This is #AmericanMuslims’ reactions to the election of @realDonaldTrump


apex-masjidSomeone sent me a flyer from a masjid in Apex, North Carolina where the imam of that masjid addresses what should be the reaction of his group to the election of Donald Trump.  Contrary to what the average American may think about the presence of Muslims in this country, this cleric’s advise is full of calls to American civics, service and faith in the American process as well as in their religion.

It’s been a long, hard campaign and election season.  We’ve heard some incredibly divisive rhetoric, some of it aimed at us and some of it aimed at other minorities we call friends and allies.  Many of you have come to me and expressed your fears and sadness over the outcome of the elction.  Let me first say that as American Muslims, we should all respect the choice that has been made through our electoral process.  We should also continue to have a high level of self-esteem as we have always been good and loyal citizens of this country, not only out of respect for the laws and regulations of this country but because doing so is part of our faith.

The more I grow in this faith the more love and respect I have for our great Prophet and Messenger (prayer and peace be upon him); the more thankful to God I am for making me one of his followers in this time; and the better I understand God’s words, which are full of wisdom and mercy.  One of the verses of Quran that really inspires me is “Verily, you (the believers) have had in the Messenger of God a great example”.  It’s he who taught us courage, patience and trust in God.  It’s he who taught us to rely, in times of hardship and all times, only on God’ not anybody else. It’s he who taught us to be positive, no matter what the challenges are.  He also taught us that after making plans and taking necessary steps to achieve a certain goal, the final decision is still His.  It’s he who reported to us the verse of Quran in which Almighty God says “And perhaps you don’t appreciate something, while God would bring good through it”.

So I trust God.  And I ask that you do too, my fellow Muslims. I know it is hard given the divisive rhetoric we’ve heard throughout the campaign process.  But I ask you to walk with heads held high; we should not be pushed to hide our faith, our identity, nor our values.  This is not what our great prophet taught us to do.  Nor is it the principals that this Great Nation was founded on.  Our prophet taught us to face all kinds of challenges with courage, wisdom, pride and patience. Gentleness is the path of our great prophet so let us NOT find our path to equality and justice by drinking from the cup of bitterness.

Instead, here’s what we must do; we need to be more active civically, we need to get involved with volunteer organizations, we need to get out and meet our neighbors.  We need to get out of our “bubble” which finds us only socializing with those “like” us and show our neighbors and community who we are.  If you don’t leave the “bubble”, you cannot be upset when people stereotype you or fear you.  We need to be more active in the political process, meet our representatives and express our fears and challenges with them.  We need to work in tandem with government and our communities to form alliances and create a better world for everyone.

And to President Elect Trump—We will give you a chance.  Let not your Muslim citizens (nor any other minority) be your worst enemy.  Your worst enemies should be ignorance, poverty, inequality, crime, racism, discrimination and hate.

Two thousand sixteen is not an end, but a beginning.  Two thousand sixteen should be an opportunity to replace the fear, mistrust and suspicion that were infused in some American’s hears, with love, brotherhood and mercy.  Just like our Prophet taught us to do.  We’ve got a lot of work to do.  Let’s get started- Imam Khalid Shaku

Don’t let it be said you don’t know what Muslims are doing in this country.

YOU LIE!!


 

joewilson_us_rep_1Those two words began the turmoil of American politics for the next 8 years and accelerated America’s descent into political chaos the likes of which the country hasn’t seen for over 100 years.  Doomsayers have been signaling the end of the world since mankind has lived communally but Joe Wilson’s verbal ejaculation was unprecedented for American politics and is foreshadowing.

It was Barack Obama’s first State of of the Union address as President.  He had barely taken the reins of political power; had not even put his imprimatur on the country’s direction yet South Carolina congressman Wilson felt the very presence of Obama warranted this indiscretion. At that point in his address Obama was talking about illegal immigration and whether they could qualify for health insurance legislation that he was trying to pass at that time.

“There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants,” Obama said. “This, too, is false — the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.”

As it turns out the President was right Obamacare does contain an explicit prohibition against providing federally-subsidized coverage to immigrants who cannot prove they are here legally but that’s not what really caused Joe Wilson’s ire. Rather it was the Southerner in Wilson that forced him to take America back to the advent of Radical Reconstruction when southern states, buckling under and humbled by their defeat at the hands of the Union felt it necessary to subdue their black citizens even though those very citizens were granted full citizenship, the right to vote and equal protection under the law.

A racially integrated jury in the South in the 19th century

A racially integrated jury in the South in the 19th century

These rights were codified in the 13th, 14th, 15th amendments and the civil rights act of 1866 which granted citizenship and the same rights enjoyed by white citizens to all male persons in the United States “without distinction of race or color, or previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude.” Even though African-Americans were free the reality is

“most Southern whites could not accept the idea of African Americans voting and holding office, or the egalitarian policies adopted by the new governments. Beginning in 1867, Southern(ers)….. launched a campaign of vilification against Reconstruction, employing lurid appeals to racial prejudice as well as more measured criticisms of Reconstruction policies.

and so the next 100 years proved to be the most tumultuous  and politically oppressive for America’s black citizens as well as the most advantageous and rewarding for whites. You Lie has been on the lips of black Americans since that time.  They say it in response to their misplaced reality, the freedom and equality they were promised but has yet to materialize; they say it silently to themselves whenever they hear a politician talk about his or her ideas for a post racial society; they say it whenever they hear the explanation for why an unarmed black man is shot by police.  Mr. Wilson, on the other hand aimed it at what many saw as America finally fulfilling its promise, potential.

