Building Strong Family Relationships Despite the Culture Gap – Art of Connection with Belal Khan

Muslim Matters - 14 January, 2015 - 05:00

In the United States, many Muslims who immigrated here tend to have a different culture than their own children who are growing up in a culture different from their own.

Click here to view the embedded video.

To understanding culture properly, see it as a combination of what we deem important coupled with how we implement it.

For example, respect to parents is something that's seen as important in both cultures. But, the way that respect is applied is different.

In American society, you're develop bonds of friendship with respect. However, overseas respect comes with treating them with authority, almost like a formal relationship. But, that won't necessarily breed respect in an American setting.

So, how do we bridge the cultural gap between parents and kids, especially when they grew up in two different worlds?

Looking back at my childhood, I'm greatful for the fact that I have a close relationship with my parents. I believe the age difference between my parents and I had something to do with it, considering that most of my friends' parents were much older.

A lot of my friends also lacked the experience of being told stories about their childhood, their families, and their siblings.

It wasn't just stories of like, “back in my day..”, but it was more about my parents having to get to know my extended family in India and kind of grow up with them while they weren't really there.

It was an interesting feeling when I visited India for the first time. Getting to see all the characters of my parents' stories in real life and recalling what I was told and then they would tell me their side.

When I finally met them for the first time, it was like I already knew them. My parents connected me to a bigger community, and family of people.

However, I don't believe that us telling stories is enough. We need to make some of our own stories that we can one day share with our children.

I remember when I was younger my family and I fell upon harder financial times, one of the things my dad would do is deliver newspapers, and he would have me come along with him.

Delivering newspapers isn't a fun thing, but looking at it in hindsight, having spend that time together, gone through those ordeals together, having had that experience together, I believe is something that brought us all a lot closer.

That experience also taught me that you've got to do what you need to do to take care of the people you care about and are responsible for. That was my dad leading by example.

The thing was that we did things together.

If we really want to foster relationships and build family ties, and bridge that cultural gap so to speak then what are you doing to make memories together. What adventures are you going on so that when you have kids, you'll be able to share those very stories and they can look forward to meeting their extended family?

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The role of Islam in radicalisation is grossly overestimated

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 January, 2015 - 02:06

There is no empirical evidence that religion and ideology are primary motivators for violent extremism. Radicalisation is a social issue

For at least a decade the issue of young Muslims becoming radicalised towards violent extremism has been one of concern for academics and practitioners like me. While we work on a daily basis to find ways to prevent radicalisation or intervene in the radicalisation process, occasionally the issue grabs the attention of the international media: usually in the aftermath of attacks such as the Boston marathon bombings and last week’s shootings at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket in Paris.

Global events like these shine a spotlight on Muslim communities who are placed in the unwanted position of having to defend their religion. Calls for Muslims to be accountable, take responsibility, condemn, object, speak out, reject and prove that they do not condone criminal acts of violence often mask a more unnerving suggestion that Islam itself is to blame.

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American Muslims and the Trauma of Anti Muslim Bigotry

Muslim Matters - 13 January, 2015 - 23:46

By Kameelah Mu'Min Rashad

In Aug 2011, Associated Press journalists Chris Hawley, Adam Goldman, Eileen Sullivan and Matt Apuzzo began publishing a series of detailed reports exposing a decades long secret surveillance program. This program was engineered by the NYPD (with assistance from the CIA) to gather intelligence on entire Muslim communities. Operating under the auspices of the “Demographic Unit”, law enforcement spied on American Muslim citizens all along the Northeastern seaboard— from New Haven, CT to Philadelphia, PA. The extent and reach of this suspicion-less spying extended far beyond the boundaries of New York City; with local officials and police departments seemingly unaware that the NYPD was conducting such far-reaching clandestine activity outside of its jurisdiction.

This series of Associated Reports revealed the surreal and sordid details of a program that read more like a Hollywood Spy/Crime drama- filled with informants, undercover police officers (“rakers and mosque crawlers”), monitoring of masjids, bookstores, homes, cafés, halal meat markets, and other businesses. Muslim Students' Associations were also targeted for surveillance –including Yale MSA, City College of New York, Rutgers New Brunswick and UPenn MSA. NYPD informants infiltrated MSA student meetings, chat rooms, online forums and group outings. Based on information obtained by the Associated Press “Student groups were of particular interest to the NYPD because they attract young Muslim men, a demographic that terrorist groups frequently draw from. Police worried about which Muslim scholars were influencing these students and feared that extracurricular activities such as paintball outings could be used as terrorist training.”

Mental Health Repercussions on Youth

To read clear, irrefutable evidence that law enforcement was engaging in such despicable activities is mind-boggling and absolutely frightening. The legal, political and economic ramifications of these covert operations may seem clear. However, there has been insufficient attention paid to the emotional and psychological toll this program had, and continues to have on the psyche of American Muslims – both those who were targeted and those who (as far as they know) were not being monitored. Imagine finding out that, for not reason other than your faith, you were being watched, the details of your daily life being recorded in a file? Imagine going to Jumu‘ah prayer and the person sitting next to you is secretly taking notes on everyone in the musallah? Jotting down names of those who seem particularly 'devout'? Those who may be 'susceptible to extremist ideology'? Imagine attending a Ramadan iftar at a neighbors house and this gathering viewed with suspicion?

