Translator Moe Ali Nayel was shocked by the arrogance of a recent group of Harvard students interviewing in Sabra refugee camp.
Cisco have posted the above new video about their partnership with Wired magazine to publish an interactive magazine, The Connective, which gives a glimpse of what the Internet of Everything will hold in store for us. You can download The Connective as an app for both Apple and Android devices from here.
We were standing outside the dojang (dojo)- they were taking the old sign down-the new owners were putting up a new sign. My children taking tae kwon do classes. When I signed them for classes in this particular dojo years ago, it was run by a man from Jordan, (a non-practicing brother who made a musalla (prayer area) in his office for us).
Along with the new uniforms and saying good bye to their beloved instructor, my children faced a big change in their martial arts instruction. They had to relearn many of the forms and learn their names in Korean. The friendly atmosphere had been replaced by formality. Last testing, when the kids were being handed their new belts, I saw that the Grandmaster was making everyone bow (almost like a sajdah) to him. Master Jordan never asked the kids (any kid) to bow down to him or to any another sensei. I walked up to the manager and told her that that my children would not be doing the bow.
Unceremoniously, an instructor (not the Grandmaster) handed the belts/certificate out to my children. The dojo had been bought by a Korean family who were very traditional in the manner that they ran the practice.
After the ceremony, we went into the office and thanked the Grandmaster for the certificates. I explained the whys, why we do not bow down to anyone aside God and it is for religious reasons etc. I offered several other culturally acceptable methods of showing our respect. We received a terse nod of acknowledgement and were asked to leave.
Lost in Translation
“Mama, they won't let me test! I am so prepared for my blue belt.' My daughter was on the phone. A few months later and it was testing time again, and this time my husband had taken the kids to the center. “”Give the phone to Mrs. Lee,” I said.
“Sorry, sorry, they have to come back on Friday, we test them when no one else is here!!” I could barely understand her. She was the wife and the manager and had moved to the U.S. from Korea 12 years ago.
“Please, Mrs. Lee,” I pressed,”the girls are so excited and they worked really hard, they are mentally ready to spar.”
She whispered something in Korean to her 18 year old son, he is 4th degree black belt and an instructor. Soon he was on the phone and his normally friendly voice was very contrived and terse. “This is Korean culture, you have to bow. I am doing you a favor by setting up separate testing.”
'But Master Jordan never…”
“Don't speak to me about him, he didn't run this place in a 'traditional Korean' way.”
I interjected “But none of your flyers, paperwork list any such rules.”
“Listen lady, I don't want to argue with you.” He said that he had never heard of this religion issue. Generally, Korean society is pretty homogeneous but never heard of bowing only to God!?
I knew I was going to lose my cool; so I asked my husband to just bring the girls home. I wasn't thinking about the instructor or his father, the Grandmaster; all I could think of was my disappointed kids.
My husband was upset, the girls were upset, and the Grandmaster was upset.
And I was really upset and frustrated as I had paid the fees upfront for the whole year. But to me bowing and sajdah are acts done solely for the sake of Allāh, to Allāh. The thought of making sujood to a human being had me riled up.
These thoughts rushed through my head as I wrote a quick email to my MuslimMatters resources. I didn't want my behavior to reflect badly on all Muslims that the Dojo may come in contact with but I wanted to make my point clear.
I didn't want to create a scene, so I decided not to go in right then and make a fuss in front of all the parents who were there for an important time in their kids' life, but I didn't think it was fair for them to send my children home after calling them to test. I did't want my kids being treated like pariahs, testing separately like there was something wrong with them. Part of the fun of martial arts is the whole dojo testing together. Why did they need to bow?
I understand that in a dojo martial artists hit & choke each other, they toss each other to the ground; they swing sticks, brandish swords and exchange a gamut of sophisticated bodily punishment. Without an honest and sincere demonstration of respect before and after an exchange, before and after class, they risk the creation of a contentious environment that promotes brawling and discourages mutual benefit. This is the reasoning behind the 'small bow'.
As I researched further, I understood that paying respect can mean to thank someone for training with you. Martial artists also bow to their opponents and to to fellow artists (this bow is more like a bending of the torso). “It can mean that you desire intensity of training. It can mean you desire slowness in training. It can mean that you admire someone for their abilities. It can mean that you want them to improve. It can mean that you want to see the best they have to offer. It can mean you want them to hit you as hard as they can. It can also mean you want them to go lightly on you. The word respect, to me, implies that you are cognizant of what is going on around you and you are intending to learn from it. It is an act of active participation, versus passive participation,” writes a martial artist. Bows are used to begin and end practice, sparring bouts and competitions, and when entering and leaving the dojo, or practice room.
More ever, a low, deep bow from Koreans at the end of a meeting indicates a successful meeting. A quick, short parting bow could mean dissatisfaction with meetings. Like traditional Muslim culture, elders are treated with respect due to to their age. I finally realized that in the GM's eyes, I had disrespected him when I asked that my kids not bow to him.
Several of MM brothers and their families do martial arts as well and had similar experiences: Iesa said that “when I took Aikido the sensei told me create a salute but I moved before I did, but nowadays in my jujitsu and kick-boxing classes the instructors don't really care so I just nod my head when the rest of them bow.”
Br Siraaj said “My kids do wushu,the instructors are Non-Muslim and understand why we don't do this (multiple families coming and explaining)”Shaykh Yasir Qadhi replied to my email:
Bowing down in front of others for respect is haram (not shirk). At the same time your kids (not baligh) so rules are lax for them; maybe they could get by if they just 'nodded' and didn't actually bend their backs?!? I had the same issue with my nephews and nieces and we talked to the sensei and he agreed to let them into class a few minutes late because they would bow at the beginning of the ceremony. They are not baligh so the Shariah would not be as strict on them. Parents needs to be as careful as possible and teach them what is appropriate. I wouldn't want my kids to do that.
(Please excuse the frankness of our discussions, we love our Shuyūkh and love that we can ask them questions) As our discussion grew, Br. Wael, a martial artist asked “why would you say that bowing for respect is haram? There is a big difference between someone arrogantly demanding that others bow for him (or rise for him) when he enters a room, and two people bowing to each other as a greeting. The martial arts bow is mutual. The instructor bows to the students, and the students bow to the instructor. Then, when students pair up to work on techniques, they bow to each other. Quite obviously it is not worship, and has nothing to do with worship. No one in Asian culture imagines or thinks that bowing is related to worship in any way. Secondly, the martial arts bow (or Asian cultural bow) is not a deep, 90 degree angle bow like our ruku'. It is a relatively shallow bow. We need to put things in their cultural context. If a Western “noble” walked in the room and expected people to bow, obviously as Muslims we cannot do that. But in East Asia, bowing is a simple greeting. It's a deeply ingrained part of Asian culture. In Japan and Korea (and China to a lesser degree) people bow when greeting a friend or a colleague, or even just running into a friend on the street. Indigenous East Asian Muslims do it as much as anyone else. Are they all committing sins every day by greeting each other in this way? In many parts of South East Asia, people (including Muslims) greet each other or show respect by putting their palms together in front of the chest. In the West, people shake hands. Arabs often hug. Well, East Asians bow. Are we to declare all other greeting traditions valid, and the East Asian tradition haram?”Shaykh Yasir replied: “Any type of lowering of the head (ruku and sujud) was allowed in previous nations if done out of respect (angels to Adam; Yaqub and sons to Yusuf). When Muadh tried to do it to Prophet (saw) he saw, “Do not do so.” And in another hadith, “I do not permit any man prostrating to another, but were I to permit it I would do so for the wife. I don't know of any scholar who would say bowing the head is something permissible. It is not done in our religion. Maybe you'll find some who say its strongly discouraged.” Some sisters shared Islam Q&A fatwas through which this hadith was shared:
Al-Tirmidhi (2728) narrated that Anas ibn Maalik [ra] said: A man said: O Messenger of Allāh, when one of us meets his brother or friend, should he bow to him? He said: “No.” He said: Should he embrace him and kiss him? He said: “No.” He said: Should he shake hands with him? He said: “Yes.”Wael asked the Shuyūkh “Is the Prophet flatly prohibiting bowing in this hadith, or is he simply describing what type of greeting is best for Muslims? Because if it's a flat prohibition, then must we also understand that embracing your brother is haram? So a Muslim cannot hug his brother, it's forbidden? The other fatwas keep saying that “bowing is a kind of worship”. My point is that our ruku' is certainly worship; but the shallow bow that martial arts practitioners give each other is not. No one in martial arts intends or conceives of it as worship. Otherwise we would be worshipping each other, which makes no sense.” A great part of being MM Family is the access to a variety of scholars, so here is Shaykh Yahya Ibrahim's take which slightly differed from Shaykh Yasir's:
Some take a very conservative stance and refuse any form of bowing. That of course is acceptable and prudent. however if the children are young, taught well about our worship and how none deserve it but Allāh, I find it is acceptable to acknowledge others with a movement of the head and torso that meets the expectation of respect without compromising our faith and education of our kids. I think the compromise offered is great. I grew up, for 6 years, in tae kwon do gyms… I bowed with a movement from the head and torso slightly throughout.
Wa allahu a'laam
The Big Bow
But the big bow as it is called in many dojos was the major issue. This bow is literally called the “90 degree bow” (90도 인사) in Korean because it is. It's a form of utter respect, an intentional showing of service and obedience. Sabae (큰절) or deep bows that are reserved for special occasions, for example the Korean News Year's. Many Korean traditions stem from Confucianism. Although Confucianism is sometimes described as a religion because of it allusions to ancestor worship Confucius himself never endorsed ancestor worship. He stressed devotion to ancestors out of reverence to their wisdom and moral leadership not as a means of worshiping their spirits.Here is what Shaykh Abdul Rahman Mangera says:
In the name of Allāh the Inspirer of truth. It is not permissible to bow in these circumstances. Although it may not have any religious significance to the art, however, as a Muslim it is an empathetically prohibited act for you. It is an act reserved for Allāh alone, and doing it for other than Allāh is either unlawful, or can leads one to kufr if done with intention to worship. If it had been permissible, even as to honor someone, it would have been permissible to do it for the Prophet (upon him be peace) or one's elders, which is not the case.Wael had some practical advice for me: “Sister Hena, I just noticed that you are referring to the full prostrating bow, which resembles our sajda. In this case I agree that it's not appropriate for a Muslim. It sounds like the new instructor is very traditional and formal. This may not be the right class for a Muslim. You might think about switching your kids to another school, or to a different martial arts style. Some styles, such as those that come from Indonesia or the Philippines, do not require bowing because it's not a part of their culture. There are also schools that do not require bowing because they are Christian-run and have eliminated Asian cultural trappings. And some that are simply Americanized.” The Sajdah
I realized what a great learning opportunity this is for my kids. The kids and I spoke about Sujud- the meaning of the word, sajdah:
S J D-lowly, humble, submissive, worship, adore, prostrate, make obeisance, lower/bend oneself down towards the ground, lower the head, to salute/honor/magnify, to pay respect, to stand up, to look continually and tranquilly.
