What Stands for Liberation?

Muslim Matters - 18 March, 2017 - 16:17

I grew up like a neglected weed, – ignorant of liberty, having no experience of it. Then I was not happy or contented.”

Harriet Tubman to Benjamin Drew, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, 1855 

I’m not a theologian, nor am I an Islamic scholar in the traditional sense. That was not the path that the Creator had chosen for me. Becoming a traditionally trained Muslim scholar is not easy for women, especially a convert who grew up in a Black working class single parent home. Even with the best intentions, I might not have been the best candidate, given my rebellious streak, my touch of ratchetness and irreverent humor. But there are amazing women whose graceful character, unfaltering faith and impeccable scholarship guide us in Islamic devotional life, to name a few are erudite Black Muslim women like Zaynab Ansari, Iesha Prime, and Rukayat Modupe Yakub. There are also devout academics like Professor Intisar Rabb and Professor Aminah McCloud whose credentials and contributions in their fields are unmatched. Many of these scholars have been trained in Western academies and Islamic seminaries, with a deep commitment to their faith, inquiry, and social change.

The Harriet Ross Tubman memorial Image by John Blanding from the Boston Globe

After ten years towards earning my undergraduate degree, for four years I found a place in the academy and while in graduate school I became trained as a historian of Muslim societies, race, and Islamic education.  I spent hours in colonial archives to gather documents and texts to understand transformations in Islamic education, religious consciousness, racial formations,  and resistance. I studied classical Arabic and hadith in Fez with a teacher from al-Qarawayin, sifted through colonial texts at the Sudan Archives in Durham England, sat in a Diwaniyya in Kuwait with the sheikh from Abu Noor, interviewed a Tijani sheikh and African students studying at al-Azhar, and parsed through rare texts that I scanned and photocopied or purchased in bookstores. While I left the academy short of a Ph.D., I have truly been blessed by the learning opportunities graduate school gave me and am forever imprinted. It informs my current work in anti-racism research and teaching. Over the years, I have met amazing scholars, western trained, traditionally trained, and those who bridge both, who have said we need a big picture of what a principled life entails. We need a Liberation Theology —an Islamic Liberation Theology—one that reflects our souls as a people and our role in repairing a broken world.

Muslim Americans must have a vision for collective liberation. Targeted by the criminal justice system, national security system, and immigration system, Muslims in America of all stripes are often overwhelmed by the onslaught and fail to make the connections with other vulnerable communities. While Muslim Americans of all backgrounds evoke Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali as examples of leadership, the language we hear today among our leaders is in stark contrast to the Holy protest of  the Black Liberation movements they are part of. The legacy of Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali highlight how our struggle must not be domesticated. Black consciousness shaped my Islam, as well as the Black radical tradition and the Pan Africanism of Malcolm X. Malcolm X said:

I might point out here that colonialism or imperialism, as the slave system of the West is called, is not something that is just confined to England or France or the United States. The interests in this country are in cahoots with the interests in France and the interests in Britain. It’s one huge complex or combine, and it creates what’s known not as the American power structure or the French power structure, but an international power structure. This international power structure is used to suppress the masses of dark-skinned people all over the world and exploit them of their natural resources.

Black Muslim communities are at the fulcrum of White supremacy. Affected by the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, Black Muslims have always addressed oppressive domestic politics and imperialistic foreign policies. We often serve as the conscience for American Muslim communities to remind them of the moral perils of assimilation into whiteness, as well as the conscience for America as we highlight the inequities in this country and the ways in which our foreign policy target people of color globally. This is why Malcolm X still speaks to us today.   

Anti-Black racism, settler colonialism, xenophobia, securitization and criminalization rob us our ability to reach our full potential. In February 2014, we began organizing Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) online to locate other educators, community leaders, scholars, and activists to create a network of anti-racist Muslims. Three years later, we refined our mission and our  work is focused on building capacity for anti-racism in Muslim communities and training allies about how Muslims in America are racialized. We train leaders from communities who are in the cross hairs of xenophobia, anti-Black racism, settler colonialism, and Islamophobia.

I advocate to increase representation of Black, Latino, and Indigenous Muslims who are are left out of conversations about national policy, media representation, and organizational infrastructure development. As Muslims, we are to stand for the oppressed and that is what should drive American Muslim public policy.

In the Qur’an,  Allah tells us:

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

What does it mean to stand persistently? This means we advance justice constantly, consistently, and not just when it affects us.  For decades, many Muslim national advocacy groups have focused on issues that were seen as unique to the Muslim community, such as Islamophobic legislation, religious profiling, and foreign policy. But there is a growing shift, as Muslim Americans take stronger stances towards social justice. Muslim led initiatives and service providers such as UMMAH clinic work to benefit people of all faiths.

I am also blessed to work with Faith Rooted Organizing, including Zachary Hoover and Sarah Jawaid of LA Voice. In the PICO National Network training I was allowed to bring my full self as a Black Muslim woman and share my pain, my fears, and my dreams with over a hundred faith leaders.

We need Muslim faith leaders, imams, teachers, scholars to join priests, rabbis, and clergy to articulate our Liberation Theology.

We need one that does not fall into American exceptionalism.

We need a Liberation Theology that is not appropriated by Empire. We need a Liberation theology that does not just ask for a seat at the Emperor’s table, but one of freedom.

We struggle to speak truth even as others seek fragment our conscience and  lull us into a sunken place. We can not worship false idols to gain a sense of acceptance. As Muslims, we must have the courage to express ourselves as faith-full people, that we seek to please our Creator and our conduct should bear witness to our belief in love, justice, and mercy. This is why more than ever, we need a Liberation Theology to speak to the most enduring problems today, poverty, racism, and violence. That Liberation Theology should be composed by our  theologians, our organic intellectuals, our artists, our teachers, our healers, our researchers, every day people, and our most affected. Together, we can create a multilayered composition, a symphony of freedom. We need a Liberation Theology that brings us into  harmony and whose pounding rhythm synchronizes our steps during our march to freedom.  

