Monday, September 29, 2008

Eid Mubarak! what?

For those enjoying the last hours of Ramadan, may Allah (swt) give you the strength and patience to make the best of every last minute. For others who are now enjoying their morning cup of coffee - Eid Mubarak! May Allah (swt) accept your fasting and worship and give you the chance to enjoy many more Ramadans.

To me, just as the beginning of Ramadan brings together the happiness of being given a chance to witness the blessed month and the fear of not being able to fulfill its rights and obligations; the end of Ramadan brings together the joy of breaking one's fast and the fear of slipping back into old sins even before the takbeerat are over.

Yes, Ramadan is different and it is probably impossible to continue the Ramadan worship routine (even without the fasting) every day of the coming year. Yet, one of the signs of an accepted Ramadan is that the believer continues some of the good habits and positive lifestyle changes she made during the holy month.

But, it's harder with shaytan around the rest of the year!! True, but remember what Allah (swt) mentions in the Holy Quran:
"...Indeed, the plot of Satan has ever been weak." [4:76]

To understand this better, let us take a quick look at what scholars describe as the source of negative thoughts. Every deed (whether good or bad) begins with a thought (khatir). There are three sources of negative thoughts (those leading to sins):

1) Shaytan
2) The nafs
3) Leading (istidraj) from Allah (swt)

Out of the three, shaytan's influence is the weakest (the second is the hardest and the third is the most dangerous). All it takes to get rid of him are a few words:" I seek refuge in Allah from the rejected Shaytan." Constant remeberance of Allah (swt) (thikr) and being in a state of purity (taharah) are also great weapons against shaytan.

As often mentioned, it is the first week after Ramadan that is critical. Shaytan and his team are furious about all their hard work gone down the drain during Ramadan and are determined to take us back to our pre-Ramadan ways.

By the way, there's an easy way of telling if a negative thought is coming from shaytan or from the nafs. Shaytan will do anything to get you away from doing good deeds. He will go from one temptation to the next, from one negative thought to the next until he finds something you are willing to agree to. As for the nafs, it desires specific things. If you find yourself getting a persistant negative thought which doesn't change or go away even with thikr then it's probably your nafs. What do you do in that case? Tame your nafs as you would a wild animal: by giving it less food and more work (sounds familiar?).

May Allah (swt) bless us with steadfastness after Ramadan and protect us from the whisphers of Shaytan, ameen.

PS: this post is a glimpse from an amazing lecture series (in Arabic) by Sheikh Ali al-Jafri, may Allah (swt) reward him.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Obsession With Hate

What is 'Obsession'?

Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West is a 2005 anti-Muslim propaganda film put together by controversial anti-Muslim figures to further the perceived divide between Western and Muslim audiences. 28 million copies of the DVD were recently distributed by a mysteriously-funded entity by the name of the Clarion Fund with the help of 70 US newspapers in a curious and unprecedented campaign. This large distribution, particularly given it was targeted to swing states in the current elections cycle, piqued the interest of many, especially civil rights watchdogs.

Additional Information: Obsession With Hate

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Empire or Humanity?

9 min - Short film - Education, Empire, War & Peace

Empire or Humanity? What the Classroom Didn't Teach Me about the American Empire by Howard Zinn and narrated by Viggo Mortenson.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

'Homeland Patrols' Start Oct. 1 for Deployment During 'Civil Unrests'

"Given that the U.S. government is in the process of stealing several trillion dollars from the general population to give to the wealthy few, they may well need troops who are already psychologically pre-conditioned to mass murder of civilians and working relationships with mercenary contractors. It should be noted that elements of the 3rd Infantry division served in occupation of Falluja."

A New Take on Feeding the Hungry

We've got soup kitchens, humanitarian days and social iftars galore. It seems though that the Muslims in the UK have come up with a new method of feeding the hungry: the flash mob iftar!
Young Muslims have been coming to the park each Tuesday during the fasting month of Ramadan, laden with chicken biryani, samosas and cakes, which they have distributed to homeless people.

It is the brainchild of 27-year-old Miqdad Asaria, who has dubbed the events "flashmob iftars". An iftar is the evening meal that marks the end of the daily fast and is traditionally eaten with friends or family.
"During Ramadan we Muslims get a glimpse of what it is like to be hungry," says Asaria. "I thought, 'What better time to share our food with those who are hungry all year?' I wanted to make the point that Muslims shouldn't only be looking overseas when they think about problems - there are plenty of problems in this country." He set up a Facebook page and arranged the first flashmob iftar two weeks ago. A hundred young Muslims turned up. The following week, attendance was more than 150 and footage of the iftar was uploaded on to YouTube.

"The homeless people were quite taken aback," says Asaria. "They're used to having food thrown out to them from the back of a van, but for us it was about sharing what we had and getting to know those we were eating with."

When I joined the flashmob last week I could see 30 Muslims kneeling in prayer in one corner of the park while elsewhere a group of women in hijabs and headscarves were offering pakoras to an elderly woman propping herself up with a walking stick.

Asaria has been approached by Indian restaurants that want to take the idea further, but he says the appeal of the flashmob iftar is its lack of organisation. "The Muslims who turn up don't know each other, so this is a social thing for them too. It's an example of taking something inspired by our values and using it to embrace the wider community."
Source: The Guardian

It's not charity as we know it. There are no rich or poor, there is no corporate branding, there is no hidden agenda. Just a mass of hungry people, all of whom have struggled through the day without food. Eating together. Sharing a meal as equals. Talking as friends.

Its about eating together not feeding the other ... dignity not sympathy.