A sajdah is our body hymning the submission of our souls. How metaphorically we do Sajadah when we obey Allāh. We spoke of how one can do superficial prostration while disobeying God.
In our discussion on the MM listserv, we did veer off topic and talked about how sad it is that most parents will not or can not get their kids to make even ruku' to Allāh, but will find time and put in the effort to put their kids in karate schools to make ruku' to an instructor. And the reality is most Muslim families are not even getting their kids to pray five times a day.
I wanted to share this topic with our readers as many of us face live in a multicultural environment where our actions/interactions may upset another based on their cultural norms. Bowing to other than God is not a modern issue but its ramifications in a martial arts setting maybe new. I want to share how my family and friends have handled this situation and how shurah with people that you trust can help guide you through a complex situation that may initially seem black and white. My children learnt the important of sajdah, a seemingly physical act and it's profound metaphysical and spiritual meaning in a way that I could not have explained to them if they didn't have this experience. They also learnt how respect is expressed in other cultures.
My children continue to stand up for their belief and refuse to bow down to anyone except to their Lord. They tested separately until the Grandmaster yielded. As a sign of respect, we took flowers for their instructor to show them respect at their ceremonial testing (American style). Until we left California, when we entered and exited the dojo we did a quick nod of greeting and respect. We hope that their instructors are richer in learning that there are others whose views may differ from theirs, and that respect can be expressed in many beautiful ways. As I search for a new dojo for them in our new city, I will keep my MM brothers' advice in mind.
For my children only Allāh is the Grandmaster, alḥamdulillāh. May Allāh always keep them firm in their īmān.
The post Martial Arts – A Grand Master’s Big Bow and the Muslim Take appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.
Talk about irony, in the same state in which politicians wanted to make Christianity the state religion you have a move to ban the non-existent threat of ‘Shariah,’ if they had their way they would probably really like to ban Islam altogether (their real intent). I have not looked at whether every NC politician who supported making Christianity the state religion also voted in favor of banning Sharia but both of the representatives who first proposed the legislation, Rep. Carl Ford and Rep. Harry Warren both voted “Aye” in favor of the ban.
North Carolinians like Rep. John Blust and Rep. Larry Pittman think some form of Taliban-esque Shariah with a southern drawl is already here and on the verge of taking over the USA.
They may be right, all they have to do I reckon to find them is look in the mirror.Sharia law ban heads to Senate
RALEIGH, N.C. — A proposal to ban the recognition of Islamic Sharia law in North Carolina courts is headed for the Senate after winning final House approval Thursday.
Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, said House Bill 695 is unnecessary, would conflict with constitutional due process rights and would damage North Carolina’s image in the eyes of the international business community.
Bill sponsor Rep. Chris Whitmire, R-Transylvania, disagreed.
“Take it as fact that this is a very, very present threat that must be dealt with,” Whitmire said. “We are making sure that the most fundamental basis on which we exist is protected.”
Rep. John Blust, R-Guilford, disagreed with arguments that the state and federal constitution already protect citizens against foreign law.
“I’ve always wanted to depend on our own constitution, but we have seen that document put in, frankly, grave danger,” Blust said.
“In the United States, there is the Sharia law,” he said. “It is fundamentally at odds with U.S. jurisprudence. The two systems cannot be reconciled. Individual rights are not recognized.”
Blust said the goal of proponents of Sharia law is to infiltrate other cultures. He said Democrats should be aware of the threat.
“Some of the groups of people that are championed on the progressive side are absolutely trod upon under Sharia,” he warned. “For example, homosexuals are stoned. I don’t want to see that creeping in here.”
Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, agreed, likening the threat of Sharia law to Pearl Harbor. That comparison is also frequently used by anti-Islamic activist Frank Gaffney at the Center for Security Policy.
The measure passed by a 70-41 vote.
Corey Saylor with the Council on American-Islamic Relations called the proposal “anti-Islamic.”
“Anyone who believes foreign law can replace the Constitution is misguided,” he said. ”The Supremacy Clause ensures that the Constitution will always remain our nation’s law. American Muslims like it that way, as it ensures every individual’s right to worship or not as they see fit.”
“That is why CAIR’s lawsuit against an anti-Islam bill in Oklahoma argues First Amendment and Supremacy Clause issues,” Saylor said in a statement. “Four federal judges have ruled in our favor so far, so we are confident we are upholding the Constitution.
“Frankly, supporters of anti-Islam legislation, such as HB 695, are undermining its protections,” he added.
A proposed Muslim surgical facility in a Chicago suburb elicited the usual fear and conspiracy theory mongering that is the m.o. of Islamophobes. The center’s proposal was rejected today by state board for reasons unrelated to the Islamophobes but this stands as another instance of the Islamophobia crowd fabricating headlines.
Sheila Musaji has the story:Islamophobes discover ludicrous “hospital jihad” plot
Chicago Business reported that “Dr. Naser Rustom plans to open the first outpatient surgery center in Illinois that he says will follow Islamic law. … He proposes to establish a $5.5 million medical facility in southwest suburban Orland Park that would cater to Muslims, including space for prayer and ritual washing and partitions for enhanced patient privacy. … Patients of all religious and cultural backgrounds will be treated at the center, which will not be different from other surgery centers except “to the trained eye.”
Summary of the facts: a Muslim doctor has applied for permits to open a hospital in an area of Chicago with a large Muslim population. The hospital would be for the entire community, no matter what their religion, but would accommodate Muslim religious and cultural customs to make Muslim patients more comfortable.
The Islamophobes were on this right way. Debbie Schlussel, for example, posted New SHARIAH/ISLAM-ONLY Medical Center to Open in Chicago. Schlussel introduces an article about this planned hospital with this comment: “More and more, America becomes Islamerica. And here’s yet another example. But this is only the symptom, not the problem: a growing Muslim population that has metastasized and is a ticking population timebomb–through immigration (legal and illegal) and birth rate. A Muslim doctor, who also owns a Chicago Middle East restaurant (where you should NOT eat, or you are financing shariah), is opening a shariah-compliant medical center. You can bet, by the way, that the government will not force the constructs of Obamacare down the throats of these Muslims, just Catholic-operated hospitals and the like. (On the other hand, I’ve repeatedly told you about the medical jihadists–how Islamic doctors treat non-Muslim patients, so maybe it’s better if Muslim doctors treat only other Muslims. Sadly, that ain’t how it works.)”
Schlussel is Jewish, and for an American Jew to find this proposed hospital to be some sinister Muslim plot is unbelievable. But since she seems unable to even read the article to note that the hospital would be open to all, and not “Islam Only” as her title falsely claims, I suppose she might just be that ignorant.
Schussel was not the only Jewish Islamophobe to show this level of ignorance. Bonni Benstock-Intall of Bare Naked Islam titled her “expose” COMING SOON TO CHICAGO: Islamic Female Genital Mutilation. And, Daniel Pipes wrote Islamists in the Hospital Ward in which he says “A Muslim surgery center in Chicago: It was inevitable: not fitting in to normal medical facilities, Islamists would have their own. But who would imagine the trend starting in a Chicago suburb, Orland Park, where Dr. Naser Rustom, an internist, plans to build a $5.5 million surgical center?” This issue of hospitals that cater to Muslim patients truly bothers the Islamophobes. Pamela Geller & Creeping Sharia previously called Muslim hospitals “hospital jihad”.
This is an obvious attempt to create a story out of nothing. The concept behind this hospital catering to Muslim patients is well-established in the Jewish community.
The Visiting Nurse Service of New York has an article online that states:
“We understand the importance of delivering culturally sensitive care and serving the unique needs of all of our patients. We know you and your loved ones live in New York but may be most comfortable with nurses and other professionals who are sensitive to each patient’s cultural needs, customs and religious background. At VNSNY, we’ve tailored our comprehensive home health care and community-based services to New York City’s Jewish population—the largest Jewish community outside of Israel.
Our health professionals include nurses, therapists, home health aides, social workers, and translators who provide every type of care from mental health services to managing medications. They attend our La Bre Oot program, where they receive specialized training to recognize and understand the unique cultural needs and customs of their Jewish patients, particularly the laws and practices of Orthodox Jewish clients. Our staff members take those traditions into account when they care for you and your family. They are especially sensitive to:
Kosher dietary and nutritional practices and their relationship to medical conditions and continuing health
Laws of the Sabbath and holidays
Family dynamics in the care of the elderly and those with disabilities
Educating patients and families on medical conditions and treatments
In addition, VNSNY works closely with leading Jewish physicians, and we have nurses on-site at the major hospitals and medical centers that cater to the Jewish community, including Mt. Sinai, Beth Israel, NYU, Maimonides, and Lenox Hill. In addition, our relationships with the many community-based organizations that cater to New York’s Jewish population allow us to help our patients access the appropriate resources available in their neighborhoods.
An article To cater to the Orthodox community, back to basics reports that:
“Monmouth Medical Center, where more and more Orthodox Jewish patients from Lakewood are coming to give birth, is sensitive to cultural and religious needs. … To accommodate the growing Orthodox community in Long Branch, Deal and Lakewood, many physicians are opening offices nearby. “It’s a big part of what we do here,” said Dr. Dominick Lobraico where 35 percent of the practice’s births are to Orthodox parents. The hospital operates a program to treat Orthodox patients and their families with sensitivity and educates its staff to do the same. … Because of a prohibition against the operation of mechanical devices on the Sabbath, Monmouth Medical Center has established a Sabbath entrance, which is a manual door, and a Sabbath stairwell to patient rooms so observant Jews do not have to use the elevator. … The Eisenberg Family Center offers a unit of private rooms for new mothers, with sofas in case a new father wants to stay the night. That unit also includes kosher kitchenettes and areas for prayer. Prayer shawls are located in a nearby bookcase.”
