Bravest men, much respect!
Saturday, 24 February 2018
Thursday, 22 February 2018
I gave my Shahādah, the testament of faith, that night, and everything changed. I no longer had this desire to use drugs, and I’ve been clean now for five years. It changed my entire life. It gave me the means and the rules and the path to follow to achieve what I’d set out to achieve a year before I converted, which was to strive to become the best version of myself. When you’re doing that on your own with no rules to follow, it can be a tough process.
Part of the appeal of Islam was the strength of character of the Muslim people that I’d met. The fact that they didn’t use drugs and drink at all was something that really appealed to me. It was the polar opposite of how I’d been living my life and seemed to require such strength of character. As a young man, I was always drawn towards strength.
It was not just a good system [for me] to follow. I agree with all the theology – I do believe that the Koran is the last Book of Revelations. I now have a renewed interest in the Bible and the books that came before it because, from our point of view, I know that there is truth in these documents, whereas before, as a loose Christian, I don’t know that I had any belief in them at all.
I’ve been called a terrorist. It’s like water off a duck’s back for me, but if it’s directed at someone who I’d consider vulnerable, it makes me angry. It amuses me in a way – I’m a blue-eyed Aussie bloke with a Southern Cross tattoo, and to be discriminated against for the first time in my life is an interesting feeling. It’s a weird feeling to have someone hate you, not because of anything you’ve done to them, or anything about you, other than what you believe. They hate you without knowing you.
Wednesday, 21 February 2018
Ahed and I are the second generation of Tamimis to spend our whole lives under Israel’s oppressive 50-year military rule. We grew up under the constant watch and control of Israeli soldiers. At a young age, we had to learn resilience, determination and persistence. In order to survive, we had to be acutely aware of our surroundings at all times. Even the most basic things, such as being able to move freely or take a day trip wasn’t a possibility because of military checkpoints and other impediments. We had no room to breathe — sometimes literally, as clouds of tear gas fired by soldiers engulfed us and filled our homes.
Sadly, we are used to soldiers forcing their way into our homes, their cameras clicking as they take photos of the males in the family, documenting how many windows and doors we have, and stealing and destroying our personal belongings. There is no privacy. In addition to my father, my mother and brother have also been imprisoned. Ahed’s uncle was shot and killed by soldiers during a demonstration in 2012, while her mother was shot in the leg during another march and developed asthma because of the tear gas.
I was released on bail after 16 days, but Ahed has now been languishing in prison for nearly two months, as has her mother. On Jan. 31, she spent her 17th birthday in a cell. The start of her trial in a military court has been delayed several times. The latest postponement came on Tuesday, when it was rescheduled for March 11. In a blatant attempt to avoid the scrutiny of the international media, the judge also ruled that journalists will be barred from attending. The charges that Ahed faces carry a maximum sentence of 20 years. I still face charges as well.
In prison, we were treated very badly. After being arrested, Ahed was taken into a basement cell and interrogated without a parent or lawyer present. She and I were repeatedly moved from one prison to another, held with regular Israeli criminals, and subjected to sexist and degrading verbal harassment. The army knows how to place psychological pressure to break you. They deprived us of sleep and food, and I was forced to remain seated in a chair unable to move for long hours at a time.
When we were brought to military court for a hearing, it was very hard seeing our parents sitting in the back feeling worried and helpless. My uncle Bassem Tamimi, Ahed’s father, and my own father know firsthand what Israeli prison feels and smells like. Both have been imprisoned multiple times because of their nonviolent resistance to Israel’s occupation. Bassem was named a prisoner of conscience twice by Amnesty International, which has also called for Ahed’s release. They know that we were held in a freezing-cold cell as we waited for our hearing. They know the pain of the handcuffs as they are tightened on our wrists and ankles, and how dirty the cells are, and the smell of rotten food. They understand what it feels like to be isolated in a cell — completely alone, cold and frightened, unsure of what will happen to you. Like her parents and siblings, I fear for the well-being of Ahed and the more than 300 other Palestinian children currently imprisoned by the Israeli army.
