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MAY/JUNE 2010/1431 | $4.00 | WWW.ISNA.NET

DRINKING TO BE ‘NORMAL’ • CONVENTION FORMS (PAGES 31-34)


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visit isna online

www.isna.net

CONTENTS 20 38

VOL.39 NO.3 MAY/JUNE 2010

36

18

COVER STORY: Rest Commercial Free Can Muslims be buried without going under the cost of burying? Buried Under the Cost of Dying . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Rest Commercial Free . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

FEATURE: Falling Barriers . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Why is alcohol consumption among Muslim Americans on the rise? Jihad Against Dependency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Drinking to be ‘Normal’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46

ISLAMIC HOLY SITES Al-Aqsa Mosque: The Furthest Mosque Brought Near . . . . . 18

PROFILE Hashim Amla: The Noble Aspirant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48

ISLAM IN AMERICA Maligned and Abused . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Cradle of Scholars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Haiti Days of Haze . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Mission to Haiti . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54

THE MUSLIM WORLD Bangladesh: Bludgeoned in Bangladesh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Bosnia: Awaiting Functionalism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56

TRIBUTES Aminah Assilmi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 (TOP LEFT) PHOTOGRAPH BY MOIN Z. SIDDIQUI

HAITI MISSION TO

PAGE 54

DEPARTMENTS Editorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 ISNA Matters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 National News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Food for the Spirit . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 Matrimonials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Reviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62

DESIGN & LAYOUT BY: Omar El-Haddad, DesignWorks Copyeditor: Jay Willoughby The views expressed in Islamic Horizons are not necessarily the views of its editors nor of the Islamic Society of North America. Islamic Horizons does not accept unsolicitated articles or submissions. All references to the Qur'an made are from The Holy Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Amana, Brentwood, MD.


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EDITORIAL PUBLISHER

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) PRESIDENT

Dr. Ingrid Mattson SECRETARY GENERAL

Safaa Zarzour

______________________

EDITOR

Omer Bin Abdullah ______________________

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD

Susan Douglass (Chair); Dr. Jimmy Jones; Dr. Sulayman Nyang; Dr. Ingrid Mattson. ______________________

ISLAMIC HORIZONS

is a bimonthly publication of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield IN 46168-0038 Copyright ©2010 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 and LexisNexis, and is indexed by Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature. Please see your librarian for access. The name “Islamic Horizons” is protected through trademark registration ISSN 8756-2367 ______________________

POSTMASTER

Send address changes to Islamic Horizons, P.O. Box 38 Plainfield, IN 46168-0038 ______________________

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CORRESPONDENCE

Send all correspondence and/or Letters to the Editor at: Islamic Horizons P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168-0038 E-main: horizons@isna.net

6

ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

Burying Our Loved Ones

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Many Muslims, in common with our fellow citizens, tend not to think of death, despite its frequent mention in many khutbahs. Yes, it is something that will eventually happen (Qur’an 29:57)—but most likely far in the future and to someone else. And so we continue to live in the illusion of personal immunity to this most basic law of all life. One result of this delusion is that our community has traditionally not paid much attention to burying its beloved ones. But this attitude is changing, for community members—sometimes even an entire community—are now acquiring the necessary knowledge and skills, as well as land and facilities, to send their beloved ones on the next stage of their journey toward eternity with the benefits of a proper Muslim burial. The $20 billion funeral industry is one of America’s “big” businesses, with its own trade and lobbying associations. Every year, Americans arrange over 2 million funerals at an average cost of $7,300 each, a price that does not include the relevant cemetery costs. Moreover, depending upon which services and products are requested, many funerals end up costing $10,000 or more. In fact, a funeral can often be considered one of a consumer’s most expensive purchases. Simple burials were the standard practice in America until the Civil War. But this all changed, according to “The New York Times Practical Guide to Practically Everything” (St. Martin’s Press: 2006), with the development of modern embalming techniques and the expanding railroad system. Another reason for becoming involved with this industry is that it

has recently been the recipient of some rather negative publicity. For example, a 16 March 2010 Federal Trade Commission report, compiled after undercover inspections, found that fully one-third of all funeral homes inspected in 2009 were violating the consumer protection rules designed to safeguard the rights of grieving families. And then there is the sensitive matter of “encouraging” the surviving family members to show their “respect” for the deceased by purchasing unwanted, unneeded, and non-environmental-friendly services and options. Just consider the practice of embalming, which uses many toxic (viz., bleach, formaldehyde, and, formerly, arsenic) substances to mask the appearance of death and postpone the corpse’s decomposition until everyone can make it to the funeral. As not every Muslim community can afford to develop and maintain its own cemetery, members need to enter this profession, familiarize themselves with existing cemetery regulations and operations, and establish contacts with local funeral houses and cemetery operators to arrange for suitable burial space and respect. One area in which Muslims might be able to make a valuable contribution is the concept of “reusable graves.” Muslims in Australia are now following this course, as that country is confronting the problem of finding new land in which to inter its deceased citizens. Our communities will face the same problem eventually, for the North American custom is to hold graves in perpetuity. Perhaps some of us, besides lobbying civic bodies, should consider becoming involved with organizations such as the Funeral Consumers Alliance (www.funerals.org) to inform its members of our concerns and burial practices. Muslims should realize that issues related to death are just as important as those related to life. Burial practices involve more than just respect for the departed, for they impact not only our bank accounts, but also our environment—and therefore our health.


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ISNAMATTERS Muslim Integration

‘Best of Class’ Award for IH “

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slamic Horizons” was among the winners of the 2010 DeRose-Hinkhouse Awards presented by the Religion Communicators Council (RCC), an interfaith association of religion communicators. The awards were for the “Best of Class” category (Mar./Apr. 2009), “Award of Excellence” (Mar./Apr. 2009), and a “Certificate of Merit” (Nov./Dec. 2009). This is the second such RCC award for “Islamic Horizons” under the editorship of Omer Bin Abdullah. The award was presented on 8 Apr. at the RCC’s decennial conference in Chicago. The DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards are given annually to active RCC members who demonstrate excellence in religious communications and public relations. Started in 1967, the awards are named for the late Victor DeRose and the late Paul M. Hinkhouse, leading lithographers in New York City and longtime RCC friends. Hinkhouse was also a charter member of the Religious Publicity Council, forerunner of the RCC, and secretary of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions. Both men shared a strong interest in, and concern for, excellence in communication. The RCC, founded in 1929, comprises religion communicators who work in print and electronic communication, advertising, and public relations. Its members promote excellence in communicating religious faith and values in the pub-

lic arena and encouraging mutual understanding among religious and faith groups. Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari, a renowned scholar and director of the Islamic Research Institute at the International Islamic University, Islamabad, remarked in his note to the editor: “‘Islamic Horizons’” has been constantly moving ahead, crossing one milestone after another. It is an elegant and engaging magazine, every page of which bespeaks of commendable editorial skills and good taste.”

Chicago Plans Convention Welcome

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s Ramadan will start in August, the ISNA Convention will once again be held over July Fourth weekend. During 2-5 July, Chicago’s Rosemont Convention Center will be the site of many informative and inspiring lectures and workshops, not to mention the much-anticipated ISNA Bazaar, whose 550 booths will offer a wide variety of merchandise as well as a meeting place for friends and families, says Basharat Saleem 8

(director, Conventions, Conferences, and Special Projects). Chicago’s Muslims are striving to set new standards in hospitality as the event returns to their city after a two-year absence. Preparations are being managed by the Convention Steering Committee, which has more than fifteen subcommittees working on everything from guest hospitality to media relations. Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad (director, Programs Development

ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

WELCOME: Secretary General Safaa Zarzour and ISNA staff meet frequently to fine-tune Convention preparations _________________________________

and Education Services) said that this year’s convention theme, “Nurturing Compassionate Communities: Connecting Faith and Service,” was inspired by Qur’an 5:2: “Help one another toward kindness and piety; do not help one another in furthering sin and hostility.”

On 22 Feb. in Berlin, Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed (national director, ISNA Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances) addressed the “What Role Do Religion and Culture Play in Integration? A Transatlantic Comparison of Muslim Integration in Germany and the U.S.” conference. He assured the attendees of his continued support for a further transatlantic dialogue and cooperation between American and German Muslims. At the conference Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s federal minister of the interior, initiated a dialogue in an attempt to create a central representative body for Muslims in Germany. The Muslim German speakers have undertaken a very critical assessment of this proposal, because Islam does not have a hierarchical church-like structure. Participants agreed that the social problems of Europe’s Muslims are not caused by their religion. One suggestion was that Europe’s Muslims could learn a lot from Muslim Americans when it comes to running their organizations, especially in the field of institutional development. Dr. Sayyid met with representatives of the American Embassy in Berlin and with Josef Winkler (member, German Parliament; deputy chairman, Green Party), whose mother is from Kerala and father is from Germany. Winkler said that he is fascinated by the integration and institution building of Muslims in America. In addition, he met with representatives of the Islamic Federation of Berlin. He was accompanied by Mounir Azzaoui, a Muslim German researcher who recently concluded his research at Georgetown University on Muslim American organizations and has been engaged in American-German-Muslim dialogues. This was the second of a series of conference organized by the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies. A third conference will be held on 3 May in cooperation with the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.


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Building Intrafaith Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed was the keynote speaker at the fourth annual Milad Conference, “Prospects and Challenges of Intrafaith,” hosted by BaitUl Ilm Academy (Streamwood, IL) on 13 Mar. During his talk, he stressed mutual respect among Muslims, particularly when we speak about each other’s revered leaders, so that we can manage the challenges of intrafaith and Islamic harmony. He shared some of his experiences in building bridges of understanding with Catholics, Baptists, and various Jewish groups. While relating the experiences of various migrant communities, he said that Muslims will be accepted by society at large if we get involved in society and show all Americans the true face of Islam. Dr. Liyakat N. Takim (associate professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of Denver) said the West and particularly Christians have considered Islam as a rival and competitor from the very beginning. Therefore, their research on it was directed not toward understanding it, but toward attacking the Prophet in order to discredit Islam. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, according to him, Muslims began to notice some objectivity and fairness. Given this reality, Muslims have to come forward and teach Islam at universities and get involved with the media so that it is presented accurately. Maulana Mukhtar Faezi (dean, BaitUl Ilm Academy), further conveying the intra-faith message, declared: “We shouldn’t look at our sects as divisions, [but] rather look at them as our diversity. Our dream is to build bridges among all civilizations and faiths, but let us begin at home.”

COURTESY OF INSENDEMS.WORDPRESS.COM

2010 Rick Gudal Memorial Scholarship Winner: Fady Qaddoura, IUPUI

ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF ORANGE COUNTY GARDEN GROVE, CALIFORNIA Invites resumes for the position of

Indiana Senate Honors ISNA Fellow

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ady Qaddoura, an ISNA 2009-10 Fellow who worked with the Senate Democratic Caucus’ chief legal counsel, was among the fifteen interns recognized by the Indiana State Senate for their outstanding efforts as Senate Democrat interns during the 2010 session of the 116th Indiana General Assembly. Qaddoura, a native of Jerusalem and an IUPUI graduate student, is working on his Ph.D. in public policy and government. He also received the 2010 Rick Gudal Memorial Scholarship, which honors one Senate intern from each caucus for exceptional dedication in assisting constituents.

The award honors former Senate staffer Rick Gudal, who never turned down a challenge or an opportunity to improve the life of a constituent or a co-worker. As an intern, Qaddoura drafted resolutions and motions, researched legal matters and policy-related issues, and filed and tracked amendments in the Senate. He also assisted senators, legislative assistants, staff members, other interns and constituents with their legal concerns and inquiries. The annual internship program is designed to provide valuable experiences for students who want to become integrally involved in the legislative process. MAY/JUNE 2010 ISLAMIC HORIZONS

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YOUTH DIRECTOR/ ASSISTANT RELIGIOUS DIRECTOR > Candidate must have degree in Islamic Studies > Sound knowledge of Islamic history > Fluency in English and Arabic

For additional details, please email resume and 3 references to: email@drsiddiqi.com


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NATIONALNEWS First Muslim Judges

Rashad Husain serves as America’s reach out to the Muslim world

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New Face of Muslim Outreach

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resident Obama, announcing his appointment of Rashad Hussain as his special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said: “As an accomplished lawyer and a close and trusted member of my White House staff, Rashad has played a key role in developing the partnerships I called for in Cairo. And as a hafiz of the Qur’an, he is a respected member of the American Muslim community, and I thank him for carrying forward this important work.” While serving as Obama’s deputy associate counsel, Hussain focused on national security, new media, and science and technol-

ogy issues. He has also worked with the National Security staff in pursuing the “New Beginning” Obama outlined in his June 2009 address in Cairo. Hussain had previously served as a trial attorney at the Department of Justice and as a legislative assistant on the House Judiciary Committee, where he concentrated on national securityrelated issues. Armed with his J.D. from Yale Law School, this former editor of the “Yale Law Journal” worked as a law clerk to Damon J. Keith on the U.S. Court of Appeals. He also has an M.A. in public administration (Kennedy School of Government) and Arabic and Islamic Studies (Harvard).

MLK Public Service Award Honoree

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afizur Rehman, MD FAAP, is New York’s first Muslim to be honored with the Suffolk County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Public Service Award. The award was presented at the 21st Suffolk County gala luncheon, held in Long Island on 15 Jan. Dr. Rehman, a community leader and frequent participant at interfaith, antibias, and ethical issue meetings, is a senior pediatrician at the Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center and the Southside Hospital. He also wears many other hats: a diplomat of the American Board of Pediatrics, a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics,

the immediate past president of the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) and a member of its board of regents, a life member of both IMANA and the Association of Pakistani-origin Physicians in America (APPNA), and immediate past president of Masjid Darul Quran as well

10 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

as of the Council of Mosques of Nassau and Suffolk Counties. In addition, he serves on the Bay Shore Interfaith Council and was a member of the Bay Shore Clergy Association, a past member of ISNA’s Majlis al-Shura, and (currently) an honorary trustee of the Suffolk County Coalition against Domestic Violence. Dr. Rehman, who has been awarded and recognized both at home and abroad, also serves on the Town of Islip’s Antibias Taskforce and as an ambassador of peace for the Universal Peace Federation and the Interreligious and International Federation of World Peace.

rof. Hany Mawla, 36, became the first Muslim appointed to New Jersey’s superior court on Jan. 27 when he was sworn in to its family division in Somerset County. An Arab American who specializes in family law, this youngest appointee to the state superior court also served as chairman and commissioner of the New Jersey ArabAmerican Heritage Commission, established by former Gov. Jon S. Corzine in 2008 within the Department of State. During his career, he has also served as a commissioner to the New Jersey Commission on Civil Rights and is a member of the New Jersey Supreme Court Standing Committee on Minority Concerns and the Seton Hall University School of Law Dean’s Diversity Council. As chairman of the Arab-American Heritage Commission, Mawla helped create links with other heritage commissions such as the New Jersey Amistad Commission, which ensures that the history and contributions of African Americans are integrated into public schools, and the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education. Mayor Domenick Stampone of Haledon, NJ, a law school classmate and close friend, said Mawla’s new role is a great moment for Arabs and Muslims. Alabama’s newest federal judge Abdul Karim Kallon, 41, is also the state’s first Muslim judge. Sworn in on 29 Jan., Birmingham-based Kallon presides over the state’s northern district, which includes Jefferson and thirty other counties. A panel of Alabama legal experts assembled by Rep. Artur Davis (DAL) recommended Kallon to President Obama for this lifetime post. He is filling the seat left vacant by his mentor, the retiring U. W. Clemon, who in 1980 became the state’s first African-American judge. Kallon, rated “well-qualified” by the ABA, is viewed as a future nominee for even higher federal courts. The Sierra Leone-born Kallon and his family moved to America in 1980. A graduate of Dartmouth College (1990) and the University of Pennsylvania Law School (1993), he has practiced law in Birmingham since 1994, representing mostly employers in civil cases in federal court.


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2010 Woman of the Year The National Association of Professional and Executive Women (USA) has named author and illustrator Linda “iLham” Barto as its 2010 Woman of the Year in the arts category. Only one woman from each category is selected from across the country. Barto was chosen because of her many accomplishments, which included being a featured author at the 2009 Art Expo America (NY) and having three books published in 2009. Her latest book is “The Bible and the Qur’an at the Edge of Renaissance: A Judeo-Christian-Muslim Compass to a World of Peace” (Mill City Press) which beckons readers to focus on the consonant values of all religions of light to wonderfully and vigorously affect the world for a global, spiritual renaissance. Barto, a veteran of the US Air Force and North Carolina Air National Guard, lives in North Carolina with her husband Tom and is the mother of two children.

Imams Meet

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he North American Imams Federation (NAIF) held its seventh annual conference during 6-8 Feb. in New York to discuss “Team Work: Together We Are Better.” More than 300 imams and Muslim leaders attended. Dr. Salah Al-Sawi and Dr. Muwaffaq Al-Galaieni discussed various fiqhi issues. Attorneys Omar T. Mohammedi and Mujahid Idlibi offered a perspective on arbitration. Dr. Mohammad Qatanami and Shaykh Dr. Bassam Obeid analyzed New Jersey’s experiences with arbitration. Dr Ahmed Shqeirat spoke on “Conflict in Masaajid: Reasons and Solutions.” Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid (chairman, Parliament of World Religions; president,

WELFARE: Imams congregate to seek better working conditions ________________________________________

SoundVision) talked about “The Listening Imams.” Imam Abdul Latif al-Amin and Imam Muhammad Musa presented the experiences of the Imams Council of New York and New Jersey, and Shaykh Muhammad S. Adly spoke on the Imams Council of South Carolina. Dr. Sulayman Nyang, Imam Siraj Wahhaj, and Dr. Jamal Badawi were the keynote speakers. Islamic Relief USA (Dr. Abed Ayoub), Life USA (Ayman Abu Rahma), ICNA, Peace, Guidance Finance, and other organizations also made presentations. ISLAMIC HORIZONS 11


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Houstonian Exults over Gandhi The India Culture Center (ICC) Houston has recognized Mohdudul Huq (senior planner, Planning and Development Department, City of Houston) for providing guidance that helped with the designation process of Mahatma Gandhi District. India’s consul general Sanjiv Arora presented the award. The district was formally inaugurated on 16 Jan. Mayor Annise Parker declared the day as “Mahatma Gandhi District Day.” Rep. Al Green (D-TX) gifted the ICC an American flag that had flown on the Capitol in Washington, DC. Other civic leaders at the ceremony included State Reps. Scott Hochberg (D) and Kristi Thibaut (D); judges Ravi Sandill, Jim Richards, and Steve Kirkland; city council member Jolanda Jones; and MJ Khan.

PHOTOGRAPH BY NADYA YUSKAEV

NATIONALNEWS

Hartford Chaplaincy Names New Head

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imur Yuskaev was named director of Hartford Seminary’s Islamic Chaplaincy Program and assistant professor of contemporary Islam by President Heidi Hadsell. He will also be associate editor of the “Muslim World” journal. Yuskaev, a doctoral candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has taught at the University of Colorado at Boulder, served as an adjunct faculty member at St. Francis College, New York City, worked as a coordinator of educational programs at the Interfaith Center of New York (1999-2005), and directed the Muslims in New York Civic Life Project (funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York). His areas of specialization include Qur’anic studies, anthropology of the Qur’an, Islamic homiletics, Muslim modernities, Islam in North America, and American and African-American religious history. Dr. Ingrid Mattson (president, ISNA; director of the Seminary’s Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations), who chaired the search committee, remarked that Yuskaev’s interfaith work demonstrates his commitment to this engagement. Among his publications are several entries for the “Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History” and a chapter, “Training Teachers in American Religious Diversity” (published in “Building the Interfaith Youth Movement”).

12 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

CORRIGENDUM The photo of ILM Academy (left) published in “Islamic Horizons” (March/Apr. 2010, p. 38) of students meeting with Pennies for Education and Health board members is from ILM Academy located in Houston, TX, not Seattle, WA.

Green Label The Northern Virginiabased Green Zabiha has earned Green America’s coveted “Certified Green Business” label. “Green Zabiha is the first organization of any kind focused on organic grass-fed meats to receive this certificate. And the first halal company to ever apply, much less get awarded;

and thus placed on the national Green Pages,” said company cofounder Yasir Syeed. Green America (formerly Co-op America; www.greenamericatoday.org) is one of the leading organizations working for a more sustainable and greener America. Established in 1982, this not-forprofit has been a leader in improving our world and making millions of people more aware of alternatives to “conventional” ways of doing things. Green America has played a critical role in championing fair trade, sustainable agriculture, social justice, and alternative energy initiatives in America.

ICNA’s New Executive Mohammad Tariqur Rahman is the new secretary general of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). The appointment was announced by ICNA president Dr. Zahid H. Bukhari at the first meeting of the Majlis al-Shura held on 20-21 Feb. in Herndon, VA. Naeem M. Baig will serve as vice president for public affairs, and Dr. Rashid Siddiqui will serve as vice president for resource development. The new Shura members for 2010-11 took their oaths at the annual general assembly meeting held in New York on 24 Jan. The members are: Dr. Khurshid Khan (NY), Dr. Talat Sultan (NJ), Dr. Mohammad Yousufuddin (NY), Naeem M. Baig (VA), Dr. Mahmood Aijazi (VA), Sheikh Abdool Rahman Khan (IL), Dr. Zahid Mohsin (IL), Salman Mujahid (IL), Fariha Shakeel (IL), Junaid Sheikh (CA), Syed Waqas Ahmad (CA), Farah Siddiqui (CA), Maqsood Ahmad (LA), Haseeb Abdali (TX), Salma Malik (TX), Dr. Mohsin Ansari (MD), Dr. Mohammad Yunus (FL), and Hanif Ismail (TX).


