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‘Trojan Horse’ school trustees resign

Loon Watch - 15 July, 2014 - 22:44

Park View school ‘Trojan Horse’ school trustees resign

The chairman of the education trust at the centre of the alleged “Trojan Horse” Muslim takeover plot in Birmingham schools has resigned along with his entire board of trustees.

Tahir Alam, of the Park View Educational Trust, made the announcement today outside the gates of Park View Academy in Alum Rock, Birmingham.

The trust has been the focus of allegations made in the anonymous Trojan Horse letter – now widely held to be a hoax – alleging the existence of a clique of hardline Muslims attempting to seize control of Birmingham schools. Those allegations triggered several inquiries and last month the trust’s three schools were placed in special measures by Ofsted. Mr Alam has always denied any wrongdoing and branded the investigations “a witch hunt”.

Mr Alam launched a scathing attack on outgoing Education Secretary Michael Gove, Ofsted and others, as he announced he would be standing down.

After four months of inspections and scrutiny, the capacity of the trust’s three schools – Park View, Golden Hillock and Nansen – to continue to offer an outstanding education “is at risk of being seriously compromised”, he said.

“We believe strongly that we have justice on our side, and we know we have the support of many from within and outside Birmingham, including our students, parents and members of staff,” Mr Alam said.

“However, we are not prepared to subject our school communities to the further period of intense and bitter pressure that our continuing as members of Park View Educational Trust will see them face. And it is for this reason, and with a deep sense of injustice and sadness, that today we are announcing our intention to resign our positions at Park View Educational Trust and allow new people to assume responsibility with the aim of continuing the success of our schools.”

Mr Alam said the reputation of Park View School had been brought to the point of destruction, and the effect on the communities of the allegations and investigations had been “appalling”.

In a statement, Mr Alam said he and the trust’s other trustees were “immensely proud” of the role they had played in improving Park View and raising achievement at Nansen and Golden Hillock.

Today’s announcement means the trust will continue, albeit under the stewardship of three new trustees to be appointed in due course, according to Mr Alam.

He said the trust had been the victim of “a vicious and co-ordinated offensive” by Ofsted, the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and the Department for Education (DfE) which carried out eight inspections in four months.

Mr Alam claimed Mr Gove had been “the driving force” behind what he claimed was unfair scrutiny, and that “deep mistrust at the heart of Government” had allowed the views of disgruntled former staff to gain traction.

However, Mr Alam also acknowledged there had been “genuine concerns” from current staff, although the atmosphere of “innuendo and rumour” had seen these “blown out of all proportion”.

Referring to today’s Cabinet reshuffle, which saw the former Education Secretary removed, Mr Alam said: “Mr Gove’s demotion today provides us with some reassurance that the Prime Minister has finally acknowledged the profound damage that has been caused by his divisive approach.”

Mr Alam called on the new cabinet member for education, Nicky Morgan, to “urgently consider” removing the head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw from his position for what he called his “role in this fiasco”.

He also criticised the “high talk” of promoting British values in light of the fact the contents of the confidential inspection reports had been “cynically and systematically leaked to the media”. “Surprisingly, no-one from within these departments seems remotely interested to find out who has leaked these reports,” he added.

Delivering his statement to members of staff and the waiting media, Mr Alam said “the speed and ferocity of the attack has been truly shocking” and had had an “appalling” effect on the school. He said pupils were now worried about the impact of having Park View on their CV, in terms of future career prospects.

“The truth is no-one much cared about the young people of east Birmingham when their schools were failing them for decades, when most were leaving without sufficient qualifications to move to further education or get a decent job,” added Mr Alam.

He said the Government’s message to that same mainly Muslim community “seems clear – ‘you may choose to come to these schools, but you are not to be trusted to play any part in decision-making about how they are run’.”

Concluding, Mr Alam said: “We hope the new Education Secretary recognises the urgent need to rebuild Birmingham’s confidence in her department in the interests of a better education for all our children.”

