A Shout out to Muslims and ISIS-are you listening?


The author of this piece, while dismantling ISIS also swipes at common Muslim conceptions which he thoroughly discredits. Can you spot them?  Read on

In separate attacks last week, ISIS terrorists killed 39 tourists at a beach resort in Tunisia, and close to 30 worshipers at a Shia Mosque in Kuwait. The onslaught came shortly after the group called on its militant Jihadi sympathizers to expand operations in the month of Ramadan.

ISIS has demonstrated an unflinching determination to take out anyone who dares to disagree with it. Its members have slaughtered Yazidis and Christians, but the vast majority of its victims have been Muslims who resist it and refuse to acknowledge its authority. ISIS has even executed Sunni clerics who refused to swear allegiance to it, and Muslim women who did not submit to its worldview.

This feature is shared across all terrorist groups operating in the name of Islam. The vast majority of the victims of the Taliban, for instance, are also Muslims. Hundreds of Shia Muslims have been killed just in the last few years. And I have lost many close friends in similar attacks on the Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and even in America.

So when some anti-Islam critics keep doggedly associating the faith of us Muslims with the acts of our tormentors, we call them out for their insensitivity.

I do not disagree that part of the motivation for religious extremism is rooted in perverted interpretation of scripture by radical extremists. However, it is dishonest to label the vast majority of Muslims who reject such interpretations as non-devout or “nominal.”

An honest study of the Quran shows that groups like ISIS act in complete defiance of the injunctions of Islam. The Quran, for instance, equates one murder to the elimination of the whole human race (5:32), and considers persecution and disorder on earth as an even worse offense (2:217). It lays emphasis on peace, justice and human rights. It champions freedom of conscience and forbids worldly punishment for apostasy and blasphemy.

A study of the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad also demonstrates that he warned us of the rise of religious extremism in this age in astonishing detail.

1,400 years ago, he prophesized that a time would come when nothing would remain of Islam but its name, nothing of the Quran but its word, and that many “Mosques would be splendidly furnished but destitute of guidance” (Mishkatul Masabih). In these latter days, the true spiritual essence of Islam would be lost, and religion, for the most part, would be reduced to a ritualistic compulsion. He foretold that the clergy would be corrupt and be a source of strife during these times.

How true this is of the extremist clerics in parts of the Muslim world that abuse the pulpit to preach division and hate.

He also went on to describe terrorist groups such as ISIS that would try to hijack the Islamic longhairedfaith. At this time of dissension, he said there would appear “a group of young people who would be immature in thought and foolish.” They would speak beautiful words but commit the most heinous of deeds. They would engage in so much prayer and fasting that the worship of the Muslims would appear insignificant in comparison. They would call people to the Quran but would have nothing to do with it in reality. The Quran would not go beyond their throats, meaning they wouldn’t understand its essence at all, merely regurgitating it selectively. The Prophet then went on to describe these people as “the worst of the creation.”

Oct 17, 2013 - Aleppo, Syria - ISIS fighters holding the Al-Qaeda flag with 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' written on it. on the frontline. Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant aka ISIS. The group An-Nusra Front announced its creation January 2012 during the Syrian Civil War. Since then it has been the most aggressive and most effective rebel force in Syria. The group has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations. April 2013, the leader of the ISIS released an audio statement announcing that Jabhat al-Nusra is its branch in Syria. (Credit Image: © Medyan Dairieh/ZUMA Wire/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Oct 17, 2013 – Aleppo, Syria – ISIS fighters holding the Al-Qaeda flag with ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ written on it. 

As if this outline wasn’t clear enough, another tradition in the book Kitaab Al Fitan reported by Caliph Ali, the fourth successor to Prophet Muhammad, describes these people as having long hair and bearing black flags. Their “hearts will be hard as iron,” and they would be the companions of a State (Ashab ul Dawla). Interestingly, ISIS refers to itself as the Islamic State or Dawla. The tradition further mentions that they will break their covenants, not speak the truth and have names that mention their cities. The ISIS caliph, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, comes to mind.

Prophet Muhammad furiously and painfully described these evildoers, and admonished Muslims to beware of their evil and fight it. “Whoever fights them is better to Allah than them,” he proclaimed.

Reflect on this critical point. Whenever ISIS kills in the name of Islam, claims to follow the Quran, or uses the Holy month of Ramadan to spread anarchy across the globe, know that Prophet Muhammad explicitly warned us of these imposters, and entrusted us to root them out.

The only people who refuse to reflect on this point are ISIS, ISIS sympathizers and anti-Islam extremists who want the world to believe that ISIS is legitimate. Intelligent people, meanwhile, see Prophet Muhammad’s prophetic wisdom and thus remain united against both ignorance and extremism.

Lies, damned lies and statistics


The following article is not so much about statistics as it is about the how and why Islam has become popular in America but in reading it what angered me is the use of a statistic…the number of Muslims in America.  The statistic of 1,349,000 Muslims in America as of 2012 is hilariously funny and pathetically short of the real numbers.  I understand however why the number HAS to be that low for it makes it far more comfortable for people to fathom and tolerate a religion that has been so beguiled and vilified.  In other words it keeps the mass hysteria and panic down, for now, to a minimum.  But all one need do is look up the numbers for themselves to see that the number of Muslims in America is much greater than 1.3 million with figures ranging from the equally pathetic 2 million to 7 million and all of these numbers are merely guesses because such data is not allowed to be collected in a government sponsored census for reasons of privacy and freedom from suspicion of suppression of religion.  These are my pet peeves; the article below is about how people come to adopt and practice Islam in an increasingly secular country.  I hope you enjoy it

 

Though Will Caldwell was born, raised and college educated in Georgia, he is uncomfortable praying there.

He has felt that way since a clear summer evening in 2007 at a nondescript gas station off a nondescript interstate somewhere between Savannah and Macon. He was on his way home to Saint Simons Island from Emory University, where he had just finished his junior year. Caldwell had pulled his red Mini Cooper into the rest stop because the sun was starting to set and, since he had converted to Islam one year earlier, this meant that it was time to pray.

In the empty field next to the gas station, he found a discrete corner, laid out his mat and began to recite the holy verses, first standing, then bent forward, then on his knees with his head to the ground. He noticed two people looking at him, secretively peering out from behind their truck. Uneasy, he rushed through the ritual, folded up his mat and got back in the car to leave. As he pulled away, he could see in his rear view mirror a cop car pulling into the parking lot. The people who had been staring were flagging down the police officer and pointing at Caldwell. He drove on at an intentionally moderate pace, and the cop did not follow, but he has not risked praying publicly in the South since.

Caldwell is soft spoken. He pauses thoughtfully before talking and sometimes between sentences. He wears a plaid button down shirt, slacks and small, round wire-framed glasses. His wide-set green eyes gaze out earnestly from his creamy white face. One quickly gets the sense that he is a kind and spiritual person. Perhaps this is his fatal flaw. After growing up in the Episcopal Church, Caldwell rediscovered his spirituality in Islam and decided to convert. Now, less than a hundred miles from where he was raised, onlookers see Caldwell’s prayer as a potential threat. Why might this be?