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NATIONALNEWS NEWS BRIEFS

PHOTOGRAPH BY ISLAMONLINE.NET

PHOTOGRAPH BY GORDON HOUTMAN

^ The Third International Conference on Ad-

Opening Prayers Abdullah T. Antepli (Muslim chaplain, Duke University) gave the Congress’ opening prayer on 3 Mar. Antepli, who completed his basic imam training in his native Turkey and earned his Ph.D. from Hartford Seminary, was named the school’s first Muslim chaplain in July 2008. From 1996-2003, he worked on humanitarian projects in Myanmar and Malaysia with the Association of Social and Economic Solidarity with Pacific Countries. During 2003-05, he was Wesleyan University’s first Muslim chaplain. He is also the founder and executive board member of the Muslim Chaplains Association and a member of the National Association of College and University Chaplains. In Virginia, Imam Johari AbdulMalik (director of outreach, Dar

^ Dr. Abd A. Alghanem, who has served on the

Michigan Board of Medicine for seven years, has been elected its vice chair. The board oversees the licenses of about 10,000 physicians in Michigan. Dr. Alghanem, a graduate of Syria’s Damascus University, has been practicing plastic surgery in Michigan for over twenty years. ^ The Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation has donated

(left) Chaplain Antelpi with ISNA secretary general Safaa Zarzour after delivering Congress’ opening prayer; Imam Johari opens the Virginia state general assembly with an Islamic invocation __________________________________________

Al-Hijrah) delivered the opening prayer for the General Assembly of the Virginia House of Delegates on 11 Mar. The invitation was cosponsored by Dels. Adam Ebbin (D) and Kaye Kory (D). Kory has worked closely with the mosque during her tenure on the Fairfax County school board and with the mosque’s sponsorship of the “Students on Suspension (SOS)” program with the Fairfax Partnership for Youth. Under Imam Johari’s leadership the mosque is active in interfaith dialogues; partners with the UPF 20,000 Dialogues project, the annual Culmore Community Clean-up project, and Habitat for Humanity NOVA; and plays a central role in Virginia’s Organized for Interfaith

Hunger Relief Star Jewel-Osco, a food subsidiary chain based in Melrose Park, IL, has awarded its Hunger Relief Award grant to the Waukegan, IL-based UMMA Center for its successful food distribution program. This competitive grant recognizes excellence by organizations that help increase efficiency, access, and distribution of nutritious food to those with limited resources. The Urban Muslim Minority Alliance (UMMA), a nonprofit organization founded in 2004, provides educational support, community resources, and outreach programs for Waukegan’s underprivileged residents. UMMA, which earlier won the prestigious Google Grants award for excellence in charity, will use the Jewel-Osco grant to improve its food pantry services. Arshia Ali-Khan (fund and strategic development director) said that many needy people “rely on the UMMA Center’s food pantry program.” 14 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

vancement in Science and Technology (iCAST) 2010 will discuss “The Science of Traditional Practices in Health and Disease.” It will be held in Kuantan, Malaysia, on 26-29 Nov. 2010 (www.iiu.edu.my/icast/2010).

$145,000 to American University’s Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, currently held by Dr. Akbar Ahmed (left). The chair, part of the university’s School of International Service, works to enhance the understanding of Islam among ordinary Americans and policymakers as well as promoting and engaging in interfaith dialogue through academic work, public speaking, the arts, and the media. The program has had a major impact on policymakers, think tanks, the media, students, and ordinary people all over the world, especially those in America. In 2007, the foundation endowed the chair with $145,000 for an administrative and research assistant to support interfaith, government, and academic projects. ^ The Burlington (VT) School Board has voted 8-1

to add Eid al-Fitr to future school calendars to give students time off on Muslim holy days. Board members say the changes, which go into effect this fall, will not lengthen the school year.

How to Submit a Letter to the Editor Islamic Horizons welcomes letters about any article that has appeared recently in the magazine. A letter must include the writer’s mailing address, telephone number and e-mail. We may edit letters for clarity, civility and accuracy, and they may be shortened for space requirements. We regret that we are unable to acknowledge letters. Letters for publication should be e-mailed to horizons@isna.net. Tips on Writing a Letter to the Editor: • Write concisely and clearly. • Keep it to 150 words at most. • Letters are not rejected for publication because of their political coloration. On the contrary, Letters to the Editor is a forum for a variety of voices. Some criticize, some seek to set the record straight, some want to add a different perspective or expertise to an issue. We welcome them all: the agreers, the dissenters, the critics, the curmudgeons and even those who are happy with us. • Islamic Horizons and its parent, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) reserve the right to include a response to any letter they deem. • We do not accept open letters, and we do not publish letters sent in a coordinated letter-writing campaign.


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Universal School

Muslim Locator MuslimLocator, available at the iTunes Store, uses GPS technology and community support to help Muslim travelers find places of worship, schools, and businesses throughout America. The application was developed by The Prosperity Fund, LLC (www.visualcv.com/theprosperityfund). Dr. Miles Davis (managing partner, The Prosperity Fund; director, Institute for Entrepreneurship at Shenandoah University) said: “One of the unique aspects of the MuslimLocator is the ability to continuously update our database with input from the Muslim community. Currently, the MuslimLocator has over 1500 mosques, Islamic centers and schools in its database. This number will increase dramatically over time, as the Muslim community in the U.S. is very dynamic—mosques expand, new schools open, and new enterprises are being launched on a daily basis. Users can submit names and locations of mosques, schools and businesses to our administrator for verification.” In keeping with the fund’s commitment to give back to the community, the firm will donate 10 percent of the application’s proceeds to supporting programs designed to help and grow entrepreneurs.

TEACHING POSITIONS AVAILABLE Official Openings for 2010-2011 School Year We offer our teachers competitive salaries, health insurance, sick and personal leave, and a tuition discount for children of faculty members. Universal School is one of the largest Pre K – 12th grade Islamic Schools in North America with nearly 700 students. The 70,000 square ft. modern building houses 32 classrooms, regulations size gymnasium, fitness center, state of the art science lab, one journalism lab, 2 computer labs, a library, cafeteria with a full service kitchen, an inside regulation size basketball court, playing field, and playground.

Positions available: > > > > >

State Champion

ACHIVERS: ILM students continue their winning streak

On 27 Feb., Madrasa Tul-Ilm (School of Knowledge, MTI; www.isimti.org), the full-time Islamic school at Masjid AlFajr, Indianapolis, IN, won the “Academic WorldQuest” 2010, a state championship held by the World Affairs Councils of America in cooperation with the Richard G. Lugar Franciscan Center for Global Studies. Principal Tewfik Choukri remarked that this event was contested by ten teams from across Indiana. MTI’s Team A and Team B made it to the final round of the State Championship University, where they defeated the two-time state champions in the final round. MTI will represent the state in the competition’s national round in Washington, DC, on 24 Apr. MTI students Kenaz Bakdash, Mohammad Aref, and Mohamad Saltagi received Indiana University Purdue University’s (IUPUI) Bepko scholarships, each one worth approximately $80,000; MTI senior Rawda Hamid received The Plater scholarship,

__________________________________________

worth approximately $40,000. In the past three years alone, MTI has drastically increased its student body, partnered with the Indianapolis Institute of Qur’anic Memorization to graduate several huffaz, earned state accreditation, created a full-time twelfth-grade year with electives and an Islamic calligraphy class, opened ten AP (Advanced Placement) classes for its high school students, and completely updated its computer and science labs. In addition, it has received a great deal of recognition as its students have won first prize at various fairs and competitions, scored exceptionally high on SAT and ACT tests, and received multiple full-tuition scholarships to competitive undergraduate and graduate schools. Two students have also earned final standing in the National Merit and National Achievement Scholarship programs. MAY/JUNE 2010 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 15

>

I.T. Specialist High School English High School Social Studies Middle School Language Arts Middle School Social Studies Elementary

Requirements: All applicants must be U.S. certified in their respective fields, and/or have experience in the area of interest. Resumes also accepted for all teaching positions.

Mail Resumes to: Universal School Chairman of Staff Selection Committee 7350 W. 93rd St. Bridgeview, Illinois 60455

Fax Resumes to: (708)599-1588

Visit us online: Go to www.universalschool.org for more information.


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NATIONALNEWS Kashmiri Americans Reaffirm Stand

D (from left) Dr. Elias Zerhouni, Dr. Ahmed Zewail, and Dr. Bruce Alberts

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Science Outreach

D

r. Elias Zerhouni and Dr. Ahmed Zewail were among the three American science and technology envoys named on 3 Nov. 2009 by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Forum for the Future in Marrakech. Clinton said that these nominations were intended “to help Muslim-majority communities develop the capacity to meet economic, social and ecological challenges through science, technology, and innovation.” The envoys will travel to North Africa, the Middle East, and South and Southeast Asia to “engage their counterparts, deepen partnerships in all areas of science and technology, and foster meaningful collaboration to meet the greatest challenges facing the world today in health, energy, the environment, as well as water and resource management.” Dr. Zerhouni, head of the AlgerianAmerican Foundation for Culture, Education, Science and Technology, was director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 2002-08. Currently senior advisor to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he held distinguished faculty positions before joining the administration, this graduate of the Algerian educational system received his medical degree at the University of Algiers’ School of Medicine and completed his residency at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he was instrumental in creating its Institute for Cell Engineering. He also sits on the Board of Trustees of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Dr. Ahmed Zewail, an EgyptianAmerican scientist, won the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on femtoscience, which allows the observation of exceedingly rapid molecular transfor16 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

mations. Most recently, he was appointed to the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology as the Linus Pauling Chair Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. He has already visited Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan; Dr. Zerhouni has visited France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and North Africa. According to a U.S. Department of State press release, the U.S. Science Envoy Program is a core element of the Obama administration’s commitment to global engagement in science and technology. It was announced by President Obama on 4 Jun. 2009 in Cairo—as part of his “New Beginning” initiative, and further discussed by Clinton in Marrakech last fall. The third envoy is Dr. Bruce Alberts, who served two six-year terms as president of the National Academy of Sciences (1993 to 2005). A noted biochemist and molecular biologist, he has earned sixteen honorary degrees and is on the advisory boards of more than thirty nonprofit institutions. In March 2008 he became editor-in-chief of the journal “Science.” He is widely recognized for his work in the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology.

Clarification The news item published on p. 14 (Islamic Horizons, Jan./Feb. 2010) sought to report the efforts of Rep. Ellison to sensitize the public about the rise and dangers of Islamophobia, as well as fear and hate mongering. IH/ISNA clarify that it was neither intended nor should be construed as a denunciation of specific groups or individuals, including either Dr. Jasser or the AIFD.

r. Ghulam Nabi Fai (executive director, The Kashmiri American Council [KAC]) issued a 12-point “Policy Statement” on 11 Feb. Meeting in Washington, DC, the board of directors restated several well-known facts: The Kahsmiri people, whose large territory is not part of any existing sovereign state, were assured by the entire international community that they would be allowed to decide their future by a free vote. Moral suasion, not military force or violence, it said, should be used to resolve this apparently unending conflict. The statement also noted the board’s satisfaction with the Obama administration’s statement that any resolution must take into account the Kashmiris’ wishes. Permanent peace and stability, it stressed, will only emerge from peaceful negotiations among New Delhi, Islamabad, and the Kashmiris’ legitimate leaders—along with a deeper American engagement with both countries. According to the board, a durable peace and the development of harmonious relations and friendly cooperation between India and Pakistan will serve the peoples’ vital interests and enable them to build a better future. They disagreed, however, that increased trade between India and Pakistan will help end the indigenous Kashmiri resistance, fueled as it is by shocking human rights violations and the denial of self-determination. KAC will continue to draw the world’s attention to the gross human rights atrocities committed by India’s 700,000-strong military and paramilitary occupation forces. Its members condemned India’s detention of Kashmiri leaders for their successful campaign during the unprecedented peaceful processions and calls upon India to make the peace process meaningful by immediately and completely ending its military and paramilitary actions; order the gradual withdrawal of its military presence; dismantle bunkers, watch towers, and barricades; release political prisoners; annul repressive laws; and restore the rights of peaceful association, assembly, and demonstration. KAC figures reminded the attendees that the conflict is not about autonomy or converting the “Ceasefire Line” into an international border, but about honoring the Kashmiris’ political and human rights in accord with international law, treaties, covenants, justice, and morality. They added that Obama’s appointment of a special envoy on Kashmir will help the process of encouraging peace and stability in South Asia.


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I S L A M I C H O LY S I T E S

THE FURTHEST MOSQU

THE LANDSCAPE OF THE HOLY CITY OF

Jerusalem, although an arid desert climate usually supporting few life forms, in reality thrives with dynamism and activity amid the structures and coexistence of three religious traditions. Just as every living entity is supported by a heart, for Jerusalem this vital life source is surely alHaram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary). Known in its entirety as al-Masjid alAqsa, the enclosure is considered inviolable according to Islamic law. The house of worship situated at its southernmost tip is formally named al-Aqsa (the Furthest Mosque). From 638, the year ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (radi Allahu ‘anh)—the Second Rightly Guided Caliph—peacefully entered Jerusalem, until 1099 this Islamic territory embraced both Christian and Jewish inhabitants and pilgrims. After four centuries of Muslim rule, Jerusalem experienced the onslaught of the First 18 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

Crusade, a call by Pope Urban II in 1095 to regain the land; the city finally fell in 1099 to a short-lived Christian dominion. The legacy of these European occupants remains in the Romanesque central bays of al-Aqsa’s main façade. The period ended abruptly eighty-eight years later with the Ayyubid sultan Salahuddin’s historic chivalrous reconquest in 1187. Rather than vengeance, he graciously allowed some 100,000 Frankish prisoners to ransom themselves and depart for their homelands—they smuggled many treasures belonging to the Dome of the Rock and al-Masjid al-Aqsa to Europe. Salahuddin gradually restored the city, built numerous public structures, and specifically installed the handcrafted ivory and wooden minbar (pulpit) that served as a jewel of al-Aqsa for nearly 800 years. Originally designed in Aleppo and intended as a gift for the mosque, this labor of love took six years to complete and

awaited Jerusalem’s liberation. Containing ornate Arabic calligraphy as well as geometrical and floral designs inscribed in its woodwork, Salahuddin’s minbar remained in al-Aqsa as an honored memorial to the sultan—and to liberty—until 1969; it was destroyed after Denis Michael Rohan, a fanatical Australian Christian, set fire to the mosque to clear the way for the Second Coming. Although he failed to demolish al-Aqsa, Salahuddin’s ornamental pulpit was scorched. In an intriguing reversal of fortune, in Jan. 2007 the Islamic endowment in charge of al-Aqsa announced that the mosque’s current pulpit would be replaced by an exact replica of the damaged pulpit, which is being executed in a five-year labor-intensive project in Jordan. At times it seems that the restoration of architecture could include righting the mistakes of the past. One of Islam’s three most important and venerated sites, al-Haram al-Sharif


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Known in its entirety as al-Masjid al-Aqsa, the enclosure is considered inviolable according to Islamic law. BY REEM ELGHONIMI

QUE BROUGHT NEAR

has served many functions in its expansive history. While the Masjid Qubbat alSakhrah (the Dome of the Rock) was constructed to commemorate the Night Journey (Qur’an 17:1), al-Aqsa developed as a center of learning that attracted great teachers from all over the Muslim world as pilgrims, many of whom decided to stay there to study and teach. The esteemed Persian scholar al-Ghazali journeyed there, writing his masterpiece, “Revival of the Religious Sciences,” while in retreat above the Golden Gate’s vaulted double doors. Originally a destination of pilgrimage and worship, al-Aqsa gradually evolved into a source of religious study and intellectual influence while maintaining its essential status as a revered site. The twentieth and twenty-first centuries were—and are—a time of significant turmoil and change in Jerusalem. In its lengthy history only two relatively brief episodes have ever interfered with al-

(from far left) Interior of al-Aqsa mosque showing Salahuddin’s minbar; main entrance; the mosque is built over a large number of subterranean arches ____________________________________________________

Aqsa’s operation—Jerusalem’s fall in 1099 and the contemporary political disquiet, cumulatively less than two centuries within a fourteen-century spectrum, which is certainly an analysis of history that radiates hope and optimism. Established as the first qiblah (prayer direction) and later elevated as the site of the Prophet’s ascension to meet his Lord, the sanctuary has always existed for Muslims as an ideal, a symbol of faith, even before its architectural representation, even before the present al-Masjid al-Aqsa, even before pilgrimages to the site. Its many structural and functional changes, caused as much by caliphal reversals and religious pilgrimages as by the ravages of natural disasters or intentional vandalism,

have not erased its central role in Islam’s revelation; rather, these have demonstrated its remarkable adaptability. Its Qur’anic designation as the “Furthest Mosque” is doubly profound, explaining what is evidently the case today: Although we may not always be able to physically reach what is distant (in our age, due to political constraints or other obstacles), we can cultivate the closeness of spiritual solidarity with al-Aqsa, both the mosque and the site, by reflecting upon its history, both pre- and post-architecture. Through such contemplation, we can actually forge the strongest of attachments, linking what is essential and unchanging in the place—faith in its sacredness—to all Abrahamic believers of any time and locale.

______________________________

Reem Elghonimi, a graduate student in the humanities in Dallas, is a steering committee member of Muslims for Peace, Justice, and Progress (MPJP: www.mpjp.org). MAY/JUNE 2010 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 19


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Muslim funeral directors at Rahma Funeral Home in Dallas, TX, are serving the community’s special needs

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PHOTOGRAPH BY RAHMA FUNERAL HOME, DALLAS, TX

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COVER STORY

BURIED UNDER THE COST OF DYING PLANNING FOR A DIGNIFIED AND AFFORDABLE BURIAL.

BY NABEELAH NAEEM EVERY MUSLIM KNOWS THAT “EVERY SOUL

will taste death” (3:185), and it is rare to find anyone who has never known a loved one or an acquaintance who has gone on to the next stage of being. You would think death in itself would be enough of an emotional and psychological trauma. But for many, the fresh cut piercing their soul is further aggravated by the often exorbitant burial costs. In fact, the American Association of Retired Persons states that funerals and burials are among a senior citizen’s most expensive purchases. While both practical and pessimistic people understand that “nothing is free,” in America’s expensive metropolitan areas perhaps many are not aware that this has become an $11 billion industry. And out of this has come yet another industry: burial or funeral insurance (“preneed” insurance), designed specifically to cover all of the related expenses. Usually, the funeral home is listed as the beneficiary (up to a certain amount) through a trust, and any remaining balance goes to another named beneficiary. The National Funeral Directors Association claims that consumer interest in

preplanning funerals has risen steadily for the past three decades. Considering the insurance issue, Amjad R. M. Syed, author of “Islamic Funeral Guide and Related Topics on the Last Rites on the Body” (ISNA Canada: forthcoming), who regularly volunteers at the ISNA-Canada headquarters in Mississauga, ON, says that most people think death happens to “someone else.” Having no idea about what occurs when a family member dies and the ensuing financial burdens, they do not prepare themselves or for the family’s future. He relates that some Toronto mosques have a program that allows members to pay a certain amount each month to cover the price of a grave. If the person dies before the full price is paid, the mosque will give the lot away, just like an insurance program. Not surprisingly, death, like everything else in our lives, involves a great deal of professionalism and, therefore, cost. The simplicity of death seems to be lost when funeral and burial arrangements for non-Muslims can range from $15,000 to $35,000 plus, and from $4,000 to $10,000 for Muslims and Jews.

Applying the Sunnah, however, rescues Muslims from such a financial burden. Bill McDonough, director of the family-owned Loudoun Funeral Chapels in Leesburg, VA, told Andrea Useem of the “Religion News Service” ( 27 May 2007) that Muslims get lower rates because they “do most of the things on their own, so we really only provide transportation, the facility for washing and the legal licenses.” Judaism and Islam decree that the deceased be buried as soon as possible, which lowers funeral and burial costs for Orthodox Jews and Muslims. For the former, the corpse is to be buried in a simple wooden casket with no metal fixtures. In Islam, delaying the burial is reprehensible unless there is a religiously acceptable reason, says Harris Tobing, producer of the “Understanding the Janazah” DVD. As one hadith says: “Make your funerals speedy, for it is only good that you are advancing him/her towards, or evil that you are taking off your necks” (Imam Malik, “Al-Muwatta”). As a result, such morgue-related expenses as embalming (not needed) and “people attention” (e.g., nurses and administration) are quite low or even MAY/JUNE 2010 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 21


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The AMAA Cemetery in Northern, Virginia, has a total of 85 acres of land and is open to Muslims across the nation; Transportion of body from Janazah prayer to ceme

LACK OF AWARENESS INCREASES COSTS FOR SOME MUSLIMS. FOR INSTANCE, nonexistent. Embalming is not legally re- THEY ARE SOMETIMES MISLED experience, the aspirant must obtain a passing score (at least 75) on the funeral director’s quired, unless there will be a public viewing or the corpse is being transported overseas. INTO COMPLYING WITH ONLY exam to obtain a license. State licensing laws vary. According to the Muslims are not allowed to delay the burial until the largest possible number of relatives “RECOMMENDED” ORDINANCES. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, funeral direc-

has arrived to see the deceased, as is common among other communities. Once death has been certified, the corpse should be prepared and removed as soon as possible for the prayer and burial services. Such practices minimize contact with the corpse, as well as the ensuing grief and hurt. Abu Hurayrah related that the Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Hasten the funeral rites” (“Sahih AlBukhari,” 2:225, no. 401; “Sahih Muslim,” 2:448, no. 2059; “Sunan Abu Dawud,” 2:89798, no. 3153; “Sunan Ibn Majah,” 2:383, no. 1477; and “Mishkat al-Masabih,” 1:338). The corpse is to be buried in a simple white shroud, embalming is prohibited (except if the law obliges, or if the family insists on transporting the body [although it is not recommended by Islam]), and money is not to be wasted on extravagance. If local laws require caskets, simple boxes can be used. To learn about the necessary rituals and how to perform them, one can consult Sayyed Sabiq’s “Fiqh Us-Sunnah: Funerals and Diggers,” vol. 4: “Funeral Prayers (Salatul Janazah)” (American Trust Publications: 1991).

