Monday, June 14, 2010

Intern Campaign Field Coordinator for United Voices

National Announcement:

Please send this to community listservs and to activists in the DC, VA, MD area.  Thank you

United Voices has an immediate need for highly motivated, intelligent, and dedicated individuals for helping minority youth to become political and civic leaders through our summer political leadership training school in Washington DC. Learning Opportunities/ 

Objectives 

How to encourage civic participation in the political process from disenfranchised youth minorities.  Education and tours of DC with hands on civic engagement education.  Community organizing and recruitment for campaigning and projects. Creating student opportunities to appraise their own abilities in leadership and civic engagement.  Coalition Building of different disenfranchised minority groups.  Duties, Qualifications, and Projects 

Lead our grassroots campaign effort in the Washington DC Metro area. Be familiar with the DC area orgs, mosques (and other houses of worship) to organize, facilitate, assist in organizing the event while it happens, and market the event beforehand to local disenfranchised minority groups. 

Facilitating and event organizing our summer program in civic leadership for minority youth

Contacting speakers, mostly from universities around DC area, to speak at our events
Outreach to organizers and organizations to recruit constituents to our programs
Building community relationships and relationships with minority communities
Marketing to potential students, schools, campus groups, and religious organizations

Suggested Skills

Strong Interpersonal and communication skills on phone and in person
Experience with Desktop Computer, Microsoft Word, Internet, social media to market, and Excel
Logistical Event Support and Event Organizing
Campaigning, community organizing, and coalition building
Critical thinking and being pro active when given a loose framework of instructions

Requirements:

Cover Letter and Resume
3 references (not related to you) and 2 Letters of Recommendation (not related to you)

This unpaid internship will last until about the middle of August. Candidates should demonstrate a pleasing attitude & proactive initiative.

Send Applications to Mr. Ali at ali@unitedvoices.com

Where Do Muslims Turn When They Have Been Wronged By Muslim Organizations?

This is a question that is dear to my heart because during my life growing up in the USA for the past 35 years I have been witness to both improper conduct by Muslim Organizations against Individual Muslims as well as against Muslim Employees.  The reason why this issue is tricky has to do with the way the majority of Muslim Organizations run in the United States.  The money they all get in donations tends to come from the public, which usually includes other Muslim Organizations.  This heavy reliance on the public, due to restrictions on foreign money coming in, has damaged the sincerity of Muslim Organizations that should be watching out for Muslim's dignity and rights.  

For example, if you go to a Mosque and the leadership kicks you out due to your race, sect, ideology, or gender...who do you turn to?  


Or for example, if you work for a Muslim company and they wrong you, who do you turn to?  At first it appears simple and easy, you think well maybe I can report this to the EEOC or ACLU.  However, if you look deeper it is not that easy, because as soon as any regular organization that is not Muslim decides to do something about the issue at hand, they may fear being persecuted for being "Islamophobic" or having some sort of anti-Muslim agenda.  So, as an American Muslim you are caught between a rock and a hard place.  You can neither ask help from regular organizations and you can't ask for help from other Muslim Organizations.  

This is why I think it is necessary for Muslims to form new organizations such as "The Muslim Internal Affairs Department of the United States of America" or MIADUSA...or "Muslim Internal Affairs of America" or MIAA.  Infact, I am currently talking to colleagues across the nation regarding the formation of such an organization.  If you are an interested party, please email me at http://www.freecontactus.com/contactus.php?id=4288

We have been so busy since 911 trying to stand up for the rights of Muslims in America that we have forgotten to look inside ourselves, our communities, and our organizations.  No organization in the United States has a monopoly on Muslims or represents all Muslims in the United States.  There are too many Muslim groups for that to actually take place.  You would need to have a body of organizations that would approve of the Amman Message that was signed in Jordan or the famous "Shia Fatwa" that was given out by the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt.  Al-Azhar is considered the top Sunni Muslim University in the world and has been around since the Fatimid Dynasty in Egypt.  This defensive focus in order to protect the Muslim community against external hate, biggotry, and racism has in a way blinded our communities from the problems within.  Just look at the young guys that were marching off to join the Al-Shabbab / Al-Qaeda group in Somalia that were caught in New Jersey.  They are an example of how we as a community have lost focus and attention of our youth and internal growth and progress.  There are a handful of American Muslim Organizations that are doing their best to educate people and work on internal problems, however they are usually not funded as well as other organizations that may receive money from overseas.  

I remember talking to a young man in the community a while back regarding his involvement with local Muslim Organizations in Columbus, Ohio and he replied to me with this smirk that any help or money he or others would give would not do anything for him or the downtrodden Muslims in America.  This sense of apathy, dissapointment, and hopelessness is sad.  It is really sad because we have a lot of talented people in the American Muslim community that can contribute to a better world.  However, they are not given the opportunities necessary to create change.  I pray that this situation changes so that American Muslims can have a voice when they are wronged not only by Non-Muslims who may have hate towards them, but also from other Muslims who mistreat them and stifle progress.  So many good leaders in the American Muslim community have been stifled due to lack of understanding and vision.  Until we appreciate our leaders and community members who have true vision for our communities, the organizations are nothing but unmanned vehicles without progressive guidance.  God knows best.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Pre-Islamic Culture & Practice of "Face Veiling"

I recently ran across a discussion of the "Face Veil" or "Niqab" and the bans in Europe regarding this Pre-Islamic practice.  In Islam everything is with "Dalil" or reason.  Meaning that everything that is done has to have a Quran or Hadith reference that makes it's practice valid.  In this case, Islamic Shariah or Fiqh  does not condone or allow the wearing of a "Niqab" or "face veil".  Infact, the opposite is true where Islamic Shariah or Fiqh says that the "face & hands" of Muslim women need to be uncovered regardless of which tradition they come from.  If people want to cover their faces, that is something that they do due to pre-Islamic culture and traditions, but should not be justified by saying that Islam teaches this.  Islam does not teach to veil a persons face, such as the way it is done in Taliban Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, or any other region.

Recently the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt issued a Fatwa or Islamic ruling against wearing of the Niqab on the University Premises as well as calling it un-Islamic. (The traditional "Hijab" is what Islamic Law teaches that the face and hands should be uncovered, such as the picture on the left.) Meaning that if somebody follows the traditional Sunni school of thought in Islam, they should not practice the Pre-Islamic tradition of face veiling or "Niqab".  This practice was common amongst Pagan Arabians and even Zoroastrian Persians before the advent of Islam.  There is even a story of the Persian Zoroastrian Shah who forced his Queen to dance for other men by removing her face veil (which the Queen refused and was punished for it).  For Muslims to claim that veiling the face is Islamic, would be like saying that eating Pork is Islamic.  If somebody chooses to eat Pork, that is their choice, but that is not allowed in Islamic Law.  The same thing is true of the Niqab, people may choose to wear it and have the freedom to do so, but not in the name of Islam.  When a Muslim woman wants to pray, her face has to be uncovered so that her bare forehead touches the earth.  So, not only it is not an Islamic practice to wear a face veil, but it also obstructs the practice of Islam!

People are free to wear the face veil (without using Islam as a justification) if they like to protect their face from the Sun, as has been done in the Persian Gulf area for thousands of years (picture on the left is a traditional face mask variation worn by Persian Gulf women to keep their faces white and moist)

Taureg men in the Sahara also veil their faces, but that too is because of the sun and not because of Islam.  Where does it say in the Quran or Hadith that a man or woman needs to veil their faces?  Where is the reason or "dalil"?  Even when men or women (who cover their faces) have to pray the "Salat" in Islam, they have to remove their face veils because it obstructs the practice of Islam.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

BP Oil Spill: Who's Responsible?

"With [environmentalists'] nonsensical efforts to lock up safer drilling areas, all you're doing is outsourcing energy development, which makes us more controlled by foreign countries, less safe, and less prosperous on a dirtier planet. Your hypocrisy is showing. You're not preventing environmental hazards; you're outsourcing them and making drilling more dangerous.  Extreme deep water drilling is not the preferred choice to meet our country's energy needs, but your protests and lawsuits and lies about onshore and shallow water drilling have locked up safer areas. It's catching up with you. The tragic, unprecedented deep water Gulf oil spill proves it." - Sarah Palin


How ridiculous are these statements? Let's ponder for a moment...


So, Sarah Palin who's catch phrase is "DRILL BABY DRILL" would rather we build closer to the shore, so that we kill all life instead of some...if there is an oil spill.  The responsibility of the oil spill and "drill baby drill" falls directly on the Republican Party and all like minded fundamentalists who persecuted all those not in favor of drilling.  If we were to drill closer and not "outsource" the drilling, it would create a multitude of hazards ranging from more shoreline destruction, possible unstoppable fires that could spread all across the coastal cities, if there was to be a hurricane, it would take the oil all the way inland to every city in range, and a lot more issues.  


Bobby Jindal, a critic of the administration’s spill response and a possible 2012 presidential candidate, has stressed his belief in limited government. In a nationally televised response to an Obama speech to Congress on Feb. 24, 2009, Jindal said “the strength of America is not found in government.”  Well, the problem with this idea is that "limited government" in the eyes of the Republican Party means that "Big Business" will drain us again just like the last 8 years of industrial vampirism on the USA.  


More recently Governor Charlie Crist of Florida (the same governor that was influenced by thousands of fundamentalist Christian emails to keep the runaway Rifqa Bary in Florida) denied any knowledge of a scheme by Jim Greer, the former head of the Florida Republican Party to funnel the party's funds into a shell company for Greer's personal use.  I hope the FBI investigates this case and any other case of blatant government corruption.   


Regardless of how they try to frame this oil spill, the Republican Party is not in a good position and is in fact totally responsible along with their big business partners "BP" in one of America's worst environmental disasters in history.  Any American with a sane mind would not vote Republican, so that they are subjected to another 4-8 years of environmental, racial, religious, civil and economic retardation.  We have been set back 20 years from the last Republican administration, who wants another?  Not me!  


The only Republican that had good ideas was Ron Paul, who I had the pleasure to meet, that had real solid solutions to a plethora of our ills.  He would be considered a real Republican if there ever existed one in our recent history.  Something to note is that the Republican and Democratic party at one time were the same party and in fact stood for the reverse of each other's ideologies in the present day.  At one time they both fought against the "Federalists".  


However, during the elections they suppressed Ron Paul in order to bring forward the Beauty Pageant winner Sarah Palin and McCain.  Now, considering that Sarah Palin was a local pageant winner, does that make Rima Fakih,  the Lebanese born Miss USA, a candidate for the first American Muslim Woman President?  If you think that Sarah Palin should be President, then having Rima Fakih run for President would not be that far fetched.  


I personally love nature, I am a big fan of Subarus, Sunflowers, Parrots, Hiking, Sailing, etc.  To see the animals such as the Pelicans drenched in Republican "drill baby drill" oil from BP is saddening and shameful.  The destruction of our environment by this Republican ideology is obvious.  For Sarah Palin to come out and say that its the "environmentalists fault" is as if somebody saying that a woman getting raped is her own fault.  It is ridiculous and irresponsible on her part to say such a thing and hypocrisy to the maximum.  Then again, what can you expect from a woman who believes that dinosaurs only existed a few thousand years ago? or approves of aerial hunting of wolves?  


Now what is the solution to oil?  Alternate energy...just the other day I was in the department store and saw a "Solar Powered Backpack".  What a wonderful idea, you can take your generator with you in order to use your iPhone etc. anywhere without using gas or regular electricity.  With the technology that we have today, using solar power or other alternate energy sources should be easy, however again we run into the business market that does not want to give up the chance to make money on existing energy sources.  This is the same reason why you have better computer technology come out every year in order to sell a little bit at a time.  It is good for short term business revenue, however long term it hurts businesses, the economy, and the nation.  Especially when it comes to energy to power our cars and machines. Just imagine if you could have a solar powered electric car...the world would be a cleaner place and safer. 

Aliens & Immigration Reform

Something that has come to my attention recently is this situation with Immigration Reform and Aliens who come here and do not abide by US law.  This is a seriously problem that is not very simple.  At first glance when we see what is going on in Arizona, we think that it is racism and racial profiling, however if you dig deeper you see the cause of this strong sentiment.  I have always been one to be pro-immigration, however in the traditional sense.

When I came to the United States as a one year old from Iran with my father who was getting his PhD in Sociology and Psychology we went through the same legal route as everybody else.  That is to first learn the English language, abide by the law and constitution, have respect for America, etc.  However, what is taking place among some groups of immigrants is not traditional.  I would say is non-traditional in the sense that some come here thinking that they don't have to learn English, don't have to respect the law, disrespect others and commit crimes.  Of course there are illegal immigrants that abide by the law etc., however they are becoming a minority due to the high influx of illegal immigrants who do not come from the best parts of their own societies.

Just recently for the second time in my life I experienced a "hit and run" to my car right in front of my eyes by an illegal alien that had no insurance or papers.  The person who hit my car, in fear that they may be deported decided to hit my car again when they pulled out to get away!  Of course I filed a report with the Police (ironically the Police Officer happened to be a Palestinian-American Muslim!), so if this person ever comes back to this area, they will be in trouble with the law.  However, this does not change the fact that more than just hit and runs are happening.  In places like Arizona, there is more serious crimes going on such as muggings, murder, and other mayhem.  We as minorities and/or immigrants ourselves need to point out these transgressions by those who come to this country thinking they can abuse it, it's people, and it's laws.  When people such as myself who have lived in this country for 35 years see injustice happening to American Citizens such as myself, then I am concerned.  The red state/blue state issue does not apply, this is something that is important to all Americans in general regardless of what race, religion, or gender you come from.

The United States has the right to check and make sure that people are US Citizens in order to stop the rise in crime and devious activities.  However, this enforcement of the law has to be done by proper legal methods and not unconstitutional ways such as racial profiling.  Instead of picking out just people from a single race/religion/gender, all Americans need to have proof of their citizenship until this illegal mayhem is brought back to normal levels.  People in places like Arizona are moving away in droves to avoid the rise in crime and uncivility.  We need to check the quality of our immigrants to see if they will benefit this country or are they going to be some sort of destructive force.

There may be those who disagree with me, however in the past few years I have had experiences that have made me change my whole outlook on the immigration debate.  Why would anybody in their right mind invite an enemy or somebody that is hostile to their country to come in?  What country allows that?  If you come to a country, then you need to have respect for it's people and laws, however that does not mean that you have to break your own religious laws in order to do so.  Personally I do not see a conflict between my faith and my nationality.  I find it both easy and hard being an American Muslim.  What makes it easy is the Constitution and the American people.  However, what makes it hard is the lack of education in regards to both my faith and the constitution by individuals.

I think that Arizona is doing what they think is necessary, however it is the way they are going about doing it that is the problem.  I think that instead of racially profiling for Aliens who are here illegally, the Police and Law Enforcement should check the citizenship status of every person of every race, religion, and gender when they are pulled over, similar to the way that people are checked to see if there are warrants out for their arrest.  When a person gets advised or arrested because they have a warrant out for their arrest, even though they were stopped for a minor traffic incident that is fair just like being asked about citizenship as long as it is done to everybody as a policy.  With today's technology where Police convesations are recorded from their patrol car, it would be hard to abuse the law by either the Police or the person pulled over.  If a Police officer asked every person they pulled over for proof of citizenship or if that became mandatory to have on your drivers license that would be great.  We could avoid having people who have no drivers license, uninsured, not their car, etc.  This is a serious issue and it needs to be dealt with the right way to avoid any halt to the enforcement of this issue.

President Obama on Immigration Reform:


As I learned in my Kindergarten at First Baptist Church Kindergarten in Denton, Texas..."to be an american citizen is a privilege" and not a "right".  However, once you are an American Citizen you have many rights which are guaranteed in the Constitution!

To be continued...

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Essence of Republican Rule

"Liberals, while enjoying the perquisites of office, also want to be in a position to use government to solve problems.  But conservatives have different motives for wanting power.  One is to prevent liberals from doing so; if government cannot be made to disappear, at least it can be prevented from doing any good.  The other is to build a political machine in which business and the Republican Party can exchange mutual favors; business will lavish cash on politicians (called campaign contributions) while politicians will throw the money back at business (called public policy).  Conservatism will always attract its share of young idealists.  And young idealists will always be disillusioned by the sheer amount of corruption that people like Gingrich and DeLay generate.  If yesterday's conservative was a liberal mugged by reality, today's is a free-marketer fattened by pork." - Alan Wolfe, Ph.D. from University of Pennsylvania (professor of political science and director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public life at Boston College, and a prolific author.)

If you understand what Professor Wolfe has said, then you understand the essence of Republican rule.  This is why the past 8 years before President Obama was nothing but money making gimmicks for businesses supported by the Republican Party.  Now that the government's and public's money have all been drained and given to Republicans and their businesses, we are all left out to dry.  President Obama with all his knowledge and wisdom is having to deal with a very serious situation that is the legacy of Republican and/or so called Conservative rule.  The economic woes and stock market crashes, the immigration problem, wars in Iraq/Afghanistan, and other issues are all due to 8 years of both neglect and greed (money being poured into Republican businesses.)

Due to the fact that the country does change hands from party to party, we need to make sure those of either major party stay true to the constitution and the USA.  Some people who are fanatical have started treasonous movements against the US Government, such as this "Texas Nationalist Movement": www.texasnationalist.com This is something that we need to stay vigilant on because Texas's economic power is similar to that of Germany in the European Union.  For Texas to pull away would create major discord and instability for the USA.  Only the enemies of the United States of America would push for Texas sovereignty.  As an American I would never support the secession of Texas or any other state.  If this was to take place, the USA would be forced to invade and take Texas back.  If the USA lost Texas or other major economic hubs, it would be the end of the USA as we know it.  The question rises, why would Republican Fundamentalists want such a thing to happen?  I have my own ideas, but I welcome anybody else that has insight on this.

Those who say that President Obama is not doing a good job have child-like short memories and mentality.  He has not been in office for long and he is in charge of cleaning up 8 years of mess.  That 8 years of mess may take twice as long to fix.  We have been set back probably 20 years.  Slowly but surely we are regaining our power and prestige, but it takes time to get to full capacity again.

President Eisenhower warning of the Military Industrial Complex (War Profiteering):



Along with the so called Conservative rule of the Republican Party, there is also this fundamentalist Christian push to declare the founding fathers as Fundamentalist Christians, which is far from the truth...For example, let's take a look at what our founding father Thomas Jefferson has said regarding religion and more specifically Islam and Muslims:

"Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and MOHAMMEDAN, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination."

-Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

Thomas Jefferson's fondness for Islam was reflected in his library collection where he also owned a Holy Quran, which is coincidentally the same one that Congressman Keith Ellison swore in on as the first American Muslim Congressman!

The term "Mohammedan" was used during that time period to describe Muslims.  However, the terminology is not correct, because we follow the "peace and harmony of God", which is what Islam means and one who follows Islam is a Muslim.

There are many quotes from Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and others that reflect their openmindedness to various religions and lifestyles.  They did not push any particular religion on to America, if anything they pushed Freemasonry which is why you read "One Nation Under God" or "In God We Trust".  The main rule of being accepted as a Freemason is that you have to believe in "A" supreme being.  Be it Allah, Jesus, Buddha, etc.  So, when you read the word "God" anywhere in American governmental institutions it is because of Freemasonry rather than Christianity in particular.  "One Nation Under God" means exactly that, that there is "A supreme being" which we call by various names, however that does not change the nature of God or the "Supreme Being" or "The Creator".  In an interesting twist, freemasonry developed from the Knights Templar of Europe after they went on the Crusades.  The Crusades served as a vehicle for the spread of Islamic Sufi ideology.  The Knights Templar went back to Europe after their discovery of Islamic Sufism and tried to teach these Islamic concepts of universality of faith.  Quickly this was denounced by the Catholic Church at the time and the Knights Templar were both disbanded and persecuted.  They fled to Scotland where they formed the "Scottish Rite" of Freemasons.  Then later the English "York Rite" developed.  The tradition of Islamic Sufi universality spread from England to America after the colonial period.  George Washington and the rest of the founding fathers were all Freemasons who believed in a supreme being or "God"...which could have been Khoda, Allah, Jesus, Buddha, Yahweh, etc who were following most likely Islamic Sufism, Christian Gnosticism, or Jewish Kabbalah.  (Remember: To be a Freemason  you have to believe in God, does not matter what you call God.).

Coincidentally, the Freemasons have various titles in their fraternity that include the terms "Templar" or "Shriner".  Templar meaning the Christian Knights Templar and Shriners to mean the Muslim Saracen Faris or those who worship at the Shrines like the traditional Sunnis, Shias, and Sufis who visit the tombs of living Prophets and Saints.  What regular religious communities wanted to do ideologically, but were not able to do was somewhat accomplished as it would appear by the Freemasons who have brought Muslim, Christian, Jew, Buddhist, etc. together in brotherhood under God in the same temple.  Of course most religious groups would object to this idea that Freemasons have anything to do with their faith, however in practice Freemasonry appears to be reaching the goal which all the world's faiths have been trying to reach.  There are individuals who have different ways of looking at Freemasonry, such as the Islamic Scholar Dr. Adnan Oktar who considers freemasonry some sort of an abomination.  Then there are others who say that the origins of freemasonry has it's roots in Islam.  The reason for most religious groups (Muslim, Christian, Jewish, etc.) objecting to the idea of Freemasonry has to do with the idea that their faith is being usurped by a community that does not divide on the grounds of what one would call God.  Also, these ideas of the universal brotherhood of humankind sends "New World Order" chills down the spines of many, however the majority of religions teach this ideology in essence.  Why else would we as Muslims, Christians, Jews, etc. say "Brother" or "Sister" to one another?

So, we see that all this claiming (by both Muslim and Christian Fundamentalists) that the United States of America is a Christian Nation, one formed under Christianity, or is a Christian State is all incorrect.  That is not to say that America is not a "Christian Majority" country, which it is.  However, the basis of the USA is not that of being a Christian State or having Church and State as one.  Church and State is seperated, however Spirituality and State is not seperated as can be seen with our Freemason Founding Fathers who believed in God (of various labels).