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Trump doesn't want Muslims in the US. That's OK with the supreme court | Moustafa Bayoumi

The Guardian World news: Islam - 2 hours 14 min ago

The supreme court has upheld parts of Donald Trump’s Muslim ban. By doing so, it has legitimised blanket discrimination against a religious group

The US supreme court has decided that parts of Donald Trump’s Muslim ban can take effect, lifting lower court injunctions on his executive order and noting that it would hear the case in October. Days earlier, Trump’s White House broke with decades of tradition by refusing to host a traditional dinner, an iftar, for Muslim Americans during the holy month of Ramadan.

While failing to host a dinner seems minor compared to establishing the law of the land, these two events are closely related – and bode terribly for Muslim Americans. Why? Because both actions chip away at the essential idea that Muslims are a legitimate presence in the United States.

Related: Trump travel ban: US supreme court partially lifts block on order

Related: Donald Trump abandons traditional White House Ramadan celebration

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Donald Trump abandons traditional White House Ramadan celebration

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 hours 45 min ago

Clinton, Bush and Obama presidencies all had receptions to mark end of Muslim holy month

Donald Trump has not hosted an iftar dinner during Ramadan, breaking a nearly 20-year tradition.

Despite events held by previous administrations from across the political divide, this year’s Ramadan – which began on 26 May – passed nearly unobserved by the White House. It was marked only by a statement published late on Saturday afternoon, coinciding with the end of the holy month.

Related: Refugee admissions nearly halved as supreme court mulls Trump travel ban

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Erdoğan rejects Saudi demand to pull Turkish troops out of Qatar

The Guardian World news: Islam - 25 June, 2017 - 17:22

Turkey’s president condemns request as a ‘very ugly approach’ and dismisses other demands made of Qatar by Gulf states

Turkey’s president has described as disrespectful a demand by Saudi Arabia and its allies that it withdraw its troops from Qatar as a step towards ending a deepening dispute with the besieged Gulf state.

Related: Qatar given 10 days to meet 13 sweeping demands by Saudi Arabia

Related: Qatar blockade exposes rifts in Trump administration's 'peculiar' foreign policy

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Making This a Joyous Eid for the Children

altmuslim - 25 June, 2017 - 17:00
Ramadan 2017 has been filled with blessings. However, feelings of grief and fear have also surfaced, with news of so many tragic hate crimes targeting various faiths, races and marginalized groups. As a mother, I want all children to be safe and shielded from the tragedies that hit daily headlines.

Muslims in Birmingham celebrate Eid al-Fitr amid increased security

The Guardian World news: Islam - 25 June, 2017 - 14:26

Europe’s biggest festival marking end of Ramadan attracts 100,000 in carnival spirit despite rise in Islamophobic attacks

More than 100,000 people bowed in prayer in Birmingham’s Small Heath park at the start of Eid al-Fitr on Sunday amid heightened security, with armed police present for the first time in the seven-year history of the Celebrate Eid festival.

Row upon row of men touched their foreheads to the ground, with small boys following the actions of their fathers and grandfathers. Those in wheelchairs and on crutches, the old and the infirm, bent down as far they could to follow the prayer rituals.

Related: Eid al-Fitr around the world – in pictures

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Authorities investigate possible hate crimes against California mosques

The Guardian World news: Islam - 25 June, 2017 - 12:42
  • Burned Qu’ran filled with bacon left on fence at Sacramento Islamic center
  • Pages from Qu’ran thrown into mosque in Davis during evening prayer

Authorities in California are investigating two possible hate crimes, against Islamic centers in Sacramento and Davis.

Related: Liberal Berlin mosque to stay open despite fatwa from Egypt

The burned Quran filled with bacon and handcuffed to a South Sacramento mosque. We will have more on this story on CBS13 at 10pm. pic.twitter.com/ZHQoCFA8w9

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Liberal Berlin mosque to stay open despite fatwa from Egypt

The Guardian World news: Islam - 25 June, 2017 - 11:30

Seyran Ateş’s Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque allows men and women to pray together and rejects burqa and niqab

The founder of a new liberal mosque in Berlin that allows men and women to pray side by side has vowed to press on with her project even though the institution has been issued with a fatwa from Egypt and attacked by religious authorities in Turkey within a week of its opening.