We have had our childhood stolen from us, never knowing the feeling of safety, security, and quiet. The unfortunate truth is that this isn’t only the reality of Ahed and I, or of Nabi Saleh. It is the reality of most Palestinians, especially the young ones.
Tuesday, 20 February 2018
It’s one of many countries around the world experimenting with various “countering violent extremism” (CVE) or de-radicalization programs. As Maddy Crowell noted in The Atlantic, “Germany, Britain, and Belgium have developed programs that focus on further integrating radicals into their community. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, focuses on finding jobs and wives for recruited jihadists.” But programs that reach people once they’ve already been radicalized might come too late. “The most effective kind of rehabilitation and reintegration is the rehab and reintegration that doesn’t have to happen, because the person was afforded an off-ramp before they got to the point of no return,” Nathan Sales, the coordinator for counterterrorism at the U.S. State Department, told me. “What does that look like? It looks like early intervention and not necessarily and maybe not ideally by government officials.”
Early intervention spearheaded by local community leaders and groups, as opposed to government officials, was a focus of America’s CVE approach under the Obama administration. “Community leaders, neighborhood leaders have a comparative advantage in a number of different dimensions,” Sales said. “They will know more than government officials will about problems that might be cropping up and they also have a way to intervene in a way government people wouldn’t be able to … to steer somebody who is at risk of taking a wrong path and bringing them back into the fold.” President Trump recently stripped funding from several groups aiming to counter extremism through this kind of outreach. Meanwhile, Morocco has continued to invest in it. Through various experimental initiatives, the country is attempting to show how a certain kind of religious education can prevent extremism.
One particular initiative comes with a twist: It places a special emphasis on women. Eleven years ago, Rabat saw the opening of an elite new school called L’Institut Mohammed VI Pour La Formation Des Imams, Morchidines, et Morchidates. It turns young women into religious scholars and then sends them out into pockets of the country where radical Islamists are known to recruit disenfranchised youth—to provide spiritual guidance that contradicts the messages they might receive from violent extremists. Making school visits and home visits, each woman—called a morchidat, or spiritual guide—talks to young Muslims and contests interpretations of the Quran that terrorist groups use for recruitment. For women to be employed by the government to do this kind of work within Morocco’s Islamic communities, where spiritual leadership is generally the domain of men, is unusual. Men are also trained at the Rabat school, but it’s the hundreds of female graduates who are having the most impact, according to the program director, Abdeslam El-Azaar.
“I’ll tell you frankly, the women scholars here are even more important than men,” said El-Azaar, a thin grandfatherly man in a cream-colored Moroccan tunic and a burgundy fez. “Women, just by virtue of their role in society, have so much contact with the people—children, young people, other women, even men. ... They are the primary educators of their children. So it is natural for them to provide advice,” he said. “We give them an education so they can offer it in a scholarly way.”
Monday, 19 February 2018
It is a condition of a sound marriage that it be announced and attested to publicly. A secret marriage, which is only witnessed by a few people in private, is potentially harmful to those affected by it, as it almost always involves deception, and it is even more so if a man marries an additional wife in secret and without her consent.
فَانكِحُوهُنَّ بِإِذْنِ أَهْلِهِنَّ وَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ مُحْصَنَاتٍ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحَاتٍ وَلَا مُتَّخِذَاتِ أَخْدَانٍ
Marry them with the permission of their families and give them their due as is good, chaste women, neither fornicators nor secret mistresses.
Surat al-Nisa 4:25
Scholars have said that this verse prohibits secret marriages, by drawing an analogy between a ‘secret mistress’ and a secret marriage.
