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Push and pull of escape and belonging lures western women into arms of Isis

The Guardian World news: Islam - 20 February, 2015 - 19:55

Although Isis propaganda sometimes suggests women will have an active role, in reality they are heavily controlled once they arrive

As the numbers of western women travelling to join Isis in Syria and Iraq have grown – recent estimates suggest there are up to 550 from around the world – so has the understanding of their motivations and what analysts term the push and pull factors behind their actions.

Battles over personal identity have long been thought to have persuaded some Muslim teenagers to subscribe to the utopian goals of radical Islamists. Evidence from a slew of former radical recruiters suggests that they seek to free their targets from being caught between the traditionalist strictures their parents impose and the more mainstream liberal expectations of schoolfriends. The recruiters offer a third way, a sense of belonging to a global cause in which the young radical is free to join the caravan of war wherever it may be in the world.

Related: UK police launch hunt for London schoolgirls feared to have fled to Syria

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The experts at Obama's anti-extremism summit wanted to 'get moms talking' | Naureen Shah

The Guardian World news: Islam - 20 February, 2015 - 12:00

The US is poised to deploy its global influence and hundreds of millions of dollars to ‘counter violent extremism’ with few workable ideas

One of the most painful moments of this week’s White House summit on countering violent extremism was when Ori Brafman – who was identified only as a “best-selling author” – asked the assembled policymakers, community leaders, law enforcement officers and foreign officials to each jot on a notecard one idea for countering extremism, and told us to vote for the ideas we thought could be implemented.

One of the big winners? “Empower youth… social media to amplify.” Another? “Get moms talking.”

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Australia's most senior Muslim says it was a mistake to vote for Tony Abbott

The Guardian World news: Islam - 20 February, 2015 - 08:04

Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohammed urges PM to ‘work in any field other than politics’ amid breakdown in relations between Coalition and Islamic community

Australia’s most senior Muslim leader has said he won’t “repeat the mistake” of voting for Tony Abbott, and publicly advised the prime minister to “work in any field other than politics”.

The strong comments by the Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohammed come amid other signs of a serious breakdown in relations between the Abbott government and large elements of Australia’s Muslim communities, ahead of the expected announcement of new security legislation on Monday.

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Hizb ut-Tahrir insists it rejects violence following Abbott's 'desperate' accusation

The Guardian World news: Islam - 20 February, 2015 - 04:16

Nearly one 100 Muslim activists, clerics, performers and scholars sign a protest petition after prime minister announces a plan to target ‘Hizb ut-Tahrir and others who nurture extremism in our suburbs’

Hizb ut-Tahrir has made clear its opposition to violent political change and distanced itself from the militia group Islamic State in a public meeting ahead of an anticipated crackdown by the Abbott government.

A spokesman for the Sydney-based Islamic organisation, Wassim Doureihi, accused Tony Abbott of using Hizb ut-Tahrir to distract from his domestic political problems and a “desperate act by a desperate man that reeks of insecurity”.

Related: Hizb ut-Tahrir braces ahead of Abbott's promised security clampdown

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All Signs Point to Hate Crime in Chapel Hill Murders (and Beyond)

altmuslim - 19 February, 2015 - 19:30
By Sahar Aziz Not just anyone has the capacity for cold-blooded murder. The perpetrator would have to be either a malicious criminal or severely mentally ill. In the tragic murder of three Muslim students (one at UNC-Chapel Hill, two at NC State), the perpetrator was a criminal whose motives reveal a strong bias against all religions, with particular [Read More...]

Islamism has many faces. We must learn to read them all | HA Hellyer

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 February, 2015 - 19:23

If we are to understand the role Islamists play around the world we need to move beyond generalisation

Four years after the Arab spring, the region and the world are still grappling with the aftermath, including the rise – and fall – of different Islamist movements. On Wednesday, in the midst of a summit on extremism, Barack Obama said: “We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.” After the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the French prime minister, Manuel Valls, said his country was engaged in a war “against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islamism”.

But while western leaders have been very clear they are not at war with “Islam” – the religion of more than a billion people – there has been far less clarity about what “Islamism”, let alone “radical Islamism”, actually means.

The forces of Bashar al-Assad have taken far more lives than all the Islamists combined

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Rudy Giuliani on Barack Obama: 'I do not believe the president loves America'

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 February, 2015 - 14:44

The former New York City mayor opines on the president, the 2016 Republican field and the Crusades in a speech to prominent conservatives

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani has confessed he does not believe Barack Obama loves America, while sharing at a private dinner his convictions about the president, 2016 and the Crusades.

According to Politico, at the dinner in a “former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan” the 70-year-old was speaking to an audience of around 60 prominent conservatives that included possible 2016 contender Scott Walker.

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Conflating Laïcité with Free Speech: The French Are Making a Mistake about Charlie Hebdo

Muslim Matters - 19 February, 2015 - 12:09

by James D. Le Sueur

The Charlie Hebdo and anti-Semitic terrorist attacks in France have propelled the French culture wars back into action.  Old but re-vivified identity debates abound as pro-integration forces rally their troops in defense of “laïcité” (read: separation of Church and State). And once again, French Muslims – indeed Muslims world-wide – find themselves placed under a cultural microscope.  Like clockwork, Marine Le Pen, leader of the far right party, the Front National (FN), seized the opportunity to use Islam as the wedge issue to advance her vigorous, anti-immigration platform within France.  Now, from the Élysée Palace to the streets of Paris, the French seem to be united more than ever behind the common chants of “laïcité!” and “Je suis Charlie!” These two phrases are becoming synonymous.