These revelations induced feelings of anxiety, trauma, stark vulnerability and powerlessness. A 2014 research study entitled “Under Surveillance and Overwrought: American Muslims ' Emotional and Behavioral Responses to Government Surveillance” found that heightened levels of psychological distress, anxiety and avoidance of discussions that may increase the likelihood of future surveillance were prominent.

Now imagine being 20 year old college student, president of the MSA at the University of Pennsylvania, whose “aim and focus was to put on meaningful and fun events for my friends and peers. Our biggest concerns were getting summer internships”. Imagine now being told that your student group, your friends, those you cared for, were being targeted by the NYPD due to “possible terrorist activity”? This was the reality for Muhammad 'Mak' Hussain – thrust into this controversy and wholly unprepared to deal with the injustice of religious profiling. Mak shares his intimate personal reflections and emotions experienced during that time.

“Three years later, remembering the events of that week elicit feelings of confusion, frustration, and powerlessness that I haven't felt since then. Old scabs are being pulled back to reveal wounds that were only partially healed. 

As the president of the student group targeted for surveillance by the NYPD, I felt responsible for the well-being of its members. As a 20-year-old trying to lead a club, I found myself in a position where I felt I needed to safeguard hundreds of my peers from the very people who were meant to protect us. I had advisers and mentors, but at the end of the day, there was no one else who could take the responsibility from me for the safety of my organization's members. Or rather, there was no one who would.

It's one thing to be aware that you are probably being watched for your skin color, name, or religion. It's another to have to confront that reality, and ask the associated questions: Why are they doing this? What did we do? What else will they do? Questions that seemed irrational from a distance suddenly became all-encompassing and impossible to dismiss. Students who were previously not involved in the MSA came forth to express their concerns and fears. And for a college student, that was a lot of pressure, leaving me feeling isolated and helpless. I didn't know what I was doing, and I felt alone and overwhelmed in my responsibility to the community.

When faced with the threat of a government abusing its power, how could I trust any other authority to act without ulterior motives? Could a university support its students unconditionally? Could allied organizations care about us as individuals, and not just another opportunity to make a statement? People cared about our rights, but not about the kids pushed into making public statements because they felt they had to, even when they seemingly fell on deaf ears. There was little concern for college students who appeared on hostile talk radio shows because they felt they needed to represent the community, whatever the forum; those who had to negotiate with administrators for support that they assumed was the right given to any student; those who had to protest in the middle of campus, not driven by the spirit of an activist or a desire for justice, but because the feelings of frustration and helplessness were too much to take sitting down. Those who wept openly during Friday prayers because they hadn't taken a breath for a week and weren't prepared to shoulder the responsibility of the safety of a community. 

The NYPD's surveillance damaged my sense of security. My sense of trust in those I thought I were supposed to be able to trust. The resulting cynicism and escapism lasted the rest of the semester and into the summer. I'm ever grateful to those who got me through it with their concern and small kindnesses, from mentors to peers…but in the end, myself, and I feel the community, were exhausted.


Taking Care of Our Communities

Mak's experience underscores the need for us as a community to address the short and long term mental and psychological impact and toll of Islamophobia, violence, racism, xenophobia, fear-mongering, racial and religious profiling. As a community, we rush to enter into an odd pageant of punditry, critique and analysis of “Good Muslims” vs.“Bad Muslims”. We appear to have become very adept at issuing apologies and condemnations, offering khutbahs explaining the “true essence” of Islam, denouncing murderers and renewing calls to engage in 'counter-terrorist' da'wah (disseminating information about Islam designed to neutralize the spread of extremist ideology).

However, it is critically and equally as important that we learn to engage in radical self-care and self-compassion. Imagine how young people like Mak Hussain feel – 'undersurveillance and overwrought'. For the majority of their lives, Islam and Muslims have been characterized more often than not as a religion of blood-thirsty callous killers. Imagine the psychological wear and tear on a soul and spirit. As the Muslim Chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania, I will be facilitating a series of conversations ('Healing Halaqas') designed to offer safe space for young people to process the anxiety and trauma experienced by recent local and national headlines and controversies – from #CharlieHebdo to Boko Haram's brutal slaughtering of over 2,000* Nigerians. It is important that we stay connected with one another, strengthen our community, remain resilient and discuss healthy ways to cope in the midst of troubling public events and dialogue. I urge community members to have these discussions openly and honestly. We must take care of one another emotionally because the ongoing dialogue related to religion, extremism, and terrorism assaults ALL our spirits.


Kameelah Mu'Min Rashad is the Interfaith Fellow and Muslim Chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the founder of Muslim Wellness Foundation and lead organizer Muslims Make It Plain, a coalition of concerned Muslims working to inspire, empower and support grassroots mobilization and direct action to address police brutality, racial and religious profiling, unlawful surveillance and the over policing of America's Black and Brown communities. Kameelah graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Psychology and M.Ed in Psychological Services and is currently pursuing her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia.

Mak Hussain graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013, with a degree in biochemistry. He now lives in San Francisco, working in data analytics. He's passionate about nature, education, and increasing accessibility of high-quality locally-raised, organic halal meat

Related Information:

Federal Case Against NYPD Spying Program To Be Heard In US Court of Appeals (Philadelphia)

More info:

*numbers are unverified due to lack of information from region

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As Boko Haram Kills 2,000 in Nigeria Attack, African Religious Leader Asks Why There’s No Response Akin to Paris Mourning

Loon Watch - 13 January, 2015 - 23:02


During the midst of the Alqaeda attacks in Yemen and Paris we tweeted about Boko Haram‘s slaughter in Nigeria and the fact that it was receiving far less attention despite its horrific scale. As previous articles on Africa, including Ilisha’s series have made clear the most obvious explanation is that the lives of Africans and non-Westerners in general is valued far less. There are multi-faceted reasons for this, among them are the complicity of Western governments due to their own interests, legacy of colonialism and neo-Colonialist policy towards Africa.

