IPSO Refuses To Act On Jewish Chronicle’s False Claim About Islamic History

Inayat's Corner - 27 June, 2022 - 15:28

I have just sent the below letter to IPSO following their refusal to act against the Jewish Chronicle for publishing a front page story on April 22nd 2022 which made the false claim that Jews were the victims of a “massacre” by Muslims at Khaybar in 628 C.E.

Hi [Name Redacted],

Thank you for your response. I am very disappointed with the response from IPSO’s Complaints Committee. It is particularly galling when you say:

“The Committee appreciated that there is some debate about whether this massacre happened, however – where the article made clear a group of people do believe this event to have happened…”

Who are “the group of people” that do believe that a “massacre” occurred at Khaybar? Is it the Jewish Chronicle’s cleaning lady again? Would IPSO object if a national newspaper published a news article which made the following claim?

“It is said that the 13th century Jewish Rabbi Hillel enjoyed sexual relations with pigs throughout his life.”

Would the “it is said” be enough for IPSO to rule that this claim is acceptable because it is not presented as a strict matter of fact or would IPSO require that the publication provide some actual historical evidence to back up this false (as far as I know) claim? I strongly suspect IPSO would opt for the latter course of action. So, it is very unfortunate that in the case of the false claim by the Jewish Chronicle about an alleged “massacre” by Muslims at Khaybar in 628 C.E., IPSO appears to have taken no action whatsoever to consult historians to ascertain whether the Jewish Chronicle was right or wrong.

IPSO will no doubt be aware that the Jewish Chronicle has been successfully sued for libel for making false claims about Muslims and Muslim organisations in the past and has had to apologise in court for those false claims. You will also be aware that the Jewish Chronicle had to provide “targeted training” delivered by IPSO to all their editorial staff in 2021 after repeated complaints about the Jewish Chronicle’s failure to abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice rules. So, it is regrettable that IPSO have been unwilling in this instance to enforce its own Editors’ Code of Practice rules on the Jewish Chronicle.

I didn’t expect much from the Jewish Chronicle – it has a long history of bigoted and untruthful reporting about Islam and Muslims – but I did expect much better from IPSO.

Yours faithfully,

Inayat Bunglawala

= = =

I am copying below – for the purpose of transparency – my entire correspondence with IPSO about this complaint.

[24 April 2022]

Independent Press Standards Organisation
Gate House
1 Farringdon Street

Dear Sirs,

I am writing to complain about a front page article in this week’s Jewish Chronicle (22 April 2022) entitled “Death threat to Jews sung openly at rallies across UK”. This article is also currently on the front page of the Jewish Chronicle website – see the attached images.

The Jewish Chronicle article says:

“The chant, “Khaybar, Khaybar Ya Yahud, Jaish Mohammed Sauf Ya’ud” means “Watch Out Jews, Remember Khaybar, the Army of Mohammed is returning”.

“It refers to a massacre of Jews said to have been carried out at Khaybar in Arabia in 628CE — more than 1,300 years before the modern state of Israel was founded.”

There was absolutely no “massacre of Jews” carried out “at Khaybar in Arabia in 628 CE.” The Jews of Khaybar agreed in the year 628 CE to pay a tribute to the early Islamic state based in Madina for having taking part in plots against it. The Jewish Chronicle front page article is incorrect and therefore the Jewish Chronicle front page headline describing the chant “Khaybar, Khaybar…” as a “Death threat to Jews” would also appear to be wrong (and, quite ironically, the Jewish Chronicle could be said with rather more accuracy to be inciting hatred of Muslims).

Once again, I repeat, there was no “massacre of Jews” carried out “at Khaybar in Arabia in 628 CE” as the Jewish Chronicle alleges.

This extremely serious error on the part of the Jewish Chronicle is compounded by the fact that its “story” (or, more accurately, non-story or lie) has been spread around the internet by other outlets including the Jerusalem Post. See the online Jerusalem Post article at the following link:

I do hope that IPSO takes this matter up urgently with the Jewish Chronicle. I look forward to hearing your response and the result of your investigations into this matter.

Thank you.

Mr Inayat Bunglawala

= = =

[29 April 2022]

Our reference: 02922-22 (The Jewish Chronicle (The Jewish Chronicle))

Dear Mr Bunglawala,

I am writing to follow up on our earlier email.

IPSO considers complaints made under the terms of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

So that we can be sure we have understood your complaint, we need you to specify the Clause(s) of the Code under which you wish to complain. Please use the following link to find the Editors’ Code of Practice if you need to refer to it: We would suggest you look at Clause 1 (Accuracy) which deals with concerns about inaccurate and misleading reporting.

We look forward to receiving this information, and would be grateful for your response within the next seven days.

With best wishes

[Name Redacted]

= = =

[29 April 2022]

Hi [Name Redacted]

Yes, my complaint centres around what I believe to be the breaches of Clause 1 of the Code of Practice.

To be more specific:

  1. There was no “massacre” at Khaybar in 628 CE.
  2. The phrase “Khaybar, Khaybar…” cannot fairly be reported to be a “Death Threat”. A death threat is an extremely serious accusation and in this case you will note that the words did not appear in quotation marks to suggest that they were an allegation, it was reported as fact. So, the Jewish Chronicle was claiming that “clear death threats” were made at “rallies”, but provided no evidence of this at all. It is hard to think of a more incendiary false accusation.

I hope this clarifies matters, but please do let me know if you require any more information.

Thank you.



= = =

[19 May 2022]

Our reference: 02922-22 (The Jewish Chronicle (The Jewish Chronicle))

Dear Mr Bunglawala,

We apologise for coming back again, and thank you for your patience.

We would be grateful if you could set out why it is inaccurate to refer to the chant as a “death threat”.

We look forward to hearing from you and would appreciate your response within the next seven days.

With best wishes,

[Name Redacted]

= = =

[23 May 2022]

Your Ref: 02922-22 (The Jewish Chronicle)

Dear [Name Redacted],

Thank you for your email of 19/05/22.

You asked if I could set out why it is inaccurate to refer to the “Khaybar, Khaybar…” chant as a “death threat”.

I would have thought that if a newspaper makes an assertion that someone (or some group) is uttering a death threat – an extremely serious allegation, then it would be for them – when challenged – to prove that it is indeed a “death threat” or show that our courts have indeed ruled that it is a “death threat”.

Anyway, the chant literally says the following:

“Khaybar, Khaybar, Ya Yahud,
Jaysh Muhammad Sawfa Ya’ud”

“Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews
The army of Muhammad will return”

As you can plainly see, there is no death threat mentioned in the chant at all. The chant recalls the Prophet Muhammad’s campaign against the Jewish fortresses in Khaybar in 628 C.E. due to their plotting against the early Islamic state and their support for the opponents of the early Islamic state. The Jews of Khaybar surrendered and agreed to pay a tribute to the Islamic state in return for being allowed to continue to live in Khaybar – as opposed to being forced into exile.

In my original complaint I mentioned that the Jewish Chronicle had erroneously stated that the chant “refers to a massacre of Jews said to have been carried out at Khaybar in Arabia in 628CE — more than 1,300 years before the modern state of Israel was founded.” I pointed out that there was no “massacre” at Khaybar. This was a totally false claim made by the Jewish Chronicle. The Jewish Chronicle appears to have confused what happened at Khaybar in 628 C.E. with the fate of the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayzah in Madina in 627 C.E. It is evident that the Jewish Chronicle tried to link the chant to a supposed “massacre” at Khaybar in order to defend their characterisation of the chant as a “death threat”.

As there was plainly no “massacre” of Jews in Khaybar and as the chant evidently makes no “death threat” – I would like IPSO to rule on whether the Jewish Chronicle has breached Clause 1 of IPSO’s Code of Practice.

To assert in a front page headline that someone of some group has made a “death threat” – and you will note that the words “death threat” did not appear in quotation marks in the original headline, meaning that the Jewish Chronicle was confidently asserting that a death threat was made, it was not merely saying that a Jewish group had alleged that a “death threat” had been made – is an extremely serious matter and they need to back it up with concrete facts, not inaccurate statements about a “massacre” that never happened.

Do let me know if you require any further information.

Thank you.



= = =

[24 May 2022]

Dear Mr Bunglawala,

I write further to our earlier email regarding your complaint about an article headlined “Death threat to Jews sung openly at rallies across UK”, published by The Jewish Chronicle on 22 April 2022.

When IPSO receives a complaint, the Executive staff review it first to decide whether the complaint falls within our remit, and whether it raises a possible breach of the Editors’ Code of Practice. We have read your complaint carefully, and have decided that it does not raise a possible breach of the Editors’ Code.

You said the article breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) as it claimed the chant referred “to a massacre of Jews said to have been carried out at Khaybar in Arabia in 628CE — more than 1,300 years before the modern state of Israel was founded.” You said there was no massacre of Jews carried out “at Khaybar in Arabia in 628 CE”. We appreciated that you disputed that there had been a massacre of Jews in Khaybar in 628 CE, however IPSO is not in a position to make a ruling on an alleged historical event which happened over a millennium ago. We also noted that the article said “It refers to a massacre of Jews said to have been carried out at Khaybar” which did not present it as a claim of fact but rather a matter of historical debate. For this reason, we did not identify grounds to investigate a breach of Clause 1.

You also said the article was inaccurate as it described the chant as a death threat. We appreciated your concerns but noted that the article set out the basis for its characterisation of “death threat” where it suggested the chant alluded to a massacre “said” to have happened and that an army was returning. It further described another rally on 15 May “which chanted ‘death to Israel’ in Arabic”. In these circumstances, where the chant referred to an “alleged” massacre – regardless of whether the massacre actually happened – and also warned that an army was coming, the newspaper was entitled to characterise these chants as “death threats”. We did not identify grounds to investigate a breach of Clause 1.

You are entitled to request that the Executive’s decision to reject your complaint be reviewed by IPSO’s Complaints Committee. To do so you will need to write to us in the next seven days, setting out the reasons why you believe the decision should be reviewed. Please note that we are unable to accept requests for review made seven days after the date of this email.

We would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider the points you have raised, and have shared this correspondence with the newspaper to make it aware of your concerns.

Best wishes,

[Name Redacted]

Cc The Jewish Chronicle

= = =

[29 May 2022]
Your reference: 02922-22 (The Jewish Chronicle)

Dear [Name Redacted],

Thank you for your email dated 24/5/22.

I am writing to ask that your decision to reject my complaint be reviewed by IPSO’s Complaints Committee. My reasons for this are as follows:

  1. You said that you rejected my complaint that the Jewish Chronicle made a factual error in asserting in a front page story that there was a “massacre in Khaybar in Arabia in 628 CE” because you said that “IPSO is not in a position to make a ruling on an alleged historical event which happened over a millenium ago. We also noted that the article said “It refers to a massacre of Jews said to have been carried out at Khaybar” which did not present it as a claim of fact but rather a matter of historical debate. For this reason, we did not identify grounds to investigate a breach of Clause 1.”