We've got a few days left - go ahead, try organizing a flash mob iftar of your own. What have you got to lose, a pakora?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Still On The Fence?

Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney and Bob Barr have been excluded from the Presidential Debate Schedule. However, if you'd like more information about the corporate, establishment, "different name, same game" candidates be sure to watch the upcoming debates:

All four debates will begin at 9pm ET, 6pm PT and last for 90 minutes. Both campaigns also agreed to accept the CPD’s participation rules for third-party candidate participation. Third-party candidates will be included if they poll 15% or above in at least 5 national polls.

Each debate will be broadcast on the major broadcast networks, including CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX. They will also be aired on cable news channels such as CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and C-SPAN.

Here is a break down of what each debate will consist of:

1. First Presidential Debate - Foreign Policy & National Security
Date: Friday, September 26 – Site: University of Mississippi – Topic: Foreign Policy & National Security – Moderator: Jim Lehrer – Staging: Podium debate – Answer Format: The debate will be broken into nine, 9-minute segments. The moderator will introduce a topic and allow each candidate 2 minutes to comment. After these initial answers, the moderator will facilitate an open discussion of the topic for the remaining 5 minutes, ensuring that both candidates receive an equal amount of time to comment

2. Vice Presidential Debate – Foreign & Domestic Issues
Date: Thursday, October 2nd – Site: Washington University (St. Louis) – Moderator: Gwen Ifill – Staging/Answer Format: Debate will consist of both foreign and domestic policy questions asked by the moderator. Format will be similar to the presidential debates.

3. Second Presidential Debate – Town Hall Meeting
Date: Tuesday, October 7 – Site: Belmont University – Moderator: Tom Brokaw – Staging: Town Hall debate – Format: The moderator will call on members of the audience (and draw questions from the internet). Each candidate will have 2 minutes to respond to each question. Following those initial answers, the moderator will invite the candidates to respond to the previous answers, for a total of 1 minute, ensuring that both candidates receive an equal amount of time to comment. In the spirit of the Town Hall, all questions will come from the audience (or internet), and not the moderator.

4. Third Presidential Debate - Domestic and Economic Issues
Date: Wednesday, October 15 – Site: Hofstra University – Topic: Domestic and Economic Issues – Moderator: Bob Schieffer – Staging: Candidates will be seated at a table – Answer Format: Same as First Presidential Debate – Closing Statements: At the end of this debate (only) each candidate shall have the opportunity for a 90 second closing statement.

Hijab Flutter/Additional Information: You Decide 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

International Religious Freedom Report

Overlooking for a moment i) the hypocrasy of the US publishing any form of "freedom report", ii) the inherent and inevitable bias of such a report, the International Religious Freedom Report 2008 published yesterday is worth a skim.

Below are excerpts from the Executive Summary which I thought were particularly interesting and a few comments/questions from my end which I would appreciate our dear readers' insights or thoughts on.

A problematic long term endeavor of the OIC [Organization of the Islamic Conference] has been the advancement of the concept of "defamation of religions" into U.N. resolutions and reports. Originally phrased in 1999 as "defamation of Islam," the OIC broadened the title to encompass respect for all religions, but Islam remains the only specifically mentioned faith in the resolutions passed on this topic at the U.N. Human Rights Council and General Assembly. Despite a pretense of protecting religious practice and promoting tolerance, the flawed concept attempts to limit freedom of religion and restrict the rights of all individuals to disagree with or criticize religion, in particular Islam...The introduction of the defamation concept in effect seeks to export the blasphemy laws found in many OIC countries to the international level. While the United States discourages actions that are offensive to particular religious traditions, including Islam, the "defamation of religions" concept is inconsistent with the freedoms of religion and expression and the OIC's approach will weaken religious freedom protections, including protections for minority Muslim populations.

This brings us back to the dreaded cartoons controversy. I think the definition of "freedom of religion" is the key here; whether or not this freedom includes the freedom to defame other (or any) religion. I would argue no.

Some governments increased efforts to promote tolerance, dialogue, and an environment conducive to coexistence between religions during the reporting period. In October 2007 the Jordanian Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought led efforts which resulted in the issuing, on October 13, 2007, of an open letter calling for interfaith dialogue to be based on love of God and neighbor. The document, "A Common Word Between Us and You," was issued by 138 Muslim leaders, clerics, and scholars and addressed to Christians worldwide. The Institute collected signatures for the Common Word document representing all eight schools of Islamic thought. The document was finalized at a conference hosted by the Institute under the patronage of King Abdullah in September 2007. The conference brought together representatives from 40 Islamic and non-Islamic countries. On June 4-6, 2008, the Government of Saudi Arabia, along with the Muslim World League (MWL), organized an intrafaith conference in Mecca. The goal of the conference was to promote unity among various Islamic sects. Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as well as Saudi Grand Mufti Abdulaziz Al al-Sheik attended. As a follow up, King Abdullah, along with King Juan Carlos I of Spain, hosted an interfaith conference in Madrid that included prominent religious figures from Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.

Old news but glad it got a mention.

...There was little evidence that regulations introduced in 2005 on religious affairs improved the situation of religious freedom; they defined only government-approved practices and faiths as normal or legitimate. Unregistered Protestant churches continued to report that their applications for registration were rejected without cause. "Underground" Catholic bishops also faced repression, in large part due to their loyalty to the Vatican, which the government accused of interfering in China's internal affairs. The Government of the XUAR continued to strictly control religious activity, limiting participation on the Hajj to tours sponsored by the Islamic Association of China. Foreign media reported that XUAR officials confiscated the passports of more than 2,000 Uighur Muslims to prevent unauthorized Hajj pilgrimages.