These Jewish Islamophobes continue to stir up the bigots, and as I wrote previously May Regret Stirring Up a Hornet’s Nest of Bigotry. Their anti-Muslim prejudice is clouding their judgement about how closely anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and all other forms of bigotry are linked. Encouraging and condoning bigotry towards any minority ultimately can come to hurt all minorities. Their ravings against Islam and Muslims are appealing to a certain segment of the population who need to have someone to blame and to look down on. It is if she is taking a stick and sticking it into a hive of hornets and shaking it around and hoping they can control who those hornets sting.
A three-year probe may not have led to a criminal prosecution but it shows that cooperating with Israel carries that risk.
Florida politics continues its resemblance to the fantasy world of Walt Disney.
Does Rick Scott think throwing Allen West out there as a candidate for Lieutenant Governor will possibly resuscitate his hopes for re-election?Rick Scott Says Allen West Would Make ‘Great’ Lieutenant Governor
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) opened the door to a comeback for former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) Friday, saying he’d be a “great” pick for his second in command.
Scott told AM Tampa Bay on WFLA radio Friday that he believes West would be a good pick to fill the lieutenant governor’s office, vacated in March by former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll (R). Scott has indicated he will name Carroll’s successor soon, and had planned to wait until after the state Legislature adjourned last week.
Scott told WFLA that he had not settled on a pick for lieutenant governor, but then praised West, saying that the former congressman “is a great American and a great patriot … he’d be a great lieutenant governor.”
Carroll resigned in March after meeting with FBI investigators regarding previous lobbying work she had done for an internet cafe company in the state. Under the terms of the Florida constitution, Scott can name Carroll’s successor for the remainder of the term, which expires in January 2015.
But West and Scott have had a turbulent relationship in recent months, with the staunchly conservative West criticizing Scott’s endorsement of accepting federal funds to expand Florida’s Medicaid program under the federal health care reform law. Scott was one of several GOP governors to make such an endorsement, but the GOP-controlled state Legislature did not pass the Medicaid expansion. Yet West criticized Scott’s decision, noting that the tea party opposed the move and that most Republican governors had rejected expanding Medicaid.
Scott’s pick for lieutenant governor would likely be his running mate in 2014. He is facing an uphill reelection campaign, with only a third of Floridians saying that he should win a second term.
Florida’s lieutenant governor has no official duties except taking over in the event of Scott leaving office before his term expires. Carroll handled aerospace and military issues for Scott. Only two lieutenant governors, Democrats Wayne Mixson and Buddy MacKay, succeeded to the governorship, both for brief terms. The office would give West, who lost a 2012 congressional bid, a statewide platform to resume his political career.
As for potential Scott picks for lieutenant governor, the Miami Herald in March named state Sen. Anitere Flores of Miami, state Reps. Doug Holder of Sarasota and Jimmy Patronis of Panama City, and Miami-Dade County School Board member Raquel Regaldo.
One day after visiting Palestine, Brazilian politician Tarso Genro signed a deal with Israeli arms firm Elbit.
Allison Pearson has a piece in the Daily Telegraph which is a carbon copy of the EDL / far right propaganda in relation to the conviction of a gang in Oxford on horrific sex attack charges.
I’ll try to word this in an easy way,
My heart is calm and so at peace today.
Because I think I have finally found the cure
To all my woes which so long, I was searching for.
Everytime I wanted to run and in this world did not want to stay,
A little whisper of a voice would tell me it would be Ok.
Everytime I faced a test and thought I couldn’t make it through,
A gentle voice guided my soul and took my patience to heights anew.
I see now it was Allah swt wanting me to know
That I wasn’t done yet, my soul still had to grow.
The growing peace emanated within my heart,
I would have been spared so much pain had I let Allah swt in from the start.
The beauty of His words simply fill these eyes with tears,
Knowing He watches over me has eliminated my fears.
So many times I thought my end had come
And so many times I was emotionally undone.
But a little voice in my head would not give up,
Sometimes gentle, sometimes firm, sometimes telling me to shut up.
Now, when I hear that voice I stop and smile no matter what the pain,
Because I know it’s Allah swt’s way of saving my soul again and again.
I may not have used beautiful adjectives to you to explain my story
But that does not mean I am not in awe of Allah swt’s Glory.
I share this gift with you so that you may also revel in what is true,
So that you have belief in your darkest hours that Allah swt loves you too.
Oslo Freedom Forum founder’s ties to Islamophobes who inspired mass killer Anders Breivik
An Electronic Intifada investigation uncovers evidence that Thor Halvorssen, the founder of the Oslo Freedom Forum, receives significant funding from the same financiers who support the Islamophobes who inspired anti-Muslim Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik. Despite being presented with this evidence, the Norwegian government and Amnesty International are embracing Halvorssen, a long-time far-right activist and the scion of a politically-connected family tied to Venezuela’s US-backed opposition.
This week in Oslo, hundreds of people from around the world are gathering for the fifth annual Oslo Freedom Forum, a human rights conference billed as “a three-day summit exploring how best to challenge authoritarianism and promote free and open societies.”
Produced by the New York-based Human Rights Foundation (humanrightsfoundation.org), the event is sponsored by, among others, Norway’s Labor Party government (in the form of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), the City of Oslo, and Amnesty International Norway. Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide is scheduled to deliver prepared remarks at the forum.
Oslo is still scarred by the murderous rampage carried out by the right-wing extremistAnders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian citizen who fashioned himself as a crusading knight on a mission to save Europe from the scourge of Muslim immigration.
His killing spree began on 22 July 2011 with a bombing that killed eight persons and injured 209 others outside Oslo’s main government building. The violence ended some 25 miles to the north at a summer camp for the youth wing of Norway’s ruling Labor Party, where he massacred 69 persons, most of them children and youths.
Breivik insisted the bloodbath was necessary to stop those he saw enabling mass Muslim immigration — those he called “cultural Marxists” and especially the Labor Party — accusing them of “contributing to a process of indirect cultural and demographical genocide.”Islamophobe inspirations
The killer outlined his views in a 1,500-page manifesto, listing the far-right Americans who helped radicalize him. They included the most notorious purveyors of anti-Muslim resentment, such as Jihad Watch founder Robert Spencer, Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, and Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes, whose writings Breivik excerpted at length.
Among the suggestions for “Further Study” provided by the killer were links on YouTube to the 2008 propaganda film Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, which has been promoted as “the single most powerful piece of media over the past five years in persuading average Americans to the Islamist threat” (Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America, Center For American Progress, 26 August 2011, p. 16).
Breivik clearly thought it was powerful too and would help explain and justify his murderous rampage.
It is of public record that the Oslo Freedom Forum receives substantial financial support from the Norwegian government. But only a tiny handful of people know that one of the largest donors to the Human Rights Foundation — the producer of the Oslo Freedom Forum — are Donors Capital Fund and its affiliate Donors Trust, Inc.
Donors Capital Fund is the same right-wing American foundation that spent millions of dollars to fund the distribution of millions of copies of Obsession, and which has lavished hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years on the network of professionalIslamophobes that Breivik cited as his inspirations.
Donors Capital Fund is only one of several major funders to the Human Rights Foundation that have been among the principal donors or conduits for funding to the Islamophobic hate groups and ideologues who helped radicalize Breivik.
One person who certainly knew this is Thor Halvorssen.Oslo Freedom Forum’s right-wing brainchild
Who is Halvorssen? He is best known as the founder and CEO of the Human Rights Foundation, where he is listed as the lone staff member. The Oslo Freedom Forum is his brainchild, a confab he has sought to brand as “a Davos for human rights.” The theme of this year’s conference is “Challenging Power.”
Halvorssen is also a right-wing activist, film producer and scion of Venezuela’s moneyed elite whose years of involvement in ultra-conservative politics enabled him to corral a small coterie of mostly far-right moneymen into bankrolling his Human Rights Foundation.
The Electronic Intifada has obtained Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 990 forms filed by the Human Rights Foundation that include previously undisclosed information about its donors.
The forms show that the Human Rights Foundation received approximately $600,000 in donations from the Donors Capital Fund from 2007 through 2011. Based in Northern Virginia, Donors Capital Fund is essentially a slush fund for the cadre of rightist donors who bankroll the conservative movement.
The Electronic Intifada’s analysis of IRS filings by Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust shows that the Human Rights Foundation received $764,950 from 2005 through 2011 from Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust, all but about $5,000 coming through the Donors Capital Fund.
“Since the fund handles money from multiple donors and donors names aren’t disclosed, contributions made through the Donors Capital Fund are difficult to trace,” the Center for American Progress noted in its 2011 landmark report “Fear, Inc.” “Potential donors are required to open a minimum $1 million account to utilize the fund’s services.”
In 2009, Donors Capital Fund channeled $60 million to various conservative causes and from 2009 through 2011 a whopping $21,318,600 “to groups promoting Islamophobia,” according to the Center for American Progress.Shadowy nonprofit funds Islamophobic film applauded by Breivik
In 2008, Donors Capital donated $17,778,600 to a shadowy nonprofit called the Clarion Fund — later renamed the Clarion Project (“Mystery of who funded right-wing ‘radical Islam’ campaign deepens,” Salon, 16 November 2010).
The donation paid for the Clarion Fund’s distribution of the film Obsession during the height of the 2008 presidential campaign — an apparent attempt to tar Democrats and then-Senator Barack Obama as weak on terror.
In the film, grainy clips of Nazi youth saluting Adolf Hitler blend into footage of Muslim crowds chanting in unison against Western imperialism. With commentary from a who’s who of anti-Muslim activists, including Daniel Pipes, the film implies that political Islam is today’s version of Nazism, and that between 10 and 15 percent of the world’s Muslim population poses an imminent, existential threat to the West.
Thanks to this support, some 28 million DVDs of the film were tucked into the Sunday edition of local newspapers and delivered to Americans in swing states across the country. Eventually, the film reached Breivik as well and is applauded in his manifesto.
Breivik cited Pipes at least 18 times in his manifesto; in one section, he quoted the far-right scholar commenting, “Self-hating Westerners have an out-sized importance due to their prominent role as shapers of opinion in universities, the media, religious institutions and the arts. They serve as the Islamists’ auxiliary mujahideen.”