Obama brought out the ugly in America. The country built on the principles of a white gentry land owner class was not ready for him despite the fact that those outside that class were.  America’s present day answer to the 21st century’s Reconstruction is Donal Trump.   He’s been brewing on the American political landscape for some time with obvious and disastrous results and he’s been consistent in those outcomes.  Let’s start with, albeit one of many, Trump’s race baiting adventures dating back to the brutal rape of a white jogger in Central Park in May 1989 which received widespread media attention.  970Trump took out a full-age ad in four New York City newspapers with the title “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY! BRING BACK THE POLICE!” He did not specifically reference the Central Park jogger attack in the ad, but its timing made the connection inescapable and everyone in NYC knew who he was referring too.  New York was at a very racially charged time; crime was high and would go higher and the Central Park jogger case had all the ingredients of a white female allegedly attacked by a black marauding gang  with others bursting the seams of their neighborhoods and only the police

VANDALIA, OH - MARCH 12: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to attendants at a Campaign Rally on March 12, 2016 in Vandailia, Ohio. Today was the first rally after violence broke out in a Trump Rally in Chicago yesterday which canceled the rally. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)

VANDALIA, OH – MARCH 12: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to attendants at a Campaign Rally on March 12, 2016 in Vandailia, Ohio. Today was the first rally after violence broke out in a Trump Rally in Chicago yesterday which canceled the rally. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)

to keep them back.  It was easy for Donald Trump to appeal to that mob like mentality and he did it with aplomb in much the same way he’s doing today. If you’re wondering his timing couldn’t have been more off.  The four teenagers he wanted to kill, execute were entirely and completely innocent of their crime and exonerated.  The guilty party was found, confessed and languishes in jail but the mood was set and some could say the city with its draconian stop and frisk policing has set an ugly tone in law enforcement for this country.

There’s something about where the country is today that attracts his presence and made  him the presidential candidate for the Republican party.  He has been enabled in no small part by the media which has treated his candidacy with a legitimacy it does not deserve.  Rather they continue to cover it because it is an extraordinary revenue source.  CBS’ executive said just that, “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS” the hidden meaning being the absence of Trump might not bode well for the bottom line.  After all, the saying goes, controversy sells and what’s more important in a capitalist society than a profitable bottom line. But that means giving a microphone to Trump’s many lies…which don’t get called that all.  In fact even when they are demonstrably proven as lies the media reports them in the process of a political speech and then somehow glosses over them as if he never said them.

Perhaps the most egregious regards Muslims….and two lies in particular stand out for people to stand and shout out You Lie.  The first was his saying he saw on TV thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the attacks of 911.  He saw that on television…..let that sink in for a minute.  He saw that on a television channel that is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission over United States television channels.  That means it exists in more than Donald Trump’s mind, world. There has to be a record such video was played over the air waves of this country. Right? Fact is there is no such video; it’s all imagined by Donald Trump

Farmer (John Farmer Jr., New Jersey state’s attorney general AND a registered Republican) told the New York Times  that the New Jersey State Police received reports on the day of the attacks that “Muslims were dancing on the rooftops and in the streets of Jersey City and Paterson.” Those reports were investigated and found to be false, Farmer said. “We followed up on that report instantly because of its implications,” Farmer told the Times. “The word came back quickly from Jersey City, later from Paterson. False report. Never happened.”

Never happened! But because it has been put out on the public domain and NOT retracted by Trump 2016 has seen the largest number of acts of violence against Muslims since 911 and the year is not over yet. Lest you think such pronouncements are made in error…here’s the second part of the tandem Trump has aimed at Muslim Americans. This is what he has posted on his website today, September 20,2016

– DECEMBER 07, 2015 –

DONALD J. TRUMP STATEMENT ON PREVENTING MUSLIM IMMIGRATION

(New York, NY) December 7th, 2015, — Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.

Yet even as recently as 24 hours before this post was made Trump was on television saying in response to the question whether law enforcement or immigration officials should screen Muslims more than other groups

“I never said the term ‘Muslim. I’m saying we’re going to profile people that maybe look suspicious, I didn’t say [if] they were Muslims or not.”

There’s no disconnect between what Trump says and reality. Pathologically one can say there is something  wrong with him but he’s managed to bring on board his campaign apparatus an entire group of people who are in the mold of presidential southern recontructionists….those people who misapplied, institutionalized the law to make segregation de facto despite the gains given by the 13th, 14, 15th amendments.  It goes to show you that despite the legal advances codified by law there are still ways corruption can make gains losses and oppress large segments of the population.  Donald Trump and his campaign is doing just that and he’s able to because no one is willing to stand up and make a simple two word declaration, You Lie!

