Tuesday 27 October 2020

Do American Muslims Still Care About Palestine?


In July 2014, I wrote about the quasi-clandestine program called the ‘Muslim Leadership Initiative’, run by the Jerusalem-based Shalom Hartman Institute (which now also has an office in New York). In the piece — and subsequent pieces that followed, written by myself and others — ample evidence and connections were shown to make it more than apparent that the purpose of the program was to deputize Muslim American “leaders” in various fields to undermine the growing tide and strength of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. MLI wasn’t a lone endeavor on this front, but it seemed to be the one to stick and show some success. The program targeted people in close proximity to students: writers, (aspiring) media personalities, Muslim chaplains; professors.
I genuinely didn’t see the 2014 expose having the impact that it did. I had hoped that the piece would spark a productive communal conversation on the sort of politic we needed to unify around. I had hoped it would be a corrective, reconciliatory moment. Instead, a deep-rooted fissure was not only revealed but has since deepened and widened, illustrating a blueprint of what the future of Muslims in the United States can and likely will look like.
And a lot of this hinges on Palestine.

For the first time, Palestine has become a negotiable issue in the American Muslim public community. When our communities disagreed on everything else, we could agree on Palestine. There were always individual exceptions, but generally, at the level we were able to have public conversations as a community, Palestine was long integral to and front and center of the American Muslim politic. The freedom of Palestine was Sacred — and convincing people to not work with those whose ideology explicitly relies on the violent erasure of Palestinians wasn’t controversial ..or in need of mass debate.
Not so much anymore.
In recent years, the centrality of Palestine to the American Muslim politic has been chiseled away — through both design and inevitability.
You don’t need to go full Netanyahu, but undermining the single most powerful and effective protest tool supported by Palestinians under direct occupation and in the diaspora — BDS — seems to be pretty okay.
And it’s especially okay if you’re doing it in the name of building relationships, inter-communal strategies and fighting Islamophobia — the same Islamophobia that is largely upheld by narratives about Muslims as pathologically and inherently violent, savage; incapable of self-governance and thus in need of control.
The same narratives that are used to justify the continued occupation, ethnic cleansing and apartheid against Palestinians. The same narratives that are used to justify a foreign policy that is the greatest expression of systemic anti-Muslim violence this country has to offer.
And we’ve come to a point where if you disagree with strategies, groups and individuals who undermine an international political protest of ethnic cleansing and apartheid, you stand accused, by many in our community, of sowing discord, fitna — of dividing our power. Maybe even of voter suppression and enabling President Donald J. Trump’s fascism.
This is a strange (and not new) point that doesn’t see how powerful, money-injected institutions and individuals claiming to work for Muslims, under the opportune guise of a ‘Muslim American’ identity, betray the very principles and safety of the affected communities. Our institutions, that claim to represent us and gladly will take our money, are held to a far lower standard than those they claim to be working on behalf of. And our spiritual leaders, who we have long trusted as guiding lights, have embraced regimes that spill our kin’s blood and shake hands with oppressors.
How did we get here?
Pretty easily.

We Shall Return by Imad Abu Shtayyah
At some point, our conviction to principles causes us to hit a glass ceiling in pursuit of not just community power but personal career growth. How far can a Muslim working in the American empire, sustained on myths about itself in opposition to ‘the Others’, get by holding onto the very principles and beliefs that make her/him the ‘Other’?
And how far can any Muslim organization go, in achieving its stated goals and pushing back against rampant anti-Muslim hate, without having to make some concessions along the way in order to ‘play the game’?