Pipes’ Middle East Forum has benefited immensely from the generosity of Donors Capital Fund, reaping $2.3 million from the foundation between 2001 to 2009, according to the Center for American Progress.Halvorssen responds
In 2010, the Norwegian newspaper Klassekampen investigated what it referred to as Thor Halvorssen’s “secret funding,” which it suspected was “associated with the right side of the United States.” Halvorssen told reporter Sarah Sorheim: “I receive money from a variety of different people and environments. But that does not mean I necessarily support their political views.”
Sorheim asked him: “why not disclose who your sponsors are?” He deflected, explaining, “Since I got so much attention here in Norway, I’m still thinking about whether I can disclose our lists.”
Prior to this investigation by The Electronic Intifada, the full extent of Halvorssen’s right-wing funding was unknown. And contrary to the claims he made to Sorheim and to The Electronic Intifada, his political views appear to align neatly with many of his key backers and with those they support.
In an emailed response to The Electronic Intifada, Halvorssen stated that the $600,000 donated to the Human Rights Foundation through Donors Capital Fund from 2007 through 2011 that is disclosed in the Human Rights Foundation’s 2011 IRS filing actually came from his own family.
“The Harry Halvorssen Fund is an account I set up with Donors Capital/Donors Trust and it is the main vehicle through which my mother and I make our contributions to [the Human Rights Foundation] and other charitable pursuits ranging from ecological concerns and scholarships to inner-city children in New York, to equine rescue,” he stated.
None of the money provided through the Donors Capital Fund, he said, went to support the Oslo Freedom Forum, but he and his mother donate separate funds through the Human Rights Foundation to support the Oslo Freedom Forum. “The Harry Halvorssen Fund has never made any contributions to any film called Obsession,” Halvorssen wrote.
To be sure, the kinds of donor-advised services for living donors and legacies that Donors Capital Fund provides to major philanthropists are also offered by many well-established foundations, such as the Chicago Community Trust or the New York Community Trust, as well as other financial institutions.Tainted reputation
So why did Halvorssen choose to support the Human Rights Foundation and other causes through Donors Capital Fund, which is tainted by its reputation as a pass-through for anonymous donors to give enormous sums to virulently Islamophobic and anti-gay causes?
“My choice of using Donors Capital Fund/Donors Trust is based on the fact that if I were to pass away unexpectedly I know they will very strictly abide to donor intent,” Halvorssen wrote to The Electronic Intifada. On its website, Donors Trust states that it was established “to ensure the intent of donors who are dedicated to the ideals of limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise” is respected even after they die.
Halvorssen offered an analogy to explain his motives: “People I may disagree with may also open a bank account at Chase Manhattan Bank, where I have a debit card; this doesn’t mean that Chase Manhattan Bank is responsible for their activities or that other customers are to carry some kind of collective responsibility for their banking choices.”
But this analogy might not be exact; on its website, Donors Capital Fund states that only organizations “approved by the Donors Capital Fund board of directors are eligible to receive grants from donor-advised funds administered by Donors Capital Fund.”Anti-Muslim support
Even if Halvorssen were to be taken at his word about his relationship with Donors Capital Fund, he cannot explain why the Human Rights Foundation relies on other key members of the Islamophobia industry’s financial network.
The Sarah Scaife Foundation, one of the four foundations controlled by conservative financier Richard Mellon Scaife, donated $325,000 to Halvorssen’s Human Rights Foundation between 2007 and 2011, according to IRS filings.
According to the Center for American Progress, Scaife’s foundations contributed a staggering $7,875,000 to the Islamophobia industry between 2001 and 2009.
Among the major recipients of Scaife’s money was the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which received $3.4 million during the eight-year period documented in the “Fear Inc.” report.
The David Horowitz Freedom Center happens to be the main sponsor of Robert Spencer, the Islamophobic pseudo-scholar who claimed in a video interview with the conservative website Politichicks that the Muslim Brotherhood has penetrated deep into President Obama’s White House inner circle. Breivik referenced Spencer’s work no fewer than 162 times in his manifesto.
Then there is the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which contributed $145,000 to the Human Rights Foundation from 2007 through 2011, according to IRS forms. As The Electronic Intifada recently reported, the Bradley Foundation has helped pay the salaries of some of America’s most virulent anti-Muslim agitators. These include David Horowitz, the creator of “Islamofascism Awareness Week,” Pipes and Frank Gaffney, publisher of conspiratorial pamphlets like his 2010 “Shariah: The Threat to America,” in which he warned that American Muslims were engaged in a “stealth jihad” to place the country under the control of “sharia,” or Islamic law.
Breivik cited Gaffney and Horowitz a total of nine times in his manifesto.False-flag conspiracy theories
Gaffney, for his part, hosted Halvorssen on the 22 April 2013 edition of Secure Freedom Radio show, introducing him as “a remarkable man I’ve had the privilege of knowing for a long time.”
Asked by Gaffney about the recent Boston Marathon bombing, allegedly perpetrated by the Chechen-American brothers Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnaev, Halvorssen suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to exploit the bombings. Putin, he said, sought to distract from “a legitimate government-in-exile” that “wants to look to the West” — a clear reference to the exiled Chechen politician Akhmed Zakayev, whom Halvorssen hosted at the Oslo Freedom Forum in 2009.
Gaffney asked Halvorssen, “Did he [Putin] have something to do with this attack in Boston — that he was running Tamerlan Tsarnaev?”
“I have questions about it, Frank,” Halvorssen stated in an emphatic tone. “I have serious questions.” With his answer, Halvorssen demonstrated a readiness to indulge wild conspiracy theories that fit his political agenda.Halvorssen’s hard-right libertarian supporter
Rounding out the small stable of major donors to Human Rights Foundation is Peter Thiel, who contributed $535,000 to Halvorssen’s group through his personal foundation from 2007 to 2011.
Thiel earned his fortune as a venture capitalist, helping to found Paypal and investing inFacebook. He is also a right-wing libertarian ideologue who declared, as reported by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2012, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.” Thiel went on to blame the extension of voting rights to women for “hav[ing] rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron.”
Besides Halvorssen’s pet human rights project, Thiel has financed the notorious and now-discredited ACORN video sting by right-wing filmmaker James O’Keefe.
A February 2012 profile of Thiel published by Mark Ames in The Nation noted that the libertarian billionaire “co-authored an anti-affirmative action book, The Diversity Myth: Multiculturalism and Political Intolerance on Campus — a book that belittles ‘imaginary oppressors’ of minorities, blames homophobia on homosexuals and attacks domestic partnerships.”
Halvorssen presented Thiel with an award at the 2010 libertarian film festival, Libertopia, hailing him for “revolutioniz[ing] the monetary system.” The following year, he invited Thiel to speak at the Oslo Freedom Forum.
“I support the Human Rights Foundation and the Oslo Freedom Forum because their focus on dissidents engages the intellectual debate as well as the moral cause,” he remarked to the website The Street (“Peter Thiel Urges Investing in Human Rights,” 20 June 2011).Double standards
In response to questions about the Human Rights Foundation’s acceptance of support from Scaife, Thiel and other major donors of Islamophobic and ultra-conservative causes such as the Bradley Foundation, Halvorssen gave this statement to The Electronic Intifada:
Any donation or grant accepted by HRF is done with a categorical understanding that the foundation is free to research and investigate regardless of where such investigations may lead or what conclusions HRF may reach. We encourage funding from anyone who cares about human freedom. This does not mean HRF endorses the views or opinions of its donors. In plain language: We are grateful, privileged and proud that we receive support, as this ultimately means that our mission is being endorsed. This does not, however, mean we agree [with] the views of those who support us. Likewise, some donors on this list may ultimately disagree with the decisions and public statements of HRF. Their inclusion on this list in no way implies that they agree with all of HRF’s positions or activities.
While Halvorssen takes a relaxed view about the activities of his principal funders, he has different standards for where others should get their money.
When actors Hilary Swank and Jean-Claude Van Damme accepted payments to be celebrity guests at the birthday party of Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Russian puppet regime in Chechnya, Halvorssen denounced them. “Hilary Swank obviously has the right to earn a living entertaining the highest bidder, but this sort of venality should be exposed,” he said. “We must remember the disgrace of Mariah Carey, Nelly Furtado, Beyoncé and 50 Cent [who] were exposed … singing for Gaddafi’s family and earning millions of dollars for it” (“Hilary Swank, Van Damme slammed for attending Chechen president party,” Digital Spy UK, 11 October 2011).
As for libertarian ideologue Thiel, Halvorssen wrote to The Electronic Intifada: “Peter Thiel is not just a donor, I consider him a personal friend. … Peter’s devotion to human rights, education and nonviolence are extraordinary. We are thrilled to have him as a donor and as a former speaker at [Oslo Freedom Forum].”
This year, the Thiel Foundation is listed as a main supporter of Halvorssen’s forum.Norwegian government, Amnesty respond
The Electronic Intifada shared some of the information about the Human Rights Foundation’s donors with Ragnhild Imerslund, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs communications chief and spokesperson for Foreign Minister Eide.
Imerslund acknowledged that the Norwegian government has provided 800,000 Norwegian kroner ($138,000) to pay for “participation by Human Rights Defenders from the Global South to the Oslo Freedom Forum 2013,” which she called “an important arena for discussing human rights issues.”
Regarding the donors to the Forum’s producer and creator, Imerslund said only, “Questions regarding sources of funding for the Human Rights Foundation should be directed to them.”
Similarly, Gerald Kador Folkvord, Political Advisor to Amnesty International Norway, wrote that “To the best of our knowledge, none of the sponsors of the Oslo Freedom Forum (mind you, it’s the Forum we are concerned with; who might or might not support the organization Human Rights Foundation outside the Forum does not really concern us as we have no other dealings with them) has been involved in activities undermining human rights so seriously that we couldn’t be part of an event they are sponsoring.”
“The Sarah Scaife Foundation is not listed among the sponsors of the Oslo Freedom Forum,” Amnesty’s Folkvord added. “When it comes to their support, if any, to The Human Rights Foundation, the latter would have to answer for that.”
Folkvord said that Amnesty had paid for one “human rights defender” to travel to Oslo and, “with the other organizations involved, Amnesty participated in discussions around the program of the Oslo Freedom Forum and suggested issues and speakers.”
The Electronic Intifada asked both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Amnesty how they thought members of the Norwegian public would respond to the fact that the Human Rights Foundation — the producer and originator of the Oslo Freedom Forum — counted among its most generous supporters the same donors that sustain the Islamophobic activists cited by Breivik as inspirations. Neither offered a reply.The right connections
So how did Halvorssen manage to secure funding from Norwegian government sources? And why are government officials so dismissive when presented with evidence that he is simultaneously supported by rightist forces propagating religious bigotry?
