John Judis’ book Genesis recalls that the White House was initially hostile to Israel’s establishment.
UZ: Tell us a little bit about yourself (your background, where you grew up, etc).
IA: I am 30 years old, raised in Northwest London. I hold a BA in English Literature from Royal Holloway University of London and an MA in Linguistics from the Institute of Education, University of London. I worked for several years as a secondary school English teacher before moving overseas. I am currently teaching composition writing at a university in the Arabian Gulf. “Shades of Oblivion,” written under the pen name of Ibn Adam is my first novel. (Ibn Adam is better known as M. Hamid Choudhury)
UZ: What is “Shades of Oblivion” about and why did you choose this title? What are some of the greatest challenges that you believe Muslim men face living in the West? Does your book address these challenges?
IA: “Shades of Oblivion” is a character-driven, contemporary novel set in the inner boroughs of London. It presents the stories of Masud Khan, Rizwan Kareem and David Eubanks; three teenagers from different backgrounds whose lives are inexplicably connected. The novel follows the characters from their late teens through their early 20s and the decisions they make that lead them into 'Oblivion'—the unofficial name given to a post 9/11 detention center.
At the heart of the novel is the theme of choice and consequence and how the decisions we come to make can impact on the rest of our lives. However, it should be noted that the novel is not about the incarceration in Oblivion, but more about the three characters' lives and personal journeys before imprisonment. The novel encompasses a number of themes which I believe are pertinent in this day and age, especially for Muslims living in the West. For example, issues relating to identity and the struggle to maintain oneself in face of the various gravitational pulls of a modern urban city. Of course by delving into these topics, I also had to touch on issues which are deemed taboo by the Muslim community. After working with young Western Muslims, however, I truly believe these issues need to be addressed and discussed rather than ignored.
UZ: What inspired you to write this story, and who is your intended audience? What do you hope readers will benefit from the story?
IA: I wrote “Shades of Oblivion” for two main reasons. Firstly, I feel there is a huge gap in the field of Islamic literature, and I hope to inspire other budding Muslim authors to take up the mantle. Secondly, I believe that the medium of literature, which is a powerful tool, is greatly underused for the purpose of da'wah. Novels take a reader on a journey whereby they can enter lives that would otherwise be out of reach. They also enable the reader to intimately follow a character and observe the choices, decisions, highs and lows that ultimately come to define them as a person. “Shades of Oblivion” is not a novel about Islam per se, but rather a novel that features Muslim characters with the aims of presenting a more human and everyday side that is often ignored or misrepresented by the media. I have read hundreds of books where non-Muslim authors unabashedly and unapologetically convey their beliefs (usually atheistic in nature) through their characters. Why can't we as Muslims do the same?
UZ: Are there any autobiographical aspects to the fiction story? Please explain.
IA: The novel is essentially a fictitious piece of the work. Writing, however, is a very cathartic process and I think it is impossible to entirely separate an author's work from the author. I would say that there are aspects of all three characters that are a reflection of me, and also of people I have met throughout my life.
UZ: What have been your major challenges, so far, as a new Muslim fiction writer?
IA: I have encountered a number of difficulties. I initially went through the traditional means of getting the book published and received positive feedback from literary agents. However, they all declined to support the book. One agent stated that a thought-provoking novel presenting Muslims in a positive light just would not sell in this day and age. I have since, by the grace of Allāh, managed to publish the book independently. The novel is now available both digitally and on paperback from a number of retailers, including the iBook's store and Amazon Kindle store. Other difficulties relate to the actual composition of the novel. “Shades of Oblivion” is an independent project and was crafted without help from editors, literary agents or proofreaders.
UZ: Fiction and film remain highly controversial entertainment genres in Muslim communities. What are your thoughts on Muslims involved in these fields? Do you believe the controversy is justified? Why or why not? How can we overcome these challenges? Please explain.
IA: I think this question has to be considered while bearing in mind the context and time we live in. Globalization has made the world a much smaller place and, like it or not, we are all connected in some way. The power of the media cannot be understated or ignored and I believe it is incumbent on Muslims – especially scholars – to work to find a middle ground. I do understand the concerns some Muslims may have, but I do not believe complete asceticism will solve the issue. As Muslims we should strive to be leaders and our chief aim should be to spread the message of Islam as far and wide as possible.
UZ: Where can we learn more about the book? Where can we read an excerpt or purchase it? Please share with us your Facebook page and website.
IA: For more information please visit the website www.shadesofoblivion.com where you can also download a free 60-page sample of the first six chapters. The book is available as both an eBook and paperback. The eBook can be read across all digital platforms including PC, Mac, Apple, Android, Kindle and various other devices. Please visit our Facebook page ShadesofOblivion.
Gay marriage celebrated for the first time by hundreds of couples at the weekend goes to the heart of religious concerns. Opponents like to say that it redefines marriage as if marriage had not been frequently redefined, and for the better, since Old Testament days but what matters more is that it redefines humanity. The idea of full equality for gay and lesbian people changes our understanding of what it means to be human, and does so for the better. That means it must also change or challenge most understandings of God. So the religious reactions were inevitable and important. But they were not all predictable or simple.
In this country there have been four main strands of opinion that matter. First, and to be celebrated, is the wholehearted welcome to the reform given by the Quakers, by Liberal and Reform Judaism, by some free churches and a substantial minority of Anglican opinion. At the opposite extreme are those religions opposed not only to gay marriage but to the flourishing and even the existence of gay and lesbian people: orthodox Judaism, most forms of Islam, and most of the charismatic and fundamentalist forms of Christianity that some immigrants to this country bring with them from the developing world. They are the people who complain that they are persecuted when in fact they are only forbidden to persecute others. The impact of this reform on them is wholly salutary. It is a reminder that they are free to hold their unpleasant views, but not to act on them in ways that infringe the rights of their fellow citizens and human beings.
