From The Editor’s Desk – December 2015 Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh,
Evolving Beyond Apologies .................................. 08,09,10 “Do not abandon hope in the mercy of Allah.” - Qur’an Legacy of Righteousness ............................................ 06,07 39:53 We Are All Refugees ........................................................ 13 This year of 2015 has been a series of hard lessons for the Muslim community. We have already December -2015, Volume 1, Issue 12 been living under the pressure of accusations, ISSN 2377 - 9624 Anti-Muslim sentiment, racism, Islamophobia Publisher & Editor-in-Chief: Mohamed Haroon Sait and other forms of oppression that have increased Editor: Duston Barto since 9/11. Design & Layout: Mubin M.K. We were forced to apologize for the actions of others again when Charlie Hebdo offices were attacked. Once again when Paris was rocked by Opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the advertisers six separate attacks in a single day. All content Copyright © 2015 Muslim American, Inc. except where otherwise noted. Please contact the editor or publisher directly to obtain reprint permission and guidelines.
or individual contributing writers and not necessarily those of the editor or publisher of this magazine.
No apologies would come to the Muslims for three university students murdered by a Muslim-hating This magazine is published monthly. Anti-Theist in Raleigh. No apologies for armed Article submissions are welcome, email: protest rallies, armed men stalking Hijabis or for Editor@MuslimAmerican.com the wholesale massacre of Muslims by Christian Advertising inquiries should email: Ads@MuslimAmerican.com radicals in the Central African Republic or by Muslim American Phone: (704) 597-5424 Radical Buddhists in Myanmar. 400 Arrowhead Dr East FAX: (704) 597-9310 Charlotte, NC 28213
This year we Muslims have turned to Allah’s mercy frequently. How has Allah responded? We have seen a massive outpouring of support from non-Muslims. From the Christians who come to our Masjids to make sure we’re okay to the Liberty activists who formed a human shield to block bigots from attacking Muslim speakers at the Oklahoma capitol. From the Interfaith groups that formed counter-protests against hate to the politicians who declared that islamophobia would not prevent them from providing for refugees in a time of crisis. Allah’s Mercy is here. Do not despair, O Muslims, Allah is with us. May Allah’s peace, mercy and blessings be upon you all,
Editor, Muslim American magazine
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Creating a Legacy of Righteousness Interview with Mohamed AbuTaleb
these of understanding, he shared, “We do recognize that substance abuse is haram, but we must embrace those Imam Abu Taleb discussed how who are suffering from substance many people in our community often abuse and provide that person with get shut out of a masjid because of the support, knowledge and tools to struggles in their personal lives. He overcome that addiction.” expressed a serious need for people to come together and to not judge This philosophy guides Imam people for their struggles. He says, Mohamed AbuTaleb as he works “We all have struggles, some are to build the community, “We don’t apparent and some are hidden but want people to come because people we must all help one another and not are guilted into coming, we want hinder one another as we are on this people to come because they are path to come back to Allah (SWT).” seeing things that they are excited to be a part of and to invite others to come and participate in.” He then went on to explain the strength that IAR has in having multiple schools operating in the center and how important cultivation of the youth is in building the long-term goals of the This motivated him to pursue the community. course of becoming an alim even though he was already an electrical “Seven out of ten people do not know engineer. “Growing up, I was always a Muslim personally and the hateful promised a fork in the road; basically narrative [from some media sources] that no one can be interested in both becomes believable to those who don’t sciences and religion.” says Imam know Muslims personally. This is why AbuTaleb, “I have enjoyed doing both we have to reclaim the narrative by and have seen both of them impact reaching out.” says Imam AbuTaleb. one another greatly.” When asked He then took a moment to praise his As for those who perceive themselves how his secular knowledge benefits his religious knowledge, Mohamed to be righteous? Imam AbuTaleb local community for taking initiative, says, “Any beneficial knowledge is explains, “Scholars say that the worst “Some of our community members a worship of Allah. In my case, I deception is the deception of a saint. have started mymuslimneighbor.com look at engineers as problem solvers The idea being that the worst thing which is a simple pledge to invite so I try to bring whatever part of we can do is to believe that we are non-Muslim neighbors over for a my background that is relevant to saints, that we are perfect as Muslims. meal with no pretense so that they help solve the problems of our We are all actually imperfect and can become familiar with Muslims as community.” He further explained riddled with sin and we all have issues a part of the community rather than that his work in engineering put to face in our path back to Allah. some foreign entity that is exotic or him into contact with the corporate This is why the Mosque must both strange.” world and academic world in ways be a shrine to the saintly and a place We turned to the more serious, recent that his religious studies alone would for the sick. It should be a place to topic of the threat of Islamophobia not have done. This allows him to celebrate those who enter our family and the constant barrage of negativity have greater empathy for members and to mourn those who return back from the media regarding groups like of the community who need help to Allah.” To provide a stark example ohamed AbuTaleb only arrived in NC a few short months ago, to succeed Imam Baianonie as the Imam of The Islamic Association of Raleigh (IAR). A native of the Washington, DC area; Mohamed was motivated to become an Imam because, as a child, his own community mosque did not have a permanent imam. “Later on,” Imam AbuTaleb explains, “I was exposed to other DC mosques, and when I was living in Boston doing graduate studies there were many Imams who had an impact on me. This allowed me to realize how important it was to have local, accessible religious leadership. As I travelled more and visited other communities, I saw the dynamic that I had missed as a child.”