I am very puzzled by your arguments here. The IPSO Code of Practice clearly says the following under Clause 1 (Accuracy):

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.

iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

You will note that it does not say that IPSO will only rule on “inaccurate, misleading or distorted information” if it involves say information relating to the last fifty years or so. IPSO can easily find out if my argument that the Jewish Chronicle was factually wrong and that there was no “massacre” of Jews at Khaybar in 628 CE (the JC evidently got confused with the punishment meted out to the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayzah for their treachery in 627 CE in Madina) by consulting any decent historian of the Middle East at any of our top universities. This should not be an onerous or difficult task for IPSO.

Secondly, just because the Jewish Chronicle phrased their sentence as saying “It refers to a massacre of Jews said to have been carried out at Khaybar” – that does not absolve them of the need to be factually accurate. This was a news item on their front page – it was not a comment piece tucked away in their inside pages. The news item made a factually incorrect assertion in a highly prominent way – it did not simply present it as “a matter for historical debate” as you – quite astonishingly – say.

  1. You also rejected my complaint that the headline “Death threat to Jews sung openly at rallies across UK” was inaccurate because if there was no “massacre” at Khaybar then the Jewish Chronicle was wrong to characterise the chant as a “Death threat”. In your rejection email, you argued that “the article set out the basis for its characterisation of “death threat” where it suggested the chant alluded to a massacre “said” to have happened and that an army was returning. It further described another rally on 15 May “which chanted ‘death to Israel’ in Arabic”.

It is astonishing to me that you are laying so much importance to the fact that the Jewish Chronicle said that a massacre was “said” to have occurred in Khaybar – “regardless of whether the massacre actually happened”. Alleging that a “massacre” occured at Khaybar is evidently central to the Jewish Chronicle’s case that the chant – which refers to Khaybar – is a “death threat”. Who “said” there was a massacre at Khaybar? Was it the JC’s cleaning lady? Would that have been sufficient to satisfy IPSO – or should IPSO require that a national newspaper provide rather more substance to its assertions than that?

Also, the chant “Death to Israel” is a political slogan – it is not a “Death threat” and you cannot be imprisoned for it. It is not against the law to call for the dismantlement of an apartheid state (as Amnesty International and other leading human rights organisations have labelled the Israeli state for their illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and their treatment of the occupied people). A death threat against an individual or groups of individuals is an extremely serious matter and it is against the law. The chant “Death to Israel” is not against the law as it clearly refers to a state not an individual or a group of individuals – is IPSO really suggesting otherwise? Are you aware of anyone who has been successfully prosecuted for merely chanting “Death to Israel”? I would also add here that it is abundantly clear to any reader of the Jewish Chronicle article that the “death threat” they were referring to was related to the chant “Khaybar, Khaybar…” (see paragraph 4 of their front page story).

In summary, I hope that IPSO’s Complaints Committee will look carefully at my complaint and judge whether the Jewish Chronicle breached its responsibility to abide by Clause 1 of the Editor’s Code of Practice on Accuracy.

Thank you.


Inayat Bunglawala

= = =

[27 June 2022]

Our reference: 02922-22 (The Jewish Chronicle (The Jewish Chronicle))

Dear Mr Bunglawala,

The Complaints Committee has considered your complaint, the email from IPSO’s Executive notifying you of its view that your complaint did not raise a possible breach of the Code, and your email requesting a review of the Executive’s decision. The Committee agreed the following decision:

The Committee noted that where you did not appear to dispute that the chant was about an alleged massacre at Khaybar in Arabia in 628CE, and where the article made clear the chant “refers to a massacre of Jews said to have been carried out at Khaybar in Arabia in 628CE” the article was not a claim of fact about whether this event happened but rather, that a chant which was heard at a protest made reference to an alleged massacre of Jews.

The Committee appreciated that there is some debate about whether this massacre happened, however – where the article made clear a group of people do believe this event to have happened – it was entitled to characterise the chant as a death threat and this basis was clearly set out in the article.

While the Committee also understood your concerns that chanting “Death to Israel” is a political slogan calling for the dismantlement of “an apartheid state”, others may have different interpretations of this chant, and it was not significantly inaccurate, misleading or distorted for the newspaper to characterise this as a “death threat”.

For this reason, and the reasons already provided by IPSO’s Executive, the Committee decided that your complaint did not raise a possible breach of the Code. As such, it declined to re-open your complaint.

The Committee would like to thank you for giving it the opportunity to consider your concerns.

Best wishes,

[Name Redacted]

Freedom of expression a British value? Really?

Indigo Jo Blogs - 12 June, 2022 - 15:45
 The Lady of Heaven, the Untold Story. Join us to show our discontent with a peaceful protests, Friday 3rd June 2022, 7pm, Cineworld Bradford, Vicar Lane BD1 5LD (up the road from Bradford Interchange, for out of town brothers). Bring signs and posters".Poster for a protest against The Lady of Heaven.

This weekend it was revealed that Qari Asim, an imam who had worked with the government as some sort of anti-extremism consultant since 2019 when Theresa May was still PM, had been sacked for supporting protests against a film, Lady of Heaven, which promotes a baseless opinion popular among some extremist Shi’ites that the Prophet’s (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) daughter Fatima (radhi Allahu ‘anha) was murdered by other Companions that the Shi’a are fond of reviling and cursing. (This apparently isn’t a mainstream Shi’a view and some Shi’a leaders have condemned the film.) He was sent a letter from the department for “Levelling Up” (a Tory slogan now used as the title of a government department, unprecedented as far as I know), housing and communities accusing him of supporting a campaign to “restrict artistic expression” and “street protests that have fomented religious hatred”. The page-long letter concludes: “this country is proud of its democratic values and freedoms, which include tolerance, freedom of expression and community”.

As anyone with a passing familiarity with British law and constitution will know, freedom of expression in the UK runs as far as the law allows. There is no constitutional protection for free speech in the UK as there is in the UK: there are laws which do restrict free speech and parliament can change or increase them as it sees fit. People have been prosecuted and even imprisoned for writing things online which caused offence on pretty much any grounds; sometimes these were just tasteless, but caused no actual harm. These include people who insulted British soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, someone who published a picture of a body which had fallen from the burning Grenfell Tower, and a man who mocked Manchester United over the Munich plane crash which killed a number of its players in the 1950s. These laws only apply to things written online or said over the phone (laws originally designed to protect the sensitive ears of female telephone operators in the 1980s); the law does not apply to things said on stage or TV or in a newspaper. I complained once about jokes in a BBC comedy around the prospect of George Michael, who had just been imprisoned for a drug-driving offence, being raped in prison; I was told they had to cater for all tastes. Our libel laws, however, hugely restrict what anyone can say about anyone with money or power in those settings and our courts are favourites for oligarchs from around the world to sue people for revealing their misdeeds. Similar laws were struck down in the US as a violation of the First Amendment.

Was it street protests that caused the withdrawal of this film in British cinemas? My impression is that there just wasn’t the audience for a film that peddled an extremist narrative about the events in question. The cinemas may have been given the impression that it would attract a Muslim audience, or at least a Shi’a audience, but when Muslims started protesting, it became obvious that it was only of interest to an extreme, sectarian fringe. Protests might have put audiences off, but if they are only out on the street, how would they know what film anyone has come to see when Muslims go to see other films? The film will soon be on streaming platforms and how well it does there will give a better idea of how popular it really is.

It is hypocrisy to claim that free expression is some sort of British value when the law in fact restricts such expression for ordinary people, and the Tories have shown no desire to do away with these restrictions. We sometimes hear language such as “war on woke”, complaints that students try to restrict appearances by visiting speakers known for promoting discriminatory views, and this action fits with that agenda: free speech is for the powerful, those with established old-media and academic platforms, while those lower down in the hierarchy have to put up with both offensive speech targeted at us, and restrictions on our free speech. If they really are committed to freedom of expression, they should abolish these laws and reform the libel law, not punish Muslims for supporting small, peaceful protests, because the right to protest is also part of any democratic society.

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Let’s put a stop to the dashcam vigilantes

Indigo Jo Blogs - 5 June, 2022 - 12:15
A grey car stopped next to a traffic island in a tree-lined London street, with a man pointing his finger at him from behind the camera.Vigilante “Cycling Mikey” intercepts a motorist going the wrong way past a traffic island in Regent’s Park, London

In recent years a genre of videos has emerged on YouTube: compilations of dashcam clips, showing everything from actual crashes, some of which look like they must have been fatal, through hair-raisingly stupid and dangerous driving, via the slightly careless to the merely irritating and harmless rule-breaking. There are several series called “Idiots in Cars”, some of them mostly filmed in the USA and some mostly, it appears, in Russia, which mostly consist of crashes, but in the UK the clips mostly contain irritating driving: people pulling out in front of the driver behind the camera and making him slow down, that sort of thing. Quite often, the motive seems to be that the driver is annoyed at someone else getting ahead of them, and in some cases they are just as much at fault as the person depicted: if someone is illegally riding a motorcycle that shouldn’t be on the road, they still have the right not to be knocked off by a motorist who turns right across their path without bothering to look in their mirror first, yet the videos and the comments underneath cast blame on them. Some of these channels have started telling people to submit their footage to the police as well; others advertise footage of “instant karma” (here’s one example) where a rule-breaker is seen and pulled over by the police immediately, while others roam around on bicycles looking for rule-breakers to film and then rat on to the police.

Much of the behaviour depicted, again, is not dangerous. It’s illegal to hold a mobile phone while driving in the UK (it’s not illegal to use a mounted phone or to use a phone hands-free, as long as you are not distracted). Recently the rules have been tightened up to make non-phone use of multi-function phones illegal, or any holding of them, illegal, and there is a mandatory penalty of six points (twelve usually means a ban). This is apparently because “I was just picking it up” is supposedly a common excuse used by people who were actually using their phones. Yet, someone could have been picking it up because it fell off its mount and was needed for navigation, or for taking calls from the driver’s boss. The penalty is disproportionate for someone who was doing this (or even using it) while in stationary traffic with the handbrake on; there is really no danger in this case, other than of a minor inconvenience to other drivers if the queue starts to move. What is dangerous is using them while in motion. Yet we still have people filming people in stationary traffic with their phones, and sending them to the police and taking delight in reporting that they were fined or received points on their licence.

