Islamic Horizons Sep/Oct 2015

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VOL. 44 NO. 5 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015  visit isna online at: WWW.ISNA.NET

COVER STORY 20 Stories of Resilience 24 Back Home in Chicago 26 A World of Islamic Art in Chicago


28 Toward Muslim Action on the Ecological Crisis 30 Turkey Transplanted


32 reGenerating Champa 34 Muslims Bikers Raise Awareness



36 As American as Apple Pie 39 Safeguarding Religious Liberty 42 Same-sex Marriage in the Mosque?


44 Kashmiri Will Must Prevail in Kashmir


46 Money as a Blessing and a Trust 49 Divorce: The Last Resort?



52 Muslim Teens Could Become Sex Slaves 53 The Mesmerizing Universe of Islamic Numismatics


56 When in Rome, do as Some Romans do


57 Khalil Momand 58 Meena Siddiqui

6 8 12 59 60

DEPARTMENTS Editorial ISNA Matters Community Matters New Releases Food for the Spirit

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




A Bilalian Narrative


SNA Convention organizers chose the theme “Stories of Resilience: Strengthening the American Muslim Narrative” that touches aspects of the Muslim American experience: its resilience in the face of tremendous challenges here and abroad. The challenges faced by Bilal ibn Rabah (radi Allahu anhu) and his response to keep his commitment to adhere to his faith that there is no one worthy of worship except God pales all stories of resilience. He demonstrated how he had internalized the Quran. In times, when Muslims worldwide, such as those living in the United States and Canada, are confronted with the evil of Islamophobia — a disease that harkens to the ailment that clouded the minds and morality of pre-war Europe — Muslims have role models to inspire them to struggle forth with fortitude and trust in God. Muslims have before them the example of Fāt.imah bint Muh.ammad (radi Allahu ‘anha) in dealing gracefully with the emotional trauma of watching her father, Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) being insulted and abused by those who saw the Message that he conveyed as a threat to their exploitative authority. She saw him face the harshest of financial hardships with a smile, borne out of singular trust in the Creator. Muslims have the example of Sumayyah bint Khayyat (radi Allahu anha), the first woman in history to be martyred for having accepted Islam, who challenged Abu Jahl, the most crazed Islamophobe. And coming to our times and our shores, there is the example of resilience of the martyr El Hajj Malik Shabazz, who having imbibed the nectar of Islam, refused to submit to adversity.


He refused to go with popular flow and stood and died proclaiming the Message of God. As Muslims confront the evil of Islamophobia and attacks by its morally challenged practitioners, Muslim Americans, especially the younger generations, have to go back and look into their heritage of standing upright in the face of adversity. True, the challenges seem frightening, especially when ensconced in an environment of worldly desires — the tons of glossy catalogues coming out of mailboxes and the internet — and the beguiling call of material “success.” Muslims of today should not forget that there always has been a class that compromised, a class that preached for quid pro quo, a class that feared the ruling class, but the Muslim heritage is rich with examples of courage and fortitude. Indeed, despite all sorts of laws and treaties, and claims to “civilization” and “morality” by the perpetrators, Muslims have and are being slaughtered, and some Muslims are facing the sort of torture that was practiced by Islamophobes of medieval times, but they have refused to bend, refused to barter their faith for worldly comforts. They are the true role models. The year 2015 is the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. But attaining rights stated in books is not easy as it seems in print. Herein lies the real challenge: do Muslims write chapters in bravery and love of God and His Prophet, or submit to callers of quid pro quo who want Muslims to sidestep Divine commands to bargain favors. Muslims have the Prophet’s example: the Meccans offered him the world, and he responded that his duty to the Creator cannot be bartered for anything. Period.


PUBLISHER The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) PRE SID ENT Azhar Azeez SECRE TA RY GENER A L Hazem Bata EDITO R Omer Bin Abdullah D EPA RTMENT & C O MMUNIT Y NE WS EDITO R Aisha Kishta EDITO RIA L BOA RD Sohaib Sultan (Chair), Julie Belz, Iqbal Unus, Ingrid Mattson, Hazem Bata, Edgar Hopida. ISL A MIC H O RIZO NS is a bimonthly publication of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Copyright @2015 All rights reserved Reproduction, in whole or in part, of this material in mechanical or electronic form without written permission is strictly prohibited. Islamic Horizons magazine is available electronically on ProQuest’s Ethnic NewsWatch, LexisNexis, and EBSCO Discovery Service, and is indexed by Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature. Please see your librarian for access. The name “Islamic Horizons” is protected through trademark registration ISSN 8756‑2367 P O STM A STER Send address changes to Islamic Horizons, P.O. Box 38 Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 SUB S CRIP TIO NS Annual, domestic – $24 Canada – US$30 Overseas airmail – US$60 TO SUB S CRIBE Contact Islamic Horizons at (317) 839‑8157 / (317) 839‑1811 Fax (317) 839‑1840 E-mail: A DV ERTISIN G For rates contact Islamic Horizons at (703) 742‑8108,, Canada Post International Publications Mail Product (Canadian Distribution) Sales Agreement No. 0666300 C O RRE SP O ND EN CE Send all correspondence and/or Letters to the Editor at: Islamic Horizons P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Email:



President Barack Obama hosts an Iftar in the East Room of the White House June 22. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Barack Obama hosted his sixth Iftar at the White House June 22, an annual tradition started by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton in 1996. “We appreciate President Obama’s remarks on religious freedom and our right to freely express and practice,” said ISNA President Azhar Azeez, who was among the attendees. “We, as a nation, should always be united against hate and challenge those who seek to divide our country. We must also continue to reach out to our neighbors of other faiths in mutual understanding and respect. “While President Obama did mention the continued genocide and turmoil of Muslims of Rohingya, the long and inhumane suffering of the people of Gaza, the ongoing armed struggle of the Iraqi and Syrian people against ISIS, and the instability in Libya and Yemen, we hope that his administration would also affect policy that will bring justice, human rights and relief to these groups.” Many consider Thomas Jefferson to be the first president to host an Iftar dinner, as he hosted a sunset dinner to accommodate the fasts of an envoy from Tunisia more than 200 years ago, said Rumana Ahmed, advisor to the deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, NSC, White House. Guests were welcomed into the East Wing where a copy of the Quran owned by Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States, was on display from the Library of Congress. Among the attendees were members 8

of the diplomatic corps, White House administration officials, U.S. government employees, elected officials, and Muslim Americans who have been working to strengthen the nation’s fabric and prosperity. This year’s Iftar celebrated Muslim Americans working to fight income inequality by creating opportunities for access, whether through education, health, food security, or at-risk youth development. During his remarks, President Obama thanked the Muslim community for the contributions made to create opportunities for those who lack access. “Tonight we reaffirm a simple truth. Fundamental to the character of our country is our freedom of religion — the right to practice our faith as we choose, to change our faith if we choose, or to practice no faith at all and to do all this free from fear,” he said. “All of us are deserving of an equal opportunity to thrive ... no matter who we are, what we look like, what we believe, or how we pray. And all of us have an obligation to do our part ... to help others overcome barriers, to reverse the injustice of inequality, and to help more of our fellow citizens share in the promise of America. In Islam, there is a hadith that says God helps the servant as long as the servant helps his brother. In other words, we’re summoned to serve and lift up one another, and that’s the lesson of several of our guests here tonight.” The President also wished Muslim Americans and Muslims all around the world a blessed Ramadan.

ISNA Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances National Director Sayyid M. Syeed spoke at a June 21 iftar at the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C., hosted by Ambassador Serdar Kilic. “News of a fair and clean election from Turkey provides us an opportunity to celebrate,” Syeed said. “This is the victory of a democracy in Turkey that has provided a model of stability and prosperity in a volatile region.” Syeed lauded President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who hosted Christian and Jewish faith leaders for an interfaith iftar during which he announced the release of 135 church properties, schools, and places of worship belonging to various churches that had been confiscated in 1924, after WWI and the fall of the Caliphate. This historical announcement and iftar, Syeed said, was hailed all over the world. It also was welcomed by ISNA, as it showed the president’s commitment to respecting other faiths and the treatment of minorities in Turkey. The evening ended with Turkish officials announcing they will create an interfaith office/facility within the new Turkish Center in suburban Washington, D.C. to help keep and build the relationship with partners of different faiths.




Sayyid M. Syeed, national director of the ISNA Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances, joined 20 other faith leaders who wrote to U.S. Senate members June 16 under the aegis of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) to support the bipartisan McCain-Feinstein amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act prohibiting torture. Support for the anti-torture amendment, sponsored by Senators John McCain, an Arizona Republican, and Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, resulted in an overwhelming 78-21 vote July 16. “While we represent different faiths, we all share a belief that torture is utterly immoral and always wrong,” according to the letter. “The McCain-Feinstein amendment is our country’s best

opportunity to put that belief into practice. The graphic brutality of the CIA’s torture program — vomiting, convulsing, detainees hung from ceilings, stripped and chained to floors, confined in small boxes, forced into ice water, beaten, deprived of sleep and subjected to other horrors — is indefensible. The program was morally wrong and must never be repeated. Often forgotten is that while the most direct harm was done to the detainees themselves, the program also hurt others. Brutal leaders around the world have used our CIA’s torture program as justification for their own acts of repression. And the CIA agents who we asked to carry out the torture program have undoubtedly been scarred by it — perhaps in ways they have not even begun to come to terms with. “By passing McCain-Feinstein, we will make a promise to the world — this will never happen again. Never again will CIA agents be asked to brutalize prisoners in secret prisons. Never again will the Department of Justice so willfully misread the law in order to approve evil. Never again will our country stoop to the use of torture.” NRCAT Director for Policy Coordination Matthew Hawthorne said there is still a long way to go to see McCain-Feinstein signed into law, but he lauded the vote as a powerful bipartisan rejection of torture by a Republican-led Senate. NRCAT Executive Director the Rev. Ron Stief considers the vote “a first step to put a permanent end to CIA torture.” In June, NRCAT released a new 40-minute documentary film — “Breaking Down the Box” — with interviews of torture survivors to expose the mental health, racial justice and human rights implications of solitary confinement.

HOLY LAND FOUNDATION HONORS SAYYID SYEED Sayyid M. Syeed, national director of ISNA Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances, was unanimously selected as the recipient of the 2015 HCEF Faith and Tolerance Award by The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) board of directors. HCEF President and CEO Sir Rateb Rabie also will address the Oct. 17 conference themed: “Our Faith is Commitment to Justice, Peace, and Coexistence.” The award will be presented Oct. 16 at the annual HCEF Awards Banquet during the 17th International Conference in Washington, D.C. It recognizes those who promote awareness and understanding of faith traditions, as well as respect religious diversity in the Holy Land and in Arab countries. These individuals lead by example and engage their own communities and others to advance constructive dialogue and


action in the service of coexistence, justice, and peace. “You have worked tirelessly for decades towards sustainable coexistence between Muslims and Christians. As a founding member of the United Muslim Christian Coalition (MCC) it was your passion, dedication, candid nature, and ability to rally people together that helped make the first few meetings a success. In addition to your work with ISNA, you deigned to serve on the board of the newly formed MCC and showed that both Muslims and Christians have a mutual interest in the wellbeing of humanity. In all of your good work you always find ways to support the Palestinian people, whether it be through endorsing the ‘Twilight of Hope for Israeli-Palestinian Peace,’ or leading interfaith delegations to Palestine,” the citation said.


COMMUNITY MATTERS Minneapolis Embraces Muslim Needs

sein teamed up with professionals from the University of Minnesota, including Chelsey Thul, a lecturer in the university’s School of Kinesiology, and Elizabeth Bye from the College of Design. Bye worked closely with the girls on the design of the outfits, getting many suggestions for pink and sparkle patterns. They eventually came to consensus on a less flashy option, including one with a blue stripe on a black background. The clothing also features leggings and a knee-length tunic, which minimizes tripping. Two blocks from the Coyle Center, Bye and graduate students set up workstations at Mosque Shafici to make the outfits. Volunteers from the community also took part. For four weeks in April the mosque served as the apparel’s assembly line. “The reason they picked the outfit they did was that it met all the criteria,” Bye said. “It was modest, but it was still fun.”


Brian Coyle Community Center in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood came up with an epoch-making move to afford Muslim girls and women participation in athletic activities. After learning that Muslim females were hesitant to participate because of requirements of modesty, leaders of the gym program teamed up with the University of Minnesota to produce culturally sensitive athletic apparel for Muslim girls, according to a June 12 Star Tribune article. Having an exercise uniform is the latest development in a years-long effort to encourage Muslim girls to be more physically fit. In 2008, Fatimah Hussein, then a high school student, noticed the only people using the gym at the Coyle Center were boys and men. She founded Girls Initiative in Recreation and Leisurely Sports (GIRLS) and started girls-only gym time on Sunday afternoons. To develop the uniforms, Hus-

The new uniforms, including a red-andwhite one designed for the traveling basketball team, will be showcased in a community fashion show. The outfits will “allow the girls to go out to the YMCA and Life Time Fitness and outdoor basketball courts,” said assistant coach Muna Mohamed, now a junior at nearby Augsburg College. “They’re going to be a lot more comfortable wearing it.”

The University of Chicago’s Initiative on Islam and Medicine (II&M) hosted the second annual Islamic Bioethics Workshop, “Dissecting the Ethics of Organ Donation,” June 5-7, co-sponsored by the American Islamic College. More than 50 health care professionals and trainees, including hematology and oncology physicians, bioethicists, religious leaders, and medical students attended. This year’s theme focused on detailing Islamic perspectives on organ donation and transplantation, and the interplay between Islamic theology, law and bioethical decisionmaking. Workshop objectives specifically included reviewing the literature and major sources of Islamic bioethics, examining Muslim attitudes and behaviors with respect to organ donation and transplantation, and fostering meaningful dialogue about pressing bioethical dilemmas in health care. II&M Director Aasim Padela spoke about “Actors and Materials of ‘Islamic’ Bioethics” with a review of critical concepts from Islamic theology and law as they relate to the field of Islamic bioethics. Other foundational speakers included Issam Eido, professor of the University 12


Dissecting the Ethics of Organ Donation

Aasim Padela greets workshop participants.

of Chicago Divinity School, and Shaykh Omar Qureshi, principal of Islamic Foundation School, lectured on “Islamic Ethics: From Fiqh to Tasawwuf ” and “Health Risk Assessment: Examining the Reasoning Exercises of Medical Experts and Islamic Legists,” respectively. Mark Siegler, director of MacLean Center for Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago, discussed “Ethical Issues in Living Organ Donor Transplant.” Obadah Ghannam, from the Center of Islam and Medicine in the U.K., Shoaib Rasheed, a medical student at West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, and Elham Mireshghi, a doctoral student in anthropology at the University

of California Irvine, presented Sunni and Shia legal perspectives on organ donation and data on attitudes toward organ donation and transplantation in local and international Muslim communities. The workshop concluded with Ahsan Arozullah, an internist in Northbrook, Illinois, calling Muslim physicians to action in his talk “The Role of Muslim Physicians in Islamic Bioethics Discourse.” The breadth of knowledge and diverse experiences of the workshop participants contributed to lively discussions within and outside workshop sessions. Participants networked with fellow professionals and presenters. II&M, a center for study and dialogue on the intersection of the Islamic tradition and biomedicine, conducts scholarship, provides educational opportunities, and hosts events that bring together medical and social scientists, Islamic studies experts and traditional Islamic scholars for interdisciplinary dialogue and research. Together, these overlapping activities cultivate a community of experts who have a deep understanding of the Islamic tradition, modern bioethics, and contemporary biomedicine.


ICNA Convention Honors the Prophet


From left, ISNA Vice President Altaf Husain, Omar Suleiman, an AlMaghrib instructor, awardee Khalid Griggs, ICNA President Naeem Baig, and Maryland pediatrician Mohsin Ansari (Photo: M. Tahir)

Some 20,000 people attended the 40th annual Islamic Circle of North AmericaMuslim American Society (ICNA-MAS) convention in Baltimore, Maryland, over Memorial Day weekend, May 23-25, according to a June 5 report in Muslim Link. This year’s theme was “Muhammad (peace be upon him),” bringing together 140 speakers from around the world. Imam Hamad Ahmad Chebli of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey, among the attendees of the first ICNA convention, said 17 people prayed at that first congregational prayer compared to the tens of thousands who prayed together at ICNA this May. Organizers celebrated this milestone by awarding the first lifetime achievement award to Imam Khalid Griggs, associate chaplain for Muslim life at Wake Forest University and chairman of the Islamic Circle of North America’s Council for Social Justice, and Aisha Al-Adawiya, founder and president of Women In Islam Inc. “The Prophet provides the perfect model for us to emulate, as an exemplar of justice, truth, compassion, and love,” Griggs said in his acceptance speech. “Islamophobes malign and vilify him to spread hate. We want to counter that by spreading knowledge and peace.” Besides English, the convention offered sessions in Urdu, Spanish, Arabic and Turkish. “It’s a pure family event,” said Zahid Bukhari, ICNA past president. ICNA and other national organizations are partnering with the Muslim Social Services Agency to do service projects, including distribution of fresh fruit donated by a local Whole Foods in bags designed and screenprinted in Baltimore city. A small office above Masjid Saffat is home to the Citywide Youth Entrepreneurship Program run by community activist Rashid Aziz, who owns the Frozen Dessert Sorbet adjoining the mosque.

The vending carts selling drinks and ice cream to convention attendees also were part of the program. Youth in this program help develop the flavors. A second location opened May 22. The program gives many young unemployed men in the community a chance to learn skills and provides summer jobs. ICNA has temporary housing facilities in Anaheim, California, Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Jamaica, New York, Kansas City, Missouri, Miami, Orlando, Florida, and Phoenix, and has a new women’s center opening up in Massachusetts — the Amal Women’s Center. The 13th shelter was once the home of the first Sister Clara Muhammad School in Massachusetts and served as the minister’s home. In Baltimore, ICNA partnered with Nadia McIntosh to support the Women’s Affairs at Al Mumtahinah homeless shelter. This was the second year ICNA used community volunteers for service projects, said Mahmoud Aijazi, volunteer coordinator. The women’s group was led by ICNA-Sisters Wing leaders Nosheen Owais, and Amna and Kulsoom Siddiqui. The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NCRAT) set up a solitary confinement cell to bring awareness to how prisoners stay isolated for 23 hours. About 1,000 convention attendees sat inside the demo cell. Many Muslim prisoners are subjected to this form of torture. “Psychologists say prolonged solitary confinement can drive prisoners insane. But tens of thousands of U.S. prisoners are currently held in isolation,” per organizers. Attendees also benefited from the free ICNA-MAS Convention mobile application. The app offered features including the ability to create a personal program schedule, bios of all the speakers, a map of the bazaar, instant program updates and a convenient way to follow convention tweets.


Sehr Ahmed’s graduation from Plainfield (Ind.) High School — located down the road from ISNA headquarters — was only two days away, but her worry was her mother Rizwana Mansoor’s health. Ahmed, an ambassador for the school since she was a sophomore, who knew within her, that her mother wanted to see her graduate, asked principal Melvin Siefert, May 29, the day before her graduation, and if there was any possible way that after the graduation ceremony he could come to the hospital and graduate her in front of her ailing mother — who passed away June 30. He told her that he and two other administrators would be at the hospital within thirty minute. “I was speechless.” says Ahmed. And as promised Siefert and two administrators arrived with a cap and gown in hand, and conducted the ceremony with all the pomp that a hospital room would permit. Her mother was overwhelmed with emotion, and so was she.


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Environmental Champions

Huda Alkaff, founder and director of the Islamic Environmental Group of Wisconsin (Wisconsin Green Muslims), and Nana Firman of Riverside, California, were among 12 people recognized on July 20 by the White House as “Champions of Change” for their efforts in protecting the environment and communities from the effects of climate change. According to a White House statement these champions have demonstrated clear leadership across the United States and around the world through their grassroots efforts to green their communities and educate others on the moral and social justice implications of climate change. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Brian Deese, senior advisor to the President Obama, spoke at the event. The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature people doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. Alkaff, who formed her organization in 2005, is an environmentalist with higher education degrees in conservation ecology, sustainable development, and environmental education from the University of Georgia, and has experience teaching environmental studies courses at the University of Wisconsin. She is a founding member and leader of the Interfaith Earth Network and Wisconsin Interfaith Power and Light, and serves on the national Interfaith Power and Light Campaigns Committee, the national Greening Ramadan Task Force, and the Milwaukee Environmental Consortium board. Firman has helped develop an urban community garden in Southern California and encourages the Muslim American com-

Award winners Huda Alkaff and Nana Firman flank Sayyid Muhammad Syeed at the ceremony.

munity to practice an eco-friendly lifestyle. She is a member of the ISNA Green Mosque Initiative and previously worked with the World Wildlife Fund in Indonesia for several years, directing the group’s recovery efforts in the wake of natural disasters. She also has worked with Muslim leaders in Indonesia to create climate resiliency plans. Firman is coordinating Muslim outreach for OurVoices, a global faith and spiritual climate action network. Climate change is not just an environmental problem, but for people of faith, it also is a moral and ethical issue that already has affected many vulnerable communities globally. Sayyid M. Syeed, national director of the ISNA Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances, attended the presentation ceremony.

Honored for Service



Asma Hanif, chaplain, an advanced nurse practitioner and executive director of Muslimat Al Nisaa, was honored with the 2015 Nurse GEM (Giving Excellence Meaning) Regional Award For Volunteerism and Service by Hanif, who in 1987 founded Muslimat Al Nisaa, a faith-based practice that provides health services for underserved and uninsured women and children, has worked tirelessly in providing care for the homeless, refugees, trafficking victims and women who are victims of domestic violence for more than 30 years. She opened her home in 2007 to shelter homeless women and children and domestic violence victims, and to help them as they struggle to build self-esteem, selfworth and self-sufficiency. Being a resident of the shelter, she also donates money to maintain what she established. Her work includes providing and organizing volunteer health services in public schools, and providing health services to the homeless, to women in shelters, and to those women living in group homes and in foster care. She

honors nurses and the extraordinary contributions they make to patients, the profession and the nation’s health care. Nurses recognized are nominated, selected and honored by nurses.

Asma Hanif accepts award from Eileen P. Williamson, senior vice president and chief nurse executive at

performs physicals for mentally and physically challenged women, allowing them to be able to participate in Special Olympics. Hanif provides free blood pressure screenings in community centers for the elderly, and cancer and vaginal health awareness seminars with free breast exams at women’s conferences. She teaches workshops on preventing breast cancer through diet and self-breast exams and avoiding pregnancy through fertility awareness. She authored a rape prevention pamphlet and also participated in a panel at the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention’s pandemic flu consultations. Founded nearly a quarter of a century ago,’s nursing excellence program

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White House Honors Disability Advocates

Dilshad D. Ali, who has been working in the field of autism and disability advocacy for nearly 10 years, was honored July 27 at the White House along with eight other disability advocates across generations as “Champions of Change.” The event was held in conjunction with celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a landmark civil rights law ensuring equal access and equal opportunity, regardless of ability. The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. Through her work as an advocate with the Virginia Autism Project, Ali helped facilitate the passage of landmark autism insurance legislation. She also is on the advisory board for Enabled Muslim and MUHSEN, the first disability advocacy organizations focused on creating programs of inclusion, mentoring, and resource-sharing in the Muslim American community. Ali serves on the Faith Advisory Council for the Autism Society of America, which is working to create literature for advising houses of worship on creating an inclusionary atmosphere for special needs congregants. Five years ago, she began chronicling her son’s and family’s autism journey in her blog, “Muslimah Next Door.” By sharing her son’s personal struggles and triumphs, she has sought to dismantle stereotypes that often relegate individuals with special needs to a hidden or “less than” status in her faith and cultural communities.


