Friday 28 June 2019

How a small Turkish city successfully absorbed half a million migrants

Imagine you live in a medium-sized city such as Birmingham or Milan. Now imagine that overnight the population increases by about 30%. The new people are mostly destitute, hungry and with nowhere to stay. They don’t even speak the language.

Then imagine that instead of driving them away, you make them welcome and accommodate them as best you can.

Welcome to Gaziantep, a sprawling industrial city on Turkey’s southern border with Syria, where that exact scenario has played out over the past few years.

Gaziantep has a thriving textile industry and is the home of the pistachio; its food is reputed to be so good that people fly down from Istanbul just for lunch. It is also just 60 miles from Aleppo, the Syrian city devastated by war.

In April 2011, 252 refugees arrived in Turkey from the Aleppo area. One year later, there were 23,000 in the country; by 2015, 2 million. Today there are 3.6 million Syrian refugees (or protected persons, as they are officially known) in Turkey, with the majority living in the south, in places such as Gaziantep.

 Many Syrians in Gaziantep scratch a living collecting recycling. Photograph: Sarah Davison
In one 24-hour period alone, Gaziantep took in 200,000 people. To put that in perspective, Turkey’s biggest city, Istanbul, with a population of 15 million, hosts 560,000 refugees in total. Gaziantep has just a 10th of the population but took in 500,000.

“Before the war there were lots of close relationships between people here in south-east Turkey and Syria,” says Azhar Alazzawi, who manages the UN’s World Food Programme in the city. “So in general people here call them guests, not refugees. The culture is similar, so is the religion.”

Under the Ottoman empire, before the modern states of Turkey and Syria existed, Gaziantep and Aleppo were part of the same region. The refugees tend to stay in the south of Turkey, close to what was home, because they have a shared history and there is a demand for unskilled labour.

There is no doubt, however, that the newcomers have put a huge strain on the city’s resources – above all on housing, water, public transport and healthcare. With the crisis now in its seventh year and more than half the refugees under 18, education is a concern.

“Initially we had to provide food, clothing and temporary shelter,” says Onder Yalcin, head of the city’s migration office. “We rented hotels and put people up in sports centres.

“We made a public appeal for help and people brought food, blankets, clothes, cooking stoves, all sorts of things. People took the most vulnerable, such as mothers with young babies, into their homes.”

Early on, the Turkish government pursued a policy of integrating the newcomers into urban areas, rather than let them fester in refugee camps. Only 4% still live in camps.

This put pressure, however, on the existing housing stock in Gaziantep, forcing up rents. Employers, meanwhile, took advantage of the sudden increase in the workforce to push down wages. There was also conflict over access to drinking water, and burgeoning resentment that the aid pouring in was going to Syrians, not to poor Turks.

“If you go into a neighbourhood in a UN vehicle, everyone knows who is getting the aid and this can potentially cause tension,” says Khalil Omarshah of the Gaziantep branch of the International Office for Migration (IOM), the main world body tasked with moving refugees approved for resettlement to third countries.

It was precisely to avoid this sort of conflict that the city adopted a new approach, based on integration.

The mayor, Fatma Sahin, established a migration management department. The idea was that Turks and migrants would receive equal treatment and benefits.

It persuaded the government to pipe in water from over 80 miles away to address the water crisis, and then set up a plan to build 50,000 new homes, as well as new hospitals and better public services. All were available to Turks and migrants alike.

“I said to them, we have to work together,” Yalçin says. “We are aiming for social cohesion, because Turkish and Syrian people are going to live together here, and if you only help Syrians there is going to be tension.

“We said: ‘When you help Syrians in the same neighbourhoods where Turkish people have the same needs, you have to help them, too.’ They said their funds were just for migrants and we said: ‘Talk to your donors. And if you’re not prepared to work with us, then you should leave.’”

The IOM agrees with the mayor that integration is the best way to avoid conflict. They jointly run the Ensar community centre in Narlitepe, a poor neighbourhood where people from both communities are offered courses in computing, cooking, languages, mosaics and break dancing. All activities are bilingual, run in Turkish and Arabic.

