried to get around the new law by wearing bandanas, a square colourful kerchief mostly painted in paisley. But even that was banned, depending on who was wearing it. Elaine Sciolino, writing for the New York Times on Jan. 20, 2004, explained that, in effect, a Muslima wearing a bandana wouldn’t be allowed to enter the school, but a non-Muslima wearing it as a fashion statement could. This opened the door to racial profiling and arbitrariness.


In 2010, another law was passed to ban the niqab, a full-face full body covering. France became the first European country to introduce such legislation; other European countries have since followed. Niqabis in public space would be fined 150 euros (US $160). The law, challenged in the European Court of Human Rights, was upheld after the court accepted the argument advanced by Paris of a “certain idea of living together.” In 2016, another public controversy arose over the burkini (the full-body swimsuit). The picture of a Muslima napping on the beach in Nice, southern France, surrounded by four police officers who asked her to remove her burkini, considered a symbol of Islamic extremism, went viral. Once again,

In 2004, the first official law banning the “conspicuous” religious sign was born, and the hijab became its first target. Muslimas who wanted to wear it as a sign of religious observance or modesty had to remove it before entering the school. The principals would stand in front of the main entrance to check and prevent them from entering if they refused to do so. Many Muslimas tried to get around the new law by wearing bandanas, a square colourful kerchief mostly painted in paisley. modesty or a religious choice by visibly embracing Islam came to be understood through the lenses of sexual openness and the “unavailability” of some Muslim French women to the gaze of French men, literally or figuratively, bother many French.


a Muslimas’ presence in the public space was uncomfortable to some, and their choice of covering their bodies was portrayed as proselytism or an association with extremist misogynistic ideologies. Interestingly, this ban was never the object of any legislation, but the personal initiatives of some city mayors. It was later overturned by the Conseil d’État, Frances’ highest administrative and constitutional court (similar to the Supreme Court). Joan Wallach Scott, an American historian and prominent professor of gender studies, argued in her “Politics of the Veil” (2007) that the 2004 French law banning the headscarf in schools is clear evidence of France’s failure to fully integrate the citizens from its former colonies. The fact that

The ban is a continuation of French colonization — no longer over Muslim lands, but over Muslima’s bodies. For those who support such bans, the government, extreme-right parties and some of the population, these women refuse to accept French society’s “norms” and thus refuse to integrate. The ban would be a punishment, namely, removing them from the “public space.” Wallach Scott’s analysis is correct. During a recent interview on French media, two male French journalists kept asking a teenaged Muslima, who was wearing a long tunic and large pants and had been banned from entering her high school, whether this “large” tunic and “large” pants aren’t religious and thus create confusion with the abaya. One of them asked, “Why do you wear this kind of ‘large’ clothing? Is it because it hides your shapes?” “No, I chose it because I like it,” she responded. But the journalist, in an attempt to associate the ample tunic and pants with Islam, continued his inquisition and asked, “You also wear the headscarf, right?” (BFM TV) That was the core issue: racial and religious profiling. If you’re a Muslima who wears modest attire, then your allegiance to the République’s sacred values are called into question and you can never be considered a full French citizen. If you are a

non-Muslima and chose to wear the same attire, then you are considered just another fashionable teenager — as if for Muslimas, wearing nice comfortable and brand clothing can’t be an innocent choice. There is always a hidden sinister reason, like radicalization or religious extremism. Amid this fabricated controversy, the French education minister was able to make many citizens forget that the public education system is failing, with many teachers leaving because of the difficult teaching conditions and the challenges of finding replacements. As a result, many students won’t have teachers and won’t receive a proper education. These topics are rather “covered” by the length and the ampleness of those few Muslimas who want to dress modestly and, at the same time, be Muslim and French (Alain Gabon,, Sept. 5, 2023). Despite some anti-racism organizations and French personalities, including Annie Ernaux, a French Nobel Prize winner in literature, signing a statement denouncing the anti-racist and Islamophobic nature of this ban (Collectif,, Sept. 13, 2023), France continues, with its pitiful populists and mainly opportunistic machinations, to “use” Muslim French women to gain votes from both the left and the right. ih Monia Mazigh, PhD, an academic, author, and human rights activist, is an adjunct professor at Carleton University (Ontario). She has published “Hope and Despair: My Struggle to Free My Husband, Maher Arar” (2008) and three novels, “Mirrors and Mirages” (2015), “Hope Has Two Daughters” (2017) and “Farida” (2020), which won the 2021 Ottawa Book Award prize for French-language fiction. She has recently published an essay/memoir “Gendered Islamophobia: My Journey with a Scar(f).”




