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French mayor bans hijab from beach

Loon Watch - 10 July, 2014 - 22:05

Richard-Trinquier French mayor bans hijab from beach

Two mothers were refused access to the beach at Wissous, Essonne, because they were wearing Muslim headscarves.

The women had taken their children to the popular summer leisure venue at the weekend, but they fell foul of a new bylaw that refuses entry to anyone wearing distinctive “religious symbols”.

Patrick Kitnais, director of the mayor’s office told Europe 1 that the women were wearing a hijab, a scarf that covers the head but does not hide the face. “The mayor was there, so he denied access to these people,” he said.

The town’s UMP mayor, Richard Trinquier [pictured], who ousted Socialist incumbent Roy Regis-Chevalier in March’s municipal elections, insisted he had applied “the law of the Republic and secularism”, in refusing entry to the two women, and said anyone wearing a distinctive cross or yarmulke would also be banned.

He said that the beach at Wissous is not a public place. It is, he said, a public establishment – and therefore it is bound by laws that prohibit the wearing of religious symbols. “If women remove their veils, they are welcome,” he said.

A 2004 law governing the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols applies only to educational establishments.

Former mayor Mr Regis-Chevalier branded the incident an “Islamophobic act”. And Abdelkrim Benkouhi, president of local Islamic association Al Madina, said: “The children were shocked and did not understand why they could not play on the inflatables like every other child. In previous years, there have been no problems.”

Representatives of Al Madina met the mayor to discuss the matter, but the two sides could not reach an agreement, Le Parisien reports. “The mayor says it is a private space. This is pure and simple discrimination,” Mr Benkouhi said.

The Connexion, 9 July 2014

See also “Pas assez ‘français’ pour Wissous Plage?”, CCIF, 9 July 2014

Wissous beach rules

Police investigate racist attack at Warrington mosque

Loon Watch - 10 July, 2014 - 21:56

Jamiat-ul-Muslimeen-Jamia-Masjid Police investigate racist attack at Warrington mosque

Police are hunting for two racists thugs who smashed windows and screamed abuse at people in the mosque in Warrington town centre.

Officers from Cheshire Police were called at 11.30pm on Monday, to reports two men were shouting racist slurs and vandalising the mosque on Arpley Street. Residents were inside the address at the time of the attack, although there were no injuries, according to police.

Sgt Rob Horton, of Warrington Town Centre NPU, said, “Cheshire Police treat racially motivated crimes very seriously. Enquiries are still ongoing and we would like to speak to anybody who may have witnessed or can provide any further information with regards to this incident.”

At this stage police say it as an isolated incident, but have increased the number of officers patrolling the area.

Officers want to speak to a man seen outside Cromwell Court on Arpley Street, believed to be white, wearing an unzipped hooded top and riding a bicycle. Police would also like to speak to two other men in connection with the incident, both are described as white, 16-25 years of age, of slim build, and wearing dark hooded tops.

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 quoting incident 1041 of 7th July 2014. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

This is Cheshire, 8 July 2014

Burqa ban isn’t enough says Strache

Loon Watch - 10 July, 2014 - 21:13

Chador_Strache Burqa ban isn’t enough says Strache

(The Local)

After last week’s decision by the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) which supported France’s ban on religious headgear, the Freedom Party announced that they would be introducing a similar measure into Austria’s parliament.

The rule is intended to target the burqa, a traditional garment from the Middle East which completely covers the wearer, including the hair and face.

Now Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the Austrian Freedom Party, has stated that the proposed ban doesn’t go far enough, and should be extended to include the chador, a traditional Persian head scarf which leaves the face uncovered.  Strache’s party has opposed what they call the “Islamification” of Europe.

The text of the planned measure, to be introduced into parliament on Tuesday, calls for a “ban on the wearing of the burqa, the niqab, the chador and other full body cover-ups.”

The FPÖ sees the chador as a “symbol of a woman’s complete submission to the man”.  Disabilities and “obstacles in finding employment” are other reasons for a ban.