Sajid Khan, assistant medical director of the emergency department at Cartersville [Georgia] Medical Center, and his wife, Maryam Arshad, also an emergency care physician, have published a book designed to help emergency physicians review for the exams they take to get and stay boardcertified. “The Ultimate Emergency Medicine Guide: The Only Book You Need to Succeed,” organized around the different aspects of emergency medicine, concludes with a practice test. In 2013, Khan published “Khan’s Cases: Medical Ethics 101,” which addresses the ethical principles featured in the Step 1 exam and provides real-world cases — many drawn from his personal experiences.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Sarah Sayeed, a member of the ISNA Mosque Development Committee, as a senior advisor in the Community Affairs Unit, June 11. “I am proud to welcome Sarah with her strong background in community engagement and interfaith outreach to her


new role as senior advisor,” he said. “Sarah will work with the Community Affairs Unit to further engage the Muslim community in the genesis and formation of city policy. New York’s robust and vibrant Muslim community is an integral part of our city, and Sarah’s strong ties will help city hall better connect with our Muslim brothers and sisters across the city to improve the lives of all New Yorkers.” In her role as senior advisor, Sayeed will assist the Community Affairs Unit in expanding its outreach to the city’s Muslim community, bringing local insight on matters pertaining to city policy, ensuring services are culturally appropriate and accessible to all New Yorkers, and informing the way city leadership and agencies conduct outreach and service delivery for Muslim communities. Sayeed most recently served as director of community partnerships for the Interfaith Center of New York, also serves as a board member for Women in Islam, Inc., and is a member of City University of New York Dispute Resolution Center’s advisory group. Hamid Slimi, imam of the Sayeda Khadija Center in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, raised nearly $5,000 Canadian in a day to help neighboring St. Catherine of Siena Roman Catholic Church make repairs after vandalization, the Toronto Star reported June 26. Father Camillo Lando estimated the damage to the property at $10,000 Canadian. Peel Region police arrested Iqbal Hessan, 22, and charged him with breaking and entering, committing an indictable offence and five counts of mischief more than $5,000 Canadian. After reviewing the mental health history of Hessan, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, police decided they were “not proceeding with a hate crime (prosecution) because there was no evidence of malintent,” said spokeswoman Const. Fiona Thivierge, the newspaper reported. Imam Abdullah Polovina, 41, who moved to Portland in 2013 to lead the Bosniaks Educational and Cultural Organization, earned a master’s degree in June at Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry — a Catholic institution, where he was the first Muslim student. He first connected with leaders at Seattle University through interfaith dialogue events hosted by the Jesuit Catholic college. 15

COMMUNITY MATTERS Polovina’s presence also alerted the faculty members to make the campus more Muslimfriendly, such as providing pork-free meals and working around daily prayers, according to a May 18 report in The Oregonian.

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) presented its annual Visionary Leader Award to Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN), June 24. The award recognizes people who demonstrate “the ability to develop and implement creative and effective organizational leadership strategies” and who “create and nurture valuable collaborations and partnerships to advance the work of nonprofits, and result in tangible benefits to the community.” This year’s award was offered in partnership with the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network-Twin Cities, the Harvard Club of Minnesota Foundation and the Center for Integrative Leadership at the University of Minnesota. The award is a $4,000 educational grant from the Harvard Club


of Minnesota Foundation to be used for an executive-level professional development program of the recipient’s choice at Harvard. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee recognized Anisa Mehdi with the Outstanding Achievement in Media Award during the 18th annual Jack G. Shaheen Mass Communications Awards ceremony at its 35th anniversary national convention in Washington, D.C., June 12-14. The annual awards honor Arab Americans excelling in media studies, including journalism, radio, television, and/or film. Shaheen, an internationally recognized author and media critic, presented this year’s awards. He is author of the awardwinning book and film, “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People.” He has consulted with the United Nations and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and has been featured on numerous national TV networks. Mehdi, an Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist and writer specializing in religion and the arts, is the founder and president of Whetstone Productions and is a professor of communications at Seton Hall University where she lectures on Islam in the media, Muslim women, and on reporting religion. The Jack Shaheen Mass Communications Scholarship Award went to Sarah Aziza Shihadah, a writer and freelance journalist specializing in Middle Eastern and social justice issues. As a Fulbright scholar, she currently is working in Amman, Jordan, as

a full-time teacher of college-age students with UNRWA faculty. The inaugural session of the JewishMuslim Scholars Dialogue (JMSD) hosted by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago and the Chicago Board of Rabbis was held June 9 at the American Islamic College (AIC). Four rabbis, a Jewish scholar and seven Muslim scholars who attended agreed that JMSD would meet multiple times a year with presentations from a Muslim and a Jewish scholar followed by discussion on specific topics- The aim is to better understand each other and learn from shared experience as minorities and as an organized religious community within the larger secular society. Kadra Mohamed, 21, is Minnesota’s first hijab wearing policewoman and the first Somali female officer, and already making history. St. Paul also is one of the few American police departments that allow women to wear the hijab while working. This way, they hope to enable Muslim women to consider a career in law enforcement. The three-story Islamic Center of Deltona, Florida, which has been open now for two years, formally inaugurated the Masjid Maryam, reported the Daytona Beach News-Journal May 23. The DeBary, Florida, mosque, which serves a community of roughly 200 people, also runs a medical clinic with services avail-


able to uninsured people who meet certain poverty guidelines. Doctors are available to see patients one Sunday a month, while some lab services and prescription assistance also is available. “We need to give back to the community,” mosque president Riaz Qureshi told the newspaper. “One of the teachings of Islam is: To serve almighty God is to serve humanity. This is one way of serving. There is a big medical need.”

University of Maryland at College Park junior, Omar Goheer, a chemistry and economics major, has created K. Sultana, a company that manufactures and sells lightweight hijab that ventilate well in hot temperatures, reported The Diamondback, the university’s independent student newspaper, May 10. Inspired by his mother, Kishwer Sultana, a single parent who provided for Goheer’s family by starting a daycare business, Goheer wanted to create a company that could promote women’s entrepreneurship. His university’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation living-learning program helped him launch the company website, ksultana. com on Oct. 30 last year, and this March, the company began selling the scarves in person and donating some of the profits. The company donates to Baltimore’s shelter for homeless Muslim women, Muslimat Al-Nisaa, and to Helping Hand for Relief and Development, a nonprofit international relief organization. The company also is connected with ICNA Relief, a group of 12 Muslim women’s shelters across the country. Goheer plans to expand and develop his business while working with the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship’s Fearless Founders program and Startup Shell. Denver Broncos tackle Ryan Harris observed Ramadan with community service and served lunch at the Denver Rescue Mission. Harris, who embraced Islam when he was in eighth grade, helped plan the lunch

meal of Kansas City barbecue sandwiches that he and a group of volunteers served to those in need. This Ramadan, the Broncos training camp started July 31. Al-Salam Day School of St. Louis secured dual accreditation from Advanc-Ed and CISNA for the next five years. Some of the school’s graduates got admission to Collegiate School of Medicine & Bioscience (one of the area’s best high schools for advance learners and gifted kids). Al-Salam School provides services including day-boarding up to 10th grade students. It also has Sunday school and hifz programs.

After nine years of planning, construction and some early opposition, the Muslim American Society’s Katy (suburban Houston) Islamic Center — what will become the area’s largest mosque accommodating more than 2,000 people — had a June 13 ribbon-cutting celebration, attended by nearly 1500 people, including representatives from neighboring churches and synagogues, reported the Houston Chronicle June 16. The second largest mosque in Katy is less than half the size of the new center. The center has opened its $5 million, two-story, 20,000-square-foot prayer area. The attached multipurpose hall that will include a gymnasium is not yet completed. Construction on that part of its building is expected to be completed in the upcoming months as officials raise more donations to fund the project. The center’s 11-acre tract, originally purchased in 2006 by a group of community members, has been owned and operated by MAS since 2008. The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland ordered Wal-Mart Stores to pay $75,000 and to provide significant equitable relief to store asset protection coordinator, Ebrima Jallow, a Gambian Muslim who was harassed by the store manager at its Landover Hills, Maryland, store. The manager frequently made offensive comments about Jallow’s national origin and religion,


the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said in its lawsuit, according to an EEOC statement released June 12. Wal-Mart East, LP, also will report to the EEOC any internal complaints of alleged national origin discrimination, religious discrimination or retaliation and will post a notice about the settlement. Such conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits harassment based on national origin or religion. Title VII also forbids employers from retaliating against employees who oppose harassment or discrimination. “Harassment based on national origin or religion simply has no business in the 21st century workplace,” EEOC regional attorney Debra M. Lawrence added. “The EEOC is pleased that this settlement will provide equitable relief and training to prevent unlawful harassment, discrimination or retaliation.” After a scathing Supreme Court decision against the state of Arkansas for not respecting religious freedom, a federal district court issued a permanent injunction against the state June 4. Arkansas agreed to the injunction, which requires allowing a prisoner to grow a religiously mandated beard. Arkansas also changed its religious beard policy to align with the majority of state prison systems. In the Supreme Court decision, Holt v. Hobbs, the judges clearly ordered the government cannot refuse to protect religious freedom on “prison officials’ mere say-so.” “The Supreme Court decision protects the rights not only of prisoners, but of all Americans,” said Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “When we protect the rights of one religious person, we protect all American citizens, religious and non-religious alike.” Under the June 4 settlement, Arkansas agreed to a permanent injunction, guaranteeing Gregory Holt aka Abdul Maalik Muhammad’s right to wear a beard. The state also agreed to pay the legal fees for his representatives, Douglas Laycock, professor at the University of Virginia School of Law and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. In January, the Supreme Court ruled that Muhammad has the right to peacefully wear a half-inch beard in accordance with his faith after Arkansas failed to show that it had a compelling interest to ban beards. More than 43 state, federal, and local prison systems allow beards, and because Arkansas has long 17

COMMUNITY MATTERS allowed beards for medical reasons, the court held that the state could not discriminate based on an inmate’s religious beliefs. The United States Supreme Court declined June 8 to insert itself into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ruling just a few months after a feud between President Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu, the justices refused to allow Americans born in Jerusalem to have their passports changed to reflect “Israel” as their birthplace. In denying the challenge waged by the Jewish parents of a 12-year-old almost since his birth in 2002, a majority of justices heeded the U.S. State Department’s warning that a simple passport alteration could “provoke uproar throughout the Arab and Muslim world.” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the 6-3 decision for the court. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito dissented. They sided with Congress, which passed a law that same year allowing Americans born in Jerusalem to have Israel listed as their place of birth on their passports. The court’s four liberal members — including its only three Jews — sided with the administration from the outset. The status of Jerusalem has been at the top of the conflict ever since Israel was recognized in 1948. The official U.S. policy is spelled out in a State Department manual: “For a person born in Jerusalem, write JERUSALEM as the place of birth in the passport. Do not write Israel, Jordan or West Bank.” The Texas legislature adjourned without passing the state House and Senate versions of the so-called “Anti-Foreign Law” legislation. The proposed anti-Islam legislation was similar to those introduced in state legislatures nationwide in a campaign to demonize Islam and marginalize Muslim Americans. Its supporters failed to acknowledge that American courts already are required to adhere to U.S. law. The “Anti-foreign law” legislation infringes on the constitutionally protected right to choose Islamic marriage contracts, implement Islamic wills or to be buried according to one’s religious beliefs. If these laws had passed, they would have negatively impact the validation of international adoptions and foreign marriages. Moreover, these laws may bar any state court 18

from considering of Catholic Canon law and Jewish Halaqa law, which also are considered by many courts to be a type of foreign law. Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)-San Antonio President Sarwat Husain testified against the SB 531 at the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee and against HB 562, HB 670 and HJR 32 before the state House committee. Husain publishes Al-Ittihaad monthly, the state’s largest Muslim American newspaper, and is a frequent guest columnist for the San Antonio Express News. The Iowa legislature ended its session June 8 without passing HF135, legislation relating to the application of foreign laws, including effective date provisions introduced by 13 Republicans on Feb. 2. It is pending in the Iowa House Judiciary Committee. CAIR-Iowa helped educate state lawmakers about the legislation’s unconstitutional nature and worked with interfaith partners on that effort. CAIR-Iowa Executive Director Miriam Amer thanked all those who joined the Iowa Muslim community in “helping to defeat this latest effort to rob religious minorities of their constitutional rights.”

Arjumand Farid Hashmi, a prominent Pakistani American cardiologist, was reelected to a third term as mayor of Paris, Texas, securing 66 percent of the votes in a town of 25,000 residents with a majority of Baptists and other Christians. The Karachi-born and Abu Dhabi-raised Hashmi, 54, a Republican, holds Pakistan’s highest civilian award, the Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Star of Distinction). He is the first Muslim Pakistani to become a mayor for the third time in U.S. history after his Paris City Council peers selected him to be mayor in

2011. He has donated part of his medical office to the town, so it can function as his mayoral office.

Leena Ahsan, a sophomore majoring in computer engineering at Northeastern University, received U.S. Patent No. 9,051,076 on June 9 for her invention, which allows one to remove the unused cardboard or outside packaging as the content inside are being consumed. This allows for space saving, especially where space is at a premium, such as, the International Space Station, or an RV, a dorm room, or a small pantry. Ahsan received her U.S. Patent Grant from the divisional director of her employer, Draper Laboratory, Cambridge, Massachusetts, on June 18 with her team and other co-op students present. She applied for this patent when as a high school junior. Negotiations are ongoing to bring this product to market. MasterChef USA, which started airing on Fox May 20, featured Dearborn, Michigan, native Amanda Saab, the first hijab-wearing chef on American primetime television, reported MuslimGirl magazine. “As with any profession, Muslim women wearing hijab can be faced with ignorance,” she said. “In my experience, many stereotypes have been quickly dispelled as people get to know me. I believe my presence in the culinary world is breaking stereotypes that Muslim women are oppressed and cannot follow their passions. Here I am culinary world! I am free!” Saab volunteers at a hunger relief agency, works at a hospital, and is competing on the world’s largest cooking competition reality show. She also writes a blog about cooking and stresses, “My cooking is a representation of me — East meets West.” Burhan Azeem, 17, a 2015 graduate of Staten Island Technical High School, New


York, is joining Massachusetts Institute of Technology Class of 2019 on a full scholarship. He declined acceptance to Princeton University, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, and Brown University, which also were offering him full scholarships to attend, reported the Staten Island Advance. Azeem also decided to forego acceptances to Amherst College and Oxford University in England. He said he preferred MIT because “MIT focuses on creating on top of theory,” and in Boston, he can cross register at Harvard and work at startups in Kendall Square. Throughout his high school career, Azeem was the recipient of many international and city awards, including winning the NYC Science and Engineering Fair and the FIRST NYC Robotics Regional Competition. Born in Multan, Pakistan, Azeem lived there for a short while until immigrating to the United States with his parents and two younger sisters. Daar-ul-Islam Masjid in Ballwin, Missouri, also known as the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis, has opened the area’s

first Muslim funeral home, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch June 29. The initiative is led by Adil Imdad, an environmental and geotechnical engineer interested in helping Muslims bury their loved ones. In 2011, Imdad enrolled at a community college, graduating the following year with a certificate in funeral directing. He is the only Muslim chaplain for St. Louis County police. With the help of several funeral directors and a crew of volunteers, Imdad now is able to assist, at little to no cost, families who have lost loved ones. Families still are required to pay, usually between $1,150 and $4,500, for the cemeteries they use, though the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis has established a fund to help defray those costs. Imam Asif Umar, the first native St. Louisan to lead Daar-ul-Islam, stresses that they accommodate all Muslims. The newspaper also reports that in 2011, the Bosnian Islamic Center established the first Muslim cemetery in the St. Louis area. Imdad is working to secure another 40 acres for Muslim burials. Missouri Muslim groups in Kansas City,


Columbia and Jefferson City maintain small funeral facilities, often inside mosques, for washing bodies of the deceased in preparation for burial. According to newspaper, the St. Louis area has about 27 funeral facilities of varying sizes, serving an estimated 85,000 Muslims. One reason for the jump is the influx of Bosnian Muslims to St. Louis in the 1990s. The Islamic Center of Long Island, New York, was named one of the Top Eight Spiritual Sites in America by the U.S. Travel Association, July 2015. More than 300 million people visit the world’s major religious sites each year. Twenty-five percent of Americans say they’re interested in taking some sort of spiritual vacation, according to the U.S. Travel Association. The roots of this multicultural Muslim community date back to the early 1970s, when members met in temporary quarters until a mosque was built between 1989-1991. The center, which is being expanded to meet the needs of its growing congregation, blends traditional Islamic architecture with American design elements.






STORIES OF RESILIENCE How Muslims are strengthening the Muslim American narrative BY ALTAF HUSAIN AND FATIMA SALMAN


eflecting on theme ideas for the 2015 ISNA annual Convention, the program committee members found two aspects of the Muslim American experience emerged as salient: 1) at the individual, family, organization and community levels, the community has been quite resilient in the face of tremendous challenges here and abroad; 2) it is imperative that the experiences be presented, discussed and documented. The theme for this year’s convention thus addresses both these aspects: “Stories of Resilience: Strengthening the American Muslim Narrative.”

RESILIENCE IN THE FACE OF CHALLENGES While the focus is predominantly on contemporary examples of resilience, the discussion would be incomplete without an explicit mention of our rich history. That history, revealed to us through beautiful stories in the Quran and of course the writings of our predecessors, is characterized by three common elements: struggling against impossible odds, seeking support from our faith tradition, and thriving as servants of God. Chronicled in vibrant Quranic passages are the stories of resilience of prophets — such as Noah, Abraham, Ismail, Jonah, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Jesus (alayhis salaam), and of course, Muhammad (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) — may God’s peace and blessings be upon all of them. Our predecessors also shed light on the lives of the companions of Prophet Muhammad and the extraordinary lengths to which they went to adopt Islam as their faith and to thrive as Muslims wherever they ended up living. Throughout various periods in which Muslim lands were colonized and brutal occupations persisted, there are stories of resistance and resilience and unparalleled efforts at persistence and adherence to the faith tradition. Dating back to the forced migration of the enslaved Africans to North America, there are powerful stories of resilience both at the individual and collective levels. That resilience ISLAMIC HORIZONS  SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

remained in the DNA of those African Americans who participated in the Civil Rights Movement, many of whom also accepted Islam and provided the foundation upon which subsequent immigrant generations engaged in community and institution building. At the onset of 21st century, the Muslim community became ensnared in a guilt by association nightmare and cycle of intense scrutiny, suspicion and stigma after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Outright acts of anti-Islamic bigotry became commonly referred to as instances of “Islamophobia” and accusations — by elected officials and even some clergy of other faiths — of complacency toward or outright support of terrorist ideology evoked fear and anxiety among Muslim Americans. Knowing that we condemned terrorism led to feelings of helplessness as those accusations materialized into raids on people’s homes, businesses, and even respectable charities and relief organizations, and arrests of individuals on specious evidence resulting in charges of either providing material support for terrorism or at worst planning terrorist attacks on American soil. People’s livelihoods also were affected as they experienced emotional turmoil from hostile work environments and discriminatory hiring practices. Children in elementary, middle, and high schools as well as at universities and colleges reported toxic classroom environments instigated either by classmates or the teachers themselves. Profiling at airports, referrals to secondary screening stations upon return from international journeys, and extended detentions at airports often times without explanations gave rise to the expression “flying while Muslim.” Mosques and Islamic centers often were vandalized, and in some cases, attacked by arsonists. Then somewhere along the way, concerted hate campaigns were launched or instigated by small groups of outspoken bigots. A campaign to vilify the Prophet Muhammad targeted his message, his family life, and ultimately led to desperate attempts at provocation through making B-rated movies, drawing cartoons 21

COVER STORY and caricatures portraying him, and even worse, in insulting or compromising contexts. The anti-Quran campaign included varying acts of disrespect including the U.S. soldier stationed in Afghanistan who urinated on a copy of the Quran and climaxed in a virtually unknown “clergyman” burning a copy of the Quran. A coordinated antisharia campaign is losing steam with federal judges ruling the so-called anti-sharia “legislation” as unconstitutional and appellate courts upholding those rulings. Nonetheless, more than 30 states have attempted to amend their constitutions to include antisharia legislation, with at least eight of those states doing so successfully. Halfway through this second decade of the 21st century, the specter of al-Qaeda seemed to have been fading when the “Islamic State” made an almost too wellchoreographed debut as a group even more extreme than al-Qaeda. This well-funded, well-armed, well-trained and media-savvy radical group not only has transgressed all bounds of evil from sharing videos of beheadings to massacring hundreds of members of religious minorities and fellow Muslims in countries, such as Iraq and Syria. Much like the impact of al-Qaeda’s abhorrent actions, Muslim Americans recently have been facing perhaps an ever more severe backlash. Attacks on Muslims, on houses of worship, on businesses, and regrettably, heinous execution-style murders of Muslims have resulted in a collective angst among Muslim Americans, even those who had been consistently promoting optimism. One would assume that given all the challenges described above, the community would have suffered a collective collapse, a breaking of willpower, a shattering of all hope of a future for Muslims in America. While there have been moments of hopelessness in the face of such difficulties, for the most part, what stands out again and again around the country is the counter-narrative featuring ordinary people demonstrating extraordinary abilities to transcend a climate of intense bigotry. This precisely is the overarching purpose of the program of this year’s convention: featuring the best of these stories of resilience at the individual, family, organizational and community levels and providing opportunities for meaningful dialogue and exchange to strengthen the Muslim American narrative. Be sure to meet the Muslim newsmakers, religious scholars, academics, practitioners from various 22

fields, and individuals and organizations at the forefront of civic engagement and upholding social justice. In addition to describing our own stories, we hope to capture the story of our own country occurring all around us. Being the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, an entire main session will cover this topic and what it means for Muslim Americans. Included with our in-depth and diverse topics, there are unique features of this year’s program, which we hope will uplift each attendee spiritually and strengthen our resolve to return to our communities hopeful and optimistic. Amongst the unique components in this year’s convention is our “Storytelling Campaign.” A call has been made to all Muslim Americans to send video clips of their stories of resilience. The story can be of the individual, of a family, of a community, mosque, or organization. These stories will be collected and displayed on the large screens throughout the convention. They also will be used after the convention to continue to “strengthen the American Muslim narrative.” One of the hallmarks of the ISNA annual convention is it serves as a convergence of thought leaders, activists, scholars, local grassroots members and leaders, and imams in the same weekend. As a means to facilitate dialogue and discussion on important matters concerning the American Muslim community, six roundtable discussions will take place during the convention. They will be led by Muslim leaders already working on these special topics, and will include ISNA attendees who have signed up for these roundtable discussions. Trained facilitators will engage the thought leaders and participants, and work on creating dialogue as

well as come up with an action plan for the Muslim American community to follow. Roundtable topics include: inner city and police brutality, overseas issues, hunger/ homelessness/social justice, civic engagement, building a prophetic mosque, and building a diverse community. Every year, the ISNA Convention program strives to be relevant for the Muslim community. The needs of the Muslim American community are at the forefront in the development of the programming. The convention has become a place for our national community to come and talk about the issues of the year, and discuss what is to come. New this year is a “News Maker” session, which will incorporate Muslims in the news. They will discuss the highlights and the lowlights of the year, topics that were of importance to our community and broader American community, lessons learned, and how to move on to strengthen our Muslim American narrative. A special thanks to all those who submitted parallel sessions; we had more than 170 submissions. The high quality of the submissions and the well thought-out ideas made it an arduous process to narrow them down, and we pray that attendees will be pleased with this year’s program. We hope and pray that you all will be able to attend this year’s convention!