M USLIM F UNERAL D IRECTORS AND C OSTS Even $4,000 to $10,000 is a lot of money. Where does it actually go? Amer Tobing (director, Life Rescue Training; presenter, “Understanding the Janazah” workshop) emphasizes that the Muslim community has a lot of work to do. Unlike America’s first Muslim immigrants, today’s Muslims have the convenience of mosques, halal restaurants, and meat markets. Recognizing their importance, our communities continue to build more such facilities. But when it comes to the 22 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

most important phase of our being, our death, Amer Tobing stresses that it is practically overlooked: “The Muslim community incorrectly assumes it is taken care of. We don’t emphasize the importance of washing and burying our loved ones as we have everything else, except for a place to wash and bury our loved ones,” he adds. Saddened by this lack of organization, which he saw firsthand after his mother’s demise in 2001, Chicago electrical engineer Haroon Firdausi decided to take action. Witnessing the funeral director’s lack of knowledge about Islamic burials and seeing the funeral rules being loosely applied (e.g., anyone would touch the corpse regardless of his/her state), he set about becoming a funeral director (aka mortician or undertaker) so that he could be able to offer deceased Muslims the proper care and respect. A’isha reported that the Prophet used to say: “Breaking the bone of a Muslim when he/she is dead is like breaking it when he/she is alive” (Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and Ibn Majah). Earning a funeral director license is not easy (see www.bls.gov/oco/ocos011.htm). One must earn a B.A. in mortuary science (with at least a “C” average), be certified, become an apprentice to a practicing funeral director, and assist with 50 funeral services. After that, one must obtain the board’s approval to begin his/her field experience as an apprentice. Upon finishing this year-long field experience, one must help a master funeral director with 25 adult funerals and be interviewed by a board member every 6 months; the supervising funeral director must submit a review every 3 months. Upon completing this field

tors held about 30,000 jobs in 2008; about 13 percent were self-employed and nearly all of them worked in the death care services industry. A funeral director’s median income is around $49,000 per year; however, it can range from $37,000 to $92,000 depending upon the location and the services offered. The numerous procedures and expenses involved in obtaining a funeral director license are, sadly, not the only hurdles to overcome. The tight-knit relationship between politicians and the funeral industry makes it very difficult to penetrate this field, since this business is always in demand. Unlike other funeral directors who are usually paid during their field experience, Firdausi had to do it on a volunteer basis. Regardless of the hassle, he states that “it is worth investing in our community.” After much perseverance, he now owns Chicago’s Muslim Funeral Services, Inc. (www.muslimfuneralservices.com). An active Muslim, Firdausi holds workshops and presentations on the janazah, teaches fiqh and hadith, educates local funeral homes about Muslim needs, and negotiates lower costs (if possible). He also advises other Muslim communities to find a knowledgeable person in the funeral sector to negotiate their needs, requirements, and funeral costs. Surprisingly, educating nonMuslim funeral home owners can help reduce costs substantially. For example, Muslims can realize large savings by burying the corpse as soon as possible, avoiding embalmment and a public viewing, and eschewing caskets or other luxurious arrangements. As easy as it sounds, Muslims must communicate Islam’s simple rituals to the funeral industry and public officials, for non-Mus-


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er to cemetery provided by Aden Muslim Funeral services (Woodbridge, VA); Rahma Funeral Home (Dallas, TX) helps with all services from pick-up to burial

FUNERAL AND BURIAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR NON-MUSLIMS CAN RANGE FROM According to Syed, the best way to avoid lims are most likely unaware of them. One $15,000 TO $35,000 PLUS, unnecessary expenses is to form a represenmajor difference is that burying the deceased on the same day of his/her death is AND FROM $4,000 TO $10,000 tative group of volunteers (including a doctor) and explain to local municipal officials, unheard of among Christians, for they wait until loved ones arrive or for special facilities FOR MUSLIMS AND JEWS. such as councilors and politicians, that Mus-

(e.g., burial in a particular cemetery with certain ceremonies or honors) become available, said Firdausi. Arlington National Cemetery Superintendent John Metzler told “The Washington Post” (12 Feb. 2010) that [military] “[f]unerals are planned weeks, sometimes months, in advance, and families fly in from all over the country to attend.” In order to reduce costs even further, Firdausi suggests that mosques have their own washing places, as they do in Ft. Worth (TX), Toronto, and elsewhere. For instance, the Manassas Mosque (Manassas, VA) offers a special burial package that includes the gravesite, the gravesite’s opening and closing, the vault, the ritual washing, and the shrouding. It also helps to contact a licensed funeral house to receive the corpse from the hospital according to local government laws. All one needs is a room for washing the corpse, Firdausi adds. Upon receiving his funeral director license in 2005, he advised three mosques to build their own washing rooms. Mosques are a logical choice for this facility, for they have enough space to create such a room, he says. With the help of a licensed funeral director, almost anyone can create a place for washing the dead. In one city, a Muslim has developed a washing area in his store; elsewhere Muslims have rented rooms in chapels. FAITH, a Herndon, VA-based Muslim social service organization, sponsors a yearly training course in washing and shrouding to increase the pool of knowledgeable volunteers. ISNA has even placed “A Guide for the Muslim Funeral” file on its homepage (www.isna.net/Services/pages/A-Guide-forthe-Muslim-Funeral.aspx).

As funeral homes and cemeteries do not have standardized rates, one must shop around. Ideally, the mosques and community organizations should do this legwork because a burial cannot wait for this process to end. Firdausi’s funeral home, Muslim Funeral Services, transports the corpse from the place of death to the local facility, washes and shrouds it, provides the casket [for transportation], transports the casketed body to the place of the janazah prayer and the cemetery, and prepares the death certificate. Doing this business purely for God, Firdausi says that he only charges for the use of the facilities. Another important fact to remember is that since the funeral home is a separate entity from the cemetery, one needs to find out which tasks the local funeral homes and cemeteries cover because these are different in every jurisdiction. A crucial factor that increases costs for Muslims is the lack of awareness. For instance, Muslims are sometimes misled into complying with only “recommended” ordinances. Thinking that they are “required” by the federal government, they spend money for caskets, as was the case for embalmment some twelve years back. Contrary to common belief, many states do not require caskets and vaults. In some states, cemetery officials convince Muslims that they have to use grave boxes and caskets, whereas it is only a personal choice. Firdausi says that he has informed Muslim communities that only a grave box (usually made out of cement) is sufficient and that they need to get involved and consult with lawyers. While federal law does not require caskets, some state or local ordinances might.

lims do not need certain items and/or services. After obtaining their full support, request city officials to make by-laws that permit simple, inexpensive burials. He suggests that the volunteers start by arranging for ghusl in the mosque, working out arrangements with a local funeral home, and educating its staff about Muslim needs/requirements and Islamic customs. It is expensive to die in Chicago: cemetery and funeral cost are about $3,000 to $3,500; caskets can cost over $1,000; compared to the previous cost of $3,500, the box, washing, and transportation charges can reach up to about $1,100; the cemetery charges $1,100 to $1,400 to “open/close” (dig/fill in) the grave; and the grave lot itself costs about $400 to $1,000 (usually incurred by the mosque, which purchases the grave section). An individual who buys a lot can expect to pay up to $2,000; if he/she buys it from the mosque, it may cost $500. Simple cement boxes and steel vaults vary from $400 to $700. Thus the average total burial cost is $10,000 for nonMuslims and $3,000 for Muslims.

DYING C HEAPER In order to lower all of these costs, Firdausi recommends establishing cemeteries outside the city, where land is cheaper. As Qur’an 20:55 states: “From the (soil) did We create you, and into it shall We return you, and from it shall We bring you out once again.” The practice of burying the corpse in nature, without any sort of casket or box, is the most environmental friendly practice. America is behind other countries/cities as regards “green” burials. For example, in London vaults are not mandatory. Allowing burials in special casMAY/JUNE 2010 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 23


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COVER STORY kets, such as Michael Jackson’s golden casket, is damaging for the environment in the long run and will create a large problem, especially for states where land is running short. Having millions of caskets underground also harms the environment. Our Creator knows what is best for us and our environment. A human corpse naturally releases nitrogen, which helps it disintegrate into the ground quickly. If American Muslims do not “go green,” they will be in the same situation as Australia. Jacqueline Maley (“Sydney Morning Herald,” 6 Jan. 2010) reports that Sydney’s cemeteries will be full by mid-century, as space is running out and faiths are competing for shrinking burial space. To deal with this sensitive issue, the government gave some reclaimed land, which can support about 800 graves, to the

Muslim Cemetery Trust because Muslims support the renewal of gravesite tenure—Islam does not forbid reusing gravesites. The Crown [government] Cemeteries Advisory Committee is expected to recommend that the New South Wales government legislate for limited-tenure graves—burial sites renewed every fifty years or so, by using a “liftand-deepen’’ system, whereby one corpse is moved lower to make way for another one. This would allow graves to be reused after a few decades, as is the case in Saudi Arabia. Holding burial spots in perpetuity may not be a problem for large states like Texas; however, it is becoming one for smaller states and crowded cities. We are now paying the price for not following our natural ways. We should implement steps like promoting “green” burials and the renewal of tenure.

Considering that Muslims shun embalming, their corpses turn into dust faster. Muslim cemeteries should therefore work to get this rule changed, thereby reducing costs even further for those families that opt for reuse. Walking around some cemeteries, one sees Muslims erecting expensive mausoleums and tombstones that even carry picture albums. There are also $15,000 monuments like the one in suburban Maryland. Like many other Muslim cemeteries, Stafford’s (VA) All Muslim Association of America Cemetery (AMAA; (http://amaacemetery.com) has put its foot down to control such unnecessary extravagance. One hadith relates that Abu Bakr said: “Wash my garment, add another two sheets of cloth, and shroud me in them,” to which A’isha replied: “This garment you are wearing is old and worn out.” He rejoined:

Rest Commercial Free How to set up burial facilities that meet local laws and Islamic requirements and help reduce costs. BY HILAL SHIMLAVI mjad R. M. Syed, a regular volunteer at the ISNA-Canada headquarters in Mississauga, is always ready to advise communities on how to establish their own funeral preparation and burial facilities. To spread his knowledge further afield, he is publishing “Islamic Funeral Guide and Related Topics on the Last Rites on the Body” (ISNA Canada: Forthcoming). According to him, most North American communities may be financially able to set up a funeral preparation facility at their Islamic center/mosque. He recommends that those planning to do so: ^ Consult the local “Yellow Pages” for “Funeral Equipment Suppliers” and then visit a local funeral home to discuss the relevant procedures and costs. ^ Contact the local city, municipal, and state authorities to learn about the rules and regulations governing such structures. Much of this information can probably be found online. ^ Talk with an architect about designing a purpose-built structure that incorporates local building and health codes and helps control costs.

A

^ Consider specific needs, such as ensuring that the room and its wide doors are easily accessible to hearses and the area where the funeral service will be held; covering the floor with non-slippery ceramic tiles and angling it so that the water will flow into a drain; covering the inside wall with regular ceramic tiles; designing the viewing or congregational area with the understanding that people will keep their shoes on. In addition, a portable screen might be useful for women who desire privacy. ^ Provide a separate storage area for boxes or caskets, enough shelving for storing supplies, a

occasionally two corpses might have to be carried at once. All furnishings should be of stainless steel with no sharp edges. ^ Provide a good exhaust system for the facility, one with enough door and window vents for letting in fresh air. ^ Install bright lighting, make use of a movement sensor light in the cold-storage room, and provide enough electrical outlets/sockets. ^ The wash table should have a perforated bed located above a suitable wash water collecting trough. This trough must be able to hold all the ghusl water for disinfecting and draining and

company’s stretcher. It should be positioned directly above the main drain with a large funnel with mesh. ^ A ceiling-based retractable shower hose, located just above the wash table, should be long enough to reach all the wash table’s sides and have a shower head that dispenses both

Most North American communities may be financially able to set up a funeral preparation closet for the volunteers who help sprayed and smooth running wash (ghusl) the corpse, and a Syed says one can opt for facility at their Islamic water. washroom that contains a bulan adjustment that will allow the letin board, note pad, pen and a hose to dispense a concentrated center/mosque. telephone extension. • Install a cold (refrigerated) room, the facility’s most expensive item. It is better to have two of them, one for each gender. Each of its sections should have two-wheeled portable stainless steel tables for moving the corpses in and out. Such tables should have two platforms, for

24 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

should be connected to a drain. If possible, the wash table should have five or six stainless steel sliding and adjustable bars so that the corpse can be laid out for easy washing all around. Preferably the wash table should be 7’x3.5’ and height adjustable in order to match the funeral

soap solution (kept in a separate bottle) to mix with the wash water. By turning on a key near the hose, one can receive a flow of soapy water for washing. ^ The wash room sink should have a double wash basin and a sufficiently high tap so one can wash his/her hands and place a bucket underneath. There should


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JUDAISM AND ISLAM DECREE THAT THE DECEASED BE BURIED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, WHICH LOWERS FUNERAL Starting out with 7.5 acres, the association “The living are more deserving of the new now owns 85 acres and is the country’s garments than the dead. This shroud is only AND BURIAL COSTS largest Muslim-only cemetery. This nonprofto absorb the secretions of the body” (Sayyid organization works voluntarily and proSaabiq, “Fiqh-us-Sunnah,”4:35 [American FOR JEWS AND MUSLIMS. itvides burial land with a minimal mainteTrust Publications: 1985]). If this was Abu Bakr’s understanding, then who are we to spend huge sums of money for monuments for our dead? Doing so also contradicts to the Islamic teachings. The deceased must pay for the funeral, and thus only a minimal amount should be spent so the inheritors can benefit from what the deceased has left behind, says Harris Tobing. AMAA and other Muslim cemeteries ensure a simple burial by strongly enforcing cemetery rules. They provide and install all

nameplates and headstones, which are identical and at ground level; prohibit the reservation of lots and any type of enclosure (e.g., fences or gravel around graves); and allow only flowers to decorate the graves. Such rules, however, cannot be enforced in nonMuslim cemeteries, where Muslims only own a section. For the most part, AMAA seems to be an environment-friendly and simple cemetery.

nance fee. Grave digging and funeral charges are separate from this burial fee and do not go to AMAA. Two types of graves are offered: vault (lahad) or a trench dug in the middle of the grave to suit the body size (shaqq). Muslim American communities try to provide the latter type of grave by digging a trench at the top center of the pit and then placing wooden planks on top of it so that no dirt falls directly on the corpse. Since grave liners are obligatory, some dirt is usually put inside the

NECESSITIES: Muslim funeral homes such as Rahmah Funeral Home in Dallas, TX offer a washroom, a cooling room, and a reception area

also be large handles (not knobs) for adjusting hot and cold water, as well as liquid soap and paper towel dispensers placed next to the tap. ^ The height-adjustable stainless steel table with wheels, which is needed to enshroud the corpse, should be as high as the wash table and the hospital stretcher. It would be better to purchase two casket carrying trolleys (“church truck”), which are available in both simple and fancy frames. ^ Keep two casket covers for use during the funeral prayer and transportation to the cemetery. List of Funeral Room Supplies:

• Adhesive tape (water resistant), 1” and 2” wide, to seal any bleeding; • Plastic buckets and jugs; • Camphor powder/cubes; • One folding chair for any emergency;

• Chlorine water and other disinfectants; • Combs; • Cotton balls; • Cutting pliers (two nose pliers for removing/cutting jewelry); • Dispensers located near the tap and wash basin for hand-wash soap and one for disinfectant; • A first aid kit; • Forms: Information about the deceased (e.g., next of kin, record of burial place, and the grave number); mosque service and volunteer assessment; names of family members and volunteers who helped to wash the body (in case of any infections); and directions to the cemetery. If there is more than one cemetery, print the directions on different colored paper to avoid any mistakes; • Large garbage bags and a suitable stand; • Garbage container; • Different sized gloves (dispos-

able and allergy free); • Headrest for a female corpse. This can be made by cutting a 6” diameter PVC pipe, about one foot long, cut half and lengthwise; • A hemostat (also called a haemostatic clamp, arterial forceps, or peang) is a vital surgical tool often used to control bleeding; • Instructions chart or copies of general hygiene and cleanliness, as well as a pictorial chart for washing and shrouding the corpse, should be displayed on the wall; • Itr (non-alcoholic scent); • Mop set (exclusively for the funeral room); • Nail polish remover; • Paper towels and dispenser; • Pestle and mortar (to crush camphor); • Safety glasses and masks (for mouth and nose); • Clean sand for tayammum (wudu’ without water). Small

portions can be stored in plastic bags; • Two pairs of scissors; • Shroud cloth (regular and extra large width). Stock a few sets (all sizes) for quick use. Keep some loose cloth sheet for any unforeseen use; • Soap (4 litre liquid soap bottle) for washing the corpse and liquid hand soap at the wash basin. Make sure that they are lard-free by asking the soap company’s chemist; • Stationery, note pads, pens, road maps to cemeteries, service assessment forms, detailed personal information about the deceased, next of kin, place of burial, and lot number; • Tape measure; • Boxes of tissue paper; and • Towels and wash cloths: Buy large-sized towels and cut them into small pieces for wash cloths and towels for drying the corpse; and Tweezers. ^

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SIMPLE: Muslim burial services and cemeteries such as AMAA Cemetery in Stafford, VA, Rahma Funeral Home in Dallas, TX, and Al-Firdaus Memorial Gardens in Fred

IN ORDER TO LOWER ALL OF THESE COSTS, FIRDAUSI RECOMMENDS grave liner. In addition, the corpse is laid on ESTABLISHING CEMETERIES seeks to make the entire experience easier for its side and the dirt is put underneath and bethe bereaved by helping with all services from pick-up to burial. Transportation, washing, hind the head for support. The first type of OUTSIDE THE CITY, shrouding, and burial cost anywhere from grave has a crevice in its side near the bottom facing toward the Ka‘bah. After the corpse WHERE LAND IS CHEAPER. $2,800 to $4,800, depending upon the ceme-

has been placed in it, bricks or wooden planks are placed behind it so that the soil does not fall directly on the corpse. The total cemetery cost is $1,900 for an adult and $650 for a child; no extra charges are added for weekend burials, and there is no charge for the lot. Of this, $1,400 goes toward grave digging, the grave box, and headstone; AMAA receives the remaining $500 for maintenance and upkeep. AMAA has paid off some $500,000 of the land’s purchase price and is seeking community help to pay off the final $50,000. Sikandar Javed, a volunteer and co-founder of AMAA Cemetery, says that the association is doing what it can to lower the cost, even though real estate taxes and maintenance end up costing them $10,000 a year. By hiring its own diggers, AMAA has reduced the cost by about $350, giving the community yet another cost savings. He further suggests that cemeteries purchase basic equipment and that community members help out in every way possible. Muhammad Younis, a restaurant-owner and a co-founder of AMAA, relates that the people who established the organization are seek to reduce costs even further by developing their own funeral home. Some association members are working toward becoming licensed funeral directors. Younis recalls that in 1988 there was a cemetery, adjoining his convenience store, where they had to bury a friend in its Muslim section. This led the four friends to start fundraising for a Muslim exclusive cemetery. In 1996, when the zoning permit application was in its final stage, one of the founding members, Akram Butt, died, leaving a request that he buried in this place. Thankfully, the county government acceded 26 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

to their request and granted a temporary permit allowing Butt to be the first resident of the cemetery he had helped found. According to Syed, those desiring to set up cemeteries must research zoning laws and municipal regulations and reach out to local politicians and communities. Perhaps one Muslim community could contract or buy sections comprising 200-300 grave lots in a local cemetery. Intending communities should look for about 100-200 acres of agricultural-suitable land (e.g., not rocky and not too many grown up trees). Even then, rocks and boulders, shrubs and trees (including their root systems) may have to be removed so that rows of graves can be dug close to each other. Syed informs intending communities that cemeteries are very expensive to establish, operate, and maintain (e.g., land upkeep, heavy equipment, full-time staff, and an office) and that a small-scale effort is just not worth it. He also cautions officials to get it in writing what will happen if/when cemetery ownership changes hands.

I NDIVIDUAL CASES In the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the Muslim Cemetery in Denton and Ar-Rawdah Muslim Cemetery in the south of Fort Worth are owned and operated by the Muslim community. However, four other mainstream cemeteries have dedicated Islamic gardens. Qadeer Qazi, a Dallas resident and former electrical engineer, became a funeral director and founded Rahma Funeral Home (http://ifsnt.com), Texas’ first Muslim-owned, operated, and licensed funeral home. Operating since Aug. 2004 and open to all faiths, it

tery used. Texas has six Muslim cemeteries, two of which are Muslim-only. According to Qazi, funeral and burial costs are rising because the price of grave boxes and the gravediggers’ wages continue to rise. He recommends that communities purchase their own cemeteries and produce their own boxes. Qazi has found that the cost goes up 5% to 10% yearly due to the price increase of grave boxes. He hopes that Islamic organizations will help communities establish their own funeral homes, which will allow them serve their own members and exempt them from having to secure a license from the Texas commission. As doing so will obviate the need for staff license renewal every other year and continuous education after every two years, the cemetery could continue to function via community donations and membership fees. The estimated cost for burials is $1,800, not including the cement box and the shroud ($50). Land costs anywhere from $500 to $1,250. Muslim-only cemeteries are usually cheaper, for digging costs from $350 to $550, whereas the death certificate costs only $25. Some families shoulder unnecessary costs, such as sending the deceased’s corpse back to his/her country of origin, despite the fact that the prophets were to be buried where they died (Imam Malik, “Al-Muwatta’,” hadith no. 1627). Such transportation requires embalming. Some Muslims believe that Muslim-only cemeteries are necessary because, among other reasons, the corpse is buried uniquely (e.g., wrapped in simple sheets, laid on its side, and facing the Ka‘bah). Unfortunately, living in a non-Islamic country entails fol-


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PHOTOGRAPH BY MOIN Z. SIDDIQUI

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ns in Frederick, MD help control costs by only allowing for legally required procedures

THE FACT THAT MOST ATTENDEES DO NOT EVEN KNOW THE BASICS OF JANAZAH lowing certain by-laws, such as carrying the RITUALS COMPELLED TOBING, A ly cemetery. He finally secured the court’s body in a casket instead of a bier, according unanimous approval on 24 Apr. 2004. So far, to Amer Tobing. 150 people have been buried there. Of its FILMMAKER, TO PRODUCE Muslim communities continue to work four sections, one is completely full, one can with local authorities to seek suitable burial “UNDERSTANDING THE JANAZAH.” be reserved, and the other two are left for

facilities. Burlington, VT, for example, requires that caskets be encased in a concrete vault, which conflicts with the Muslim practice of putting a corpse in direct contact with soil. In 2008, the Islamic Society of Vermont and the city hammered out an arrangement that allows Muslims to drill holes in the vault. Minneapolis’ Islamic Cemetery Association runs two cemeteries: one in Roseville (800 lots and mostly filled) and another in Burnsville (opened in 2005; 6,000-8,000 lots). Mohamed Elakkad, who runs the Minnesota Islamic Funeral Association founded in 1994, told Sarah Boden of KFAI radio: “We always keep one lot open, then we’re always ready to bury on the same day. It takes about 24 hours (to thaw the ground in winter). We can always have one open or two open, and if we use one, we heat the next right away.” Local authorities have waived the need for a burial box for Muslims. Instead, the shrouded corpse is placed on a perforated tray. Boden notes that the “green” nature of the Muslim tradition is “bringing converts to Islamic burial customs by those concerned about the environment.” Syed agrees with keeping one or two graves open for burials during very cold winters. This can also be done by piling bundles of straw on the ground so it does not become hard to dig. Areas such as Alaska present “extreme situations.” Keith Blanchard, a funeral director in Fairbanks, AL, at what is thought to be the country’s northern-most funeral home, told “The Washington Post” (12 Feb. 2010): “We don’t cancel funerals, we just prolong them—service in the winter, burial in the spring.” Some of the families he works with, mostly native Alaskan, bury

year-round by digging through layers of ice and frozen soil: “You start a fire to warm the ground and dig. Warm and dig. Warm and dig. You’ll have eight to 10 men working around the clock for three days straight.” Barbara Kate Repa, a legal and end-oflife expert, writes on Caring.com that the Social Security Administration may pay $255 to help cover final expenses if the deceased or family members meet eligibility requirements. The local funeral or memorial society—a nonprofit group devoted to protecting consumers’ rights and keeping down inflated funeral costs—may provide inexpensive options and information on payment assistance. The Funeral Consumers Alliance maintains a listing of local groups. If the deceased was a military veteran, some burial and memorial benefits may be available through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Finally, most counties will pick up the costs if a person does not have the money or means to defray funeral expenses and relatives or friends are unable—or unwilling—to pay. Community organizations can check with the local county treasurer’s office for details. Dr. Hafiz Abdul Gaffar Khan, owner of the Muslim-only Muslim Cemetery of Lawrenceville, GA (www.georgiaIslamicinstitute.com), received much negative feedback from neighbors when he applied for the cemetery special use permit in 2000. Having already established a school and mosque, the reaction amazed him. PBS, BBC, and other media outlets picked up on it. As the closest Muslim cemetery was sixty-five miles away and difficult to reach, he spent the next four years trying to establish a 5-acre Muslim-on-

children and adults, respectively. The cemetery provides a burial lot, a wooden casket, and a shroud; the cemetery and community members help the needy with the burial costs. County requirements and landscaping cost $725 per month, while property liability insurance, utilities, and maintenance costs amount to $1,300 per month. Dr. Khan advises those who want to start their own Muslim-only cemeteries to take their area’s Muslim population into consideration, for many expenses are involved. For example, extra maintenance like repairing water pipes can cost $35,000. The breakdown of the estimated $1,800 to $2,000 cost for burials includes $1,500 for the wooden casket, grave lot, shroud, and utilities, and $200 for the funeral home. Even complying with some jurisdictions’ minimum standards places burials out of reach for many Muslims. For instance, the survivors of a Muslim who is buried in Burlington can expect to pay $7,000. According to Harris Tobing, a rural New York community that did not know how to perform a Muslim burial only washed and buried the corpse; there was no janazah prayer. “Muslims know the burial is important. They may not know how to do it, but they know it must get done.” Growing up in America, many Muslim Americans and also some imams do not know the correct procedures, muses Tobing. Only knowledge of the hadiths and Qur’an can dispel the “cultural laws” that people have introduced. It is imperative to know the true Islamic viewpoint in order to understand the janazah. The fact that each janazah is different and that most attendees do not even know the basics of these rituals compelled Tobing, a filmmaker, MAY/JUNE 2010 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 27