Nobody should be getting fined for mere rule-breaking if it’s not detected by the police. If laws are worth enforcing, they are worth enforcing properly, not relying on self-righteous, self-appointed spies and vigilantes to do it. I have no problem when the driving is actually dangerous or there has been an accident and someone submits footage, but I do oppose maximising of points and fines by using footage from people with no legal authority, just a camera and too much free time on their hands. The law, also, should be reformed: there is no reason anyone should get six points for using their mobile phone while their vehicle is stationary with the handbrake on, whether they are in a queue of traffic, sitting by the side of the road, at a level crossing or in a car park (all this is illegal); this is idiot law, passed in a moral panic and media frenzy following a couple of high-profile fatal accidents on major roads caused by people using them while driving at high speed, the exact opposite of the situations depicted in this footage and which was always illegal, even before hand-held mobile phones were banned at the wheel. Things should be legal or illegal in this situation depending on whether they cause danger, and how much, not on theoretical principles or logical fallacies such as the “slippery slope” of “if you can use them while stationary, people will use them while actually driving”.

There’s something quite unseemly about this whole genre: people getting kicks out of seeing people get penalties that will cause difficulties in their lives over things which are exceedingly trivial and inconsequential. The laws should be made rational, so that this cannot happen, and these overgrown playground tale-bearers can be cut at the knees.

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Should Labour be chasing Hindu fascist votes?

Indigo Jo Blogs - 28 May, 2022 - 17:07
A scan of a mail shot from the 2016 London mayoral election. It shows Zac Goldsmith shaking hands with Narendra Modi, next to Sadiq Khan next to Jeremy Corbyn. It boasts of Goldsmith's friendliness with the Indian Hindu community and with India, while mentioning that Sadiq Khan opposes Modi and that Labour "supports a wealth tax on family jewellery".A mail shot from the 2016 mayoral election by the Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith, appealing to Hindu fears about a Muslim Labour mayor. Source: Siraj Datoo.

How Labour Lost the Indian Vote (from the New Statesman website; you can read a limited number of articles free)

In the most recent local elections in the UK, Labour gained a couple of flagship councils from the Tories, including Wandsworth which had been in Tory hands since the 1970s (including through the Blair years), but lost two councils it had held for some years to the Tories, namely Croydon in the south and Harrow in the north-west. In Croydon the Labour council has had to make major public service cuts as a result of a financial crisis; in Harrow, it has been put down to losing the local Indian vote partly because of a crisis involving bin collection, but also because the local Hindu community regards the Labour party as patronising and too close to Muslims. The author, Kavya Kaushik, says that the party loses Asian votes once Asians become wealthier, both in Harrow and in other areas with a large Asian vote such as Southall (as one constituent told him when campaigning there, “you vote Labour in Southall but then you make money, move to Isleworth and buy a Mercedes” and vote Tory. He calls Pinner “Harrow’s Isleworth”, popular with Harrow Hindus who have “made it”, but Isleworth is in a different borough to Southall.

Often, Labour has kept the votes of immigrant communities after they cease to be mostly working-class; people remember that the Tories did not welcome them when they arrived, although East African Asians were an exception (they arrived in 1972, under Ted Heath’s government) and were always associated with small business rather than working-class Asian occupations such as textile work. They will often finally break with Labour when Labour embraces a cause they are hostile to: with the Jews it was Ed Miliband’s pro-Palestinian noises during the Coalition years. With Hindus it is the fact that Labour, as an anti-fascist and pro-democratic party, has not warmly embraced the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, whose mob fascist movement has presided over an increasingly violent and discriminatory regime in India. Kaushik in her article claims that when ‘radicalised’ Hindus look at Labour’s south Asian politicians, they do not see politicians who look like them; rather they see Pakistanis such as Sadiq Khan and Rosena Allin-Khan (who is actually half Polish), and Hindu satellite TV has “placed radical Hindu commentators in Harrow living rooms, evangelising about the horrors of Pakistan in digestible chunks for the diaspora”.

I question whether Labour’s failure to quite wholeheartedly embrace Modi’s regime is really just because it’s under the influence of Pakistani politicians or that it’s dependent on Muslim votes, however. There actually have been Labour politicians who have cosied up to Modi (like Keith Vaz) and have congratulated him on election victories (like Barry Gardiner). Labour is an anti-fascist party which prides itself on championing diversity and tolerance and many Labour politicians and activists are horrified at the spectacle of a regime with obvious echoes of both Nazi Germany and Jim Crow-era America, with mobs that terrorise a minority, raping and murdering with impunity, emerging in a country that prides itself on its secularism and tolerance. Many people regarded Pakistan as the horror story, with its history of military dictatorships and blasphemy laws which were used against impoverished members of religious minorities, particularly Christians. India was always a democracy, despite occasional ‘blips’ such as the mob destruction of the Ayodhya mosque. Both Hitler and Mussolini were also noted for economic and industrial progress, but neither are associated with those things today. Hitler is remembered not for the motorways he built but for the war he started and the millions he murdered. Modi, unlike Hitler, is not dead but still in power and still has politicians who think of themselves as anti-fascist shaking his hand.

Kaushik also observes that a lot of middle-class Hindus don’t like being asked to sort their rubbish like everyone else in London. That sort of job is done by low-caste people back home. Well, as we Muslims are always being told, “when in Rome, you do as the Romans do” and if Rome can’t afford to dump all its rubbish in landfill sites anymore, as London can’t, you jolly well sort your rubbish like they do. Most of us, Muslims and others, don’t much like the fact that we can’t just throw things out anymore but putting bottles and cans in separate piles really isn’t that much of a chore for those of us who have never had maids to do those sorts of things for us.

She quotes an anonymous Labour activist, whom she identifies as anti-BJP, as saying:

“Labour comes across as anti-India. They only focus on our problems and we already know our problems. They treat us as a poor third-world nation and patronisingly tell us what’s wrong with our country like we haven’t noticed. Shedding light on human rights abuses is necessary, but that’s all they ever do. They never talk about India in any other context. They haven’t even recognised our economic growth. The Conservatives do, and treat us as equals, as friends. The Conservatives celebrate India. The Labour party just tells us what the government’s done wrong.”

The problem is that it appears that a lot of Britain’s Hindu community does not regard what has happened in India as being wrong at all; they actively support it. Most of us are aware that there are areas of India not under BJP control and where fascism has not taken control, but the human rights abuses referred to are often not just the work of the state (as in Kashmir, where people were shot in the face and blinded for taking part in demonstrations, or for merely showing their face, and where the Internet was cut off for months at a time to stop people drawing attention to abuses), but of mobs connected to the ruling party. It is not a dictatorship, where a ruling elite oppresses the masses, but a country where the Hindu majority oppresses and increasingly persecutes the Muslim minority and where that majority keeps returning oppressors to power. It doesn’t matter if they also deliver economic prosperity, for some; if Muslim businesses are being destroyed, they are not sharing in it. (Modi’s economic record is also mixed, to say the least; have we forgotten his decision to abolish high-denomination banknotes?)

A party that stands against oppression will lose the votes of people who support that oppression. Fascists do not vote for anti-fascists and racists do not vote for anti-racists. When Lyndon Johnson’s administration passed civil rights laws in the 1960s, Johnson remarked that his party had lost the South for a generation (though that loss was slow in coming; the South voted both for Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton). Regardless of economic growth, politicians that do not distance themselves from mob violence and who support discrimination against religious minorities should not be embraced by anyone who would not support such policies at home or on the same continent. “Modi brought economic prosperity” should be treated with the same contempt as “Hitler built motorways” and “Mussolini made the trains run on time”; you aren’t benefiting from the prosperity if your shop has been burned, much as you aren’t seeing the benefit of improved transportation if you’re being transported in a cattle truck to the death camps. If Labour cannot stomach Jeremy Corbyn, it should retch at the thought of shaking hands with Modi or any of his goons and cronies and should have the courage to tell his British supporters that.

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Love Is The Cure: An Ode To Faith And Mental Health

Muslim Matters - 14 May, 2022 - 17:10

Yerusalem Work delivers a speech about faith and mental health and recites an original poem entitled “Love is the Cure” at This Is My Brave in Arlington, VA 2018 at Gunston Theatre One. If you would like to watch the video, click on this link.

Greetings of peace! Assalamu alaikum. Peace be with you. Shalom aleichem. (I think that covers everyone)

Thank you so much! I’m happy to be here. My name is Yerusalem.


In the name of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)

A Syrian man named Muhammad walked into the photo processing center where I worked in Somerville, MA. He saw me in hijab and wrote his name in cursive on a sheet of paper on the counter. He added a heart at the end of his name.

I explained that I was not officially Muslim, but I wanted to practice. He brought me a copy of the Qur’an in which the translator wrote in the foreword that one day even hell will cool. This idea appeals to me, because God is merciful. I can’t imagine eternal punishment. Still, I did not want to take my shahadah in light of the five daily prayer commitment. I expected immense guilt if I missed just one Fajr, the early morning prayer. The self-absorbed neurosis of Jewish guilt does not compare to how I feel about the many ways I do not meet up to the noble ideals of Islam. But, I try. I dust off my prayer rug and begin again.

This Syrian man took me to his mosque in Boston where I met with the Imam, who asked me why I wanted to revert to Islam. I confessed that I’m in continual jihad—jihad al-nafs. I want to conquer the self. This jihad is the major one, as the Prophet, peace be upon him, said. My struggle with the self keeps me in constant pursuit of purity, freedom from sin, and it offers me time for personal reflection. I did not take my shahadah in Boston, but I did fast for my first Ramadan.

I wanted to be perfect before I officially entered Islam. I feared not living up to Islamic standards of piety, dress, and I don’t know much Arabic. It was intimidating, yet alluring.

For three weeks, I fasted alone working at the photo lab in Boston. I would break my fast at the Starbucks across the street from work by drinking tea and eating a bagel. I did not hear the recitation of the Qur’an in the evenings, because I take medication at night that makes me drowsy. I can’t stay up late due to health reasons. Although I had no diagnosis at the time, the doctors recommended a mood stabilizer, because I’m extremely emotional. I experience unusually high highs and debilitating low lows in ways that are out of touch with reality. I went to the mosque during Ramadan for a teaching about the purpose of fasting. The teacher said whatever mistakes you make during the beginning of Ramadan don’t matter. All that counts are the last ten days of Ramadan where it will be determined if you go to Jannah (Paradise) or Jahannam (Hell). Those were her words, however accurate or inaccurate.

I stopped fasting the next day, because I thought Islam was too strict. What about three weeks of nothing but bread and water? I feared Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) had not accepted my fast and that it was impossible to please Him. That’s when I became manic and paranoid, so I got diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. My world fell apart, and I sincerely sought a method of redemption, however elusive.