Who said racism is dead in America?


Cynthia Ramsey

Cynthia Ramsey

Post racial America is NOT post racial.  Racism is very much alive and well in America.  In small rural North Carolina’s Camden County a public school teacher’s bucket list is to kill all black people.  Math teacher Cynthia Ramsey works in a local high school and her remarks were directed towards students old enough to understand their implications.

It doesn’t end there…..Americans are xenophobic to the extent they can’t even tolerate hearing someone speaking a language other than English even though a person might not be talking to them.  Back in the day of my youth, speaking another language other than your mother’s tongue meant you had a degree of education that set you apart.  Indeed, learning a second language was a part of the public school education’s curriculum but no longer it seems. It probably didn’t help Asma Jama that much that she was a person of color who looked different….i.e. wore a head scarf and was clearly identifiable as a Muslim.  America doesn’t like nor tolerate Muslims either and especially those who talk to one another in language the average American can’t understand.  It could very well be they are planning some act of terrorism, perhaps?

Jodie Burchard-Risch

Jodie Burchard-Risch

Jodie Burchard-Risch, 43, and her husband had been sitting in the booth next to Jama, who was with her cousins and nieces. The couple became upset when they heard Jama and her family conversing in a foreign language, according to a criminal complaint.

Jama said the couple told them to “go home.” They said that “when you’re in America you should speak English.”

Jama, an ethnic Somali, came to Minnesota in 2000 from Kenya. She speaks three languages: English, Swahili and Somali.

“I’m home,” she told Burchard-Risch at the Applebee’s. “I can speak English, but we choose to speak whatever language we want.”

Authorities say that’s when Burchard-Risch hit Jama in the face with the glass mug.

….and in case you’re wondering if you click on the link detailing this story you can hear Jama speaking English in describing what happened to her better than 90% of Americans.

 

The definitive word on ISIS and how it’s more a manifestation of Ba’athist frustration than Islamic terrorism


This story makes it as clear as can be what is the true nature of the so-called Islamic State. The clarity presented in the article shows that the Islamic State, ISIS,  has nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with the re-emergence of Ba’athist loyalists who are extremely upset with how they were ignored when it came to rebuilding Iraq after the US invasion in 2003.  Perhaps the Ba’athists have every reason for their anger; their country was illegally invaded and occupied by the Bush Administration under false pretenses and essentially ruined.  What is equally disturbing however is how those same people who had a reason for their righteous indignation turned around and used Islam in order to garner the support they needed to re-take Iraq because they realized it would offer them a broader appeal than their own outdated, irrelevant brand of Arab socialism that many other countries were rejecting.  In doing so they also deployed some of the same barbarity under the ISIS banner, beheadings, executions, ethnic cleansing, that have nothing at all to do with Islam but considered by Ba’athists to be legitimate tools of oppression needed to promote social cohesion or silence.  Don’t let spin fool you; an Islamic movement didn’t start an ISIS that incorporated former key figures of Saddam Hussein’s government rather it was the reverse.  Ba’athists seething at being left out after Saddam’s ouster rounded up people they thought would give their movement religious credibility.  “Even the appointment of  (Abu Bakr) al Baghdadi to lead the Islamic State of Iraq in 2010 is reported by an ISIS defector to have been engineered by a former Baathist: Haji Bakr, an ex-colonel from the Iraqi Revolutionary Guard.” Notice the choice of words, “appointment” of the leader of the Islamic State….implying someone else gave him this position, power. One only need to look at those close to him. Two of Al-Baghdi’s deputies are former Ba’athists  no doubt put in place by other Ba’athists to keep tight reins on ISIS.  The WaPo article below gives further detail

Saddam Hussien with members of his Revolutionary Council

Saddam Hussien with members of his Revolutionary Council

When Abu Hamza, a former Syrian rebel, agreed to join the Islamic State, he did so assuming he would become a part of the group’s promised Islamist utopia, which has lured foreign jihadists from around the globe.

Instead, he found himself being supervised by an Iraqi emir and receiving orders from shadowy Iraqis who moved in and out of the battlefield in Syria. When Abu Hamza disagreed with fellow commanders at an Islamic State meeting last year, he said, he was placed under arrest on the orders of a masked Iraqi man who had sat silently through the proceedings, listening and taking notes.

Abu Hamza, who became the group’s ruler in a small community in Syria, never discovered the Iraqis’ real identities, which were cloaked by code names or simply not revealed.

Saddam Husseing and Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri

Saddam Husseing and Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri

All of the men, however, were former Iraqi officers who had served under Saddam Hussein, including the masked man, who had once worked for an Iraqi intelligence agency and now belonged to the Islamic State’s own shadowy security service, he said.

His account, and those of others who have lived with or fought against the Islamic State over the past two years, underscore the pervasive role played by members of Iraq’s former Baathist army in an organization more typically associated with flamboyant foreign jihadists and the gruesome videos in which they star.

foreign ISIS fighterEven with the influx of thousands of foreign fighters, almost all of the leaders of the Islamic State are former Iraqi officers, including the members of its shadowy military and security committees, and the majority of its emirs and princes, according to Iraqis, Syrians and analysts who study the group.