This merits its own post. The situation for Muslims in China has gotten much worse, to the extent where some are not allowed to even pray or fast (more here). There has to be something we can do about this besides pray for our brothers and sisters. Do anyone of the American Muslim organizations have contacts with the OIC?

...Members of religious groups that are not recognized by the Government continued to experience personal and collective hardship. There were some positive steps in support of religious freedom, including a court ruling on behalf of Baha'is that has allowed some to obtain civil documents, and a court ruling allowing 13 Christian-born converts to Islam to obtain identity documents indicating their conversion to Christianity. Members of non-Muslim religious minorities officially recognized by the Government generally continued to worship without harassment and maintained links with co-religionists in other countries. Societal abuses and discrimination continued during the reporting period and were manifest in attacks on Christian minorities, including the kidnapping and torture of monks, death threats to a convert from Islam to Christianity, and harassment of religious leaders, as well as in the destruction of Christian symbols and property, and the burning and looting of a chapel.

...Government actions and rhetoric created a threatening atmosphere for nearly all non-Shi'a religious groups, most notably for Baha'is, as well as Sufi Muslims, evangelical Christians, and members of the Jewish community. Government-controlled media intensified negative campaigns against religious minorities, particularly the Baha'is. Reports of imprisonment, harassment, intimidation, and discrimination based on religious beliefs continued during the reporting period. Baha'i groups often reported arbitrary arrests, expulsions from universities, and confiscation of property. The Iranian Government regards the Baha'i faith as a heretical Islamic group with a political orientation that is antagonistic to the country's Islamic revolution and continued to prohibit Baha'is from teaching and practicing their faith. (Baha'is view themselves not as Muslims, but as an independent religion with origins in the Shi'a Islamic tradition.) Zoroastrians, Jews, and Christians legally recognized religious minorities, have reported imprisonment, harassment, intimidation, and discrimination based on their religious beliefs.
Too one-sided to quote...sorry.

Israel and Occupied Territories (huh?...not even Palestinian Occupied Territories...they got their own Olympics team for crying out loud!)
...While there is no constitution, government policy continued to support the generally free practice of religion. Nevertheless, some increases in societal abuses and discrimination contributed to a slight decline in respect for religious freedom during the reporting period. Specifically, societal abuses and discrimination increased against some evangelical Christian groups as well as Messianic Jews (persons who identify as Jews but who believe Jesus was the Messiah). Relations among religious and ethnic groups--between Jews and non-Jews, Muslims and Christians, Arabs and non-Arabs, secular and religious Jews, and among the different streams of Judaism--often were strained during the reporting period. This was due primarily to the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Government's unequal treatment of non-Orthodox Jews, including the Government's recognition of only Orthodox Jewish religious authorities in personal and some civil status matters concerning Jews...The construction of a separation barrier by the Government of Israel due to security concerns, particularly in and around East Jerusalem, severely limited access to holy sites and seriously impeded the work of religious organizations that provide education, healthcare, and other humanitarian relief and social services to Palestinians.

United States...?

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Social Justice Quiz

1. How many deaths are there world-wide each year due to acts of terrorism?

2. How many deaths are there world-wide each day due to poverty and malnutrition?

3. 1n 1965, CEOs in major companies made 24 times more than the average worker. In 1980, CEOs made 40 times more than the average worker. In 2007, CEOs earned how many times more than the average worker?

4. In how many of the over 3000 cities and counties in the US can a full-time worker who earns minimum wage afford to pay rent and utilities on a one-bedroom apartment?

5. In 1968, the minimum wage was $1.65 per hour. How much would the minimum wage be today if it had kept pace with inflation since 1968?

6. True or false? People in the United States spend nearly twice as much on pet food as the US government spends on aid to help foreign countries.


1. 22,000. The U.S. State Department reported there were more than 22,000 deaths from terrorism last year. Over half of those killed or injured were Muslims. Source: Voice of America, May 2, 2008. “Terrorism Deaths Rose in 2007.”

2. About 25,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes, according to the United Nations. – Hunger and World Poverty. Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes – one child every five seconds. Bread for the World. Hunger Facts: International.

3. Today’s average CEO from a Fortune 500 company makes 364 times an average worker’s pay and over 70 times the pay of a four-star Army general. Executive Excess 2007, page 7, jointly published by Institute for Policy Studies and United for Fair Economy, August 29, 2007. 1965 numbers from State of Working America 2004-2005, Economic Policy Institute.

4. In no city or county in the entire USA can a full-time worker who earns minimum wage afford even a one bedroom rental...

5. Calculated in real (inflation adjusted) dollars, the 1968 minimum wage would have been worth $9.83 in 2007 dollars. Andrew Tobias, January 16, 2008. The federal minimum wage is $6.55 per hour effective July 24, 2008 and $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009.