In the last six years, it has become apparent that there are four major political categories in the American Muslim public: Professionals, Expedients, Principlists and Determinants.
And here’s what I mean by those terms:
The Professionals are those for whom the identity of ‘Muslim’ and the community that buttresses this identity serve as a means to an end. Religion, in and of itself, is irrelevant as is the material betterment of the community. The Professional Muslim class has zero interest in the creation and empowerment of a Muslim politic, instead its interest is only in exploiting superficial representational politics which allow them space in white institutions, space they use to stomp around on ‘their own’. This in turn functions as a sort of native informancy, signaled through how they speak to their communities of origin and happily echo the accusations of those who suppress those communities. Steven Salaita, who has come to embody what cost Palestinian Americans in particular have had to incur for their commitment to their existence, comments a bit on a related phenomenon quite well here.
The Expedients are those who seize opportunity for political expediency. In their view, in order to have political power in a country such as the United States, as a community or as an individual, it is necessary to participate in some (maybe all) systems of power and politics: including those which may be antithetical to one’s personal or communal interests and principles. The stated goal, usually, is that to build power we need to build relationships with those who are “on our side”, even if we have some disagreements. For this group, political expediency and opportunity trump principles for sake of political representation and power. Political power is best (but not only) exercised within established systems of power: media and party-centric politics. Think your typical ‘seat at the table’ politic.
The Principlists are those for whom principles are non-negotiable. Political power for this group isn’t built on short-term opportunities but long-term strategic building. The greatest political power, in this group’s mind, is one that is built through community and that remains unwavering on principle and demands concessions from the Establishment (media, party-centric politics). In other words: people power over establishment power, resistance over representation. Any representation that comes at the cost of principles that are seen to define the power and moral anatomy of the community — principles for the betterment of the Ummah, for example, versus just simply the US-centric community — is not representation worth having. Think your standard ‘turn the table over, we’re on the menu’ politic.
Finally, The Determinants. Generally speaking, this group is interested in Muslim American civic, creative and grassroots engagement at every level but isn’t committed to access to power at any cost and also isn’t committed entirely to making all principles non-negotiable. The organizations that fall under this group will have a mix of individuals who fall into either the Expedient or Principlist camps. Those of which are more rooted in Islamic practice and ethos, explicitly so, tend to fall in the Principlist camp on many, but not all, critical issues. I think this group, which admittedly isn’t yet as well defined as the others, makes up a large cross-section of the American Muslim community. There is a process of learning happening that has been accelerated in the last four years, and it finds itself torn between expediency and principlism. The benefits of expediency are palpable, but it’s hard to argue why some principles can be negotiable and others can’t be. This group, in my opinion, are critical in determining the route the American Muslim politic will take and look like over the next few years. Think a ‘we can’t turn down all the invites but the food on the table does look kinda poisonous. Risk it?’ type of politic.

Think of these labels as classifying emerging, sometimes porous, trends versus solely (and strictly) certain individuals and organizations. I want these to be open to debate, discussion and evolution because we need to, collectively, start critically engaging with what the public face and politic of our community is.
Because, everything is at risk right now.

When we make the one non-negotiable position negotiable — what else is up for the taking, the bending, the “we can talk about this later”? Where is the line? And I want to be clear: we’re not talking about a political position- we’re talking about a moral, ethical, spiritual position that speaks to our role in defending human life, sacred ground and resisting colonization.
Here I want to take a moment to dispel not a myth but an ahistorical, anti-decolonial perspective that has emerged in recent years. The myopic view laments that the preponderance of Palestine as an issue for Muslims is in large part due to ‘Arab supremacy’ both in American Muslim communities and the Ummah. This perspective ignores the following:
Jerusalem is the third holiest site for Muslims, in Islam. It was the site of the first direction of prayer and destination for pilgrimage. Would we argue that the importance of Mecca/Medina in Islam is also …Arab Supremacy?
The centrality of Palestine in anti/de-colonial resistance. Palestine is one of the last colonial fronts of the 20th century — while countries across the world, including what’s referred to as the Middle East, were gaining ‘independence’ from European colonial reign, Palestine‘s colonization, also a violent European erasure, was just beginning. Anti-colonial figures and groups have long not only shown solidarity with Palestinian liberation but recognized it as central to international decolonizing efforts — especially today.

