Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Whats wrong with being a Porn Star?

Are you looking for pornography on a Muslim site? Well you won't find that here. You won't find something that is distasteful either.

This is a Muslim blog. Its a blog created by activists to tackle real issues being debated, swept under the rug, or urgently in need of discussion.

Real life issues mean dealing with things that are not pleasant, that make you un-easy and challenge the very things that you stand for.

I hear a lot about censorship, what's synonymous with this word is the term "salafi police" in the Muslim community. I am not a fan of labels, nor do I care for censorship. So, in no way do I see me taking this post down as a win for censorship.

Naseeha, giving advise, is critical in Islam, especially when it comes to endeavors such as a community blog with wide array of perspectives and beliefs. In taking down this post I have come to realize that there is a fashion an way in which things could and should be posted and the sensitive nature of the topic being discussed here requires that finesse.

I am a community blogger, what makes me happy is when I have a community that I am part of and belong to. It also makes me angry, disappointed and frustrated. Because the same community is often times not the best. However, no matter how angry, disappointed and frustrated the community gets me, the one lesson I have learned is that to be positive change, you can not run miles ahead of the group of people I wish to be part of, to work on behalf of, to represent.

That means re-evaluating my own sensibilities. Which is a challenge and a internal discussion for myself.

Living in America, heck in the "modern, post-modern, internet age" world is not an easy task. With access to so much information its often easier to just not care. To be indulgent in things that are superficial and fantasy centered.

As Muslims, our work is to make Islam not just a thought, a passing phase in one's life, but relevant and truely a "way of life." I am not here to just make a statement, make people's mouths drop and stand in disgust. Nor am I here to be a militant issue person.

I have blogged about pornography in the past, as well as sex slaves, and Muslim Gay issues. I have blogged about marriage issues in the Muslim community, and race. I have blogged about the Moon Wars, pummeled leftist Muslims for their idiotic apologist's mantra that undermines the community. I have gone after right wing nut cases as well.

For the most part, you read this blog because you find something here that is worth reading. I value that. However, the armchair activism that the majority of our readers participate in is not helping anyone. Sure we get the hits, however, we always need feed back. Public comments tell me, us, where to go and how to go.

To be honest, I have gotten no more comments on this post then any other controversial post. However, I have gotten stopped or IM'ed more often then other posts. I love that people respect me enough to help me understand what they think. I however, also would love it if you are honest and leave your comments here. Because if school is a lesson to learn from, then we know if you have an opinion then most likely five other people also share that opinion or question.

Expect the post to be reposted. Until then, I look forward to hearing back from you on whether the video should or shouldnt be posted.
Israel's "Relief" to Continue hurting Palestinians

This report is from "Gisha," (Hebrew for "access" and "approach"), an Israeli not-for-profit organization, founded in 2005, whose goal is to protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents. Gisha promotes rights guaranteed by international and Israeli law. It is one of the plaintiffs in a suit before the Israeli Supreme Court challenging the fuel cuts to gaza.

Israel's "Relief":
Fuel Cuts of Up to 81%
New Electricity Cuts Beginning
February 7

Monday, January 28, 2008: After more than a week of near-total ban on fuel supplies, Israel said yesterday that it would resume permitting Gaza residents to purchase fuel – but would limit the amount they could buy by as much as 81% and would cut the electricity supplied directly to Gaza beginning February 7.

The state made the announcement in advance of yesterday's hearing in Israel's Supreme Court, as part of its response to a court petition filed by 10 Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups challenging punitive cuts in fuel and electricity supplies to Gaza residents. The court has yet to issue a decision.

After almost totally blocking fuel supply last week, Israel through the State Attorney's Office told the court it would resume permitting Gaza residents to purchase diesel, petrol (gasoline) and industrial diesel but would only allow them a small percentage of what they need. The State Attorney's office also told the court that it would reduce the electricity that Israel's Electric Company sells directly to Gaza by 5% on three lines (a total of 1.5 MW), beginning February 7.

At the hearing, the human rights groups, represented by Gisha and Adalah, asked for an order preventing the state from restricting supply. The rights groups claim that the fuel and electricity cuts constitute illegal collective punishment.

The shortage of industrial diesel has crippled the functioning of Gaza's power plant, whose reserves ran out on Jan. 5. Since then, the plant reduced production and even shut down for two days. Currently, the power plant is producing 45 MW electricity – instead of the 80 MW it could produce, were it allowed enough industrial diesel.

Gaza currently has an electricity deficit of 24%, and rolling blackouts across the Strip are as long as 12 hours per day in some areas. The electricity shortage has increased the dependence on diesel-powered generators – just as Israel cut diesel supplies. Without electricity and without diesel for back-up generators, Gaza's sewage treatment pumps and treatment plants are pumping as much as 40 million liters untreated sewage into the sea each day, and clean water supply has fallen by 30%. Hospitals have reduced services and denied care to non-urgent cases, as the power outages continue, and their fuel supplies run dangerously low.

According to Gisha's Director, Sari Bashi: "Israel's 'relief' is just further punishment. Israel continues to deny Gaza residents the fuel and electricity they need to power hospitals, pump sewage, access clean water, and heat their homes. Israel has a right to defend itself against Qassam rocket fire targeting its civilians. But further cuts to Gaza's electricity, as Israel plans, will only make more innocent people suffer."