But these cries for laïcité in the aftermath of the most important terrorist attack in recent French history are misplaced. In fact they are illogical. Why? Because it doesn't make any sense to connect the Charlie Hebdo attacks or artwork (if one wants to call it that) to the idea of laïcité; free speech and laïcité do not mean the same thing – in France or anywhere else. Something has been lost in translation, not just between France and the rest of the world, but also within France and among the French themselves. It's almost as if the French, gripped by fear and the sudden realization that this is real, have lost historical consciousness.

But, let's be clear on what we are talking about. France has had more than its share of identity crises and has consequently wallowed in much political chaos during the past 200 years, with some 17 different constitutions/re-writes, 5 republics, 2 empires (Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and Emperor Napoleon III), and a couple of restorations thrown in to boot. During the fabled and often unexamined Third Republic, which lasted from 1870 to 1940 (and ended by the Nazi Occupation and Vichy's collaborationist government), France formulated what came to be known as its laïcité laws culminating in its now oft-cited 1905 laws of separation. The 1905 laws were anti-Clerical and severed the educational ties between the Catholic Church and French state. The Vatican, however, denounced these laws, ordered Catholics not to comply, and excommunicated the French deputies who voted for them.

France's current republic (the Fifth Republic) was initiated during a military coup d'état emanating from the French generals stationed in Algiers who were embroiled in a long, blood-soaked war to suppress Algerian nationalists (which the French lost). These French generals in Algeria, who had already taken control of the French administration in Algiers, threatened that if Charles de Gaulle were not put in high office, they would unleash the French paratroopers on France to seize control of the French metropolitan government. And the generals were not bluffing. Inconceivable to Canadians, Americans, the British, and most Western countries after 1945, this is exactly what the French did, and this is how de Gaulle became president of France in 1958. But the point here is that Article 1 of the French constitution of 1958 enshrines the concept of laïcité in this way: “La France est une République indivisible, laïque, démocratique et sociale” (France is an indivisible secular, democratic, and social Republic.) After nearly 200 years of struggle to resolve this issue, France and the Church had finally come to terms with laïcité. But, just as the dust settled on the long anti-Clerical debate, laïcité resurfaced with a vengeance.

The match that re-ignited the laïcité fire was struck by the “Head Scarf Affair,” when in September 1989, three French Muslim girls were expelled from a middle school in the northern city of Criel for refusing to remove their “hijab” (Muslim head scarf). By 1989, France had serious immigration problems in part because most of its nearly 5 million Muslims who had origins in North Africa (Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia) were living in overcrowded housing areas (banlieues) created in the 1960s and 70s. A product of 19th Century urban planners, they were akin to the “projects” and were built to accommodate a growing immigrant population. The many unofficial and illegal shantytowns that peppered the urban landscape in Paris, Lyon, and Marseille were destroyed by the French, and their inhabitants – the migrants and immigrants – were transferred to the banlieues.

Immigrants were initially welcomed because France needed cheap labor to fuel its post-1945 economic boom. However, after the 1973 oil embargo, France halted immigration from North Africa and then tried to reverse the demographic trends by repatriating North Africans.  Repatriation failed, and conditions within the banlieues quickly deteriorated. Crime, poverty, insufficient public transportation, inadequate schools, and complex social problems took hold. And, because of the ethnic look of the neighborhoods, and the fact that the neighborhoods had been separated – by design – from urban centers, many French commentators, especially on the extreme right, began to fear the rise of communitarianism.

In the 1970s and 1980s, fears of communitarianism (ethnic based politics and society) increased exponentially. By this time, the second generation of North Africans (known as “Beur”) had emerged from these banlieues and were active on the political stage. The word Beur was originally a self-identifying one created by these younger North Africans in order to cast off the more pejorative identifier, “Arab.” The Beurs wanted France to address discrimination, racism, but above all, they wanted to have access to the same possibility of socio-economic upward mobility that their Gallic compatriots enjoyed. Many of these Beur were in fact more in tune with French society and secularism than their parents were, but they lagged far behind their non-immigrant peers on key indicators such as education, class, and jobs.

The Head Scarf Affair wove the various threads of identity politics in France – concern over communitarianism and immigration, and anxiety about Islam's perceived inability to integrate into French national values – into a tapestry of actions by the French State intended to hold firm on laïcité.  By the end of 1989, the French Minister of Education, Lionel Jospin, skirted the issue with a vague statement giving each educator the right to rule on Islamic head scarves as s/he saw fit.  Finally, in 2004, under the Chirac government, the French passed a definitive ban on the wearing of all “ostentatious” religious articles (for Muslims, Christians, Jews, and others).

As for the issue of free speech, it must be remembered that the French do not have something like the First Amendment. In fact, the French legal system does not brook total freedom of speech. For example, through a series recent legal actions (starting in 1990), French law now places limits on speech involving racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial, anti-gay remarks, and more recently, the advocacy of terrorism. This factors into sentencing in cases of violence and can in themselves trigger prosecution and jail-time.  And, it should be remembered that throughout history, the various French governments have often placed great limits on free speech, causing, at times, great writers like Victor Hugo to flee France and live for decades in exile for his criticisms of Napoleon III. Even the Fifth Republic censored the press repeatedly during the French-Algerian War (1954-62). The most famous example is a book about torture republished as a new English edition in 2006, The Question, by the late Henri Alleg. Alleg's book was banned by the French state after it was published in 1958.  Even the Academy Award nominated The Battle of Algiers (1965), the famous film about the French-Algerian War directed by the Italian Gilles Pontecorvo, was banned in France until 1971. In other words, the Fifth Republic has often had censorship and does not have what Americans would call free speech in a legally protected sense.

