Fear of terrorism has been exploited to the fullest by American politicians for more than a decade. Irrational fear has fueled runaway military spending, endless war, an erosion of rights and privacy at home, and of course, Islamophobia.
Now self-described “socially conscious creative agency” in New York City is fighting back with a combination or hard facts and humor. From the About page:
We were inspired by Edward Snowden’s courageous act. He risked his liberty to inform the public about the illegal and immoral spying that was and still is being directed against innocent Americans. But, as we saw the debate play out, almost no one in the media and government was addressing the elephant in the room – that beyond whether certain “war on terror” tactics are effective, when we look at the numbers, we find that terrorism is simply not a grave enough threat to justify the vast sacrifice of money and liberty that we’re making in its name. We detail the numbers on our facts page…
The facts page is packed with information that clearly and concisely puts terrorism into perspective:So, what’s this all about?
American media and elected officials talk about the threat of terrorism daily. In the last decade, the threat of terrorism has been used to justify special exemptions from the Constitution, invasions of other countries, secret surveillance laws, monitoring of innocent people with no reasonable cause for suspicion, and continuous budget deficits, as vast sums of money go to fund the military and surveillance apparatus.
When examined, the actual death toll from terrorism in the United States is astonishingly small. In the last 5 years for which data is available, an average of 4.6 Americans per year died from domestic terrorist attacks. And when we look at the publicly known terrorist attacks that have been thwarted, we see that they were small in number, limited in destructive capacity, and in a majority of cases, would probably have never come to fruition on their own. 1
Here, we’ll break down the facts for you.How many people die from terrorism in the United States?
Averaged over the last 5 years 2, 4.6 Americans per year have died from terrorist attacks. 3 Far more people have died of lightning strikes 4, dog attacks, bathtub falls 5, and playing football 6, individually.
Over the last 20 years (which includes 9/11) average deaths from terrorism total 162 Americans per year.7 To put that in perspective, compare it to the 679,853 who die of heart disease each year, 52,823 who die of the pneumonia and the flu,8 and 17,961 who die of “falls.”9
When terrorism cases result in arrests, it becomes a public record, and therefore, thwarted terrorist attacks that involve arrests cannot legally be kept secret when the activity is in the United States. So, we can get a rough picture of what the threat of terrorism in the U.S. looks like, by surveying these cases.
Professor John Mueller of Ohio State University has compiled a report that includes all known cases of Islamic extremism 10 which have occurred within, or have been targeted against the United States since 9/11. Out of a total of 52 cases:
- 3 involved situations where no plot had yet been hatched, but authorities worried one might arise.
- 27 were “essentially created or facilitated in a major way by the authorities.” In other words, a would-be jihadist, often mentally ill, would be provided the coaxing and resources necessary to carry out an attack, and then arrested once proving that they were willing participants.
- There are no known plots disrupted that involved weapons of mass destruction.
- All but two cases involved nothing more dangerous than a plan to set off conventional explosives.
Of the two cases which included something more dangerous than conventional explosives, one involved a ludicrous scheme to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge with a simple blowtorch, which the plotters abandoned before they were even arrested. And the other was a plan by a group of Lebanese men to flood railway tunnels under the Hudson River in which the plotters never acquired bombs, nor did they ever make it to the United States.
Additionally, in the vast majority of cases, terrorists within the United States have proven inept, as written about by Bruce Scheier in Wired. In only one of four cases in which terrorists attempted to set off a bomb since 9/11, did they even succeed in even igniting it.How much do we spend on terrorism?
Since 9/11, the federal Homeland Security and intelligence budget has increased by $65 billion per year. If local and state, private sector, and opportunity costs are included, the cost goes up to $132 billion per year. That number still excludes quite a lot, including U.S. military expenditures.
A New York Times survey of expert estimates, which takes into account a wide range of costs, puts the total cost of anti-terrorism efforts at over $3 trillion since 9/11.
Using only the $65 billion figure, annually the U.S. currently spends over $400 million on terrorism prevention per victim, as compared to cancer, for which we spend only $9,000 for prevention research per victim.11 The same general pattern holds true for other big killers, like heart disease, strokes, and influenza.12
See the footnotes and remaining facts on the War on Irrational Fear website here.
We’ve had enough of lazy journalism and stereotypes.
O Allāh, none has the right to be worshipped except You alone. And, O Allāh, I bear witness that Muḥammad is Your servant and messenger!
Perhaps it is difficult to imagine, but there was once a time when these words inspired such a tremendous stir in hearts and minds that lives were forever changed, as was the course of history.
Our Lord! Make of us Muslims, submitting to You, and of our progeny a Muslim people, submitting to You…”
And Allāh answered this prayer and sent to all humankind His last prophet and messenger, Muḥammad ibn Abdullah, may peace and blessings be upon him.
And thus were the life-altering words that formed the inception of the fastest growing religion in the world—Islam—a faith based on the simple belief in One God and belief in all His prophets and messengers, including Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muḥammad (may peace be upon them all).
Do People Think They'll Be Left Alone Saying “We Believe”?
Undoubtedly, belief in One God and His prophets is such a simple concept that almost anyone who hears this message in its pure, authentic form will recognize the truth—and openly testify to it…
O Allāh, none has the right to be worshipped except You alone.
And, O Allāh, I bear witness that Muḥammad is Your servant and messenger!
But as with any course of life that we choose, trials and tribulations will accompany it; and it is at these difficult moments, when adversity strikes, that we know what really lies in our hearts—and if it mirrors what we claim with our tongues.
“Do people think that they will be left alone on saying 'We believe' and that they will not be tested? We did test those before them, and Allāh will certainly make known those who are true from those who are false.”
Hijrah—A Test of Faith
It is an image that moves the hearts of many believers: A young woman leaves the safety and comfort of her home and voluntarily exposes herself to likely persecution or death—not once or twice, but day after day—to ensure the safety and well-being of a man to whom she owes no worldly obligation or debt.
