Sunday, March 27, 2005

Who is Ziad Asali? The Anti-Palestinian Activist and PMUNA Board Member

Another member of the Progressive Muslim Union’s Board of Director is Ziad Asali. He is a doctor of internal medicine in Illinois. He is also President and founder of the American Task Force on Palestine. Another PMU Board Member, Hussein Ibish, also serves on the ATFP as a Senior Fellow. Here’s some more information on Dr. Asali.

Ziad J. Asali, M.D., is the President and founder of the American Task Force on Palestine, a 501(c)3 non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Washington, DC. Dr. Asali is a long-time activist on Middle East issues. He has been a member of the Chairman's Council of American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) since 1982, and has served as ADC’s President from 2001-2003. He served as the President of the Arab-American University Graduates (AAUG) from 1993-1995, and was Chairman of the American Committee on Jerusalem (ACJ), which he co-founded, from 1995-2003. He is currently on the Boards of OneVoice, A Different Future and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. Dr. Asali is the author of several publications that include: “From Crusades To Zionism” (1993) “Zionist Studies of the Crusades” (1992) “Expedition to Jerusalem” (1990).

But a few weeks ago, he made some people, particulary Palestinian activists upset when he stated in Forward Newspaper that Palestinians should abandon their right to return. And it’s not the first time he’s made this statement. He said the same thing at a United Nations/Non-Governmental Organization Conference in September 2002. As you can imagine, his words have been condemned by no less than 25 Palestinian activists groups such as Al-Awda, The Global Palestine Right of Return and the Palestinian Arab Women League. Maybe Dr. Asali was not aware that the Palestinian right to return has been understood by the international community since 1948.

I must thank the PMUNA Debate for all the information that I found and I hope that in the future, all of their findings will be categorized on their blog. I picked up this juicy tidbit from the PMUNA Debate blog.

In reality, voices such as Asali's are part of a larger concerted effort to introduce a false veneer of moderation as a replacement for the legitimate inalienable rights of the Palestinian and Arab people, represented by their right to return, sovereignty and self-determination. Through organizations like ATFP, Asali has gone even beyond the Geneva Accords, the Nusseibeh-Ayalon Agreement and other such attempts that violate fundamental, inalienable and natural rights that are enshrined in international law.

From under the garb of hollow US democratization, Asali has in effect been diligently advancing the neo-conservative plan for the "New Middle East," where nations and people are reconstituted against their will. Of particular concern is the concerted attempt by Asali and a few others to normalize efforts leading to self-defeat and the nullification of the right to return. Asali made a statement to Forward recently that "we (Palestinians) must now separate the right from the return, " and that "there is really nothing to return to. It is Israel now". Instantly Asali became a celebrity in Zionist circles. Dr. Asali is free to forfeit hisright to return to his home in Jerusalem, but he has no right to dismiss, hurt or forfeit the rights of 6 million Palestinian refugees.

But, my dear readers, it gets better. A few weeks back Ahmed Nassef, editor of MWU.com and executive director of the PMUNA attended a Hillel conference, an organization for Jewish college students…amongst other things. Here's Hillel's statement follows:

Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life is the central address for the Jewish community on campus providing opportunities for students to explore and celebrate their Jewish identity. An integral part of this activity relates to Israel, which today is often the target of attacks on college campuses. Hillel promotes a multi-faceted and pro-active approach to Israel programming and training for its staff and students. Hillel's nationwide presence and infrastructure also helps facilitate greater understanding of and opportunities for partnership with other leading Jewish organizations that want to share their resources with college students.

Part of their efforts to defend the state of Israel was to achieve a large turnout of Jewish students at a lecture given by Norman Finkelstein at Carnegie Mellon University which Hillel labels as him as anti-Zionist. This event was supported by the Arab Student Organization, the Muslim Student Organization, the Pittsburgh Palestine Solidarity Committee and Students for Justice in Palestine.

Interestingly enough, Ahmed Nassef received glowing compliments from the conference as stated in the article for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal.

Nassef is the founder of Muslim WakeUp!, a 2-year-old organization dedicated to creating a progressive Muslim culture in America, and his efforts have met with some initial success. And as far as I could tell from visiting the organization’s Web site, the man hasn’t lost his sense of humor trying. On the other side, non-Muslim Americans shared misconceptions that the majority of Muslim men were pious militants who kept their women in burkas — what Bill Maher so sweetly refers to as “beekeeper suits.”

Risama Note: Did you guys know that Bill Maher's got a little Lebanese in him?

Nassef was certain — informed by studies and his own experience — that most Muslim Americans were more like him. A Zogby survey (SNICKER!!!) found that about 10 percent engage in a high level of observance. The rest, like himself, observe some holidays and cherish their faith and heritage, but have no consistent relationship with the politics or institutions of these 10 percent. “I figured there are a lot of people who feel the way I do,” he said. “And I began to wonder how I could reach them.”

He decided a Web site was the ideal way to reach an untapped audience. Muslimwakeup.com reflects the widest possible swath of the Muslim American experience. It is pro-gay rights and pro-women’s rights. It has a section called “Sex and the Umma,” which features Muslim women’s erotica (guess which part of the site gets the most hits).

Risama Note: Porn is also a big go-getter and when Muslimas write it, it's even juicier. Wink!

In December, hackers penetrated Muslimwakeup.com and slathered it with accusations of apostasy. Nassef has received hundreds of angry e-mails, and some death threats. But he majored in Islamic studies at UCLA, is a native Arabic speaker, and doesn’t shirk from confronting those who claim their Islam is the one true one. “Secularism has a long tradition in the Arab world,” he said. “I think there is movement,” he said. “We’re going through an important time in our community. More and more people are seeing us as a voice.”
Recent books by Irshad Manji and Asra Nomani (
Subhan'allah)are hopeful signs that he is correct.

But as we can see, the Palestinian problem, that pink elephant in the room, wasn’t mentioned in that particular conference or in this article. Sigh. Of course, not all those encounters with Hillel have been so great.

I was surprised recently to read that the Executive Director of the Progressive Muslim Union of North America spoke at a policy conference of the North American Jewish organisation Hillel. I was even more suprised at what he said. And I was shocked that he then trumpeted the event as some kind of big move forward for American Muslims. I should confess that my experiences with Hillel members were at campuses in North America (during a speaking tour 2 years ago organised by the Vancouver-based Palestine Solidarity Group) when I spoke on Palestine and, more particularly, Israel as an Apartheid state.

At one Vancouver campus, they repeatedly tore down the posters so that by the time the event happened, it was dominated by about 80% Hillel supporters. At some other campuses they heckled, tried to disrupt and refused to listen. In Berkeley, members of Hillel joined a campaign to boycott a dinner organised by the Boalt Law Foundation. The dinner is the main annual fund-raising event to raise funds for disadvantaged students to study at Boalt Law School. The BLF's crime? They co-sponsored my lecture there. After much trauma for the BLF and Palestinians and Palestinian supporters at the university, a joint letter was issued. The complainants, including the Hillel members, could not even use the term "Palestinian students" in the letter; it had to be "students of Palestinian descent".Last year, at a university in Vancouver, Hillel used racial profiling to forcefully prevent certain people from entering a hall where an Israeli official was speaking.

So, for a group that claims to be huge advocates for human rights now finds itself making alliances with groups that could care less about Israeli and Palestinian suffering. I have no problem with “hugging Jews,” especially Jews like Jews Against Zionism, Orthodox Jews Against Zionism, Jews Not Zionists, Jews Against the Occupation, Jewish Voice for Peace, the REAL Refuseniks, and B’tselem. Why isn’t the PMUNA working with these guys? Caring about the civil and human rights of Palestians goes beyond wearing a t-shirt or kaffiyeh. Are we so adamant about ridding our community of anti-semitism that we are willing to forget or even deny that the Palestianians have any rights? Even those rights that have been long ignored by the Geneva Convention? Subhan’allah! But when you’re in the business of making alliances with the RAND Corporation like our good friend Aiman Mackie, I guess they can’t be concerned with things like that.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Are We Losing Our Way?

A few days ago, a beauty contest was held in Toronto by a Canadian Pakistani group that involved (among other things) women parading in evening gowns to the approval of men and women alike. The event garnered tremendous publicity in the newspapers that made it appear that Muslim women were finally breaking taboos. The protests of various Muslim organizations went unheeded and the chief organizer of the event criticized those opposing the event. She stated that those in opposition to the event needed to realize that we were now in the 21st century and that the show would go on. The participants declared that it was an opportunity to prove that Muslim women were emancipated and progressive. Buoyed by the success of the pageant, the organizers announced that the show would be held every year.

Has the ignorance that afflicts many members of our community reached the point where they are no longer able to distinguish between emancipation and exploitation? Is this what the Holy Prophet (peace on him) taught us? Are we following the example of the best of all women, the wives of the Prophet or have we also fallen a prey to the lucre of materialism and the worship of Mammon? When modesty is thrown to the winds and we crave the approval of the Kuffar we have truly reached the nadir. Gone is respect for the Quran and the Sunnah and in its place is this insatiable urge to conform to the ideals of a society that finds itself in various stages of moral decay.

This inexplicable desire to seek the approbation of those whose opinions will not count on the Day of Reckoning has created one brouhaha after another. Witness the Jumuah Salah led by Amina Wadud in New York recently. Apart from the fact that the concept is moored in a controversial interpretation of just one Tradition it was led by a person who has openly declared that she rejects a portion of the Quran and who has affirmed that she supports same sex marriages! Can the Salah behind this person be valid? But our friends at MWU continue to portray this as an act of liberation while choosing to keep silent on the real issues.And as expected the press had a field day depicting this as an example of Muslim women fighting for their rights.

And this brings me to another woman who recently lead a mixed gender congregation; the shennanigans of Asra Nomani are well known. MWU recently claimed that she was the Martin Luther of our times. Absolutely pathetic. I know that some have taken issue with me on this topic on blogs all over. They claim that it is her personal life but I strongly disagree. When a person lives, acts and makes statements that are in clear transgression of the Quran and the Sunnah and then tries to mislead others then what can we be left to think, other than that their purpose is to spread fitnah? Anyone who aspires to a position of leadership of our Ummah has to set an example the way our beloved Prophet (peace on him), the Khalifas, and the Sahaba did. Criticising such a person is certainly not gheebah as some have claimed, but a fulfilment of the Prophetic injunction of stopping evil by force, one's tongue or at the very least acknowledging that the other person has erred. A failure to do so is a reflection of our Imaan or what is left of it.

