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Warsi criticises Cameron's choice of target for tackling radicalisation

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 June, 2015 - 13:54

Former cabinet minister questions prime minister’s decision to single out ‘some’ British Muslims who ‘may’ condone extremism

The former cabinet minister Lady Warsi has taken issue with David Cameron’s decision to focus on some in British Muslim communities who “may” condone Islamist extremism while brushing over other factors in radicalisation.

The Conservative peer, who has criticised the government for failing to adequately engage with Muslim communities, made the remarks on Twitter as the prime minister delivered a speech on the subject in Slovakia.

Agree w/ @David_Cameron analysis of ISIS extremist ideology, the threat it poses & the role the British Muslim Communities have to play 1/2

Bt fail to understand decision 2 major on the "one" reason of "some" in the community who "may" condone yet brush over "other" reasons 2/2

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David Cameron, inadvertent PR man for Islamic extremists | Owen Jones

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 June, 2015 - 12:24
Of course we need to confront perverse ideologies, but by tarring all British Muslims, Cameron is helping Isis to achieve its deadly aims

This morning, the front page of the Daily Mail carries a stark interpretation of David Cameron’s speech on Islamic fundamentalist extremism. “PM: UK Muslims helping jihadis”, it booms in thick black text, tarring an entire slice of British citizens in one swoop. On which other community is it possible to inflict such dangerous, sweeping generalisations? The assertion being made here – explicitly, not even implicitly as is the norm – is that British Muslims as a whole are helping mass-murdering zealots inflicting carnage across Iraq, Syria and Libya. Extremists want Muslims to feel rejected, marginalised, treated as a dangerous “other” by the societies in which they live. The Daily Mail follows their script to the letter.

“Too often we hear the argument that radicalisation is the fault of someone else,” says our finger-wagging prime minister. “That blame game is wrong – and it is dangerous,” he suggests, as he berated the redirecting of blame to authorities, rather than the individual. This is the argument of those who align with Cameron’s way of thinking. There is a “blame the west” mentality which continually reduces the cause of radicalisation to western foreign policy. It infantilises radicalised Muslims, they argue, stripping them of individual agency. An evil poisonous ideology and those who propagate it are to blame, and nothing else.

Is radicalisation all down to western foreign policy? No: it would be facile to reduce it to one thing or the other

Related: Tolerant Islam should be protected | Giles Fraser: Loose canon

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Friday Links

Muslimah Media Watch - 19 June, 2015 - 11:58
British Pakistani Azi Ahmed has written a book called ‘World’s Apart’, about her experience as a Muslim training to join the SAS (Special Air Service). Julia Hartley Brewer investigates the motivations of British Muslim women who are joining Isis, arguing that they are seeking “freedom” from family members who control their lives, expecting them to “live in [Read More...]

Uyghurs in China: We Buried the Quran in Our Backyards

Muslim Matters - 19 June, 2015 - 00:10

With the news of China forcing imams to dance in public and to make oaths to keep children away from religion in what is known as Xinjiang, where government officials warned that Muslims “During Ramadan do not engage in fasting, vigils or other religious activities,” effectively banning Ramadan, I wanted to share an interview that I did for the Muslim Link newspaper, with the Prime Minister of the East Turkistan Government in Exile, Anwar Yusuf Turani.

“We are an occupied territory. We know the plights of our Muslim brothers and sisters in Palestine, Kashmir, but why doesn't the Muslim world know about our struggle?” asks Uyghur diaspora leader from East Turkistan, Anwar Yusuf Turani. He is the founder and prime minister of the East Turkistan Government in Exile. Uyghurs are a Turkic people by race and language, Muslim by religion.

“There are 35 million of us,” he says, some in exile, others in the land of what is known to the world as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. This number is hotly contested and rejected by the Chinese government's official census.

Turani says most indigenous people of the region do not accept the name Xinjiang, meaning “new territory”, and prefer the name Sharqi Turkistan, but even using this name is seen as a threat to the sovereignty of China. He believes that China ends with the boundary of the Great Wall.