Facts about Israel's fuel cuts to Gaza:

Israel began instituting fuel cuts to Gaza on October 28, 2007, as part of a governmental decision calling for punitive measures against Gaza's 1.5 million residents. The new levels of fuel announced yesterday are significantly lower than the quantities being purchased by Gaza residents prior to the Oct. 28, 2007 cuts – and significantly lower than what they need now.

*The Palestinian Struggle never seems to end. Read on
Another Wall We Should be Fighting Against...
Cultural and ecological concerns about the proposed 700 mile fence across the southern border of the United States are not lost on indigenous peoples and environmental activists along the busiest route for smuggling and migration in southern Arizona.

By Russell Morse


The swath of land in southern Arizona that bleeds into the northern Mexican state of Sonora is a sprawling, largely uninhabited, desert divided by mountains and spotted with shrubs. Driving down dusty roads with a punishing sun overhead, it seems almost lifeless.

But this region is home to the Tohono O’odham Nation, a tribe of 25,000 people, who have shared the land with the road runners, mountain lions, jaguars and wolves for over 6000 years. In 1853 the US Mexico border was redrawn, effectively cutting the O’odham Nation in half.

This border itself did not present grave consequences for the tribe, however, until the late 1990s, when the US Border Patrol developed a new strategy for Border enforcement in the southwest. At that time, operations Gatekeeper in San Diego, Hold the Line in El Paso and Safeguard: Arizona in Nogales shifted enforcement to urban areas. The object was to force migrants into desolate desert regions, where they would either be deterred by the terrain or easily apprehended in open spaces. The only thing that’s changed, however, is where migrants are crossing. The narrow corridor they have been edged into goes right through the Tohono O’odham reservation.

This land is also where the proposed border fence would be built, isolating the communities of O’odham people on either side of the fence and threatening the animals and vegetation of the biologically diverse Sky Island region. Tribal members and environmentalists there are not concerned with the politicized issue of undocumented immigration to the United States. Their concern is the preservation of the culture and habitat that have flourished here for thousands of years and now face decimation by the construction of a wall.

Every October, O’odham tribal members make a pilgrimage from the US side of their land to Magdalena, Sonora in Mexico side as part of their annual St Francis festival. The procession is part of a larger event, with music, food and dancing and is their largest tribal festival. Increased border enforcement in the past twenty years has restricted this movement, but they still made the annual procession. Until this year.

On October second, the electrical lines to an O’odham community in Mexico were cut, leaving them without power. A tribal member decided to drive to the US side to get some generators so the celebration could go on as planned. As he was driving, his truck was shot at.

The man’s sister, Ofelia Rivas, along with most tribal members, is convinced that the cut lines and the shooting are related, perpetrated by drug smugglers who have set up operations on O’odham land and are trying to intimidate the residents.

Ofelia is a tribal elder and she has watched the impact that increased border security has had on her people’s land. Aside from the aggression from smugglers, she’s had to endure harassment by Border Patrol officers restricting movement on traditional routes. “One of the main things is that we are impacted by the immigration policies and we’re not immigrants,” she says. “We have to carry documents to prove who we are.”

Ofelia tells a story of one Border Patrol encounter that turned into terror for her and her family. She was with her daughter and grandson, driving home from an all night dance when they were pulled over. “Right away they said 'Get out, get out' because I’m in the back seat and I’m brown skinned and I don’t talk English too well, you know.” She asked why she had to get out of the car and the agent asked whether she was a US citizen or a Mexican citizen. She answered, “I’m an O’odham don’t you know you’re on my land? You should have some respect.”

At this point, Ofelia recalls, the officer got angry, unclipped his pistol and put it to her head, demanding that she say whether she is a Mexican or a US citizen. He said if she didn’t answer, he would handcuff her and have her deported. “I said where are you gonna deport me to? Mexico is my territory. My father’s community is there. O’odham community is there.” Ofelia shakes her head. “By then my daughter is crying, my grandson is crying and I can’t cry because I’m really angry but I’m very much afraid.”

Read on

Monday, January 28, 2008

From the Classroom to the Office, Big Brother Wants to Shackle Our Brains to Our Desks...

Submitted By Guest Blogger Nida Chowdhry

The Homeland Security Campus: Repress U
by Michael Gould-Wartofsky

From Harvard to UCLA, the ivory tower is fast becoming the latest watchtower in Fortress America. The terror warriors, having turned their attention to "violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism prevention"--as it was recently dubbed in a House of Representatives bill of the same name--have set out to reconquer that traditional hotbed of radicalization, the university.

Building a homeland security campus and bringing the university to heel is a seven-step mission:

1. Target dissidents. As the warfare state has triggered dissent, the campus has attracted increasing scrutiny--with student protesters in the cross hairs. The government's number-one target? Peace and justice organizations.