How should we understand the teenage jihadists' mind? | Simon Jenkins

The Guardian World news: Islam - 10 July, 2014 - 19:54
Their threat is exaggerated, but even in liberal Britain many youngsters seem to be lured by the most authoritarian edicts of the Qur'an

A friend of mine once gazed at her wayward teenagers and told me she could handle the usual drugs and sex. The one thing she couldn't deal with was them "getting religion". How awful must the agony be of parents who find their offspring vanished "to fight jihad" in the Middle East.

What could have induced two teenage boys from Cardiff and two 16-year-old Manchester girls to go to Syria? Young people have long felt the romance of distant wars Spain in the 1930s or the French Foreign Legion but surely not a Salafist dispute with the Alawite faction of Shiaism over the control of the caliphate.

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Claire threatened with secure unit transfer again

Indigo Jo Blogs - 10 July, 2014 - 14:50

Claire (a young white woman wearing a stripey white and blue top and grey tracksuit bottoms, wearing red and black ear defenders) sitting on a beach with a small brown dog.Last January I wrote about Claire Dyer, a young autistic woman in Swansea who was at the time being threatened with transfer to a secure hospital in Northampton. Then as now, she was living mostly in an assessment and treatment unit, which is a mental health unit for people with learning disabilities, in Swansea and spending much time at home or out and about with her family, despite being detained under section 3 of the Mental Health Act. Her family were appealing against the section, which ultimately expired (but was renewed), and for a while it appeared that the Northampton option was “highly unlikely”, and bespoke placements (where she would occupy a bungalow and have support staff) were being looked at. This week, however, things have taken a serious downturn, and staff have ‘agreed’ (with other clinicians that have never met Claire) that she should be transferred to a secure unit, which could be anywhere in the UK, as soon as a bed is available. The family have invoked the “nearest relative” method to get her released (this means that if the unit do not discharge her within three days, a tribunal must be held within a month). She has since been denied a routine day out because of medication given in the evening, something that has not been done before and which neither she nor her family were warned of.

Claire, her parents, an advocate and a solicitor attended several tribunals earlier this year which were intended to challenge the section imposed last September. During this time, the management were banned from transferring her. A team from Northampton visited her unit, but this was on a day when she normally went out, and to disrupt this would have caused Claire a lot of distress and possibly a meltdown. I believe that the Northampton team got the distinct impression that Claire and her family were opposed to her moving there and that maintaining family relations was all-important, and could not have been done there to anything like the same extent as if she remained in her home region at least. In March her section was renewed, but focus appeared to shift to finding Claire a bespoke placement in or near Swansea, most likely a bungalow with dedicated support staff. However, this was always going to take time as the bungalow has not even been built.

Many of us suggested that they bring Claire home, but Claire herself did not want to live at home permanently as her parents will not live, or indeed be able to care for her, indefinitely and she feared what would happen then. Meanwhile, the unit allowed her to come home most days (Tuesday and Thursday she would spend most of at home or out with her family) and spend the weekend at home, and provided respite so that they did not always have to look after her and could get other things done (including working on her case). This arrangement worked until Claire broke down after seeing another woman who was in her unit go back to her care home, something she has been waiting for since she was re-admitted to the unit in April last year. This has led to an upsurge in violent outbursts, and she has reduced her trips out (not spending a night at home the past three weekends, for example) because she wanted to “keep home a happy place”. Unfortunately, the unit staff judge her on her behaviour in the unit, and hardly take any account of what goes on outside.

The family were told of the new plans at a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) meeting on Monday. Her mother, Cath Dyer, wrote:

Such a shame that after a meeting today, which even the solicitor and advocate felt we were all being ambushed when we were told all the clinicians have taken advice from other clinicians about Claire’s behaviour and violence to people and property at the moment, and all feel she needs a medium secure unit, but could be anywhere in the UK. (These are people who have never met her, and others who have only seen her in the unit, which is a hospital and therefore a trigger for her behaviours). We have said that this will destroy her, especially as she relies on and loves coming home and spending time with her family, and visiting the community, and seeing her friends, but nobody seems to care about that.

Claire has not been told of the plans to move her. Today she was prevented from going home, as she normally does on a Thursday, because of medication she was given last night which supposedly requires 24-hour monitoring (which the family had not been previously told about). The demand for a nearest relative’s discount was submitted this week, and as of this writing, they have not heard back.