So why have many of the French commentators in the post-Charlie Hebdo moment insisted on defending free speech (the right to depict the Prophet Muhammad or anyone or anything else) with statements that inevitably evoke this issue of laïcité? Why are they conflating laïcité (separation of Church and state) with free speech? To answer that, I'd like to turn to a point made by renowned French scholar of Islam, Oliver Roy. As he put it in Secularism Confronts Islam (2007): “In particular, the debate on laïcité, now as in 1905, makes it possible to obscure the social question: if the banlieue is primarily a problem of Islam, then there is no social problem. This is, in fact, an old tradition of French social democracy: to use laïcité to evade a debate on the economy.” Thus, by conflating the discussions about Charlie Hebdo with the issue of laïcité, the French are once again evading the tougher debate about how to address the problems of the distressed banlieue.

Coming at a time when the French are seeking to address the root causes for radicalization within France, this age-old evasive thinking will only serve to further alienate the restless and alienated young Muslim populations who might be prey to these 'jihadi' [Ed. This term historically surfaces from the Indo-Pakistan conflict] groups now recruiting for al Qaeda and ISIS within France. This is why French Prime Minister Manuel Valls's recent correction to all this is so important. Rather than fall into the trap of the same old laïcité debates, Valls re-iterated the statements he made in 2005 (during a period of severe unrest and rioting within the banlieues) that the French suffer from “territorial, economic, and ethnic apartheid,” and that France must come to terms with the nature of its crisis. Valls's approach, which is to recognize the nature of the separation between the banlieues and the rest of France, is a significant step in the right direction. I say this because after decades of studying radical Islam and terrorism in France and elsewhere, it is clear that the most common factor connecting all the young 'jihadi' recruits is alienation, and this alienation has important socio-economic roots that cannot be ignored by simply focusing on ideas and identity debates. And, if the French continue to avoid the tough debate and to hit the theme of laïcité in these public discussions, France can expect even greater problems with its young alienated Muslims in the banlieues.

That much is certain.

James D. Le Sueur, one of the leading American scholars of decolonization. He is a professor of History at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and Senior Associate Member of the Middle East Centre at St. Antony's College, Oxford and the author of several books on France and Algeria. This article is based on a talk given on Jan. 22 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC at an event called: “Muslims Respond to Charlie Hebdo: Roots of Radicalization.”  

 

 

 

 

 

 

The post Conflating Laïcité with Free Speech: The French Are Making a Mistake about Charlie Hebdo appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Obama tells Muslims: don't let Isis hijack your religion and identity

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 February, 2015 - 07:07

Islamic State does not speak for you and ‘we are not at war with Islam’, declares US president at counter-extremism summit

Muslims in the US and around the world have a responsibility to fight the idea that terrorist groups like Islamic State speak for them, Barack Obama has declared in his most direct remarks yet about any link between Islam and violent extremism.

“We are not at war with Islam,” Obama said. “We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”

Related: Obama wants to 'counter violent extremism'. He should look beyond Muslims | Deepa Iyer and Linda Sarsour

Related: Chapel Hill 'hate crime' response criticised by Muslim lawmaker

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Stop calling for a Muslim Enlightenment | Christopher de Bellaigue

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 February, 2015 - 06:00

After every terror attack the call rings out for the Muslim world to become modern. But as Christopher de Bellaigue writes, Muslims have strenuously engaged with all that is new for hundreds of years

A party of school-age swimmers takes to the waters of a municipal pool in north London. Among her peers, one Muslim girl stands out – nine or 10 years of age, brown face and eyes under a yellow cap, sliding gingerly into the water in a cotton salwar kameez that prevents the male attendants, the boys in her class, and other random males in the pool, like me, from seeing her prepubescent body.

So far as I know, there is nothing in Islam that bars girls below the age of menstruation from showing their legs and tummy in public, but in more conservative households there is a strong distaste for the idea of even partial undress in mixed company at any age. In less understanding circumstances, this distaste could have led to the girl’s withdrawal from her school’s weekly swimming outing – denying her a part of our holistic modern curriculum. But in this case consultations have evidently taken place between parents, school and pool management (has the salwar kameez been washed?), leading to this civilised modus vivendi.

To anyone outside the west, it is self-evident that there is more than one way to be modern

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Where were you?

Indigo Jo Blogs - 18 February, 2015 - 21:42

Today the Guardian published a long article on the late Lucy Glennon, who wrote for the paper, most memorably about her condition (epidermolysis bullosa or EB), but also about food and about the effects of cuts to disability benefits on the people who relied on them. Some friends of mine who knew Lucy have noted that under the online copy of today’s feature there are a number of comments calling her ‘brave’, an ‘inspiration’ and similar things that are often said about disabled people, yet when Lucy was alive and was fighting to stay in London (as she needed to do), the comments were full of complaints that she was demanding special treatment at the taxpayer’s expense, and the people calling her an inspiration today did not stick up for her then.

A section of the front page of the G2 supplement in the Guardian. It has a picture of Lucy Glennon, a young white woman with pale skin and glasses, wearing a pink top. The text reads "Lucy Glennon lived in constant pain. She was a fearless disability campaigner, facing her incurable illness with humour. But life got tougher when her benefits were cut".I looked at the comments under Dave Hill’s article from January 2012, and the first two comments suggested she should just move back to Yorkshire or “she needs to move somewhere cheaper”, and they continue in a similar vein (as well as side-swipes at others on benefits, such as “serial breeders who are given large houses to accommodate their brood when they should have refrained from having more children then they can afford to feed and accommodate”). A few people suggested she should move out to the suburbs or to somewhere south of the river which might be closer to St Thomas’s hospital which is equipped to treat EB. Most of the people defending her were other Guardian writers.