“Most of the hundreds of people who use the centre are children,” says Omer Atas, the centre’s coordinator. “They are mostly girls, which is good, because it’s hard for them to be socialised. There are fewer boys, because many have to work.”

Mohammed, 19, fled Aleppo with his family six years ago. He learned Turkish, taught himself English, and now works at the centre. “I started learning to play the guitar and now I teach music here in the centre,” he said. “I don’t think we will go back to Aleppo. There’s nothing for us.”

Having coped with the initial humanitarian crisis and the early stages of integration, the next challenge, Yalcin says is education and work. Initially children were taught the Syrian curriculum in Arabic with the expectation that they would return home, but as of next year all ages will be integrated into the Turkish public school system.

Although children learn Turkish easily, language remains a barrier to integration and work for their parents. Syrians can only get a work permit if they are offered a job, but both sides prefer the informal market: the employers because they don’t pay social security, and the workers because they don’t forfeit aid payments.

Until recently authorities also turned a blind eye to Syrians setting up businesses without the necessary permits. Now that they are clearly here to stay, there is pressure on everyone to regularise their status. Besides, the aid won’t last for ever.

“We’ll get to the point where covering the basics will not be enough. Now we need to teach people to fish and not just give them fish,” says Oben Çoban, Save the Children’s director of programmes in Turkey.

In 2016 the EU effectively bought its way out of the crisis by pledging €6bn to Turkey to help Syrian migrants, half of which has been paid. Although member states agreed almost a year ago to pay the remaining €3bn, it has yet to arrive.

What sets Gaziantep apart is that it didn’t wait. It was quick to accept the reality that the migrants were there to stay – and the sooner integrated, the better.

“Migration has always been with us,” says Yalcin. “It’s not a problem to be solved but a reality you have to manage. You should see the advantages. And you need to tell people the truth: these people are not stealing your jobs, they’re not stealing your houses.”

Yakzan Shishakly of the Maram Foundation, an NGO, says Gaziantep is booming. “The city has really done a good job and there haven’t been any big problems. When the economy slows down, I fear there will be conflict.”

Meanwhile, the city remains a role model of tolerance and pragmatism. The IOM’s Lanna Walsh compares it to the reaction in other cities in other countries: “They say, OK, we’ll take 80, and they make such a fuss about it.

“More European countries need to step up to the plate, like Germany did, and agree to take more. It’s not a burden to take refugees. Migration has always been a good thing and a driver for development.”


Tuesday 25 June 2019

What Being Malala's Father Taught Me About Feminism

Long before my daughter, Malala Yousafazi, was born, long before we began fighting for girls’ rights to education together, and long before the Taliban’s brutal attack on her brought the world’s attention to her story, I made a decision.

Growing up in a village in Shangla, northern Pakistan, I was surrounded by patriarchy. I had five sisters and a brother and I saw how we boys got better shoes, more clothes, and tastier cuts of chicken than the girls. I saw how my mother couldn’t go out unescorted and, on documents like doctors’ prescriptions, was never referred to by her name – Maharo Bibi – but as mother of Ziauddin, or wife of Rohul Amin. And, worst of all, I saw how I got to go to school, while my sisters stayed home, crippling their future.

I was very determined that if I ever got to be a father, I’d be different.

When I married my wife, Toor Pekai, we chose to build an egalitarian family, respecting each other as equal partners and raising our daughter Malala the same way we raised our sons, Khusal and Atal. I didn’t hear the word feminist until I was 45, after the attack on Malala led us to move to the city of Birmingham in the U.K. But it was feminism I had been trying to spread in my family, and in my community, for years.

I believe fathers have a crucial role to play in the fight for women’s rights. Of course, when your rights are being violated — at home, at work, anywhere — your voice is the most powerful to challenge your oppression. And so women’s voices are the most important in feminism. But in patriarchal societies, a father’s voice is perhaps the next most important tool to galvanize change.