It was quite a challenge, even for the crack team of theatrical experts summoned from around the world: less than six months to produce a hi-tech musical extravaganza about one of the most renowned figures in human history. Oh yes, and the title character can't appear on stage.
But somehow it happened and on Sunday night a lavish production about the life and teachings of Muhammad, Islam's main prophet, intended as a rejoinder to more militant interpretations of the faith, premiered at a specially built £20m mock-Roman amphitheatre in Sharjah, the small emirate adjoining Dubai.
She wept until her child became but a memory,
Lingering over the mountains.
Beauty turned synonym,
Desolation in her breaths.
Paradise had a phantom presence.
Her youth forced into refuge,
Amongst songs of blood – and what once was sword,
What once was bullet – now blinded,
Because this was not war.
Carnage not war.
She wept until her child became but a shadow,
Ruminating over the mountains,
Her cries unheard.
She was the story – told without face.
The narrative of,
Diplomatic tongues torn over words,
Without tears – was not hers.
The pages of papers written,
In foreign tongues,
Emblazoned in his name,
Painted a son – not hers.
Her memory could not be dignified,
By inked rhetoric,
Hollow words fell through spaces,
Her country kept collapsing…
Our youth became memory.
A history, in epitaphs
An unending search.
I wonder why we haven’t heard more about this guy and isn’t it curious that he isn’t described as a terrorist?
He believed that “stopping the regime with action by bloodshed,” was the “will of God.”
A Katy man is expected to appeared in federal court Friday to face several charges, including possession of explosive materials.
Robert James Talbot Jr., 38, was arrested Thursday following an eight-month undercover investigation by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, according to the United States Attorney’s Office.
Authorities allege Talbot wanted to recruit other “like-minded individuals” to blow up government buildings, rob banks and kill law enforcement officers.
According to the criminal complaint, Talbot created a Facebook page titled “American Insurgent Movement” (AIM), and described it as “a Pre-Constitutionalist Community that offers those who seek True patriotism and are looking for absolute Freedom by doing the Will of God. Who want to restore America Pre-Constitutionally and look forward to stopping the Regime with action by bloodshed.”
The criminal complaint also states Talbot made several postings on the page between Jan. 30 and Feb. 9, 2014, seeking people interested in “walking away from your life…to stop the regime.”
According to the complaint, Talbot posted to the page on March 15 which read:
“In a few weeks me and my team are goin active for Operation Liberty…I will not be able to post no more. We will be the revolution, things will happen nation wide or in the states. They will call us many names and spin things around on media. Just remember we fight to stop Marxism, liberalism, Central banking Cartels and the New World Order. I will try to find someone to take over this community page, but most of the guys who are admins are part of my unit. I will have a website up in 2 months…The funding is unlimited since the banking cartel will be forced to fund our movements.”
The complaint alleges Talbot sent $500 as a down payment for the explosive devices he had requested on March 22.
Then on March 27, the complaint states Talbot and others met at a storage facility in Houston with the intent to conduct an armor car robbery. Authorities allege Talbot provided detailed maps of the target bank, an escape route, and placed two explosive devices made of C4 into his black backpack to then be placed on the armor car.
Talbot was arrested on the way to conduct the robbery by the FBI Houston Division Special Weapons and Tactics team.
He is charged with attempted interference with commerce by robbery, solicitation to commit a crime of violence and possession of an explosive material, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“I believe this kid was as savvy or maybe more savvy than Timothy McVeigh, honestly I do. If he had a Terry Nichols with him, who knows what he would do?” said Terry Denny, who lived in the same boarding house as Talbot.
Denny said Talbot spent large amounts of time watching anti-government videos, and frequently talked about a cache of weapons stored in New York, although it was unclear Friday if that cache actually existed.
If convicted, authorities say Talbot faces up to a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a possible $250,000 fine for the attempted robbery, as well as another 10 years imprisonment and $100,000 fine for each of the remaining charges.
Talbot will spend the weekend in federal custody. He will see a judge on Tuesday.
Multiple law enforcement agencies assisted the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force with their investigation, including personnel from the FBI, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Secret Service, Houston and Houston Metro Police Departments and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
During a pretrial motion hearing March 25, El Cajon police detective Darren Forster made a startling admission. He testified that he doctored a photograph so it would appear that Kassim Alhimidi was nearby when his 32-year-old wife, Shaima Alawadi, was brutally murdered in their home on March 21 of 2012.
Police admitted that they drove the suspect’s red van to the scene and staged a photo, altering the date stamp. The motive for fabricating evidence, according to Forster, was to coerce a confession from Alhimidi, who has consistently maintained his innocence.
Police Chief Ed Aceves later said deception is commonly used by police and is allowed if officers “follow the rules within the constitution and case law.” He did not want to comment on the specifics of the Alawadi murder case.
“People don’t confess to things they didn’t do in most cases,” Chief Aceves said, but conceded there are exceptions if people are “worn down from hours and hours of questioning.”
Aceves said ultimately is it up to the courts to determine whether or not police have gone too far.
What’s particularly interesting about this new development is that last July, the judge in the case said street-camera footage indicating Alhimidi might have driven a short distance from his home the morning of the murder and parked his car was for him “the most persuasive evidence” in the case. Referring to Alhimidi’s claim he had gone for a drive to relax at the time of the murder, San Diego Superior Court Judge Lantz Lewis said, ”It appears to be a lie,” and ordered Alhimidi to stand trial for his wife’s murder.
Justin Brooks, a law professor and head of the California Innocent Project in San Diego said that while he objects to police lying to obtain confessions, courts have upheld the practice. However, it is illegal to present falsified evidence in court. Yet it appears the doctored photograph placing Alhimid’s van near the scene was submitted to the court and influenced the judge’s decision.
