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A Date with Obama | The White House Iftar: Inclusion or Delusion

Muslim Matters - 25 July, 2014 - 20:07

By Hena Zuberi

The White House Iftar —An opportunity to honor American Muslim achievements or an attempt to whitewash U.S crimes in Muslim countries by painting a flowery picture of their relationship with the American Muslims?

The first White House Iftar was held in 1805 by Thomas Jefferson for Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, an envoy from Tunis. He was visiting due to a tense dispute over piracy. This year's iftar was just as tense, if not more.

The issue of whether to attend or not is certainly contentious, with vitriol from both sides spilling over, spoiling friendships and creating divides. There were calls for a boycott this year. Several scholars and activists signed the letter asking to protest against the  'amalgamation and institutionalization [of] War on Terror policies.'

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee which urged a boycott stated that “political engagement is important and having a seat at the table is crucial — but only when that seat is intended to amplify our voice as a community, not tokenize or subdue it.”

Many were appalled at the audacity of the administration to host an “Iftar” and try to honor a select few Muslims (including an Ahmadi) , while quietly violating the liberties,  spying and even killing other Muslims citizens. This was just days after the Intercept exposed the NSA's surveillance of national Muslim leaders like CAIR's Nihad Awad and Dr. Agha Saeed from the American Muslim Alliance.

Muslim Advocates, an advocacy group  based out of California, released a statement saying that they would attend the iftar, where they hoped to talk to officials 'about the deeply troubling reports of the US government spying on American Muslims.'

Others were proud that outstanding Muslims were invited to the White House to be acknowledged for their achievements inside their own community.

“To condemn a young leader inside the Muslim community for attending a dinner hosted by the people, who if anything, have a huge influence on possibly ending the massacre occurring in Palestine, is absolutely preposterous,” commented a university student.

The Call to Boycott

Dr. Maha Hilal is an Egyptian American activist; she completed her Ph.D from American University in Justice, Law and Society. She is one of the organizers of the boycott. Her work at a number of human rights organizations includes the Center for Victims of Torture and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. In addition, her experience working with survivors of trauma as a Case Manager with the Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition makes Guantanamo a priority for her. She was planning a vigil for torture victims in Ramadan.

Hilal initially conceptualized the vigil as a Guantanamo related event, but then the Intercept report on NSA spying became public and the world witnessed horror at the recent invasion of the Gaza Strip, that has now claimed 200 745 lives.

This brought several issues that the American Muslim community has with the Obama administration to the helm and the idea emerged to make the boycott a platform for American Muslim grievances.

Along with Dr Hilal, Muhammed Malik, Former Executive Director of CAIR-South Florida, Ramah Kudaimi, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and Darakshan Raja were some of the activists calling for a boycott. At first they were dismissed as online activists without credibility.

The call for boycott rippled through the American Muslim community. Sh Omar Soleiman, a popular speaker and Islamic scholar, revealed that he has declined the invitation in past years and will be boycotting the event.

Professor Omid Safi, Duke University and Dr. Hatem Bazian, American Muslims for Palestine and Co-Founder Zaytuna College also signed on the letter making clear that they will not break fast with the Obama Administration.

They collected 400 hundred signatures. They were met with what they call unprofessional responses from many mainstream Muslim organizations.

Activists decided on a multi-pronged approach: along with the letter urging for the boycott they brought the story of Mariam Abu-Ali to the Huffington Post. Mariam's brother Ahmed Abu-Ali, a 22-year old student at the University of Madinah, was arrested and subsequently given life in solitary confinement for an alleged conspiracy to assassinate former President George Bush. The Saudi government, apparently at the behest of the U.S government, detained him without charges. According to Abu-Ali, the only evidence admitted in court was a videotape of a coerced confession obtained through two years of torture  in a Saudi Arabian prison.

Mariam Abu-Ali writes in the Huffington Post, ”Victims like us will never get invited to the White House to tell our story. I can only hope that there will be those invitees who refuse to exonerate the cruelty of such policies and make a statement to that effect when declining to attend.”

The Attendees Recount

Salim Patel serves as an elected Commissioner on the Board of Education for the City of Passaic, NJ.  It is the 6th largest school district in the state and it ranks as one of the lowest in terms of per capita income.  He is also the Chairman of a charity called SMILE that manages a domestic fund entitled Zakat Inspired, envisioning building community and alleviating poverty. His motivation for attending the iftar was to be in a room full of inspirational leaders and activists from across the country to learn from them and their experiences.

“The 'political' iftar is something quite customary in New Jersey and they are those rare moments where there are a diversity of leaders coming together in one room.  The political iftars I attended throughout the years in NJ have allowed many of us in attendance to collaborate, lobby, influence, agitate at a much larger scale and capacity if we did not create the bonds and relationships that we did by meeting at these functions. New Jersey has two Muslim judges appointed under two separate governors – there is a reason for that,” he shares with the Muslim Link.

If emotions were strong before the iftar, after the President's Obama's remarks on Gaza and the inclusion of the Israeli Prime Minister close confidante, Ambassador Ron Dermer as the first speaker at the iftar, they burned up Ramadan nights.

Some described it as an ambush. The President spoke about common faith traditions and freedom of religion, recognized some attendees by name, and then stated that no country can accept rocket being fired into its land.  When he spoke about 'unacceptable' attacks— he was talking about those against Israel.