We have seen great moments in history, from the Suffragettes, to #MeToo, and wonderful global organizations and local organizations, who are working for gender equality, and for the rights of women and girls. But in patriarchal societies – which even many Western countries still are –, one platform, one organization, is universal: the family. When a father begins a journey into feminism, believing in the worth of his daughters, he can change his whole family’s future.

I’m not sure why I chose to start that journey, while other men accept the values passed down to them for centuries. Maybe it’s because I was bullied as a child, for my dark skin and my stammering problem, so I was angry about any kind of discrimination against someone for the way they are born.

But I am sure of one thing: patriarchy is sheer stupidity. Fathers have a great interest in dismantling it. And we as campaigners need to communicate that to them.

Life within patriarchy is a sad, frustrated life, for everyone. I have seen families in Pakistan where a father and mother have one boy and five or six girls. Because of social norms, the father and his one son go out to earn for the whole family. The burden falls to them, while all his sisters have to stay back at home, not sent to school, unable to do jobs, just waiting to get married. A guy sacrifices his life for a foolish norm, and girls don’t see their potential unlocked. And, even in countries like the U.S. and the U.K., while girls are educated and often have the same opportunities as boys, issues like pay inequality, sexual harassment and misogyny continue to damage girls’ careers and personal lives. Unhappiness breeds unhappiness.

Fathers who help unlock their daughter’s potential, standing up for their rights and raising them to believe they have them, bring prosperity and happiness to their entire families. Worldwide, according to our data at the Malala Fund and the World Bank, if we gave all the girls in the world free, quality education for 12 years, we would add between 15 and 30 trillion dollars to the world economy. It really is win, win.

These arguments are powerful, and the arguments for patriarchy are weak. That is why the Taliban shot Malala in 2012 as she and I campaigned against their ban on girls going to school. They knew that one girl with a voice can create more change than their guns and bombs.

The attack was the worst thing that could happen to a family and remembering it is traumatic. Malala is not just my daughter, she is my comrade, my soulmate – jani, in Urdu, my nickname for her. To see her on the verge between life and death was terrible. But it did not affect our commitment to equality. If anything, it made us more sure that our fight is worthwhile.

Now, as Malala campaigns around the world without me and studies for her degree at Oxford University, I miss her deeply. Her first week in her dorm room, I peeked in and shed a few tears while she wasn’t there, thinking about how independent she has become.

But in my heart, I was so happy to see her move freely and confidently around the world, no longer needing me as an escort. Good parents should want their children to be as independent as early as possible.

Within my family, we have broken the chains of patriarchy. Because of that, all of us — not only Malala and Toor Pekai, but my sons and I too — are free.


Tuesday 18 June 2019

Great Muslim Philosopher Al Beruni Was World’s First Anthropologist

Al Beruni’s methodology is rigorous. As Sachau writes in his preface, “it is the method of our author not to speak himself, but to let the Hindus speak… He presents a picture of Indian civilization as painted by the Hindus themselves.” Al Beruni leans heavily on primary Hindu sources, learning Sanskrit for this purpose, writing, “I do not spare either trouble or money in collecting Sanskrit books from places where I supposed they were likely to be found.”

He was perhaps the first Muslim to study the Puranas, the Hindu classical texts. In addition, secondary sources — translations by Arab and Persian scholars — are consulted. He travels extensively in India and associates with Hindus, especially Brahmins and yogis. He emphasizes “hearsay does not equal eye witness.” The anthropologist’s task is to “simply relate without criticizing,” and Al Beruni strictly avoided making value judgments of other people’s customs and cultures.

He is as unsparing to Arabs (when commenting on their pre-Islamic customs) as he is of certain traits of Hindus such as their “haughtiness.” Terming Hindus “haughty” may seem like a value judgment but Al Beruni observed that Hindus saw their land, their customs, their food etc. as the best in the world. The xenophobic pride of the Hindus was to become an essential part of their cultural defense system against the repeated onslaught of Muslims during and after Mahmud of Ghazni’s reign.