6. True. The USA spends $43.4 billion on pet food annually...

More Questions and Answers at Counterpunch

One of the sisters suggested turning this into a contest/game and using it on campuses to spread awareness of social justice issues - a great idea I think.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Oct. 25, 2008: Teens Make a Difference Day

On behalf of he L.A. County Human Relations Commission and our partners from Connect LA, Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, Los Angeles City Department of Recreation and Parks, SGS Produce, L.A. Unified School District Health Education Programs, L.A. Unified School District Beyond the Bell Branch and Poseidon School, we are honored to invite and encourage you and the teens at your organization, school or agency to participate in the annual Teens Make A Difference Day 2008 in Los Angeles County on Saturday, October 25, 2008.
Make A Difference Day is a national annual program sponsored by Points of Light Foundation and USA Weekend Magazine. Teens Make A Difference Day is our Los Angeles countywide day of volunteer and community service by teens, and youth and youth-serving organizations, schools, religious institutions, community organizations and government agencies.
This year, we are encouraging teens to consider and undertake shared projects that involve collaboration with teens from different communities, schools, cities or organizations. This goal is consistent with the mission of the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations and out zerohour: No Haters Here! youth initiative which empowers youth and supports efforts to strengthen and improve intergroup relations and understanding among and between different communities, groups, faiths, etc. in our county. *10 Teen Projects will receive Awards ranging from $1,000 to $250 for Best Collaboration (interracial, interfaith and inter-community), Most Creative, Most Volunteers, ‘Dirtiest’ Project, etc.
Over the past two years, over 6,000 teens in L.A. County have organized and participated in more than 150 different community service projects as part of Teens Make a Difference Day. Last year, Teens Make A Difference Day in Los Angeles County was recognized as one of the top ten national Make A Difference Day efforts by USA Weekend Magazine and (Paul) Newman’s Own Foundation, and was featured on the cover of April 25-27, 2008 edition of USA Weekly Magazine (10 million copies inserted in Sunday newspapers!!). In addition, some of the teen volunteers and sponsors were introduced on the field in a pre-game ceremony at Dodger Stadium.
In addition to encouraging teens to develop and implement projects with teens from different schools, communities, religious institutions, clubs, and racial or ethnic groups, our goal this year is to increase the number of teen initiated projects to 200+, while introducing youth and teens to the Commission’ zerohour: No Haters Here! youth initiative and our 2009 youth songwriting competition, in collaboration with Oneness Foundation.
Attached is the flyer, event fact sheet, project application (please complete and return to us), project examples (from past years), and additional background information. I encourage you to contact me at or Erik Gavica, the 2008 TMADD Project Coordinator, at or (323) 203-2341. For more information on the Commission and last year’s effort, go to or
Richard Verches
Chief Deputy Director
Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission
320 West Temple Street Suite 1184
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Discussion on Warner Brothers "Towelhead"

Warner Brothers discussion.

President (War Criminal) Bush Attends Iftar Dinner

In addition to attending, Bush was kind of enough to share a few words with the iftar attendees:
We've also partnered with Muslims around the world to spread freedom to millions of people who have never known it before. We're helping the people of Iraq and Afghanistan build free societies after decades of tyranny. And during the month of reflection, we will remember all the brave Muslim Americans who wear the uniform of the United States Armed Forces. They represent the best of our nation. I'm honored to be their Commander-in-Chief.
Full Text of Bush's Speech: The White House

Monday, September 15, 2008

USC To Re-Post Hadiths

The original post on MUSLAMICS breaking news of the removal of five hadith from a USC president (though the Jewish Journal originally carried the news on it) and there seems to be a realization that there was a large liability for law suit against USC and administrators not only changed their "tune" but also their approach to the issue:

...I have asked Professor Donald Miller, director of the USC School of Religion and director of USC's Center for Religion and Civic Culture (CRCC), and Professor Ronald Garet, the Carolyn Craig Franklin Professor of Law and Religion, to consult with our faculty and with other members of our academic community, and to offer practical recommendations on how to address tensions that may arise between individual or group beliefs and the pluralistic and scholarly prerogatives of a research university.

The Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement (CMJE), housed within the CRCC, is working jointly with CRCC faculty to establish a resource for scholars that can allow them to provide academic context to the development of canonical Jewish and Muslim texts. This project will interpret various texts and traditions, place them in historical perspective, and debate the ancient and contemporary moral responses. The CMJE's stated mission is to promote academic partnerships as well as dialogue, understanding, and alliances between these Abrahamic faiths. It hosts a unique academic think tank, as well as archives of materials on Jewish-Muslim relations.

Read here. Also this is basically some of the legal arguments that were forwarded to the students at USC via CAIR to help contextualize this whole fiasco, however the article in the Pheonix is much better at the way, under many Islamic Studies programs, including Harvard's, there is a direct link as a resource to the USC Hadith database. Ridiculous how USC adminstrators could be so short sighted.

An Apology

This is a few days old now, but if you haven't read it I'd recommend you do that ASAP. It's a great piece on an issue critical to the American Muslim community:
An Apology
Heartfelt reflections on the passing of a legendary Blackamerican Muslim leader

On September 11th, 2008, while countless American flags whipped in the wind and the television and radio waves were dominated by remembrances, recordings, and stories about the terror attacks of seven years ago, I attended the funeral of Imam W.D. Mohammed (may God be pleased with him). For me, it was a somber day, but I found myself mostly lost in thought: about African-American Muslim communities, about the challenges ahead in American Muslim institution-building, and about the future of Islam in America. If you don't know who Imam WDM was, you should look him up. The Sufis say: "The true sage belongs to his era." And of the many gifts given to Imam WDM by God, perhaps the most obvious and beneficial one was the Imam's profound understanding of the principles of religion, and his adeptness at intelligently applying those Islamic principles in a socially and culturally appropriate manner befitting the everyday lives of his North American followers. While carefully respecting sound, traditional jurisprudential methodologies of the Islamic religion, and the collective religious history and time-honored scholarship of classical Islam, he promulgated creative ideas and dynamic teachings across many domains of human endeavor, including theology, law, spirituality and even ethics and aesthetics, that together articulated a vision for a quintessentially "American Muslim" cultural identity. And he did all of this before anyone else, with quiet strength and unending humility—a true sage indeed.