“The pushback I am getting makes me feel that I am doing the right thing,” said Seyran Ateş, a Turkish-born lawyer and women’s rights campaigner, who does not wear a hijab. “God is loving and merciful – otherwise he wouldn’t have turned me into the person I am.”

Related: Zakat requires Muslims to donate 2.5% of their wealth: could this end poverty?

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Lessons On Compassion For Our Troubled World From The Prophet Muhammad [saw]

Muslim Matters - 25 June, 2017 - 03:56

By Sajda Khan

Fourteen hundred years ago, amid a cradle of turmoil, in the scorching barren desert of Makkah, the last Prophet of Islam, Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was born. His birth marked a momentous era in history. For the one and a half billion Muslims in the world today, he is the last and greatest of the long line of Prophets who brought the message of God to humanity.

Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) spent his life relentlessly campaigning against injustice, selfishness and greed. Despite this, Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is the most misunderstood of religious leaders in human history. The Orientalist scholar W. Montgomery Watt wrote: ‘Of all the world’s great men, none has been so much maligned as Muhammad.

For centuries the West has adopted a legacy of reviling and caricaturing him in an crude and belligerent manner.  This long history of Islamophobia roots back to the Crusades, and the events such as September 11 WTC attacks, and the July 7 London bombings have strained relations between Islam and West.

The rhetoric pursued by the Western critics that the Prophet of Islam ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was intolerant of other faiths and that Islam is ‘spread by the sword,’ is contrary to the teachings of the Quran, which insist that there should be no compulsion in religion. Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) detested conceit and aggression that fuelled violence, not only of his time but perhaps that which is inadvertently apparent in some of our contemporary leaders.

Muhammad’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) legacy is one that is unprecedented, because his life and teachings laid the foundation for the religion of Islam.  He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is praised, exalted, revered, and venerated by over a billion Muslims.  The minutiae of his life are known; after the Quran, the word of God, his teachings shape and guide the lives of Muslims. For Muslims he is a supreme source of inspiration and the ultimate role model and his life and teachings still resonate in the lives of many Muslims today.  Muslims are required to emulate Muhammad’s exemplary manners such as being selfless, tolerant, and concerned for the well-being of others. Despite being an Arab, he was sent by God to all of humanity – his message was one that was universal.

There many examples from his seerah, which enunciate his quest for peace and reconciliation.  A monumental example of this has its origins in what is known as the ‘Conquest of Mecca.’ This was the first formal peace and reconciliation process enacted at a state and continental level over 1400 years ago.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and the early Muslim community endured years of persecution, imprisonment, torture, boycott, killing and abuse.  Following this period, the Muslims eventually prevailed and gained ascendancy over their tormentors and oppressors, returning to Mecca their homeland and birthplace from which they had to flee. One can only imagine what may have prevailed and what the fate of the tormentors would have been, as many waited in trepidation as the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) came with a host of 10,000 to reclaim their rightful home.

However, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) demonstrated colossal morality and profound magnanimity, forbidding all forms of aggression and forgiving all the residents of Makkah. Hence, this was a non-violent conquest.  Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) not only avoided mass killings and bloodshed, but also united a previously disparate and war-torn nation under the banner of equality, justice and fraternity. He forgave all his enemies and those individuals who inflicted personal harm on him and his family members.

When life became formidably unendurable for the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), due to relentless torture and persecution from the Makkan elites, he went to the neighbouring town of Taif in search of support. The leaders of Taif ridiculed him and hurled insults at him. They also steered the children and slaves to pelt him with rocks and stones. Many years later he recalled it as the worst day of his life. Following this dreadful event, it is recorded in Muslim traditions that God sent an angel who was prepared to destroy the town and all its inhabitants, but Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) declined saying: ‘Forgive my people for they know not what they do and, perhaps from them will come a people who worship God.’ Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) did not seek revenge. He sought reconciliation. He did not preach violence. Again, he advocated peace, and thereby, demonstrated unprecedented mercy and compassion.

Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was the pioneer of human rights, freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. When he ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) migrated to Madina in 622CE, Madina was a pluralistic society. Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) established a peace treaty known as the ‘Constitution of Madina.’ This remarkable political-constitutional document was the first ever human rights charter describing a multi-faith society. It is the oldest written national constitution and preceded the English feudal bill of rights, the Magna Carta of 1215, by almost six centuries, and was composed about 1,000 years before the Constitution of the United States. Not only is this treaty important in the sense that it is the first written constitution, it is also contemporary as it conferred equal rights to every citizen.

There is no doubt that the Prophet of Islam ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) scrupulously applied the principles of honesty and justice to everyone, even those who did not share his faith. He was both a spiritual leader and a statesman. His practical example of forgiveness, social justice and reconciliation exemplifies a living role model for both Muslims and non-Muslims at times of geo-political conflict.

Sadly though, the West has a legacy of reviling and caricaturing the Prophet of Islam ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).  For centuries, it has failed to understand the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and the universal principles he stood for.

There is a desperate need in the West to quell the tendentious depictions about the Prophet of Islam ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).  The truth is that the West can learn a lot from the life of Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him); his seerah is replete with incidents which show how he denounced the cruel practices of his time, and championed the rights of the weak and vulnerable in society. The medieval rancor and clichés will continue to perpetuate hatred and tension unless he ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is understood from the lens of the original sources, rather than the facile distortions.

For Muslims, this is a period that is marked with huge trials and tribulations, and they should use this difficult time to bring to light the compassion and deep spiritual lessons of the seerah to our violent and troubled world.

The compassionate voice of Islam must vibrate louder and should be a dynamic force in our time where we can together build a community through respect and compassion and where all people are treated with absolute respect and equity.

 

How halal meat became big business

The Guardian World news: Islam - 24 June, 2017 - 23:30

Demand from Muslim millennials combined with public disaffection over recent food scandals sees Islamic food go mainstream

On an industrial estate on the outskirts of Swansea, a small revolution is taking place. Lewis Pies, a family firm that has been making British staples such as beef and onion pies, traditional pasties and sausage rolls for more than 80 years, has turned over a third of its business to halal products over the past decade to meet burgeoning demand. According to the managing director Wilf Lewis, halal is the future. “As a business, you set greyhounds off, and this is the one that’s running fastest,” he says. “We could get to the point during the next decade where halal is the majority of what we produce.”

Lewis Pies is part of a rapidly expanding market that reflects the demands of the growing Muslim population. The spending power of Muslim millennials, and their mix of faith and consumerism, is driving the trend.

Related: Why does the supply of halal meat outstrip demand?

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Ramadan Reflections – In Search of Connections and a Brighter Future

altmuslim - 24 June, 2017 - 21:59
Whether it’s neighbors who proudly display Trump signs on their lawn, or the casual racism of allies who expect all Muslims to condemn the actions of a deviant few, to those who can laugh off Trump as a blip on America’s political history while his administration puts the lives of others in danger, it’s been a challenge this year to find the peace this holy month usually brings.

Ramadan in the Land of Ramen

Muslim Matters - 24 June, 2017 - 16:14

I felt rather ambivalent about my first trip to Japan last summer.

I was certainly ecstatic about the opportunity to visit the country for a research trip; it had been a lifelong dream to visit the land of ramen, sushi and Honda Civics.

However, my trip was supposed to fall during Ramadan and I wasn’t too happy about that. I thought about all the disruptions in fasting and prayer due to travelling in the sacred month. Where would I break my fast or eat suhoor? Or go for taraweeh? What about the opportunity cost of not being able to consume sushi while I fast? Were there even Muslims in Japan? I wondered naively.

I was supposed to go to the city of Tsukuba; a small suburban city located about an hour north of the capital. I figured that I would be able to find some Muslims in Tokyo, but in the kind of small city that I was working in, I didn’t expect anything. So it came as a major surprise when an online search indicated that I was working a short bike ride away from Tsukuba Mosque!