Such was the case of Asma, the daughter of Abu Bakr, the close companion of Prophet Muḥammad who also accompanied the Prophet during the Hijrah (obligatory migration) from Mecca to Madīnah. And it was for the success of this Hijrah that Asma bint Abu Bakr risked her life by carrying food to the cave where the Prophet and her father were hiding in order to protect their own lives.
And what of Umm Salamah, a woman whose open belief in Allāh and His Messenger and whose steps taken toward Hijrah resulted in immediate separation from both her husband and young son? Day after day she cried for her beloved spouse and young child, but it was only after some time that she felt relief…
Of a surety, the choice of Asma bint Abu Bakr and Umm Salamah was testimony to their firm belief in Allāh during a time when even amongst the strongest of men were those too afraid to become Muslim.
In Search of “True Islam”
“You people read your history like someone addicted to drugs,” the non-Muslim said of the Muslims. “You get a high off the stories, so you keep going back for more; but the high you get does nothing to help your life.”
I first heard this story at a lecture, and I couldn't help agreeing, at least to some extent, with the observation of the non-Muslim. For how many of us think of “true Islam” as something that “used to” be real? How many of us relate the stories of Prophet Muḥammad and companions like Asma bint Abu Bakr and Umm Salamah as if they have nothing at all to do with “Islam in modern times”?
Or, worse still, how many of us simply take from these accounts praiseworthy labels like “Sunni” or “Salafi” and affix them to ourselves and imagine that by doing so, our Islam is pure and authentic to the exclusion of everyone else?
Is it because our circumstances are so vastly different from the believers of the past that it is difficult for us to draw practical parallels? Is it because gaining a proper understanding of our faith is so complex that it requires years of study in an Islamic university or under renowned scholars?
Or is it simply because we have yet to grasp what “true Islam” means in the first place?
What Is the “Right” Religion?
“And they have been commanded no more than this: to worship Allāh, offering Him sincere devotion, being true [in faith]; to establish regular prayer; and to practice regular charity.
And that is the Right Religion.”
Why then is it that when we teach and learn about Islam today that it is so much more confusing and complex than this? Why do we not grasp that, whatever other obligations might exist for the believer, these basic principles form the very definition and foundation of our faith?
Why do we not grasp that as long as we have this firm foundation, we are Muslims and thus have hope of Allāh's mercy and forgiveness—which is, after all, the most that even the greatest of believers can hope for?
'Islam Used to Be Real'
No, it isn't that Islam itself used to be real. It is simply that, historically, a much larger percentage of those who testified to believing in Allāh and His Messenger actually believed, hence the sacrifices of Asma bint Abu Bakr and Umm Salamah during the Hijrah.
And no, this strong faith and determination was not because they had a more authentic Islam than we do. It was because they had more authentic hearts than we do. And authenticity of heart is timeless. It doesn't necessitate Prophet Muḥammad or his companions living amongst us.
It simply necessitates that Islam live within us.
And to establish this necessary foundation of faith, we need to begin as Abraham and Ishmael did when establishing the necessary foundation of Allāh's House—by turning to Allāh in sincere supplication and asking Him to make us true Muslims.
Only then can we live our lives such that Allāh will write us down amongst those who are true in faith.
Umm Zakiyyah is the internationally acclaimed author of the If I Should Speak trilogy and the novels Realities of Submission and Hearts We Lost. She is now writing juvenile fiction stories under the name Ruby Moore. To learn more about the author, visit themuslimauthor.com or join her Facebook page.
Copyright © 2013 by Al-Walaa Publications. All Rights Reserved.
WRITTEN FOR MUSLIMMATTERS.ORG
Mosques defilement angers Belgians
Belgium Muslims have denounced the heinous attacks on mosques in the Belgian town of Genk after they were desecrated with swastikas and abusive slogans.
“Despite the shocking nature of the crimes committed, the EMB enjoins Muslims not to respond to the provocation, unless by peaceful and legal means, in accordance with what Islam advocates,” Semsettin Ugurlu, the chairman of the Muslim Executive of Belgium (EMB), said in a statement cited by Saphir News.
Ugurlu has also strongly condemned the “heinous acts of racism, Islamophobia and vandalism.”
The attack occurred reportedly on the night of Friday, November 22, when three mosques were desecrated with swastikas and abusive slogans. A pig head was also left outside one mosque.
The attacks were widely condemned by Belgian officials, while police increased its patrols surrounding the mosques.
Mayor of Genk Wim Dries condemned the attacks as “unacceptable”. “We won’t tolerate this. Nobody wants this kind of signs on a religious building” he was quoted as saying by NVO News.
Launching an investigation to try and find the culprits, two people in their twenties have been identified by the police through the testimony of neighbors and images of surveillance cameras placed near the vandalized mosque. The suspects were arrested and placed in custody.
Meanwhile, Ugurlu urged “the leaders and the followers of mosques from Genk to open their doors to their non-Muslim fellow citizens in a spirit of peace and tolerance”. “Openness and dialogue are the only pathways to live together,” he added.
NYPD Forced To Produce Muslim Surveillance Records
A federal judge ruled on Friday that targets of the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslims can probe the department’s files.
Brooklyn U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen’s order comes at an early phase of a lawsuit against the NYPD, one of three such ongoing legal efforts. It will allow the plaintiffs in the case, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the City University of New York’s CLEAR project, to make extensive legal discovery that could bolster their allegations that the department has engaged in unconstitutional spying.
The groups sued the NYPD over revelations from reporting by the Associated Press that the NYPD had engaged in widespread surveillance of Muslim communities in and around New York City. Another group is suing over spying in New Jersey, and civil rights lawyers have also revived a lawsuit, first filed in the 1970s, in an attempt to curb the department’s surveillance after 9/11.