Al Beruni throws a wide net for comparative purposes referring to Jews, Christians, Parsis and the ancient Greeks for whom he has undisguised admiration. And his sympathy for universal mysticism is reflected in the comparison he makes between Sufi, Hindu and Christian mystics.

Al Beruni’s dispassionate commentary measures up to the highest contemporary scientific standards in the social sciences. As the Australian scholar Arthur Jeffery wrote of Al Beruni, “It is rare until modern times to find so fair and unprejudiced a statement of the views of other religions, so earnest an attempt to study them in the best sources, and such care to find a method which for this branch of study would be both rigorous and just.” “Above all,” the Pakistani scholar Hakeem Mohammed Saeed wrote in his Al Biruni: Commemorative Volume, “he had an open, universal mind and a keen desire to drink deep from the Fountain of Truth, whatever its source.”

Al Beruni is the embodiment of the Quranic injunction to seek knowledge, or ilm, and the Prophet (pbuh) had exhorted Muslims to acquire knowledge even if it meant going as far as China. While referring to the Holy Quran to back his statements — his faith in Islam is strong as is his relief to be born a Muslim — he reflects on the essential oneness of man. Al Beruni’s God is the creator of all things and all peoples. Islam has neither hindered the scholar’s enterprise nor has his Muslimness been compromised. When Al Beruni wrote, Islam was on the ascendant in world affairs. Yet neither condescension nor contempt mar his work.

The recognition of Al Beruni as the first major anthropologist of Islam thus opens both theoretical and methodological doors for Muslim social scientists. Almost a thousand years before European Indianists such as Louis Dumont and Adrian Mayer, Al Beruni had exhaustively examined, and suggested a methodology for the study of, caste and kinship in India.


Monday 17 June 2019

Do you really know them? Mufti Menk

Kharashah ibn al-Hurr reported: A man gave his testimony to Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him. Umar said to him, “I do not know you and it will not harm you that I do not know. Bring someone who knows you.” A man from his people said, “I know him.” Umar said, “What do you know about him?” The man said, “His justice and virtue.” Umar said, “Is he your closest neighbor, such that you know him by his coming and going by day and night?” The man said no. Umar said, “Then, have you had business dealings with him, by which you are shown his piety?” The man said no. Umar said, “Then, have you traveled with him on a journey, by which you are shown his good character?” The man said no. Umar said, “You do not know him.” Umar turned to the witness and said, “Bring me someone who knows you.”
Source: al-Sunan al-Kubrá 19769
Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Albani

Saturday 15 June 2019

Who can be Awliya' Allah or Friend of Allah (azza wa jal)

[10:61] In whatever matter you [Prophet] may be engaged and whatever part of the Qur'an you are reciting, whatever work you [people] are doing, We witness you when you are engaged in it. Not even the weight of a speck of dust in the earth or sky escapes your Lord, nor anything lesser or greater: it is all written in a clear record. [10:62] But for those who are on God’s side there is no fear, nor shall they grieve. [10:63] For those who believe and are conscious of God,...

Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan, explains in Surah Yunus, who are the friends of Allah عزّ وجلّ. Explaining verse 61-63, he says:

Ayah 61
You won’t find yourself in any situation and you won’t recite any portion of the Qur’aan, from any part of the recitation (there is a switch, Allaah عزّ وجلّ is talking to His messenger), you will not find yourself in any situation, you will not recite a single ayah anywhere from the Qur’aan. As for all of the Muslims there isn’t a single deed that any will be doing except that We will be upon you especially your witnesses. Allaah عزّ وجلّ is witness over all things but He is saying “I will be a special witness upon you” - Allaah عزّ وجلّ says, whatever action that one does He is a witness over us even whilst we are engulfed in it. Ibn Al faaris reports: they lose track of everything else they are so busy in that. Allaah عزّ وجلّ is watching this and is appreciating it. ‘Azaba = when you watch somebody walk away they go so far you can’t see them anymore. So you slowly see them disappear. Or if you take a pebble and throw it into a lake it slowly becomes smaller until it disappears. Allaah عزّ وجلّ says nothing disappears from the Vision of your Master no matter how far you think it goes. Mimmithqaali zarratin = from the weight of a speck, Fil ardi wa la fissamaa = in the earth and whatever is above. Wa laa asghar min zaalik = and whatever that can be smaller than that too or bigger, Allaah عزّ وجلّ is telling us the smallest deed that you do for this deen will not go unappreciated. I will be a special witness of that deed for you.