If our community wants to talk of women's issues then I am all for it. The only proviso is that it be done in the light of the Quran and the Sunnah and with the guidance of our respected scholars. I find it surprising that we are willing to consult lawyers, doctors, and accountants in their fields of expertise but when it comes to Islam, anyone and his brother thinks that he is an expert! Memorize a few verses, collect some Hadiths, learn some Arabic terms, and you are ready to roll! The charlatans are having a ball and the others increasingly confused. Regrettably, the malaise has spread deeper than I thought and will continue to do so until we reaffirm our deep and abiding commitment to the pristine principles of our Deen. We owe it to ourselves and to posterity to expose those who prey on the weakness of others.

May Allah Subhan Wa Taala protect our Ummah from the purveyors of filth and fitna. Ameen.

10 Things You Can to Develop a Culture of Muslim Unity (A Community Reform Article)

After receiving another article of the death of a sister in Islam, I felt this article was worth sharing. We won't always agree and that's okay. We can agree on the essentials. The last thing that our enemies want (yes, we have real enemies who are the instruments of Shaytan) is to be united. A united umma, a umma that determines it's own fate and an umma that willing to challenge the injustices of this world, is the biggest weapon against kufr. May Allah (subhannahu wa ta'ala) unite us for His sake.

The sight is always amazing. Pilgrims standing shoulder to shoulder, of all shades and races, dressed in simple white, stripped of all kinds of worldly barriers, be they of wealth, profession, geography, class, education or other. This enduring image of Hajj has become a hallmark of this Ummah's unity in its diversity. But as we head towards the journey of a lifetime or watch loved ones leave for it in these next few days, the challenge remains: how do we retain this culture of unity that marks Hajj? How do we keep the bonds of Islamic brother/sisterhood intact to fulfill our goals as an Ummah, especially in North America, where our diversity is even more marked than in other parts of the world? Here are ten practical ways you and your community can build unity:

1. Understand that Muslim unity is not an option

It's become cliché to say that Muslims have reduced Islam to rituals and forgotten other important tenets. While it is crucial to practice the five pillars of Islam, for instance, we cannot ignore other basic aspects of the faith that emphasize brother and sisterhood. Muslim unity is a Fard (obligatory duty) according to the Quran and Traditions of the Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Consider the following references below:

From the Quran (49:10): The Believers are but a single Brotherhood: So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers; and fear God, that ye may receive Mercy. Also from the Quran (3:103): And hold fast, all together, by the rope which God (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude God's favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth God make His Signs clear to you: That ye may be guided.

From the Hadith: In their love, kindness and compassion for each other, the believers are like a human body: when one part of it is hurt, the rests sympathizes with it in wakefulness and fever (Bukhari, Muslim).

2. Reflect on Hajj as a time for Muslim unity

Use this time on a personal basis, as well as within your family and community to remind Muslims of how the Hajj is a unifying factor for Muslims. Hold a family meeting about this topic. Organize a seminar at your mosque about how Hajj is a beautiful symbol of Muslim unity. Make sure your speakers are those who have performed Hajj and can attest to this fact. Also brainstorm practical ways the lessons of unity from Hajj can be implemented in your community throughout the year and come up with an action plan in your community. While you're planning, make Dua for unity throughout this period (the first 10 days of Zul Hijjah, which is a blessed time).

Say the Masnoon Takbirat and add Talbiyah to it which is "Labbayk Allahumma Labbayk, Labbayk la sharika laka Labbayk, Innal hamda wanni'mata laka walmulk La sharika lak". The translation of the Talbiyah is: O my Lord, Here I am at Your service, Here I am. There is no partner with You. Here I am. Truly, the praise and the provisions are Yours, and so is the dominion and sovereignty. There is no partner with you." Say it with your children and family and think about its meaning, remembering that you are at Allah's service and we cannot serve unless we are united.

3. Learn tolerance towards other points of view

Isn't it interesting that we can attend classes at college or speak with colleagues from work and discuss issues while being willing to disagree with them? But the minute some of us step into a mosque or Muslim community function, all that tolerance seems to go out the window. Islam is very broad and wide, contrary to popular belief, and you can find a range of scholarly views on issues as diverse as how to place our hands during prayer to whether or not Muslims should participate in the American political process. If our scholars from the past and present have shown such tolerance towards differing views on various issues, who are we, the average Muslim, who do not have that level of knowledge, to express intolerance for another point of view? To understand this point thoroughly read the book Islamic Awakening "Between Rejection and Extremism" by Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi.

4. Learn to criticize without hurting

The way some Muslims criticize each other, you'd think they were talking to an Islam-basher instead of a fellow brother or sister. This type of ignorant behavior is a sure way to create anger, hurt and dissension. It is no route towards unity. We must learn the Adab (etiquette) of criticism, whether it is towards individual Muslims or our leaders. Knowing and implementing this will not only help solve problems in a practical manner, but it will also lead to a greater sense of brother and sisterhood in the community. >If you feel that your criticism of someone in the past was rude or hurtful, please go back and apologize to them. Before you do that, pray for that brother or sister, since the Prophet has said that Dua increases love between people.

5. Avoid taking a strong position on smaller points

There is what's called a "Fiqh of priorities" and this essentially means that there are some aspects of Islam that are more important than others. For instance, it's more important to emphasize that Muslims establish prayer than whether or not there should be a curtain between men and women in mosques. Knowing what our priorities are will help us avoid making secondary issues of the faith factors of division in our communities. Muslim leaders, especially, must not only understand this, but implement it in their communities across North America so that small differences do not kill Muslim unity.

6. Do not call anyone a Kafir

This horrible phenomena of calling fellow believers Kafirs must end if we want to create a climate that is conducive to unity. Kafir-calling is a sure way to isolate individuals from the Muslim community. We must remember that Muslims in North America come from all cultures and socio-economic backgrounds, whether they were born and raised in the faith or reverted to it. If a person is expressing ideas that are not in line with Islamic values, s/he must be gently corrected. Kafir-calling will only fuel their ignorance, anger and stubborness, not to mention humiliate and embarrass them. The Prophet warned that if one person calls another Kafir and the person called that is not one, the individual who made the accusation is a Kafir. Given this warning, isn't it sad that there is an organization in Egypt which calls itself the Party of Declaring Others Kafirs (Jamat Takfeer wa Hijra)?

7. Reaching out across ethnic boundaries

The ignorant practice of maintaining "ethnic mosques" is, Alhamdulillah, slowly but surely disappearing in North America. But there is still a long way to go. All of our institutions, functions and communities in general must become more ethnically diverse and open to the needs and concerns of Muslims of all backgrounds. Muslim leaders and individuals have a duty to ensure that no Muslim, regardless of their ethno-cultural background, feels shut out of the community, ignored or neglected. This can only be done by Muslim leaders and individuals taking the first step and reaching out to Muslims who may have been traditionally isolated because of ethnicity in mosques and other institutions. It is not enough to just open the door to all. A direct effort has to be made to solicit feedback, advice and support from all Muslims so that they feel a part of the community. Another, more personal way of reaching out is to invite Muslims of diverse backgrounds to your home for food. Extend this invitation to non-Muslims as well to break barriers and share Islam.

8. Heed the advice found in Surah Hujurat

This 49th chapter of the Quran provides excellent guidance on the kind of behavior that Muslims should avoid to establish Muslim unity. For instance, Allah, advises us to avoid mockery, defamation and suspicion. These are all things which serve to divide us and create hatred, hurt and dissension. Discuss the themes of Surah Hujurat relating to Muslim behavior in family meetings, study circles and classes for young and old Muslims, Khutbas, talks, etc. in your community to share this Divine wisdom with all. Whenever you recall that you have done Gheebah (backbitten someone) against a Muslim or non-Muslim, you should remember that you need to seek that person's forgiveness. Doing this is a prerequisite to washing off that sin.

9. Share these tips with a wider audience

Share the above-mentioned tips with fellow Muslims in your community. This can be by suggesting the Khateeb during Friday and Eid prayers use this article as a topic for his sermon. Or you can print this out and hand it out to worshippers or publish it in your local or mosque newsletter. It's also important to discuss it in various Muslim settings to start the thinking and reflecting process amongst Muslims.

10. Make Dua for unity

Ask your Imam to emphasize unity as an Islamic duty in his Khutbahs and suggest practical ways it can be achieved in your country or Islamic organizations. Also, suggest to Muslims going for Hajj to make special Dua for Muslim unity. When the Hajis return from the pilgrimage, the Prophet has encouraged us to go forward to receive them and when we receive them, to request them for Dua as well. This is another opportunity to seek Duas for Muslim unity. Finally, make sure that you as an individual are not only working for unity but making Dua for it as well, since results are all in Allah's Hands.

Another Mysterious Death of a Muslima

I received another e-mail about another sister mysteriously dying in the hands of law enforcement. Insha'Allah, this umma will get back to what really counts. One of the many schemes of the Dajjal is distraction. So while our people suffer in poverty and war, we will spend hours being dazzled and distressed by those that cause division and fitna. Allah ta 'ala promises a house in Jennah for those who leave argumentation. Let us leave alone "American Pop Islam" and go for the real thing. Make dua for Sister Hassiba's family and blog on this tragedy.

The Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation is working to support a call from The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago in calling for an investigation by law enforcement authorities into the death of SisterHassiba Belbechir while being held by the INS in a state prison. Below is a letter sent by the The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago providing details of Sister Belbechir's death:

Assalamu Alaikum

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

A Sister named Hassiba Belbechir has been found dead in the McHenry County, Illinois prison in highly suspicious circumstances. Her body was given to the family yesterday. She was a 28 year old Algerian women living in Chicago. She was on her way to Algeria through England where British inspected her papers and sent her back to the US where INS detained her. I nstead of putting her in Federal prison they sent her to McHenry County prison. Family and funeral home staff are highly suspicious of the truthfulness of the prison claim that she has killed herself. She spoke to her sister through phone that morning and there were no signs of any depression or anything like that. The body has signs of struggle on her legs but not on her neck or anything like that. The family is suspecting rape and murder instead of suicide.

