Top Ten Good News Stories of 2016

altmuslim - 31 December, 2016 - 20:09

In Altmuslim tradition, we want to usher out the year and welcome 2017 by relating the Top Ten (in our opinion) Good Muslim News Stories of 2016. From triumphant stories at the summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro to the breakout Muslim stars -- Khizr and Ghazala Khan -- from the Democratic National Convention to an all girls, all Muslim FemSTEM robotics team in California that defied the odds, there was plenty of joy and celebration as well! Check it out, in no particular order!

The post Top Ten Good News Stories of 2016 appeared first on altmuslim.

Intolerant post-Brexit Britain: history shows we can be better than this | Hugh Muir

The Guardian World news: Islam - 31 December, 2016 - 11:29
The surge in hate crimes after 23 June stands in stark contrast to the decency shown to black GIs in the UK during the second world war

Are we the nation suggested by the 41% spike in hate crimes that followed the Brexit vote? Where non-white Britons are abused in the street and people harangued for wearing the wrong clothes or presuming that they might speak in anything but English? Where Nadiya Hussain’s popularity after winning The Great British Bake Off could not save her from being confronted by the boor on a train who declared “I ain’t sitting near a Muslim”?

Where women wearing the hijab are attacked in the street. Where a dark-skinned woman exercising her constitutional legal right to challenge the executive is threatened and bullied by assailants who tell her – not that she may be wrong – but that she should leave the country? It feels close to that now. The spike has fallen from its peak; still equilibrium seems distant: the air seems toxic.

When white GIs objected to black GIs at a village dance, they themselves were ordered to leave

Related: National anti-hate crime campaign to launch after spike in incidents

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Letter to Michelle Obama From a Christian Pastor: Aafia is to Pakistanis what Kayla is to Americans

Muslim Matters - 31 December, 2016 - 02:45

December 25, 2016

Dear Mrs. Obama,

I was the campus minister for Kayla Mueller when she was a student at Northern Arizona University, and maintained close contact with Kayla until she was taken hostage by ISIS in August of 2013.   Kayla was a mentor to my daughter as she became involved in human rights advocacy.  I have worked closely with Kayla’s family since she was taken hostage and have continued to work with the Muellers since Kayla’s death, as they continue to try to learn all that they can about Kayla’s captivity and death. I participated in the Hostage Policy Review, and like you, my heart is heavy with all the suffering we continue to see in Syria and among the Syrian refugees.

I write to you as mother to mother; and also as a mother whose heart and care extends far beyond my circle of family to all God’s children.  As you know, in July of 2014, ISIS issued an ultimatum demanding the payment of a 5 million Euro ransom or the release of Aafia Siddiqui, or Kayla Mueller would be killed in 30 days.  I did not know Aafia’s story at that time, and from my perspective, the Muellers were never told of the allegations of rendition and torture or grievances with respect to Aafia’s human rights, one of many important aspects of Kayla’s kidnapping and captivity that was not shared with the Muellers.  I still wonder how that could be so if we (the USA) were serious about understanding the reasons behind the ISIS kidnapping, torture and eventual murder of our US citizens; in order for the families to respond in a way that would have given them the greatest perspective and clarity in securing their loved ones safe return, sparing the American hostages from the horrific torture and brutal taking of their lives.

Once it was learned that Kayla had been given a life sentence in retaliation for Aafia’s sentence, I thought we should reach out to the Siddiqui family, but we were strongly discouraged by the FBI.  With only 72 hours or less until the timeline to meet the demands was set to expire, I reached out to Mauri Saalakhan, President of Peace thru Justice (now The Aafia Foundation). Mr. Saalakhan’s response was one of unreserved compassion and assurance that Aafia and her family would not want violence done to anyone in Aafia’s name, under any circumstance.

Despite their grievances and grief, Aafia’s mother and sister in Pakistan were unwilling to remain silent in the face of the torture of a young woman they did not know, even though Kayla Mueller was a citizen of a country they felt were doing great harm to their own daughter.  On the eve, which I thought was to be Kayla’s last, we received a letter from Aafia’s family urging Kayla’s captors to release her without condition, ransom or barter, but out of compassion and righteousness.  We also received a letter from Mauri Saalakhan, an American Muslim human rights leader, making a public plea drawing from the Koran’s teaching of righteousness and compassion, that also called for the immediate and unconditional release of Kayla Mueller.