Last month, Dorado reposted a report on the new Emir of Kano calling on Nigerians to arm themselves against BH. Recently, BH has also been defeated by the Cameroon army, who killed 143 of their fighters who tried to attack a village.

What BH is and who supports them is a matter of controversy and there is evidence for worldwide and regional intrigue that has led to the destabilization of Northern Nigeria and the horrific atrocities we have witnessed over the past few years.

In all of this Archbishop Kaigama makes an important point:

Atlanta Blackstar

As the world mourns the vicious massacres in Paris, one of Africa’s top religious leaders suggested that the lack of a similar outcry across the globe over the slaughter of up to 2,000 people by Boko Haram last week in northeast Nigeria is further evidence that Black lives don’t matter as much as whites’.

Ignatius Kaigama, the Catholic Archbishop of Jos and president of the Nigerian Bishops Conference, said the international community has expressed “solidarity,” but hasn’t done much to offer real help.

“We have always said that there should be concern expressed more concretely by the West beyond just expressing their solidarity,” Kaigama said. “They should do more than that. Compare what has happened in Paris and what is happening here. There is a great difference.”

According to Amnesty International, most of the people killed in Baga and the surrounding villages were women, children and the elderly, who were not able to flee in time. Reports say that the villages are overwhelmed with dead bodies lying as far as the eye could see. Amnesty International said it was the deadliest massacre Boko Haram has staged in the years of its murderous reign.

In addition to the dead, another 30,000 people are thought to have fled their homes, with about 7,500 seeking sanctuary in Chad and the rest adding to the tens of thousands of displaced people already scattered throughout that region of Nigeria.

On Twitter, Imad Mesdoua, a political analyst at consultants Africa Matters, said, “No breaking news cycle, no live reports, no international outrage, no hashtags,” while actress Mia Farrow and Stephanie Hancock of Human Rights Watch pointed out that there had been “no outrage or headlines” about the Nigerian slaughter.

Read the entire article…

New Jersey Muslims hope to reverse judgment on NYPD mass surveillance

The Guardian World news: Islam - 13 January, 2015 - 22:34
  • Federal court appears sympathetic to plaintiffs’ case
  • 11 plaintiffs allege they were unconstitutionally targeted for their religion

Lawyers representing a group of New Jersey Muslims in a landmark case are hopeful of reversing a controversial decision in the district court, which would allow their clients to proceed with a challenge against the NYPD’s post-9/11 mass surveillance programme.

The Hassan v City of New York case, which sees 11 plaintiffs; an Iraq war veteran, university students, a coalition of mosques, and the head of a religious school for girls – all Muslims from New Jersey subjected to indiscriminate surveillance by the NYPD, was heard in the court of appeal on Tuesday after being dismissed by a district court last February.

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Zaid Jilani: “Right Wingers Taunting Muslims with Images of Pork Are Bringing Back an Anti-Semitic Trope”

Loon Watch - 13 January, 2015 - 21:59


The frequency of using pork/pigs as a form of attacking Muslims and Islam is not only ignorant but harkens back to what Zaid Jilani writes is an ancient anti-Semitic trope. It should also be noted that during the Inquisition forced pork feeding and pork identity politics were used in harassing and abusing both Muslim and Jewish “conversos.”

AlterNet, By Zaid Jilani

It is sadly common to see grassroots conservatives engage in Islamophobia – it’s one of the most acceptable types of hate for the modern Republican Party. One way of spreading this hate is to mock Muslims with pigs or pork.

Here’s one example, posted on the day of the Paris attacks, highlighted by Bloomberg’s Dave Weigel:


What these individuals don’t seem to know is that they’re trafficking in what actually began as an ancient anti-semitic trope. Muslims don’t consume pork for the same reason many religious Jews don’t – they follow a version of kosher rules.

For centuries, these kosher rules were used by anti-semitic movements to compare Jews to pigs or to taunt Jews with pork.

In the book Anti-Semitic Stereotypes: A Paradigm of Otherness in English Popular Culture, 1660-1830, the author notes that English schoolboys would taunt Jews with a chant, “Get a bit of pork/Stick it on a fork/And give it to a Jew boy, a Jew.”…

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Rep. André Carson to become first Muslim lawmaker to House intelligence committee

Loon Watch - 13 January, 2015 - 21:45

Andre Carson

The Muslamic Sharia Law is here? Expect the GOP to try and use this as fodder to feed their base.

Pelosi to name first Muslim lawmaker to House intelligence committee

By Lauren French: 1/13/15 10:32 AM EST

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced in a closed-door meeting Tuesday she would name the first Muslim lawmaker to the House’s Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

A senior Democratic aide said Rep. André Carson of Indiana would be named in the “coming days” to the key national security-focused panel. Pelosi (D-Calif.) told lawmakers of the appointment during the members’ weekly caucus meeting.

Carson would be the first Muslim to serve on the committee and was the second Muslim to be elected to Congress. He already serves on the Armed Services Committee and worked for the Department of Homeland Security’s Fusion Center — the clearinghouse established by the federal government to streamline data sharing between the CIA, FBI, Department of Justice and the military.