From 2003 to 2007 an unknown number of them made it into the Pentagon's Threat and Local Observation Notice system (TALON), a secretive domestic spying program ostensibly designed to track direct "potential terrorist threats" to the Defense Department itself. In 2006 the ACLU uncovered, via Freedom of Information Act requests, at least 186 specific TALON reports on "anti-military protests" in the United States--some listed as "credible threats"--from student groups at the University of California, Santa Cruz; State University of New York, Albany; Georgia State University; and New Mexico State University, among other campuses.
. . .
2. Lock and load. Many campus police departments are morphing into heavily armed garrisons, equipped with a wide array of weaponry, from Taser stun guns and pepper guns to shotguns and semiautomatic rifles. Lock-and-load policies that began in the 1990s under the rubric of the "war on crime" only escalated with the President's "war on terror." Each school shooting--most recently the massacre at Virginia Tech--adds fuel to the armament flames.

Two-thirds of universities arm their police, according to the Justice Department. Many of the guns being purchased were previously in the province of military units and SWAT teams: for instance, AR-15 rifles (similar to M-16s) are in the arsenals of the University of Texas campus police. Last April City University of New York bought dozens of semiautomatic handguns. Some states, like Nevada, are even considering plans to allow university staff to pack heat in a "special reserve officer corps."
. . .
3. Keep an eye (or hundreds of them) focused on campus. Surveillance has become a boom industry nationally--one that now reaches deep into the heart of campuses. In fact, universities have witnessed explosive growth since 2001 in the electronic surveillance of students, faculty and campus workers. On ever more campuses, closed-circuit security cameras can track people's every move, often from hidden or undisclosed locations, sometimes even into classrooms.
. . .
4. Mine student records. Student records have in recent years been opened up to all manner of data mining for purposes of investigation, recruitment or just all-purpose tracking. From 2001 to 2006, in an operation code-named Project Strike Back, the Education Department teamed up with the FBI to scour the records of the 14 million students who applied for federal financial aid each year. The objective? "To identify potential people of interest," explained an FBI spokesperson cryptically, especially those linked to "potential terrorist activity."
. . .
5. Track foreign-born students; keep the undocumented out. Under the auspices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been keeping close tabs on foreign students and their dependents through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). As of October 2007, ICE reported that it was actively following 713,000 internationals on campuses, while keeping more than 4.7 million names in the database.
. . .
6. Take over the curriculum, the classroom and the laboratory. Needless to say, not every student is considered a homeland security threat. Quite the opposite. Many students and faculty members are seen as potential assets. To exploit these assets, DHS has launched its own curriculum under its Office of University Programs (OUP), intended, it says, to "foster a homeland security culture within the academic community."
. . .
7. Privatize, privatize, privatize. Of course, homeland security is not just a department, nor is it simply a new network of surveillance and data mining--it's big business. (According to USA Today, global homeland-security-style spending had already reached $59 billion a year in 2006, a sixfold increase over 2000.) Not surprisingly, then, universities have in recent years established unprecedented private-sector partnerships with the corporations that have the most to gain from their research. DHS's on-campus National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terror (START), for instance, features Lockheed Martin on its advisory board. The Center for Food Protection and Defense relies on an industry working group that includes Wal-Mart and McDonald's offering "guidance and direction," according to its chair.

I found this article utterly creepy, but it is not in the least unexpected. Considering the constant encouragement for our generations to be "peaceful" i.e. apathetic, and the fear that is instilled in us of "terrorism" (i.e. opposition on any level to anything the good ole' US government does), I am not in the least surprised that university students are being monitored to this extent. University students are given tools to think critically and to analyze the world around us. I just wish we would all think beyond the classroom and make connections with reality; maybe we'll all get out of our armchairs one day and dare to make a change in our own lives to start with...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Obama: MLK's dream come true?

Imam Zaid Shakir's article says it all. Excerpts below:

While it is certainly heartening to see such a strong candidacy from an African American, Obama’s run for the presidency sheds light on the nuances of race relations in this land in ways that many who admire or support him might not wish to discuss. It also sheds light on the way Dr. King’s legacy has been shaped in a way to make many of the forces that were extremely uncomfortable with him at the end of his life, “accept” him in his death. Those are the same forces that are willing to “accept” Obama, as long as he stays away from the sort of issues that probably cost Dr. King his life.

At the end of his life, Dr. King was anathema to those interests and individuals who collectively form the ruling coalition in this country. His strident opposition to the Viet Nam War, his fearless advocacy for the poor, for the unrepresented and the underserved of this country, and his increasingly bitter condemnation of both the apathy of the white middle class, and what he saw as the hypocrisy of the Christian establishment all earned him the ire and the vehement condemnation of powerful whites, along with a significant number of African American leaders who felt he was going beyond the tame demands of the Civil Rights movement.

Herein lays Dr. King’s legacy, an uncompromising struggle against the “giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism.” That aspect of his work and teachings is unmentioned in the mainstream media. Instead his baritone refraining of “I have a dream” fills the airwaves. After his death, the struggle against those evil “triplets” was not allowed to exist as his enduring legacy. Instead, that legacy has been whitewashed, sanitized and rendered “acceptable” for white middle class sensitivities.

What does all of this have to do with Obama? Obama is a viable African American candidate because he has steadfastly refused to deal with the issues Dr. King was dealing with at the end of his life, even though they are just as relevant today as they were forty years ago. That refusal has seen him distance himself from his activist pastor, Minister Jeremiah Wright. It has seen him avoid any public identification with Rev. Jesse Jackson, a fellow Chicagoan, or similar leaders who are identified with African American civil rights advocacy, and it has seen him ignore issues of relevance to African Americans and the urban and rural poor today.