In 1949, when Mao Zedong declared the establishment of Communist rule in China, the map of China looked different than the one seen today. Tibet was free and north of Tibet, East Turkistan, the size of Alaska, existed as an independent nation.

east-turkestan-map-uyghurcongress.org

In talking with Turani, I learned that the struggle for independence is not new as an East Turkistan Republic was set up in Kashgar in 1933 and again in Ghulja in the 1940s, brutally crushed both times. The republic was short-lived. Its entire leadership perished in a plane crash en route to Beijing for talks with Chinese officials. According to the Global Museum of Communism, devoid of leadership, the East Turkistan Republic was then “liberated” by Chinese Communist Party troops. In essence, the Communists, “marched in and have occupied the overwhelmingly Muslim country, renaming it Xinjiang.”

Living in Maoist Run Kashgar

Turani, born in 1962, remembers his neighborhood in Artush, 40 km from of the ancient city of Kashgar. Islam was systematically erased and every region was divided; the head of each jurisdiction was Chinese or pro Chinese, and Maoist ideology was implemented.

“I remember 3-4 years of living in a labor camp in the outskirts in Tijen, forced by the Chinese military, since my parents opposed the Chinese policies.” Turani's parents were labeled counter revolutionaries—bourgeois—and his father was fired from his position as the head of the agricultural department.

22 years of persecution followed his family. “In our town [where we lived], there was a man named Qudrat, and his wife, Quresh Khan. They were very poor; the government lured them with rhetoric and land, gave them a confiscated house from a landowner, after executing him,” Turani relates a story of manipulation of the masses. Happy to receive land from the government, elderly Qudrat and his family were then forced to take care of 'a hundred pigs'. Turani and his parents, and the Khans had never seen a pig before in their lives, he shudders while squeezing the memories out, of a whole population of the Muslim town being given 'free' piglets to raise.

turani-1

“Most masajid [in our area] turned into propaganda centers, cinemas and movie theaters,” he recalls the horrific memories. “Our county became a labor camp,” he says, and many wealthy landowners were executed.

From his middle school days, Turani recalls the destruction of a historic Muslim cemetery in the city; later a military base was built on sacred grounds.

“My father had a Qur'an buried in our backyard I saw that with my eyes. I saw my father dig that Qur'an out after the death of Chairman Mao—my father used to read that Qur'an,” His eyes watered at the memory.

Dark Cloud of Death

“The occupation has been beyond brutal: open-air above-ground nuclear tests that killed hundreds of thousands, executed political prisoners, razed mosques, mass forced immigration of ethnic Chinese, deliberate economic discrimination in favor of said ethnic Chinese, Sinicization, etc.,” writes D.J. McGuire, elected Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Virginia and a blogger who has been writing and lobbying against Communist China's role in aiding terrorist states—a glaring omission from the prevailing discussions about the war against terror. The Lop Nor testing site, located in East Turkistan, was used for 46 individual nuclear detonations from 1964-1996.

 

uyghur

These were the largest ongoing series of tests ever to be carried out in a populated area.

A conference was held in Brussels in The European Parliament in 2012 to examine the high rates of cancer, birth defects, and radiation-related illnesses in East Turkestan. Dr Enver Tohti, a Uyghur Surgeon and Independent Researcher, presented at the conference. He writes in '46 Detonations Later: The Human Costs of the CCP´s Nuclear Programme', that a recent study conducted by Japanese professor and physicist Jun Takada concluded that Chinese nuclear weapon tests caused more deaths than those of any other nation. Takada who studied radiation effects from tests conducted by the U.S., the former Soviet Union and France, has reported that the Chinese government surface nuclear tests caused up to 190,000 deaths in the surrounding areas from the explosion and a further million were killed by the radiation from the three-megaton explosions. This is 200 times larger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, says Takada, who published his findings in a book, Chinese Nuclear Tests (Iryo­ka­gakusha, 2009). Since he was not allowed into the area, he visited neighbouring Kazakhstan using radiation levels measured there from 1995 to 2002. 'He devised a computer model to estimate fallout patterns using Soviet rec­ords of detonation size and wind velocity,' according to Scientific American, extrapolating the data for China.

Escape to America

Turani escaped from China and came to the United States as the first East Turkistani seeking asylum in the country. A Physics teacher, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, Gulzighra (who is a registered nurse) and their four children. He looks Afghan or Pakistani, could pass for Middle Eastern, anything but Asiatic. Most Uyghurs look like him but many photographs published by newspapers in the Muslim world show 'Chinese Muslims in Beijing' and call them Uyghur, he says.