Altaf Husain, an assistant professor in the Howard University School of Social Work, is vice president of ISNA. Fatima Salman, a University of Michigan graduate student, is ISNA Central Zone Representative as, and a board member of the Michigan Muslim Community Council. She was president of MYNA in 1994 and is on the Majlis Youth Committee for ISNA. (Editor’s Note: Altaf Husain and Fatima Salman are co-chairs of the Convention Program Committee for this year’s convention.)


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

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Back Home in Chicago Devon Avenue connects South Asians to familiar flavors and fancies. BY SAMANA SIDDIQUI


n the eve of Ramadan, Junaid Afeef was buying dates in the famous South Asian enclave in North America — Chicago’s Devon Avenue. “Most older Indian and Pakistani retailers


on Devon assume that I can’t understand Urdu or Hindi, and I’ve had some great moments of funny misunderstandings,” said the attorney and deputy general counsel at the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. “Mexicans like dates?” asked the store

owner, assuming the second-generation Indian-American Muslim lawyer was not South Asian. “I don’t know,” said Afeef in his best American-accented but fluent, basic Urdu. For more than four decades, Devon Avenue — particularly between Ravenswood and California Avenues — has been a locus of major commercial and cultural activity for Muslim South Asians. Located in Rogers Park, it is 20 minutes northwest of Willis Tower (the former Sears Tower, designed by Muslim engineer and architect Fazlur Rahman Khan), and west of O’Hare International Airport, one of the nation’s busiest hubs. And just five miles from the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. Business began, as it did in many other Muslim American communities, with the need for halal meat. “It was always a constant in my family’s lives in that it was where my mother would go and still goes to buy spices for her Indian food and halal meat,” said Rummana Hussain, criminal courts reporter and metro desk editor at the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper. “My dad moved to Chicago in 1969 and my mom and my older sister — then 18 months old — arrived a year later,” she said. “We moved from Lakeview to a then ‘luxury’ apartment building at Devon and Ridge a few years later. We were the only Indian family in the building and the twin building across the street was home to a Kashmiri family, with whom, naturally, my parents became friends. “At the time, my mother said there was only one Indian grocery store that resembled a shack: Patel Brothers,” Hussain recalled. “There may have also been one or two shops that sold saris. She didn’t drive then, so she would walk to grocery stores with a two-wheeled cart. I imagine she would pull that metal cart to Patel Brothers, often.” Initially, halal meat also was the main draw for Afeef ’s family. “My parents went to Devon to get Indian groceries and Zabiha meats when we were very small,” he said. “I vaguely remember the trips but once such stores opened closer to home in the suburbs we never went. By the early 80s we stopped going.” But it wasn’t a final farewell. “I ‘rediscovered’ Devon in my young, professional life when my friends and I would go to Devon for CAMP (Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals) functions at zabiha restaurants,” said Afeef.


Devon Avenue originally was named Church Road. In the 1880s, English settlers renamed it for their native county of Devonshire. At first, it was known for having farms and greenhouses. It began to attract commercial and residential development during the early 1920s. South Asians, including Muslims from

stores, bookshops, restaurants, and bakeries. Amid the bustling streets in this section of Devon Avenue, you’ll find (honorary) Mahatma Gandhi Marg street, which in turn leads to (honorary) Mohamed Ali Jinnah Way, along with Sheikh Mujib Way, all named after major figures in South Asian history within the last 100 years.

COMMENTS FROM OUT-OF-TOWNERS ON TRIPADVISOR.COM, A TRAVEL WEBSITE, DESCRIBE DEVON AVENUE AS “A TRUE TASTE OF INDIA AND PAKISTAN IN THE U.S.” AND “HOME AWAY FROM HOME” FOR THOSE TIED TO THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT. India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, brought their influence to Devon Avenue after an influx of immigration from these countries in the mid-1960s. The U.S. Immigration Act of 1965 lifted many race-based immigration restrictions. The new law allowed Asians, Latin Americans, and Africans to establish themselves in the United States on a permanent basis. “For a lot of us Chicago-area ‘kids,’ Devon really is a place where we were able to bond with the older generation,” said Hussain. “Even though many of us Generation Xers viewed trips to Devon with dread because of the traffic and being at the whim of our parents, I think we all still make trips there on occasion,” she added. “My mom still drafts me and my siblings to take her there for errands even though she can now drive.” Today, the South Asian influence isn’t just obvious from the 60-plus food and clothing

Even in local Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi parlance, Devon is pronounced “Deewan,” an Urdu and Hindi word, which refers to a government official. Under the Muslim Mughal empire in India, deewan was the title for the chief revenue officer of a province. In some Indian states, it was used for chief treasury official, finance minister, or prime minister. While it sometimes has been dubbed “Little India,” it is far from ethnically or racially homogenous. According to the 2010 Census, the racial makeup of this section of the famed street is nearly 30 percent white, roughy 29 percent Asian, 25 percent Hispanic, and 14 percent black. As “Little India” isn’t a formally recognized community area, the data was pieced together from the area surrounding Devon Avenue. Nonetheless, Devon remains the go-to place for virtually all things South Asian in


Chicago, and even North America. Comments from out-of-towners on TripAdvisor. com, a travel website, describe the street as “a true taste of India and Pakistan in the U.S.” and “home away from home” for those tied to the Indian subcontinent. Not surprisingly, Devon is one place where many South Asian ISNA convention-goers gather after hours. “I do think Muslims of South Asian backgrounds will enjoy Devon,” said Hussain. “If you really like high South Asian fashion, Studio Elite and Raaz are great places. Even though I don’t eat on Devon quite often, Khan BBQ and Anmol are crowd favorites — especially for meat-loving Muslims. If you want something sweet, a lot of people love Tahoora.” Restaurants are the big draw for Afeef, who was visiting one when he was mistaken for being Mexican while buying dates for Ramadan. “We go there because the older generation in my family is fond of the ‘authentic’ IndoPak restaurants,” he said. “Otherwise, we get all of our ethnic foods and groceries and our cultural goods and clothing elsewhere.” Nonetheless, Devon is still the best place for “emergency” South Asian needs. “This year, while my family’s house was being renovated, I ended up buying clothes on Devon for Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr because I didn’t know where my stash of clothes I brought from India was,” Hussain said.

Samana Siddiqui, content manager of Sound Vision Foundation’s website, is also writer for the “Chicago Crescent.

Executive Director for: Muslim Community Center for Human Services, Providing medical and social services to indigent residents in Dallas Fort Worth, Texas.

A committed person for full time Administrative responsibility with experience in grant writing, Fundraising, Networking with Islamic centers, healthcare and social welfare agencies. Pay commensurate with education and experience. Please send your resume to



A World of Islamic Art in Chicago ISNA guests have a treasure of Islamic art awaiting them. BY YOUSUF KHAN


ttendees of the 52nd annual Convention in Rosemont, Illinois, can explore a fascinating world of Islamic art at the Art Institute of Chicago. The Islamic Art Exhibition currently is on display at the Art Institute, 111 S. Michigan Ave., in Chicago, about an hour ride on the CTA Blue Line which starts from O’Hare Airport. It comprises more than 100 works from throughout the Muslim world showcased within a 3,200-square-foot space. It’s a

first time,” according to museum officials. “Two contiguous pages from a Quran manuscript from the late 12th or 13th century present a variety of colored inks on vivid pink paper. A page from an important tract by one of the most renowned theologians of Islam, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (1149-1209 CE), is notable for the geometric clarity and simplicity of its illumination. And a large leaf of a Quran, produced in Syria or Egypt in the 14th century, is one of only a handful of known single leaves from the manuscript.” Exhibits from throughout the Muslim world — including Spain, Morocco, Indo-


spectacular tribute to the culture of Muslim majority lands. From the architectural beauty of mosques to calligraphic writings, Muslims have been creating works of art for centuries. Islamic art also has earned a prominent position in distinguished galleries and museums. Islamic decoration has four main categories: calligraphy, geometric patterns, vegetal or plant-based patterns, and human and animal figures. Together, these works of art tell a story of the spread of the Muslim empire. The artifacts represent historically key events, such as the Mongolian empire growing into one of the most powerful governments in Asia. They also show Muslim devotion to religion as evidenced by fragments of Islamic buildings that were worked on diligently by Muslims. “Several of the museum’s recent calligraphy acquisitions will be on display for the 26



nesia, India and Central Asia — have been gathered in one place. They reflect a mix of Islamic culture with the local cultures, “from small tiles and utensils to large architectural objects.” “Selections from the museum’s own holdings are augmented by important pieces on loan from public and private collections, and rotating presentations of Islamic painting, calligraphy, textiles, and carpets supplement the items on permanent display,” per museum officials. A candlestick from Eastern Turkey sits beside a bowl from Iran. A striking part of the collection is an elephant from India that was carved out of ivory. It is gold colored on the outside with intricate detail. The ridges on the trunk of the elephant look like they were painstakingly carved with a toothpick. The back of the elephant has flowers and leaves. Doors from Morocco standing 12

❶ Tile from the Mosque of Rustam Pasha, c. 1561. Turkey, Iznik, Ottoman period. Samuel M. Nickerson Fund. ❷ Tomb of I'timad-ud-Daula, Agra, c. 1820. India, Agra. Restricted gift of the Friends of Indian and Islamic Art of the Art Institute of Chicago. ❸ Installation view of the Islamic Galleries at the Art Institute of Chicago. ❹ Installation view of the Islamic Galleries at the Art Institute of Chicago. ❺ Installation view of the Islamic Galleries at the Art Institute of Chicago. ❻ The Ascent of the Prophet to Heaven, page from the copy of the Khamsa of Nizami, c. 1600. Iran. The Art Institute of Chicago. Lucy Maud Buckingham Collection. ❼ Lamp, 14th century. Egypt or Syria. The Art Institute of Chicago. Martin A. Ryerson Collection. ❽ Turban Helmet, c. 1500/1475. Western Iranian. The Art Institute of Chicago. George F. Harding Collection.



collection, with objects ranging in origin from Spain to Central Asia, in date from the eighth to the 20th century, and in medium from manuscripts, textiles and carpets to objects made of ceramics, metal, glass, ivory and jade. Architectural material, including carved wooden doors and beams from Morocco and painted or mosaic tiles from Iran, are now on view, in some instances for the first time.”



feet tall, ornamental pieces, such as vases, lamps, and other decorative artifacts demonstrate the exquisite skill of craftsmen. A lamp from Syria, or possibly Egypt, is glass painted with red, blue, and green gildings and enamels. Introducing visitors to the history, religion, and artistic traditions of Islam, the exhibit proceeds chronologically and geographically with displays containing early and medieval objects covering the expanse of the early Islamic world in one section, while another section features the later great



empires of Ottoman Turkey, Safavid Iran, and Mughal India. The groupings enable viewers to see the common threads that connect the art of the region. “I believe visitors will be astonished by the high quality and creative energy found in this assortment of objects from across the full span of the Islamic world,” said Daniel Walker, Christa C. Mayer Thurman Chair and curator of the Department of Textiles and of Islamic Art. “The significantly enlarged new Islamic galleries allow us to display the full range of our strong



The new installation, which opened November 2014, is located within Gallery 50 on the lower level of the Art Institute’s Rice Wing. “The installation is an ongoing presentation of the permanent collection,” said Nina Litoff, Art Institute spokeswoman. “Textiles and works on paper will be displayed in three-month rotations so there will be continuously something new to see from the Art Institute’s Islamic collection.”

Yousuf Khan is based in Chicago and also writes for Halal Consumer magazine.



Toward Muslim Action on the Ecological Crisis What Muslim-Catholic cooperation means to safeguarding the environment. BY ANAS MALIK


magine you are traveling through a drought-stricken land, and notice many people buying wood and lighting cooking fires. You light one too. Then knowledgeable experts race through the crowds warning that cooking fires could start a wildfire, endangering everyone. The woodsellers ridicule the experts, and tell you to ignore their warnings. What do you do? Wait for others to put out their fires first? Question the experts’ knowledge? Put out your fire and try to find a safer alternative? Today, despite increasingly desperate warnings from the scientific community


about the clear and present danger to civilization and human survival, we continue to burn many such ecologically dangerous, carbon-emitting fires. The present course is unsustainable. We have just experienced the warmest May on record, after the warmest start to a year on record, and we are headed toward making 2015 the warmest year on record. Recently, we reached the 400 parts per million mark of carbon concentration in the atmosphere — 350 ppm is considered safe and 450 ppm dangerous — a tipping point for climate change producing more extreme weather, such as superstorms, megadroughts and floods, and undermining the

delicate planetary ecology on which our lives depend. Too often, we treat our natural resources merely as materials for us to dominate and exploit. We shirk our duty to care for these and each other as responsible stewards. The biggest crisis may be that we don’t see this as a crisis. The good news is that Muslims can make a critical difference to help prevent this catastrophe. Consider that saving a life can equal saving all of humanity (Quran 5:32). Life depends on access to water. Climate change will exacerbate water scarcity, further straining vulnerable populations in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and elsewhere. The basic human right to water and sanitation — already in poor supply in many places, with 800 million people deprived — will be denied on a much greater scale. By 2030, we will have only 60 percent of the water we will need, according to the U.N. World Water Development Report. Unless we change course, desperate thirst awaits. Consider also that the kindness of giving water to a thirsty dog can lead to a person’s salvation (Sahih Bukhari, 54/538). Our over consumption is driving a staggering loss of biodiversity — we’re not just withholding kindness from individual creatures, but entire species. The rate of extinction in the 20th century was up to 100 times higher than it would have been without man’s impact. Some practical things we can do to make more ecologically sustainable choices: • Be judicious in our direct and indirect use of water. • Reduce red meat consumption. • Switch to more efficient, less polluting modes of transport. • Use LED lightbulbs. • Turn water heaters down, keeping water acceptably warm rather than blazing hot. • Seek alternative community energy sources, drawing on the collective bargaining power of communities. • Use our power as investors to choose ecologically responsible investments and to file stockholder resolutions for sustainable practices. • Lobby our political leaders for enforced laws that promote sustainability. • And crucially, connect with others for creative deliberation and action. Beyond individual choices to prioritize


ecological costs, the present crisis demands urgent collective actions at many levels. Muslims must work with each other, and with people of other faiths, to devise ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to lower our ecological footprint locally, regionally, and globally. We must adjust the rules to take ecological impacts into account. Devising such rule changes requires participation from people; each social ecological context has its own unique elements that are best understood by those who live there.

tive catastrophe. In keeping with stewardship and the spirit and letter of the Quranic injunctions as explained in the “Common Word” document, the time to make substantive common cause is now — and “Laudato Si” offers a grand opportunity. While recognizing Islam and Christianity are not the same, important aspects of “Laudato Si” will resonate with many Muslims. Praise, a dominant theme in the “Laudato Si” document, is central to how nature and the cosmos are presented in the

MUSLIMS AND CHRISTIANS ARE THE MAJORITY OF THE WORLD’S POPULATION. COOPERATION BETWEEN THEM WOULD GO A LONG WAY TOWARD SOLVING THE COLLECTIVE ACTION PROBLEMS OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS. Involvement helps ensure that the most contextually appropriate rules are adopted. This is the greatest collective action challenge of our time. Amid some notable Muslim activism, the highest profile religious appeal for addressing the ecological crisis has been Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si” (Latin for “Praise Be”) released June 18. Though Pope Francis leads the world’s Catholics, his message is meant for all. While the trends in ecological destruction are grim, the document resounds with a positive ethic of compassion, justice, and transformation, and Muslims should consider it carefully. If you are wondering why Muslims should engage with a Catholic teaching, read “A Common Word Between Us.” This letter is the most authoritative Muslim effort to reach out to the world’s Christians on the basis of the Quran (3:64). Its many signatories include scholarly Islamic authorities from diverse geographic, jurisprudential, and intellectual backgrounds, giving the document an authority that approaches scholarly consensus. Centering on the commandments of love of God and love of neighbor, “A Common Word Between Us” invites Christians to work with Muslims to affirm common ground and cooperate for the common good. Given that Muslims and Christians are the majority of the world’s population, cooperation between them would go a long way toward solving the collective action problems of the environmental crisis. Conversely, failure to work together may result in collec-

Islamic tradition. Joseph Lumbard, professor and chair of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University, describes in “An Islamic Response to Pope Francis’ Encyclical”: “Among the world scriptures, the Quran provides a unique resource for building a new ecological paradigm. Grounded in the Abrahamic tradition, it presents a harmonious view of nature reminiscent of the Far East. In the Quran, “whatsoever is in the heavens and on the earth glorifies God” (59:1; 61:1; 62:1; 64:1). “The stars and the trees prostrate” (55:6), “the thunder hymns His praise” (13:13), and “unto God prostrates whosoever is in the heavens and whosoever is on the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, and the beasts” (22:18). In these and many other verses, the whole of creation is presented as a Divine symphony, for “there is no thing, save that it hymns His praise, though you do not understand their praise. Truly He is Clement, Forgiving” (17:44). “Laudato Si” emphasizes acute sensitivity to debt, inequality, and poverty, and suggests differentiated responsibilities based on wealth and ability. Compassion and justice require voice for the most vulnerable and marginalized — those often left voiceless, who stand to suffer the most from climate change, while having contributed the least to the problem. Social and environmental dimensions cannot be considered in isolation, but should be treated integrally as a complex joint crisis. These social justice


concerns surely will find many receptive Muslim audiences. “Laudato Si” questions hyper consumerism, and challenges us to imagine a different way of living — something many Muslims already seek. Love is mentioned more than 70 times in “Laudato Si,” and the “Common Word” document is centered on the two commandments of love. This positive appeal is welcome, as cost-benefit thinking is often not a powerful motivator, and the focus on negative consequences can produce a type of hopeless paralysis. Averting disaster requires an awakening in spiritual and moral consciousness: toward gratitude for the fabric of nature and the cosmos to which we belong; toward acknowledging our role as stewards rather than wanton dominators of nature; toward trying to live the meaning of loving for our neighbor what we love for ourselves. Globally, the upcoming climate summit in Paris is one avenue for seeking change. But the problem cannot be treated as solely a matter for top-level negotiators. Even if the summit produces binding commitments to cut emissions, civic monitoring and action still will be needed to fulfill those commitments. If the summit fails to achieve binding agreements, local initiatives will gain new significance. While technological innovations hold important promise — and investment in renewable energy is part of progressive elimination of fossil fuels — there remains a need for institutions to ensure appropriate use. Diverse social ecological contexts require diverse institutional arrangements. “Laudato Si” also references the principle of subsidiarity, which promotes local autonomy appropriate to capabilities. Together, these factors suggest that collective actions are needed at many levels to produce the institutions for sustaining our ecological commons. Our journey through this world is brief, but our choices carry heavy consequences. We must not let our fires become an outof-control conflagration. As thankful and responsible stewards, Muslims can and should engage substantively with “Laudato Si” and other initiatives. They should seek to change existing patterns of behavior, to work as civic artisans for constructive change in their communities, and to build broad solidarity for meaningful national and global commitments.

Anas Malik, an associate professor of political science at Xavier University, is affiliated faculty, Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis.



Turkey Transplanted Suburban Washington, D.C. mosque complex recreates the Turkish mosque experience. BY NIMRA NADEEM

with Turkey and 10 other mosques throughout the country. The mosque is referred to as the Diyanet Center of America. Diyanet is the Department of Religious Affairs in Turkey, an organization that has been active since 1924, after the end of the Ottoman Caliphate. It is the center of religious life and activity in Turkey, as well as participating in Islamic affairs in various other countries. It has built mosques worldwide, including in Europe, Africa, and now America. Diyanet provides the funding and necessary staff, such as the imams and president at the mosques. Its hand in this project will allow it to remain sustainable and active for the American Muslim community.



hen I heard the adhan, I had uncontrollable tears in my eyes to be able to witness for the first time the voice of the imam echo through every inch of the location,” said college student Neha Aamir of her first visit to the Turkish American Community Center. With a $100 million budget, the center, also referred to as the Diyanet Center of America, has the potential to amaze every visitor and worshiper. Situated in Lanham, Maryland, about 13 miles from Washington, D.C., the 16-acre complex comprising five buildings with 16th century Ottoman-style architecture, includes a mosque with capacity for 760 people, a cultural center, fellowship hall, a traditional Turkish bathhouse featuring an underground pool, a guesthouse, traditional Turkish houses, and an underground parking garage. The organization also has a rich history of development and a promising future ahead, combining tradition with worship for the Muslim community.