Possibly Related Posts:


Is Judaism The Most Racist of the World’s Great Monotheistic Religions?

Inayat's Corner - 10 July, 2014 - 07:12

Richard Dawkins famously said that:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

A lot of the world’s religions have some extremely unpleasant characteristics (in addition to many very pleasant ones I should hasten to add).

Is Judaism the most racist of the world’s three great monotheistic religions?


On Jam-Making and Ramadan

Muslimah Media Watch - 10 July, 2014 - 07:00
How is it that the first week of Ramadan has already gone by? It’s been a bit of a struggle for me to let go of some of my commitments to spend more time on reflecting this month. With the fasts being as long as they are (~17ish hours, if I’ve done my math correctly), [Read More...]

Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On

Loon Watch - 9 July, 2014 - 21:11

under_surveillance_full_v2

Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On

 By Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain (The Intercept)

The National Security Agency and FBI have covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans—including a political candidate and several civil rights activists, academics, and lawyers—under secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies.

According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the list of Americans monitored by their own government includes:

• Faisal Gill, a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for public office who held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush;

• Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases;

• Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University;

• Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights;

• Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country.

The individuals appear on an NSA spreadsheet in the Snowden archives called “FISA recap”—short for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under that law, the Justice Department must convince a judge with the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that there is probable cause to believe that American targets are not only agents of an international terrorist organization or other foreign power, but also “are or may be” engaged in or abetting espionage, sabotage, or terrorism. The authorizations must be renewed by the court, usually every 90 days for U.S. citizens.

The spreadsheet shows 7,485 email addresses listed as monitored between 2002 and 2008. Many of the email addresses on the list appear to belong to foreigners whom the government believes are linked to Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah. Among the Americans on the list are individuals long accused of terrorist activity, including Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, who were killed in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen.

But a three-month investigation by The Intercept—including interviews with more than a dozen current and former federal law enforcement officials involved in the FISA process—reveals that in practice, the system for authorizing NSA surveillance affords the government wide latitude in spying on U.S. citizens.

The five Americans whose email accounts were monitored by the NSA and FBI have all led highly public, outwardly exemplary lives. All five vehemently deny any involvement in terrorism or espionage, and none advocates violent jihad or is known to have been implicated in any crime, despite years of intense scrutiny by the government and the press. Some have even climbed the ranks of the U.S. national security and foreign policy establishments.

“I just don’t know why,” says Gill, whose AOL and Yahoo! email accounts were monitored while he was a Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates. “I’ve done everything in my life to be patriotic. I served in the Navy, served in the government, was active in my community—I’ve done everything that a good citizen, in my opinion, should do.”

Counter-terrorism chief: Manchester twins in Syria threat to themselves

The Guardian World news: Islam - 9 July, 2014 - 18:52
Detectives investigate whether jihadist rebels paid for sisters Salma and Zahra Halane, 16, to travel to Syrian conflict zone

Teenage sisters who fled their Manchester home for Syria are "posing a threat to themselves and potentially the community", a counter-terrorism chief said on Wednesday.

Detectives are investigating whether jihadist rebels arranged and paid for twins Salma and Zahra Halane, 16, to join the violent conflict in Syria after radicalising them online.

Continue reading...

What is it like to be a Muslim in Britain today?

The Guardian World news: Islam - 9 July, 2014 - 17:40

We asked Muslim bloggers to tell us their experiences of living as a Muslim in the UK today. Do you agree? Share your thoughts and experiences.

We asked Muslim bloggers to share their own experiences and opinions about living as a Muslim in Britain today. Have you had similar or different experiences? Answer the questions yourself in the comment thread, or fill out the form anonymously below. We'll post a selection of the best responses on the site.

Today, global events have transformed what being a Muslim means from a private to a public experience. We are faced with divisive and worrying questions from our children asking, What does Jihad mean? or What is a Shia or a Sunni? Why or how these questions have been created is debatable. What I do know is being Muslim in essence can never change, only the political rhetoric that surrounds it.