In September 2004, Turani and his fellow countrymen declared an East Turkistan Government in Exile inside the U.S. Congress. They have a constitution, a flag and a written language, and a coat of arms based on the two previous states. East Turkistan exiles include Uyghurs, Kyrgyzs, Uzbeks, and Tajiks. The People's Republic of China opposed the formation of the East Turkistan Government in Exile. The fallout was great and the US government was quick to distance themselves away from the nascent government, saying that they do not recognize them. “The government in exile stated that its goal is freedom and democracy for its people, and an end to Communist China's occupation. It is explicitly non-violent, has repeatedly condemned al Qaeda-sponsored acts of terrorism,” writes McGuire.

Turani, whose home is graced by a huge photograph of him embracing the Dalai Lama, says that China has used the global war on terror as an excuse to continue brutal oppression of the Uyghur Muslims. As noted by Amnesty International, many innocent Uyghur men and women including children have been massacred as recently as last Ramadan in Yarkant by the communist Chinese authorities 'in the pretext of terrorists, extremists, and separatists.'

Dr. Haiyun Ma, a Hui Chinese professor of history in Maryland agrees, “China's “Anti-Three (Evil) Forces” campaign (extremism, separatism, terrorism), begun roughly in the 1990s, has since extended to preventing the Uyghurs from gaining their independence. China — which looks at the U.S. waging a war in Afghanistan (also against terrorism and extremism) not so far away — has used the perceived threat of terrorism to justify their actions in Xinjiang.”

There has been development in the region, Turani concurs, but just like the West Bank settlements by and for Israelis, the development is only reserved for ethnic Hans or those who toe the Chinese government's line. Urumchi, the main city is filled by ethnic Chinese; in some areas there are only five percent Turkistani people left, especially in the downtown area.

Curating A Forgotten History

Turani asserts that the native Uyghur population is diminishing. There is no hard data to show that the population is decreasing, and in fact most census studies show that there has been a population growth. However, the percentage share of the Uyghur population is decreasing based on official and unofficial statistics. In 1964, it was 90 percent of the population, but through immigration from mainland China, the population is roughly 50-50. The Muslim population is controlled through birth control and forced abortion, which Muslims believe are divinely forbidden or haram. Turani says that if Muslim mothers are found pregnant with more than 2 children, they are taken to the hospital and even if they are 9 months pregnant their babies are systematically slaughtered in their bellies—physically, socially, psychologically and spiritually scarring the Muslim families. Many Uyghurs live in poverty, their children are not allowed to practice Islam. Those who work for the government are also not allowed to practice their faith. This Ramadan, Muslim students and civil servants were ordered to avoid taking part in fasting. Students who were found fasting were force fed during the day. Young boys and men are routinely taken away for 'illegal' Islamic classes.

Dr. Ma verifies the Tukistani leader's claims; in an interview with Duke University's public scholarship forum Islamic Commentary, he comments that “economically, the Uyghurs have little, if no access to the Chinese state economy, which includes state corporations and the quasi-military Xinjiang Development and Construction Corps (Its members are farmers during peacetime and soldiers during wartime). Unlike the Han-populated coastal regions of the southeast, the Uyghur economy in Xinjiang is almost dissociated from the Chinese economy. Adding to this, there was a large Han immigration [to the region], after the “liberation” of Xinjiang – following the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Large military and militia personnel, their relatives, intellectuals, and youth were sent by the government to Xinjiang during various periods. More recently, Han farmers and businessmen came to Xinjiang. Since they typically have friendly relations with Xinjiang officials and military (either they are friends or relatives), Han farmers and businessmen coming to Xinjiang have been able to quickly dominate Xinjiang's economic sectors — from mining to farming.”

In his office, Turani has a studio set up where he broadcasts speeches on his Youtube channels—social media and the internet is extremely controlled in China—intent on making sure that his people don't forget their legacy and their history.

There is a collection of photos of Uyghur scholars, leaders.

A wall is dedicated to Muhammad Ali Tawfiq (Bey), the reformist educator who built 24 schools in Turani's city. He was murdered by the Chinese along with his followers in 1937, including Turani's uncles.