That’s what Liberation sounds like. Who stands for Liberation? I invite you to share with me what stands for Liberation.


I see the blackness of winter
I see death lurking in the trees
Yeah, I see the blackness of winter
And I see death lurking in the trees
I see the blackness of my people
You know they’re calling for freedom everywhere
I’ve seen the blackness of my people
And all you got to do,
Brothers and sisters, reach out your hands,
We’re gonna take you there
Black stands for liberation, yeah, aah

Liberation Song (Red, Black, and Green) Gil Scott-Heron


In memory of Ben Keita


Consigning “Blasphemy” to History

Inayat's Corner - 18 March, 2017 - 15:24

This week, the Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, signalled that he intended to crackdown on allegedly blasphemous content on the internet, calling it an “unpardonable offence.”

We have been here several times before, of course, most notably during the Satanic Verses affair in 1989 and the Dutch cartoons in 2006. It is understandable, though gravely misguided, to seek to protect the holding of one’s cherished beliefs from insult or ridicule.

Looking back on the controversy over Salman Rushdie’s book I have previously said that it simply did not occur to many of us who were marching against the book just how preposterous our position really was. Not only were we protesting against the book, we also wanted the Satanic Verses to be pulped/banned – thereby seeking to prevent others from reading it too. It was an incredibly damaging episode for Muslims and left an indelible impression on how Islam is viewed around the world by non-Muslims. Regrettably, the issue of blasphemy still remains today a clear example of how so many Muslims are having problems adapting their understanding of faith to the modern world.

If we don’t like what someone is saying then there is no obligation to listen to them. In a world with many faiths and very different beliefs it is the only way we can peacefully live together without constantly treading on each others toes. I regard the Christian belief in the Trinity as a relic of paganism and I am horrified at the disgusting racism and genocide preached in parts of the Jewish Old Testament. And I am immensely grateful to be living in a society where the state will not punish me for holding these views and stating them publicly.

This is not to say that many Muslims alone are thin skinned when it comes to attempting to try and protect their beliefs or opinions from ridicule and/or scrutiny. However, for a community that seeks to aspire to the Qur’an’s description (3:10) of being the “best community” raised for humankind, we should be willing to be more critical of ourselves and seek continuous improvement.

Over twenty-five years ago, after being forced into hiding due to the very real – and deeply shameful – threats against his life, Salman Rushdie remarked “What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”

Rushdie -who sadly remains widely reviled amongst Muslims – was actually way ahead of many of us in recognising the real value of a secular state and the repressive dangers posed by any kind of religious state.

So, I will end this little blog with a quote from the man himself who has been much misunderstood. Maybe it will encourage more people to purchase his books and to perhaps reconsider some of their views:

“Literature is the one place in any society where, within the secrecy of our own heads, we can hear voices talking about everything in every possible way. The reason for ensuring that that privileged arena is preserved is not that writers want the absolute freedom to say and do whatever they please. It is that we, all of us, readers and writers and citizens and generals and godmen, need that little, unimportant-looking room. We do not need to call it sacred, but we do need to remember that it is necessary.
‘Everybody knows,’ wrote Saul Bellow in The Adventures of Augie March, ‘there is no fineness or accuracy of suppression. If you hold down one thing, you hold down the adjoining.’
Wherever in the world the little room of literature has been closed, sooner or later the walls have come tumbling down.”
Salman Rushdie, Is Nothing Sacred, 1990, (Essay contained in Imaginary Homelands)

Sinterklaas, Zwarte Piet and the EU decision on the headscarf

Loon Watch - 18 March, 2017 - 09:15

Islamic headscarves may under certain conditions be banned in workplaces, and this ban does not neccessarily constitute “direct discrimination”, the European Court of Justice ruled last Tuesday (March 14th). Many Muslims are worried about this decision. In an increasingly hostile environment for Muslims, this ruling might lead to bans against “islamic headscarfs” in companies all across Europe. But the court has violated its own principles. G4S and Micropole, the companes that fired the Muslim women carrying the headscarf are NOT neutral to religions, as both the companies, and the court claims.”

The ruling is based on two cases. One has to do with a Muslim woman that worked at G4S Secure Solutions in Belgium, an international Company.  The other has to do with Micropole, a French company. I will focus on G4S.

G4S Secure Solution

The court writes in its press release that the policy of G4S allegedly is to have a strict religious neutrality. Especially in its external contact with its customers.:

“the management of G4S informed her that the wearing of the headscarf would not be tolerated because the visible wearing of political, philosophical or religious signs was contrary to the position of neutrality G4S adopted in its contacts with its customers”

“The court agrees with G4S that they can ban the headscarf, as long as they pursue this neutrality in a “genuinly… consistent and systematic manner”, as it writes in its formal judgement:

As regards, in the first place, the condition relating to the existence of a legitimate aim, it should be stated that the desire to display, in relations with both public and private sector customers, a policy of political, philosophical or religious neutrality must be considered legitimate.

An employer’s wish to project an image of neutrality towards customers relates to the freedom to conduct a business that is recognised in Article 16 of the Charter and is, in principle, legitimate, notably where the employer involves in its pursuit of that aim only those workers who are required to come into contact with the employer’s customers…

it must be held that the fact that workers are prohibited from visibly wearing signs of political, philosophical or religious beliefs is appropriate for the purpose of ensuring that a policy of neutrality is properly applied, provided that that policy is genuinely pursued in a consistent and systematic manner

But when looking at the case one can easily find that someone has done a sloppy job. I dont know if the lawyers representing the woman or the court has been sloppy, but someone has made a really lousy work.