It is unclear what impact this new revelation will have on the case. Don’t expect to read news of this latest revelation on anti-Muslim hate blogs, whose agenda would be best served by Alhimidi’s conviction.
First thought to be a hate crime against the family of Iraqi Muslim immigrants, the story generated an outpouring of support from around the world. However, rumors a hate crime was staged to cover up the true nature of the murder began to circulate almost immediately, and become more widespread as police began to zero in on Alawadi’s husband as the prime suspect.
Professional outrage peddlers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer immediately seized the opportunity to portray the initial outpouring of sympathy as naive, politically correct capitulation. Surmising almost from the start that the case was really an “honor killing,” anti-Muslim bigots could hardly contain their glee when Kassim Alhimidi was arrested. Treating the arrest as the equivalent of a conviction, they began gloating, thrilled they could exploit Shaima Alawadi’s brutal murder to vilify Islam and the Muslim community.
In this country, a suspect is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. In concert with David Yerushalmi, Pamela Geller has devoted herself in the past to a campaign ostensibly aimed at protecting the American legal system from “creeping sharia.” Yet she didn’t hesitate to discard much-vaunted bedrock legal principles to convict Alhimidi right from the start. She spoke emphatically of the murder as an “honor killing” perpetrated by Alawadi’s husband and ”rooted in Islamic teachings and culture.”
Even if Alhimidi is ultimately convicted of Alawadi’s murder, what is the basis for assuming the crime was motivated by some notion of family honor? It seems for Geller, the honor motive can simply be assumed whenever the perpetrator is a Muslim.
Geller’s claim that honor killing is rooted in “Islamic teachings” is false. She and Robert Spencer have in the past fabricated “evidence” to falsely implicate Islamic doctrine as the culprit behind honor killings. We have repeatedly debunked their “talking points,” in articles here, here, and here.
Mona Eltahawy and Raquel Saraswati (who works closely with the Islamophobic Clarion Fund) echoed anti-Muslim bigots in this exchange regarding the murder on Twitter.
There are developments in the case that cast doubt on both the original “hate crime” narrative, and the subsequent “honor killing” counter narrative. Months earlier, Enrique Cervantes witnessed and documented an interesting series of events that may be related. In a written essay he described a young couple having sex in the backseat of a car in front of his home in broad daylight the previous November.
“I could see bodies in it, rocking around, the car shaking back and forth, and it’s not even one o’clock,” Cervantes later said of the scene in an essay for the San Diego City Beat.
The couple Cervantes described happened to be Shaima Alawadi’s 17-year-old Fatima Alhimidi and her 21-year-old boyfriend, Rawnaq Yacub. Reports suggest Yacub is of Christian Iraqi origin, and that Fatima may have been struggling with her parents to avoid an arranged marriage to another man. According to Cervantes, the couple stayed at the scene until police arrived, and the girl’s mother came to take her away.
Further details of family strife, including the possibility Shaima Alawadi may have been contemplating divorce, have emerged since the start of the investigation, fueling further speculation about possible motives for the murder. Details were made public after a police affidavit was leaked to the New York Times.
Records show a neighbor spotted a suspect fleeing the area at 10:30 a.m., about 45 minutes before the victim’s daughter, Fatima Alhimidi, called 911 emergency service to report the attack. The suspect was described as a ”…dark skinned male, in late teens or early 20′s, 5 feet 7 inches in height, 150 lbs., skinny build, with dark blue or black hoodie, carrying a brown donut shaped cardboard box run west from the area of the victims house…”
The affidavit also refers to a text message allegedly intercepted by police in possession of Fatima Alhimidi’s mobile phone during her questioning. The message read, “The detective will find out tell them [can't] talk.” What’s interesting is that affidavit does not specify the phone number or name of the person who sent the text, referring only to a “yet unknown suspect.”
Was the text message sent by her father, Kassim Alhimidi, who is now suspected of the murder? The wording of the affidavit is vague about the name and telephone number of the sender. However, Alhindi’s defense attorney, Richard Berkon Jr., has pointed out his client does not write or speak English.
For that matter, how could Alhimidi have written the note found at the scene of the murder, which read “Go back to your country, you terrorist.” If the crime was staged by Kassim Alhimidi to look like a hate crime, did he have an English-speaking accomplice pen the note for him in English?
Despite widespread speculation, we still do not know who murdered Shaima Alawadi. Defense Attorney Berkon also noted there is no forensic evidence linking his client to the crime. No blood or glass was found on Alhimidi’s body or clothing, or in his car. Alhimidi has cooperated throughout the investigation, and had voluntarily returned to the US after burying his wife in Iraq, expressly stating he had nothing to hide.
“It doesn’t make sense, your honor,” Berkon told Lewis. “The real killer is still out there.”
Opening arguments in Alhimidi’s case are scheduled to begin on April 1.
Original guest post
Did things really change? The best of times, the worst of times
It is obvious that a wind of change has blown across the Arab world, for the good: the toppling of tyrants, the drafting of a new constitution in Tunisia, the emergence of civil society, not always powerful, but which cannot be ignored. However there has also been a turn for the worst: sectarian tension has reached unprecedented levels, Syria’s horrendous civil war may last for years as there is no sign of abatement ahead, Libya is confronted by chaos and will destabilize the region, Egypt looks uncertain and could head in any direction.
While all these changes are visible and are widely commented upon, one must still ask: are these revolutions?