Ibn Taymiyyah writes:
وَمَالِكٌ يُوجِبُ إعْلَانَ النِّكَاحِ وَنِكَاحُ السِّرِّ هُوَ مِنْ جِنْسِ نِكَاحِ الْبَغَايَا وَقَدْ قَالَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى مُحْصَنَاتٍ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحَاتٍ وَلَا مُتَّخِذَاتِ أَخْدَانٍ
فَنِكَاحُ السِّرِّ مِنْ جِنْسِ ذَوَاتِ الْأَخْدَانِ
Malik obligated announcing the marriage in public. A secret marriage is a type of prostitution. Allah Almighty said: Chaste women, neither fornicators nor secret mistresses. (4:25) Thus, a secret marriage is a type of secret mistress.
Source: Majmū’ al-Fatāwá 32/102
Friday, 16 February 2018
Thursday, 15 February 2018
Wednesday, 14 February 2018
Days later, Kadir found six of his friends among the bodies in two graves.
They are among at least five mass graves, all previously unreported, that have been confirmed by The Associated Press through multiple interviews with more than two dozen survivors in Bangladesh refugee camps and through time-stamped cellphone videos. The Myanmar government regularly claims such massacres of the Rohingya never happened, and has acknowledged only one mass grave containing 10 “terrorists” in the village of Inn Din. However, the AP’s reporting shows a systematic slaughter of Rohingya Muslim civilians by the military, with help from Buddhist neighbors — and suggests many more graves hold many more people.
“It was a mixed-up jumble of corpses piled on top of each other,” said Kadir, a 24-year-old firewood collector. “I felt such sorrow for them.”
The graves are the newest piece of evidence for what looks increasingly like a genocide in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state against the Rohingya, a long-persecuted ethnic Muslim minority in the predominantly Buddhist country. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric called the AP report “extremely troubling,” and urged Myanmar to allow access to the region for further investigation. Spokeswoman Heather Nauert also said the U.S. State Department was “deeply, deeply troubled by these reports of mass graves.”
Repeated calls to Myanmar’s military communications office went unanswered Wednesday and Thursday. Htun Naing, a local security police officer in Buthidaung township, where the village is located, said he “hasn’t heard of such mass graves.”
Myanmar has cut off access to Gu Dar Pyin, so it’s unclear just how many people died, but satellite images obtained by the AP from DigitalGlobe, along with video of homes reduced to ash, reveal a village that has been wiped out. Community leaders in the refugee camps have compiled a list of 75 dead so far, and villagers estimate the toll could be as high as 400, based on testimony from relatives and the bodies they’ve seen in the graves and strewn about the area. A large number of the survivors carry scars from bullet wounds, including a 3-year-old boy and his grandmother.
Tuesday, 13 February 2018
Monday, 12 February 2018
Saturday, 10 February 2018
South Korea is in news again for the wrong reasons. The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) has cancelled plans for a mobile prayer room in Gangneung for tourists at the 2018 Winter Olympics after strong opposition by anti-Muslim campaigners, the city tourism department's chief told Al Jazeera.
South Korea has witnessed an increase in the number of Muslim tourists over the last few years. According to the KTO, a 33 percent increase was registered in 2016 compared with the year before, and the numbers reached 1.2 million by the end of 2017.
Tapping into this economic potential, the country has increased the number of Halal certificates for its restaurants and prayer rooms, and the Seoul Tourism Organization is promoting a series of videos showcasing Muslim-friendly restaurants around the capital.
A KTO press release last year confirmed one of its aims was that "the provision of travel convenience should be strengthened in order to increase their satisfaction and to encourage repeat visits".
The Korean Muslim Federation (KMF) expressed its disappointment with the decision, adding that the "Olympic Games should go beyond a single nation, race, culture and religion to achieve harmonisation".
"This decision demonstrates that we, as a host country, lack thoughtful understanding," Lee Ju-hwa, a KMF representative, told Al Jazeera in a statement.
"Instead of claiming that the installation of a prayer room is preferential treatment given to a certain religion, we need to raise awareness that it was to consider others with different faith and beliefs," he added.
Last year Forbes covered this topic of attracting Muslims as tourists in depth.