So I stood before his final resting place, brokenhearted. And I suddenly began to feel the weight of the moment, realizing that when God takes back one of his dearly beloved friends, those who are left behind should cry not for the deceased, but rather for themselves. For the fact that they are now without one of God's friends in their midst, and, in a sense, they are orphaned. And the tears began to well up, for I became acutely aware that I was standing in front of the grave of my spiritual grandfather, who was himself a spiritual descendant of Bilal al-Habashi (may God be pleased with him), the mighty and beloved companion of the Prophet himself. Bilal was the first Black African to convert to al-Islam at the hands of the Prophet Muhammad (may God bless him and keep him) in the sands of Arabia nearly a thousand and a half years ago. Undoubtedly, some measure of that love, mercy, compassion, and spiritual stature that inhabited the heart of Bilal has found its way down through the ages, and I found myself begging God to transfer to my own heart some glimpse of these realities now laying before me.

Almost five years ago, my business partner, Preacher Moss (who is a member of the WDM community) founded the standup comedy tour "Allah Made Me Funny," and he invited me to be his co-founder. Needless to say, it has been nothing less than an honor to work with him on the project. But to many, it was an unusual pairing: a Black comic and an Indian comic? Both Muslims? Working together? And before we ever even announced our partnership publicly, we met privately and swore an allegiance to one another—a blood oath of sorts—which was this: No matter what happens, in good times and in bad, we have to be the brothers no one expects us to be. And built on this promise (and premise), we brought on our first collaborator, Brother Azeem (who is a member of Minister Farrakhan's NOI), with whom we toured for over two years (2004-2006) before parting ways amicably. Then we brought Mohammed Amer onto the team in the fall of 2006 (a Kuwaiti-born Palestinian refugee who grew up in a Sunni Muslim family in Houston, Texas). Mo, Preach, and I are still going strong together, and we are grateful for the unqualified support, love, and blessings that Imam WDM and the entire community have always given us.

But today, as I observed the funeral proceedings, I felt sad and heavy-hearted. Something wasn't sitting right. Something was physically paining my heart, and it felt like remorse, shame perhaps, maybe even guilt. I began to realize that the tears flowing from my eyes were as much a function of these feelings as they were any lofty spiritual aspirations of mine.

You see, I attended an interfaith event a couple of years ago on 9/11. A group had assembled to commemorate the tragic event, to honor those who perished that day, and to pledge ongoing inter-community support and bridge-building to fight ignorance, hate, and intolerance. At that event, there was this short, middle-aged, sweet, extremely kindhearted, White Christian woman. When she took the microphone to speak, she was already teary-eyed, and I assumed that she was going to make some comments about the victims of 9/11, as so many others already had that night.

But she didn't do that. Instead, she explained that she had become utterly grief-stricken by the constant barrage of news stories she witnessed about Muslims and Arabs being harassed, profiled, and mistreated after 9/11. She explained that she felt powerless to do anything about it, and that it made her sick to her stomach to hear of hate crimes against Muslims and Arabs, and especially to hear of Christian preachers denigrating Islam and its Prophet. She started to cry, and so did many others in the room, humbled by the magnanimity of this simple woman.

And then she did what I thought was a strange thing: she apologized. She prefaced her apology with all the logical disclaimers, such as "I know this may mean nothing to you," and "I know that I am not the one who did these horrible things," and "I know that you may dismiss this as empty rhetoric until you see some follow-up action on my part, but anyway," she continued, "I want to apologize on behalf of all the Christians and all non-Muslims and non-Arabs who have been attacking your communities, harassing your people, and accusing your religion of all these horrible things. I'm sorry. I'm very, very sorry." I was stunned. Speechless, in fact. Though all of her disclaimers were true, and my skeptical mind knew it, her apology melted our hearts. Here was this powerless servant of God sharing some of her most deeply felt emotional vulnerabilities, and she was apologizing to Muslims for something she didn't even do? Jesus (may God bless him and keep him) once famously remarked: "Make the world your teacher," and so I immediately took this woman as a lesson in humility. Admitting her powerlessness made her incredibly powerful.

And this brings me to the point (and title) of this essay. I would like to unburden myself of something that has been sitting like a ton of bricks on my heart for my entire life. I want to apologize to my Blackamerican brothers and sisters in Islam. I know that this apology may not mean very much; and I know that our American Muslim communities have a LONG way to go before we can have truly healthy political conciliation and de-racialized religious cooperation; and I know that I am not the one who is responsible for so much of the historical wrongdoing of so-called "immigrant Muslims"—wrongdoings that have been so hurtful, and insulting, and degrading, and disrespectful, and dismissive, and marginalizing, and often downright dehumanizing.

But anyway, for every "Tablighi" brother who may have had "good intentions" in his own subjective mind, but behaved in an utterly insensitive and outrageous manner toward you when he suggested that you need to learn how to urinate correctly, I'm sorry.

And for every Pakistani doctor who can find money in his budget to drive a Lexus and live in a million-dollar house in suburbia, and who has the audacity to give Friday sermons about the virtues of "Brotherhood in Islam," while the "Black mosque" can't pay the heating bills or provide enough money to feed starving Muslim families just twenty miles away, I'm sorry.

And for every Arab speaker in America who makes it his business to raise millions and millions of dollars to provide "relief" for Muslim refugees around the world, but turns a blind eye to the plight of our very own Muslim sisters and brothers right here in our American inner cities just because, in his mind, the color black might as well be considered invisible, I'm sorry.