They have brought to the organization the military expertise and some of the agendas of the former Baathists, as well as the smuggling networks developed to avoid sanctions in the 1990s and which now facilitate the Islamic State’s illicit oil trading.

Abu Hamza a former ISIS supporter, fighter now in Turkey

Abu Hamza a former ISIS supporter, fighter now in Turkey

In Syria, local “emirs” are typically shadowed by a deputy who is Iraqi and makes the real decisions, said Abu Hamza, who fled to Turkey last summer after growing disillusioned with the group. He uses a pseudonym because he fears for his safety.

All the decision makers are Iraqi, and most of them are former Iraqi officers. The Iraqi officers are in command, and they make the tactics and the battle plans,” he said. “But the Iraqis themselves don’t fight. They put the foreign fighters on the front lines.”

The public profile of the foreign jihadists frequently obscures the Islamic State’s roots in the bloody recent history of Iraq, its brutal excesses as much a symptom as a cause of the country’s woes.

The raw cruelty of Hussein’s Baathist regime, the disbandment of the Iraqi army after thesaddamexecution U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the subsequent insurgency and the marginalization of Sunni Iraqis by the Shiite-dominated government all are intertwined with the Islamic State’s ascent, said Hassan Hassan, a Dubai-based analyst and co-author of the book “ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror.”

“A lot of people think of the Islamic State as a terrorist group, and it’s not useful,” Hassan said. “It is a terrorist group, but it is more than that. It is a homegrown Iraqi insurgency, and it is organic to Iraq.”

Paul Bremer, center who said ten years later: 'We made major strategic mistakes. But I still think Iraqis are far better off'

Paul Bremer, center who said ten years later: ‘We made major strategic mistakes. But I still think Iraqis are far better off’

The de-Baathification law promulgated by L.­ Paul Bremer, Iraq’s American ruler in 2003, has long been identified as one of the contributors to the original insurgency. At a stroke, 400,000 members of the defeated Iraqi army were barred from government employment, denied pensions — and also allowed to keep their guns.

The U.S. military failed in the early years to recognize the role the disbanded Baathist officers would eventually come to play in the extremist group, eclipsing the foreign fighters whom American officials preferred to blame, said Col. Joel Rayburn, a senior fellow at the National Defense University who served as an adviser to top generals in Iraq and describes the links between Baathists and the Islamic State in his book, “Iraq After America.”

The U.S. military always knew that the former Baathist officers had joined other insurgent groups and were giving tactical support to the Al Qaeda in Iraq affiliate, the precursor to the Islamic State, he said. But American officials didn’t anticipate that they would become not only adjuncts to al-Qaeda, but core members of the jihadist group.

“We might have been able to come up with ways to head off the fusion, the completion of the Iraqization process,” he said. The former officers were probably not reconcilable, “but it was the labeling of them as irrelevant that was the mistake.”

AbuBakr al-Baghdadi

AbuBakr al-Baghdadi

Under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliph, the former officers became more than relevant. They were instrumental in the group’s rebirth from the defeats inflicted on insurgents by the U.S. military, which is now back in Iraq bombing many of the same men it had already fought twice before.

At first glance, the secularist dogma of Hussein’s tyrannical Baath Party seems at odds with the Islamic State’s harsh interpretation of the Islamic laws it purports to uphold.

But the two creeds broadly overlap in several regards, especially their reliance on fear to secure the submission of the people under the group’s rule. Two decades ago, the elaborate and cruel forms of torture perpetrated by Hussein dominated the discourse about Iraq, much as the Islamic State’s harsh punishments do today.

Like the Islamic State, Hussein’s Baath Party also regarded itself as a transnational

BAGHDAD, IRAQ:  Members of the ruling Baath party parade with kalashnikovs and portraits of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Iraqi flags in Baghdad 08 February 2002 during celebrations marking the 39th anniversary of the 1963 coup that brought the party to power.       AFP PHOTO/Ramzi HAIDAR (Photo credit should read RAMZI HAIDAR/AFP/Getty Images)

BAGHDAD, IRAQ: Members of the ruling Baath party parade with kalashnikovs and portraits of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Iraqi flags in Baghdad 08 February 2002 during celebrations marking the 39th anniversary of the 1963 coup that brought the party to power. AFP PHOTO/Ramzi HAIDAR (Photo credit should read RAMZI HAIDAR/AFP/Getty Images)

movement, forming branches in countries across the Middle East and running training camps for foreign volunteers from across the Arab world.

By the time U.S. troops invaded in 2003, Hussein had begun to tilt toward a more religious approach to governance, making the transition from Baathist to Islamist ideology less improbable for some of the disenfranchised Iraqi officers, said Ahmed S. Hashim, a professor who is researching the ties at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

With the launch of the Iraqi dictator’s Faith Campaign in 1994, strict Islamic precepts were introduced. The words “God is Great” were inscribed on the Iraqi flag. Amputations were decreed for theft. Former Baathist officers recall friends who suddenly stopped drinking, started praying and embraced the deeply conservative form of Islam known as Salafism in the years preceding the U.S. invasion.