“The political context we are in is so charged with anti-Muslim rhetoric that it’s almost impossible, I would say, for that conversion not to have some kind of political ramifications even if the convert in no way intends it,” says Brannon Ingram, a professor of religious studies at Northwestern University, who specializes in Islam and Sufism. In July of 2013, Fox News correspondent Lauren Green interviewed religion scholar Reza Aslan about “Zealot”, a book he just had written about Jesus Christ. She repeatedly questioned his credentials and asked him to explain how a Muslim could write about Christianity. In 2013, a Pew Research Center for the People & the Press study found that 45 percent of Americans believe that Muslims face “a lot” of discrimination.

Negative sentiments about Muslims most often link to an association of Islam with radicalism and terrorism. A 2007 document by the New York Police Department entitled “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat,” says, “Jihadist ideology is the driver that motivates young men and women, born or living in the West, to carry out an ‘autonomous jihad’ via acts of terrorism against their host countries.” Because of these beliefs, the police instated surveillance over New York City’s mosques and Muslim communities using informants, neighborhood mapping, photos and video footage. When the American Civil Liberties Union caught wind of this policy in June of 2013, they sued the NYPD.

Muslim converts have received extensive media attention. Katherine Russell, the widow of one of the notorious Boston Marathon bombers, began practicing Islam after meeting her husband. Samantha Lewthwaite, known as the “White Widow” after her husband’s 2005 suicide bombing in London public transit, is among the suspects implicated in the Nairobi mall massacre in September 2013. She, too, is Muslim convert. Nicholas Brody, a main character of the popular television show “Homeland”, becomes a Muslim while he is imprisoned by al-Quaeda in Damascus, Syria. Once back in the United States, he collaborates with his captors to plot and execute terror attacks.

Karen Danielson, DanielsonDirector of Outreach at the Chicago chapter of Muslim American Society, says that any event that brings Islam into the public consciousness — for negative or positive reasons — generates interest. “After 9/11 for example, there was a large influx of converts. Sometimes people come forward hostile, but then even they end up converting because of what they discover,” she says. “They investigated, they read the Quran, and it answered a lot of questions that they had before.” Danielson herself found Islam in 1983 when she was a young adult. She has worked in community building for Muslims ever since and has interacted with hundreds of converts and support groups.

Despite their powers of attraction, these terror-infused portrayals are very problematic for converts, says Iqbal Akhtar, a professor of Islamic Studies at Florida International University. New Muslims are forced to view themselves as outsiders in their own culture and are not given the opportunity to reconcile the different parts of their identities. “Even if in day-to-day interactions you can pass for being American or not being differentiated, you live in a society where the media is constantly defining the Muslim as an ‘other,'” says Akhtar. “All these things fit into how you define yourself.”

Converts to any faith seem increasingly abnormal as the United States gravitates farther away from religion. According to a Pew Research study, the number of Americans who do not affiliate with a religion has gone up by 5 percent in the past five years, from 15.3 percent in 2007 to 19.6 percent in 2012.

IRAQI-AMERICAN MUSLIMS CELEBRATE IN DEARBORN OUSTER OF HUSSEINYet the number of Muslims in the United States is increasing. In the seven years that followed the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, the Muslim American population grew from 1,104,000 to 1,349,000, according to the 2012 census. And in a study of that same time frame, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that 40 percent of Muslims in the United States were not raised with the faith, but joined it as adults.

This anomalous increase in religious practice may be because conversion to Islam is quick and very simple. “It really just requires reciting a formula called the shahada in front of a number of witnesses,” says Ingram. He translates the verse to mean, “There is no god but God and Muhammad is his messenger.” And that’s it. There’s no training, no test. You just recite the creed. Ingram attributes the successful global spread of Islam to the ease of this process.

The difficulty for many converts comes in the change of daily customs, rather than in the change of faith. In 2005, at the age of 36, Jennifer Gauthier converted from Catholicism to Islam in order to marry to a Muslim man. The pair has since moved to Alexandria, Egypt. “I would say the greatest challenges I face are more related to Islamic cultural traditions rather than what I understand from the Quran,” she says. “My dad and I have had many conversations about Islam and Catholicism and have found many overlaps.” She says it made a big difference that she already felt comfortable with the idea of one god.

American faceSaba Safder, Scholarship Manager at the national non-profit Islamic Society of North America and a Muslim convert from Methodism, speaks to the challenging cultural adjustments. “In the beginning it was hard to fit in. Sometimes when I came to the mosque, my scarf may not have covered all my hair, or my sleeves may not have been as long as they should have been,” she said. “There were many times that women would correct my praying or how I dressed.”

Many converts also felt alienated because of their whiteness. DanielMooreIn theory, explains Ingram, Islam is meant to be a race-free religion. But in practice, he says, this is not the case. “In the popular imagination Islam is still very much,” – he makes air quotes with his fingers – “a brown person’s religion.” And this belief, he continues, is somewhat valid. “American Muslim communities can be very closely knit in terms of some ethnic background,” he says. “Not just immigrants from or descendants of immigrants from the Indian subcontinent, but even specific regions in India.”

As a result, when Caldwell enters a Muslim center for the first time, he says he gets one of two reactions to his whiteness. The first is suspicion. In a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, he recalls, he could feel everyone’s eyes on him. Muslims sometimes suspect that he is an FBI agent, working for the aforementioned government surveillance, he says. “I just try to deal with it because I understand it.” he says. Others place him on a pedestal. Immigrants trying to assimilate into white American society take his race as a sign of their success. “Seeing a white person [practicing Islam] sort of validates their own religious existence. There’s a lot of embedded racial assumptions about that,” he says. “I don’t think it’s a desirable situation for me or for them, but it is the case nonetheless.”

Some converts are forming their own groups, one of which is Ta’leef Collective. Founded as a resource for new Muslims and prospective converts, Ta’leef runs classes, discussions and support groups. Its headquarters are in Fremont, Calif., but it opened a Chicago chapter in 2012. Ta’leef stays away from the media for fear that it will portray them badly. “Our concern is both one of how we are represented to the larger American population and how we are represented to other Muslim communities,” said Caldwell, who is a participant. “A lot of what we do would be controversial to other Muslim communities in the sense that it’s not a mosque but it’s a Muslim community. That doesn’t fit so well into the parameters of what they expect.”

New Muslims often especially need this social outlet after distancing themselves from their former lives. “I very rarely associate myself with the community I was raised in. I have strong contacts with my family, but many times I just feel like it is hard to belong,” says Safder. “There are too many media influences that give people a preconceived idea before seeing that I am still the same person.”