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COVER STORY to produce “Understanding the Janazah.” With his filmmaker’s vision, knowledge of how to perform the relevant rituals, and experience in producing educational videos, he uses this medium to inform Muslims that life truly begins with death. In this DVD, he seeks to answer the following questions: (1) Have we prepared ourselves for death? (2) Do we understand our rights and those of others during the janazah procedure? and (3) Are we prepared to answer the questions of the grave? This easy-to-follow DVD is designed to move one from no knowledge of the subject to becoming knowledgeable about it through the relevant sound hadiths by presenting a case study. A father dies, leaving his wife and son behind. Given that all are converts, they do not know much about the procedure. Therefore, the imam walks them through it according to the Sunnah. The DVD’s eight languages, PDF print-out of wills, helping Muslims apply the Shari‘ah to their own estate, step-by-step procedure, terminology, animation, a thirty-minute lecture on the moment of death, authentic hadiths, and soothing Qur’anic recitation opens the heart through enlightenment and has been authorized by five local imams (www.understandingjanazah.com). Sadly, many people do not know the du‘ah to be made during the prayer; the PDF files give people easy access to them. Not only is the DVD a touching reminder, but it helps us (1) prepare ourselves for this unavoidable event, either as the deceased or as a community member; (2) know what to do and say during each procedure: washing, shrouding, and carrying the corpse; the prayer, the ethics, and lowering the corpse without mixing traditional cultural rituals that could lead to innovation, sin, and God’s punishment; and (3) follow the command of God and our Prophet. In order to increase knowledge about these procedures, Amer Tobing, who “stars” as the imam in the DVD, now conducts “Understanding the Janazah.” An active community member, he is well known for his occasional khutbahs. As the director of life rescue training, a presenter of CPR classes, and a worker in the fire department, he instructs workshop attendees in his own unique manner: simple language, repetition, true-life experiences, and hands-on visuals to show how to wash the corpse. He also uses mannequins, sheets, body bags, washcloths, and soap to make the experience more practical and memorable. During his interactive and audience-participant workshops, he answers questions based on fiqhi evidence and points out any innovations, such as giving a talk at the gravesite, which many people consider essential. Amer Tobing—who does workshops—also tells them that they must be careful not to make dhikr or recite Qur’anic verses at the 28 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

wrong times or to expose the deceased’s ‘awrah while washing the corpse. In New York, there is a janazah almost daily and only one full-time volunteer to help with the washing and shrouding of those who have no family or have family members who just prefer to watch. So far he has received positive feedback and has even drawn up a list of volunteers from the workshops who would like to help out. In Virginia, an elderly person who passed away spent eight days in the morgue because he had only non-Muslim family. The granddaughter in charge of giving him a Muslim burial needed people to wash him. As he was a veteran, he had a governmentissued voucher that covered the funeral costs, including transportation and washing. The Islamic Center Masjid (ICM) took care of the other arrangements, including paper work and burial, which amounted to $1,750. Tobing located four people who knew the procedure and coached another three in the process. It was an amazing and rewarding opportunity. Through the workshops and email lists, Tobing takes along the first three people who respond as volunteers—even volunteers from New Jersey to help with washing the deceased in New York. In the future, he hopes to have four youths to go to a New York mosque for a three-day training course in how to wash the body. His practical presentation and workshop teaches people how to receive the corpse in a body bag, with IVs, a toe tag, bandages, mouth tubes, and other items that may have to be removed and washed. The workshop guides people through (1) preparing and washing the body, (2) shrouding the body, (3) performing the janazah prayer, (4) and the actual burial. Some communities are striving to spread the training. Students at Mississauga’s ISNA Islamic High School are encouraged to observe the procedure of washing a corpse in the mosque’s funeral room. Syed, when asked to lecture high school students about funerals, used a dummy corpse to demonstrate how to shroud a corpse. We must respect our dead by praying for them and doing good deeds on their behalf. Yahya said that he heard Malik say: “I have not seen any person of knowledge disapproving of praying over either a child born of adultery or its mother” (Imam Malik, “Al-Muwatta’,” hadith no. 1626, trans. Ustadha Aisha Bewley). No matter what they did, they all deserve our respect. The key is to increase our knowledge. Death is a huge eye-opener, and coming to the aid of 911 callers has let Amer hear and see death on a daily basis. Touching the cold skin and realizing that we cannot even clean ourselves at the time of our own death reminds us, he says, of our weakness.

_______________________________ Nabeelah Naeem is a freelance writer.


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… ONE OF THE ACTIONS MOST LOVED BY ALLAH (SWT) IS THE GOOD DEED DONE

HȐȝɤȵǸɑȵɴ ELECTRONIC FUNDS TRANSFER IS A GOOD DEED DONE REGULARLY. THROUGH EFT ISNA CAN RECEIVE YOUR DONATION EACH MONTH AUTO AUTOMATICALLY FROM YOUR BANK ACCOUNT OR CREDIT CARD SAVING ACCOU YOU POSTAGE AND TIME.

BE THE SO SOURCE OF SUPPORT TO ISNA’S A LONG LO TERM FINANCIAL STABILITY AND GROWTH. STAB Benefits of the EFT program include: ; Donor Convenience ; Less Administrative Cost and Time ; A Predictable Cash Flow for ISNA ; Ability to Stop at Any Time

To support ISNA please visit: www.isna.net or contact us at idf@isna.net


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• Online Registration at www.isna.net will ensure accuracy and instant confirmation for Hotel & Registration. • Early Registration Deadline is JUNE 1, 2010.

R EGISTR ATION FOR M PRINT NEATLY

Home Phone

Fax

First Name

Last Name

Street Address

City

State/Prov.

Postal Code

E-mail Address (required)

Profession

Spouse’s First Name

Spouse’s Last Name

Dependents (please list in order by age) First Name

Last Name

Age

First Name

Last Name

Age

First Name

Last Name

Age

First Name

Last Name

Age

MUST READ We are committed to providing a safe environment for all convention attendees. To ensure this, ISNA holds the right to ask the responsible person or group to leave the convention center. By registering for this convention I agree that if a member of my group causes any disturbance, I or that member will leave the convention center on the order of ISNA official(s). The judgment of term “disturbance” will be determined solely by ISNA officials. Your email will be included in ISNA Listserv for Newsletter.

Registration Fees (US $)

Method of Payment (US $)

Adult (19+ years)

$ 97 X _______ = $ _________

Husband and Wife

$ 187 X _______ = $ _________

University Students/MSA (Provide Copy of I.D.) $ 85 X _______ = $ _________ Student/MYNA (12 – 18 years)

$ 52 X _______ = $ _________

Children’s Program (6 – 12 years) Each Child

$ 47 X _______ = $ _________

Registration Fee Donation to Registration Fund MYNA Scholarship Fund Membership Fees Saturday Community Service Recognition Luncheon ($200 per Individual and $2000 per table) TOTAL DUE

$ ________________ $ ________________ $ ________________ $ ________________ $ ________________ $ ________________

CHECK (Payable to ISNA) Babysitting Program ($77 per child/for convention)

# ______________ $ 77 X _______ = $ _________

(Timing for Children’s program and Babysitting)

TIMING: Friday Saturday & Sunday

Amount

$ ________________

CHARGE to the following Card: Master Visa AMEX

Discover

Card # _______________________________________________________ 3:00 PM – 10:30 PM 9:00 AM – 10:30 PM

Printed Name as Appears on Credit Card: _________________________________________

TOTAL:

$

_____________

Exp. Date _________

Signature ____________________________________________________


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H OTEL R ESERVATION

• Early Registration Deadline is JUNE 1, 2010.

HOTEL INFORMATION

How to Reserve Your Room July 2 – 5, 2010 1.

Hotel reservations must be made either online or on this form and sent along the registration form. Based on hotel availability, you would receive your confirmation within 3 weeks. Confirmation for online reservations will be received by e-mail immediately.

2.

Rooms are assigned on a first-come first-serve and availability basis. If the hotel of your choice is full, you will be assigned to the next alternative.

3.

Bed type is not guaranteed & subject to availability. There may be an extra charge for rollaway beds. (The hotel at check in will notify you.) Since there are a limited number of rooms with two double beds, and in consideration for those with families, please only request rooms with 2 beds if it is absolutely necessary.

4.

CANCELLATION: You will receive your confirmation directly from the hotel. If you do not cancel 3-weeks prior to your arrival date, your deposit is forfeited. Cancellations will be done only by ISNA. Fax your written request to 317-839-1822.

5.

If you need to make a change or cancellation after you received your confirmation, please follow the instructions on your confirmation form.

Rates do not include state or local taxes. Rates Per Night

Rank Your Preference (1, 2, & 3)

Hyatt O’Hare (Connected to the Convention Center)

$107

__________

Rosemont Hotel (Opposite Convention Center)

$99

__________

Crowne Plaza (Opposite Convention Center)

$75

__________

ROOM TYPE Check One:

1 Bed in room

Number of Rooms Required:

2 Beds in room

__________

Please review your confirmation letter. Name of person #2

Name of person #3

First Name

Name of person #4 Last Name Arrival Date* _____________ * Recommended Dates:

Street Address

Departure Date*____________ Arrive 7/2/2010

Depart 7/5/2010

METHOD OF PAYMENT FOR HOTEL (US $)

City

State/Province

Postal Code

Telephone

To guarantee your hotel reservation, a credit card deposit for the first night is required.

Deposits can only be made by credit card.

You can cancel your hotel reservation 3 weeks prior to conference date. For no-show one day room rate will be charged.

Fax Charge to the following Card: Master Card

VISA

AMEX

Discover

E-mail

Please list any special needs ________________________________________________________________

Mail or fax this form with your completed registration form. Housing forms will not be processed without registration forms and payment.

___________________________________________________________________ Credit Card Number ______________________________________________________ Printed Name as Appears on Credit Card

__________ Exp. Date

___________________________________________________________________ Signature


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I NFOR M ATION

• Online Registration at www.isna.net will ensure accuracy and instant confirmation for Hotel & Registration. • Early Registration Deadline is JUNE 1, 2010.

APPLICATION:

Membership Information

Please complete fully, neatly, accurately. Send prior to registration deadline. You can take advantage of the on-line registration process and receive your confirmation immediately.

Individual ................................................... $40

FEES:

Student ...................................................... $20

All fees are in US$. If you are organizing a large group to attend the convention, please call us for special discounts.

Membership Benefits:

Family ........................................................ $50

Right to Vote during ISNA Elections

All children must be enrolled in either Children’s Program or MYNA Programs. Any family member over 18 must pay regular or student fees.

Free Islamic Horizons Magazine

Hijrah Calendar

STUDENT DISCOUNT:

... and much more

CHILDREN:

To qualify for the special student/MSA rate, you must be currently enrolled in a university and submit a copy of your student ID or enrollment verification form.

Community Service Recognition Luncheon (CSRL)

MYNA SCHOLARSHIP FUND: Contributions to this fund go to a special endowment of the Muslim Youth of North America which will award scholarships to college freshmen who have been actively involved in Islamic work, have significant academic achievement and who demonstrate financial need. LITERATURE & MATERIALS: Distribution of unapproved literature or other materials or solicitation of any kind during the convention is strictly prohibited.

The Community Service Recognition Luncheon is a formal luncheon hosted by the ISNA Founders’ Committee (IFC) to recognize an outstanding leader in the North American Muslim community. Cost:

$200 per person or $2000 per table (max. 10 persons)

REGISTRATION DEADLINE, CONFIRMATIONS, CANCELLATIONS & REFUNDS:

Purchase tickets online at www.isna.net

Early registration deadline is June 1, 2010.

Full Registration Fees Refund will be issued for cancellations before June 1, 2010. Written cancellation request must be sent to convention@isna.net or faxed to (317) 839 1822. NO REFUNDS WILL BE ISSUED AFTER JUNE 1, 2010.

Children under 12 will not be permitted to attend

Complimentary babysitting provided

There will be no refund of membership fees.

AVOID DELAYS • PRINT NEATLY • USE ONE METHOD ONLY TO RETURN FORMS

Send Registration Forms to:

Don’t Forget

FAX: 317.839.1822 MAIL: ISNA Convention Registration • P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168

Make a copy for your own record or for additional registrants.

For Information and Status Check

WAIT 3 WEEKS, then CALL ISNA AT: 317.838.8129

Make sure to enclose the completed form and payment.

The housing form and the registration form must be received at the same time.


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ISLAM IN AMERICA

FALLING

BARRIERS AS MORE MUSLIM AMERICANS ARE NOW A PRODUCT OF A DUAL SOCIETY, ACCEPTANCE OF SOCIETAL “NORMS” SUCH AS ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION AMONG THEM IS ON THE RISE. B Y S A B R I N A E N AYAT U L L A

While on the popular social networking site Twitter, I recently saw a message from a Muslim that said: “Heading to the city to enjoy happy hour with friends.” From Twitter to Facebook and even to MySpace, whether you’re sharing pictures on Flickr or personal life stories on a Web log, these close-knit virtual communities that have been built over the last ten years are growing by the thousands each day. And like most people, Muslim Americans are using them for fundraising events, group meetups, simple life updates, and random musings. Although almost anyone can access these sites,

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ISLAM IN AMERICA

many (sometimes underage) young people have not shied away from posting photos and videos of themselves and friends while drunk. One would think that this behavior is exclusive to non-Muslims. But the days when there was a clear, distinct seperation between “us” and “them” are long gone. Muslim Americans are now a product of a dual society, both by chance and by choice. And as for photos depicting their drunkenness, night life, and “social” drinking, many young Muslims are not far behind accepting societal “norms” as their own. The “moderation” mantra seems to be affecting some. A review of advertisements of alcoholic beverages shows that all of them include a disclaimer asking for “responsible” drinking—of course there is no level of this “responsibility.” Various Approaches “Faiza,” 19, says she does not care that her page displays pictures of her getting drunk with her friends, for “[I have] privacy settings on Facebook so that only people I know can see my photos. And the people who are my friends on Facebook also know me in real life, so they’re not going to judge me because I drank wine at my friend’s birthday dinner and put a picture of it on Facebook.” “Faiza’s” Bengali parents immigrated to America nearly thirty years ago. Both she and her brother were born here, yet she only started to drink after she left for college, only thirty minutes from home. Well aware of Islam’s prohibition, she says: “It’s not like I’m a bad person. I believe in God, I go to the mosque, I obey my parents. I just like to have a good time. I’m not an alcoholic or anything, and I’m still praying and fasting, I just don’t think it’s as big of a deal as people make it out to be.” When reminded that she was underage, the college student chuckles and remarks: “Like I’m the only one. Do you know what kind of tax dollars would be wasted if the authorities started knocking on every college dorm in America to find the underage drinkers? It’s just not realistic.” Like many other young Muslims in the West, “Faiza” has crashed head-on into an issue deeply rooted in American society: the consumption of alcohol. Although Islam forbids all intoxicants, the specs around alcohol do not end at consumption, which makes for a fiery clash between what is “normal” and what is not—especially among Muslim Americans. She says: “Muslims drinking is not normal. But it’s not not-normal either. I mean, people drink, and sometimes I do it with my other Muslim friends. Do I consider alcohol to be a ‘normal’ part of American society? Yeah. I don’t know how things will be [for me in terms of drinking] after college because I know I won’t be partying when I’m old and married with kids. But for now I’m doing me, and I have no regrets about the decisions I’ve made so far.” “Most people don’t understand why they drink, lie, or binge eat,” says Haroon Moghul, a former president (2001-02) and 38 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

current member of the Islamic Center at New York University as well as a doctoral candidate at Columbia University in Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures. “People are so unaware of themselves. We don’t even understand why we react emotionally the way we do. If you live twenty years of your life like that, you’re not going to snap out of it in one or two years.” Some Muslims, citing some researchers’ claims of wine’s “benefits,” say they drink “moderately” in an attempt to “improve” their health. “Amira Khan,” whose high-pressure and travel-intensive job results in stress, states that her doctor suggested she consider drinking a glass of wine to calm her nerves a few times a week. She did so—and even passed the information onto her parents. “Khan” argues: “We know what the Qur’an says, but we also did our own research. If a doctor is telling me that this is going to help me, than why shouldn’t I listen? There is so much research, new, and up-to-date research that describes the benefits of controlled consumption of alcohol. Specifically wine. Children in Europe start drinking as young as 12 in some countries. Earlier in others. And if you compare the health of the Europeans to the Americans, they eat less, move more, and have a significantly lower obesity rate. They don’t work as hard, and they don’t stress as much. We can’t be so consumed within ourselves and continue to think that our way is the right way. We have to learn from other people even if they’re not Muslims.” The Qu’ran clearly prohibits alcohol, albeit in in three phases: (1) the statement that its evils far outweigh its benefits (2:219), (2) people are forbidden to pray while intoxicated (4:42), and (3) its consumption is directly linked to Satan (5:90-91). Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) explains these rulings further. Anas ibn Malik related that the Prophet invoked God’s curse on ten people connected with alcohol: the wine presser, the one who has it pressed, the one who drinks it, the one who conveys it, the one to whom it is conveyed, the one who serves it, the one who sells it, the one who benefits from the price paid for it, the one who buys it, and

the one for whom it is bought (al-Tirmidhi, hadith no. 2776). The hadith also covers the giving and recieving of alcohol as a gift. GreenFacts.org, which presents complex scientific consensus reports on health and the environment to non-specialists, states that some 2 billion people worldwide consume alcoholic drinks and that more than 76 million people are currently affected by such alcoholuse disorders as alcohol dependence and abuse. The organization reports that alcohol causes 1.8 million (3.2 percent) of all deaths worldwide per year. Unintentional injuries account for about a third of those deaths, and alcohol is the third most common cause of death in developed countries. In the limited number of developing countries where overall mortality is low, alcohol is the leading cause of illness and disease. Research studies available on the Internet on alcohol’s health benefits or harms are, however, often conflicting. While the Mayo Clinic suggests that moderate consumption may reduce the risk of developing heart disease and possibly reduce the risk of stroke and diabetes, the Centers for Disease Control stress that alcohol has caused chronic damage to liver cells, inflammation of the pancreas, various cancers (e.g., liver, mouth, throat, larynx, and esophagus,) high blood pressure, and psychological disorders. Prof. David Nutt (chairman, UK government’s Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs; professor, Imperial College, London) in his paper published by the Center for Crime and Justice Studies at King’s College (30 Oct. 2009), asserted: “Alcohol ranks as the fifth most harmful drug after heroin, cocaine, barbiturates and methadone. Tobacco was ranked ninth.” He argues for a new way of classifying the harm caused by both legal and illegal drugs (“The Guardian,” London, 29 Oct. 2009). The American Medical Association (AMA) first passed a resolution supporting abstinence from alcohol even before National Prohibition was imposed in 1920 and continues to support it to this day. Dr. Mohammad Ali Hazratji, a neurologist in western Massachusettes and an Amherst (MA) community leader, points out


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that most of the studies highlighting alcohol’s benefits were done without taking all variables into account: “It is well known in the medical field who is supplying the grant money for these types of studies. The neurological effect [of alcohol] alone costs billions of dollars each year to treat. We’re talking about peripheral neurophty, dimentia, cancer; it is not cost saving in any way.” According to him, there are other far more effective ways of preventing diseases, among them healthy eating and exercise, and “if there is a person who does not have a prohibition of alcohol in their religion, then alcohol in small quantities might be of some benefit. God made all of this and said there are some benefits. So we can say, ‘yes we agree,’ but as Muslims we believe when God forbids something it is for our own good, and He has shown us much better ways to stay healthy.” One hadith relates that a man once told the Prophet that he used wine as medicine, to which the Prophet replied: “It is not medicine, but a disease” (Muslim, Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and al-Tirmidhi). Abu Dawud also reported that the Prophet said: “God has sent down the disease and the cure, and for every disease there is a cure. So take medicine, but do not use any forbidden thing as medicine.” Globally, on average each person consumes the equivalent of about 1.6 gallons of pure ethanol a year, or about 12 units a week. But on a far smaller, individual scale, Muslim Americans say that it is nearly impossible to seperate yourself from an alcohol-centered culture. “Nyla,” 24, a Muslim American of South Asian descent, is an active member of a nonprofit group in a major metropolitan area. Her volunteer efforts have been an integral part of organizing and promoting events, as well as booking venues, to raise money to eradicate illiteracy in Pakistan by building schools. She says: “We never organize events where we are serving alcohol. But our organization has gotten a bad rap because there have been other chapters in other cities that have openly served alcohol at these events. I don’t agree with that.” “Nyla,” who once turned down a dream job because she would have had to promote alcoholic drinks, recently came face-to-face with a moral conflict while organizing an event for her chapter. Only the day before the event did she realize that things were not going exactly as she had planned. “It was supposed to be a networking event at a restaurant that basically turned into a happy hour,” she said. “I was involved in the planning, but I didn’t want to work at a happy hour. It wasn’t something I wanted to promote. You have people who are Muslim, who come from families where drinking is okay, and they’re not going to understand your stance,” she remarked. “From a marketing aspect, it’s not even that smart for us to promote alcohol. We didn’t even raise that much money.”

But these struggles are not reserved for the volunteer work she does in her free time. “Nyla” sometimes feels forced to participate in office happy hours, which are much harder to avoid. She enjoys going out, but “we go out to celebrate stuff, like winning new business. It looks bad when people always invite you out and you don’t come, so I’ll go. I’m still learning a lot and trying to figure out what I think is right and what I think is wrong, and I don’t like talking about it. I tell my friends because it’s easier to talk to them about change. We don’t have those conversations [at work.] I don’t hide it, I’m not embarrassed, I just don’t tell [my co-workers].”