FROM MOSQUE TO COMPLEX: A PRIME MINISTER’S VISION The mega-complex started out as a simple idea proposed by the Turkish American 30

community to expand the concept of a one-building mosque in America. The local Turkish community, established as a nonprofit organization in 1993, had plans to build a larger mosque with a community center, worth about $5 million. This, however, changed when Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was then the prime minister of Turkey and now is the president, visited the community and heard of the plans. Unsatisfied with the proposed arrangements, Erdoğan proposed a larger project and sent over his architect for the creation of a campus consisting of a mosque and other complementary buildings. “I must say his grand vision brought this project [to] life,” TACC President Yaşar Çolak said. “I believe he [Erdoğan] always thinks that the Muslims deserve the best and should always seek perfection in their works.” “This center [will] be a source of pride for the Muslim American community as it represents the great value of our civilization in the highest aesthetic dimension, said Çolak, who also serves as the social and religious affairs counselor at the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C. TACC is connected to the worldwide Muslim community through an affiliation

In America, the concept of a mosque complex with multiple buildings may seem strange, yet in Islamic countries, especially Turkey, the concept dates far back to the Ottoman period. “This model is not completely new,” said architect and TACC vice president Ahmet Kılıç. “This is after Ottoman külliye (“a religious complex”) [where] the mosque is the main element of the campus, but everything comes together with the Turkish bath, cafeteria for the poor, library, and [Islamic school].” In külliye, each building is important and serves a special function, fulfilling the needs of the Muslim community surrounding it. “The mosque and its attached buildings reflect the spiritual values with which our civilization is built upon,” Çolak said. “This site will be one of the largest Muslim complexes in the country, which exemplifies the richness of the Muslim culture.” TACC is one of its kind due to the functionality and diversity of its campus. In addition, the mosque has the distinction of being the only mosque in America with two minarets. “Even in Turkey we don’t have anything like this built in contemporary times,” Kılıç said. Meticulous care was taken to maintain the campus’ Ottoman-era architectural style. “The original design and all these interior designs were done by the Turkish architect,” said Ahmet Aydilek, a professor of civil environmental engineering at University of Maryland College Park. “We were very careful to make it authentic. Lots of things you see in this building, and especially the mosque, are brought from Turkey. All [the]


windows, all [the] carvings, the doors, everything came from Turkey.” The mosque’s architecture has the ability to transport visitors like Aamir to another country. “In the beginning, I honestly didn’t believe I was in the United States,” Aamir said. “The architecture, landscapes, and interiors were overwhelmingly breathtaking.”

than 15,000 people, hosting iftar every day within the fellowship hall and preparing meals within the cafeteria. The mosque also held numerous open houses during Ramadan and plans to continue to do so to show gratitude to its neighbors for their support during construction of the center over the past couple of years. Everyone had not exactly predicted this success.

IN AMERICA, THE CONCEPT OF A MOSQUE COMPLEX WITH MULTIPLE BUILDINGS MAY SEEM STRANGE, YET IN ISLAMIC COUNTRIES, ESPECIALLY TURKEY, THE CONCEPT DATES FAR BACK TO THE OTTOMAN PERIOD. A WONDER FOR ALL: DIVERSITY WITHIN COMMUNITY When the mosque opened its door to the public for the first time during Ramadan, people of all backgrounds and from all over gathered at the community center to break the fast and worship together. “You see people with a background in different professions and different understanding of Islam; I think that adds a big flavor to our mosque,” Aydilek said. “One thing I would love to see is that those people become our community.” While new faces are welcome and encouraged, the community is home to many people far before the opening of the new community center. One such member is Maryland resident Inci Kantar, a member of the Turkish community for 20 years. Inci was beaming with pride at the creation of the new campus and expressed surprise over the amount of people at the Eid celebration. “The whole Ramadan, it’s been like this, every single day,” Kantar said. “Alhamdulillah, we have a beautiful community, a beautiful mosque.” During Ramadan, TACC hosted more

“One thing I want to say is, when we started this project and opened our doors to everybody this Ramadan, we had fears,” Aydilek said. “We were concerned that very few people would show up ... I am very happy to see such a diverse community here.”

For Aydilek, programming for youth is of critical importance. “Youth [are] our future,” said Aydilek, who not only is a father to young children, but works with students as an advisor of the Muslim Student Association at the University of Maryland College Park. The mosque will work closely with the students and other youth groups. There are hopes that TACC will not only benefit the entire Muslim community with its facilities and services, but that it will help enhance Muslims’ understanding and connection to their faith. This has been true for Aamir who was inspired by the beauty of the center and camaraderie of its attendees. “I felt joy in every fiber of my being, a feeling of belonging, and hope that finally I can practice my faith to the best of my and its potential,” Aamir.

Nimra Nadeem is a freelance writer based in Maryland.

THE FUTURE AHEAD Ramadan proved to be a successful test run for TACC, when the mosque and fellowship hall were open to allow for prayers and iftars to take place. The official opening will take place this fall when all the facilities will be available to the public, with plans to have the president of Turkey and the United States in attendance. With this official opening, the organization will look toward launching new programs to fulfill the needs of the Muslim community, such as opening an Islamic school. “We want to come up with a project that is maybe small but very competitive, so that we can attract Muslims and make sure they are interested in sending their kids here,” Aydilek said. “The school will be an Islamic School where secular sciences are taught and there will be an infusion of Islamic elements into the curriculum.”



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reGenerating Champa:

Transitioning Identity from Past to Future BY JULIE THI UNDERHILL


fter surviving war and genocide, Cham refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia began arriving in the U.S. during the late 1970s. However, they rarely meet each other at Cham conferences, and the younger English-speaking generations have never taken center stage. On May 24, a conference for Cham American youth from the 1.5 and 2nd generations brought together Cham scholars, activists, community members, and artists to the University of California-Davis. I and my fellow co-directors Azizah Ahmad, Asma Men, and Amina Sen-Matthews, organized panelists and performers from both home countries and from the Muslim and Hindu communities. In the first panel, Po Dharma, associate professor at the Paris-based French Research School of the Far East, presented an overview of the vanished kingdom of Champa’s history; Marimas Hosan Mostiller analyzed Cham communities in the U.S.; and Farina So contextualized Muslim Cambodian Cham repression under the Khmer Rouge. The second panel featured Cham American activists involved in struggles 32

for social justice, including the author (representing the Cham at the UN),

Rohany Karya (legal intern at the Khmer Rouge War Crimes Tribunal), Khaleelah PoRome (representing the Cham at the UN and in Washington, D.C.), and Yasmeen Cham Thanh (founder and president, Moonlight Humanity Foundation). Muhamedarifeine Manhsour (University of Washington Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity), Ariya Chau (University of California-Davis medical student), Asiroh Cham (filmmaker and UCLA academic adviser), and Rohimah Moly (California Department of Business Oversight) comprised the final panel, which highlighted career/education opportunities. In his keynote speech, Dharma spoke on The Kingdom of Champa: Geography, Population, History, Pierre-Bernard Font’s book (trans. Jay Scarborough; prefaced by Dharma). He explains: “G. Maspero is the first author who published in 1928 a

A New CMMC Partner: The Zakat Foundation of America


he Zakat Foundation of America (ZFA) partnered with the Cambodian Muslim Media Center (CMMC) to distribute Ramadan food packages to 150 Cham Muslim fishing and farming families in Kampong Chhnang and Pursat provinces. Math Yousos, 50, chief of Chrolong Kaisna village, thanked the donors, adding, “This is the first big food packages that the villagers in my village have received in Ramadan.” Mai Sit from Tbeng Bongkeap village reported that “this year there was not enough rain for farming. Today we received a sack of rice and many other food items. May Allah bless you all.” During the distribution ceremonies, CMMC president Sles Nazy expressed thanks to the donors, especially the ZFA, which he hoped will continue to work with the center. Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, and Turkish NGOs have been working in Cambodia for years. He hopes that more Muslim American NGOs will follow the ZFA’s example.


Founded by a group young Cham Muslim intellectuals to uplift the community through multimedia programs, this

Two generations of Cham youth celebrating their cultural identity. ISLAMIC HORIZONS  SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

book on the history of Champa. But this book deals only with the ancient history of Champa from [its] origin to the 15th century. To complement these shortcomings, Prof. P-B. Lafont … developed the history of this country.” He continues: “It is a scientific work which gives an overall view of the Kingdom of Champa, not only about its history and its geography, but also its origins, its languages, its demographics, its Indianisation, its social organization, beliefs, culture, political organization, its economy, and its arts.” The genocidal repression of the Muslim Cham during the Khmer Rouge era was also highlighted in the films by Anida Yoeu Ali, myself, Cham, and Amath, as well as Hati’s poetic performance. The program featured traditional dances by several troupes – Ladies of Champa (San Jose/Los Angeles), Champamerica Generation/Angels, and Khmer dancers Ryan Boun with Erica Seu. The session closed with a contemporary forms showcase, including performers Ali, Hati, and Kidflomatic, software engineer Rofek Sos, and filmmakers Cham, Inra Jaya, Amath, and myself. These films and performances helped fill a void in contemporary Cham cultural production by imagining innovative ways to investigate history and to express their identities and concerns.



ome 4,000 Muslims and their representatives greeted Prime Minister Hun Sen, who hosted them on June 26 for iftar in Phnom Penh, reported Mon Kriya, personal assistant to Othsman Hassan. Behind him are Chairman of the Highest Council for Islamic Religious Affairs in Cambodia Sos Komry (with turban, right of Hun Sen) and Othsman Hassan (with glasses, left of Sos Komry). Hassan (president, Muslims Development Foundation) works closely with the prime minister. On July 8, Hun Sen attended another iftar at Alserkal Mosque.

nationally recognized NGO seeks to disseminate both Islamic and secular knowledge so that the youth can secure jobs and to provide the Buddhist mainstream with accurate information about Muslims and Islam. The CMMC has been cooperating with a government-supported Radio Sapcham (Voice of the Cham), which produces the Cham-language Muslim Community News TV Online, develops social media products, and publicizes and participates in humanitarian projects. Currently, the center is seeking funds and development partners to implement another important and long-awaited online TV da‘wah program. The center is now managed by a group of young Muslim intellectuals and chaired by Nazy, who has also served as the secretary general of the Cambodian Muslim Community Development (CMCD) since 2003 as well as Radio Sapcham’s broadcasting director since its inception. In this capacity, he oversees all program content, including broadcast production, story writing, and news presentation. This young Cham dynamo has a certificate of journalism from the Independent Journalism Foundation (2005), broadcast journalism training, and an M.A. in development. He is also a member of the board directors of the Islamic Council for Development (ICD) and vice chairman of Islamic Council for Development of Cambodia (ICDD). For more information, visit or contact (from Sem Raty, CMMC reporter)


By emphasizing reGeneration, the conference centered the ideas and artworks of the “next generations” of Cham in order to revitalize what is remembered about Champa while simultaneously looking to the future’s exciting possibilities. This event was sponsored by Southeast Asians Furthering Education, the Asian American Studies and Native American Studies departments at UC Davis, the International Office of Champa, and the Council for the SocialCultural Development of Champa. After more than a century of non-Cham scholars primarily speaking on their behalf, assembling over forty-five Cham panelists, artists, and performers was a groundbreaking achievement. Many attendees agreed that it was an unforgettable program. It was a step to ensure their cultural survival by fostering understanding between the various Cham communities, despite the differences.

Julie Thi Underhill, a doctoral student and instructor at University of California Berkeley, is a photographer, filmmaker, poet, and essayist with fine art, documentary, experimental, and historical work.



Imran Ali, left, Kumail Khas, center, and Mujahid Abdullah, right.

Muslims Bikers Raise Awareness Yes, there is halal biking, if you desire! BY MUJAHID ABDULLAH


otorcycles have been part of American culture for more than a century. These vehicles are viewed as a symbol of personal identity, but most of all they symbolize freedom of expression. Most law-abiding motorcyclists enjoy these civil liberties, but others wish to tear them down, as seen in recent headlines involving motorcycle groups. On May 17, in Waco, Texas, two outlaw biker gangs were involved in a shootout that left nine people dead and roughly 170 in jail. On May 29 in Phoenix, a 250-member anti-Islam protest was held in front of a mosque, where worshippers were met by motorcyclists screaming racial and obscene slurs. Not to mention the hugely popular TV series “Sons of Anarchy,” which only reinforces most of the negative biker stereotypes. Indeed, it may come as a surprise to many that there are Muslims biker groups too. We had the liberty to interview some members. Mujahid Abdullah, 30, an IT professional, an avid motorcycle rider and enthusiast living in the Northern Virginia area, who has been riding for more than four years


now, said while they are not officially associated with any motorcycle clubs, they are representatives of a local Facebook Group: the DMV Muslim Riders. Group members Yasser Al-Azem, 30, a salesperson, Imran Younis, 27, student/ master mechanic, Kumail Khas, 25, business administration student, and Abdullah have a total of 20 years riding experience. Overall, they own nine bikes of different types, engine sizes, and purposes. Abdullah and AlAzem each owns Suzuki’s Boulevard M109r, known as “muscle cruisers” that weigh more than 700 pounds and bolster a 109 cubicinch, 1800cc engine. As its name states, the M109r, or “9” as it is known, is for cruising down the boulevard. This beast packs some serious punch; however, it also is great for

touring duties and has completed multiple 300 plus-mile days. Younis, who has been riding bikes for more than seven years and currently rides a BMW S1000rr, Husqvarna SM, and a Victory V92C Cruiser, is more geared toward sport-bike riding. “I have always felt compelled to ride for a variety of reasons, but mostly it’s the exhilaration of being one with my bike,” he said. “There are no words to describe the heightened sense of riding a bike weighing a couple hundred pounds on the open road.” He uses the Victory V92C, a reliable road warrior that delivers a smooth and compliant ride, around town. His second ride, a Husqvarna SM, is a dual sport motorcycle that is great both on the track and in the dirt, and can do just about anything. This Supermoto bike is versatile and fun to ride. His third bike — and a definite head turner — is the BMW S1000rr. This red-line beast, one of the fastest production bikes on the


road, can reach speeds of more than 190 mph! A mechanical wonder, it was highly celebrated during its inception a couple years ago and still captures the souls of those who dream of going even faster. Khas, who owns the most bikes, has a bike for just about every type of riding. He uses his Yamaha WR450 primarily for canyon carving and dirt riding, his Honda CRF100 for dirt trails and mimi-moto routes, and his trusted commuter Suzuki SV650 for his everyday moving-around-town transport. On the weekend you can find him all suited up and headed to the track, where he can unleash the full potential of his Suzuki GSXR600. With no cops, cars, or speed limits to worry about, this is where sport bike riders go to improve their riding skills and compete with one another. It’s also an

from the stresses of this world, sets you apart from the routine, and is a good way to maintain and create new friendships. “As bikers, we’ve met numerous people who share the same passion as we do and we’ve helped others get into the world of motorcycling. The brotherhood one builds with the motorcycle community is very special and unique,” he added. Abdullah, who loves going on long, scenic trips through the countryside, forest, and mountains, reminds one of the saying: “Four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul.” “Although our group in not an official [motorcycle club] we try to participate in activities that strengthen our bonds as Muslims brothers and try to help those in need within our communities,” Abdullah

The biker friends share a relaxing time.

enjoyable learning experience and great way to meet more enthusiasts. Abdullah said there are many reasons why they ride, but that they all agree on the primary reason: the connection they feel between their bikes and the world around them. “The bike connects us to experiences normal folks would never take notice of when riding in a car,” he said. “The feeling of freedom, the observed sounds and smells of our blessed Earth with all its natural wonders creates something that only a rider can explain. The magnificence of God’s creation is all around you, and the bike is the tool that connects us to this world and its creator. This is the number one reason why we ride and what compels and keeps us coming back for more.” Riding, Abdullah said, takes one away

said about group activities and community outreach. “Recently, there was a local family who needed help purchasing a car. A fellow brother in our group mobilized members and was able to raise the funds needed to assist this family. May God reward those who donated.” He said as Muslims, they try their best to represent their faith no matter where they are and who they’re with. “We know from the teaching of our beloved Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) that those strongest in faith are those who act upon the good and lead by example,” Abdullah said. “When they see something wrong, they try to change it with their actions, for we know actions speak louder than words. So when we are in the company of riders of other faiths, we try our best to uphold our religious duties and beat the stereotypes by always treating our peers with dignity and respect.


“Bikers are bikers, whether they be male, female, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. We are all connected by the love of two wheels. We share a bond that sets us apart from other groups. We belong to a bigger community that acknowledges each other, both on and off the bike.” The Texas and Arizona biker incidents were tragic and only strengthen the already glaringly negative stereotypes that surround their passion, he said. “It’s incidents like these that brand bikers as ‘rebels,’ ‘thugs,’ or ‘criminals.’ Not every person who rides a Harley or a cruiser is part of a motorcycle gang, nor is every youngster on a sport bike a ‘hooligan’ or an ‘organ donor,’” he said. “The Texas massacre is just another example of how a few extremists can ruin the image of the whole group. We, as Muslims, know this all too well. That’s why it’s imperative for us to raise awareness of our religion, and we hope that all Muslim bikers serve as a good example for all.” As for the Arizona case, Abdullah said it was unfortunate the organizer branded the event a “motorcycle rally” simply to gain followers. “What people don’t understand is that the underlying reason for the rally undermines the core principles and code most bikers go by: freedom and respect!” he said. Unsurprisingly, a lot of time and money goes into this activity. Not only does one have to keep the bike maintained, but also has to account for the money put into the helmet, jacket, boots, gloves, and other riding gear. If one gets into racing on the track, there are additional expenses — a good racing suit and related track expenses. However, all these bikers agree the cost of riding is normally offset by the satisfaction one feels after working on their bike(s) or completing a DIY [do-it-yourself] project. The feeling of accomplishment at the twist of the throttle, riding along your favorite roads, is priceless. “Most bikers I have encountered are interested in hearing about our group. Now, we aren’t a ‘motorcycle club,’ but we are a group of riders connected by religion,” Younis said. Currently, they are trying to bring the members together to raise their profile as a Muslim biker group that actively contributes to local communities. The bikers said they can only lead by example, and do their best to present the best image possible when representing their group.

Mujahid Abdullah is an avid Northern Virginia-based motorcycle rider and enthusiast.



As American as Apple Pie Islamophobia continues to grow, mainstreamed by politicians, clergy, the academia, and the media. BY RAMADAN ALIG


n 1788, John Jay (1745–1829), a founding father, signer of the Treaty of Paris, and first Chief Justice of the United States, urged the New York legislature to require office-holders to renounce the pope and foreign authorities “in all matters ecclesiastical as well as civil,” which included the Catholic and Anglican churches. In 1960, voters were cautioned that John F. Kennedy’s Catholicism would require him to obey papal commands. The most recent fear-mongering campaign involved claims that President Barack Obama is Muslim. “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” said thenpresidential candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater, an Arizona Republican, while accepting his party’s nomination in 1964. Few can forget the hate spewed when Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, took his ceremonial oath of office on a copy of George Sale’s English translation, “The Koran, Commonly Called the Alcoran of Mohammed,” which formed part of President Thomas Jefferson’s personal library. Not an admirable work though. Election season or not, Islamophobia is in full bloom and incumbents, office-seekers, and future aspirants for public office are feeding from this trough. Presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz, a Florida Republican, appointed Kevin Kookogey, an anti-sharia activist and Williamson County, Tennessee, Republican Party chairman, as his state chairman for Tennessee. In 2012, Kookogey oversaw the adoption of a resolution condemning Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam for appointing a Muslim lawyer to the state’s economic and commu-


Ted Cruz

Kevin Kookogey

Bobby Jindal

nity development department. The resolution stated, in part, that the governor “has elevated and/or afforded preferential political status to sharia adherents in Tennessee, thereby aiding and abetting the advancement of an ideology and doctrine which is wholly incompatible with the Constitution of the United States and the Tennessee Constitution.” In 2011, the Williamson County Republican Party hosted a luncheon to honor the uber Islamophobe Dutch politician Geert Wilders. Cruz, who has attended several conferences featuring Islamophobes, such as Robert Spencer and Frank Gaffney, praised Kookogey for his conservative principles. Louisiana Republican Gov. Piyush, aka Bobby Jindal, born a Hindu claiming to be an early convert to Christianity, before formally entering the 2016 Presidential race said, “so in other words, we shouldn’t tolerate those who want to come and try to impose some variant of, some version of sharia law. I fear, if we don’t insist on assimilation … we then go the way of Europe.” On June 6, Alfredo Francesconi, vice president of Roseville, Michigan, Community Schools school board, posted an image from Jan Morgan, an Arkansas gun range owner who bars Muslims, containing obscene text claiming Muslims have sex with animals. In April 2013, he was obliged to remove a Facebook post depicting the three victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. “The Council on American-Islamic Relations says that ‘Islamophobia’ is the biggest problem in American-Islamic Relations. Well … I’m thinking maybe it’s dead Americans,” the post read. The Bigfork Eagle of Bigfork, Montana, reported June 10 that Mark Flatau, superintendent of Kalispell Public Schools, Steve Bradshaw, superintendent of Columbia Falls ISLAMIC HORIZONS  SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

District, and Matt Jensen, superintendent of Bigfork School District, were lauded for accepting the local Act! for America chapter’s invitation to answer questions about “concerns” related to teachings of world religions. Critics’ “concerns” included the school districts’ quick actions to “please CAIR and other Islamic organizations to force teachers who distribute factual [i.e. distorted] information to students regarding Islam to either resign, at best, or be fired, at worst.” They also were asked how they would deal with requests for special accommodation from Muslims when the time comes. Bob Smietana reported in The Tennessean, July 10, 2011, that “ACT! for America sums up its mission in four words: ‘They must be stopped.’ The ‘they’ in question are Muslims, who ACT! for America’s leaders insist are involved in a stealthy jihad to destroy the United States from the inside out, replacing the Constitution with the Islamic legal code known as sharia.” New York Republican Rep. Peter King, who serves on the House Homeland Security Committee, decreed Muslims to watch other Muslims carefully on July 4th to make sure none of them will be planning a secret terror attack. Despite a New York Times report showing non-Muslim extremists have killed far more Americans than those labelled as “Islamic jihadists,” King said, “if there is a real threat, if there is gonna be something happening, it’s gonna come from the Muslim community.” On June 8, the Rose Township, Michigan, board unanimously voted to ask the Ogemaw County Planning Commission to deny a special use permit for a proposed

youth camp in Goodar Township. According to Matt Varcak’s June 9 report in the Ogemaw County Herald, the decision was taken after hearing residents’ concerns that the site may serve as a terrorist training facility.

Would she have had the same concern with the white supremacist group, Aryan Nations, having its 20-acre headquarters in Hayden Lake, Indiana, from the 1970s until 1991. On Nov. 19, 2014, Jack Whitley, Big Stone County, Minnesota, Republican Party chairman, posted this as his Facebook status: “I am opposed to waterboarding Muslim terrorists, but probably not why you think. I am opposed to waterboarding Muslim terrorists because it is a waste of resources. They are Muslims, they are terrorist, we know where they are from, we know where their buddies are, we know where their mosque’s are, we know millions of these parasites travel to Mecca every year and when...FRAG ‘EM! Simplicity. I love when it all comes together!” Demonizing the other seems to be a long-standing practice, and often done for a cause and profit. “Critics say evangelists are attacking Islam because it’s a good way to drum up passions and donations among their sup-

IT MAY ONLY BE A HANDFUL BUT IT IS RELENTLESS AND ISLAMOPHOBIA IS BECOMING AS AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE. MUSLIM AMERICANS WILL NEED TO THINK AND WORK HARDER. Perhaps, it had something to do with the applicant’s name: Nayef Salhai, who seeks to develop 90 acres of his Goodar Township property into a campground to serve 96 children and 20-30 adults. In May, Art Barrios, a planning commissioner for the city of El Monte, California, and a former city council member, posted an article titled “China Makes Major Moves to Ban Islam” on his Facebook page and then commented, “Sounds good, maybe the rest of the world should do the same.” Bigotry sells. The Bonneville County, Indiana, Republican Central Committee’s April newsletter carried an article by Becky Prestwich, executive director of the Bonneville GOP, reading: “So when someone brings to our attention that Muslims are infiltrating even in places like Idaho, we must pay attention.” Readers were asked to “demand that our lawmakers and law enforcers pay attention and ascertain whether or not there is a potential threat.”


porters,” said Dan Harris in a Nov. 18, 2014, ABC News report. Jane Gray Swisshelm, a Pittsburgh resident who retired to St. Cloud, Minnesota, during the late 1850s, eventually became editor of the St. Cloud Visiter. During the U.S. Dakota war — known as the Sioux Uprising — of 1862, this devoted Calvinist, abolitionist, and feminist spouted a stream of editorials against American Indians during the bloody five-week war, according to Tim Post’s Sept. 26, 2002, report on Minnesota Public Radio. In an 1862 editorial, Swisshelm called for the punishment of all Dakota Indians irrespective of whether they were involved in the attacks. “Exterminate the wild beasts, and make peace with the devil and all his hosts sooner than these red-jawed tigers, whose fangs are dripping with the blood of the innocents! Get ready, and as soon as these convicted murderers are turned loose, shoot them and be sure they are shot dead, dead, DEAD, 37


DEAD! If they have any souls, the Lord can have mercy on them, if he pleases! But that is His business. Ours is to kill the lazy vermin and make sure of killing them,” she wrote. In 2012, it was a case of stunted evolution, when 150 years later, Pamela Geller, executive director of American Freedom Defense Initiative and blogger at Atlas Shrugged, had posters installed in New York City’s subway system in the name of her organization, Stop the Islamization of America. They read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”


CATCH ‘EM YOUNG In 2010, Texas Republican Louie Gohmert — a retired judge reelected since 2005 — addressed the House floor about an overlooked threat to American national security —“terror babies.” Born to immigrant parents, they would be taken overseas and radicalized, and “then one day, 20, 30 years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life.” While it’s unclear whether there has been any overt Islamophobic reaction in the United States to Gohmert’s plea, in July, Britain adopted the Counter-Terrorism and

Security Act of 2015 that requires nursery schools and childcare agencies, as well as other educators and institutions to “prevent” toddlers from “being drawn into terrorism.” British elementary school students filled out a survey created by the Building Resilience through Integration and Trust project, of whose goals is identifying the seeds of radicalization within primary school-age children. The program’s intent never was to single out Muslim students. The British government, with its strategy to tackle radicalization and extremism, offers schools guidance and best practices advice, as young people can become vulnerable to political persuasions. Opportunists followed. “One company, Impero, has launched a pilot of its software in 16 locations in the U.K., as well as five in the U.S. Teachers can store screenshots of anything of concern that is flagged up by the software … Impero has produced a glossary of trigger words, such as ‘jihobbyist’ (a jihadi organization sympathizer but not an active member) and ‘Message to America’ (an Islamic State propaganda video series),” the Guardian’s Diane Taylor wrote June 10. While the examples may only be a handful, this relentless Islamophobia is becoming as American as apple pie. Muslim Americans will need to think and work harder. They have an example in post-1857 Muslim history in British occupied India: fed-up with Islamophobia, Muslims altered their approach to loyalty toward rulers and became assertive and independent.  Ramadan Alig is a freelance writer.


Safeguarding Religious Liberty in a Changing Social Landscape Do Muslim Americans have the law on their side when complying with religious teachings? BY HUMAIRA SIDDIQUI


ou are the principal of an Islamic school and have received an application from a Muslim for a teaching position. In the interview, Badshah is intelligent and well qualified. As a new teacher, he is popular with students and staff. Six months into his employment, he asks to request his new spouse receive insurance benefits. Upon looking at Badshah’s application, you learn Badshah’s spouse is male and they have a same sex marriage. As principal, you explain that the school’s purpose is to instill mainstream Islamic values in their Muslim students. You say it is essential that teachers exemplify Islamic principles and values the school purports to instill. Badshah’s employment is terminated. Badshah feels betrayed. Certain that the Islamic school violated his civil rights by firing him based solely on his sexual orientation, he sues the school. The Islamic school is unwittingly thrust into a firestorm

of negative publicity in an ever-growing liberal society. There is a burgeoning shift in the view of some Muslim Americans about same sex unions. Reza Aslan, professor and author, and comedian Hasan Minhaj urge Muslim Americans to embrace marriage equality. “You fight for everyone’s rights (and the operative word here is “fight”), or you get none for yourself,” Aslan wrote in an Open Letter to American Muslims on Same Sex Marriage (Huffington Post, July 8). “Democracy isn’t a buffet. You can’t pick and choose which civil liberties apply to which people…” Faisal Kutty, assistant professor of law at Valparaiso University, wrote that since most Muslims have no problem extending full human rights to those -- even Muslims — who live together “in sin,” “it seems hypocritical to deny fundamental rights to same-sex couples.” Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, a


Muslim Congressman, also supports same sex marriage. “When I talk about Islamophobia to Congress, and I talk to Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin, openly gay members of Congress, and say, ‘Hey look, this Islamophobia is bad, can you stand with me?’ They say, ‘Where do I sign?’ So what do I say when they come to me and say, ‘this homophobia is killing us, literally, can you do something about it? Will you stand with us?’ I say, ‘Well I can only stand with you, I have no other choice, if I’m going to be anything approaching consistent.’” There is an emerging and spurious perception that lest they be hypocritical, Muslims will need to support the ideologies of other groups, if they wish to receive support for their own. Even some Muslims who support same sex marriage are exploiting Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that legalized it, and using it to vilify their brethren-Muslim dissenters. “It would be hypocritical to call on others to fight Islamophobia while propagating homophobia,” said Muqtedar Khan, religious studies author and professor. The adoption of this quid pro quo stance by other Muslims stands in divergence with the Quran. Barring any obscurity in translation, nowhere does the Quran recommend a quid pro quo stand to support homosexuality, same sex marriage, or for that matter, the violation of any Islamic guidance. The Quran’s position on homosexuality is resoundingly clear. Hamad Chebli, imam of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey for 37 years and educated at Al-Azhar University, said God’s religion may not be contorted or misinterpreted to suit one’s wishes. Muslims must always speak the truth, he said. “Islam is the religion of the Creator. Islam belongs to God, and He doesn’t change his mind,” Chebli said, adding that Muslims have a duty to be steadfast in their beliefs. “Recall what Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said to his uncle Abu Talib when the polytheists tried to stop him from preaching with bribery and threats: ‘Oh! My uncle, even if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand, in order that I should give up this mission of mine, I will never do it until I die in defense of this truth, or God decides whatever He Pleases.’” This well known hadith is a reminder that religious principles should be as boulders 39

POLITICS AND SOCIETY in a river, unwavering even in the rush of changing social rapids. An act described to be impermissible by God can create no basis for support among Muslims, even in prevailing times. Contrary to Aslan’s argument that no one is asking Muslims to change their beliefs, support for same sex marriage would indisputably compel Muslims to denounce a belief clearly delineated by God in the Quran. The Quranic decree prohibiting homosexual acts is simply unambiguous.

U.S. Supreme Court to express contempt or a promise to incite hatred or violence toward gays. The Quran values tolerance and mercy as coveted qualities of human character. “The physical act of homosexuality is prohibited and I don’t think that Muslims can change that in any way,” said Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, speaking on “Rethinking Islamic Reform” at Oxford University in 2010. “This is known by all Muslims and it really can’t be waffled or fudged. On the

IF RELIGIOUS GROUPS WERE EXPECTED TO SUPPORT DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED BELIEFS OR CONDUCT OF OTHER GROUPS TO THEIR OWN IDEOLOGY, WHY WOULD THE CONSTITUTION’S FREEDOM OF RELIGION CLAUSE HAVE BEEN NECESSARY? The quid pro quo position adopted by Muslim supporters of same sex marriage may reflect the pressure they feel from resolute advocacy groups and media. The emergence of radical “Islamic” groups also may be responsible for fearful Muslim Americans adopting their liberal notion of Islam. Aslan also misconstrues the rights conferred and duty obligated by Muslims. Muslim Americans are neither the moral arbiters nor grantor of rights to anyone; God and the U.S. Constitution are. Nor are they the moral arbiters of others’ behavior. They need not look upon Muslims to sanction their behavior. Muslim rejection of same sex marriage is not based on personal, ossified, or prudish views but rather on decrees of divine origin. Moreover, their right to reject same sex marriage in the U.S. even in the face of a generally applicable marriage equality law is conferred and protected by the Constitution, not other advocacy groups. As such, Muslims are not obliged to sacrifice their religious beliefs. They do, however, owe a duty of tolerance and mercy toward such groups, despite differences in beliefs or practices. Before same-sex marriage was legalized, Muslims never sought to ban it in the public sphere. Now that same-sex marriage has been legalized, Muslims have held no mass protests to denounce it. Nor have imams in America jointly written an open letter to Congress, homosexual organizations, or the 40

other hand, I think it’s important to humanize people and not to dehumanize people, and the types of attitudes a lot of Muslim people have are incompatible with the spirit of mercy and of rahmah (rahmah in Arabic refers to profound mercy and kindness, as is shown by a mother to her child).” However, tolerance and mercy for others does not demand supporting their lifestyle choices. There are individuals who have a predilection to the sin of consuming alcohol, gambling, pork, or fornication. Some of them suffer from medical addiction. The consensus of scholars is these predilections are never a license for sanctioning sinful behavior. In Islam, life is a trial. Its purpose is for each individual to learn to cope with the challenges life has allotted him or her though patience, forbearance, and self-restraint. As such, Muslims should not bargain or make concessions on what the Quran already has made clear, but should show mercy by supporting the hate crime law and other civil rights, such as the right to employment in secular areas.

MUSLIMS HAVE LEGAL EXEMPTION The quid pro quo stance also is legally unnecessary. The U.S. Constitution neither requires, expects, or anticipates religious individuals or groups to accept contradictory ideologies or to make concessions on its own. If religious groups were expected to support

diametrically opposed beliefs or conduct of other groups to their own ideology, would the Constitution’s freedom of religion clause have been necessary? The framers created the clause specifically because, barring a compelling state interest, religious groups were not expected to compromise their religious belief or conduct arising from such belief. Recognizing there is no Islamic basis to support the act of homosexuality or samesex unions, what then is the recourse for a Muslim or any Islamic organization facing a lawsuit to mandate its acceptance? “Badshah v. Islamic school” is merely a fictitious case, but there are a number of businesses and organizations in several states currently thrust into real legal battles because of their faith-based actions. For example: In March 2015, Memories Pizza, a Christian family-owned pizzeria in Indiana, reportedly was the first business to publicly deny catering to gay weddings under the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Act allows a business or company that bears a burden in the exercise of their religion to use it as a defense in legal proceedings. After this announcement, the pizzeria that sold little more than 100 pizzas a week received so many hate messages that it closed down temporarily. In February 2015, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a Gresham, Oregon, bakery owned by a religious Christian couple, refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. The owner said the lesbian union was against his religious principles. A complaint was filed with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. Agency spokesman Charlie Burr said the owners were fined up to $150,000 for violating Oregon’s Equality Act of 2007. In 2013, a Richland, Washington, florist refused to make arrangements for a customer for his same-sex wedding. Citing her “relationship with Jesus Christ,” Baronella Stutzman declined to serve his wedding. The Washington State’s Attorney’s Office, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, is suing Stutzman. While these cases are pending, the Supreme Court did limit religious liberty in the case Bob Jones University v. United States. The Supreme Court permitted the Internal Revenue Service to revoke the religious university’s tax-exempt status because it employed a racial-religious discrimination policy in accordance with its Biblical interpretation. If a religious university lost its tax-exempt status because of its own


Biblical interpretation, isn’t it foreseeable that Islamic institutions also may lose theirs over the refusal to support homosexuality or same-sex marriage? University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock said it was highly unlikely that any administration of either political party would try to deny or revoke tax-exempt status anytime soon to a religious institution based on its views on homosexuality. “When gay rights looks like race does today, where you have a handful of crackpots still resisting, you might see an administration picking a fight,” Laycock said. In other words, American society universally condemns racism, but homosexuality still is not universally accepted conduct that merits government interference with religion… at this time.

NO NEED TO PANIC Religious groups are still troubled as the wheels already are in motion toward the collective support for homosexuality with the legalization of same-sex marriage. Many think this casts an ominous cloud over the future of religious liberty. Could religious organizations lose their tax-exempt status, lose their licensing or accreditation, or be compelled to provide student housing, insurance, or other more secular benefits or services to same-sex couples? Can government eventually force religious groups to support same-sex marriages? That’s not likely. The jurisprudence net cast by the legalization of same-sex marriages still is not wide enough to encompass religious groups and restrict their religious liberty. Supreme Court decisions show religious liberty has swung like a pendulum over the years, broadening and constricting liberties with seemingly contradictory rulings, but there are clear and indelible safeguards to religious liberty in three sources: 1) the United States Constitution, 2) the federal Religious Freedom and Restoration Act of 1993, and 3) recent Supreme Court rulings. Constitutional Safeguards: The First Amendment’s free exercise clause protects citizens’ right to practice their religion, so long as the practice does not run afoul of a compelling governmental interest. Safeguards in the federal Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA): The law allows courts to exempt parties who can show 1) the challenged law or government action substantially burdens their religious right, unless there is a compelling state interest, and 2) that such an interest cannot be

advanced without burdening the person’s religious right. Supreme Court Justice Kennedy’s Opinion: Justice Kennedy’s opinion in the same-sex marriage case reassured religious individuals and organizations. “Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.” Supreme Court Case That Expanded Religious Liberty: Islamic institutions may rely on two U.S. Supreme Court cases in asserting religious liberty. In Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, the court acknowledged there exists a “ministerial exception.” Here, a teacher who had narcolepsy and was fired sued her employer, a Church school, under the Americans with Disabilities Act. She taught primarily secular subjects and taught religion only for 45 minutes a day. The ministerial exception of the First Amendment is a legal doctrine that exempts religious institutions from anti-discrimination laws filed by their employees. It precludes government from getting involved in the internal governance of religious institutions. This case was an


historic achievement in protecting religious institutions’ liberties. It clearly established that even if an employee has minimal religious or mission-oriented duties, the law still considers them “ministers” and government may not interfere with their hiring or firing. Another case Islamic institutions may rely on is Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., where Health and Human Services mandated the Christian owners to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives that violated their beliefs. Hobby Lobby sued the government and was able to opt out of the contraception mandate. This ruling establishes a powerful precedent for closely held religious corporations and they may rely on the exemption established in this case. Consequently, absent a compelling state interest, the government may not unduly burden a religious group’s belief or conduct arising from such belief. Despite the resolute pressure of American media, the Constitution’s free exercise clause, the RFRA, and precedents, such as the Hosanna-Tabor and Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., cases show that protection of religious liberty is deeply ingrained in American law. These laws maintain congruence with contemporary American view since a Pew poll found 62 percent of Americans believe legalizing same-sex marriage goes against their religion.

Humaira Siddiqui, a retired attorney, has written articles on Islam, parenting, and anti-bullying.



Same-sex Marriage in the Mosque? The U.S. Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage, but can a mosque refuse? BY ASAD BA-YUNUS


n June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court in a divided opinion legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states. The court’s decision unleashed a wave of criticism from religious communities, including some within the Muslim community. Many religious institutions, including mosques, immediately became concerned they may now be forced to officiate or at least allow a same-sex wedding to occur on their property. However, existing federal law upholds the rights of churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and other religious institutions to refuse to engage in or allow practices that violate their religious beliefs.

THE CASE BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT In the past, the Supreme Court had held that the right to marry is a fundamental constitutional right included in the concept of the right of privacy. The old ruling helped strike down laws that prohibited interracial marriages aimed at the African-American community. The courts held that the right to choose one’s spouse was sacrosanct and could not be restricted by the government without justification, and particularly not for racially biased reasons. In addition, the court had previously ruled that intimate acts between consenting adults was a matter of privacy, and ruled that no state or federal law could prohibit such matters, including contraception, homosexuality, or other intimate practices. Although only a “compelling governmental interest” could justify any restriction upon the right to marry, many states established laws that only allowed marriage licenses to be issued for persons of the opposite gender. In some states, such as Florida, the state constitution was amended to actually define marriage as being between one 42

man and one woman. With the rise of the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) movement, a number of legal challenges to the prohibition of same-sex marriage were brought in more left-leaning, mainly Northern states. Some state legislatures passed laws legalizing same-sex marriage, while in other states, courts struck down anti-same-sex marriage laws as unconstitutional. Thus, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court was faced with a confusing challenge. The case began with 14 same-sex couples and two men whose partners had died, living in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. They each had been legally married in states that recognized same-sex marriage, but each also had somewhat unique circumstances in these four states where they lived: not being recognized as a “family member” when their life-partner was in the hospital, not being recognized as the “two parents” of an adopted child, not being able to obtain their legal inheritance as a spouse when their partner had died, or not being listed as the “surviving spouse” on a deceased partner’s death certificate. Each of the plaintiff ’s circumstances involved obtaining or being recognized as a spouse for legal or other formal reasons while living in states where their “marriage” was not recognized for legal purposes. The Supreme Court took a historical approach, noting that marriage is a basic, central concept in our society, but one that also has evolved along with the relative rights of the persons in the marriage. The court observed that at one point in European history, marriage was an arrangement between the couple’s parents relating to political, financial, or religious concerns; that women were often considered “property” of their husbands, thus requiring that the husband’s last name be attached to the wife’s name; that married women (and women in general) were not allowed to own property within a marriage. Of course, the court did not take note

of Islamic history, which gave women the right to own property, have certain rights within their marriage, and gave them the legal right to choose or refuse their groom, the right to inherit from their parents, as well as from their spouses, as early as the seventh century. Ignoring this history is certainly understandable, as it was European history that had a profound impact on the history and development of marriage and women’s rights in the United States. The Supreme Court observed that as times changed and as women gained more rights, marriage too has evolved. It was this observation that partially led the court to determine that the legal definition of marriage had to continue to evolve to include same-sex partners. The court, understandably, could not include religious doctrine into its analysis, as the court itself would be violating the U.S. Constitution’s doctrine of separation of church and state. The court’s 5-4 majority opinion rested finally on the Fourteenth Amendment’s



Equal Protection clause, which applies to the states. The court found that the states could not justify excluding same-sex couples from legal, civil marriage. The four conservative justices — Chief Justice Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito — issued a scathing dissenting opinion, accusing the majority of creating law out of thin air and insisting that the legal definition of marriage should remain with the states. The decision also opens several other issues to scrutiny, including laws forbidding polygamy, for example. Already, a Mormon resident in Montana is challenging his “right” to marry more than one wife in a state where polygamy is illegal. If the right to marry is sacrosanct, why should one limit his/her religious rights when the law conflicts?

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR MOSQUES AND RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS? The religious nature of marriage, particularly opinions as to “same-sex” marriage, are

not widely debated among Islamic scholars. This article does not intend to enter into this discussion. It is generally accepted, however, that as same-sex intimate relations are not permitted in Islam, the concept of “marriage” between persons of the same sex also is forbidden altogether. Thus, most mosques and Islamic centers, just as many churches and synagogues, would not willingly officiate or allow a “same-sex” wedding to take place on their premises. Does the Supreme Court’s decision affect the ability of a religious institution to refuse to conduct or even allow a same-sex wedding to take place on their grounds? The simple answer is no, because the court’s ruling only applies to what the government can or cannot do. The Supreme Court’s ruling explicitly deals with whether the states’ governments can exclude same-sex couples from obtaining marriage licenses or having their same-sex marriages recognized for legal purposes. Thus, the clerk’s office that issues a marriage license cannot refuse to issue such a license to a same-sex couple. However, in another decision last year, the same Supreme Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., that a corporation (which would include most mosques) cannot be forced to do something that violates its religious beliefs. In addition, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUPIA) and Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), two federal laws, also protect religious organizations — and specifically religious non-profit organizations — from being forced to engage in activity that may violate their beliefs. The Hobby Lobby decision involved three for-profit corporations’ decision to not include coverage for contraceptives in the insurance plans its employees would be qualified for under the Affordable Care Act because the owners were devout Catholics who opposed all forms of contraception. The Supreme Court held that a for-profit corporation could “practice” a religion,


and that the law could not force the corporation to do things that would violate its religious practice and beliefs. Because a private corporation, or even a nonprofit corporation has a constitutional right to freely exercise its religion, the Obergefell decision does not affect this free-exercise right, because it applies to state governments and not corporations. Thus, if the leadership of a mosque, church, synagogue or other religious institutions were asked to officiate, host, or rent out their facility for a same-sex wedding, and they felt such an event would violate their religious beliefs, existing federal law and Supreme Court precedent would allow them to refuse, should they choose to do so.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY OVERALL The combination of the Obergefell and Hobby Lobby decisions, as well as RFRA and RLUIPA statutes puts Muslims, as individuals as well as community organizations, in an advantageous position. Other movements, including the African-American, women, and LGBT efforts have resulted in a significant amount of basic rights that are protected for every person in the United States, including Muslims. As long as there is terrorism in the name of Islam anywhere in the world, Muslims will always face the potential for discrimination, bigotry and hate. However, the legal system has evolved in such a manner that Muslims, as citizens of this nation, can exert their legal rights in the courts, and the courts will protect these rights. Just as Samantha Elauf prevailed in the Supreme Court over an employer that refused to hire her because of her hijab (EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc.), any Muslim facing discrimination due to faith, ethnicity, national origin, gender, or race, can have faith that the law is on their side.

Asad Ba-Yunus, a member of ISNA Majlis Ash-Shura, is an attorney in Peekskill, New York.



Kashmiri Will Must Prevail in Kashmir World conscience has to stir to bring peace to South Asia. BY GHULAM NABI FAI


he three parties to the dispute over the status of Jammu and Kashmir — the Kashmiris, Pakistan, and India — agreed it can be settled only by democratically ascertaining its peoples’ will through a free and impartial plebiscite. The United Nations Security Council has supported this without dissent and was prominently championed by the United States, Britain, France and other democratic states. It became an issue only after India realized it could never win such a vote. Due to the Cold War, it found an ally for its obstructionist position in the Soviet Union. With the end of the Cold War, however, the original perspective should have been recovered. When Britain liquidated its Indian empire in 1947, it was agreed that power would be transferred through election. Britain, through a tripartite agreement between the main political parties — the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League — partitioned British India between the successor states of India and Pakistan. It was agreed territories not directly administered by Britain, but ruled by feudal princes under British paramountcy should merge, unless they could remain independent, with India or Pakistan according to (a) whether they were contiguous to one or the other and (b) what their people wished. The technical form the merger took was the signing of an Instrument of Accession by the state’s ruler with one of the two countries. But the act was not, and could not be, based on his arbitrary decision, for if it did not have popular approval, the people would revolt and an international conflict would arise. Of the more than 500 cases, there were disputes only in three. In two such cases — Hyderabad and Junagarh — the ruler was Muslim while the majority was Hindu. When the ruler hesitated or refused to sign the Instrument of Accession to India, contrary to the popular will, felt justified in invading and annexing the territories. India’s decision shamefully obtained international acquiescence.