We shared with Mauri and Aafia’s family the letter sent to President Obama pleading that consideration be given to Aafia’s situation, with hopes that both women could be returned to their families and their countries.  The Siddiqui family acted with urgency and care, holding Kayla’s situation in confidence.  To this day, they have spoken little of their efforts to gain Kayla’s freedom, allowing Kayla’s family to always lead with what is shared and what is held, understanding the pain of a mother whose daughter has been taken and tortured.

Mrs. Obama, I think you can imagine the hope those letters brought in that 11th hour, and yet the Muellers were instructed to wait—to not immediately forward them to Kayla’s captors despite her dire situation.  One could only imagine that the reason was because Kayla’s release was imminent through other channels, but as you know, that was not the case.  We were told to request that Peace thru Justice not release this plea publicly despite the influence it could possibly have through the many influential and international Muslim leaders that are part of their 100,000 plus network.

At the time that we were trying to save Kayla’s life, the Siddiqui family was also trying to determine if Aafia was still alive in Carswell Federal prison, as their access to Aafia has too often and for too long been compromised.  There has been far too much secrecy about Aafia’s care in our federal correction system; allegations of rendition, torture, solitary confinement—denial of basic human rights.  All of this fuels a cycle of violence, as Aafia is to Pakistanis what Kayla is to Americans—a symbol of injustice and torture imposed for political reasons.  We as a country are better than this, we should not be afraid of transparency in our corrections system.  We should be eager to either demonstrate beyond a doubt the standard of care and human rights we proclaim, or take the necessary steps to correct a situation as best we can.

There are many steps that could have been taken that would have assured Aafia’s human rights were being protected, but also would have possibly made a way for Kayla Mueller’s safe return.  Why did we not even quietly give the International Red Cross and Aafia’s sister, Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui, immediate access to Aafia to determine her medical condition, asking that the same access be given to Kayla Mueller?  Why not, in light of the Senate Torture Report, look seriously at the circumstances of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s disappearance, allegations of being held and tortured in our CIA prison in Afghanistan, and the ongoing secrecy and allegations of mistreatment in Carswell prison?  I came to the devastating conclusion that Kayla was left behind in the hands of ISIS because keeping the truth of Aafia’s situation hidden was more important than the safe return of a bright and committed American aide worker.  We must right our wrongs and we must afford Aafia Siddiqui her human rights under international law.  This is the time when we, as a country, must face these allegations and act with justice, righteousness and compassion, for Aafia and her loved ones’ sake, and as a step to end this horrific cycle of violence that continues to claims victims across this world.

I am writing to you this Christmas night, as I believe that like me, you and President Obama seek the peace and hope of this holy season for people of all faiths and all nations.  I know that what we are asking takes tremendous moral courage in the face of hatred, bigotry, racism and fear, but that is our Christian calling—our response—to the gift of Christmas in our Christian tradition.  I continue to hold Kayla close to my heart, remembering her compassion, moral courage, resiliency, strength and the unwavering compassion that claimed her life.  It has always been my belief that had Kayla been released she would have worked tirelessly for the release of all captives, including Aafia Siddiqui, having been drawn into Aafia’s situation through her own kidnapping, solitary confinement and torture.    I have vivid memories of Kayla protesting the torture at Abu Graib while a student at Northern Arizona University, and can picture her in front of a hand-painted “No to Torture” sign as if it was yesterday.

Mrs. Obama, I feel a great debt to the family and loved ones of Aafia Siddiqui, for the seriousness and urgency in which they responded when they learned of Kayla Mueller’s situation.  I pray and I hope, that in the name of peace and compassion, and in response to a Divine goodness that transcends our knowledge and understanding that you will urge President Obama to do what is just and right by Aafia Siddiqui.