G4S is NOT neutral.

Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet

G4S celebrates Christmas in Europe and all over the world. As can be seen on their international twitter and Facebook pages. You can even find some cute animated Holiday greetings sent out to the customers: CLICK HERE!

I have to remind the reader that Christmas is defined as a religious holiday. The french word NOEL, Christmas, is defined as a “religious holiday” by Cambridge dictionary. Christ is by the way the name of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Dutch and Belgian celebrations is even more directly connected to Christian faith. Two years after the woman was fired from G4S, the company posted this holiday celebration on their Facebookpage:

This is a regional Christmas celebrationm and an old Dutch tradition.

Santa Claus is called Saint Nicholas, or in Dutch Sinterklaas, potraited as a bishop and a Christian Saint. Next to him we have Zwarte Piet that traditionally is the companion of the saint. Zwarte Piet is a blackface figure, i.e.a white person that is painted black. Zwarte Piet is said to be black because he is a Moor, i.e. a Muslim, from Spain. Zwarte Piet was earlier seen as a “servant” or “slave” of the white bishop and saint.

Zwarte Piet is a local tradition that many view as racist. However, that is not the subject of my article today. However, G4S is clearly not neutral, Sinterklaas and his servant the Muslim is a CHRISTIAN tradition.

Holiday celebrations

Lets continue to look at the G4S on social media. Here are some examples. Keep in mind the words of the court:

“provided that that policy is genuinely pursued in a consistent and systematic manner”

G4S regulary wishes Happy Holidays during Christmas. It is a part of their externally oriented PR to send Christmas Greetings and decorate its office when it is Christmas.

Two days earlier you could see this post on Facebook. Belgium once again.

Internationally G4S is not neutral either.  We have already seen the animated Holiday Celebration.

Here are some examples that shows that G4S celebrates Christian Holidays, like Christmas and Eastern Holidays.



The other company is a French one: Micropole SA. It is not neutral either.


The Hijab

The ruling by the court can be critizised in many ways. But the the matter is a complex one. Two principles collide, the principle of private ownership and the principle about religios freedom. However. In an environment filled with racism and hatred against Muslims it is very important that the courts act consistent when dealing with cases like these.

“Besides the question of the alleged neutrality of the companies in question, there is another problem that I wish to focus on. The court does not make a clear definition of religiously neutral clothes. Some Muslims consider wearing the hijab as an important part of their faith. It is a part of what is sometimes called “islamic dresscode”. Besides from the hijab, that means covering the arms and legs. But trousers are not considered religious clothes. The hijab is, according to the. What kind of clothing can, and can not be defined as religious?”

The court decided that the ban against headscarf is legal “provided that that policy is genuinely pursued in a consistent and systematic manner” The EU court and have clearly not even used Google to try to find out of G4S IS constently neutral. Nowehere in the documents about the case against Micropole or G4S is even their Christmas celebrations mentioned.

The decision is not a consistent one, it is one that is will result in arbitrary decisions by  emplyers. It will be up to the EMPLOYER to decide what they define as religious or not. In an environment with much hatred against Muslims, as well as Jews (I should add), this is very dangerous.

Article 6 in the European Convention stipulates that every individual has the right to a fair trial at court. “In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. ” In this case the EU court has clearly violated the European Convention by a trial that was not even close to fair.





Should we ban harmful bequests?

Indigo Jo Blogs - 17 March, 2017 - 22:21

Image of two donkeys, both wearing saddles and a turquoise-coloured harness with the names Dixie and Noddy above their noses, on a sandy beach.This week, a woman who had been cut out of her late mother’s will in favour of three animal welfare charities lost her legal battle to claim a large share of the estate. The Supreme Court reversed a Court of Appeal ruling that Heather Ilott, in her 50s with five children, should be entitled to some £160,000 of the estate which is worth around £500K such that she could purchase a house; this ruling reinstates a County Court ruling that she should receive only around £50K. The mother, Melita Jackson, had severed ties with her daughter when she left home to be with her boyfriend, whom she later married and to whom she remains married; attempts to reconcile the pair all failed, with both blaming the other. There is a longer article on the legal aspects of the case, written after the 2015 Court of Appeal ruling, here.

The reports do not state the reason why Melita Jackson disapproved of her daughter’s fiancé, Nicholas Ilott, although some reports suggest that the “final straw” was Mrs Ilott’s decision to give one of her daughters the same name as her mother’s sister-in-law, whom she disliked. None of them give information on who Nicholas Ilott is (there are a photographer and an Oxford scientist by that name, although the latter is clearly too young to be Mrs Ilott’s husband), but they do say that his work brought in little income (his former line of work is no longer available to him because of a back problem [PDF]), that at the time of Jackson’s death and the subsequent legal claims they were dependant on state benefits, that the house they lived in was owned by a housing association and that Heather Ilott had no pension. Melita Jackson had never even supported the three charities she named in the will, but left her money to them out of spite. Of course, the five grandchildren, who were not born when the dispute began, also lose out from this decision.

I’m a Muslim and in Islamic law, you cannot simply disinherit a child; there are fixed shares and although they are not equal, nobody closely related to the deceased is left out. You can only bequeath up to a third of your estate to people outside the group entitled to benefit from estate division, including charities. There is also a hadeeth (a saying of the Prophet, sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) that if someone lived a righteous life for 60 years but behaved unjustly when leaving their will, they would be consigned to the Fire (there are two versions, one also mentioning a woman who does the same). While I don’t suggest that Islamic law on this subject should be adopted lock, stock and barrel in Britain right now, some aspects of it could be adopted to end injustices like this case.