As part of its lawsuit, the plaintiffs are trying to find out whether the police force’s internal surveillance policies endorsed targeting Muslims because of their religion. A lawyer for the NYPD argued in court last month that the department had no program that surveilled Muslims solely because of their religion, and the city offered to hand over only documents pertaining to the Muslim individuals and groups who are plaintiffs in the suit. The legal groups representing the plaintiffs countered that that would allow the NYPD to essentially put the plaintiffs — instead of the police — under the microscope.
Chen sided in part with the ACLU and its co-counsels, ruling that the NYPD would need to turn over records of its surveillance policies. At the same time, however, she blocked the civil liberties group from searching through police documents to discover how often Muslims are targeted for surveillance as opposed to non-Muslims.
“We’re gratified that the judge rejected the NYPD’s defense that we should not obtain documents showing it acted with a discriminatory purpose,” Hina Shamsi, the director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, said in a statement. “For the first time, the NYPD will have to produce key records about its Muslim surveillance program, and answer questions about its biased policies and practices.”
The city, which will have two and a half months to turn over NYPD Intelligence Division strategy and policy documents, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This post has been updated to reflect the presence of the NYCLU and CUNY Clear project as co-counsel for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
We should all support the international day of action against Israel’s Prawer Plan.
Gap slams racist graffiti after ad featuring Sikh jewelry designer Waris Ahluwalia is vandalized with anti-Muslim slurs
The graffiti also includes a line that reads, ‘Stop driving taxis!’
The vandalized ad was originally found and captured by New York photographer Robert Gerhardt on the downtown platform of the Buhre Avenue 6 train stop in the Pelham Bay section of the Bronx.
Gerhardt forwarded the images to Muslim journalist and commentator Arsalan Iftikhar who quickly shared it with his near-40,000 cumulative followers on Twitter and Facebook.
Iftikhar told MailOnline that the photo made him want ‘the world to see how brown people are viewed in America today.’
Gerhardt’s image received a wave of responses, many of which expressed outrage over the graffiti.
Iftikhar’s multiple Twitter dispatches were also re-tweeted by influential Muslim author and commentator Reza Aslan to more than 54,000 of Aslan’s own followers – helping draw more attention to the misinformed graffiti.
Gap even responded to Iftikhar’s tweets to inquire where the graffiti was located.
Representatives for the brand tell MailOnline that they are now ‘working to replace the image [in the Bronx].’
They also issued a statement that says: ‘Gap is a brand that celebrates inclusion and diversity. Our customers and employees are of many different ethnicities, faiths, and lifestyles and we support them all.’
When Gap’s ‘Make Love’ holiday campaign debuted earlier this month, the brand received an outpouring of positive responses on its Facebook page from members of the Sikh community.
Iftikhar feels that ‘This whole story just proves that we do not live in a post-racial America yet when South Asians and those perceived to be Muslims cannot even grace fashion advertisements without racial epithets being directed their way.’
Ahluwalia is a well-known face in fashion circles. He designs the celestial jewelry label House of Waris, which earned him a prestigious CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund nomination in 2009, as well as an official membership with the CFDA.
Most ironically, in this case, designer has been named on multiple best-dressed lists by the likes of Vanity Fair and British GQ for his original style which typically takes on the uniform of a black turban, a long beard, and an impeccably-fitted suit.
Ahluwalia is also a muse for the film director Wes Anderson, who has cast him in movies including The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Darjeeling Limited.
He is just one of the subjects in GAP’s ‘Make Love’ holiday campaign, which also stars Cyndi Lauper, and Tony Bennet.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2513525/Gap-slams-racist-graffiti-ad-featuring-Sikh-Waris-Ahluwalia-vandalized.html#ixzz2lm1wRS3Y
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Israeli occupation forces have been busy lately in the West Bank city of Nablus.
As many as 100 Palestinian olive trees have been uprooted by Israeli settlers, who routinely vandalize and destroy Palestinian property. A spike in demolition orders in recent days has accelerated an already brisk campaign this year to reduce various parts of the city to rubble.
According to Ma’an News Agency, Israeli occupation forces are now set to demolish a mosque in the al-Taweel district in southern Nablus.
Given all the recent media attention focused on the mistreatment of religious minorities in surrounding Arab countries, it will be interesting to see if there is similar outrage when Israel demolishes a Palestinian town’s only mosque.
Israeli forces threaten to demolish mosque south of Nablus
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli forces handed out a notification to a mosque south of Nablus on Tuesday morning declaring their intention to demolish it within the next few hours, an official said.
The notification ordered locals to evacuate the mosque, which is located in the al-Taweel area, so that Israeli forces could level the structure.
Ghassan Daughlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that an Israeli military patrol arrived in the area and demanded Palestinians evacuate the mosque.
The religious structure is the only mosque in the area.
Daughlas added that al-Taweel area has been subject to numerous and repeated demolitions by Israeli bulldozers in recent days.
Israel has destroyed more than 558 Palestinian properties in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the beginning of this year, displacing 919 people, according to UNOCHA.
Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in much of the West Bank.
It has demolished at least 27,000 Palestinian homes and structures since occupying the West Bank in 1967, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
Our panel discusses whether a secular society merely separates church and state, or if secularism has a wider remitWill Self: 'I think of it as the separation of church(es) from the state'
I suspect it doesn't mean anything particularly original to me: I simply think of it as the separation of church(es) from the ambit of the state – which is why I consider it a desideratum. The disestablishment of the Church of England would be a welcome move, as would the removal of all bishops, rabbis, mullahs et al from the upper chamber. That the state shouldn't be in the business of funding faith schools goes without saying.
• Will Self is a novelist and professor of contemporary thought at Brunel University, LondonAL Kennedy: 'It's a pathway to sanity'
We live in a time of faith-based everything. Economics is supposed to have no foundation in maths, or reality – we just have to believe. Political policy is based on swivel-eyed assumptions and prejudices, rather than the world, evidence, the reality of suffering, the reality of global warming. And religion – in rather too many cases – wants to be a faith-based political and economic force and to hell with all opposition.