If not at home, how do converts find Islam? Danielson was in her first year at Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny, Iowa. She intended to lead missions targeting Muslims. To prepare, she studied the Quran and was deeply moved by it. “It was through my personal reading of Quran that I had my own private conversion,” she says. “I felt like my questions were answered. The deep bigger questions about justice and life in general. What is the universe all about? What does everything mean?” She says she never found this type of spiritual guidance in the Bible and converted to Islam one month after.

Caldwell’s story of coming to Islam is strikingly similar. An altar boy in his youth, Caldwell looked up to his Episcopal priest and wanted to follow in his footsteps. While an undergraduate at Emory University, he learned that seminary students studied Greek but not Hebrew. In order to understand the Old Testament, he started taking Hebrew classes. These led him to Jewish studies classes. Judaism introduced him to the possibility of practicing other religions, but it was too connected to an ethnic and cultural history for him to fully embrace it, he says. “I guess in a lot of ways Islam is a natural place to look at that point.” He started reading the Quran and spent the summer and fall of his junior year in Jerusalem. He promised himself that he wouldn’t make any big decisions until he finished it. One month into his studies in Israel, he finished the Quran and converted to Islam.

Ingram has noticed a trend in why people like Danielson or Caldwell may gravitate toward the religion. “I’ve spoken to a few white converts over the years who said Christianity never made sense to me, the trinity never made sense to me, the idea of God being one and three at the same time never made sense to me,” he said. “Islam doesn’t have that problem. People are attracted to the comparative simplicity of Islam’s notion of God.”

Their strong connection to Islamic theology helps converts deal with stigma. “We know that Islam does not preach terrorism. We know Islam does not preach extremist radical thought. Those things are not linked to Islam. They’re linked to Muslims,” says Danielson. “Muslims are people. They have so many factors that motivate who they are. Yes, Islam influences them, but they have their economic condition and their political situation, too.”

Gauthier puts this idea concisely. “A saying I’ve heard often — and I think it applies to all religions — is ‘Don’t look to Muslims to understand Islam. Look to Islam itself,'” she says.

But, according to Danielson, converts need to change people’s preconceptions about Muslims. “We have to get our voice heard better. Islam should be understood better, and that’s a difficult position to be in,” she says. “First-hand knowledge of Islam and Muslims needs relationship building and a genuine commitment to long-term cooperation.”

Contributing to a false sense of security


Ted CruzIt’s incredible someone would even put this in print!!

Tea Party favorites Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin and Larry Klayman spent most of last week bashing Muslims and introducing the “Quran” and “Allah” to the shutdown and debt ceiling debate that they are losing in Congress.

Unfortunately for them, Muslims are in fact more popular and viewed more favorably by Americans than the far right movement.

Nothing could be farther from the truth, but it makes for good headlines.  It also has the effect of luring people into a false sense of security, making them think that things aren’t really as bad as they seem, when in fact they are much worse!

It was the GOP’s failure to stand together, he [Ted Cruz]said, that killed the effort to defund Obamacare.

“We didn’t accomplish our ultimate policy goal in this battle, and we didn’t because unfortunately a significant number of Senate Republicans chose not to unite and stand side by side with House Republicans,” he said. “Had we stood together I’m convinced the outcome of this fight would be very, very different. But listen, none of us ever thought that taking on the Washington establishment was going to be easy.”

He added: “Right now I’m more encouraged than ever.”

As Cruz took the stage, the audience greeted him with a 36-second standing ovation.

To many members of the #DemonicGOP Cruz et.al are the saviors of the GOP not its nemesis and you can be sure they will keep driving the theme that they are needed to resurrect a dying party from stale, old leadership and they’ll continue to do so with bigotry and demagoguery the likes of which we haven’t seen in American politics for a long time.

Music and Islam


I’m a big fan of Tariq Ramadan who has done a commendable job of incorporating his very Western personality into his Islamic way of life and I have often quoted him here at Miscellany101.wordpress.com.   He wrote a piece indirectly about music, more directly about Yousuf Islam and there are several points he made that resonated with me which I wanted to share here.

For Muslim women and men around the world, his story embodies a powerful lesson. We hear of “Islamic chants” (anacheeds) that are supposedly “Islamic” because they express religious themes, or because they employ no instruments, or because they are based on traditional or Qur’anic texts. In this light, only such chants are permissible (halal) in Islam, the only form of creativity recognized. There are indeed scholars who hold such a position, but it is far from unanimous. In To Be a European Muslim (written in 1996) I dealt with these views and took a clear position on music in Islam. Not only is it permitted, but Muslim women and men must also reconcile themselves with art, with creativity, and with the imagination in all its dimensions. Guided by their ethical bearings, they must not allow themselves to be enchained by the adjective “Islamic” that ends up isolating them, suffocating them, and depriving them of their creative energy in the universe of art, of music, painting, sculpture and literature. Muslims are constantly justifying themselves; they feel obliged to describe everything as “Islamic” to satisfy and to conform to the norm. But our ethical concerns must not force upon us an obsession with the norms of “licit” and “illicit” (halal and haram).

Seen in this light, any song, any form of artistic expression that celebrates humanity, love, justice, the quest for meaning, and peace is, in fact, in full conformity with Muslim ethics and needs no further qualifiers. Meaning, hopes and human edification are to be felt and to be lived; they have no need of a normative framework that bridles and ultimately annihilates them. The expression of ultimate ethical causes in art transcends the narrow limitations of specific ways of belonging, and brings together the universal quality of all that is most precious to humans, who can feel themselves uplifted, broadened, vibrating, becoming more human, more peaceful; who can feel themselves being regenerated by a voice, a hand, a pen or a brush. Music can be a prayer, a painting a path, a song a story: as long as art speaks to mankind of its heart, its wounds, its hopes, tears, smiles and aspirations, it forms the universal language of humankind and can bring about by way of imagination, emotion and the heart what no dialogue of reason or of civilizations can hope to offer.

Islam in Mexico


Mexican Wave

In Tijuana on the Mexican-US border, Islam is beginning to establish a presence – not just imported by Muslim immigrants but also chosen by native Mexicans, despite occasional disapproval and suspicion from their families. Amy Leang reports

Naima (née Nancy) Carr, 29, seated in black hijab, and Jamila (née Daniela) Ortiz, 24, standing in red hijab, pray at the Masjid Al-Islam located in the Las Playas neighborhood of Tijuana. 'A lot of my family has stopped talking to me because of my religion,' said Carr who married an American convert but chose to follow Islam of her own volition after witnessing his dedication to ritual during Ramadan two years ago. -

Naima (née Nancy) Carr, 29, seated in black hijab, and Jamila (née Daniela) Ortiz, 24, standing in red hijab, pray at the Masjid Al-Islam located in the Las Playas neighborhood of Tijuana. ‘A lot of my family has stopped talking to me because of my religion,’ said Carr who married an American convert but chose to follow Islam of her own volition after witnessing his dedication to ritual during Ramadan two years ago. –

Jamila Ortiz, a 24-year-old divorced mother of two and massage therapist in Tijuana, Mexico, belongs to a growing number of “reverts”, the name given to Mexicans who believe they were born into Islam but had their original faith changed by their families. For them, this is not a conversion but a return.