And for every liquor store in the "hood" with a plaque that says Maashaa' Allah hanging on the wall behind the counter, I'm sorry.

And for every news media item or Hollywood portrayal that constantly reinforces the notion that "Muslim=foreigner" so that the consciousness of Blackamerican Muslims begins even to doubt itself (asking "Can I ever be Muslim enough?"), I'm sorry.

And for every Salafi Muslim brother (even the ones who used to be Black themselves before converting to Arab) who has rattled off a hadith or a verse from Koran in Arabic as his "daleel" to Kafirize you and make you feel defensive about even claiming this deen as your own, I'm sorry.

And for every time you've been asked "So when did you convert to Islam?" even though that question should more properly have been put to your grandparents, since they became Muslims by the grace of God Almighty back in the 1950s, and raised your parents as believers, and Islam is now as much your own inheritance as it is the one's posing that presumptuous, condescending question, I'm sorry.

And for every time some Muslim has self-righteously told you that your hijab is not quite "Shariah" enough, or your beard is not quite "Sunnah" enough, or your outfit is not quite "Islamic" enough, or your Koranic recitation is not quite "Arabic" enough, or your family customs are not quite "traditional" enough, or your worldview is not quite "classical" enough, or your ideas are not "authentic" enough, or your manner of making wudu is not quite "Hanafi," "Shafi," "Maliki," or "Hanbali" enough, or your religious services are not quite "Masjid" enough, or your chicken is not quite "Halal" enough, I'm sorry.

And for every Labor Day weekend when you've felt divided in your heart, wondering "When will we ever do this thing right and figure out how we can pool our collective resources to have ONE, big convention?," I'm sorry.

And for every time a Muslim has tried to bait you with a question about the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, trying to force you to condemn him—turning it into some sort of binary litmus test of true iman—with reckless and irresponsible disregard for the historical fact that he was among the first Black men in America to ever do anything meaningful for the upliftment and betterment of Black people, I'm sorry.

And for every time you've heard of an African-American brother who tried to bring home a South Asian or Arab sister to meet his parents, only to learn that her parents would rather commit suicide than let their daughter marry a "Black Muslim" (a/k/a "Bilalian brother"), even as they cheer hypocritically at stadium style speeches by Imams Siraj Wahhaj, Zaid Shakir, Johari Abdul Malik, or others—or get in line to bring one of them to speak at their multi-million dollar fundraiser for yet another superfluous suburban mosque, I'm sorry.

I'm sorry. I'm very, very sorry. From the bottom of my heart, I want every African-American Muslim brother and sister to know that I am ashamed of this treatment that you have received and, in many cases, continue to receive, over the decades. I want you to know that I am aware of it. I am conscious of the problem. (Indeed, I am even conscious that I myself am part of the problem since curing hypocrisy begins by looking in the mirror.) I am not alone in this apology. There are literally thousands, if not tens of thousands of young American Muslims just like me, born to immigrant parents who originate from all over the Muslim world. We get it, and we too are sick of the putrid stench of racism within our own Muslim communities. Let us pledge to work on this problem together, honestly validating our own and one another's insecurities, emotions, and feelings regarding these realities. Forgiveness is needed to right past wrongs, yet forgiveness is predicated on acknowledging wrongdoing and sincerely apologizing. Let us make a blood oath of sorts.

When the bulldozer came to place the final mounds of dirt over the tomb of Imam WDM, I was standing under a nearby tree, under the light drizzle that had just begun (perhaps as a sign of mercy dropping from the heavens as the final moments of the burial were drawing to a close), and I was talking to a dear friend and sister in faith, whose family has been closely aligned with Imam WDM for decades. She shared with me a story that her father had just related to her about the passing of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in 1975 (the same year I was born, incidentally). She told me that her father described the scene in the immediate aftermath of Elijah's demise: utter confusion and chaos within the NOI and the communities surrounding it. There was much debate and discord about what direction the NOI would take, and many were still in shock and denial that the founder had actually died. Out of the midst of that confusion arose Imam WDM, and along with his strong leadership came an even more, perhaps surprisingly courageous direction: the path away from the Black nationalism, pan-Africanism, and proto-religious beliefs of his father, and instead the unequivocal charge toward mainstream Islam, the same universal and cosmopolitan faith held and practiced by over a billion adherents worldwide. In this manner, her father explained, the death of Elijah Muhammad became a definitive end to a chapter in our collective history, and the resulting re-direction by Imam WDM marked the beginning of the next, far better, chapter in that unfolding history.

Maybe I am just an idealistic fool, or maybe Pharaoh Sanders was right about the Creator's Master Plan, but I sincerely believe that all we have to do—all of us together: Black folks, South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis), Arabs from every part of the Middle East and North Africa, Southeast Asians (Indonesians and Malaysians), Persians, Turks, Latinos, assorted Muslims of all stripes, colors, and backgrounds, and yes, even our White Muslim brothers and sisters—is live up to a simple promise to one another: No matter what happens, in good times and in bad, we have to be the brothers and sisters no one expects us to be.

It is hoped that the passing of Imam WDM will also mark the end of a chapter in our collective American Muslim history, and perhaps now, in earnest, we can all look together toward The Third Resurrection.

May God mend our broken hearts, lift our spirits, purify our souls, heal the rifts between our communities, unify our aims, remove our obstacles, defeat our enemies, and bless and accept our humble offerings and service.

© 2008 Azhar Usman | 10 Ramadan 1429 | 11 September 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

This is Your Nation on White Privilege

By Tim Wise

For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll “kick their fuckin' ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re “untested.