Under today’s article there was a particularly clueless comment suggesting that “you could buy a lovely cottage for that amount” (i.e. the amount that was being spent on the rent for her first flat). Of course, you could buy several houses in some northern towns for the price of a flat anywhere in London, let alone central London, but Lucy did not need several houses, or a cottage in some village out in the sticks. She needed a small flat in London, convenient for the hospital she needed to attend regularly to cope with the complications of her condition, and which had room for her dressings and a place for a carer to sleep. (In the event, she got a one-bedroom flat and the carer had to sleep in the living room, although she liked the area and the development she moved into.)

If Lucy had had a different condition, one that did not regularly require specialist attention, perhaps she would have been content moving back to Rotherham, where her family live. I know of quite a few people with chronic conditions who find they cannot have them, or their complications, treated adequately in their local area (Ehlers-Danlos syndrome being the one I’m most familiar with). The specialists are usually in London, and occasionally in one or two other major cities. There are some operations that simply cannot be performed in every hospital, such as the fitting of gastrojejunostomies which allow food to be pumped into the intestines when the stomach does not work properly. On occasions complications have become life-threatening because they have been treated inappropriately, and on one occasion I am aware of, doctors dug their heels in and refused to refer the patient elsewhere. While it is true that people with EB have lived outside London, it makes no sense to require someone already living close to a hospital that is able to treat them to a place where there is nothing like the same facilities available and where the risk to their health, even their life, is elevated, all just to save “the taxpayer” a few bob.

This attitude that living in London is some sort of luxury and that if you “can’t afford it” you should just move, is common currency in the present political climate. It isn’t only disabled people being forcibly moved out because of housing benefit caps to faraway towns where there are no jobs to speak of, as if you could commute every day from Hull to do a job at minimum wage in London. The rail fare is more than you earn. There is a housing bubble which a major recession has failed to burst, and an artificial scarcity of housing in London. London house owners benefit from high property prices; either the poor people who do low-wage jobs that need doing need to be subsidised to live here, or the flow of money into the London housing market can be stopped by new legislation against foreign buyers, buy-to-let mortgages or something else that inflates prices. And London has leading hospitals that are the only places in the country that can treat certain conditions. If you have one of them, and do not live in or near London, your health is at a major disadvantage. And wealthy consultants want to live in London, or near it, because of the milder climate, easier transport connections (for their international conferences etc) and better pay. If you need their services on a regular basis, you need to live near them. If you’ve got a life-threatening infection, it can do more damage on a journey from Rotherham to St Thomas’s than from Euston.

That the attitude towards Lucy changed as soon as she died shows that disabled people are only acceptable when they are dead, or when they are “making people proud”. When she had needs, people carped about money and special treatment. When she no longer needed anything from anyone, all of a sudden she was an inspiration. People with severe EB don’t live very long, and their whole lives are spent in pain to one extent or another. It shouldn’t be much to ask that someone whose health is that fragile should not be subject to needless stress and worry when they do not have long, to save the cost to the public purse of a flat near to a hospital. If you think Lucy Glennon was an inspiration just for living a difficult life, and you cheered on cuts because you thought they targeted scroungers who spent your money, then know that you helped make her life, and the lives of other disabled and chronically ill people, a lot more difficult. Was the saving worth it?

(Also, while researching this article, I googled “where will lucy live”, the title of Dave Hill’s article. All I got were links to pages about Lucy Beale, the character in the British TV soap EastEnders, whose murderer is set to be revealed tomorrow night in a live episode. None of the articles in question have that title. It’s a shame that when searching for an article about a serious issue that affected a real person, all I get are pages about a trivial TV soap.)

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The Islamic Ruling on Denying a Parent Access to Children from Scholars in UK

Muslim Matters - 18 February, 2015 - 19:56

Written for UK context, for those in non-abusive situations

After a marital breakdown, children are all too often used as pawns by feuding parents. In theory, both parents should put the interest of their children first, and although they have equal responsibility, it is wrong to assume that they have equal power, when it comes to access to and custody of the children. Under the current legal framework in the UK, the resident parent (the one with the custody of the children) has disproportionate powers regarding the children.

In our society, it is almost always the mother who has custody and rights over the children, where as the father faces a potentially uphill struggle to realise his rights. This anomalous position has led to a lot of abuse, particularly because many mothers use it to instantly and absolutely deny the father access to the children. In a number of cases, all relations between him and the children are severed at the mother's behest, and she will demand that he seeks contact with his children by obtaining a child arrangement order through the courts, if mediation fails, which can all take between three and four months or even longer, and by that time, the children have already been further traumatised due to the sudden absence of their father. Also this gives unfair advantage to the mother who can abuse her privilege of custody and unduly influence the children vis a vis their father. The children find themselves torn by their loyalty to both parents but tend to yield to the mother's pressure not to see the father and to inform Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) that they do not wish to see their father. Again this puts the father at a disadvantage and in the difficult situation of having to show that the children have not been negatively affected. This could be viewed as a form of child abuse, because the situation is imposed on the children (particularly very young children), who are powerless and have no opinion in the matter; their right to see the father is taken away from them.

Often, some mothers will continue to obstruct contact, even after the courts have issued a contact order, which gives the father the legal right to regularly see the children at agreed times. This is simply another severing of the bond between the father and the children that must be endured until a further court hearing takes place which could be months later.

The courts at times may be reluctant to enforce the contact order, because they may believe that labouring the mother is not in the best interests of the children. The question is, is it, then, in the best interests of the children for a situation to be created, which prolongs the absence of their father from their lives? It could be argued, the legal hurdles are creating a new generation of fatherless children, who know nothing of their own father, other than his name and the fact that he is biologically related to them. Similarly, there are also cases of fathers with custody engaged in the same process.

This reluctance of the lawmakers to reprove mothers who breach a contact order could be seen as an implicit green light, at some instances, permitting these mothers to continue denying fathers access to the children. Of course, this separation damages the relationship between the children and the father and in some cases the frustrated father feels forced to give up, as he has to bear extremely high legal cost due to the many court hearings, caused by the mother's non-compliance with the contact orders.