Patel describes the mood of the room as sober throughout the evening.

He recounts a heavy silence fell over the entire room upon the President's remarks.

The audience did applaud the speech and a sigh of relief is audible heard after the President made a quip about the soup. Tarik Takkesh was one attendee who refused to applaud, he writes about his experience here. Some used derogatory terms such as 'sellouts' to describe the attendees after news about the Israeli ambassador's attendance spread.

Live tweeting from the event, the Ambassador used his social media to let the world know that the President stood by the official narrative.


This stirred reactions across the world for Muslims who felt humiliated and horrified as they watched news reports of four boys murdered by  Israeli missiles as they played soccer on the beach near their family's boat.

Attendees did engage with the President in conversation about his comments, says Patel, as he watched some impassioned encounters.

As for the presence of the Israeli Ambassador being uncomfortable, Patel says that it is difficult to know who or who is not in attendance.  “Once seated it is difficult to roam the room, and one is usually confined to conversation to the guests at their table,” he shared.

As the attendees were breaking their fasts inside, a vigil for Guantanamo prisoners and victims of the siege in Gaza were being commemorated outside along with protest against the iftar. With help from Code Pink and Witness Against Torture, they raised their voices against the duplicity.

Imam Zia Makhdoom of MakeSpace, alternate spiritual space for young Muslim professionals,  was in attendance and defended the attendees, many who have served the community,  when people called them derogatory names on social media. “#WhiteHouseIftar attendees are no #sellouts. I most certainly am not,” posted imam Zia on his Facebook page

Ali Mahmoud, the founder of Alif Lam Meem (the first fraternity for Muslims in mainstream universities) was in attendance.  He commented that “in the future and with more dialogue, I think we can come closer to a unified and practical solution to make things better. A real solution will take time, thinking, and patience. I'm glad we had Muslims who attended, and I'm glad we had Muslims protesting it. We need to be everywhere,” under a photo of himself at the iftar.

The Need for Research and Engagement

“We need more research in our communities. Several of our organizations are disengaged from the community, from the average American Muslim who shops at the halal stores, own small businesses and work blue collar jobs,” says Dr Hilal.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati did not attend the event,  but supported the effort as he was involved in reviving the iftar under President Bill Clinton. His wife, Laila Al-Marayati, who heads KinderUSA, a charity which helps Palestinian refugees, has declined the invitation to the now postponed State Department Iftar.

In attendance was Haris Tarin, who heads MPAC's Washington chapter and Hoda El Shishtawy, National Policy Analyst.

Imam Magid of ISNA and representatives of MPAC were unavailable to comment to the Muslim Link.

Muslim Advocates spoke to the Guardian.

“I specifically asked the president if he would meet with us to discuss NSA spying on the American Muslim community. The president seemed to perk up and proceeded to discuss the issue, saying that he takes it very seriously,” Junaid Sulahry, the outreach manager for Muslim Advocates, a legal and civil rights group shares with The Guardian's journalist Spencer Ackerman.

Sulahry said, Obama was non-committal, but displayed “a clear willingness to discuss the issue.”

Journalist Max Blumenthal, a prominent writer on Palestine-Israel,  spoke to Ali Kurnaz, the central regional director for the Florida-based Emerge USA.

Kurnaz told Blumenthal that Dermer spent the evening isolated in the White House's Green Room adjacent to the main reception area. According to Kurnaz, none of the activists invited to the dinner approached him.

A local social service agency was invited and does not want to give a public statement because of how political the topic has become. As an American agency they were being recognized for their contributions to low income families.

For some heads of nonprofits, it is a time to network with each other and with elected officials. A chance that they normally do not get.

These are the agencies and nonprofits that we can excuse for wanting to attend as they work to save lives in the US and may not get a solid chance to meet elected officials, says Hilal. Her umbrage is with those Muslim organizations who consistently work on policy issues with the government. “They should have boycotted,” and at the minimum they should have walked out after Obama's deeply humiliating speech.

According to some attendees, people were astonished by the remarks, especially the closing words of President Obama's speech.

Manal Omar, an American of Palestinian origin, an Associate Vice-President for the Middle East and Africa Center at the United States Institute of Peace is unapologetic of her decision to attend the event.”There are two separate issues which is engagement as American Muslims, and our position on US foreign policy especially in the wake of humanitarian crisis. I don't think the two have to be mutually inclusive on our stances. I believe in engagement, [spent] my entire life as an American Muslims calling for engagement and am proud to have been at the White House in 1996 when Clinton first made this initiative, and proud to attend with Obama this year.”

Omar says that she is not a cheap date as she posted photos of herself passionately talking to the President. “An Iftar does not buy our silence.”

She took her two minutes with the President to emphasize that the people of Gaza (especially the women and children) should not be forgotten. “I asked the President to stop talking about this as if it was a war between equal powers, and to remember that there is a crucial issue of the disproportionate use of force and collective punishment, which violates international law. Not only did the President listen, but also he engaged in a discussion.”

Dr Hilal says that people are acting like the President is not aware of the current situation.”He is aware and he is attuned to those policies- we are not talking about [speaking] to your local city councillor and a park permit —$3 billion worth of foreign aid is at stake here.”

What Dr Hilal would like to ask the attendees is “What did you tell the president that he was not aware of?”

People who attended say that it is a necessity and that American Muslims should have a seat at the table need to know the rules of engagement, say critics.

Engagement comes with Consistency

After the backlash surrounding the event, MPAC issued a statement that they found the remarks appalling. They have also launched the 10-100-100 campaign.

These organizations are in frequent contact with the government thus critics find calls for apologies a waste of time.

“Given that they didn't walked out, calling for a joint meeting with President Obama, Eric Holder, and [agencies] —that is a concrete, substantive way to engage the concern,” says Dr Hilal.

This issue is bigger than the iftar, she says. Engagement should be a priority and communities need to hold organizations accountable about what issues are being combated. “How do organization make decisions about which issues to pursue?” she asks.  Many mainstream Muslim organizations aren't making a case for the issues they choose to work on.

“Where are their assessments?” says the researcher, insisting that increasingly these organizations do not speak for young American Muslims.

Obama has yet to visit a masjid in the United States since he was elected. Muslims realize that they cannot combat the calibre lobbying of groups, such as AIPAC, without a lot more organizing, and bold, effective advocacy.

Amongst boycott calls, one suggestion floating around is that next year American Muslim organizations should convene and hold a unity iftar, set the agenda and invite the President on their own terms.

Will the President save the date?

A version of this article was first published in the Muslim Link newspaper.

 

The post A Date with Obama | The White House Iftar: Inclusion or Delusion appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Friday Links | July 25, 2014

Muslimah Media Watch - 25 July, 2014 - 16:00
The attack on Gaza continues; among the hundreds of victims and wounded are many women and children. Asmaa el-Helou initially survived the attack on her home, but succumbed to her severe injuries later this week. Her father, mother, brothers and sisters had already died from the attack. One reporter shares her experience being around women [Read More...]

When is Eid 2014? It could be Monday or Tuesday, it might be Sunday

The Guardian World news: Islam - 25 July, 2014 - 15:24
Eid al-Fitr the feast at the end of Ramadan begins with the sighting of the new moon. But can you use a telescope, or just the naked eye? And what if it's cloudy?

Serious question: when is Eid? There's a joking-but-actually-quite-accurate pie chart that breaks down when you know the month of Ramadan is over. The largest chunk suggests: "just keep fasting until phone explodes with Eid texts". It's not bad advice.

The Islamic calendar is lunar, which is why the timing of Ramadan is not a fixed thing, and consequently why Eid wanders a bit. In the old days, the patriarch returned from the mosque one evening around 29 or 30 days into the month to say: "Look lively it's Eid tomorrow." I was brought up with the understanding that when the new moon is sighted in Saudi Arabia (signalling the start of the month of Shawwal), it's time for Eid. But of course, as with all things around religion, there are shades of grey. Some scholars, for example, argue that the moon must be seen with the naked eye, while others say it is just as valid if seen through the lens of a telescope. There are some who say an astronomical calculation is good enough, and people who argue this is a fallacy.

Continue reading...

Iraq: Isis warns women to wear full veil or face punishment

The Guardian World news: Islam - 25 July, 2014 - 14:21
Sunni insurgents issue guidelines in mosques on how clothes should be worn to prevent women 'from falling into vulgarity'

Islamic State (Isis), the al-Qaida offshoot that seized large swathes of northern Iraq last month, has warned women in the city of Mosul to wear full-face veils or risk severe punishment.

The Sunni insurgents, who have declared a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria and have threatened to march on Baghdad, also listed guidelines on how veils and clothes should be worn, part of a campaign to violently impose their radical brand of Islam.

Continue reading...

‘Retirement flats’ to free up family homes

Indigo Jo Blogs - 25 July, 2014 - 13:22

Picture of Vanessa Feltz, a white woman with long blonde hair wearing a thick white coat of some sortDemos: build retirement properties to free up 3 million family homes

I was going to be writing a piece this morning about how unworkable it would be to ‘encourage’ the over-55s to move out of their family homes in London into retirement flats on the coast, as was being discussed on the Vanessa Feltz show on BBC London yesterday morning. I listened to the first hour and a bit of the show as I drove out of London on my run up to Rotherham; I go out of range around Luton and switch to Radio 4 then anyway. The prompt for that was a Demos report which she said claimed that the think-tank were proposing encouraging older people living in family homes in the suburbs to move out so that young families could move in. However, I took a look at the press release this morning, and it really says no such thing.

The report was titled The Top of the Ladder and was actually published last September (you can download it free). It claimed that older home-owners wishing to down-size were sitting on £400bn of housing wealth and that “helping them move would free up 3.29 million properties, including 2 million three-bedroom homes”. They also claimed that their poll showed that 76% of over-60s in three-, four- or five-bedroom houses who wanted to move, wanted to move to somewhere smaller. It also criticised the government’s policy of favouring bungalows for retirees:

The report goes on to argue that the Government’s recent focus on housing for older people is a welcome step in the right direction, but the focus on bungalows as a solution to the housing crisis, put forward by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, is unsustainable and does not go far enough to ‘grasp the nettle’.

Demos finds older people want to be centrally located near shops and transport. However, bungalows can’t be built in town centres in the quantity needed to prevent the looming crisis of an ageing population.