So, I hopped onto my bike near iftar time and started making my way towards the mosque. Situated on the outskirts of the city, the mosque is nestled in a serene space surrounded by beautiful paddy fields and traditional Japanese houses. The building itself was a small, humble structure which once used to be a rubber factory. The main prayer probably accommodates about a hundred worshippers; the facility also has a prayer space for women, is equipped with an area for ablution and a small halal grocery shack.

The jubilant worshippers I encounter hail from all corners of the globe; South Asians, Arabs, Indonesians, Malaysians and a few native Japanese make up the congregation. Many are international students and researchers working at the local University; others live and work here permanently, with many employed in the car sales business. Some of those I met came to the country over three decades ago, married locally into Japanese families and built a life for themselves in their newly adopted land. I hear nearly universal praise for the locals by Muslims in this mosque; most claim never to have experienced discrimination and speak highly of the humble and tolerant character they’ve observed in the people they’ve met here.

The iftar for the night is being sponsored by the local Pakistani community. They’ve prepared a traditional palak gosht (spinach and meat curry) for the dinner; they even served rooh afza, a drink commonly served in the Indian subcontinent – never did I imagine I would be having that in Japan for iftar. Taraweeh prayers started shortly after and it was a blessing to experience this centuries-old Muslim tradition in a foreign land so far east of where it had originally started.

Like many nascent Muslim communities, this one too has growing demands. The building housing the mosque was an old rubber factory which went bankrupt the 1990’s and was bought by the Muslims. As the community has steadily grown, it has taken a toll on the mosque’s infrastructure which is need of urgent repairs. The high cost of construction in this remote place, along with the limited funds accessible to this small community, has meant that many religious needs of the congregation go unfulfilled. To address this concern, the mosque started a LaunchGood campaign to reach out to people across the globe and continues to actively seek financial assistance.

On the weekend, I decided to pay a visit to Tokyo; home to one of the largest Muslim communities in the country. Situated not too far from the bustling gaming district of Akhihabra is the As-Salam mosque. It is housed in a three storey building in a quiet residential neighbourhood; the mosque is clean, modern and well-maintained. The congregants are diverse much like Tsukuba mosque and come from all corners of the globe. The mosque is actively involved in dawah and numerous locals have converted here; the lower level of the building serves as a lecture hall and an information centre for people of other faiths.

During iftar, all floors of the mosque are at full capacity. Volunteers serve a savoury meal with rice and meat which appears to have been cooked right here at the mosque. I sit next to a Japanese and Turkish man and we start chatting about life in Tokyo. The Muslim community has become more established here too and I am told more and more services are becoming available, such as halal lunches at some schools.Near the end of the conversation, I am surprised to learn the Japanese gentleman wasn’t Muslim; he was simply joining friends for the iftar as he knew them through work. It was quite comforting to learn that people of other faiths felt welcome to enter and socialize in the neighbourhood mosque.

***

A survey of Japan’s mosques would not be complete without a trip to the Tokyo Camii Centre. Although I did not get to visit this place last Ramadan, I did have the pleasure of going there on my second trip a few months later.

The Tokyo Camii is one of the country’s oldest and biggest mosques and an important landmark in the city. Its beautiful dome and minaret tower over the Shibuya district in the heart of Tokyo. The architecture and ornamentation are based on traditional Ottoman design; it essentially looks like a smaller version of Istanbul’s famous Blue Mosque. The main prayer hall is decked out with beautiful calligraphy, geometric artwork and bright lights. The tranquillity and serenity of the space are palpable, and they frequently attract visitors from all faiths and backgrounds.

The mosque’s history goes back to the Kazan Turks who immigrated to Japan after World War I. It was established in 1938, along with a school, by Abdulhay Kurban Ali and Abdurreşid İbrahim. In 1986, the mosque had to be demolished due to severe damages to its structure over the years. With the help of the Turkish religious affairs ministry, plans for a new center were put in the place on the same land. Tokyo Camii’s construction was started in 1998 and completed two years later; the mosque has since served thousands of worshippers and continues to be an important centre for Muslim life in Japan.