Express & Star, 15 July 2014

See also “‘Trojan horse’ school trustees resign in protest over Michael Gove’s approach”,Guardian, 15 July 2014

10 Tips On How To Stay Hydrated in Ramadan For New Moms And Nursing Mothers

Muslim Matters - 15 July, 2014 - 22:12

Question:

As the blessed month of Ramadan is here, can you please advise nursing mothers who choose to fast how to best manage the long hours without food and drink?  Any advice about the types of food and drink that would be best suited to maintaining nutrition and hydration would be appreciated.

Jazaaki Allahu khairan,

New Mommy

babies

1.  Eat watermelon at suhoor (most hydrating fruit)

2.  Add a little Orange Juice to your water (to avoid low blood sugar)

3.  Have full fat milk, butter, and any other dairy (to help maintain milk production)

4.  Avoid dry foods like bread and cereal (dry foods dehydrate more)

5.  Sleep as much as you can 6-8 hours (nap during the day if possible)

6.  Make a refreshing smoothie for suhoor (very hydrating)

7.  Drink coconut water at suhoor or Iftar (very hydrating)

8.  Break your fast with dates and milk (replenish nutrients faster)

9.  Keep your meat portion 4-6 ounces (to have better digestion)

10.  Try to drink 48-72 ounces water between Iftar and bedtime (your body needs it)

(Please make sure to get medical clearance from your doctor)

Jazak Allah Khair

Zainab Ismail

Zainab Ismail has over 20 years of experience as a movement therapist, nutritional coach and personal trainer. Her lengthy years of health and fitness experience prior to Islam involve working with top level athletes and celebrities. Zainab teaches the popular “Fit For Allah” women's fitness class at Mecca Center in NYC.  Zainab is also the Vice President of Nadoona, a fitness movement based in the U.S geared to helping Muslim women in fitness and nutrition and who under Nadoona Extreme have just released a 2 DVD fitness series.  As a full-time therapist, she integrates an eclectic approach of soft-tissue therapy, movement conditioning and nutrition coaching in New York City.

The post 10 Tips On How To Stay Hydrated in Ramadan For New Moms And Nursing Mothers appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

'Trojan horse' school trustees resign in protest over Michael Gove's approach

The Guardian World news: Islam - 15 July, 2014 - 19:20
Park View Educational Trust chairman says outgoing education secretary led 'coordinated and vicious' offensive

The trustees at the centre of the Trojan Horse school controversy have resigned en masse in protest at a "coordinated and vicious" offensive led by the outgoing education secretary Michael Gove.

The chairman of Park View Educational Trust, Tahir Alam, said the ability of the trust's three schools to educate their pupils was "at risk of being seriously compromised" as he announced the mass resignation.

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'Trojan horse' school chairman and trustees resign

The Guardian World news: Islam - 15 July, 2014 - 16:59
Tahir Alam of the Park View Educational Trust announces resignation but denies any wrongdoing

The chairman of the education trust at the centre of the alleged "Trojan horse" Muslim takeover plot in Birmingham schools has resigned along with his entire board of trustees.

Tahir Alam, of the Park View Educational Trust, made the announcement outside the gates of Park View Academy in Alum Rock, Birmingham.

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Arles 2014: photographer Nicolo Degiorgis lifts the veil on Italy's Islamophobia

The Guardian World news: Islam - 15 July, 2014 - 12:56
Nicolo Degiorgis contrasts the peace of prayer with the tension of politics, with many of Italy's Muslims now forced to pray in warehouses, garages, gyms, and shops

This year's author book award at the Rencontres d'Arles photography festival went to Nicolo Degiorgis for Hidden Islam. With a foreword by Martin Parr, the man who matters most in the world of the photobook, it arrived in Arles with buzz attached from the recent photobook festival at Bristol co-curated by Parr.

Hidden Islam looks at how and where Muslims worship in Italy, a country with an estimated 1.45 million believers but only eight official mosques. In the north of Italy, where Degiorgis comes from, the rightwing party, Lega Nord, has risen in popularity lately due to its hard line on immigration and anti-Islamic views.

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8 Ramadan Nibbles for New Muslims

Muslim Matters - 15 July, 2014 - 05:04

I've had some awkward Ramadans as a new Muslim. When I converted it was the holiday season here in America, and I'll never forget the look my cousin gave me when I told her at Thanksgiving dinner that I wasn't going to eat because I was fasting. Seriously, it was meme-worthy.

I also fasted while attending an American high school, where you have to go the cafeteria at lunch, so I found myself doing a lot of sitting and staring at food and generally feeling hungry while my friends made wisecracks. Because at sixteen, I was way too lazy to get up for suhoor.

“Aren't you hungry, Liv?” they'd ask while I tried very hard not to salivate onto the laminate tabletop in confirmation.

Ramadan can be a weird thing to explain to family and friends. The concept of fasting, though it once existed in Judeo-Christian teachings, has mostly been abandoned to the point of forgotten. I was Catholic and the closest I ever got to “fasting” was giving up something of my choice for Lent, which was usually something both trivial and an indulgence to begin with, like giving up candy bars.

I have found in my own situation that to my non-Muslim family and friends, Ramadan seems extreme, like something you would associate with ascetic monks or starving people in third-world countries.

Ramadan can be a lot to take in for a new Muslim, a strained time with not-Muslim family, friends, and co-workers/peers as you explain your extreme worship (yes fasting seems extreme to non-Muslims) while simultaneously not trying to feel like an awkward loner around community iftars and Taraweeh.

After all, it is a kind of “holiday” wherein we see an abundance of various traditions, some faith-based and others cultural, like the foods people eat and how they take their meals. Sitting on the floor and eating communally can be odd for many new Muslims, as can some of the menu items.

I never even tasted a date until my first Ramadan and let me tell you, I was a little intimidated by the brown squishy thing EVERYONE was eating. Like I had to eat this thing or I'm doing something very unramadan-ish.

At no other time of year, except maybe for Eid, can feelings of sadness or loneliness become more apparent to a convert; feelings like you don't fit in, missing your own family holidays or wishing you had your own Muslim family, and feeling like for all the hard work you're putting in, you aren't really feeling the joy coming back to you.

You have no loved ones to share iftar with; you have no one to attend Taraweeh with, no one to feel groggy with at suhoor. While it's easy to say it shouldn't matter if you have anyone with you, you're doing it for the sake of Allah, I highly suggest that person spend a Ramadan alone and s/he will then see just how important camaraderie is during this blessed month.

If you've been raised around the “hubbub” of Ramadan, you may take it for granted. I will admit that even though I abhor shirk as much as the next Muslim, I still get a warm, fuzzy nostalgic feeling at Christmas time which I shove aside, and it's taken me years to cultivate an equally warm, fuzzy one about Ramadan with my own family traditions.

Here are a few things to think about doing to make fasting be a little easier:

1. It's okay to feel sad

You may go to the masjid during iftar or Taraweeh, and feel like a ghost. You may see all these smiling faces, people hugging and greeting each other, and feel a sad empty pit in your stomach. You may feel bitter Muslim friends are suddenly too busy with family affairs to remember you exist. Ramadan may feel really hard physically and equally so emotionally. It's okay to feel sad, it doesn't make you a bad Muslim. It's normal to think about Thanksgiving or Christmas and your non-Muslim family holidays and feel a pang of longing. Don't feel guilty and it doesn't say anything about what kind of Muslim you are. It's normal and insha'Allah your reward will be increased for the sacrifices you've made to follow the haqq.

2. Put suhoor next to your bed

This is advice from the teenager who missed it every day, but at least got to eat iftar in the early winter hours. Put it next to your bed, the water or juice, and when the alarm goes off, eat it right there and brush off the crumbs. There is blessing in taking suhoor and not doing so can make dehydration a real concern.

3. Have suhoor and iftar your way

Go Ramadan grocery shopping and buy some tasty things that you like and bring in suhoor and iftar your way, whether its some of those trendy vitamin waters, Doritos, or a king size candy bar. Do not feel like you need to eat ethnic Muslim foods, and if you don't like dates, no big deal. Eat what you want to at suhoor and iftar, even if it looks like you just raided Nabisco, Little Debbie, and the Coca Cola Company.

After a long day of fasting, grab a Frappuccino or order a pizza. Don't eat some lame, boring meal just because you don't have a family to eat biryani with. To this day, even though I have a Muslim husband and four kids, my kids know its Ramadan not by a special rosewater drink or samosas, but because I have mini-cans of Coke and Fanta in the fridge and chips in the pantry.

And don't worry about suddenly having to cook/eat zabihah meat (if you don't eat it already) because it's Ramadan (go ahead and crucify me for saying it) but just eat whatever you chicken/beef/lamb you've been eating the rest of the year (I'm not going to say goat because most of us converts keep goats as pets before we'd eat them for dinner).

Don't make Ramadan twice as hard for yourself by suddenly going vegetarian either.

Which brings me to this point. Honestly, when I was seventeen someone gave me a bag of meat and while it's the thought that counts, someone didn't think that one through. (Just a note to all Muslims: giving a gift of raw meat is something totally unheard of in several non-Muslim societies, you may even insult someone by giving them a bag of bloody, raw animal. Nothing says, “I don't fit here” like receiving one for many a new Muslim, and to make it worse its usually just a plastic baggie that doesn't even have an expiration date on it).

4. Give family simple explanations

Explaining fasting is awkward because it sounds extreme; “You starve yourself from sunrise to sunset?”

“Isn't dehydration bad for you body?”

When I said I fasted for the month many people thought I meant I didn't eat at all for thirty days! Non-Muslims understand concepts like prayer, modesty, or the mosque, but fasting seems really out there. Have a generic explanation ready to go, and keep it as simple and relatable as possible. There are lots of reasons and benefits of fasting, so consider your audience. If I say, “I fast because Ramadan is the month in which the Qur'an was revealed” there is a connection-gap there.

So, you're celebrating the Qur'an…by starving yourself?”

If I say “We fast to experience the plight of the poor” or “we fast to learn self-control” or “we fast to experience delayed gratification, to remind us that if we're patient we will be rewarded” those are reasons that non-Muslims can understand and won't leave you explaining why dehydration is generally bad but for Ramadan you're willing to make an exception to commemorate your holy book.

5. Don't Avoid your Non-Muslim family

Not only can you feel alienated at Ramadan from the Muslim community, your family may feel alienated by you when you no longer join them for dinner or sit uncomfortably at the table with your nose in a book.

As someone who will be alhamdulillah, celebrating fourteen years as a Muslim this Ramadan, I am familiar with the urge to be as silent and avoidant as possible when it comes to non-Muslim family and the tension that can arise from awkward situations. Your family may feel like Ramadan proves just how much you've changed or drifted away, especially because the dinner table is considered the means by which families connect after a long day.

While it can be unnerving to attempt to dissolve tension with your family, you will thank yourself in the long run if you are. Instead of hiding out at dinner, let Ramadan be a special time that you make dessert for your family while they eat dinner. Be cheerful and smiling, ask them what they'd like. Show your family you still love them and want to be close to them and you want to compensate for missed meal time. Be proactive in spending quality time with them.

6. Read the Qur'an in English or read what you can in Arabic.

Let me tell you, last year was the first Ramadan I finished the entire Qur'an after fourteen years of trying. I'm still happy I tried, and the reward for one who struggles is more than one for whom it is easy, but I was left with a sense of un-accomplishment many times.

Finishing the Qur'an in Arabic just wasn't a realistic goal for me, but it is the one good deed, besides Taraweeh, that we focus on to the exclusion of all else and you feel lame if you're not doing it (and you may not even be able to read in Arabic at all). Reading the Qur'an and understanding it is very valuable.

Another great idea is to listen to recordings of the tafseer, or explanation, of the Qur'an (I would recommend Nouman Ali Khan). Don't feel demotivated because you can't do what everyone else seems to be doing.

7. Taraweeh is great but its not fard

Yes, masha'Allah, it is great to go to Taraweeh, but it's not obligatory and the sunnah is actually to pray by your own at home sometimes too. Once again, you may have to go to work every day or school and fasting plus staying out and praying late is burning you out. No, you're not weak, and in fact in many Muslim countries people accomplish Taraweeh every night by sleeping through the majority of the fast or having adjusted work hours. Do what you can do, but remember that Taraweeh is optional while fasting isn't, so its better to skip Taraweeh if it enables you to maintain your fast.

8. Fasting is Hard

I'm here to validate you; fasting is hard, especially in long, summer days. As a new Muslim, you may be intimidated and wondering if you can even do it. I'm here to tell you you can do it, but if for some reason you make a mistake, or cave in to a moment of weakness, all is not lost. (Note: I'm not *justifying* doing this, as it's not allowed; I'm merely saying that *if* you fall into this sin, don't give up hope and repent and move on).

Ask Allah to forgive you and make you stronger and keep going; finish the rest of the day's fast. Do not fall into the trap of thinking, “now my fast doesn't count” or “now I have to make the day up” or “now I ruined the fast” so the day is lost. Allah rewards you for every moment you are in a fasted state— your reward is continuous. If you cave in and take that drink of water, continue your fast and insha'Allah you will get rewarded for setting things back to right and persevering. Allah knows what is more difficult for some than others, and Allah created us so that we would sin and then turn back to Him in repentance. Don't give up.

Fiqh for new Muslims is a sensitive issue and should be handled with a personal approach.

May Allah accept all our good deeds during this blessed month and enable us all to grow firmer in our faith.

 

The post 8 Ramadan Nibbles for New Muslims appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Dwight Howard Had To Apologize For #FreePalestine But Teammate Omri Casspi Can Link To Anti-Muslim Brigitte Gabriel

Loon Watch - 14 July, 2014 - 23:24

Dwight Howard, star basketball player for the Houston Rockets received intense pressure after he simply tweeted #FreePalestine…because you know, freedom is a bad thing, right?

Free Palestine

He was forced to delete the tweet and apologize with some speculating he did so to avoid conflict with his Israeli teammate, Omri Casspi.

It’s unfortunate that Dwight Howard felt the need to censor himself and cave-in to whatever pressures were foisted his way since his teammate Omri Casspi has no such compunction. Casspi has been tweeting his support of Israel’s massacres in Gaza and also posting links to Islamophobe Brigitte Gabriel, founder of the hate group ACT For America, who has said “Arabs have no soul,”

Omri_Casspi_Islamophobia

 

When will Omri Casspi apologize for this gross linking to the racist, Islamophobic bigot, Brigitte Gabriel? Loonwatchers should flood his twitter handle and demand he apologize and if he does not complain to the Rockets corporate office.

Omri Casspi’s Twitter: @casspi18

Houston Rockets:

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Malala Yousafzai shows support for Nigerian girls abducted by Boko Haram

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 July, 2014 - 21:06
Nigerian president agrees to meet parents of missing students after talks with Pakistani pupil who survived shooting by Taliban

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban, has urged Nigeria's government to spend more on the country's crumbling education sector, on a visit to express solidarity with more than 200 girls abducted by Islamists.

Speaking on the day designated Malala Day by the United Nations, the teenager said Nigeria's president, Goodluck Jonathan, had promised that for the first time he would meet parents of the missing students, who have been held in captivity by Boko Haram since April. Malala turned 17 last week, and celebrated her birthday with some of the girls who escaped the mass abduction in Chibok, a village in the militants' heartland of Borno state.

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Sikhs reach out to Muslims with iftars across Dubai

Loon Watch - 14 July, 2014 - 20:27

Sikhs_Muslims_Dubai_Iftar Sikhs reach out to Muslims with iftars across Dubai

(Gulf News)

A Dubai-based Sikh welfare group is going all out to foster a sense of community during Ramadan by reaching out to thousands of Muslims in the UAE and India.

S.P. Singh Oberoi, President of the Welfare of Mankind, said the group is distributing thousands of packets of fruits and fruit juices at iftars being held in different parts of the city, besides supplying dry rations to workers and holding weekly blood donation camps.

“This is a small gesture from our end to give back to a country which has given us so much. The concept of sharing food and building a sense of community is also the basis of our langar (community kitchen) in the Sikh culture,” he said.

All over the city

On Tuesday, around 10 volunteers of Welfare of Mankind, including Oberoi, distributed 2,000 fruit and juice packets to residents ending fast outside a mosque on Bur Dubai’s Rolla Street. “We are doing this in different parts of the city as a goodwill gesture,” said Amandeep Singh, general secretary of the group.

“Ramadan is all about love and kindness,” said Ilyas, a 27-year-old Pakistani worker after receiving a fruit packet.

“It feels nice to see everyone together in the true spirit of the season,” said Indian salesman Abdul Rahman, 42.

“Alhamdulillah, no one goes hungry,” said 50-year-old Hameed, a cafeteria worker.

Oberoi said Welfare of Mankind is also organising weekly blood donation camps during Ramadan. “We conducted such camps last year as well. Going by the earlier figures, each camp should yield around 100 to 120 donations.”

He said the group also regularly distributes dry rations to workers and others wherever there is a requirement.

In addition, he said the group has undertaken many initiatives in India. “We provided eye check-ups for 1,300 residents of Jammu & Kashmir, 80 per cent of whom were Muslims. Over 800 of them were given glasses and 41 cataract operations were conducted – all free of cost. We will be distributing 25kg rice bags to 800 needy families in Srinagar and Baramula ahead of Eid. We have also set up four computer centres with six computers each and four sewing centres with 10 sewing machines in the villages.”

Finding My Ramadan Prayers

Muslimah Media Watch - 14 July, 2014 - 07:00
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the easiest duties for me as a Muslim. Even though I’ve struggled with my faith and with praying five times daily, I always maintain my fast, and passionately too. This year I started fasting on Mondays and Thursdays, according to Sunnah, after considering it for a while. My mother [Read More...]

Trojan Horse scandal: Birmingham accuses Ofsted head of smear campaign

Loon Watch - 13 July, 2014 - 22:38

8wilshaw-pa Trojan Horse scandal: Birmingham accuses Ofsted head of smear campaign

England’s Chief Inspector of Schools is today accused of abandoning “objectivity and independence” in his handling of the Trojan Horse scandal and of “tarring” a generation of Muslim children with “the brush of extremism”.

In a coordinated attack city leaders, officials and businessmen in Birmingham said Sir Michael Wilshaw’s “ill-advised and ill-informed” approach to “isolated” problems in the city had damaged community relations and led to a teacher recruitment crisis. They suggest the Chief Inspector is attempting to deflect attention from Ofsted’s failure to identify problems in schools they previously judged “outstanding”.

“While we have no intention of belittling the serious issues at play, Sir Michael has crossed the line from [giving] independent advice on the schools system to a full-on attack on the city of Birmingham,” said Jerry Blackett, chief executive of Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. “The Chief Inspector of Schools should be motivated by overall improvement for the children of the city. His tirades appear to be motivated either by politics or self-publicity, or both.”

He went on to accuse the Ofsted head of deliberately trying to damage Birmingham. “Sir Michael forgets that these public and high profile attacks go way beyond supporting the city in improving schools performance, safeguarding or governance. He entirely ignores the numerous success stories and positive examples from the area to focus on the negative experiences of a minority.”

Until now, senior figures in Birmingham have remained diplomatic in their comments about Ofsted’s Trojan Horse investigation, despite private misgivings about its remit, method of inspection, and findings.

Last week, however, Sir Michael used an appearance before MPs to lay the blame for problems found in five Birmingham schools squarely at the door of the city council. Now senior local government officials and politicians have accused Sir Michael of deliberately misrepresenting problems with governance in a small number of schools by associating them with a wider threat of Islamic extremism.

Independent, 13 July 2014

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