Ayah 62
You had better know, the protective friends, the deep, trustworthy friends of Allaah, there is no fear on them and they’re not the ones who will be grieving. In other words, in doing so and keeping the work up we have the opportunity to become the awliyaa of Allaah. The next ayah defines the walee of Allaah عزّ وجلّ

Ayah 63
Those who have emaan and they maintain the quality of taqwa in their life. The reason why Allaah عزّ وجلّ made the friendship of Allaah between the slave and the Master realistic is because when it is made unrealistic that is when help is sought from somebody else and say that he is much better than us, he should be Allaah’s عزّ وجلّ wali. The shafa’ happened because people were distant from Allaah عزّ وجلّ.

It is possible for all of us to be friends of Allah عزّ وجلّ as long as we have Iman and maintain the quality of Taqwa in our life.

Below is another lecture on this topic by Ustadh Nouman.

Tuesday 11 June 2019

Joe Bradford

Much love for this brother, do give his channel a follow and check out his videos.

Monday 10 June 2019

A Muslim convert and former hip-hop artist becomes a voice for Islam

Defying Muslim stereotypes and ending bias is what Kenny Bomer is all about.

The Midtown resident believes he might have an edge. He’s no stranger to a microphone, and as a white man, Bomer explained, he is not immediately hit with the same ignorance that his fellow Muslims face.

“If I’m just wearing my Astros cap, if I don’t have on a Kufi, you would never know,” he said. “For people of color, it’s often more difficult. Being white gives me a prime position to break down bias. I’m a Houstonian. I’m a Texan. I’m proud of that. But it’s also my obligation to speak up when my Muslim brothers and sisters may feel reluctant to do so.”

He’s also willing to share his story with anyone who agrees to listen — in hopes that hearing directly from the source will have a positive impact.

Each weekend, Bomer, 48, sets up a booth at Hermann Park, as head of the local chapter for the organization Mercy for Mankind.

The global nonprofit hopes to bring awareness of the true beliefs of Islam — and to build a bridge with other faiths through dialogue, founder Amr El Samny said.

“Islam is very misunderstood by the public,” he said. “There’s a need to go there, let the people know who we are and change their preconceived notions.’’

Since 9/11 and the development of the Islamic State group, El Samny said that a rising tide of Islamaphobia has hit the U.S.

“There’s been a lot of tarnishing,” he said. “There are always extremists in every faith. Our job is to educate the public.”

El Samny discovered a kindred spirit in Bomer. “He’s very humble and godly,” El Samny said. “I was impressed with him.”

El Samny flew to Houston to train Bomer in the Mercy for Mankind style and joined him on his first few outreach sessions.

“Kenny’s biggest asset, his greatest gift, is his big heart,” El Samny said. “You can see the goodness in him. He has the ability to connect with people because of his sincerity. He’s out there to really help.”

Bomer said that a number of people fear Islam without ever speaking to an adherent to the faith.

“It’s our obligation as Muslims is to share Islam with other people, to tell other people about the beauty of Islam,” Bomer said.

That’s why he invites all passersby to ask him whatever questions they might have.

He also serves as public speaker about his religion and recently released a book, “Consider Islam: Disproving the Patriots of Propaganda,” through an independent publisher. The book became available on Amazon at the end of April.

Bomer’s writing skills also set him apart, El Samny said. “He has been a Muslim for about 30 years now,” El Samny said. “He’s accumulated a lot of knowledge. He knows so much about Islam.”

Bomer found religion in an unusual place — rap music.

The Houston native had a difficult childhood. At age 10, while residing in Freeport, he became a ward of the state.

“It was one of the greatest blessings of my life, to be honest,” he said.