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Merkel pledges to stand against intolerance as she joins Muslim rally

The Guardian World news: Islam - 13 January, 2015 - 21:34
German chancellor joins Muslim community in condemning Paris killings and admonishing growing anti-Islamic movement

Angela Merkel has condemned the marginalisation of Muslims and other groups as “humanly reprehensible”, pledging that her government would use all the means at its disposal to fight intolerance.

The German chancellor, who has taken the strongest stance of any European leader in the wake of the Paris attacks, joined a Muslim community rally at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to condemn the killings and admonish the growing anti-Islamic movement in the country, a day after it drew record numbers of supporters.

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To Defend Our Beloved Prophet, Let Us Exemplify His True Ideals Say Imams

Muslim Matters - 13 January, 2015 - 20:42

Following the shocking murders in Paris, condemned by Muslims all over the world, and subsequent moves to depict the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once again, Imams from around the world have come together to issue the following advice to those concerned about the depiction.

1.    For Muslims, love of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is a NECESSARY part of our FAITH. He is dearer to us than our parents and children. We prefer him to our own self.

2.    Accordingly we regret and are naturally hurt by the depiction of our Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace), a great personality held in high esteem by 1.8 billion Muslims and millions more, in such a manner.

3.    Muslims do believe in freedom of speech. And they do respect the right for people to say what they believe to be correct. However, freedom of speech should not be translated in to a duty to offend. Furthermore, it is common knowledge that absolute freedom of speech does not exist. There are laws to protect the dignity and properties of people. We urge governments, civil society and our media to foster a culture of mutual respect and unity, not one of division and disdain.

4.    Most Muslims will inevitably be hurt, offended and upset by the republication of the cartoons. But our reaction must be a reflection of the teachings of the gentle and merciful character of the Prophet (peace be upon him).  Enduring patience, tolerance, gentleness and mercy as was the character of our beloved Prophet (peace and Blessings be upon him) is the best and immediate way to respond. With dignified nobility we must be restrained, as the Qur'an says “And when the ignorant speak to them, they say words of Peace.”

Our aim is to not, inadvertently, give the cartoons more prominence through our attention. Muslims must remain calm and peaceful in their speech and actions. Repel harm with goodness is the Qur'anic imperative and by which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) lived. If we feel strongly, the only course of action to us is with reasoned debate, civil activism and other legal avenues, God willing.

5.Muslims have to remember that by depicting the Prophet (peace be upon him) no one can ever tarnish his image, as he is way beyond what is depicted, as Allah says, 'We have elevated your remembrance'. We should spend such regrettable moments in supplicating with many litanies and prayers of blessings on the Prophet; may Allah's mercy, peace and blessing be upon his soul.

6. Engage with others about your feelings. Speak of your love for the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and do not be shy to let your non-Muslim friends know your justified displeasure at the mockery that is made of our faith. People need to know how much love we have for our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

7.  Learn more and share more about the greatness of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). Hassaan bin Thaabit (may Allah be pleased with him) describes him with the following couplets:

“My eyes have never seen anyone more perfect than you
No woman has given birth to anyone more handsome than you
You have been created free from all defects
As if you were created the way you wished”

8. We should, through our actions and deeds, display the sublime character of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet faced many great challenges but he exhibited impeccable beauty of character in his actions. He did not react inhumanely or violently. He was attacked verbally and physically in Taif but he forgave the people. His uncle and companions were murdered but he reacted peacefully and in a humane manner. And there are many such examples from the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) we must display.

9. As citizens of our respective countries, we must not allow hate to creep into our hearts due to the horrific incidents of Paris. Muslims, non-Muslims and people of all backgrounds must come together and show unity and solidarity and not let it divide our communities. We must remember the statements of the Prophet (peace be upon him) such as: “Someone who unjustly kills a non-Muslim citizen cannot attain a whiff of Heaven, even though its fragrance is felt from a distance of forty years. (Bukhari), or, “He who hurts a non-Muslim citizen hurts me, and he who hurts me annoys Allah.” (Tabarani) And many other similar hadiths highlighting that Muslims are not allowed to hurt their non-Muslim brothers and sisters in humanity.

10. We must continuously supplicate to Allah that He rectifies our situation. Pray to Him that the chaos, injustice and oppression is lifted from all societies. We should pray to Allah so that He makes Britain, Nigeria, United States, India, United Kingdom, Australia, better, fairer and just countries for all. Pray to Him to aid the oppressed and the victims of the oppressors all over the world. Pray that He allows us to contribute to a more peaceful and just world. Sincerely pray at night and beseech Him to protect our honour and our dignity.

May Allah give us the ability to do what is right and avoid what is wrong. May Allah protect the whole of humanity from trials and tribulations.