with spiritual environments.
Daesh (ISIS). The Imam’s words were very straight to the point as he said, “There is no doubt that these times are trying and challenging for our communities. In fact, the rhetoric is damaging to our society at large.” He shared how IAR is dealing with the difficulties, “I remind our community that it is important to acknowledge the challenges that happen and especially to consider our young people as it is hard for many of them to process these events. We want to make sure that people do not feel isolated or confused, and we offer mental health services and other forms of counseling to help people get through these issues.” Imam AbuTaleb continues, “It is ironic that the extremists and the islamophobes have the same goal: To marginalize and diminish Muslims. This is why our reaction has to be rooted in truth, we have an undying principle of upholding truth and
righteousness as Allah commands us in the Qur’an 5:8 ‘O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah , witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is acquainted with what you do.’ Therefore we must act with poise, posture and perseverance.” Finally, we asked Imam Mohamed AbuTaleb about his favorite part of the Qur’an, after thinking it over briefly, he said that Surah Furqan, verse 74 guides him as a husband, a father, and an Imam. Allah gives us the verse, which contains a du’a “And these are the people who submit (before the presence of Allah): ‘O our Lord, grant us coolness of eyes in our wives and our children, and make us leaders of the God-fearing people.” Imam AbuTaleb explains “This reminds me of the importance of family in
Islam. In spite of all the importance of our other responsibilities, we must focus efforts on the bedrock of our community in the establishment of family and we must be excellent in all these things. We must be entrusted to drive one another to higher points of Jannah.” Imam AbuTalib concluded his explanation of the verse, and our interview by saying, “Our lives are not just about what we do, but they are about what we encourage others to do. We are leading a legacy of righteous offspring and we are sowing the seeds of those who will be righteous for Allah (SWT).”
Please visit the Islamic Association of Raleigh online at raleighmasjid.org to read more about what they are doing and to watch or listen to Imam Mohamed AbuTaleb’s khutbahs.
Evolving Beyond Apologies Confronting Terrorism and Islamophobia How does this apply to responding to terror and Islamophobia? Dr. Salie explains, “Learn more about the people around you, their history, community, what do THEY want, need and love. Learn these things so that you can speak directly to the individual and communicate as a fellow human being.”
With armed protests at Mosques becoming more common, there is little difference between the Islamophobic bigots and the terrorists they claim to hate.
he attacks in Paris on Friday the 13th of November, 2015 triggered a global shock wave of reactions. From politicians driven by fear to shut out refugees to hatemongers whipping up a frenzy of Islamophobia among right-wing radicals to Muslims rushing to media outlets to condemn terrorism. All of these things we have seen before, but for some reason the series of six attacks in France hit at the “perfect” moment in time to create a stir of hate and fear that we have not seen since just after 9/11.
The Iqra Imperative
Dr. Achmat Salie (founder of Islamic studies at the University of Detroit, Mercy) started the conversation with “We have to move beyond apology, the current atmosphere is such that people will not accept apologies; instead we have to look for opportunities.” Dr. Salie elaborated that instead of apologizing, we should embrace the opportunity to have dialog. However, we first must be educated Muslims. “Iqra, the first command, is imperative. To read, research, and gain deeper insights We reached out to four Muslim- is more important now than ever American leaders to get a fresh before!” perspective on the issue beyond what “There are so many books out there the major media outlets can tell. on so many different topics,” lamented Salie, “however, if Muslims are “We have to move Dr. not readers then they are missing beyond apology, ... the advantage of this knowledge! So many people suffer from religious instead we have to look illiteracy. Muslims must put more effort into reading. I call this the Iqra for opportunities.” Imperative.”