That he has taken such positions is not just an indictment against Obama. It is also an indictment against American society which has deemed that an open advocate for such issues is unfit to lead this nation.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Do Something!

Do Yesi and I have your attention now?

Can you please put your hookah down, stop reading about Brittany Spears, take a break from the Wii, prick your bubbles (Orange County, Santa Clara, etc.) AND do something!

Do anything.

I have a strong feeling NONE OF US (including myself) are doing EVERYTHING we CAN for our brothers and sisters (in faith but more so in humanity) in Gaza.

You don't know where to start? You're not sure how YOU can make a difference?

Donate (Every dollar matters)
Islamic Relief - $10 million emergency appeal for humanitarian crisis
Al-Awda - You will need to specify that your donation is intended specifically for Gaza

Send a Letter to Your Elected Officials
Jewish Voice for Peace - They've even got a form letter available for you!

Sign a Petition
Avaaz - Help them obtain 150,000 signatures ASAP

Take it to the Streets
ANSWER - Protests planned in 10 cities, including Orange County and San Francisco, thus far!

Say a Prayer
Yes, it's the least you can do. It should be done in conjunction with any/all of the above. Say a prayer for the residents of Gaza as well as all other victims of oppression in Apartheid Israel and elsewhere.

This is much too easy. Do something!

What Will You do for Gaza? (Videos)
Here are some videos about the situation.

Actor Overdoses on Drugs vs. An Entire People Being Suffocated

Can you PLEASE take a break from mourning Heath Ledger and pay some attention to the drama in Gaza?

Thousands of people have flooded through a hole blasted through the wall separating Gaza and Egypt. The hole was created by masked Palestinian gunmen and it allowed those trapped in Gaza to pass into Egypt, where they brought food, fuel and other supplies that have become restricted on the Palestinian side of the wall.

Hundreds of Palestinian women crashed a border gate Tuesday to protest Egypt's cooperation with Israeli sanctions against the Gaza Strip, setting off a riot that injured 35 people and curtailed a resumption of food aid to the impoverished territory.

Israel's limited reversal of its border closure was the result of international pressure, government officials said, but a one-day measure due to its own review of the situation, which included a sharp reduction in rocket fire since the weekend.

“With a great regret and strong condemnation of these crimes… the Islamic Republic of Iran will use all its diplomatic efforts to lift the Gaza blockade and the threats against the Palestinians,” Gholam-Hossein Elham told a regular news briefing.

Thirty thousand cubic metres of untreated sewage from the Gaza Strip was dumped into the Mediterranean as a direct result of the four-day total embargo on fuel and humanitarian supplies, Palestinian water executives said yesterday.

Gaza is on the threshold of becoming the first territory to be intentionally reduced to a state of abject destitution, with the knowledge, acquiescence and - some would say - encouragement of the international community. An international community that professes to uphold the inherent dignity of every human being must not allow this to happen.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Deadline Fast Approaching

Speaking of Palestine, the Bush Empire and Keith Ellison reminds me: Are you registered to vote yet?

I'm tired of people of conscience complaining (day in and day out) and yet NOT doing EVERYTHING in their power to bring about change. Really though, we do a lot of "talking" and not nearly enough "walking!" Going to a rally every so often and remembering to wear sweat shop free clothing is great, but it's NOT sufficient.

The are two things that will matter MOST in American politics this year 1) MONEY and 2) VOTES.

Have you seen what the organizations that stand for everything that outrages my moral compass spend on elections? Trust me, if you're reading this it's likely you don't have the money to compete with the likes of AIPAC and the pharmaceutical giants.

That leaves one other option: VOTES.

You have YOUR votes and the votes of your peers. You may not be able to raise money but you can organize votes. You can get people involved and excited about the issues. Yes, YOU!

But have you registered to vote? If not, you have until January 22nd to mail in your voter registration application. That is if you care to make your voice heard on SUPER TUESDAY (February 5th).

To register, visit:

California Secretary of State or Rock the Vote

(Also, remember: if you registered as an Independent (i.e., you declined to state an affiliation with a political party) you can vote in either the Democratic or American Independent Party Primary in CA. Simply ask for the ballot of the primary in which you want to participate at the polling station.)

Register ASAP to make sure your voice is heard on February 5th!

***AND If you're too busy to make it to the polls, you can request an absentee ballot and mail it in/drop it off!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

On the Edge of the Crescent

I recently read a short article on Southeast Asian Muslims and the prejudice and injustice they continue to face simply because they are Muslim, which have made me realize how little I know about that region and community. And of course every now and then we hear something about the Muslim 'insurgents' in the Phillipenes which I never know what to make of.

Then this PBS report came my way. I still have many unanswered questions but I think the report (slideshow + interview) is a great introduction.

What makes it more interesting is that it was prepared by a young, fresh-out-of-college photographer...who says fresh grads can't change the world?