Ms. Belbechir's death may reflect the disturbing pattern of abuse against Muslims in our prisons that has been investigated and confirmed. According to a March 2005 report of the Justice Department's inspector general, the warden and guards at a federal prison discriminated and retaliated against Muslim inmates. The report also detailed allegations of mistreatment of Muslims at other U.S. lockups. The report even asserts that despite an earlier recommendation by the Inspector General no action [has been] taken against the abusive officers. Just a week ago, a death row inmate in Indiana who had become Muslim,was refused the presence of an Imam as he was executed. A Buddhist spiritual leader who was present informed us about it.

May Allah forgive their sins and give them jannah. Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajoon

Action Requests

1. Funeral will take place today at the Muslim Community Center at 1:30 PM

2. Victim's relatives and the Muslim leadership will brief the invited media at 2 PM at MCC.

3. I intend to propose to the Council formation of a committee to look into the prisoner abuse issues. If you are a Chaplin, lawyer, or victim, or interested in these issues, kindly contact the Council to volunteer. Call at 1-800-678-0753.

Let us continue to pray for all oppressed people. Let us think what resources we are putting forward to help those who struggle for justice. Let us continue to thank God for His blessings to us all.

Peace

Abdul Malik Mujahid

MAS Freedom is pursuing all evidence and avenues in pursuance of a full investigation into Sr. Belbechir's death, and will provide a full report of its findings to the community as immediately as possible.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Out of touch part 2

'I demand to know where the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) stands on this issue. I demand to know where the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) stands on this issue. And KARAMAH, the American Sufi Muslim Association, Women in Islam, Azizah Magazine, and other groups who speak for Muslims and Muslim women,' Eltantawi asks".

I always get a kick out of reading the "demands" of people who hold no sway within the community. Within the last week, CAIR managed to get 31 Muslim contract workers rehired after they had been fired from Dell for praying, not to mention pressuring the State Department deny a visa to Hindu terrorist Narendra Modi, complicit in the murder of thousands of Muslim men, woman and children in the Indian state of Gujrat. Not bad for a week's work wouldnt you say Ms.Eltantawy ?
I demand to know what you or the groups you are affiliated with, have done on behalf of Muslim community in the US. Were you too busy basking in the limelight ?

Iman Muhanna Update

Brothers and sisters,

I wish there was more I could tell you about the case into Sister Iman Muhanna Mohammed's murder. The Muslim American Society has definitely made it an issue and have raised up to $6,000 of reward money for the capture of the culprit.

What I ask you is to keep making du'a and to write about on your blogs. If you write for a newspaper or website, please make mention of this by writing an article. I hope to write an article for some publications so that her death will not be forgotten.

While we bicker over hijabs, female imams, prayer rooms and partitions, let us not forget our brothers and sisters who are being raped and sexually exploited. Let's not forget Sudan, Chechyna, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and all the refugees in the world.

What is so bothersome about the media blitz of MWU, PMU and RAND, is that these people and their plots are nothing but distractions from Shaytan to keep Muslims distracted in the dunya. It keeps us from addressing the real issues of poverty, abuse and other diseases that have infected the body of this umma. I make du'a that all this negative attention that we are receiving will give us the motivation to stand up for real justice and to release us from the bondage of fear.

We must make sincere tawbah to Allah subhana wa ta'ala because we are sick and Allah ta 'ala is the cure. We brought this evil on ourselves and we must correct this situation.

We can be the problem or the solultion. Choose wisely and rely on Allah ta'ala.

Idiocy of Gender Equality: The Case of the Woman Imam

The title of this article is misleading but the author makes a good point. Muslims are tow-kowing to the demands and accusations of those who know nothing about our deen and haven't been so pro-feminist in the past or in the present society with the high statistics of poverty and violence against women.

http://world.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/13833/

"The moderate brigade constantly shout about Women’s rights in Islam as a means to deflect criticisms emanating from the secular camp without once thinking about the credentials of those who are dispensing the criticisms. Do the critics have the right? To answer this question we need to examine their track record against what they preach. If they pass the test only then it makes sense to entertain their charges. Otherwise it is a pointless exercise to entertain the words of hypocrites.

Verily, they will not be satisfied with you until you follow their millah...

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

MWU has been hacked...again

Salaam alaikum,

It seems that they have been shut down, hacked into or they have lost their account. I really don't know. I can only guess that they have horrible security measures or maybe this is another publicity stunt. They will get back online so let's just wait for them and make du'a that they will be led back to the right path or at least break off their connections to the RAND corporation.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

More On Our Esteemed Sheikh Jumu'a's Position

Salaam 'Alaikum

To be fair, I am unable to tell you whether or not MWU has reversed its position on the fatwa of Sheikh 'Ali Jumu'a (Goma') in the face of rising contradiction from his very own students because apparently their site account was suspended by their server and the site is unavailable. But as of yesterday, they were still claiming that the third hand report on al 'Arabiya television was a more accurage representation of the sheikh's views than his own fatwa.

In any case, our dear Imam Suhaib Webb, who is currently studying at al Azhar, tells us:

"Yesterday (Saturday), shortly before Maghrib I contacted Sheikh Ali's (may Allah preserve him) assistant br. Muhammad Ali. I asked him about the fatwa and he said, "No! The sheikh did not say that. He was, in the Al-Arabiyah piece, referring to the salah of a woman in her home." I've arranged a meeting with Sheikh Ali this evening and will try to get a fatwa from him clarifying this statement.

"Subhanallah! Only a few months ago I was sitting in his (Sheikh 'Ali's) dars and he said, "Anything you hear from the media that quotes me, don't believe it. Come to me and hear it from my person."

So there you have it. Our esteemed sheikh himself says not to believe what is attributed to him in the media (that ol' hearsay) unless it is confirmed with him first.

Islamicity Celebrates the Birthday of RAND's Civil Democratic Islam

Now that we can see the forces of the RAND corporation pick and pull our community apart, Islamicity.com seems to be one of the only Islamic news sources that is tackling this issue. Abdus Sattar Ghalazi of American Muslim Perspective Magazine looks back on the RAND report in an article reprinted at I-Views, "RAND Reports Attempt to Change Islam."

As we can see in the excerpt below, the PMUNA is attacking all established Muslim organiztions; even those groups who espouse a liberal, modernist or secularist Islam. Notice how Sarah Eltantawi is attacking Azizah Magazine. That's no surprise because one of their board directors, Saleemah Abdul Ghaffar, used to be one of the editors of Azizah Magazine. And for those of us who have read Azizah, I think it is fair to say that they certainly don't espouse Wahhabism or anti-feminism. They even go after ASMA, the American Sufi Muslim Association, which in the past, had been more interested in promoting Islamic art and culture. The PMUNA does not want plurality of opinion or views. They don't want an Islam where all angles are discussed. They want their opinion to prevail over others and to be "the American Muslim voice."

"The PMUNA is now forcing mainstream Muslim organizations to take positions on even non-issues in order to put them at odds with their own community, and if don't take a position they would be considered as the "bad or extremist" Muslims. Sarah Eltantawi, one of its co-founders is demanding the major Muslim groups and organizations to take position on a non-issue, i.e. if a woman can lead Friday prayers. It is not an uncommon knowledge that the status of woman in Islam is now being used by the West to defame Islam.

'I demand to know where the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) stands on this issue. I demand to know where the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) stands on this issue. And KARAMAH, the American Sufi Muslim Association, Women in Islam, Azizah Magazine, and other groups who speak for Muslims and Muslim women,' Eltantawi asks".

Monday, March 21, 2005

Sheikh 'Ali Jumu'a of Al-Azhar: The Real Fatwa

Salaam 'Alaikum

It was claimed on MWU that Sheikh 'Ali Jumu'a of Al Azhar had issued a fatwa in support of women led, mixed gendered prayer. However, MWU's claim was not based on actually reading the fatwa of the sheikh in Arabic or English translation. It was based on one of their writers watching al 'Arabiya television and seeing a report in which al 'Arabiya reported that Egyptian TV had reportedly aired an interview with him in which he gave a fatwa. In other words, it was at best a third hand report. Hearsay based on hearsay based on... There is a difference, dear readers, between mentioning what past scholars have said (hukm), talking about their differences, and actually issuing a fatwa. That is apparently what happened in the Egyptian TV interview, but no one else is going to tell you that. Maybe they don't know the difference. Allahu 'Alim.

But never fear, trusty readers, for Living Tradition has got the real fatwa here for you. We have confirmed with our sources that this is, indeed, the true ruling of the sheikh on the issue of women leading prayers. Dar al Iftaa is the official website where our esteemed sheikh posts his fatawa. Read the fatwa for yourselves to see what Sheikh 'Ali Jumu'a said.

The folks at MWU have been made aware of their error, but continue instead to obfuscate the issue, claming that this is not his fatwa (it is, according to his own students), and that the third-hand report on al 'Arabiya was "his actual words." Subhan'Allah.

(note: in Egyptian dialect, he is Sheikh 'Ali Gumu'a or Goma', so there are several English versions of his name out there)

Read the Arabic original here at Sheikh 'Ali Jumu'a's official website or the English translation below:

Question:

What is the religion's ruling concerning a woman leading men in prayer; is their prayer correct? What is the religion's ruling concerning the permissibility of a Friday prayer in which a woman leads the congregation? Is it permissible for men and women to pray in the same row mixed together? What is the ruling concerning a woman giving the adhan and calling Muslims to the Friday prayer or any other congregational prayer? What is the ruling of religious law concerning the new dissenters who want to change fixed elements of the religion?

Answer:

Islam commands chastity and virtue and it forbids adultery and fornication. It is because of this that we find Islam has commanded both the male and female believers to lower their gaze in the same fashion, and it has forbidden seclusion that leads to temptation. Islam has commanded for men to cover themselves between their navels and their knees, and for women to cover themselves entirely save the face and hands: Allah exalted is He said, "Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is Aware of what they do." (Q:24:30). And the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, "Oh Asma', if a woman reaches the age of puberty it is not fitting for her to be seen except for this and this" and he pointed to his face and hands (Abu Daud). One of the Islamic rulings with this intention behind it is that Allah exalted is He has commanded women to stand behind the rows of men in prayer. This was done in order to honor women, because the prayer of the Muslims is comprised of prostration. Thus the command is like the saying of the Arabs "He only held you back so he could put you forward." Putting the prayer lines for women behind the prayer lines for men is not a form of degradation, rather it is a means of raising their station and upholding high manners and virtue, and it is a means of mutual cooperation for the believing men and women to follow the command of lowering their gaze. It is for this reason that we see that the Muslims in the East and the West, during the times of the Pious Forebears and their successors, have unanimously agreed in practice that women are not assigned to give the adhan, or be the imam of Friday or [mixed-sex]-congregational prayers.