While the majority of Mexico is Catholic and generally tolerant of other religions, “reverts” face challenging circumstances at home: their families are often the last to accept their conversion. A turn towards Islam, they fear, is a turn away from them and what it means to be Mexican. Ortiz’s own sister told her she had been “brainwashed” when she first wore a headscarf last year. They stopped speaking for a month.

“Then they decided to be my family again,” says Ortiz. “We just can’t talk about religion.”

TJ, as it is commonly known, is a border town in Baja California that sprang up in the late 19th century and quickly became a popular tourist destination. In more recent times, it was regarded as a violent battleground for drug cartels. At its brutal peak, according to the Trans-Border Institute of the University of San Diego, one out of every eight drug-related killings in Mexico occurred in Baja California. Today the streets are much quieter. Instead of the rattle of gunfire, another sound reverberates; the call to prayer. Since 2010, six new mosques and Islamic centres have opened up in Tijuana and its neighbouring cities throughout the state of Baja California, Mexico.

“When we started here, there were just 30 to 40 Muslims. In three years, it became 200,” says Muhanna Jamaleddin, the Palestinian-American imam of the Masjid Al-Islam in Tijuana’s sleepy, idyllic Las Playas neighbourhood.

Masjid Al-Islam imam Muhanna Jamaleddin, 37, leads a sermon on love at their mosque located in the Las Playas neighborhood of Tijuana. 'Wherever you go in the USA and Canada, people are defending themselves. 'No we are not terrorists.' They don't even have time to do the da'wah. Don't spend time defending yourself. Just do. Act as a Muslim. I see Muslims these days. They are not Muslims. There's a lot of challenges in this country. We are growing. If we don't start it right, we will not succeed,' advised Jamaleddin, a Palestinian American entrepreneur in the gold and silver business who donates his time and money to the mosque. 'Crossing back and forth was difficult. I do all of this for the sake of Allah because I love my religion. I want everyone to know more about my religion. The problem is that we really need an imam who speaks Spanish.'

Masjid Al-Islam imam Muhanna Jamaleddin, 37, leads a sermon on love at their mosque located in the Las Playas neighborhood of Tijuana. ‘Wherever you go in the USA and Canada, people are defending themselves. ‘No we are not terrorists.’ They don’t even have time to do the da’wah. Don’t spend time defending yourself. Just do. Act as a Muslim. I see Muslims these days. They are not Muslims. There’s a lot of challenges in this country. We are growing. If we don’t start it right, we will not succeed,’ advised Jamaleddin, a Palestinian American entrepreneur in the gold and silver business who donates his time and money to the mosque. ‘Crossing back and forth was difficult. I do all of this for the sake of Allah because I love my religion. I want everyone to know more about my religion. The problem is that we really need an imam who speaks Spanish.’

His congregation is a mix of Muslim immigrants from around the Arab world and Mexican nationals. Mexico has always had a population of immigrants from Lebanon and elsewhere, and religious growth has largely been spearheaded by people like Ortiz. While there are male reverts, the majority are women who discovered Islam through their spouses, from other Mexican Muslims or via social networking sites.

That’s how Maryam Alvarez came to develop the Muslim community in Tijuana. An acquaintance had earlier introduced her to the faith and her curiosity led her to seek out other Muslims online.

“I found a sister and then I found another. I put ads up on Facebook and MySpace. They would all meet at my house,” says Alvarez, who was then living in nearby Rosarito. She was one of the first reverts in 2009. A group of 10 women – college students, a teacher, an accountant, an estate agent and a factory worker – followed. They would gather at her home to pray and study Arabic and the Quran, but soon outgrew the space, pooled their money together and created Masjid Al-Islam.

Maryam Alvaarez

Maryam Alvaarez

“This has grown so fast,” says Alvarez, who has plans to create another centre that will incorporate a school and a place to help single mothers and the disabled.

At his home not far from the Masjid Al-Islam, Amir Carr carefully leads Abdullah, who converted nine months ago, in a lesson on the character endings of Arabic at his home. Abdullah traces a series of “wah”s over and over on lined paper as Amir’s wife Naima sorts through piles of clothing donations in the next room.
“The difficult thing about Islam in Mexico is illiteracy. Our goal is to get brothers and sisters to study. It’s important to study Arabic so that we capture the true inspiration of the Quran itself and not the interpretation,” says Carr, who moved to Mexico in 2009 to join his wife. He taught himself Arabic after converting to Islam in a Texas prison, where he was held for a short period for an attempted car robbery. Now his focus in life is to obtain a degree in Islamic studies through an online university. “Islam, the study of it, teaching it and practising it are the few things that have given me a sense of balance and satisfaction,” he says.

AmirCarr

Amir Carr

 

In the most unexpected of places and with limited resources, Islam has begun to prosper due to the enthusiasm of a handful of believers. The community hopes it will soon be able to find an imam who speaks Spanish.

 

“We are looking for a teacher,” says Amir Carr. “We sent a letter to the Egyptian embassyin Mexico City but heard no response so far. We’re looking for volunteers. We need help with materials and things. We’re not going to stay in this mosque forever.”

Juan Cole’s Top Ten Ways Islamic Law forbids Terrorism


Top Ten Ways Islamic Law forbids Terrorism

Posted on 04/17/2013 by Juan Cole

Erik Rush and others who hastened to scapegoat Muslims for the Boston Marathon bombing are ignorant of the religion. I can’t understand why people who have never so much as read a book about a subject appoint themselves experts on it. (Try this book, e.g.). We don’t yet know who carried out the attack, but we know they either aren’t Muslims at all or they aren’t real Muslims, in the nature of the case.

For the TLDR crowd, here are the top ten ways that Islamic law and tradition forbid terrorism (some of these points are reworked from previous postings):

1. Terrorism is above all murder. Murder is strictly forbidden in the Qur’an. Qur’an 6:151 says, “and do not kill a soul that God has made sacrosanct, save lawfully.” (i.e. murder is forbidden but the death penalty imposed by the state for a crime is permitted). 5:53 says, “… whoso kills a soul, unless it be for murder or for wreaking corruption in the land, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind; and he who saves a life, it shall be as if he had given life to all mankind.”

2. If the motive for terrorism is religious, it is impermissible in Islamic law. It is forbidden to attempt to impose Islam on other people. The Qur’an says, “There is no compulsion in religion. The right way has become distinct from error.” (-The Cow, 2:256). Note that this verse was revealed in Medina in 622 AD or after and was never abrogated by any other verse of the Quran. Islam’s holy book forbids coercing people into adopting any religion. They have to willingly choose it.

3. Islamic law forbids aggressive warfare. The Quran says, “But if the enemies incline towards peace, do you also incline towards peace. And trust in God! For He is the one who hears and knows all things.” (8:61) The Quran chapter “The Cow,” 2:190, says, “Fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! God loveth not aggressors.”