I believe it should not be allowed to disinherit a child altogether without good reason, such as that the child caused injury or damage to their parents, rather than mere disapproval of their lifestyle or life choices or that their behaviour caused injury to another heir resulting in permanent disability. There are other circumstances which might allow that the heir not inherit major assets, such as a business or country estate, on the grounds that their lifestyle (or lack of interest or prior involvement) might mean they were not competent to run it, but these do not justify disinheriting them entirely. And I believe that charities should not be able to receive most of an estate while the children of the deceased are dependent on state benefits.

While at present, an heir can challenge a will if they believe that the testator (the person whose will it is) had not in fact written it, or had been manipulated into doing so while lacking mental capacity, they cannot challenge a will on the basis of simple injustice, spite or caprice on the part of the testator. This should change. We should not be seeing people left in poverty because their parents took exception to the person they loved, much less innocent grandchildren punished for the behaviour of a parent years ago; charities, especially those that do not work for the betterment of people, should not receive legacies intended as insults while the state remains responsible for the upkeep of those left out. Such displays of sheer spite should be ended.

Image source: Wikipedia, contributed by SleafordSue under the GNU Free Documentation Licence.

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In Search of Muslim Foster Families

altmuslim - 17 March, 2017 - 18:02
There are lists of Muslim foster children, domestic and abroad, that are currently waiting for licensed foster homes to welcome them. It is our communal responsibility to care for these children and ensure their deen is nurtured.

Understanding Donald J. Trump’s Psychological Warfare | Mohamed Elibiary

Muslim Matters - 17 March, 2017 - 16:11

It’s hard for non-Americans to reconcile the perception of our power as the globe’s only real superpower and our public’s political naiveté at times. However, truth be told we Americans are a very reluctant empire with the domestic political sophistication of a teenager. Why and how come the rest of the world wonders aloud, but, truth be told again, we, unlike any other nation-state on the planet, can afford to be reckless and self-centered.

Geopolitical experts of all stripes rave about our advantages as Americans, from the enviable security provided by two oceans to the possession of about half of the navigable internal waterways on the planet. Having a stable political system for about a quarter of a millennium and geopolitically weaker neighbors didn’t hurt matters either. Our country is so rich, spread out and demographically diverse that it doesn’t do revolutions and makes up existential alien invader movies from outer space just to challenge ourselves a bit, though we kick their butt too by the end of the movie.

For all American history, until a skinny Kenyan-Hawaiian-Muslim-y guy named Barack Hussein Obama came around, we had one single demographic dominate the presidential election’s voter pool. That demographic was White (racially), Male (sexually) and working-class (socio-economically). As the United States continues its historic demographic transformation from a pasty 80% White country in 1950 of 150 million into a very diverse demographic country of 438 million in 20501, naturally the previously dominant subculture, that I like to call Bubba, is grumpy.

Last time Bubba encountered a knight in shining armor he could champion was the Saint of my Republican Party known as Ronald Reagan. So, when the “blue-collar billionaire” Donald Trump came around, Bubba was eager to propel him into office. For full disclosure, this white-collar writer got his rear-end beat by Bubba from one end of the 2016 Republican presidential primary to the other, but Bubba and I are cool now. Having grown up in Republican circles over the past quarter century, it was easy for me to understand Bubba and foretell on Muslimmatters2 during the George W. Bush administration how nationalism was Bubba’s kryptonite.

One need only go to YouTube and listen to the Charlie Daniels Band classic “What the World needs is a few more Rednecks”3 to understand Bubba and hear Trump’s political platform outlined. Bubba might have a social media account and a smart phone today, but he’s fundamentally not all that more sophisticated today to the complexities of the modern era. Bubba defaults to nationalism, simply because his image of America is all he’s got. As Charlie Daniels says, all America needs is a “little more respect for the Lord, the law and the working man.”


Educated Americans, like prominent political scientist Ian Bremmer brilliantly outlined in his most recent book “Superpower: Three Choices for America’s Role in the World,”4 can intellectualize America’s role in the world. White-collar Republicans, like myself, went hoarse during the 2016 presidential primary trying to explain to Bubba how the liberal global order needed an indispensable America or at least a money-ball America, but Bubba was dead set on nationalism’s independent America. Similarly, and until now, Bubba could not be persuaded by white-collar Republicans during the primary that automation and artificial intelligence were the real forces causing his economic disruption, and not some globalist elite favoring Mexicans and the Chinese to blame for the loss of his manufacturing job.

As J.D. Vance brilliantly outlined in “Hillbilly Elegy,”5 what I call Bubba might be a socio-economic basket case but he does have his pride so he must look down upon somebody else. And that’s where xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, etc. all come into play. It’s not that Bubba has a well thought through strategy of how he’s going to reverse any of the macro trends changing his reality since 1950, and frankly elevating different demographics than his own out to 2050 and beyond. It is that Bubba just wants to vent, elect one of his own as president, and go back to numbing his socio-cultural reality with drugs and alcohol.

Ronald Reagan understood Bubba’s psychology, but he also understood that America was greater than just Bubba and thrived upon the new energy of immigrants. Reagan also understood the psychology of southern white evangelicals. Reagan understood that conservative evangelicals are a constituency to be mobilized, not empowered by delivering on the government imposed theocratic order they seek. Donald J. Trump, much like Reagan, is a TV personality and has so far played the same script Reagan played.