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn’t added until the 1950s--while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college--you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a “second look.

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it a “light” burden.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren’t sure about that whole “change” thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

If You Can Spare 10 Seconds & $10

Please help us support a Muslim professional in the area of film-making.  Lena Khan, the Producer of "A Land Called Paradise," needs financial support in carrying out her next project targeted towards a series of Obama political commercials based on the popular Get a Mac ads.

Many filmmakers have given up early in their careers due to lack of support and funding. If we want to have Muslims in film and in the media, it is important to invest now in their careers.

How You Can Help:  1) Lena still needs approximately $1500. If 150 give $10 (or 75 give $20) we'll have that amount in no time. Of course, given that donations have been sparse, any amount you would like to donate would certainly be appreciated. 

Ways To Donate:  1) Either PayPal the amount to or 2) email stating your pledge amount and requesting mailing instructions.

For further details about Lena's accomplishments and a personal email from her about the project, please feel free to read her email below.  


  • Grand Prize winner of the "One Nation, Many Voices" film contest for the film, "A Land Called Paradise." The film has been seen by over 500,000 people online, licensed by the State Department, and distributed to over 20 foreign embassies. It has affected thousands, helped heal rifts in families, and stimulated discussion across the world.
  • Featured in USA Today, The Riverside Press Enterprise, The State Department journal, and other news outlets.
  • Graduated top of her class at UCLA Film school and graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with degrees in political science and history
  • Winner of CAIR's "Activist of the Year" award, honored as the "Emerging Filmmaker to Watch" at MPAC's 2008 Hollywood Bureau Media Awards, winner of Sony Entertainment Television's South Asian Excellence Award in Entertainment.
  • Previously worked at Valhalla Motion Pictures and Participant Productions on Oscar-winning feature films
  • To read a feature article about Lena: Telling America's Story

From: Lena Khan [

As-salamu `alaykum.

Not too long after the immense success--by the support of the Muslim community and the grace of God--of my film, "A Land Called Paradise," I am now hoping for your help on a new project. 

The new project is a set of 10-12 Obama commercials, modeled after the immensely successful and entertaining "Mac vs. PC" commercials. The series will be released approximately the first week of October and requires $3,000.

The commercials will help give me the training and exposure (effective and entertaining political videos spread virally online and have often been given exposure on major television networks) needed to further my career. They allow me a quality project with which to put in my reel/portfolio.

I have dedicated my entire career to making films about social issues and injustices that need exposure. Many inspired filmmakers have seen their careers fail because of lack of money to continue their training and career path. If the Muslim community wants to have Muslims in film, we ask for donors like you to invest in our careers.

On a personal note, I continually pray for everyone who has thus far helped me in my career as I cannot proceed without it. May you be rewarded for your support.

Jazakum Allahu khayran,

Lena Khan

Welcome to Somber September 11th

The Seventh year in a row, we remember, like all Americans the tragic events of Sept. 11th. Here is a link to my blog where you can read my reflection for this year. I thought here we can share with one another, how as special Americans Sept. 11th also marks a time where we get special remarks, and special events, for some rites of passage into the real world. Let me start:

Today, I got an email forwarded to me that read "hard to believe it's been seven years. we haven't forgotten, pig*&^%..." Then just an hour ago, my 13 year old sister called me, distressed and anxious with fear in her voice, telling me that some African American kid named Issiah has been harrassing her all day calling her a terrorist, asking her "when she planned to bring a AK-47 to school and kill everyone?" Her voice was desperately asking me to make it stop.

What can I tell her, sorry sis' there are some ignorant and stupid dumb people out there who only know how to torment people because they get a thrill out of it?

Share your American Muslim experiences that come around this time of year, or for that matter anytime of the year.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Derailed Straight Talk Train Causing Havoc

Is it me, or do you see the following equation- Imperial Commander Bush followed by King McCain who is succeeded by President Palin.

Think of it, President Palin.

Now either McCain is thinking he's living for another four, maybe eight years, and hence he doesnt have to worry about Palin really truly becoming or taking over Presidential power. Or he thinks that a mayor of a town of a couple thousand people, who only has been Governor for less then two years, who has a lot of baggage and is an ideologue further right then him can become President of the United States and bring this Nation together. I mean she has lots of international experience, with all her meetings with Santa Clause and all being near to the North Pole. McCain is delusional and senile. He can't even remember what he says from one moment to the next. I share Matt Damons concern. I hope you do too- so go vote. Better yet, go and put up some time to do some work in the swing states where Obama and his team really need your help!

"You do the actuary tables, there's a one out of three chance, if not more, that McCain doesn't survive his first term, and it'll be President Palin," said Damon, who was in town to promote ONEXONE, a Canadian children's charity expanding to the U.S., during the Toronto Film Festival.

"It's like a really bad Disney movie, "The Hockey Mom.' Oh, I'm just a hockey mom from Alaska, and she's president," said Damon. "She's facing down Vladimir Putin and using the folksy stuff she learned at the hockey rink. It's absurd."


From the guy who brought you "Traitor" and "T-head" here is "Tribe". The most interesting part of this whole thing is where they discuss how Jews in the US have began to question the Zionist project for Israel. I think we're doing our jobs, keep up the critical discussions and campaigns and lets stay away from the emotional cheer leading we see at certain college campuses.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

RIP: Warith Deen Mohammed

The Ummah lost Imam Warith Deen Mohammed today. He died at home in Markham, Illinois.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'oon (we belong to Allah and to him we return).