Check out slideshow here, and full interview here...excerpts below:

Mimi Chakarova: Tell me how you started this project in 2001. Why the southern Philippines?
Ryan Anson: My path to Mindanao was fairly meandering. I went to the Philippines straight out of college, in the year 2000. My parents had been living there since ’98, and after making a few trips during the holidays, I thought it would be a pretty cool place to start freelancing from. It was during that time that the war with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front began. It started in April 2000, and I was actually finishing my last semester of school. My mother was mailing me newspaper articles about the southern Philippines, and I was reading about war and displacement, Muslims and Christians -- I didn’t know what all of it meant. I hadn’t really been exposed to conflict before. I’d lived in several other countries, had traveled and photographed in different environments but not in a place where there was war. So, I went to Manila and made a trip down [south], actually with my father, and visited a rebel camp. This was a year prior to the wars, and I met some former insurgents who had been fighting the government for 30 years.

What were you hoping to document?
I was very much interested in the secessionist struggle that the Muslims in the Philippines had been waging for 30 years. They are a viable community, made up of 5 million people, and have pretty much gotten the shaft by the government since independence in the 1940s. But their oppression dates back earlier, to the Spanish times centuries ago. I wanted to understand why they are struggling and using arms, what they want…. Photography enabled me to explore these questions.

What do you think is the driving force behind the conflict?
There are many engines driving the conflict. Filipino Muslims and Thai Muslims don’t feel like they’re Thai and Filipino, which is sort of the irony. People in Manila or Bangkok say, “the Muslims in the south are part of our country; they are our brothers.” But [the Muslims] don’t feel part of the nation, and the government hasn’t done much to make them feel included. They follow a different religion – they believe in Islam. The majority of Thais are Buddhist; the majority of Filipinos are Catholic. The Thai monarchy and the Spanish colonial powers in the Philippines used arms to prevent Muslims from practicing their faith and that went on for centuries. So there is a fair amount of anger and a number of legitimate grievances that both Muslims in southern Thailand and the Philippines have. Both areas are intensely poor; they’ve been neglected by the central government…development funds go to the capital regions or other provinces. Somehow [the funds] do not end up in Muslim parts of the respective countries.

Continue here

(Hijab tip:
Sabeen Shaiq)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Keith Ellison In Town January 19th!!!

Are you RSVP'ed?

Look we have been talking a lot, thanks to Huda's post on African American Muslims and the immigrant community. Keith is in town, and we have a SECOND Muslim running for Congress in Indiana who is- you guessed it- African American!!!

I think African Americans, hopefully all indigenous Muslims, will be setting the American Muslim agenda and no longer "pushed to the back of the bus". Check out the video from the CAIR Banquet in 2007 where Keith Ellison spoke as the key note speaker

Now come on January 19th, 2008 by RSVP'ing with CAIR at 714-776-1847 or smowjood@cair.com - you will get an opportunity to be part of a youth conversation with Keith and its critical that we have this!

Monday, January 14, 2008


I was reading through Huda's earlier post on Afican American Muslims - it's been a really interesting process, learning about the struggles their community goes through in comparison to a Muslim community that is largely made up of Muslims from immigrant backgrounds.

While our community has many problems of its own, they are strikingly different from the African American Muslim experience. What I find troublesome however is that these differences (between many different cultures - South Asian, East Asian, Arab, African, African American, those of converts - the list goes on) is sometimes used to divide the Muslim community.

A sense of inferiority felt by some Muslims, when dealing with Muslims of Arab origin, has made for a rich breeding ground for stereotypes and misunderstanding. While racism clearly exists in our Muslim communities in America, as well as all over the world (a great example being the condition of many South Asian workers in Middle Eastern countries), it is something that should be addressed and dealt with proactively, rather than allowing for alienation or the propagation of racist stereotypes (by any side).

I thought this article by Samana Siddiqui sums up some of the misgivings I have on the issue. Racism is wrong, period. But it should not be used as a justification to perpetuate more racism, and create further divisions within our Ummah. That's just the classic "divide and conquer" strategy.

Good News For Imam Jamil

In 2005, while incarcerated at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Imam Jamil sued prison officials for opening mail from his wife Karima, an attorney, outside his presence. In its decision Monday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the prison's mail practice interferes with protected attorney-client communications and impinges on free-speech rights.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Why Black American Muslims Don't Stand for Justice...

First, I have to admit I know very few African-American Muslims and know very little about the African-American-Muslim community.

I recently stumbled on this blog which I must say has a whole bunch of thought-provoking posts and provides much-needed insight into the Black Muslim community.

Below are excerpts from a popular post:

Taking the lead in a resurgence of civil rights activism is a tightly-knit coalition of Black radio personalities (Micheal Basden, Warren Ballentine, and Sharpton himself) and church leaders, who’ve been raising public awareness for the past year about these disturbing incidents.

And then a question occurred to me: How is it that pork chop, chittlin-eating preachers were able to corner the market on civil rights struggle, and how did a religion that teaches its followers to “turn the other cheek” and “love those who spitefully use you” become identified as a viable force for racial and justice in this country? At the same time we the Muslims, inheritors of a pure scripture which commands the doing of justice in the here-and-now, are left totally out of the picture.

After twenty years of the immigrants’ controlling the Islamic agenda in America, by the year 2000 Blackamericans had clearly taken the “back seat” when it came to community issues. Having taken up this knotty and controversial question of why “Blackamerican Muslims don’t stand for justice”, we’ve learned that one of the most important factors in our failure to develop and maintain a community activist, social justice tradition has been the overwhelming dominance and influence of the immigrant Muslim community.