Instead what is urgently required is more retirement housing, particularly to cater for the specific needs of Britain’s fastest-increasing demographic bubble of over-85s, who often need on-hand care and are inadequately catered for by bungalows.

Often misunderstood, retirement housing is defined as accommodation where older people have their own dwellings and front door, but share communal areas such as lounges and restaurants, with facilities and staff on hand to provide round-the-clock support.

So, the report was not about encouraging them all to move out of London down to the coast, even though they paid for those houses themselves. That would be a bad idea, for a number of reasons: many of their houses are still a focal point for their family activities even when their adult children no longer live at home (although they often do, because much London housing is too expensive for people on low incomes), and where they look after the grandchildren and so on. In addition, even though many of them are quite healthy at 60, the same is unlikely to still be true when they are 80 and need the support of their family. Until last year, my parents were fulfilling this role for my grandparents, as we were the only part of the family remaining in London. Many of these younger retirees are in fact carers and are not living lives of carefree leisure. And many country and coastal towns in the south also have a housing crisis; younger people and key workers cannot find a place to live because the houses are being bought by wealthy retirees, who often do not want to live in a retirement flat or ‘village’; they want to live in a house, where they can entertain family or have them to stay.

I do not know where Feltz got the impression that this was news, except for maybe this article by Peter Girling, chairman of Girlings Retirement Rentals, published last Tuesday which made reference to the September 2013 report. That report made no mention of ‘encouraging’ older home-owners to move out either. Feltz seized the opportunity to stir up a heated debate and some of the calls were impassioned and made quite valid points, like the lady who said that removing older people removes wisdom, and also that some older people like to remain in the city because they “like a bit of life”, as her mother did, but it was all based on a false premise. There is a lot of mileage to be made in blaming one group or another for the housing shortage or the cost-of-living crisis and more still in defending older people who’ve worked hard and paid taxes all their lives (and the foreign oligarchs and kleptocrats who splash other people’s money around London, like the recently deposed president of Ukraine, are not going to be in the firing line any time soon), but surely someone in Feltz’s team could have looked at the date on the report or the footnotes to the press release (which mentions the date)?

Possibly Related Posts:


Are You Hurt? #iForgive

Muslim Matters - 25 July, 2014 - 05:00

If you prefer watching a video of the same exact content, rather than reading it, you may click here

As-salaamu alaykum my beloved brothers and respected sisters,

Every letter in this article is written from the bottom of my heart and I ask Allah to have it reach your heart. I also ask Allah to accept the time spent writing this article and the time you would spend reading it.

When someone hurts you and oppresses you there are several permissible ways where you can react to that oppression:

- You can go to Allah with your weakness and raise your hands to Him and make a du'a, a supplication, against the one who has oppressed you; and the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) confirmed in numerous authentic ahadith that the du'a of the one who is oppressed would surely be accepted without any doubt.

- You can also just wait until the day of judgment and seek to get the good deeds, equivalent to the amount of oppression and pain that person did to you, as means of revenge and taking your right back. And in case the one who oppressed has no good deeds to give you then you would give THEM your bad deeds as the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also stated in an authentic hadith.

But there is another option, which is the point of this whole article, that is better than all what has been mentioned but only a few people pursue it. I ask Allah to make me and you amongst the few. What is that option? It is for you to forgive the one who hurt you and oppressed you. So you don't make a du'a'a against them and you don't take from their good deeds on the day of Judgment. But what's the point then? You will get more than seeing that person being harmed just like how you were harmed and more than the good deeds you could've taken…

Rather you will be getting a reward, from who and how much? From Allah… He didn't put a limit to it. Allah said in Chapter 42 Verse 40:

  1. And the retribution, the payback, of an evil act is an evil one like it,
  2. But whoever forgives, overlooks and reconcile [OK, what will happen then?]
  3. Then their reward is on Allah.

It is so amazing how Allah puts these words together. When a king in this world tells you: “I have a gift, a reward, for you”, then you would imagine that that gift and reward is equivalent to the wealth, power, majesty and capability of that king. If this is the case with a king in this world then what about the king of all kings, Allah…?

If you would allow me, my beloved brother and sister, to stress on the point of forgiving those who wrong you, and please don't rush and say: “speak as long as you want brother Majed, I will not forgive that person who wronged me and oppressed me”. Rather, please give Allah and the Prophet of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) a chance through the verses and ahadith you would hear. By Allah, that is for your own sake. I want to stress on the concept of forgiving those who wronged you by doing 2 things:

Number 1: by destroying and exposing the real value of this low and cheap dunya that we are living in

Number 2: by showing you how amazing, honorable and beautiful is the reward of Allah in this dunya and in the akhirah for those who forgive.

Number 1: 

Are you perhaps ready for  a life changing experience?