A devout Muslim with a melodious qiraa (recitation), Turani shows photographs he has curated of young men arrested for wearing the Turkish flag on their t-shirts, Islamic scholars in jail for teaching Qur'an to children, Uyghur women jailed for wearing the hijab.

“Why doesn't the Muslim world talk about us?” he questions. He also says that many times Chinese Muslims are shown in media when referencing Uyghur people, further diluting their existence.

The Case of Professor Tohti

Recently an economics professor and Uyghur rights advocate Ilham Tohti was arrested and put on trial for 'promoting' separatism (he is now in prison for life). Turani takes exception to this claim—separatism is not the right word in this situation, as the Uyghurs are occupied, he says.

An accusation of separatism carries the death sentence. When Western newspapers claim 'violent separatism' in the region, Turani struggles to contain his displeasure. “The place is like a pressure cooker; no one is allowed to talk, cameras watch every move. Hundreds and thousands are missing or dead. And we are violent separatists?” he says. Violence stems from the repressive policies, not from radical ideology.

Many Uyghur scholars such as Abdulkarim Abduwali, alims (religious scholars), businessmen, and educated people have died under the regime and Tohti is yet another name on the list of people who have sacrificed their lives. Before his arrest Ilham Tohti, 44, was attacked by three secret policemen who screamed, “We'll kill your whole family!” shares his friend, in an article about his arrest in The Guardian. Tohti was also a blogger and focused on the need to implement, “Xinjiang's long-promised autonomy; the need to observe the rule of law and human rights; that all ethnic groups should share fairly in the fruits of China's development; and that discrimination based on region, ethnicity or gender must be eliminated.” “Criticism and dissent is good for any government. What was Professor [Tohti] doing that he deserves to [be] jailed?” Turani asks. “Anyone who stands up for their human rights is labeled a counter-revolutionary,” he adds.

Independence vs Autonomy

Turani wants independence, other Uyghurs wants autonomy. Either way, he believes that a fair referendum could never take place in a region where two or more people are not allowed to convene without suspicion and harassment from the secret police; where jobs, passports, travel, even Jumuah khutbahs are all closely monitored by the Chinese government. People lose their pensions if they go on Hajj—if they are lucky enough to acquire a passport. Turani's relatives have all been blackmarked and cannot travel outside the region, unless they bribe officials.

There has been some debate about the Uyghur identity, especially by Kristian Petersen, an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha who wrote a study in the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs on Uyghur presence of the internet— who they originally were and how and where the name was applied—but Turani wants freedom for all the East Turkistani people, not just those who identify as the Uyghurs.

Turani says he has the support of a handful of congressmen after years of activism. From time to time, Turkey will challenge China on its oppressive policies, but he says most other Muslim nations, including neighboring Pakistan, have turned their back. He understands why his people's struggle is not a priority for people of other faiths but to his Muslim brothers, Turani has a message, “Do you not feel our pain?”

Keep our Uighur brothers and sisters in your special Ramadan Duas.

PM to urge Muslims and ISPs: stop giving credence to extremist ideology

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 June, 2015 - 00:01

David Cameron will say everyone has ‘personal responsibility to stand out against’ ideology that lures young people to fight in Syria

David Cameron is to warn that the growing threat posed by Islamic State can only be defeated if Muslim communities and internet service providers stop giving any credence to an Islamic extremist ideology that claims the west is evil, democracy wrong and women inferior.

Insisting everyone has a personal responsibility to stand out against such values, and not to blame state institutions for failing to do enough, Cameron will on Friday make a call for communities to do more to prevent young Muslims right across Europe starting on a path that ends with them being lured to fight in Syria.

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Not Only Moon Sighting And 18 Degrees, But Now Fasting Times.

Islamicate - 18 June, 2015 - 20:07

For those having now started to fast, it has probably become apparent that the next few days will serve to normalise daylight abstinence. The apprehension that preceded Ramadan was driven for many by the unwarranted coverage it received from major media outlets citing, as the BBC put it, our leading scholar Usama Hasan who demands that we should fast in moderation, be balanced, and take the rather more enlightened non-literalist approach. This vernacular that views every Muslim issue through the lens of securitisation is something that we have become accustomed to, and instead of discussing fasting as a means to God’s grace through sacrifice, fasting somehow becomes a battle against nefarious religious literalism.