However after having looked at this issue from all angles, its also becoming clear to me that immigrant dominance does not fully explain why Blackamerican Muslims don’t stand for justice. The record reflects that the immigrant organizations’ power-play for control of the “Islamic” agenda in America met little to no resistance from Blackamerican Muslims. The question then is why.

It was certainly expected that in attempting to explore this question we would invite the usual criticisms that always tend to impede any type of serious and frank discussion of Black community issues, especially when viewed in the context of Islam’s universality. Unfortunately, in the minds of some confused individuals “Blackamerican progress” and Islam are mutually exclusive thoughts. Because of the ‘teachings’ of the past decade or so from certain imams and du’aat - even Blackamerican ones - we now see that any talk of Blackamerican Muslims showing concern for their own community immediately provokes shrill accusations of “nationalism” or of “dividing the Muslim community”.

And what is so tragically ironic about it all is that at the same time these people raise the ugly specter of “nationalism” - being unable to advance even a cogent definition of the term - they will in the same breath utter the completely absurd statement of “I’m not Black, I’m not African American. I’M JUST MUSLIM”. However they are not able sustain the delusion of being a racial and ethnic tabula rasa (blank slate) for very long, and waste no time reinventing themselves into the mirror image of a Saudi, Sudani, Pakistani, or what have you.

Before you rush to make a judgment, take a deep breath and go through some more posts on the blog and the blogroll to really get an idea of what our brothers are going through.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Hijrah thoughts

Hijrah literally means migration. Although most migrations are life-changing events in people's lives, there was one migration that changed human history forever: the migration of Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his companions from Makkah to Medina. This event was the biggest turning point in the history of Islam and so was chosen as the starting date of the Islamic calender (hence referred to as Hijri calender).

Why was hijrah so life changing? Like all migrations, it provided the opportunity for a new beginning. There was no way for the dawah (call to Islam) to continue from Makkah because thirteen years after it had started, the arrogant Makkans were still determined not to give our beloved Prophet and his followers the chance to practise their faith and call to the truth. The only option therefore was to leave Makkah, the holiest city on earth, to a new land in hope of finding a supportive community and a chance to practise and call to Islam freely.

Just because the hijrah of the Prophet happened 1429 years ago doesn't mean the need for hijrah is over.

The journey in itself has a wealth of practical and spiritual lessons to be learnt.

If you are going on a hijrah (whether it's a physical migration or a migration away from sin and towards Allah), make sure you have trustworthy friends to support you through this journey.

Tawwakul: do your absolute best to plan your hijrah and take all necessary precautions and provisions. Then put your trust in Allah and rest assured that He will protect you.

Why didn't Allah (swt) just send the Buraq to take our beloved Prophet from Makkah to Medina, like it had taken him from Makkah to Jerusalem? It would have saved everyone a lot of trouble. Then again, whose example would we have followed on our hijrahs? The Prophets journeys for dawah (to Taif, to Medina, and to battle fields) had to be practical examples for humanity. His Isra and Miraj trip was a different story - a journey for the greatest human being only.

What did the Prophet first do when he got to Medina? i) Build a masjid- a house of Allah and a corner stone and focal point for the Muslim community. ii) Build the brotherhood amongst the first Muslim community- the traders and slaves of Makkah and the farmers of Medina. iii) Sign a peace treaty with the non-Muslim inhabitants of Medina assuring them of mutual support and protection.

The sacrifices of the Prophet's companions who left Makkah were endless. Not only leaving their homes but their wealth and loved ones behind, they obediently followed the Prophet's orders. Home was where the Prophet was. They were Muslims before they were Makkans.

My favourite hijrah story is that of Suraqah ibn Malik(may Allah be pleased with him)which happened before he accepted Islam. Hearing that there were two travellers that looked like the Prophet and Abu Baker on the long route to Medina, he followed them in hope of getting the reward from Quraysh. Everytime he got close to the Prophet and Abu Baker his horse would stumble and fall.

Finally he realized that this truely was the Prophet, protected by Allah, and that he would triumph over his enemies. He called out to the Prophet asking for a letter to guarantee his security and in return he would conceal what he knew of the location of the Prophet. The messenger of Allah not only gave him the letter he asked, but also promised him the bracelets of Chosroes, the Emperor of Persia. This man who is secretly fleeing from the persecution of his people is promising the bracelets of Chosroes! What faith he must have in the promise of Allah!

Many years laters, after the death of the Prophet and during the time of Umar ibn Al Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), upon the return of the Muslim army which conquered Persia, Suraqah was summoned and given what he was promised. Umar and the rest of the companions of the Prophet who witnessed this occassion wept...another promise of their beloved comes true. He was no longer physically with them but he was still there showing them the way.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Join the "Virtual March"

This is a movement about change, as individuals, as a country, and as a global community.

Our mission is to use the strength of numbers to urge our government to join the rest of the world in addressing global warming, and urge business to start a new industrial revolution of clean energy that reduces our dependence on oil.