Bomer appreciated having a safe home and regular meals. In addition, employees at the Brazoria County Youth Home, where he lived until age 18, exposed him to Christianity. He enjoyed developing his spirituality, but, as an introspective and thoughtful teen, he started to question what the religion taught.

“I began to analyze the things they said in the church,” he recalled. “A lot of questions came to my mind about who God was.”

Bomer was attending Brazosport High School, where his interest in writing and music flourished. He also met coach and history teacher Norris Burse or “Champ.”

Bomer and his friends would engage in battle rap in the school hallways. They knew that Burse was also interested in hip-hop and had ties to a recording studio.

“We approached him about being our DJ, and he agreed to it,” Bomer said. “We started going to his studio.”

Before long, however, Bomer and Burse started their own rap duo known as “Def Squad” and signed a record deal on the Mr. Henry label.

While driving back and forth to appearances and recordings, Bomer learned about the Nation of Islam, which Burse had joined.

Burse kept a Quran in his car, and one day, Bomer picked the text up.

“I immediately knew that book was the truth,” Bomer recalled. “It answered all the questions I had in my mind.”

He read the Quran more and more, studied Islam and debated with Burse about the religion.

All the while, he was touring and becoming better known for his music.

Bomer eventually went out on his own, starting his own studio in Freeport, signing a solo deal and promoting other rappers.

While music brought him to Islam, Bomer admits that a difficult divorce in 2014 made him more serious about the religion.

“That hardship took me to a better place,” he said. “The Quran teaches that we’re going to be tested. We’re going to endure trials. Those who are patient, those who stay in prayer, will get through it.”

Bomer said that the time he suffered made him more sincere. “It made me more reliant on my creator,” he said. “He was there when no one else was. I devoted my life to speaking the truth.”

He jumped into public speaking and started researching for his book.

“I’m trying to break down all of those misconceptions, because I know what Islam means to me,” he said. “I want to speak to others about Islam, to tell them that they’re criticizing something that has done wonders for my life.”


Thursday 6 June 2019

Bystanders’ silence can be devastating when facing bigotry

 Nazneen Uddin is a family physician based in Oakland.

I thought becoming a doctor would finally win me acceptance and serve as proof that being Muslim and American are not mutually exclusive. But throughout my medical career, I have repeatedly experienced bigotry met with a deafening silence and dangerous acceptance from bystanders.

“You’re not American, show me your passport” was a statement I would often hear from patients during medical school. I would explain that I was born and raised in Detroit, while my supervising physicians remained silent.

In medical residency, I learned that Islamophobia can be lethal. My co-resident lost her brother Deah Barakat, his newlywed wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, and his sister-in-law, Razan Abu-Salha, when they were murdered inside their North Carolina home by their neighbor.  This shook me to my core.

In them, I saw myself: American Muslims studying to become professionals while dedicating their free time to community service. It was a stark reality check that no place is safe, not a liberal college town, nor one’s own home. Law enforcement immediately reported the incident as a parking dispute, but many saw it as what it seemed to be — a hate crime.

A few months after this tragedy, as I walked into work, a fellow employee said, “She can’t be a terrorist, she has a badge on.” Once again, I heard a vacuous silence from the other staff.  This brought flashbacks to an incident in high school when a student shoved me into a locker yanking my headscarf while shouting, “You f–king terrorist.” The hallway full of students watched, as I cried my silent tears.

I have completed 12 years of medical training since then, yet in my first job as an attending physician, I was pushed by a patient during an examination. He shouted, “Get out of the room! You’re not a doctor, you’re Muslim!” The bedside nurse and family present just watched.

Considering these incidents, I wasn’t surprised by the silence from my social circle surrounding the atrocities at the two mosques in New Zealand that left 50 dead. Initially, I didn’t even cry because it felt like I had run out of tears.

Most of my friends have not reached out, and this has also been the experience of my Muslim peers. I was hurting, and I can assure you that your Muslim neighbors—though they continue to show up to work or smile—are hurting and scared. This extends to the many communities that are hurting as a result of bigotry, such as the Jewish community struck by a similar wave of pain after the synagogue shooting in Poway, California during Passover.

