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.

And you thought this was over?


We haven’t even heard nor seen the worst of what happened to people imprisoned in AbuGhraib. Eric Fair, the author of the book, Consequence comes out four square against torture or enhanced interrogation saying they are one and the same.  You can find an interview with him here.  What he is saying is what you can find in the pages of Miscellany101 since day one of the war but in today’s political climate where presidential candidates are calling for torture in very explicit terms and not caring to even debate its illegality Fair’s book should be front and center in any public debate on foreign policy where the issue of torture is brought up.

However, there has always been a lingering suspicion that we what we were told only scratched the surface and this latest news piece confirms that.

According to a number of global mainstream media sources, the Pentagon is covering up a disturbing video that was never made public with the rest of the recent torture report.

… the appalling video was recorded at Abu Ghraib, the notorious US torture dungeon in Iraq that made headlines roughly a decade ago, when the inhumane tactics being used at the prison were exposed……While the video has remained under wraps thus far, Hersh says it is only a matter of time before it comes out.

Giving a speech at the ACLU last week after the senate torture report was initially released, Hersh gave some insight into what was on the Pentagon’s secret tape.

In the most revealing portion of his speech he said that:

“Debating about it, ummm … Some of the worst things that happened you don’t know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib … The women were passing messages out saying ‘Please come and kill me, because of what’s happened’ and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It’s going to come out.”

No comment


The new face of the #demonicGOP

 

joni ernst

ISIS Ideology Is Not True To Islam, And These Imams Are Fighting Back


Britain Imams
Using a twisted version of Islam, the militant group Islamic State, or ISIS, has pushed online campaigns to attract youth to its bloody crusade in Syria and Iraq. Now a group of British imams and scholars is looking to “reclaim the Internet” with a new magazine aimed at shifting the conversation and spreading a message of truth.

Haqiqah, meaning “the truth” or “the reality” in Arabic, is a digital magazine created by Islamic scholars with the purpose of educating young people about the realities of extremism, according to its backers at Imams Online. The goal, they say, is to “drown out” the voices perpetuating violence.ImamsOnline

“Someone has to reclaim that territory from ISIS, and that can only be imams: religious leaders who guide and nourish their community,” Qari Asim, senior editor at Imams Online, told the BBC. “But now that we live in a digital mobile world, some young people are not coming to the mosque so we must reach out to them -– and this is the Muslims’ contribution to combat radicalization on the net.”

More than 100 imams were reportedly present at the launch of the magazine in London Thursday night, including influential U.S. scholar Hamza Yusuf and Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, president of the Forum for Promoting Peace. One imam told BuzzFeed “Haqiqa would reach out to vulnerable people, who are often targeted by extremists on social media.”

ISIS-masjidCNN reports ISIS claims to have a $2 billion budget that it can use for the recruitment of youth around the globe, including funds for the production of videos and social media efforts. It’s been estimated there may be as many as 70,000 pro-ISIS accounts on Twitter alone, and according to The Independent some 700 British people have traveled to join the group in Syria.

The first issue of Haqiqah calls ISIS an “empty banner” and states that “interspersing the occasional out of context Qur’anic verse with hyperbolic arguments” doesn’t equate to legitimacy. This misconstruction, the magazine argues, is not Islam.

They are individuals who study Islam from a superficial point of view and emerge with their own ideas and imaginary interpretations, which often diverge greatly from established Islamic principles. We can see that many of the characteristics found in these young men and women are similar to those identified as the Khawarij (Extremist/Dissenters) by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). They have no grounding in Islamic sciences or jurisprudence and yet want to establish an ‘Islamic state’/‘Islamic System’. In the pursuit of their illintended aim, they are prepared to bulldoze the fundamental teachings of Islam.

Those in the wider Muslim community are optimistic about the effect a publication like Haqiqah can have.

“If this is part of community-led initiatives to counter ISIS, then it is exactly what’s needed,” Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, told The Huffington Post in an email Friday. “Governments and their military forces cannot bomb away ideas of violent extremism. Authentic and credible community voices can wash away the filth from the cult of death, bring the the light of life to lost souls, hoping to rehabilitate them so they don’t destroy themselves and their families.”

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 .

Pope Francis on Charlie Hebdo: ‘You cannot insult the faith of others’


popeFrancisPope Francis is not your normal Catholic Pope; born in Argentina he does not have the Eurocentric  world view that has surrounded the Roman Catholic Church for so many centuries and he comes from a refreshing place in theology that emphasizes a lot more of the things people have in common, regardless of their faith.  What he had to say regarding the Charlie Habdo cartoons is indicative of a view that certainly puts him at odds with most of punditry

Calling freedom of expression a “fundamental” human right, the pope outlined why he believes there are limits to that right. If someone “says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch,” he joked, according to an Associated Press translation. “It’s normal. It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

Despite joking about his mother, Francis also condemned violent retaliation. “One cannot offend, make war, kill in the name of one’s own religion — that is, in the name of God,” the pope said. “To kill in the name of God is an aberration.”