The definition of what constitutes a political or socio-economic revolution is a complex topic and has always brought controversy, but when looking at the actual outcomes from the Arab spring, the Arab revolutionaries have some reasons to feel disappointed:
- Despite the toppling of several dictators, apart from Tunisia and to a smaller extent Libya, no major changes were brought to the political structures. Democratic elections were held, but in general, political structures remain consistent with what existed before 2011 and in the best cases did not go further than cosmetic changes
- The economic structures have not changed at all. The patrimonial models and the resulting inequalities are still here. Not only have the economic and social roots of the uprisings not been addressed, but in most cases, the overall economic performance has worsened due to the instability that followed (for instance tourism and foreign investments have drastically decreased in Tunisia and Egypt). Most Arab countries are now requesting loans from Gulf states or the IMF, and are under its deep scrutiny
The observation made of politics and economics can also be made for topics such as justice and education, showing that at this point, the “Arab spring” events cannot be considered a revolution; the way ahead is still uncertain. While this view is pessimistic, there are many reasons not to feel disillusioned.
Looking ahead: The “Arab spring” is not doomed (yet)
Despite the many setbacks and the general feeling that the Arab spring has not been a success, a look back at history highlights the fact that it is not necessarily doomed and that changes require time and resilience. As Gilbert Achcar rightly states in his book “The People Want”, nothing will ever be the same:
From the beginning I have been emphasizing that this is a long-term revolutionary process, not a “Spring” or something that stops with the overthrow of this or that president. It’s a process that won’t stop before a radical change happens that can put the region back on the track of social and economic development. Short of such a change, the turmoil will be ongoing.
The wall of fear is down and authoritarianism is on the decline. While the ongoing instability is depicted by observers as a sign that Arabs are not mature enough for democracy, the Tunisian example and the resilience of Arab democrats, who take risks everyday and keep fighting for change, shows that there have been real changes in the Arab world. Historical comparisons can help us understand what it takes for revolutionary processes to deliver change.
The French revolution in 1789 was a significant event that resulted not only in the overthrow of the French monarchy but created a wave of change that swept across Europe.
It should be noted that this revolution was followed by unexpected events: from the Napoleonic wars, restorations, the 1830 and 1848 revolutions, and it took more than one century for most European countries to gradually shift to more or less democratic and stable nations with many caveats. The Chinese leader Zhou Enlai when asked in 1989 about the French revolution’s outcome said: “It is too soon to say.”
Similarly, the wave of uprisings that brought down the Iron Wall in 1989 in Central and Eastern Europe were considered revolutions, most Communist regimes were doomed but the chain of events now appear more differentiated.
The 1989 wave of change was a mix of popular protests, behind the scene arrangements, and gradually led to a transition period that was chaotic economically, sometimes peacefully conducted, sometimes ending in bloodbaths. But in overall Eastern and Central Europe are gradually recovering from the traumas of the past and are more integrated with the rest of the continent.
These nations have changed forever, despite several disappointing consequences such as the reappearance: of ultra-nationalism, setbacks in education (one of the few positive legacies from the Communist period), the emergence of criminal organizations and growing economic inequalities.
In the Arab world, it is obvious that there is no clear winner since 2011:
- While political Islam parties did benefit from the first elections, their handling of the power was not a success, their history as opposition parties and the repression they suffered in the past made them prone to working alone (even some of his own supporters admit that Mohamed Morsi behaved more as the MB president than the Egyptian one). These parties will have to work more with other parties in the future, the way AKP in Turkey, Ennahda in Tunisia, or PJD in Morocco try to do so (not always successfully) are interesting examples that need to be encouraged and emulated. Similarly, these parties have to build an economic program that goes beyond current neo-Liberal bias, they have to cope with the demands of the new Arab generation, which is comfortable with its Muslim identity, but has economic and social demands that are larger than the MB slogan “Islam is the solution”
- Arab secularist parties are deeply weakened, as their connection with societies has decreased, they are considered (often rightly, sometimes unfairly) as complicit with the dictatorships. They have not been able to evolve from now outdated nationalist slogans of the 1960s, they will therefore need to build clearer programs to get back on the political map and address the demands of new generations that they don’t seem to understand
- External powers, from Gulf states to Western powers, Turkey, Russia, or Iran, have no consistent strategy, and they cannot control events anymore. The world is becoming growingly multilateral, and this tendency will increase. The recent tensions between the KSA and Qatar regarding the qualification of the MB as a terrorist organization, leading to open diplomatic tensions, also brings in additional uncertainty. All stakeholders in the region will for sure learn how to cooperate in the future. The success of the recent negotiations between Iran and Western powers is a promising paradigm shift, if things go well, this can mean a less polarized Middle East, where the US in particular does not need to choose between allies and enemies, and could actually have positive relationships with the main players in the region. While there are no certainties in the Middle East, a positive trend has been initiated and needs to continue.
- Arab rulers now realize that things have changed and that they cannot continue the status quo forever, while some regimes still manage to maintain their authority while orchestrating some cosmetic reforms, time is not on their side.
It is therefore too early to see which direction(s) the Arab world will follow, the best is still possible, but the worst is also a possibility. For sure, the region is changing and there is no going back.
Many risks still lie ahead, from foreign interventions, political indecision on the economic side (the roots of the uprisings), but the main risk is clearing the current sectarian war between Sunnis and Shias in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria, which is destroying those nations and their ability to live together. This challenge has to be addressed by building on Arab and Muslim traditions of coexistence, where different communities have been living together for centuries and still do so, for instance the images of Muslims and Copts standing together and protecting each other’s prayers are an inspiration that must be fully actualized.
The solutions will not be a carbon copy of Western or external models. The Arab world has multiple forms of identity, which include its different religions, cultural and ethnic minorities such as the Berbers and Kurds. As explained earlier, Islam is not the problem, it can and will be part of the solution. For instance, while women’s condition is often used as a justification to antagonize Islam, the reform of the Moroccan Moudawana (family code) reform in 2004 was inspired by religious texts and showed that there was no contradiction between Islam and women’s rights. The example of Islamic feminism is another example that proves the same point.
That being said, Islam is not THE only solution as the MB may claim; the scope of the problems and challenges to be addressed are larger and most of all the solutions to be found should include all Arab people, regardless of their religions and identity.