This situation was publically echoed by a senior Judge, Mr Justice Coleridge, in 2010 by making a statement, outlined below:

'Family courts are losing their authority because so many people take no notice of their judgments. Around 5,000 new cases a year come before the family courts in which parents – almost always mothers – defy orders to let the other parent have contact. Judges are extremely reluctant to jail such mothers because of the damaging effects on the children, so many continue to get away with it.'

This abuse is rife among all communities in Britain and the unfortunate consequences of a fatherless society are undeniably visible. As a result, we see the proliferation of groups like Fathers for Justice and Families need Fathers, advocating the rights of fathers who no longer reside with their children. A recent report appeared in the Sunday Express [1], where it had been found that since June 2003, 8,515 non-resident parents have committed suicide due to the distress of not seeing their children. The study found that 94.8 per cent of the deaths involved a male non-resident parent.

It is a fundamental right of the child to have access to both parents, and likewise both parents have a natural right over the child that they have given birth to. Thus, rationally speaking, by default there are no grounds to exclude either parent from having access to their children. This separation is justified under some exceptional circumstances, for example, if one of the parents poses a genuine threat to the children and/or displays violent and harmful conduct at home (domestic or sexual abuse and violence). If such cases are backed with evidence and/or a court order, then temporary separation of that parent from the children has merit whilst a permanent solution is being sought.

The Muslim community of Britain has not been immune to this situation, where some mothers and fathers sever all ties between the children and either of the former parent. This runs contrary to basic Islamic values, teachings and culture. All Muslim societies have evolved through family units, and where there is a breakdown, the practice of imposing any sort of separation between children and parents or any other family members has traditionally been unknown. It should be self-evident that imposing separation between a child and any relative is an unnatural and unkind act, as ugly as the pre-Islamic custom of burying female children alive (imposing a permanent separation), which was carried out in Pagan Arab society, and was swiftly abolished by Islam.

Despite this, the problem is rife within some Muslim communities, and is frequently carried out even by those professing to be practising Muslim parents. This is partly because this issue has not been explicitly pronounced as unlawful under Islamic law, unlike, for instance, the consumption of alcohol and pork.

Even before we seek textual evidence, its prohibited status under Islamic law is obvious, because it runs to contrary to human nature. The most basic human social structure is the family unit, and the father-child and mother-child relationships are a fundamental part of this. To destroy that is like waging war on society, and those who attempt to destroy society by violent acts are given the severest punishment under the law.

All Islamic scholars agree that this severing of the bond, regardless of whether it is done voluntarily by an irresponsible parent, imposed by the mother or the father, is a cardinal sin. The prohibition of, and warnings against taking such action are very emphatic and Islamic teaching clearly states that the consequence is prevention from entering Paradise on the Day of Judgment. The first evidence from the primary source of Qur'an clearly states this.

“Would you then, if you were given the authority, do mischief in the land, and cut off your ties of kinship?”   (Qur'an 41:21)

The above is corroborated by many Hadiths. For example, Imams Bukhari and Muslim have collected the following saying of the Prophetṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him):

“One will not enter paradise if he/she cuts off relations with relatives.”

Another Hadith also collected by Bukhari and Muslim and narrated by Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) states:

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Do not turn away from your fathers, for he who turns away from his father, will be guilty of committing an act of disbelief.”

This prohibits severing of the bond with members of immediate family, and most specifically one's father. Scholars are in agreement that this is the case whether one turns away from one's own father or forces others to be separated from their fathers.

Also, the Islamic obligation on both the father and the mother to raise the children is well established; hence, the imposed separation of children from either the father or mother is clearly prohibited. If children willingly cut themselves off from their parents then they are committing a grave sin. Likewise, if someone else is preventing children from forming a close relationship with their parents, that person is also considered blameworthy.

Parents should be aware of the religious, moral and spiritual consequence of severing family ties in the sight of God. Unfortunately, it is all too common for either parent to deny the right of access to their children solely because of their personal feud. Perhaps they gain some temporary emotional satisfaction from doing this at the expense of their own children, but the long term consequences are detrimental to their worldly life and after-life, and any Muslim who is engaged in such actions should think very carefully before continuing on such a path of emotional abuse and harm.

Signed:

Sheikh Abdul Qayyum, East London Mosque

Dr Sh Suhaib Hasan, Islamic Shari'ah Council, Leyton

Sheikh Mawlana Muhammad Shahid Raza (Leicester Central Mosque)

Mufti Abdur-Rahman ibn Yusuf, www.zamzamacademy.com

Imam Qari Asim Muhammad, Mecca masjid, Leeds

Sheikh Khalifa Ezzat, London Central Mosque

Shaykh Dr Muhammad Umar Al-Qadri, Al Mustafa Islamic Centre, Ireland

Dr Abdul Kalam Azad, Adam Academy, London

Sheikh Fahimul Anam, Beacon Institute

Imam Abdullah Hasan, Imams Against Domestic Abuse (IADA)

Imam Abdul Wahhab, Plashet Grove masjid, London

Dr Kamal Abu Zahra, Ad-Duha Institute

Imam Irfan Chishti – Rochdale Council of Mosques

Imam Ghulam Moyhuddin, Ashton Central Mosque

Imam Yusuf Rios, Shaukani Institute, USA

Sheikh Muhammad Sa'di, European College of Islamic Studies, Birmingham

Sheikha Selina Begum Ali – Oak Education for Children

Notes

[1] (http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/550037/Family-separation-fatal-toll-absent-parent-die-earlier)

The post The Islamic Ruling on Denying a Parent Access to Children from Scholars in UK appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

What now for Europe’s Jews after Copenhagen and Paris? | Letters

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 February, 2015 - 19:12

On 18 November 2014, four rabbis and a policeman were gunned down in Jerusalem. On 21 January 2015, 11 people were stabbed on a bus in Israel. After those attacks, the media did not advance a theory that antisemitism was rife in Israel. In April 2014, a lone neonazi gunman killed four people outside a Jewish community centre in Kansas. The media did not identify America as being in the grip of an outbreak of antisemitism.