Signed: 1. Mawlana Yunus Dudhwala (Head of Chaplaincy, Barts Health NHS Trust) 2. Dr Omer al Hamdoon (Muslim Association of Britain) 3. Imam Abdullah Hasan (Imams Against Domestic Abuse) 4. Imam Irfan Chishti (Chishtia Mosque, Rochdale) 5. Imam Shams ad Duha (Ebrahim College) 6. Sheikh Abdur Raheem Limbada ( 7. Imam Shafiur Rahman (Jibreel Institute) 8. Imam Ibrahim Mogra (MCB) 9. Imam Zuber Karim (Dundee Mosque) 10. Imam Abdul Wahhab (Plashet Grove Mosque) 11. Muhammad Ashraf Hansrot (Thornton Heath Islamic Centre) 12. Mawlana Abdul Mateen (Head teacher and Muslim Chaplain Quwwatul Islam Society London) 13. Mawlana Khalil Laher (Quwwat-ul-Islam Society London) 14. Imam Sulaiman Gani (Chaplain and Presenter on Iqra TV) 15. Imam Wasim Kempson (West London Islamic Cultural Centre) 16. Imam Yahya Adel Ibrahim (Al Kauthar Institute) 17. Imam Ghulam Moyhuddin (Ashton Central Mosque) 18. Mawlana Mujahid Ali (Hafs Academy) 19. Imam Saeed Algadi (Almuntada Trust) 20. Dr Abul Kalam Azad (Khateeb, Dockland Community Mosque) 21. Dr Mufti Abdur-Rahman Mangera (Scholar and Founder Zam Zam Academy) 22. Sheikh Zahir Mahmood (As Suffa Institute) 23. Shaykh Muhammad Umar Al-Qadri  (Al-Mustafa Islamic Educational & Cultural Centre Ireland) 24. Mawlana Adnan Qurayshi (Al-Ashraaf Secondary School) 25. Mawlana Zakaria Maljee (Stamford Hill) 26. Imam Ahmed Desai (masjid Quba, Bradford) 27. Mawlana Abdullah Rawat (Musallah an Noor Stoke Newington London) 28. Mufti Sajid (Azhar Academy Ltd/Quwwatul Islam Mosque) 29. Imam Tahir Talati (imam Zakariya Academy) 30. Imam Ilyas ameen (Azhar masjid) 31. Mawlana Muhammad Saleem  (Quwwat ul Islam) 32. Mawlana Zenulabedin Yakub (Masjide Tauheed) 33. Mawlana Said Ahmed (masjid e Salaam, Preston) 34. Mawlana Ilyas (masjid e Mahad, Preston) 35. Imam Yusuf Rios (Muslim Chaplain, The Shaukani Institute, United States) 36. Mawlana Muhammad ibn Ismail (Newham Ulama Forum) 38. Imam Qari Asim (Mecca masjid, Leeds) 38. Mawlana Imran Ali (BMACC Bearsden, Glasgow) 39. Dr Mansur Ali (Cardiff University) 40. Imam Imtiyaz Damiel (Abu Hanifah Foundation) 41. Sheikh Jaffer Ali Ladak (Hyderi Islamic Cente) 42. Imam Shabir Moosa Adam (masjid Ibrahim, Australia) 43. Shaykh Arif Abdul Hussain (Al-Mahdi Institute) 44. Shaykh Muhammad Saeed Bahmanpour (Resident scholar, Islamic Centre of England) 45. Sheikh Muhammad Al-Hilli (Noor Trust) 46. Ayatollah Seyed Milani (AlKhoie Islamic Centre) 47. Mufti Salim Ismail (Upton Park Islamic Centre) 48. Moulana Muhammad Shahid Raza (Leicester Central Mosque) 49. Sheikh Abdul Qayyum (East London Mosque) 50. Sayyed Muhammad Al-Musawi (World Ahlulbayt Islamic League) 51. Imam Fahimul Anam (Beacon Institute) 52..Imam Fadel Soliman (Bridges Foundation) 53. Dr Jasser Auda (Qatar) 54. Imam Muhammad Mustaqeem Shah (al Mustaqeem Centre, Bradford) 55. Imam Abdur Rahman Anwar (imam, London) 56. Imam Amer Jamil (iSyllabus, Scotland) 57. Mufti Muhammad Ibrahim Qureshi (Islamic Center Northridge), CA 58. Imam Yasuf iban Steven Deardorff 59. Maulana Muhammad Mota -Jame  masjid  Batley, Birmingham
60. Imam Omar Suleiman- Resident Scholar -Valley Ranch Islamic Center, TX 61. Imam Ajmal Masroor (Palmers Green Mosque) 62. Imam Muhammad Tahir Kiyani (Batley, Birmingham) 63. Shybatu Hassan Ibrahim-Bayero University Kano, Nigeria 64. Barrister Unusa Karimu, Banjong Mosque
65. Mawlana Idris Abdus Salam, Darul Hidayah 65. Syed Zafar Mahmood, Zakat Foundation of India 66. Imam Abdul Hakim HamidMuslim Community of Palm Beach County 67. A Mushahid Kadir, Shadwell Jame masjid 68. Kasali Kehinde, Asst Ameer Akinmorin Janmaa (Adeyemi College Mosque, Ondo) Muslim Student Society Of Nigeria 69. Javaid Ali Khan, Millat 70. Bro. Nassib Said (Abushureim), Director of Outreach,  Coast Muslim Youth Forum (Kenya) 71. Imam Ajmal Masroor (Palmers Green Mosque) 72. Imam Muhammad Tahir Kiyani (Batley, Birmingham) 73. Imam Hassan Rabbani (Zia Ul-Qur'an Mosque) 74.Imam Adil Rehman (Beyond Boundaries) 75. Ustadh Abdur Raheem Green (iERA) 76. imam Fahim Hammadur Rahman (European Islamic Centre, Oldham) 77. Imam Shams Tameez (Aylesbury masjid) 78. Imam Abdul Malik Sheikh (Khateeb, Holborn Mosque) 79. Sheikh Shouaib Ahmed  Mirpuri (Abdul aziz ibn bazz masjid banbury) 80. Sheikh Abdul Hadi (Ameer Markazi Jamiat Ahlehadith, UK) 81. Imam Muhammad Ibrahim Mirpuri (Muhammadi masjid, Bham) 82. Sheikh Hafiz Sharrif Ullah (Al Huda masjid, Bradford) 83. Imam Hafiz Akhlaq Ahmed (masjid Ahlehadith, Bradford) 84. Hafiz Abdul Aala (masjid Muhammadi, Keighly) 85. Hafiz Hamood Ur Rahman (Makki masjid, Manchester) 86. Sheikh Mustafidh Gani (Beyond Boundaries) 87. Imam Aziz Ibraheeem (iman Trust Community Centre, Saint Helens, Merseyside) 88. Imam Rizwan Hussain Al azhari (imam Bashir Ahmed masjid, Southampton) 89. Mawlana Munawar (Khateeb, Balham Mosque) 90. Qari Ashraf (Tooting Islamic Centre) 91. Imam Choukri Majouli (Finsbury Park Mosque) 92. Imam Mubarak Manya (Zakariyya Jaame masjid, Bolton) 93. Imam Ashraf Ali (Muslim Welfare Association of Port Talbot, Wales) If you are a leader of a congregation and would like to add your name to sign this statement please fill out this form: [contact-form]