Francis was speaking in Italian aboard the papal plane, on the way from Sri Lanka to the Philippines. According to the National Catholic Reporter, the pope was responding to a question about freedom of speech and religion in general. But acknowledging that the reporter asking the question was French, Pope Francis indicated that his response applied specifically to the attacks. “Let’s go to Paris, let’s speak clearly,” he said, according to NCR.

“The Pope’s expression is in no way intended to be interpreted as a justification for the violence and terror that took place in Paris last week,” the Vatican press office said in a later statement, addressing Francis’s remarks. The statement adds, “the Pope’s free style of speech, especially in situations like the press conference must be taken a face value and not distorted or manipulated.”

“The Pope has spoken out clearly against the terror and violence that occurred in Paris and in other parts of the world,” the statement continues, “Violence begets violence.  Pope Francis has not advocated violence with his words on the flight.”

Days ago, Francis denounced the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the “deviant forms of religion” he said were behind them. “Religious fundamentalism, even before it eliminates human beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext,” he said, according to the AP.

There is no God fearing sincere believer who would say anything different than what the Pope has said or what has been written in the pages of Miscellany101 but in this writer’s opinion it’s also unrealistic to expect people would not feel resentment towards those who use satire as a weapon to dehumanize or devalue one’s religious beliefs. The Pope believes that people have a responsibility to their fellow citizens and that satire and freedom of speech has limits  and unbridled free speech also has consequences.  It is a mature position and it takes a certain amount of courage to embrace it.

More trouble at Shaikh Zayed masjid- Abu Dhabi


Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque at sunrise

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque at sunrise

Another American pop icon has gone and done it again, upsetting the sensitivities of Emiratis about their splendid mosque Shaikh Zayid mosque in Abu Dhabi.  The mosque or masjid is also the final resting place of the first leader of the United Arab Emirates, Shaikh Zayid bin al Nahyan the beloved leader of that country, which makes it even more special to the people of the UAE.  However, in an attempt to be a country of tolerance and acceptance the government of the UAE liberally allows people to visit the mosque; however, it seems too many of them of a western mentality take things a little too far according to some Emiratis. The latest one to raise their ire is Selena Gomez who raised her garments to expose her covered leg and uncovered ankle.

Selena Gomez caused fury online after posting this image on her Instagram account, showing her flashing her ankle while visiting Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque  DailyMail

Selena Gomez caused fury online after posting this image on her Instagram account, showing her flashing her ankle while visiting Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
DailyMail

To almost everyone in the west that kind of exposure is no big deal, but it wasn’t done in the West it was done in the UAE where the standard of behavior and conduct is different.  We’ve written about this problem before but perhaps it’s time to take things up a notch with regards to what Emiratis should do which is don’t allow tourism at any of their masajid. (plural of mosque) Non-Muslims should be allowed to visit them, during the times of prayer and properly escorted, but they should not be the “destination” of people who want to ogle and have their pictures taken there.  Mosques are places of worship and people should attend them with that solemnity in mind; if they are not worshippers but want to visit them they should be accompanied at all times by people who work for the government who are there to insure the visitors follow UAE protocol until they leave the premises.  You’ve heard it from me Emiratis; don’t complain when the next pop star comes and disrespects your way of life at the Shaikh Zayed mosque.

Bargaining from a position of moral clarity


ramadanThat’s what Tariq Ramadan says should be the attitude of Muslims in the West and anything less than that is unacceptable.

The leaders of ISNA can boast a proud record of service to American Muslims, for which they must be thanked and congratulated. The annual ISNA convention is an important gathering, featuring a multiplicity of participants and a broad cross-section of activities. In recent years, however, the political positions taken by the organization’s leadership have not always been clear-cut. Though it is essential, I believe, to remain open to dialogue with the authorities, it is likewise essential that positions of principle must be maintained, re-affirmed and defended. Not simply for the good of the Muslims, but in the name of the contribution of American Muslims to their society. Criticism of the domestic policy of the current administration, like those that preceded it, is a moral obligation. Summary arrests, arbitrary prison terms, inhuman psychological torture and solitary confinement, the shadowy role of informers and the deeply troubling and unacceptable methods used by the FBI, which has provoked young people to engage in extremist actions, must be unconditionally condemned. Not in the name of Islam, but in the name of the values proclaimed by the United States. However, the ISNA leadership is too often silent, as if paralyzed by fear. It fares no better with respect to American foreign policy. Its silence over American support for the outlaw and inhuman policies of Israel cannot be justified, even less so after attending an iftar organized by the White House during which President Obama defended Israel while the Israeli ambassador tweeted his delight! We cannot be forever silent: what kind of active and responsible citizenship does the ISNA leadership offer young American Muslims? What kind of example? That of silent, fearful sycophants–or of free, public-spirited citizens who, while defending the values of human dignity and justice, serve their country in the most sincere and critical way? That of the unconditional loyalty of the timorous, or the critical loyalty of free individuals? To attend the ISNA convention would be to endorse their silence.