A 26 November 2010 report in Norway’s daily Klassekampen offers some possible answers (“Gir millioner til sine egne”).
According to the paper, the Oslo city council increased funding for Halvorssen’s Oslo Freedom Forum in 2010 while slashing social spending amid a worsening financial situation. Leading the effort to ramp up public funding of the human rights forum was a politician from the Liberal Party named Ola Elvestuen — the brother of Per Elvestuen.
And who is Per Elvestuen? As Klassekampen revealed, he has been listed as a “coordinator” and “director” of the Oslo Freedom Forum. He is also is a board member ofNy Tid, the magazine owned by Halvorssen and a spokesman for the Halvorssen-owned Hunter Media Inc.
Thanks to a tangled web of high-level connections and an apparent case of nepotism, the Oslo Freedom Forum has thrived.Fortunate son of Venezuela’s elite
Halvorssen is the scion of an oligarchic Venezuelan family closely linked to the political opposition that formed against recently deceased former President Hugo Chavez. His mother, Hilda Mendoza Denham, a direct descendant of Venezuela’s first two presidents, is a member of one of her country’s most influential clans.
Halvorssen’s father, also named Thor Halvorssen, was a wealthy heir who gained control over Venezuela’s telecommunications monopoly. In 1989, then-President Carlos Andres Perez appointed Halvorssen Sr. as Venezuela’s “anti-drug ambassador.” That same year, President Perez’s government was responsible for committing one of the worst massacres in modern times: up to 3,000 persons were killed protesting President Perez’s harsh International Money Fund-imposed austerity program (“Victims of Venezuela’s Caracazo clashes reburied,” BBC News, 21 February 2011).
Halvorssen Sr. is reported to have helped expose the secret bank accounts his longtime friend Perez used to embezzle public money, allegedly earning the wrath of the president and his inner circle.
As Perez sought to fend off scrutiny and an electoral challenge, a series of bombs exploded around Caracas. Halvorssen Sr. was immediately arrested and accused of orchestrating a terrorist plot to manipulate the Venezuelan stock market. He was imprisoned under harsh conditions and only freed after 74 days thanks in part to intervention from Amnesty International.
With his father cleared of all charges, Halvorssen Jr. refers to him today as a former “political prisoner,” describing him as the force that helped inspire his interest in human rights. But there was another side to the elder Halvorssen that was wrapped in intrigue and which remains shrouded in mystery.
Besides his role as a businessman and government official, Halvorssen Sr. was a part-time spook who, according to a 19 November 1993 report by the Associated Press, “cooperated with the CIA” and “was used to funnel money to Nicaraguan Contra leader Eden Pastora” (“Trafficker, Alleged Terrorist Penetrated CIA, DEA in Venezuela”).
In her book Hostile Acts, journalist Martha Honey notes that Halvorssen Sr. served during the early 1980s as president of the Committee in Defense of Democracy in Nicaragua, a CIA front group “used to rally regional public opinion against the Sandinistas …” (p. 237).
A 29 November 1993 article by US News and World Report describes Halvorssen Sr. as a “CIA source” and notes that he was also a US Drug Enforcement Agency informant at the time, but that the agency eventually cut him loose, citing his tendency towards “duplicity and manipulation.” According to the report, Halvorssen Sr. “had unusual ties to and knowledge of drug traffickers” (“At play in the fields of the spies”).
Just as the father retreated from the international scene, the son began to make his name.Anti-feminist, anti-environmentalist, anti-Arab
In a 2010 interview with Klassekampen, Halvorssen said, “Personally, I am no right-wing ideologue, as some have described me. I’m liberal. Period” “Jeg er liberalist”). He described himself in the same terms to The Electronic Intifada.
But a look at the early stages of Halvorssen’s career, which he spent as a conservative operative combating gay rights initiatives, feminism and multiculturalism on US college campuses, suggests otherwise.
Like his father, Halvorssen enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania. He first gained notice in 1994, when he authored a guest commentary for The Daily Pennsylvanian demanding that prospective students be warned before applying to the school that “it may be deadly to live in West Philadelphia,” the mostly African-American area surrounding Penn’s campus.
As editor of the conservative student magazine Red and Blue, Halvorssen courted controversy when the magazine ran a November 1994 column called “One Man’s Vision of Haiti” that was illustrated with a sketch of a voodoo doll. “To the best of my knowledge,” the article’s author wrote, “the only imports from Haiti we have in this country are exiled dictators and cab drivers.”
The article’s publication stirred the outrage of African Americans and Haitians on campus, eventually prompting Penn administrators to temporarily withdraw school funding from Red and Blue. For Halvorssen, the incident crystallized his sense that conservatives on campus were an oppressed minority.
He emerged after college as the executive director of a newfangled right-wing group called FIRE, or the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, defending evangelical students against charges of anti-gay discrimination and combating hate crimes legislation.
FIRE has been funded by two right-wing foundations that also support Halvorssen’s human rights mini-empire: the Sarah Scaife Foundation and the John Templeton Foundation, an evangelical outfit directed by John Templeton Jr., a veteran right-wing activist who hasdonated more than $1 million to ban same-sex marriage in California. In 2009, HRF notedthat the Oslo Freedom Forum “was made possible in large part thanks to a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.”Right-wing campus operations
Halvorssen also found work at the time as a program director for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, another prominent right-wing campus operation. Under his direction, the group condemned the establishment of a women’s studies program at Yale University, complaining in an 1 April 1998 press release that the program “delves into the most radical issues of militant feminism and homosexuality while completely ignoring traditional female roles.”
Halvorssen’s political empire expanded with his founding of the Moving Picture Institute, a libertarian film company that produced “Mine Your Own Business.” Financed by a Canadian mining company, the film was promoted as “the world’s first anti-environmentalist documentary” (“A Maverick Mogul, Proudly Politically Incorrect,” The New York Times, 19 August 2007). The Moving Picture Institute received more than $300,000 through Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust from 2005 through 2011, according to those organizations’ IRS filings.
Next, Halvorssen oversaw the making of a 2007 documentary called Indoctrinate U (the entire film is on YouTube). The film features an amateur conservative filmmaker named Evan Coyne Maloney wandering around campuses attempting to interrogate befuddled school administrators and poking fun at feminist students who had established women’s centers on their campuses.
Towards the end of Indoctrinate U, Daniel Pipes and ultra-Zionist scholar Martin Kramersurface as talking heads, warning that Arab donors have been stealthily guiding the anti-American agenda of university departments.
Kramer also appears on the pages of Breivik’s manifesto making remarkably similar statements: the killer quotes him attacking the Palestinian-American scholar Edward Saidand complaining that “academics were so preoccupied with ‘Muslim Martin Luthers’ that they never got around to producing a single serious analysis of bin Laden and his indictment of America.”Campaign for Venezuela regime change
In 2004, Venezuela’s US-backed political opposition lost a hard-fought 2004 referendum aimed at recalling Chavez, whom it considered illegitimate from the start. The voting resultswere certified by former US President Jimmy Carter’s Carter Center as “reflect[ing] the will of the Venezuelan electorate.” According to the Carter Center, “balloting day was conducted in an environment virtually absent of any violence or intimidation.”
However, at an earlier opposition protest rally demanding Chavez’s ouster, Halvorssen’s mother was shot and wounded, allegedly by a Chavez loyalist.
It was then that Halvorssen claimed to realize that “defending [college] students’ rights while there were people in Venezuela being shot for disagreeing with the government” was “a little absurd” (“My dinner with Thor,” The Pennsylvania Gazette, March-April 2008).
He embarked on an international campaign for regime change in Venezuela, with his Human Rights Foundation leading the way.
In 2005, Halvorssen took to the neoconservative Weekly Standard to paint Chavez as an anti-Semitic dictator seeking to establish a “resistance bloc” that placed the US, Europe and Israel in grave danger. Halvorssen called for “democratic alternatives to Chavez,” describing him as a key supporter of “terrorist groups in South America and terror sponsors in the Middle East.”
That same year, Halvorssen appeared as a guest on the radical right-wing televangelist Pat Robertson’s television program The 700 Club. A week before hosting Halvorssen, Robertson had urged the US to “take him [Chavez] out,” declaring, “if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.”
When Robertson denied calling for Chavez’s assassination — an obvious falsehood — Halvorssen leaped in to defend his host. “The person who began this, who started the concept of assassination for political reasons, was in fact Hugo Chavez, and his foreign minister is a former guerrilla terrorist,” Halvorssen told Robertson. “They basically have no standing to criticize anyone who made remarks that like — you know, that were misinterpreted, like the ones you made.”
Halvorssen’s obsession with overthrowing Chavez deepened after the president was re-elected. In 2008, Halvorssen railed against the actor and film producer Danny Glover in an editorial for Fox News, accusing him of “coddling Chavez” for accepting financing from the Venezuelan government for two films in development. He went on to accuse Hollywood supporters of Chavez of providing “a terrific boost” to the morale of Palestinian “terrorists.” The source for Halvorssen’s unusual claim was Aaron Klein, a writer for the far-right conspiracy site WorldNetDaily (“Hollywood A-Listers Prove Ignorance in Supporting Hugo Chavez,” 31 March 2008).Venezuelan terror-sympathizer hired by Human Rights Foundation
Also in 2008, Halvorssen’s Human Rights Foundation hired Aleksander Boyd, a Venezuelan opposition representative based in London. Boyd was a notorious promoter of terrorism against Venezuela’s elected government, having written the following on his website:
“I wish I could decapitate in public plazas [Venezuelan politicians] Lina Ron and Diosdado Cabello. I wish I could torture for the rest of his remaining existence Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel … I wish I could fly over Caracas slums throwing the dead bodies of the criminals that have destroyed my country … Only barbaric practices will neutralize them, much the same way [Genghis] Khan did. I wish I was him.” He later declared, “Re: advocating for violence yes I have mentioned in many occasions that in my view that is the only solution left for dealing with Chavez” (“Friends in low places,” The Guardian, 1 September 2007).
When the Norwegian magazine Manifest criticized Halvorssen’s hiring of Boyd in a 12 May 2010 exposé, Halvorssen responded, “We knew of his comments before we hired Boyd and asked him about these comments and he stated, plainly, that it was an entry in his dream diary that was online.” He added that Boyd left the Human Rights Foundation in 2009.