As for men and women praying in one row mixed together: this is not permissible in any situation.

As for a woman giving the adhan and giving the Friday sermon and leading the Friday prayer: we do not know of a single difference of opinion between the Muslims - scholars and laymen alike - concerning its impermissibility and the fact that should such a prayer and adhan be performed, it would be incorrect.

As for a woman being the Imam of men in an unscheduled prayer: the overwhelming majority of scholars have said that it is forbidden and the prayer is invalid. However al-Tabari, and Abu Thawr, and al-Muzani from the Shafi'i School and Muhyi al-Din ibn Arabi from the Dhahiri School held the opinion that it is permissible for a woman to lead men in prayer and that their prayer is valid. However, some scholars have her stand behind the men - even if she were to lead them - taking into consideration the principles mentioned above. The evidence these scholars used is the hadith from Abu Daud and al-Darqutni stating that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, allowed Umm Waraqa to lead her household in prayer. The majority of scholars have understood this hadith as referring to supererogatory prayers, or to leading the women of her household, or as being specific to Umm Waraqa. In spite of this, not a single Muslim from the East or West has followed this anomalous opinion.

As for what the entire world and we see happening today in the mixing between two issues: the issue of leading a prayer and the issue of delivering the Friday sermon: the latter was never permitted by anyone. These confused people who adhere to schools of dissent are divided into various movements: some deny the Sunna and consensus, some tamper with the significations of words in the Arabic language, and others call for the permissibility of homosexuality, fornication, alcohol, abortions, and changing the prescribed portions of inheritance. These movements appear in almost every age. Then they disappear, and the Muslims follow the path Allah has made incumbent upon them, bearing the standard of felicity to all the worlds "Then as for the foam, it passeth away as scum upon the banks, while, as for that which is of use to mankind, it remaineth in the earth." (Q:13:1)

Sunday, March 20, 2005

PMU Board of Directors and the RAND Corporation Connection

I would like to tell, dear readers, of a certain member of the Board of Directors for the Progressive Muslim Union of North America. His name is Aiman Mackie. If you go to their website, you will find a short biography, but I had to dig a little deeper to find out more about him.

I thought it was funny that it says on the website, in black letters, that he used to work for the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California but many things coming from this movement are strange. You think that would be something that the PMUNA would want to hide but I guess not.

At the end of this entry, I am assigning everyone homework. Here are my findings. The below information is what I pulled from the PMUNA website.

Aiman is a specialist in international security and development. He is currently the Program Manager of the Middle East Bridges Program at the EastWest Institute's New York Centre, with specific focus on Israeli-Palestinian issues. Aiman previously worked at the Ford Foundation, where he managed the Foundation's International Cooperation portfolios, including a project that sought to promote the role of U.S. religious communities in the foreign policy arena.

He has also worked for the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica and the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies in Beirut. Aiman holds a Master's in Public Policy and in A.B. in Political Science and French Studies, both from the University of Michigan.

While studying at the University of Michigan, he wrote some interesting papers such as "The Prolific Actions of a Rogue State: An Analysis of Iran's Chemical and Biological Weapon Development Program," which was written in December 1998. And there was his paper entitled, "Khatami and the Iranian Dog: The Implication of Wagging" in April 1999. You can give them a lookover when you get a chance. While he was in college, he did express his distaste for the Hollywood Flick The Siege and the media coverage of the 1999 Egypt 990 air crash for its unfair portrayal of Muslims and Arabs.

On the New York Division of the East-West Institue's website, you will find Mr. Mackie listed as personnel.

From EWI's site:

Aiman Mackie is the Program Manager for the Middle East Bridges Program. He is a specialist in international security and development, with a regional focus in the Middle East. Prior to joining EWI’s Middle East Bridges program, Mr. Mackie worked at the Ford Foundation, with responsibility for New York-based International Cooperation portfolios.

He has also worked for the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, focusing on counter-terrorism issues as well as questions related to Oil and political Islam, and previously at the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies in Beirut. Mr. Mackie holds a Master's in Public Policy and an A.B. in Political Science and French Studies, both from the University of Michigan. He is fluent in English, Arabic and French.

What is the mission of the East West Institute?

"EWI is an independent, not-for-profit, European-American institution working to address the most dangerous fault lines of the 21st Century and to help build fair, prosperous and peaceful civil societies in those areas. Since 1981, we operate long-term projects that create trust and understanding and seek to reduce tensions from Eurasia to the trans-Atlantic region using our unique network of private and public sector leaders in more than 40 nations. Our initial mission was devoted to reducing the hostilities of the Cold War".

Okay kids, if you have not read it, PLEASE download a copy of the RAND Report's Civil Democratic Islam by Cheryl Bernard. Read it for homework. Study it and look at how these policy makers are tearing our community apart. What happened with Dr. Wadud was more than a publicity stunt. Every American Muslim should read the RAND report. There is someone behind the curtain pulling the puppet strings and Aiman Mackie is not the only one. I'll post more bios about the PMU and their alliances in the future. Be on the lookout.

Muslim Men and the Virtues of the Prophet (peace be upon him)

Salaam Alaikum,

There has been a lot of talk lately about the modesty of women in Islam. If you go to any Islamic online bookstore or website where the subtitle is “Women’s Issues,” there is usually articles and books about hijab and women's dress. I don’t think that there is anything necessarily wrong with that. However, I find the emphasis on women’s modesty and men’s modesty out of balance. When it comes to the emphasis on obligations, there is always more pressure on women than men.

It is this un-Islamic double-standard which has led to a lot heartache disappointment for women in this umma. For example, the Qur’an addresses both men and women on modesty, chastity, abstinence. Men and women, according to the word of Allah (subhannahu wa ta'ala) and His Messenger (peace be upon him), are to abstain from sexual intercourse until marriage. But what do we actually see happening in our communities? Masha’Allah, there are plenty of Muslim men who follow this commandment but what about the ones that don’t? They get a slap on the wrist. Boys will be boys. But if a young Muslima were to commit the same act, we would be so forgiving? Why is there more onus of the woman than the man? It is the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who was shyer than a virgin in her bridal chamber. Why is there such criticism for women who don’t wear hijab but not a peep for the Muslim man who abuses drugs, patronizes prostitutes or drinks alcohol. With such unfair double standard, is there really any wonder as to why some women, who don’t know the difference between Islam and culture, rebel and often attack Islam as unfair?

Unfortunately, some Muslims and many raised in the West influenced by radical feminism, seek balance by copying the worst behavior of some men rather than holding them accountable and raising them to a higher standard of behavior. It’s the current message of sexual freedom. "Women can be just as sexually active as men," they said. They didn’t see the consequences of this experiment since it’s women who are often abandoned. It’s women and their unborn children suffering from AIDS. And it is usually women who are suffering from poverty and neglect.

When we decide to raise our children with the same standards, the same measuring stick, then will we see real fairness and equality in our community. Until we admonish our sons to lower their gaze, watch their language, dress appropriately and be gentlemen, the vision of Islamic equity will continue to be no more than a pipe dream. So let’s tell our sons how nice it is to wait until they are married and how the most of beloved of creation wore a beard. We can teach them that a beautiful, committed relationship with a Muslim woman is so much more rewarding and pleasing to Allah (subhannahu wa ta'ala) than a fly by night fling with a college friend. Let’s teach them about the mainly virtues of the Prophet (peace be upon him)—a man who only spoke when he had to but each word was profound. He was gentle with his wives and children but the fiercest of warriors on the battlefield. And though he was the Prophet (peace be upon him) of God, he never ignored the plight of the poor and suffering. He was a real man who would never betray a friend’s trust, slander a woman or hesitate to bring comfort those who needed it. Let’s all aspire, male and female, to cultivate the Sunnah, and hold each one accountable, male and female, equally to its fulfillment.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Dying to Fit In By Mohamed Elmasry

I found another gem. This one called "Dying to Fit In" by Mohamed Elmasry.

Here's the clincher...

"Growing instances of Muslims dying to fit in, and losing so much in the effort, are deeply connected to ways in which North American Muslims have been steadily losing their civil liberties since 9/11.

"In fact, they are replacing Blacks as the ethno-cultural group most targeted by racial profiling through police and other civil authorities; and sadly, they are replacing Jews as the group most singled out by hate-crime perpetrators. In today's sad reality, not a single place of worship in Canada or the U.S is spied on more than mosques.

"In another example, a Canada Muslim Liberal senator has called for the legalization of prostitution. Why, brother, is this such an important issue for you? What about child poverty, homelessness, security certificate detentions, the injustices of our anti-terrorism law, etc. etc.? Are all these issues less important?

"During the recent public debate in Ontario on whether to use Islamic (Sharia) law in family arbitration cases, a number of Canadian Muslims expressed shame over the word Sharia, others defended the usage of the word but felt it had significant shortcomings, and others rejected it totally. Are these people also caught up in the phenomenon of dying to fit in and thereby losing some basic principles of faith?

"In another unsettling development, some Muslim women in Canada recently organized a beauty pageant. To justify her participation, one of the young participants said she wants to show “we’re not terrorists, we don’t bomb people.” What else is she showing about wanting so badly to fit in?

"Last week, Spanish Muslim leaders issued a fatwa (religious ruling) declaring Osama bin Laden an infidel. Hello?? Almost full four years after 9/11? This all-but-redundant fatwa says much more about their desire for social approval that it could ever say, at this late date, about condemning extremism!

"Instead of dying to fit in, Canadian Muslims can contribute tremendously to our multicultural society by speaking out against discrimination and deprivation wherever they occur -- among our First Nations people, refugees, the poor, the needy, children, the sick and the elderly."

Article: Understanding Amina and the PMU

Masha'Allah, a brother named Ahmed Rehab hit the nail on the head when he expressed his opinions in "Understanding Aminah Wudud and the PMU" at Media Monitors. Please read it. You won't be disappointed. But what really caught my eye was this...