During the recently concluded presidential election, Donald Trump passed what I call Bubba’s Charlie Daniels litmus test, but this time added globalization and free trade to the cocktail mix of “others” to blame. Similarly, with conservative Evangelicals, Trump has tried to give them the “Radical Islam” ideological foe to reorient their “spiritual warfare” towards. Trump correctly understands, as a New Yorker, that conservative Evangelicalism today is simply a regional oppositional subculture and must therefore have a villain to play the role of spiritual hero against to maintain its own fracturing base. Trump throws conservative Evangelicals the rhetorical “Radical Islam” red meat, because, truth be told, he has no interest in delivering for them their longtime bread and butter social issues of abortion and gay marriage.

Some conservative Evangelical leaders have looked back upon the Reagan era and rightly concluded they achieved nothing strategic for their decades of “moral majority” Christian-Nationalism, aka Christianist, activism in politics. Bubba also looks back upon the Reagan era, and sees that millions of undocumented immigrants were granted citizenship further expediting the demographic and socio-economic transformation of America begun in the 1950s.

As Stephen Prothero explained in “Why Liberals Win (Even When They Lose Elections): How America’s Raucous, Nasty, and Mean “Culture Wars” Make for a More Inclusive Nation,”6 we Americans, culturally speaking, are a loud and frankly unsophisticated bunch. There’s a pattern to our madness that goes back over two full centuries. Islam has featured prominently in 18th, 19th, 20th and now 21st culture wars. Donald J. Trump is simply the latest standard bearer for a minority sub-culture that occasionally achieves plurality status during elections.

Trump was a minority candidate during the Republican presidential primary with simply a plurality support, and in the general election won the electoral college but lost the popular vote. Today in 2017, President Trump governs as a minority president with declining public support desperately trying to keep his own base from fragmenting further in the current political environment. 2017 is already off on a very rocky start for President Trump with multiple courts halting his executive orders and a Republican Party moving in three different directions on his initial legislative agenda, the repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

The history of the Donald J. Trump administration is not fully written yet, but more than half-way through his first 100 days he can’t give Bubba today what he promised him yesterday.







American courts are tackling Islamophobia – why won’t Europeans? | Muneer I Ahmed

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 March, 2017 - 14:20

US courts and civil society have robustly defended Muslims from blatant discrimination. The same cannot be said of their European counterparts

On both sides of the Atlantic, courts this week have addressed the relationship of Islam to the west, but with radically different approaches and outcomes. In the US, federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland have halted Donald Trump’s second attempt at a Muslim ban. Meanwhile, the European court of justice, Europe’s highest court, has upheld the right of private employers to ban Muslim women from wearing headscarves.

Related: The hijab ruling is a ban on Muslim women | Iman Amrani

Continue reading...

Pakistan asks Facebook and Twitter to help identify blasphemers

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 March, 2017 - 09:50

Companies approached in effort to locate Pakistanis at home or abroad so they can be prosecuted or potentially extradited

Pakistan has asked Facebook and Twitter to help identify Pakistanis suspected of blasphemy so it can prosecute them or pursue their extradition.

Under the country’s strict blasphemy laws, anyone found to have insulted Islam or the prophet Muhammad can be sentenced to death.

Continue reading...

3 Ways to Keep Your Acts of Worship Sincerely For The Sake of Allah Alone

Muslim Matters - 16 March, 2017 - 21:56
The Good News

It has been narrated that Imam Al-Hasan Al-Basri said about hypocrisy:

“مَا أَمِنَهُ إِلَّا مُنَافِقٌ، وَمَا خَافَهُ إِلَّا مُؤْمِنٌ”

“No one feels safe from (falling into) it (i.e. hypocrisy) except a hypocrite, and no one fears from (falling into) it except a believer.” The fact that you are interested in learning how to maintain your sincerity is a great sign, God willing, of your belief and sincerity, and Allah knows best.

Here is a quick reminder of why it is critical to have our intentions in acts of worship sincerely for the sake of Allah alone:

Remember, for one’s act of worship to be accepted there are two conditions that need to be fulfilled:

1) The action has to be correct (i.e. in accordance to the Quran and Sunnah)

2) The action has to be done for sake of Allah alone


Allah said:

“فَمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو لِقَاءَ رَبِّهِ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا وَلَا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَدًا”

“…Sowhoever would hope for the meeting with his Lord – let him do righteous work and not associate in the worship of his Lord anyone.” [18:110]

Here are 3 ways to keep your acts of worship sincerely for none other than for the sake of Allah: 1. Seek Allah’s assistance

We need to keep in mind 2 important points:

  1. Just as we cannot breathe, see, feel, eat nor hear if it wasn’t for Allah’s assistance … we too cannot keep our intentions sincere for the sake of Allah if it wasn’t for His assistance.
  2. Never feel confident that you will die in a state of sincerity and belief. Read and appreciate this remarkable request from Prophet Ibrahim to Allah in the Quran.
    وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ رَبِّ اجْعَلْ هَـٰذَا الْبَلَدَ آمِنًا وَاجْنُبْنِي وَبَنِيَّ أَن نَّعْبُدَ الْأَصْنَامَ

And [mention, O Muhammad], when Abraham said, “My Lord, make this city [Makkah] secure and keep me and my sons away from worshipping idols.” [14:35]

Do you realize what he asked for? He asked Allah to assist him and his children to not worship idols! If he, Ibrahim, one of the best humans who ever walked the face of this Earth was seeking Allah’s assistance towards not committing major association (shirk akbar) then what should we do…

Not just that, Shahr bin Hawshab said:

شَهْرُ بْنُ حَوْشَبٍ، قَالَ قُلْتُ لأُمِّ سَلَمَةَ يَا أُمَّ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ مَا كَانَ أَكْثَرُ دُعَاءِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذَا كَانَ عِنْدَكِ قَالَتْ كَانَ أَكْثَرُ دُعَائِهِ ‏”‏ يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِي عَلَى دِينِكَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَتْ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ مَا لأَكْثَرِ دُعَائِكَ يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِي عَلَى دِينِكَ

“I said to Umm Salamah: ‘O Mother of the Believers! What was the supplication that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said most frequently when he was with you?” She said: ‘The supplication he said most frequently was: “O Changer of the hearts, make my heart firm upon Your religion (Yā Muqallibal-qulūb, thabbit qalbī `alā dīnik).’” [At-tirmidhi]

Simply amazing! The one who went to the heavens and spoke with Allah still sought assistance in Him towards keeping his heart steadfast and sincere… So be in a habit of making this supplication especially when you feel your sincerity may sway away.