Ours is an age of faith as a path to control on a very wide scale – something rigid, paranoid and utterly destructive. And we've been here before, but it would be just immensely cheering if we didn't have to stay long, or reach this point again. It's not OK for what you believe to hurt other people, or hurt you.
Massive disconnects between reality, behaviour and policy threaten our species in both small and apocalyptic ways and if I see secularism as anything it's as a pathway to sanity. We probably always will believe weird shit, but it doesn't have to harm us, or others, or the world. Our beliefs can elevate and inspire, and well-policed secularism – a version of secularism that doesn't itself become an alternative set of rigid, aggressive beliefs – could help us to do both.
• AL Kennedy is a novelist and criticNina Power: 'It's having the courage to question everything'
Secularism means the possibility of getting things wrong and being corrected as a matter of collective concern; it means not having to take orders from one particular way of thinking, but to put oneself in a position to try to understand them all. Secularism to me is a situation where reason meets empathy and compassion in the name of shared values. It means accepting that the spirit of inquiry should always be allowed to flourish and go wherever it is led, even if these are paths that continue to displace the centrality of the human or upset the usual ways of conceiving of the world.
Secularism is having the courage to question everything in such a way that no one belief system – religious or otherwise – is permitted to dominate. Secularism is tolerant, critical and open-minded. Above all, secularism means keeping open the possibility that there may not be satisfactory answers to difficult questions, be they scientific, political or existential, that humanity cannot help but ask.
• Nina Power is a senior lecturer in philosophy at Roehampton University and the author of One-Dimensional WomanPragna Patel: 'It is the absence of religious power'
Secularism for me is the house that is Southall Black Sisters, where black and minority women, of all cultures and religions and none, co-exist freely in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect. It is not about the absence of religion but the absence of religious power, a freedom from patriarchal straightjackets that might stifle our lives, dreams and aspirations.
It is a space which validates our right to choose our own identity, unlimited by culture, religion or nationality. To quote one of our users: "Tomorrow I celebrate Valentine's Day. Islam says we shouldn't dance. I used to get awards for dancing. I love celebrating Valentine's Day. I will wear red clothes and red lipstick and get a red rose from my husband. I wear lots of make-up and perfume. I also love celebrating Diwali and Christmas and Easter. These are small pieces of happiness."
Secularism for me is about the removal of religion, not just from the state, but also from power relations within the family and the community. That is why our struggle for feminism is linked inextricably to our struggle for a secular space.
• Pragna Patel is director of Southall Black SistersYasmin Alibhai-Brown: 'Secularism stops collapse and chaos'
I have faith. I pray. Prayers sustain me. But my faith is personal, in my head and heart, within my home. It's the way I connect with my mother and the past and my private conversation with God. It is not a battle cry, not my identity, not something to parade, not a demand on my nation and absolutely not a mark of segregation. Secularism to me means the separation of state and religion. I believe in that separation almost as strongly as I believe in God. We must all live under the same laws and buy into codified human rights. Those take precedence over religious obligations.
India, a nation with more religions and believers than almost anywhere else, is a secular state. If it was not, religious wars would tear the country apart. (Pakistan, an Islamic country, is a failed state.) Turkey was secular too and is now hurtling towards becoming an Islamic state, and fragmenting. The US holds on (just) to secularist principles. The UK is in a dreadful muddle. The established religion and the state are tightly plaited together. Which then means other religions can legitimately press the ruling elite for their bit of power, their strand of hair. So we end up as a country of separate religious schools (what did our children do to deserve that in an interconnected world?), exceptionalism in law and even human rights. The centre will not hold for ever with these arrangements. Secularism is the only way to stop collapse and chaos and to foster bonds of citizenship in our complex democracy.
• Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is a journalist and a founder of British Muslims for Secular DemocracyJim Al-Khalili: 'Secularism means the freedom to think what I want'
To me, secularism means more than simply living a life without religion. The son of a Muslim father and Christian mother, I grew up in Iraq in the 60s and 70s, but was lucky enough to be given the freedom to learn and question in a way that would be far more difficult in that country, and indeed many parts of the world, today. So to me, secularism means freedom: freedom to think what I want and to hold a world view that is not forced upon me by government or society.
As a scientist I have a rational conviction that the world is comprehensible, that mysteries are only mysteries because we have yet to figure out the answers. So secularism also means the scientific freedom to question why the world is the way it is and to search for empirically testable and reproducible scientific truths that help me make sense of the universe and my place in it without any of the constraints of religious teaching. It also means the freedom to hold dear all that defines what is most precious about humanity – to value attributes such as morality, empathy and tolerance because they define who I am and not because they are imposed on me by the teachings of a holy book.
• Jim Al-Khalili is president of the British Humanist AssociationJenni Murray: 'Religion should be confined to church'
I've always envied France its insistence on a society that is secular. Separation of church and state took place there in 1905, when it declared that religion should have no influence over government and government should keep its nose out of church affairs. So, no difficulty banning religious symbols from public buildings, no religion in education except in a cultural and historical context, and hatching, matching and dispatching without the need for a God or any mumbo-jumbo about "the devil and all his works" or "those whom God has joined together" or a heavenly afterlife.
We, on the other hand, are stuck with an established Church of England and places in the House of Lords for powerful and influential religious leaders. They're from institutions that won't shake hands with a menstruating woman, steadfastly refuse to ordain a female priest or still refer in some quarters to those they have ordained as "pulpit pussy". Shocking. Religion should be confined to church, chapel, mosque, synagogue and personal choice. No way should bishops or imams or rabbis have the power in parliament, unelected, to influence the way we heathens (or humanists) should live our lives. Assisted dying is a case in point.