Like Humpty Dumpty, I had a great fall. My life was easy-breezy until my diagnosis, schizoaffective disorder, which makes me a highly effective person. Initially, the discovery was devastating. Why me? Am I so different? But, even if “Things Fall Apart,” faith, family, friends, and community are pieces to the puzzle of life. Medication and therapy are part of recovery. I can only be whole if I allow the pieces to fit together as complicated and intricate as the puzzle—as life—may be. Mental illness doesn’t have to isolate us or leave us fragmented and alienated. Our mission is to stay connected to the people and places that matter most.

One place I return to is the mosque. It’s a community center with lots of opportunities for volunteer work. That’s why I love the saying “the entire earth is a masjid” (Arabic for mosque); it’s a place for prayer and purification.

Despite my battle with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, I am able to share my poetry, my spoken word at the mosque.

Here is a poem for you.

“Love is the cure. Religion became my medicine. Islam is pure. It is contentment. Alhamdulillah. It is gratitude for what Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has given, including the belief in the Qadr of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). It is the prayer that an angel is busy recording our good deeds. It is a period of fasting. It is the moment we say a blessing and hasten to succeed. It is setting the intention to make Hajj. It is listening to Al-Qur’an. It is loving Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and His Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) above all. It is strengthening our souls with acts of piety. It is demonstrating our faith in moments of clarity. Reason is the slave of passion according to Rousseau. It is the understanding that we are all philosophers. Each one of us transgress and reestablish our limits. With a merciful, compassionate God, this should not lead to punishment, but discipline. With love, we enter into agreement. With fear, we distance ourselves and set off on separate journeys as the sun sets. Fear Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Don’t be afraid of yourself. Don’t trust yourself ‘til death. Trust Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Until Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is all you have left…” 

Thank you!


Related reading:

Redoing My Duas – Mental Illness and Worship

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Speaking Truth To Oppression: Shireen Abu Akleh

Muslim Matters - 14 May, 2022 - 04:08

The Israeli assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh is yet another example of Zionist oppression against Palestinians, and especially those who speak truth to power and resist their illegal occupation. Muslims and supporters of Palestine around the world can draw inspiration from her incredible work.

A Palestinian Icon

Shireen Abu Akleh was born on May 3, 1971, in Jerusalem. Her family were Catholic Arab Palestinian Christians from the holy city of Bethlehem. In an interview shortly before her death, she described herself as a “product of Jerusalem.” 

When Shireen’s mother migrated to New Jersey, Shireen obtained U.S. citizenship during the 70’s and 80’s. She spent time in the US when she was younger and often visited America during the summer months. Shireen herself grew up in Jerusalem where she graduated from the Catholic Rosary Sisters’ High School before moving to Amman, Jordan for university.

She initially studied architecture at the University of Science and Technology before switching to study journalism at Yarmouk University. When she returned to Palestine she worked with a variety of agencies including UNRWA and the Voice of Palestine radio station. She later joined Al Jazeera in 1997 and quickly became a household name as she covered the second Palestinian intifada from 2000-2005. Journalist Muhammad Daraghmeh, a close friend of hers who teaches at Birzeit University in the West Bank, said Abu Akleh was “one of the strongest journalists in the Arab world.” 

Brutal Assassination

Early Wednesday morning, according to Al Jazeera, Shireen was reporting on the Israeli military raid of the Jenin refugee camp with three other journalists. Her last correspondence sent to her colleagues at Al Jazeera was “There’s a raid in Jenin. We are heading there now. We will let you know.”

Shatha Hanaysha, one of the four total journalists who went to report on the scene, said, “We were going to film the Israeli army operation and suddenly they shot us without asking us to leave or stop filming.”  

Abu Akleh was shot in the face. She was rushed to a hospital in Jenin in critical condition, where she was declared dead shortly after, according to the Palestinian health ministry. She was murdered in cold blood, in her press vest, by the Israeli Occupation Forces.

Standing Firm Against Oppression

In the Quran, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) reveals in Surat al-Nisa:

 “O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allāh, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allāh is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allāh is ever, of what you do, Aware.” [4:135]

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) commands believers to stand firm in justice — to be grounded in truth, bear witness honestly, and to maintain a position of justness even against ourselves and our loved ones. 

To live in Palestine under occupation, with the most powerful countries and entities funding the destruction and colonization of your homeland, is an extremely difficult feat in itself. Shireen survived that unimaginable difficulty, and even risked her life to report the truth to the world. She bore witness to and reported on the horrific and continuous operation of the colonization of Palestine and the Palestinian resistance. Shireen’s purpose as a bearer of truth, even in the face of oppression and injustice, was beautifully manifested in the global success she had as a journalist, and the stellar reputation she had amongst her similarly-aligned colleagues. 

An Example to All

I heard the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) say, “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim]

Shireen grew up in occupied Palestine and witnessed evil on a daily basis. In her pursuit of a journalism education and exceptional career, she used her tongue to speak out against the injustices she reported on. 

She used her hand to do so as well in the production and execution of those reports with her fellow journalists and Al Jazeera team. And in the words of Israeli Military Spokesperson Ran Kochav, she worked against injustice by being “armed with cameras.” 

Shireen left a deep impression on the world with the ways in which she spoke out and actively worked against injustice. Her life story serves as an inspiration to women, men, and children around the world in pursuit of a meaningful life and a purpose around Palestine. Shireen Abu Akleh will  always will be remembered as an icon to the Palestinian liberation movement, and her words and actions, grounded in justice and truth, will forever be archived in history.


Related reading:

Palestine in the Islamic Consciousness 

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Freedom Of Speech And Protest In Islam: The Distorted Saudi View

Muslim Matters - 13 May, 2022 - 05:10
A Protest in the Prophet’s Mosque

A powerful event of peaceful protest happened two weeks ago (April 28) in Saudi Arabia at the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) mosque – something not seen in Medina for over fourteen hundred years. A visiting delegation of Pakistani politicians, including Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and two Ministers from the recently installed government, were greeted by repeated chants by worshippers of “chor,” which in English translates as “thief”. Did Prime Minister Sharif, who is out on bail on multiple criminal charges for alleged financial improprieties, visit the holy places to burnish his religious bona fides to a citizenry back home? If that was the case, the optics of what happened has had the opposite effect. The images of the protest have been relayed and amplified with commentary and gone viral on social media. For adherents of the Islamic faith, being called a “thief” near the resting place of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is a profound jolt. It has been interpreted by many as signifying that these politicians were not worthy of traversing such sacred terrain.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif visits Prophet’s Mosque in the holy city of Madinah, Saudi Arabia. – (AP via Khaleej Times}

As was expected, the Saudi authorities who brook no dissent are incensed by the protests. Politically, one can understand the Saudi’s concern. Protests of “chor” against Pakistani officials if left unchecked could blossom to protests against Saudi governance or human rights violations. The Medina police have since arrested five suspects for “abusing and insulting” the Pakistani Ministers. The spokesperson for the police remarked the actions of the protesters is against Islam and “contradict the sanctity of the place.”  The protest took place a distance from the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) grave. Islamic scholars, all the way back to the Caliph Omar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) and the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) wife Ayesha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) instructed Muslims not to raise one’s voice next to the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) grave. Understandably, political discourse and protests in the mosque even far from the grave of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would undermine the worship of other pilgrims. Given the crowds, time, manner, and place restrictions on protest is needed. But the notion that no protests are permitted in Islam or that political discourse never took place in the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) mosque is incorrect. The efforts of smart phones and citizen reporting of the incident offers a monumental teaching teachable moment for Muslims and others about the correct Islamic conception of democracy, freedom of speech and accountability of government officials for malfeasance.

Saudi and “Freedom” of Speech

There is a litany of prophetic examples that illustrate the Saudi view of freedom of speech and protest, like so much of their brand of Islam, is the antithesis of Islamic scriptures and prophetic practice. Islamic scriptures is replete with calls on every Muslim to enjoin good and forbid wrong. Muslims unanimously agree that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) proclaimed that speaking against an unjust ruler is the highest form of sacrifice in the path of God. Muslims also unanimously concur that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said when you see a wrong, change it with your hand. If you cannot change it with your hand, then speak against the wrong. And if you cannot change the wrong with your words, then despise that wrong in your heart but that is the lowest level of faith.

There are many examples of freedom of speech and protest in the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) mosque, or during the pilgrimage during the life of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and the four immediate successors of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), who Sunni Islam unanimously proclaims as the four noble or rightly guided Caliphs. The latter’s instructions and examples represent sources of Islamic law. Here are a few illustrations.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was once delivering a speech and a man interrupted the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and inquired about the unlawful detention of his neighbor. The man rose two more times and asked the same question. Thereafter, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) asked the police officer to release the man’s neighbor. The incident is instructive at several levels. First, it occurred in the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) mosque. Second, it was the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that was being interrupted. Third, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) did not say that the interruption  disrespected him or his mosque. Fourth, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) recognized the validity of someone concerned about injustice and raising the concern publicly.

On assuming office after he was selected leader of the state after the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) death, Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), the first noble Caliph, addressed the community and remarked, “You have made me your leader, although I am in no way superior to you. Co-operate with me when I do right; correct me when I err.” He also said, “Turn away from me when I deviate.” Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) admonished the community that if he errs and departs from ethical principles, which by definition preclude corruption, immorality, and injustice, the community has an obligation to speak truth to power.

Meanwhile, Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Sultan recently asked the Saudi population to accept austerity measures whilst personally spending about half a billion United States dollars on a supposed Salvador Mundi painting of Christ, which turned out to be a fake. Islamic tenets demand that the public must hold leaders accountable for their actions. Caliph Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) stated, “[T]o tell the truth to a person commissioned to rule is faithful allegiance; to conceal it is treason.”

Dynasty vs Khilaafah

Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) recognized the equality of society, which is replete in the sayings of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). The legitimacy of Abu Bakr’s raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) leadership was not derived from dynastic rule. The subsequent three Caliphs were also selected  through a process of mutual consultation, which arguably represented the first implementation of a rudimentary democracy; rule by consensus as opposed to coercion. It was also a rejection of hereditary leadership. On his deathbed, the second Caliph, Omar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), asked for a consultative committee of the leading personalities of the time to choose his successor. Omar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was absolutely emphatic that his successor could not be his son, thus eschewing dynastic rule.

Neither the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) (considered by Muslims as the greatest personality that lived), nor the Caliphs gave the state their family name. The Saudi state is named after the ruling family and constitutes an absolutist, dynastic, and family-centered government, the members of whom have amassed enormous wealth. The Royal family treat the resources and treasury as their private piggy bank. Caliph Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) warned his officials against making state appointments based on nepotism or leaders enriching themselves. On assuming the office of Caliph, Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) asked his daughter to take stock of his assets so that a determination can be made at the end whether he had been enriched in office. This might be the earliest recorded instance of a leader concerned about corruption and providing a self-imposed check against corruption.

Limits to Obedience

Like his predecessor, the second Caliph, Omar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), instructed the Muslim community that no leader should be obeyed if he acts against the tenets of the faith. Omar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) remarked that the community has rights over him and must be able to enforce those rights. Omar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) took meticulous measures to ensure that political power was not an entrée to richness. For example, Omar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) asked every officer he appointed to take a pledge that they would live simply and eat simply. Those that breached the rule were reported by the citizenry and were sanctioned. A detailed inventory of the assets of the officials was prepared at the time of their appointment and reassessed at the end of their tenure. The officials had to account for any increases in their assets.

The Saudi monarchy and the sycophant clerics on the government payroll distort material aspects of Islam to justify and fortify the survival of the Al Saud dynasty. They demand absolute obedience to a ruler. This is an inversion of Islamic teachings and contradict historical examples concerning issues of justice, morality, and corruption being addressed in the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) mosque or during the pilgrimage.

The Caliph Omar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was confronted in public in the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) mosque and in the streets by ordinary people who raised concerns about inappropriate behavior by government officials. Omar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) protected the right of a person that once interrupted his speech, and is reported to have said “if the people do not give me good advice they are useless and if I do not listen to it, I am useless.” On another occasion, Omar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) asked the assembly what would they do if he, Omar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), strayed from the straight path? A man stood up and responded he would confront Omar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) and even suggested he would take up arms against him. Omar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) replied, “praise be to God that among my people are present men who could put me on the straight part if I deviated from it.”

A Distortion of Islam

The Saudis demand the pilgrimage and visits to the holy mosques be conducted as an exclusive exercise of rituals and individual spirituality – a reflection and strengthening of the individual’s relationship with God in a morally blind manner. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and the Caliphs conducted political and military meetings in the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) mosque. The Caliphs Omar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) and Uthman raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)  required their senior government officials come to Mecca at the time of the annual pilgrimage and people were encouraged  to voice any complaints they might have had against any official. Omar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) is known to have taken action against aberrant government officials during these occasions.

The Saudi rulers distort the comprehensive Islamic injunction of enjoining good and forbidding evil, and turn it on its head to preclude any questioning of their rule. In doing so, they offer an obtuse and destructive assault on absolute principles of justice, ethics, morality, and good governance, which in Islam cannot be derogated from.

The protest in Medina in the last week of Ramadan did not happen next to the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) grave, which would be problematic. Not since the time of the noble Caliphs have we seen this sort of peaceful rebuke of public officials, albeit not Saudi, in the first Muslim capital. The protest offers Muslims an opportunity for self-reflection beyond the positivist diet fed by absolute dictators that they are owed unquestionable obedience by virtue of their hold on power. The Caliphs Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) and Omar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) rebuked an inert or indifferent citizenry, and ordered them to hold their leaders publicly accountable. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and the noble Caliphs would not countenance illegitimate or dynastic rule, profligacy, corruption, authoritarianism, human rights violations, the slaughter of civilians in Yemen, or Saudi support for repression in Egypt and Palestine. The obligation to enjoin good and forbid evil requires every Muslim to talk out against these abuses. The concept of Deen -that Islam is an all-encompassing way of life- requires the rejection of Saudi and other brands of Islam that pigeonhole Islam as sanitized rituals, devoid of moral, ethical and political dimensions.


Related reading:

Politics In Islam: Muslims Are Called To Pursue Justice

Podcast: Priorities and Protest | On Muslim Activism with Shaykhs Dawud Walid and Omar Suleiman



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Keeping That Emaan Game Strong Post Ramadan

Muslim Matters - 12 May, 2022 - 17:10

After Ramadan, it’s a struggle to maintain that spiritual high! Ustadhah Faria provides 5 tips on keeping your emaan game strong after Ramadan.

Ramadan is one of the most beautiful times we experience in the year. There is a spiritual high in its true communal sense. However, soon after this month is over and we return to our daily life routines, many times we quickly lose the good practices we gained in this month. However, Allah ‘azza wa jall sent Ramadan as a beneficial gift to us through which we can attain a higher level of God-consciousness (taqwa) in our daily lives, to be continued even after Ramadan. Therefore, it is of great importance that we reflect on the ways we can maintain our taqwa in a sustainable manner even after Ramadan. In this article, I share 5 short tips that can help us maintain our taqwa after Ramadan has passed, inshaAllah.

1. Leaving sins 

One of the key ways to gain taqwa is through leaving sins. This is because sinning is an obstacle between the slave and Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Sins make our hearts ill and it makes good deeds feel like a burden. The less sins a slave is involved in, the more he can enjoy doing good deeds and get closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“A person is certainly deprived of provisions because of a sin that afflicted them.” [Ibn Majah- Hasan]

And from the greatest of provisions is the closeness to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and feeling the sweetness of emaan in our hearts. Apart from losing other provisions, sins will rip us off this great provision of being close to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Therefore, one of the easiest ways of maintaining our taqwa even after Ramadan is to deliberately stay away from sins that we know we easily tend to fall into. It can be sins of the tongue like backbiting, sins of the body like missing prayers, or sins of the heart like constantly assuming bad of other people.

2. Dhikr 

Remembering Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) through the dhikr taught by the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is one of the easiest and most effective ways of maintaining our taqwa. And rightfully so, as soon as Ramadan is over and the evening of Eid arrives, we are encouraged to say the takbeer aloud. It is such a great reminder for us that we bid farewell to Ramadan with the dhikr of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and come out of this month in His obedience, and not His disobedience.

Furthermore, the following hadith is one of the most relevant hadith for lay people like us who have a busy life and many responsibilities. Abdullah ibn Busr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated that one of the Prophet’s Companions said, “O Messenger of Allah. I am overwhelmed by the so many injunctions of Islam. So tell me something to which I may hold fast.” The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) replied,

“Keep your tongue wet with the remembrance of Allah.” [At Tirmidhi]

From the many adhkar we can do on a daily basis, sitting, walking, going to work and any other ordinary situation, this hadith shows one of the easiest ways to remember Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that pleases Him:

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “There are two statements that are light on the tongue, heavy on the scales, and beloved to the Most Merciful: Subahana Allahi wa bihamdih, Subhana Allahi Al-`Azeem.” (Glory and praise be to Allah, Glorified is Allah, the Most Great) [Bukhari]

3. Fasting

It is no surprise that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has reserved tremendous rewards for fasting even after the month of Ramadan. Abu Ayyub raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“Whoever fasts Ramadan and follows it with six days of Shawwal , it will be as if he fasted for a lifetime.” [Narrated by Muslim, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nasai and Ibn Majah]

If we reflect on this, we can see that fasting has been chosen as one of the obligatory acts in the month of Ramadan to help us increase in taqwa. Following the month, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has also encouraged us to continue the practice of fasting even after Ramadan. Therefore, if possible, we can continue fasting regularly in the months outside Ramadan to help us maintain the beautiful taqwa we have been gifted in the month of Ramadan.

4. Continuing the small good deeds 

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said,

“Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few.” [Sunan Ibn Mājah 4240]

It may have been that extra effort in Ramadan to pray a little more in your sujood, trying not speak ill of others even if they were on the wrong; whatever it was, try holding onto it. Our lives transform through these little habits we develop deliberately, and this is why taqwa is so crucial. It creates that heightened sense of awareness in us that helps us stay away from even the tiniest action that can make Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) displeased with us. So, whatever good habits we developed in the month of Ramadan, let us intentionally identify them, and try to hold onto them post Ramadan.

5. Reciting the Quran 

Have glad tidings! Verily, one end of this Quran is in the hand of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and another end is in your hands. Adhere to it, for then you will not be destroyed, and you will never go astray after it.” [Tabarani]

This hadith shows how beautifully the Quran connects us to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will never leave His end, therefore if the connection with us loosens it, is us who have abandoned our end of the Quran. The month of Ramadan taught us that if we intentionally make some time for the Quran, it is very possible to hold on to it after. We do not have to read a lot, but even that one ayah that we read sincerely with all of our heart can make us from His beloved and help us attain His forgiveness. And what else do we need when we have Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) love and His mercy? Surely, He is enough for His slaves.


Ramadan comes and Ramadan goes. But it comes with a purpose. It comes to transform us. And the transformation will not sustain until we make a deliberate effort to maintain it on a more ordinary day outside of Ramadan. So I hope the above 5 tips helps us maintain that transformation, reach newer spiritual heights, and make us get closer and closer to our Rabb, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).


Related reading:

Will You be a Better Person After Ramadan? | Yasir Qadhi

Maqasid (Wisdoms) of the Six Fasts of Shawwal

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Podcast: A Critical Look At Islamic Pedagogy

Muslim Matters - 12 May, 2022 - 05:10

What’s the best form of Islamic education for kids? Islamic school? Boarding school? Sunday school at the masjid? A traditional madrasah? Shaykh AbdulRahman Chao, a teacher and education consultant, provides a critical look at Islamic pedagogy and discusses what a holistic Islamic education for children should include.

Abdul Rahman Chao is a Houston based community teacher and speaker. He is a graduate of the Islamic University of Madinah, has a Master’s of Theological Studies in Christian Studies, and is finishing his Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. He has over 10 years of formal classroom teaching experience in both full time and weekend Islamic schools. You can find him on Facebook and Instagram, and check out his website.


Related reading:

Challenges of Identity & Conviction: The Need to Construct an Islamic Worldview

Islamic Pedagogy and Critical Thinking: Does Islamic Pedagogy Want Critical Thinkers?

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The Global Imams & Scholars’ Charter – The Global Imams & Scholars Network

Muslim Matters - 11 May, 2022 - 17:26

The Global Imams and Scholars Network, consisting of seven international scholarly councils, has developed a historic charter for Western Muslim leaders, outlining a general set of principles to be followed.

The British Board of Scholars & Imams (BBSI), Australian National Imams Council (ANIC), European Council of Imams, Canadian Council of Imams (CCI), North American Imams Federation (NAIF), United Ulama Council of South Africa, and Ulama Council of New Zealand have come together to collaborate on mutually beneficial work.

The Global Imams and Scholars Network aims to share knowledge and promote traditional and orthodox principles and the message of Islam and preserve the Islamic identity for Muslims living in the west.

The Global and Imams & Scholars’ Charter are general principles the network seeks to inculcate within their work and encourage other imams and scholars to adopt.


Download the PDF: Global Imams & Scholars Charter













Related Reading: Blurred Lines – Women, “Celebrity” Shaykhs, and Spiritual Abuse

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The Serenity Of Shawwal: Tips For Mothers

Muslim Matters - 11 May, 2022 - 07:27

How can busy mothers experience the serenity of Shawwal? Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil provides helpful tips on managing the voluntary fasts of Shawwal alongside making up Ramadan fasts.