"For PMU/MWU, it’s yet another opportunity to cater to the vociferous calls of the ominous Western critics of Islam who are currently sitting comfortably at the apex of America’s social and political pyramid dishing out reprovals and approvals of Muslims. The MWU folks seem to crave so desperately the much-coveted seal of approval: the “Good Muslim” badge that initiates Muslims into mainstream society as “good ol’ Americans”.

"I am not asking PMU or any Muslim to deny the sorry state of women in some parts of the Muslim world. No Muslim should deny that there are legitimate complaints bemoaning the abuse of women’s rights at the hands of certain Muslim factions; complaints that would sound off from within the ranks of Muslim women just as loudly as they do from the ranks of the Western critics of Islam, had these women the complete freedom to complain. These infringements need to be given immediate attention. Yet when I consider the question, “can a woman lead a congregation of men in prayer?”, I cannot ignore the fact that this is just NOT one of those complaints that are festering in the frustrated minds of oppressed Muslim women, but one that is much more at the forefront for the Western critics of Islam.

"No, they are not CIA agents or undercover enemies of Islam; no, they are not infidels or apostates; kaffirs or Murtads. They are simply – at times - well-intended Uncle Toms vying for “total acceptance”. More often, they are a new generation of Muslim-Americans who are trying to redefine aspects of Islam to fit their comfort zone as set by their American culture. (Ironically, they do so without realizing that their very formation as a group was in reaction to a generation of Muslims before them making the exact same mistake of customizing Islam to accommodate the comfort zone set by their own Arab culture.) In other words, the Progressive Muslims are as much culturally influenced as those they criticize for being culturally influenced.

"Wadud will lead the prayer. She will be hailed by her usual supporters, and condemned by her usual critics; lauded by those who are on an ideological cloud of optimism, and heckled by those who are enraged by her perceived apostasy. It will be business as usual for the “shock Imam”. It will be a media field day. For the rest of us, it will be a chance to read and write about something different, but it will never be anything more. For now, it seems that when it comes to that cause, Wadud and the Progressive Muslims are shooting for the stars, leaving behind a sorry planet called earth. Moreover, they are doing it for all the wrong reasons."

Friday, March 18, 2005

Some News

Allahu Akbar!

Mukhtar Mai has received some justice. Her rapists have been re-arrested and she is living in the city under protection from possible retaliation. Insha’Allah, the Islamic court of Pakistan will dish out serious Islamic justice and her attackers will be punished. In the end, if they do not repent, if they are not punished in this world, they will receive it in the next. But the possibilities of the outcome are endless. What if Mukhtar Mai gets her due? Could this be the start of something revolutionary—Muslim women around the world enjoying their rights given to them by God in Islam? Could we finally see an end to tribalism and the beginning of a deep soul-searching with Muslims stoning the idol of the nafs and adhering to God’s divine laws? Allahu alim. I hope. I hope and pray this will turn out well.

Iman Muhanna

As some of you may know, though it has been ignored by MWU.com and others, a sister by the name of Iman Muhanna was stabbed 33 times right here in New Orleans. She was 6 months pregnant. No one has been arrested and the murder took place in December 2004. She was a teacher at the Muslim Academy and a beloved member of the community. I never had the pleasure of meeting her and her death has been a source of deep pain for many people, especially her husband, who had long since been taken off the suspect’s list. Could you imagine coming home after dropping your kids off from school and finding your wife, husband, daughter or any loved one violently murdered. Subhan’allah, my brain and heart can’t wrap around that. There was no forcible entry and nothing was taken so Sister Iman could have known her murderer. I can’t help but think about the comparisons between Sister Iman and Lacy Peterson who were both killed in such a gruesome manner. There’s just something doubly evil about the murder of a pregnant woman.

But, the Muslim American Society has decided to launch a media campaign about her death. They are appealing to America’s Most Wanted, 20/20 and Dateline to all do a news special. Insha’Allah, with enough pressure, we can make this happen. I am very glad that Brother Mahdi Bray has taken this huge project onto his shoulders. It just hurts because if her murderer had been her husband, we would have NEVER heard the end of it. There was even a Muslima doctor who died in police custody here a few months ago. A young man had gotten into a car accident and she was trying to help him. She tried to explain to police that she was doctor but they wouldn’t listen. They restrained her and took her into custody where she died. That’s not the first time a Muslim doctor has been hurt trying to help someone here in New Orleans. Another tried to help car accident victim and the police pepper-sprayed him. Subhan’allah, we lost two Muslim women to horrible crimes in December 2004.

So…are you still gonna tell me that Amina Wadud leading mixed prayer is what really matters?

Mukhtar Mai Update

Salaam 'Alaikum

Check the Sunni Sister blog for an update on the latest about Pakistani heroine Mukhtar Mai and her struggle for justice.

Latest Mukhtar Mai News

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Nitpicking in the Dunya or Keeping Muslims Distracted

Salaam alaikum,

While we are all bent out of shape over Dr. Amina Wadud's "historical" prayer service, justice has still not been served for a young, pregnant Muslima here in New Orleans.

Sister Iman Muhanna was stabbed 33 times in December 17, 2004. Her murderer has not been apprehended. She and her unborn child were killed. The Muslim American Society in New Orleans has decided to take this issue to the media and I will keep you guys posted on any updates but here is the latest.

Some Muslims feel right to lampoon organizations like CAIR, ISNA, ICNA, MAS, etc. but they are the only few groups that are tackling the real problem of Islamophobia in America. But maybe the MWU crew can write an article on how we intolerant Muslims need to except their innovations while our brothers and sisters are murdered. Subhan'allah.

MAS Freedom Takes Pregnant Muslim Mother's Unsolved Murder

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most MercifulThis is about to go national

MAS FREEDOM TAKES PREGNANT MUSLIM MOTHER'S UNSOLVED MURDER CASE

Freedom Foundation Pursues Nationwide Campaign Calling for Assistance by the Public and Media

http://www.masnet.org/takeaction.asp?id=2258

On December 17, 2004, Iman Muhanna, six months pregnant, was found murdered in her home in New Orleans, LA. She was stabbed 33 times. To date, no one has been apprehended for this gruesome crime. Also, there has been little media coverage or public outcry for the capture of the murderer. Recently, Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation Executive Director Mahdi Bray met with Iman Muhanna's husband, Fakhri Mohamed, and other family members. Bray assured the family that MAS Freedom could not allow Iman to remain a nameless face in an unsolved murder and that the Freedom Foundation would vigorously advocate nationwide for the arrest and conviction of the murderer of our beloved Muslim sister.

Iman was a mother of two children and a teacher at the Muslim Academy in New Orleans. She was greatly loved by her family and the Muslim community, whom she had served faithfully. She is a sister-in-law of the renowned Palestinian activist Dr. Abdulhaleem Al-Ashqar."Frankly, I'm amazed at how little media attention this case has received," said Bray. "The murder of pregnant women normally receives big nationwide coverage by all the major media outlets."I sat with Iman's mother, and in addition to her tragic sense of loss, she wants closure through finding her daughter's killer. She sadly urged me in Arabic to 'Push! Push!'"And push we will, inshaAllah.

"Effectively immediately, MAS Freedom is doing the following:- Assisting the family and the New Orleans Police Department in raising a cash reward for any information leading to the apprehension and convictionof Iman Muhanna's murderer.- Has contacted major media outlets about this case, including Larry King, "20/20", the producer of "Crime Solvers", "Unsolved Mysteries", and Adam Walsh of "America's Most Wanted", and is launching a media letter-writing campaign to all MAS Freedom Foundation chapters nationwide.- Reaching out to the entire New Orleans community in order to organize a vigil and press conference around the case.- Requesting all MAS Freedom Foundation chapters to mobilize their local communities for to aid in raising reward money and advertising resources.

If you would like to assist, please contact MAS Freedom at (202) 496-1288 or freedom@masnet.org If you have any information regarding the case, please contact MAS Freedom Foundation or the New Orleans Police Department. All information will remain strictly confidential. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the New Orleans Sheriff's Office Investigation Bureau at (504) 364-5300 or Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111. Callers to Crimestoppers do not have to give their names to be eligible for a reward of as much as $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of a suspect.

Community Reform IV: MWU (Muslim Women's Union)

Salaam alaikum,

Okay, I feel silly. Thank you Dr. Max for your post! It's was hilarious! Okay, back to my serious entry

I don’t mean to segregate the bothers and you guys can try this idea if you want but since there has been so much controversy over women in the masjid, I thought that it would be a good idea for like-minded Muslim women to form their own clubs, unions, societies, etc. Because so many masajid are run by people who don’t think that women’s inclusion is important, often times Muslim women must take matters into their own hands. By proof of the multitude of blogs, websites and organizations run by Muslim women, we have already shown that we can get much accomplished, with or without the support of the local masjid.

Don’t think that I am trying to get all feminist because I know for some that’s a bad word. I am talking about creating a group and space for women to meet to discuss those things that women can only talk to other women about. It can be as informal as a biweekly meeting to check on each other and to plan social events like picnics and book club meetings. One of the reasons why violence and marginalization against women exists is because of isolation. When there is no one to confide in, secrecy often becomes a prison. A women’s group can help tackle some of those issues that we normally don’t like to talk about.

It would be better if a sort of women’s auxillary group was affliated with a masjid so that group of sisters can address the entire masjid board. A few representatives can talk about the conditions of the women’s prayer area, a nursery for both parents to use and having lectures given by female scholars and sheikhas. Having groups like this create solidarity and promotes a family-like attitude in Muslims because—she is your sister. Even if it’s just movie nights, halaqas and pot lucks, a little goes a long way in achieving sisterhood and watching out for each other.

Also, Muslim women groups can always go out into the larger community and host their own projects. For Women’s History Month, a panel of sisters can hold a lecture about women in Islam. Muslimas can take on any event such as Eid celebrations, fashion shows (like here at this Atlanta Masjid), the creation of an Islamic publication…the possibilities are endless. If you sisters have a formal or informal group, let us know.

Manij Sighting

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Irshad Manji on Bill Maher's Real Time on HBO. No, I didn't watch it. I am actually surprised that she wasn't on his show sooner. They are both angry, sarcastic, hate Muslims and have an overwhelming sense of their own intellectual superiority so I can see why they would have a lot to talk about.