I end my evening, appropriately, with a trip to a halal ramen shop, located not far from the famous Sensō-ji temple in the Asakusa area. As I work my way through a bowl of delicious noodles and chicken, I reflect on what I’ve witnessed on this trip. While I have seen many Muslim communities establish and adapt to Western cultures, this was my first exposure to a community doing the same in the Far East. I expect more Muslim movement to this region in the upcoming years as the Western world becomes increasingly closed off to new immigration. The opportunities here are plenty, the people are kind and Muslims have done well.

I am always amazed at the ability of our people to move to faraway lands, establish mosques and build new religious communities that last generations. In effect, this tradition was started by Prophet’s companions who first left the oasis of Madinah and went to foreign territories to establish new congregations. The thriving Islam in Japan is living proof that this tradition is alive and well.

Turkey Goes Backwards By Refusing To Teach Evolution To Schoolchildren

Inayat's Corner - 24 June, 2017 - 09:13

The news this week that the Islam-oriented Turkish government has decided to remove the teaching of evolution from the national curriculum is a sad reminder of the continuing poor state of the Muslim world and the multiple problems many Muslims are having trying to cope with modernity. Who can forget how the former Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Shaykh Abd al-Aziz Bin Baz, argued that Copernicus was wrong and that the Sun did indeed revolve around the Earth? Bin Baz was blind of course, both literally as well as metaphorically.

The Turkish government has justified the removal of the teaching of evolution for 14-15 year olds and the decision to delay any teaching until the undergraduate years by saying that children are “too young to understand ‘controversial subjects'”. The decision is especially lamentable as it is clear that – as the scientist Theodosius Dobzhansky said back in 1973 “Nothing in Biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”

Ever since the 1859 publication of Charles Darwin’s On The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection in which he persuasively laid out the case for the theory of evolution there have been attempts by religious authorities to oppose it by prohibiting it to be taught. Unfortunately for them, Darwin’s theory has withstood all attacks on it and has become more compelling with every passing decade. The evidence accumulated in its support is overwhelming and actually quite thrilling. I regularly advise anyone who argues with me on this issue to go and buy a good book on evolution by a reputable scientist (such as Finding Darwin’s God by Kenneth R. Miller) and then compare it with anything produced in opposition to evolution by anyone and – provided that they read with an open mind – they will immediately see that the difference is like between day and night.

Turkey is, of course, home to the Harun Yahya movement led by Adnan Oktar. His glossy books and videos – which are available for free download at his website – have for two decades now been pumping out anti-evolution propaganda. Some years back, I described how as a naïve young Muslim I too was taken in by his claims that the theory of evolution was a clever ploy by atheistic scientists to undermine belief in God. I had the opportunity to debate with Harun Yahya/Adnan Oktar and also on another occasion with a Christian creationist and it was eye opening for me to see how easily their arguments could be unravelled. However, the opposition to evolution is very widespread indeed in the Muslim world and is by no means confined to Turkey.

The scientist and prominent atheist Richard Dawkins visited the Madani Girls School in Leicester as part of a documentary he was making some years back and it resulted in a very interesting encounter with a Muslim science teacher who was unable to satisfactorily respond to one of the commonest objections to evolution when it was raised by a pupil.

Dawkins advised the school’s Principal to reconcile the Qur’an with evolution instead of making it a case of one is right and the other wrong.

It was good advice. For Madani Girls School and also for Turkey.


Saudi security foils terror plot targeting Mecca Grand Mosque and pilgrims

The Guardian World news: Islam - 24 June, 2017 - 04:35

Suspect blows himself up as interior ministry blames ‘evil and corrupt self-serving schemes managed from abroad’

Saudi Arabian security forces have foiled a terror plot targeting the Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, exchanging gunfire with one of the suspects who blew himself up inside a home on Friday, the interior ministry said.

The ministry described the plot as part of “self-serving schemes managed from abroad”.

Related: Dozens killed in two separate attacks in Pakistan on eve of Eid

Related: Qatar given 10 days to meet 13 sweeping demands by Saudi Arabia

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In Times of Crisis, How Can Communities Heal?

altmuslim - 23 June, 2017 - 21:17
Today, countless Muslim parents across the country may be telling their daughters not to wear the hijab, advising whether they should attend mosque services or not and cautioning them to be hyper vigilant as they go out in public. It does not have to be this way.

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