‘Islamophobia’ (a term we need to revisit) in the United States is largely rooted and sustained by efforts by pro-Israel groups and is sustained through pro-Israel narratives that dehumanize ‘The Arab’ and ‘The Muslim’. Even the vocabulary and discourse surrounding “Muslim terrorism”, that pathologizes violence by Muslims as especially noteworthy, dangerous and apart from other forms, is rooted in the same industry that exists to build the case for Israel’s violent dominance over Palestinians. This, however, benefits the United States more so than Israel because…
Israel is of geo-strategic importance to the United States and thus to American taxpayers and citizens. Its central location in the so-called Middle East makes it integral to the American project in the direct region and the neighbouring regions. There’s this (anti-Semitic) misnomer that Israel controls the United States. This line of thinking makes the world’s most powerful, cunning and violent country and military somehow suddenly meek and naive to the whims of..uhhh…‘The Jews’? Israel — like KSA, UAE, Bahrain, etc — is a client state of the United States. The survival and legitimacy of Israel is sacrosanct for American dominance in the region — why else does ‘normalization of relations’ between Arabs states and Israel matter?s
This needs to be said here: none of what I’ve said above is to undermine or ignore how our communities inflict and deal in anti-Blackness at a mass scale — because Black issues are Muslim issues and it’s taken too long for us, here, to move away from respectability politics and towards solidarity with our brothers and sisters, who make up one-fifth of our population in the US. Instead, for decades, we have been separated and there is a problem when all “our” issues are only abroad in solidarity with Muslims and never where we’ve settled and grown at the systemic expense of a population of people, many of whom comprise of our community. This is ironic given how Black/African movements for liberation have stood in solidarity with Palestine and Palestinians for decades, and still today.
That was long, but I wanted to list these out to really underscore that the presence of Palestine as a political priority in our communities can’t just be chalked up to ‘Arab supremacy’ — it is a systemic priority that stems from a long history and the heavy residue of geopolitical realities for many in our communities “back home”.

This frustration — that I’ve heard a lot in recent years — has also been used to undermine BDS.
That because of the centrality of ‘Arab politics’, we can’t create strategic relationships with certain temples or organizations that lean slightly or entirely Zionist; that strict and rigid adherence to Palestine is getting in the way of building an American Muslim politic.
But what good is any power and politic built at the expense of people in our community? What good is any power and politic that is built by standing on the wrong side of justice? One of the most basic ethical premises in our faith, for day to day and greater political conduct, is to enjoin the good and forbid the evil — so why are we negotiating with the boundaries of evil?
Because this is an issue of faith.
And here I want to dispel another ahistorical talking point: that Palestine is not a “Muslim issue”. Yes, being Muslim does not make you the authority on Palestine, to decide what is best for millions of people. Being Muslim isn’t a card for you to use to barter Palestine and Palestinian humanity for the sake of your career.
But given the sacredness of Jerusalem in Islam, given that members of our communities are directly impacted by a multi-state supported occupation and system of apartheid and given how decolonization and anti-imperialism are (/should be) paramount to Muslim societies and their histories, Palestine and its liberation are a ‘Muslim issue’. And it is that connection that creates one major form of solidarity — across sect, ethnicity and region — with Palestine (though, forget our criminal governments). And that solidarity, when utilized and empowered, can wield influence.
So, do American Muslims still care about Palestine?
I think everyday people, those who are disconnected from the spheres of influence and power, do.
But this is not a battle we can or will win in our institutions, in our organizations; perhaps even in our representations. Because the fight for liberation must be absolute, otherwise it isn’t liberation — it’s politics.

And for the future of this community’s survival, for the growth of its power — however fickle such a hope maybe whilst living in an Empire built to tear it away from you — I hope we can see what is at stake.

You must come to understand things as they should be understood. I know that one day you’ll realize these things and that you’ll realize that the greatest crime any human being can commit, whoever he [sic] may be, is to believe for one moment that the weakness and mistakes of others give him [sic] the right to exist at their expense and justify his [sic] own mistakes and crimes.” — Ghassan Kanafani, Returning to Haifa.


Tuesday 20 October 2020

Extremism/Exaggeration (الغلو في الدين) - 10 Ayat & Hadiths

Religion is like Medicine:
- An Overdoses will KILL you.
- The right amount will SAVE you.
- Without it you'll SUFFER in illness.
1- The Prophet said:
‏ أَلاَ هَلَكَ الْمُتَنَطِّعُونَ
"Beware! The extremists perished!", saying it three times.
["Abu Dawud", 4608 - authentic صحيح]

2- It says in the Qur'an:
لَا تَغْلُوا فِي دِينِكُمْ
"Do not go to extremes in your religion." [Qur'an 4:171].