Monday, January 7, 2008

...and a "Happy Blue Year" to all

While I don't share Michael Moore's enthusiasm towards the Democrats, I must admit the results of the Iowa caucus were a very welcomed surprise (we need more of those!). Below are excerpt's from Moore's thoughts sent out on his mailing list:

January 3, 2007


There was no doubt about it. The message from Iowa tonight was
simple, but deafening:

If you're a candidate for President, and you voted for the war, you
lose. And if you voted and voted and voted for the war -- and never
once showed any remorse -- you really lose.

What an amazing night, not just for Barack Obama, but for America. I
know that Senator Obama is so much more than simply the color of his
skin, but all of us must acknowledge -- and celebrate -- the fact that
one of the whitest states in the U.S. just voted for a black man to be
our next president. Thank you, Iowa, for this historic moment. Thank
you for at least letting us believe that we are better than what we
often seem to be. And to have so many young people come out and vote
-- and vote for Obama -- this is a proud moment.

With all due respect to Senator Obama's victory, the most important
news out of the caucus this evening was the whopping, room-busting
turnout of Democrats. 239,000 people showed up to vote Democratic
tonight (93% more than in '04, which was a record year), while only
115,000 showed up to vote Republican. And this is a red state!

Bottom line: People have had it. Iowa will go blue (Happy Blue Year, Hawkeyes!).

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Fasting in Winter

It is reported from Abû Hurayrah – Allâh be pleased with him – that he said:

"Shall I not point you to comfortable proceeds?"

People responded,

"And what is that o Abû Hurayrah?"

He replied,

"Fasting in winter."

The Arabs used to refer to matters which were relatively easy to gain as being cool. In this narration, the relative ease of fasting in winter and its consequent reward is likened to acquiring war proceeds without the heat of violence.

It is reported from 'Umar – Allâh be pleased with him – that he said: "Winter is booty for the devout worshippers."

It is reported from 'Ubayd b. 'Umayr – Allâh have mercy on him – that he said, "It used to be said when winter came: O people of the Qur`ân, the night has become long so you can pray (more) and the day has become short for you to fast." (Abû Nu'aym, Hilyah Al-Awliyâ`.)

As with other experiences in this world, the Salaf used to be reminded of the hereafter when experiencing cold weather: It is reported from the famous worshipper Râbi'ah – Allâh have mercy on her – that she said, " I have never heard the adhân except that I remember the caller who will announce the Day of Resurrection, and I never see the falling snow except that I imagine the flying pages of the records of peoples deeds (on that day), and I never see swarms of locusts except that I think about the Great Gathering on the Last Day." (Ibn Al-Jawzî, Sifah Al-Safwah Vol. 2 p433.)

(hijab tip - Huda Shaka` and Sayings of the Salaf)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Video Complete!

I blogged a few weeks ago about a sister who was working on a project titled "I wish they knew," remember? She wanted to help American Muslims convey the things they wish people knew, to the world.

The good news: the video is complete!

The better news: you have one more opportunity to help this sister out. Watch the video, and then check out the message from her (included below) detailing how we can help her.

Dear friends,

As some of you may have heard, LinkTV is hosting a film contest. The theme is "the muslim experience," and I have entered three films. To win, I really need votes (preferably high ones) so I am asking you to please take a few minutes (registering only takes a minute) and vote for the following films:

"Bassem is Trying"

"A Land Called Paradise"

"The Sleeper Cell"

Registering is easy, even though I know everyone hates doing it. Right under the video, there is a link that says "log in" to vote. Then just click on "Join link tv," follow the directions, and return to the links to vote!

Please vote NOW - the deadline for voting is very, very close. (and you don't want to forget, do you??)
. . .
Each of these films, with the exception of "The Sleeper Cell" (which was my first film made years ago), was made for this contest on a tight deadline. A Special thanks to everyone who helped out to get these done on a tight deadline.

Please be sure to vote! For each film that wins, $1000 will go to an orphan sponsorship program through Islamic Relief.

So please take the time to vote, and forward this email to your friends and family! Feel free also to post relevant links to any possible blogs...

Thank you,

Lena Khan

PS If you have reached this far in the email and you enjoyed the third film, please take a moment to pray for Yousef (Joseph) Epperson, who played the lead role in "The Sleeper Cell", was kind enough to play the part, and who died earlier this year.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Republic of Lakotah- The New Lakotah State
Are people aware of what is happening with the Lakotah State? They are legally separating themselves from the U.S. to become their own sovereign nation. It is very exciting and way past due in my opinion. Who wants to move to the Republic of Lakotah? Watch the video below for an explanation of the need to separate. Russell Means makes parallels with the West Bank and invites all to move to the Lakotah State.

Republic of Lakotah


Notice to All Foreign Governments and Private Owners of Real Estate within the Republic of Lakotah

TO: The United States of America; The States of: Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska; The County and Municipal Governments Operating within the Republic of Lakotah; and
All Private Owners of Real Estate within the Republic of Lakotah
Lakotah, through its government, have appointed representatives to withdraw from all the treaties with the United States of America.

Lakotah, through such representatives, have formally withdrawn from all agreements and treaties with the United States of America. The reinstitution of our freedom and independence is found in law.

Lakotah has reclaimed sovereignty as a nation and over its traditional lands.
Despite many years of repeated bad faith on the part of the United States government towards the Lakotah People, the Lakotah hold no animosity toward the American people, most of whom have had no part in the actions of their government. We wish to deal with the American people in good
faith and in a win-win manner.