4. In the Islamic law of war, not just any civil engineer can declare or launch a war. It is the prerogative of the duly constituted leader of the Muslim community that engages in the war. Nowadays that would be the president or prime minister of the state, as advised by the mufti or national jurisconsult.

5. The killing of innocent non-combatants is forbidden. According to Sunni tradition, ‘Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, the first Caliph, gave these instructions to his armies: “I instruct you in ten matters: Do not kill women, children, the old, or the infirm; do not cut down fruit-bearing trees; do not destroy any town . . . ” (Malik’s Muwatta’, “Kitab al-Jihad.”)

6. Terrorism or hirabah is forbidden in Islamic law, which groups it with brigandage, highway robbery and extortion rackets– any illicit use of fear and coercion in public spaces for money or power. The principle of forbidding the spreading of terror in the land is based on the Qur’an (Surah al-Ma’ida 5:33–34). Prominent [pdf] Muslim legal scholar Sherman Jackson writes, “The Spanish Maliki jurist Ibn `Abd al-Barr (d. 464/ 1070)) defines the agent of hiraba as ‘Anyone who disturbs free passage in the streets and renders them unsafe to travel, striving to spread corruption in the land by taking money, killing people or violating what God has made it unlawful to violate is guilty of hirabah . . .”

7. Sneak attacks are forbidden. Muslim commanders must give the enemy fair warning that war is imminent. The Prophet Muhammad at one point gave 4 months notice.

8. The Prophet Muhammad counseled doing good to those who harm you andis said to have commanded, “Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well you will treat them well, and that if they do wrong you will do wrong to them. Instead, accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong (even) if they do evil.” (Al-Tirmidhi)

9. The Qur’an demands of believers that they exercise justice toward people even where they have reason to be angry with them: “And do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness.”[5:8]

10. The Qur’an assures Christians and Jews of paradise if they believe and do good works, and commends Christians as the best friends of Muslims. I wrote elsewhere, “Dangerous falsehoods are being promulgated to the American public. The Quran does not preach violence against Christians.

Quran 5:69 says (Arberry): “Surely they that believe, and those of Jewry, and the Christians, and those Sabeaans, whoso believes in God and the Last Day, and works righteousness–their wage waits them with their Lord, and no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow.”

In other words, the Quran promises Christians and Jews along with Muslims that if they have faith and works, they need have no fear in the afterlife. It is not saying that non-Muslims go to hell– quite the opposite.

When speaking of the 7th-century situation in the Muslim city-state of Medina, which was at war with pagan Mecca, the Quran notes that the polytheists and some Arabian Jewish tribes were opposed to Islam, but then goes on to say:

5:82. ” . . . and you will find the nearest in love to the believers [Muslims] those who say: ‘We are Christians.’ That is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they are not proud.”

So the Quran not only does not urge Muslims to commit violence against Christians, it calls them “nearest in love” to the Muslims! The reason given is their piety, their ability to produce holy persons dedicated to God, and their lack of overweening pride.

 

“Muslims” have lost their minds


At least those of them who are rioting, pillaging and violently reacting to imagined acts of dishonor towards the Prophet Muhammad. For the longest time, Muslim countries have too often been ruled by street mobs instead of the Book and the Prophet they claim to follow, in which neither condone nor suggest the reaction of today’s Muslims to acts of disrespect shown Prophet Muhammad are justifiable. I have finally found a voice that says that rather clearly and cogently and it needs to be heard.

I don’t think it will make that much difference to the throngs of people who want Islam to rule from the street, but perhaps it will make a difference to those sitting on the sideline who are confused and or wondering where does this rage come from.  Although I can’t answer that question in the affirmative Yusuf definitely makes the case it doesn’t, it can’t come from the example of the Prophet nor from the Book revealed to him.

 

A Christian reflects on why he’s fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan


I thi

dates and a glass of milk during Ramadan to br...

dates and a glass of milk during Ramadan to break fasting at sunset (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

nk his heart is in the right place, although I don’t know if I agree with the the conjugal background for  his reason but that’s for another blog.  However, Huffington Post has a blog devoted to people who are reflecting on why they are or are not fasting during Ramadan….not all of the people who write are Muslim it appears, and it’s worth a look now and then.  I chose this one for reasons of my own.

Why A Christian Is Fasting For Ramadan:

My girlfriend is Muslim, but she is also very supportive in all of my endeavors. So, I decided to do half-day fasts for six days out of the week, and one full day. We live in a pretty rural area where Muslims are few and far between. It’s the closest thing she has to fellowship, aside from her family.

The first day of Ramadan was July 19. It is now July 27, and I am starting to understand why folks fast. I do feel like my thought process changes, and I feel much closer to God. Religion is religion. Christianity and Islam have very similar underlying themes, and most don’t notice we do worship the same God. Just because we call Him a different name doesn’t mean we’re not talking to the same person.

Fasting food every day is easy, but the liquids are what really kill me. I have been very tired during my morning anatomy class, and every time I pass Arnold Palmers in the beverage section in Speedway, a little part of me dies. But, I believe I will come out of the other side of this a better man.

— Matt Schiffbauer

What is it about people’s religious scriptures that drives other people insane?!?


America is in the throes of Shariah lunacy.  It seems US lawmakers on the state and federal level are going out of their way to promote the idea that America is in danger of being overwhelmed by “Shariah” the legal code of Islam.  The very notion has caused some to border on the verge of insanity, and almost half of the states in America have or will consider some form of anti-Shariah law for a threat that simply doesn’t exist, legally or in reality.  Or take the recent talk about the dreaded Muslim Brotherhood which has gone so viral that John McCann had to go on the Senate floor to denounce the accusations that a long-time Hillary Clinton aide is some kind of conduit for the organization which now is represented by the newly elected President of Egypt.   We have also heard a lot about the desecration of the Quran on the part of  various and sundry folks, from the deranged Florida pastor to the US military’s burning of the Quran in Afghanistan and the resulting public outcry such heresy brings.

Here now is another case of some whack job driven insane by the New Testament; unfortunately for us he is a member of our ally, Israel’s government.   Michael Ben-Ari, pictured above,  decided to make his desecration a very public act, calling in cameras to record it for all the world to see.  Evidently he thinks the existence of the New Testament is responsible for the persecution and murder of Jews all over the world.  One has to wonder if he thinks the United States, a reportedly Christian country, is also responsible for the same?  What I also found enlightening was the language used by Ben-Ari in relation to the people who sent him the copy of the Bible and the followers of it.  Taking a page out of the Iranian president’s reference to the state of Israel, Ben-Ari said the place of the book and its messengers is in the trash of history.  There’s no doubt this Ben-Ari is so radical and enraged a member of the Israeli parliament that he’s been denied a visa to come to the US twice and after this latest outrage some within the Israeli government, to their credit, have denounced his actions.  However, it’s troubling that our only ally in the region, as they like to call themselves, elects members to its government that hold such strident and racist notions about Christians and Christianity and no doubt about their benefactor, America.

Look what we have here


Islamophobes really need to read and listen to what American Muslims say about their religion instead of relying on what some other Islamophobe says about it.  (Peter King are you listening?) I was directed to this rather extraordinary website by the excellent website The American Muslim.  Apostasy and Islam was put together by a Muslim American academic Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq, whose main purpose was to authentically refute  the notion that Islam condemns killing Muslims who convert to another religion.  That assertion has been one of the main cries of Islamophobes who claim that Islam, contrary to the religious texts, is not a religion of freedom but of coercion, force and fear.  Farooq will have none of that…having compiled 100 sources that directly refute the claim.  Take a look

As presented in excerpts from numerous sources below, and links to works available online, there is no worldly punishment solely for apostasy [i.e., changing of one’s faith/religion] mentioned in the Qur’an. ……

…..there is no hadith confirming punishment or retribution solely for apostasy. In every single case, where punishment has been meted out, riddah involved treason or rebellion. The following is an example of how the Prophet dealt with solely apostasy.

A bedouin gave the Pledge of allegiance to Allah’s Apostle for Islam. Then the bedouin got fever at Medina, came to Allah’s Apostle and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Cancel my Pledge,” But Allah’s Apostle refused. Then he came to him (again) and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Cancel my Pledge.” But the Prophet refused Then he came to him (again) and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Cancel my Pledge.” But the Prophet refused. The bedouin finally went out (of Medina) whereupon Allah’s Apostle said, “Medina is like a pair of bellows (furnace): It expels its impurities and brightens and clears its good. [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 9, #318]

Notably, as Dr. M. E. Subhani explained in his book: “This was an open case of apostasy. But the Prophet neither punished the Bedouin nor asked anyone to do it. He allowed him to leave Madina. Nobody harmed him.”

Or there is this

Some people accepted Islam during the period of Umar bin Abdul Aziz, who is called the fifth rightful caliph of Islam. All these people renounced Islam sometimes later. Maimoon bin Mahran the governor of the area wrote to the caliph about these people. In reply Umar bin Abdul Aziz ordered him to release those people and asked him to re-impose jizya on them. [Musannaf Abdur Razzaq, pp. 171-10, cited in M. E. Subhani,Apostasy in Islam (New Delhi, India: Global Media Publications, 2005), pp. 23-24. Abdur Razzaq ibn Humama (d. 211 AH). This is the earliest musannaf (a hadith collection arranged in topical chapters) work in existence.]

From Egypt, which just recently elected an “Islamist” president comes this pronouncement

“The Islamic Research Department of Al-Azhar University has called the penalty for apostasy as null and void and has said that the ways of repentance are open for the whole life. … So an apostate can repent over his mistake anytime during his life and there would be no fixed period for it.” [Al-Alamul Islami, the weekly organ of Rabita Alam al-Islami, 23rd August 2002, quoted in Dr. M. E. Subhani, Global Media Publications, 2005, p. 25]

From one of the sons of the dreaded Muslim Brotherhood, the much maligned organization that is pointed to in order to show extremism, comes this tidbit from Tariq Ramadan

I have been criticised about this in many countries. My view is the same as that of Sufyan Al-Thawri, an 8th-century scholar of Islam, who argued that the Koran does not prescribe death for someone because he or she is changing religion. Neither did the Prophet himself ever perform such an act. Many around the Prophet changed religions. But he never did anything against them. There was an early Muslim, Ubaydallah ibn Jahsh, who went with the first emigrants from Mecca to Abyssinia. He converted to Christianity and stayed, but remained close to Muslims. He divorced his wife, but he was not killed.” [Interview: Tariq Ramadan]

From the equally maligned American Islamic organization CAIR comes this

Islamic scholars say the original rulings on apostasy were similar to those for treasonous acts in legal systems worldwide and do not apply to an individual’s choice of religion. Islam advocates both freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, a position supported by verses in the Quran, Islam’s revealed text … ‘Religious decisions should be matters of personal choice, not a cause for state intervention. Faith imposed by force is not true belief, but coercion. Islam has no need to compel belief in its divine truth. As the Quran states: ‘Truth stands out clear from error. Therefore, whoever rejects evil and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks.’ (2:256)

Finally, Muslims living in America have this to say about apostasy in Islam and what if anything should be the punishment

…the Qur’an is the definitive clear authority for protecting the rights of an individual in expressing himself in faith and supercedes any of the distorted interpretations of the hadiths in question. Executing a person because of conversion to another faith contradicts the Qur’an, the ultimate source of Shari’ah.” [The Ruling on Apostasy]-(Muhammad Hanooti)

The Quran states categorically and unequivocally, there shall be no coercion in matters of faith. (2:256). This cornerstone tenet of Islamic faith is violated when an individual is put on trial for converting away from Islam. This verse, very clearly teaches that faith is a personal matter between the individual and God. (Islamic Center of Long Island, New York)

Discussions of Islamic law by non-Muslims (and, all too often, by Muslims as well) suffer from confusion between the concepts of apostasy and treason. The majority view is that the death penalty applies only to treason during wartime, including providing aid and comfort to the enemy, rather than mere conversion. According to the Constitution [Article III, section 3], treason consists only ‘in levying war against [the United States], or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.’ That Muhammad shared this view can be seen in the fact that he never executed apostates except when they made war or propaganda against the Muslims. (Dr. Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad President/Director, Minaret of Freedom Institute, Maryland, USA

 

One could go on and on, but the evidence is there on the printed page for all to see and it clearly dispels the notions put forth by Islamophobes that people in the West should be fearful for their lives if they leave the Islamic religion.  Surely there are some who believe that but there is no substantive textual evidence that justifies killing someone because they have stopped being Muslim.  This literature is vast, authentic and easily available.  One should ask the question why is it not mentioned by the detractors of Islam; what else is it they don’t want you to really know about the religion of Islam?

No Comment


When I pretend to be strong, no one sees my hidden tears except God. When I’m sad and need a shoulder to cry on, no one supports me but God. Pleasing a human is very difficult, pleasing God is the easiest. People sometimes punish me for mistakes I have not done, God ignores and excuses the ones that I did. This is God, The Greatest, The Most Almighty, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful, and all praise belongs to Him.  –
Tariq Ramadan

Doing more good than harm


Two of America’s most vocal and visible Islamophobes, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, backed by the cottage industry of religious bigots outlined in this recently released report, entitled Fear, Inc. The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America, seem to be doing more harm than good to their cause if one of their goals is to make Islam absolutely hateful to Americans.

Like a lot of other people in the haze and confusion of the 9/11 attacks, Johannah Segarich asked herself: “What kind of religion is this that could inspire people to do this?”

She had studied other religions, but never Islam. So she bought a copy of the Quran, wondering if her notions of Islam as a patriarchal and now seemingly violent religion, would be confirmed.