3- The Prophet said:
وَإِيَّاكُمْ وَالْغُلُوَّ فِي الدِّينِ فَإِنَّمَا أَهْلَكَ مَنْ كَانَ قَبْلَكُمُ الْغُلُوُّ فِي الدِّينِ
"And beware of going to extremes in religious matters, for those who came before you were destroyed because of going to extremes in religious matters."
["Nasai", 3057 - authentic صحيح]

4- It says in the Qur'an:
يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ
"God wants ease for you, and wants not hardship for you." [Qur'an 2:185].

5- The Prophet said:
إِنَّ الدِّينَ يُسْرٌ، وَلَنْ يُشَادَّ الدِّينَ أَحَدٌ إِلاَّ غَلَبَهُ
"Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will be defeated by it."
["Sahih Bukhari", 39].

6- It says in the Qur'an:
وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ
"[God] has not laid upon you any hardship in religion." [Qur'an 22:78].

7- Aishah said:
 مَا خُيِّرَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم بَيْنَ أَمْرَيْنِ إِلاَّ أَخَذَ أَيْسَرَهُمَا، مَا لَمْ يَكُنْ إِثْمًا
"Whenever God's Messenger (ﷺ) was given the choice of one of two matters, he would choose the easier of the two, as long as it was not sinful to do so."
["Sahih Bukhari", 3560].

8- It says in the Qur'an:
وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا
"This is how We made you a moderate nation." [Qur'an 2:143].

9- The Prophet said:
‏ يَسِّرُوا وَلاَ تُعَسِّرُوا، وَبَشِّرُوا وَلاَ تُنَفِّرُوا
"Facilitate things to people (concerning religious matters), and do not make it hard for them and give them good tidings and do not make them run away (from Islam)."
["Sahih Bukhari", 69].

10- The Prophet said:
خيرُ دينِكم أيسَرُه
"The best of your faith is the easiest."
["Ahmad", 15371 - authentic إسناده صحيح].

Monday 19 October 2020

Destruction of Islamic architecture in China


The reserachers using satellite imagery, have estimated that approximately 16,000 mosques in Xinjiang (65% of the total) have been destroyed or damaged as a result of government policies, mostly since 2017. An estimated 8,500 have been demolished outright. A further 30% of important Islamic sacred sites (shrines, cemeteries and pilgrimage routes, including many protected under Chinese law) have been demolished across Xinjiang, mostly since 2017, and an additional 28% have been damaged or altered in some way.

The report outlines the deliberate erasure of tangible elements of indigenous Uyghur and Islamic culture in Xinjiang appears to be a centrally driven yet locally implemented policy, the ultimate aim of which is the ‘sinicisation of indigenous cultures, and ultimately, the complete ‘transformation’ of the Uyghur community’s thoughts and behaviour.

The report also lists media and non-government organisation reports, which have unearthed individual examples of the deliberate destruction of mosques and culturally significant sites in recent years. The reserachers found out that such destruction is likely to be more widespread than reported, and that an estimated one in three mosques in Xinjiang has been demolished, mostly since 2017.

Interpreting the datasets acquired through satellite images, the reserachers concluded that this equates to roughly 8,450 mosques (±4%) destroyed across Xinjiang, and a further estimated 7,550 mosques (±3.95%) have been damaged or ‘rectified’ to remove Islamic-style architecture and symbols. Cultural destruction often masquerades as restoration or renovation work in Xinjiang.

The report says that mosques across Xinjiang were rebuilt following the Cultural Revolution, and some were significantly renovated between 2012 and 2016, including by the construction of Arab- and Islamic-style domes and minarets. However, immediately after, beginning in 2016, government authorities embarked on a systematic campaign to ‘rectify’ and in many cases outright demolish mosques.