Yet when criminals in Europe kill Jews (Report, 17 February), among others, there is an outcry about the return of antisemitism to the European continent. Clearly there are dangers, but the Jewish population is ill served by exaggerated talk of a rise in antisemitism. It is easy to target Europe because of its past history and because of latent fears about radicalised jihadists. The impact of this talk is to create fear, which is the ultimate enemy of rational thinking. We need to recognise that there is no mass anti-Jewish movement in Europe. On the contrary, Jews are well supported by the powers that be. The best antidote to the fear generated is joint cooperation between minority communities leading to a growth in trust, and recognition in the media of the diverse nature of Jewish opinion, whether it is about antisemitism, or about the nature of the Israeli state and its policies.
Diana Neslen
Ilford, Essex

While there is room for satire ridiculing vices and absurdities, it depends on the targets understanding its references

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Chapel Hill 'hate crime' response criticised by Muslim lawmaker

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 February, 2015 - 17:51

Keith Ellison rebukes US terrorism strategy to counter violent extremism and calls for hate crime prosecution in murder of three students in North Carolina

Washington’s first Muslim congressman has publicly rebuked the Obama administration’s terrorism strategy during a White House summit on countering violent extremism, warning that recent moves to prevent money transfers to Somalia risked radicalising its large expatriate community in the US.

Keith Ellison, who represents a Minnesota district with the highest Muslim population in the US, also criticised the response to the murder of three students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, arguing that a failure to prosecute hate crimes fuelled the narrative that America was at war with Islam.

Related: The careless, astonishing cruelty of Barack Obama’s government | George Monbiot

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Kyrgyzstan detains imam for 'encouraging followers to fight for Isis'

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 February, 2015 - 14:05

A prominent Kyrgyz imam and government critic has been detained for ‘making extremist statements’ – charges his supporters say are politically motivated. EurasiaNet.org reports

On Fridays, Al-Sarahsiy Mosque is usually packed with thousands of worshippers from across southern Kyrgyzstan.

They come to Kara-Suu – a town of 20,000 – to listen to the sermons of Rashot Kamalov, the mosque’s charismatic imam, who is respected for criticising brutal and corrupt officials, society’s moral decline and western pop culture.

Is it illegal to talk about a caliphate now?

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Iran supreme leader: American Sniper made to 'harass and offend the Muslims'

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 February, 2015 - 08:58

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reportedly calls Clint Eastwood’s film ‘propaganda against Muslims’, while head of American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee calls movie a ‘turning point’

Iran’s supreme leader has criticised the Oscar-nominated Iraq war biopic American Sniper for encouraging attacks on Muslims.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the comments during a meeting with representatives of the Islamic Republic’s religious minorities in parliament three weeks ago, according to the the state-run IRAN Farsi newspaper yesterday. He also reportedly said he had not seen Clint Eastwood’s film but had heard about its plot.

Related: American Sniper's record-breaking box office: who saw it, where and why

Related: American Sniper: anti-Muslim threats skyrocket in wake of film's release

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Walking Away from Suicide – Part 3 of 3

Muslim Matters - 18 February, 2015 - 04:34

This is Part 3 of a 3 part series. See Part 1 and Part 2 here.

By Muhammad Zafar

Part 3: Thank You Allah for All my Problems

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Verily, the hearts of all the children of Adam are between the two fingers of Allah. He turns them wherever He wills.” Then he said, “O Allah, the Turner of the hearts, turn our hearts towards Your obedience.” (Sahih Muslim)

Alhamdulilah, things started to slowly improve after that. I didn't have an epiphany, but I did start to improve slowly. I would learn a lesson one day and then a couple of weeks or months later learn something else. There wasn't a miracle that came and changed things, it wasn't something that simple either.

The bottom line was: Things didn't really improve…I improved.

I felt like I really started to mature. I didn't care much for failure anymore. I started to look at things differently. I became more and more independent, started to spend time with friends and started to  get into the things that interested me. I stopped comparing myself to others and just worried about the things that would benefit me. I would start to go out of my way to please friends, family, brothers at the Mosque and even strangers (for Allah) and in a short time I started to feel better.

My sister once sat down and told me, “I think there were a lot of people telling you what to do” – it was her way of apologizing. I just smiled when I heard that and told her, “It's in the past.”

Thinking Positively

I started to think more positively about Allah, how short-sighted I had been, subhanAllah! The more positively I thought about Allah, the more  I started to understand things clearly.

The odd thing was, not much had changed from before. My problems were still there, but my mind wasn't occupied with them as much anymore. The biggest difference now was I didn't care as much. I wanted to read on things which interested me, I wanted to listen to lectures, I wanted to spend time with my sisters and their kids, I wanted to spend time with friends, I wanted to sit down and converse with my mom – and I wanted to do it so that Allah would be more pleased with me. The more I did it, and the more I went out of my way to do it, the more felt my life became balanced. That balance brought me not happiness, but contentment.

I couldn't make sense of it. I didn't make it large. I didn't acquire this world's riches, I didn't become famous, I didn't even accomplish much. Yet I felt like I was where I wanted to be or heading to where I wanted to go. It is what has led me to strongly and whole-heartedly believe that tranquility and happiness isn't in money, respect from people, one's job or education – it's in thinking more and more upon what will make Allah pleased with you.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is the Best Teacher/Guide/Helper/Caregiver

namesofallahPeople could say what they wanted about where I worked – I enjoyed it and was relaxed, so why would their opinions matter? My family friends could look down on me if they wanted – but would their approval or disapproval change my connection with Allah?