Arab societies must drop the “savior leader” narrative, relying on a charismatic leader has only led to disappointments and disasters in the past (even leaders as respected as Nasser made huge mistakes and often behaved as tyrants. General Al-Sissi, while presenting himself as a charismatic savior will disappoint his supporters).
Democracy, pluralism, checks and balances should be at the center of the new dynamics, no political party has all the solutions at hand. Arab societies need to build their own compromises and solutions, outside of foreign intervention.
Looking to the future Arab societies can and must build on the dynamism of their extraordinary youth, often viewed by older generations and outsiders as a threat. The new Arab generation holds the potentialities of imagination and hopeful energy to create a future that strengthens society and realizes a horizon that fulfills the goals and dreams of the uprisings.
Creeping Sharia law Through the Law Society? No, Just Bad Journalism
By Steven Rose (TellMAMA)
The Telegraph’s alarmist reporting once again puts Sharia law in the spotlight. An utterance of this phrase guarantees a level of indignation in some corners. But in this context, is such indignation justified?
In short, it is not. A careful reading of the story demolishes the headline, “Islamic law is adopted by British legal chiefs.” Yes, the Law Society drafted guidance for solicitors on this issue, but it remains just that, guidance (nor legal advice.)
As it states:
“Practice notes are issued by the Law Society for the use and benefit of its members. They represent the Law Society’s view of good practice in a particular area. They are not intended to be the only standard of good practice that solicitors can follow. You are not required to follow them, but doing so will make it easier to account to oversight bodies for your actions.
Practice notes are not legal advice, nor do they necessarily provide a defence to complaints of misconduct or of inadequate professional service. While care has been taken to ensure that they are accurate, up to date and useful, the Law Society will not accept any legal liability in relation to them.”
So for the Telegraph to claim that Islamic law is “effectively enshrined” in the British legal system is a dangerous falsehood. An accompanying editorial lambasted the practice as ‘anti-women’ and incompatible with British values of fairness and decency.
Rather interestingly, it goes on to assert that the British legal system “has its roots in Judaeo-Christian morality.” This othering of Islam positions it as incompatible with Britain, which is deeply Islamophobic and exclusionary to the millions of British Muslims who peacefully observe their faith.
Other newspapers repeat this falsehood, the Daily Mail claimed, “Sharia Law to be enshrined in British legal system,” as the Express labelled the development ‘deeply disturbing.’
Both Baroness Cox (who invited Geert Wilders to the UK) and the National Secular Society are quoted heavily and oppose the measure. Nicholas Fluck, president of the Law Society, is directly quoted near the bottom of the Mail article but such quotes are notably absent in the Metro, Express, Telegraph, and ITV.
When context is substituted for sensationalism, the story takes on a life of its own across various social media platforms. The original Telegraph piece has over 10,000 shares on Facebook alone. In comparison, both the Mail and Metro articles received thousands of shares.
Poor journalism helps reinvigorate the far-right and other Islamophobic groups as it provides evidence to support their anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.
For Fiyaz Mughal, of TELL MAMA, more care is needed when reporting such stories: “the accuracy of reporting rather than spin is fundamental to ensuring that the facts are provided to members of the public. We all value a free and fair press who have a right to probe into areas of public interest. What we don’t want is reporting that is inaccurate, driven by journalists trying to find facts to fit their pre-conceived notions on faith communities, stories that are not only inaccurate, but sometimes just untrue and which play on the fears of people. All that does it to further re-enforce Far Right extremist positions and isolate Muslim communities as a whole who are caricatured as some malign block of people intent on Islamicising Britain. That is far from the truth.”
Muslim Americans likely make up the bulk of US domestic spy targets. This is what it's like for innocent citizens to live in fear
Better oversight of the sprawling American national security apparatus may finally be coming: President Obama and the House Intelligence Committee unveiled plans this week to reduce bulk collection of telephone records. The debate opened up by Edward Snowden's whistle-blowing is about to get even more legalistic than all the parsing of hops and stores and metadata.
These reforms may be reassuring, if sketchy. But for those living in so-called "suspect communities" Muslim Americans, left-wing campaigners, "radical" journalists the days of living on the receiving end of excessive spying wont end there.
As you may or may not hear, movie theatres across America this weekend are premiering the movie, “Noah,” starring Russell Crowe. Several of my Muslim friends and colleagues have expressed interest and excitement about the movie and their desire to attend a showing of the film. Therefore, I felt it necessary to implore us to show restraint and not waste our time watching it. As Muslims, we should abhor that Hollywood or any entity would produce a movie depicting a Prophet.1. Why are only the Prophet Muḥammad Images Offensive?
We often get desensitized, especially those of us living in the West, when it comes to making images of the prophets since we see so many portraits of Jesus everywhere we go. Nevertheless, we should firmly be against the imaging of any of our Islamic Prophets. Many of us get up in arms when others portray our Prophet Muḥammad in a cartoon, but don't blink an eye if any of our other beloved prophets are depicted. Before you say that cartoons depicting the Prophet Muḥammad are meant to be offensive while other images are not, just think about the outrage caused by Maajid Nawaz with his cartoon in England back in January. As Muslims, we rightfully should be offended when anyone depicts our Prophet Muḥammad whether done to be offensive or not. What I'm also trying to advocate is that, as Muslims, we should similar be offended when others depict other prophets as well, including but not limited to Prophets Eesa and Nuh .2. Russell Crowe has nothing on Prophet Nuh
Another problematic aspect of the movie includes the role played by Russell Crowe. As Muslims, we honestly don't know too much about what Prophet Nuh looked like. However, if we watch this movie, we will start to intertwine the character played by Russell Crowe, looks included, into our imagination of Prophet Nuh . Russell Crowe has nothing on Prophet Nuh , so let's not give him the opportunity to represent him in our minds.