Rev. Kathleen Day
Campus Minister
United Christian Ministry
Northern Arizona University


Please sign the petition asking First Lady Michelle Obama and President Obama for a compassionate release and repatriation of Aafia Siddiqui.

Watership Down: the significance of Cowslip

Indigo Jo Blogs - 30 December, 2016 - 23:09

A yellowish book cover with the words "Watership Down" and the author's name "Richard Adams" on it, with a drawing of two rabbits among some bushes.In today’s Guardian, there is a piece by Giles Fraser about what might be the significance of the book Watership Down, whose author Richard Adams died earlier this week. Focusing on the part of the story where the migrant rabbits are briefly taken into Cowslip’s warren, where the rabbits had ready supply of vegetables (flayrah), are uninterested in the old stories of El-Ahrairah, the “prince of a thousand enemies”, that they knew and regularly were caught in snares, Fraser cites an American theologian, Stanley Hauerwas, who opined that story “contained an important message about the relationship between stories and moral values; that Adams’ rabbits – like human beings – are shaped into a community by the power of the stories they tell each other. And these stories are the bearers of our moral values”. This leads me to wonder how closely he or Fraser read the book.

Cowslip’s warren was essentially a supply of wild rabbit meat for a nearby farmer; farmers normally apply pesticides to keep rabbits from eating their crops (and it’s quite legal to shoot them also), but he wanted well-fed rabbits. As they no longer had to stray far from the warren to find food - far enough to attract foxes or badgers, or to take a risk crossing a road, the stories Adams had the wild rabbits telling each other no longer had any meaning, though they had a statue (or ‘shape’) of El-Ahrairah on the wall of the warren. However, the rabbits were aware of the danger but lived in denial, which is why anyone who asked where another rabbit was was quickly interrupted - the likely answer was that the rabbit in question was lunch. The Cowslip rabbits did in fact have poets, “beautiful and sick” like the others as Fiver, the runt rabbit who had persuaded the migrants to leave the original warren which was about to be destroyed for a housing development, called them, but they were not telling stories that were about survival. So, the lack of interest in storytelling was not the cause of their situation but a symptom; the refusal to help Bigwig when he was caught in a snare was another.

Is there a political message in Watership Down? Adams always said there wasn’t, that it was a book intended to entertain his daughters. A lot of kids’ books are set in real places, but Watership Down is written in very adult language (complete with swear words) and most books aimed purely at children don’t come with a detailed map and aren’t based on serious research into the habits of the animals featured. The most important encounter the migrant rabbits had was not with the Cowslip warren but with Efrafa, the overcrowded police-state warren where most rabbits never saw daylight but were more likely to die of old age than of predation or disease. It was the 70s and comparisons with communism are inevitable, but the idea that a heavily controlled environment might make someone safer but might result in them having not much of a life is applicable to a lot of other situations - the lot of disabled or mentally-ill people in institutions, for example - whether or not Adams was thinking of you. It would also be easy to read a very conservative message into the book, that nature is as it is, “red in tooth and claw” and that the same applies to humans; whatever we do to improve life for everyone, if it means people can’t do what they want and when, is the start of a slippery slope to totalitarianism, the start of a “road to serfdom”.

I don’t think Watership Down is a political fable like Animal Farm. It’s more of a celebration of freedom in general, and of the “great outdoors”, of nature, of wildlife, and no doubt the stories would have brought the scenery to life on a long, slow journey to the West Country but it would also have encouraged people to get out there more and to take more notice of what they saw when they did. Like rabbits, people (and children especially) need to have the freedom to run around and play, to imagine, to live life, and being cooped up is no life.

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12 Issues and Stories that Captured the American Muslim Communities in 2016

altmuslim - 30 December, 2016 - 16:58

From the firing of Wheaton College professor Larycia Hawkins back in January for wearing a headscarf in solidarity with Muslims to the possibility of a Muslim registry with the election of Donald J. Trump as our next President of the United States in November – 2016 has been a banner year of issues, controversies, election coverage and the loss of some great Muslims.

The post 12 Issues and Stories that Captured the American Muslim Communities in 2016 appeared first on altmuslim.