I felt at peace with who I was. I didn't feel I needed to be accepted by others. I just had to be confident in who I was. The iman that entered my heart gave me the confidence I never thought existed. It helped me to speak up when, at one point, I never thought I could. I started to expect less and less from others and more and more from Allah. I stopped freaking out at mishaps. My anger at the world turned to forgiveness. I just started to let things go. I was in control of my emotions now, they weren't in control of me. So I did what I really should have done long ago, I started to thank Allah for all the tough times I had.

I stopped forcing things on myself and started to live a more relaxed life. Now I wanted to study. I realized how much interest I always had in history and decided to pursue a degree in it. For the first time in my life I felt confident I could actually do it. It didn't feel impossible to me anymore.

And when I felt content despite not seeing any difference in my life, my fear of failure went away. Today I am working and doing very well in my studies but, more importantly, able to live and breathe in peace.

What would I say to a Muslim who wanted to commit suicide? Simple. A reminder of a hadith from the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) who 3 days before his death said:

Let none of you die unless he has good expectations from Allah. [Sahih Muslim]

Every person owes it to themselves to search for all the good Allah has placed within the trials of their lives. The only way to unveil the good hidden within hardships is to think positively about Allah. One would commit the greatest injustice to himself dying with bad expectations of Allah.

Twice in my life I considered taking my life. Truth be told, I would love to meet Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) as soon as possible, but I'll let Him decide when He wants that to be. I just know I have a lot of work that needs to be done in the meantime.

The post Walking Away from Suicide – Part 3 of 3 appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Chapel Hill Murders: Between A Simplistic Media And Human Complexity

Loon Watch - 17 February, 2015 - 22:06

via. Inagist

via. Inagist

By Garibaldi

The shock I felt following the execution style killings of Chapel Hill students Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu Salha and Razan Abu Salha has made it hard to write. These murders represent a low point: murders upon murders have left my heart paralyzed and I know I am not the only one, many of us feel this way. I question how much we are doing here and how much we have accomplished on Loonwatch.

Every week, more than ever, we seem to be hurled from one crisis to the next: the destruction of Gaza and thousands of its innocent lives, attacks on a Kosher market in Paris, a satirical/Islamophobic tabloid, the burning alive of a Jordanian pilot, the burning alive of a teenage Yemeni boy in a US drone attack, attacks on a Synagogue in Copenhagen, impending war in Iraq, the murders at Chapel Hill, the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians, and the many untold murders taking place everyday in our cities, along the US-Mexico border, in Central Africa, Nigeria, South Sudan and many other places I am unable to recount in this short space.

Media Hypocrisy and Double Standards

These events however do highlight the double standards and hypocrisy of media reporting, in which some lives matter more than others and many facts that matter are either ignored or conveniently dismissed.

Interestingly, Russell Brand, a sort of jester-philosopher, has proven to be far more engaging and nuanced in his breakdown of the media through his YouTube channel, Trews News, than most of what passes today for media criticism.

In his most recent episode of Trews News, Brand deconstructs media coverage of Chapel Hill by comparing it with attacks in Denmark:

Chapel Hill Vs. Copenhagen: Which is terrorism? Russell Brand, The Trews (E257)

He points out the reinforcement in the media of narratives about Muslims as dangerous terrorists and Islam as the culprit of evil ideas that along with its votaries are the chief threats to “Western values.” This is in contrast to the way Craig Hicks was depicted, a man who we were immediately told (after an initial media silence on the story until Twitter users picked it up) was simply motivated by some strange and inexplicable rage over a parking space.

A lot of ink was spilled to indicate how gentle he was, how he supported gay rights, religious freedom and even loved puppies. His atheism/anti-theism many have argued was inconsequential and not a factor in his killings. Care was taken to say and repeat, ad nauseum, that either this had nothing to do with religion or, in fact, there was something else behind the reason why Hicks just went ‘haywire’ and murdered his Muslim neighbors: perhaps he was radicalized by a movie or he was just a gun nut.

The Simplistic vs. the Complex: The Case of Bill Maher on Muslim Americans

This brings me to my point: when non-Muslims, specifically Whites carry out murders such as these, media coverage tends to look beyond superficiality and digs into complexity. Muslim perpetrators (and often victims as well) of violence are denied this complexity; Islam/Islamism/Muslim cultures are simply to blame.

Take one instructional example that parallels in many ways the events in Chapel Hill. When Bridges TV owner Muzzammil Hassan killed his wife, Bill Maher had a whole segment about the murder on Real Time.

Hassan, gruesomely killed his wife by murdering her with what Maher described in racialized tones as a “scimitar.” Maher, would repeat the line about the scimitar again during the segment and also did a cartoonish ‘Arab’ accent (even though Hassan was Pakistani-American), while swinging an imagined sword in the air in a mock imitation of Hasan killing his wife (all for cheap laughs).

To drive the points home that this was a unique Islamic murder, a degree worse than murders perpetrated by “red-blooded White American males,” and that there are no trustworthy Muslim Americans he had Islamophobe Brigitte Gabriel on the show as a special guest:

Bill Maher: He [Hasan] ran a TV station specifically to highlight how Moslems are being misconstrued in the public eye [audience laughter]…(laughs)…and then he cuts her head off with a sword…(laughs)…and so I wanted to have this lady come on and comment on this. I read about her many times, she is the founder of ACT! For America and author of They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam And How We Can Do It. Please Welcome Brigitte Gabriel. [applause].”