For many Muslim Americans who go to school in large cities, where one’s social life revolves around alcohol, avoiding it seems to be nearly impossible. “There is a sharp drop in faith between college and the professional world,” Moghul remarks. “In college, there is a different kind of community, and after college, [many people] feel isolated and alienated. We as Muslims in America, we don’t do enough to prepare people for the real world.” Amir, 29, who calls himself a Muslim American of “Persian” descent, co-owns a bar in a major metropolitan city. He is open about his drinking, claiming it is part of his “heritage” and “that’s just how it is. If you go to places like Iran, you’ll see what the Muslims have done to destroy the people. Maybe we drink to prove that we’re not like the Muslims back home. Sure, I consider myself a Muslim. I pray and I fast, and I give money to the poor, but I also drink beer. So what?” “At some level, people just react to the communities that always judge them,” he maintains. “The problem for a lot of Muslims is that it’s not easy to stand up as a Muslim, given the political environment we live in, with the media, and especially post-9/11. I don’t presume to understand where people are in their life circumstances, but it’s almost inevitable you’ll be around alcohol at some point. So the question is, do you need to be around it?” Amir’s rhetorical “so what” is answered in a hadith reported by alTabarani, and classified as sahih by al-Hafiz in Bulugh al-Maram. Since Islam states that

whatever leads to something haram is also haram, it is haram for a Muslim to knowingly sell grapes to someone he/she knows will make wine from them. Even though the numerous textual proofs surrounding alcohol, including the prohibition of giving or accepting it as a gift, are beyond doubt, many young Muslims do not give them much consideration. For this very reason, according to Shaykh Muhammad Nahavandi, a teacher of Qur’an in a Maryland Islamic school, 99 percent of the solution to eradicating this “so what” attitude comes from the parents. “This is why we have to educate the parents. We have to equip ourselves, pass the knowledge to our children so they can be protected. What we teach them is like a vaccine for them so they don’t have these issues when they get older. A lot of parents don’t realize it until their kids reach a certain age, and then they come and complain: ‘My son doesn’t respect me, my daughter doesn’t wear hijab.’ What do you expect? You never taught them what’s right and wrong. We can’t tell our children to do this and don’t do that. We have to build inside of them the love and fear of God because some day they’re going to grow up and be away from you.” “To know if you should go to an event that will benefit you in some way where there is alcohol, and expose yourself, or cut yourself off—that’s a huge challenge,” Moghul says, adding that one of the community’s biggest problems is that not enough Muslims feel a sense of belonging. This often leads them to other groups, where they fall for alcohol, and self-medication. He points that a lot of them drink because there is no one to talk with about this issue. He laments: “Nothing ever gets talked about, especially in the South Asian culture. We make taboos out of everything.” And those taboos are what the Islamic Center’s 300 members are trying to change through keeping their doors open to Muslims at all levels of religiosity. “As Muslims, we too often underestimate the importance of community,” Moghul says. “A person can perform an action that was a mistake—a huge mistake or small mistake, but that person is still Muslim. People should be able to approach their local imam and talk to them candidly without feeling like they’ll be rejected or exiled from that community. Ideally, [we feel like] my Islam is strong enough to handle any challenge. But in reality, you don’t know that until you get your challenge. People would go up to the Prophet and say: ‘I just committed zina’ [adultery] and he didn’t say: ‘Oh my God, how could you do that?’ He would tell them how to repent or give them advice.” Muslims who often feel alienated or judged in their communities have not become a part of a virtual Islam though online forums and Web spaces, where they can share their strugMAY/JUNE 2010 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 39


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ISLAM IN AMERICA gles anonymously and discuss countless Islamic topics. (http://icnyu.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=79&Itemid=5). Mughal says that community leaders have to offer multiple points of entry: “We do khutbas as basic as possible. For the few people who do show up, that’s their only dose of Islam.” He tries to do this by turning his weekly khutbas into downloadable podcasts. Podcasts have become hugely popular with Muslims all over the world. A Muslim blogger posted her struggle with her fundraising career, explaining that it is her job to give donors a memorable experience and that means there has to be booze: “Adults in a formal gathering expect alcohol, and although they drink responsibly and our events are always proclaimed as tasteful—I feel guilty being a part of cycle that provides it. … Hopefully Allah (SWT) will forgive me, as it is part of my job at a place that does good works and genuinely offers comfort and care to the needy. It

is not perfect, but it is the situation I am in, where I justify the general good we do could possibly outweigh some contradictions…” “Hasana,” 16, a Muslim American whose parents are from Turkey, says she has never drunk and does not plan to. But her stance sometimes wavers: “I don’t think I will ever drink because of my religious beliefs. But sometimes I do wonder, ‘what if I get weak?’ I wonder, if I was ever in a situation where people were drinking, would I put God first, or would I succumb to the environment around me? What if I make a mistake?” “Shazia,” 24, said she drank on her twenty-first birthday with her Muslim friends from college. “Up until that point, I had never drunk alcohol. ... It wasn’t a conscious decision on my part, you know, not to drink, but I guess I always knew it was wrong. When I turned 21, I was in college, and so many of my Muslim friends, who came from good families had been drinking since high school. I fig-

ured, ‘I’m turning 21, it’s a one-time thing, no big deal.’” But it turned out to be a big deal, for her decision weighed heavily on her conscience: “I guess I kind of felt bad after the whole thing. I never drank before, I got a little sick, and also I felt like I did something wrong. My heart just didn’t feeel right the next day. I probably won’t ever do it again.” For many Muslim Americans who go to school in large cities, where one’s social life revolves around alcohol, avoiding it seems to be nearly impossible. But, counters Moghul, big-city life can sometimes make it easier not to participate in a social norm: “I think it cuts both ways. Paradoxically, it can be easier to avoid. When you live in large cities, the city is big enough, the student body is diverse enough, and New York City is interesting enough that you don’t have to go to the parties where people are drinking.” He mentions “Halal Train,” a networking/social organization for young NYU professionals, whose

Jihad Against Dependency Troubled Muslims can now find support in an Islamically oriented motivational program based on Alcoholics Anonymous’ Twelve Steps program. B Y M O H A M A D R A J A B A L LY Fully aware that the first innocent sip can lead to alcoholism and a life of pain, shame, and guilt, ISNA partnered with the Rush Center of the Johnson Institute (rushcenter.org) to develop an Islamically oriented motivational program based on Alcoholics Anonymous’ (www.aa.org) Twelve Steps program. It reads:

1.

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable. ^ Those who, having done something to be ashamed of or wronged their own souls, earnestly bring God to mind and ask for forgiveness for their sins—and who can forgive sins except God?—and are never obstinate in persisting knowingly in (the wrong) they have done. (Qur’an 3:135) This verse reminds us of God’s Mercy and the wisdom of abandoning our wrongful habits. The Forgiving and The Merciful will heal and guide us, if we ask for it. ^ Verily humanity is in loss, except those who have faith, do

good, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of truth, patience, and constancy. (103:2-3) Over time, many people fall into bad habits. Nevertheless, God promises that we can regain our hope, tranquility, bliss, and stability even after years of disarray.

2.

Came to believe that a greater power can restore us to sanity. ^ God is He, other than Whom there is no other deity. (59:23) God can return us to sanity. The concepts of peace, guardianship, safety, and holiness embrace the relationship we will establish with the Creator. ^ I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he/she calls on Me. (2:186) What could be a better reassurance for help than the Creator’s very words? ^ For to God belong the forces of the heavens and Earth, and God is Exalted in Power, Full of Wisdom. (48:7) His power and wisdom can handle our affairs.

40 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

3.

Turn our lives over to God, as we understood

Him. ^ Hold fast to God. He is your Protector, the best to protect and the best to help. (22:78) By turning our life over to God, we acknowledge Him as the true source of help and protection. ^ My Mercy extends to all things. That (Mercy) I shall ordain for those who do right, practice regular charity, and believe in Our signs. (7:156) Key to changing our lives is God’s Mercy, for He will not abandon us. ^ The Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said that God stated: “I live in the thoughts of My servants as they think of Me, and I am with them when they remember Me. If they walk to Me, I rush to them.” (“Sahih Muslim”) ^ O humanity, there has come to you a direction from your Lord and a healing for the (diseases) in your hearts—and for those who believe, a guidance and a Mercy. (10:57) Here, two new elements of re-

covery are mentioned: healing the heart (viz., the seat of peace, contentment, and happiness) and guidance. When the heart is tranquil, the soul and the body radiate inner tranquility.

4.

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. ^ God does not change a people’s lot unless they change what is in their hearts. (13:11) Engaging in this task helps us identify people we might have wronged. Seeking reconciliation and forgiveness is mandatory to changing ourselves. ^ God is with those who restrain themselves and those who do good. (16:128) Addiction, understood as the loss of restraint, can be avoided by seeking God’s companionship. ^ Do no corruption in the land after it has been set in order. (7:56) Constant awareness of one’s actions prevents sins.


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members meet at a halal restaurant every month to mingle with other Muslims, have a little fun, find new places, and bring business to Muslim enterprises. About 50-60 Muslims come out for the dinner each month. He argues that communities need to be

many years of being a part of something bigger. It’s just about effort and intention. Communities will rise and fall, and go through good periods and bad periods, and there’s no guarantee about the outcome. It’s a question of constant intention, like having kids. If you

Just as Muslims are ordered not to drink or serve alcohol, they are also ordered to avoid gatherings where it is being served. open: “[By keeping] your community more welcoming, you hope that at some point people will improve themselves. And that sort of thing comes from socializing, and interacting with other people. It doesn’t come through discussions or arguments. It comes through

5.

Admitted to God, ourselves, and others the exact nature of our wrongs. ^ Verily God will not deal unjustly with humanity in aught; it is people who wrong their own souls. (10:44) Admitting our sins prepares us to take ownership and responsibility for our actions. Qur’an 35:32 tells us to admit our wrongdoings and try to amend them by doing good.

6.

Were ready for God to remove our character defects. ^ Those who … observe the limits set by God. (9:112) God loves to forgive. ^ We send down (in stages) in the Qur’an that which is a healing and a mercy to believers. (17:82) God uses spiritual healing to remove all character defects. (Also see 10:57)

7.

Asked Him to remove our shortcomings. ^ Blot out our sins and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. (2:286) This verse defines the relationship between the servant and the Lord. Abu Musa reported that the Prophet said: “God, the Exalted and Glorious, stretches out His hand during the night so that people repent for the faults committed from dawn till dusk; He stretches out His hand during

push them too hard, they’ll run away. You just have to make your best effort. I don’t want to give the wrong impression, as the Islamic Center has gotten bigger, and become a much more welcoming place; people are coming who might not be welcomed into a regular

the day so that people may repent for the faults committed from dusk to dawn.” ^ Say: “O my servants who have transgressed against their souls. Despair not of God’s Mercy, for God forgives all sins.” (39:53)

8.

List those we have harmed and seek their forgiveness. ^ So fear (be conscious of) God and keep straight the relations between yourselves. (8:1) Mutual forgiveness and sincerity may repair and normalize relationships. ^ The Prophet said: “None of you (truly) believes until he/she wishes for his/her brother/sister what he/she wishes for himself/herself.” (“Sahih alBukhari” and “Sahih Muslim”) People can be at peace with me only if I am at peace with them. If I want them to apologize to me, I should be willing to do the same. ^ The believers are but a single brotherhood/sisterhood, so make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers/sisters. (49:10)

9.

Seek their forgiveness, provided that doing so does not injure them or others. ^ So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers/sisters, and be

Muslim community. People come from all different walks of life. Most people in America don’t go to masjids, most Muslims in America are really alienated. Most don’t practice the way they do in the Muslim world. Sure, there might be Muslims who are drinking that come to the [Islamic Center] but it’s important that we’re not rejecting that person. There is a really important distinction between rejecting a person and rejecting the act that they’re doing. They have to know that they can still be part of a community.” “We have to make accommodations according to the reality. There are fundamental differences across the Muslim world, and they’re not going anywhere. We have to learn to cooperate on things that are mutually beneficial. If you’re going to work with American institutions, you can’t say we’re a Muslim organization, and then only accept one kind of Muslim.” “At any point, we haven’t lowered our

God-conscious so that you may receive mercy. (49:10) Be sensitive enough to know whether doing so is appropriate or could cause the other party even more harm. Wait for the right time. The Qur’an advises overlooking their faults with gracious forgiveness (15:85), showing forgiveness, and enjoining what is good (7:199).

with the patient. (2:153) Help is guaranteed; however, it may not come immediately, so pray and wait patiently. ^ Your Lord says: “Call on Me. I will answer your prayers.” (40:60) It is up to us to connect with God through regular prayer and meditation. (Also see 14:39)

10.

Continued to take a personal inventory and admitted our sins. A person’s soul and level of consciousness is three-fold: (1) al-nafs al-‘ammarah, the soul “inclined to evil” (12:53). This means acting impulsively regardless of society’s morals and ethical code; (2) al-nafs allawwamah, where one questions due to the presence of guilt and regret (75:2), and (3) al-nafs almutma’innah, the “soul in complete rest and satisfaction” (89:27). Seek God’s pleasure without harming or disturbing anyone. Continue taking a constant inventory, for one can move up or fall back down.

11.

Used prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying for knowledge of His Will for us and the power to carry it out. ^ O believers, seek help in patience and prayer. Truly God is

12.

Carry this message to alcoholics and practice these principles in our affairs. These who race for the good deeds are the foremost in them (23:61). Just as we enter a race to win it, each person following this program should remain enthusiastic. The Qur’an reminds us: “Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good and forbidding all that is bad. It is they who are successful (3:104). To do this, we must educate and inform people about addiction and its cure. Those best qualified to do so are those who have “walked the walk and talked the talk.” Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said that “the recompense of one who directs somebody to do good deeds will be equal to the reward of the latter” (“Sahih Muslim”). Doing good deeds gives us a sense of satisfaction that we may have made a difference in someone’s life; even more, we are rewarded for doing so.

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ISLAM IN AMERICA standards,” Moghul says about the Islamic Center, whose members are very inclusive as regards accepting all Muslims. “We have to build a confidence between us, and an openness. People screw up, invariably, they will screw up, but they can’t feel like they can’t tell you. If you can make tawba (repent) for basically everything to Allah, why can’t you do that in your own community, to your imam, and not feel like you’re being rejected or humiliated? In the end, people do become better in their own ways, and at their own pace.” Khamr (alcohol/wine) means “to cover,” because it covers your ability to think clearly. As Shaykh Nahavandi explains: “The Prophet said anything that makes you lose your mind is forbidden. There were no drugs at the time of the Prophet, but we know now that it makes you lose your mind so it’s haram too.” Caliph ‘Umar declared from the Prophet’s pulpit: “Khamr is that which befogs the mind” (al-Bukhari and Muslim). The Prophet also said: “Of that which intoxicates in a large amount, a small amount is haram” and “If a bucketfull intoxicates, a sip of it is haram” (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and al-Tirmidhi). Just as Muslims are ordered not to drink alcohol, they are, in the same spirit, ordered to avoid parties or gatherings where it is being

42 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

served. Ahmad reports that ‘Umar narrated that he heard the Prophet say: “Whoever believes in God and the Last Day must not sit at a table at which khamr (intoxicant) is consumed.” Al-Tirmidhi reports something similar. Shaykh Nahavandi remarks that al-

providing alcohol, it is better to avoid it. If this is the only job one has, then look for another one in the meanwhile. Some wonder if young Muslims are becoming desensitized to their peers’ activities and sometimes join in because there seems

“We as Muslims in America, we don’t do enough to prepare people for the real world.” —Haroon Mughal, the Islamic Center at New York University though Muslims should clearly avoid such places, in America this is impossible: “Even if you have to go to 7-Eleven to get milk, there is going to be alcohol there. And you can’t just stop everything. But we have to do our best to avoid it when we can.” He maintains that proper Islamic schooling is necessary because “if I as a parent don’t pracitce my deen, how will [my kids follow my example]?” He stresses the need to develop taqwa (God-consciousness) and to realize that God will give people rizq (sustenance) from places they never expected. He counsels that even though someone is only indirectly involved in

to be no other option. The “moderation” mantra being purveyed by the alcohol and “sin” industries (e.g., gambling), with the help of multimillion-dollar war chests, should be a cause of concern to all, especially Muslims. Habit-forming activities know no limits. In the Islamic mileau, even the “moderate” drinker is as much a problem as the problem drinker.

Alcohol and Life Issues Alcohol use can lead to domestic abuse and other problems. “Deena,” 36, who left her alcoholic Muslim husband, remarks: “I didn’t know he was an alcoholic when we met be-


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Help Rebuild Flood-hit Islamic School cause he hid it so well. In our [Pakistani] culture, you would never drink out in the open because it’s such a cultural and religious taboo. No one knew he had a problem until after we got married. ... He wasn’t a great guy when he was sober. But the rage really came out after a few drinks. For someone to tell me that domestic abuse has nothing to do with alcohol, [he/she] obviously doesn’t have their facts straight. That person has never walked in my shoes.” When we tell “Tensa,” 28, about the latest research dubunking the “myth” of alcohol and domestic abuse, she becomes noticeably angry and, explaining that she had finally ended her three-year engagement to a man with a drinking problem, asserts: “These studies are based on false reports. More than half the women who are abused by their partner don’t even report the crime, so how can the police department or these so-called women’s advocacy groups claim to have the right information? I was in an abusive relationship for nearly three years, and I never told a soul what was happening. My fiance also happened to be an alcoholic. If a researcher can’t see that correlation, then they’re missing a significant amount of their research, or a significant amount of their brain.” Researchers say that Super Bowl Sunday has become notorious for the highest rates of domestic violence of any given day, largely a result drinking during the big game. It also “boasts” some of the highest drunk-driving accident and fatality rates. In Madison, WI, Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney reminds motorists to act responsibly by designating a sober driver if they plan on drinking during Super Bowl weekend, and his office uses state grant funds for additional enforcement—mainly by trying to keep drunk drivers off the road. In 2009, alcohol was a factor in the deaths of at least eleven out of the thirty-three county residents killed in traffic accidents. In 2008, 34 percent of all Wisconsin traffic fatalities were alcohol related. During a two-year period in Janesville, WI, on Super Bowl weekend the Rock County sheriff’s office arrested over 1,000 alcohol “impaired” drivers. Many studies show that the rate of Super Bowl weekend domestic abuse is less than the statistics for Memorial Day and Christmas. Another study shows that the percentage of batterers under the influence of alcohol when they assault their partners ranges from 48 to 87 percent, with most research indicating a 60 to 70 percent rate of alcohol abuse and a 13 to 20 percent rate of drug abuse. But those who study the dynamics of domestic abuse say there is no real research to indicate that alcoholism and drug abuse cause domestic violence. Although research indicates men who drink heavily have a higher rate of assaults resulting in injury, the majority of “high-level” male drinkers do not abuse their partners. Also, 76 percent of physically abusive incidents ISLAMIC HORIZONS 43

This March, the Islamic School of Rhode Island (ISRI) was flooded approximately 5 ft due to rains and river overflowing. Alhamdullilah, ISRI students, staff, parents, and school pets are safe. The flood affected the entire fist floor housing the office, Pre-K, K, First Grade, gym, cafeteria, kitchen, staff room, janitor closet, boiler room, bathrooms, and many supply closets. Water damage also occurred due to roof leakage on the second floor housing grades 3-8, bathrooms, office, and supply closet. ISRI also lost its server in the flood. PLEASE VISIT WWW.RICMA.ORG FOR INFORMATION Send donations to: Islamic School of Rhode Island 840 (rear) Providence St., West Warwick, RI 02893, (401) 821-8700


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ISLAM IN AMERICA involve no alcohol use at all. According to the Women’s Rural Advocacy Program, the available evidence does not support a cause-and-effect relationship between the two problems. The relatively high incidence of alcohol abuse among male batterers must be viewed as the overlap of two separate social problems, it claims. According to The Safety Zone, no evidence suggests that alcohol use or dependence is linked to the other forms of coercive behaviors that are part of the pattern of domestic violence: “Economic control, sexual violence, and intimidation, for example, are often part of a batterer’s ongoing pattern of abuse, with little or no identifiable connection to his use of or dependence on alcohol.” They also go on to say that battering is a socially learned behavior, not the result of substance abuse or mental illness: “Men who batter frequently use alcohol abuse as an excuse for their violence. They attempt to rid themselves of responsibility for the problem by blaming it on the effects of alcohol. … Alcohol does not and cannot make a man abuse a woman, but it is frequently used as an excuse. Many men drink and do not abuse anyone as a result. On the other hand many men abuse women when they are sober. It can be easier for some men and for some women to believe that the violence would not have happened if drinking was not involved. It’s part of the denial process. Alcoholism and battering do share some similar characteristics—both may be passed from generation to generation, both involve denial or minimization of the problem, both involve isolation of the family.” Women who have been abused in an alcohol-related incident vehemently disagree with such statistics. Tatiana Hernandez, a recent convert to Islam, raises another issue. According to her, her most challenging moments have been with family members and their lack of understanding toward her stance: “We’re Hispanic, so drinking and dancing at family gatherings is who we are. For me to come in now and say ‘I worship God differently’ doesn’t make sense to any of them. Not to mention [that] I’m ready to get married and settle down. And as much as I love my culture, it’s so hard to find someone who will understand that this big group of loving drunks is going to be part of their family, too.” Which brings us to the issue of finding the right partner, something often surrounded by stress and family pressure for young Muslims. Where exactly do you meet your potential spouse? Some have tried Muslim matrimonial columns and organization; others say happy hour is the place to meet “moderate Muslims.” Shaykh Nahavandi asks: “Is that really how you want to start your life? This is the wrong way to approach it. God says to help each other to do the righteous deeds, and do not help each other to do sin. For Muslims, if someone wants to get married, if he or she 44 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

knows each other, you go to her parents and let your intention be known. If the parents see him as a fit person, then the next step is to talk to each other and get to know each other.”

Strategies for Lowering Alcohol Consumption New research shows that alcohol consumption is on the rise, especially among women. Jürgen Rehm (University of Toronto) told “Time” magazine in June 2009 that the increase in global alcohol-related causes of death, including accidents, violence, poisoning, cancer, colorectal, and strokes was primarily the result of more women taking up drinking. The increase in the rate of alcoholrelated deaths is particularly troubling for him, because the researchers took into account the cardiovascular benefits of moderate drinking. According to him, alcohol consumption, particularly among women, is linked to economic growth: “In countries like the U.K. and Norway, you have women consuming over 30 percent of [all the alcohol consumed]. In India, on the other extreme, women consume less than 5 percent. The higher the wealth of a country, the higher the percentage of women drinking alcohol.” Increased wealth, however, is not the only factor directly related to this phenomenon. Another startling fact, discovered by the American Cancer Society, is that one in every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Colleen Doyle (director of nutrition and physical activity, the American Cancer Society) says that even one drink a day can elevate the risk of breast cancer. Not surprisingly, drinking patterns, as well as their health impacts and policy responses, vary greatly from country to country. For example, America tried to outlaw it. This process began when the General Court of Massachusetts outlawed the sale of strong liquor; in 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment (Prohibition, or “The Noble Experiment”), banned the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol for consumption. Congress passed it over President Wilson’s veto. When bootlegging became rampant, because Washington did not have the means or the desire to enforce strict compliance, crime rates soared. Gangsters made millions of dollars on illegal alcohol sales, and corruption was rife among law enforcement agencies. Increasingly unpopular during the Great Depression, especially in large cities, in 1933 President Roosevelt signed into law the Cullen-Harrison Act, which allowed the manufacture and sale of certain kinds of alcoholic beverages. In December 1933, the Twenty-First Amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment (only South Carolina rejected it) once again making the sale, manufacture, transportation, and comsumption of alcohol legal nationwide.

