Thursday, 27 April 2017

Unfettered online hate speech fuels Islamophobia in China

The flood of angry anti-Muslim rhetoric on social media was the first sign of how fiercely the suburban middle-class homeowners in this central China city opposed a planned mosque in their neighborhood. It quickly escalated into something more sinister.
Soon a pig's head was buried in the ground at the future Nangang mosque, the culmination of a rally in which dozens of residents hoisted banners and circled the planned building site. Then the mosque's imam received a text message carrying a death threat: "In case someone in your family dies, I have a coffin for you — and more than one, if necessary."
"How did things get stirred up to this point?" the imam, Tao Yingsheng, said in a recent interview. "Who had even heard of the Nangang mosque before?"
On the dusty plains of the Chinese heartland, a bitter fight over a mosque exemplifies how a surge in anti-Muslim sentiment online is spreading into communities across China, exacerbating simmering ethnic and religious tensions that have in the past erupted in bloodshed. It's also posing a dilemma for the ruling Communist Party, which has allowed Islamophobia to fester online for years as part of its campaign to justify security crackdowns in its restive region of Xinjiang.
"It's let the genie out of the bottle," said James Leibold, a professor at La Trobe University in Australia who has tracked the growth of anti-Muslim hate speech on China's internet.
Interviews with residents and an examination of social media show how a few disparate online complaints by local homeowners evolved into a concerted campaign to spread hate. Key to it was an unexpected yet influential backer: a Chinese propaganda official, 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles) away in Xinjiang, whose inflammatory social media posts helped draw people into the streets on New Year's Day, resulting in a police crackdown.
A stone inscription outside its gate shows the original Nangang mosque was established in the 1780s by members of the Hui minority, the descendants of Silk Road traders who settled across China centuries ago. In its present form, the mosque has served the area's 4,500 Hui for decades, its domed silhouette partially hidden by overgrown shrubs in the countryside beyond Hefei's last paved boulevards.
Over the past 10 years urbanization has come to Hefei, with sprawling development reconfiguring the landscape and its demographic flavor, and Hui leaders had been pushing for years to relocate their mosque to a more convenient urban location.
City planners in November finally selected a site adjacent to the newly built Hangkong New City condominiums, with its $200,000 two-bedroom units, faux-Mediterranean stylings and a Volvo dealership across the street. The project's homeowners overwhelmingly members of China's ethnic Han majority began complaining on China's popular microblog, Weibo.
Some complained the mosque would occupy space promised for a park. Others warned that safety in the area would be compromised.
Others were more blunt: Han residents were uncomfortable that a center for Hui community life would be less than 100 meters (300 feet) from their building, a homeowner who later identified himself in messages to the AP by his surname, Cheng, wrote in a petition posted in December.
"And the less said about what happens on Eid al-Adha, the better," Cheng wrote, referring to the Islamic holiday in which animals are slaughtered for a sacrificial feast. "It's absolutely shocking."
The story soon caught the attention of Cui Zijian, a boyish-looking propaganda official in Xinjiang who writes about the threat of religious extremism on his Weibo account with nearly 30,000 followers.
On Dec. 16, Cui suggested homeowners lobby local officials to block the construction, adding: "If that doesn't work, then how about pig head, pig blood."
Cui followed that a few hours later with another post repeating the four Chinese characters for pig blood and pig head over and over, attracting hundreds of reposts. While Cui was criticized by some on Weibo, a larger number — including at least one other government propaganda official — took his post as their cue to hurl abuse at the Hui.
The mosque dispute was just the latest flashpoint for an increasingly active anti-Muslim social media movement in China.
Full article 

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Masarrat Misbah: A messiah for acid burn victims

Image result for masarrat misbah depilex pictures

In conversation with Masarrat Misbah

“I still remember when a girl walked into my salon in a burqa. Thinking she was a beggar, I told her to come back the next day. It was only after she removed her veil, I saw that she had lost one eye and the nose. Her chin and neck were constricted together,” said Masarrat while talking to DNA.
Masarrat Misbah is Pakistan’s well-known beautician-turned-philanthropist who needs no introduction. She is one of the first beauty experts to introduce the trend of professional beauty salons in the country. She started Depilex Institute, which became one of the biggest beauty training institutes in Pakistan with internationally qualified staff.
With time she got inspired to incorporate the idea of ‘beauty with a cause’ with Depilex Smile Again Foundation after successfully running Depilex for years. She used this initiative to help acid attack victims and remove the stigma attached to it.
“I still remember when a girl walked into my salon in a burqa. Thinking she was a beggar, I told her to come back the next day. It was only after she removed her veil, I saw that she had lost one eye and the nose. Her chin and neck were constricted together,” said Masarrat while talking to DNA.
“I took that girl to the hospital and thought that if I could help one girl, maybe I could help more too. So an advertisement was placed in a few newspapers to report to a hospital on so and so date, for a free medical checkup. To my surprise, 42 girls showed up at Depilex.”

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Hadith of the day: Good Deeds

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The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Who among you has fasted today (as a means of self-purification)?. . .Who among you followed (a funeral procession out of respect for the dead) today?. . .Who among you fed a poor person today?. . .Who among you visited an invalid today?. . .Anyone in whom (these good deeds) are combined will certainly enter Paradise." Sahih Muslim

Monday, 24 April 2017

Halal Street Food Journey To Islamic China on the Ancient Silk Road

Some more of Trevor! Cos I can't get enough!