The effects of hate crimes bleed beyond the victims’ families; it trickles into the entire community. The loss of innocent lives should not just be a loss for those family members or that community, but should be a collective grief.

The common denominator in my personal experiences has been silence, which comes in many forms. Silence can be observing injustice and not saying anything. Silence can be being in a position of leadership and not fostering an environment of inclusion. While the effects of this silence can be devastating, something as small as a hug or a text, like one I received, “We stand with your community during this difficult time,” can counter it.

Allyship is not abstract. It means proactively humanizing people who have been excluded. It’s about showing up and supporting the alienated, even in the smallest ways. Victims of hate are too worn out from carrying the trauma and responsibility on their shoulders.

Use your skills, power and privilege to help demolish the rising tide of Islamophobia and bigotry across the nation. Let’s remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”


Wednesday 5 June 2019


Terrorist, Taliban, Osama Bin Laden, bomber, killer, Allahu Akbar (God is great), Muslims are terrorists, Muslims are bad.”

What was supposed to be a normal conversation between a father and his American born middle school son on a drive home turned into a story sharing session no parent ever wants to face.

Today, he was letting it all out. And the worst part, he was looking to me for a solution. After all, why wouldn’t his father, a Muslim American U.S. Marine Veteran (yes, I’m referring to myself — just in case you were wondering if Marines come in Muslim) and founder of (known for fighting hate, bigotry and Islamophobia) not have a perfect solution.

I was speechless.

“Don’t worry about it... they just don’t know... be the better person,” I said. I changed the topic.

Angry, upset, frustrated, I was internalizing everything I had just heard. But I couldn’t show him. I had to keep my poker face on. After all, I had to be the example. But deep inside I knew my answer hadn’t cut it. And though I had changed the topic, my mind kept drifting back, repeating over and over again everything he had just shared with me. My son was struggling, he was in pain, and I wasn’t sure exactly how to help.

I tried to imagine the life of a 12 year-old child in today’s anti-Muslim America. I knew what I was seeing first-hand as an adult but I couldn’t imagine being in his helpless shoes. It’s a critical age where children not only begin to battle the onslaught of puberty but find themselves in discovery mode trying to figure out their unique place in society.

Then next day I asked him to write down everything he had ever been called.

I wanted to know: Had I missed something? Were there warning signs? Indeed there were but I hadn’t fully given it the due diligence nor the appropriate attention.

I began recalling other incidents. There was the one following President Trump’s election when a child approached my son and said “no offence but see you later man, I guess this is goodbye.”

And another one, when a child approached my son’s open classroom door and yelled “Allahu Akbar (God is great) you’re all going to die,” slammed the door shut and ran off down the hallway.

Everything was coming together. But just when I thought that was it, another incident came to mind.

I recalled the incident of a teacher (yes, teacher) asking my son if he knew how to speak English. That one definitely caught me by surprise. Even if I wasn’t there and didn’t have all the facts, I couldn’t understand why a teacher would ever ask a child such a question. Shouldn’t have to say this, but rest assured my son is fully fluent in English.

Hate crimes against Muslims over the past few years have risen at a disturbing rate.

For Americans who are naïve to the facts or simply aren’t following, hate crimes against Muslims over the past few years have risen at a disturbing rate, and that’s just the reported ones. And what many may not know, is that Muslims make up about one percent of the U.S. population, yet they are one of the most ridiculed groups of people in our society. To me, that's actually the definition of bullying.

Just this month a high school in Pennsylvania ran a training session with an ‘active shooter’ wearing a scarf almost identical to the ones worn in the Arab world. Coincidence? I think not, although they deny that was the intent.

And then there was an incident late last year in Massachusetts, when an elementary school Muslim girl had a note left in her cubby stating, “You are a terrorist.” And then when she came back to the class later, another note, “I will kill you.”