Another supplication one should be in the habit of saying:

Allah commanded Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) to say:

وَقُل رَّبِّ أَدْخِلْنِي مُدْخَلَ صِدْقٍ وَأَخْرِجْنِي مُخْرَجَ صِدْقٍ وَاجْعَل لِّي مِن لَّدُنكَ سُلْطَانًا نَّصِيرًا

“And say, “My Lord, cause me to enter a truthful entrance and to exit a truthful exit and grant me from Yourself a supporting authority.” [17:80]

What does it mean to ask for “a truthful entrance?” One of its meanings, as Dr. Mohammed Al-Nabulsi said, is a person asking Allah for that entrance (i.e. to their job, university, travel, marriage, etc.) to be for the sake of Allah alone, subhana Allah. That is beautiful, but is it enough? A person may start an action sincerely for the sake of Allah but as time progresses one’s intention may drift away towards worldly reasons instead. Here, the second part of the supplication comes in where we ask Allah for a “truthful exit”. Just as we would seek to begin our acts of worship with a sincere intention for none other than Allah we would love to end the action with the same sincere intention for Allah.

2. Hide your good deeds

Allah said:

“ادْعُوا رَبَّكُمْ تَضَرُّعًا وَخُفْيَةً ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ”

“Call upon your Lord in humility and privately; indeed, He does not like transgressors.” [7:55]

Imam As-shinqiti explains the concept of hiding your deeds in Adwaa’ Al-Bayaan:

إنما كان الإخفاء أفضل من الإظهار لأنه أقرب إلى الإخلاص، وأبعد من الرياء.

“Hiding (the good deed) is better than publicizing it because it is closer to sincerity and further from showing off (to people).”

The earlyMuslims would not indulge in sharing their worship. We learn from Ibn Katheer that Imam Al-Hasan Al-Basri said:

أدركنا أقوامًا ما كان على الأرض من عمل يقدرون أن يعملوه في السر فيكون علانية أبدا

“We have known people who no act of worship on Earth which they can perform secretly except that they would never end up publicizing it.”

But one, obviously, can publicize their good deed if it wasn’t possible to hide it and if it was seen to be better than hiding it as Allah said:

“إِن تُبْدُوا الصَّدَقَاتِ فَنِعِمَّا هِيَ ۖ وَإِن تُخْفُوهَا وَتُؤْتُوهَا الْفُقَرَاءَ فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۚ وَيُكَفِّرُ عَنكُم مِّن سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ”

“If you disclose your charitable expenditures, they are good; but if you conceal them and give them to the poor, it is better for you, and He will remove from you some of your misdeeds [thereby]. And Allah, with what you do, is [fully] acquainted.” [2:271] 

Ibn Katheer stated about this verse:

فيه دلالة على أن إسرار الصدقة أفضل من إظهارها ; لأنه أبعد عن الرياء ، إلا أن يترتب على الإظهار مصلحة راجحة ، من اقتداء الناس به ، فيكون أفضل من هذه الحيثية

“In it (i.e. this verse) a sign that hiding and being secretive in giving charity is better than publicizing it; because it is further from showing off, unless publicizing the act is more beneficial, such as, for people to be inspired and be positively influenced, then it is better (to publicize it) from this angle.”

One day I had to pick up a brother very early in the morning for an appointment. Upon picking him I asked: “Brother, you seem wide awake. Did you not sleep?” He replied: “I did sleep but I woke up, prayed qiyam (night prayers) and stayed awake since.” To me personally, there were great lessons to extract from this incident. Mainly, one should avoid accusing anyone’s intentions, since one’s intention is located in the heart and only Allah knows about, and because it is possible that the brother publicized to me such a supposedly secret deed just to inspire me to wake up at night and pray to Allah.

With that being said, I’d like to share a thought with you: it is a lot easier to be sincere when performing public good deeds if a person has a good amount of secret good deeds. Think about that. On the other hand, as many have advised in the past: “Hide your good deeds the way you would hide your bad ones”.

3. Keep in mind the consequences, in this life and afterlife, of seeking peoples’ pleasure over Allah’s pleasure

The insincere will be exposed in this life. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:

“مَنْ سَمَّعَ سَمَّعَ اللَّهُ بِهِ، وَمَنْ يُرَائِي يُرَائِي اللَّهُ بِهِ”

“He who lets the people hear of his good deeds intentionally, to win their praise, Allah will let the people know his real intention, and he who does good things in public to show off and win the praise of the people, Allah will disclose his real intention (and humiliate him).” [Al-Bukhari]

My beloved, be watchful of your intention, be watchful of it even when you are posting on social media. Do not post a hadith, verse or an Islamic reminder of some sort except that your main focus is whether Allah will be pleased with it or not and not whether you will get many likes or not. The people may praise us for the “dawah” work we do but it would be just a matter of time till we get exposed had we been doing it just to please the people and for an intention other than it being for the sake of Allah, and Allah knows best.