• Jenni Murray is a presenter of BBC Radio 4's Woman's HourMary Warnock: 'Courts must have nothing to do with religious belief'
I would not like to live in a country that was entirely secular. As long as no one is in a position to tell me how to interpret it, or that I must believe in the literal truth of holy writ, then I like there to be an established church, a repository of a long-shared cultural heritage, with a ceremonial function, and a source of genuine belief for many people, of whom I am not one.
There are two areas, however, within which secularism seems to me of the greatest possible importance. The first is the law. The courts must have nothing to do with religious belief, and must ensure that whatever is contrary to the law is punishable, no matter what the religion of the offender. The other institution within which religion must have no privileges is parliament. Of course people may give their views on the morality of proposed legislation from their own religious standpoint, but if they do so, they must make it clear where they are coming from. This is why I have no objection to the presence of the bishops in the House of Lords. We all know that they speak for the church, and the church often needs to be heard, given its history of educational and social philanthropy. But it is crucial that religion has no special rights; we must at all costs remain a democracy, not a theocracy.
• Mary Warnock is a moral philosopher and cross-bench life peerWill SelfAL KennedyNina PowerYasmin Alibhai-BrownJim Al-KhaliliJenni MurrayMary WarnockPragna Patel
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The country of Angola has reportedly “banned Islam”, “dismantled & destroyed Mosques”, with Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos stating:
“This is the final end of Islamic influence in our country”
The liberal establishment has been very quiet on this one, I suspect if it had been a Muslim country banning Christianity the reaction would be slightly different.
A couple of points to note.
Ever since AmeriKKKa set up its AFRICOM command structure, terrorism and instability has sky rocketed. I’d say it’s part and parcel of US foreign policy to destabilise swathes of Africa. I’m sure some clever person out there has mapped these incidents and correlated them to prove my theory.
It’s probably not the smartest of ideas to ban religious practices if your rebuilding your country after the end of a 27-year civil war. When Governments starts to persecute groups of people within their own country you get genocide, Hutu’s, Tutsi’s, Rwanda are three words that spring to mind.
Like many of you, I watched the Islamic GPU conference over the course of the last weekend & had the following themes of human rights, citizenship, peaceful mutual coexistence and global unity rammed down my throat for fourty eight hours, as if these are concepts that alien to Muslims and that we have to prove that we are worthy and able to live upto such lofty ideals.
Of course no one in their right mind would ask if any other nation state is worthy.
Maybe the President needs to read his own bible “love one another as I have loved you” before deciding to adopt American policy.
Maybe it’s just another indicative sign of the times.
We debate endlessly where we should put our hands when standing in prayer, while the enemy cuts of our legs.
The American Studies Association’s meeting showed that the time of fear of debate over boycotting Israel may be over.
Robert Spencer backs ban on Islam
Beneath a photograph of an Angolan minaret being demolished, Spencer writes:
This is extraordinarily strange news, given that the world is racing in the other direction, to accommodate and appease Islam. It will be interesting to see, if these reports turn out to be accurate, how the mainstream media and Islamic supremacist groups will find a way to accuse the Angolans of “racism.” In any case, clearly this is a national security issue, with Islamic supremacists and jihadists wreaking havoc in Nigeria and spreading elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa. There is no way in Angola any more than there is anywhere else to distinguish jihadis in Angola from the peaceful Muslims among whom they move, organize and recruit, and clearly this measure is designed to stop that activity. However, censure from the UN and the world “human rights” community will probably soon compel Angola to change its stance, and allow the jihadis free rein.
Spencer’s usual claim is that he is opposed to Islam and those it inspires to violence, not to Muslims as such, and on occasion he will even say that he welcomes attempts by Muslim reformers to reframe their faith in non-violent terms. He also presents himself as a champion of free speech and equal rights. When he and his friend Pamela Geller were banned from the UK earlier this year, Spencer indignantly declared that “our work is dedicated to the defense of the freedom of speech and equality of rights for all”.
His response to the news from Angola provides a useful refutation of all those fraudulent claims. Spencer holds that there “no way in Angola any more than there is anywhere else to distinguish jihadis … from the peaceful Muslims among whom they move, organize and recruit” (emphasis added). So, in his view, not only is a ban on Muslims practising their religion entirely legitimate but the circumstances that justify that ban apply everywhere.
Spencer, it should be remembered, is currently supporting former English Defence League leader Stephen Lennon in his efforts to build a new organisation in the UK that has supposedly broken from the extremism of the EDL.
What if they were Muslim?
(H/T: Sarah AB)
The Christian American Patriots Militia is openly calling for the assassination of President Barack Obama on their Facebook page. The Christian militia calls Obama a “dictator,” and claims the “authority to kill Obama comes from the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution.”
According to a report issued by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dated Nov. 22, the U.S. Secret Service is aware that Everest Wilhelmsen, leader of the Christian American Patriots Militia, is calling for Obama’s assassination.
The Christian American Patriots Militia sent out a post to the more than 1400 members of their Facebook group declaring the militia now has the “authority” to assassinate President Barack Obama:
“We now have authority to shoot Obama, i.e., to kill him,” Wilhelmsen wrote on the group’s Facebook page.
The following is an excerpt from the disturbing post, dated Nov. 19:
“The authority to kill Obama comes from the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution: He is levying war on the United States and aiding and comforting our foreign enemies – the 2nd Amendment gives us the right and duty (authority) to engage an enemy of the United States that does so with the design to reduce us under absolute Despotism. I would be very surprised, if Obama does not leave Washington DC today (Nov. 19th) … never to return, if he is not dead within the month.”
The group’s Facebook page claims Obama’s “rogues and thugs are in fact supplanting our Constitution with a communist Oligarchy of corrupt political and legal elites” and encourages “Christian American patriots” to “rise and fight vigorously to protect our nation and our posterity.”
The SPLC reports a spokesman for the Secret Service would not say if the Facebook post had prompted an investigation: “That’s not something we openly discuss,” the Secret Service spokesman said.