Besides mosques, Chinese Government authorities have also desecrated important sacred shrines, cemeteries and pilgrimage sites. The report provides photographic evidence of how mosques have been redesigned or decreased in size and the same techniques have been applied to cemeteries and other religious places in Xinjiang.

Although other religious minorities weren’t the focus of the report, still the reserachers checked several Christian churches and Buddhist temples across Xinjiang and found that none of those sampled had been damaged or destroyed. 


Friday 9 October 2020

Israel founders were ‘thieves’, Israeli historian says


Early Jewish settlers in Palestine “looted Arab property”, a new book by an Israeli historian has said, adding “authorities turned a blind eye”.

In what has been described as the “first-ever comprehensive study” by Israeli historian Adam Raz described “the extent to which Jews looted Arab property” during the Jewish gangs’ attack in 1948 on Palestinians and their homes, and explains why Ben-Gurion said “most of the Jews are thieves.”

Writing in Haaretz, Ofer Aderet’s review of Raz’s book was entitled: “Jewish soldiers and civilians looted Arab neighbors’ property en masse in ’48. The authorities turned a blind eye.”

Another senior writer at Haaretz, Gideon Levy, commented that the words “most of the Jews are thieves”, “wasn’t uttered by an antisemitic leader, a Jew hater or a neo-Nazi, but by the founder of the State of Israel, two months after it was founded.”

Levy said that the Israeli authorities “turned a blind eye and thus encouraged the looting, despite all the denunciations, the pretense and a few ridiculous trials.”

The looting served a national purpose: to quickly complete the ethnic cleansing of most of the country of its Arabs, and to see to it that 700,000 refugees would never even imagine returning to their homes he explained.

The Israeli writer added: “Even before Israel managed to destroy most of the houses, and wipe from the face of the earth more than 400 villages, came this mass looting to empty them out, so that the refugees would have no reason to return.”

Levy also said that the looters “were motivated not only by ugly greed to possess stolen property right after the war was over, property belonging in some cases to people who were their neighbors just the day before, and not only by the desire to get rich quick by looting household items and ornaments, some of them very costly…, but they served, consciously or unconsciously, the ethnic purification project that Israel has tried in vain to deny all through the years.”

“Almost everyone took part” in the looting, he added, which “was the small looting, the one that proved if only for a moment that ‘most of the Jews are thieves,’ as the founding father said. But that was mini-looting compared to the institutionalized looting of property, houses, villages and cities – the looting of the land.”

“Denial and repression” were part of the reasons why heads of Jewish community allowed the looting of Arab property in Palestine. He said: “Thirst for revenge and drunkenness with victory after the difficult war might perhaps explain, even partially, the participation of so many.”

Levy said that “the looting reflects not only momentary human weakness but is intended to serve a clear strategic goal – purifying the country of its inhabitants – words fail.”

Concluding his article, Levy said: “Anyone who believes that a solution will ever be found to the conflict without proper atonement and compensation for these acts, is living in an illusion.”

He asked Israel to “think about the feelings of the descendants, the Arabs of Israel and the Palestinian refugees, who are living with us and alongside us. They see the pictures and read these things – what crosses their minds?”

He answers: “They will never be able to see the villages of their ancestors: Israel demolished most of them, to leave not a shred,” noting that “one small stolen souvenir from the home that was lost might cause a tear to fall.”

Adding: “Just ask the Jews enraged over any stolen Jewish property.”


MY JOURNEY TO ISLAM IN 2020! British Revert Story





Monday 5 October 2020

The role of women in Islam | DW Documentary

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Thursday 1 October 2020

Backbiting and finding fault in others: Hadith


Abu Barzah al-Aslami reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “O you who have faith with their tongues but faith has not entered their hearts! Do not backbite the Muslims or seek their faults. Whoever seeks their faults, Allah will seek his faults. And if Allah seeks his faults, He will expose him even in the privacy of his own house.”

Source: Sunan Abī Dāwūd 4880

Mu’awiyah reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, if you seek out the faults of people, you will corrupt them or nearly corrupt them.”

Source: Sunan Abī Dāwūd 4888