More information on the Imam's legacy: A Witness for True Islam.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Republicans & Healthcare

One of Cindy McCain's RNC outfits if sold on EBay could generate enough revenue to provide 750 Americans with healthcare. And who says the Republicans are all bad?

(Heck, it could have paid for me to attend law school twice over, and then some!)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hypocrisy at USC

Guest Request From A Former USC MSU President


Please take a minute to read this article below, and my further explanation below the link: Front Page Magazine

Traditionally, there have been two Muslim student organizations at USC, a Muslim Student Association (MSA) and a Muslim Student Union (MSU). The article makes no distinction.

USC MSA does not exist as a recognized student organization (recognition from the Office of Student Affairs at USC). USC MSA has not existed as a recognized student organization for at least 1 academic year. USC MSA has not even existed in an unofficial capacity (leadership, members, events, meetings, etc.) for at least 1 academic year.

The USC MSA website was just being hosted by USC Information Services Division, with no webmaster updating or maintaining the website. At no time was the USC MSA website affiliated with the USC MSU.

However, the Provost of USC unilaterally removed the hadith in question (discussed in the linked article above) and moved the USC MSA website to the USC MSU website url without discussing the matter or decision with the USC Office of Religious Life, the USC MSU, or the Director of Muslim Affairs at USC.

After that, the Office of Religious life agreed to host the USC MSA website as a "university resource" as to not assign the USC MSA website to USC MSU.

This whole situation seems hypocritical in light of the fact that Ann Coulter can come to a USC co-sponsored event at the Annenberg School for Communication and said something to the effect of "we should go to the Middle East and allow them to convert to Christianity, if they don't, we should wipe them out." But at the same time, a hadith taken out of context can be unilaterally removed from a website without even discussing the matter with the Office of Religious life or Muslim faculty, staff and students at USC, and that the website can be moved and re-assigned to an unaffiliated Muslim group who is left holding the bag and answering questions.

The manner in which the outside concern was addressed in secrecy with no transparency or discussion with the people that it impacted directly: the Office of Religious Life, the USC MSU, and Muslim students, faculty, and staff at USC is problematic to say the least. Freedom of speech and freedom to practice one's religion seem to be subjective at USC.

Please contact the Provost's office directly: USC

Related Articles:
Daily Trojan
U.S. News & World Report

Who Are They Insulting?

Okay I think I was hearing things last night. I read the transcript of the speech, I watched a video posted a few hours after the speech and I did not hear what my friend heard- which was basically in a nut shell- "its worse being Muslim then it is being a terrorist".

Excuse me? Yes you read that right. Terrorism is better then being a Muslim. According to Fooliani in his speech to the Republicans. Now people listen for yourself- scroll over to the 5:20 minute mark and listen closely and tell me I am hearing things?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Ramadan Compact

I'm doing something different this Ramdan. Don't worry, Alhamdulillah I'm still fasting and praying and all of the usual great stuff. However, I wanted to add to my Ramadan goals. It's a time for growth and simply repeating what I've been doing for many years now isn't challenging enough. It's difficult, no doubt. However, I needed something new. AND I found it:

The Ramadan Compact
In the spirit of reducing consumption during Ramadan and using it as a time for reflection and awareness, I challenge you to a "Buy Nothing Ramadan."

You've heard all the news stories on the environment: global warming, air and water pollution, species extinction, loss of forest, etc. Whether you believe that our planet is heading for an immediate catastrophe or not, you have to realize that, as Americans, we just consume A LOT. If you look at our Ecological Footprint - a measure of consumption and waste production that is translated into the amount of land needed to maintain these services (see here) - an average American needs 24 "acres" of land to support his current lifestyle. I took the quiz and, even if the whole world were semi-green like me, we would still need 3.7 earths to survive (17 acres per person). Take the quiz and see what you get.

As a Muslim with "environmentalist" tendencies, I believe that this sort of consumption is not just inequitable but largely unsustainable. I also believe that we can make a difference through our individual decisions.

I invite you to take the barakah of Ramadan to be thankful for the blessings in our lives, be more mindful of our actions and their environmental impact, and reduce material consumption.

The idea of the Buy-Nothing Ramadan comes from the Compact movement, first started in the San Francisco area where members agreed to go a year without buying anything.

The Compact aims to:
"1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact
2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er)
3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)"

Here are the rules (modified from here):
1. Don't buy any new products. Exceptions: Food and drink, medicine, personal items (ex. socks and underwear), services, charitable contributions, and gifts (in moderation).
2. For other items, borrow or buy used.
3. Take the time you would spend shopping in other productive ways (read Quran, spend time with your family, volunteer for a local community organization, etc).

Feel free to add other "rules" for your personal Compact - unplug from TV and internet media, try carpooling to reduce vehicle trips - be creative and challenge yourself! Use Ramadan as a time to be more mindful of not only your eating habits, but of your overall consumption. Food for thought: how to host a eco-friendly iftar.

I am accountable only to myself. I may stumble along the way, but I pray that my willingness to live a better, more sustainable, life (Fi'sabilillah) will be what keep me in check.

If you're interested, sign up here: the Ramadan Compact!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fox Busted

Sami Al-Arian Free


News spreading through the family from East coast is that Sami al-arian has been released on bond and AT THIS VERY MOMENT IS FREE!!! (relatively!)

Alhumdulillah, this is quite a Ramadan gift! Spread the word.

The Republican Circus

This was an unfortunate sight to see, NOT a fan of demonstrations turning into circuses, especially where law enforcement lives are put at risk. This would not be free speech.

Then there is this video of something nefarious...

some more perspective:

Police misconduct, detention and seizures: