Thursday, December 31, 2009

Full Nude Body Scanners To Be Installed At Airports

I understand the need for security at airports and other places that could be potential threats to human life, however do "Full Nude Body Scanners" break any constitutional rights? Rights to Privacy? Dignity? etc.? This is a really good question...Do you like people looking at you, your mom, daughter, friends, etc. in the nude through an x-ray machine to insure your safety? This is really an ethical question similar to the use of robotics in warfare as P.W. Singer talks about in his book called "Wired For War". Should we give up all of our privacy for safety? It is indecent exposure if we walk around naked in the streets, however it's ok for us to be looked at in the nude before we board a plane? Ok, yes...you look like a "Na'vi" in the movie "Avatar" because the x-ray makes you look blue but nude, however does that make it right? Supposedly the faces being covered and the blue image are reported as being acceptable, but to whom? What about the safety of using x-rays in general? Right now they say they don't show the person's face when scanned, however who is to say they will not change that in the future? Do you like the idea of having yourself scanned in the nude and stored on a government computer? What's next, x-ray scans of our homes? Will the sales of lead based string go up, because companies will make lead clothing to protect privacy? Hopefully we can stop terror and other crimes while still protecting our civil rights and keeping our constitution intact.

CNN: FULL NUDE BODY SCANNERS

YOUTUBE FULL NUDE BODY SCANNERS

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Politics of Terror and Racial Profiling

The Christmas Terror Suspect from Nigeria is a perfect example of young disenfranchised kids that are being pulled in by extremist groups. I think it was very telling when the father of "Abdulmutallab" called authorities trying to stop his son from doing un-Islamic evil because he thought that he had been influenced by extremists. Part of the problem is that when right wing groups attack Muslim organizations such as CAIR, MPAC, ISNA, etc. they are weakening the resolve of mainstream Muslims to deal with the extremists. When the youth see positive examples of Muslims taking part in society, then they will want to emulate them and be a part of it and join organizations such as CAIR, MPAC, ISNA, etc. however, when the youth see that these organizations along with their workers are being treated like terrorists, then where do they turn? That is the dangerous issue that can lead youth to the wrong path, because the right path has been clouded by right wing extremists. A good example of this was when Major Nidal's shooting was condemned by CAIR, the right wing said that CAIR was not sincere, eventhough they actually noticed for the first time that CAIR has been condemning terrorism for years! At the same time the Muslim extremists attacked CAIR and other mainstream organizations and called them hypocrits and infidels. The point is that CAIR and other American Muslim organizations are caught in the middle by extremists all around who are the real problem. The case of this young Nigerian who chose to take the dark un-Islamic path of terror could have had better role models, such as his own father, however he was led around by people who have a negative intent. We need to educate our Muslim youth about these extremist groups that are trying to use them for their own political or monetary gain. The same is true for right wing extremists in the US as well who have the same mentality as the terrorists, the only difference is they have not started to openly carry guns and bombs, but given time they may be as much as a problem. The Department of Homeland Security mentioned a warning about right wing extremists as well as Muslim extremists. Fortunately, President Obama is on the right track in dealing with extremists on all sides with the right methods of keeping a balanced and calm mind. Being responsive instead of reactive is the key that the current administration is really good at. The Muslim world needs to stop only blaming the west for it's ills, it needs to also blame itself for not dealing with extremists, poverty, health, and education.

In regards to racial or religious profiling, it does not work...because anybody of any race/religion/sex/etc. can be a terrorist for the right amount of money, which is the real driving force behind terrorism and other organized crime.

Behavioral profiling should be the best alternative to racial/religious/gender profiling. The problem with terrorists is psychology and not ideology. Many people may think bad things, but they don't act upon them. However, terrorists act upon them, which suggests a mental problem vs. anything else. Here is an example of a recent terror attack in Pakistan where innocent Pakistani Muslims playing Volleyball were bombed by terrorists: Pakistani Volleyball Players Bombed These un-Islamic Pseudo-Muslims who hurt other Muslims and Non-Muslims with such un-Islamic tactics and ideologies are criminals and not representing Islam, Muslims, or anything positive in this world. If the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was here he would see them as hypocrites that hurt Muslims.

Terrorism should be dealt with like Organized Crime and not a religious and/or ethnic issue. When the Italian Mafia committed crimes in the United States, did we bomb Italy? How did we weaken organized crime and the mafia? I think we as a nation have done well to control organized crime in this country where you no longer see Al Capone types in the streets with Tommy Guns, instead you see Italians making Pizza and taking part in the corporate world. We need to do the same with terrorism as well. Let's turn Fanaticism into Falafels...the way "The Godfather" was turned into "Godfather's Pizza". Mainstream Muslims are the ones that can protect us most from the extremists, we need to encourage them, rather than alienate them.

Considering that the right wing loons tend to say that CAIR and Muslims don't condemn terrorism (which is completely untrue, CAIR itself has denounced and condemned every act of terrorism) when they saw CAIR very vocally condemn Major Nidal for his actions, not only do the loons say that Muslims are insincere but now are claiming that CAIR uses these things to it's advantage! So, basically they have seen that the arguement that CAIR and Muslims do not condemn terrorism has failed, they have seen the "insincere" bit has failed as well...now are creating new novels such as this loon who is known by "Joseph Farah": Listen to CAIR? Why don't these loons start wearing Nazi arm bands to reflect their movement better?

Here is my friend Edina talking about the evils of Racial Profiling:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Apostasy in Islam: No Punishment

In the continuation to educate those who have been misinformed about Islam by people who have negative motives and bad intent, here is the truth about Apostasy in Islam written by a good friend:

FACT SHEET:

APOSTASY ACCORDING TO ISLAM

by F. Khan

There is a great misconception concerning the subject of apostasy in Islam. It is claimed that Islam considers apostasy as a crime. It is further alleged that Islam prescribes the penalty of death for apostasy. Some go so far as to contend that it is a duty incumbent upon each individual Muslim to kill apostates. In response to these grave misunderstandings, four facts clarifying this very important issue are presented below.

#1. Fact: According to Islam, There is No Compulsion In Matters of Faith

The Holy Quran states in the clearest terms: There is no compulsion in religion (2:256) .

This verse, considered by many as the magna charta of religious freedom and olerance, emphasizes the basic principle that matters of faith are a person’s private concern. The Quran further clarifies this principle by stating that people are provided freedom to choose belief or disbelief in the religion of Islam:

We have truly shown him the way; he may be thankful or unthankful (76:3).

The Truth is from your Lord; so let him who please believe and let him who please disbelieve (18:29).

Clear proofs have indeed come to you from your Lord; so whoever sees, it is for his own good; and whoever is blind, it is to his own harm (6:104).

#2. Fact: According to the Quran, No Penalty is Imposed for Apostasy

There is no support whatsoever in the Quran for the belief that Muslims are to kill an apostate, or administer any form of punishment for that matter. Rather, the Quran explicitly states that the consequence for apostasy is something that is to be determined by God in the next life:

Whoso disbelieves in Allah after his belief—not he who is compelled while his heart is content with faith, but he who opens his breast for disbelief— on them is the wrath of Allah, and for them is a grievous chastisement (16:106). Moreover, the Quran relates that some people living under Muslim rule in Medina overtly planned to discredit Islam:

And a party of the People of the Book say, Avow belief in that which has been revealed to those who believe, in the first part of the day, and disbelieve in the latter part of it (3:71). It is quite illogical to believe that such a plan could be conceived by people living under a Muslim government, if apostasy was punishable with death?

#3. Fact: According to Hadith (Traditions), Only Apostates Who Became Enemies at War Were Punished

Various Hadith from the collection of Sahih Bukhari are often cited as proof that Islam prescribes death as the punishment for apostasy. A simple review of the context in which these traditions are reported clearly reveal that punishment in these cases were not due to the act of apostasy, but rather the act of treason. Bukhari is explicit on this point. He has two collections of traditions dealing with apostates:

1. Kitab al-mufari’n min ahl al-kufr wa-l-ridda, or “The Book of Those Who Fight (Against the Muslims) From Among the Unbelievers and the Apostates”.

2. Kitab istitabat al-mu’anid’n wa-l-murtadd’n wa qitali-him, or “The Book of Calling to Repentance of the Enemies and the Apostates and Fight with Them”.

The headings of these collections speak for themselves: the first relates only to such apostates that engage in fighting against Muslims, and the second covers only such apostates that join the enemies of Islam.

The oft-quoted Hadith report in Bukhari, “Whoever changes his religion, kill him” (Bukhari 89:2), must be interpreted in this context. It is axiomatic that such a report refers to those apostates only who join enemy forces and fight against the Muslims. Interpreting this report literally leads to an absurd conclusion, not worthy of any serious consideration: it would necessitate the killing of all converts from any faith to any other faith, even those who converted to Islam.

#4. Fact: The Quran and Hadith Relate Incidents of Apostasy Where No Punishment was Imposed

There are clear examples of apostasy related in the Quran and Hadith
with no reference to the apostate receiving any form of punishment.

1. While permitting fighting apostates who joined enemy forces, the Quran cautions Muslims regarding those apostates who joined a tribe who were on friendly terms
with the Muslims, and of others who withdrew from fighting altogether, siding neither with the Muslims nor with the enemies. As for these apostates, the Quran states:
So if they withdraw from you and fight you not and offer you peace, then Allah allows you no way against them (4:90).

2. In Bukhari 94:47, it is related that a man became a Muslim and the next day, upon getting a fever, left Islam under the superstitious belief that his becoming ill was due to his recent pledge to Islam. Nowhere is it related that anyone attempted to kill him; rather it is related that he went away completely unharmed.

3. In Bukhari 61:25, it is related that a Christian became a Muslim, and began performing the work of a scribe for the Holy Prophet Muhammad. He then apostasized, reverting to his Christian faith. After leaving Islam, he spoke of the Holy Prophet Muhammad in extremely derogatory terms, labeling him an imposter. Neither was this person killed nor was he punished in any way for his views. If apostasy is to be punished by death, why weren’t the apostates in these incidents killed?

Conclusion

It is unfortunate that despite clear evidence to the contrary, some people maintain that Islam mandates the killing of apostates. Whether advocated by Muslim or non-Muslim, such a belief must be considered contrary to the clear teachings of Islam and dismissed as propaganda based on either ignorance or illegitimate motive.

To contact the author of this article, you can reach him at fazskhan@aol.com

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Imam Zaid Shakir on the Un-Islamic/Pre-Islamic Pagan Act of "Honor Killings"

After talking to a lady today that had been misinformed about un-Islamic practices such as so-called "honor killings", I thought it would be a good thing to post this excellent article by Imam Zaid Shakir of the Zaytuna Institute in California:

Islam and Honor Killings

By Imam Zaid Shakir

For that reason, we ordained for the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul for other than murder or spreading corruption in the land, it is as if he has killed the whole of humanity… Qur’an 5:35

One of the gravest charges levied against Islam, in terms of its alleged antipathy towards women, is the claim that it encourages a phenomenon known as honor killings. This un-Islamic practice consists of the murder of female family members who are seen as dishonoring their families through real or perceived acts of indiscretion, such as premarital sexual relations or unapproved dating. This charge has been intensified recently due to the tragic murder of a Pakistani Canadian teenage girl, Aqsa Parvez.

The practice of honor killings has absolutely no sanction in the Qur’an, the Prophetic practice, or in the evolved systems of Islamic law. In the case of fornication or adultery, the only way a charge can be levied against an individual, male or female, is through confession, which is discouraged, or by four people actually witnessing the male organ penetrating the female. Even if four people witnessed a naked man engaged with a naked woman, but could not actually testify that they witnessed penetration, their testimony would be rejected.