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Jews and Muslims for justice and human rights | Letters: Joseph Pearlman, Yiftah Curiel and Nasima Begum

The Guardian World news: Islam - 13 January, 2015 - 19:06

Deborah Maccoby (Letters, 13 January) writes that the Board of Deputies of British Jews contributes to the rise in attacks on Jews because it claims “that the majority of Jews support Israel’s policies”. This is completely opposite to a report written by the Board, quoted on 8 May 2014 in the Jewish News, which notes “that communal surveys have pointed to overwhelming support for the two state solution and opposition to settlement construction”. Not to mention that the president of the Board, Vivian Wineman, is a former chair of the UK branches of Peace Now and of the New Israel Fund, each of which is prominent in promoting Jewish-Arab dialogue in Israel and the occupied territories.
Joseph Pearlman

• On the day that Jewish victims of a murderous terror attack in a Paris kosher grocery are laid to rest, we read a letter in the Guardian by an executive at “Jews for Justice for Palestinians”, holding Jews responsible for current levels of antisemitism. This is not only disrespectful to the victims at Hyper Cacher, but is also fundamentally wrong, based on the twisted logic that when Jews die, Jews must be to blame; 17 people died this week at the hands of jihadists, four of them simply for being Jewish. Rather than condemn the perpetrators, “Jews for Justice for Palestinians” choose to blame the victims. For shame.
Yiftah Curiel
Spokesperson, embassy of Israel

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Charlie Hebdo gunman’s wife had no idea he was extremist, lawyer says

The Guardian World news: Islam - 13 January, 2015 - 18:39
Saïd Kouachi reportedly kissed wife Soumya goodbye then told her he was going to Paris to see younger brother Chérif in Paris

The wife of the Charlie Hebdo gunman Saïd Kouachi had no idea her husband was a religious extremist or that he planned an attack on the satirical magazine, according to her lawyer.

Hours before Kouachi and his younger brother Chérif stormed into the publication’s office in Paris, leaving 12 people, including two police officers, dead, the gunman kissed his wife, Soumya, goodbye and left their home in the Croix-Rouge area of Reims.

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David Cameron supports Charlie Hebdo cover that depicts Muhammad

The Guardian World news: Islam - 13 January, 2015 - 18:27
Prime minister says he is not surprised at magazine’s decision to ‘fight for freedom of expression’ by picturing prophet

David Cameron has backed the decision of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish a picture of the prophet Muhammad following a terror attack on its staff – even if it offends many Muslims.

The prime minister told Heart radio that it would be wrong for newspapers and other media to appease the “fanatical death cult of Islamist extremism” by holding back from publishing anything within the confines of the law.

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Angela Merkel joins Muslim community rally in Berlin

The Guardian World news: Islam - 13 January, 2015 - 17:26
German chancellor attends vigil for tolerance, in response to marches by far-right group Pegida in parts of country

Angela Merkel has joined a Muslim community rally in Berlin to promote tolerance, condemn the attacks in Paris and send a rebuke to Germany’s growing anti-Islamic movement.

“Hatred, racism and extremism have no place in this country,” she said in a speech earlier in the day. “We are a country based on democracy, tolerance and openness to the world.”

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As a Muslim, I’m fed up with the hypocrisy of the free speech fundamentalists

Mahdi Hassan - 13 January, 2015 - 13:49

The response to the inexcusable murder of Charlie Hebdo’s staff has proved that many liberals are guilty of double standards when it comes to giving offence.

 GettyProtests in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo killings. Photo: Getty

Dear liberal pundit,

You and I didn’t like George W Bush. Remember his puerile declaration after 9/11 that “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”? Yet now, in the wake of another horrific terrorist attack, you appear to have updated Dubbya’s slogan: either you are with free speech . . . or you are against it. Either vous êtes Charlie Hebdo . . . or you’re a freedom-hating fanatic.