Islam’s Environmental Spirit Working for climate and environmental justice BY THE ISNA GREEN INITIATIVE TEAM


he ISNA Green Initiative Team continues to reach out, build relationships, and collaborate to educate everyone about Islam’s environmental justice teachings to address the multi-level climate crisis. Here are some of our recent efforts that promise to move forward, especially toward celebrating our tenth year in service in 2024. The team continues partnerships with several organizations, among them Wisconsin Green Muslims (WGM); the Chicago Muslims Green Team (CMGT); Faithfully Sustainable (FS); the Association of Muslim Scientists, Engineers, and Technology Professionals (AMSET); the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA); the 54

Pen and Inkpot Foundation and GreenFaith (GF). We appreciate their collaboration.


The Green Initiative Team represented ISNA at the Parliament of the World’s Religions (PoWR) — the world’s largest gathering for interfaith leaders — held on Aug. 14-18 in Chicago. Founded in that city during 1893, this event brings together leaders and followers of all faiths to work together toward a common goal. This year’s theme was “A Call to Conscience: Defending Freedom and Human Rights,” with a specific focus on fighting authoritarianism. The speakers,


panels and programs focused on climate change, human rights, food insecurity, racism, women’s rights and other social justice-related issues. The ISNA Green Initiative Team participated in several sessions. Huda Alkaff (founder and director, WGM) and Saffet Catovic participated in the “Climate and Environmental Justice” session, which focused on environmental justice as the principle of fairness and equal rights for all people regardless of their differences, specifically with regard to environmental risks and benefits. Although every person has the right to a safe, healthy and sustainable environment, it has been well established for decades that people of color, Indigenous people, and

the poor and marginalized are disproportionately affected by environmental dangers, such as toxic pollution and extreme weather. “Sacrifice zones’’ exist where polluting facilities are located and toxins are deposited without protection. Other factors impact health and little or no aid is provided to mitigate the negative consequences. Such environmental injustice is systemic. In this program, environmental justice movement leaders presented on current

and goodwill together to address the climate crisis; care for Earth and each other; save money to reinvest in missions of justice; move toward an equitable, efficient and renewable energy future; and how to advance just solar energy distribution through building interfaith relationships. Huda Alkaff, Saiyid Masroor Shah, Saffet Catovic (ISNA Green Initiative) and Layalee Beirat (CMGT) addressed the “Climate and Environmental Justice: Locally and

Although every person has the right to a safe, healthy and sustainable environment, it has been well established for decades that people of color, Indigenous people, and the poor and marginalized are disproportionately affected by environmental dangers, such as toxic pollution and extreme weather. issues, reported on actions being taken, and made proposals for the way forward. The ethics of environmental justice were considered from diverse religious perspectives, and speakers describe what faith communities are doing — and can do — to engage the climate emergency, loss of biodiversity and pollution to achieve a just transition. Huda Alkaff, Saffet Catovic and Nana Firman presented in “The Environmental Spirit of Islam: ISNA Green Initiative Team” session. They stressed the Oneness of Allah and His creation, justice, compassionate stewardship, signs of the Creator, trust in the Creator and living in just balance with nature. All of this is led through the optics of faith in action, as manifested by the team’s works and activities that are implementing Islam’s core environmental tenets. They also discussed stewardship as a collective responsibility to care for Earth and each other across all faiths, nationalities, and ethnicities via advocacy, environmental justice, personal lifestyle choices, and consumption. Huda Alkaff presented in the “Connecting Faith, Environmental Justice, and Solar Power” session. This session dealt with how solar energy’s unifying power can help overcome Islamophobia, sharing her own personal stories and studies in Wisconsin. Exploring faiths united through the Sun’s power and how it can bring people of faith

Globally” session. The session dealt with Islamic values related to working together for justice, equity, dignity, inclusion and addressing the climate crisis and environmental injustice.