The insincere will suffer mentally and physical

Why is that? Because if an act of worship was not performed for the sake of The Creator then it is surely done for the sake of the creation and it will never be possible to please all the creation. So the insincere is wasting his energy, time and all valuable assets for a goal that will never be accomplished. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) himself did not have everybody pleased with him. The people accused him of being a magician, madman, possessed…etc. Allah says in the Quran

كَذَٰلِكَ مَا أَتَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِم مِّن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا قَالُوا سَاحِرٌ أَوْ مَجْنُونٌ

“Similarly, there came not to those before them any messenger except that they said, “A magician or a madman.” [51:52]

Not just that! Even Allah, glory be to Him, did not have everybody pleased with him and some even considered Him stingy! Allah said in Surah Maidah:

وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ يَدُ اللَّـهِ مَغْلُولَةٌ ۚ غُلَّتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَلُعِنُوا بِمَا قَالُوا ۘ بَلْ يَدَاهُ مَبْسُوطَتَانِ يُنفِقُ كَيْفَ يَشَاءُ ۚ

And the Yahood said, “The hand of Allah is chained.” Chained are their hands, and cursed are they for what they say. Rather, both His hands are extended; He spends however He wills. [5:64]

Please pay attention to the following as well: leaving a good deed for the fear that people may think you are showing off is in essence showing off.

Moving on to mentioning the consequences of being insincere in the afterlife- the insincere will be mocked and the first to be punished on the day of judgment. The Beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:

إِنَّ أَخْوَفَ مَا أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ الشِّرْكُ الأَصْغَرُ . قَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ : وَمَا الشِّرْكُ الأَصْغَرُ؟ قَالَ :الرِّيَاء . إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى يَقُولُ يَوْمَ تُجَازَى الْعِبَادُ بِأَعْمَالِهِمْ اذْهَبُوا إِلَى الَّذِينَ كُنْتُمْ تُرَاءُونَ بِأَعْمَالِكُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا فَانْظُرُوا هَلْ تَجِدُونَ عِنْدَهُمْ جَزَاءً

The thing that I fear most for you is minor shirk.” They (companions) said: “O Messenger of Allah, what is minor shirk?” He said: “Showing off, for Allaah will say on the Day when people are recompensed for their actions: ‘Go to those for whom you were showing off with your deeds in the world, and see what reward you find with them.’” [As-selselah As-saheehah]

Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) also said:

إِنَّ أَوَّلَ النَّاسِ يُقْضَى يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ عَلَيْهِ رَجُلٌ اسْتُشْهِدَ فَأُتِيَ بِهِ فَعَرَّفَهُ نِعَمَهُ فَعَرَفَهَا قَالَ فَمَا عَمِلْتَ فِيهَا قَالَ قَاتَلْتُ فِيكَ حَتَّى اسْتُشْهِدْتُ ‏.‏ قَالَ كَذَبْتَ وَلَكِنَّكَ قَاتَلْتَ لأَنْ يُقَالَ جَرِيءٌ ‏.‏ فَقَدْ قِيلَ ‏.‏ ثُمَّ أُمِرَ بِهِ فَسُحِبَ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ حَتَّى أُلْقِيَ فِي النَّارِ وَرَجُلٌ تَعَلَّمَ الْعِلْمَ وَعَلَّمَهُ وَقَرَأَ الْقُرْآنَ فَأُتِيَ بِهِ فَعَرَّفَهُ نِعَمَهُ فَعَرَفَهَا قَالَ فَمَا عَمِلْتَ فِيهَا قَالَ تَعَلَّمْتُ الْعِلْمَ وَعَلَّمْتُهُ وَقَرَأْتُ فِيكَ الْقُرْآنَ ‏.‏ قَالَ كَذَبْتَ وَلَكِنَّكَ تَعَلَّمْتَ الْعِلْمَ لِيُقَالَ عَالِمٌ ‏.‏ وَقَرَأْتَ الْقُرْآنَ لِيُقَالَ هُوَ قَارِئٌ ‏.‏ فَقَدْ قِيلَ ثُمَّ أُمِرَ بِهِ فَسُحِبَ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ حَتَّى أُلْقِيَ فِي النَّارِ ‏.‏ وَرَجُلٌ وَسَّعَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَأَعْطَاهُ مِنْ أَصْنَافِ الْمَالِ كُلِّهِ فَأُتِيَ بِهِ فَعَرَّفَهُ نِعَمَهُ فَعَرَفَهَا قَالَ فَمَا عَمِلْتَ فِيهَا قَالَ مَا تَرَكْتُ مِنْ سَبِيلٍ تُحِبُّ أَنْ يُنْفَقَ فِيهَا إِلاَّ أَنْفَقْتُ فِيهَا لَكَ قَالَ كَذَبْتَ وَلَكِنَّكَ فَعَلْتَ لِيُقَالَ هُوَ جَوَادٌ ‏.‏ فَقَدْ قِيلَ ثُمَّ أُمِرَ بِهِ فَسُحِبَ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ ثُمَّ أُلْقِيَ فِي النَّارِ

The first of men (whose case) will be decided on the Day of Judgment will be a man who died as a martyr. He shall be brought (before the Judgment Seat). Allah will make him recount His blessings (i. e. the blessings which He had bestowed upon him) and he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his life). (Then) will Allah say: What did you do (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I fought for Thee until I died as a martyr. Allah will say: You have told a lie. You fought that you might be called a” brave warrior”. And you were called so. (Then) orders will be passed against him and he will be dragged with his face downward and cast into Hell. Then will be brought forward a man who acquired knowledge and imparted it (to others) and recited the Qur’an. He will be brought And Allah will make him recount His blessings and he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his lifetime). Then will Allah ask: What did you do (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I acquired knowledge and disseminated it and recited the Qur’an seeking Thy pleasure. Allah will say: You have told a lie. You acquired knowledge so that you might be called” a scholar,” and you recited the Qur’an so that it might be said:” He is a Qari” and such has been said. Then orders will be passed against him and he shall be dragged with his face downward and cast into the Fire. Then will be brought a man whom Allah had made abundantly rich and had granted every kind of wealth. He will be brought and Allah will make him recount His blessings and he will recount them and (admit having enjoyed them in his lifetime). Allah will (then) ask: What have you done (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I spent money in every cause in which Thou wished that it should be spent. Allah will say: You are lying. You did (so) that it might be said about (You):” He is a generous fellow” and so it was said. Then will Allah pass orders and he will be dragged with his face downward and thrown into Hell. [Muslim]

May Allah protect us…

Do you know when should one feel completely safe and confident that they are going to make it to Jannah, in shaa Allah? It is when the person hears the angel of death right next to his or her head during the last moments of their life and says as Allah says:

يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ ﴿٢٧﴾ ارْجِعِي إِلَىٰ رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَّرْضِيَّةً ﴿٢٨﴾

“[To the righteous it will be said], “O reassured soul, (27) Return to your Lord, well-pleased and pleasing [to Him], (28)” [89:27-28]

I pray to Allah that you get to hear this said to you, my beloved and respected brothers and sisters, but to hear it you need to do your best to perform your acts of worship sincerely for none other than Allah. Remember to seek Allah’s assistance and hide your good deeds.

The Guardian view on Geert Wilders’ defeat: good news, to be treated with caution | Editorial

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 March, 2017 - 19:19
Dutch voters have shown that xenophobic populism need not advance unchecked. But the Freedom party’s gains and the prime minister’s embrace of some of its themes are alarming

It was – finally – a piece of good news for Europe’s liberal democratic order: in the Netherlands, a closely watched election has produced a defeat for xenophobic populism. After Brexit and Trump, and ahead of key elections in France and Germany, the Dutch vote was widely seen as a test for populist forces across the west. In the end, voters turned their backs on extremism. They turned out in large numbers and prevented Geert Wilders’ anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-EU Freedom party from delivering the populist “revolution” he had so fervently promised. With less than 13% of the vote, the Dutch far-right failed to reach first place. Clear victory went to Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberal VVD party, which won the largest share of votes and is now set to form the next coalition. On the left, Labour suffered a severe setback. It may not be unrelated that the Greens and the centrist D66 party achieved notable breakthroughs.

After a campaign largely dominated by identity politics, the overall outcome signalled that even in an era of polarisation and fragmentation, the centre can hold and things do not necessarily have to fall apart. It showed that populist insurgencies are not a foregone conclusion and that democratic pushback can be effective. So it was no surprise that a collective sigh of relief could be heard from European capitals. Angela Merkel spoke of a “very pro-European result”. A Wilders victory would have been a boost to Marine Le Pen’s Front National, just six weeks ahead of the first round of the French presidential elections, as well as an encouragement for Germany’s far-right AfD party. In the wake of Donald Trump’s ascendency to the White House, the leaders of Europe’s national populist movement (Mr Wilders among them) had held a summit designed to hail a common “Patriotic spring”, saying 2017 would be the year Europeans “wake up”.

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India, Brexit and the legacy of empire in Africa | Letters

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 March, 2017 - 18:42

It is disingenuous of Shashi Tharoor to pretend that religious hatred did not exist in India before “the British introduced it” with their policy of “divide and rule” (A legacy of exploitation and ruin, G2, 9 March). He must know that when Mahmood of Ghazni first brought Islam to the subcontinent in the 10th century, his invasion involved incalculable violence, massive loss of life and a wanton destruction of Hindu religious sites on a scale that Islamic State could only dream of. The Mughals, who were Persian and never let their Hindu subjects forget it, were as foreign to India as the British.

Those British were, of course, lucky that a power vacuum had been created by the collapse of the Mughal empire in the second half of the 18th century, which the well-organised East India Company was better able to fill than even such a warlike Hindu warrior caste as the Marathas. As George Orwell pointed out long ago, the Raj was indeed a racket run for the greedy benefit of about 1% of the UK’s population (true of all capitalism since about 1980). Nevertheless, there were great moments of civilization and glory, both for the eventually defeated conquerors and those who bravely resisted them, throughout the very short period (in Indian historical terms: 1600-1947) when the British were political players in India.

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Turkey plans to ban TV dating shows

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 March, 2017 - 15:53

Deputy PM says they do not fit with the country’s ‘customs, traditions, beliefs and family structure’

Turkey is planning to ban popular television dating shows because they do not fit with Turkish traditions and customs, the deputy prime minister has said.

Numan Kurtulmuş was referring to matchmaking reality shows, which are popular in Turkey but attract thousands of complaints every year.

Related: Turkey closes 20 TV and radio stations in post-coup clampdown

Related: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: 'A woman is above all else a mother'

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Documents support fears of Muslim surveillance by Obama-era program

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 March, 2017 - 11:00

Obama’s controversial Countering Violent Extremism program described as ‘intelligence gathering’, something civil rights groups have long claimed

Internal US law enforcement documents describe a highly controversial community initiative aimed at identifying potential terrorists before they “radicalize” as being intimately related to intelligence gathering.

Despite years of official denials, American Muslim civil rights groups have claimed that Barack Obama’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) initiative was a euphemistic approach that targeted Muslims for surveillance.

Related: Kellyanne Conway: 'microwaves that turn into cameras' can spy on us

Related: Registry used to track Arabs and Muslims dismantled by Obama administration

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