Yet one would hope a group of Christian extremists threatening to assassinate the President of the United States would merit close investigation by the Secret Service. After all, calling for the assassination of the President of the United States is a crime.
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Transcribed by Zara T.[The following is the video and transcript of Shaykh Yasir Qadhi's Lectures on sīrah. The transcript includes slight modifications for the sake of readability and clarity].
Today inshā'Allāh ta'āla we will embark on a new series of lectures, a series of lectures concentrating on the life and times of the single greatest human being who has ever lived, ever walked, on the face of this earth. And in today's lecture I wanted to begin by talking about some of the broad characteristics of our Prophet . Some of the what, in Arabic, is called shamaa-il…some of the unique and specific characteristics that Allāh has given to our Prophet .
Before we embark on the journey of sīrah and why we study sīrah, and what is sīrah, that will be inshā'Allāh next week, and then we begin with the birth and the pre-Islamic Arabia, all of this will come. Before we even begin a little bit, a tantalizing tidbit if you like, of the characteristics, of the unique specialties that our Prophet was blessed with. Because when we begin these series by talking about his specialties, even though all of us are motivated to study his sīrah, when we study his specialties, we will be even more motivated and we'll be even more eager to learn about the life and times, the lessons and morals, the incidents that occurred in the life of our Prophet Muḥammad .
And so where then do we begin when it comes to describing the one whom Allāh has chosen above the entire creation? How can we do justice to him when Allāh 'azza wa jall Himself says “Wa rafa'na laka dhikrak”. Allāh says: We have raised up your mentioning and remembrance. Allāh has raised up his mentioning and remembrance and Ibn Abbas and other scholars of the ṣaḥābah, they said, Allāh has raised up his remembrance such that whenever Allāh is mentioned, the Prophet is mentioned right after that. And how true this is, whenever Allāh is mentioned, the Prophet is almost always mentioned right after that. Even in our shahādah, “La ilāha illa Allāh Muhammadur Rasul Allāh”, in the athan, in the ṣalāh that we pray, in the Qurʾān itself, there is hardly a khutbah that we give except that we praise Allāh and we send ṣalāh and salaam upon the Prophet Muḥammad . When Allāh Himself has called our Prophet a rahmat al lil 'alameen-you are the mercy to the entire world. You are the embodiment of rahmah. Allāh has sent you and through you, you will be given rahmah, and you are rahmah, and you are the channel of Allāh's rahmah.
So he is rahmah…the Prophet is rahmah, and his sending is rahmah, and his message is rahmah, and his teachings is rahmah and believing and acting upon what he has come with is a rahmah. He is everything associated with mercy. That is rahmatal lil 'alameen. So how then can we begin to do justice to the Prophet when Allāh has praised him so highly?
However, even if we cannot mention all of those blessings and characteristics, then at least let us mention some so that they can be an indication for that which cannot be mentioned because of time and restrictions. And we begin by mentioning some of the names that Allāh 'azza wa jall gave our Prophet Muḥammad , for our Prophet had many names. Many of the names of our Prophet were given to him by later people…the sahabah, tabioon, and the early scholars. And one of the famous scholars of the sīrah has derived over 250 names of the Prophet and if we were to give a class on this, we'd spend 3-4 weeks just talking about that list. But I wanted to mention some of the names that Allāh has given him. Because, you see, names come from Allāh and names come from the people. And obviously, the ones that come from the people, we can benefit from them. But the ones that Allāh has given our Prophet , those are the primary names that have the deepest meaning.
The post Seerah Series: Specialties of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) | Shaykh Yasir Qadhi appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.
British Muslims should stand up and say it: there is nothing Islamic about child marriage (at the New Statesman and also the Huffington Post)
Mehdi Hasan argues that it is British Muslims’ responsibility to stand up and say that “child marriage” is against Islam because “child, or underage, marriage is very much a part of British society” and it is usually Muslims doing it. The evidence consists of the fact that some spies looking to make a TV programme contacted 56 imams around the UK and that “imams at 18 of those 56 mosques – or one in three – agreed to do so”, in one case despite being told explicitly that the girl did not want to get married. He makes a number of spurious claims about Islamic scholarship and its positions on these issues, which is foolish because both Muslims and hostile non-Muslims know that they have no basis to them, while they reinforce the politics of suspicion, i.e., demanding condemnation for things most Muslims in the UK are not doing.
To begin with, I hope everyone agrees that an imam agreeing to marry a woman or girl off against her known will is to be condemned. It’s also foolish for any imam to agree to conduct a religious marriage for a girl who is underage according to the law, because the marriage could not be legally consummated in this country, would not be legally recognised, and would cause problems for everyone involved. Marriage is not meant to be clandestine; it is meant to be a public occasion with multiple witnesses and a feast. Last, any imam with a brain should know that someone phoning up to arrange an illicit marriage to a 14-year-old girl is probably a spy.
However, the fact remains that it is perfectly lawful in Islam for anyone who has reached puberty to be married, even if they have not reached some arbitrary age. The norm in most Muslim countries throughout history was for girls in particular to be married in their teens, and it certainly was not normal (except in very particular circumstances, such as when it was not possible because of war) for them to wait until their 20s. Mehdi claims that “frustratingly, many Muslim scholars and seminaries still cling to the view that adulthood, and the age of sexual consent, rests only on biological puberty: that is, 12 to 15 for boys and nine to 15 for girls”. That is, in fact, all it does rest on, as a glance at any basic book of Islamic law will confirm.
He then cites Usama Hasan, a person of some fame but absolutely no authority, as saying, “there was a rival view in Islamic jurisprudence, even in ancient and medieval times: that emotional and intellectual maturity was also required, and was reached between the ages of 15 and 21”. There is a big difference between the legal minimums and what is ideal, and the law allows that a father might be a better judge of whether his daughter is mature enough to be married, whether at 14 or 21, than a committee of strangers, especially strangers from a completely different cultural background. Usama Hasan further claims that this view “has been adopted by most civil codes of Muslim-majority countries for purposes of marriage”; in reality, the age-of-consent and minimum marriage age laws which exist in many Muslim countries are mostly colonial legacies, often maintained by the anti-religious élites who ruled after the colonial powers left. In some countries (like Pakistan), the laws are widely ignored by the population.