In the last two years of Hussein’s rule, a campaign of beheadings, mainly targeting women suspected of prostitution and carried out by his elite Fedayeen unit, killed more than 200 people, human rights groups reported at the time.

The brutality deployed by the Islamic State today recalls the bloodthirstiness of some of those Fedayeen, said Hassan. Promotional videos from the Hussein era include scenes resembling those broadcast today by the Islamic State, showing the Fedayeen training, marching in black masks, practicing the art of decapitation and in one instance eating a live dog.

Some of those Baathists became early recruits to the al-Qaeda affiliate established by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Palestinian Jordanian fighter who is regarded as the progenitor of the current Islamic State, said Hisham al Hashemi, an Iraqi analyst who advises the Iraqi government and has relatives who served in the Iraqi military under Hussein. Other Iraqis were radicalized at Camp Bucca, the American prison in southern Iraq where thousands of ordinary citizens were detained and intermingled with jihadists.

Zarqawi kept the former Baathists at a distance, because he distrusted their secular outlook, according to Hashim, the professor.

It was under the watch of the current Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, that the recruitment of former Baathist officers became a deliberate strategy, according to analysts and former officers.

Tasked with rebuilding the greatly weakened insurgent organization after 2010, Baghdadi embarked on an aggressive campaign to woo the former officers, drawing on the vast pool of men who had either remained unemployed or had joined other, less extremist insurgent groups.

Some of them had fought against al-Qaeda after changing sides and aligning with the American-backed Awakening movement during the surge of troops in 2007. When U.S. troops withdrew and the Iraqi government abandonedthe Awakening fighters, the Islamic State was the only surviving option for those who felt betrayed and wanted to change sides again, said Brian Fishman, who researched the group in Iraq for West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center and is now a fellow with the New America Foundation.

Baghdadi’s effort was further aided by a new round of de-Baathificationlaunched after U.S. troops left in 2011 by then Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who set about firing even those officers who had been rehabilitated by the U.S. military.

Among them was Brig. Gen. Hassan Dulaimi, a former intelligence officer in the old Iraqi army who was recruited back into service by U.S. troops in 2006, as a police commander in Ramadi, the capital of the long restive province of Anbar.

Within months of the American departure, he was dismissed, he said, losing his salary and his pension, along with 124 other officers who had served alongside the Americans.

“The crisis of ISIS didn’t happen by chance,” Dulaimi said in an interview in Baghdad, using an acronym for the Islamic State. “It was the result of an accumulation of problems created by the Americans and the [Iraqi] government.”

He cited the case of a close friend, a former intelligence officer in Baghdad who was fired in 2003 and struggled for many years to make a living. He now serves as the Islamic State’s wali, or leader, in the Anbar town of Hit, Dulaimi said.

“I last saw him in 2009. He complained that he was very poor. He is an old friend, so I gave him some money,” he recalled. “He was fixable. If someone had given him a job and a salary, he wouldn’t have joined the Islamic State.

“There are hundreds, thousands like him,” he added. “The people in charge of military operations in the Islamic State were the best officers in the former Iraqi army, and that is why the Islamic State beats us in intelligence and on the battlefield.

This map highlights the countries of Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Called out are the cities of Mosul and Kobani. The area of ISIS controlled or contested territory is highlighted in red.

This map highlights the countries of Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Called out are the cities of Mosul and Kobani. The area of ISIS controlled or contested territory is highlighted in red.

The Islamic State’s seizure of territory was also smoothed by the Maliki government’s broader persecution of the Sunni minority, which intensified after U.S. troops withdrew and left many ordinary Sunnis willing to welcome the extremists as an alternative to the often brutal Iraqi security forces.

But it was the influx of Baathist officers into the ranks of the Islamic State itself that propelled its fresh military victories, said Hashem. By 2013, Baghdadi had surrounded himself with former officers, who oversaw the Islamic State’s expansion in Syria and drove the offensives in Iraq.

Some of Baghdadi’s closest aides, including Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, his deputy in Iraq, and Abu Ayman al-Iraqi, one of his top military commanders in Syria, both of them former Iraqi officers, have since reportedly been killed — though Dulaimi suspects that many feign their own deaths in order to evade detection, making its current leadership difficult to discern.

Any gaps however are filled by former officers, sustaining the Iraqi influence at the group’s core, even as its ranks are swelled by arriving foreigners, said Hassan.

Fearing infiltration and spies, the leadership insulates itself from the foreign fighters and the regular Syrian and Iraqi fighters through elaborate networks of intermediaries frequently drawn from the old Iraqi intelligence agencies, he said.

“They introduced the Baathist mind-set of secrecy as well as its skills,” he said.

The masked man who ordered the detention of Abu Hamza was one of a group of feared security officers who circulate within the Islamic State, monitoring its members for signs of dissent, the Syrian recalled.

“They are the eyes and ears of Daesh’s security, and they are very powerful,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.

Abu Hamza was released from jail after agreeing to fall into line with the other commanders, he said. But the experience contributed to his disillusionment with the group.

The foreign fighters he served alongside were “good Muslims,” he said. But he is less sure about the Iraqi leaders.

They pray and they fast and you can’t be an emir without praying, but inside I don’t think they believe it much,” he said. “The Baathists are using Daesh. They don’t care about Baathism or even Saddam.

“They just want power. They are used to being in power, and they want it back.

Whether the former Baathists adhere to the Islamic State’s ideology is a matter of debate. Hashim suspects many of them do not.

“One could still argue that it’s a tactical alliance,” he said. “A lot of these Baathists are not interested in ISIS running Iraq. They want to run Iraq. A lot of them view the jihadists with this Leninist mind-set that they’re useful idiots who we can use to rise to power.

Rayburn questions whether even some of the foreign volunteers realize the extent to which they are being drawn into Iraq’s morass. Some of the fiercest battles being waged today in Iraq are for control of communities and neighborhoods that have been hotly contested among Iraqis for years, before the extremists appeared.

“You have fighters coming from across the globe to fight these local political battles that the global jihad can’t possibly have a stake in.”

Former Baathist officers who served alongside some of those now fighting with the Islamic State believe it is the other way around. Rather than the Baathists using the jihadists to return to power, it is the jihadists who have exploited the desperation of the disbanded officers, according to a former general who commanded Iraqi troops during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he fears for his safety in Irbil, the capital of the northern Iraqi region of Kurdistan, where he now resides.

The ex-Baathists could be lured away, if they were offered alternatives and hope for the future, he said.

The Americans bear the biggest responsibility. When they dismantled the army what did they expect those men to do?” he asked. “They were out in the cold with nothing to do and there was only one way out for them to put food on the table.”

When U.S. officials demobilized the Baathist army, “they didn’t de-Baathify people’s minds, they just took away their jobs,” he said.

There are former Baathists with other insurgent groups who might be persuaded to switch sides, said Hassan, citing the example of the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order, usually referred to by its Arabic acronym JRTN. They welcomed the Islamic State during its sweep through northern Iraq last summer, but the groups have since fallen out.

But most of the Baathists who actually joined the Islamic State are now likely to have themselves become radicalized, either in prison or on the battlefield, he said.

“Even if you didn’t walk in with that vision you might walk out with it, after five years of hard fighting,” said Fishman, of the New America Foundation. “They have been through brutal things that are going to shape their vision in a really dramatic way.”

Far too many from the West who romanticize fighting and going to fight for a cause they consider noble in fact are only offering themselves up to satisfy centuries old rivalries between communities and more recent power struggles of a political party that refuses to go away and some might say necessary for the survival of the Iraqi nation. Syria is the birthplace of the ISIS movement….it is also the home of the Ba’athist president, Bashar al-Assad, an authoratarian secularist who no doubt finds more in common with the Ba’athist elements of ISIS than the religious side of this pseudo religious movement. More needs to be done to make it clear ISIS is no  more Islamic than the Ba’ath socialist party.

Taking the Muslim call to prayer across America


A First: Calling the Athaan In All 50 States- Jameel Syed

A First: Calling the Athaan In All 50 States- Jameel Syed

Written by Hena Zuberi, Muslim Link Staff Reporter

On April 3, 2015, one American Muslim will attempt to become the first  person to call the athan in all fifty states.

Called “Project Muaddhin” is the history making journey by Jameel Syed from Michigan. He intends to share the beauty of Islam, stopping to collect stories in each state, making the Adhan and delivering the Last Sermon of the Prophet Sallallahu ‘alyhi wa sallam at each stop.

“I made my intention to become the first Muaddhin (Caller of the Adhan) in history to make the Adhan in all fifty states across America. It’ll be a journey that gives the international Muslim community the opportunity to dictate the terms of their own narrative across the world. Instead of reacting to headlines, they’ll be creating their own by building a positive story around the community,” said Syed.

Starting from Farmington Hills, MI, Syed will stop and the ADAMS Center in Sterling, VA and Islamic Community Center of Laurel in Maryland on Friday, April 10, 2015. The Grand Canyon and Harry Potter World are also on the schedule.

This very American tradition of driving across the United States will be a world record, but for Syed it is also a spiritual journey to gain the pleasure of Allah.

“Through travel we get to know God better, it’s that simple. I have had some of my most spiritual moments staring out across a mountain range, a desert, lake, or even just humanity going about its daily existence,” says Syed. “Travel makes the familiar unfamiliar to us and in doing so we come to better appreciate God’s creation. Throughout the Qur’an verses ask man to reflect on what has been created on earth and in the heavens – what better way to do that than through travel?”

“I want to be a part of the legacy,” he said on his choice of reading the universal Farewell Sermon, which he says is the antidote to the many ills of society. It is a simple solution to a complex problem, said Syed. Project Muaddhin will also collect adhans of different muaddhins from each state and compile the journey into a documentary.

It’s a matter of telling our own stories, said Dr Malik Bella, Director of Islamic Studies at Oakland University, while endorsing Project Muaddhin. “The adhan- this message of Islam is for all people.”

Every home should have a designated muaddhin, recommends Syed, who wants to give this position the honor that it deserves. Many muaddins are the unsung heroes of their communities.
A father and committed husband, he will leave his family behind to travel the country telling the stories of American Muslims.  Syed is a marketing professional, a youth leader, and was the official muaddhin for the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in 2014. He credits his Islamic schoolteacher at the Michigan Islamic School, Isa Abdul Baseer, for taking him as a personal mission and taming his youthful hyperactivity. Baseer, who is active in the jamaat at-tabligh movement, taught him the benefits of calling people to worship.
His father, the late Dr Salam Abdus Syed who passed away in 2004, also inspires Syed.
The project is looking for 35 families to sponsor each day of their historic journey. For $500, families can choose a cause of their choice to be highlighted during the trip and on social media. For more information, email info@muaddhin.com and to follow the journey, go to Facebook.com/muaddhin or on Twitter/Instagram: @themuaddhin .

Why I converted to Islam


It’s not easy being Muslim in America, but my choice was a spiritual transformation

by @kaj33

Early Kareem

I was born Lew Alcindor. Now I’m Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The transition from Lew to Kareem was not merely a change in celebrity brand name — like Sean Combs to Puff Daddy to Diddy to P. Diddy — but a transformation of heart, mind and soul. I used to be Lew Alcindor, the pale reflection of what white America expected of me. Now I’m Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the manifestation of my African history, culture and beliefs.

For most people, converting from one religion to another is a private matter requiring intense scrutiny of one’s conscience. But when you’re famous, it becomes a public spectacle for one and all to debate. And when you convert to an unfamiliar or unpopular religion, it invites criticism of one’s intelligence, patriotism and sanity. I should know. Even though I became a Muslim more than 40 years ago, I’m still defending that choice.

Unease with celebrity

I was introduced to Islam while I was a freshman at UCLA. Although I had already achieved a certain degree of national fame as a basketball player, I tried hard to keep my personal life private. Celebrity made me nervous and uncomfortable. I was still young, so I couldn’t really articulate why I felt so shy of the spotlight. Over the next few years, I started to understand it better.

Part of my restraint was the feeling that the person the public was celebrating wasn’t the real me. Not only did I have the usual teenage angst of becoming a man, but I was also playing for one of the best college basketball teams in the country and trying to maintain my studies. Add to that the weight of being black in America in 1966 and ’67, when James Meredith was ambushed while marching through Mississippi, the Black Panther Party was founded, Thurgood Marshall was appointed as the first African-American Supreme Court Justice and a race riot in Detroit left 43 dead, 1,189 injured and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed.

I came to realize that the Lew Alcindor everyone was cheering wasn’t really the person they imagined. They wanted me to be the clean-cut example of racial equality. The poster boy for how anybody from any background — regardless of race, religion or economic standing — could achieve the American dream. To them, I was the living proof that racism was a myth.

I knew better. Being 7-foot-2 and athletic got me there, not a level playing field of equal opportunity. But I was also fighting a strict upbringing of trying to please those in authority. My father was a cop with a set of rules, I attended a Catholic school with priests and nuns with more rules, and I played basketball for coaches who had even more rules. Rebellion was not an option.

Still, I was discontented. Growing up in the 1960s, I wasn’t exposed to many black role models. I admired Martin Luther King Jr. for his selfless courage and Shaft for kicking ass and getting the girl. Otherwise, the white public’s consensus seemed to be that blacks weren’t much good. They were either needy downtrodden folks who required white people’s help to get the rights they were due or radical troublemakers wanting to take away white homes and jobs and daughters. The “good ones” were happy entertainers, either in show business or sports, who were expected to show gratitude for their good fortune. I knew this reality was somehow wrong — that something had to change. I just didn’t know what it meant for me.

MalcolmX bioMuch of my early awakening came from reading “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” as a freshman. I was riveted by Malcolm’s story of how he came to realize that he was the victim of institutional racism that had imprisoned him long before he landed in an actual prison. That’s exactly how I felt: imprisoned by an image of who I was supposed to be. The first thing he did was push aside the Baptist religion that his parents had brought him up in and study Islam. To him, Christianity was a foundation of the white culture responsible for enslaving blacks and supporting the racism that permeated society. His family was attacked by the Christianity-spouting Ku Klux Klan, and his home was burned by the KKK splinter group the Black Legion.

Malcolm X’s transformation from petty criminal to political leader inspired me to look more closely at my upbringing and forced me to think more deeply about my identity. Islam helped him find his true self and gave him the strength not only to face hostility from both blacks and whites but also to fight for social justice. I began to study the Quran.

Conviction and defiance

This decision set me on an irreversible course to spiritual fulfillment. But it definitely wasn’t a smooth course. I made serious mistakes along the way. Then again, maybe the path isn’t supposed to be smooth; maybe it’s supposed to be filled with obstacles and detours and false discoveries in order to challenge and hone one’s beliefs. As Malcolm X said, “I guess a man’s entitled to make a fool of himself if he’s ready to pay the cost.”

I paid the cost.

As I said earlier, I was brought up to respect rules — and especially those who enforced the rules, such as teachers, preachers and coaches. I’d always been an exceptional student, so when I wanted to know more about Islam, I found a teacher in Hammas

Hammas Abdul-Khaalis, leader of the Hanafi "movement" in the U.S.

Hammas Abdul-Khaalis, leader of the Hanafi “movement” in the U.S.

Abdul-Khaalis. During my years playing with the Milwaukee Bucks, Hammas’ version of Islam was a joyous revelation. Then in 1971, when I was 24, I converted to Islam and became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (meaning “the noble one, servant of the Almighty”).

The question I’m often asked is why I had to pick a religion so foreign to American culture and a name that was hard for people to pronounce. Some fans took it very personally, as if I had firebombed their church while tearing up an American flag. Actually, I was rejecting the religion that was foreign to my American culture and embracing one that was part of my black African heritage. (An estimated 15 to 30 percent of slaves brought from Africa were Muslims.) Fans thought I joined the Nation of Islam, an American Islamic movement founded in Detroit in 1930. Although I was greatly influenced by Malcolm X, a leader in the Nation of Islam, I chose not to join because I wanted to focus more on the spiritual rather than political aspects. Eventually, Malcolm rejected the group right before three of its members assassinated him.

Abdul Jabbar's parentsMy parents were not pleased by my conversion. Though they weren’t strict Catholics, they had raised me to believe in Christianity as the gospel. But the more I studied history, the more disillusioned I became with the role of Christianity in subjugating my people. I knew, of course, that the Second Vatican Council in 1965 declared slavery an “infamy” that dishonored God and was a poison to society. But for me, it was too little, too late. The failure of the church to use its might and influence to stop slavery and instead to justify it as somehow connected to original sin made me angry. Papal bulls (e.g., “Dum Diversas” and “Romanus Pontifex”) condoned enslaving native people and stealing their lands.

And while I realize that many Christians risked their lives and families to fight slavery and that it would not have been ended without them, I found it hard to align myself with the cultural institutions that had turned a blind eye to such outrageous behavior in direct violation of their most sacred beliefs.

The adoption of a new name was an extension of my rejection of all things in my life that related to the enslavement of my family and people. Alcindor was a French planter in the West Indies who owned my ancestors. My forebears were Yoruba people, from present day Nigeria. Keeping the name of my family’s slave master seemed somehow to dishonor them. His name felt like a branded scar of shame.

My devotion to Islam was absolute. I even agreed to marry a woman whom Hammas suggested for me, despite my strong feelings for another woman. Ever the team player, I did as “Coach” Hammas recommended. I also followed his advice not to invite my parents to the wedding — a mistake that took me more than a decade to rectify. Although I had my doubts about some of Hammas’ instruction, I rationalized them away because of the great spiritual fulfillment I was experiencing.

But my independent spirit finally emerged. Not content to receive all my religious knowledge from one man, I pursued my own studies. I soon found that I disagreed with some of Hammas’ teachings about the Quran, and we parted ways. In 1973, I traveled to Libya and Saudi Arabia to learn enough Arabic to study the Quran on my own. I emerged from this pilgrimage with my beliefs clarified and my faith renewed.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the Al Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam's holiest sites, in Jerusalem in 1997.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the Al Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites, in Jerusalem in 1997.

From that year to this, I have never wavered or regretted my decision to convert to Islam. When I look back, I wish I could have done it in a more private way, without all the publicity and fuss that followed. But at the time I was adding my voice to the civil rights movement by denouncing the legacy of slavery and the religious institutions that had supported it. That made it more political than I had intended and distracted from what was, for me, a much more personal journey.

Many people are born into their religion. For them it is mostly a matter of legacy and convenience. Their belief is based on faith, not just in the teachings of the religion but also in the acceptance of that religion from their family and culture. For the person who converts, it is a matter of fierce conviction and defiance. Our belief is based on a combination of faith and logic because we need a powerful reason to abandon the traditions of our families and community to embrace beliefs foreign to both. Conversion is a risky business because it can result in losing family, friends and community support.

Some fans still call me Lew, then seem annoyed when I ignore them. They don’t understand that their lack of respect for my spiritual choice is insulting. It’s as if they see me as a toy action figure, existing solely to decorate their world as they see fit, rather than as an individual with his own life.

Kermit the Frog famously complained, “It’s not easy being green.” Try being Muslim in America. According to a Pew Research Center poll on attitudes about major religious groups, the U.S. public has the least regard for Muslims — slightly less than it has for atheists — even though Islam is the third-largest faith in America. The acts of aggression, terrorism and inhumanity committed by those claiming to be Muslims have made the rest of the world afraid of us. Without really knowing the peaceful practices of most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, they see only the worst examples. Part of my conversion to Islam is accepting the responsibility to teach others about my religion, not to convert them but to co-exist with them through mutual respect, support and peace. One world does not have to mean one religion, just one belief in living in peace.

Ramadan in America