To be a Muslim is a deeply personal and spiritual sense of being that is individual to every Muslim. Of the Sunnah teachings, my favourite is to smile. Smiling is considered a form of charity in Islam and epitomises what being a Muslim means to me. Although, these can be interpreted differently one binding belief is the Shahadah; "There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God." Growing up as a Muslim in London was a unifying experience expressed through actions of kindness and consideration for neighbours, the elderly and each other - regardless of faith.

Are you taking part in #SuhoorSelfie? http://t.co/znFsep2gHB Remember #ASmileIsCharity

Having converted to Islam while living in Italy, my first experience of being a Muslim in the UK was being interrogated by a taxi driver on my way home to spend Christmas with my family. After the dreaded (and all too common) question, "no, where are you really from?" he remarked, I don't get it. You're British but you don't drink beer or eat bacon? There's something not right there.

My Britishness was never in doubt before I became a Muslim, but the habits I had as a Christian are now seen as somehow foreign and mutually exclusive to being a British citizen. The two sit very comfortably side by side in my heart and mind. Not only are my Islamic values filtered through my experience of being raised in Britain, but my British values are also backed up by my Islamic ones

How extraordinary it was, when I arrived in London eight years ago to discover women wearing headscarves at the town hall, in airports or in shopping centres. I felt it was not only acceptable, but also normal to be Muslim. It does not seem a big deal to have Muslim MPs in Britain.

My sister sent me a text message earlier this year to let me know she had seen a woman wearing a headscarf working in a clothes shop in the heart of Paris. I am French, so for me that was such news - it marked a sign of progress.

The condescending remarks I receive for following a religion. I have actually had people say to me: I dont believe in religion, I believe in science. As if I believe in Mickey Mouse! Just because I believe in God does not make me a less rational human being. The prevalent belief that science answers all questions is astonishing. As western philosophers of science point out, science cannot answer questions surrounding the issues of morality, meaning and purpose. Science can only study the physical world, not the metaphysical. Religious people do not reject science; we believe there is more to life than just physical matter. It is interesting to note that this issue is specifically European, as the US the most practising Christian country in the industrialised world has greater respect for religion.

From sharia law, "secret halal" scandals, the burqa, hijab, so called "honour" killings, sex grooming gangs, trojan horses, jihad, terrorism and the annual "Muslims are cancelling Christmas" story, the media has us covered. Except they don't. Given the amount of time the media spends discussing "the Muslims" most people remain ill informed and ignorant about Islam and Muslims. Of course there is a correlation?

Headlines are sensational or distorted and reporting is often deeply racist. This impacts directly on the lives of British Muslims across the UK. Some of the stories that are emerging are painful and disturbing. Visible Muslim women in particular are bearing the brunt of Islamophobic abuse - verbal and physical - on the streets, at schools and colleges, in the office and online. The Everyday Bigotry Project has found that many Muslims are internalising islamophobia and it is being normalised. These are some of responses we got to an online debate:

#IslamophobiaIs when being civically engaged means you're "infiltrating" institutions

#islamaphobiaIS WM calling Muslim women oppressed for CHOOSING to wear the hijab, while calling girls slutty for CHOOSING to wear shorts

#islamophobiaIs On train journeys to London, purposely taking out study texts to show rucksack isn't a bomb

Much post 9/11 popular culture has perpetuated notions of the aggressive Muslim through the sustained demonisation of Islam, Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad (saw). Muslim culture is depicted as unchanging and monolithic whereas Muslims are portrayed as backwards, irrational, and aggressive fanatics; their religion is seen to be wholly incompatible with the ways of the West. Many post 9­/11 films have propagated images of the violent barbaric Muslim Other. The Muslim villain is used to portray struggles between good against bad and is accepted because of the historical continuity of negative representations of Muslims since the Middle Ages. The power of stereotypes to inflict damage on innocent people is much greater than before 9­/11, as can be seen by the growth of attacks on Muslims.

I identify as a queer Muslim and it is through this intersection that I face the most intolerance and abuse. I face LGBTQ-phobia from some sections of the Muslim community and islamophobia coupled with racism from some sections of the LGBTQ community. This has often meant that I have to downplay the importance of my religion and vice versa when in Muslim spaces. It boils down to safety.