The blessings of Shawwāl come in so many forms. There is the joy in being able to eat and drink in the daytime again. There is the excitement of being able to enjoy time with loved ones. Most of all, there is the anticipation and hope that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Most High will grant us the tremendous blessing of meeting the next Ramadan.

The past two years of a global pandemic has shown us how much we take for granted, and how much we struggle when these blessings are taken away. Being able to pray in congregation at masaajid, being able to host our loved ones in our home, or even being able to go outside without wearing a mask – these are no longer minor things to me. There is wisdom in the Divine Decree, including the trial of this pandemic.

This Shawwāl, alhamdulillah, is different to last year’s. Where I live in Malaysia, restrictions are slowly easing, and at long last, we have been able to reunite with overseas family whom we haven’t seen in over two years. My children are delighted at going hiking and sharing meals with aunties, grand-aunties, and other relatives they haven’t seen in so long. Their lives in this dunya have been so short, and a gap of two years has been a significant marker in their young lives. May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) continue to lift the tribulations of this pandemic, and make it easier for us to reunite with our loved ones.

Like many other Muslim women who have not yet hit menopause, I have to catch up my fasting days from Ramadan. Despite my longing to fast the six days of Shawwal, my obligation lies in paying back my obligatory fasts first. I have had three children close in age, and alhamdulillah, have been able to fast while pregnant and breastfeeding. My mother inspired me to do this, because for her, growing up in Singapore, it was and still is the norm for pregnant and/or breastfeeding women to fast. I am so grateful that I listened to my mother and gave it my best shot. Now that Shawwāl is here though, I aim to finish paying back my obligatory fasts first.

Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: “Whoever fasts during the month of Ramadan and then follows it with six days of Shawwal will be (rewarded) as if he had fasted the entire year.” [Muslim]

There has been a misunderstanding in recent years that it is permissible to combine the intention of paying back obligatory fasts with the sunnah intention of Shawwal. Dr Tamara Gray writes about this at length here.

To summarize, Dr. Tamara Gray offers four solutions:

1: Fast qada (make-up) fasts in Shawwāl, and the follow them up with sunnah fasts so that both the make-up days and the Shawwāl days are fasted in Shawwāl. This is the optimal method.

2- Fast sunnah before farḍ in order to fast the sunnah of Shawwāl. This is not the best way because farḍ is an obligation and should be done first.

3- Fast the farḍ make-up fasts in Shawwāl, seeking the blessings of the month, while doing obligatory fasts (but without adding a second intention).

4- Fast the farḍ fasts first and then fast the six days of Shawwāl throughout the year as sunnah fasts.

As a mother of three small children, I have cautious optimism for next Ramadan. I hope to be (more or less) completely done with diapers and breastfeeding by then. I look forward to more time spent on my spiritual nourishment, and for it to be easier for me to leave the house and go to the masjid. My husband and I will divide time between caring for our young children and leaving for the masjid, so that we both get to worship in the house of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). We want to model this for my daughters and for my son, so that they can see how making space for my spiritual life matters too.

Narrated A’isha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her): Allah’s Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Do good deeds properly, sincerely, and moderately and know that your deeds will not make you enter Paradise, and that the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little.” [Bukhari]

If you are a breastfeeding and/or pregnant mother with days owed from Ramadan, please don’t despair. InshaAllah there is still time for you to pay back your fasts, one blessed day at a time. Shawwāl is still a month for you, even if you’re not able to fast the six days of Shawwāl.


Related reading:

Maqasid (Wisdoms) of the Six Fasts of Shawwal

Ar-Rayyan Membership: Fast the 6 of Shawwal

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Podcast: My Miscarriage And Healing Afterwards

Muslim Matters - 9 May, 2022 - 07:19

Trigger warning: pregnancy loss and miscarriage

Pregnancy losses in the first trimester of a pregnancy are so common, yet for some reason are taboo to talk about on a personal level. I’m sharing my story of losing my first pregnancy with all of our readers in this podcast episode to start the conversation that so many women and couples need to cope and heal from their own losses.

I’d like to share the hadith I hung onto as I struggled the most with my miscarriage, which is also discussed at the 8-minute mark in the video below:

“By the One in Whose Hand is my soul! The miscarried fetus will drag his mother by his umbilical cord to Paradise, if she (was patient and) sought reward (for her loss)” [Sunan Ibn Majah 1609]

Mother’s Day is here in America and there are flowers and cards and adorable pictures of families celebrating their mothers. I’m not here to comment on the debate about whether or not Mother’s Day is haram or ridiculous because “every day should be Mother’s Day!” All I want to say to those invisible mothers out there–mothers who felt what it was like to carry a life inside of them but that was all that they enjoyed of their short-lived pregnancies–is:

I see you.  I was right there with you at one point in my life. You don’t have to suffer in silence if you need community to support you. And lastly, your child loves you and is waiting for you.

Related Readings on Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss:

My Miscarriage And Healing Afterwards

It’s Not Mother’s or Father’s Day but… Imam Omar Suleiman

When Children Die: On Tragedy, and What is Reported about the Death of Believing Children

Don’t Give Up On That “Unanswered” Prayer

Six Stories Down: When It’s More Than Just The Baby Blues



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Who will be criminalised in the post-Roe USA?

Indigo Jo Blogs - 8 May, 2022 - 22:58
A picture of a blue van with its rear covered by large pictures of babies and foetuses with the slogans "Choose life not death", "Let me live", "Abortion shame", "Abortion causes breast cancer" and "Hitler's Holocaust" printed on them. There is an American flag transfer on the left side of the van.An anti-abortion protester’s van in Birmingham, Alabama

Last week a draft of a ruling by the conservative majority on the US Supreme Court was leaked to the American news site Politico (PDF of the document itself here) which indicated that the court will overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling which prohibited the states of the US from entirely banning early abortion. The opinion, written by Samuel Alito (appointed by GW Bush) and apparently favoured by four other conservative judges, claims that the earlier ruling was “egregiously wrong”, that “its reasoning was exceptionally weak”, and that it constituted an “abuse of judicial authority” which invented a right which had no constitutional basis nor any precedent in US history. This will be the culmination of a long war of attrition by the American religious Right; under Bush junior and Trump, a series of ‘conservative’ judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court in the expectation that Roe will be overturned once they achieved a majority. In recent years a number of states have introduced laws which are directly aimed at provoking a challenge to Roe, while others have introduced “trigger laws” that would outlaw abortion as soon as Roe was struck down. Some states also have laws from before Roe on the statute book which some prosecutors have made it clear will be reactivated if Roe is overruled, with one Republican county prosecutor in Michigan saying would be prosecuted without exemptions, including situations where the mother’s life is in danger; in at least one state, legislators intend to outlaw the use of hormonal and emergency contraceptives and IUDs on the grounds that they are in fact abortifacients.

Abortion is one issue where a lot of people inclined towards conservative views have taken the other side because of the sheer extremism and irrationality of those they might have stood with. In many countries, any debate about abortion founders on the possibility that it may lead to the situation in the US where anti-abortionists have killed doctors as well as harassing women and bombing and burning the clinics; the irony of all the talk of saving babies is that their behaviour may have made abortion easier everywhere but in the US. People are very much aware of the hypocrisy of “pro-life” campaigners who resist the expansion of public healthcare, or gun control, or who support the death penalty despite evidence of racism in the police and justice systems and their carelessness about the conviction of innocents. In recent years, a number of countries in Latin America have passed laws outlawing abortion with no exceptions, including to save the life of the mother, similar to the constitutional amendment passed in Ireland in the 1980s and only recently repealed after it became obvious that women were dying, sometimes for the sake of foetuses that could never have been saved. Both in those countries and in reactionary states of the US, women have been sentenced to long prison terms after suffering miscarriages which it was deemed that they had contributed to by using drugs or alcohol during pregnancy, or it was wrongly supposed that they had induced their miscarriages. It does not always appear necessary to prove a causal link between the woman’s alleged behaviour and the miscarriage (perhaps this will help the woman appeal, though she will by then have spent several years in prison). These women were often poor or from Black or Latino background, and it was the prejudices of the doctors (that “these people” are drunks or drug addicts and can’t be trusted to look after their children) that led to the police becoming involved in the first place.

Miscarriage is extremely common; one in eight known pregnancies end in miscarriage (many more miscarriages happen to women who do not know they are pregnant) and ‘only’ 1% are affected by three or more miscarriages in a row. I used to know a family where the mother had seven miscarriages in between the births of her second and third son. Infanticide is a crime, which is as it should be, but in the UK in the late 90s and early 2000s, a series of women were jailed for murder because they experienced multiple cot deaths which a then influential paediatrician claimed did not happen; two cot deaths was ‘suspicious’ and three, unless proven otherwise, was murder. This ‘science’ has since been debunked, but it left grieving mothers in prison for several years, children without their mother and marriages destroyed; one of the mothers died only a few years after she was released. A total ban on abortion will result in mothers being investigated for illegal abortion when they are grieving the loss of wanted babies; anything she had done which has ever been linked to increased risk of miscarriage will be used against her, especially (but not only) if she is poor or not white, because these irrational, predatory politicians and prosecutors will be looking for opportunities to get convictions. Following the scent of blood, in essence.

I’m not wholly pro-choice; I support tightening up rules such as the exemption to time limits for a disabled foetus (and ‘disabled’ or rather ‘handicapped’ could mean something as trivial as a cleft palate, a condition correctible by surgery, as it is undefined; the example of a cleft palate is a real one). We need to understand why there are time limits for abortion: because it is morally unacceptable to end the life of the foetus because of a liveable impairment at a stage when when it is definitely a baby and could survive premature birth (especially in the context of modern healthcare). I have come across feminists, in particular, who use the most extraordinary euphemisms and circumlocutions to elide the fact that a foetus in late gestation is a human being, even if not a legal person (and ‘person’ as a legal term means something different from the word in everyday language, which simply means a human being), while some simply flatly deny it. This sort of extremism could have much the same effect as that of the “pro-life” side, and drive people onto the other side who were sympathetic to the idea that early abortion should be available for women who are desperate.

I haven’t read the entire opinion, which is 98 pages long including footnotes. I am no expert on American constitutional law but the fourteenth amendment (which Roe largely relies on) is not the only one that might be involved; where contraception is prohibited, where fantasies hold sway such as it being possible to re-implant an ectopic pregnancy in the womb (it is not, and a ruptured ectopic pregnancy will kill very quickly) and where little consideration is made for where a woman’s life is at risk, a case could be made that either or both of the first and fifth amendments (establishment of religion and right to life) are being violated: women will be expected to lay down their lives to suit a belief (that life begins at conception) favoured by some religions but not agreed with by everyone. The Alito opinion does not discuss these possibilities, so this could be a matter for future litigation, the result of which is not a foregone conclusion as judges with a conservative approach to the constitution do not always rule in favour of socially conservative opinions and right-wing demands. Americans have always looked to the federal government and the constitution to protect them from the caprices and prejudices of local politicians and however tendentious the reasoning in Roe may have been, without it some of the most bigoted politicians and officials in the US will have a free hand to persecute women who are in desperate situations, are grieving, or both. They simply cannot be trusted with this power.

Image source: Dave Walker (original image). Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (BY-SA) 2.0 licence.

Possibly Related Posts:

The Abortion Debate: A Muslim Social Media Roundup

Muslim Matters - 6 May, 2022 - 17:14

With the abortion debate once again sweeping headlines across America – and the Internet – the Muslim community, both online and offline, has also found itself mired in confusion. What does Islam actually say about abortion? Can Muslims be “pro-choice” when it comes to the law of the land? The Muslim Internet has many opinions to share, with a wide variety of perspectives.

We will be sharing some of these perspectives below, as well as providing links to some scholarly resources on the topic.

 – A Muslim Doctor Weighs In

 – A Cautionary Take

 – A Call to Nuanced Reflection

 – Islamophobic Tropes in Abortion Discourse

 – Scholarly Perspectives

 Islamic Resources About Abortion:

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Eid Gift: Excerpt From ‘When The Stars Prostrated’

Muslim Matters - 3 May, 2022 - 17:43

A very happy Eid to all of our readers! We pray that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has blessed us all immensely and forgiven our sins this past Ramadan, ameen! Here is an Eid gift from MuslimMatters to you–an excerpt from Shaykh Mohammad Elshinawy’s book When the Stars Prostrated: Meditations on Surat Yusuf. We hope you enjoy this excerpt that covers verses 90-92. You can purchase the book here. Verse 90

They said, “Is that you, Yūsuf?” He said, “I am Yūsuf, and this is my brother. God has been gracious to us. He who practices piety and patience—God never fails to reward the righteous.” [12:90]

“They said, ‘Is that you, Yūsuf?’ He said, ‘I am Yūsuf, and this is my brother.’”

The old features of Yūsuf start reconstructing in their eyes, memories of the crime scene at the well erupt in their minds, and suddenly the stare down between them is ablaze. Then he parted his lips and said what they would have done anything to never hear: “Yes, I am Yūsuf,” the brother you abused and betrayed in the worst way imaginable. I am that weakling you tried to kill and cast down a well. You wanted something, and Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) wanted something different. What a moment. It must have been one of the most nerve-wrecking introductions in human history. Imagine how wide their eyes became, stretching to be able to take in the greatest shock of their lives. “And this is my brother,” he continued, as if to say if anyone is my true brother it’s him and only him, and that, I also know what you’ve been doing to him all these years – your treatment makes it clear that unlike me, you don’t recognize him as your brother.

“He who practices piety and patience—God never fails to reward the righteous.”

-With this being one of the greatest stories of the Qur’an, with its 100+ verses each filled with gems of sacred lessons, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) declared the ultimate wisdom of the story here – lest the many amazing lessons cause us to forget the most important of them all: the reward of taqwā and ṣabr will never disappoint. It is guaranteed in both this world and the hereafter, though how this reward manifests will vary for different people. Ibn Taymīyah said, “Whoever puts up with humiliation and loss to obey Allah, over being honored and empowered through the disobedience of Allah – as done by Yūsuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and others among the prophets and righteous – finds a good outcome in this world and the hereafter. He also finds the harm he experiences transforming into pleasure and delight, just as the worst sinners find their pleasures through sin transforming into sadness and misfortunes.”

-Sins and disobedience cause a person to lose their station of honor and nearness to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), even if they were esteemed and from a noble or pious lineage. Thus, the hadith says, “And whoever is kept back by his actions, his lineage will not bring him up to speed.” [Sahih Muslim]

-We would usually find it repulsive for someone to say, “it’s because I’m so righteous that Allah has honored me,” and hence Yūsuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was doing something quite different here. It was a humble concurrence with their assertion of his righteousness and patience, by saying that whoever is as you said, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) does not squander their reward. This avoids being perceived as an arrogant boaster, and at the same time helps crystallize for them that it was not coincidence at play here. This is similar to the Prophet ﷺ saying, “I am indeed the master of the children of Adam, and I say that without pride.” They knew from his tone, demeanor, and track record, that this was no pompous statement, and at the same time he had to say it because they would never discover this sacred truth on their own. A wise preacher knows when to inject his cure in the right moment, and recognizes that, with the wrong timing, this very cure could lead to people fleeing from you. He does not take shots in the dark with his discourse, nor floods their ears with verbosity, but selects his words and moments for maximum mental and emotional engagement of his audience to cast his words into their open hearts.

Verse 91

They said, “By Allah, Allah has preferred you over us. We were definitely in the wrong.” [12:91]

-The brothers finally realized that Yūsuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was not just dearer than them to their father, but to their Lord as well. This sentiment is usually classified as ghibṭah (jealous admiration) and not ḥasad (envy), with the former being more of a wish to have a praiseworthy distinction that another enjoys, and the latter being more of a hatred that another has something that we do not. Ghibṭah is a positive form of ḥasad, because you are wishing for something virtuous, channeling your competitive instinct for pious ends, and not wishing that your rivals be stripped of that blessing in the process. As a result, ghibṭah does not generate worldly tensions, since it does not involve a chase of this finite world, but rather Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Paradise which is so vast. The dispraised ḥasad, on the other hand, creates animosity between people in this world and jeopardizes the envier’s salvation in the hereafter. Hence, the Prophet ﷺ said, “There should be no ḥasad except in two cases,” and proceeded to mention those who were distinguished by being learned in the Qur’an, or by being charitable with their wealth. [Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim]

-Dr Waleed Basyouni writes, “Sūrat Yūsuf taught me that people who hate me don’t necessarily hate me for my bad qualities. Some people hate you for your good qualities and the good things you have done. They hated Yūsuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) for his beauty, his generosity, and his character. They hated him because of the honor that he had received from his father. When you see people criticizing and attacking you, don’t take it personally. It might not be about you, but about the blessings that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has given you. Haters don’t hate you – they actually hate themselves. So don’t let negative people turn you into one of them. Keep a positive attitude, and every time someone talks behind your back, keep them there.”

-Some people need decades to come to terms with basic truths, and hence we must never lose hope in any living person that they cannot turn over a new leaf. Abū Sufyān ibn Ḥarb was an open enemy to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ for nearly his entire ministry. He launched more battle campaigns against him than anyone, and during the intervals between battles, he would help orchestrate uprisings in the Prophet’s ﷺ city of Madinah and covert assassination attempts against him. It was only eighteen months before the Prophet’s ﷺ death that Abū Sufyān himself decided to give up his tribal bigotry and accept Islam. Abū Sufyān raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) knew full well of the Prophet’s ﷺ integrity, witnessed many great miracles, was forgiven then honored in an unexpected situation, and yet it was only when Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) inspired him to faith did it penetrate his defenses and finally settle in his heart. As Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) says, “So whoever Allah wishes to guide, He expands their heart to welcome Islam.” [Surah Al- An’am:125]

-The Prophet ﷺ is reported to have said, “Regret is repentance.” [Musnad Ahmad]  That is what lies at the heart of tawbah (repentance); sincere remorse for having violated the bounds of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). As for when the crime involves another human being, then seeking their pardon becomes another requirement for a complete repentance. But should we always forgive others in Islam? For this reason, Ibn Taymīyah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) would advocate for the position that this matter is circumstantial; if forgiveness does not lead to rectification and reform, then it is actually better to not forgive. This seems closest to the spirit of the Qur’an, wherein Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) said, “…but whoever pardons and [thereby] makes reconciliation – then his reward is [due] from Allah.” [Surah Ash-Shuraa:40] After all, we do not want to embolden wrongdoers and tyrants, and if we forgo our rights all the time, one wicked thug may control an entire city of good people. But when the wrongdoers seem genuine in their remorse, as Yūsuf’s 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) brothers seem here, then forgiveness is the superior path taken by those with the spiritual strength to muster it. If they cannot, then justice is always sanctioned, and equitable retribution is still within the bounds of God’s law and should not be classified as a reprehensible pursuit of vengeance.

Verse 92

He said, “There will be no condemnation of you today. Allah will forgive you. He is the Most Merciful of the merciful.” [12:92]

-Dr Hatem al-Haj writes, “After being unjustly thrown into prison for years, he did not hesitate to (unconditionally) give the non-believing people of Egypt a detailed plan to save them from famine. After being thrown into the bottom of the well by his own brothers, when he had full power to avenge himself, he did not hesitate to tell them, ‘There will be no condemnation of you today. Allah will forgive you. He is the Most Merciful of the merciful. [12:92] Every time I read this sūrah, I feel so small.”

-‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said to Abū Sufyān, “Head to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ until you are face-to-face, then say to him what Yūsuf’s brothers said to Yūsuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), ‘By Allah, Allah has preferred you over us. We were definitely in the wrong.’ [12:91] – for he will not accept anyone being better in statement than him.” Abū Sufyān did that and found the Messenger of Allah ﷺ saying in response, ‘There will be no condemnation of you today. God will forgive you. He is the Most Merciful of the merciful.” [12:92] and [Ibn al-Qayyim, Zād al-Mi‘ād] How wise was it for ‘Alī raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) to suggest that approach? How remarkable was it for the Prophet ﷺ to forgive twenty years of enmity and war crimes at the height of his power in a blink? How necessary is it for us to become better followers of his guidance ﷺ in this regard?

-In this reassurance, Yūsuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) is essentially saying: relax, the matter is over from today and will never haunt you again. While the natural consequence of wrongdoing may linger after the punishment or repentance, the chastisement or condemnation must not. For this reason, even in the context of publicly punishing a fornicator, the Prophet ﷺ said, “He should flog her, but not condemn her.” [Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim] A person may have regretted and repented, between him/herself and God, and therefore been forgiven in the heavens even before the punishment was meted out. Hence, even if the penalty will be upheld as Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) legislated it, for the overarching public interest, the gloating, excessiveness, and appetite for vengeance must be curbed.

-Us standing thousands of years apart from the brothers of Yūsuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) makes it no less terrible to demonize the brothers of Yūsuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) after they had sincerely repented. How could it be permissible after their brother has forgiven, their father has pardoned, and their Lord has absolved them? Take a lesson from their story and nimbly move on, fearful of stumbling to your own demise over the lethal wires of a believer’s sanctity. This same principle is even more operative regarding the disputes between the Prophet’s ﷺ Companions (may Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) be pleased with them all), since those were tragic but nonetheless discretionary matters and not crimes. This principle would even apply to believing individuals and nations who were punished by God; those beneath the soil who committed wrong, and then we are afflicted with repeating it due to our ridicule of them. Several of the Prophet’s ﷺ Companions would say to people in rebuke, “What amazing people you must be; every sweet quality is yours, and every sour quality belongs to the Israelites. Know that you will surely follow in their every footstep.” [Al-Baḥr al-Muḥīṭ]

“Allah will forgive you. He is the Most Merciful of the merciful.”