Europe has followed a policy of raising prices to control consumption. As a result, France and Italy have seen rates plummet over the past twenty-five years. “Despite all stereotypes, Italy now has the lowest consumption of any European country,” Rehm says. “And it’s largely because alcohol is relatively expensive.” Intoxicants imperil clear thinking and, whatever the level, the Muslim community needs to take notice and do something about it. Perhaps it is time to seek outside resources. For instance, the Mayo Clinic received a $2.5 million grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse to establish a center for Individualized Treatment of Alcohol Dependence, as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Mainstream organizations related to alcohol issues may not be the answer, however, because they are more concerned with control and correction than abstinence. A good way for Muslims to start would be to ponder upon Shaykh Nahavandi’s words: “God says: ‘Today I have completed and perfected your deen, and I have completed and perfected My favors upon you.’ This deen is a complete way of life. Everything makes sense, but some people want to do the opposite. Sometimes Islam tells us not to do things that we might like, but at the end, the benefit is for us. What’s the bottom line? God sent all this stuff to bring the good to us and push the harmful things away from us. God wants everything to be good for us. He does not need us; we are in need of Him. This deen, we take it and sometimes we might see the hikmah (the wisdom), and sometimes we don’t see it, but we take it and apply it anyway. This is how we will be happy in this life and the next life.” Muslim Americans need to wake up to the challenge posed by the powerful alcohol industry, aided by the agriculture and the entertainment and media lobbies. A major challenge comes from politicians who need more public money to keep their constituents satisfied, and of course, their own jobs. In 2009, Illinois nearly doubled the sales tax on spirits to help address a projected $9.2 billion deficit. Often such priorities bulldoze community concerns. The Rev. John Dale, pastor of Glendale Road Church of Christ in Murray, KY, where Calloway County officials rejected a petition to put packaged alcohol sales on the November 2009 ballot, said the issue was “the quality of life,” adding: “I’m dealing with people who are almost everyday problem drinkers—alcoholics. They are really struggling. They don’t want more and more availability of a product they can’t control.” Of course, the alcohol advocates offered the rose-colored picture that alcohol sales could help the city collect more taxes and have more money circulating though town. Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia charge excise


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or production taxes on alcoholic beverages. (New Hampshire, Vermont and Wyoming are the exceptions.) During 2009, at least 14 state legislatures considered trying to boost their economies through new or increased alcohol taxes, which can already top $20 a gallon for hard spirits, taxes on top of those excise taxes, according to the National Council of State Legislatures. For example, in 2009, Washington State projected $16 million in new revenue from alcohol related taxes. Ironically, despite the high costs of alcohol related illnesses, some proponents of revising healthcare have sought to hike federal alcohol taxes to help expand the system. “About 14 million Americans, almost 10 percent of adults, meet diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse and alcoholism,” wrote Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna E. Shalala introducing the Ninth Special Report to the U.S. Congress on Alcohol and Health (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institute of Health, 18 July 1997). The 450-page referenced report noted: “Alcohol-related morbidity and mortality remain significant problems. As many as 44 percent of more than 40,000 traffic crash fatalities each year involve alcohol and, although such crashes are decreasing, young drivers continue to be over-represented in drinking driving deaths.” A report published by Britain’s NHS Confederation and Royal College of Physicians (1 Jan. 2010) said the country’s drinking culture is straining their taxpayerfunded healthcare system. The NHS now spends 2.7 billion pounds ($4.4 billion) a year treating patients for alcohol-related problems—double the amount five years ago. The new report also warns that about 10.5 million adults in Britain drink above sensible limits, and 1.1 million people have some form of alcohol addiction. Most mainstream organizations working against alcohol use are use control and not prohibition oriented. At least restricting alcohol sales can help to some extent. Joseph A. Califano, Jr. (chairman, National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse; Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare under President Carter) insists, “Availability is the mother of abuse.” The community needs to go beyond imparting the right education and training to its members, or simply feel satisfied by quoting the Qur’an and hadith. There is a need for active participation by joining organizations opposed to alcohol use to deny business license applications of alcohol vendors, pressure community members who are involved and profit from the alcohol trade, and indeed extend help in finding alternate sources of income for those who feel that they have no alternative but to be employed in the alcohol-related trade.

_______________________________ Sabrina Enayatulla is founder and director of www.SliceofLemon.com

ISLAMIC HORIZONS 45

The Islamic Center of New England, one of the largest and oldest Islamic centers in the New England area, is looking for:

A Qualified and Dynamic Imam Required Qualifications: > Should have a degree in Islamic studies from a recognized Islamic institution > Should have excellent knowledge of the Qur’an, Hadith, Seerah, and Fiqh > Should be a hafiz of the Qur’an, be able to recite well and must have knowledge of the tajweed rules > Should be able to lead daily, Jumaa, and Taraweeh prayers and be able to conduct educational programs > Should be able to interact with the youth and provide for their spiritual growth through educational programs and other activities > Should be fluent in English and have excellent communication skills > Should have adequate knowledge of the Arabic language > Should be US citizen or US permanent resident > Should have knowledge of interfaith and be able to participate at interfaith forums > Should be able to promote harmony within the Muslim community and with other communities living in the area Desired Qualifications: > Should have some experience in pre-marital and marital counseling > Should have knowledge of different schools of Fiqh > Should have some experience in conflict resolution > Should be able to lead marriage ceremonies and funerals Compensation and benefits commensurate with education and experience. Please email resumes to imamsearch@icne.net and include telephone number. > Mail to: Imam Search Committee, Islamic Center of New England PO Box 412, Sharon, MA 02067 > >


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g n i k n Dri ’ l a m ‘Nor

to be

ME WHY DO SO SLIM FEMALE MU OFTEN STUDENTS INKING END UP DR ALCOHOL IN HAT COLLEGE ? W THOSE O T S N E P P HA IN? WHO ABSTA uses are ollege camp eir e days for th known thes ut diversity, rhetoric abo menmerely orna n e ft o is h ic etuwh cept to perp x e le tt li g in tal, do , usually of inequality s re u lt u c te a lture. majority cu e th f o r o v in fa rists and cation theo Higher edu e immphasize th e rs e h rc a e nts’ res in the stude rs e e p f o e c portan bove all struction, a n o c ty ti n e id

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BY SHABANA MIR other factors. Since peer/youth culture is extremely influential in campus life, I argue that it is de facto policy in their lives. While peer/youth culture excludes minority norms, university cultures cannot be truly inclusive and equal. In these cultures, leisure activities (e.g., drinking, dating, and fashion) emerge as highly significant, and students who do not participate in them become marginal. Between July 2002 and June 2003 I conducted participant-observation and openended “talking diary” interviews with female Muslim American undergraduates at Georgetown and George Washington to learn how they dealt with alcohol within campus culture. Both universities are pri46 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

vate, reputable, expensive, and undergraduate-focused; cater to upper-middle class families and above; and have strong party cultures. In addition, both are located in affluent parts of Washington, DC. In my fieldwork, I found that students often end up drinking in order to be “normal” college students, and that those who abstain have an uncertain relationship with campus communities. On college campuses, drinking is a valued form of social capital; in fact, the first visit to a bar is seen as a rite of passage. Such rituals, activities, and parties exclude many Muslim students from the off-campus center of college culture and thus marginalize them. Many of my study’s participants had a

strong sense of being perceived as the “Muslim Other” and of being observed by the “non-Muslim Other.” They felt that many of their peers associated Muslims with the usual stereotypes, which therefore constituted part of their own consciousnesses and emerged in the interview data. Seen through the lens of alcohol, the plurality of choice on campus allows students to assimilate by accepting the drinks offered, dissemble, or become marginal and different. Such choices have to be made within peer leisure (bars and nightclubs) as well as academic spaces (department events). Belonging and camaraderie are at stake here, and passing as “ordinary” is key in this struggle. Pluralism, therefore,


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comprises a range of possible practices between the cultural core (ordinary, white, Christian majority) and the periphery (not ordinary, for example, Muslim) in the students’ communities of practice. Overall, in my participants’ perspectives non-drinking emerges as a strong indicator of religiosity and as a practice on the periphery of campus culture. In campus leisure spaces, alcohol renders female Muslim students either invisible as members of youth culture or hypervisible as Muslims. The necessity of positioning themselves vis-à-vis alcohol highlights their religious identity above other identities, especially in contrast to their peers’ religious identities, which, in relative terms, operate in the shadows. At the same time, the inability of many of them to participate fully in the camaraderie of alcohol communities renders them invisible as friends and peers. Alcohol highlights this “difference” from the majority norm and veils any commonalities between the two.

Case Studies Roshan, a Bangladeshi-American sophomore, relate that she eventually signed a petition to allow alcohol at an event because it was “integral” to a “normal” American undergraduate persona. In other words, she did not want to be an “outsider.” Yasmin, a Pakistani-American sophomore who drank, considered it part of the youth culture promoted by vested interests: “It’s pretty dumb what we do for enjoyment, but then everyone keeps telling you it’s fun. And then you start believing it’s fun.” Zareen, a relatively liberal non-drinking and sociable Pakistani-American freshman, was frustrated with the college social scene, which she saw as “very much dominated by drinking.” As she had not been allowed to attend such events in high school, this was something new for her. Finding it reductive to be defined by the usual stereotypes associated with abstinence and Islam, and realizing that being “Christian” is generally not a dominant-majority member’s first identity, she resisted bringing up her own religious identity. Heather, a white (and therefore nonidentifiable) convert and senior who belonged to an honors club where she and two other Muslim students were the most active members, offered another perspective. Once, when a white non-Muslim board member suggested that the

In campus leisure spaces, alcohol renders female Muslim students either invisible as members of youth culture or hypervisible as Muslims. club hold a wine and cheese party for new freshmen and sophomore (i.e., underage) members, she used her position as a white woman on a majority-white campus to lend racial and cultural power for a (Muslim) minority concern by opposing this proposal. Zahida, a Pakistani-American sophomore who had recently stopped drinking, mentioned that she had started to drink because “I just kind of thought I was missing something. ... I was tired of being the only person [who didn’t drink]. ... I wanted to be just another girl in high school that lived in [a southwestern metropolis].” In Washington, DC, she eventually gave it up and remained comfortable with her peer culture, attending clubs and bars and publicly acknowledging her religious background.

The Muslim Peer Group My interviewees stated that they disliked going to bars because they felt pressured to drink. Roshan described how the MSA “rescued” her from a social life characterized by incomplete conformity and religious guilt. As abstinence was not tenable within the local popular peer culture, she felt that joining Muslim peer groups was necessary for living a committed Islamic lifestyle and making friends. Heather found herself faced with being friends with “everyone” and thus trapped in social situations involving alcohol and sex, or finding different friends. Even if one practiced important social skills (e.g., being “cool or funny or outgoing”), one could not continue to be friends with people whose weekend plans involved drinking simply because drinking/not-drinking seemed to create a sharp division between students. Charlise, an African-American convert with many friends and a wide range of extracurricular activities, felt that sticking to the Muslim community could help her abstain on the ground that friends can influence you. She reported feeling torn between religious practice

and her friends’ influence. Haseena, a Pakistani-American sophomore and non-drinker, loved dancing at clubs and was comfortable in the South Asian student community. Most of her friends were Muslim (many were not very observant) and/or South Asian. Her nondrinking status was important to her as an indicator of her religiosity, especially because she had a steady boyfriend. Acknowledging that some Muslims would consider her sexual behavior problematic, she nevertheless presented her nondrinking as evidence of her observance of the “more important boundaries”: “I do consider myself religious; I just don’t consider myself conservative.” Alcohol was a barrier between her and friendship with white students, but heavy drinking among South Asians did not disturb her much, for, as she claimed, it was more accepting of non-drinkers. Some Muslim women construct “spaces” by socializing in bars and nightclubs but not drinking. Thus they combine da‘wah (by not drinking), pluralism and diversity, and a successful accommodation with the dominant culture. Amira and Haseena were two such women. Several of the interviewees felt that Roshan, who had stopped going to bars, clubs, and many college parties, had become insular and unnecessarily “different.” Those who constructed their own spaces within that of the dominant majority, instead of occupying Muslim-only spaces, found that their peers still asked them why they were not conforming to stereotypical images of Muslims. Amira, perhaps the only religiously observant Muslim female member of an academic club, faced such questioning: “I guess at the [club] there’s very few Muslim girls in there—or at least practicing Muslim girls. So people always are like: ‘You don’t drink? Oh! But you come to the parties anyway?!’” Yasmin, as an undergraduate, found herself pressured to drink with students and professors in a (mostly secular) Arab Studies Department. According to her, the professors tried to pigeonhole her as a “drinker”—perhaps because of how she dressed and behaved. Thus, she vacillated between drinking and not drinking. She is, however, considering giving it up when she starts her postgraduate studies.

_______________________________

Shabana Mir, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in social foundations and qualitative inquiry at Oklahoma State University’s College of Education. MAY/JUNE 2010 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 47


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PROFILE

A man at peace, Hashim Amla offers a lesson in reaching the highest level without sacrificing faith. BY UMBREEN ABDULLAH

The Noble Aspirant

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porting events are closely tied to corporate sponsors. But despite all the righteous talk about protecting young and impressionable people from harmful substances, sports teams unabashedly flaunt the logos of alcoholic and tobacco products. Thus South Africa faced a problem when its cricket team selected Hashim Amla, who had been appointed captain of his state team (Natal) at 21, for this elegant, stroke-filled player blessed with the temperament to make the most of his talent refused to wear the team sponsor’s logo. Castle Larger beer, produced by South African Breweries, is one of the country’s largest sports sponsors and one of the world’s largest brewers by volume. Valued for his talent, Amla was exempted and became the first Muslim (and the first one of South Asian descent) member on the South African team.

Amla’s action has led to campaigns to remove all alcohol-promoting logos from merchandise and playing gear. He also refuses each match fee or share of awards when the team wins in test matches. His agent, Ismail Kajee, told Durban’s “Daily News” (28 Dec. 2009): “Hashim does not and will not at any time in his career consume the earnings from [alcoholic drinks sponsored] Test matches. … Since Hashim is a devout Muslim, he understands his religion well, his beliefs are staunch, and he knows what is right and wrong. At the outset he made the decision not to wear the Castle logo on his clothing, which went public, and at the same time he also took the decision that the money earned from the Tests, sponsored by Castle, were forbidden for his use. The money has been given away—Islam teaches us to give it away without having to make a song and dance of it.” Kajee, also a Muslim, takes no commission from the Castle-sponsored games. He says: “I cannot give you any figures as to how much Hashim has earned since his first Test for South Africa. It’s not something we are proud of—the money is dispensed [to a non-Muslim charity] as soon as it comes in.” Likewise, team manager 48 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

Mohammed Moosajee and logistics manager Goolam Rajah do not wear the logo shirts or pocket any money from the Castle Tests or any share of prize-money from the Castle-sponsored games. Today Amla, a popular figure known for his sense of humor, remains a candidate to become South Africa’s second nonwhite test team captain after Ashwell Prince. Cricket, which originally had fiveday test matches, has evolved into a daylong game with each team playing 50 overs; lately in 20/20, each team plays 20 overs. However, purists regard test cricket as the “real game.” Although the right-handed Amla, who became 26 in March, was selected as batter for the crucial number 3 (the first drop) po-

Hashim Amla’s action has led to campaigns to remove all alcohol-promoting logos from merchandise and playing gear.

sition, he can be called upon to bowl. In the 2010 series in India, he amassed a double century and a century in test matches, with his burqa-clad wife Sumaiyah in attendance. Amla toured New Zealand with the South African Under-19 team in 2000-01, captained South Africa at the 2002 Under19 World Cup, and, after starring for the A team, made his test debut against India in 2004-05. He has left serious questions about his technique behind by emerging as a reliable team member and one of three South African batsmen to have topped 1,000 runs in test matches during 2008. Such performances have ended any speculation that he was selected because of his color. In 1980, when South Africa was still ruled by apartheid, the UN began compiling a “Register of Sports Contacts with South Africa” to exert moral pressure on athletes. Other sports bodies disciplined athletes based on the register. During the summer of 1988, the International Olympic Committee adopted a declaration against “apartheid in sport.” When South Africa officially terminated this system in 1991, the apartheid-related boycott of South African sports ended and South African sporting teams and players


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Amla, a popular figure known for his sense of humor, remains a candidate to become South Africa’s second non-white test team captain after Ashwell Prince

emerged as major forces to be reckoned with. Among these strong sports sectors was cricket, a sport implanted during the days of British colonialism. Respected cricket journalist Peter Roebuck, a former captain of Somerset (UK) and author of “In It To Win It: The Australian Cricket Supremacy” (2007), wrote on Cricinfo.com (29 Jan. 2009): “Too humble to disdain criticism, too resilient to be distracted, the young Durbanite [Amla] has a toughness in him not easily detected from afar. But then he has overcome a lot, has fought for his place every step of the way, has managed to remain cool amidst the furies that sometimes rage around him. Always he has retained his inner core while recognizing the need to improve, and without judging others. Accordingly he has fit comfortably into cricket teams containing a broad swathe of humanity, and a fair share of ruffians, and has cheerfully joined in activities without ever selling himself short.” In an exclusive interview with Ramadan.co.za (21 Sept. 2008), Amla, who plays while fasting, advised young Muslim to “strive to keep good friends, those that encourage [you] towards the path of faith and knowledge. In our daily life we have interac-

tions and the best form of attraction and understanding of Islam we can offer is that of the beloved Messenger (Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu ‘alyhi wa sallam) and he has mentioned: ‘ballighoo anni wa lo aayah’—‘Convey from me even if it be a single verse.’” Amla says that he encounters no difficulties in the locker room: “I find my lifestyle really aids me in keeping a sound mind. Cricket is an extremely disciplined sport, and I feel the way I try and live my life aids me in sticking to those disciplines.” In Aug. 2006, while playing Sri Lanka in Colombo, Amla’s brilliant catch lead Dean Jones, a former Australian test cricketer turned commentator, mockingly declared: “The terrorist has got another wicket.” Jones later apologized to Amla, who concedes that everyone has some inward prejudices and says that he forgave him in the Islamic spirit. Cricinfo.com commentator Will Luke says that Amla “possesses the most impressive beard in all the game.” Beards have been rare in cricket. The ultimate bearded cricketer, formerly the legendary W. G. Grace (1848-1915), is now Pakistan’s Muhammad Yusuf, who holds several international batting records.

During the tour of England, when Amla helped South Africa to a historic series win, Donald McRae (“The Guardian,” 8 Jul. 2008) raised the Grace and Jones issue. Amla told him: “I love it when guys ask me about Islam or my beard. To share knowledge is a duty … I have seen pictures of his [Grace’s] beard but mine is definitely shorter … But it is not purely a tribute to Islam. If you go back many years the beard is a tribute to all the faiths stemming from the biblical Abraham—or Ibrahim, as we say in Islam. … In the Christian tradition Jesus, peace be upon him, has a beard. In the Jewish tradition Moses has a beard. And in Islam we have Muhammad, whom Muslims believe is the final messenger, and he kept a beard because it was the tradition of all the other messengers before him. We see it as universal.” Speaking to Chloe Saltau (11 Dec. 2008 “The [Australian] Age”) during South Africa’s tour of Australia, he remarked: “I really don’t see myself a role model but … it would be very naive (to think) that a sportsman is anything but a real role model as well. I try to practice my faith to the best of my ability. … Fortunately South Africa is a country that is very understanding. We do come from a difficult path with the racial prejudices that did exist … When I made the team and I put forward the request (to remove logos promoting alcohol) they were very much accommodating.” In an expansive 28 Mar. 2008 interview with South African journalist Neil Manthorp for cricketnirvana.com, Amla said Islam is compatible with the discipline required to reach the pinnacle of international cricket. Amla’s father and sister are physicians, and his elder brother (who introduced him to cricket) is an aspiring cricket player. A third-generation South African—his grandparents immigrated from Gujarat in 1926— he enjoys reading, swimming, soccer, and occasionally fishing for relaxation.

_______________________________ Umbreen Abdullah is a freelance writer. MAY/JUNE 2010 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 49


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ISLAM IN AMERICA

Dearborn’s Islamic Center of America suffers post-9/11 vandalism

Maligned and Abused

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report published in the 17 Dec. 2009 issue of the “American Journal of Public Health” (Feb. 2010, vol. 100, no. 2) finds that post9/11 personal and familial abuse experienced by Arab inhabitants of the Greater Detroit area was based on race, ethnicity, or religion. More than 25 percent of the sample population claims to have been discriminated against, or otherwise abused, say University of Michigan (UM) authors Aasim I. Padela, MD, MS (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation clinical scholar, Department of General Medicine) and Michele Heisler, MD, MPA (associate professor of internal medicine and health behavior and health education, School of Public Health). In their words, this state of affairs could lead to higher chances of adverse health effects within this minority if action is not taken soon. According to them, Muslim Arabs are worse off than the other population studied: Chaldean Christians, who mainly come from the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. Those respondents who admitted to being abused tended to exhibit greater levels of psychological distress, lower levels of personal happiness, and a diminished perception of their own health status, as opposed to those who reported no harassment or personal/familial abuse. 50 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

Post-9/11 discrimination and negative experiences have led to adverse health effects among the Greater Detroit area’s Arab community. BY RAMADAN ALIG Known as the 2003 Detroit Arab American Survey, the researchers say that as far as they know, it is the first representative, population-based investigation of 9/11’s health and psychological impacts on ArabAmerican adults. It was devised through a community-academic collaboration, during which both communities were represented, and conducted by means of face-toface interviews. The following questions were asked to its 1,016 participants: How prevalent is reported abuse and discrimination in our study population? How are reports of abuse or discrimination associated with self-reported psychological distress, level of happiness, and health status? What role do sociodemographic factors play in reported abuse or discrimination? There were four independent variables:

(1) “In the last 2 years, have you personally, or anyone in your household, experienced verbal insults or abuse, threatening words or gestures, physical attack, vandalism or destruction of property, or loss of employment, due to your race, ethnicity, or religion?”; (2) “Since 9/11, have you personally had a bad experience due to your Arab or Chaldean ethnicity?”; (3) “Arab Americans are not respected by the broader American society” (they were instructed to list their level of agreement with this statement); and (4) “How much—if any—have the events of 9/11 shaken your own personal sense of safety and security?” They were also asked how they would rate their levels of health (“excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor”) and happiness (“very happy, happy, not very happy, or not happy at all”). Padela remarked that the truly disturbing fact about the findings is that they were recorded in an Arab-American community that has been well-established for many decades. “Negative associations of perceived post-9/11 abuse or discrimination might be much worse in less concentrated Arab populations within the United States,” he believes. In addition, the authors worry that many of those who experience racial and ethnic abuse and discrimination may not seek adequate care, due to fears of racial or ethnic discrimination from health care providers or, possi-


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bly, to the stigma of admitting such a problem when their culture has historically not fully accepted mental illness. The 490,000 people living in the area surveyed represent the largest concentration of Arabs outside the Middle East, the UM team says. They also are Detroit’s third largest minority, and yet they still face heavy discrimination. “Untreated psychological distress leads you to do something bad, like smoking, drinking, or other unhealthy responses. It becomes a vicious cycle. We may be missing an entire spectrum of people who are most stigmatized,” Padela adds.

Both authors also mentioned that “We know that anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate crimes are still higher than they were pre9/11. Years after, we think this is over. But not only is it not over, it’s having negative health consequences and we’re not doing anything to address it.” The study noted that women did not report significantly more abuse than men, that being a woman was not significantly associated with one’s health status or level of happiness, and that partnerships with religious and community organizations are needed to encourage Arab-Americans to get the mental

Cradle of Scholars Are Muslim American organizations geared toward turning out scholars, imams, and academics? BY SHAHZAN AKBER

health services they so crucially need. The Arab-American community represents an ideal population with which to partner in an effort to better understand how racial and/or ethnic and religious discrimination may lead to adverse health behaviors and outcomes. Such partnerships also hold the potential for developing culturally sensitive programs and interventions designed both to assess to and meet this community’s ongoing—and largely unrecognized—health needs.

_______________________________ Ramadan Alig is a freelance writer.

Prophet’s tafsir, the Qur’anic sciences, Arabic, Arabic calligraphy, tafsir, purification of the heart, and parenting. Driven by a passion to advance Islamic education, ISNA Fellow Shahzan Akber, who is also a founding member and vicepresident of the institute, has used his public affairs and nonprofit management background to help Legacy utilize best-practice techniques. For example, he conducted a value analysis to formulate a strategic plan to broadcast some of its flagship courses live on the Internet. While this is no substitute for actual attendance, it enables a much wider audience to obtain the knowledge being conveyed. Today students from across the country and around the world, especially those living in smaller communities where Islamic scholars may not be present or available, log in to benefit from this virtual education. Muslim institution-building in America has reached the point where the community has to move beyond its current survival mode in order to advance toward the next phase, that of adding value. This phase must include the development of specialized Islamic institutions that focus on research, the arts, policy, and other areas—and, most importantly, the pursuit of sacred knowledge. Muslim Americans must begin to really invest in people instead of buildings, as this was the model left to us by Prophet Muhammad. Moreover, this is the only model that will result in success.

no surprise, since Muslim American institutions at their current level of development cannot offer such individuals, even if they are truly qualified, any meaningful employment. Such a deplorable state of affairs should be of concern to every Muslim American. In order to preserve this sacred knowledge and establish its attainment as the highest priority, the Zaytuna Institute, Seeker’s Guidance, the SunniPath Academy, the Qurtuba Institute, and the Fawakih Institute have dedicated themselves to adult Islamic education. Indiana-based Legacy Institute (www.legacyin.org), locatHamid Omar moderates a Legacy Institute session that offers talks by (from ed just outside metropolitan left) Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Tewfik Choukri, and Imam Mohamed Magid _______________________________________________________________________ Indianapolis in Fishers, strives to provide quality, authentic Islamic s human civilization ad- derstanding the basics of family education for adults, help prevances, the disease of life, business transactions, inher- serve and promote authentic ignorance progresses itance, raising children, and simi- knowledge and scholarship, and with great strides. In an lar matters should be prerequipresent fundamental Islamic era of unprecedented technologi- sites for any Muslim. Prophet knowledge to both part-time and cal advance, when instantaneous Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi full-time students in the greater communication is possible practi- wa sallam) said: “When God Indianapolis and surrounding arwishes good for someone, He be- eas. It also seeks to restore the cally anywhere in the world, the stows upon him/her the underrole and independence of scholabsence of knowledge remains standing of the deen’’ (al-Bukhari ars, revive the time-tested educathe root cause of many of the tional methods to restore trust in problems plaguing humanity. One and Muslim). The devaluation of Islamic Islamic teaching, develop knowlof Islam’s primary objectives is to edgeable and capable leaders, lift the veil of ignorance from peo- knowledge has reached crisis proportions today, particularly in and create a grass-roots reform ple’s hearts by shedding light America. While the Muslim Ameri- in Islamic education that can be a where darkness once existed. model for fellow communities. To achieve this goal, however, can community has plenty of business, medical, and technical During its approximately sevone must have a certain fundaen years of existence, Shaykh mental set of knowledge. In other professionals, there is a catastrophic shortage of individuals Tewfik Choukri, the institute’s words, every Muslim has to ac_______________________ quire enough Islamic knowledge studying to become Islamic schol- primary scholar-in-residence, ISNA Fellow Shahzan Akber is also a founding has conducted a variety of eduso that he/she can live in harmo- ars, imams, academics, or remember and vice-president of the Legacy Institute. cational programs on the ny with the Islamic tradition. Un- searchers. This reality should be

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HAITI

Days of Haze

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aiti called, and I responded by joining the NYC Medics team in Port-au-Prince. We were camped with the U.S. military’s 82nd Airborne, which certainly eased our logistics, supplies, and security issues. I was quite impressed by the military’s humanitarian touch when it came to helping the Haitians. But while the army’s logistical support helped us, there was no getting around reality: living in tents; eating MREs; drinking lukewarm water; and working long, intense hours in a hot, humid, mosquito-filled disaster environment. While our current situation was temporary, many Haitians will endure their current situation for a long time.

Dr. Umair Shah reaches out to Haitian children, many of whom he had treated

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Most people do not realize their own blessings until they confront the tragedy of others. BY UMAIR A. SHAH The New York City-based nonprofit NYC Medics (www.nycmedics.org), founded in the aftermath of the 2005 Pakistan/Kashmir earthquake, responds to disasters by rapidly deploying emergency health and medical professionals. Once on the ground we saw many good things: daily improvements, people working together, and incredibly resilient people who refused to be cowed by hardship. Just as they had sensed the beginning of a “turning-point,” the earthquake struck and blotted out a great deal of hope. As responders, we struggle with the feeling that whatever good we do is really no more than a drop in the bucket. Yes there has been improvement, but for the people impacted it has been far too slow. The initial emergency/trauma phase was marked by chaos and non-coordination, as well as other woes with the UN, USAID, and countless international organizations trying to respond appropriately. From the field, the reality of such responses is that the situation gets worse before it gets better. Things are now transitioning into the primary care/chronic care needs phase. We witnessed this contextual transition, although our main task was to provide emergency care by integrating into personnel-poor “hospitals” (really just simple tents strung together) in the heart of urban Port-au-Prince. Suturing up lacerations, inserting chest tubes, caring for sick children with pneumonia or diarrhea-related dehydration, providing postwound/surgical care, or dealing with chronic illnesses exacerbated by the lack of suitable medications—these were the individual stories of our collective ER experiences. We also deployed to the more remote—and unvisited—areas: the slums of Soleil (described as one of the world’s worst slums); the internally displaced person (IDP) camps of the capital’s less frequented areas; and Gressier, Leogane, Bassone, and other towns that supposedly had not been so badly impacted. But once there, we found people on hill sides, in sugarcane fields, along plantain tree-lined villages, or in shanty towns erected in local stadiums—all of them hurting. We did what we could by giving them supplies and/or expertise; when this was not possible, we gave them our smiles. Other times, we transported patients to

hospitals for more intensive care, including transporting four patients on our last day. What an adventure it was to go to two hospitals that could not accept our patients due to the lack of proper staff or equipment. Forget the sophisticated equipment like an MRI machine; what was missing was far more basic, like electricity. It took nearly two hours to reach the only facility that could take them. Two hours too long, with one of our patients crashing en route. With a BP of 80/40, she began to fade. Holding her in my lap, I checked her carotid pulse, trying to comfort her while yelling out orders. Each team member did something during this journey—the longest, slowest ride of our trip, one that seemed to take forever, one that exemplified wilderness medicine, Haitistyle. Throughout, the patient remained stoic, calm, trusting. We breathed a sigh of relief after getting her stabilized at the makeshift tent hospital, as we felt we had saved a life. We encountered many people who were scared, hurting, and just happy to see us, to know that we cared. And the children—smiling, playing. Perhaps it was better that they did not fully comprehend the difficult road ahead. We saw hundreds of patients a day at our makeshift clinics—a church, a school, or just outdoors. Our triage area was often no more than a chair or our truck. In the last week alone, we treated over 2,000 Haitians nationwide. When not with the military, the nicest UN peacekeeping force from Sri Lanka provided security, scoped out some of our locations, and fed us a Sri Lankan-style lunch each day. Other times, security consisted of watching out for each other. Looking back, I am proud that we went off the beaten path to find people in need and then take care of them in the most competent, professional, and compassionate manner possible. As we were leaving Port-au-Prince on the last day, a chilling rainfall foreshadowed the oft-talked about approaching rainy season. We thought of the IDP camps that especially will need further attention from public health/sanitation vantage points. While we were temporarily uncomfortable, at least we knew that it was only temporary. It must be a horrible feeling to have no hope for the future or not to know when that future will come. Coming back to America makes one so thankful for everything we take for granted: running water, working traffic lights, electricity, food, homes, clean air, drinkable tap water, and toilets that flush. Most of all we have hope, because we know that for the most part, if we give it our all (and have a few breaks), we will have a future. Yes, similar disasters happen here. Katrina, 9/11, and everything in-between. And, speaking universally, those with the least are the most clearly impacted. Those with the least have the

least likelihood of overcoming the challenges of today to create a better tomorrow. This is true all over the world. I have been troubled by how easy and how hard it is to leave everything behind. One responds and deploys to an isolated area. Life as we know it stops. We leave behind so much that grounds us in our own reality. Despite this, when leaving Haiti I felt I had a handle on things—at least until I met a twenty-seven-year old Haitian on my return flight. Having heard of my medical deployment to Haiti, he thanked me repeatedly and relayed this was his first time out of the area since the earthquake, that he needed help, needed to get away. He began telling me how the floor split apart and he was knocked off his chair; how he crawled to the door, broke it down, and went into the streets; how he got into his car and began driving, like so many others, not knowing where. There were awful traffic jams, as everyone was scrambling to get away. Darkness was falling, but he continued to drive. Darkness descended, and no one knew what was happening as unanswered cries for help went out. Finally morning came. When he went back out, he saw a mother clutching her dead child, a father with dead family members on the ground—he almost stumbled over them. Each story made him tear up as if he were re-living each moment right in front of me. I could hear the real-life panic in his voice. He showed me pictures, as if to validate what he had described. I tried to give him some realtime crisis counseling, all the while failing to recognize how his vivid story-telling was impacting me. When we parted ways, I walked alone between the American and Continental terminals in the Puerto Rico airport—walking and, eventually, breaking down and sobbing. I did not know why, but I just could not stop crying. Typically, responders in “response mode” do reasonably well—only afterwards does it hit us. Clearly my time in Haiti had impacted me. This beautiful country, made up of these beautiful people, has changed me forever. I hope we can all rebuild Haiti, do something to improve the Haitians’ lives, do something for people both at home and abroad. The collective “we” is the only hope such people have. Indeed, we must be ready when called upon. I told my team repeatedly how proud of them I was, for they were among the very few people who had actually come to help, instead of just talking about doing so. Giving up one’s mundane daily routine to help strangers is never easy, but do not all of us hope that someone will be there during our time of need?

_____________________________

Umair A. Shah, MPH, has extensive emergency response experience and currently serves as deputy director of the Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services, Houston, TX. MAY/JUNE 2010 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 53


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RELIEF

MISSION TO HAITI Muslim American relief mission was among the first to reach earthquake-devastated Haiti. BY AYMAN ABURAHMA “I knew you were coming. I saw it in a dream.” My emotions overtook me as I stood amidst the carnage in Port-au-Prince, listening to this righteous elder of Haiti’s Muslim community. It was about ten days since the earthquake had struck, and my fourth day in the country. The reality of everything was finally catching up with me. I was in Haiti as the head of a team sent by Life for Relief and Development (www.lifeusa.org) to deliver emergency aid. The instructions given by our president and CEO, Dr. Mujahid Al-Fayadh, were simple and straightforward as we Life team distributes departed from Life’s Southfield tarps for temporary (MI) headquarters: “Buy food shelter to homeless and other relief items from the quake-hit Haitians neighboring Dominican Republic (DR), truck it into Haiti, and hand it out to the needy.” Surprisingly, this was easier than I expected, thanks to the help of the DR Muslims who met us at the airport when we arrived in the middle of the night and provided us with logistical support. On our first day in the DR, we bought enough food from wholesalers to fill a 53’ super-extended semi-truck. We quickly mobilized after the truck was loaded, and within ten hours were in Port-au-Prince. The death and destruction surrounding us as we approached the epicenter was surreal. The urgency of our mission, however, seemed to have a numbing effect on my senses. I was trying to focus on our plan and anticipate any unknown challenges and dangers—grief and sorrow would have to wait. A neighbor back in Toledo had given me the name and number of a minister at the Morningstar Academy, a Christian missionary school in Haiti. As we had no other contacts, Morningstar was our starting point. A visibly exhausted Dr. Jay Threadgil was still very excited as we pulled into the compound: “Your convoy is the first to arrive and bring us food. We haven’t seen any other relief organizations, not even the U.N.!” While we talked about getting medical supplies for the makeshift hospital established on the school grounds, volunteers unloaded the truck and set up distribution tables atop the school’s basketball court. Food and water were immediately handed out to people who had already lined up for this badly needed assistance. After leaving, we stopped by an orphanage that houses several staff members and nearly 150 HIV-affected children. As they were stranded without any supplies, we unloaded several days’ worth of food, baby milk, and juice for them. Our final stop was a refugee camp, where we handed out food to about 500 families before calling it a night. The following morning, another relief team from Life’s partner, the Dubaibased Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Charity (MBRMC), joined our convoy. Over the next few days, together we distributed forty tons of food trucked in from the DR by Life, as well as tons more of non-perishable supplies flown in on a royal charter from Dubai by the MBRC team. Much of our efforts were centered on the Port-au-Prince’s 5,000-10,000 Muslims. 54 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF LIFE FOR RELIEF AND DEVELOPMENT

MY BODY UTTERLY FROZE AS he whispered into my ear:

Going from mosque to mosque to distribute food and assess needs, we were amazed to find all of them standing despite the total destruction on all sides. Two of the mosques were built right next door to churches, both of which, along with all of the other buildings in those areas, had been flattened. The mosques, on the other hand, sere standing high amidst the rubble, virtually unharmed. We promised their leaders that we would help them repair their facilities and provide a new carpet and copies of the Qur’an in the near future. At Masjid Al-Fatiha I met that elderly man mentioned above, whose radiant glow of piety I will never forget. After telling me of his vision, he drew me near and whispered: “I will visit Makkah and pray there for you and your family.” I don’t know if it was all of the blocked-out horror now catching up with me or if the spirituality of it all overcame me, but when he uttered those words tears burst from my eyes uncontrollably as we embraced tightly. I was crying for him, for Haiti, and for myself, because I knew I did not deserve the blessings God has bestowed upon me throughout my life. Moreover, no matter what I did I could never do enough to thank God for what I had: my daughters, my wife, my health, my job, and, of course, my faith.

______________________________________ Ayman Aburahma heads of the fundraising department at the Life for Relief and Development charity.


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Bludgeoned in Bangladesh Bangladesh human rights groups need a consistency check. BY SHIMUL CHAUDHURY In the past weeks, one regular news story has appeared in Bangladeshi newspapers: arrests of suspected Bangladesh Jamaat Islami (BJI) and Islami Chhatra Shibir (ICS) members, as well as at rallies against political repression. Scenes of police parading ICS suspects tied at the waist with rope, a treatment degrading even to animals, in front of the media have become common. The media remain eerily silent about all of this, especially in the case of students and human rights violations. Indeed, the Bangladeshi newspapers are serving to victimize the victims. Interestingly, when it comes to the freedom of expression (read “freedom to taunt Islam”) and minority rights, they follow a very different path. Cadres of the ruling party-affiliated Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) regularly harass and torture university and college students on the pretext that they are ICS sympathizers. The crackdown has only compounded that injustice. Soon after the Awami League (AL) came to power, hundreds of students suspected of ICS ties were expelled from Dhaka University’s (DU) dorms and many were severely tortured (even in the presence of helpless teachers). The anti-ICS pogroms continue. Most of those affected are from poor rural families; they have had to rent higher priced private residences and thereby have incurred additional transport expenses. This was not considered a sufficient punishment, however, for a subsequent police crackdown got them ejected from their new premises. This new wave of anti-BJI and anti-ICS repression started after a Rajshahi University student was killed on 9 Feb. 2010. The ruling AL—without proof—blamed the ICS, despite its leaders’ categorical denial. The matter is presently under judiciary review. Political murders, especially at universities, are not new in Bangladesh. Some reports blame this death on BCL in-fighting (“Daily Prothom Alo,” 15 Feb. 2010). According to a report published in “Nayadiganta” (Dhaka, 4 Mar. 2010), the country experienced thirteen political murders during Feb. 2010 alone, a sad reflection of the scale of the ongoing political violence. However, the government is selectively using the 9 Feb. murder to silence its opposition. In reality, the BCL is at the forefront of the campus war and has killed dozens of non-

BCL students and even its own dissenters. BCL toughs routinely kill those who refuse to pay them extortion money. Murders by BCL cadres, sometimes dubbed an “organization of killers and extortionists,” generally receive inadequate press coverage and are not arrested. Nor does the media and the government raise any questions. The police seem too busy with smothering the ICS. Despite the almost total news blackout, some incidents do get reported. For instance, the “Daily Star” (27 Feb.) reported that Syed Ashraful Islam (local government and rural development and cooperatives minister) blamed BCL activists and leaders for tarnishing Dhaka’s image. Ashraful Islam, who is also AL’s general secretary, directed party leaders to take stern action like expulsion, if necessary, against BCL activists involved in manipulating government contracts and destructive activities. The “Daily Star” (3 Mar.) also reported that the DU committee investigating the death of a student in a clash between two BCL factions temporarily expelled ten BCL members responsible for the incident, pending further action. On 26 Feb., DU expelled five BCL members for assaulting a female student. The BJI opposed the AL-led movement to break up Pakistan. Although no BJI or ICS members were involved in war crimes, after its return to power the AL launched a smear campaign to shut down the opposition by means of special courts established under the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act (1973). Many of its provisions, however, violate the Universal Declaration of Human

Rights (1948), Covenants on Civil and Political Rights (1966), and a host of other international legislations. But above all, this legislation violates the fundamental rights guaranteed in the nation’s constitution. For example, this trial will be convened by a special government tribunal that is not bound by technical rules of evidence. Newspaper reports and hearsay evidence will be admissible, and the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (1898) and the Evidence Act (1872) will not apply. In other words—a free and fair trial will be quite impossible, no more than a kangaroo court. Bringing up the war crimes issue, which was resolved internationally through the Simla Agreement (1972) and nationally through the Collaboration Act (1972), again shows that this trial is politically motivated. In addition, the current regime is now trying to subjugate Bangladesh’s judiciary (Daily “Amar Desh” 16 Feb. 2010). Ironically, except for Amnesty International’s much watered-down statement, “human rights” groups (both local and foreign) and foreign missions have not spoken. Their silence over the repression of Islamic elements and their outcries over other issues make it obvious that their priorities are at best selective. In the Bangladeshi context, both of them are most vociferous on the question of putative minority repression (while ignoring anti-Muslim pogroms in India and elsewhere) and incidents of militancy in the country.

_______________________________ Shimul Chaudhury is a freelance writer.

____________________________________________________

Paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) officers stand guard in front of the central postal office in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh MAY/JUNE 2010 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 55


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of a comprehensive constitutional reform that will enable Bosnia to join the EU and NATO. These reforms must focus on strengthening civic repOnly an assertive American role in enforcing the resentation, rather than ethnoDayton Agreement can create a functional Bosnia territorial spheres of influence. Muslims have a special reand Herzegovina state. BY SAFFET ABID CATOVIC gard for this Muslim state locatTHE SOVEREIGN NATION OF championed Serbian president ed at the crossroads of European hope for democratic developBosnia and Herzegovina turned Milosevic’s removal in the ment; and validates ultranation- “western” and Islamic “eastern” eighteen on 1 Mar. 2010, thanks 1990s) and Hillary Clinton’s ap- alism. This is happening not on civilization. The holocaust that to the internationally superpointment as secretary of state battlefields, but at the negotiat- befell it galvanized Muslim vised 1992 referendum and the along with other ranking ClinAmerican calls for community ing table. It is happening besubsequent official European action, empowered greater doton-era officials. After all, Clin- cause, rather than strengthenUnion and American recognimestic interfaith action, and inton had sent the American-led ing state powers and drawing tion. But this happened only after the world once again witInitialization of the Dayton nessed continental Europe’s Agreement in 1995, which dark side: ethnic chauvinism, paved the way for the signing religious bigotry, ultra-nationalof the final aeace agreement ism, massive carnage, mass on Dec. 14 in Paris rape as an official policy, concentration camps, and the displacement of half of Bosnia’s pre-war population. Kofi Annan, UN secretary-general at the time, has admitted that UN inaction was “a big mistake, and the United Nations will be haunted forever because of it.” This holocaust only ended through direct American-led NATO intervention and the ensuing Dayton Agreement hammered out in 1995. This document, despite its shortcomings, represented what many at the time considered the best alterna- NATO forces to end the Bosnian the recalcitrant Bosnian Serbs creased the community’s civic holocaust. To date, it seems that back into Bosnia, representative. In his 1999 Independence involvement. Furthermore, givObama has “forgotten” several tives of European Union memDay address, President Alija en their generally tolerant and Izetbegovic (d. 2003) said: “The of his Bosnia-related statepluralistic past and their recent ber nations led by former Dayton Agreement was good if it ments, especially his Nov. 2009 Bosnia chief negotiator Carl direct experience of genocide, declaration: “Our nation was consistently implemented. Bosnian Muslims are experts on Bildt are walking back parts of stands with Bosnia and Herze- the 1995 Dayton Agreement The war was stopped, but it has xenophobia run amok. Not surcontinued by other means. This govina as it continues its jourthat had put an end to the three- prisingly, they are at the foreney from a war-torn past to a new kind of war is called obfront of various interfaith initiaand-a-half year war that had torn the country apart.” struction, and it is unfortunately, peaceful and stable future.” In tives (e.g., the “Common After pointing out several at work….” Many Bosnian lead- fact, to the dismay of some, he Word”), ongoing dialogue with “insidious” elements and ers have decried this “war of ob- apparently is allowing Europe the Vatican, and crafting proadding that the American-Euto drive the Dayton Agreestruction.” Last year while gressive religious frameworks ropean proposal being considment’s implementation. speaking at the University of (e.g., the European Fiqh Counered preserves “entity voting”— cil). In addition, they are comIn his 23 Oct. 2009 op-ed in California at Los Angeles, Dr. a Dayton provision that allows “The Wall Street Journal,” forHaris Silaidizc, the current mitted to a functioning and posiBosnian Muslim member of the mer Senate majority leader and the Serbian parliamentary mitive integration within Europe, 1996 Republican presidential nority of 22 percent to veto altri-part presidency, blamed the thereby making the Continent most anything it desires—Dole nation’s continued political dys- nominee Bob Dole observed: more just and truly pluralistic. cautioned: “Without a resump- American leadership will help functionality on the constitution- “Today, Bosnia is again under tion of American leadership, al provision that allows less than threat. This time the threat is all of this state’s citizens function not from the brutality and imEurope may deliver a coup de 25 percent of the Parliament to as living interpreters of several mediacy of genocide. Rather, it grâce to the Bosnian state.” block any adopted law. religious traditions and civilizations to the benefit of everyone. is a more subtle menace: the America needs to resume Bosnians living at home and _______________________ prospect of a state weakened to ownership of the Dayton Agreein the diaspora hoped that Saffet Abid Catovic, an American-born Muslim of ment’s implementation and ad- Bosnian descent, served as counselor and then minthings would change for the bet- the extent that it dissolves; ter under President Obama, leaves its people in separatist, ministration. At a minimum, it ister counselor at the Mission of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations from 1992-2001. who ran with Joe Biden (he had monoethnic conclaves; loses all should facilitate the formation

PHOTOGRAPH BY U.S. AIR FORCE/STAFF SGT. BRIAN SCHLUMBOHM

Awaiting Functionalism

56 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010


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TRIBUTE

Stamp of Service

N

ot every American knows that the Eid stamp they have been using since Sept. 2001 owes part of its existence to Aminah Assilmi, who died in a one-car road accident outside Newport (TN) on 5 Mar. while returning from a speaking engagement in New York. At the time of her death, she was working to make Eid a national holiday, planning to start a campaign to have the stamp reissued with a new design in time for its tenth anniversary, and trying to establish a Center for Muslim Women’s Studies to instruct converts about Islam and serve as a retreat center and a summer camp for Muslim children. Assmili, 65, fondly assigned her journey to Islam to a computer glitch. A devout Southern Baptist girl, this radical feminist and broadcast journalist was mistakenly assigned to a class that had a roomful of Arabs (or “camel jockeys”).