Huda Alkaff represented the ISNA Green Initiative Team at the “Muslims for Climate Justice Summit: The Earth as our Amaanah,” by Faithfully Sustainable held on Sept. 9-10 in New York City in person, and virtually at the “Climate Justice: What Does Islam Say?” session. The theme was that as Muslims are Earth’s stewards, we must do everything with the best of intentions and, in addition, are responsible for aiding those disproportionately affected by climate change. A sub-session, “Climate Justice in Islam,” explored the intersection of Islamic values and environmental activism, as well as stressed the importance of addressing the disproportionate impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities. Nana Firman (senior ambassador, GreenFaith) participated in the “Decoding the Science of Climate Change: Fossil Fuels, Emissions and Carbon Footprints” session, which discussed that paying attention to our planet is a prophetic sunna. Now more than ever, Earth’s climate needs our care and intervention. However, reversing the

damage requires that we understand why it is happening. Members of the ISNA Green Initiative Team participated in the March to End Fossil Fuels, held on Sept. 17 in New York City. This march, part of the Global Fight to End Fossil Fuels, registered 400+ actions, marches, rallies and events worldwide. These mobilizations were coordinated by 780+ endorsing organizations and were expected to draw millions of participants. These actions are part of a mass global escalation demanding a rapid end to fossil fuels in a just and equitable manner ahead of the UN Climate Ambition Summit, which was held on Sept. 20 in New York City. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called on world leaders to make ambitious commitments to phase out fossil fuels. The latest data backs up the International Energy Agency’s finding that no new fossil fuel extraction can be developed under a 1.5°C limit. It also shows that over half of the existing fields and mines could be shut down early while protecting workers and communities. This responsibility lies with the leaders of rich nations that have a historical legacy of pollution to deliver a fast and fair phase out of fossil fuels and fund it globally.


ISNA Green Initiative Team also participated in two of the ISNA convention sessions. During the “Impact of HumanCaused Climate Change on Vulnerable Communities” session, Saiyid Masroor Shah (AMSET) and Marium Husain (IMANA), noted that the global temperature had risen almost 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and that human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are increasing. Among the consequences of this summer’s record-breaking heat waves across three continents are record low sea ice in Antarctica, flashing red signs of severe climate impacts and the worldwide negative impact of climate change on the ecosystem, economy, energy, agriculture, health and the economically disadvantaged. The ISNA Green Initiative team is doing its part to educate and participate in activities related to the environment and climate change. Please join hands to make the world a better place. As God ordained us to be the stewards of Earth, let’s fulfill our responsibility. ih ISNA Green Initiative Team: Huda Alkaff, Saffet Catovic, Nana Firman, Uzma Mirza and S. Masroor Shah (Chair)




It’s Never Too Late Memorizing the Quran as adults BY TAYYABA SYED


any companions of the Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) memorized the Quran as adults. They were accepting Islam, learning it, and memorizing the Quran simultaneously. We usually think that only children memorize it. When I reflect on what role I want the Quran to play in my life, I first have to remember that I grew up without it. Thus there is 20 years’ worth of lost time I feel like I need to make up. When I was expecting my eldest, I got a job teaching Islamic studies to a group of young girls. I was embarrassed to admit how little of the Quran I knew by heart compared to them, but they inspired me. I had learned that the Quran you recite out loud while the fetus is in utero can help the child eventually memorize it. It’s worth a shot, I thought. That summer I memorized the four Qul (Chapters 109, 112, 113, 114) and that winter, at 23, I completed my first reading of the entire Quran. To my surprise, my daughter was born shortly thereafter — seven weeks early. Little did I know that this 4.5 pound preemie the size of my hand was already carrying the Quran in her little heart.


Both of my teens took their time completing hifz (memorization). My husband’s upbringing and relationship with the Quran was completely the opposite of mine. He had taken a gap year between high school and college to formally memorize the Quran, but found it hard to do in such a short time. So for our children, we decided to take a more traditional approach: enabling them to pursue hifz by prioritizing the creation of a solid and sound lifelong relationship with the Quran. We found teachers and programs that taught them how to build fluency and recite with proper pronunciation. To stress this undertaking’s importance, we’ve continued our own Quran journeys alongside them. We assumed hifz would happen organically. Our children were good memorizers, so we encouraged them. I still remember 56