I’m writing to you to make a simple request: please stop. You think you’re defying the terrorists when, in reality, you’re playing into their bloodstained hands by dividing and demonising. Us and them. The enlightened and liberal west v the backward, barbaric Muslims. The massacre in Paris on 7 January was, you keep telling us, an attack on free speech. The conservative former French president Nicolas Sarkozy agrees, calling it “a war declared on civilisation”. So, too, does the liberal-left pin-up Jon Snow, who crassly tweeted about a “clash of civilisations” and referred to “Europe’s belief in freedom of expression”.

In the midst of all the post-Paris grief, hypocrisy and hyperbole abounds. Yes, the attack was an act of unquantifiable evil; an inexcusable and merciless murder of innocents. But was it really a “bid to assassinate” free speech (ITV’s Mark Austin), to “desecrate” our ideas of “free thought” (Stephen Fry)? It was a crime – not an act of war – perpetrated by disaffected young men; radicalised not by drawings of the Prophet in Europe in 2006 or 2011, as it turns out, but by images of US torture in Iraq in 2004.

Please get a grip. None of us believes in an untrammelled right to free speech. We all agree there are always going to be lines that, for the purposes of law and order, cannot be crossed; or for the purposes of taste and decency, should not be crossed. We differ only on where those lines should be drawn.

Has your publication, for example, run cartoons mocking the Holocaust? No? How about caricatures of the 9/11 victims falling from the twin towers? I didn’t think so (and I am glad it hasn’t). Consider also the “thought experiment” offered by the Oxford philosopher Brian Klug. Imagine, he writes, if a man had joined the “unity rally” in Paris on 11 January “wearing a badge that said ‘Je suis Chérif’” – the first name of one of the Charlie Hebdo gunmen. Suppose, Klug adds, he carried a placard with a cartoon mocking the murdered journalists. “How would the crowd have reacted? . . . Would they have seen this lone individual as a hero, standing up for liberty and freedom of speech? Or would they have been profoundly offended?” Do you disagree with Klug’s conclusion that the man “would have been lucky to get away with his life”?

Let’s be clear: I agree there is no justification whatsoever for gunning down journalists or cartoonists. I disagree with your seeming view that the right to offend comes with no corresponding responsibility; and I do not believe that a right to offend automatically translates into a duty to offend.

When you say “Je suis Charlie”, is that an endorsement of Charlie Hebdo’s depiction of the French justice minister, Christiane Taubira, who is black, drawn as a monkey? Of crude caricatures of bulbous-nosed Arabs that must make Edward Said turn in his grave?

Lampooning racism by reproducing brazenly racist imagery is a pretty dubious satirical tactic. Also, as the former Charlie Hebdo journalist Olivier Cyran argued in 2013, an “Islamophobic neurosis gradually took over” the magazine after 9/11, which then effectively endorsed attacks on "members of a minority religion with no influence in the corridors of power".

It's for these reasons that I can't "be", don’t want to “be", Charlie – if anything, we should want to be Ahmed, the Muslim policeman who was killed while protecting the magazine’s right to exist. As the novelist Teju Cole has observed, “It is possible to defend the right to obscene . . . speech without promoting or sponsoring the content of that speech.”

And why have you been so silent on the glaring double standards? Did you not know that Charlie Hebdo sacked the veteran French cartoonist Maurice Sinet in 2008 for making an allegedly anti-Semitic remark? Were you not aware that Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that published caricatures of the Prophet in 2005, reportedly rejected cartoons mocking Christ because they would “provoke an outcry” and proudly declared it would “in no circumstances . . . publish Holocaust cartoons”?

Muslims, I guess, are expected to have thicker skins than their Christian and Jewish brethren. Context matters, too. You ask us to laugh at a cartoon of the Prophet while ignoring the vilification of Islam across the continent (have you visited Germany lately?) and the widespread discrimination against Muslims in education, employment and public life – especially in France. You ask Muslims to denounce a handful of extremists as an existential threat to free speech while turning a blind eye to the much bigger threat to it posed by our elected leaders.

Does it not bother you to see Barack Obama – who demanded that Yemen keep the anti-drone journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye behind bars, after he was convicted on “terrorism-related charges” in a kangaroo court – jump on the free speech ban wagon? Weren’t you sickened to see Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of a country that was responsible for the killing of seven journalists in Gaza in 2014, attend the “unity rally” in Paris? Bibi was joined by Angela Merkel, chancellor of a country where Holocaust denial is punishable by up to five years in prison, and David Cameron, who wants to ban non-violent “extremists” committed to the “overthrow of democracy” from appearing on television.

Then there are your readers. Will you have a word with them, please? According to a 2011 YouGov poll, 82 per cent of voters backed the prosecution of protesters who set fire to poppies.

Apparently, it isn’t just Muslims who get offended.

Yours faithfully,


Mehdi Hasan is a New Statesman contributing writer and the political director of the Huffington Post UK, where this column is crossposted

Charlie Hebdo: a letter to my British friends | Olivier Tonneau

The Guardian World news: Islam - 13 January, 2015 - 12:07
It’s important to understand the role the magazine played for the French left, rather than judge its content out of context

The wave of compassion that met last week’s assault on Charlie Hebdo didn’t last long. Soon afterwards, all sorts of criticism started pouring down the web against the magazine, which was described as Islamophobic, racist and even sexist. Countless other comments stated that Muslims were being ostracised and finger-pointed. In the background lurked a view of France founded upon the “myth” of laïcité, defined as the strict restriction of religion to the private sphere, but rampantly Islamophobic. As a Frenchman and a radical left militant living in the UK, I was puzzled and even shocked by these comments and would therefore like to give you a clear exposition of what my leftwing French position is on these matters.