One initiative to attract more Muslims is Halal Restaurant Week Korea, which will actually last two months. From Sept. 1 to Oct. 31, 107 halal restaurants are offering discounts for diners. The KTO also published a free e-book of halal restaurants around the country.
Korea already has a strong focus on Muslim visitors from Southeast Asia, like Indonesia and Malaysia, and in the Middle East. It's growing its tourism push in Central Asia, too; the KTO opened a tourism office in Almaty, Kazakhstan in July.
The focus may seem unexpected for a country that has eight mosques, but it’s quite obvious for industry insiders. According to a 2014 Thomson Reuters report, Muslims spent $142 billion on travel (not including religious pilgrimages). It was just slightly less than Chinese travelers that same year ($160 billion) and U.S. travelers ($143 billion).
Korea is on a mission to recuperate some of this year's devastating tourism losses. Chinese tourists previously comprised almost half of all visitors to Korea. In March, reacting from Korea’s deployment of the the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), China began "boycotting all things Korean." One such retaliation was the ban of all group tourism packages to Korea.
As a result, only half as many Chinese have visited Korea this year compared to the same period in 2016. Overall tourism has fallen by 23%, or almost three million people, and tourism receipts have also shrank by 24%.
In part thanks to its new Muslim focus, Korea has boosted tourism from some niche countries. Twenty-two percent and 25%, respectively, more visitors from Kazakhstan and Iran have visited Korea this year. Uzbek and Middle Eastern tourism has increased by 8% each, and Pakistan by 4.5%.
More on Islam and Muslims in South Korea at Islam Awareness Homepage here.
Friday, 9 February 2018
Traditional Islamic jurists have been unanimous in rejecting the idea that this verse gives a man permission to physically assault his wife in order to harm her. Those jurists who have allowed the man to strike his defiant wife have insisted that it be done no more than once and that it be no more than a light tap to express disapproval. (See Ibn 'Abbas's ruling of using a toothbrush, for example.)
Other jurists have said that the word daraba in this verse is to be understood as separation. If a man feels hostility from his wife, he must cool his anger by leaving the house (possibly leading to a divorce, which may give the wife pause for thought and leave room for reconciliation). Those who favor the second view point out that this is the process that the Prophet followed when he was having trouble with some of his wives (who were disrespecting him over his self-imposed poverty).
The Prophet is the model for how to interpret and implement the Qur'an, so we need only look into the three-step process he followed to understand how to apply this verse here in question. (See 33:21)
When he was facing defiance (nushooz) from his wives, the Prophet first talked to them; then he boycotted sleeping with them - for an entire month. Finally, when they kept vexing him and treating him in an unreasonable way, he offered them a divorce. (See 33:28-29) The Prophet went through all three steps outlined in this verse, and he never laid a hand in anger on any of his wives. A'ishah said, "The Prophet never beat any of his wives or servants." (Ibn Majah, Nisa'i)
The Prophet also said, "No Muslim man should ever hit one of God's female servants." (Abu Dawud, Nisa'i, Ibn Majah) A man named Mu'awiyah went to the Prophet and later reported this exchange: "I went to the Messenger of God and asked him, 'What do you say about (how we must treat) our wives?' He replied, 'Give them food like you have for yourself, and clothe them with what you clothe yourself, do not smack their faces, and do not angrily ignore them in public.'" (Abu Dawud)
So it is clear that both the Qur'an and the Prophet categorically forbid the harming or physical abuse of women. Now looking at this verse even closer, since daraba is used here in the singular (one-time) verbal form and not in the intensive (do it repeatedly) verbal form, it's also clear that it could hardly refer to a physical assault. Who hits somebody once when they're beating them? Yet, a separation or a divorce from a spouse is something that is done usually only once, if ever.
