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From The Editor’s Desk – August 2015
Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh, Exploring Ayesha’s Verses ...................................................... 08 Finding Common Ground ............................................... 12,13 One Ummah, One Brotherhood ...................................... 06,07 Our Community, United in Worship ................................... 05 When the Animals Testify ................................................ 10,11 PLEASE SUPPORT OUR THAT YOU SAW THEM IN
As I prepared this issue of the magazine, the words of Imam Atif ’s Eid khutbah continued to resonate with me. His encouragement to seek out opportunities to show the mercy that Allah (SWT) teaches us, the guidance to encourage each other to stop living in fear of being known as Muslim and to stand up & stand out in society.
ADVERTISERS. SAY MUSLIM AMERICAN! Allah tests those that He loves, and he must love the Muslim American ummah greatly with the volume of tests that have August -2015, Volume 1, Issue 8 ISSN 2377 - 9624 come our way lately. Now, the hard push across the country Publisher & Editor-in-Chief: Mohamed Haroon Sait is to stop Muslims from having the right to bury our dead in Editor: Duston Barto peace. Design & Layout: Mubin M.K. All content Copyright © 2015 Muslim American, Inc. except where otherwise noted. Please contact the editor or publisher directly to obtain reprint permission and guidelines. Opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the advertisers or individual contributing writers and not necessarily those of the editor or publisher of this magazine. This magazine is published monthly. Article submissions are welcome, email: Editor@MuslimAmerican.com Advertising inquiries should email: Ads@MuslimAmerican.com
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Understand that as our society becomes more embracing of different cultures & faiths; there are many who are afraid of this change. They are afraid that this change will cause them to lose their own culture and their own sense of society. Sabr is the word of the day. Have patience and struggle with the best of language and we will have our rights .
May Allah’s peace, mercy and blessings be upon you all,
Editor, Muslim American magazine Submit your Questions, Comments, Article Submissions and Story Ideas to: Editor@MuslimAmerican.com
Our Community, United in Worship As Ramadan came to a close, our Charlotte community once again showed the strength in our unity by coming together in the thousands for Eid prayer. Confusion over the new facility and adjustments aside, the Eid prayers were once again a symbol of our brotherhood in Islam.
On Saturday, July 18th, Masjid Ash-Shaheed held it’s 2nd annual Banu Adam family reunion, encouraging all the brotherhood of man to come together. (Photo by Yusuf Nance)
Following the Eid Prayer, Imam Atif from ISGC delivered a beautiful khutbah. He encouraged us to work together better, to reach out to our community and to not live Imam Atif gives the in fear of being identified as Muslims. The weekend following the Eid was filled with celebration and festivities with our communities… united.
Charlotte ummah guidance during his Eid khutbah.
Ash-Shaheed’s picnic filled Rolling Hills park. (Photo by Yusuf Nance)
Eid Prayers filled the Cabarrus Arena for the first time.
The Community Eid Festival held on Sunday, July 19th was brought together with the efforts of MAS, ICC and ISGC and held on ISGC grounds. The Bazaar was packed with festival goers and the play area was nonstop action with kids enjoying all the fun they could pack into an afternoon.
Train rides were fun for kids of all ages. To advertise call (704) 597-5424
Women and girls went home with henna to mark the occasion. 5
One Ummah, One Brotherhood Vincent Skipper
It pains me to admit that I have seen much prejudice within the Muslim community since embracing Islam. Recently I have heard more of these stories of prejudice from other reverts. I have learned from other reverts how they have run across issues with their brothers in Islam. I have heard of issues of what some would call cliques; such as Arabs sticking with each other, Pakistanis sticking with each other, and so on. I then heard the truth from a born-andraised Muslim. He said growing up he had been afraid of African American Muslims in spite of being the child of African immigrants. He also said that he had preconceived notions of other revert Muslims. In a prior article for Muslim American, I mentioned very specifically the preconceived notion that all Caucasian converts were financially stable and therefore not in need of any help in the form of Zakat and Sadaqa. Sadly, the notion that all white American reverts are affluent is not the only preconceived notion going on among Muslims. There are also those that think converts are informants for the FBI or have other similar heinous covert purposes. The preconceived notions do not end with the white American reverts. Unfortunately this issue extends to African Americans, Latinos, and others. What is very troubling is that, upon embracing Islam, many of the new Muslims are indoctrinated with these prejudices by those in the established communities. Instead of focusing on teaching the perfection of prayer and tauheed, our new brothers and sisters are fed suspicion and gossip about other groups of Muslims. One very common misconception is this idea that all African Americans Muslims are members of the Nation of Islam. Another is that they are only coming to the mosque to try and get money. As if Muslims do not have enough problems without being ostracized by fellow Muslims! Even those who recognize that 6
the community of Masjids established by Imam Warith Deen Mohammed (about 200 networked Mosques nationwide) are not part of the Nation of Islam, there are many who incorrectly accuse the community of bidâ€™a and have many false assumptions that the community tolerates many things which are haram. This notion of making assumptions about the imaan or lifestyle of an individual just because of his or her ethnicity is as erroneous as assuming that a Pakistani is automatically an Ahamadiyyah or that an Arab is automatically a wealthy oil baron who could fund a hundred Masjids with the sweep of his pen! The argument that is most often espoused is that some of it is cultural. Another is that the Muslim community has to be careful and be on guard against scams. Lastly, the excuse is that they are trying to be watchful of potential government agents trying to cause problems. Let us be realistic here; are these really valid reasons? Is our time really in a greater need of security and guard than the early days of Islam when revelation was just beginning to come to the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS)? Yet there is not one example of Muhammad (SAWS) using such bigotry against the hypocrites and those who he knew with
absolute certainty were against him. Rather, he dealt with them in kindness. Are we not supposed to follow the life example (Sunnah) of the Prophet (SAWS)? As I reflect on this behavior, I think of the hijra and how there was a great deal of apprehension by the Ansari for the Muhajirun. The prophet Muhammad (SAWS) had them split their wealth and live together so that they might be one community. This was not just due to the status of the Muhajirun but in order to unite the community. Reverts to Islam have enough problems dealing with their family and outside world without feeling ostracized within the Muslim community. Even the family that appears to be understanding about an individual changing his or her faith to Islam is not really going to equate to the companionship of Muslims. They are www.MuslimAmerican.com
unable to understand many aspects of final khutba of the prophet Muhammad to take hands and show brotherhood with those who were not and for new worship and may guide the new Muslim (SAWS): Muslims to hold a measure of respect to apostasy. All mankind is from Adam and for the established communities. As When immigrant communities first Eve. An Arab has no superiority for possible scams, infiltration or other arrived in the United States and over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has such things say, “Allahu alim,” and move attempted to establish Islamic worship, a any superiority over an Arab; also a forward. Invite another Muslim out to limited form of isolationism was needed White has no superiority over Black eat and get to know him or her. All the to secure their own heritage and identity. nor does a Black has any superiority best dawah begins with friendship, and This was an act of fear and preservation over White except by piety (taqwa) on this issue we need to create dawah that is no longer needed. Remember, and good action. Learn that every from within the ummah. those who have not been raised in Islam Muslim is a brother to every Muslim are migrants as well, since they have and that the Muslims constitute With simple actions we can strengthen migrated from their past life to the path one brotherhood. Nothing shall the Muslim community within the of Allah (SWT). be legitimate to a Muslim which United States. Remember that you belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it will not be held accountable for the We must grab to the rope of Allah was given freely and willingly. Do not, intentions of others, but you are held and hold tight as one community. We therefore, do injustice to yourselves. accountable for your own intentions and cannot be divided and cast out Muslims actions. Give up your fears, distrust and just because we suspect them or because This is not meant as a condemnation of even prejudice that you’ve learned; set it they are from a different background. my brothers in Islam. Rather, this article all aside and submit yourself to the will With the likes of Robert Spencer, is an attempt to try and call attention to a of Allah (SWT). We are one ummah, Pamela Geller, and the rest of the growing problem within the community. one brotherhood. Islamophobic circle and those that fund It is a chance to look upon a situation that them, Muslims have enough problems. is growing that can be easily solved. It is We must remember the words of the a call for those who were raised Muslim
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Exploring Ayesha’s Verses Duston Barto
The script barely seems like that of a teenager, yet these verses of nature in the world Total Freedom (excerpt) around her. As with all The peace of my dreams do not even lie good writers, she is an avid reader and enjoys in vain but in calamity the works of Sylvia rising through disheveled rules Plath, Toni Morrison that supposedly cautions a society, and transcendentalist failing to do so by a stubborn darkness writers such as Emerson and Frost. that penetrates itself until the brave happiness The philosopher that caresses existence, poets who wrote yet I am forevermore determined commentaries on the bonds of nature to to figure out the definition humans and expressed of my fears and strengths alike passionate thoughts for my soul’s total freedom which fed from raw emotion continue to inspire Ayesha. The script barely seems like that of a teenager, yet these verses were penned by Ayesha Raza when she was only 16. Ayesha’s “Writing poetry is actually a new adventure for me and I entire collection of poems, published as Total Freedom, took really enjoy it.” says Ayesha. This declaration surprised her her less than five months to complete after having only been family, as her academic pursuits have been heavily focused on writing poetry for about a year prior to that! The trigger for mathematics and science. In fact, Ayesha intends to pursue her to publish a book came after gaining a National Scholastic a degree in mathematics after graduating high school and Art & Writing Award. Prior to this she was not really that professes a strong love for calculus. However, her mother serious, but was encouraged by her 10th grade English teacher has said that she will continue to encourage Ayesha to pursue at Providence High School here in Charlotte, NC. Of course, writing further and to let her voice grow. she was encouraged by her mother who saw great potential. Such voices should be fostered from our community as the When I sat down to talk with Ayesha and her mother, Syeda, stories and voices of Muslim Americans have to be told by about this accomplishment of having a book published and each successive generation. Insha’Allah Ayesha’s poetry will circulated internationally before she’d even graduated high inspire others to make their voices heard so that mainstream school; I couldn’t help but notice the beaming pride of Syeda media will pay attention to the power of the stories and never faltered. It came as small surprise that Ayesha dedicated explore the verses that we can share. the book to her mother, but a greater reveal was the fact that her family has a heritage of poetry. Ayesha’s grandfather held Ayesha Raza’s collection of poetry entitled Total Freedom can be purchased an MA of literature with the focus in English & Urdu poetry online at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com or the publisher’s website at which inspired Syeda to also write poetry through her teenage EsquirePublications.com and college years. Ayesha says that she draws inspiration from scenes of daily life, her own encounters, those she hears about and the reflections
Come To Me (Excerpt)
Mother of Love, come to me. set our home ablaze with the fresh passion you ignite every day, so I won’t feel tortured under the heavy burden that is simply called life, yet I think it’s a blameless abduction. 8
Devil’s Wish (Excerpt)
I dug two graves in my mind when I lost you in connection and found you in memory, certain that all the vines that held us together was a mere strategy for the devious pleasure that was underlying the angelic disguise.
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When the Animals Testify Linda “iLham” Barto
Do you not see that Allah is glorified by all beings in the skies and on Earth, including the birds with wings outspread? Each one truly knows its own prayer and praise, and Allah knows well all that they do (Surah 24: 41). There is not a creature on the earth, not even a being that flies on wings, that is not part of a community, just like you. We have omitted nothing from the Book [of Life]. They all shall be assembled before the Lord (Surah 6: 38). In the ahadith books known as Sunan an-Nasa’i, it is reported that Prophet Muhammed (SAWS) said, “If someone kills a sparrow for sport, on the Day of Judgment, the sparrow will cry out, ‘O Lord, that person killed me in vain. He did not kill me for any useful purpose.’”
Animals are sold in sealed keychains with just enough oxygen and nutritional liquid to allow them to survive for a few months of suffering as a trinket. This tormented short life is worth $1.60 for the vendor. (Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)
in plastic cases and sold as key chains; without food, water, and air, they live only a few months. In some areas of Asia, dogs are tortured and then boiled alive because those who do it claim the meat is tastier if the animals are terrified and in pain. Baby seals are clubbed to death to make seal skin coats. The black rhinoceros became extinct in 2013, and the white rhinoceros is doomed to follow because poachers continue to kill them for their horns, believed to hold aphrodisiac powers. The elephant also is soon to become extinct as they are killed for their tusks so that people can carve trinkets that nobody needs. Do you think store-bought eggs are halal? At the hatcheries, three-day-old chicks are culled so that the male chicks can be thrown alive into meat grinders. Such atrocities against animals are endless. Every day animals suffer agonizing terror at the hands of humans turned monsters.
I believe that, on the Day of Judgment, all the animals will be able to testify against humanity for the crimes committed against them, and we all should be very concerned about what they will say about us. From animal brothels (where men pay to rape animals) to the senseless slaughter of endangered species, humans have devolved into monsters destroying the natural environments and all An armed security team protects the last creatures who depend upon them. Northern White Rhino in the wild from poaching. How many more species will Animals are skinned alive because the become extinct in our lifetimes for nothing skinners claim the furs come off easier more than to feed mankind’s greed? if the blood is still flowing. Tiny animals like baby lizards and turtles are enclosed Prophet Muhammed (SAWS) was an animal rights activist. He taught to treat animals with kindness and dignity. In the ahadith collected by Mishkat al Masabih, it is recorded, “A good deed done to an animal is as good as doing good to a human being, while an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as an act of cruelty to a human being.” Prophet Muhammed (SAWS) 10
forbade killing animals just for the skins and furs (Abu Tirmidhi). Fur coats and rugs and leather are forbidden in Islam unless they are from animals killed for
Roosters, horses, dogs monkeys and other animals are forced to commit murder of one another in dozens of countries around the globe as greedy humans gamble on the grisly outcome.
food. He forbade inciting animals to fight (Bukhari). Dog fights, cock fights, bull fights, etc are forbidden in Islam. “The Prophet cursed anyone who made a living thing into a target” (Abu Dawud). I have a neighbor who enjoys shooting birds out of the sky for target practice; such as this is forbidden in Islam. Anything that prevents an animal from living a natural life free from abuse and exploitation is against the teachings of Islam. The Holy Prophet said, “All creatures are like a family of Allah, and He loves the most those who are the most beneficent to His family” (Bukhari). “To whoever takes pity even on a sparrow and spares its life, Allah will be merciful on the Day of Judgment” (Al Tabarani). “If you want to be loved by your Creator, love His creatures” (Al Tirmidhi). “Whoever is kind to the creatures of Allah is kind to himself” (Bukhari). All Muslims should be representing the passion that the Prophet had for animal rights and welfare. What can you do? For one thing, stop eating store-bought eggs for breakfast. It may be difficult www.MuslimAmerican.com
to abandon everything that uses eggs (ie, mayonnaise, pudding, cakes, and pies), but if all concerned people would just give up eggs for breakfast, the egg production industry would be pressured to find a solution other than throwing male chicks alive into meat grinders. Don’t buy furs. Most fur animals are raised in tiny, cramped cages, treated inhumanely, and then skinned alive.
Don’t buy ivory, rhinoceros horns, or any other parts of wild animals for trinkets. Support organizations that are striving to protect animals from abuse and exploitation. Some of these are World Wildlife Fund, ASPCA, World Society for the Protection of Animals, Mercy for Animals, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and World Animal Foundation. You can locate and sign petitions that seek to protect animals. Some of the websites that offer such petitions are ForceChange.com, thepetitionsite.com, Change.org YouSignAnimals.org, and ActionDefenders.org.
Get on board with Prophet Muhammed (SAWS) and do your part in protecting animals. “Fear Allah in regards to these animals who cannot speak their will!” (Abu Dawud). What will the animals say about you on the Day of Judgment?
The Prophet said, “A man felt very thirsty while he was on the way; there he came across a well. He went down the well, quenched his thirst, and came out. Meanwhile, he saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. He said to himself, ‘This dog is suffering from thirst just as I did.’ So he went down into the well again and filled his shoe with water and watered the dog. Allah thanked him for that deed and forgave him.” The people said, “O Allah’s Apostle, is there a reward for us in serving animals?” He replied, “Yes, there is a reward for serving any living thing.” - Bukhari, Book 43, Hadith 646. Narrated by AbuHuraira
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Finding Common Ground Tori Dominski Do not criticize those whom they call on besides Allah, or they will, out of spite, criticize Allah, out of ignorance. We have made pleasing to each people, their doings. In the end, they will return to their Lord, and We will then tell them the truth of all that they did. – Qur’an 6:108 Historically; Muslims, Christians, and Jews have had sufficient understanding of each other’s respective faiths to facilitate positive dialogue and cooperation. As Muslims, we know that Christians and Jews are “People of The Book” as Allah says, “Those who believed, and those who were Jewish, and the Christians, and the Sabians, and any that believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, they will have their reward with their Lord, on them will be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”(Qur’an 2:62). Though society and culture can make having such respect difficult at times; at a base level, Islam shares common ground with Judaism and Christianity, so it is easier to speak with clarity and knowledge regarding the three faiths together, alhamdulillah.
4. Approach dialogue? Unbiased and factual information is readily available for our own education. Generally, scholarly journals and books written by the adherents of the religion themselves are the best places to start. We know how it feels to be misrepresented, so it would be best if we chose to seek knowledge from a source free of negative bias. Since it requires a lot of interaction, finding common ground can be a bit trickier. For example, we have to be able to listen to and truly comprehend the set of beliefs of someone who may seem to believe in several deities or gods. We should ask clear, concise questions about what we don’t understand especially concerning a concept we don’t accept - so that we don’t close our minds before the other person has a chance to explain.
Today, by the grace of Allah (SWT), we live in a beautiful, diverse, and oftentimes confusing world. In this world, thousands of other religions have sprouted, formed, and amassed followings. We must always acknowledge that no path but Islam can be pure and correct for humankind, yet at the same time we cannot allow ourselves to be lead by Shaitan into becoming ignorant (or worse, hateful) about groups of people who believe differently than we do. If we allow our In another scenario, there could also be dislike of a certain someone from a religion that is monotheistic group to prevent and shares many of the same responsibilities of us from speaking faith prescribed to believers, such as the forbidding intelligently and alcohol and other intoxicants. With that knowledge, we can respectfully with walk over a bridge of commonality to reach understandings them, then we about anything in their religion that doesn’t exactly align with effectively lose our Islam, and both parties can address issues with tolerance many opportunities and respect. (especially nowadays) to give da’wah and simply educate people on the truth of Islam. Yet another person could belong to a smaller, earth-centric religion clouded by prejudice and media sensationalism (can Therefore, how do we; as Muslims: we relate or what?), and those attitudes could negatively affect the way we see them if we’re unable to separate what they tell 1. Educate ourselves on other faiths, us from everything we’ve read or seen on TV before. 2. Find common ground, Joshua Ralston, professor at Union Presbyterian Seminary in 3. Reach understandings about differences as well as Richmond, Virginia, made a very valid statement concerning Christian-Muslim relations. However, this concept is universal commonalities, 12
and could be used in any situation where a Muslim finds his or herself standing on common ground with a member of any religion. Ralston said that when Christians and Muslims get together and try to make it a positive interaction, they tend to focus only on the things their religions have in common, and brushing all of their differences under the rug. They usually do not bring up or constructively discuss differences and discrepancies between their faiths. This is understandable (albeit awkward) behavior, as no one wishes to be rude, but Ralston says that it’s possible to acknowledge disagreements in a respectful manner without insulting the other person or sacrificing your own beliefs (On Bearing Witness: A Framework For Christian-Muslim Encounter, 2014).
messenger who said, ‘Serve God, and avoid evil.’ Of the people were some whom God guided, and some on whom error became inevitable. So travel through the earth and see what the end of those who rejected the message was.” (Qur’an 16:36) Therefore, it is fair to say that nearly all religions on Earth began from one of Allah’s (SWT) messengers and then was changed over time. The fact that the origin is from Allah is why we should respect, even in disagreement. The real question here from Muslims should be: “What can we learn from our fellow man?” Let us build bridges based on our commonality and respect the differences that we have. Insha’Allah, by building an atmosphere of peace and coexistence, we may warm the hearts of many more to the perfection of Islam.
An important note about interfaith discussions, tolerance should be the absolute base level of relations that we should have with others. There is beauty to be found in practically every religion because all beauty, all wisdom and all benefit come from Allah (SWT). We can accept a saying from another religion as an inspirational passage without compromising our faith in Islam due to this fact. There are many other religions which call the adherents to a life of devotion, a life of controlling one’s inner struggles. We know that there are 25 prophets revealed to us by Allah (SWT) but that Muhammad (SAWS)revealed their total number to be in the thousands. Allah (SWT) has said “For We surely sent among every people a
With education, understanding, and etiquette, we don’t have to be hesitant about engaging in dialogue with members of other religions we aren’t quite sure about. That doesn’t mean we have to go around constantly starting up discussions, but that we can make sure we have the guidelines for such a conversation should Allah (SWT) present us with the opportunity to walk with someone we could learn from, and who could most definitely learn from us.
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