He then rehashes a familiar debate about the age of A’isha, the wife of the Prophet (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) whose marriage was consummated when she was nine years old, a fact confirmed by A’isha herself and by other contemporary evidence. There is quite a comprehensive essay on this still available on some websites which notes that this raised no eyebrows at the time (other than the notion that her father was such good friends with the Prophet that it was almost incestuous for him to marry his friend’s daughter), and that the age of marriage in Semitic societies was puberty. The evidence of hadeeth in Islam is considered to be of higher quality than books of history, particularly when it is in the most authentic collections with a full chain of narration and particularly when it comes from one of the parties to the marriage.
He also claims that a well-regarded imam, Shaikh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti, “tells [him] that the vast majority of classical scholars throughout Muslim history agreed on a minimum marriage age of 18 – two years older, incidentally, than secular Britain’s current age of consent”. This is an extremely dubious claim, because if it were true then it would appear in at least one of the many basic texts of Islamic law — quite a number have been translated into English, and I have not seen this in any of them.
So, how to explain the view of a third of the imams contacted by ITV? The influence of Saudi Arabia, and its decades-long export of a reactionary, retrograde brand of Islam, cannot be ignored. The damage that has been done to a nascent British Islam by pre-modern, Saudi-inspired, literalist dogma is incalculable. Consider this: in 2011, when the Saudi ministry of justice announced it might prohibit marriages involving girls under the age of 14, Sheikh Saleh al-Fawzan, one of the country’s most senior clerics, issued a fatwa to allow fathers to arrange marriages for their daughters “even if they are in the cradle”. To call such a mindset outdated or medieval would be a gross understatement. It’s an endorsement of paedophilia, plain and simple.
I have heard that at least one of the imams who agreed to the clandestine marriage was in fact a Barelvi, so was very unlikely to have been influenced by Saudi Arabia. Most Wahhabis in the West are converts, and for all the marriage-related problems in their community (such as men, including imams, repeatedly marrying and divorcing and having numerous children with different women, in some cases in different countries), underage marriage is not a major problem among them. I strongly suspect it is not that big a problem among Asians either; the problem is forced marriage, and more commonly, young people (particularly young women) not being able to marry whom they choose because their parents want them to marry someone from “back home”, from the right tribe or whatever, and resorting to violence when they resist. Wahhabis’ stance on these issues is no different to those of other traditional Muslim groups, and the fatwa from Salih al-Fawzaan was most likely in response to a query from someone in an Arab country, not a western one, and in any case refers to betrothal. It does not mean that the girl will go to live with her husband’s family while still a child. It does not endorse “paedophilia” at all and will not lead to paedophilic behaviour.
“We have a moral duty to obey the law of the land,” says al-Akiti. For adult men to try to marry young girls is illegal and immoral. But British Muslims have a special responsibility: to make the case that there is nothing Islamic about underage marriage, either.
It actually is not universally agreed that Muslims are religiously bound to obey secular law, as not only can laws be oppressive, have perverse reasons for being imposed and be inconsistently enforced, but in many countries the law is widely flouted by the local population — the behaviour of drivers in almost any Muslim country is a case in point, but even in the west, speeding is fairly common and has been reduced only by the widespread use of cameras. The age of consent law is widely flouted by young people, and the law even bans “sexual touching” when one party is under the age of consent. It is not expected that this will be enforced when both parties are below the age of consent or just above it, but the law remains available (to be used, for example, when a wealthy person wants to get a “pleb” away from his daughter). I asked a visiting scholar from the United States about this issue, and he told me that “you’re not aathim (sinful) by doing 35mph”. The sin is not the breach of the law itself but when it infringes others’ rights or endangers them, gets you into trouble or brings trouble on the Muslim community. In this context, the marriage of legally underage girls is certainly to be avoided, because it is a law that society takes seriously. The minimum age of 16 is not Islamically based, but it is not a ridiculously high age (18 certainly is) to require someone to be to get married; if the age is set much higher, for reasons of population control for example, it would not be a moral duty to respect it (even if it would be politically prudent, and even if justified by those imposing it on girls’ and women’s welfare grounds).
Hasan bleats that he has been accused of “selling out” and “fuelling Islamophobia”. This is exactly what he is doing: writing in a publication mostly read by non-Muslims (and getting paid for it), condemning Muslims (or, for that matter, any other minority religion) for something which is allowed in their religion but which the vast majority do not do. If he wanted to take this issue up with the community, he could have found a Muslim publication to write it in, but perhaps that’s less lucrative. He also plays the “real Muslim” card, telling his powerful friends that Islam is what he presents (based on some dubious fringe scholarly opinion), and not what Muslims actually believe and do — Yasmin Alibhai-Brown regularly plays the same trick. It’s a poor form of apologetics, the sort of dishonesty that gives da’wah a bad name — in particular, the name da’waganda, or material promoting Islam but giving false information about it to make it palatable to a (usually) western reader, when the truth is easily discoverable and the effort will be ridiculed (it hasn’t been on this occasion, primarily because the chief Muslim-haters are busily engaged in trashing the Iranian nuclear deal). The reasons for writing and publishing this piece now are really very flimsy; Muslims in the UK have really nothing to answer for in regard to this, and I am not about to condemn Muslims in Yemen or anywhere else to please him and his audience. He is just one more sell-out holding us up to ridicule for no good reason.
The difficulty of being away from Kashmir lies in the constant state of alienation. Cultural, linguistic, political and to some degree even existential alienation, because one who is denied his right to an identity has to continuously prove it. We not only have to evidence our identity but the existence of an entire nation and the struggle which defines it. We have to carry an entire country and when your country is under occupation from not just one, but three occupiers, carrying her on your shoulders is heavy. If you’re Kashmiri you know this.