Jinn vs Mental Health

We do not want to confuse religion with culture at all. With religion it’s all about certain teachings and my views about culture is creating a whole community based on expectations.
For this video I really wanted to touch upon black magic and Jinn. It’s not only in Pakistani or Islamic culture this subject is apparent in different forms for other cultures such as JuJu in African culture, Onymodo in Japanese culture, Quimbanda in Brazilian culture and many more. It is really hard growing up away from a culture when it is taught as part of growing up.
This video is mainly to start an open conversation about not letting the culture side cloud any sort of mental health condition. It’s not denying any sort of ‘black magic taboo or supernatural side’ but it’s looking at all the serious mental health conditions
By simply looking at the symptoms of all the serious mental health conditions can help educate a whole community in mental health in general. Education of mental health conditions is closing the doors on stigma and allowing people to openly seek for medical help without jumping into conclusion and assuming someone is possessed.
Culture plays a big part in putting stigmas that are placed onto mental health. Growing up in a Pakistani household I was taught about the Jinn as part of Islamic theology, just like in school where you are taught ABC we were taught absolutely everything about Islam. Anyone who was thought of having a Jinn and being possessed were out casted in society and this was by culture, it was feared upon to such a point where ideologies ran off fear than teachings.  With such negative thoughts clearly of the Jinn anyone labelled was afraid of being out casted and shunned, which in returns creates stigmas to possible serious mental health conditions. The fact that it is taught at such an early age is as important as it’s then really hard to adapt your thinking when you aren’t taught about mental health and distinguishing the symptoms to tell them apart. This is where the culture side of it needs to be taught for services as lack of understanding about the culture can isolate an individual, which in result can stop someone from accessing a service, the whole treatment and any sort of support.
Being able to teach employees in a service is vital to someone’s mental health. If people are wondering why and how? Well, let me tell you about a situation I had not long ago where I had a conversation with a police officer who in return wondered why at the age of 29 I was still living at home and found it very strange, yet not realising in Islam it was knowledge  and normal for any single female to live at home until she is married but just by him saying that made me feel like I must be weird and uncomfortable like I wasn’t normal since I wasn’t what he thought was ‘normal’. Where as if he was more understanding and changed the way he spoke to me about anything I said would have helped me become much more comfortable in opening up about anything!.
The law defines the following conditions as a serious mental illness:
  • Schizophrenia
  • Paranoid and other psychotic disorders
  • Bipolar disorders (hypomanic, manic, depressive, and mixed)
  • Major depressive disorders (single episode or recurrent)
  • Schizoaffective disorders (bipolar or depressive)
  • Pervasive developmental disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Depression in childhood and adolescence
  • Panic disorder
  • Post traumatic stress disorders (acute, chronic, or with delayed onset)
  • Bulimia Nervosa 307.51
  • Anorexia Nervosa 307.1
Regarding any techniques or tackling ways of thinking about tackling culture stigmas for mental health I do this in my workshops for Generation Reform. So if you would like to book onto the workshops for your schools or services and organisations please email me on
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Thursday, 20 April 2017

Female Scholars in Islam - Shaykh Mohammed Akram Nadwi

My Sheikh being all awesome as always! We need to learn about our mothers and sisters, they are our first teachers. Much respect!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

You have the potential for greatness: Ibn Ali Miller

I love this brother he is everything I want to be, what every Muslim man should be. Much love and respect to brother Steve Harvey too, big fan of his :)

The twisting of Shariah

Shariah is a word many are terrified of these days. Muslims will be asked do you adhere to Shariah? Are you committed to implementing it? Are you trying to replace our (of course much more civilized laws) with it?

I am married according to Shariah, I eat meat slaughtered by its rules and have a bank account organized on its economical principles. I assure you that is nothing to panic about!

Shariah is simply laws that have been enacted on Islamic principles, they are not uniform, they should be pragmatic and above all justice should be the goal. However miscarriages of justice occur in all  legal systems, human beings are capable of making errors and justice is the casualty. This has occurred in Shariah too. In my homeland of India, triple talaq is upheld as part of Shariah, despite being banned in other Muslim countries. Pakistan unfortunately upholds blasphemy laws which many have argued contradict Shariah. Saudi Arabia refuses to let women drive citing all sorts of pseudo-religious/cultural reasons, none of which the vast majority of Muslims agree with.

Those in power will often twist or misinterpret Islam and its principles for their own benefit/ to suit their agenda. Indeed we must be wary of this and call it out every time. This is an ongoing struggle.

Being a history buff I enjoyed watching some clips/episodes of Turkish historical drama Magnificent Century. One of the most disturbing practices of the Ottomans was fraticide. (I certainly condemn the imperialism, incessant warring and entire concept of the Harem too) However it was quite sad to realize that Fatawa were given by the Ulema of Islam to Sultans to murder of their own brothers/half-brothers. Many Sheikhs argued it was better that a few princes were executed, rather than entire wars be fought between brothers for succession (for example the War of the Roses in Europe). One Sultan murdered nineteen brothers! Another killed his innocent and very capable son in a 'preemptive strike'!

Why the Ulema couldn't stress cooperation between brothers, the need to serve the wider Ummah not the Dynasty, the sanctity of human life, the great sin that is fratricide is a great shame. However it has to be noted many Ulema also opposed this barbaric practice and gave Fatawa against it. For details please read this excellent article.

As enacted in the clip above this particular Sheikh certainly misrepresented the Quran to give Sultan rather bogus reasoning to murder his own friend whom he had sworn to protect. (This may not be entirely historically accurate I am simply using as a possible example).  So Shariah is certainly not safe from being twisted to serve the needs of those in power. Indeed it has been argued quite robustly that Daesh are doing exactly that.

The interpretation of Shariah is dependent on the conscience of the people/scholars/jurists of Islam. Above all Shariah is a means to an end which is paramount. The end that is justice and compassion. That is what we must aspire to.