The fact of the matter is, if Irshad Manji, was Irene Matthews and wrote a book called "The Trouble with Christianity or Judaism," no one...and I mean no one, would give it any thought. There have been many books blasting other faiths but none so popular as hers, even though there is no basis for her theories (not to mention, no footnotes!). But ignorance breeds ignorance. She's awarded the undeserving gift of being labeled a "hero" and "feminist of the universe" while the unsung heroes like Mukhtar Mai have no trendy sex lives or media savvy quips and one-liners to market to the general public.

There are activists; hard working, faithful, courageous Muslim activists, male and female, fighting on the battlefields of injustice everyday for their rights. Whose gonna give Mukhtar Mai a book deal? Whose gonna give Anima Lawal a chance to speak for herself rather than the annoying, psuedo-feminist rantings of those who think female imans and sexual freedom are the real issues instead of poverty, education, independence, the end of exploitation and the right for Muslims to be Muslim.

:::Sigh:::

I'll get off my soapbox. Manji would do well to give a little of her ill-gotten dividends to some poor people. Maybe that will purify her wealth, a little. But, I am sure that she has another "Muslim Refusenik" agenda waiting in the ranks.

Paging Dr. Max and A.J.

The only reason why I am posting this is to check up on our busy brothers. As some of you know by his name, Dr. Max can’t always post like he would want to because of his work but he does have something in the works. After months of trying, he was finally able to attend a local progressive Muslim meeting. I would go to the ones here in New Orleans but I don’t think they’ve had a meeting yet. I am very anxious to read Dr. Maxtor’s report.

As far as for A.J., I just want an update on your relatives and friends in India since the tsunami disaster. How are the recovery efforts going? Are the victims still receiving aid or has the momentum slowed down? What are Muslims doing and have done in your area? I know Living Tradition posted on those generous Canadian Muslims donating two tons of beef for charity.

Please update us when you can and may Allah (swt) keep you both.

An afternoon with the progressives, observations and conclusions

Taking a much needed break from clinical rotations in Chicago, I visited friends and family in California last week. One night while surfing the internet, a devious thought crossed my mind, why not check if there’s any local “progressive” meetups ? Sure enough, there was a such a meeting planned a few miles from the suburbs. I wasn’t holding my breath though, my experience in Chicago clearly demonstrated that “meetups” were simply not happening.
Come Saturday afternoon, I drove to the local Starbucks where the meeting was scheduled, you’d think a gathering of Muslims talking about Islam would be held at a more formal, if not appropriate place, like the masjid.
I met two guys who introduced themselves as Fallah, and Harris, both born to Pakistani parents. Roughly 15 minutes later we were joined by two young ladies Nazia, and Noor, Indian and Lebanese respectively. All four were enrolled in college. There was some chit chat about subjects ranging from gas prices to the latest celebrity gossip, but nothing remotely related to Islam. I fielded questions about medical school and the board certification process, but had to break for Asr, which I performed alone in the parking lot.
Upon returning, there was already talk of politics underway. Noor happily declared the withdrawal of Syrian troops would usher in a new era of democracy for Lebanon. Fallah interrupted her saying that it was an orchestrated sham designed to expand Israeli influence in the region. Noor simply dismissed this as far fetched. This 22 year political science major was not aware that Israel had invaded Lebanon in the past, nor was she privy to Israel’s designs on water in the region. What must they be teaching in colleges these days, I thought to myself.
The topic then shifted to marriage, a subject everybody has an opinion on. Being the oldest, the attention shifted to me when Nazia asked how old I was. At the ripe old age of 29 I was told that I would look much younger and attractive if I shaved off that “scruffy beard.” Somewhat amused, I replied “Its Sunnah, and that’s good enough for me.” Then came the usual fard vs sunnah argument.

Nazia : Its not fard though, its just sunnah.

Fallah : Yeah, its not obligatory.

DrM : Is 5 times salah obligatory ?

Fallah : Uh yes it is..

DrM : Do any of you perform 5 times salah ?

Nobody was eager to answer this question, hence I assumed their answer was a no. I explained what the Sunnah of the Prophet (s.a.w) was and how it is inseparable from the Holy Quran. There was some acknowledgement of this, but overall there was little interest in the fine details.

Then came the topic of “inclusion,” a word much used in proggie circles. I brought up the fact that Islam states that all newborns are Muslims, hence the concept of fitrah, being born in a state of purity in stark contrast to Christianity’s doctrine of “born sinner.” What could possibly be more inclusive than this? Once again, I got blank stares confirming that these would-be reformers didn’t know what I was talking about. Noor did confess that this was news to her, while the others were discussing which type of coffee to order. The rest of the afternoon was unremarkable except when Harris called me a wahabi for pointing out that Ahmedis are not Muslims. You see, Harris himself is an Ahmedi, a member of pseudo-Islamic cult not unlike the “Nation of Islam,” with its own prophet and totally divergent belief system. I could tell Harris had never read Ahmedi literature, much of which remains untranslated from the urdu language. Sure enough, he has totally unfamiliar with the sources of Ahmedism, and I would debate him no further until he would read the relevant texts in their original language. He said he would, but I doubt he ever will.

The afternoon had come to an end, and we parted on good terms. As I drove home, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed, sort of like purchasing an item after watching a commercial only to find out the advertising was false and misleading. If this little coffee session was indicative of other “meetups” real or imagined, it certainly leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps this is why meetups are slowly being discarded in favor of high profile PR stunts performed by the likes of Amina Wadud, Tarek Fatah etc. My advice to anyone who wishes to go these meetups is “expect the expected,” people who are barely familiar with the basics of the deen they want to reform. Why tackle the task of learning and reflecting on authentic Islamic knowledge when you can go by the clean slate approach and make up your own religion with its own hazy and vaguely defined spirituality cloaked as Islam ? For these people worshipping Allah has now been replaced with bowing before one’s own nafs. I wonder if they’ve ever read the following paragraph from Prophet Muhammed’s (s.a.w) final sermon…

O People, no prophet or apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand my words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Qur'an and my example, the Sunnah and if you follow these you will never go astray.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A Q-News Article on Progressive Muslims by Nazim Baksh

Nazim Baksh has written a very good article on Progressive Muslims. I found his article to be fair as he pointed out their obvious strengths and he does not hesistate to commend them on their good points. He writes, “One of the major gripes of the Progressive is the way in which Muslim women are treated in predominately Muslim societies and by men in our male dominated mosques and centers. There is no way around the table on this and for being passionate about the issue we must credit the Progressives. But their solution is strange.”

Their strange solution, according to Baskh, is that rather than reconciling faith to the secular ethic, Progressive Muslims seek to bend and conform faith to the secular with the usual dangerous results. Let’s look at some of the reformed Christian and Jewish sects that are now at odds with each other because of over liberalization where everything is up for reinterpretation. I remember an older Jewish woman telling me, “Reform Judaism has gone too far which is why many members are returning to the more Conservative branch.” The current controversy over homosexual clergy has led to a split in the Anglican Church. There are even some Christian sects no refuse to confirm or deny the validity of the Bible and of the Trinity in the spirit of “inclusion and tolerance.”

What has been the strength of the umma, and what some other religious groups reluctantly admire about us, is our unity. We have had, for centuries, unity of worship and beliefs. And while there is room in Islam for Hanafis, Shaf’is, Sunni, Shiites, Modernists, and Traditionalists, we were all united under La ilaha il Allah with the Qur’an and Sunnah as our divine guidance. We now have a new “school of thought” which, realizing it or not, seeks to unravel the Islamic fabric. What else could one gather from them when their definition of Muslim is “one who claims to be a Muslim.” Or as Nazim Baksh put it, “With the Progressive you get the distinct impression that their approach to Islam is a “no-Islam” Islam.” That’s what it sounded like a few days ago when Dr. Amina Wadud declared that the Qur’an gives her the means to say no to the Qur’an. I know that’s an oxymoron.

To read the article, you can easily download the pdf file from the Q-News website or if you live in the UK, purchase a copy and enjoy the whole issue for yourself. Here is a quote in the article made by Martin Lings that made me pause in a moment of fear. “In the eyes of the champions of the ‘renaissance” that we are now supposed to be enjoying, what is to be ‘strongly discouraged’ is everything that is left of Islamic civilization in the way of customs such as wearing a turban and not shaving off the beard, whereas what is ‘strongly recommended’ is everything that comes from the West. The result is that the rising generation is more ignorant of the practices of the Messenger of God (saws), and more cut off from those practices, than any generation that has come into existence since the dawn of Islam. How then shall we augur well of the present situation? And how shall we not shrink from the word ‘renaissance’ as from an evil omen? All this was forseen by the Prophet (saws). He said, ‘You will follow the ways of those that were before you span for span and cubit for cubit until if they went down into a hole of a poisonous reptile you will follow them down.’ That descent is now taking place; and it is called development and progress.”

Sidi Hajj Gibril Haddad: Abu Bakrah and the Feminists

Salaam 'Alaikum

Abu Bakrah and the Feminists, by Hajj Gibril Haddad

It began with a feminist who said out of the blue that the hadith in al-Bukhari where Abu Bakrah says that the Prophet said, upon him and his Family blessings and peace, "A nation that is led by a woman will not succeed" is a lie and that Abu Bakrah may not have been truthful because he was whipped by Umar ibn al-Khattab for lying about a charge of fornication against someone, and the testimony of one who is punished is not acceptable as mentioned in the Qur'an (24:4).

Abu Bakrah (Allah be well-pleased with him) was convinced by his own eyes that the man and woman in question were guilty of fornication and he refused to pray behind that man, wrote to the Commander of the Believers, went to see him, and then bore witness against that man according to his conscience along with three other witnesses as the Law demands. But because the fourth witness retracted his testimony or was found unacceptable, the conviction fell through and the witnesses were whipped and declared unreliable, as the Law also demands. After the whipping, Abu Bakrah still said, "I spoke the truth and the man did do what I said."

'Umar motioned to whip him again but 'Ali said, "If you do, then have the other one stoned!" i.e. the testimonials would now amount to four.

Abu Bakrah suffered through this trial all his life and would say incredulously, "Fassaquni" - They declared me corrupt! This, however, as Ibn Hazm said in the Muhalla, is not how countless subsequent generations of hadith Masters consider him but rather "beginning with the most stringent of them, al-Bukhari and Muslim - a faultless Companion-reporter of the utmost probity whose hadiths are 100% reliable including this one which is in the Sahih, despite what the feminists claim.