In 2010, Halvorssen invited his first cousin, the Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, to speak at the Oslo Freedom Forum. Lopez, the Harvard-educated mayor of a wealthy district in Caracas, was among the politicians who signed as witnesses in the new government after Chavez was briefly ousted in the failed US-backed coup in 2002.
Lopez is the son of a former oil executive — Halvorssen’s aunt — who allegedly funnelled profits from the state-run oil company into his new political party, leading to corruption charges that placed his political ambitions in peril, as the Associated Press reported in February (“Leopoldo Lopez, Opponent Of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Faces Corruption Charges In Venezuela”).
Described by the US embassy in Venezuela as “vindictive, and power-hungry” but also as “a necessity,” Lopez received large sums of financial support from the US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy.
At the 2009 Oslo Freedom Forum, Lopez was a presented as a “human rights leader,”appearing at an event that had been graced by Nobel Prize recipient Elie Wiesel and Nobel nominee Vaclav Havel. He stirred his audience with lofty rhetoric about peace, democracy and the coming wave of freedom, casting the Venezuelan opposition as “David against Goliath.” “We know that we will overcome,” Lopez proclaimed, “we know that change will come in Venezuela.”
Noting that Lopez’s appearance at the Oslo Freedom Forum was covered far more heavily in Venezuelan media than in Oslo, where it was virtually ignored, Manifest accused Halvorssen of using his human rights confab for the purpose of “whitewashing Leopoldo Lopez … to establish a real contender for the Venezuelan presidency.”
The magazine described the Oslo Freedom Forum as a cleverly crafted “Washing Machine.”The burden of knowing
Are those who gathered on stage at the human rights “Davos” being used to whitewash the ulterior political agenda of an ambitious conservative operative with ties to sectarian plutocrats and conspiratorial Islamophobes? Do they know about Halvorssen’s real history, about his funders and friends among America’s far-right? Most may not.
Unfortunately for the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and Amnesty International, they are not among those with the luxury of pleading ignorance.
Presented with the revelations uncovered by The Electronic Intifada, they dismissed them as immaterial, and even irrelevant. In a city still scarred by Breivik’s rampage, it is hard to imagine that these facts could be so easily washed away.
Ali Abunimah contributed research to this article.
Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author.
By Dawud Walid
Malcolm Shabazz, the grandson of Malcolm X, was viciously murdered last Thursday in Mexico. Two men thus far have been arrested, yet there are many unanswered questions regarding his tragic demise.
Much to do has been made in the media of the troubles that Shabazz went through as a youth from the fire he set as an adolescent, which killed his grandmother Dr. Betty Shabazz, to later brushes with the law. However, little has been spoken about the positive maturation of Shabazz.
I met Shabazz along with Hamza Perez, the focus of the “New Muslim Cool” documentary, approximately three years ago at the Ershad Center in Miami. Shabazz gave a lecture about his recent stay and studies in Syria and some of the challenges he faced being a Blackamerican in the Middle East. He also spoke of the impact of his grandfather and his decision to follow the Ja'fari school of thought.
After this meeting and having some conversations with Shabazz the following three days, I interacted with him later at conferences in other states and spent time with him when he visited Michigan. My last discussion with him was after he gave a lecture at Michigan State University last year in which he later attended the Islamic center off campus in which I was the khateeb for Jumu'ah. I definitely noticed an evolution in his ideas and purpose.
Shabazz was more than a man with brushes with the law. He spoke at conferences about human rights and joined in solidarity with immigrant and workers' rights activists in the Latino community. He made Hajj and was a reader of philosophy. He was a father who was beloved by his family and was respected by many Muslim youth, Blackamerican community organizers and leftist activists.
I am not delving into conjecture about the veracity of media reports surrounding his demise or if his homicide was part of a broader conspiracy. Shabazz was Muslim, who went through many struggles in life. I ask that we pray that he receives ease in the grave and that his family is grant patience during this difficult time.
The post A Deeper Look at Malcolm Shabazz- Grandson of Malcolm X Murdered in Mexico appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.
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I traveled to Riyadh to meet Shaykh Ibn Baz, carrying with me a copy of an invitation to a concert in our city Dammam in Saudi Arabia. To tell you the truth, I was not sure if my visit would make any difference; these types of concerts were supported by some powerful people in that region. I had only met Shaykh Ibn Baz a few times up until that point and I didn't even think he knew me as I was only a freshman in college. So here I was, an unknown freshman, entering the office of the Mufti of Saudi Arabia.
His office was large; it could host up to seventy people in my estimation, but it was simple. In the middle of the room was a large desk that was filled with files–letters that were coming from all over the world. There was a phone next to him that did not stop ringing as questioners, ranging from judges and students of knowledge down to the average Muslim, called the shaykh's line to ask him for fatwas. I realized the uniqueness of my position, being in the presence of Shaykh Ibn Baz, was not so unique at all.
It was he who gave his audience to everyone who requested it. Past the desk there was a comfortable arm chair that he would sit on and there were two chairs across from it and one chair on each of its sides. On each side an assistant would sit, one to read his letters and one to write his answers as the Shaykh was blind, and those requesting a meeting with the shaykh would sit in either of the seats across from him. The Shaykh was never seen sitting behind his desk; he never wanted to have a barrier between himself and the people.
He start asking me about the da'wah in our city, my studies, and the Shuyūkh that he knew in our region. He then asked, “What can I help you with, son?” I told him about the upcoming concert, and he said “La Hawla wala Quwata illa billah. I will see what I can do.”
I thought my job was over and so I said, “Jazak Allāh khaira” and was going to leave, but he asked me to wait. He called Prince Naif , the Interior minister at that time, and said among other things: “I have one of the mashayikh here. He came to me complaining about a concert that will happen in Dammam and I've talked to the governor of the Eastern Province many times before about similar issues and he did not listen to my advice so I want you to take care of it and talk to him. I will wait for your call.” The shaykh made du‘ā’ for him and ended the call. I was quite scared when I realized he was talking to the interior minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; I was too young and insignificant to deal with or witness that level of communication!
The shaykh again asked me to wait and he said: “May Allāh let us hear a good response today. May Allāh guide him to stop this haram.” While I sat and waited I witnessed something that I have never seen in my life from any Shaykh other than Shaykh Ibn Baz.
His secretary read a letter from a woman from Mauritania requesting Shaykh Ibn Baz to continue his financial support to her son who was studying in college. She said that if his financial support stops, then her son might need to quit studying and start working to provide for the family. She wrote, “The only one I could think of after Allāh is you, Ibn Baz, to help.” Her son had only 2 years left to finish his studies. The shaykh asked his secretary to give her the financial support for the next two years. His secretary responded saying, “The donation fund is empty.” Ibn Baz then ordered him to give from the zakah fund, but the answer was the same! Shaykh Ibn Baz said, “Give her from my personal account” only to find the response was the same: “You have no money left for this month, O Shaykh. You have given it all in similar cases.” I later learned that the Shaykh had a dedicated portion of his monthly salary that went to cases of charity, and by the middle of the month, that portion was completely depleted. Then the Shaykh said, “Take a loan in my name, send the money to the woman and I hope I would be able to pay that loan back soon.” The mufti of Saudi Arabia, a man with a million possible excuses to offer, taking a loan for a woman in Mauritania that he would never benefit from at all in this world – I simply could not believe what I was seeing!
In less than one hour the Shaykh received a phone call from the prince to let him know that he canceled the concert and he made sure that such practices would not happen in the future. The Shaykh was so happy that I could see it on his face and kept saying alḥamdulillāh so many times. Then he thanked me as if I was the one who canceled it and he encouraged me to always stand up for the truth and to take action upon seeing wrong. He asked me to join him for lunch that day and I learned even more great lessons from him that I hope to share soon.
The respect I received that day in my youth and the confidence that was instilled in me by him made me who I am today. His caring for the weak, the poor, and those who were close and far from him made his excellency, Samahat Alshaykh Ibn Baz, the man he was .
This is a weekly series of stories about my teachers and what I have learned from them through my years of studying with them. If you enjoy these stories and lessons and think they should continue, please show your support by commenting here and liking and sharing the post on my Facebook page!
The post Life Lessons – A Mother’s Letter | Shaykh Waleed Basyouni appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.
Residents of Deir Jarir and Silwad are holding regular protests against Israel’s theft of their land.
Hostility towards Islam and Muslims in Germany may be palpable but when it comes to making your players and fans feel comfortable and happy Bayern Munich knows what it is doing. (h/t: W. Ruiz)Bayern Munich Build Mosque for Muslims
MUNICH – Helping their players to fulfil their religious duties, German football giants Bayern Munich have decided to build a mosque to help Muslim footballers to perform their prayers.
The German football club agreed to a request to build a mosque in the Allianz Arena stadium to serve its Muslim players and fans.
The request was made by the club’s Muslim midfielder Bilal Franck Ribery, who asked for specifying a small room for players to perform their prayers.
The new mosque would serve Muslim players and fans with a full time imam, an Islamic library and Islamic sessions.
The administration also announced that they will finance 85 percent of the costs of the worship place, leaving 15% to Muslim players and fans who want to participate.
The news about the new mosque was made public via the club’s official site.
Founded in 1900, Bayern Munich is the top tier of the German football league system, and is the most successful football club in Germany.
The football giants have won a record 23 national titles and 15 cups.
The club won its first national championship in 1932.
Bayern Munich is the biggest sports club in Germany and the fourth biggest football club in the world, generating €368.4 million in 2012.
Bayern is not the first European club to build a mosque for its Muslim players after New Castle United specified a prayer room for Muslim players.
Muslims pray five times a day, with each prayer made of a series of postures and movements, each set of which is called a rak‘ah.
The five prayer times are divided all through the day which starts with Fajr prayer at dawn.
Film has moved on from the non-linear jigsaws once used to depict our globalised state. Mira Nair's thriller dynamic and the subtlety found in Danish counterpart A Hijacking point the direction things are going
A year ago on this blog, I speculated about whether the fragmented, non-linear narrative that re-emerged in the noughties as the best method of tossing a net over the globalised decade's intertwinings and complexities was gone for good. Some people had questioned, especially after Alejandro González Iñárritu's Babel, whether the form had anything deeper than "We're all connected" Benettonisms to offer – a criticism that resurfaced in reviews of the Wachowskis' Cloud Atlas (well, I enjoyed it!).