In a somewhat related issue, it should be noted that in three of the four Sunni schools of law, as is the case with all of the major Shiite schools, pregnancy is not a proof of fornication, as the possibility of rape exists in such a case. Therefore, if a single woman were to become pregnant, according to the overwhelming majority of Islamic jurists, there is no basis for punishing her. In the few well-publicized instances where a pregnant woman has been threatened with death, the minority opinion of the Maliki School of law was unjustly evoked, as occurred in Nigeria, or criminal malfeasance occurred as is the case in Pakistan.

In the case of dating, there is no Islamically-mandated punishment for a male or a female seeing a member of the opposite sex against the wishes of their families. Such situations should be handled with counseling, compassion and a healthy dose of common sense. Muslim immigrants who have migrated to the West should realize that they have placed their children in an environment where there is a tremendous amount of anti-Islamic peer pressure. This is especially true if they have placed their children, as was the case of the young lady who was recently murdered in Canada, in public schools. Children who succumb to that pressure should not be seen as “bad” kids, for by the standards of the society that has shaped them, no matter how strong their home environment is, they are normal. To kill a female guilty of an offense such as dating or dressing like her peers under such circumstances is nothing short of cold-blooded murder, and no Islamic authority can argue otherwise.

The overwhelming majority of Muslim societies are free from the practice of honor killing, although it does endure in some parts of the Middle East and South Asia. According to statistics released by the United Nations in 2000 there are approximately 5,000 deaths annually from “honor” killings. Even if one killing occurred due to such barbarity, it would be one too many, as the Qur’an emphasizes.

However, to use the existence of such killings to smear Islam shows the desperation and misplaced priorities of many of those levying such attacks. Most of those deaths are the pathetic acts of sick individuals, who are far removed from the letter, as we have shown above, and the spirit of Islam. An example of such an individual is Muhammad Riaz, a British Muslim of South Asian descent who died as a result of a fire he set to burn to death his wife and four daughters, allegedly because his wife resisted his attempt to arrange marriages for his daughters. His wife and daughters did perish in that fire. To present Riaz, whose daughters had neither fornicated nor dated, as anything other than a sick individual is a sad attempt to defame Islam.

To attack Islam from this angle is a case of misplaced priorities because it can distract attention from far graver abuses of women that demand immediate redress. For example, the State Department estimates that approximately 800,000 women and girls are trafficked as sexual slaves annually. The overwhelming majority of these females are taken from and sent to nominally Christian countries.

Over the last five years well over one thousand women have been kidnapped and then gruesomely murdered in Guatemala. Their bodies usually turn up after a few days, mutilated and in some instances with messages such as “death to bitches” written on them. To date only three men have been incarcerated in connection with those attacks. Would it be proper to thereby conclude that the “Christians” of Guatemala, an overwhelmingly Christian nation, have no regard for the suffering of their women? Of course it would not.

At the end of the day, attacks such as the one that resulted in the death of Aqsa Parvez are acts of domestic violence resulting from rage that emanates from a total neglect of Islamic teachings. Ms. Parvez lost her life due to such violence and perhaps there are a few other instances where Muslims women in Canada or here in the United States, have been similarly victimized. However, these instances should be kept in perspective. In the United States there are approximately 1,200 women killed every year by their husbands or intimate partners. There are other “Christian” nations where murders of this type are even higher.

The United States, Guatemala, and other countries we could mention where similar abuses occur are Christian nations. However, it would be disingenuous to use such statistics as an indictment against Christianity. These issues are an affront to humanity and require our collective attention. Until we all view the problem this way, we are in jeopardizing the health and integrity of our society.

Saying this is not to minimize the gravity of so-called honor killings to the extent that they do occur in Muslim societies. As Muslims, we are commanded to be committed to justice. That commitment entails that as a community we oppose in the strongest terms “honor” killings and take immediate action to end such a practice in our communities.

Practical steps include the following:

1. Emphasize that such killings have no sanction in the Qur’an, the Prophetic practice, or in Islamic law.
2. Declare anyone guilty of involvement in honor killings to be a cold-blooded murderer.
3. Encourage judicial authorities to enact the harshest penalties possible for anyone accused of involvement in such killings.
4. Educate our Muslim communities, especially in the West, about the un-Islamic nature of honor killings, and the pressures, nuances, challenges and complications facing young Muslims, male and female in the West.
5. Work to eliminate the double standards, and to expose the hypocrisy that exist in our communities, generally, concerning attitudes and standards relating to the indiscretions of males as opposed to females.

In conclusion, Islam honors the female, and values femininity. It is up to every Muslim to translate teachings in that regard into a beautiful reality that helps to elevate the status of women in all societies. Honor killings, domestic violence in general, murders of the type terrorizing women in Guatemala, female sexual slavery and trafficking, pornography, especially its more violent manifestations, are all crimes against humanity that we should oppose in the strongest terms and work strenuously to eliminate. If our women are not safe, physically, emotionally, spiritually, or psychologically we are all at risk, for without women men are incomplete, and without men women are incomplete. Our Prophet, peace and blessings of God upon him alluded to this complementariness when he said, peace upon him, “Women are the complimenting halves of men.” Let us all work harder to make our societies whole.

Please visit Imam Zaid Shakir’s site New Islamic Directions. You can also sign up for the NID’s monthly newsletter at newsletter@zaidshakir.com

Monday, December 21, 2009

Justice in Islam


According to the Islamic worldview, the whole world is a reality based on equity and justice. The heavens and the earth have been set up on this very basis. Everything in the world is calculated and planned out...

"He has raised the heaven and has set up a standard for everything" - The Holy Qur'an 55:7

Everything moves forward towards it's goal. There is nothing disorderly, eventhough it may appear so. Hazrat Ali has said, "justice means putting everything in its place." In contrast, injustice means putting a thing out of its due place. Any deviation from the general rules and relations governing the world, will cause confusion and disorder, and will disturb the balance maintained by natural laws. Everything has to move in its own orbit and advance towards its evolution. Balance and order are the laws governing nature. Nature is not free to choose what kind of mutual relationship it should have or whether it should or should not maintain a balance. (If you are familiar with WOW it would be the NPCs!) Even the reaction produced by some sort of disturbance in nature is meant to restore the balance. This also follows an already prescribed course. Any disturbance in the natural order of things has its own special method and procedure when order in a wider sense is disturbed, nature itself produces some correctives from within or without. For example, if your body is infected with germs, your body also sends out white blood cells to defend your body. This is an example of God's law of setting the balance straight as it says in The Holy Qur'an.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hate Against The Muslim Eid Holiday Stamp

I am proud to have a canvas painting of the Muslim Eid Holiday Stamp (that was issued 8 years ago under George W. Bush) on my office wall as an American Muslim...it makes me feel that I am part of this nation that I grew up in since I was a year old. This is why it really disturbs me when people take collective retribution against all Muslims for the transgression of the few. A stamp honoring two Muslim holidays has sparked an e-mail campaign to boycott it, the e-mail message is a form of cyber hate. Ahmed Bedier responds to the hate.

iMuslims...no it's not a movie like iRobot or a new iPod!


Another book I ran across that I thought would be interesting is "iMuslims"...it mentions that is shows "a practice of Islam, distinct from Islam lived in real life, has already emerged online, with Muslims sometimes identifying more with a Web site than a particular mosque or formal sect." This is an interesting development, because traditionally Muslims have had to live under a specific government with government regulated brands of Islam, however it appears Muslims are taking the "buffet" approach these days online. The author of the book by the name of Gary R. Blunt states that "Blogs allow these iMuslims to delve deeply into theological and societal issues not otherwise addressed. Bunt further theorizes that Muslims have an open-source educational legacy." which is interesting because Islam has survived for over 1400 years crossing national boundaries all around the world and number 1.5 billion at present and is growing even in today's modern world. In my opinion this new "iMuslims" concept may be able to help educate the west about Islam in a way that has not been possible in the past and will dispel the demonization that Islam has faced since the time of the Crusades. Also, it may help bring Muslims together and create more understanding of one another so that they can progress. More info: iMuslims

Blue-Eyed Devil: A Road Odyssey Through Islamic America


Recently I was in Barnes and Nobles and ran across a curious book called "Blue-Eyed Devil: A Road Odyssey Through Islamic America" by Michael Muhammad Knight. Here is the description of the book "Michael Muhammad Knight embarks on a quest for an indigenous American Islam in a series of interstate odysseys. Traveling 20,000 miles by Greyhound in sixty days, he squats in run-down mosques, pursues Muslim romance, is detained at the U.S.-Canadian border with a trunkload of Shia literature, crashes Islamic Society of North America conventions, stink-palms Cat Stevens, and limps across Chicago to find the grave of Noble Drew Ali, filling dozens of notebooks along the way. The result is this semi-autobiographical book, with multiple histories of Fard and the landscape of American Islam woven into Knight’s own story.

In the course of his adventures, Knight sorts out his own relationship to Islam as he journeys from punk provocateur to a recognized voice in the community, and watches first-hand the collapse of a liberal Islamic dream. The book’s extensive cast of characters includes anarchist Sufi heretics, vegan kungfu punks, tattoo-sleeved converts in hard-core bands, spiritual drug dealers, Islamic feminists, slick media entrepreneurs, sages of the street, the grandsons of Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X, and a group called Muslims for Bush."

It appears to be a very grassroots on the street approach to studying the Muslim Experience in our great nation of the United States. Blue-Eyed Devil is a memoir that describes a series of road trips around the United States to places related to both the history and current practice of Islam in America. "The traveler, Michael Muhammad Knight, is a white American punk rocker and professional wrestling fan, who converted to Islam as a teenager after listening to a lot of hip hop and watching Spike Lee's Malcolm X. Following his conversion he went to study in mosques in Pakistan. Several of the Asian American Muslims he encounters refer to him as Johnny Walker, after John Walker Lindh. However, Knight is far from a fundamentalist, and poignantly describes various challenges he faces regarding his faith, relationships, and life in general. The journeys in this book take place more than ten years after his conversion."

Read more: http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Eyed-Devil-Odyssey-Through-Islamic/dp/1593762402/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1261082172&sr=1-1

Muslim Voice Radio "MVR" on WCRS 98.3 FM & 102.1 FM Pilot Discussion


(COLUMBUS, OH 12/14/09) - The Columbus Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Muslim Voice Radio Pilot Discussion

The Columbus Chapter of CAIR-Ohio is still accepting new volunteers for it's "Muslim Voice Radio" that will be aired on WCRS 98.3 FM & 102.1 FM in the beginning of 2010. The Pilot Discussion will be held at the CAIR-Ohio Columbus Chapter offices in Columbus, Ohio.

Currently the show has nine volunteers, however more are welcome that can contribute skills necessary to maintain the show. Those who have already volunteered will be bringing materials for the first four episodes of MVR's Pilot show.

This is a great opportunity to have your voice heard not just in Columbus, Ohio but also across the state and the country once it is nationally syndicated. MVR will also be available online and possibly on XM Satellite Radio once it is maintained.

For more information contact: Babak Darvish, CAIR-Columbus Executive Director, 614-451-3232 or 304-542-6833; bdarvish@cair.com

Friday, December 11, 2009

Reflections on The 3rd Ohio Muslim-Jewish Conference


CAIR-Ohio Weekly Newsletter:

REFLECTIONS ON THE 3RD OHIO MUSLIM-JEWISH CONFERENCE

(COLUMBUS, 12/07/09)
BY BABAK DARVISH,
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CAIR-OHIO COLUMBUS CHAPTER

I recently attended The 3rd Ohio Muslim-Jewish Conference, put together by Congregation Tifereth Israel and Islamic Foundation of Central Ohio. The theme of the event was "Muslims and Jews: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow Together".

Present at the event were many reputable speakers knowledgeable on Muslim-Jewish relations, history and architecture.

We learn that Muslim-Jewish relations have not always been as tense as they are today. In fact they were very mutually beneficial during the pre-modern medieval era.

Dr. Reuven Firestone mentioned people such as Maimonides, who was a famous Jewish Scholar who thrived under Muslim rule. He also talked about the Jewish Community at that time that looked at the Islamic lands with hope of a better life because they were fleeing persecution in Europe. He mentioned the positive and negative stories of Jews living under Muslim rule in Al-Andalus, Islamic Spain; Ottoman Turkey, and Safavid Persia. He also pointed out for the most part, Jews had lived prosperous lives under Muslim rule in Pre-Modern times. However, in Post-Modern times the West has been a better host.

The question of Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Iranian relations came up and was addressed by the various speakers including Dr. Jamal Badawi and what effect the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has had on the relations between Muslims and Jews. This topic was discussed amongst the audience as well. There was unanimity on the fact that Muslim-Jewish relations had been pretty good until the emergence of the British mandates of the former Ottoman provinces. This is interesting, because it shows that Muslims and Jews have a lot in common and in fact had very friendly relations until the issue of Israel and Palestine gained steam in the aftermath of World War One.

The question still remains about how we can fix this political divide within the religious communities. Should our politics divide us as religious people when we belong to a common tradition of the Prophet Abraham (pbuh)? In my opinion, one way we can work at solving is through open and free dialogue between Muslims and Jews on the issue of Israel/Palestine. The fact that Muslim and Jews can sit down together in events like these and are able to listen to each other's grievances is a huge step forward that creating a better future for our offspring. Why should political differences dictate on how we treat each other? Our respective faiths teach us that one of the noblest things one can do is to be able to listen to those who disagree with us. We should never treat those who disagree with us harshly because they may one day agree with us and in the same spirit; those who agree with us today may disagree with us tomorrow. So, we should be able to treat people fairly and listen to what they have to say.

I find that we as Muslims have many things in common with our Jewish brethren, including the way we perceive God, amongst other things. The Children of Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, need to be reunited again and be able to help each other for the betterment of humankind.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: CAIR-Columbus director, Babak Darvish, 614-451-3232,
bdarvish@cair.com.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Muslim Voice Radio "MVR" on WCRS 98.3 FM & 102.1 FM

I am so excited about our new "Muslim Voice Radio" or "MVR" being produced right here in Columbus, Ohio. We are planning on launching the radio sometime in January inshallah. The radio show will serve as a place for Non-Muslims to learn about Islam and Muslims in Columbus, the nation and around the world once it goes online, on national syndication, and on XM radio! If anybody is interested in becoming a part of this team, please call me at 614-451-3232. This is a great opportunity to be a part of Muslim History in the making!

Why Muslims Should Jihad (Struggle) Against Extremism & Terrorism?

It has come to my attention that Muslims need to Jihad (struggle) against extremism & terrorism in a much more vocal and progressive way. Why you may ask, well...let's look at the rise of extremism from both the right wing Christian and Jewish Extremists and the right wing Islamic extremists. Not just Muslims, but all people need to Jihad (struggle) against these Extremist Groups because they are a danger to all of us. They say and do things that are contrary to all of our faiths! Where in mainstream traditional Islam, Christianity and Judaism does it say to say or do the things these extremists do? That's right...nowhere. However, they choose to follow literalist, narrow minded, hate mongering interpretations of their own texts. That is the problem with Extremists, they follow black and white thinking instead of understanding the complexities of religion and life in general. Not everything is black and white and not everything is the way the Extremists want it to be. However, something that is easy to do is to put aside your hate by putting yourself in the shoes of the person who disagrees with you and see what they are feeling. I think our modern technology and lifestyles have produced this sense of insensitivity that keeps us apart, then we end up "crashing into each other" at various junctions for better or worse as in the movie "Crash". But, I think there is hope for humanity if we focus on what unites us as Muslims and humans created by a single creator. It must not be forgotten that we as Muslims believe that eveybody and everything is created or "born as a Muslim". So, similar to the Hindu concept of "Namaste" which means "I bow to the divine in you". We as Muslims already have this concept in Islam when we say "Salam Alaykom" or "peace be upon you". This "peace" is that peace of the one and only God that you wish upon your fellow creation of God. We as Muslims must be better in understanding our own faith so that we can better serve our fellow human being. This reminds me of a story of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) where he was sitting with some of his companions (sahaba) and there was Jewish funeral going past him and he stood up in honor of the Jewish person who had passed away. One of his companions who was not well versed yet in Islam asked the Holy Prophet (pbuh) "why do you stand for this dead Jew" and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said "that man is also a creation of Allah". The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had many friends who were Jewish and Christian, however of course there were hostile Pagan, Jewsish and Christian tribes that looked at the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Islam, and Muslims as threats to their social order. The reason why Islam prevailed had to do with the concept of "Social Justice". This same Social Justice demands that we as Muslims Jihad (struggle) against extremism and terrorism so that our fellow creations of God may be able to live a peaceful life. Anytime in Islamic History that Islam was taken into a country by force of Arms has failed. A perfect example is that of Iran or Persia. Iranians did not convert to Islam at the point of a sword, infact only less than 10% of Iranian Zoroastrians converted to Islam after the Arab invasions. The bulk of Persians or Iranians converted to Islam many years after when they actually learned about Islam through peaceful means. The reason again being that of Social Justice. Iranians found in Islam the Social Justice that would free them from both Pagan Arab culture as well as Zoroastrian, Christian, and Jewish Persian culture. Many Iranians lived in a form of caste system that was popular in Pre-Islamic times. The Social Justice of Islam freed them of that form of heirarchy that kept them from advancing in life. But again, none of this could have been possible through violent means. Force without Justice is violence and Justice without force is futile.

Starting a Columbus "Islam" Festival

When I worked as the President of The Muslim Forum of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah, we helped start a festival known as the "SLAM Festival" which stands for the Salt Lake American Muslim festival. The main organizer for the festival is a brother by the name of "Ghulam Hasnain". We pushed for this festival because it reminded us of the value of the Hajj. A place where all the Muslim ethnic groups can come together and share experiences with each other. In addition, it was a great opportunity for the Non-Muslim community to experience what American Muslims have to offer! Here is a clip of the news coverage three years ago about the SLAM Festival. The African-American brother that is talking on behalf of The Muslim Forum of Utah is Br. Abdul Malik Muhammad who was our Public Relations Director for the MFU: Let's brainstorm and see what we can do to have one of our own here in Columbus some day inshallah!

What does "Ya Hussein, Mir Hussein" (یا حسین ، میر حسین یعنی چه؟) chanted by the Iranian Green Movement mean?



This is a really good article (in Farsi) regarding the slogan that is being chanted by the Iranian Green Movement "Ya Hussein, Mir Hussein":

"این شعار را من برای جنبش سبز برنگزیدم. این شعار را مردم دادند و خودشان ساختند و نوشتند. این روزها احساس می کنم آنکه باید پیام این شعار را دریابد هنوز معنی آن را نکاویده و بی خبر به راه خودش می رود. به خیال خودش استراتژی می چیند و دادگاه برگذار می کند و تهدید می کند. به یقین می گویم که آنهایشان که خود را خبره و حسین شناس می دانند هم هنوز معنی اش را نفهمیده اند

یا حسین میر حسین، معنی اش این نیست که میر حسین، حسین ماست. معنی اش این نیست که چون حسین و میر حسین هم قافیه اند مردم خوششان آمد که شعاری از آن بسازند. یا حسین میر حسین یعنی: با کسی شوخی نداریم. حسین برای ما سمبل حق است و میر حسین اشاره به حقمان. یا حسین میر حسین معنی اش این است که با همان اطمینان که درب فرهنگمان را به روی حسین گشودیم و به ماندن در میانمان انتخابش کردیم، میر حسین را نیز برگزیده‌ایم. یا حسین، میر حسین یعنی با کسی سر حقمان معامله نمی کنیم. یعنی همان گونه که حسین را فراموش نکردیم، انتخاب میر حسین را برای رئيس جمهوری فراموش نخواهیم کرد

میرحسین را وقتی مردم کنار حسین گذاشتند، داستان جدی تر از آن شد که بشود شوخیش گرفت یا از کنارش گذشت. مقابل میرحسین که انتخاب ماست هر که باشد، با شمر و یزید یکی می دانیمش! سال هاست که مردم ایران حسین را و حق را به سینه می کوبند و شعر می سرایند و برایشان نذر می‌دهند و به خیابان می روند و پاسشان می دارند. به یاد حسین علم به دست می گیرند و یک پارچه می شوند و شعر می خوانند. میر حسین را نیز چنین خواهند کرد. نه بدان معنی که میر حسین، حسین زمان ماست که میرحسین، انتخاب ماست و انتخاب، حق ما. میرحسینی که کنارنام حسین می آید اشاره به یک نام یا فرد نیست. میرحسین کلید واژه حق مردم ایران است"

Reference: http://shazeh.wordpress.com

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Swiss Radicalization: A Sign of Things to Come?

What a great article by Ahmed Rehab (Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago) regarding the Swiss Minaret Ban:

"In case you have not heard already, 57% of Swiss voters approved a proposal Sunday to ban mosque minarets in a nationwide referendum sponsored by the Swiss People's Party (SVP), a right-wing group long known for its anti-immigration campaigns. A complacent Swiss government subsequently stated that it will "respect the decision" of the people and will affect the ban on all new minarets in the country."

Read More: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ahmed-rehab/swiss-radicalization-a-si_b_377242.html

Orlando Sentinel - "Muslims: Living with Honor"

This is such a great article by the Orlando Sentinel in regards to how Muslims are treated like second class citizens (reminds me of the Jews in WWII Germany) and how still Muslims manage to live with honor. The case they are speaking of is that of Rifqa Bary and her family. How the family has been portrayed and how the Muslims in general have been portrayed because of this family and legal matter that should not have had anything to do with Islam and Muslims:

"Sophisticated bigotry is bigotry nonetheless. When intolerant political forces align to misuse the courts to obfuscate the law and violate the civil rights of others, all law-abiding Americans must take heed. Nowadays, it has become too acceptable to stereotype Muslims, even in polite society, and to generalize this faith of millions of Americans without thinking twice of the toll it takes on the community at large.

Not a day goes by that some anti-Muslim rhetoric dehumanizing and reducing them to a caricature goes unchallenged in the media. Meanwhile, the seldom-solicited Muslim perspective is suspected and dismissed as Islamist or Jihadist by a certain audience."

Read More: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/os-ed-myword-rifqa-bary-120109-20091130,0,7767583.story

Friday, December 4, 2009

Swiss Minaret Ban vs. Jon Stewart


The Swiss neutrality has been broken "in one move" by Jon Stewart: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-december-3-2009/oliver-s-travels---switzerland Is it just me or does this Swiss poster to ban Mosque Minarets remind you of Nazi Propoganda? So much for Democracy and Religious Freedom:

"Swiss voters have supported a referendum proposal to ban the building of minarets, official results show.

More than 57% of voters and 22 out of 26 cantons - or provinces - voted in favour of the ban.

The proposal had been put forward by the Swiss People’s Party, (SVP), the largest party in parliament, which says minarets are a sign of Islamisation.

The government opposed the ban, saying it would harm Switzerland’s image, particularly in the Muslim world.

The BBC’s Imogen Foulkes, in Bern, says the surprise result is very bad news for the Swiss government which also fears unrest among the Muslim community.

Our correspondent says voters worried about rising immigration - and with it the rise of Islam - have ignored the government’s advice.

“The Federal Council (government) respects this decision. Consequently the construction of new minarets in Switzerland is no longer permitted,” said the government in a statement, quoted by the AFP news agency.

Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said the result reflected fear of Islamic fundamentalism.

“These concerns have to be taken seriously. However, the Federal Council takes the view that a ban on the construction of new minarets is not a feasible means of countering extremist tendencies,” she said.

She sought to reassure Swiss Muslims, saying the decision was “not a rejection of the Muslim community, religion or culture”.

Switzerland is home to some 400,000 Muslims and has just four minarets.

After Christianity, Islam is the most widespread religion in Switzerland, but it remains relatively hidden.

There are unofficial Muslim prayer rooms, and planning applications for new minarets are almost always refused.

Supporters of a ban claimed that allowing minarets would represent the growth of an ideology and a legal system - Sharia law - which are incompatible with Swiss democracy.

But others say the referendum campaign incited hatred. On Thursday the Geneva mosque was vandalised for the third time during the campaign, according to local media.

Before the vote, Amnesty International warned that the ban would violate Switzerland’s obligations to freedom of religious expression.

‘Political symbol’

The president of Zurich’s Association of Muslim Organisations, Tamir Hadjipolu, told the BBC that if the ban was implemented, Switzerland’s Muslim community would live in fear.

“This will cause major problems because during this campaign in the last two weeks different mosques were attacked, which we never experienced in 40 years in Switzerland.

“So with the campaign… the Islamaphobia has increased very intensively.”

Sunday’s referendum was held after the People’s party collected 100,000 signatures from eligible voters within 18 months calling for a vote.

SVP member of parliament Ulrich Schluer said the campaign had helped integration by encouraging debate. He rejected the charge of discrimination.

In recent years many countries in Europe have been debating their relationship with Islam, and how best to integrate their Muslim populations.

France focused on the headscarf, while in Germany there was controversy over plans to build one of Europe’s largest mosques in Cologne."

"Adab-e-Islami" or Islamic Behavioral Etiquette

Islam has rules of etiquette and an ethical code involving every aspect of life. Muslims refer to Adab as good manners, courtesy, respect, and appropriateness, covering acts such as working with others, talking to family, talking to friends, entering or exiting a washroom, posture when sitting, and cleansing oneself. Unfortunately, we have many Muslims who don't even know what Adab-e-Islami is. This is a result of the dry, legalistic, and literal interpretations of Islam that many Muslims are exposed to. This of course is a result of various political factions within the Islamic world that want to dominate one's belief in order to submit to their politics vs. true Islamic spirituality, morals, and values. What good is it to defend the Civil Rights of Muslims, when you forget what being a Muslim is all about? I think many people have taken up the idea of the "ends justifying the means" attitude towards their practice of Islam, which is counter-productive to the peace that Islam offers it's adherents. We as Muslims only do things if it is with a positive intent, however sarcasm and hurtful words are not part of Islamic Adab. Here are some references from The Holy Qur'an in relations to Adab-e-Islami:

"See you not how Allâh sets forth a parable? - A goodly word as a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the sky (i.e. very high)...... And the parable of an evil word is that of an evil tree uprooted from the surface of earth having no stability." Qur'an 14: 24, 25. Ibrahim Sura

"Repel evil with that which is best: We are Well-acquainted with the things they say."—Qur'an 23:96.

"And when they hear vain talk, they turn away therefrom and say: 'To us our deeds, and to you yours; peace be to you: we seek not the ignorant.'"—Qur'an 28:55.

"Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men; for Allah loves those who do good."—Qur'an 3:134.

"When a (courteous) greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy. Allah takes careful account of all things."—Qur'an 4:86.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ethno-Centric and Religio-Centric Discrimination vs. Islam

Racism is one of the severe diseases of human society in this age. When Allah's (swt) Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was raised as a Prophet, the same kind of racism, under the name of tribalism, was prevalent in Mecca. The Quraish considered themselves in particular, and Arabs in general, superior to all the other peoples of the world. Allah's (swt) Messenger came with the Divine Message and proclaimed that no Arab is superior over a non-Arab, and no white is superior over black and superiority is by righteousness and God-fearing alone (Surat Al-Hujurat, 49:13). He also declared that even if an Abyssinian Black Muslim were to rule over Muslims, he should be obeyed. Allah's (SWT) Messenger eradicated the problem of racial or colour discrimination so successfully that superiority is not by birth or colour or blood, but by God-fearing and righteousness. The message of Islam is for the entire human race. Unfortunately, many people...including Muslims of various ethnic and sectarian groups discriminate against one another. This of course is un-Islamic and leads to the downfall of the transgressor, because "Allah (swt) does not like the transgressor". Allaho A'alam.

Wearing Quranic Verses

Something that I realized the other day is that some individuals are not aware of Islamic traditions going back as far as Sultan Saladin, Sultan Mehmet and all the way to The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The Prophet used to wear a ring that said "Muhammad Rasool Allah", which means "Muhammad the Prophet of Allah". The Holy Quran, while it is a revelation from Allah (swt), is itself a very sacred book. Every verse has its own merit in meaning, recitation and even just looking at the printed text of the verse in its original Arabic form. These are no ordinary words. These are the words of Allah (swt). So, having a verse hanging on a child or on yourself in the form of bracelet, pendant, or ring is not shirk. It is merely using something precious to us by virtue of it being Allah's (swt) words. The Holy Quran, in its own merit, also has the power to heal. Allah (swt) says in the Holy Quran: "And we reveal of the Quran what is a cure and mercy for the believers....." 17:82 May Allah (swt) guide all to success. Allaho A'lam.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Legacy of Prophet Muhammad's Grandson

The Islamic year begins with the month of Muharram and terminates at Dhu alHijjah. Its commencement with the month of Muharram and termination thereat with Dhu al Hijjah is an indication that the journey of religious life in Islam begins and ends with sacrifice, the implication being that a Muslims life in its entirety is molded with the intent of sacrifice. While [the month of] Dhu al Hijjah presents us with Prophet Abrahams intense love of God and an earnest desire to achieve shahadat, Muharram is an invitation to a practical witnessing [of surrender] to that shahadat by the martyr Imam Hussein. On the tenth of Dhu al Hijjah, Ishmael in his submission to God offers his head on the altar of sacrifice, but God accepts this act of submission prior to the separation of the head from the body. And on the tenth of Muharram, not just the grandson of the Prophet, but those of his kin, present their necks in resignation [out of submission] in the Heavenly courtyard of acceptance.

In the prohibitive month of Muharram, Imam Hussein, the house-hold of prophecy [nubuwwat] accompanied with his companions [ashab] (who according to conflicting traditions number not more than 145), journey to the land of Karbala for the sake of upholding the sanctity of Gods religion, against an unjust, oppressive and dictatorial system, as they gathered to raise the standard of struggle. With the exception of the honorable ladies observing hijab and Imam Zaynul Abidin, all the honorable souls drank the cup of martyrdom. This is a momentous sacrifice in the history of mankind, which took place in the month of Muharram, and God the Almighty entered this as a sign (sha'ir) from the Muslim community [ummah] for eternity. So, the events of Karbala are not just for those who call themselves Shias but are important to every Muslim and every person of conscience.

The Event of Karbala ... Is it a mere historical happening? The martyrdom narrative and the events that transpired with Imam Hussein and the rest of his companions are duly remembered. In certain circles, this event and the martyrdom of Imam Hussein are treated as mere historical happenings liking it to the misfortunes and the mountains of hardship that befell other [mortal] beings, resulting in their martyrdom. Likewise, they regulate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, to just another historical narrative, not warranting any special merit.

This particularity has evolved over a certain period, with a rejection of its mentioning from the practical and conscious realm. There is a growing realization in the minds of people that the mention of the event of Karbala and the martyrdom of Imam Hussein lends towards Shia affiliations and is a task taken upon by them. As such, there is no importance attached towards propagating the event and martyrdom.

How can we be a companion of The Prophet’s Grandson? Whoever follows Islam and the Sunnah (Tradition) of Prophet Muhammad cannot pledge allegiance to an oppressor, or can such a person fight alongside an oppressor or excuse an oppressor or justify his oppression. Therefore, shorten your tears when they are tears of history, and let them flow when they are tears of the oppressed and downtrodden human beings. Karbala in its entirety was about oppression, since it sprang from the message in the path of justice, and it sprang from the heart of reality in order to argue against that reality, to revolt against it and to change it. Do you wish to be like The Prophet? If so, the issue is not to cry much, even though crying has its meaning. And the issue is not to mourn much and beat oneself, though that has its symbolism. Instead, the issue is to face reality in its entirety and to live that reality as Imam Hussein lived it and his family and companions lived it. They did not remain neutral in the face of the reality of oppression and arrogance. Do not move with Hussein in history; instead, move with him in reality, revolution, and change. So each of us should be Hussein, even if only one percent. Because when we live Hussein in his method, thought and spirit, and in his opening onto the issue of justice and liberty in the human being not only are we following the Sunnah (Tradition) we will find the audience of Muharram, Karbala and Imam Hussein among us today, and not just speak of its audience in 61 AH. (Al-Hijra / Muharram in 2010 will start on Tuesday, the 7th of December and will continue for 29 days until Tuesday, the 4th of January.) Here is an excellent movie made about the aftermath of this tragic event in Islamic History to the Grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) "Imam Hussein" called "Caravan of Pride" which is a movie that was made in Syria from what I understand with English subtitles (full feature):

Muhammad: Mukhayriq 'the best of the Jews'

This is an interesting coincidence, just yesterday I had written about the traditional good relations of Jews and Muslims in the Medieval era (Almoravid, Ottoman, Safavid, etc.), however here comes an article talking about the Jewish-Muslim relations during the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). This story about Mukhayriq, the Jewish ally of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) re-confirms the context of the chapter in the Holy Qur'an that speaks of "not making friends with Jews and Christians" that belong to the hostile tribes that are trying to kill the Muslims, Jews, Christians, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and others. Mukhayriq was one of the righteous Jews that stood firm against the hypocrisy of his fellow Jewish, Christian, and Pagan tribes that were trying to wipe out Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the Muslims, and anybody else that was friends with the Muslims. Read more: http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20091201/OPINION09/912010314/1004/OPINION/Muhammad%20%20Mukhayriq%20%20the%20best%20of%20the%20Jews%20

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Islamic Spain and The Jewish Philosopher "Maimonides"

I think it is interesting to note that historically, the Jewish community has prospered under Muslim rule, especially in Islamic Spain, Safavid Persia and Ottoman Turkey. Let's take the case of "Maimonedes" for example. He was one of the greatest Jewish philosophers of his time and was a product of his environment of being able to prosper in Islamic Spain. "Although his copious works on Jewish law and ethics were initially met with opposition during his lifetime, he was posthumously acknowledged to be one of the foremost rabbinical arbiters and philosophers in Jewish history. Today, his works and his views are considered a cornerstone of Jewish thought and study." I wish Pamela Gellar would read more about Jews living under Muslim rule in Almoravid Spain, Ottoman Turkey, Safavid Persia, and so on. She would discover that Jews lived very prosperous lives and were allowed to live in peace. The recent Anti-Semitism in North Africa and West Asia (aka Middle East) is a result of the Palestinian issue that was a result of improper Imperial British Mandating after destroying the Ottoman Empire. But this is nothing new, considering how the United States of America had to deal with the British Empire as well. Every place the British Empire went, they created strife, disunity, and discord. We see the results of their actions until today. When the situation in Palestine is eventually solved and peace is found, then maybe more Jews and Muslims may become more trusting and friendly with one another.