The constant friction between the states of the South-Asian subcontinent and the Indo-Pak blanket that does everything but keep you warm, means your Kashmir is a sweater, and your nation is still a Led Zepplin song. So when they ask you, “Where are you from?” And you reply “Kashmir.” They say “Oh, so you’re Pakistani.” “No, I’m Kashmiri.” “Oh, so you’re Indian.” “No, I’m Kashmiri, my land is occupied by three countries and…” You know the script, I know you do.
But better still, if you’re an “Azad” Kashmiri, then “Well, you’re not Kashmiri at all, are you?” It’s not like you existed in central Asia long before Pakistan as an idea was ever conceived. Or that half of your family is on the other side of the line of control. Or that your entire existential history and your cultural identity have been assimilated into this larger national identity of a neighbouring state. Meaning you have to forget that your brother on the other side is your brother. That, that occupation doesn’t concern you. You just have to deal with it. Right?
But I must beg to differ. My brother, will always be my brother.
Because when my eyes first met those of a Kashmiri who grew up on the other side of the Line of Control, we looked at each other with eyes that knew. It meant that when this destined collision finally happened, the exchange was powerful. It eradicated all of the alienation and the need to prove ourselves that comes with being a million miles from home. Though bhaiya asked me of course, “Why do you Pahari people but sugar in your Nun Chai.” I wish I had an answer, we just do sometimes, but we totally salt our lassi and our yoghurt too.
That conversation is comfortable; maybe it’s comfortable because I am me and not another “Azad” Kashmiri. I don’t know. Maybe because when San’aa Sultan twitter rants about dismantling every Line of Control, not just the one in our lands but the ones in our minds too, her bhaiya reads it. Then he quotes it back to her in conversation over a Subway at the Global Peace and Unity Conference. There are no Lines of Control here, there is a page and we are both on the same page.
It is beautiful when two hands of the same body can work together to lift a weight that a nation is bearing. We must understand that. If we cannot understand the differences that over six decades have imprinted upon a people that was halved, and then subjected to two different forms of occupation, and somehow come to terms with the idea that though our problems are different, our future is one. We can’t move ahead. We need to move ahead.
What I’m trying to say is that the only way through which proving our identity externally will become easier is, is if we Kashmiri’s are content with our internal identity. That is the identity which defines us when we are in the company of one another and I speak of this as a bilateral conversation that transcends any barriers between us. I speak of this in terms of unity. But we mustn’t stop at conversation. Nor between my bhaiya and I. There is an entire generation that requires this change to occur. Somehow we must facilitate it.
So when we say the Jhelum flows through our veins because she too, is crimson, we say this in unison. When I tell my brother that I carry the mountains in the pleats of my shalwar so that our geography is evident, he will smile. And I will hear the cries of our people resonating in his footsteps because somehow, we are both homeward bound.
You see the last 48 hours, in the presence of my brother from Srinagar, were 48 hours we spent in Kashmir. In the same Kashmir, one Kashmir, because in a presence that feels like home, home is never far. And our home is of course, one.
One that must beat within us, for all to hear.
For my Bhaiya, Aamir Wani and our home, Kashmir.
A deal at last. An interim deal that still has to be finalized, but nevertheless, this is another setback for warmongers in both Israel and Saudi Arabia, as well as hawks who have long occupied Western capitals. The anticipated easing of sanctions which have strangled Iran for far too long is another huge dividend of this agreement.
Let’s hope this development also puts an end to the crude Iranophobic “Mad Mullah” propaganda that has been circulating for years:
When the devout are committed to carrying out God’s will (e.g., destruction of the “Great Satan”), they are not easily dissuaded, even by severe economic sanctions. Rohani is a Khamenei-endorsed cleric, a messianist, and the president of an Islamist-supremacist regime. To the secular, his religious motivations may seem incidental — Rohani’s avuncular smile and fluent English may make him appear moderate, but his religious commitment to harm Israel and the West is no such thing.
Clearly Iranian leaders were eager to strike a deal, and have never had any intention of committing national suicide on the alter of some diabolical messianic “Islamist-supremacist” plot. That propaganda line was ridiculous to start with, and should now be relegated to the historical dustbin, where it belongs.
Regardless of whether the deal seems entirely fair to one side or the other, this is still welcome news. It’s a victory for peaceful negotiations, and the rejection of war. Let’s hope it’s also the start of a thaw between Iran and the world powers, after decades of mutual mistrust.
Of course, this news is all over the media. I’m adding it here in case anyone missed it, and so people can discuss this development, if they wish.Iran, P5+1 Reach Deal on Nuclear Program
by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com
The first confirmation came shortly after 3 AM on Sunday morning Geneva time, when French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced that the P5+1 talks with Iran had concluded, and an interim deal has been reached on Iran’s civilian nuclear program. Other P5+1 leaders, including President Obama, have since confirmed it.
Full details of the final pact are still not a matter of public record, but are said to include a halt of 20 percent enrichment, continue enrichment at 3.5 percent, and $4.2 billion in Iranian assets will be unfrozen, along with unspecified easing to sanctions. Comments throughout the pact few weeks suggested that most of the deal was already finalized, and it was only a few minor issues of wording that had yet to be settled.
Interestingly, Iran and the US are disputing what the pact says about Iran’s right to enrich uranium for civilian purposes, as Iran insists the deal does grant that right, but the White House has claimed it does not.
The Saturday talks never ended, but continued overnight into Sunday before the pact was reached. It is intended to cover six months, involving some limitations to Iran’s civilian enrichment of uranium and other aspects of its program in return for sanctions relief.
The six months is intended to give both sides time to work out a permanent agreement on ending the sanctions as well as international complaints about the nuclear program.