driving with my daughter, then probably around 10, one day. She had been memorizing part time for two years. She said, “You and Baba didn’t ask me if I wanted to do hifz.” Silence. Of course, what I wanted to do was steer right off the road in shock. Deciding not to react, I heard her say, “But I’m glad that you did. I don’t think I would have chosen this for myself.” Okay, I could breathe again. Shahzain Kureishy from Dallas actually cried when his parents said he was going to start hifz full time. He and his older brother had already memorized a few sections part time, and his parents felt they were ready to transition. However, all Kureishy could think about was leaving all his friends behind. Aged 10, he was just coming out of elementary school and looking forward to starting middle school. “It was a really big change and adjustment,” recalls Kureishy, 27. “We had super long hours in the masjid from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, plus five hours on Saturdays with homeschooling incorporated in between. Day in and day out we did the same thing, and it was very intense.” After each section, he would think, Wow. I finished that, only to realize how much he still had left to do. There were times he would get discouraged and felt like it was too hard, but he did not give up. “Sometimes I wasn’t allowed to move forward [in my memorization], because I had to solidify what I already knew,” shares Kureishy, who now works in digital marketing. “As a kid, that can be hard and affects your self-confidence. Overall, it took me 2.5 years to complete hifz, and I am grateful that my parents pushed me to do it. I made good friends, learned so much about my religion and developed the ability to read the Quran with fluency and proper tajwid (pronunciation).” One aspect of hifz that Kureishy found stressful, though, was leading tarawih prayers during Ramadan. It was a lot of pressure and responsibility, but he states that he appreciated the opportunity to practice what he had memorized.



Since women don’t have to lead tarawih, some may consider this a reason not to pursue hifz. However, a woman’s relationship with the Quran can impact generations to come. The mother’s lap is the first madrasa for the child, so the Quran has to be an intricate part of it. Sarah Othman, the mother of four, had no intention of teaching her children the Quran; however, she became their first hifz teacher while working on her own memorization. Once she completed it this year, aged 31, she found herself teaching international students online as well.

how many doors have opened, and not only do I get to teach my own kids, but so many others abroad as well, alhamdullilah.” Tasneem Paruk from Cape Town, South Africa, has also been memorizing the Quran along with her children. Her hifz journey began when she was ten. Twenty-two years later, she’s still working on it. “My mom would take me at 5 a.m. to a not-so-safe part of town for my Quran class,” Paruk remembers. “In that one year, I

or think they can do it later in life,” notes Hikmat, who completed her hifz during her teens over a span of five years. “But you will surprise yourself how much you can do if you are just consistent. Memorizing the Quran teaches you discipline and good habit-building. The process brings you blessings on repeat, so you might as well get started anytime. Keep your intentions purely for Allah, and He will always make a way for you.”

So for our children, we decided to take a more traditional approach: enabling them to pursue hifz by prioritizing the creation of a solid and sound lifelong relationship with the Quran. We found teachers and programs that taught them how to build fluency and recite with proper pronunciation. To stress this undertaking’s importance, we’ve continued our own Quran journeys alongside them.

Photo courtesy Hafiza Sarah Othman

“[It] was part of my life from age 5 until secondary school,” says Othman, who lives in Alexandria, Egypt. “Unfortunately, with the pressures of [secular] studies, I decided to leave the Quran until I entered university. It was the wrong decision, of course, as the Quran does not conflict at all with studies, but helps. In college, I saw my friends completing the Quran while studying, and I felt so much regret for not continuing it. I then decided to restart after motherhood and promised myself that I would continue whatever the circumstances. Now I can’t believe

didn’t even memorize one juz, but that desire never left me. It’s hard to find female Quran teachers here, though, so my 6-year-old and I are memorizing with the same teacher,” she chuckles. “We still practice in the car together on the way to her school.” Paruk suffered severe postpartum depression after her second pregnancy and found grounding and healing through the Quran. Even though she finds memorizing to be challenging with a new 1.5-year-old son, she’s managed to commit almost a third of it to memory. “I have to get up two hours before everyone wakes up and stay up two hours after everyone goes to sleep to focus,” Paruk shares, “but memorization is not my end goal. It is just the starting point of my journey. I want to continue learning my deen, so I am giving myself two to three more years of memorization and then continue my religious studies further, insha Allah.” From both Othman and Paruk’s examples, we see that there is never a “right” time to start memorizing. Sayeeda Hikmat, 24, of Bloomingdale, Ill., says to just go for it.


“A lot of individuals worry about lack of time to memorize, that it will take a long time

Personally, I’m still working on improving my recitation skills but managing to memorize chapters I never thought I’d be able to. My children quiz me, and that keeps us all grounded and humble. We shouldn’t limit ourselves and think we’re too old. What’s the excuse? We’re just standing in our own way. A friend of mine recently asked me how she can support her daughters in their new hifz journey, and I suggested that she start memorizing as well. It doesn’t matter how much we memorize, but that we stay consistent and persistent. When was the last time you tried to memorize a few verses? If you don’t have time to sit and memorize, just listen or repeat until it’s embedded in your cells. It’s the Word of God, so make it part of your essence. Find the teachers to listen to you recite, the ones who will encourage you, be patient with you, believe in you and cheer you on. A few years ago, I met a woman in her 60s who had finished memorizing the Quran. Yes, it is possible, or at least I can face my Lord saying I tried to “read…read in the Name of my Lord.” ih Tayyaba Syed, a multiple award-winning author, journalist, and Islamic studies teacher, conducts literary and faith-based presentations for all ages and is an elected member of her local school district’s board of education in Illinois, where she lives with her husband and three children. Learn more at




The Lost Art of Letter Writing Can we revive this sunna? BY SHABNAM MAHMOOD


n a world of smartphones and tablets, is there any place for handwritten letters? After all, why take the time to write a letter when one click can instantly update friends and family? Keyboards have replaced pen and paper, making the world smaller and closer for many. However, when technology has made so much of our lives easier, one wonders what the trade-off has been. How can handwriting a letter benefit today’s tech-savvy world? The lost art of letter-writing has a rich historical significance. For centuries, letters were used to connect with people far away. Letter-writing is good for one’s mental health because it’s a creative act that enables individuals to slow down and organize their thoughts. Through letters, people can narrate experiences, dispute points and describe their emotions in a way that may be difficult to do through an emoji or an abbreviation. Despite the rise of digital communication, writing and receiving a handwritten letter can still hold a special place in people’s hearts. It shows that someone has taken out time — one of the most valuable resources today — to remember someone.


Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu’ alayhi wa sallam) sent letters to several leaders of tribes and empires. Zimarina Sarwar writes about the importance of this act in her “Letters from a Prophet” (2023): “Writing a letter is a profoundly spiritual and sacred act. It allows one to process feelings and forces them to think and construct their words. Muslims are sometimes referred to as People of the Pen, skilled in writing and calligraphy, creating exquisite mushaf. Calligraphy is a renowned and celebrated talent, where each pen stroke is drawn along a breath.” So is letter writing considered a sunna? Dr. Hafiz Ikhlas Ansari (imam, Muslim Education Center, Morton Grove, Ill.) 58

explains that in a literal sense, letter writing allows one to stay connected with people for good reasons. Spiritually, however, one can also maintain ties with loved ones via phone calls, emails and messages. If the intention is to uphold kinship ties or maintain relationships with friends of deceased parents, any form of communication can be effective by making the right effort. But just the feeling of going the extra mile to choose nice stationery, take some time to write neatly, actually put a stamp on the envelope and mailing it at the post office can make the recipient’s day. The recipient may cherish it forever, compared to an Eid Mubarak digital sticker one can send to all of his/her contacts by pressing “Enter.”


Studies by the National Institutes of Health have shown that excessive use of social media can lead to increased feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression. The constant comparison to others’ curated lives on social media platforms can also lead to decreased self-esteem and confidence among youth. In a world of instant messaging and the expectation of immediate responses, it’s essential to remember the value of delayed gratification. There’s something to be said for receiving a handwritten letter filled with words and penmanship mirroring the writer’s emotions. Writing and receiving letters through snail mail can provide a sense of anticipation and excitement, thereby promoting delayed gratification and mindfulness. Additionally, handwritten letters can be especially beneficial for youth, as they provide a break from technology’s constant stimulation and support mental clarity and focus. Letter writing helps children develop lifelong skills, such as patience, penmanship, sentence-building and maintaining relationships with older community members.


Parents can find a penpal for their children. Not a random stranger, but perhaps the child of a cousin or friend in a similar age group. They can enjoy writing about their hobbies and activities — and then (gasp!) wait to receive a reply in the mail.


Is it realistic, however, to expect our children to learn this skill? “Can adults write a letter these days?” asks Umar Hussain, a teacher at Old Orchard Junior High School in Skokie, Ill. “Then how can we expect kids to? I am a proponent of the benefits of letter writing, but today’s children are ‘digital natives’ and lack the endurance to write a letter.” It’s a challenging but deliberate act of self-reflection, social connection and time commitment. Zahra Raza tends to agree. A gifted teacher at Glenview School District, Raza said even her gifted students lack the endurance to write letters. Her class recently participated in the statewide “Letters About Literature” reading and writing competition. Students in grades 4-12 were invited to read a book of their choice, reflect on it and then write a personal letter explaining how it impacted them. Though her students enjoyed the competition aspect, difficulties ranged from formatting and sentence structure to a lack of interest in the book. Despite that, most of them were passionate about the actual letter-writing activity, while others, mainly on IEPs and 504 plans, relied on their iPads’ writing apps to help them.

There is something to be said for receiving a handwritten letter filled with words and penmanship mirroring the writer’s emotions. Writing and receiving letters through snail mail can provide a sense of anticipation and excitement, promoting delayed gratification and mindfulness.

Raza admits that although there are practical challenges, writing letters has numerous benefits for children and adults. “I feel students value it if they understand how to do it.” Letter writing is a skill. “I like handwriting to develop those fine motor skills, but I do think that’s something that’s slowly being faded away.” She incorporates handwriting and typing in her class, starting with handwriting notes but eventually typing the final assignment. However, many schools have also stopped teaching cursive handwriting. Both Raza and Hussain agree that good

writing stems from reading. “Reading is not a lost cause,” says Hussain. “Books are either mirrors or windows.” He has seen a shift toward graphic novels, which is less mental lifting but still beneficial. “The amount of words you’re exposed to is like nothing else. Students read and retain the number of words to recall when writing. Reading builds stamina for writing.” However, even his students need help with long-form writing. With text messages, they rely on responses to clarify their meaning. With letters, you don’t have that crutch.


Parents of preteens or teens would likely agree that text messages are only complete with emojis or abbreviations. Who hasn’t seen a BTW (by the way), or LOL (laugh out loud) on a daily basis? Businesses aren’t

immune either. EOD (end of day), ASAP (as soon as possible) and TIA (thanks in advance) are more commonplace now. And even iA (In Sha’ Allah)! But it’s not all new. Hussain points out that even hieroglyphics were images, some representing sounds and other meanings used to communicate. “Yes, you lose an amount of expression, but it’s the natural course of language.” With truncated messaging, communication has indeed evolved. While we cannot expect all comm­ unication to be handwritten anymore, an occasional handwritten letter or card to a grandparent or teacher is definitely worth the effort. Taking a little personal time to collect one’s thoughts and penning them down pays homage to the rich traditions of our past — and can benefit the mind, body, and soul. ih Shabnam Mahmood is a freelance writer and educational consultant in Chicago.




Interfaith Marriages Permissibility, precautions, and progeny BY AREENA ALI MEMON

Qayyum Raheem and his wife in 1989 and more recently


hether Muslims immigrate to North America or have generations of their families born here, they are part of the rich tapestry of this diverse region. From neighborhood block parties to networking events, Muslims engage with individuals of diverse religious beliefs in various settings. Muslims are encouraged to be kind to neighbors and get to know people of other faiths. “O humanity, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another” (49:13). This mingling can also result in individuals discovering someone with whom they share emotional and intellectual compatibility, leading them to desire a lifelong partnership.


Muslim men are permitted to marry women from the “People of the Book,” — in other words, Jews and Christians. This allowance does not encompass women of other non-Abrahamic faiths. 60

“…(lawful to you in marriage) are chaste women from the believers and chaste women from those who were given the Scripture before your time…” (5:5). However, it is important to exercise caution. “Before committing to a lifelong partnership with someone who follows a different faith, it is crucial to ensure that your own faith is strong,” said Mawlana Arif Kamal, scholar at Darul Qasim in Glendale Heights, Ill. “Otherwise, this situation may present challenges and potentially compromise one’s religious beliefs.” It is important to note that a permissible act is simply that — allowed — rather than actively encouraged. This is because if an increasing number of Muslim men marry women from other faiths, it limits the options available for Muslim women. Also, it doesn’t go both ways. “Muslim women are only permitted to marry Muslim men,” cautioned Shaykh Noman Hussain, resident scholar at Islamic Foundation in Villa Park, Ill. “This is because


in Islam, the man is considered the head of the family, and such a relationship dynamic may make it challenging for the woman to freely practice her faith.”


“Regrettably, a significant number of Muslim men are entering into relationships with non-Muslim women primarily due to happenstance,” said Shaykh Hussain. “Although such a marriage can be permissible, it’s prohibited for him to cross boundaries with any woman outside the sacred bonds of marriage.” Conversely, there are individuals who actively plan such marriages with specific intentions, rather than simply stumbling into a relationship. The first commonly stated intention is to bring the woman closer to Islam. Some may view this as an opportunity to potentially bring more women to Islam. However, such an approach can be detrimental. It is important to understand that true guidance comes solely from God. “Not upon you (O Muhammad) is (responsibility for) their guidance, but Allah guides whom He wills” (2:272). While a Muslim husband may serve as an influence, there is no guarantee that his wife will accept Islam. The influence can backfire. He could gradually stop practicing Islam, or potentially convert to his wife’s faith. There are alternative ways of introducing women to Islam without resorting to marriage, such as connecting them with other Muslim women and revert groups. Placing pressure on a woman to accept Islam after marrying her is unfair and goes against Islam. A woman should never be emotionally blackmailed or coerced into accepting Islam. Pressuring someone could actually push him/her further away from Islam. “There shall be no compulsion in (acceptance of) the religion” (2:256). There are cases in which women embrace Islam later in their relationships. One such example is Lena Mae from Illinois. Her Egyptian husband was open and available to answer any questions she had about Islam, but he never pressured her. Mae conducted her own research and, after 13 years, she felt drawn to Islam and willingly embraced it. They have now been happily married for 34 years. The second reason for such marriages revolves around seeking citizenship. It is an unfortunate reality that some individuals see marriage as a means to obtain legal status. While there is nothing wrong with spouses supporting one another – which may include

teachings advocate for children to be raised within the framework of Islam, necessitating the active involvement of the father in their tarbiyah (spiritual and moral upbringing), including taking them to the mosque and fostering connections with other Muslims. However, this is not always practical if the father assumes the role of the primary breadwinner. That is the story of Qayyum

Before committing to a lifelong partnership with someone who follows a different faith, it is crucial to ensure that your own faith is strong,” said Mawlana Arif Kamal, scholar at Darul Qasim in Glendale Heights, Ill. “Otherwise, this situation may present challenges and potentially compromise one’s religious beliefs.” PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE: PEACE

One of the fundamental aims of marriage is to bring peace into one’s life. As human beings, we naturally yearn for deep connection with our spouses. Therefore, it becomes essential for both individuals to evaluate the significance of their faiths in their lives. If both parties possess strong convictions in their respective faiths, it can potentially lead to conflicts within the home, undermining the peace they initially sought to establish through their relationship. It ultimately boils down to a case-bycase basis. If both partners approach the situation with an open mind and heart, and proactively address potential challenges before entering the relationship, it may be feasible for them to navigate their differing beliefs successfully. In Islam, marriage is built upon the principles of mawadda (love) and rahma (compassion). Therefore, regardless of whether a man chooses to marry a woman from another faith, he must take responsibility for his decision and provide her with the support and respect she deserves when it comes to integrating into his family.


Another inherent purpose of marriage is to have children. Both parties must contemplate their stance on the upbringing of children and determine the primary faith to which they will be exposed. Islamic

Raheem, father of four. Although his wife accepted Islam just before their marriage, she had not acquired sufficient knowledge and strength in the faith to provide their children with the necessary foundation when they were young. Additionally, a special needs child made it harder for her to dedicate time to learn her new faith. “If I could give my younger self some advice, I would have hired a dedicated individual to come to my home and educate my children about Islam,” Raheem said. He had noble intentions as a dedicated father who truly aimed to foster a profound affection for Islam in his children. Yet, due to his demanding responsibilities in providing for the family, he recognized that he could not allocate as much time as he desired to instill Islamic principles in his children. In smaller towns, there are few — if any — active Muslim communities and regular faith-based activities. Even if technically in Islam the mother does not hold exclusive authority over religious matters, she often possesses greater influence in the social upbringing of the children. Consequently, children may exhibit a greater inclination towards the faith of the mother. If the woman is steadfast in her own faith and desires equal exposure for the children to her religious beliefs, it can introduce confusion and generate conflicts within the household on various topics, ultimately impacting the marital bond.

assisting with citizenship – marrying solely for that purpose is unethical and deceiving on multiple levels. With the institution of marriage being regarded as highly sacred, such behavior is strongly condemned. This is particularly evident in cases where men exploit women by marrying them solely for the purpose of gaining nationality and then abandoning them.

Factors to Consider


aheem acknowledges that some women

from Christian and Jewish backgrounds share similar values as Islam. However, he emphasizes the importance of remembering that children must be raised as Muslims. Therefore, it is crucial for a man to evaluate whether he can shoulder this responsibility before entering into such a marriage. Shaykh Hussain reiterates that even when marrying a non-Muslim woman, the marriage must be conducted in accordance with Islamic principles. This includes fulfilling the requirements of mahr (dowry) and having witnesses present. They should also have an Islamic nikah (marriage contract). He specifically addresses men, encouraging them to actively participate in their children’s lives rather than passively allowing circumstances to unfold. For those intending to marry someone from another faith, it is advised to consider premarital counseling. This involves both parties sitting together with a professional to explore crucial topics that can arise after marriage. ih