I remember a specific incident while I was clubbing at university. En route to leaving the club a white man had shouted a racist comment at me but I wasnt sure if I had heard it properly so I didnt react. I turned around to see my white friend who was with me confront and challenge him. We ended up getting him kicked out of the club. The bouncers, also white, were excellent at dealing with this situation.

Muslims have made contributions to British society in many ways: ­ culinary, fashion, economic and medical. Yet this is still a young community finding its feet. We have many internal problems to contend with (illiteracy, sectarianism and identity crises to mention a few) and a few external ones that have a tendency to grab the headlines. None are insurmountable, but sometimes they can feel that way.

The Muslim community can be an innovative, socially conscious and energising presence in British society, creating and developing deep links to many of the rapidly growing economies of the world. On the other hand, it could slide into being a persecuted, marginalised and mistrusted minority that is a drain on resources and social cohesion. How things turn out will depend not only on whether we are able to move forward in a way that allows us to remain true to our faith and still be productive British citizens, but also on whether the wider community will allow us the time and space to do so.

I would say I am a British citizen because I was born here and grew up around the culture and values of the majority of Britons. However, I am familiar with my origin and would not disregard this to be more "British" in terms of my values, lifestyle or beliefs. I would not proudly be called "British", but this is not due to arrogance or ignorance; it's simply due to the prejudiced view of certain people living in Britain who feel that this is not "our" country because we have a somewhat different lifestyle and upbringing to theirs.

We are free to live how we want within the boundaries of the UK law but are we not free to choose what is morally right for us? There is more to being British than looking, sounding and dressing a certain way. We can still be educated, successful, socially active and know the A­ to Z of royal history. As Britons we share some values and recognise that there are commonalities between us which bring us together. Why do people refuse to accept differences if the one thing Britain prides itself upon is being multicultural?

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Don't be shocked that the US spied on American Muslims. Get angry that it justifies spying on whomever it wants | Linda Sarsour

The Guardian World news: Islam - 9 July, 2014 - 17:22

There are two sets of laws here: one designed for dissidents, political activists and Muslims and another for everybody else

What do a Republican candidate, a military veteran, a civil rights activist and a professor have in common? They are all American Muslims and all have been subject to pervasive surveillance by the NSA and FBI.

A report published by The Intercept on Wednesday reveals that the two agencies used secretive procedures designed to catch terrorists and spies to monitor the email accounts of prominent American Muslim leaders. Among the documents supplied by Edward Snowden, a spreadsheet titled "FISA recap" contains 7,485 email addresses apparently monitored between 2002 and 2008. (The report also clearly documents how biased training by the FBI leads to biased surveillance, and that calling Muslims "ragheads" is everyday lingo at federal law enforcement agencies.)

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White House: racial slurs in NSA intelligence material 'unacceptable'

The Guardian World news: Islam - 9 July, 2014 - 16:25

FBI and NSA to review policy after leaked documents suggest training materials referred to targets using offensive language

The White House has instructed US security agencies to review their training and policy materials for racial or religious bias after documents leaked by Edward Snowden showed training material for the intelligence agencies referring to "Mohammed Raghead".

After an extensive investigation by the Intercept on Wednesday reported that the NSA and the FBI spied on the emails of five prominent US activists and attorneys with Muslim backgrounds, White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said that the administration took accusations of the slurs "extremely seriously."

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Embracing Women, Inspiring Daughters

Muslimah Media Watch - 9 July, 2014 - 07:00
This post is part of a series of nightly reflections, and was originally written on June 30. Tonight, my reflection is dedicated to all my sisters reading this, as Surah Al Imran was recited in thousands of masaajid around the world and it is a chapter of birth and of life …of Maryam (as/peace be [Read More...]

Muslim children’s books: an Exposé

Muslim Matters - 9 July, 2014 - 06:46

Written by Hasan Jilani

Important: We have recently started a crowdfunding campaign on LaunchGood to raise money for printing and shipping. If we don't reach our goal by July 11, this book will not be funded. Please visit our crowdfunding page and claim your copy of the book today! https://www.launchgood.com/projects/project_detail/kidbook Read more about our goals below

The state of Muslim children's books is deplorable. There are a few gems, but most books are poorly written and poorly illustrated. We must praise the intentions behind these pioneering efforts, but are they really helping our children?

When a kids' book uses SAT words and dull pictures, it sends a subtle message: Islam is confusing and boring. We think we're helping our children, but instead we may be driving them away from Islam. We need a new approach.

Better Writing

To prove my point, here are a few examples of what's in the market. This excerpt is from one of the few Islamic board books available:

One morning Hamza work up bright and early and went to the family room and said to his brother Ali, 'Assalamalakum, let's go have our breakfast.' Ali replied, 'I'm not going to eat breakfast today because it's the first day of Ramadan and I'm fasting today.' Hamza didn't understand the meaning of fasting.

Reading Grade Level: 9.1 – The toddler has to be in high school to understand this!

Note the long compound sentences, big words like “because” and “understand”, use of contractions, and unnecessary details like “family room”. A better approach would be to break up the story into smaller sentences, simplify the plot, use smaller words, and avoid contractions.

Here is my re-write:

One day, Hamza woke up. He met his brother Ali. Hamza said, “Let's eat breakfast!” Ali said, “I will not eat breakfast today. It is the first day of Ramadan. I am fasting.” What is fasting? Hamza did not know.

Reading Grade Level: 1.9 – Much better!

Here are a couple more examples:

- From reading grade level 7.0 to 3.1 and then 2.8
- From reading grade level 7.4 to 4.4

Better Pictures

Here are a few examples of the illustrations we offer our kids.

These are supposed to be birds. I can understand not wanting to draw living things, but couldn't they just illustrate awesome looking palm trees instead?

pic1

Cousin It? I can understand not wanting to show eyes, but this book shows the back of the girl's head on pretty much every page, even when it's anatomically awkward. They could have just left off the eyes, like they did with other characters in the book.

pic2

We Can Do Better

 Here are illustrations from a kids' book I'm working on, drawn by the artist behind the Superhanallah web comic:

image

Untitled2

Untitled1

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Untitled4

Replace or Compliment?

Dr. Seuss is great. Every kid, Muslim or non-Muslim, should read Hop on Pop and Fox in Socks. Green Eggs and Ham? Eh… The point is Muslim kids' books should compliment, not replace, classic children's books. Not only does this help our children to understand and relate to greater society, but it also frees up Muslim writers from having to teach letters, counting, and colors. We can instead focus on morals, ethics, and identity. But if we hope to have them compliment mainstream American books, they must be on the same level of professionalism and polish. A kid who has the option between Cat in the Hat versus Circumambulation for Kids is going to choose Cat in the Hat. Every. Single. Time.

I am working on a kids' book that sets a new standard of Islamic children's literature. It aims to show the market what “good” looks like in the hopes that it will usher in an era of professionalism and polish we desperately need. If the masses become accustomed to outstanding Islamic kids' books, the industry will have no choice but to improve their offerings. We hope they will mimic our style. Yes, we want our fellow Muslims to make rip offs of our work.

We must do for Islamic kids' books what Dr. Seuss did for modern children's literature. Before Cat in the Hat, many children were not learning to read because, according to Life magazine (May 1954), their books were boring. Dr. Seuss aimed to make a book children couldn't resist. His approach was to use simple words and wonderful illustrations. It is no surprise Cat in the Hat is still popular today. We need the same revolution in Islamic children's literature. Call me Sh. Seussi.

What makes our book different?
  • Written in simple English (1.4 grade reading level)
  • Beautiful illustrations that engage young (and old!) readers
  • Based on interesting hadeeth story that has not been touched by previous authors. We're not rehashing what's already been done.
  • To top it all off, we're making it a board book. These are rare when it comes to Islamic books because they are very expensive to produce, but they are vital to exposing our children to Islam and literacy at a young age. We should read to our children when they are months old, not years old.

We have recently started a crowdfunding campaign on LaunchGood to raise money for printing and shipping. If we don't reach our goal by July 11, this book will not be funded. Please visit our crowdfunding page and claim your copy of the book today!

https://www.launchgood.com/projects/project_detail/kidbook

Note: all reading grade levels were analyzed using the Flesch-Kincaid formula.

The post Muslim children’s books: an Exposé appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

9 unexpected benefits of long Ramadan fasts

Muslim Matters - 9 July, 2014 - 05:00

I remember when I was quite young, waiting eagerly for the sound of a dozen muezzins ushering in Maghrib – and iftaar. In those last few moments of hunger and thirst, I would think briefly about the Muslims living in more Northern countries and how they must be coping with 18 hour fasts. “Oh well. Serves them right for living in a non-Muslim country,” I used to smugly think to myself and get back to stuffing my face, my conscience at peace.

Well, not that many years later – Allah made sure that I ended up in a non-Muslim country myself and since then I have learnt to be a little less judgemental… sometimes. But these long fastathons aren't all suffering and moaning. There are some unexpected benefits which I thought I would share.

1. Iftaar with the family 

When iftaar times fall at 5 or 6pm, it is a struggle for everyone to get back home in time. We often find ourselves in that depressing situation of breaking our fast in our office or in traffic with an emergency date that had been squished into our back pocket since last week. Mmmmm… yummy. Late iftaars means everyone is likely to be home and sitting around the table enjoying each others company as much as the food.

mm2

2. Staying up all night is much easier 

No one needs to remind us that the nights of Ramadan are special, especially the last ten nights. However, staying up throughout the night engaging in worship and good deeds is a lot easier when the nights are just over 4 hours long as opposed to 10 hours. Staying awake all night is within the reach of most of us rather than the super-dedicated few.

Qiyam-ul-Layl

3. Breaking free from addictions 

Whether we are addicted to Call of Duty, fizzy drinks, hanging out on twitter or just old fashioned smoking – there is no better time than Ramadan to kick the habit. The trouble is that after iftaar we may feel we have earned ourselves a little indulgence again. But, with the fasting last up to 19-20 hours a day, and the remaining few hours spent in eating, drinking and praying, there is precious little time for you to get reacquainted with your addiction thereby giving you the best chance ever to go cold turkey and break the habit.

cold turkey

4. Minimising iftaar parties 

In many communities, Ramadan is in danger of becoming about socialising every evening at a different iftaar party where precious hours are wasted over-indulging and engaging the usual dinner party chit-chat. Having super late Maghribs just doesn't give the time for many of these pointless parties saving everyone money, time and their breath.

mm1

5. Less time cooking 

Many guys might not understand this point, but a significant proportion of the time of Muslim women is taken up trying to prepare the iftaar meal. During a normal Ramadan, many sisters struggle to fit in much ibaadah time at all with the increasingly elaborate meals they are expected to prepare. These long Ramadan days mean that they aren't torn between making soul food and gaining some nourishment for their soul.

6. Thinking more carefully about the things we eat 

It is only natural that when there is such a limited amount of time in which to eat and drink, that we will be more picky about what we choose to partake in. Already there are dozens of articles and videos advising the types of food to avoid, what to stock up on and even ratios of different foods to have. Thinking more about the quality and nutritional value of what we eat can only be a good thing.

mm3

7. Real empathy with the poor 

One of the benefits of Ramadan is that it helps us reflect on all that we have and empathise with those who have much less. Sure, 10-12 hour fasts leave you hungry but the last hours of an 18 hour fast can actually start to bite. Do that 30 days in a row and you get a much greater appreciation of the poverty-stricken lives of Millions across the world hopefully making us more generous and more grateful.

8. Extra rewards 

Some of the Sahaaba raḍyAllāhu 'anhum (may Allāh be pleased with them)  would actively seek out the hottest and longest days of the year to fast as they felt they would get more reward due to the extra difficulties associated. This has been narrated of Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) as well as Abu Musa Al-Ashari raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him). If we do the fasts with the correct intention, then perhaps these extra long fasts may put us in line for a bonus on the day of judgement when we'll need it most.

9. Sign of life 

Lets not beat around the bush… the Ummah is not in a good place right now. I don't need to go into the details. Just watch the news, pick up a newspaper or listen to the radio. In times such as these when we are inundated by wave after wave of bad and then worse news, the fact that Muslims can get excited about and actually stick to 18 hour fasts for a whole month in non-Muslim countries has got to count for something.

Maybe, there's still life in this ummah yet. Maybe there is still hope. Perhaps that is the greatest blessing of all.

The post 9 unexpected benefits of long Ramadan fasts appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

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