Then, to further the point against Abu Bakrah, someone proposed the reasoning that "If you can't be a witness you can't transmit hadith, if you have slandered someone you can't be a witness, thus if you've slandered someone you can't transmit hadith... ergo Abu Bakrah and more importantly Nafi', a major hadith transmitter [sic], are not kosher.... This reasoning is correct if you're a Hanafi or Mutazilite (or both) during the first 3 centuries of Islam."

No, it is not. First, countless Muslims who couldn't be witnesses such as children, women, and slaves, could and did transmit hadith.

Second, there is no established Hanafi report in the early books of riwaya questioning Abu Bakrah as a transmitter of hadith except a disputed report from Imam Abu Hanifa which his own practice disproves. In this respect, the Hanafis do not differ from the rest of the Sunnis in that Abu Bakrah is a Companion and the Companions are all Upright ('udul) without exception among the Sunnis by Consensus as per Imam al-Haramayn and others. Fiqh al-Akbar and 'Aqida Tahawiyya show no exception and in the discussion of whose riwaya is acceptable and whose isn't, and none of the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) are ever considered to be in the category of potentially impugned narrators.

Third, the Nafi' meant above is Abu Bakrah's half-brother, Nafi' ibn al-Harith ibn Kalada al-Thaqafi who is not a hadith transmitter except for a lone hadith transmitted by him in Ibn Sa'd, much less a major one, - much less in Malik or al-Bukhari as the same poster also seemed to suspect, but later he seems to have changed his mind.

On the claim about early Hanafis, Hanafi texts and practice in the first 3 centuries of Islam show that they accepted the hadiths of Abu Bakrah.

Al-Sarakhsi in his Usul does mention a report from Abu Hanifa to the effect that someone in Abu Bakrah's case cannot report hadith but he questions that report because it contradicts what he calls the predominant position of our School:

"The repentant one after having suffered the penalty for leveling a rejected charge of fornication (al-mahdud fil-qadhf), in the transmission of reports, is like anyone else according to the predominant position of our School (zahir al-madhhab). For Abu Bakrah (Allah be well-pleased with him) is an accepted reporter (maqbul al- khabar) and no one busied themselves checking the dates of his reports to see whether he was reporting after the sentence was carried out against him or before, as opposed to [his] testimony. For the rejection of his testimony is part of the completion of his penalty. This is firmly established by textual stipulation [i.e. the Qur'anic verse] while the narration of reports does not have the same meaning as testimonies. Do you not see that women cannot witness over penalties at all?

Yet their narration in the chapter of penalties is the same as the narration of men. And [contrary to this], in the narration of al-Hasan [ibn Zyad al-Lu'lu'i] from Abu Hanifa - Allah be well-pleased with both of them: The repentant one after having suffered the penalty for leveling a rejected charge of fornication is not an acceptable reporter." (1)

But Abu Hanifa's practice belies that he ever said the above since he narrated from Abu Bakrah as did his early and late Companions.

All of the following narrate Abu Bakrah's hadiths: Abu Hanifa in his Musnads, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan in the Muwatta and the Hujja, Zufar in al-Tabarani's Awsat, Waki' ibn al-Jarrah in Ahmad's Musnad, Yahya ibn Ma'in (a fanatic Hanafi) in Muntaqa Ibn al-Jarud (a book of exclusively sahih reports), Yahya ibn Sa'id al-Qattan in Ahmad's Musnad, and al-Tahawi in his books.

All those early Hanafis were certainly aware that the Sahaba one and all accepted the riwaya of Abu Bakrah and so did they. What some early Hanafis did or said otherwise? Apparently no one known to al-Sarakhsi in al-Mabsut, nor to al-Kasani in Bada'i al-Sana'i, nor to Ibn al-Humam in Fath al- Qadir and Tahrir al-Usul. All of them explicitly concurred that the Sahaba accepted the riwaya of Abu Bakrah while al-Kasani went on to explain, like al-Sarakhsi: "because bearing testimony is different from reporting."

The late School in this respect echoes the above position.

M.W. Furber writes:

" Sadr al-Shari`ah says: "...Shahadah being rejected eternally is partof what completes the hadd [min tamam al-hadd]..." Sa`d al-Din commentsthat after tawbah, their shahadah will never be accepted [since it ispart of the hadd], though their hadith is accepted because they are`udul. This is at the end of al-rukn al-thani (al-sunna), fasl fishara`it al-rawi." (2)

So do the Shafi`is. Al-Shirazi in his Usul goes a step further to explain why the uprightness of the flogged accusers remains unquestionable.

Again, M.W. Furber:

"In Al-Shirazi's Sharh al-Luma` (2:638, paragraph 738) and in just the Luma` (p. 165, paragraph 208.).

"Both read: "As for Abu Bakrah and those who were flogged with him for qadhf, their narrations are transmitted since they did not say what they did as qadhf, rather they said it as shahadah. `Umar only flogged them - may Allah be pleased withhim - based on his own ijtihad, so it is impermissible to question their uprightness for it, nor can their narrations be rejected."

Similarly in Imam al-Ghazzali's Mustasfa (p. 287): "Umar flogged Abu Bakrah when the minimal requirement of testimony was not met although the latter came as witness in a tribunal (shahidan fi majlis al-hakam), not as an accuser of fornication (la qadhifan). However, he ['Umar] judged him by analogy with the accuser of fornication."

The above shahada-is-not-qadhf distinction with relation to Abu Bakrah's upright status is faithfully echoed in the Hanbali sources such as Ibn Qudama's Rawdat al-Nazir (1:234-235), the Miswadda of Al Taymiyya (p. 233), and Ibn Muflih's Nukat `ala Mushkil al-Muharrar (2:250-255).

The latter mentions in detail the reasoning of their early authorities (such as Ibn `Aqil, the Qadi Abu Ya`la in his `Idda and Abu al-Khattab), then cites Ahmad ibn Taymiyya's point that "[hadith] reports are not rejected for the same type of suspect causes as testimonies, such as kinship, friendship, enmity, or the like; or because a reporter and what he reports can be one and the same, contrary to testimony."

Hence Ibn al-Qayyim accurately reports Consensus in I`lam al- Muwaqqi`in (1:127) over the universal acceptance of Abu Bakrah's narrations.

Also preposterous is the linkage of al-Bukhari's chapter on the testimony of the defamer, in which he supposedly "devotes a commment disagreeing with" a certain person" i.e. Abu Hanifa to whether or not Abu Bakrah and Nafi are acceptable hadith transmitters. (3)

Not at all! There is not one word of discussion nor even an oblique reference whether or not Abu Bakrah and Nafi` are acceptable hadith transmitters, whether in al-Bukhari or al-Ghunaymi. This is a confusion of two issues: "Ba`d al-nas" here does not extend to a purported rejection of hadith riwaya but only to the rejection of "the testimony of the transgressor who leveled charge of zina that was dismissed even if he repents" based on the verse that forbids acceptance of their testimony forever.

Nor is there an "ahl- al-hadith vs. Hanafis" rift on the acceptance of hadith riwaya from Abu Bakrah, nor does al-Ghunaymi's discussion in Kashf al-Iltibas say otherwise.

Al-Ghunaymi only says that the position of the Kufans is the everlasting rejection of the testimony of the transgressor who leveled an inacceptable charge of zina. He then cites Ibn al-Qayyim in I`lam al-Muwaqqi`in showing that the same position is also reported from Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ikrima, al-Hasan, Masruq, al-Sha`bi, and Shurayh.

Before him, Ibn al-Humam in Fath al-Qadir cited this everlasting rejection of testimony as the position of Sa`id ibn al-Musayyab, Shurayh, al-Hasan, Ibrahim al-Nakha`i, Sa`id ibn Jubayr, and Ibn `Abbas.

Before Ibn al-Humam, al-Tahawi in Ikhtilaf al-`Ulama had cited it as the position of Imam al-Awza`i. So the khilaf "pre-repentence / everlasting" very much pre-dates and is wider than the Fiqh of Ahl al-`Iraq, including the Kufans, including Hanafis and Thawris.

Note that al-Hasan al-Basri narrates liberally from Abu Bakrah even though he believed, as we cited, that the testimony of the repentent qadhif remains forever rejected. And Allah knows best.

Not most but all of what rears up its head today as progressive, feminist, liberal, South African liberation theology, Syrian do-it-yourself(-dare-to-be-ignorant), contemporary, top of the pops re-readings, is in fact a banal catalogue of ancient heresiographical history.

All of those strange and new positions or the arguments that prop them up have long crumbled to dust in the vaults of deviant Usul! The sooner we learn about the historical non-Sunnis that specialize in Companion-character-assassination, the sooner we can identify the near-totality of the mashrab of today's "progressive" dona ferentes.

If the same Abu Bakrah were reporting, let us suppose, something that said, "Woman was the first creation and she is man's boss, godfather, and capo di tutti capi here and hereafter," the same critics would have made him infallible. But they have a problem with the hadith "A nation will not succeed" so they set out to find ways of undermining it. Their aims are of course much more ambitious and the Abu Bakrah issue only one trojan horse among many others in their program, as their books and arguments have made abundantly clear.

References:

(1) Usul al-Sarakhsi (p. 354-355).

(2) Sa`d al-Din Mas`ud ibn `Umar al-Taftazani, Sadr al-Shari`a `Ubayd Allah ibn Mas`ud. Al-Talwih ila Kashf Haqa'iqal-Tanqih. Ed. Muhammad `Adnan Darwish. Dar al-Arqam. 1419/1998.2:17.

(3) Abd al-Ghani al- Ghunaymi (d. 1298AH), Kashf al-iltibas 'amma awrada al- imam al-Bukhari 'ala ba'd al-nas, ed. Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda (Aleppo: Maktabat al-Matbu'at al-Islamiyya, 1414/1993), 22.

GF Haddad

Monday, March 14, 2005

Audio: Women Leading Prayers and the Way of the Messenger (peace be upon him)

Salaam 'Alaikum

A 27 minute answer / talk full of dalil by Sidi Faraz Rabbani, including the truth about the prayer of Umm Waraqa.

Sunni Path Audio: Women Leading Prayers and the Way of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him)

"What would the Prophet (peace be upon him) do," indeed. Sidi Faraz narrates for us the ahadith that tell us exactly what he did.

"Pray as you have seen me praying." Not just an idle suggestion or a good idea you can take or leave. A nasiha and command from the man whom Allah Most High called "A Mercy to the Worlds."

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Mukhtar Mai and the Intervention of the Islamic Court

Salaam alaikum,

I know many of us were very upset and appauled when we discovered that despite the gross violation of Mukhtar Mai's human and Islamic rights, her attackers were aquitted of the charge of rape. But praise be to Allah, Sister Mukhtar is strong and has not given up the fight to transform the tribals laws in rural Pakistan. Alhamdullilah, an Islamic court has suspended the decision of the acquittals and granted all parties a new trial.

Will we see real justice for Mukhtar Mai in the Shari'a court?

Will we see real Islam in action and not just warmed over tribalism with the veneer of Islam?

It is rare that the Islamic courts in Pakistan intervene in a high court decision but maybe we shall see the beginnings of justice for Muslim women across the globe. Maybe all Muslim will finally have the opportunity to enjoy those rights given to us by Allah subhana wa ta'ala. Insha'allah, it will happen. Only time can tell but in the meantime, please donate to her cause. She has used her donations to buy books and other school supplies to promote literacy and education. Write her a letter of support. You can also write a letter to the American ambassador of Pakistan.

Mr. Janangir Karamat
3517 International Court, NW
Washington, DC 20008
202-243-6500
info@embassyofpakistan.org

And make dua for all people who are victims of sexual violence and exploitation. We must confront injustice, whether it is caused by Muslims or non-Muslims. A crime is a crime and the perpertators must pay the price.

Muslims for justice!
Muslims for Mukhtar!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Confronting the Iconoclasts

Salaam alaikum,

While we at Living Tradition are looking into new ways of community improvement based on the Qur'an and Sunnah, we have not forgotten why this blog was created. We still intend to confront those who claim that in order to be "progressive" we must either abandon, interpret, remake, reform or simply throw out anything in Islam that doesn't suit modern Western dictates. We will continue to expose these iconolasts for all the misconceptions and deviances that they have promoted in the umma. We have and will continue to show their hypocrisy and double standards when it comes to their agenda. When you think they couldn't spin more lies or slander more Muslims who don't agree with their views, they come with some other immature story or go around stink palming Islamic scholars instead of confronting with them maturity, tolerance and adab. Please remain on the look out for entries. They have given us enough to go on with the latest hijinks over at MWU.com

When It's Not About Race

Excerpt of an article written by Tarek Fateh

Her voice quivered. Barely concealing her anger, Professor Amina Wadud's words bellowed across the hall, "I am a nigger and I can't do much about it." Wadud, who was speaking to a Toronto audience on Sunday, was responding to a questioner who asked her to address internalized racism within the Muslim community and if that had anything to do with the hostility she had faced from a section of the crowd.

"Usually I wear the hijab, and when I am wearing it, most Muslims do not consider me African–American; I pass off as a South Asian," she said. "But when they see me without a scarf, they can see my African locks and they know I am Black and suddenly their attitude changes. The fact is I am a nigger and you will just have to put up with my blackness."

Risama: Wow! Nothing like the "N" word to put your hecklers in check...even when it's not justified. The word "nigger" has taken on many meanings. Once the word of oppression used by slave owners to indicate that Africans were mere property has now become a word of empowerment. Non-Blacks are not socially allowed to say the word in public while some African-Americans use it as if it is going out of style. As an African-American Muslim woman, that is one word I could never embrace. I can't even joke around with it knowing how many of my people fought to be addressed and treated as human beings. So you can imagine how it hurts me to hear Blacks use it as a term of endearment and for an Islamic scholar to use race as a means of defense. What better way to reduce those who dare to question your ideas than to use the word "nigger." That way, you don't have to engage in dialogue or give support to your reformist ideas. But then again, that what the "progressives" do.

Why should Michael Knight talk to Siraj Wahhaj about his interpretation of Islam when he can put his hand down his pants and then procede to shake his hand (or stink palm him) at an Islamic conference? Why should Asra Nomani deal with the problems of women's space in the mosques with Muslims when she can slander ISNA and CAIR in the New York Times and also plug her new book. By the by, what's the deal with on-again/off-again love affair with hijab. Why hijab just on the book covers? It's just weird.

The basis of her talk was "How to be God's agent (khalifa) on Earth; to be a moral agent of the Creator." In this context, she presented four ways of looking at Qu'ranic verses which Muslims find difficulty dealing with. She identified the four methods as: (1) The literal readings of the text, (2) The legalistic arguments that constrain how verses are applied, (3) Reinterpretation from alternative perspectives, and (4) Saying "No to the Qur'an" when one disagrees with it.

Risama: Saying no to the Qur'an when one disagrees with it? There are some big problems inherent in this. You see, when terrorists read verses like, "Killing a human being is like killing the whole of humanity," then tend to ignore it because they don't like it. It makes them feel bad about murdering innocent civilians. Rejecting that which we don't like seems like a good idea in theory but what limits are placed on those rejections? When does the Qur'an become good enough for them to believe? Do we stop at hijab, alcohol prohibition, hetero- and homosexual fornication? Who determines what we should keep and what we should discard? The terrorists of 9/11 had no problem discarding Islamic law's prohibition against the destruction of property, the murder of civilians, and the murder of other Muslims. Who draws the line, if there is a line to begin with?

When Amina Wadud referred to the 9/11 tragedy and the fact that some Muslims deemed it Islamic to crash planes into buildings and kill innocent people, a section of the crowd interrupted her. "What about Israel killing Palestinians," they yelled. One middle-aged heckler said, "She is a CIA agent." Other men and women lined up at the mike to accuse her of all sorts of things. Another man, angered by Wadud's 9/11 remark, came to the mike and lectured Her. "Let me remind you that no Muslim was involved in the 9/11 attack." Wadud did not dignify his remark with a response. One young man, with his oversized shirt hanging out, mimicking a rapper, took the mike out of its stand, twirled around, and started addressing the audience, with his back towards Wadud, accusing her of not knowing the Qur'an.

Risama: This is not Islamically acceptable either. Whether you agree or disagree with someone, you should never attack their character. Baseless accusations only hurt the opportunity for dialogue. While I don't agree with her statements, I would never debase anyone or myself by booing like I'm at some football game, shouting out the same lame conspiracy theories or anti-Jewish sentiments.

One questioner apologized to Wadud for the rudeness of some members of the audience, suggesting very few Muslim men had ever seen or heard an African American woman in charge and in command. She responded that as a black woman, she knew what it is to have one's views rejected, she thundered to an applause that started with a few hesitant claps and then rolled across the hall. Every time she used "nigger" to describe herself, most of the lighter skinned members of the audience became visibly disturbed, squirming in their chairs, perhaps uncomfortable at how she was destroying their middle class comfort zone. When an Indian man told Wadud that he understood racism, she replied, "No you don't understand. You are not Black; you don't know what it is to be Black."

Risama: So in order to understand racism you have to be Black? I don't think so. I think some hijabi women who happened to be at the wrong place and time on September 11th would not agree with Dr. Wadud's statements. The Indian gentlemen didn't claim to understand what it is to be black, he said that he understands racism. Anyone who is not white, male and Protestant is going to feel the social pangs of prejudice. When did racism and oppression become something that only Black people could claim? Once again, this is playing the race card. And what is the deal with the supposed discomfort of light-skinned Muslims in the audience. It might have something to do with the fact that Dr. Wadud used an offensive racial slur at an Islamic conference. I would feel unconfortable and it has nothing to do with my race or skin color so what is Tarek Fatah talking about? There is no real revoultionary dialogue taking place; just strong language that meant to shock.

Addressing Wadud, a woman with peroxide blonde hair and hip hugging jeans said, "Even though I am not a practicing Muslim, I believe you do not know proper Islam." "Your response is not new to me," Wadud replied. "When I wear a hijab, I don't look African and my words are measured with politeness; however, when my hijab is not covering my hair, I become Black and my words lose all value."

Risama: Very interesting. Unfortunately, because the blonde, non-practising Muslima disagreed with Dr. Wadud, Fatah dismisses her by mentioning her tight clothes and dyed hair. But wait...isn't the removal of hijab and modesty in clothing exactly what they are trying to get rid of? The woman in the audience would have been praised if she praised Amina Wadud rather than questioned her. But Fatah gets revenge by simply dismissing her as some bleach blonde bimbo in tight clothes with no intellect. Very hypocritical considering that they claim to embrace different opinions and different interpretations of Islam.

The straw that broke the camel's back came when Wadud, answering a question, criticized Canada's proposed Shariah laws and expressed support for same-sex marriage. A deeply troubling aspect of the audience's reaction was that it was clearly divided along ethnic lines. Arabs largely behaved as one group heckling her, while South Asians bandied together in supporting her. The few white Muslims stuck quietly with each other. And in a telling indication of the profound divisions within the community, it appeared that Wadud may have been the only African in the room, although Africans account for about a quarter of Toronto's Muslim population.

Risama: So now we are relying on racial generalizations? And see how Fatah sets up the Arabs as the most intolerant members of our community. It's always the "Arabs, " isn't it? It has become quite chic to blame the Arabs for all the ills in the Islamic world while ignoring that fact that not one Muslim country is living up to Islamic ideals. I guess that explains why you don't see a lot of convert voices, Latino Muslims, African-American Muslims and Arab-American Muslims on MuslimWakeUp.com. Oh, there are Arabs, most of them are very ashamed of being Arab and usually join in the Arab-bashing brigade.

The knee-jerk reaction to being reminded of our internalized racism is predictable: complete denial. Racism governs our behavior, yet we are oblivious to our own prejudices and tribalism. With noted exceptions, I saw this in action on Sunday. I heard repeatedly from Arabs in the audience that Amina Wadud does not understand Arabic. Instead of debating the merits of her argument, many invoked and sought refuge in their ethnic and linguistic superiority. Then there is the predictable reaction towards converts. If the converts are white, all of us, Arabs and South Asians, simply go complete gaga, but if we run into Black converts, we treat them at best in a condescending manner with barely concealed disrespect, as demonstrated Sunday night in Toronto.

Risama: More Arab bashing. Lesson of the day: If you plan to challenge preconceived notions of Islam without the proper knowledge and education, be prepared to be questioned. And when you are challenged, don't lean on race or gender. Make your point based on sound Islamic knowlegde and please, drop the "n" word. No one is impressed.