While we have the right to impose liens on all of the real estate in our country, we prefer to come to resolutions with you all with out resorting to such measures. Accordingly, at this time, we are only declaring liens on real estate held by governments foreign to the Republic of Lakotah, but not on
real estate held by private parties.

The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States of America and the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties substantiate this freedom.

Lakotah welcomes the opportunity to meet and discuss this matter. We are in the process of scheduling meetings and will issue public invitations. Should you desire input with regard to scheduling these meetings, please contact us at the above.

Russell Means, Chief Facilitator
Provisional Government
Republic of Lakotah

Powerful Drawings

I believe these drawings are by an artist who goes by the name Latuff. I've had them for a while and thought I'd share them. I'm sure most of you have seen them, but I'm also sure others haven't. They are very powerful drawings with a powerful statement and meaning behind them. They represent the universality of the Palestinian suffrage and suffrage in general. I won't impose my interpretation, I'll leave that to you, but I hope you enjoy them and can use them for different projects.

Whats the Caucus Ruckus?

Today is the Iowa Caucus. Many people know the buzz of the caucus, but what the HECK is this Caucus ruckus?

Some questions I got leading up to today- democratic process, but what role does the caucus play, doesn't seem to democratic when my candidate doesn't make it? Why the heck are we even thinking about voting now? Or, how about this one, Caucus, is that a sexual term?

Caucus- in loose definition- means a gathering of people, like minded to decide on something. Islamically this process can be understood as coming together for the purposes of Shura. In our democracy, the caucus is coming together to decide on a "party candidate"- Republican or Democrat.

Unfortunately, we only have a two party system. In that system each party's candidates go head to head in the states in order to get the national party's bid for the Presidential nomination. Now in a state like California people who are on the fringe have a better chance at getting the nomination. For example- Kucinich would probably get enough votes from this state to buoy a legitimate campaign, as would an extremist nut case like Tancredo (who is no longer running) because both of them would be able to get the party die hards to come out and vote in an election- the caucus.

At one point these caucuses- correct me if I am wrong- were actually held by Congressional and legislative representatives of either party to elect a party presidential nominee, which to me is not all that DEMOCRATIC, however that began to change as the methods of communication and travel changed.

The reason why we don't normally get the fringe as nominees is because of the Post-Civil War structure of the parties. Again correct me if I am wrong- after the Civil War the nation being split in two needed mending and the South literally had to be cemented back together with the Union. In order to do that the political parties had to take into account what Southern politicians demands were. One of these brilliant idea's was to put together the caucus process so that the Southern states would weed out and present the presidential candidate for party consideration.

That are so many things to criticize about the process but for general history this explanation should suffice. Here is what happens in Iowa and the caucus itself:

Its not the normal primary election California and many other states use. If you want to know how it works, check out this link (What Happens at the Iowa Caucus). These "gatherings of the neighbors" basically elect delegates who would vote for a certain candidate at the national convention- which means they aren't voting for the candidate but rather delegates to represent the nominee of choice.

Why is this whole process important?

For starters read the evolution of the Iowa Caucus at NPR to really get an understanding of the process. However, for a general understanding here is the gist- Iowa is make or break for any presidential nominee. When we have up to eight candidates running, how does one person decide between any one of them? Iowa basically brings the zoom focus on the winners, they become the people you want to dissect. When the primary comes around to your state and you wish to participate, you have a clearer idea of who you want to vote for because since the early primaries the hot seat of media attention has been focused on the winners, often times leaving the losers to drop out and leave the race.

Now if you want to examine the criticisms of this process- aside from the "this is haram brother because it is not part of the Sharia" or the "we don't vote because it is a kufar system" analysis- check out these books:

  • Hull, Christopher C. 2007. Grassroots Rules: How The Iowa Caucus Helps Elect American Presidents. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press.
  • Squire, Peverill, ed. 1989. The Iowa Caucuses and the Presidential Nominating Process. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
  • Winebrenner, Hugh. 1998. The Iowa Precinct Caucuses: The Making of a Media Event. 2nd ed. Ames: Iowa State University Press
And for all the Brown Coats this tid bit fact was really nice to learn about, preserve our minority history!

The origin of the word "caucus" is debated, although it is generally agreed that it came into use in English in the US. According to some sources, it comes from the Algonquin word for "counsel," cau´-cau-as´u, and was probably introduced into American political usage through the Democratic Party in New York known as Tammany Hall, which liked to use Native American terms. (from wikipedia under "caucus" search)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The "Kingdom" Strikes Again!

Saudi Arabia's most popular blogger, Fouad al-Farhan, has been detained for questioning, an Interior Ministry spokesman confirmed Monday. It was the first known arrest of an online critic in the kingdom.

Farhan, 32, who used his blog to criticize corruption and call for political reform, was detained "for violating rules not related to state security," according to the spokesman, Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki, responding to repeated requests for comment with a brief cellphone text message.

Farhan's Dec. 10 arrest was reported last week on the Internet and has been condemned by bloggers in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Bahrain. The Saudi news media have not yet reported the arrest, but more than 200 bloggers in the kingdom have criticized Farhan's detention, and a group of supporters have set up a Free Fouad Web site.

Full Story: Washington Post