The third case, Kashmir, the largest of all states and the only one bordering four countries — Pakistan, India, China, and Afghanistan — was the opposite of Hyderabad and Junagarh: the ruler was Hindu while the overwhelming majority was Muslim. There was an additional and unique circumstance: unlike all other states, Kashmir had witnessed an open revolt in 1946 against the ruler Hari Singh [whose ancestor, Gulab Singh, in 1846, had purchased the state and its people from the British]. On Oct. 26, 1947, when, Hari Singh was ousted from Srinagar, his capital, he sought India’s help. India, which demanded he first sign the Instrument of Accession to India, without waiting for the ink to dry, invaded the state on Oct. 27, 1947. This act was so incongruous with what had happened elsewhere — in all other cases the people’s wishes had prevailed — that

India knew it would provoke violent opposition from the Kashmiris, as well as from Pakistan, and outrage world opinion. India, therefore, felt compelled to declare that the accession “executed” by the Hari Singh, the Maharaja, was “provisional” and subject to “a reference to the people.” Between October and December of 1947, the Azad Kashmir forces successfully resisted India’s invading army, and liberated one-third of the state, now known as Azad [free] Kashmir. Realizing it could not quell the resistance, India brought the issue to the United Nations in January 1948. Despite living under Indian occupation, Kashmiris, demonstrate this irrefutable reality by observing “Accession to Pakistan Day” on July 19 to reaffirm the resolution passed by the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference on July 19, 1947. The U.N. Security Council, which


exhaustively discussed the question from January to April 1948, concluded it would be impossible to determine responsibility for the fighting. Since both parties desired the question of accession should be decided through an impartial plebiscite, the Security Council developed proposals based on the common ground between them. These were embodied in the Security Council resolution #47 of April 21, 1948 envisaging a ceasefire, the withdrawal of all outside forces from the state, and a plebiscite supervised by a UN nominated administrator. A development that hardened India’s stance was Pakistan’s joining military pacts sponsored by the United States. From 1955, India took the position that, in view of this alliance, it no longer could countenance the withdrawal of its forces from Kashmir — now grown to more than a million troops and paramilitary personnel. India found a ready supporter for this position in the Soviet Union, which after 1958, blocked every attempt by the Security Council to unfreeze the situation and implement the peace plan originally accepted by both parties. This caused the paralysis of the Security Council on Kashmir — a condition which continues to this day. Kashmiri women rally in Indian Occupied Kashmir for news about their 'disappeared' husbands and kin.

IT IS NOT THE INHERENT DIFFICULTIES OF A SOLUTION, BUT THE LACK OF WILL TO IMPLEMENT A SOLUTION THAT HAS CAUSED THE PROLONGED DEADLOCK OVER THE KASHMIR DISPUTE. Though the international community never has accepted validity of India’s occupation of Kashmir, it has left it undisturbed. The Kashmiris never have accepted this status quo. Kashmir’s record of opposition to its annexation by India can by no standard be reckoned as less genuinely demonstrated than that of Eastern European countries under Soviet control. While the international media observed and reported the popular revolt in Eastern European countries, the Kashmiri struggle has remained largely hidden from the world’s view. The persistence of this problem adversely affects India and Pakistan. Indeed, some observers find a growing awareness among the Indian middle class that the persistence of the Kashmir issue weakens India by diminishing its stature among the great powers. Saner elements within India always have questioned the ethics and the practical advantage of India’s intransigence on Kashmir. As they have received little support from outside, they have remained mostly subdued. India’s obduracy has been effective in creating the false impression that the idea of a plebiscite is unworkable. Firstly, the common sense appeal and justice of the idea is undeniable. There is no way the dispute can be settled once and for all except in harmony with the people’s will, and there is no way the people’s will can be ascertained except through an impartial vote. Secondly, there are no insuperable obstacles to the setting up of a plebiscite administration in Kashmir under the aegis of the United Nations. The world organization has proved its ability, even in the most forbidding circumstances, to institute an electoral process under its supervision and control and with the help of a neutral peacekeeping force. The striking example of this is Namibia, which peacefully was brought to independence after seven decades of occupation and control by South Africa. Thirdly, as Sir Owen Dixon, the United Nations representative, envisaged six decades ago, the plebiscite can be so regionalized that none of the different


zones of the state will be forced to accept an outcome contrary to its wishes. If a credible peace process is instituted, some T’s will need to be crossed and some I’s dotted, but given the political will of India and Pakistan to implement their international agreement, and the will of the Security Council to secure that implementation, these can present no obstacles. It is not the inherent difficulties of a solution, but the lack of the will to implement a solution that has caused the prolonged deadlock over the Kashmir dispute. The deadlock has meant indescribable agony for the Kashmiris and incalculable loss for India and Pakistan. The mantra has been repeated too often that the U.S. has no alternative to relying on bilateral talks between India and Pakistan to achieve a settlement. The experience of more than 67 years is ignored. No bilateral talks between India and Pakistan have yielded agreements without the active role of an external element. The world powers must recognize there can be no settlement, negotiated or otherwise, without the active and full participation of the Kashmiri leadership. The world powers would definitely quicken and strengthen the peace process by recommending improving the atmosphere in Kashmir by a full restoration of civil liberties, including the liberty to express themselves peacefully on the question of their own future. A suppression of this freedom means empowering terroristic elements, which in turn paves the way for destabilizing Pakistan — something that certainly is neither in India’s, nor in the United States’ interest. Peace between India and Pakistan could help unlock another conflict with even higher stakes for the United States: the war in Afghanistan. Indeed, a growing chorus of experts has begun arguing the road to Kabul runs through Kashmir — that the U.S. never will stabilize the former without peace in the latter. Suddenly, bringing India and Pakistan together seems to be very much in America’s interest.

Ghulam Nabi Fai is secretary general of World Kashmir Awareness.



Money as a Blessing and a Trust Islam does not constrain Muslims from entrepreneurship or wealth building. BY MUZAMMIL H. SIDDIQI


od has created everything in the universe for the benefit of human beings. As His trustees (khalifah, plural khulafa’ or khala’if) on earth have been given the use of this trust (amanah) wisely and carefully. They should improve things and avoid corruption and waste. They are responsible for their own kind, as well as for others living in their times and the future. For their guidance, God chose from among them teachers and guides — the divinely inspired figures known as messengers and prophets. Throughout history many such men were assigned to peoples and regions, through whom He revealed His message of guidance and goodness — Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus (‘alayhihumm as-salaam) and Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) were among His great prophets and messengers. The Torah, the Psalms, the Gospel and the Quran are among the divinely revealed scriptures. It is integral to a Muslim’s belief that Prophet Muhammad is the last and final divinely appointed prophet, and basic sources of Islam are the Quran, (the word of God), and the Sunnah, (the prophetic tradition). Islam emphasizes concepts like wasat (moderation; see 2:143), ‘adl and qist (justice and fairness; see 4:135). It stands against zulm (injustice, oppression, wrong, evil) and ghuluww (exaggeration). Three important aspects of human life pertinent to the understanding of Islamic philosophy of life are: Body and soul: Humans are a combination of body (jism) and spirit (ruh). The body made from the elements of the earth has its material needs. The spirit is from the command of God and relates to spirituality and metaphysics. Both need to be cared for. The spirit, which is superior, is preferred


over the body, but the body’s needs should not be neglected. Individual and society: Humans are individuals and society; no one is an island. We are interconnected with our family, neighbors and society. We are part of our country, which is part of the global society. Islam recognizes the individual’s rights and freedom, and pays full attention to the society and its needs. We must care for ourselves and our family, neighbors, community, the environment, the nation and the global society. Life here and Hereafter: The worldly life is temporary and every soul will taste death.

However, this is not the only life; this world will end at some time. On the Day of Resurrection, those who will succeed in the final judgment will go to heaven, and others to hellfire. True believers must be concerned with this life and the eternal life. Balance and equilibrium between all aspects of life must be maintained. Islam establishes the concept of huquq (rights or duties), where humans have duties to God, themselves, other human beings and the rest of the creation.

MONEY AND WEALTH AS BLESSING: “If you were to count God’s blessings, you could never calculate them” (14:34). The Quran and Hadith contain verses and references on the subject of money and economic


resources. Money and wealth are called māl (plural amwāl); and in its singular and plural forms, this word occurs 68 times in the Quran. The Quran, which refers to money as “God’s money that He has given you” (Māl Allah, see 24:33), states like everything else, wealth is also from God. It is He who gives wealth and worldly goods to whomever He wills (see 13:26 also 17:30; 28:82; 29:62; 30:37; 34:36; 39:52; 42:12). While worldly resources are given to both, the righteous and the impious, in the eternal world only the righteous will be rewarded. The Quran reads: “Say who has forbidden wearing decent clothes and eating good food which God has provided for His servants. Say, these are for those who believe (and others) in this life, but shall be theirs alone on the Day of Resurrection…” (7:32). A prayer taught to the believers reads: “Our Lord, give us good in this world and in the Hereafter, and protect us from the torment of Fire,” (2:201; 7:156). The Quran uses various positive terms for money and wealth: “God’s bounty” (fadl Allah; see 2:198; 9:28; 16:14; 17:12;

ISLAM, WHICH IS BASED ON THE SHARIA, EMPHASIZES INVOLVEMENT IN WORSHIP AND DEVOTION, AS WELL AS IN COMMERCE, FAMILY LIFE, OWNERSHIP AND POSSESSIONS WITHIN THE DIVINE STRICTURES. 66; 45:12; 62:10; 73:20). The word khayr, an important term of the Quran, occurs 176 times and its plural khayrat is mentioned 10 times. Khayr means: good, excellent, outstanding, admirable, better, best, good things, blessings, wealth, prosperity, benefit, advantage, charity, etc. The Quran advises including parents and next of kin in bequests (2:180). “They ask you what they should give (in charity). Say: Whatever good (khayr) you give should be for parents, close relatives, orphans, the needy and travelers…” (2:215). Money also is called ‘qiyam li al-nas’ (a means of support and strength for people). “Do not entrust your property to the feeble-minded. God has made it a means of support (see 5:97) for you: make provision for them from it, clothe them and address them kindly.” (4:5) Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said: “Excellent is good money for a good person” (Al-Bukhari, al-Adab al-Mufrad, Hadith no. 29). It means that honestly acquired wealth is a good thing in the hands of a pious person, because they will use it carefully and for good causes. The Quran urges the believers to pay attention to Friday prayer, but it reads, “When the prayer has ended, disperse in the land and seek out God’s bounty” (62:10). Prophet Muhammad advised his followers to go out and earn for themselves instead of begging or becoming a burden on others. He repeated many times, “The upper hand is better than the lower hand” (Al-Bukhari, Sahih, hadith no.1385). Another hadith reads: “Let one of you go to collect some branches, carry the load on his back and then sell it to take care of his needs and the needs of his family. It is much more honorable for him to do this than begging people. Some may give him and some may refuse to give him” (Ishaq ibn Rahwaih, Musnad, Hadith 197).

MONEY AS A TRUST AND TEST: Human beings as His trustees on this earth are supposed to use it sagaciously, and also share it with the have-nots. “Believe in God and His Messenger, and give from that of ISLAMIC HORIZONS  SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

which He made you as trustees: those of you who believe and give will have a great reward… Why should you not give for God’s cause when God alone will inherit what is in the heavens and earth?” (57:710). The Quran also reminds: “Children of Adam, take on your good dress whenever you attend the masjid; eat and drink and be not extravagant; indeed He does not love the extravagant. Say who has forbidden wearing decent clothes and eating good food, which God has provided for His servants. Say, these are for those who believe (and others) in this life, but shall be theirs alone on the Day of Resurrection. Thus we make our signs plain for the people who know. Say, my Lord has indeed forbidden indecent acts, whether overt or covert, sin and wrongful aggression and that you assign partners to God, for which He has sent down no authority and that you say about God what you do not know” (7:31-33). The true believers “… are those who are neither wasteful nor niggardly when they spend, but keep a just balance” (25:67). Wealth is something good and necessary, but God reminds: “And know that your wealth and your children are a trial and it is God with whom remains your highest reward” (8:28). Wealth can make people arrogant, greedy and stingy. It also can make them extravagant, wasteful and ostentatious. The desire for more makes them forget their spiritual and moral duties. The Quran warns: “Desire for more distracts you until you go into your graves. No indeed! If only you knew for certain. You will most definitely see Hellfire; you will see it with the eye of certainty. On that Day, you will be asked about your pleasures” (102:1-8). The Prophet said: “None can move his feet away from the presence of the Lord on the Day of Judgment, until he is asked about his life, how did he live, about his knowledge, how did he practice, about his money, wherefrom he earned it and how did he spend it and about his body, how did he use it” (Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, Hadith 2354). The Quran gives the example of Qarun, 47

SPECIAL SECTION an Israelite who supported Pharaoh’s policies against his own people. He became arrogant due to his enormous wealth. He was reminded, “… Seek the life to come by means of what God has granted you, but do not neglect your rightful share in this world. Do good to others as God has done good to you. Do not seek to spread corruption in the land, for God does not love those who do this.” Qarun was boastful and answered, “This wealth was given to me on account of the knowledge I possess.” (28:76-78). God destroyed Qarun: “We caused the earth to swallow him [Qarun] and his home: he had no one to help him against God, nor could he defend himself ” (28:81). Jesus (‘alayhi assalaam) is reported to have said: “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (New International Version, Matthew 19:24). He used the word “rich” because wealth often produces arrogance. The Quran spelling out this wisdom reads: “The gates of Heaven will not be open to those who rejected Our revelations and arrogantly spurned them; even if a camel were to pass through the eye of a needle they would not enter the Garden” (7:40). Prophet Muhammad, emphasizing some negative aspects of wealth, urged his followers to be patient, contented and avoid excess. He is reported to have said: “Two hungry wolves in a herd of sheep will not spoil as much as greed for wealth and desire for power can do to the faith of a person” (Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, Hadith 2376).

TWO VIEWS IN ISLAMIC TRADITION CONCERNING WEALTH: Historically two traditions emerged in Islam emphasizing different attitudes toward wealth and worldly things. Sufism generally was ascetic and emphasized abstinence. Later Sufis developed more sophisticated mystical and theosophical doctrines, but in the popular piety they remained known as the people of asceticism and poverty (zuhd and faqr). They extolled voluntary poverty and urged their followers to keep away from worldly affairs. They emphasized divine love over love of material things and engaged much in worship, fasting, charitable works and the remembrance of God. Islam, which is based on the sharia, emphasizes involvement in worship and devotion as well as in commerce, family life, 48

ownership and possessions within the divine strictures. The scholars and jurists (‘ulama’ and fuqaha’) emphasized and explained the details of the objectives (maqasid) of sharia, which are divided into three main categories: the essential, the complementary, and the embellishment. Mohammad Hashim Kamali (Shari’ah Law: An Introduction, Oneworld, Oxford, 2008) writes: “The essential benefits are defined as those on which the lives of the people depend and their neglect leads to total disruption and chaos. They are the overriding values of: life, faith, intellect, property and lineage. They must be protected and all measures that aim at safeguarding them must be taken, whether by the individual, or by the government authorities. The complementary interests on the whole supplement the essential interests and refer to interests whose neglect leads to hardship but not total disruption of normal life… The category of embellishment refers to interests, whose realization leads to improvement and the attainment of that which is desirable, such as cleanliness, avoiding extravagance and measures that are designed to prevent proliferation of false claims in the courts, etc.” Muslim jurists agree that property (māl both in its promotion and protection) is one of the five values of the sharia. For the promotion of property, it emphasizes: • People should earn and make efforts to fulfill their own and their dependents’ needs. Working for lawful earnings is an act of worship and devotion to God. • People have right to engage in commerce and it’s the government’s obligation to provide them with job opportunities. The workers should be honored with their dignity and just wages paid on time. • All just and fair, responsible and beneficial business transactions should be allowed and encouraged for the benefit of individuals and societies. For the protection of property, the sharia emphasizes the following: • All antisocial and harmful transactions, such as interest, gambling, sale of intoxicants, etc., should be prohibited. • Violations against others’ property by stealing, fraud or coercion must be punished by law. • Spending money in harmful activities, extravagance and wastefulness is considered morally reprehensible. • Wealth and property belonging to minors, orphans and mentally handicapped should be protected.

ELIMINATION OF POVERTY: There are three main ways Islam provides for dealing with the problem of poverty: • The needy, when capable and the work is available, must work. The society and state must help financially and by training them until they find suitable work. • The Muslim community should take care of the needy as a social duty and as a charitable act that brings God’s blessings. This can be in five ways: • The well-to-do relatives must take care of the needy among them. Neighbors must help each other. Zakat is obligatory on every Muslim with wealth beyond their need to certain prescribed limit (nisab). Every year about 2.5 percent from gold, silver and cash and some other percentage for other types of wealth must be given in charity. The Quran reads: “Indeed the (prescribed) charitable offerings are for the poor, the indigent, those who administer it, those whose hearts are to be reconciled, to (free) those in bondage, to the debt-ridden, for the cause of God and to the wayfarer. This is an obligation from God. And God is All-Knowing, AllWise” (9:60). Payments to the poor and needy as expiation (kaffarah), vows (nudhur) and repentance (tawbah) offerings. The voluntary charity is called sadaqah (friendliness, goodness), which those who can afford should give beyond zakat. These could be charitable contributions given directly to the needy or by establishing charitable trusts and endowments (awqaf). The Islamically-run state, it is emphasized, should support those who have no sources of income, through taxes or other funds and state investments. Rapid means of transportation and communications have brought us closer to each other and more dependent on each other; we are more interconnected than before. There should be more cooperation among nations and religions to solve global problems. The Quran commands: “Serve God, and join not any partners with Him; and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet) and those who are under your authority. Indeed God loves not the arrogant, the vainglorious.” (4:36)

Muzammil H. Siddiqi is chairman of the Islamic Shura Council, a former ISNA president, and chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America.



DIVORCE: The Last Resort?



ithin the last decade, anecdotally it seems North American Muslims have seen a spike in divorces and, more recently, an uptick in remarriages. “It is the sunnah of the Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam),” said Sarah Syed, a psychologist at the Glen Ellyn, Illinoisbased Khalil Center. “Most of the women he married were divorcees or widows.” It’s not just men or younger people who are remarrying. Remarriages in a person’s 40s and 50s, including among women with chil-

dren, are more frequent in North American Muslims today than in years past, she said. “Islamically, that’s the right thing to do,” she said. “As Muslims we know remarriage is encouraged but, culturally, we have had this bias against it, thinking it’s better to stay single, either for the sake of the children or because only the young remarry. Muslim Americans are learning their Islam better. Marriage creates a stronger foundation for the family and has all the blessings that people who choose to stay single are missing out on.” Divorce among North American Muslims also is on the rise. Edmund Arroyo, a licensed clinical


social worker and founder of Heartspeak Institute in Darien, Illinois, said it happens more frequently because it is allowed in Islam for good reasons. Yet, in some parts of the Muslim community, couples are too quick to divorce, he added. “One or two years into the marriage is too soon,” he said. “They didn’t give it a chance. That’s my gut reaction based on what I know of the first couple of years of marriage. Some people come for marriage counseling, attend two sessions and are ready to get divorced when what they are going through are normal things.” Arroyo attributes the “Hollywood factor” compounded by the cultural baggage of two 49

FAMILY LIFE worlds as a contributor to divorce among Muslim American immigrants and their children. “You have young men in our community who want to fulfill the cultural norms but also want their wife to fit the Hollywood profile,” he said. “The Muslim woman, too, has expectations. She wants a husband who is romantic, spends time with her, is a super dad and also provides the way her own dad did. Both ideals are hard to balance.” Syed said divorce is extremely hurtful and painful for couples and families. “People now are better educated about their rights and aware that, Islamically, we are not required to stay miserably wed,” she said. “People used to have this idea that a two-parent home, even if miserable, was better for the kids, but research shows it’s a misconception.”

IS DIVORCE THE ANSWER? In an abusive relationship, the first thing to accept is that you’re vulnerable and capable of taking that step outside the marriage. Don’t allow yourself to become a victim, experts say.

“Counseling is a great resource that we, in the Muslim community, shun and attach a stigma to, but is an integral aspect of our faith and culture,” said Suzanne Othman, whose first marriage lasted six months and five years later she married a widower with three children. “This role was traditionally played by scholars and elders back home. Marriage is a sacred and critical bond, and …. that’s why it’s half our faith. Reach out and ask for help — find a third party who can intervene before your differences become larger.” Shaista Alam of New Jersey, who was married right after high school, sought divorce after almost two decades of marriage, and remarried two-and-a-half years later. She recommends couples’ coaching instead of marriage counseling. “Get to the core of the problems in your relationship,” she said. “Unless there is drugs, alcohol or infidelity, relationship issues can be resolved, if we do our work. If divorce is inevitable, then please consider premarital counseling prior to starting a new relationship.”

HOW TO SAVE A MARRIAGE? For starters, give up threatening divorce unless you are certain you will do it. “Empty threats cause a lot of discord,” Syed said. “That is very wrong and brings shaitan into the house. Secondly, people will complain about each other but I ask, ‘Are you willing to change?’ You can’t force another to change. You can only change yourself and making that change can potentially change the dynamic in the relationship.” Success and failure begins from within. Self-reflection is key, said Arroyo, emphasizing that’s not the approach for abusive marriages. “What you find to be intolerable in your spouse or your marriage, ask yourself if it is intolerable in the moment or intolerable for a lifetime,” he said. “Spouses should also ask themselves ‘Would anyone be happy to be married to me, the way I am being in the relationship?’ If the answer is ‘no’ and you aren’t willing to change, good luck on your next relationship!” “Marriage is a constant onslaught of joys and challenges. With the right set of tools



fter divorce, some Muslim American men and women are eager to remarry, and these may include rebound marriages. But some divorcees don’t even consider remarriage, fearing the potential hurt and failure or are dissuaded by cultural expectations. “Irrespective of how soon a divorcee considers remarriage, or decides against it, I think there should be a window of self-exploration and it doesn’t have to be traditional therapy,” Ismail said. “It’s really important to know oneself. When you know who you are as a person, you become aware of what you will compromise on and when you won’t, and what you want from a relationship. Marriage is about getting to know the other person, but also about getting to know yourself first.” For success, trusting again is paramount. “Remarriage is not successful, if you go into it halfway or guardedly,” Syed said. “It requires your complete effort. You should make sure this feels right for you and really get to know the person.” The first time around parents and family members may have a greater say in spouse selection, but the second time around those considering remarriage bear responsibility in making a selection. “‘I hope I make this work,’ is front and center, when considering remarriage,” said Humaira Basith, real estate broker and founding host of Chicago’s Radio Islam. “I really had to take stock of myself and move forward slowly and carefully.