Bismillah, let's look at the reality of this dunya: In an authentic hadith, in Saheeh Muslim, the Prophet of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) once grabbed a dead one-eared goat from the ear that remained. [Try to picture it ] And he asked his friends while holding the dead goat: “Who would buy this for 1 dirham” [such a low price for something the people would pay tens of dirhams for but the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) offered it for 1]. The companions said: “We don't like to have it even if it was for nothing. What is the benefit of it?” The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) then asked: “Would you like to have it for free?” They replied: “By Allah, if it was alive we wouldn't take it for the way it looks with the chopped ear and so on then what about if it was dead.” The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) then said: “فَوَاللَّهِ، لَلدُّنْيَا أَهْوَنُ عَلَى اللهِ مَنْ هَذَا عَلَيْكُمْ‏.‏” [I swear by Allah, this dunya is of a lesser value in the sight of Allah than this, dead disgusting one-eared goat, is to you.]

Allahu akbar! What is it in this lowly and cheap dunya that is worth cutting our ties of brotherhood and sisterhood.

Number 2:

On the other hand, know that of the fastest and easiest ways to gain the forgiveness of Allah, don't we say so desperately: “اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي” [O Allah you are forgiving and you love to forgive so please forgive me], do you want to maximize your chances of having Allah to forgive you!? Then your best and easiest of chances is to forgive the one who has wronged you. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said in an authentic hadith, in Saheeh Al-Adab Al-Mufrad: “اغْفِرُوا يَغْفِرِ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ” [forgive and Allah will forgive you]. Allahu akbar!

I feel comfortable ending the article right here and it may be convincing enough to forgive someone after having such a guarantee from the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that your forgiveness to the one who wronged you will actually be means for YOU to be forgiven by Allah. But let's get even more motivated with statements from Allah and His prophet motivate us more! Bismillah!

Listen to this, after Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) stopped giving his relative, MesTah bin A-thaathah, a monthly allowance because MesTah contributed to the accusation of Aisha, the daughter of Abu Bakr, raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) that she committed a major sin with another man, in which Allah has already shown her innocence in surat An-Noor, Allah revealed a verse addressing Abu Bakr and he said in Chapter 24 Verse 22:

22

Let not those whom Allah blessed them with wealth to withhold it from their relatives, the needy and those who immigrated for the sake of Allah.

Then Allah said: “وَلۡيَعۡفُواْ وَلۡيَصۡفَحُوٓاْ‌” [rather, forgive and reconcile]

ALLAHU AKBAR! WHAT!? Forgive and reconcile the one who accused my honor and the chastity of my own daughter!!! Then Allah continues and says, here he is addressing ALL of us!

“ أَلَا تُحِبُّونَ أَن يَغْفِرَ اللَّـهُ لَكُمْ ۗوَاللَّـهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ ” [don't you love for Allah to forgive you… And [note] Allah is The Most Forgiving The Most Merciful].

Upon hearing this, RIGHT AWAY, Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: “بلى واللهِ إني لأحبُّ أن يغفرَ اللهُ لي” [Yes, wAllahi! I love for Allah to forgive me. And he also said: I will never stop giving the monthly allowance back to him.]

Allahu akbar, what a man! May Allah be pleased with him. I ask Allah to grant you my beloved brothers and sisters who is reading such a strong iman and such eagerness to care about Allah's forgiveness to you. Ameen.

Another reward and honor from Allah to those who forgive, Allah basically tells them: “I love you”…. And if Allah loves you then what else in the world matters… Allah says: “وَٱلۡعَافِينَ عَنِ ٱلنَّاسِ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ يُحِبُّ ٱلۡمُحۡسِنِينَ” [And those who forgive the people. And Allah loves the muhseneen].

Allahu akbar! He considered you among the elite, the muhsineen, and he said that He loves them. I ask Allah to make you, my beloved reader, among those whom Allah loves.

In an authentic hadith in Saheeh Bukhari, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) once had poisoned brought to him by a Jewish lady. When the Prophet knew the meat was poisoned the lady was brought forth and the companions raḍyAllāhu 'anhum (may Allāh be pleased with them) asked the prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him): “Shall we not kill her?” [What do you think the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said? What would his reaction be towards a person who was about to poison him, basically, an assassination attempt!] The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) replied with one word and said: “No.”

Allahu akbar! She tried to kill him but he chose to overlook what she did.

In Conclusion:

To sum my message in one sentence:

There is nothing, in this cheap and lowly dunya that is worth forsaking the forgiveness, reward and love of Allah, nothing.

I begin with myself, as of tonight, Allah and you are my witness that I have forgiven anyone who has ever wronged me in any way, shape or form since the day I was born, whether it was the person who used to bully me when I was in school and caused me to hate being in school, or the one who cursed me and called me names on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter or even those who have backbit me and gossiped about me behind my back and I am not aware of. All of you are forgiven.

Bismillah, it is your turn. My beloved and respected brother & sister:

o   Forgive and Allah will forgive you

o   Forgive and your reward is on Allah

o   Forgive and Allah will love you

 

Be sure to share this article, for you might be means of helping others forgive those who wronged them, and such act of worship is better than praying taraweeh, sunnah prayers and giving charity as the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) stated in an authentic hadith in Saheeh Abi Dawud. Share J May Allah bless you.

Wassalaamu alaykum

The post Are You Hurt? #iForgive appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Right-wing rabbi’s ruling: Israel may totally destroy Gaza if necessary

Loon Watch - 25 July, 2014 - 00:25

Dov_Lior Right-wing rabbi’s ruling: Israel may totally destroy Gaza if necessary

(Haaretz)

Dov Lior, the rabbi of the settlement of Kiryat Arba, has issued a religious ruling permitting the total destruction of Gaza if Israel’s military leaders deem it necessary.