Then she got to the first chapter, with its seven-line message about seeking guidance from a merciful creator. She finished the Quran a few weeks later, then started reading it again. About half way through, barely 10 weeks after 9/11, “I came to the realization,” she said, “that I had a decision to make.”

Segarich began studying Islam more intensely, and within a few months, the Utah-born music instructor made her Islamic declaration of faith, or shehadah, at the Islamic Society of Boston in Cambridge.

“It seemed kind of crazy to do. I was a middle-aged professional woman, very independent, very contemporary, and here I was turning to this religion, which at that point was so reviled,” Segarich recalled…….

Angela Collins Telles grew up in southern California but had a travel bug that took her to Egypt and Syria, where she made friends and found most people generous and compassionate. When anti-Muslim rhetoric flared after 9/11, Collins Telles felt a need to push back.

“I saw my country demonizing these people as terrorists and oppressors of women, and I couldn’t think of anything further from the truth,” she said, “and I felt a need to stand-up and defend them. But then I realized that I couldn’t argue without knowledge.”……..

Chicagoan Kelly Kaufmann had a similar experience. When relatives chastised her for volunteering for President Obama’s presidential campaign because they believed, erroneously, he is Muslim, she felt a need to study religion. When she came to Islam, her beliefs finally seemed in sync.

“Once I realized that’s where my beliefs aligned, I had that big uh-oh moment that a lot of people have when they realize, ‘Uh-oh, the (religion) I align with is the big fat scary one, as treated by the media, and understood as such by the public,” she said.

But after nearly a year of study, Kaufmann could find nothing wrong with Islam. She decided to convert after confronting a man at a public lecture who said Muslims hated peace……

That’s not to say that the likes of Geller, Spencer, et.co aren’t to be taken seriously, for not only is their goal revulsion of Islam by the general public, but it is to influence legislation to adversely affect the practice of religious freedom in America starting with Islam and on that score they must be opposed, despite the deep pockets they bring to this ideological fight.  But this much can be said…..for every step they take forward they will find an increasingly resistant public to their rhetoric.

 

More Comedy


There’s something to be said for comedy in these times.  It can remove you from what is troubling, or it can make you reflect more, become more introspective with the issues surrounding your life.  Jon Stewart fills the gap nicely for the latter, using his routines to provoke a stinging response to the plain idiocy of the world today.

Sometimes however you just find something that is off the charts; it neither makes you laugh nor think, but rather it’s so comically insane all you can do is shout out in anger over the absoluteness craziness of what the author most likely wants you to take seriously.  This news story about al-Qaeda’s magazine for women falls into this category.  It is something out of a Hollywood script

There are exclusive interviews with martyrs’ wives, who praise their husbands’ decisions to die in suicide attacks.

The slick, 31-page Al-Shamikha magazine – meaning The Majestic Woman – has advice for singletons on ‘marrying a mujahideen’.

Readers are told it is their duty to raise children to be mujahideen ready for jihad.

And the ‘beauty column’ instructs women to stay indoors with their faces covered to keep a ‘clear complexion’.

They should ‘not go out except when necessary’ and wear a niqab for ‘rewards by complying with the command of Allah Almighty’.

No doubt this is a government  intelligence operated rag designed to gather as much information as it can from those who buy, read or write to it for future operations, so my advice to you is don’t even ‘go there’.  Who’ve read here all that you need to know about it here which is, laugh, bellow or ignore it, but don’t touch it.

Meanwhile on a serious note, Lesley Hazelton continues to impress.  We spotlighted her video here on the Quranic interpretation of Paradise, but now she weighs in on the matter of the Islamophobia insanity that’s gripping the world today, by equating it with anti-Semitism.  To anyone who has felt the brunt of racist injustice, it is clear it’s the same…that is to say racism directed towards Jews is the same as the kind directed towards Arabs…a social injustice that must be eradicated.

I recognize that anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are two sides of the exact same coin:  the stereotyping of millions of people by the actions of a few.  That is, prejudice.So it’s particularly painful, let alone absurd and self-defeating and dumb, to see that some Islamophobes are Jewish.  And equally painful – and absurd and self-defeating and dumb – to see that some Muslims are anti-Semitic.

“Islam” did not attack the US on 9/11;  eighteen people with a particularly twisted and distorted idea of Islam did.  “The Jews” do not shoot Palestinian farmers in the West Bank;   Bible-spouting settlers with a particularly twisted and distorted idea of Judaism do.

The Quran is no more violent or misogynistic than the Bible.  In fact it’s less so.  If you insist, as Islamophobes do, on highlighting certain phrases, then you should turn around and do the same with the Bible, which you will find ten times worse, with repeated calls for the destruction of whole peoples.  Only the dumbest, most literal, hate-filled fundamentalist, Jewish or Muslim, takes the rules of ancient warfare as a guide to 21st-century life.

Clarity, finally; there’s nothing about this pronouncement that’s funny.   It’s short and sweet, to the point and really shames those who’ve given in to the dark side of human behavior and ascribe collective guilt on entire groups of people because of self-harbored hatred, distrust or dislike, and yes it is true every one can be racist if that is what they do.

An Agnostic’s View on the Quran


Is the Quran more violent than the Bible?


Over the past decade the public has been regaled with the notion that Muslims are violent because their religious scripture incites them towards such violence.  Muslims on the other hand claim that their violence is in reaction to aggression or that acts of terrorism are misplaced by individuals who don’t understand their religion.

A Christian scholar asks and answers the question of which religious scripture is more violent and you can listen to his answer here.  Listen carefully for the Biblical equivalent of terrorism; the commentator uses the term “genocide” to describe the Bible’s answer, herem,  to violence and the course it has taken over the millennium as it has been interpreted and practiced by its followers. It is a methodology practiced by the Israelis against the Palestinians and resembles the catastrophes brought on by numerous American presidents against native Americans, Hitler’s genocide against the Jews and an even more modern day and relevant genocide against Iraqis.

South Africa and her Muslims got it right!


America needs to sit back and take a page from the South African playbook on how to handle religious bigotry.

A judge in Johannesburg, South Africa, has blocked a plan by a Muslim to burn Bibles on the anniversary of Sept. 11.

An Islamic intellectual organization, Scholars of the Truth, had sought the order. It bans the burning of any holy books. “I’m very pleased the judge came to this decision. Not only did he ban this protest but he also banned other people from burning the Bible,” The Christian Scientist Monitor quoted plaintiff’s lawyer Yasmin Omar as saying.

The order also covers the burning of other holy books, including the Koran. Mohammed Vawda planned to burn the Bibles in response to a plan to burn hundreds of copies of the Koran in Gainesville, Florida. The preacher pushing the Florida book burning has backed down.

“What Mr. Vawda wanted to do is not just morally wrong but is an affront to Islam. We regard Jesus as a prophet who is part of the Koran so if he burns the Bible, he is burning part of the Koran,” said Omar.

There are an estimated 1 million Muslims in South Africa and 30 million Christians. Judge Sita Kolbe issued his ruling after a four-minute hearing.

Did anyone notice how, a) it was a Muslim organization that sought the ban and b) it was such a no brainer it took only 4 minutes for the judge to assent and set it in motion?!?  Too bad the wheels of American justice don’t turn as quickly in such matters.  We could learn a thing or two from our brothers in South Africa.  Viva Mandela!

A Smooth Comeback!


In response to Pastor Terry Jones’ International Burn a Koran day, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has decided to post the advertisement below in Jones’ city local newspapers.  MRFF is acting because of concern members of the US military have expressed about the impact Jones’ book burning will have on the lives of military personnel posted in Muslim countries.  It wasn’t but a few short years ago that any act considered endangering the lives of US servicemen was considered treasonous, but today racist elements in American society have managed to turn that notion on its head and instead say any act which doesn’t outrage Muslim sensitivities is appeasement, no matter how provocative the act may be or how it might endanger lives.  MRFF’s response is the kind that will defeat the likes of Jones and the rest of the pilers on who’ve got on board with this xenophobic, Islamophobic notion of either denying Muslims their citizenship rights or provoking them. ‘Attaboy’ to MRFF!

Keith Ellison has it right


In an interview with the BBC, US congressman from Minnesota, Keith Ellison said ‘those spearheading the effort against the Park51 project were not adequately represented as families of 9/11 victims rejecting the proposal on emotional ground, and were rather anti-Obama, xenophobic types who wanted to suppress Islam throughout the country.’

The real driver of it are people who openly proclaim that Barack Obama is not a citizen. The real organizers of this thing are people who are just proponents of religious bigotry. Nothing more, nothing less.

Around the country, this thing is emblematic of a larger issue… There have been anti-mosque efforts in Kentucky, one gentleman who wants to burn a Qur’an in Florida, there have been efforts in Wisconsin and in the Chicago area and others.

It’s not difficult to know who these proponents of religious bigotry are; and Ellison should be the keenest among us in knowing who they are for they launched personal attacks against him. Indeed they are people who openly oppose every Muslim/Islamic attempt at engagement in American public life using the tactic of linking American Muslims to any and every terrorist incident that has taken place on the world’s stage. Their rhetoric is easy to spot, ‘not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims’, or this time worn phrase of ‘radical Islam’ and equating even the most passive of Muslims, such as Faisal Abdur Raouf as a follower of “radical Islam”.  So let’s spotlight some of these useful idiots and hang their names and photos on America’s wall of racist shame, who have plagued our history.

Martin Peretz, the editor of  The New Republic actually had the following words attributed to him

But, frankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims. And among those Muslims led by the Imam Rauf there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.

It should be apparent to all that Peretz is in the throes of Alzheimer’s or has succumbed to it completely. He is supposed to be one of the more intelligent among American voices having taught at Harvard University, with scores of honorary degrees, but that just goes to underscore the difference between book sense and common sense is sometimes as stark as night and day. He is somewhat well connected however, among Democrats, which might be the reason why both Harry Reid and Howard Dean have taken more subdued positions than Peretz’s but with the same outcome, the demonization or marginalization of American citizens. Oh, and I neglected to mention how Peretz, a Jew, making statements that sound so like those made against his fellow coreligionists over the centuries  now using the same diatribe is the height of chutzpah/hypocrisy. Peretz is a self-admitted racist however so having his name on the racist wall of shame is a no brainer, in my opinion.   And we think we don’t have a racial problem in this country or that it was solved with the election of Obama? Think again America!

Florida Minister says he won’t back down-UPDATE


The minister in Florida who wants to have a burn the Quran day on September 11 says he won’t back down from doing it and I say good for him!  It is his constitutional right to burn copies of the Quran, the religious book of Muslims.  Let’s not forget we live in a country where  it is the right of any American to burn the US flag, and we all remember the turmoil  reaching that decision caused America. It is one of the “hazards” of living in a free society; protested speech against patriotic or religious symbols is not illegal. American Muslims more than any other group, should understand that,  and  should register their disagreement with the burning  of Qurans act,with thoughtful and or provocative editorials like this one ,  or planned  peaceful  protests like this,  for even though what Jones wants to do is legal it is morally reprehensible.  That’s as far as his opponents should take it, however.

It is this type of dissent  Muslims should expect from  those who oppose their building of a masjid near the site of the former WTC buildings; one may disagree with the building of the Cordoba House at Park 51, and may protest the  building going up there, however it is the right of the supporters of that project, codified by the legal authorities responsible, for the house to be built there and Cordoba House’s supporters should proceed with resolve to see it through  even during times of  intense opposition to it AND  the opponents should resign themselves to the inevitability of its completion .  What will then become a true battle of ideas a distinction between those who oppose book burning versus those who oppose a religious house of worship will be how the different groups express their opposition and accept the rule of law.  In other words, the behavior of the opposition will have more of an impact on the public debate about the presence of Islam in America than the action which spurs that opposition.   America will have to choose between those who promote racist, stereotypical, violent reaction to protected speech and religious freedom and those whose opposition is principled, respectful or thoughtful.

Given America’s past inclination to mob/racist rule the outcome is not so certain and definitely not in the near future.  One of the reasons why we must have this frank discussion about race in this country is because the racist template we’ve set for ourselves over the years  allows us to insert whatever group of the day we want to hate into  it and then hurl invective and discriminatory actions at them which we try to make into law to suppress them.  We still have not managed to steer clear of this disease because we haven’t really tried to cure it. Saddle up America, here we go again; we’re in for another  protracted campaign for the soul of this country.

UPDATE

Jones did back down and if anyone can understand the reasons why he did so, please explain them to me.  The man who claimed to have received messages from God  is unfathomable, sick, crazy in the head and one as intimately  familiar with him as his own daughter has come out and said so.  There’s even mention of  a mental disorder here as well. Why we, citizenship media as well as corporate media gave him so much of our time, bandwidth and news print is one of the mysteries of life.  A “pastor” with a minuscule congregation of about 50 managed to hold the entire world hostage with his delusions of grandeur and his fear injected venom which paralyzed a nation, diverted its attention from a more pressing national agenda than his personal dementia and left us, after his ‘never mind’ moment feeling used and abandoned from it all.  We deserve it….we put in way too much time feeding the ego of a man whose ego is as large as any other megalomaniac or larger, being called by a US Army general, the Secretary of Defense, the FBI, the NYC police chief and countless others who otherwise wouldn’t give you the time of day can be very gratifying, but what did all of that give us, the People?  It revealed for us that dark side of our collective nature that loves to be frightened and angered; it allowed the haters in our midst to feed us their daily ration of  hatred and loathing for “others” who are really “we”, “us”.  Someone wrote on their headline, ‘Florida Pastor Makes National Jackass of Himself’….and my answer would be no he didn’t.  He made jackasses out of us.