However, it is imperative to also consider the other side of the coin. Sana Mohiuddin, an alima and therapist, highlighted that exposing children to different faiths from an early age, while fostering an environment of respectful coexistence, can broaden their worldview and enhance their understanding of diversity. Nevertheless, it is essential to recognize that in contemporary times, when individuals face the choice between a perceived challenging lifestyle and a more flexible one, the youth are often inclined towards the latter. This inclination poses a higher risk of drifting further away from Islam. When evaluating the implications for children in mixed-faith marriages, it is vital to carefully weigh the potential challenges. Parents need to consider the long-term effects on faith development, while also recognizing the significance of nurturing an inclusive worldview that embraces respectful coexistence. ih Areena Ali Memon juggles various roles including homeschooling, blogging, YouTubing, freelance writing, photography, and managing an Islamic bookstore while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education.



NEW RELEASES Islamic Architecture: A World History Eric Broug 2023. 336 pages & 327 illustrations. HB. $75 Thames & Hudson, New York, N.Y. his well-illustrated history and sourcebook spans the world of Islamic architecture, a broad topic that covers more than 1,400 years. The richness of building types, regional styles, and architectural details is reflected here, with a striking balance of familiar and unfamiliar, of world-renowned masterpieces and lesser-known gems. All eras and regions are represented, but with an eye for some of the creative exuberance, boldness, and sensitivity of Islamic architecture that has not been explored for a general readership. Broug’s expert eye for geometry and pattern notes architectural elements that attend to specific regional, environmental, and climatic concerns. Providing a wealth of information about buildings’ historical and cultural contexts, this volume demonstrates the function and worldwide appeal of Islamic architecture. It should be a delight and an essential for artists, designers, architects, and students of Islamic culture worldwide.


A Socially Engaged Global Muslim Dr. Jamal Al-Barzinji: Felicitation Volume 2023. Pp. 224. PB. $17.75 Center for Islam in the Contemporary World, Leesburg, Va. his volume in honor of Dr. Jamal al-Barzinji, with a foreword by Malaysian prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, is a compilation of articles designed to memorialize and keep his legacy alive as an exemplary model of a socially engaged global Muslim. It contains contributions from people working in business management, institutional organizations, and academia who were closely associated with al-Barzinji. The contributors’ lives were impacted by his exemplary personality of Islamic social engagement through religious humanism, moderation, tolerance, and constructing peaceful interfaith relations in the U.S. and around the world. This volume, part of Muslim American immigrant history, is a work of dedication.


The Emperor and the Elephant: Christians and Muslims in the Age of Charlemagne Sam Ottewill-Soulsby 2023. Pp. 376. HB. $39.95 Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J. edieval historian Ottewill-Soulsby refers to a gigantic quadruped in the title of his debut book. Harun Al Rashid made the elephant in question, Abu Al Abbas, an unusual gift to the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne in Aachen in 802 CE. His underlying motivation, according to Ottewill-Soulsby, was a statement of power and confidence. The book sheds light on a lot more than just this particular diplomatic offering. Ottewill-Soulsby says he wanted to respond to the idea that Christians and Muslims were inherently at war with each other during the Middle Ages. The gift, he says, should be seen in the wider context of Charlemagne’s styling himself as a Roman emperor, piecing back together a broken realm.

Ottewill-Soulsby says this misleading image presents Charle­ magne as a type of peaceful founder of Europe, when in fact he waged a lot of wars. Drawing on Arabic sources, Ottewill-Soulsby helps explain how and why Muslim rulers engaged with Charlemagne and his family and provides a fresh perspective on a subject that has until now been dominated by and seen through Western sources. Philanthropy in the Muslim World: Majority and Minority Muslim Communities Shariq A. Siddiqui and David A. Campbell (eds.) 2023. Pp. 422. HB. 185.00 Edward Elgar Publications, Northampton, Mass. hilanthropy plays an essential role in Islam. Using a new framing, this volume contributes to the literature by adding previously unincluded Muslim-majority countries in cross-national philanthropy volumes, as well as countries that have important Muslim-minority communities. This book accomplishes five important tasks. It provides available research on different parts of the world where Muslims live and practice their faith and philanthropy. It offers a cross-national understanding of philanthropy. It illustrates the diversity and heterogeneity in philanthropic practice across different geographical contexts and suggests that local culture, public policy, and regulations play an important role in defining local religious practice. It helps us understand how Muslims, in majority and minority contexts, seek to practice philanthropy after post-9/11 and the War on Terror. Lastly, it pushes back against the notion of a “Muslim” and “non-Muslim” world, as these terms have little basis in either critical scholarship or Qur’anic discourse. ih


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