Lior is considered one of the more extreme rabbis on the religious right. In his ruling, he wrote that the Torah also teaches Jews how to act during wartime. In any war in which the people are under attack they are permitted to fight back against the nation from which the attackers come, he wrote.

“Therefore, in a time of war, the attacked nation is permitted to punish the enemy population with whatever measures it deems proper, like blocking supplies or electricity. It may bomb the entire area based on the judgment of the war minister and not wantonly put soldiers at risk,” Lior wrote, adding that “deterrent measures to exterminate the enemy” were allowed.

“The defense minister may even order the destruction of Gaza so that the south should no longer suffer, and to prevent harm to members of our people who have long been suffering from the enemies surrounding us,” he wrote.

After the ruling was published, the head of a left-wing party, Meretz’s Zahava Gal-On, asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to launch an investigation.

“Rabbi Dov Lior’s racist comments long ago lost the protection of the right to free expression,” Gal-On wrote to Weinstein. “These remarks follow his racist comments through the years, among them his many comments before the murder of [Yitzhak] Rabin and support for Baruch Goldstein,” the man who gunned down 29 Muslim worshippers in Hebron in 1994.

Middlesbrough football fans banned for life after Koran was used as confetti at away match

Loon Watch - 24 July, 2014 - 21:54

Love-Boro-Hate-Racism Middlesbrough football fans banned for life after Koran was used as confetti at away match

Boro have banned three fans for life for their part in a Koran ripping incident at an away match.

Six supporters were originally given temporary bans from The Riverside after the 2-2 draw at Birmingham City in December. West Midlands Police investigated claims pages of the Islamic text had been thrown in the air and three fans were later charged.

The club was unable to confirm which supporters it has banned for life.

A spokesman told The Gazette: “Middlesbrough Football Club has banned three fans for life following an incident at Birmingham City’s St Andrew’s Stadium on December 7 2013 in which a copy of the Koran was ripped up. Another two supporters have been banned for 12 months and a sixth fan remains suspended while he remains out of the country.”

Julie Phillips, 50, and Gemma Parkin, 18, from Middlesbrough, were found guilty of committing a religiously aggravated public order offence by magistrates in May. Phillips, of Kenmore Road, Netherfields, and Parkin, of Kimberley Drive, Pallister Park, were both fined and ordered to pay costs. Boro season ticket holder Mark Stephenson, of Napoleon Drive, Shrewsbury, pleaded guilty to causing racial or religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress and was fined £235.

The three were not issued with football banning orders by the court which would have prevented them from entering any ground in the country, but Boro have now taken their own action after reviewing evidence provided by Birmingham City.

Phillips, a Middlesbrough Council employee, told the court she only found out the book was the Koran when she was questioned by police after stewards saw what was happening. “I was mortified,” she said. “Very ashamed and disgusted in myself. It was just a book of some sort, I can’t remember if the cover was on. It was just white paper.”

Parkin said she took the Koran into St Andrew’s after she was handed it at Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market. She claimed not to have looked at the book, saying she had no idea it was the Koran. She said Stephenson, a purchasing manager, took the book from her bag before it was “turned into confetti”. “Everyone else was ripping it up so I just ripped it,” Parkin told the court.

Magistrates described her account as “unbelievable”.

A Birmingham steward told the court he heard chants about Muslims and the Koran as the book was passed around and ripped up. He later followed Phillips and Parkin and pointed them out to police officers after the match ended.

During his court case, Stephenson said he was “shocked and appalled” by his actions.

In the aftermath of the incident, Boro fans’ group Red Faction organised a Love Boro Hate Racism march.

Boro are next due to visit St Andrew’s on February 14.

Evening Gazette, 24 July 2014

In Search of a Tranquil Ramadan

Muslimah Media Watch - 24 July, 2014 - 20:00
Dreaming of the ultimate spirituality and serenity this Ramadan, my plan was to quit my 9-5 job a couple of days before Ramadan started. I’ve always had this fantasy that taking a vacation for the whole Ramadan gives you more space for spirituality and religious rituals. Think of days full of Quran recitation, Zikr, Terawih [Read More...]

Isis militants blow up Jonah's tomb

The Guardian World news: Islam - 24 July, 2014 - 18:45
Militants say revered Muslim shrine in Iraq, believed to be burial place of prophet swallowed by a whale, has become place for apostasy

Islamic State (Isis) militants have blown up a revered Muslim shrine traditionally said to be the burial place of the prophet Jonah in Mosul, residents of the city said.

Residents said on Thursday that the militants first ordered everyone out of the Mosque of the Prophet Younis, or Jonah, then blew it up.

Continue reading...

Iraqi Christians in Mosul told by Isis to convert to Islam or be executed

The Guardian World news: Islam - 24 July, 2014 - 12:54
Thousands of Christians flee largest city in northern Iraq after Isis gives stark choice: convert, pay a religious tax, or face death

Iraqi Christians who were forced to flee the northern city of Mosul under threat of forced conversion or execution by jihadists have spoken of their terror as churches were turned into mosques and their homes and property confiscated.

The expulsion of one of the world's oldest Christian communities provoked condemnation and anguish from figures as diverse as the pope and Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who lambasted the Islamic State (Isis) for its "criminality and terrorism".

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Families of abducted girls fight Boko Haram and a supine government

The Guardian World news: Islam - 24 July, 2014 - 09:59

Distraught parents cling to hope, 100 days after Islamist rebels kidnapped nearly 300 of their daughters from a school in Borno state

Samuel Yaga was describing his missing daughters dream of becoming a doctor when the air went from his lungs. One hundred days after Sarah was abducted, the raw emotion still has a tendency to detonate unexpectedly. Could a child who would always fall asleep clutching a book survive so long in the grip of a sect whose opposition to western education has led them to burn schoolchildren alive, he wondered.

It would be better if we had a body to bury, he began, then took a deep, shaky breath.

Continue reading...

A Worship that Works

Muslimah Media Watch - 24 July, 2014 - 07:00
My son is already almost six months old, but I haven’t fully absorbed the fact that I’m a mother to someone. I always found it funny when people said mak orang (lit. “someone’s mother”) in Malay, but this time it’s me they’re talking about. Don’t get me wrong: I love my son and I love [Read More...]

What’s The Matter? | Confronting a Cheating Husband

Muslim Matters - 24 July, 2014 - 05:00

Question:

Salam aleykum. I just wanted some bit of Islamic advice on a very important matter.

Alhamdulilah, I've been married for nearly 4 years to my husband and we have one child. Recently my husband' behaviour has changed. For example he would be mean to me and try to blame all his problems on me, he just wasn't the person i knew anymore. He would spent less and less time with his family. This in turn made me very suspicious and pushed me to check his emails & social networking site.

SubhanAllah, I found something that broke my heart to pieces. I find out my husband was cheating on me. I don't know the extent of it but I found a trail of messages of other women and him flirting! I never felt so sick and paralysed, as you would never expect that from someone you love dearly; and whom you sharing your life with. I feel incredibly hurt & betrayed and humiliated! Millions of questions went through my mind! Wasn't I enough for my husband

So I find out my husband of years has been cheating on me ! I feel so betrayed and heartbroken. I know I've got to face him and speak to him about it although it makes me feel sick. I just wanted some advice on how to approach this calamity that has befallen on my family and I pray that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will help me overcome the state I'm in. I don't know where to start and if I ever will be able to trust him.

Jazaka Allahu Khair,

Need to talk to him

Answer:

No words can describe the pain and humiliation that comes with infidelity. May Allah grant you the strength and patience to do what is right for you and your family, and help your heart heal from the repercussions of this traumatic event.

Why did he do it?

Unfortunately infidelity has become a common occurrence, so you are not alone. Although every case is unique, there are four basic situations why people have affairs:

1.  A person has a sex addiction. Are they willing to go to a 12-step program to deal with their addiction?

2.  A person gets caught in a slippery situation, is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and they do something they never thought they would do. They usually have great remorse for what happened and vow never to put themselves in that type of situation again.

3.  A person seeks revenge or pay back because their partner had an affair.

4.  A person is hungry for attention or nurturing, so they connect with someone outside the relationship to fulfill their needs.2

What do I do first?

First and foremost, find a way to express and process rage, hurt, and often feelings of panic. Dr. Spring eloquently states:

What you are experiencing is a normal and appropriate response to an acutely traumatizing experience. You're reeling not only from the loss of the integrity of your relationship but also from the loss of an illusion—that you're special to your partner and that the intimacy you thought you shared with that person would last forever. If in the face of such shattering news, it would be strange if you didn't feel lost.”1

You can either speak with a trusted friend or colleague, journal about your emotions, or converse with the One who is The Hearer of All. It is important to be in a calmer state of mind in order to answer for yourself some very important questions. Moreover, it is crucial that you keep any children out of the pain of the situation to the furthest extent possible.

Every situation is different, and what works best for one family may not work best for another. At this point you must decide what it is that you want. Is infidelity a deal breaker for you? Or do you wish to stay in the marriage and try to work it out?  

How do I confront him?

If you choose to and are ready to confront your husband, my first concern would be about safety. Sometimes confrontations can get violent especially if he has been abusive in anyway in the past or short tempered.  I don't recommend confronting him in front of friends or family, but definitely avoid a closed door, private place. Even if there is no history of violence, he can become very angry and defensive about getting caught.

There is no right or wrong way to do this, or any written rules, but I found these recommendations to be helpful:

1. Set up some time when you can sit and talk. You want a time when you are rested.

2. Have your questions written out. Some examples may include: What happened? How did this situation come into our relationship? How long has this been going on? What went wrong with us?

3. Make sure your partner is willing to talk, all phones are off, the children are taken care of and you are in a safe place.

4. Set a beginning time and an ending time. I would suggest no more than two hours. People get weary, exhausted and hungry if you go too long and things can escalate and become extremely ugly. 2

Please understand that all your questions probably will not be answered in one meeting and that you two may have to meet several times. This traumatic incident will take some time for you to process and to resolve.

How do I communicate my needs?

Some tips on effective communication may help the conversation be more productive. Two typical dysfunctional ways of talking include being in “Silence” or being the “Storm.”

If you remain silent in order to protect yourself from further harm or disappointment, you are also losing the chance to feel understood, having your needs met, admit your mistakes and reconnect. “For you to heal and forgive, you must be convinced that your partner grasps how deeply you have been violated. For that to happen, you must talk about the affair and how it has affected you on the most personal level” 1

If you have the opposite tendency to storm, understand that a full on outpouring of rage and anger will only breed more anger in both parties and put your husband on the defense and shove him away.  He is more likely to listen to you and feel your pain if you speak calmly and directly.

How will he respond?

Possible responses also vary from situation to situation. Your husband may beg for forgiveness, he may be in complete denial despite the evidence you provide, or he may admit to his cheating and then initiate a marriage dissolution himself; therefore, it is vital for you to have a system of support set up that can help you with both your immediate and future needs.

Is it possible for our relationship to heal from this?

The possibility of healing from infidelity rests on the willingness of both parties to rebuild trust and the relationship. If only one partner desires to recommit, then it will not work.

If both of you decide to work through this, in time, you might view this traumatic even as a wake-up call. You may discover that this soul shattering event is the reboot you needed to develop a healthier and more mature approach to relationships. “I encourage you to enter the process, to challenge the hurt, and to see what you are capable of producing together. In essence on the count of three, I invite the two of you to step into the center of the ring, remove your boxing gloves and join hands.” 1

In terms of regaining trust, “it must be earned, and not with verbal reassurances alone, but with specific changes in behavior.” 1 Your husband will have to demonstrate though bold, concrete actions that he is committed to you and that you are safe with him. And you will have to open yourself up to the possibility of trusting him again as well as reinforce his efforts to regain your trust. You will also have to “spell out exactly what your partner can do for you, and give this person a road map back into your life.” 1

Continue to seek guidance from Allah for the best course of action and outcome for you and your family. Do not forget to establish a support system for you and your child, including family therapy and, finally, I highly recommend reading the book “After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner has been Unfaithful” by Janis Abrahms Spring, PhD.

 

 

References:

1. After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner has been Unfaithful by Janis Abrahms Spring, PhD with Michael Spring, completely updated 2nd edition.

2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-c-jameson/how-to-confront-a-cheating-spouse_b_4534619.html

 

The post What’s The Matter? | Confronting a Cheating Husband appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

India: Modi’s Ally in Shiv Sena Force Feed Fasting Muslim Staff

Loon Watch - 23 July, 2014 - 22:53

Shiv_Sena_Ramzan_Ramadan Anger, apology over Shiv Sena MPs’ Ramzan bullying

(HindustanTimes)

Video footage of a Shiv Sena MP forcing a fasting Muslim worker to eat at a state guest house triggered outrage in Parliament and social media on Wednesday, but the government said the allegations were unsubstantiated.

Opposition parties demanded action as television channels showed footage of the Thane MP, Rajan Vichare, apparently upset over the poor quality of food, thrusting a chapati into the Maharashtra Sadan catering supervisor’s mouth. The employee, who had his name tag on his shirt, was seen pleading with Vichare and 10 other Shiv Sena MPs to excuse him as he was fasting.

Two MPs almost came to blows in the Lok Sabha and parliament was adjourned over the incident, which is a huge political embarrassment for the ruling coalition as the Shiv Sena is a part of the National Democratic Alliance.

Read: Muslims say outraged by Shiv Sena MP’s action, demand his arrest

BJP member Ramesh Bidhuri and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi faced off as union heavy industries minister Anant Geete defended his party MPs. “Those who want to respect the month of Ramzan should not make false statements in the house … the Congress is trying to tarnish the image of the Narendra Modi government,” Geete said.

Pandemonium broke as South Delhi MP Bidhuri rushed to the well of the house, shouting at opposition members. Owaisi said Bidhuri charged at him shouting, “Muslims should go to Pakistan and even gestured to cut down them to pieces.”

Parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu, who tried to calm frayed tempers, said the government did not approve of Bidhuri’s actions and asked him to apologise.

However, Naidu insisted the allegations against the Sena MP had to be verified. “We are dealing with a sensitive issue … Don’t try to raise communal passions. Nobody knows the truth. Whether the incident has happened or not, we are not sure,” Naidu said.

The BJP did not issue a formal statement condemning the allegations against its largest alliance partner. BJP patriarch LK Advani was the only senior party leader to comment on the controversy.  “It was wrong,” he said.

Sena MPs initially denied the incident which was reported by Indian Express. But as the video footage went viral, Vichare finally apologised. “I came to know that the employee was a Muslim only after seeing TV footage and I regret it,” he said. He added that he was only trying to draw the attention of authorities to the poor quality of food served at Maharashtra Sadan.

Several opposition members wrote to the Lok Sabha Speaker demanding an inquiry into the incident which they said was an “attack on secularism”.

“We would request you to uphold the dignity of the house by ordering an inquiry … so that such wanton behaviour is no longer repeated,” they wrote.

The National Commission for Minorities said it would probe the matter following a complaint by activist Shehzad Poonawala.

Angry Muslims demanded the suspension and arrest of the MPs. “What is more shocking is Parliament took the matter lightly. What can we expect in the Modi government,” said Zafarul Islam Khan of the All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat.

Read: Opposition MPs write to speaker Mahajan, seek probe

Read: I didn’t know he is a Muslim, says Shiv Sena MP

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