During his last pilgrimage, the Prophet said, "Be mindful of God regarding women, for they are your responsibility. You have rights over your spouses, and they have rights over you. It's your right upon them that they not let anyone you dislike enter onto your bed and that they not commit open lewdness. However, if they do that, then God has allowed you to ignore them in the bedroom and separate (daraba) from them, without committing violence (i.e., by not assaulting your wife)." (Muslim)
Therefore, when interpreted with the Prophet's application of this verse, coupled with relevant Qur'anic and hadilh references, this verse actually forbids abusing women at all and instead counsels trial separations (perhaps leading to divorce) as the last resort open to a man who is utterly dissatisfied with an incorrigible situation.
Thursday, 8 February 2018
Wednesday, 7 February 2018
Tuesday, 6 February 2018
I’m sorry to say this, but we have a huge problem. Well not just here–everywhere in our culture. I know the world seems a bit upside-down right now as we focus on Trump and the status of Muslims, civil rights, and so much more that is important to our lives, but can we discuss something that I find really important for a minute?
I’ve been looking for a roommate since moving to Chicago a couple of weeks ago. Many of the women responding to my roommate requests are Arab like me. Each and every single one I have talked to has a story–a sad one. Here is a real example of the majority of stories I have heard:
The husband left them or threw them out with nothing. They have nothing but their children with them. Now they are to fend for themselves.
Now tell me something. We teach women to stay at home to cook and clean. We tell them that some man is supposed to come give them this $59,000 wedding and take care of them all of their lives. But we don’t tell them what happens next.
Listen, I’m included in this, too. We live in this dream that we won’t have to work and we can shop all day. Here’s the catch. Your husband has now given you three or more children and now he’s done with you.
Oh, but wait! You’ve never had to work before. Now you have to go make minimum wage working 40 plus hours a week, find a home, and raise your children–ALONE!
I have met with several of these girls. It’s heartbreaking to watch them cry. The only thing I can do is comfort them and tell them inshallah khair and that I’ll try my best to help them find jobs or homes. Meanwhile, I’m looking for jobs and a home for myself.
This is old news, people. We need to teach our children to be independent, to be strong and not weak. We need to tell our girls to go to school finish their education. We need to help them learn to save money in case of emergencies. Stop feeding your daughters fairytales. Stop allowing them to marry so young to the first guy that comes and asks for their hand. We are throwing out daughters out to these men just to have them come back to us 10 years later with five kids and no job or source of income.
Men, please… for the love of God, treat a woman with the highest respect. Just because you want a divorce doesn’t mean you don’t still have a responsibility. How can some of you just throw your kids away like that? Although I don’t know the actual number, it appears to me that the divorce rate in our culture is increasing lately. Why? Is it a matter of respect? Men, find patience–bite your tongue. We will respect you as you respect us. We will follow your lead if you follow ours. We will stand beside you if you stand beside us. Do you get it? We are equal. Be our partner, not our enemy.
Before anyone starts getting defensive and saying it’s not all Arab…yes I know, but it’s a problem in our community that needs immediate attention. We should be proud of who we are and stand together and help our people. We have way too many battered women who need people to step up for them.
Also ladies, our men work hard–very hard. You have no idea what most of them go through to throw you these lavash weddings. Keep these things in mind. Most of them get credit for these weddings which start your marriage off wrong. Have a heart…our parents need to stop asking for so much in the beginning. We have lost the true meaning of marriage, our religion, and many other things. What happened to marrying for love?
To my beautiful ladies, whatever culture you hail from…be strong, work hard, study, finish school!
I also want to make it very very clear…just because a woman has been divorced once or twice, or even more times than that, it does not mean we aren’t good enough or it was our fault. I was once wanting to get engaged a man and his sister called me and said, “Well, I don’t know why my brother would want to marry a woman who has been divorced twice and isn’t a virgin.” Listen, I am worthy of a man, a good marriage, and a chance at life with a partner. I’m not trash.
The sad part is that this came from another woman. We are suppose to help each other not push each other away. Ideally, this lady would have told me, “Insha’allah, you and my brother are the right ones for each other and he makes you the happiest woman alive.”
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s try and work on ourselves and the betterment of the women in our community.