Firstly, a few words on Charlie Hebdo, which was often “analysed” in the British press on the sole basis of a few selected cartoons. It might be worth knowing that the main target of Charlie Hebdo was the Front National and the Le Pen family. Next came crooks of all sorts, including bosses and politicians (incidentally, one of the victims of the shooting was an economist who ran a weekly column on the disasters caused by austerity policies in Greece).

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Egyptian student jailed for proclaiming that he is an atheist

The Guardian World news: Islam - 13 January, 2015 - 09:45

He is sentenced to three years on blasphemy charges for Facebook entry

It is dangerous in Egypt nowadays not to conform. If you support the Muslim Brotherhood you could end up joining many hundreds of Islamists in jail.

If you are a journalist, as the Al-Jazeera staff know well, jail is a real possibility. Now it appears that if you are an atheist you could well be jailed too.

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21 Lessons in Leadership from the Prophet | Part 9

Muslim Matters - 13 January, 2015 - 06:00

Part 1 | Part 2  | Part 3 | Part 4  | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

Law of the Picture: People Do What People See


The Law of the Picture states that people will follow the leader not just in their speech, but more importantly in their actions. Followers do what they see their leaders doing. This is an absolutely critical concept for leaders to understand. If you lead in any capacity, at work, home or in your community, know that you are being watched! I have to admit that I have made my fair share of mistakes during my time as a school principal. I remember one incident in which I was joking around with one of the students and I gave him a funny nickname, or what I thought was a funny nickname, but unfortunately the other students picked up on it and started referring to him with the same nickname. It wasn't derogatory by any means; however I could tell that the student didn't really love being referred to by that nickname. So I tried hard to convince the other students that it was not a good thing to call him and I apologized profusely. The nickname did eventually go away, however the fact that the student may have felt bad due to my account very much saddens me to this day. I ask Al Ghafoor to forgive me for my insensitivity.

This incident and many others taught me a powerful lesson on the importance of always trying to behave with ihsaan, in particular in a leadership role. I say that because when you're not in a leadership position, your actions may not impact others in as great a way as it will when you're a leader. This principle goes so far and so deep. Just look at the Muslim leaders in the west and those who follow them. Followers of a particular movement talk like the leader, act like the leader and even start to change their physical appearance to match the dress and style of the leader.

All of this is precisely why the statement of Aisha raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) who said that the Prophet's character was like a walking Qur'an is so incredibly profound! He walked his talk! His character was so beautiful that the Sahaba studied and emulated his every move. The minute details of his life have been studied and followed more than any other person's in human history. It's the reason why you see people throughout the world brushing their teeth with miswaaks, wearing long garbs, turbans and cologne (athar).

Followers do what they see, so what are your followers doing?

Reflection Questions on the Law:

  • How do you ensure that your actions are congruent with what you say?
  • Can you think of examples of good and bad actions that your followers have done directly as a result of the example that you set? How do those things make you feel?
Law of Buy-In: People Buy into the Leader, Then the Vision

The Law of Buy-In states that people will not buy into what your vision is until they buy into you as a person and as their leader. Think about this for a second…it is almost never the case that a vision propels people forward without a credible leader pushing that vision forward. Social Media has changed that phenomenon a bit, however for a viral video, message or cause to really make a broad impact, there are leaders that take center stage and make that cause real and take it beyond what it was only on Facebook, Twitter, Vine or Youtube.

In terms of the Prophet's ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) life, this is law provides a fascinating insight into Allah's Divine wisdom in selecting and preparing the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in particular to carry out this message. A man of great integrity; a man of the noblest character; a man of great internal and external strength; a man of excellent dress and of medium height and build; the most handsome of men; a man of balanced temperament; a man of great wisdom and patience; an orphan and a former shepherd; this was the man that was selected by Allah to bring the final and perfect message from God to mankind.

It was easy for the people to buy into the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) because he exemplified Noble Character and had an amazing combination of perfectly balanced qualities. Even when his enemies tried to defame him, they really couldn't because anyone who met him and met them would know clearly who was on the path of truth and who wasn't. When people met him, they knew just by looking at him that he was a person of honesty and integrity; that they were not looking at the face of a liar or dishonest man.

Obviously, we can't share the physical attributes of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), but we can try to emulate his character and prophetic qualities. If we want to be leaders and agents of positive influence, then people will have to buy into us before they buy into what we're selling.

Reflection Questions on the Law:

  • When taking on a new position of leadership, was it easy or difficult to get the people to buy into you? How so?
  • When trying to set a new vision for your organization, school or community, what steps do you need to take in order to get them to first buy into you and then your vision?

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Condemning the Charlie Hebdo Attack & Respecting Prophet Muhammad ~ Dr. Yasir Qadhi

Muslim Matters - 13 January, 2015 - 05:00

In this timely khutbah, Shaykh Dr. Yasir Qadhi gives his frank comments on the recent killing of the cartoonists in France.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was sent as a mercy to the world, and his seerah is replete with incidents of forgiveness and love.

These incidents, put together, form the rule: other incidents that are invoked as evidence are the exception and must be understood in the overall context of the seerah.

We also need to look at the context of this violence: there are political and social causes that allow radical voices to be heard and acted upon. Without understanding these root problems, we will never understand why such violence occurs.

The Shaykh also touches on the clear double-standards that exist: what 'freedom of expression' is being defended when modest sisters cannot express their freedoms by dressing they way they choose to?

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