AMINAH ASSILMI (1945-2009) She decided to drop the class because she thought it was not possible for her to be in the middle of Arabs: “There was no way I was going to sit in a room full of dirty heathens!” Upon being told that God has a reason for everything and that she should think some more before quitting—she was a scholarship student, after all—she locked herself away for two days and came out determined to continue the class because she felt God had called her to convert Arabs. But after failing to convert any of them, she began to read their “own book to show to them that Islam was a false religion and Mohammed was a false Prophet.” At her request, one student gave her a copy of the Qur’an and another book on Islam. And thus began her research, writing down what she found objectionable and what she would use to “prove” that Islam was a false religion. Unconsciously, however, she was changing from within; she announced her conversion on 21 May 1977. This was the beginning of the many challenges and tribulations she would face,

among them the court’s awarding custody of her two children to her husband, who divorced her after she renounced Christianity. But she triumphed in all her tests. The first family member to share her path was her grandmother, at that time over 100 years old. The next converts were her father, who had wanted to kill her after she had embraced Islam, and her mother. Her sister, who had wanted to put her in mental institution, also converted. When he turned 21, her son called her and said that he wanted to become a Muslim. Sixteen years after the divorce, her exhusband also accepted Islam. Wearing hijab cost her her job. During her career she founded and served as president of the International Union of Muslim Women (www.IUMW.org), traveled nationwide to lecture on Islam, and was chosen as one of the top 500 most influential contemporary Muslims in the world (Jordan’s Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in concert with Georgetown’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding).

Diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer some years ago, doctors gave her a year to live. Even though she was confined to a wheelchair for a few years, had a serious heart condition, and was homeless for a while, she never stopped working for Islam and her faith in God remained strong. Riyad Shamma (executive director, Institute of Youth Development and Excellence), who considered Assilmi a second mother, mentor, and dear friend, said: “She was completely committed to Islam. She lived simply and humbly. She walked the walk and talked the talk … Her term of service was no flash in the pan, not based on a level of popularity or fame. From the time she embraced Islam, she was moving forward in her desire to serve and help others ... she has had some amazing challenges— and the only thing more amazing is that she never let any of them deter her.” She is survived by her daughter Amber, sons Whitney and Mohammad, and several grandchildren. MAY/JUNE 2010 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 57


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BY IMAM MOHAMMED IBN HAGMAGID ^ WITH SAMUEL ROSS

One of our greatest challenges as spiritual wayfarers is to objectively assess our standing with God. So commonly distorted is our view that a term has even been coined in social psychology for our capacity for self-delusion: the above average effect. Researchers in America, for example, have found that 88% of Americans rank themselves as above-average drivers (O. Svenson, “Are we all less risky and more skillful than our fellow drivers?” Acta Psychologica 47, no. 2 [Feb. 1981]: 14348). Other research has found that 70% of American students believe they have aboveaverage leadership qualities (Mark D. Alicke, David A. Dunning, and Joachim I. Krueger, “The Self in Social Judgment: Studies in Self and Identity” [Psychology Press: 2005]: 85106), and 68% of professors at one American university ranked themselves as being in the top 25% for teaching ability (P. Cross, “Not can, but will college teachers be improved?” New Directions for Higher Education 17 [1977]: 1-15). It is vital to bear this in mind as we assess our own standing with God. In each of the five daily prayers, we remind ourselves that God is the Master of the Day of Judgment and entreat Him not to make us among al-maghdubi ‘alayhim (those whose portion is wrath) nor al-dalin (those who have gone astray) (2:7). But when we stand to pray, how often do we fall for the above average effect? It is imperative that we see ourselves clearly, for God promises in the Qur’an that on the Day of Judgment “anyone who has done the weight of a dharrah of evil shall see it” (97:8). According to the scholars of language, the word dharrah refers to a speck of dust that scatters when blown. And how wonderful a word choice this is! Not only does it capture the idea of minuteness, but it also calls to mind the cavalier manner with which dust is so often brushed away, as if to say: “Those smallest of our sins; our minor omissions and offhand remarks that we brush off, the way we brush off a book, will return. A scary thought experiment would be to imagine every vacuum cleaner bag of dust we have ever vacuumed presented to us at the end of our lives. 58 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

Food for the Spirit Surat al-Fatihah / The Opener. Part X What can we do to see our standing with God more clearly? First, we can remind ourselves that “those whose portion is wrath” and “those who have gone astray” may very well describe us. Unfortunately, many Muslims limit these phrases by trying to identify them with particular groups of people. Undoubtedly many do earn God’s anger and many do go astray; however, we should remember that God intentionally kept the wording open. Thus we must keep our hearts open to the possibility that we just might be among those with whom God is displeased. Second, we should reflect upon the powerful and fascinating hadith qudsi in which God proclaims: “I am just as My servant thinks I am” (“Sahih al-Bukhari,” vol. 9, book 93, no. 502). Other narrations add: “If he/she thinks good, then that is for him/her. And if he/she

One of the greatest challenges of spiritual wayfarers is to objectively assess their standing with God. ______________________________________________________

Imam Mohammed ibn Hagmagid, vice president of ISNA, was educated by his father, an al-Azhar graduate and a leading scholar in Sudan, and other notable scholars, and earned the ijazah (permission to teach) in several disciplines. Samuel Ross is a student of the Arabic language.

thinks evil, then that is for him/her” (“Sahih Ibn Hibban,” no. 639). In his commentary on this hadith, the great hadith scholar al-Munawi (d. 1621) explains the meaning as “I treat my servant in accordance to his/her opinion of Me, and I do to him/her what he/she expects of Me … So whoever thinks that God suffices him/her and that He is generous, merciful, and compassionate, he/she shall find that. And whoever thinks the opposite of that, he/she shall find that” (Al-Munawi, “AlTaysir bi Sharh al-Jam‘i al-Saghir”). To determine whether God is displeased with us, we should first ask if we are displeased with God. If we fail to find any displeasure in our hearts, we should ask if we are displeased with anything or anyone in creation, recalling that God is the One Who decrees all things, even the actions of our fellow human beings. If we find ourselves resentful, whether it be of the weather, the traffic, or even a neighbor, we should recognize that we are ultimately resentful of the One who willed it: God Almighty. This is a great way to bypass the deceptions of the self, for how often is the self pleased with itself and displeased with others? One common way displeasure with God can manifest is in dwelling on problems; another is to lodge unconstructively worded complaints with those incapable of changing our situation. And how often do we complain! How often do we complain about neighbors


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and family members, housework and illnesses, bosses and co-workers, politicians and telemarketers, mosques and schools? Of course as Muslims, we are not called to sit passively by. As God says in the Qur’an: “Let there arise out of you a nation of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity” (3:104). But there are multiple ways to call to what is right. Let us call to the right with eyes of contentment, grateful for the innumerable blessings God has given us and aware that God’s Mercy precedes His Wrath, and with hearts of mercy, free from the baser motives of malice and revenge. What should we do, then, if we find within ourselves the urge to complain when no benefit can come of it? The first step is to follow the example of our blessed Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and hold our tongue. As he said: “Whoever believes in God and the Last Day should say what is good or keep quiet” (“Sahih al-Bukhari,” vol. 8, book 73, no. 157). A great example is that he never criticized any food he was invited to eat. If he disliked it, he simply left it alone (“Sahih alBukhari,” vol. 7, book 65, no. 320). The second step is to remember the sound hadith: “Amazing is the affair of the Muslim … If something pleasing reaches him/her, he/she gives thanks and that is good for him/her. And if harm afflicts him/her, he/she is patient and that is best for him/her” (“Sahih Muslim,” book 42, no. 7138). The reason patience is best is that “no Muslim is afflicted with any harm except that God removes his/her sins, [just] as the leaves fall from a tree” (“Sahih al-Bukhari,” vol. 7, book 70, no. 550). The next time we feel the urge to complain, let us strive to bear our difficulties patiently, focusing on the benefit we receive from enduring our difficulty, rather than on the uncomfortable pain they may cause. Third, we should realize that God may choose to punish us in this world for the sins that we commit. It is easy to play victim, but how often do we consider our own role in creating the problems we lament? Sometimes the connection is obvious. An angry spouse is often the result of a hurtful word. But even when we do not see any fault on our own part, we should consider the possibility that Allah could be purifying us for something else we may have done. And how much better to be purified in this world than in the next! Fourth, let us remember to never judge a situation until it is over. How often do God’s purposes become clear only long after the situation has ended? As He states in the Qur’an: “It is possible that you dislike a thing and it is better for you … But God knows, and you know not” (2:216). May God help us to love Him, His creation, and His decree so that we, in turn, may be loved by Him. Ameen.

Please send your feedback and questions to: foodforthespirit@isna.net. Visit us at our website, where you can download this and previous columns at: www.isna.net/foodforthespirit. ISLAMIC HORIZONS 59

THE DUNKAN BLACK MACDONALD CENTER

FOR THE STUDY OF ISLAM & CHRISTIAN-MUSLIM RELATIONS


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SEEKING WIFE  BO150 May/June 2010 Pakistani Sunni Muslim parents invite correspondence for their son, 32, business graduate, working in Toronto, from educated Muslimah with good religious and family values. Contact: saeed_shah@hotmail.com.

Matrimonials

And of His signs is this; He created for you spouses from yourselves that you might find peace in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo, herein indeed are signs for people who reflect.

 BO151 May/June 2010 Arabic/English-speaking Muslim, 50s, cherishes Islamic values, loves nature, long walks during sunrise and moonlight, herbal gardening, roses, jasmine, making hajj, traveling to the fascinating Norwegian midnight sun and the great Pyramids of Egypt, cooking healthy Mediterranean cuisine, seeks Muslimah.

 BO152 May/June 2010 Sunni Muslim parents of U.S.-born son, 28, MD, practicing Muslim seek professionals with good religious and family values, non-hijabi, 22-26. Serious inquiries only. Respond with resume and photo. Shaadi786@gmailcom.

 BO153 May/June 2010 Sunni Muslim parents invite correspondence for their son, 28, computer engineering M.S., 5’9”, working for a reputable firm from parents of religious, educated girls, 22-25. Contact: zbr986@yahoo.com.

(Qur’an 30:21)

 BO154 May/June 2010

 SO506 May/June 2010

Sunni Muslim parents seek match for their U.S.-born son, 29, 5’10”, MBA from a prestigious California school, employee of a premiere consulting firm in San Francisco from a highly educated, athletic, and humorous woman. Contact: rishta92@gmail.com.

Correspondence invited from suitable Sunni Muslim professionals for charming, slender engineer, Pakistani origin, 32, living in U.S. for 20 years, never married. Contact: royalmaya1@gmail.com.

 BO155 May/June 2010 Sunni Muslim parents seek for their 28, 3d-year anesthesia resident son, 6’2”, athletic, good sense of humor, never married, a family-oriented and practicing hijab-wearing physician, 24-27. Contact: Muslimahmom@gmail.com.



SEEKING HUSBAND  SO425 May/June 2010 Sunni Muslim parents (Indo-Pakistani origin) invite correspondence for lively, beautiful, U.S.-born daughter, 25, Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from U.S.-born or U.S.-educated professionals. Contact: yosemite8140@gmail.com.

 SO464 May/June 2010 Sunni Muslim parents invite correspondence for lively, beautiful U.S.-born daughter (Indo-Pakistani origin), 23, 3d-year U.S. medical student from suitable professionals. Contact: horizon8140@gmail.com.

 SO520 May/June 2010 Pakistani Sunni Muslim parents seek North Americanraised doctor or professional, 24-28, for their Canadianborn daughter, 22, 5’6”, slim, fair, with B.Com. Contact: shadi.islam@gmail.com.

 SO521 May/June 2010 Sunni Muslim Hyderabadi physician parents invite correspondence (with photos) from medical doctor or medical student for their U.S.born daughter, 23, 5’4” practicing Muslimah, 3d-year

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60 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

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student in a prestigious U.S. medical school.

 SO522 May/June 2010 Indian-origin Sunni Muslim parents of fair, slim, U.S.born daughter, 23, 2d-year M.D. student in U.S., with Islamic values seeking correspondence from practicing Sunni Muslim medical professionals. Contact: orangeblossom786@gmail.com.

 SO524 May/June 2010 Sunni Muslim parents originally from Bangalore seek matrimonial alliance for their daughter, 31, in first year of residency in internal medicine from doctors or those in residency. Please contact: (734) 536-0313 or ruhya@yahoo.com.

 SO525 May/June 2010 Pakistani Sunni Muslim parents seek match for kind, caring, family-oriented, religious Canadian-born/raised daughter, 27, wears hijab, M.S. (computer science) from Canadianborn/raised, well-educated, and devout Muslim. Contact: camr123@hotmail.com.

 SO527 May/June 2010 Sunni Muslim Pakistani (Panjabi) educated parents of beautiful, slim, U.S.-born daughter, 26, 5’6”, M.A., practicing Muslimah seek Godfearing, educated professional. Contact: h.ys@live.com or (703) 941-0559 (VA)

 SO528 May/June 2010 Muslim parents invite serious correspondence for tall, beautiful, U.S.-born daughter, 28, physician in competitive residency from physician or professionals, 28-33, preferably of South Asian descent. E-mail photo/details to: nerm777@gmail.com.

 SO529 May/June 2010 Sunni Muslim Hyderabadi parents invite correspondence for U.S.-born/raised daughter, 26, good-looking, fair, slim, 5’6”, wears hijab from a professional of IndoPakistani origin, 26-32. Contact: khan1218@gmail.com.

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 SO530 May/June 2010 Sunni Muslim (Punjabi) family seeking match for daughter, 23, beautiful, smart, 5’3”, B.S. in biology, raised in U.S. with Islamic values from a professional, around 28 years old. Please contact at (240) 355-1038 or maats80@yahoo.com.

 SO531 May/June 2010 Pakistani Sunni Muslim parents invite correspondence for their daughter, 30, electrical engineer, beautiful, slim from a professional Muslim with good religious and family values. Contact: saeed_shah@hotmail.com.

 SO532 May/June 2010 Sunni Muslim parents invite correspondence for their beautiful, U.S.-born/raised daughter, 24, with Islamic values, graduating from a prestigious law school from a U.S.educated professional. Contact: mohhuq@gmail.com.

Principal Wanted Annoor Academy of Knoxville, Tennessee (AAK), a full-time Islamic School serving the Muslim Community of Knoxville Tennessee, since 1999, seeks applications from qualified individuals for the position of Principal. AAK has more than 120 students enrolled in PK -7th grades. In January 2008, the school moved to a newly built 26,000 sq. ft. building. Job Responsibilities: ¥ Provide overall leadership and supervision of the school staff, and administrative job. ¥ Provide leadership in developing and reviewing instructional materials. ¥ Maintain communication with parents and the community at large. Qualifications: ¥ Masters degree in education or equivalent, preferably from a US university. ¥ Excellent communication and leadership skills. ¥ Excellent command of the English language. ¥ Firm Islamic knowledge and practice. Compensation: Competitive salary and benefits package. To Apply: President, Islamic Education Foundation of Knoxville 742 Foxvue Road, Knoxville, TN 37922 islamone@gmail.com

 SO533 May/June 2010 Muslim Hyderabadi Sunni, moderate parents invite correspondence for their U.S.raised daughter, 26, fair, slim, in final year of Ph.D. biomedical engineering at a prestigious U.S. university from U.S.-born/educated, moderate professionals with M.D. or Ph.D. Serious inquiries only. Contact: adeeb123@q.com.

 SO534 May/June 2010 Sunni Muslim, Arabic-speaking parents invite correspondence for their U.S.-born, beautiful daughter, 26, lawyer from educated professionals with religious and family values. Contact with details: hai921@aol.com.

 SO535 May/June 2010 Kashmiri Muslim parents seek match for their beautiful, family-oriented, and professional daughter, 29, 5’5”, U.S.born/raised, currently practicing career in finance with reputed firm looking for educated professional of Muslim origin, 29-34, U.S.born/raised. Contact: hma1946@yahoo.com. MAY/JUNE 2010 ISLAMIC HORIZONS 61

Position for

PRINCIPAL / VICE PRINCIPAL 33330 Peace Terrace ~ Fremont, CA 94555

Peace Terrace Academy Phone: (510) 477-9946 ~ Fax: (510) 477-9963 Located in the heart of Silicon Valley in Northern California, Peace Terrace Academy is a full-time Islamic school serving Pre-K through 8th grades. We are currently in our 12th year of operation. We are seeking a highly motivated individual to assume the position of School Principal.

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For a detailed job description, please visit us at: http://www.peaceterrace.org/pta_jobs.shtml Resumes may be emailed to: schoolcomm@peaceterrace.org


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REVIEWS The Fallout Continues

I

n the aftermath of 9/11, many Arab and Muslim Americans came under intense scrutiny by federal and local authorities, as well as their own neighbors, on the chance that they might know, support, or actually be terrorists. The author, who focuses on metropolitan Chicago, observes that even native-born Muslim Americans were portrayed as outsiders, an image that was amplified following the attacks. She argues that 9/11 did not create anti-Arab Homeland Insecurity: The Arab American and Muslim American Experience after 9/11 and anti-Muslim suspicion, for Louise A. Cainkar such socially constructed im2009. pp. 325. HB. $35.00 ages and socio-political excluRussell Sage Foundation, New York, NY sion have been longstanding. Thus, 9/11 only created an environment in which pre-existing negativity could thrive and the government could defend ethnic profiling. Combining analysis and ethnography, Cainkar offers an intimate view of what it means to be an Arab or a Muslim in a country set on edge by the worst non-domestic terrorist attack in its history. Far from being a dull academic tome, her landmark study humanizes both communities’ post-9/11 experience and should help readers realize that both groups of people are just as patriotic as any other Americans. Let’s not forget that even the 9/11 Commission found no evidence that any Arab-Americans or Muslim-Americans were involved.

Increasing Understanding

T

he Qur’an’s message, says Emerick, could be better understood if the reader had some idea of the situation surrounding its verses’ revelation. In his translation of the Qur’an’s meaning, he presents an introductory background (supplemented with hadiths) for each surah (chapter), and a contextual background for selected verses. Also included are appenA Journey through the Holy Qur’an dices on polygamy, marital Yahiya Emerick discord, the Trinity, prison2010. pp. 804. PB. $29.99 CreateSpace, Scotts Valley, CA ers of war, and the punishment for adultery. Such information will help those involved in interfaith activities to present Islam’s teaching on such matters more accurately. However, one continues to long for the day when Islamic publishers will emulate mainstream production standards — especially when the item is directed toward a mainstream readership.

62 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MAY/JUNE 2010

Short Takes Jihad of the Soul: Singlehood and the Search for Love in Muslim America Zarinah El-Amin Naeem 2009. pp. 208. PB. $19.95. Niyah Publishing, Kalamazoo, MI

Among the host of questions that Naeem tackles is how young single Muslim Americans balance their faith with western culture. She weaves a powerful and intimate narrative about the challenges they face in understanding their own souls and in searching for their soul mate. The Bible and the Qur’an at the Edge of Renaissance: A JudeoChristianMuslim Compass to a World of Peace Linda “iLham” Barto 2009. pp. 272. PB. $18.95 Mill City Press, Inc., Minneapolis

Barto leads the reader toward a broader understanding of the three books comprising the Abrahamic scriptures. Offering harmony and unity, she invites readers to focus on the constant values of all religions to affect the world for a global, spiritual renaissance. Rounded Up: Artificial Terrorists and Muslim Entrapment after 9/11 Shamshad Ahmad 2009. pp. 267. PB. $17.50. Troy Book Makers, Troy, NY

Ahmad, alleging the “perversion” of justice, analyzes the trial and subsequent conviction of Yassin Aref, a Kurdish refugee from Iraq, who was working as an imam at an Islamic center in Albany, NY, at the time of his arrest.

The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday: Unexpected Encounters in the Changing Middle East Neil MacFarquhar 2009. pp. 359. HB. $26.95 Public Affairs, New York, NY

MacFarquhar, an Arabicspeaker who grew up in the Middle East, maintains that “the constant, bloody upheaval that captures most attention has become the barrier limiting our perspective on the Middle East.” To counter this, he presents a broad cultural and personal investigation of his own. Despite the recent changes in leadership in many of the region’s countries, the author shows that the new rulers have proved only marginally less brutal than their predecessors. Muslim, Christian, and Jew: Finding a Path to Peace Our Faiths Can Share David Liepert 2010. pp. 320. PB. $15.95 Faith of Life Publishing, Toronto, Canada

Liepert, a Muslim convert, argues that all religions are equally guilty of being used to promote violence, and that centuries of political manipulation have distorted how we read our holy books. In other words, all of us are equally guilty of not following our religions’ true teachings. Muslim Scientists and Thinkers Syed Aslam 2009. pp. 194. $10.00 Alpha Scientific Publications, Canton, MI

The collection of profiles focuses on a select group of scholars to point out how Muslim scientists and thinkers have contributed to human civilization.


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