Now this scares people because people think here’s a guy living in America 25 years, he’s assimilated, we can trust him and then he takes a giant sword off the wall and cuts his wife’s head off.
(emphasis mine)

Maher implies here that Muslims, even those who you may know and are living exemplary lives, are untrustworthy, to be feared and a fifth column.

Now enter Gabriel to jump all over Maher’s offering:

Brigitte Gabriel: That’s right…[audience laughter]…and then he is touted as the exemplatory moderate Moslem who actually started Bridges TV which is an Islamic television to clean up the image of Islam. And what does he do? He beheads his wife, calls the police bragging about how he cut her head off and the police shows up and there’s the lady laying on the floor, in the TV station that they founded together and her head is next to her body and this guy did it in the name of honor. This is what we call a moderate Muslim businessman in the United States, it’s frightening. [audience hoots] (emphasis mine)

Maher: Well say what you really think…[audience laughter]

Gabriel: You can’t even make this stuff up.

Maher: I know.

Gabriel on Maher's Real Time.

Gabriel on Maher’s Real Time.

Be afraid, be afraid of Muslims anywhere and everywhere we are being told. They cannot be trusted. I wonder if that crossed Craig Hicks mind while he plotted and planned the murder of his Muslim neighbors?

Next, Maher asks the obvious question, why is this murder different than other instances of domestic violence?

Maher: Let me ask you the other question: C’mon there are red-blooded White Americans who strangle their wives and OJ killed his wife with a knife, it wasn’t a giant sword, you know. What about the argument that this is just bigotry towards the Moslems to extrapolate all of this from this incident?

Gabriel: No, it’s very different and I have to make it very clear that I do come from the Middle East, I am an Arabic woman from Lebanon and this is strictly an Islamic practice and here’s the difference: when Westerners in the West kill their wives they usually kill their wife and run away, they try to hide the problem, they try to lie, they try to hide the evidence, [audience laughter] they do not call the police and brag about how they killed her. [audience laughter] You know there’s a major difference there. [audience applause] (emphasis mine)

Maher is asking Gabriel to give some reasons to justify the preset conclusion that they have already made regarding the murder; that it is “Islamic.” First, I’d like to point out that it’s quite funny to hear Gabriel say she is an “Arabic woman” when she has repeated in the past that Arabs are “barbarians” who “have no soul.” I guess when it is beneficial, why not be Arab, especially if it will give you supposed credibility to bash Arabs and Muslims.

In any case, we are to believe that this is an “Islamic murder” and worse than when non-Muslims kill because the guy allegedly bragged about it! This is so idiotic that even Maher has to make the obvious quip that well, it doesn’t make much of a difference to a dead wife.

Maher: [laugheter] But that doesn’t make that much of a difference to the wife…[laughter]…[applause]…You think he had that scimitar up on the wall just as a conversation piece?…[laughter]…(Ay-rab voice)“I keep it up there to remind me how far we come.” And then one day the wifey went too far, and he went: ‘bitch you are (makes sword cutting motion)’…and cut her head off.

Although, Maher makes this slight joke, he is still all in on leading the racist, anti-Arab, Islamophobic train of hate that imputes Hassan’s actions as a consequence of Islam and Muslim culture.

Next, Gabriel in her quintessential ditzy fashion tears down all her earlier claims that this was an “Islam” inspired murder by contradicting her assertion that Hassan was (her words) “an exemplatory moderate Muslim.”

In fact, he had a serial history of domestic abuse, as she herself acknowledges.:

Gabriel: Yea…off with her head. Listen this is a premeditated, calculated murder. She has reported many times domestic abuse and remember this is his third wife and the other two left him because of domestic abuse because he was beating them. This lady wanted to leave him because she was fearing for her life and finally he killed her and it’s a tragedy and I thank you for bringing it to light because no one in the mainstream media is covering the story.

Maher: I know. You start a TV station to highlight how moderate the Moslems are and you make one mistake. [laughter]

Maher, caps the surreal segment with a buffoonish reassertion of the theme that in his back-and-forth with Gabriel he’s been driving home from the beginning: “Moslems” by definition cannot be trusted.

Not only is this rhetoric the type that shapes Western cultural attitudes (Real Time has millions of viewers worldwide), it contributes to an environment where Muslim lives are dehumanized, suspect and not worthy of the same respect as other citizens. It is no wonder that behaviors such as hate crimes, discriminatory laws and police practices, as well as invasions of whole nations are normative and accepted.

It also highlights how simplistic answers and mono-causal reasons (Islam/Muslim culture) are forwarded when Muslims are involved in violence: whether it is domestic violence related, as in the case of Hassan, or the shootings perpetrated in Denmark by Omar El-Hussein, a young man who had a history of violence.

Man Kills Three Muslim Students At University Of North CarolinaIt is not surprising that the week of the Chapel Hill murders, Bill Maher made no mention of them on his program. No doubt he was uncomfortable, maybe in the back of his head he just couldn’t compute how an avowed anti-theist and self-proclaimed militant atheist (much like himself) could commit these grisly and horrid murders.

Why didn’t he, as he did with Hassan’s murder, impute Hicks’ faith based beliefs? Couldn’t he do a segment about how Hicks was an “exemplatory” citizen for 55 years of his life and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he took those “conversation pieces” (dozens of guns) down and for some inexplicable (insert: anti-theism) reason used them to murder his neighbors?

No, he can’t because it doesn’t jibe with his belief in muscular “9/11 liberalism” and his confident hatred of Islam as the “worst of the worst.” He can’t because he won’t countenance his particular sect, New-Atheism, being twisted in this manner. Maybe, it also makes him uncomfortable because it highlights the fact that human beings are not simplistic beings but complex and that maybe there are many reasons and factors driving them to do good and horrible things.

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