- Dr. Achmat Salie
Dr. Salie also believes in focusing on a positive response rather than a negative reaction. “Groups like CAIR and others always catch people doing wrong. Instead, let’s find people doing right and illuminate them; bring that to the people!” By evolving our dialog into expressing what is great about Muslims, we can clearly dissolve the focus on the small group creating negative attention today. A Time For Jihad? Sheikh Mohammed Shafayat (Director of Al-Hikmat) agrees with Dr. Salie’s assertion that apologies are dead. Sheikh Shafayat says “Condemning terrorist acts is a normal thing, the statement has no effect! People get up and say ‘We condemn… blah blah blah’ it’s too much of a norm and has no effect at all. Why are we apologizing for something we are not even doing?” He is more direct to the solution of Daesh “Based on what all the scholars are saying worldwide, ISIS is not acting Islamically, they are not practicing Islamic principles and their actions do not represent the Qur’an and Sunnah. So the course seems very clear. I think it is time for the Muslims, leaders and organizations and nations, to call for a jihad against ISIS.” We pressed the Sheikh for more defense of this position and he www.MuslimAmerican.com
continued, “They are punishing Muslims and misrepresenting Islam completely. If they were only talking then I would say ‘yes, fight them with talk’ but they are militarized and they are killing innocent people. So in this case we must stop the evil with our hands and make jihad! This is fully in line with Shariah.”
and we are allowing them to do it by keeping silent.”
Imam Chartier explains, “Far too often we have a binary discussion within Muslim circles where it becomes an US verses THEM paradigm and that sets people up for polarization and extremism. We end up creating these little spaces for our own cultural How does this make us different understanding away from mainstream from Daesh? Sheikh Shafayat says society and this is exactly how we see “What they are doing is not jihad, recruitment from extremists.” they are committing murder and we cannot allow them to continue killing Imam Chartier explains how to teach people wildly.” Then he broke down against extreme thought, “When you the details of the true Islamic Jihad, read the Qur’an you should be filled “When I called for a true Islamic with love of Allah and love of Islam Jihad it is intellectual, spiritual and and be filled with the beauty of Islam. even physical. Do it in the halal way By reclaiming this love and beauty of and make sure it is correct and pure. Islam, we have youth who want to be involved in the community and who We have to correct this fitna.” look forward to lectures. When we What is the halal way? According to make the religion dogmatic and all Sheikh Shafayat, “Use the pen, use about rules and regulations, we steal spiritual teaching, use intellectualism. the beauty and love from Islam.” When the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) would fight, he would tell The Masjid should radiate this beauty some people to stay behind and teach. and love outward into the community, Therefore everyone must use their according to Imam Chartier, “We own ability in every way of life to have to be engaged and involved in fight the enemy of Islam; right now the society which we live by serving on committees, by getting elected to that is ISIS/Daesh.” positions and by serving the public. We must have our own homeless “We say that Islam is shelters, hospitals, etc and be fully the solution and they engaged in our society to address the respond, ‘to what?,’ needs of the people.”
because we aren’t doing anything!”
- Imam Ismaeel Chartier
Own Your Responsibility Imam Ismaeel Chartier (Clifton Mosque, Cincinnati, OH) had an interesting stance for where the blame lies for Islamophobia, “In a way, Muslims are responsible because we are like the people of Saleh. There are people who want to create chaos 704-597-5424
What are the consequences? “If we don’t do that, then all we have is the media lie about what Islam is,” expressed Ismaeel, “we say that Islam is the solution and they respond, ‘to what?!’ because we aren’t doing anything!” Imam Chartier further punctuated, “We have got to think far into the future. We don’t want to have a situation where 500 years from now, archaeologists dig up our history and find out that the only thing Muslims contributed to the society is kebab and falafel.”
“We are allowing the fear of persecution to cloud our judgment and prevent us from addressing the problem in a direct and meaningful way. In my personal opinion, it is a form of idolatry.” - Will Coley De-Legitimize the Extremists Will Coley, from Muslims 4 Liberty, agrees that we have serious problems with focusing energy in the wrong places, “Our community is very slacktivist; we do open houses every once in a while and send money to big organizations to let them do all the work.” Why is this a bad strategy? Will says “... they laid the ground work, but in many ways they have gotten lazy in addressing the issues of terrorism and Islamophobia head-on. In fact, many organizations refuse to directly engage Pamela Gellar or other major Islamophobes.” While Will continued expressing the flaws in our methodology (such as inviting the same groups of people over and over to open house events) he punctuated strong points to change. “We are allowing the fear of persecution to cloud our judgment and prevent us from addressing the problem in a direct and meaningful way. In my personal opinion, it is a form of idolatry.” How could Brother Coley defend such a statement? He explains, “Allah wants us to change something that is wrong with our hands or our tongues or to pray about it and the latter is the lowest form of faith. We have decided to take the least approach and ... (Continued on Page 11) 9
we are therefore allowing this thing (fear) to come between us and Allah’s pleasure. We should be Mujahid ulAql and fight with knowledge.” Will explains further, “The main goal should be to de-legitimize ISIS as an entity. We have to stop using terms like Islamist, Islamic Extremism, Radical Muslim, etc. We have to remove terms that can be used to connect them to us because they are NOT us, they do not represent us and we should abhor any connection to us. Call them Daesh or kharajites, najdi; etc. Reinforce these negative connections because we know who they are, we were warned by Muhammad (SAWS) and Allah that they were coming.” Will explains that this is not a new idea, “Tahir Al Qadri tried to express this with his 600 page fatwa against ISIS but the media glossed over it to minimize its impact. We need to be out there repeating this information.”
“Condemning and being armchair activists isn’t going to do anything.” - Imam Ismaeel Chartier
Dawah Cures All
at some Muslims and you’re scared to approach them!” Sheikh Shafayat exclaimed, “The look on their faces is so stern and harsh! They start talking and it is scary to hear them speak!” Imam Ismaeel Chartier agrees with the harshness, “Muslims ourselves can be xenophobic bigots, there are so many times that people tell me I cannot be an Imam because I’m white. They have told me that I cannot understand Arabic properly because I’m white. We have to get rid of our own Islamophobia and racism from the Muslim community. We have to stop bringing in foreign ideas and calling it Islam.” How then, should we proceed? “I don’t care where you are from, if you understand the culture and you understand the American people, THAT is who should be leading the charge.” Imam Chartier explains. “I do not believe that organizations like ICNA, MAS, ISNA and CAIR should be leading this dialog because they STILL come to the table with a foreign mindset.” He continues “You have to understand [as an example] what it means to go to McDonald’s as a child and the joy that we have from getting a cheeseburger there.” Imam Ismaeel closes by saying, “Condemning and being armchair activists isn’t going to do anything. We have to get out and get into the grassroots to get things done and be fully present in our society.”
One of the underlying themes that came up over and over again in our conversations is that dawah has to evolve and that we have to be more pro-active as a community to solve both the problems of Islamophobia Will Coley agrees, “Until we get and of terrorism. out there and become part of the Dr. Achmat Salie reminds us that communities, nothing will get better. there is no textbook dawah, “Dawah We have to create seminars that engage should be information sharing so it the community directly and make is always going to be contextual and a difference.” Will also agrees with relevant to the individual that you Imam Chartier about the American are talking to. Using a one size fits all experience, “The convert community has a completely different connection form of dawah is not effective.” to the American community. We ARE Sheikh Shafayat says that we become American culture, we WERE a part softer ourselves. “Nowadays you look of the community that we must relate 704-597-5424
to, so converts are the ideal people to lead the charge.” Brother Will suggests that we work with intellectual arguments, “Maximize the free speech areas of college campuses, and bring out local Imams and other good speakers from the community. Talk about eschatology of this, the theological ramifications of that. Talk about Islam on an intellectual level.” Muslims 4 Liberty uses talking points which connect to the core of American values as Will explains, “Presumption of innocence in a court of law, jurisprudence, the natural rights of man; these are all concepts that Muslims brought to the world. We need to reclaim these, own these and promote the historic connection with these.” According to these four Muslim American leaders, we have a lot of work to do within our own communities. We need to be more proactive in promoting the love, warmth and mercy that Islam teaches to other Muslims so that our message to the non-Muslim community is unified in the Qur’an and Sunnah instead of some other cultural trapping. We must be integrated in society and provide Americans the physical, economic and spiritual healing that is desperately needed. In short, it’s time to stop merely performing the rituals and fully embrace all the principles of Islam.
To learn more about Dr. Salie’s Islamic studies program, visit www.udmercy.edu/islam For Sheikh Mohammed Shafayat’s Al-Hikmat organization, visit www.alhikmat.com To hear Ismaeel Chartier’s khutbah’s visit Clifton Mosque channel on YouTube To learn more about Will Coley and Muslims 4 Liberty visit www.Muslims4Liberty.org
We Are All Refugees Linda “iLham” Barto
“Did He not find you as an orphan and give you shelter? He found you wandering, and He provided guidance. He found you destitute, and He made you independent. Therefore, do not treat the orphans harshly. Do not turn away the petitioner. Proclaim the blessings of your Lord” (Surah 93: 6-11). Since the terrorists’ attacks in Paris, many US citizens, including some Muslims, have exploded into a fierce campaign against bringing the Syrian refugees into the United States. They fear that terrorists may hide within the wave of immigrants. According to a recent report, 750,000 refugees have found new lives in the United States since 9/11, and not a single one of them has been arrested on domestic terrorism charges (The Economist, Oct 21, 2015). [The Tsarnaev brothers (the Boston bombers) were not refugees.] Further, the vetting process is so incredibly difficult that there is almost a certain assurance that a terrorist would not pass. David Bier, director of Immigration Policy, explained, “For terrorists, the U.S. refugee process is the worst possible avenue in which to travel to the United States. The background checks involved are the most rigorous and the most extensive of those undertaken on foreign nationals coming here. This is likely why every 9/11 hijacker and all other foreign persons who’ve committed acts of terrorism were non-refugees –they were mainly student or tourist visa holders” (“The Boston Bombers Were Not Refugees –Neither Was the Paris Attacker,” The Blog, Nov 18, 2015). Our Islamic history is one that includes our being refugees. The first migration of Muslims took place in 615 CE. Prophet Muhammed (peace upon him) was burdened with grief over the persecution the 704-597-5424
new Muslims were facing from the Quraysh tribe. He suggested that his followers leave Meccah and seek sanctuary in Abyssinia (Ethiopia), which was ruled by a Christian king. A group of eleven men and four women chose to make the journey. The king of Abyssinia welcomed the Muslim refugees, and they enjoyed peace, security, and freedom under his protection. About a year later, they returned to Meccah only to find that things were no different. They returned to Abyssinia along with others; altogether there were eightythree men and eighteen women. This was the second migration of Muslim refugees.
Allah. It is they who will prosper” (Surah 30: 37-38). Everything we have, everything we are, everything we achieve are by the grace of God. We must return the glory to Him by sharing those things with which He has blessed us. We have no right to any of them except by His grace. We must proclaim the blessings of our Lord by sharing what he has loaned us on this earth.
Moses (peace upon him) and his people were refugees. Mary (peace upon her) was a refugee who was turned away because there was no room at the inn. She gave birth to Jesus (peace upon him) in a cave used as a stable. The refugees are all Moses, Mary, and Jesus (peace upon them). We are all refugees in this world of turmoil where we must struggle until we enter our real home in Heaven.
“The Statue of Liberty cannot have a stiff arm. Her arm must continue to keep the torch burning brightly. If we use our passions, anger, and fear to snuff out her flame by xenophobic and knee-jerk policy, the enemy wins. We have played into their hands, period” [Congress member Steve Russell, (Oklahoma), former US Army officer].
In at least eight passages, the Qur’an commands us to serve travelers in need of our assistance. Just one example: “Do they not see that Allah enlarges or restricts the provision to whomever He pleases? Truly, in that are signs for those who believe. Give what is due to relatives, the needy, and the traveler. That is best for those who seek the countenance of
Except for the Native American Indians, we are a nation of immigrants. We cannot claim this territory without first acknowledging that we are all here by God’s grace and that it is truly His land, not ours.
“With silent lips,” the Statue of Liberty cries, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” (The words on the Statue of Liberty are from a poem by Emma Lazarus, “New Colossus.”) 13
Published on Dec 4, 2015
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