In this context there has once again been a number of declarations fraudulently re-termed fatwas; let alone qualifying as religious verdicts – the definition of which is very specific – these declarations fail to meet the requirement of nominal acumen, their authors provide insipid arguments and opt for artificiality in order to attract superficial attention. As we have seen time and again, when their arguments fail to make traction they throw hissy fits with politicised ad hominem remarks, throwing around accusations of extremism or radicalism, all of which is not only disgraceful sportsmanship but a pitiable attempt to intimidate interlocutors when pseudo-scholarship falls on its face.

Rather than radicals promoting an extreme interpretation of the fasting period, the case is that Muslims are simply continuing to do what they have done for thousands of years. Thus it is perplexing that there is a need to offer a fatwa, not to those who have sought one, but to the national press as if to infer that to support the 19 hour fast is indicative of radicalism. The term moderate repeatedly crops up as if Mr Hasan’s view is most easy-going, yet the irony is that the concession conferred by God is far more progressive: if the fast is so difficult that one’s wellbeing is threatened then simply do not fast and make them up at a time of one’s convenience before the next Ramadan: “And whoever from amongst you is unwell or on a journey then (fast for) a period on other days.”[1]

However, Mr Hasan takes the restrictive approach rather than accepting the flexibility and leniency God offers, so clearly this isn’t really about a progressive and moderate shariah – he rejects it when proposed. In his fatwa he views the concession God offers to make up fasts at another time as equivalent to illegitimately moving Ramadan out of the summer and into the seasons of autumn, something abominable in his eyes, yet he inconsistently advocates moving the fast out of its specified period into an arbitrary timeframe for those who might struggle a little. And where God permits the sick to make up the fast at another time Hasan’s reasoning implies that God Himself is moving Ramadan out of the summer and into the seasons of autumn. Putting this aside, even if it were the case, if God is fine with it why should Mr Hasan object?

Every one of Mr Hasan’s arguments are poorly constructed; matters are either conflated or arbitrarily identified. He fallaciously associates those who might become unwell with those who find the fast a bit of a struggle. The shari’ah very clearly demarcates between the two; the former are offered a very lenient concession and the latter is essentially the purpose of fasting. The overarching notion that Mr Hasan continuously asserts is one that religion is easy, which it certainly is, but fails to nuance such ease with the fact that the obligation of fasting, or any other act of worship for that matter, is predicated by taklif. Whilst the technical term means ‘legal obligation’, the Arabic word means hardship, thus the commandments of God are meant to be testing, and it is through perseverance through such tests that paradise is earned. This is where the balance of the shari’ah actually lays: God tests mankind and offers opportunities to earn paradise, but the tests themselves are neither beyond what humans can bear nor are they ever on the extreme end. And given the variance of ability amongst humans, for those who have their own personal impediments, God confers dispensations.

Now the topic of shar’i dispensations, or rukhas, it is an entire subject of study in Islamic jurisprudence. The Prophet said: “God loves that His concessions be availed, and abhors that He be disobeyed”[2] Al-Zarkashi in his Bahr al-Muhit defined a legal concession as being: “an (divinely) established ruling in opposition to the evidence due to a (valid) reason.” Al-Shatibi wrote in his opus al-Muwafaqat: “that which has been decreed (by God) due to an extremely testing reason; it is an exception to a fundamental rule that would normally necessitate a prohibition, and restricted to circumstances of necessity.” For every situation that can be reasonably termed unbearable or unmanageable, Allah offers a way out. But Mr Hasan’s preoccupation seems to be with making it easy for those who do not like the idea of a long fast. Whilst our compassion might incite empathy, it is not our job to decree on behalf of our Lord. The fact that the vast majority of Muslims will be fasting everyday points to one very undeniable fact: the summer fast is not intrinsically unbearable. While the month starts off as somewhat difficult it quickly becomes normal and millions of people effortlessly adjust. The discomfort of a dry throat and empty stomach is what makes fasting so commendable to God – “I shall reward him, he forsakes his desires and food for my sake.”[3] The perseverance one must exhibit in having to maintain levels of productivity but with less energy than normal is what earns paradise. The idea that we shall simply waltz into heaven is a complete misnomer – “do people assume that they shall be left to say: ‘we believe’ and not be tested?”[4]

Is the shari’ah about balance and flexibility as Mr Hasan put it to the BBC? Well not exactly, and such a statement fails in the precision legal scholars are trained to reflect. The shari’ah is about serving God, the perpetual struggle for divine grace, the practice of effectuating the love of Allah and having it reciprocated, “say if you love Allah, follow me, Allah will love you and forgive your sins.”[5] As the ancient jurisprudents would put it: ‘it is to act in concordance with divine directives and avoid what God has prohibited.’ Yes, balance and flexibility underpin the mercy of God and His expectations of imperfect mortals, but given the indeterminate nature of such notions and their dependence on context, this is something we glean from willful compliance to the law and not through the process of abolishing it.

The unfortunate case of Mr Hasan’s insights is that they have neither been decreed by God nor is his use of scholastic precedence sound. The opinion of the Azharite scholars he cites in his declaration very much revolves around their idea of a moderate fast, where the things that make a fast difficult are not only the length of the fast but also other factors such as temperature and the lifestyle of citizens. In the Middle East temperatures easily reach 40-50 Celsius with many Muslims engaged in manual labour throughout the day. Whilst the UK might be warm, an average of 20 Celsius is hardly synonymous as well as the fact that we live in a highly industrialised society where work takes on a different nature. If we were to work on balance, an 18-19 hour fast in 20 Celsius might be said to equal a 13 hour fast in 40 Celsius for those performing manual labour. In fact, the latter scenario is probably far more unmanageable than the former.

A pertinent point that has been overlooked when discussing the length of the fast is that the British fast commences from the early hours of the morning which means that the vast majority of Muslims will sleep through a substantial portion of it. Thus the actual hours of conscious abstinence – one cannot find difficult something one is unconscious of – are approximately 13-14 hours which, by Mr Hasan’s own admission, is rather moderate given that he would like British Muslims to adopt Makkah’s observance times which can be up to 15 hours. The arbitrary nature of his revision was characterised by his BBC interview where he couldn’t make up his mind telling us: “12 to 14, 15, 16 hours…” So 16 hours would be deemed moderate yet an extra two or three completely unmanageable?

Oddly, for all of Mr Hasan’s talk of British Islam, he refers to a number of modern mainly Egyptian scholars who neither had much to do with the UK nor actually experienced Ramadan in its summer months. In fact, his assertion that we might follow Makkah’s observance times is somewhat peculiar given his advocacy to abandon Makkan moon sighting in favour of a British practice. This contradictory attitude comes across impulsive and unconsidered: first we’re told we mustn’t move Ramadan out of the summer and into the seasons of autumn but encouraged to move the fast out of its specified period, and then it is suggested we shouldn’t follow Makkah in deciding when to start the season of fasting since we live in the UK, but it is perfectly fine to do so when dictating the length of the fast?

The inattention and nonchalance with which the issue has been approached is unreflective of the scholastic training and erudition required to provide British Muslims with shar’i solutions to complex contemporary problems. It is further exacerbated where there is an inability to differentiate between shortcomings that require spiritual cultivation and legitimate shar’i concerns. And where the entire affair is projected with the use of a vernacular that has served in the demonisation of an entire religious community and the politicisation of their religious practice, the matter isn’t simply one about fatwas and adab al-ikhtilaf (the etiquette of differing) but the need to assert a confident and sound expression of the Islamic faith and pronounce a rejection of godlessness dressed as piety.

There is no need for a fatwa; the practice of British Muslims fasting the entire month makes is rather evident. For those unwell the Most High confers a concession. For those unwilling to meet the decree of God aggravated by the prospect of being taken out of their comfort zones, the Prophet put it plainly: “With what then will you enter paradise?”[6]

[1] Quran 2:185

[2] Musnad Ahmad; narrated by Abdullah b. Umar

[3] Muslims; narrated by Abu Hurairah

[4] Quran 29:2

[5] Quran 3:31

[6] al-Hakim; narrated by Bashir b. al-Khasasiyah

The green Pope: how religion can do economics a favour

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 June, 2015 - 12:30

In the runup to Paris climate talks, religious leaders such as Pope Francis can push forward debates about climate change, consumption and equality

Palpable shock met Tuesday’s news of the Pope’s unequivocal and outspoken intervention in the debate on climate change and global inequality. The stir caused by his latest encyclical could partly be due to generally low expectations of the Catholic Church following years of relentless, negative scandal. But we shouldn’t be surprised. The world’s major religions all have economic teachings that apply to how we treat the planet and each other, and which often starkly contradict orthodox economic models.

Modern economics views itself as value free, but that wasn’t always the case and the major faiths all view economic prosperity through a moral lens. If that makes business leaders or economists squirm, it’s worth remembering that the grandfather of market economics, Adam Smith, wrote about The Theory of Moral Sentiments. To him, the economy was rooted in an explicitly moral universe. Whether we’re aware of it or not, and regardless of the fulminations of anti-environmental, extreme, right wing Republican Christians in the US, the economic teachings and moral frameworks of the great faiths profoundly shape how we view the path to prosperity, sometimes in surprising ways.

Related: Good, natural, malignant: five ways people frame economic growth

Related: Companies cannot keep shying away from setting tough climate targets

Related: Beyond capitalism and socialism: could a new economic approach save the planet?

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Ramadan Mubarak!

Muslimah Media Watch - 18 June, 2015 - 10:26
We at MMW would like to wish you all a wonderful, happy and blessed Ramadan. Whether you celebrate or not, we hope you will join us during this month as  we take a break from our usual fare to sharing our reflections, memories, resolutions, and struggles this Ramadan. This will be the fourth year we have done this, and each time we look forward [Read More...]

Ramadan in St Petersburg – the city where the sun doesn't set

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 June, 2015 - 06:00

Muslim authorities in northern Russia say wait of up to 22 hours to break fast is simply an extra challenge to faith

When Ramadan starts on Thursday, the faithful in St Petersburg and elsewhere in northern Russia will face an obstacle that the prophet surely didn’t envision: in June, the sun never truly sets.

Related: Ramadan: a guide to the Islamic holy month

I have a hard job, I can’t observe it … There aren’t any white nights where [most] Muslims live.

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Nauru detention centre guards return after suspension over Facebook posts

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 June, 2015 - 02:17

Asylum seekers are protesting the return of Wilson Security guards who were suspended after promoting Reclaim Australia posts that were hostile to Muslims

A group of Wilson Security guards on Nauru who promoted Facebook posts of the Reclaim Australia movement which were hostile to Muslims have returned to work at the detention centre, sparking protests from asylum seekers.

In April eight members of the “emergency response team” (ERT) at the Australian-run Nauru detention centre were stood down, following a report by Guardian Australia.

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Approaching Ramadan – Recharging for Social Justice Work

altmuslim - 17 June, 2015 - 22:11
By Afeefa Syeed I am an aspiring potter and love to be covered in clay. I’m excited about the process of what clay does even more than what products my playing with mud might yield. More than anything else, being a potter gives me head and heart space to reflect on humility, patience, submission and [Read More...]

How Palestinians Die in The NY Times

Abdullah Iyad Ghanayim, 22, died under an Israeli army jeep last Sunday in the West Bank village of Kafr Malik. The New York Times barely took notice. Other news media inform us that there is a story here and one that is in dispute.

Eyewitnesses in the village east of Ramallah say soldiers shot Ghanayim in the back and then ran him down with a jeep, crushing him against a wall, which collapsed on the vehicle and knocked it over. The soldiers got out, observers say, left the man pinned under the jeep and prevented medics from attending to him.

According to witnesses, Ghanayim was throwing stones when he was shot and bled to death after being left unattended for more than an hour. The mayor of Ramallah, Laila Ghannam, told reporters that soldiers killed Ghanayim “in cold blood.”

The Israeli army had a different story: Ghanayim was throwing a Molotov cocktail at the jeep, and this caused it to swerve and crash. After the vehicle turned over on the victim, the army claimed, “forces later entered the village to try and provide medical assistance,” but the man had already died.

In spite of the army’s failure to explain why “forces” had to enter the village to provide aid when soldiers were already present, The New York Times goes with the army account. This appears in the form of a three-paragraph Associated Press story, which made an obscure and fleeting appearance online and none at all in print. The article gives a brief nod to the eyewitness accounts, saying the mayor of the village claimed the man was shot first.

It’s possible the Times was unable to assign one of its three reporters in Israel to get a firsthand account, but the paper also omitted the story from its World Briefing section, where it frequently runs AP and Reuters news.

The Times had a choice. It could have run a Reuters story by Ali Sawafta and Dan Williams, which states in the lead that “military and locals gave conflicting accounts” and also quotes witnesses who said the man was “run down and then crushed.” Instead it chose the AP version, which relies almost entirely on the Israeli army.

We find fuller reports elsewhere, such as in The National, Agence France-Presse,  and Maanbut the Times treatment falls short. It has chosen a biased wire service piece over a more complete and honest report. Thus it avoids revealing unsavory charges against the Israeli army and allows one more Palestinian death to pass unnoticed.

Barbara Erickson


Filed under: New York Times israeli Bias Tagged: Associated Press, Israel, Israeli army, New York Times, Palestine, Reuters, West Bank

Hate crimes against Muslims in Britain spike after 'jihadi' attacks, study finds

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 June, 2015 - 19:00

Anti-Muslim attacks in the UK nearly quadrupled after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris but fell overall on 2013-14, when Lee Rigby was murdered


Muslims in Britain are becoming the target of hate crimes in retribution for terrorist attacks around the world, according to a new report based on the latest figures for anti-Muslim attacks.

The study by Teesside University found that children as young as 10 have been involved in hate-crime attacks and incidents, although most perpetrators were identified as being over 40.

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Sports Hijab Industry Wins – Or Does It?

Muslimah Media Watch - 17 June, 2015 - 18:39
Women’s athletic wear has become a billion dollar business. Designers and sportswear companies such as Adidas and Under Armour have designers catering to the needs and fashion preferences of women, from working out in style to walking about in comfortable prêt-à-porter items. But recently a new category of sportswear has unveiled itself and is racing [Read More...]

Ramadan: share your photos and stories

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 June, 2015 - 12:12

How are you preparing for the ninth month of the Islamic calendar? Share your experiences and pictures with us

Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, begins this evening with Muslims around the world fasting for a month from sunrise until sunset.

During Ramadan, as well as fasting many Muslims give money or volunteer for particular causes. What are you doing for Ramadan? Are you fasting, fundraising or helping the homeless? Have you set yourself a particular challenge or are you doing something different this year? We’d also like to hear from those adhering to traditions in modern or unusual surroundings, such as the Somalis marking Ramadan in a synagogue in north London.

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The roots of radicalisation? It’s identity, stupid | Shiraz Maher

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 June, 2015 - 11:08
The common thread that links the Bradford sisters, Talha Asmal and Thomas Evans is a search for belonging. The answer is to build a value system everyone can buy into

What links a white Englishman from Buckinghamshire with a second generation British-Pakistani man born in Dewsbury and a missing family of 12 from Bradford? Such is the mercurial world of Islamist radicalisation that all are believed to have left the UK in order to support jihadist causes overseas.

These cases demonstrate that radicalisation is born of a multiplicity of factors which are often inextricably intertwined. This complexity is frequently lost in polarised public debates that either identify Islamic scripture as the sole reason for all terrorism or blame everything on government policies.

Related: Relatives of 'Syria-bound' Bradford women and children criticise police

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Eight essential apps for Muslims observing Ramadan

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 June, 2015 - 10:23

Avoiding eating, drinking and getting angry before sunset is tough during fasting month – but these apps can help keep prayer time, habits and diet in check

The alarm on your phone buzzes at 2:39am. Bleary eyed, you wolf down your toast and sip your water in the last minute before the day of fasting begins. No eating, no drinking, and no getting angry before sunset. You roll your eyes as your phone pings with notifications of yet another message with a mosque emoticon, or a cheesy “I have a date every night in Ramadan” joke. The fast begins.

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The Somalis who mark Ramadan - in a synagogue

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 June, 2015 - 10:10

Finchley Reform Synagogue in north London hosts local Bravanese after their community centre was burned down in an arson attack

When Ramadan gets under way this week, a group of Muslims in north London will gather for prayers not in a mosque, but a synagogue.

In an tale of interfaith tolerance for our times, the Finchley Reform Synagogue has been hosting local Bravanese people – members of an Islamic community from south-east Somalia – since their nearby community centre was burned down in an arson attack two years ago.

Related: Ramadan: share your photos and stories

We are discovering that we have more in common than we think

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