Dueling tweets


These two tweets ran across one another in the net-o-sphere

Right

 

Left

…and here’s the skinny

The number of Americans who have been killed by Islamic extremists in the United States since September 2001 is just 21 — less than two per year — and none of them on airplanes. Statistically speaking, you’re several times more likely to be fatally attacked on an American schoolyard: in just the year and a half since the December 2012 Sandy Hook attack, 28 people have been killed in US school shootings. And meanwhile, right-wing extremists — virtually all of them white — have killed 37 people since 2001.

To the Muslim readers of Miscellany101


eid-ul-fitr-wishes-in-english-1

Believers in One God are non-believers to most Americans


According to this poll, Muslims rank lowest of all religious denominations and lower than atheists.

Jews, Catholics and evangelical Christians are viewed warmly by the American public. When asked to rate each group on a “feeling thermometer” ranging from 0 to 100 – where 0 reflects the coldest, most negative possible rating and 100 the warmest, most positive rating – all three groups receive an average rating of 60 or higher (63 for Jews, 62 for Catholics and 61 for evangelical Christians). And 44% of the public rates all three groups in the warmest part of the scale (67 or higher).

Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons receive neutral ratings on average, ranging from 48 for Mormons to 53 for Buddhists. The public views atheists and Muslims more coldly; atheists receive an average rating of 41, and Muslims an average rating of 40. Fully 41% of the public rates Muslims in the coldest part of the thermometer (33 or below), and 40% rate atheists in the coldest part.

This is the result of the active marginalization of Muslims by main stream media, pundits, politicians.  Way to go America…..

American diversity


2nd largest religionIf you ever needed proof of the ethnic and religious diversity of America….and perhaps something that scares the pants off of many who maintain their privilege you need look no further than this map provided by the Washington Post.

Christianity is by far the largest religion in the United States; more than three-quarters of Americans identify as Christians. A little more than half of us identify as Protestants, about 23 percent as Catholic and about  2 percent as Mormon.

But what about the rest of us? In the Western U.S., Buddhists represent the largest non-Christian religious bloc in most states. In 20 states, mostly in the Midwest and South, Islam is the largest non-Christian faith tradition. And in 15 states, mostly in the Northeast, Judaism has the most followers after Christianity. Hindus come in second place in Arizona and Delaware, and there are more practitioners of the Baha’i faith in South Carolina than anyone else.

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.”

What American Muslims have to say about suicide bombers


Don’t say you haven’t been told.

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hijab

Why are Egyptian Liberals Celebrating a Massacre?


This is an excellent question and one that has a conspiratorial answer even covered by the two people in the video below.

 

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The GOP is a bad joke


Louie Gohmert - Caricature

Louie Gohmert – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

Perhaps this is why Republicans are against immigration because they see an Islamist in every Hispanic immigrant that comes into this country.

‘Radical Islamists’ Learn Spanish, Pretend To Be Hispanic, Claims Rep. Louie Gohmert

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, believes he has solved a terrorist tactic.

While speaking to the Longview, Texas Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Gohmert claimed “radical Islamists” were learning Spanish “because we don’t have any fear of Hispanics coming into the country.”

Gohmert added that he is opposing immigration reform based on the theory, noted News-Journal.com.

“The FBI director has confirmed more than once that we know that there are radical Islamists that change their names to Hispanic-sounding last names, they come to Mexico and get and ID, and some of them even learn a little bit of Spanish so that they can try to act as if they’re Hispanic,” Gohmert said (video below). “Why? Because we don’t have any fear of Hispanics coming into the country, but we’ve got concerns about radical Islamists.”

He also suggested that real undocumented Hispanic immigrants might lie about how long they have been in the United States in order to stay under the DREAM Act, which is supposed to be for immigrant children who were brought to America by their undocumented parents.

Gohmert also said the United States was the best country “because most Americans, generally speaking, had a faith in God, they had a devotion to family and they had a hard worth ethic,” but lamented that might not be true today.

It seems the only policy this demented party has is to instill fear and hatred in the hearts of Americans against others who are different.  The GOP accentuates differences, points them out and builds policy around them which is not very constructive in a country of over 300 million people from all walks of life, if not suicidal for a political party.  All of that doesn’t seem to matter to the likes of Gohmert, who has taken boorish behavior to a new level as a member of Congress.  Want to see more of his outlandish actions go here, here , here and here.  A four time elected US representative, Gohmert resonates with that part of the DemonicGOP that believes Obama is a foreign socialist Muslim who wants to destroy the American way of life….and did I mention he’s been elected FOUR times!  God help us!!

Ramadan Mubarak


Ramadan Mubarak to the readers of Miscellany101

Ramadan Mubarak to the readers of Miscellany101

Yes it’s a few days early, but not as early as can be found in some newspapers across the Arab Muslim world where March, 2013 was when Ramadan’s start date was announced.  It really doesn’t matter when it was announced or when it’s said it WILL begin, what matters is you enjoy the month of fasting and get the optimum benefit from observing it.  During the month of fasting and reflection I hope you will pause a time or two to read what’s written on the pages of Miscellany101.wordpress.com

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