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David Cameron shelves move to ban British jihadis returning to UK

The Guardian World news: Islam - 1 September, 2014 - 21:54
Political and legal opposition forces PM to back down on key elements of plan to counteract Islamic State terrorist threat

David Cameron's plan to fight the terrorist threat posed by Islamic State got off to a stuttering start when he was forced to shelve key proposals amid legal uncertainty, Liberal Democrat objections, and even doubts within the security services.

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Crackdown on British jihadis 'will push youth further towards extremism'

The Guardian World news: Islam - 1 September, 2014 - 11:18
Muslim Council of Britain says constant talk of legislation and monitoring is leading marginalised Muslims towards radicalism

David Cameron's renewed crackdown on British-born extremists will push marginalised young people further towards radicalisation, the UK's biggest Muslim organisation has said.

Harun Khan, deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), raised concerns about the prime minister's anti-terrorism strategy amid signs of a wider impasse in relations between the government and Muslim groups.

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As leaders of UK Jews and Muslims we say: we are two faiths with one message | Vivian Wineman and Shuja Shafi

The Guardian World news: Islam - 1 September, 2014 - 06:00
War in Gaza and Israel has strained Muslim-Jewish relations. But well work together to stop differences over that conflict defining us

A few days ago the organisations we represent the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Muslim Council of Britain published an unprecedented joint statement. There should be little controversial in what it said about opposing antisemitism and Islamophobia, or stating that: Whilst everyone has the right to voice their political opinion, there can be no excuse for racism, violence, or other forms of intimidation. Yet of course the significance of the statement lies not only with what we have said, but also with the fact that we have chosen to stand together to say it. Though our communities and religious traditions have so much in common, relations between them have been delicate.

The primary reason for this difference lies, of course, over 2,000 miles away in the Middle East. Indeed, the conflict in Israel and Gaza over the past two months has placed a particular strain on Muslim-Jewish relations. For many Jews and Muslims in this country the conflict is personal, with relatives and co-religionists living under the shadow of war on both sides of the divide.

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A very British bubble of global tensions and local solutions

The Guardian World news: Islam - 1 September, 2014 - 06:00
The Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Muslim Council of Britain have unveiled a joint declaration condemning Islamophobia and antisemitism just the kind of thing that the UK is good at

In 2010, the globetrotting I do on behalf of this column took me to Waltham Forest College in east London for an event comparing the student body with that before the second world war. In 1940 it was people with a common pigmentation and largely shared backgrounds. Seventy years later, I found speakers of 76 different languages.

I was struck by a conversation with two men studying English as a second language. One was a Bosnian Serb, the other Croatian. Carriers of emnities and hatreds. How does that play out in London, I asked them. We are just relieved that it isn't an issue here, they said. I spoke to one of the teachers about the potential for conflict. "Being away from that situation, their view is that 'we've all lost,'" she told me. "They just want to learn the language more than anything else."

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To prevent homegrown Islamist radicalism, drop the media hysteria | Kavita Bedford

The Guardian World news: Islam - 1 September, 2014 - 01:39

The disproportionate attention given to radicalism feeds into ongoing misrepresentations of Muslims in the west. How about engaging with the Muslim community instead?

Last week, the Australian government said it will spend 64m Australian dollars on measures to counter violent extremism and radicalisation as the Islamic State (IS) continues to recruit foreign fighters to its ranks in Iraq and Syria. Prime minister Abbott said:

This [Islamic State] is a movement - as weve seen on our TV screens and front pages of our newspapers - of utter ferocity, medieval barbarism allied to modern technology - thats how serious and dangerous this movement is.

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Libya's spiritual leader leaves UK after directing Islamist takeover of Tripoli

The Guardian World news: Islam - 31 August, 2014 - 19:31
Sheikh Sadik al-Ghariani may be sacked as grand mufti after Libyan parliament, which appointed him, was forced to flee its capital

Libya's most senior religious authority, the grand mufti Sheikh Sadik al-Ghariani, is believed to have fled Britain after it emerged that he was helping to direct the Islamist takeover of Tripoli from the UK.

Ghariani left the UK for Qatar as Home Office officials began examining broadcasts he had made to Islamist groups using an internet television station owned by a relative in Devon.

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MuslimKidsMatter | The Prisoner of Life Poem (Ode to Children in Gaza)

Muslim Matters - 31 August, 2014 - 17:00

The Prisoner of Life

by Sarem Leghari

The girl sat in the bottom of a fifteen foot well
Thinking of the days she had a family.
When she was not on the verge of losing her sanity

She could still hear the cries of her baby brother.
As above them helicopters began to hover.

She remembered the smell of her mother's appetizing food.
Or that day in her house, when toxic gas was spewed.

Her only crime, to be born in a place so long torn by war
That not even her grandparents remembered the good times before.

As she cried, she began to lose hope.
But then she saw something throw down a rope.

She held the rope and began to climb.
As she hopefully thought of her future, a good time.

She reached the top of the well,
And felt the warmth of the sun against her pale face.

A man with a smirking face pulled her out.
But in her mind she had not a single doubt.

As she turned her face to thank the man.
He planted four knives in her back skin.
As he pushed her down the well again

About the Author

Sarem Leghari is a 14-year-old boy in 9th grade.  He lives in Pakistan.  He has a flair for writing and he loves to write poetry.  He also has his own Facebook page of poetry and more.  Sarem also writes many stories and essays on numerous world issues.  He is a swimmer and a national debater.

The post MuslimKidsMatter | The Prisoner of Life Poem (Ode to Children in Gaza) appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

British Muslim leaders issue fatwa against would-be jihadists

The Guardian World news: Islam - 31 August, 2014 - 09:26

Imams reportedly tell Muslims to oppose the promotion of the poisonous ideology of Islamic State

Muslim leaders have issued a fatwa condemning British jihadists.

The fatwa prohibits would-be jihadists from joining the oppressive and tyrannical Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq and Syria, the Sunday Times reported. It said the imams had ordered Muslims to oppose the promotion of the poisonous ideology of Isis in the UK.

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Senior Muslims call for women to have more say in communities

The Guardian World news: Islam - 30 August, 2014 - 21:30
Rotherham abuse scandal highlights the need for female leadership in Muslim organisations

More women should be appointed to the highest levels of Britain's Islamic organisations to help prevent repetition of the child sex abuse scandal in Rotherham, according to senior Muslim figures.

Last week a report by Professor Alexis Jay into grooming within the South Yorkshire town pinpointed a "macho culture" in the town as a factor in perpetuating the abuse, which involved 1,400 cases of child sexual exploitation between 1997 and 2013.

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Britain's best defence to the terror threat is international action

The Guardian World news: Islam - 30 August, 2014 - 20:52
Government talk of returning jihadis and 'western values' won't keep us safe. We need a coordinated international strategy to defeat those who threaten us

It is always easy to persuade frightened people to part with their liberties. But it is always right for politicians who value liberty to resist attempts to increase arbitrary executive powers unless this is justified, not by magnifying fear, but by actual facts.

On Friday, the government announced that the imminent danger of jihadi attack meant Britain's threat level should be raised to "severe". Then, from the prime minister downwards, Tory ministers took to every available airwave to tell us how frightened we should be and why this required a range of new powers for them to exercise. For the record, the threat level in Northern Ireland has been "severe" for the past four years as it was in all Britain for many years in the 1980s and 1990s, when the IRA threat was at its greatest.

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AAJA And MPAC Demand Action After Fox Host Advocated For Violence Against Muslims

Loon Watch - 30 August, 2014 - 19:57

andrea-tantaros-43357 AAJA And MPAC Demand Action After Fox Host Advocated For Violence Against Muslims

MediaMatters

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) are demanding action from Fox News after a host linked all Muslims to terrorists and advocated for violence against practitioners of the faith.

In an August 27 statement, the Asian American Journalist Association condemned Fox co-host Andrea Tantaros for making blanket statements conflating all Muslims to the Islamic State and advocating for violence against them. AAJA called on the network to apologize:

AAJA calls for Tantaros and Fox News to apologize for the irresponsible, inflammatory statements. We also call on Fox News to discourage its journalists from making blanket comments that serve to perpetuate hate and Islamophobia.

Muslims and Islam are not interchangeable terms with terrorists or ISIS. We in the media know better and must be vigilant in our choice of words.

The AAJA joined the Muslim Public Affairs Council in their outrage over the offensive Fox segment. MPAC previously called for the network to fire Tantaros following her inflammatory statements.

The growing call for action from Fox News comes after an August 20 segment of Outnumbered featured co-host Andrea Tantaros discussing the death of journalist James Foley at the hands of the Islamic State. Suggesting that the history of Islam set a precedent for the murder, Tantaros declared that “this isn’t a surprise,” and that the only way to solve the situation was “with a bullet to the head. It’s the only thing these people understand”:

“Brand Islam” – Commercial Encroachment or an Act of Faith?

Muslim Matters - 30 August, 2014 - 05:40

By Lubaaba Amatullah

Seen from above, the size of the bazaar is incredible, row upon row of colorful stalls selling everything from food to ethnic clothing and books. This is the Islamic Society of North America's (ISNA) annual convention in Washington D.C., and by the looks of this bazaar, faith has taken a consumerist bend.

Welcome to Brand Islam.

One stall sells t-shirts; from the tongue-in-cheek, “I'm fly 'Coz my iman is high” and “Think I'm hot? Hell is hotter. Lower your gaze,” to the cheerful, “Smile, its sunnah!” Another stall sells halal sweets and frozen foods, packaged to perfection so as not to look out of place in any standard American supermarket. Yet another stall sells designer hijabs, patented “pins-free” styles to silks and cashmeres with a broad selection of jeweled pins and brooches. Many stalls are from local businesses, yet several are from other cities and even abroad; one ethnic wear shop flew in especially from Pakistan, another Islamic book shop flew in from Britain. Brand Islam seems to be truly making its mark – on a global scale.

The bazaar is teeming with shoppers as they make purchases for upcoming Eid or wedding events, stock up on the latest literature, or enjoy the latest in halal savory snacks. Notwithstanding the countless lectures, seminars, and workshops the conference conducts, led by world class speakers, many flown in specially, the bazaar remains a central attraction of the convention. At the end of each day, one overhears attendees speaking of their purchases; the latest book by Professor Tariq Ramadan, a new Emirati jilbab adorned with Swarovski crystals, or a child's new salwar kamiz for the upcoming Eid celebrations.

A few months later, across the border in the Canadian capital of Toronto, is the annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit (RIS) conference, and the story is much the same. An event that hosts tens of thousands of Muslims from across Canada and abroad, the conference hall is matched in size by its adjacent bazaar hall. Arabic calligraphers design names with flourish. The largest stall is for women's modest fashion, selling outerwear such as jilbabs and long coats, to casual tops and skirts. A store selling beautiful Arabic calligraphy showpieces delicately carved out of wood catches the eye. Verses of the Qur'an and the names of Allah adorn the vast display. One can't resist purchasing a piece – God's name, “Al-Rahman, The Merciful” – a small coffee table showpiece, an affordable token from a pricey selection. The eye however lingers on the gorgeous circular carved, “Ayat al-Kursi, the Verse of the Throne,” a vast bronze creation well beyond budget, although well within dreams.

But is there something unsettling in the commercialization of faith that this bazaar seems to epitomize? Should faith be a t-shirt worn, or a state of mind and heart? Is there something paradoxical in the materialism of luxury hijabs?

Muhammad Haque, an organizer at an American Muslim charity which held a stall at this year's ISNA bazaar, doesn't think so. “The commercialization of Islam has brought products and services that fulfill the needs of Muslim consumers,” he suggests. To Muhammad, the benefit of brand Islam is not only for the consumers, “Doors are opened for entrepreneurs into niche markets who otherwise would have failed to penetrate a mature and competitive conventional market.”

However, there are those who feel commercialization is contrary to the spirit of faith. Rofiqul Islam is a Briton who often attends Islamic events such as the massive Global Peace and Unity (GPU) conference held annually in London. His thoughts on the shifting culture are mixed. “Modern expansion and commercialization is far from the true spirit of Islam. It's driven by selfish ends,” he contends, adding that, “It is by revealing and upholding the truth, Muslims inspired people around the world, rather than commercial culture and marketing of religion.”

Although the commercialization of faith may seem worryingly contrary to the spiritual nature of Islam, there is no denying the attraction it has for Muslims of all leanings. Nabeela Chowdhury, a Canadian who enjoys attending RIS, feels the bridging and unifying factor that comes with the branding of Islam, “To me commercialization of Islam is a good thing because it brings the Muslims together as a large community. By drawing people to events like RIS and ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America) conferences, Muslims can feel and show their community spirit while also learning from the live lectures by diverse speakers. Alongside that they can also shop for Islamic goods.”

While a prayer in a mosque may be a more traditionally encouraged form of faith, to many, Islamic products are a bridge to faith for those less inclined to a mosque setting but more likely to seek out quirky new styles and delicious halal food. Yet, branding Islam is not simply about consumer products at major conventions. In a climate where Islam is frequently misrepresented in the press and disproportionately aligned with acts of terror, marketing the faith has taken another role.

Inspired by Muhammad, a British campaign which included a series of advertisements across London's transport services, has turned to commercial culture to strengthen the image of the faith. The initiative saw the marketing of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad's positive message through showcasing successful Muslims who affirm the Islamic Prophet as the inspiration for their positive actions. From converted MTV presenter and environmental activist, Kristiane Backer, to leading human rights barrister, Sultana Tafadar, and Cambridge University Professor, Dr. Timothy Winter, advertisements sought to counter controversial and inaccurate portrayals of Islam.

Whatever one thinks of Islam's growing commercial culture, one fact remains true: it is a culture that is rapidly expanding to match its ever-increasing demand. Each new convention draws an even bigger crowd and ever more consumers to the floors of the mandatory bazaar. Meanwhile, outside the walls of Islamic conferences, the Muslim community is finding ever more creative ways to adapt consumerism to their faith and culture. How this will translate in the long run remains to be seen. For now, however, Brand Islam appears here to stay.

The post “Brand Islam” – Commercial Encroachment or an Act of Faith? appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Book Review: Jesus & The Last Messenger

Muslim Matters - 30 August, 2014 - 05:06

If you're over the age of 20, then chances are that you already have a healthy cynicism for the attention span of people younger than you. You've seen the progression from epic movies to youtube videos and now to 6 seconds on Vine. You've watched as conversations on the phone have been replaced by emails, then text SMS messages and now the 140 character limit of Twitter.

The trouble is that no amount of eye rolling and nostalgia will undo this collective shortening of the average persons ability to focus and concentrate. This becomes especially worrying when you consider it in the context of things that we need to know. One of the foremost things on the need to know list is the life of the greatest man who ever lived – the seerah or biography of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)

The book “Jesus and the the Last Messenger” by Adam Rahman seems to be a seerah written for this age. It is short, readable and makes use of lots of white space. In fact, I read the entire book in one sitting. Having read most seerah books in English – I'm pretty sure this is the only seerah book you can say those things about.

Of course the brevity comes at a cost. Large personalities and events are glossed over such as the reversion of Umar raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) and the battle of Hunain. However, this is more than made up for by the readability of the book and the way the author avoids turning the seerah into simply a rehash of the different battles involved. I found the chapters on how the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and Khadijah raḥimahā Allāh (may Allāh have mercy upon her) first met and then married to be particularly well written and poignant.

The life of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is one that is rich in meaning and substance. Every anecdote is worthy of a volume in itself, every sentence could have a book written about it… and that is no hyperbole. Adam Rahmans writing style tends to bring this out in subtle ways. I found myself re-reading about well known events with interest rather than a sense of De'ja vu.

It is becoming incredibly difficult to get people to read anything these days that doesn't involve emo vampires or wizard boarding school kids. “Jesus and the Last Messenger” is a readable and light seerah that is a perfect fit for this generation that does enough to spark the flame of interest for further study and inspiration.

(If you are interested in buying the book then  it is available on Amazon in both paperback and eBook: http://amzn.com/0615977391 - The author has stated that all proceeds will go to charity.)

The post Book Review: Jesus & The Last Messenger appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

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