-Some have found it curious that the brothers are in angst about whether or not Yūsuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) will forgive them, and yet Yūsuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) speaks of Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy and forgiveness instead. We know that the rights of the creation have been promised to them by Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and thus even the martyr is forgiven for all but his debts to other people. So what makes this pivot to Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) matchless mercy relevant here? The subtlety behind this thematic shift may be to reflect that Yūsuf recognized his own need to pursue Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy by exhibiting mercy to others. It’s as if he is declaring that, because I seek Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy just as much as you do, I have forgiven you, and so be hopeful that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) too will forgive you. People that find themselves capable of forgiving others should never limit this to some therapeutic mechanism through which we seek peace of mind in this world, or to be celebrated by its people as a kind soul. We forgive others primarily and ultimately for the better and more lasting, namely Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) pleasure (not just ours) and the success of the hereafter (not this world).

This reflection, of course, does not preclude the more straightforward reasoning for the mention of Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy: his brothers needed help to see past their crimes. Towards that end, this fact reminds them that “from the signs of over-relying on your actions is losing hope when you falter,” as Ibn ‘Aṭā’ al-Sakandarī once said. In other words, salvation is never about how superb your good deeds are, or how awful your misconduct is, but rather about Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy in the end and above all else.


Related reading:

If Prophet Yusuf’s Brothers Were Forgiven, There is Hope For Us

Love in Surah Yusuf | Sh Ahsan Hanif

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Small Deeds Massive Rewards : Light On The Tongue, Heavy On The Scales

Muslim Matters - 1 May, 2022 - 05:10

Welcome to the ‘Small Deeds, Massive Rewards’ series with MuslimMatters and Shaykh Yahya Ibrahim!

In this 30-part video series, Shaykh Yahya will guide us through the entire month of Ramadan, on how we can incorporate simple but immensely beneficial deeds into our own lives, with the aim of getting to a higher spiritual station with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) inshaAllah.

In this episode, Shaykh Yahya elaborates on the hadith “There are two statements that are light for the tongue to remember, heavy in the Scales and are dear to the Merciful…”


Related posts from the ‘Small Deeds, Massive Rewards’ series:

Small Deeds Massive Rewards : Pray When Everyone Is Asleep

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The Prophet And Good Character In The Quran: IOK Ramadan Reflections Series #29

Muslim Matters - 1 May, 2022 - 01:15

Allah ﷻ praises the Prophet ﷺ in the Quran saying, “And you are surely on an excellent standard of character.” Allah ﷻ Himself is describing the Prophet ﷺ has having the absolute best, beautiful, and amazing character. This is seen in every single aspect of the Prophet’s life ﷺ. 

The importance of akhlāq, or good character, in Islam can’t be overstated. In today’s society, when a person thinks of religion they think of rules and regulations, restrictions, and devotional acts of worship. Even Muslims are guilty of limiting Islam to devotional acts of worship. Generally, when a person hears the word Islam, automatically they think of praying, fasting, giving charity, and reading Quran. These devotional acts of worship are a fundamental part of Islam as way of life, but they aren’t the only part. As a matter of fact our success simply isn’t in prayers, fasting, charity, or hajj. Rather, it is in good manners coupled with these acts of worship.

The Prophet ﷺ himself described perfecting good manners as the reason why he was sent as a Prophet. “I have only been sent to perfect good character” (Haythamī, Majmaʿ al-Zawā’id, 9:18). Through this statement the Prophet ﷺ explained that one of the primary objectives of his mission was to perfect good character. Interestingly, the acts of worship that have been prescribed in Islam help a person build good character. 

Akhlāq isn’t simply a few manners or qualities; rather, it is a group of praiseworthy characteristics and qualities that a person has. For example, generosity, forbearance, forgiveness, leniency, chastity, fairness, gentleness, humility, justice, mercy, kindness, honesty, and bravery. That is why when a person is polite and respectful to others, humble and kind to the poor and needy, they are showing good character.

The Prophet ﷺ throughout his life stressed the importance of having good character both in speech and deed. The Prophet ﷺ said, “The believers most complete in faith are those who have the best character” (Abū Dāwūd, k. al-Sunnah, b. al-dalīl ʿalā ziyādah al-īmān wa nuqṣānihī, 4682).  When asked about what deeds will lead people to Paradise, the Prophet ﷺ responded, “God-consciousness and good character” ( Tirmidhī, k. Al-birr wa al-ṣilah ʿan rasūlillah ﷺ, b. Mā jā’a fī ḥusn al-khuluq, 2004).  When he was sending Muʿādh (ra) as a governor to Yemen he ﷺ reminded him, “and show good manners in your dealing with others” ( Tirmidhī, k. Al-birr wa al-ṣilah ʿan rasūlillah ﷺ, b. Mā jā’a fī muʿāsharah al-nās, 1987).

Not only did the Prophet ﷺ encourage others to have good character but he showed them how to as well practically. The Prophet ﷺ had the best character himself. Anything he said about character he practiced himself. Allah ﷻ addressed the Prophet ﷺ saying, “And verily, you (Muḥammad) are on an exalted standard of character” ( 68:4 – وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ). Anything the Quran mentioned regarding character, the Prophet ﷺ embodied it. That is why when ʿĀishah (ra) was asked about the character of the Prophet ﷺ, she said, “His character was the Quran” (Bukhārī, al-Adab al-Mufrad, 308). Literally, he was a walking and talking Quran.

Tonight’s Ramadan Reflections Series talk was brought to you by the IOK Seminary Faculty. Catch up on previous videos or catch the next videos on the IOK Ramadan Reflections Series page.

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Best Ramadan Ever: Sunnah of Eid

Muslim Matters - 30 April, 2022 - 17:10

Prepare for your ‘Best Ramadan Ever!’ with this video series from Shaykh Yahya Ibrahim!

Just because Ramadan is over, don’t start slacking off on worshipping Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)! Instead, the day of Eid is another opportunity to demonstrate our love for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to worship Him by following the Sunnah of Eid day.


Related posts from the ‘Best Ramadan Ever’ series:

Best Ramadan Ever: Bringing Joy To Others

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Overcoming Guilt On Eid During Turbulent Times 

Muslim Matters - 30 April, 2022 - 15:21

Another Eid is around the corner for Muslims to celebrate, but the Ummah is hurting. What do those of us blessed with peace and prosperity do with our feelings of guilt on Eid?

The upcoming Eid ul-Fitr is one in which Muslims in Palestine are still being terrorized at the hands of a merciless occupation, Uyghur Muslims haven’t been able to fast or observe Ramadan in China, Indian women wearing the hijab are being harassed by right-wing Hindu nationalists, violence is breaking out in Darfur again, and climate change has reared its ugly head with flooding that has killed hundreds of people in South Africa…and the list goes on. There’s plenty of loss and suffering in the world, and more particularly, our Ummah is in pain. So what do those of us who are in relative peace, comfort, and safety do about that, especially when we think about celebrating Eid when the whole world seems like it’s burning to the ground? Well, acting gloomy or depriving yourself and your family from joy on Eid won’t fix any of it. 

As we browse our social media, or scroll through the Netflix documentary queue, or attend a communal du’a, we will be flooded with reasons to be worried and angry about issues large and small. There is plenty of wrong in the world, lots of injustice, and too much suffering. The pandemic has made that clear to even the most oblivious amongst us. 

But to those who are well off, or at least relatively safe, hearing about these things might provoke a certain degree of guilt. We might even be moved to think that being happy and having a satisfying life means being irresponsible and insensitive to the world around us. Some of us might even feel compelled to act sad or outraged in order to show that we care. 

What is “Happiness Guilt”? 

We feel happy, we feel guilty, and then we feel sadder than ever. 

We call this “happiness guilt.” It may sound strange to our ears, but our hearts know the feeling all too well. Guilt is a normal feeling, it is part of being human. However, to intentionally act unhappy when we are not can actually lead us to feel dissatisfied with life. By saying that we are unhappy, we really aren’t helping to ease others’ suffering. What can help however, is striving to project happiness, and at the same time showing care and concern about the wrongs in the world. 

If we find ourselves projecting more sadness than we truly feel, we may be suffering from a fear of happiness, or a belief that being happy will bring us misfortune, or that happiness will bring about envy from others, or that being happy when others are not makes us a bad person.


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Tips for Celebrating Eid Despite Turbulent Times

Being concerned with the world’s problems does not need to conflict with our desire to be happy or to radiate that happiness to others. Here are some tips on how to balance the two.

  • 1: Examine your happiness

Are you overemphasizing the negative aspects in your life and underemphasizing the positive aspects? This can mean we wear a negative filter or bias. When we wear these negative filters, we have a distorted view of life, and we can easily discount the positives around us.

  • 2: ‘Caring’ and not ‘carrying’ other people’s problems

Empathy does not mean caring so much that we burden ourselves with their feelings and take on more responsibility than what we can handle. Empathy is taking a bite-sized portion of the other person’s feeling so that we can have a taste of their struggle enough to understand it, and then do something to help.

  • 3: Take action

Donate to your favorite charity, spread awareness on your social media, talk about it with others. But also remember to balance it with spiritual action. Make sincere du’a for those suffering, and do it while having hope alongside a deep faith in Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) plan, and the knowledge that He is the Master of Planners. 

When celebrating on Eid day, you can include local community members who are less fortunate, who are alone, or are going through a difficult time. 

  • 4: You’re allowed to feel happy

Happiness is not limited to only the happiest of times in our lives; happiness can be found even in the saddest of times. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says,

“Indeed with hardship comes ease” [Surah Ash-Sharh;94:5]

We all possess both sadness and happiness within us, and we can allow them both to dwell within us to achieve a greater balance in life.

  • 5: Spread happiness and hope

We can show concern about others’ struggles while having a smile on our faces. Those who are struggling want to be uplifted and reminded that there is hope.

  • 6: Be grateful

Lastly, as we remember the struggles of others, instead of intentionally becoming sad or guilty, say alhamdulillah for all of Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) blessings upon you and your family. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says,



“So remember Me; I will remember you. And thank Me, and never be ungrateful” [Surah Al-Baqarah;2:152]


May we all have a balanced, and unburdened Eid insha’Allah!


Related reading:

This Eid And Beyond Boycott Goods Made With Enslaved Labor Of Uyghurs Even If It Is Your Favorite Brand

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