First National Latino Muslim Conference “Convivencia” in the United States

Muslim Matters - 28 December, 2016 - 23:39

By Isa Parada

On January 31st 2016, the IslamInSpanish (Centro Islamico) was open to the public with over 500 community members eagerly waiting to see this unique center. It was an amazing sight watching people from all backgrounds and races coming in and out of the center for over five hours. Interestingly enough, in another room, over 20 Latino Muslim leaders from different parts of the U.S were discussing a very important question.

Where do we go from here?

In this meeting, the idea of having the first Latino Muslim Convention in the U.S. sprouted and almost 11 months later in the same city where the Centro Islamico opened (Houston), Muslims were present for this historic convention, in collaboration with the Muslimmatters sponsored Texas Dawah Convention.


Sh Reymundo Nur, an Imam in California and one of the first Latino American Muslim to study overseas in 1984 (Imam Malik Saud University), set the tone by giving the khutbah on Dec 23, 2016, at the joint conference (TDC and Convention) in Arabic, Spanish and English. His message of inclusivity, diversity and celebrating these unique qualities to the congregation was well received. It was also a visual reality seeing a convert of over 45 years, Panamanian, Afro-Caribbean and speaking 3 Languages without his message skipping a beat to a diverse crowd.

As the convention started, participants saw a Latino Muslim family drive across the country from Sacramento, CA to a vanload of Latinos from Chicago to a busload of people coming from Dallas-FortWorth. We had people flying in from Buffalo, New York and Mobile, Alabama. We had brothers from the tri-state area to sisters from New Orleans. Close to 250 Latinos came to experience a historic event including curious observers from the Texas Dawah Convention.

islam in spanish

Issues that were discussed ranged from sisters being sought out for marriage for a Green Card to finding methods to combat the hostility that Muslims and Latinos are experiencing on a daily basis. These are issues that have a major impact on our community and it was wonderful to hear a diverse group of speakers leading the discussion and striving to find solutions to these difficult affairs.

We were blessed to have scholars like Sh Reymundo Nur to Sh Muhammad Isa Garcia, an Argentinean graduate from Umm AlQura. We had well experienced Imams like Sh Yusef Maisonet (Muslim for almost 50 years) from Masjid Salam in Mobile, Alabama to Imam Abdullah Hernandez in Pearland, Texas. The audience experienced advice from educators like Sh Omar Hernandez, first Guatemalan graduate from Madinah University to motivational speakers like Muhajid Fletcher, founder and CEO of IslamInSpanish.

From hearing therapist Haleh Banani give wonderful advice to all about the sanctity of marriage to having Wilfredo Ruiz, Head of CAIR en Espanol, speaking eloquently about all of us knowing our God given rights as Muslims and also as citizens of this country. Alhamdulillah, there was not an ounce of tension nor discord in the two days these issues were discussed; rather the environment was one of openness and healthy dialogue. All sessions were live streamed for a small fee.


There was a Q&A session where participants openly disagreed with the format of the majority of sessions being both in English and Spanish. There were Latinos from the Southwest side of America who felt more comfortable with the lectures being in Spanish, while most of the Latinos from the East Coast and Chicago preferred learning in English. Young and old, men and women came to the microphone to express their most intimate feelings and to state their grievances. There were lessons to be learned from all who spoke.

One of the most important sessions of the convention was when the achievement of leaders and organizations, which have been tirelessly working to educate Latinos about Islam for over 20 years, were highlighted and recognized. To see Ustadh Abdurazaq Lebron, spokesperson for IslamInSpanish awarding a special plaque to a member of one of the oldest of Latino Muslim organizations, Omar Ocasio from Alianza Islamica was truly a special moment. Br Omar spoke about the brothers and sisters who dedicated their lives to dawah and who are no longer with us (May Allah have mercy on their souls) had many in the audience emotional, because of the realization of not knowing when Allah will take one’s soul and to work hard to accumulate good deeds for the sake of Allah. It is hoped that recognizing pioneers like Br. Omar Pena from Cuba, Br Abu Mujahid Fletcher and Sr Ruth Saleh, who planted the seed, taught the younger brothers and sisters about honoring and respecting the work and effort of those who came before them.

The future looks bright, knowing there are Latino American Muslims, brothers and sisters, striving to learn alongside one of the first institutes of Islamic Sciences in Barranquilla, Colombia being built for the development of future educators and leaders in the Muslim community.

This event was truly inspiring.

Imam Isa Parada is Educational Coordinator/Spiritual Advisor at Masjid Sabireen in Houston, TX and a graduate of the Islamic University of Madinah.

Reporting while Muslim: how I covered the US presidential election | Sabrina Siddiqui

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 December, 2016 - 13:30

There were many chilling conversations with those who – not knowing my faith background – told me they wished for violence and concentration camps

“We should exterminate them.”

The words rolled off the voter’s tongue as though he was merely discussing a pest invasion in his home. He was talking about Muslims.

Related: Truth is evaporating before our eyes | Francine Prose

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Hashtag BlackMuslimFamily is Virally Gorgeous

Muslim Matters - 28 December, 2016 - 00:25

To be Muslim in America is to be a direct beneficiary of the gorgeous triumph of Black Muslims since the inception of the young nation. On December 26, 2016, the Muslim Wellness Foundation, led by its founder UPenn Chaplain Kameelah Rashad, headed up a symbolic initiative to get Black Muslims to share their photos, stories, and sentiments with #BlackMuslimFamily. It’s success is still barreling through cyberspaces reaching 3.5 Million people via Twitter alone. This weekend has been a controversial one in which endeared Scholar Hamza Yusuf came under fire after being asked about Muslim Solidarity with Black Lives Matter and the Muslim Brotherhood at the Reviving Islamic Spirit Convention “RIS2016” in Toronto. “We have between 15-18,000 homicides a year, 50 percent are black on black crime… There are twice as many whites that have been shot by police but nobody ever shows those videos. It’s the assumption that the police are racist and it’s not always the case” he said to interviewer Mehdi Hassan.

After receiving continued critique, he returned to the stage the next evening to apologize. In regards to his dismissal of the need to solidify the relationship between Muslims in the movement for Black Lives he cited,  “The most damage to Black people in America does not come from racism, but is from the breakdown of the Black family.” Many believed he only continued a false pathology about Black people, summarily erasing the strides of families all over the world.

#BlackMuslimFamily brutalized this misconception while celebrating the sheer elegance of Blackness in Islam. In these hard times ahead, we need to love each other. All of us. Our shuyookh, our families, our communities.

“One thing that I always think about is a quote from Elijah Muhammad where he said, “Don’t condemn a dirty glass, stand a clean glass next to it.” I thought about how much we took to refuting these stereotypes and realized we needed to put a clean glass next to it. Instead of laboring in condemning this perception we decided to celebrate ourselves. I use the word celebrate often because it isn’t merely pictures and words but a proactive way of finding beauty” Rashad offered. Rashad believes that what’s happened is part strength and  part beauty. She reflected “It was an acknowledgment of our hardships and the fact that we still seek joy. I believe that’s nothing short of miraculous.”

-Tariq Toure





Vibrant family photos were shared celebrating Black Muslim Families

4 generations of my #BlackMuslimFamily May Allah Protect us – Ameen

— PhillyDesertSwag (@TaifaSafiya) December 27, 2016

There were many powerful tweets of fatherhood

My Daddy said shine your light on the world!!! #BlackMuslimFamily


It was the Number 1 trending topic on Twitter in the United States

So, #BlackMuslimFamily was the no. 1 trending topic on Twitter last night.

because we’re so freakin beautiful #BlackMuslimFamily

“[M]y husband’s family is in Florence & Pamplico where they own the land of their great grand’s former white slave masters.” If this doesn’t make you weep – don’t know what will This heart breaking tweet offered a way to support a family going through the loss of the father.

Dear Non-Black Muslims: Your Silence is Not Peaceful

altmuslim - 26 December, 2016 - 23:43

Real peace will not come from shutting up about the oppression. It will not come from trying to shut up the oppressed who speak about their condition. And it will never come from refusing to work with the people fighting against that oppression. Islam does not say that the most religious people are the ones who sit on the sidelines and do and say nothing. Our faith and history teach that passivity is not the way to peace.

The post Dear Non-Black Muslims: Your Silence is Not Peaceful appeared first on altmuslim.

On Hamza Yusuf, BLM and Muslim participation

Indigo Jo Blogs - 26 December, 2016 - 23:22

Picture of Hamza YusufOn Friday evening Shaikh Hamza Yusuf, in an interview with the British journalist Mehdi Hasan at the Reviving the Islamic Spirit (RIS) 2016 conference in Toronto, made some offensive and inaccurate remarks about racism both in American society and within the Muslim community. This has caused outrage online, with African-American Muslims particularly hurt and his traditional supporters closing ranks, claiming he said nothing wrong, disimissing it as social media gossip and emphasising his greatness compared to those criticising him. Although the video was initially deleted from the RIS website, two eight-minute clips of his interview were eventually posted on YouTube and there is no getting away from the offensive nature of some of his comments.

Just to clarify, I became Muslim in 1998 and the teachings of that group of English-speaking scholars and speakers formed the backbone of my Islamic education: Shaikh Nuh Keller, Abdul-Hakim Murad (also known as Timothy Winter; he has also used the pseudonym Kerim Fenari), Zaid Shakir, Abdullah Hakim Quick. Theologically I haven’t moved from that position. Politically, I’ve become more disenchanted by how conservative and pro-establishment the movement has become since 9/11 and especially since the Arab Spring, although not all the speakers mentioned are implicated. In the past I’ve defended Shaikh Hamza in particular from accusations that he was a sell-out and worse. I’ve noticed that the most eager to condemn him in this case were those who have hated him since 9/11 or even before that, when he was on the same side as Shaikh Nuh (during the “Literalism and the Attributes of Allah” period of the 90s) but not all of these people are particularly active in fighting social or racial injustice other than where it affects Muslims. A few of the attacks were personal, vulgar and appeared motivated by envy.

There were several fallacious aspects of Shaikh Hamza’s response to Mehdi Hasan’s questions. One was to compare unjust police shootings, mostly of unarmed Black people but of some others as well, with “black-on-black” crime. Regardless of the statistics, which others have addressed better than I can, the comparison isn’t valid because common crime isn’t committed, usually, by people paid by the public to keep the public safe. As they carry arms in public and may be called on to use them, they should be expected to be calm in the face of provocation. It’s true that not every police officer who shoots a Black person does so because he is a racist, but a disproportionate number of unjustified shootings or killings of unarmed Black people who were seen on camera not giving the officer any cause to use lethal force, followed by the officers invariably being let off by the law, has prompted widespread protests. It should be pointed out that other victims include disabled and mentally ill people; in one case, an officer shot a man during a crisis after declaring, “I don’t have time for this shit”. It’s well known that Black parents give their children, sons especially, a “talk” on what to do if they are accosted by aggressive police demanding to search them; families of the mentally ill are commonly advised never to call the police when their relatives have a crisis. Both of these are signs that the police are aggressive, out of control and unaccountable.

The comparison is rather like the observation that Muslims only demonstrate against wars against Muslim countries and not against terrorism; the simple answer is that those wars are perpetrated with public money, including taxes levied on Muslims, while terrorist attacks are not. We are not responsible for what al-Qa’ida or ISIS do as they finance their activities themselves, through donors (and, no doubt, criminal activity).

Shaikh Hamza also claimed that the US has some of the world’s best anti-discrimination laws, which has some truth to it (although some of these laws have been eaten away at both by legislation and by the Supreme Court), but it also has some of the most unjust criminal laws (e.g. mandating life sentences for sometimes trivial offences, making non-citizens liable for deportation, despite having family in the US and no remaining connections to their home country, often for misdemeanours committed long in the past), a judicial system in some states where “due process” is considered to be of greater importance than the facts, such that innocence is not enough to get someone released from prison, an education system which fast-tracks poor youth into the prison system from their teenage years and a constitution which has, among other things, twice in recent history handed the country’s, and the world’s, most powerful office to a moron despite his losing the popular vote, substantially in the most recent case. If you’re white and middle-class, you can generally expect rational and unprejudiced treatment from the law — as, for example, happened to a mother in Irvine, California, who had drugs planted in her car by a local couple with a grudge against her. A poor woman from a Black or Latino background might have had a very different experience. Shaikh Hamza can say this only because he comes from the race that is most favoured by the American political and judicial systems.

Finally, he tries to divert discussion of American racism against Blacks by bringing up Muslim racism against Jews — the whites’ favourite ‘minority’ — and racism against Pakistanis or southern Indians in some Arab countries (and notably not Arab anti-Black attitudes which are rife throughout the Arab world and in the USA). He tells us that his shaikh, Abdullah bin Bayyah, has never said a bad word about Jews; the shaikh is from Mauritania, a country where Jewish settlers are not harassing native Arabs going about their daily business, building fences between them and their land, stealing their water and so on. Hostility to Jews is only to be expected in a population facing these abuses, or an immigrant population with a high percentage from that country or its neighbours, particularly where Jewish Americans are heavily involved in supporting Zionism, lobbying for military aid to Israel and punishment of anyone choosing not to do business with them, and agitating against Muslim (and particularly Arab) participation in society and in favour of wars against Muslims and attacks on Muslims’ civil rights. It shouldn’t be forgotten that the mainstream of Jewish society, both in the UK and the USA, is pro-Zionist; those Jews (or people of Jewish ancestry) who are sympathetic to Palestinian rights are a fringe group, many of them not religious.

He also mentions the racism (and appalling working conditions, etc) facing Pakistani and Indian workers in places like the United Arab Emirates. The fact is that, apart from watching Qatari TV news channels, most of us have no connection with the UAE, Qatar or any other Gulf country. Most of us don’t have the money to take holidays or attend Islamic conferences there. The UAE isn’t a democracy and doesn’t give permanent residency, much less citizenship, to other than its natives, so why on earth should Muslims with no right to live there, or even go there in some cases, be held responsible for what goes on there? Besides, Muslims (many of those in the UK are of Pakistani origin) talk about such things and share stories about it among themselves and on social media, but racism in the west, where we live, affects us, now.

He also made some remarks about whether racism or the breakdown of the Black American family was a greater contributor to the current status of African Americans. All I will say to that is: there is no record of the police asking questions about whether anyone’s parents are married or ever were before shooting them, and bullets do not discriminate on such grounds.

The US is not a country founded on justice. It’s a country with legislators and judges for whom injustice comes as naturally as mother’s milk, who hate anything most of us would think of as justice. Clive Stafford Smith, the British lawyer who worked for years getting people freed from Death Row in various southern states, said that the US is “a society that is so full of hatred of people” and blamed politicians, who constantly encourage Americans to hate and despise others. I’m not going to speculate on why he thought American Muslims should not be involved in a cause like Black Lives Matter, but Muslims of any ethnicity born in the USA are not going to turn a blind eye to injustice in the way that an Arab immigrant grateful for refuge from other oppression or poverty might do. He didn’t offer any reason why they shouldn’t — no Islamic critique of the ideas peddled on the BLM website, or call to concentrate on Islamic knowledge or their spiritual development — only a diversion onto things that are irrelevant to American Muslims. I’m not justifying anyone hating him; he’s a scholar who has invested years of his life in gaining and transmitting Islamic knowledge and his translations are of immense value — but these remarks are ignorant and damaging, and whether he changes his views in response to the community’s feedback or not, they needed challenging.

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UK's first Muslim astronaut aims to put focus on mental health

The Guardian World news: Islam - 26 December, 2016 - 08:01

Contest winner Hussain Manawer says it was not an ambition to go to space, he just wanted to be taken more seriously

For most people who go into space it is a dream come true, but for the man set to be the UK’s first Muslim astronaut his priority is making the world a better place.

Hussain Manawer, 25, from Ilford, Essex, is due to blast off in 2018 after seeing off thousands of other entrants from more than 90 countries in a competition.

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