The producer of the movie “Noah,” a self-professed atheist, according to the Washington Times, says he is proud of the fact that he's taken a story inspired by God's word and turned it into something so secular.3. Don't want to mess up my Reading of Surah Nuh
By sitting through a two hour movie specifically about one of the greatest human beings in history, our subconscious may start to associate the props in the movie (the clothes, the bad guys, the language) as all being part of the story of our beloved prophet.
Even if we fight the urge, our subconscious may start thinking of Russell Crowe's version of Prophet Nuh when we are reciting the verses regarding the flood in the Qurʾān.
As Muslims, we should firmly restrain ourselves from showing support for the “Noah” movie. Many conservative Christian groups have already expressed concerns regarding the movie. Paramount Pictures has admitted it took some “artistic license” in producing the movie. Several Muslim countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have already banned the movie (source).
O Muslim, won't you also abstain from watching “Noah”?
Art by Zohayma Montaner
Victoria Jackson says she is fighting for the ‘soul of America’
When a Muslim, Daoud Abudiab, moved in near Victoria Jackson’s suburban neighborhood, she responded with a post on her website titled, “Civilization Jihad, Hits Home (my back yard, literally).”
It’s one of several anti-Islamic entries on the former “Saturday Night Live” star’s site. Abudiab said, “She has friends who support her in making Williamson County a scary place to live for some of us.”
Jackson, for her part, feels right at home here – maybe more than she did in the New York limelight. She has applied her familiar high-pitched voice to a combative brand of politics, which she hopes will take her to a seat on the County Commission this summer. “He’s afraid of me?!” she wrote in her Web article, which included statistics claiming large numbers of terror attacks committed in the name of Islam and none by other religions. “According to these statistics, I should be afraid of him!”
Jackson, 54, says she’s fighting what she sees as “a spiritual battle over the soul of America,” and in doing so has joined protests against building a mosque in Murfreesboro and against a public discussion hosted by the American Muslim Advisory Council.
Abudiab is director of the Islamic Center of Columbia, which in February 2008 was tagged with swastikas and “white power” and burned to the ground by white supremacists, two of whom were associated with the Christian Identity Movement. Abudiab moved to Williamson County for the schools and “a safe environment” for his son, who had been bullied by his Maury County classmates because of his religion. “I would love to issue her an invitation to come to our home and have dinner and then she could judge for herself if we are scary people or not,” Abudiab said.
Fascist group entering mosques and handing out inflammatory literature
A group purporting to be on a ‘Muslim anti-grooming campaign’ are entering mosques and handing out inflammatory literature.
In the latest video posted on the Britain First website members of the group can be seen standing inside a mosque in Bolton. They then hand over inflammatory and anti-Muslim leaflets to a mosque member.
On the website it states the team visited mosques in Bolton, Oldham, Rochdale and Burnley. They end the video by visiting the home address of Gordon Birtwistle MP, Burnley MP who was quoted in an article earlier this month criticising the group.
As well as the Golden Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre in Rochdale, members of the group visit the Jamiyat Tabligh-ul-Islam mosque in Oldham and the Madina Mosque in Bolton.
It comes on the back of a video, revealed on the Asian Image website, which sees them visiting Councillor Salim Mulla, the Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen’s home last month. Coun Mulla had said: “Luckily, no-one opened the door. I have seen the literature in question and I am appalled by it. I am going to hand it to the police. This is a fascist group and no-one should entertain them.”
The group is led by chairman and former British National Party member Paul Golding.
Anna Bernard expands on Edward Said’s assertion that Israeli and Palestinian literature “cannot be separated.”
Women, Equality, Islam
Fair play to Woman's Hour this week, for making an effort to understand "the experience of British Muslim women" with a special edition that included Salma Yaqoob, former leader of the Respect party, and Julie Bindel, "representing the silenced majority of Muslim women" (her words, since deleted on Twitter, not mine).
The only downside? The parameters were set for the debate pretty much the moment the show started. "If you look at the facts," said Jane Garvey, "you can't deny this: British Muslim women are at the bottom of the heap. They have the lowest employment rates, a large number of them have never worked and they also have the worst health."
Lecture by Shaykh HamzaYusuf | Transcribed by Anonymous[The following is the video and transcript of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf's lecture entitled 'Fair Trade Commerce for a Better World.' The transcript includes slight modifications for the sake of readability and clarity].
All praise be to Allāh . I'd like to thank Allāh for the blessing of all the angels that come with all of you. You brought angels into this arena and inshā'Allāh Allāh will let us taste some of the pleasure of angelic presence.
Alhamdullilah, what I wanted to talk about was fair trade, and extending that meaning beyond the confines that have defined it in the dominant western discourse. The Qur'an tells us not to consume “wa la ta'qul nasi bi batili”. Don't consume the wealth of people falsely, unjustly, vainly. Batil is everything that is empty, it's what's not good. So it's the opposite of haqq, which is truthfulness, sincerity, reality, what is real. So it says don't consume the wealth of people unjustly. “takuna tijaratan aow Ila tijaratun an taraadin minkum,” let your trade only be trade that is mutually content. In other words, each side is content with the actual event of trade and commerce. This is an incredibly important point, all of the Qur'an is important but this verse is so central to what's happening right now globally, and why we're seeing so much turmoil in what are called the markets.
These global markets, where wealth is consumed unjustly. People's wealth is stolen, misappropriated, given to people without the right accountability. And this is happening in many many places. And so Allāh tells us that “tejarat”, commerce should be fair. In other words, each side should be pleased with the event that's happened, that's transpired. Allāh also says in Surah Rahman, “wa wada'al meezan, al-laa tatghow fil meezan”. He placed a balance, scales, that you not transgress the balance. Historically, our scholars identified these verses that are between the heavens and the earth. They're between, if you look at Surah Rahman, it opens with heavenly, celestial discourse, and then it talks about this balance and then it goes, “wal ardha wada'a ha lil anaam” and we placed the earth for all living things but between those is the balance. This refers to all types of balance. Allāh has given an economic balance, and this is historically how they understood it, the prohibition of cheating people in the marketplace, which is related to this balance between the celestial and the terrestrial. And Allāh reminds us that the earth was placed for all creatures, al-anaam are all living creatures. It's not just the human beings. Some of the commentators say “an'aam” comes from “nowm” which is all things that sleep, because sleep is the gentle tyrant. It's what Allāh has given us to remind us that He is “Qaahirun fawqa ibadihi,” that Allāh is overpowering, overwhelming His servants. The fact that we have to sleep at the end of the day, and our lives are rounded by this little sleep.
So the idea of just commerce and balance is very important in the Qurʾān. Historically in the marketplace -and this is unfortunately no longer the case because of digital scales- but historically you had scales in the marketplace, so people could actually see the justice. If you bought a pound of fruit, the merchant would put a pound weight on the scale, and then he would place the fruit on the other. And in Islamic tradition they used to always tip the scales to be on the side of the buyer, not on the side of the merchant, because the Prophet (saw) said may God have mercy on a man or a woman, who is forbearing, who is forgiving, who is generous, when they sell or when they buy. And I've seen this many times when I was in Fez or places in Morocco, they would do this. They would tip the scale, they'd put an extra date to tip the scale, just to show that you're getting the extra, because they wanted that ziyada, that extra, of ihsaan.
We're living in a time of incredible economic injustice and that injustice is because we have an unjust economic system. Economics now has become a necessary science to understand. You have to understand the basics of economics to be living on the planet that we're living in, because it's affecting all of us. It's affecting our lives. We have to understand the false dialectic that's been created between the so called Keynesian and monetarist. This left/right dialectic, as if there's no other alternative to these two approaches to economics because the Muslims have an alternative, but unfortunately we've been absent from the discourse. Even though much of what is beneficial in western commerce came out of transacting with the Muslims. In fact, “average” is from an Arabic word, because merchants they used to say, and you can look this up in chambers etymological dictionary or google it. Average is an Arabic word because merchants used to have a type of takaful, when they would send a ship with goods, and if goods were destroyed, a portion of the goods were destroyed, they would take an average and all the merchants would share in it. It was a type of insurance. So this came, ta'reef, tariff, is from the Muslims because we forget that our religion is a religion of commerce. I reflected deeply at one point when I was studying the sīrah, why the Prophet would be a merchant before he was a prophet. Why was he a merchant? Because Allāh could have made him many things, but he made him two things: he made him a shepherd in his youth, and he made him a merchant in his adult manhood. He made him a shepherd because all prophets are shepherds because the essence of being a prophet is caring for a flock, it's caring for people in a way that the shepherd does not want any harm to come to the flock. And who does the shepherd guard the flock from? The wolf. The wolf.
The reason, I believe, the reason that the Prophet was chosen to be a merchant was because the merchant is the most beneficial human being in human society. There's no one more beneficial to human society than a merchant. Everything, the chairs that you're sitting on are from commerce, the clothes that you're wearing are from commerce. The glasses that you're looking through if you're looking through glasses, are from commerce. The fillings in your teeth are from commerce. The medication that is keeping your blood pressure low right now is from commerce. Everything that is beneficial to the material wellbeing of the human being is from commerce. But there's another secret in commerce. Commerce teaches you good character, because the most successful merchants are the ones with the best character. You go back to people who treat you well, and that's why historically they used to say 'customer is king.' The customer is always right. A merchant shouldn't get angry because even if the person buying from him is making him angry, he'll lose the sale if he starts getting angry because the person will just walk, walk out. And so it actually creates good character. Tahleebul nafs. Akhlaq. “Wa innaka ala khuluqal adheem” – you're on a vast ethos, .
But the other thing about commerce is, if you want your commerce to be successful, you have to be trustworthy. That is the essential characteristic of commerce, trustworthiness. If you give your word, you stand by it. If you write a note, you fulfill it. If you promise goods on a certain day, you fulfill that. And if you don't, people stop doing business with you. The Prophet before Islam was known as al-āmīn, the Trustworthy. He was known as al-āmīn because he was the most trustworthy of merchants. People knew that if you gave him your money, not only did you get it back, but you got it back with great benefit. Khadijah never had anybody that transacted with her money like the messenger of Allāh and should we be surprised? And when she sent Maysara out with him, and all the people around him have beautiful names, like Maysara, and Umm Baraka, Baraka, Ummu Ayman, Haleema as'Sa'diya, they all have beautiful names, all the people that raised him and nurtured him. So he's with Maysara, the place of ease, the one who makes things easy, and Maysara noted all these things about the Prophet and informed Khadijah [but Khadijah had insight into who he was before anyone else, which is why she's Khadijatil Kubra . Her name Khadijah is from khidaaj, which is like naaaqis. It's used in the Arabs would, if a child was born early, they would be thin and skinny, they would call them Khadijah. But she's also naaqis until the Prophet completes her. Khadeja al-Kubra was a merchant and she used her wealth for the sake of Allāh . Abu Bakr was a merchant. He used his wealth for the sake of Allāh . Umar. All of these people, look at them. The people around the Prophet , the Qureish were the great merchants of the Arabian Peninsula. But he went to the people of agriculture, because these are the two forces in the world, agriculture and commerce, these are the things that make the world go round, they're what enable us to survive and they're in our original story, is all of the human condition. Everything is there in that original extraordinary story of the messenger of Allāh .
The prophet told of principles of commerce. One of the principles that he taught, , was that the truthful merchant is with martyrs on the Day of Judgment. The ulema say that it's because of the rarity of a real merchant. Imām al-Awzai once was in Beirut, and he passed by an onion seller and the onion seller was saying, onions sweeter than honey, and imām al-Awzai said to him, do you think it's permissible to lie about something like that? That's called advertising. Don't think advertising is some new thing. Arabs were marketing a long time ago, they used to market with poetry. Now we have jingles plop plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is. The Arabs had jingles as well, right. I wish I could get that part of my brain back, that that got lodged into. But they're very good, these jingle makers. Jingle bells. They used to advertise, but truthfulness is important. The Muhtasib, which is like the ombudsman, it's the person that goes into the marketplace for quality assurance. It's a person that is an interface between those who regulate the weights and those who are weighing in the scales in the marketplace. Umar appointed Shafa or Shifa as the muhtasiba during his time. She used to go in the marketplace with a stick and she would turn over fruit to make sure the good fruit was not on the top and the bad fruit on the bottom. If you go into a store now you will get your strawberries. They have all the big ones on the top and then the tiny ones on the bottom. That's not by mistake. But it's a type of “ghish”, because you buy the big ones and then when you open the package you get all the little ones one the bottom. Although little ones can be better than big ones. So this is what the muhtasib did. The hisba is part of our tradition, having quality assurance in the marketplace. This is part of the Islamic tradition and we forget this.
Now one of the things that is very striking about our age is the incredible disparities between the north and the south. The north and the south, and this is something that was pointed out in the seventies by Brant in Germany, he wrote a book about this. So this is, this has been going on for a long time but people in the west, the best of the people, Ulul Baqiyya, those people that are still on virtuous tradition from their ancestors, these people are very concerned about these disparities. Canada is one of the countries that has a real concern. Many of the best countries in the world, if you look at them today, that have the highest social indices in the world have a great concern about social justice. Not just in their own countries but in other places.
And so what happened, you had a movement that began from a Mennonite Christian woman and the Mennonite community is a strong community in Canada. She went to Puerto Rico and she witnessed the types of social disparity, and it troubled her and she wanted to help. And so she thought of bringing goods paying good prices, just prices to people in Puerto Rico and importing those goods into these countries like United States and Canada. And this was the beginning of the fair trade movement.
CNN recently reported from a website that was supported by, was actually a state department funded project that the average American has, and this would obviously be very difficult to work out. But it's interesting to think about. The average American has 59 slaves working for them around the world. 59. In other words, your lifestyle is based, our lifestyle, not yours, I'm putting myself in there too. Our lifestyle is based on the suffering of other people because, for instance, and I've stopped eating chocolate for this reason, when I found out, and you can see the film on this. There's a documentary that was done on it, on the child labor in harvesting cocoa, that 70% of cocoa on this planet is harvested by child labor. And so when you're eating that chocolate, your pleasure is somebody else's pain. And if you don't think that's having an impact on your being, then you have to wonder why everybody's on Prozac in these countries. Why are people so depressed? They're depressed because, because much of what we're enjoying, the fruits of our cheap lifestyles, of our cheap gasoline, of our cheap clothes, of our cheap shoes, all of these things, the Walmart world of cheap goods is based on exploited labor from other places. Not only is that exploited labor the pain and suffering of other people but its direct result is the unemployment that's happening all over these western countries. They're losing their jobs because they're going to Walmart and buying something that's made in Indonesia with labor laws that don't exist, often in incredibly difficult conditions, people working in factories that are really subhuman, and they will buy that instead of buying something that was made by somebody in their own town. There used to be people that made shoes, Americans and Canadians and these other places, they actually used to produce things. That's no longer the case. But it's not fair because it's based on the exploitation of other peoples. And we have to deal with the fact that this is the life that we're living.
Authorities describe killing of man outside Home Depot on Florin Road as racially motivated
By Kim Minugh (Sac Bee)
Hassan Alawsi’s assailant stalked him in the Home Depot parking lot for about eight minutes – cutting up and down aisles as he followed his victim to his car – before felling him with two gunshots in a racially motivated killing, according to Sacramento County sheriff’s detectives.
Eleven days after the shooting, detectives are awaiting transfer of their suspect, Jeffrey Caylor, from Butte County, where he is being held on charges related to the crimes leading up to and following Alawsi’s March 16 death on Florin Road, according to Sacramento County sheriff’s Sgt. Lisa Bowman. When Caylor, 44, returns to Sacramento County, he will be booked on suspicion of murder, as well as other charges, she said.
Caylor’s girlfriend, Kari Hamilton, also is in custody in Butte County. Detectives allege the 42-year-old woman was in the car with Caylor at the time of the fatal shooting – along with her 12-year-old son – but prosecutors have not determined what charges she will face in connection with Alawsi’s death, according to Bowman and court records.
Detectives allege that Caylor did not know Alawsi, 46. But they believe he had a “severe hatred” of people of Middle Eastern descent, Bowman said, and began following the victim after seeing him with his sister, who was dressed in an “Arabic-style dress” and headscarf. A relative of Caylor later told detectives that hatred stemmed from an ongoing dispute with a former landlord.
Alawsi was pronounced dead at the scene, less than one hour after he and his sister arrived at the store to buy gardening supplies, according to a sheriff’s request for Caylor’s arrest warrant. Alawsi’s sister ducked back into the store to use the restroom as Alawsi headed out to the car. When she tried to go back outside, employees had locked the doors, telling customers there was an emergency outside, according to the warrant affidavit.
She eventually made it outside, only to find deputies and police tape surrounding the area where she and her brother had parked, according to the warrant request. Deputies soon told her that her brother was dead.
Efforts by The Sacramento Bee to reach Alawsi’s family were not successful. State records available online indicate he had been a licensed security guard since 2008, and his permit was to expire this summer. He was a refugee to the United States from Jordan, and a fine arts graduate of the University of Baghdad, according to Alawsi’s Facebook page, which is now being used to spread information about his death.Read more here…