The New Disorder – as David Denby termed it in his essay for the New Yorker – has certainly lost some of its timezone-flyby thrill, as maybe globalisation itself did after the credit crunch. But the world hasn't got any less complicated. Its tangle of overlapping cultures, and the heightening pace of change, still throw particular challenges at storytellers. If non-linear jigsaws were too superficial, then old-school linear narrative – of the sort practised by Hollywood – is too lodged in a single, self-serving perspective. One sign of this is what I like to call "the Villain Problem": Hollywood used to be quite happy, viewing the world down the sight of an American gun, to label Russians or Arabs or whoever as its bad guys. But that's impossible these days without offending someone, possibly even a paying audience segment. Psychopaths, terrorists, genetically modified freaks, even all three at once (well done, the new Star Trek), are about all that is left in the cupboard.
A pair of new releases this week suggest that it might be possible for the global film to thread a way between oversimplifying and overelaboration. The Reluctant Fundamentalist and A Hijacking both take completely disparate elements of 21st-century life, in the way of the noughties global-hopping picture, and attempt to fuse them into a traditional, coherent story: Manhattan high finance and the madrassas of Lahore in the former; a Copenhagen boardroom and Somalian piracy in the other.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist is probably the more ambitious work, covering serious ground as it attempts to marry the ideologies that have driven the geopolitics of the last decade: global capitalism and Islamic militancy. Riz Ahmed excels as Changez, a young Pakistani maverick who wows Wall Street but then has a Damascene conversion on the road away from 9/11.
Director Mira Nair aspires to see our world through both (equally distorting) sides of the prism – but The Reluctant Fundamentalist only flickers with insight into how the west and the rest view, and influence, each other. She has specialised in sitting between the two camps in her past work, but perhaps it's telling that the film runs, finally, on American lines: it's governed by a reductive (and lumpily executed) thriller dynamic that inhibits exploration of ambiguous issues. Instead there is the crude suggestion that extremes such as capitalism and religious fanaticism are mirror images – but The Reluctant Fundamentalist relies completely on those extremes to manufacture drama. Not quite the rueful Graham Greene-esque inhabitation of a grey area promised by the title.
In some ways A Hijacking (Kapringen), a Danish film by Tobias Lindholm, deals with the same subject matter: violence committed against affluent westerners by the excluded. But, limiting its action to a stricken Indian Ocean cargo ship and the Copenhagen offices of its owners, it's far more tautly dramatised.
As the negotiations over ransom money drag out into weeks and months, there's more room to pick out incongruities and subtleties on each side. In the boardroom, as ice-cool CEO Søren Malling strains to reduce the payout, there's the nagging sense that, behind the concern and the talk of not appeasing terrorists, the crew are part of a worldwide commodity chain, with a price. On the ship, culture clash comes into play to queasy effect: the cook, played by Pilou Asbæk, is forced to slaughter a goat in order to prepare a meal for his captors. They probably don't think twice about how abnormal doing this is for a European; but, containing all the implicit violence hovering above him and his shipmates, it's this act that finally breaks him.
Lindholm helped script Borgen, so perhaps these levels of scrutiny and delicacy are to be expected. It shows how dampening the wanderlust of its noughties predecessors can compress and amplify the moral force of these global stories. To use the old chaos-theory metaphor of a butterfly causing a storm on the other side of the world, perhaps Babel and its ilk got too fixated on the grandeur of the storm, and there's more scope to put the wings under lucid magnification. And A Hijacking is still as formally elegant as Babel, alternating crisply between air-conditioned conference room and fly-plagued ship's dorm. Its successes, and The Reluctant Fundamentalist's failings, show how the severe juxtapositions of 21st-century life are still putting pressure on narrative to evolve. Or perhaps we should call that opportunity.
• Next week's After Hollywood looks at the rise of the Muslim blockbuster. Which global cinematic stories would you like to see covered in the column? Let us know in the comments below.Phil Hoad
The main maqsad or purpose of the human being in this life is to submit to the will and decree of Allāh and worship Him from his first breath to his last.
Allāh through His immense wisdom and prudence has decreed the people be tried and tested in various ways in order for Him to develop their psyche and to strengthen their character towards that which is pleasing to Him.
Going through suffering makes us normal and draws us closer to Allāh. As an imām I am frequently asked by people who are going through difficulties in life 'why does Allāh give us trials?'
At that point it is always beneficial to not only provide them with the philosophical answers but it is crucial that they receive some sort of counseling.
It is always important for us believers to remind each other of the divine wisdom of calamities and misfortunes in life. Everyone, in various capacities, goes through difficulties in life.
The believer, however, is cognizant of the fact that the trials that he/she encounters are there so that Allāh can develop and strengthen his character. They remind us of our limitations as human beings and our complete need of Allāh. The consequence of not fully comprehending the divine wisdom of tests, I have observed, is complete denial of the existence of Allāh, may Allāh save us.
In the next few installments I will be expounding upon a prophetic tradition on this very subject, which is extracted from a lecture I delivered a couple of years ago at an Islamic Institute in London, based on a book called 'Prophetic Guidance on the Purification of the Soul' by Dr Sharaf al-Qudat (Jordan).
عن أبي هريرة أنَّ رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال يقول الله تعالى ما لعبدي المؤمن عندي جزاء إذا قبضت صفيَّه من أهل الدُّنيا ثمَّ احتسبه إلا الجنَّة. رواه البخاري
Abu Hurayrah reported: The Messenger of Allāh said:
“Allāh, the Exalted, says: “I have no reward except Jannah for a believing slave of Mine who shows patience and anticipates My reward when I take away his favorite one from the inhabitants of the world.” (Bukhāri)
This Hadith is a Hadith Qudsi which means 'holy' or 'pure' hadith. A Hadith Qudsi is a hadith in which the Prophet relates to the people what Allāh says in its meaning [ma'nan] and its wording [lafdhan], because of His saying: ''slave of mine'', if it was from the Prophet then the wording would have been: ''a believing slave'' as it occurs in the first part of the hadith therefore, this hadith is from Allāh, the Most High.
Some people may find this strange. Because if it is Allāh's speech why is it not included in the Qur'an?
The simple answer to this is that the Qur'an is part of Allāh's speech and not His entire speech. For example the previous revealed books i.e. The Torah and the Gospel in their original form were also Allāh's speech but they are not part of the Qur'an. This is also true in the case of hadith Qudsi.
However there are some fundamental differences between the Qur'an and Hadith Qudsi:
This hadith reminds us of the divine test which we may encounter in this world:
The test of Allāh through misfortunes or calamities.
Why does Allāh test us?
What are the wisdoms of misfortunes?
Firstly: Misfortunes and calamities are from the sunan [conventionary practice] of Allāh in the universe for which every person is inflicted with, Allāh says:
“Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere”(2:155)
And He also says:
أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُواْ ٱلْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ ٱلَّذِينَ خَلَوْاْ مِن قَبْلِكُم مَّسَّتْهُمُ ٱلْبَأْسَآءُ وَٱلضَّرَّآءُ وَزُلْزِلُواْ حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَ ٱلرَّسُولُ وَٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ مَعَهُ مَتَىٰ نَصْرُ ٱللَّهِ أَلاۤ إِنَّ نَصْرَ ٱللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ
“Or do you think that you shall enter the Garden (of bliss) without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? they encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: “When (will come) the help of Allāh.” Ah! Verily, the help of Allāh is (always) near!” (2:214)
Secondly: The purpose of misfortune and calamity is not necessarily for revenge, punishment or humiliation:
“But when He tries him, restricting his subsistence for him, then he says (in despair), “My Lord has humiliated me!” (Fajr:16)
Calamities and misfortunes are often tests from Allāh. There is much wisdom in such tests; in fact there is wisdom in everything Allāh does. The most prudent are as follows:
1-Establishment of Allāh's proof:
Allāh does not reprehend a people unless they, out of their own will and deed, deny the proofs of Allāh after it has been made clear to them.
If Allāh simply created people without putting then through some test in this life, and then announces to a group among them, 'enter the Hellfire' they will respond, 'O our Lord give us a chance [to do good], command us whatever you wish and we will carry out everything you demand of us'.
If they are not given the opportunity to do good they will feel that they have been wronged. So Allāh wants to give them this opportunity to establish the proof upon them. This is despite Allāh's knowledge that the polytheists, on the Day of Judgment, will swear by Allāh that they have not associated partners with Him, Allāh says, ''they will say, by our Lord we have not committed shirk''
Anas bin Malik said, “We were with the Prophet and he smiled so broadly that his molar could be seen, then he said: “Do you know why I am smiling?
We said, `Allāh and His Messenger know best.'
He said: “Because of the way a servant will argue with his Lord on the Day of Resurrection. He will say, “O Lord, will You not protect me from injustice” [Allāh] will say, “Of course.” The servant will say, “I will not accept any witness against me except from myself.” [Allāh] will say, “Today you will be a sufficient witness against yourself, and the honorable scribes will serve as witnesses against you.” Then his mouth will be sealed, and it will be said to his faculties, “Speak!” So they will speak of what he did. Then he will be permitted to speak, and he will say, “May you be doomed! It was for you that I was fighting.”” [Reported by Muslim and An-Nasa'i]
This is the meaning of Allāh, the Most High's, statement:
الْيَوْمَ نَخْتِمُ عَلَى أَفْوَهِهِمْ وَتُكَلِّمُنَآ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَتَشْهَدُ أَرْجُلُهُمْ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَكْسِبُونَ
“This Day, We shall seal up their mouths, andtheir hands will speak to Us, and their legswill bear witness to what they used to earn” (Ya-Sin: 65)
حَتَّى إِذَا مَا جَآءُوهَا شَهِدَ عَلَيْهِمْ سَمْعُهُمْ وَأَبْصَـرُهُمْ وَجُلُودُهُم بِمَا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ وَقَالُواْ لِجُلُودِهِمْ لِمَ شَهِدتُّمْ عَلَيْنَا قَالُواْ أَنطَقَنَا اللَّهُ الَّذِى أَنطَقَ كُلَّ شَىْءٍ وَهُوَ خَلَقَكُمْ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ
“Till, when they reach it, their hearing (ears) andtheir eyes and their skins will testify against them asto what they used to do. And they will say to theirskins, “Why do you testify against us?” They will say:“Allāh has caused us to speak — as He causes all thingsto speak, and He created you the first time” (Fussilat: 20-21)
All these texts refer to after the slaves have associated partners with Allāh and disobeyed Him. How would they be if Allāh did not give them the opportunity to repent or do good deeds?
2-Thorough examination (tamhis):
Difficulties unveil the true nature of people by sieving out the good from the bad, the righteous from the wicked and the believer from the hypocrite.
Such thorough examinations are of great benefit for the Muslim community. Allāh says, in the verses which speak about the battle of Badr and what the Muslims have obtained in it, clarifying the wisdom of this testing.
“Allāh will not leave the believers in the statein which you are now, until He separateswhat is evil from what is good” (Aal-Imran:179)
Difficulties, also, enable you to identify your true friends and helpers from friends of convenience as a poet said:
جزى الله الشدائد كل خير وان كنت تغصصني بريقي
وما شكري لها إلا لأني عرفت بها عدوي من صديقي
“May Allāh reward hardship with all good though itstrangles me and makes me breathless. And mygratitude towards it is not for any other reasonexcept that it enabled me to recognise my friend frommy enemy”.
3-Expiation of Sins (Takfir al-Dhunub):
Allāh may decide to punish a person for his sin in this world rather than in the hereafter.
There is no doubt that the punishment of this world despite its magnitude is nothing compared to the punishment of the hereafter, however light it is, Allāh says:
وَلَعَذَابُ الاٌّخِرَةِ أَكْبَرُ لَوْ كَانُواْ يَعْلَمُونَ
“But truly, the punishment of the Hereafter is greater if they but knew” (Al-Qalam:33)
There are many texts which show that Allāh expiates sins of people through inflicting them with some misfortune or calamity. They include:
The hadith of the Prophet in which he said, 'The believing man and woman will continually be tested in his self, his children, and his wealth until he meets Allāh and that which he has of the misfortune.”
And his statement, When Allāh desires for His servant some good, He hastens his punishment in this life, and when Allāh intends some good for His servant He will postpone His punishment until he will be recompensed on the day of judgment''.
In addition, the authentic statement of the Messenger of Allāh : Abu Sa'Īd Al-Khudri and Abu Hurayrah both narrated that the Prophet said:
“A Muslim is not afflicted by hardship, sickness, sadness, worry, harm, or depression – even if pricked by a thorn, but Allāh expiates his sins because of it” [Bukhāri]
4-Elevation of ranks (Raf' al-Darajat):
This is from the apparent meaning of the hadith. If a believer after being afflicted by a misfortune or hardship patiently perseveres, his sins are forgiven and he is raised up in ranks.
This was the condition with the prophets and messengers. They were all tested and tried and thus Allāh , because of their patience and forbearance, raised their ranks amongst the people. The evidence for this is the hadith at hand,
“I have no reward except Jannah for a believing slave of Mine who shows patience and anticipates My reward when I take away his favourite one from the inhabitants of the world.”
We also read this in a hadith narrated by Anas who said that he heard the Prophet say that Allāh said:
إذا ابليت عبدي بحبيبتيه فصبر عوضه منهما الجنة
“When I affect my slave in his two dear things(i.e., his eyes), and he endures patiently, heshall be compensated with Paradise”. (Bukhāri)
5-Admonition for the negligent and a warning:
This is considered like a warning that is issued to a student or an employee who is being negligent or has some shortcomings.
The aim is to alert the person of the shortcoming. If the person takes heed he will be successful otherwise he will deserve the punishment. Perhaps the evidence for this is His, the Most High's, saying:
“Before you We sent (messengers) to many nations,and We afflicted the nations with suffering andadversity, that they might learn humility, Why then, did they not supplicate in humility when a calamity from Us came upon them? Instead, their hearts were hardened and Satan adorned for them what they were doing. [An'am: 42-43]
Adversity and calamity struck them because they neglected to supplicate to Allāh in humility. They did not comprehend the wisdom of tribulation and as such did not turn to Allāh in humility. Instead, Satan adorned for them what they were doing.
6-Destruction which serves as a punishment for those that were warned but did not heed the warning and persisted upon committing sins:
“…For their sins We destroyed them…” (An'am:6)
And, ''Indeed We have destroyed generations before you when they transgressed, and their Messengers had come to them with clear signs, but they were not the ones who would believe. This is how We punish the guilty people'' [Yunus: 13]
“When We decide to destroy a population, We(first) send a definite order to those amongthem who are given the good things of this lifeand yet transgress; so that the word is provedtrue against them: then We destroy themcompletely” (Al-Isra: 16)
7-A reminder of Allāh's favors upon mankind:
That is because man, who has been created with the faculty of sight, often forgets the blessing of being able to see. He does not fully give its due right.
If Allāh was to temporarily take away his sight then return it to him he would realise the value of this great bounty.
Constant bounties and good-fortune often makes people forget the value of these bounties good-fortune for which they forget to show gratitude. Allāh takes it away from people and then returns it to them in order for them to be reminded about these bounties and that they show gratitude to Allāh for them.
Suffering makes us human.
Suffering and adversity have existed as long as human beings have. When we suffer we are connected to the common fate of the people who came before us and the people who will come after us.
Indeed, in tribulations there is a reminder for the person afflicted and others of the bounties of Allāh . For example, when a person encounters a senile person he will appreciate the blessing of intellect. When a person observes a non-believer living his life like cattle, he will value the blessing of īmān [faith]. When a person meets a sick person he will realize and value the blessing of good health. When he sees an impoverished person he will appreciate the blessing of wealth. When he encounters an ignorant person he is thankful for the blessing of knowledge. A person whose heart is awake and open to the reality will show gratitude but those who do not have [awakened] hearts will not show gratitude for the bounties of Allāh ; instead they will be haughty and behave arrogantly towards the creation of Allāh!!
8-Lessen people's attachment to the Dunya:
If the dunya was free of any hardship and misfortune then people would have even been more attached to it and neglect the next life.
However, calamities and misfortunes alert people to the realities of the life of this world and awaken them from their neglectful state. Also they remind them about the next world which is free of any kind of misfortunes except for the wrongdoers.
9-Strengthening the personality of the believer (Saql Shakhsiya al-Mu'min):
Through hardship and difficulties Allāh makes firm the hearts of the believers. This is why Allāh chose our Prophet to grow up as an orphan and experience numerous hardships. As for those children who are pampered, generally, their personality is weakened because of this.
Through hardship and difficulty a believer is able to reach his full potential and growth in īmān and Taqwa.
10-Often a misfortune and calamity may come with a combination of wisdoms as in the case of the calamity at the battle of Uhud.
إِن يَمْسَسْكُمْ قَرْحٌ فَقَدْ مَسَّ ٱلْقَوْمَ قَرْحٌ مِّثْلُهُ وَتِلْكَ ٱلأَيَّامُ نُدَاوِلُهَا بَيْنَ ٱلنَّاسِ وَلِيَعْلَمَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَيَتَّخِذَ مِنكُمْ شُهَدَآءَ وَٱللَّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ ٱلظَّالِمِينَ
“If a wound has touched you, be sure a similarwound has touched the others. Such days (ofvarying fortunes) We give to men and men byturns: that Allāh may know those that believe,and that He may take to Himself from your ranksMartyrs-witnesses (to Truth). And Allāh loves notthose that do wrong”.- and so that Allāh may purify those who believe and eradicate the disbelievers. (Aal-Imran:140-141)
In these two verses we can identify a number of wisdoms in what took place during the battle of Uhud:
Suffering is only as bad as we make it. If we believe we are entitled to a life of comfort, then a life that consists of suffering is simply unfair, and who likes an unfair world?
But if we believe that life is about growth and that growth entails a degree of pain and suffering, then there is nothing unfair about it.
How many people are tested with a disabled child – for example – this [in turn] is an enormous test for his entire family, and a test for him when he grows, and also, a test for the entire society – to determine whether the society takes care of him. This also acts as a reminder to others of the bounties that Allāh grants them. Therefore, if the parents, the disabled, and others take heed – and the society fulfils its rights of the disabled, they all are rewarded according to their level of patience and how well they protected the weak and the afflicted.
11-Sometimes a hardship can be a blessing in disguise:
People who are afflicted with some misfortune may only see one side to the happenings and be heedless to other aspects, for which after a certain period of time, the beneficial side to the misfortune are unveiled to them.
Sometimes, they are convinced that the calamity they were suffering from was a good thing as opposed to being an omen or a calamity. Allāh says:
''Fighting has been prescribed for you even though you detest it, it may be that something you dislike be good for you, and it may happen that something you like be bad for you, Allāh knows while you do not''.
Suffering gives us a greater appreciation of the moments of comfort. If life were comfortable 24/7, we wouldn't be able to appreciate the moments of comfort. There would be nothing to compare comfort to. This is analogous to a marathon runner. If there were no suffering in running a marathon there would be no comfort, and certainly no sense of accomplishment, in crossing the finish line. Mountain climbers voluntarily endure excruciating suffering, often for weeks on end, in their attempt to reach the summit. They risk their lives; endure high altitude sickness, bottomless crevasses and glaciers, mountain storms, snow blindness, and sudden storms all to experience the several moments of magnificent comfort and satisfaction the mountain summit has to offer.
In addition, the misfortune may be good for his religiosity and for his next life, but even, also, for his living in the dunya.
12- Suffering is a normal part of parenting, marriage, working, and every other worthwhile endeavor:
If we are in a constant state of suffering and anguish then something is most likely not as it optimally should be. However, periodic suffering in all areas of life is normal.
Every good marriage has periods of discord and uncertainty. Every healthy parent/child relationship goes through phases of disrespect and resentment with our children or parents not doing what we think they ought to be doing and us not doing what they think we ought to be doing. Jobs, homes, neighborhoods and communities enter and leave our lives based on need, interest, and a variety of other factors, which are often based on suffering.
Lobsters are soft animals with hard shells that do not grow. When lobsters outgrow their shells they climb into a rock cleft. They face the uncertainty of being swallowed up by another animal or of being swept away by the current. Yet imagine if lobsters stifled their discomfort rather than using it as a catalyst for growth: they would be a miniature species.
We can emulate lobsters by accepting suffering as a sign that it's time for growth and renewal. The bottom line is that periodic suffering is part of every aspect of our lives and it need not be “bad.”
Suffering is what it is and what we make of it. Not pleasant, but generally not unbearable or unacceptable.
The post Why We Are Tested: The Psychology of Suffering & Misfortune – Part #1 appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.
Palestinians forced to flee Damascus are trying to survive on help from charities in Cairo.