It’s not just the anxiety of making the right decision, but not repeating the negative experiences from the first time.” Basith of Darien, Illinois, was a divorcee with a 3-year-old child when introduced to Arroyo, a convert. They have been married 15 years and adopted a son together. Besides looking for someone who would be a great father to her child, character was a priority, Basith said. “There is a hadith that in potential husbands, you look for incredible character, and in potential wives, you look for women who have great ibadah,” she said. Arroyo said, in marriage, one has to be self aware enough to know the essential components they value. “Focus on the things most important to you,”he said.“For both of us, it had to be someone who had a passion for learning about the religion and becoming a better person through one’s faith.” Amanullah, a divorcee in his late-40s, said, “I wanted to marry someone who had been in a marital relationship before, someone who knew what was involved.” Alam said while she enjoyed singlehood, she did not like being alone. After her divorce, her children and family had cut ties with her. When considering remarriage, she found many men in her age group were bitter about their ex-wives. This was not attractive at all. “I was ready to move on with life and did not appreciate people who were stuck in the past,” she said. “I have not lived as fully in my previous 20-some years of marriage as I have in the past (four-and-a-half ) years with Mohsin.”


you can handle it. The right set of tools begin inside yourself. The right humility, the right gratitude, the right attitude,” he added.

SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? Linda Sahloul’s first marriage was to a physician from a wealthy family — someone her family thought was perfect. Yet, the relationship was mired with unfounded suspicion on his part, leading her to question whether she wanted to live this life. Sahloul chose divorce and remarried two years later. She recently celebrated her 20th wedding anniversary. “Divorce is not a joke, especially if there are children involved,” she said. “Realize that no one has a perfect life and make divorce the last option.” Othman said married friends likely won’t be able to relate to someone newly divorced, and vice versa, which increases isolation as divorcees begin to drift away. “You really need to think about how happy you’ll be as a single versus the challenges of being divorced,” Othman said. Syed said those contemplating divorce should ask themselves if they are ready for the challenges of singlehood, such as paying bills, managing the kids, running a household, and potentially managing a new blended family. Anyone not ready for that should continue working on making personal changes, she said.

SOCIAL PARIAHS Social isolation is one of the most common issues Muslim divorcees face. “Divorce is a harrowing experience and it takes a physical toll,” said Shahed Amanullah, a twice-divorced father of two based in Washington, D.C., and founder of Amanullah has plans to remarry soon. “While Islamically, it is an act that is a last resort, divorce is also allowed in Islam,” he said. “Given that, the shaming the Muslim American community heaps on divorcees is just not acceptable. I had a friend who was a divorcee and when I asked how he was doing, he said I was the first person in a year who had asked after his well-being.” The stigma of divorce in the Muslim community, though diminishing, still persists. “I have experienced both extremes,” Alam said. “There is a huge population that is empowered to be supportive of family and friends in these challenging situations. However, I have also seen mosques full of people, especially women, who scorn the sight of a

divorcee, and consider it appalling for an older woman to want to get remarried.” Divorced women suddenly find themselves abandoned even by their best friends who fear she may draw their own husband’s interest and attention, said Suzi Ismail, author of “Modern Muslim Marriage: Finding the Right Match and Making Your Marriage Succeed” (Amana Publications, 2012) and “When Muslim Marriage Fails: Divorce Chronicles and Commentaries” (Amana Publication, 2010). “When you look at the word ummah, it is derived for the word umm, meaning mother,” she said. “As an ummah, are we as a community truly acting as mothers to one another? Are we truly acting with the care and the kindness that God ordered us to act with toward one another?”

HOW DO YOU PREPARE THE CHILDREN? Alam regrets not having prepared her high school-age children better. When they severed ties with her, it wounded her deeply, but she refused to relinquish bonds. “They have since not only reconciled, but grown to accept and embrace me as a woman who deserves to create a life she desires,” she said. “Our relationship is so much deeper and nourishing that I am certain would not have been possible, if I remained married to their father.” Sahloul and her husband both had been previously married and divorced for two years when they were introduced. “My husband involved me in his daughter’s life from the beginning,” she said. “He did an amazing job of balancing both of us and not letting either one of feel insignificant. I also let his daughter know that my opinion mattered. Just as we do with our four kids now, our disagreements were discussed behind closed door so she always saw us as being on the same page.”

MAKING STRIDES Syed said there always will be a need for adjustment, understanding, patience and compromise from both partners, and a need to tread softly as issues arise. “It requires humility,” she said. “Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if you are right or wrong. The peace of your home has to be more important and your partner’s happiness has to be important to you, too.” These couples advise husbands and wives shouldn’t lose their individual identities,


but also key to find things they like doing together. Marriage should be viewed as a contract that one is willing to renegotiate all the time. “If each party adheres to the responsibilities Allah has commanded for them, they will have a happy life. If everyone is focused on just his or her own rights but not what (the other) deserves, it can only cause issues,” Sahloul said.

WHAT ARE SOME CHALLENGES? One of the greatest threats identified across the board was the risk of bringing baggage from the first marriage, whether hurt that has been internalized or the negative experiences. It is vital to understand the new spouse’s actions and behavior are not rooted in the same motives nor coming from the same place as one’s ex-spouse. And this learning curve could take years. Premarital and couples’ counseling was another recommendation. “I certainly was not prepared for how toxic past resentments can be, how capable they are of contaminating our present. Unless we discover the reasons for our ‘wiring,’ and (actively) attempt to ‘re-wire’ ourselves, the issues with our relationships will repeat,” Alam said. For Basith and Arroyo, cultural differences arise even 15 years into the marriage. “Families have their own subcultures, even with the same background,” Arroyo said. “What one sees as a weakness in another is really a cultural difference. Having that awareness on our radar allows us to recognize that the other isn’t necessarily being selfish or insensitive. They are just looking at it through a different lens.” Simran Qureshi was 36 when she married a divorcee, Sohail Khan. “One of the joys that marriage can give you is a partner who will always be there for you,” she said. “I was very nervous about living with my in-laws, but surprisingly, they have been very open minded, understanding and nonintrusive. They have helped so much with my child that I cannot imagine living without them right now.” Yet, her challenge was being a stepmother to an 8-year-old raised by her husband and his parents in a way that may differ from her own approach. “I am still figuring out my role,” she said. The couple have a child together and are expecting another.

Naazish YarKhan is a U.S. college essay coach and internationally published writer.



Muslim Teens Could Become Sex Slaves in 2015 America BY ISLAMIC HORIZONS STAFF


oncerned by issue of sexslave trade in the United States, Zerqa Abid of Ohio launched the MY Project USA last year to address sex-trafficking, gangs, drugs, radicalization, pornography and other serious issues facing Muslim American youth. MY Project USA aims to work with national, regional and local faith-based and mental health organizations. Abid is a social/political activist, interfaith youth mentor, blogger, and TV producer/director. She and another board member are investing their own funds and working as full-time volunteers. Imagine a 13-year-old Muslim girl being repeatedly sold for sex in 2015 America, said Abid. Often victims have a bar code tattooed on their necks, hips or thighs, or a pimp’s name tattooed on their wrists for easy collection of money from customers — as if an animal or a slave, she said. The sex-slave issue permeates all levels of society. Abid said minor Muslim girls serving as sex-slaves exist, and their numbers are increasing. Muslim Americans, she said, no longer can afford to remain ignorant of the existence of such crimes. A North Carolinian who volunteers with the police told Abid the department’s chart on drug dealers’ activities and target communities shows Muslim kids are their most wanted targets because, while their parents are mostly wealthy, they are naive and illinformed when it comes to drugs and gangs. She said Muslims don’t go to workshops or training, nor do mosques address such issues. And there are no support groups or emergency plans in place for such victims and their families. Therefore, it makes Muslim kids easy prey for drug dealers, she said. Abid said while Muslims always seek God’s protection for their children from all evil, one cannot leave a car unlocked and then blame God if it is stolen. “Similar is the case of protecting our children,” she said. “In today’s world, we have to be more vigilant than our parents were.” Muslim Americans need to prioritize drugs, gangs and trafficking issues, she


Zerqa Abid

said, adding that Muslim Youth Project USA ( seeks to protect and empower all youth and their families, and invites communities nationwide to step up and join hands. In 2010, a 29-member gang was arrested in Columbus, Ohio, for trafficking minor Muslim girls in three states for 10 years. All gang members were Muslims, Abid said. Investigators found some of the rescued victims were girls who initially ran away from their homes to escape parental abuse, and ended up being trafficked by truck drivers who took them to Minnesota and Tennessee. The pimps then used them to lure more girls into the business, she said. Abid, a mother of three daughters with the youngest being 13, finds it incomprehensible to understand the trauma, pain, and misery of these children being held captive by traffickers. “Just imagining such an awful experience is so painful. What it would be like living it not for a day or two, but for years, and in some cases, for the rest of their lives.” She has gone through the training and has been working with Salvation Army and other agencies that care of the victims’ immediate needs and legal protection. Human trafficking is a form of modernday slavery in which the victims are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of commercial sex or forced labor. Many victims are forced to work in prostitution or the sex entertainment industry. They are young children, teenagers, men and women, Abid said. The International Labor Organization estimates human trafficking generates up to $32 billion yearly. There were 20.9 million victims of human trafficking worldwide,

according to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime 2013 report. Sex trafficking accounts for 58 percent of all human trafficking cases investigated around the world. Women and girls account for 75 percent of victims. According to the United States Department of Justice, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a pimp in the United States can make up to $200,000 per child yearly. An average pimp has four to six girls coming from various backgrounds, ethnicity, races, faith groups, and socioeconomic status. The U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 27 passed Missouri Republican Ann Wagner’s Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act, which criminalizes advertisements of commercial sex acts with minors and victims of human trafficking. There are cases of trafficked Muslim girls in Somali refugee communities in Minnesota, Tennessee, and Ohio. Chaplain Asma Hanif receives Muslim sex-trafficking survivors at her shelter, Muslimat al Nisaa, in Baltimore. Similarly, Hadayai Majeed of Baitul Salam Network reports helping Muslim sex-trafficking survivors in Atlanta. Among the top reasons for girls ending up with sex traffickers are children running away, homelessness, drugs, having a pimp or pimp’s agent as a foster parent, and broken or dysfunctional families. Drugs are, however, one of the most prevalent factors that could victimize any girl, regardless of her socioeconomic background, faith, and ethnicity. Drug dealers prey upon teens. There are accounts of sex-trafficking survivors who were tricked into trying heroin and after unknowingly consuming it for a week, they became slaves for years and decades. As for runaway girls, the circumstances are different. Most of them are trapped while escaping parental abuse inflicted upon them by traumatized, first-generation refugee/ immigrant parents. Some of them might also have gone through the mutilation of their genitals at the hands of their own mothers and family members, adding another layer to their frustration and desire to escape from their own homes. However, most of the reasons could be addressed through mental health treatment, counseling, mentoring and support groups created for youth and parents within local communities. By taking right measures and with God’s help, definitely many “Fatimas” could be saved, Abid said.



The Mesmerizing Universe of Islamic Numismatics A hobby through which Muslims can learn much about their heritage. BY MISBAHUDDIN MIRZA


very spring, Hofstra University’s Department of Middle Eastern and Central Asian Program and the Department of Fine Arts, Design, Art History host the B.D. Kochnev Memorial Seminar in Central Asian and Middle Eastern Numismatics. The program is led by Aleksandr Naymark, a native of Uzbekistan, where the world’s leading Islamic numismatists present their latest research. This year’s program — the Seventh Meeting — held March 14 included experts, such as Stefan Heidemann, Universitat Hamburg and formerly the curator of Islamic arts at New York’s Metropolitan Museum, Michael Bates of the American Numismatic Society, and Naymark. They are considered as having oceans of knowledge in the field. Speakers came from across the world: Universitat Hamburg, Germany; the British Museum; Iran-e-Bastan Museum, Tehran; Sapienza University, Rome; The College of New Jersey, Ewing, New Jersey; State Hermitage Museum, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia; Boston University; New York University, and Hofstra. Topics included, “Mapping the Ghurid Empire: Numismatic Evidence and Narrative Sources,” “A Literary Source on the Rasulid Coinage of Ta’izz,” “Mule Coins of Samanid Period from Nishapur,” and “Isabadh the Capital of the Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdi Muhammad.” Islamic numismatics is a vast field covering various dynasties spread across three continents and nearly 1500 years of history. Some people have dedicated their lives to this field. Numerous books and papers have been published on almost every type of Islamic coinage. The purchase of a rare Umayyad dinar by a European private collector in April 2011 for nearly $6 million (the second most expensive coin ever sold) drew attention to this field. This coin, dated 105 H (723 CE), was struck

from gold mined at a location owned by the Caliph Yazid II — known on the coins as the “Mine of the Commander of the Faithful.” An additional legend which reads, “bi’l-Hijaz” (“in the Hejaz”), makes it the earliest Islamic coin to mention that location.

MORE THAN JUST A HOBBY Numismatics is more than just a hobby. It tells historians so much about the past. The right to mint coins was one of two things fiercely guarded by all Muslim rulers — the second was inclusion of a prayer for the ruler during Friday sermon. Islamic coins provide numismatists and historians even more information than the coins of other cultures as they also contain the mint name (geographical location) and the year of minting. For those unfamiliar with Arabic, Richard Plant’s “Arabic Coins and How to Read Them” (Spink & Son Ltd.; Second Edition, 1980) will make reading Islamic coins a breeze. Islamic coinage begun after the newly established Muslim state conquered the Sassanid empire. ‘Umar bin Khattab (‘alayhi rahmat), the second caliph, had Bismillah added to the existing Sasanian coin design. Thus, early Islamic coins are seen having human portraits. This was followed by Arabic replacing the Pahlavi script, and the Hijri calendar replacing the Yesdigrid age. After defeating the Byzantines, the Muslims initially started marking the existing coins Sahih or Tayyib indicating that the coins were acceptable for usage. This was followed by the removal of the horizontal bar from the cross, and addition of Islamic terminology. Abd al-Malik ibn Marwān (646-705 CE), the fifth Umayyad caliph, initiated the complete redesign of Islamic coins. The obverse of these Umayyad coins bore: ‫ال اله اال الله وحده ال رشيك له‬ There is no God except Allah alone He has no partner The reverse of the Umayyad coins bore: ‫الله احد الله الصمد مل يلد و مل يولد و مل يكن له كفوا احد‬


Allah is the one and only God The eternal and indivisible, who has not begotten, and has not been begotten and never is there an equal to Him On the margins of the coins is “Bismillah,” as it starts with Bismillah and states where the coin was minted and in what year. Umayyad coins do not carry the caliph’s name, but, it can be deduced from the year of minting. The Byzantine emperor protested these coin reforms, however, the caliph dismissed this demand.

An Umayyad gold dinar of ‘Abd al-Malik/ al-Walid I , 86h, 4.22g. From the author’s collection. In the center of the obverse is the Kalima — profession of faith, while the marginal legend is /Muhammad rasul Allah/ followed by Huwal Ladi Arsala Rasuluhu Bil Huda Wo deen el haqe Liyunzerahu alad deeni kullihi walo karihal mushrikoon [He is the One who sent His messenger with guidance and true religion to prevail over all other religions even if the polytheist dislike it] (Quran 9:33) In the center of the reverse is the Surah al-Ikhlas (Quran 112:1-3), and in the marginal legend is the date. The Abbasids made slight changes to the Umayyad formula, by adding the caliph’s name to the coins.

Heavy gold dinar of last Abbasid khalifa, al-Musta‘sim (640-56 H; 1242–58 CE ), 53

SPECIAL FEATURE Madinat al-Salam 642 H, 10.42g (SICA 4:1309-1311; A 275). From the author’s collection. Obverse : In seven lines; Al-Imam/ La Ilaha Illa Allah/ Wahdahu La Sharuka Lahu / Al-Musta’sim Billah/ Amir Al-Mu’menin/ Bi Nasr Ellah/ to the right vertically : Lillah Al ‘Amr min kabl Wa Min Ba’ad, To the left vertically: Wa Yauma Izin Yafrahu ‘al Mu’emenun. [The Imam/ No God but Allah/ The one without partners/Al-Musta’sim Billah/ the leader of the believers. The matter before and after is to Allah in that day the believers will be Joyful by the victory from Allah (Quran). All in a flowershaped frame forming the outer margin: Bismillah Duriba Haza Al Dinar Bi Madinat Al-Salam Sanat Ithnatayn Wa Arba’in Wa Suttuma’at. Obverse Center: ‫األمام ال اله اال الله وحده ال رشيك له أمري املؤمنني املستعصم بالله‬ Sides: ‫لله األمر من قبل ومن بعد‬ ‫ويومئذ يفرح املؤمنون‬ ‫بنرص الله‬ Margin: ‫بسم الله‬ ‫رضب هذا الدينار مبدينة السالم سنة اثنتني وأربعني وستامئة‬ Reverse: In five lines : Al-Hamdu Lillah/ Muhammad/ Rasulu Allah/ Salla Allah Alayhi/ Wa Sallam, Vertically to the right : Walaw Kariha/ and vertically to the left : AlMushrekun. MARGIN : Muhammad Rasul Allah Arsalahu Bil Huda Wa Din Al Hakk Lyuzhirahu ‘Ala Al-Dina Kulahu. Reverse Center: ‫الحمد الله محمد رسول الله صىل الله عليه وسلم‬ Sides: ‫ولو كره املرشكون‬ Margin: ‫محمد رسول الله ارسله بالهدى ودين الحق‬ ‫ليظهره عىل الدين كله ولو كره املرشكون‬ The Ottoman coins used the Uthmani script.

An Ottoman gold sultani of Suleyman I, AH 926 (1520), Sidrekapsi Mint, Mint name in one line. The date is given at the bottom. From the author’s collection. Quality coins from Islamic Spain are also in considerable demand. 54

A Murabitid (Spain) gold dinar, ND, Ali B. Yusuf, AH 500-537; A-466. From the author’s collection. Sultan Baybars’ coins carry his ‘lion,’ emblem.

Mamluk, gold dinar of Sultan Baybars I (AH 658-676) ( 1260-1277), A-880, has a slight uneven strike, but is in an almost Uncirculated condition. From the author’s collection. The Indian Islamic coinage quickly switched to the Indian monetary weight system of heavier mohurs (gold coins) instead of the standard dinars used in other parts of the Islamic world. The dinar had followed the Roman monetary system of denarius. Some of the initial Indian Islamic coins were bilingual. The silver dirham minted under Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni (997–1030 CE) has the obverse in Arabic, and the reverse in Sanskrit.

Silver dirham of Mahmud (998-1030), bilingual type, Mahmudpur (Lahore), 2.81 gm., Diameter: 19 mm., Die axis: 7 o’clock, Arabic legend: Shahada followed by yamin al-daula wa amin mahmud al-milla (Mahmud guardian of the faith), al-qadir above, billah at left; Date in the margin: AH 418 (= 1027-1028 CE) / Sanskrit legend in Sharada letters: avyaktameka muhammada avatar nripati mahamuda (the Invisible is One, Muhammad is the manifestation, Mahmud the king). Courtesy: CoinIndia Gallery.

Gold dinar of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, 24 mm, 3.72 gms, 388-421 AH, (998-1030). From the author’s collection.

Silver Tanka of Sultan Iltutmish, Delhi, India, AH 607-633 (AD 1210-1235), 26mm, 10.68 gm, 3h. Citing Khalifa al-Mustansir. CIS D38. Obverse: ruler’s titles: al-Sultan al mu’azzam, ending with nasir amir al muminin. Reverse: Shahada, and Amirul Momineen al-Mustansir billah. R 835; NW 50E. From the author’s collection.

Gold tanka of Sultan ‘Ala al-din Muhammad (695-715h), Dar al-Islam, Delhi, India, date off flan, 11.00g (G&G D220). Obverse: ruler’s titles: al-sultan al-azam Ala al-dunya wal din abul muzaffar Muhammad shah al Sultan. Reverse: Sikandar al thani legend, with mint date in the margin, R998, NW. From the author’s collection.

Gold tanka of Sultan Muhammad III bin Tughluq, AH 725-752 (1325-51), Fr-459. Hadrat Delhi, India, GG: D 331, 12.8 gram, al-watiq type. Rare. Obverse: Al-wathiq bi-ta yid al-rahman Muhammad shah al-sultan (he who trusts in the support of the Merciful; Muhammad Shah al sultan). Mint and date


in margin. Reverse: Ash Shadual Lailaha wo ashShaduan Muhammad abduhuhu wo rasuluhu (I testify that there is no God but Allah and I testify that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger. From the author’s collection.

Gold tanka of Sultan Muhammad III bin Tughluq, AH 725-752 (1325-51), Fr-459. Dar al Islam, Delhi, India GG: D341, Rare, 11 grams, al-mujahid type, R1203; NW 479. Obverse: Al-mujhid fi sabil Allah Muhammad Bin Tughluq Shah (the Mujahid in the path of Allah Muhammad Bin Tughluq Shah). The names of the first four caliphs around. Reverse: Shahadah, with mint and date in margin. From the author’s collection.

KM-255.6 Obverse: Sahib e Qiran Mohammed Shihabuddin Shah Jahan Badshah Ghazi. Reverse: Shahadah, Mint name (Surat), and date. From the author’s collection.

Mughal, gold mohur of Aurangzeb, 10681118 H (1658-1707 CE), 10.97 gr, Ahsanabad, year 47. Obverse: Aurangzeb Alamgir; zo go mehar…. Reverse: Maimanat Manoos; Mint and date. From the author’s collection.

Rare, precious coins are handled with extreme care as the slightest blemish could dramatically reduce the price. While inexpensive, common coins are available by the bucketfull, valuable coins are difficult to come by, and when they do appear on the market, collectors try to outbid each other for it. Trolling the local coin shows is a good way to get started. There are numerous large, reputable auction houses that maintain extensive databases to research coins of all cultures. There are Islamic email groups that also can be of help. Museums are good places to view rare, valuable coins.

Misbahuddin Mirza, M.S., P.E., a licensed professional engineer is the regional quality control engineer for the New York State Department of Transportation’s New York City area, and an avid student of history and Islamic numismatics. Author’s note: I certify that I have acquired all the coins displayed in this article, and own all of them, except for the Mahmud bilingual silver dirham, which is properly attributed to CoinIndia Gallery.

Durranis, gold mohur of Ahmad Shah, 1160-86 H; (1747-72 CE), Shahjahanabad, 1173 H, year 14. AV 10.85 g. KM 765. From the author’s collection.

Mughal, silver shahrukhi of Mohammed Humayun. Obverse: Mohammed Humayun Badshah Ghazi…. Reverse: Shahadah, Names of the four Rashidun Khalifas. From the author’s collection

Mughal, silver rupee of Jahangir, Kashmir mint, AH 1024, year 10 KM 145.10. Obverse: Jahangir Shah Akbar Shah

Mughal, gold mohur of Muhammad Shah Jahan, 1037-68 H (1628-58 CE), Fr-787;

Hyderabad, gold ashrafi of Mir Osman Ali Khan Asaf Jah VII (1911-67 CE; 1341 H), RY 12 (1918 CE.). AV 11.20 g. Obverse: Char Minar gateway, with the letter ‘Aen’ inside the arch, date is below, right margin: ‘Nizam ul Mulk,’ Top margin: ‘Asaf Jah,’ left margin: ‘Bahadur’. Rev. Calligraphic legend with regnal date, ‘Aik (one) Ashrafi,’ in the center. KM 44. Mint state. From the author’s collection. A coin’s value depends on several factors: its condition — fine, very fine, extremely fine, choice, etc. — and its mint — where it was minted, its rarity or lack thereof — and above all, its demand. For example an ancient, rare coin, from a desirable mint may not have much demand, and hence may not fetch much. Whereas, coins that have high demand, such as Chengiz Khan’s coin, even in poor condition may fetch a decent amount.



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When in Rome, do as Some Romans do The absolutely stunning Great Mosque of Rome offers a unique experience. BY MISBAHUDDIN MIRZA


he popular Latin adage, “When in Rome…,” is community’s social needs. The musallah or prayer space is located attributed to St. Ambrose (340-97 CE), the governor of on the main (second) floor, and the mezzanine floor is for women. Milan who became bishop by compromise. A marble channel occasionally is operated to allow water to flow He said in medieval Latin, “If you should be in Rome, in a soothing cascade. live in the Roman manner; if you should be elsewhere, live as they This author and his wife, who visited Italy May 27-29, expedo there.” rienced a festive, carnival-like atmosphere. Shortly before Friday So what is a Muslim to do in Rome, Italy, on a Friday? Pray prayers, numerous tents sprout in front of the mosque peddling the Friday prayer at the Great Mosque of Rome (Grande Moschea ethnic foods, clothing, gifts, and religious items. Italy’s connection with Islam and Muslims is old, including the di Roma) — the city’s only mosque, which also is the continent’s Crusades and colonization. largest mosque. In 1074, Pope Gregory VII had a plan that not only took Latin Located on Via Anna Magnani in Acqua Acetosa, the mosque is situated in an upscale, wooded area in the foothills of Monti doctrine to the precipice of holy war, but also delayed the blossoming Parioli, north of the city. The of love between the world’s two largest religions for the mosque’s exterior has been designed to blend with its next 1,000 years. In medieval verdant surroundings, and times, the Roman Papacy was not exactly glamorthe inner columns’ capitals ous. European royalty did comprise a series of curves. not show the Pope much Inside, the lightly colored glazed porcelain tiles and respect, and often banned Ottoman-style chandeliers the Pope from even entering create a serene environment. Rome. The popes of other The mosque’s travertine and church denominations had terracotta tile work show competing agendas. Gregthat Italian Muslims are ory VII was, however, deterproud to be associated with mined to not only assert his Rome and Roman architecsupremacy over the popes of The exterior view of Rome’s Grand Mosque. ture. The repeating designs the other church denominaand geometric patterns are reminiscent of those in the Old Mosque tions, but also to make the European royalty acknowledge him as of Cordoba. Muhammad Hasan, the exiled Prince of Afghanistan their supreme leader. His successor, Urban II went on to initiate the and his wife, Princess Razia, founded the mosque with financing first Crusade, setting off the most violent bloodletting in medieval history. from Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal and other Muslim countries. Times had changed dramatically in the first millennium CE. At Mustafa Qaddourah, 63, a pediatrician, translated the Friday sermon into Italian. A native of Palestine and a member of the the start of this period, Christians were fed to the lions in the Colosmosque’s board, he made Italy home 40 years ago. Muslims now con- seum and were burned alive in open pits elsewhere. That changed stitute the country’s second-largest religious group after Catholics. when Emperor Constantine embraced Christianity, converting the Islam, however, is yet to be officially recognized as a religion in the Roman military juggernaut into a Christian superpower. Soon, country — a condition often blamed on local Muslims’ lack of unity. a transformation occurred from close to the Colosseum where Qaddourah said unity talks among various Muslim groups are Christians were regularly massacred. The Pope took up official progressing and he expects Italian Muslims to be able to file the residence there, and directed the slaughter of hundreds of thousands required joint application for official recognition of Islam by the of Muslims, and Christians of other denominations throughout Italian government by year end. Europe who did not agree with the Papal interpretation of ChrisThe 12,000-capacity mosque is accessible by car, and by Rome’s tianity. The first millennium CE closed with Christians preparing public transport system — it is right behind the Campi Sportivi to unleash horrors like the Crusades and Inquisition upon others. A lot happened in the second millennium CE. The tides of forregional train stop. The mosque also is the seat of the Italian Islamic Cultural Centre, which includes an Islamic studies center and a tune swayed between the Muslims and Christians. Muslims freed library displaying many ancient and miniature painted copies of the the Holy Land, and then ruled the Emirate of Sicily, and Eastern Quran. The environment-friendly mosque also serves the diverse Europe, along with large parts of Asia and Africa. The Ottoman



Khalil Momand

Stairs leading to the women’s mezzanine floor.

A Community Builder 1932 – 2015


Friday prayers at Rome’s Grand Mosque.

armies arrived at the gates of Western Europe. After converting the Mediterranean into the Sultan’s lake, the Turks poured in to capture two cities on the Italian peninsula, close to Rome, prompting preparations for the Pope’s evacuation. Sitting in the city’s grand mosque, about four miles from the Pope’s seat in St Peter’s Basilica, the author felt now was the beginning of a truly great era. He felt thrilled at the apparent blossoming of Italians’ tolerance and respect for Islam and Muslims. In 1974, the Rome City Council donated the land for building the mosque, and then-Italian President Alessandro Pertini attended its 1984 groundbreaking. The completed mosque was inaugurated June 21, 1995. One reason for the construction delay was the architects had to readjust the minaret height. The original minaret was taller than the dome of St Peter’s, which was unacceptable to city leaders. Eventually, they built a minaret one meter shorter and without a sound system. In the Sistine Chapel, visitors can view Michelangelo’s famous paintings, including the one portraying God reaching out to Adam. Was this concept of god similar to the Greek mythological god, Zeus? This and other artifacts contained in other Italian museums offer food for thought, and for friendly interreligious dialogue between adherents of the world’s two leading religions.

Misbahuddin Mirza, a licensed professional engineer, is a senior engineer and regional quality control engineer for the New York State Department of Transportation’s Structures Division, New York City area.



halil Momand, who was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, died July 9. At 19, Momand obtained a scholarship to attend the Los Angeles Trade College. He then completed his bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Southern California. After graduation, he worked for the Hughes Aircraft Company before retiring and continuing his voluntary public service while engaged in his own business. Mohmand, a responsible father, leader and coordinator for the Muslim community in Southern California, was a founding member of Islamic Center of Southern California, the Islamic Center of South Bay (ICSB), Los Angeles, and the Omar Khattab Masjid leadership. He also was a founding member of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, and the South Bay Interfaith Council. He served as the president, member of the board of trustees and board of directors of the Islamic Center of South Bay for several terms. Thanks to his generosity and magnetic personality, Momand attracted many who joined his efforts and he successfully formed the initial board managing the affairs of the ICSB. He and his wife, Pouran, were always the first to write donation checks for good causes benefitting the community. The ICSB started its educational programs in the Palos Verdes Community Center, later moving its weekly programs to the Torrance YMCA, and then to the Hermosa Beach Community Center before establishing a permanent location in the city of Lomita, California. Momand led efforts to purchase the neighboring lots to the Lomita property creating ample space to build a permanent new building. The goal was to centralize the needed educational and worship facilities in South Bay, Los Angeles. He not only contributed funds, but also spent countless hours cleaning and upgrading the purchased buildings to generate rental income for the mosque and for use by children and adults attending the ICSB classes. His exemplary work to provide his technical skills touched many hearts. For more than 20 years, while his mind was on building the ICSB as a public service institution, every Sunday morning he attended the Omar Khattab Mosque in Los Angeles to offer an Islam 101 session to new Muslims. He strengthened ties with the members of the Interfaith Councils, many of whom supported and defended the ICSB’s application to the Lomita City Council for a building permit. Momand, who was in charge of religious affairs of ICSB, helped Muslim families in good times and bad. He rallied Muslim families in purchasing lots at the Green Hills Park to establish a Muslim cemetery. He and his family were the first to sponsor iftar during Ramadan and encouraged other families to do likewise. This tradition has continued for 25 years. He also helped negotiate a relationship to conduct the Eid prayers at the Carson Community Center. When the fundraising for the new mosque building started, Momand and Pouran were the first to write a check for sponsoring more than 20 prayers spots. He wanted to be there when the new building opened. For three decades, whether on or off the board, he served as a true role model for community members. He is survived by his wife, Pouran, and children, Jamil Momand, professor of chemistry at Cal State University in Los Angeles, and Sophia Momand, a family physician.

(Source: Ehtesham M. Mirza, president, Islamic Center of South Bay, Lomita, California)




Meena Siddiqui

Champion for Youth, Education and Spirituality in Florida 1950 – 2015


eena Siddiqui, a pioneer in the South Florida community, who received ISNA’s special recognition award in 2011, died June 18 in Miami. She was the mother of Fawad Siddiqui, who served as assistant editor of Islamic Horizons magazine, and Asad Siddiqui, a MYNA pioneer who served on the MYNA board. Siddiqui’s life and selfless concern for her loved ones and community serves as an example for those she leaves behind. Her loss is felt not only in Florida, where she lived since 1972, but across the country. She was a pillar of the South Florida Muslim community. Along with her husband, the late Hamid Iqbal Siddiqui, she worked to set up one of the region’s first Islamic religious institutions. Hamid Siddiqui, who preceded her in death in 2002, was a geologist and engineer who founded the All State Engineering and Testing Inc., served as ISNA East Zone Representative, and in the 1980s served as president of the Muslim Community Association. Meena Siddiqui, known for her kindness and compassion, was a community matriarch with her gentle demeanor and glowing ability to put everyone at ease. When she arrived in South Florida at the age of 22 from Pakistan, she noticed a marked absence of spiritual connectivity in America’s Muslim youth. To alleviate this concern, she decided to develop a curriculum to teach essential Islamic courses and establish Quranic study circles. What was most remarkable about Siddiqui’s concern for learning was the extent to which she embraced holistic learning styles and her unfaltering conviction and hope for a better future for Muslim youth. This passion and awareness for Islamic moral values were inculcated not only in her children, but also all those she taught and inspired through her community building efforts. Coming from a family of scholars in the Indian subcontinent for more than 200 years, she was well-equipped to help guide South Florida’s budding Muslim community. Siddiqui, who was born in Hyderabad and came to Pakistan as an infant, grand-


daughter of the Grand Mufti of the Aasfiya Sultanate of Hyderabad, Ashiqur Rasool Abdul Qadeer Qadri Usmani Budauni, earned her bachelor of science degree in home sciences from the University of Karachi, taking courses in community and child development. This training, along with her family’s spiritual background, inspired her to start an after-school program for Islamic learning for her children and the community, first from her home. She later started “Pak Academy,” a weekly Sunday school based at a nearby rented school facility, gradually leading to the establishment of the Islamic Sunday School at Miami Gardens Masjid.

Siddiqui also organized various local youth camps and introduced the youth to broader regional and national Muslim youth organizations, like MYNA, by taking the children to different cities and states for their regional or national conferences. The children got to broaden their understanding of Islam, make lasting friends, and hear scholars and teachers, truly shaping their lives. They all held a special place in Siddiqui’s heart, and she held a special place in theirs. Serving on the board of the Muslim Communities Association of South Florida, Siddiqui focused her efforts on the enrichment of activities for women, children and families. She also will be remembered for her involvement in organizing the annual Eid Mela [festival] at the masjid, where she ran the toy booth each year. And for the enormous amount of sweets she served after the Eid prayer for free. Her selfless efforts laid the foundation for what would become the South Florida Muslim community. While Miami already had a growing influx of Muslims in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Siddiqui worked tirelessly to bridge the divide between immigrant South Asian Muslims, such as herself, and Arab, African American, Latino, Caribbean, and Caucasian Muslims. These unique and inclusive efforts of racial integration and interfaith alliances planted the seeds for what is now a bustling and eclectic mix of South Florida Muslims. Siddiqui is survived by her five children: Asad, Sadaf, Fawad, Farah and Imad; four children-in-laws, 10 grandchildren, her mother and four sisters.

(source: Nadia Ahmed, The Muslim Observer)

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NEW RELEASES THE WORLDS OF ISLAM One Islam, Many Muslim Worlds: Spirituality, Identity, and Resistance across Islamic Lands Raymond William Baker 2015. p.408. HB. $34.95 Oxford University Press USA aymond Baker argues that Islam’s unexpected strength in recent decades does not originate from official political, economic, or religious institutions, nor can it be explained by focusing exclusively on the assertions of violent, marginal groups. While extremists monopolize the international press and the scholarly journals, those who live and work in the Islamic world know that the vast majority of Muslims reject their calls to violence and look elsewhere for guidance. Baker shows extremists do not draw their energy and support from contributions to the reinterpretation and revival of Islamic beliefs and practices, but rather from anger engendered by misguided Western policies in Muslim lands. His analysis of the Islamic world identifies centrists as the revitalizing force of Islam, saying that they are responsible for constructing a modern, cohesive Islamic identity that is a force with which to be reckoned. Baker notes at this time of unprecedented material vulnerability in Muslim lands, Islam has emerged as a civilizational force strong enough to challenge the imposition of Western, particularly American, homogenizing power on Muslim peoples. This is the central paradox of Islam today, he argues. At a time of such unprecedented weakness in one sense, how has the Islamic awakening, a broad and diverse movement of contemporary Islamic renewal, emerged as such a resilient and powerful transnational force and what implications does it have for the West?


THE ART OF THE MINIATURE Persian Painting: The Arts of the Book and Portraiture Adel T. Adamova and Manijeh Bayani 2015. pp. 552. 450+ color illust. HB. $75 Thames & Hudson, New York, New York del Adamova and Manijeh Bayani, eminent scholars specializing in Persian painting and epigraphy, respectively, catalogue The al-Sabah Collection of Persian miniature painting and bookbinding from complementary perspectives. Persian miniature painting, among the most well-established and celebrated traditions of Islamic art, is valued and treasured throughout the ages worldwide. The authors place the works in an artistic and historical context and demonstrate their significance in the development of Persian painting by way of attributions, identification of subjects, and interpretation of stylistic features. They document the movement of manuscripts through their owners’ seal impressions and librarians’ notes, and identify various works by scribes and illustrators involved in the production of these manuscripts and miniatures.



This richly illustrated volume includes rare examples from the pre-Mongol invasion period, and also illustrated folios detached from important 14th and 15th century manuscripts and paintings from dispersed Safavid and post-Safavid albums, as well as 17th century bookbindings and oil paintings from the Zand and Qajar periods.

The Big Book of Islamic Lessons Waseem Peracha 2015. Pp. 224. PB. $19.99 CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform hese interactive lessons aim to help Muslim educators and parents implement lesson plans for all ages. The author’s decade-long dynamic teaching style is compiled in this book, designed to generate lively discussions, reinforce fundamentals of Islam in an enjoyable way, educational activities, and to win back students’ interest. The book contains about 100 lessons that educators, imams, parents and youth workers can use.


Consorts of the Caliphs: Women and the Court of Baghdad Ibn al-Sai, Shawkat Toorawa (editor) 2015. pp. 272. HB. $30 New York University Press, New York, New York. seventh Hijri/13th century CE compilation of anecdotes about 39 women who were consorts to those in power, the early Abbasid caliphs and wives of latter-day caliphs and sultans during the “golden age” of Baghdad.


Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story Reem Faruqi (author), Lea Lyon (illustrator) 2015. Pp. 32. HB. $16.95 Tilbury House Publishers, Thomaston, Maine uthor Reem Faruqi and illustrator Lea Lyon introduce a learning experience in which Lailah, new in school in a new country and missing her friends, is excited about Ramadan. Though old enough to fast, she is worried her classmates won’t understand her absence from the lunchroom. Her school librarian and her teacher help solve her problem, and in doing so, learns that she can make new friends who respect her beliefs.


One God for All Paperback Dil R. Banu 2014. pp. 220. PB. AuthorHouse retired college teacher, Dil Banu offers a fresh argument for harmony and togetherness. She argues that God’s Omnipresence binds humanity, and directs them to His singular message of unity. While maintaining a soft tone, she challenges the antagonists.




Building Resilience “And surely We shall try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth, lives, and the fruits [of one’s labor]. But give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere.” (Quran 2:155).


hallenge and adversity are unavoidable parts of life. Sometimes God sends us challenges to prove our mettle and to help us reach our full potential (Quran 21:35). Sometimes He sends us difficulties as punishment for our misdeeds and to help us wake up from our heedlessness (Quran 42:30). In both situations, we need resilience — the human ability to accept, adapt, benefit and bounce back from challenges. Resilience isn’t something we either have or don’t have. It is a term for a combined set of attitudes and behaviours that are cultivated. These behaviours support us in dealing with challenges and bouncing back better than before. Think about a difficulty you are currently facing, or recall the last time you faced a difficulty. In facing this challenge, how resilient do you feel? When we lack resilience and fail to handle challenges well, we can suffer from a long list of ailments, including health problems, stress, and lack of confidence. In extreme cases, some people can even become depressed or question their faith. Now imagine that you could bounce back from any challenge with your strength, faith, and self-confidence intact, even stronger than before. Imagine the difference this could make to your quality of life. If you


are already able to bounce back quite easily, wouldn’t it be wonderful to be even better at doing so? Just as we make consistent efforts to strengthen our minds and bodies throughout our lives, we need to make a continuous effort to strengthen our resilience. Resilience is crucial for all believers, because it draws upon many of our core values as Muslims, such as trust in God (tawakkul), optimism (tafa’ul), having a good opinion of God (husn ad-dhann), servanthood (‘ubudiyya), and fortitude (sabr). So let’s explore a few behaviours and attitudes that are involved in building resilience.

CULTIVATE OPTIMISM: Many of us can fall prey to pessimism or even despair during challenging times. We imagine the worst about the future, when it hasn’t happened yet. For example, if someone has been hurt in a marriage or friendship, they can struggle to trust a new person for fear of the same thing happening again. A key path to resilience is to develop optimism. Optimism is intrinsically linked to tawakkul, or reliance on God. Tawakkul is not only about trusting that things will turn out for the best (after all, Allah’s predominant attribute is His mercy), but also that we are capable of meeting whatever challenges we are facing. As God tells us in the Quran: “God does not

impose upon any soul a burden greater than it can bear” (2:286). So, how do we develop optimism, practically? First, recall some of the challenges you already have faced. Notice how things turned out alright in the end. Go back and ask yourself, was that challenge good for me in some way? How did it benefit me? What skills did I learn? You may notice that your past challenges not only made you stronger, but that things turned out for the best in the long run. Next, focusing on the present, ask yourself two questions: “What is the opportunity for me through the challenges I’m facing right now?” “What could be a possible outcome that I might not like but would be best for me in the long run?” Next, close your eyes, and run a movie in your mind. Picture the challenge in your mind and visualize yourself dealing with it in the best way possible. Visualize things turning out how you really want them. Really notice the details. Allow your mind to store the image where it’s appropriate, and come back into the moment. Get up, move around, and get back to your day. Run this visual exercise for a minute or two every day.

CULTIVATE FLEXIBILITY: Imagine that you have an important job interview today. As the day begins, things start to go off track. The babysitter is late, other things are going wrong, and it is now


extremely likely that you will be late. Do you worry? Do you get angry? Do you start shouting at those around you? Notice how you are responding to the situation. You had an expectation, but things didn’t go according to plan. A challenge is a situation that didn’t go according to your wishes, or one that we feel is beyond our capabilities to handle. If you just continue to get angry or worry, would that change the situation? Of course not! What may help is if you take an action to salvage things. One quality that’s critical to develop is the ability to be flexible. Challenges make a demand on us to think outside the box; to be solution-oriented. We see this in the Prophet’s life when we examine the treaty of Hudaybiyyah. The Prophet wanted to make the pilgrimage to Mecca but was prevented by the Quraysh. He adjusted his plans, and the end result was not only peace, but ultimately the spreading of Islam. This wonderful example teaches us that flexibility doesn’t mean compromising your values; instead it means to think outside the box while keeping your values and goals in mind. Recall the last challenge you faced. How


Please help “Food for the Spirit” better meet your needs by completing a 2-minute survey at: flexible were you in that situation? Imagine if you had been a bit more flexible, what might you have done differently? How would those actions have impacted the result? Flexibility can make all the difference in not only how we handle a situation, but also in how we feel about the experience overall. Being flexible will help us maintain our confidence because we will know that we did our best to adapt and respond to the challenge.

CULTIVATE FOCUS: Think back to the challenge again. On a scale of 1 to 10, how stressed did you feel? Take a step back and observe your behavior. What were you focused on? What made you stressed? When a challenge presents itself, most of our focus usually goes to worrying


about things outside our control. We don’t control what happens in the environment, how others behave, or what they say, for example. Keeping our focus there will inhibit us from finding a resolution, or even maintaining our own composure. Being resilient requires that we maintain our focus on the things we can either control or influence. This includes our behaviour, our responses and our overall reactions to challenges. If you are facing a challenge right now, take a moment to take a piece of paper and divide into two columns. On one side, document all of the things that are out of your control. On the other, document the things that are in your control. Notice on which side your focus has been all this time. Now choose one thing that is in your control. Focus your attention on this aspect of the challenge and develop a plan of action from there. If we can learn to keep our focus on what we can influence, we will find ourselves becoming calmer and more resilient with time and practice.

Sayeda Habib is a life coach working with Muslims to support them in overcoming challenges and building a more fulfilling life.


ROAD MAP TO IMPROVE THE IMAGE OF MUSLIMS/ISLAM in USA   Your mosque can do it, but you can do it by yourself  Today, the image of Muslims is under attack. However, we should not forget, that it is our responsibility to correct it collectively and individually: it is every Muslim’s responsibility. YES, if we do it seriously we can see positive results emerging in a few years. Muslims, who are spread out across the United States, should place this ad. in their local newspapers and magazines.

Below is a sample text for the ad. that you can use:

Islam is a religion of inclusion. Muslims believe in all the Prophets of Old & New Testaments. Read Quran — The Original, unchanged word of God as His Last and Final testament to humankind. More information is available on following sites:  • Or 877whyIslam  • Such ads are already running in many newspapers in the United States but may not be in your area of residence yet. Placing these ads can be a continuous reward (sadqa-e-jaria) for yourself, your children, your loved deceased ones and with the prayer for a sick person that Allah make life easy here and in the Hereafter. Please Google the list of newspapers in your state and contact their advertising departments. Such ads are not expensive. They range for around $20 to $50 per slot and are cheaper if run for a longer time. Call your local newspaper and ask how many print copies they distribute, and run it for a longer period of time to get cheaper rates. Don’t forget that DAWAH works on the same principles as that of advertisement, BULK AND REPEATED EXPOSURE CREATES ACCEPTANCE. Printing continuously for a long period of time is better than printing one big advertisement for only once. Let your advertisement run for a longer time even if it is as small as a business card. NOTE: If you are living East of Chicago, Please call 877WHYISLAM and check if someone is already running an advertisement in the same newspaper as yours. If that is the case choose another newspaper. And if you are living West of Chicago, please check with before putting your ad. Also, after the ad appears, please send a clipping to the respective organization. If you have any questions, or want copies of the ads that others have already placed in their area newspapers/ magazines, please contact me, Muhammad Khan at: so that I can guide you better. You can also contact 1-877-why-Islam or

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


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