Consider this a dire warning. Because today it might be my kid, but tomorrow it could be yours. And just because you think you’re not the problem, the racist, bigot or xenophobe—choosing to remain silent and being the bystander is just as bad. As the famous quote goes, “no response is a response. And it’s a powerful one. Remember that.”


Monday 3 June 2019

Eid-ul-Fitr Starts Tomorrow, 04 June 2019

Saudi Arabia and other countries in Gulf have announced that first day of Eid will be celebrated on Tuesday, 04 June. Other parts of the world including UK, USA, etc. have also announced that Eid will start on Tuesday.

The word 'Eid is an Arabic name to mean a festivity, a celebration, a recurring happiness, and a feast. In Islam, there are two major 'Eids namely the feast of Ramadhan ('EId Al-Fitr) and the Feast of Sacrifice ('Eid Al-Adhha). The first 'Eid is celebrated by Muslims after fasting the month of Ramadhan as a matter of thanks and gratitude to Almighty Allah. It takes place on the first day of Shawwal, the tenth month of the lunar calendar. The second 'Eid is the Feast of Sacrifice and it is to be celebrated for the memory of prophet Ibrahim trying to sacrifice his son Isma'il(Ishmael). This 'Eid lasts four days between the tenth and the thirteenth day of Zul-Hijjah, the twelfth month of the lunar calendar.

It was narrated that Jubayr ibn Nufayr said: When the companions of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) met one another on the day of Eid, they would say to one another: “Taqabbal Allaahu minna wa mink (May Allaah accept (this worship) from us and from you).” Al-Haafiz said: Its isnaad is hasan.

For more details, see Islam Awareness Homepage:

Senior Saudi cleric slams ‘paranoia’ over segregation between men and women

More like this sheikh pls!!! 

The former Imam of the Holy Mosque in Makkah, Sheikh Adil Al-Kalbani, has called for men and women not to be separated using a partition during prayers.

In a televised interview with Saudi Broadcasting Corp. (SBC), he said that this type of segregation did not happen during the era of Prophet Muhammad. He stressed the current segregation practices have no roots in Islamic tradition and are a result of unjustified “paranoia” of women, even during prayer.

“Sadly today, we are paranoid — in a mosque — a place of worship. They are completely separated from men, they cannot see them and can only hear them through microphones or speakers. And if the voice has been cut off, they wouldn’t know what is going on (during prayer),” he elaborated.

“In the Prophet’s era, and they are the most protective and God-fearing people. With all these traits, the men used to pray in the front and women prayed in the back of the mosque without a partition, not even a curtain. And today, it is a separated room, some even far from the original Prophet’s Mosque area, I believe this is some type of phobia toward women.”

He also touched on the issue some conservative men have in calling a woman by her name, pointing out that this should not be the case as there are also no roots of this fear in Islamic tradition. “Our daughters or sisters are no better than Aisha bint Abu Bakr (wife of the Prophet) — or the rest. All the Muslim women’s names are known and their fathers’ names are known. And they have given so much to society and the Ummah. It never harmed them that people knew their names.”

Commenting on recent reforms the Kingdom is witnessing, Al-Kalbani praised the improved socio-economic situation of women in the present era.

“We began to constantly hear that a woman became a deputy minister, ambassador and other high ranking positions.”


Saturday 1 June 2019

The Power of Salam, Nouman Ali Khan on Surah An-Nisa', Ayah 94

While going through the Qur'an, Surah An-Nisa, I came across Ayah 94. A simpe translation, based on translation by M.A.S.Abdel Haleem says
So, you who believe, be careful when you go to fight in God’s way, and do not say to someone who offers you a greeting of peace, ‘You are not a believer,’(c) out of desire for the chance gains of this life– God has plenty of gains for you. You yourself were in the same position [once], but God was gracious to you, so be careful: God is fully aware of what you do.

(c) A Muslim killed someone in battle who had given him the Muslim greeting, thinking that the man was trying to save himself, but the Prophet condemned this.

While looking to understand this, I came across this Khutbah by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan, it's embedded below.

This is a very powerful reminder now to judge any Muslim.

More details on Surah An-Nisa' on Islam Awareness Homepage: