Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Top Inspirational Quotes on Strengthening Our Islamic Faith


“There is no relationship between Allah and anyone except through obedience to Him.” [Umar Ibn Al Khattab].

“We were the most humiliated people on earth & Allah gave us honour through Islam.” [Umar Ibn Al Khattab].

“If you want to focus more on Allah in your prayers, focus more on Him outside your prayers.” [Yasmin Mogahed]

“The most beloved actions to Allah are those performed consistently, even if they are few.” [Prophet Muhammad PBUH, Sahih Bukhari].

“Once prayer becomes a habit, success becomes a lifestyle.” Anonymous
“Indeed, I am near.” | [Quran 2:186]

“The more you read The Quran the more you’ll fall in love with The Author.” [Anonymous].
“Allah comes in between a person and his heart.” [Quran 8:24] 

“When was the last time you read the Quran? If you want to change, start with the book of Allah.” [Anonymous].

“Turn to Allah and you will find His Mercy heal every aching part of your heart and soul. Allah will guide you, He will bring clarity to your eyes, make soft your heart and make firm your soul.


Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Why are Muslim women living ‘in fear’ in this Canadian city?


Dunia Nur was out buying paint when it happened. The community organiser in Edmonton, Alberta was speaking Somali to her aunt on the phone when a man at the shop aggressively told her to “speak English”. When she tried to get out of the situation, he blocked her path.

“He was offended at the fact that I was speaking my language,” Nur, a Somali Canadian and the president and co-founder of the African Canadian Civil Engagement Council, told Al Jazeera. “I tried to move and then he blocked me.”

While the recent incident did not escalate further, Nur said it left her feeling unsafe, especially as it took place shortly after a Muslim family was run down by a driver in London, Ontario in a deadly attack that police said was spurred by anti-Muslim hate.

It also came amid a string of verbal and physical attacks against predominantly Black Muslim women in and around Edmonton since late last year – a reality that Nur said has left many members of the community feeling afraid to leave their homes.

In late June, two sisters, Muslim women who wear hijabs, were attacked by a knife-wielding man who hurled racial slurs at them on a path just outside the city. In other instances, Muslim women have been knocked to the ground while out on a walk or threatened while waiting for public transit.

The city says Edmonton police have received reports of five incidents involving Black women wearing hijabs since December 8, 2020, and the police force’s hate crime unit arrested and laid charges against a suspect in each case.

But Muslim community advocates say incidents often go unreported. “We had a town hall meeting where many women came out and actually stated that they have previously been attacked with knives, they have been told to go back to their homes, they have experienced a lot of gender-based violence and hate-motivated crimes – it just went unreported,” Nur said.

“Muslim Black women are being attacked and they are being attacked because of anti-Black racism and they’re being attacked because of Islamophobi[c] rhetoric and they are being attacked because they are women… I feel like right now we’re at a point that we’re not sure what’s going to happen to us when we go outside.”

The capital of the western Canadian province of Alberta, Edmonton was home to just more than 972,000 residents in 2019, according to a municipal household survey.

In an email to Al Jazeera, Mayor Don Iveson’s office said some Edmontonians “have not gotten the message that racist and bigoted behavior is not welcomed in our city”.

“There are systemic and long-term contributing factors to that, there are also issues of specific prejudice in the hearts and minds of [Edmontonians] who ought to know better – and there are far too many of those people that have been given license, in a variety of different ways, to spew their hatred in this community. And I, like most Edmontonians, want it to stop. Now,” the statement said.

Iveson said Edmonton city council supports calls to strengthen hate laws in Canada and has provided financial assistance to bolster initiatives to address hate and violence, including a task force to provide advice on how to make the community feel safe.

“The City, the Edmonton Police Service, and the Edmonton Police Commission have responded with a work plan outlining 70 different actions that are responding to the issues identified. A more comprehensive strategy will be coming forward in early 2022,” the statement said.

The city council also passed a motion earlier this month directing Edmonton to further engage with Black, Indigenous and other communities of colour to address harassment and violence.

The motion also orders the mayor to write to the federal government “requesting a review and potentially update the current definition of hate crime” for any racial, gender or cultural gaps or biases, the city said.

But despite these measures, activist Wati Rahmat told Al Jazeera that “Muslim women are in fear” in Edmonton.

“I have had friends who have conversations about whether they should be changing the way they wear the hijab, or take off the hijab, or go out with a friend, or not go out,” said Rahmat, who founded Sisters Dialogue, a Muslim women-led initiative, in response to the attacks. The group is currently working on a safe-walk service to offer accompaniment to Muslim women who do not feel safe going out by themselves.

The demands for more support in Edmonton come amid growing, Canada-wide calls for the federal government to implement an action plan to stem Islamophobia, as advocates say systemic racism and far-right bigotry increase the risks of violence.

For many, the June attack in London, Ontario – as well as a deadly 2017 shooting at a Quebec City mosque and a fatal stabbing last year outside a mosque in Toronto’s west end – show just how deadly the problem can be.

Members of the Muslim community and supporters gather for a vigil after a deadly attack in London, Ontario, killed four members of a Muslim family in June [File: Ian Willms/Getty Images via AFP]
“I don’t think it’s right for women to have to fear going out,” Rahmat said.

Some Muslim advocacy groups, including the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), have also called for street harassment laws to be bolstered, as most of the recent attacks on Muslim women in Alberta have taken place in public.

Fatema Abdalla, NCCM’s communications coordinator, said at least 15 attacks on Muslim women were reported in the cities of Edmonton and Calgary over the past six months.

“These women were either on their daily walks or they were at a park or an LRT [light-rail transit] station or some form of a transit station,” Abdalla told Al Jazeera, adding that NCCM receives calls nearly every week about verbal abuse targeting Muslim community members across the country.

“It’s instances like these that we need to prevent from happening so that they no longer lead to such devastating attacks as the one that we have seen in London, Ontario,” she said.

In the meantime, Muslim community leaders are taking steps to try to stem the violence on their own. Noor al-Henedy is director of communications at Edmonton’s Al Rashid Mosque, which organised self-defence courses for Muslim women this year.

While the community felt it was necessary to provide women with concrete tools to get out of a bad situation – and the courses drew overwhelming interest – al-Henedy said they also reflect an upsetting reality.

“It’s very sad and disappointing to be honest with you and I think it makes some people a little bit angry that we do have to do this, that we have to resort to these measures,” al-Henedy told Al Jazeera in an interview in March.

“We worry about the future generation; we worry about our daughters,” she added. “When a 15-year-old comes and tells you that she’s too afraid to cross the street, walking from school to home, that’s extremely concerning. It’s heartbreaking.”

Nur at the African Canadian Civil Engagement Council said the organisation is also working on offering psychological support, as well as information for Muslim women to know what to do if they are attacked, including how and to whom to report an incident of violence.

She called for international organisations such as the United Nations to push Canada to take action to urgently respond to the situation in Edmonton.

“We need international attention and solidarity because we can’t do this on our own and our public officials are failing us. We need international help and intervention,” Nur said. “We’re not okay. We really are not okay.”


Friday, 16 July 2021

Pakistan: The ordeal of 'abandoned wives' left behind by UK families


Sana Hafeez, 28, from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, had hardly started the 10th grade when her family arranged her engagement to her British-born cousin Muhammad Bilal Choudhary.

Although Hafeez had wanted to become a civil servant after completing her education, she was excited by the prospect of going to the United Kingdom. She thought it would help ease her family's financial troubles and provide her with an opportunity to get an education and a good job.

"But to my surprise, my fiancée and his family asked me not to pursue my studies beyond grade 12," she told DW. "I was heartbroken, but the prospect of going to the UK and supporting my family financially was still a solace."

The pair remained engaged for five years and married in August 2018. Her husband left for the UK a week after the marriage, and both he and her in-laws had promised to take her there as well, said Hafeez.

Hafeez is one of many women from her region who have been married off to British Pakistani men in the hope they can help their families financially. But lawyers and womens' rights activists say that many of these marriages often go awry.

Several residents of Hafeez's district of Mirpur have family members in Britain. Many people left in the 1950s and 60s, when the construction of a large dam affected thousands in the district.

Over the years, through marriages, asylum, work permits and family connections, many made their way to the former colonial power.

"For a year we remained engaged and talked over the phone," Hafeez recalled. But her fiance's attitude started to change in 2019. "When I insisted on coming to the UK, he started hurling slurs and insults and finally filed for divorce in May of this year," she said, fighting back tears.

"It was a bombshell for me and the family. He wasted eight years of my life," she said. Additionally, her family had to borrow money to pay for the marriage — money which they thought could be repaid once she was settled in the UK.

"I could have become a civil servant or gotten a higher education. Who will compensate for all my losses?" she asked.

Hafeez's case is not unusual, said Ghazala Haider Lodhi, a women's rights advocate.

"Since the 1990s, I have heard and seen thousands of cases of such women," Lodhi told DW.

"Because of the conservative nature of our society they cannot share their ordeals."

Lawyer Ifzal Ahmed Khan has witnessed many similar cases. Khan told DW that a British Pakistani man, originally from the town of Bhimber in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, married his cousin Sadaf more than seven years ago. He stayed with her for a few years and abandoned her after the birth of a baby boy.

The man later divorced his cousin, he said, adding that the man is now threatening to take the child.

Sardar Abrar Azad, an activist in Mirpur, says his friend's sister was also abandoned after being married to a British Pakistani. According to Azad, poverty is what drives families to marry off their daughters to British Pakistanis. He added that people are often so desperate to send their daughters to the UK that they don't pay much attention to the character of the husband-to-be.

Many of the men turn out to be utter frauds, Azad said. "Instead of taking the girls back, they stay here for months while the girls' families bear their accommodation expenses."

While poverty is one reason young women are married off, some parents seek husbands for their daughters in order to strengthen existing family ties, he said.

Most of the girls, advocate Lodhi said, are from impoverished families, who hope that their daughters will call one of their brothers to the UK or will themselves work there and send money back. What seems like a dream can soon turn into a nightmare, she said.

'Parents should seek consent'
"I think parents need to seek the consent of their sons and daughters who are born and brought up in the UK under completely different socio-economic conditions," Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, former prime minister of the disputed territory, told DW.

He believes that a lack of consent leads to the breakup of such marriages. "The man and woman should be given a chance to communicate with one another and understand each other before they decide to marry," he said.

In Mirpur, the British Pakistani men marrying local women have an increasingly bad reputation. Lodhi claims that almost half of them are already married. In one case, a British Pakistani man married more than six times. "Most of these men are over 40 and even 60 in some cases," Lodhi said.

"They know most of their victims are poor and cannot do anything against them," said Khan. "So they marry here, and spend a few months or years impregnating women. In some cases, they take the kids with them and in others they leave both the wife and kids here, and ruin their lives."

"What else could it be described as except debauchery and lust?" he said.

Attique Khan believes that society has to take steps to stop such marriages. "Efforts could be made at the government level, but civil society has to create awareness to stop this trend," he said.


Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Secret Marriages


Some brothers and sisters have asked me to comment on a practice that is increasingly reported of travelling Muslim scholars and teachers of Islam in the West, and those who travel to the West as teachers and preachers. This is the practice of contracting secret marriages in the places these scholars visit or pass through.

The first thing to be said is that people generally do not make a secret of actions and relations except when they have some sense that these actions and relations, if known, would be disapproved of. Those who take the responsibility of public teaching of Islam must know that they are seen as representatives of the religion and looked up to as role models. Not only the words they preach but also their actions and lifestyle influence the decisions and actions of others; before God they are liable for that influence and for its consequences in the lives of others. Preachers, teachers, and other public figures in the community, have a responsibility to ensure that their conduct adheres to the ideal of those who fear even to displease God, let alone wilfully disobey His commands or those of His Messenger, upon him be peace.

Every Muslim knows that good deeds repel evil ones. God has said so in His Book: “Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds”. (Surah Hud 114) The effort of preparing for prayers and doing the prayers through the day helps to sustain God-wariness, to prevent failures and shortcomings from becoming established habits with consequences hard to undo. We strive after good thoughts, words and deeds in order to disable and annul temptation, so that we acquire, so far as God wills, something to negate/counter the harms and wrongs that we accumulate to our account over a lifetime.

But how many of us are mindful that the converse is also true: that evil deeds can negate, undo or outweigh good ones? The following is reported by `Abd al-Razzaq in his Musannaf:

Ma`mar and Sufyan al-Thawri narrated to us from Abu Ishaq, who narrated from his wife saying that she called among a company of women on `A’ishah. A woman said to her: O umm al-mu’minin, I had a slave-girl, whom I sold to Zayd ibn Arqam for 800 with deferred payment of the price. Then I bought her from him for 600 and I paid those 600 on the spot and I wrote him 800 as debt. `A’ishah said: By God!How evil is what you bought! How evil is what you bought! Tell Zayd ibn Arqam that he has invalidated his jihad with the Messenger of God, peace be upon him, except if he repents. (Abd al-Razzaq, al-Musannaf, 8/185)

Note here the strength and presence of mind of `A’ishah. In her indignation against this legal trick to do what God’s law fiercely condemns and pronounces as illegal (namely, loans on interest), she does not exaggerate or lose her balance of judgment. She does not hesitate to say of Zayd that, by taking part in this transaction, he has annulled his effort of jihad. But she also remembers to say, ‘except if he repents’. Some wrongs (like riba) are indeed so heavy in their nature and their personal and social consequences that that they may annul one’s good deeds. Yet, until death is known to be imminent, the door of repentance is not closed to any sinner, and God has said that He loves to forgive.

Secret marriage is one of several kinds of violation by men of the rights and dignity of women. I have been informed that it is increasingly common for Muslim preachers in Europe and America and for those visiting the West to marry women in secret and for a short period, after which they, presumably, end the marriage, before going on to contract another marriage of the same sort somewhere else. This is a violation of the laws and good purposes of marriage, and a vicious exploitation of women whose circumstances oblige them to enter into such contracts. The wrong is analogous to riba, which is a violation of the laws and good purposes of lending money, and severely injurious to those whose circumstances force them to borrow in this illegal way.

Marriage in Islam is presented as a good deed, a noble thing to do, when it is done in the manner and for the purposes described as ma`ruf – i.e., according to the known, established norms of kindness and public, legal form. It is explicit in Surat al-Nisa’ that even when a Muslim contracts a marriage with a slave, he must inform her family and get their consent, and he must pay her the mahr. What is explicitly forbidden is taking lovers in secret, debauchery, and fornication, i.e., sexual relations without responsibility for the other person and for the consequences of the act. Secret, temporary marriages are (just like the legal tricks to enable riba) a legal cover for what is illegal and known to be so.

Marriage is both a personal and social fact for the contracting parties. It is not merely one and not the other. It is an integral part of what makes marriage a good deed that it should be done with the intention of building a legal, social, physical space in which children are to be welcomed and raised. It is an integral part of what makes marriage a good deed that it connects families not hitherto connected, or it extends and consolidates existing connections. In this way, marriage widens the network of family relations, so that there is multiplicity of siblings and cousins, uncles and aunts and nephews and nieces, among whom responsibility for each other’s well-being (physical, economic and spiritual) is shared, usually unevenly, as means and talents and situations are diverse. The social relationships facilitate and diversify, and thereby strengthen and support, the burdens of personal relationship of the husband and wife. It goes without saying that when a man contracts a marriage he commits himself, in principle, to provide for his wife for her lifetime – it is not lawful for a Sunni Muslim to contract a marriage knowing in advance that this commitment is temporary. Let us suppose that a Sunni Muslim owns an oil-well and he is able to pay out, all at once, as much money as any woman could expect to have in a whole lifetime: for this Sunni Muslim it is still unlawful to contract a marriage knowing that it is temporary, however much he pays out, and unlawful also, obviously, for the woman. Of this man it may be that his great wealth makes him the greater sinner, since he could use it not to indulge himself but to assist others to get married.

What distinguishes a marriage as such, what ennobles it above any form of improper association of man and woman, is that it is proclaimed to be a responsible union: marriage proclaims the couple’s right to privacy and intimacy with each other, and the purposes of that right. The neighbourhood and community must know the legal status of the couple’s being together, so that they can celebrate their relation and support it. Secret marriages, in addition to violating the rights of women, also violate the right of the community to be spared the innuendoes and slanders that are so corruptive of social order, harmony and trust. Such marriages do the same long-term damage to what is nowadays called ‘personal and social capital’, as American-style fast foods (and other ‘instant’ conveniences, not least social media ‘friendships’), do to long-term physical and mental health, and to the long-term sustainability of how food is produced and distributed.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: ‘Proclaim the marriage’ (Sunan al-Nasa’i, 3369; Musnad Ahmad, 15697; Sunan Sa`id ibn Mansur, 635). This a clear injunction that marriages must be proclaimed, made public, not held in secret. That is the practice of the Prophet himself, of all his Companions, and of the prominent scholars of the early generations. None of them ever indulged in secret marriages and they never, explicitly or tacitly, approved any such marriages. We read in al-Mughni, k. al-Nikah that among those who expressed explicit disapproval of secret marriages are: `Umar ibn al-Khattab, `Urwah ibn al-Zubayr, `Ubaydullah ibn `Abdillah ibn `Utbah, `Amir al-Sha`bi. Abu Bakr `Abd al-`Aziz says: ‘Such a marriage is void’. There too we find that the majority of the jurists say that the proclamation of marriage is recommended, i.e., they do not make it a legal condition for the validity of a marriage, assuming that it has been legally witnessed. Some say that proclamation is mandatory. This is the opinion of al-Zuhri: ‘If someone marries secretly, brings two witnesses but commands them to keep it secret, it would be obligatory to separate the husband and wife’. Similarly, it is reported that Imam Malik’s opinion is that non-proclamation of marriage invalidates the marriage (al-Mughni, k. al-nikah).

Even those scholars who do not make proclamation a legal condition for the validity of a marriage do not express approval for keeping it secret. Ibn Taymiyyah, as forceful and forthright as ever, likens secret marriages to prostitution (Majmu` al-fatawa, 32/102).

In sum:

Sunni fiqh condemns secret and temporary marriages (secret or public) because they are so injurious to the rights and dignity of women, and because they diminish the good that comes from marriage, namely family life and family relations with all that they provide of testing and training for mind, heart and temperament, and for all the consolations of sharing feelings and experiences across generations. Contracting secret/temporary marriages reduces marriage to sexual relations in an ugly sort of rental arrangement, that is profoundly demeaning, especially to women. Accordingly, I strongly advise women to be careful before they consent to marry anyone. I strongly advise them to inform, consult with and find support from, family, friends and community before they make any commitments so that the matter is known, and so that their rights are observed and respected. It is better (for women and men) to endure the hardships of being single than to enter into contracts that insult the laws and norms, and seek to subvert the purposes, of marriage as commanded by God and His Messenger, upon him be peace.

As for those who present themselves in public as teachers and preachers of Islam and yet have entered into such contracts, what can I say? It is obligatory for them that they refresh their intentions in due fear of God and that they remember that the door to repentance, to reform, and to making amends, is not closed.

God’s Messenger has affirmed in many places that God loves to forgive His creatures if they turn to Him. He makes the way to forgiveness easy for whoever repents sincerely. No believer’s sins, however great or numerous, can be greater than His mercy.

Sh. Akram Nadwi


Thursday, 8 July 2021

Is India’s Hindu majority radicalized against Muslims?


“Hum unka murder bhi na karen “Can’t we even murder them (Muslims)?” These were the words of Suraj Pal Amu, president of an Indian far-right outfit Karni Sena, while addressing an audience of 50,000 at a Mahapanchayat (great council) in the north-Indian state of Haryana on May 30. The council was held in support of the accused arrested for lynching a Muslim man in Mewat, Haryana.

On May 16, a 25-year-old Muslim youth Asif Khan from Mewat’s Khalilpur Kheda village was lynched allegedly by a mob. Asif was returning home after buying medicines.

“Unhone bola ‘Mulleh, tum logo mein se ek ko bhi nahi chhodenge,’ aur ye bhi bola ‘tum sab se hum Jai Shri Ram bulvayenge’ (They said they will not leave any of us alive and also said they will make us chant Jai Sri Ram),” the Quint quoted Asif’s cousin Rashid, an eyewitness, as saying.

When the police arrested the accused in the ‘lynching case’, people from a certain section of the Hindu society opposed their arrest. This is not the first time when some sections of the Hindu majority community in India supported people accused of committing crimes against Muslims, India’s largest religious minority.

This incident, and similar incidents like this, illustrate that India is following the path of Nazi Germany where the majority of Germans were radicalized to the extent that they blindly supported the holocaust against the Jews. In Nazi Germany, Jews were dehumanized by Hitler’s propaganda machinery. They were called ‘cockroaches.’ Using such kind of genocidal terminology is the first step towards genocide. Holocaust didn’t start with gas chambers, it started with hate speeches.

When a section of the society is dehumanized, the other groups of the society become apathetic towards them. The perfect example of this was how German society supported Nazis and their actions, which killed millions of Jews.

I can see the same pattern being replicated in India. Muslims in India are being dehumanized and the majority of Hindu society has become mute spectators. The right-wing Hindu politicians and a large section of Indian Media continuously target Muslims. This leads to the dehumanizing of Muslims in the social sphere and they are, in turn, treated as the second class citizens of India.

The pattern of this dehumanization can be seen in various ways.

Since ultra-Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, several Muslims were lynched by Hindu extremist mobs in different incidents across the country. Following these incidents of violence against the Muslims, those Hindu extremists who were involved in these heinous crimes received support from certain section of the majority community, and in turn, exposing the deep-seated bigotry of the majority society.

Just a week after Modi took oath as Prime Minister of India in 2014, a Muslim techie named Mohsin Shaikh was lynched in Pune, Maharashtra by members of a far-right Hindu outfit called Hindu Rashtra Sena. The accused Dhananjay Desai was released on bail and received a heroic welcome from his supporters.

In 2017, a Muslim daily wage worker named Afrazul was brutally beaten up and burnt alive on live camera in Rajsamand, Rajasthan. A Hindu man Shambhu Lal Regar, who committed this heinous crime, was hailed as a hero. His supporters attacked a local court in Rajasthan and hoisted a saffron flag on top of it. Within three days, his supporters had collected Rs 2,75,000 ($3,767). Moreover, on the occasion of a Hindu festival, people made a tableau of Regar and used it in a parade.

In another incident, Alimuddin Ansari was lynched in Jharkhand on June 29, 2017. His killers got bail from the court and Modi’s ministerial colleague, Jayant Sinha garlanded them. In a BBC interview, Sinha even admitted that BJP leaders had provided legal expenses to the accused in the case.

In 2018, an 8-year-old nomadic Muslim girl was raped and brutally killed inside a temple in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir. The culprits kept her in captivity for several days, sedated her and raped her multiple times and later killed her.

When police arrested some accused in the case, a Hindu Right Wing organization called Hindu Ekta Manch took out a march in support of the accused. The rally was attended by BJP ministers.

BJP leaders not only support these criminals but also deliver anti-Muslim hate speeches to fuel Islamophobia in the country.

For example, in 2016, Anant Kumar Hegde, a BJP leader had said “Islam should be wiped out from this world.”

In the Mahapanchayat (great council) held in Haryana on May 30 to support the alleged killers of a Muslim man Asif Khan, approximately 50,000 people attended the event and several local BJP leaders had also joined it. The council cannot be seen in isolation, as this was not the only event that took place in Mewat in support of the murder accused. Many such small panchayats were held in different villages of Mewat before this Mahapanchayat.

These incidents are enough to expose the deep-seated anti-Muslim hatred prevailing in the majority community of India. The radicalization of the Hindu majority has happened to such an extent that they are openly taking out rallies in support of the people accused of violence against Muslims, and which include rapists and murderers as well.

This radicalized lot is openly calling for the killing of Muslims because they are confident that the government will not take any action against them. These radicalized speakers are aware that the more hatred they will spew against Muslims, the more their popularity will grow among their supporters.

Hindu Nationalists in India understand the anti-Muslim psyche of the society. It is one of the main reason that they do not shy away from spewing hatred against Muslims. In India, many far-right Hindu leaders proudly accept their involvement in anti-Muslim criminal activities. Their hatred against Muslims makes them more popular in society.

Bhavesh Patel, a convict in Ajmer Dargah Blast 2007, was released on bail in 2018. When he reached his hometown Bharuch, he was a given heroic welcome by a large crowd that included office bearers of BJP and other far-right Hindu outfits.

Pragya Thakur is accused in the Malegaon Bomb blast of 2008. After being released from jail on bail, she contested parliamentary elections on a BJP ticket in 2019 and emerged as a winner by getting 8,66,482 votes. Thakur has confessed on camera that she was involved in Babri mosque demolition in 1992. Yet, this has not mattered for a society where hatred for Muslims is a populist tactic to win elections and wield power.

A year ago, when India was witnessing historical mass protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), a few BJP leaders including Kapil Mishra, and their supporters marched on the streets against Muslim protesters and shouted slogans like “Shoot the traitors”.

It is a fact that hate speeches in India always incite people to commit crimes against targeted groups, especially the Muslim minority community. In India, where the polarization of the political sphere has led to a divisive body politic, the otherization of Muslims is key to stay in power.

In another incident last year, a Hindu man Kapil Gujjar fired at Muslims who were protesting against CAA at Shaheen Bagh Delhi. Later on, Kapil was released on bail and joined BJP. Following the outrage, the BJP, however, expelled him.

Few weeks after the shooting incident, anti-Muslim riots took place in North East Delhi in February 2020, in which scores of Muslims were killed and dozens of properties belonging to Muslims were burnt down and many were arrested. However, the leaders who shouted hate-filled slogans and delivered incendiary speeches were never arrested. On the contrary, they became more popular among the masses.

In April 2021, a Hindu priest Narsinghanand organized a press conference where he abused the Prophet of Islam (PBUH). A case was registered against him but he was never arrested. Following the press conference, he became the apple of the eye for Hindu Nationalists. The BJP leader Kapil Mishra raised 4.8 million INR through crowdfunding for Narsinghanand.

Suraj Pal Amu who recently addressed a Mahapanchayat in support of murder accused, has been appointed as spokesperson of BJP. No action has been taken against him yet.

If murder and terror accused are being treated as heroes in a society, then that society can be anything but civilized. Right-wing leaders in India want to spread hated against Muslims because it helps them to gain popularity, and society by and large wants to elect hatemongers because they want to teach a lesson to Muslims.

In the present political landscape of India, the onus of reforming the Hindu society is on the shoulders of well-meaning Hindus who want to defeat this fascism. India needs a social reformer from the majority Hindu community who can deradicalize the Hindu society.


Tuesday, 6 July 2021

The curious case of ‘1,000 conversions’: Who is Umar Gautam?


For about a week now, TV news channels have run primetime shows on the Uttar Pradesh police busting an alleged “conversion racket” in Delhi. The tentacles of this network are spread across India, we are told. Angry anchors also tell us the racket was being funded by Pakistan’s spy agency ISI.

The police have arrested four people for running the alleged “racket”. While the mainstream media claims that over 1,000 people have fallen victim to it, so far no more than two families have alleged forceful conversion of their sons, both students of a school for the deaf in Noida.

So, what’s the “conversion racket” all about? Who are the people arrested for allegedly running it? What are they accused of exactly? Is there any truth behind the narratives playing out on TV screens?

Newslaundry went on the ground to find out.

On the fourth floor of a building in Delhi’s Batla House, a nameplate identifies the occupant, “Mohd Umar Gautam, Chairman, IDC.”

Umar is the leader of the “conversion racket”, according to the UP police’s Anti Terrorist Squad which arrested him on June 20 along with Mufti Kazi Jahangir Kasmi, an employee of the IDC, or Islamic Da’wah Centre.

A woman answered the doorbell. “We don’t want to talk to the media,” she said. “You are not showing the truth.”

She was Umar’s wife Razia, 51. It took some persuasion for her to agree to tell the family’s side of the story.

Razia has been married to Umar for over 30 years. They both originally come from Rajput families in Fatehpur district, UP.

“My husband was a disciple of Lord Hanuman and would visit the temple every Tuesday and Saturday,” Razia recalled, narrating the story of the couple’s conversion from Hinduism to Islam in the 1980s. “We were so religious that people would often call me Poojita, meaning one who worships. As is the custom for Hindu families in Uttar Pradesh, we would also go for ‘Maghi Snan’. Our marriage was arranged when we were still in our teens.”

Maghni Snan is an annual 30-day ritual that involves devotees taking a dip in the Ganga river.

The year was 1984. Umar was Shyam Pratap Singh Gautam and studying for a BSc at the Govind Ballabh Pant University, now in Uttarakhand. One of his rommmates at the university was a Muslim named Nasir Khan. “Nasir would take my husband on his cycle to the temple every week,” Razia said. “One day, Shyam asked him why he accompanied him to the temple so diligently. ‘To please my God,’ Nasir replied. ‘My religion teaches me to take care of those in my haqooq’. It was this incident that changed the course of Shyam’s life.”

By “those in my haqooq”, Nasir meant the people in his social circle whom his religion enjoined he had obligations towards.

Shyam spent a month reading the Bible, Gita and Quran, and then converted to Islam. He took a new name, Mohd Umar Gautam. His conversion wasn’t out of the ordinary. Several villages in and around Fatehpur have seen Rajputs converting to Islam.

Sometime in the 90s, Umar and Razia moved to Delhi. For over a decade, between 1995 and 2007, Umar was employed at Ajmal & Sons, a company owned by perfume baron and All India United Democratic Front leader Badruddin Ajmal with its head office in Assam’s Hojai. According to Razia, her husband oversaw schools run by Ajmal & Sons.

“My husband is a reputed man and a respected scholar. Because of this incident my entire family has been disturbed,” Razia said, wiping away tears with her headscarf. “You can ask around if we have converted anybody by force. There is our househelp from Nepal, check with him if we have ever tried to influence him to change his religion.”

Umar and Razia have two sons and a daughter. The older son is an engineer at an IT firm and the younger is preparing for MBA. Their daughter, Fatima, is an assistant professor at a deemed university in Delhi. She told Newslaundry that her father was cooperating with the investigation when he was arrested. “I remember him leaving that day. We thought since everything was transparent on our end, it should be fine. Else we would have informed a lawyer and local leaders,” she said, breaking down.

Fatima said they have records of all conversions which IDC helped formalise. “We can produce video clips of reverted Muslims who embraced Islam on their own,” she maintained, adding that her family were planning to launch an online campaign to garner support for Umar.

At this point, a couple of Umar’s neighbours joined the conversation. Anjum, a resident of Kanpur, said she had contacted Umar about a decade ago when she wanted to convert to Islam from Sikhism. “My husband is Muslim and I wanted to formalise the relationship legally,” she added. “I came from a Sikh family. We believed in the ideals of Brahmakumaris.”

The other neighbour, an elderly woman who lives on the floor below, said, “Food and religion can’t be forced down anyone’s throat.”

She claimed that a few days ago a TV channel’s staff came to her house asking what kind of a person Umar was. “They never aired it because I said nice things about him,” she added.

Razia passed her mobile to me, playing a video from a YouTube channel called Millat Times. It was an interview with Sujit Shukla, a doctor in Bengaluru. In the interview, posted two days after Umar’s arrest, Shukla said he had heard about Umar on a train journey years ago and contacted him when he wanted to convert to Islam in 2004. “Everything is documented and filed,” Shukla said when asked about the conversion process. Did he benefit materially from his conversion? Shukla laughed and said, “Well it’s a loss making venture financially since all family ties are cut soon after conversion.”

Addressing a press conference in Lucknow on June 21, Prashant Kumar, additional director general, law and order, claimed the police unearthed the “conversion racket” while investigating a case filed at Ghaziabad’s Masuri police station.

The case was filed on June 4 against Mohd Ramzan alias Vipul Vijayvargiya and his brother-in-law Mohd Kashif who had tried going into Ghaziabad’s Dasna temple by hiding their identities, Kumar alleged, with the aim of assassinating its priest.

The priest, Yati Narsighanand Saraswati, is a Hindutva extremist who routinely spews venom against Muslims and their faith. In April, speaking at Press Club of India, he hurled insults at Islam and Prophet Muhammed, leading to the Delhi police filing an FIR against him. The previous month, his followers had brutally assaulted a Muslim boy for entering the temple premises to drink water. Afterwards, the temple put up a poster barring Muslims from going in.

The investigation into Ramzan and Kashif, Kumar claimed, led the ATS to Umar who they allegedly found was involved in the “forced conversion” of about 1,000 Hindus.

Razia disputed these allegations. Ramzan and Kashif had gone to the Dasna temple to debate the priest after he insulted their religion and prophet. Umar knew Ramzan, a resident of Nagpur who converted to Islam after marrying a Muslim woman named Ayesha.

Shahabuddin has been living in the locality for seven years and knows Umar. He said “people would go to him only to legalise conversion”.

“It is all political,” another resident, who has lived in the colony for decades, added with a wry smile, referring to Umar’s arrest.

At Umar’s home, Razia also lashed out at the incumbent political dispensation. “So many people have died of Covid, so many have lost jobs, yet the focus of the government is conversion,” she said, suggesting the case may be a ploy to distract from “real issues”.

The doorbell rang. A few Delhi police personnel cops had arrived for identity verification. Umar’s wife and daughter panicked. Frantic calls were made to local legislator Amanatullah Khan. The women are ushered into another room as Gautam’s son answered the police’s questions at the door. The family was getting used to the new normal.


Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Outrage after Pakistan PM Imran Khan blames rape crisis on women


 Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, is facing backlash after he blamed victims of rape for wearing “very few clothes”.

The former cricket captain was questioned by the Axios journalist Jonathan Swan about the ongoing “rape epidemic” in Pakistan and responded by saying: “If a woman is wearing very few clothes it will have an impact on the man unless they are robots. It’s common sense.”

He did not elaborate on what he meant by “few clothes”, in a country where the vast majority of women wear conservative national dress.

More than a dozen women’s rights groups, including the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, released a statement demanding an apology. “This is dangerously simplistic and only reinforces the common public perception that women are ‘knowing’ victims and men ‘helpless’ aggressors,” they said.

The politician Maryam Nawaz, who is the vice-president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and daughter of the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, said Khan was a “rape apologist” and that people who validated rape had the same mindset as the perpetrators.

Kanwal Ahmed, a campaigner for women’s rights, tweeted: “Makes my heart shudder to think how many rapists feel validated today with the prime minister backing their crime.”

Weekend protests have been organised in the cities of Karachi and Lahore.

Earlier this year the prime minister was accused of “baffling ignorance” by one of the country’s top rights groups after he advised women to cover up to prevent rape.

His media team later insisted the comments in the national language of Urdu had been misinterpreted.

When questioned by Swan about his previous remarks about rape victims, Khan responded saying it was “nonsense” and he was instead referring to Islam’s “concept of purdah” which is to “avoid temptation of society”, often done through covering oneself.

Victims of sexual abuse are often viewed with suspicion and criminal complaints are rarely seriously investigated in Pakistan. Much of the country lives under a so-called “honour” code where women who bring “shame” on their families can be subjected to violence or murder.

The country regularly ranks among the worst places in the world for gender equality.

Nationwide protests erupted in 2020 when a police chief admonished a gang-rape victim for driving at night without a male companion. The French-Pakistani mother was assaulted in front of her children on the side of a motorway after her car ran out of fuel.


Thursday, 24 June 2021

Hadith: Mind your own business


Ali ibn Husayn reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, among excellence in Islam is for a man to leave what does not concern him.”

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2318

Monday, 21 June 2021

Muslim Family Brutally Attacked By Hindutva Mob


Reports have surfaced that a Muslim family was brutally beaten up by a group of men after they barged into their home in Yamna Vihar locality in New Delhi on Friday night. According to an Urdu news portal Roznama Khabrein, 11 family members including children and women were injured in the attack by the gang led by certain Vipin. A delegation of Jamait Ulama-e-Hind met the victims and expressed their solidarity and support with the family of Yamin Khan.

 The report said that the family told the Jamiat delegation that they were attacked for their Muslim identity. Yamuna Vihar was one of the worst hit localities in the riots that shook the national capital last year leaving 53 dead, majority of them Muslims. The family said that even though the iron gate of the lane was shut, Vipin beat up the guard who attempted to resist their forced entry. He and his men then entered into Yamin Khan’s house, beat up family members and misbehaved with women folks.

 After the family dialed the police helpline the goons ran away. Jamiat delegation led by Maulana Hakimuddin Qasmi took up the matter with top police officials of the area including DCP. The police told the delegation that a case has been filed and gang leader Vipin has been nabbed. The police assured them that all the accused will face the law. 


Thursday, 17 June 2021

Hadith: On Jerusalem



“Glory be to the One Who took His servant Muhammad by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque whose surroundings We have blessed, so that We may show him some of Our signs. Indeed, He alone is the All-Hearing, All-Seeing.” (The Qur’an, 17:1)

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Islam’s anti-racist message from the 7th century still resonates today


One day, in Mecca, the Prophet Muhammad dropped a bombshell on his followers: He told them that all people are created equal.

“All humans are descended from Adam and Eve,” said Muhammad in his last known public speech. “There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, or of a non-Arab over an Arab, and no superiority of a white person over a black person or of a black person over a white person, except on the basis of personal piety and righteousness.”

In this sermon, known as the Farewell Address, Muhammad outlined the basic religious and ethical ideals of Islam, the religion he began preaching in the early seventh century. Racial equality was one of them. Muhammad’s words jolted a society divided by notions of tribal and ethnic superiority.

Today, with racial tension and violence roiling contemporary America, his message is seen to create a special moral and ethical mandate for American Muslims to support the country’s anti-racism protest movement.

Apart from monotheism – worshipping just one God – belief in the equality of all human beings in the eyes of God set early Muslims apart from many of their fellow Arabs in Mecca.

Chapter 49, verse 13 of Islam’s sacred scripture, the Quran, declares: “O humankind! We have made you…into nations and tribes, so that you may get to know one another. The noblest of you in God’s sight is the one who is most righteous.”

This verse challenged many of the values of pre-Islamic Arab society, where inequalities based on tribal membership, kinship and wealth were a fact of life. Kinship or lineal descent – “nasab” in Arabic – was the primary determinant of an individual’s social status. Members of larger, more prominent tribes like the aristocratic Quraysh were powerful. Those from less wealthy tribes like the Khazraj had lower standing.

The Quran said personal piety and deeds were the basis for merit, not tribal affiliation – an alien and potentially destabilizing message in a society built on nasab.

As is often the case with revolutionary movements, early Islam encountered fierce opposition from many elites.

The Quraysh, for example, who controlled trade in Mecca – a business from which they profited greatly – had no intention of giving up the comfortable lifestyles they’d built on the backs of others, especially their slaves brought over from Africa.

The Prophet’s message of egalitarianism tended to attract the “undesirables” –people from the margins of society. Early Muslims included young men from less influential tribes escaping that stigma and slaves who were promised emancipation by embracing Islam.

Women, declared to be the equal of men by the Quran, also found Muhammad’s message appealing. However, the potential of gender equality in Islam would become compromised by the rise of patriarchal societies.

By Muhammad’s death, in 632, Islam had brought about a fundamental transformation of Arab society, though it never fully erased the region’s old reverence for kinship.

Early Islam also attracted non-Arabs, outsiders with little standing in traditional Arab society. These included Salman the Persian, who traveled to the Arabian peninsula seeking religious truth, Suhayb the Greek, a trader, and an enslaved Ethiopian named Bilal.

All three would rise to prominence in Islam during Muhammad’s lifetime. Bilal’s much-improved fortunes, in particular, illustrate how the egalitarianism preached by Islam changed Arab society.

An enslaved servant of a Meccan aristocrat named Umayya, Bilal was persecuted by his owner for embracing the new faith. Umayya would place a rock on Bilal’s chest, trying to choke the air out of his body so that he would abandon Islam.

Moved by Bilal’s suffering, Muhammad’s friend and confidant Abu Bakr, who would go on to rule the Muslim community after the Prophet’s death, set him free.

Bilal was exceptionally close to Muhammad, too. In 622, the Prophet appointed him the first person to give the public call to prayer in recognition of his powerful, pleasing voice and personal piety. Bilal would later marry an Arab woman from a respectable tribe – unthinkable for an enslaved African in the pre-Islamic period.

For many modern Muslims, Bilal is the symbol of Islam’s egalitarian message, which in its ideal application recognizes no difference among humans on the basis of ethnicity or race but rather is more concerned with personal integrity. One of the United States’ leading Black Muslim newspaper, published between 1975 and 1981, was called The Bilalian News.

More recently Yasir Qadhi, dean of the Islamic Seminary of America, in Texas, invoked Islam’s egalitarian roots. In a June 5 public address, he said American Muslims, a population familiar with discrimination, “must fight racism, whether it is by education or by other means.”

Many Muslims in the U.S. are taking action, supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and protesting police brutality and systemic racism. Their actions reflect the revolutionary – and still unrealized – egalitarian message that Prophet Muhammad set down over 1,400 years ago as a cornerstone of the Muslim faith.


Thursday, 10 June 2021


1. Committing sins and not feeling any guilt.
2. Having a hard heart and no desire to read the Qur'an.
3. Feeling too lazy to do good deeds
(eg. being late for Salah)
4. Neglecting the sunnah.
5. missing attention during Salah is, you should read your Salah like it's your last Salah! in fact it could be your last Salah since nothing can guarantee you that you would live to read your next Salah.
6. Having mood swings, for instance being upset about petty things, bothered and irritated most of the time.
7. Not feeling anything when hearing verses from the Qur'an, for example when Allah warns us of punishments and His promise of glad tidings.
8. Finding difficulty in remembering Allah and making dhikr.
9. Not feeling bad when things are done against the deen and Shariah.
10. Desiring status and wealth.
11. Ordering others to do good deeds when not practicing them ourselves.
12. mocking on people who do simple good deeds, or those who are just striving to be better muslim by sharing or posting Islamic reminders.
Remember the Prophet (sallallahu wa sallam) said: “convey the deen to the people even if it were a single ayah” so share to help us keep the Muslim youth on the right path, In Shaa Allah.
May Allah Subhanahu wa-ta’ala enliven and enlighten our hearts towards the deen and grant us closeness to Him.
Allahumma Ameen 🤲🏻❤

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

A Threshold Crossed Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution


 About 6.8 million Jewish Israelis and 6.8 million Palestinians live today between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River, an area encompassing Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), the latter made up of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Throughout most of this area, Israel is the sole governing power; in the remainder, it exercises primary authority alongside limited Palestinian self-rule. Across these areas and in most aspects of life, Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians. Laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy. In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain areas, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.

Several widely held assumptions, including that the occupation is temporary, that the “peace process” will soon bring an end to Israeli abuses, that Palestinians have meaningful control over their lives in the West Bank and Gaza, and that Israel is an egalitarian democracy inside its borders, have obscured the reality of Israel’s entrenched discriminatory rule over Palestinians. Israel has maintained military rule over some portion of the Palestinian population for all but six months of its 73-year history. It did so over the vast majority of Palestinians inside Israel from 1948 and until 1966. From 1967 until the present, it has militarily ruled over Palestinians in the OPT, excluding East Jerusalem. By contrast, it has since its founding governed all Jewish Israelis, including settlers in the OPT since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, under its more rights-respecting civil law.

For the past 54 years, Israeli authorities have facilitated the transfer of Jewish Israelis to the OPT and granted them a superior status under the law as compared to Palestinians living in the same territory when it comes to civil rights, access to land, and freedom to move, build, and confer residency rights to close relatives. While Palestinians have a limited degree of self-rule in parts of the OPT, Israel retains primary control over borders, airspace, the movement of people and goods, security, and the registry of the entire population, which in turn dictates such matters as legal status and eligibility to receive identity cards.

A number of Israeli officials have stated clearly their intent to maintain this control in perpetuity and backed it up through their actions, including continued settlement expansion over the course of the decades-long “peace process.” Unilateral annexation of additional parts of the West Bank, which the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to carry out, would formalize the reality of systematic Israeli domination and oppression that has long prevailed without changing the reality that the entire West Bank is occupied territory under the international law of occupation, including East Jerusalem, which Israel unilaterally annexed in 1967.

International criminal law has developed two crimes against humanity for situations of systematic discrimination and repression: apartheid and persecution. Crimes against humanity stand among the most odious crimes in international law.

The international community has over the years detached the term apartheid from its original South African context, developed a universal legal prohibition against its practice, and recognized it as a crime against humanity with definitions provided in the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (“Apartheid Convention”) and the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The crime against humanity of persecution, also set out in the Rome Statute, the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights on racial, ethnic, and other grounds, grew out of the post-World War II trials and constitutes one of the most serious international crimes, of the same gravity as apartheid.

The State of Palestine is a state party to both the Rome Statute and the Apartheid Convention. In February 2021, the ICC ruled that it has jurisdiction over serious international crimes committed in the entirety of the OPT, including East Jerusalem, which would include the crimes against humanity of apartheid or persecution committed in that territory. In March 2021, the ICC Office of Prosecutor announced the opening of a formal investigation into the situation in Palestine.

The term apartheid has increasingly been used in relation to Israel and the OPT, but usually in a descriptive or comparative, non-legal sense, and often to warn that the situation is heading in the wrong direction. In particular, Israeli, Palestinian, US, and European officials, prominent media commentators, and others have asserted that, if Israel’s policies and practices towards Palestinians continued along the same trajectory, the situation, at least in the West Bank, would become tantamount to apartheid.[1] Some have claimed that the current reality amounts to apartheid.[2] Few, however, have conducted a detailed legal analysis based on the international crimes of apartheid or persecution.[3]

In this report, Human Rights Watch examines the extent to which that threshold has already been crossed in certain of the areas where Israeli authorities exercise control.

Definitions of Apartheid and Persecution
The prohibition of institutionalized discrimination, especially on grounds of race or ethnicity, constitutes one of the fundamental elements of international law. Most states have agreed to treat the worst forms of such discrimination, that is, persecution and apartheid, as crimes against humanity, and have given the ICC the power to prosecute these crimes when national authorities are unable or unwilling to pursue them. Crimes against humanity consist of specific criminal acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack, or acts committed pursuant to a state or organizational policy, directed against a civilian population.

The Apartheid Convention defines the crime against humanity of apartheid as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” The Rome Statute of the ICC adopts a similar definition: “inhumane acts… committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.” The Rome Statute does not further define what constitutes an “institutionalized regime.”

The crime of apartheid under the Apartheid Convention and Rome Statute consists of three primary elements: an intent to maintain a system of domination by one racial group over another; systematic oppression by one racial group over another; and one or more inhumane acts, as defined, carried out on a widespread or systematic basis pursuant to those policies.

Among the inhumane acts identified in either the Convention or the Rome Statute are “forcible transfer,” “expropriation of landed property,” “creation of separate reserves and ghettos,” and denial of the “the right to leave and to return to their country, [and] the right to a nationality.”

The Rome Statute identifies the crime against humanity of persecution as “the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity,” including on racial, national, or ethnic grounds. Customary international law identifies the crime of persecution as consisting of two primary elements: (1) severe abuses of fundamental rights committed on a widespread or systematic basis, and (2) with discriminatory intent.

Few courts have heard cases involving the crime of persecution and none the crime of apartheid, resulting in a lack of case law around the meanings of key terms in their definitions. As described in the report, international criminal courts have over the last two decades evaluated group identity based on the context and construction by local actors, as opposed to earlier approaches focused on hereditary physical traits. In international human rights law, including the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), race and racial discrimination have been broadly interpreted to include distinctions based on descent, and national or ethnic origin, among other categories.


Monday, 7 June 2021

Hadith: Opression is a grave sin


The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) quoted God as saying: “O My servants, I have forbidden oppression for Myself and have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another.” 

Hadith Qudsi

The Prophet once prayed for pardon for his people and received the reply from God, "I have forgiven them all but acts of oppression, for I shall exact recompense for him who is wronged from his oppressor." 


Monday, 24 May 2021

Dalia Mogahead: Advocating for Palestine


People who don’t visibly advocate for Palestinian rights have no idea the way anyone who does is quite literally *terrorized*. I have never spoken about this in public, mostly because I know real activists for Palestinian rights have it so much worse. But I thought I would share part of my story just to illustrate the way speech about Palestinian humanity is suppressed, silenced and sanctioned. 

The first time I experienced this reality I was 17 years old, a freshman in college, and the only engineering major on the staff of my university newspaper. I wrote a *response* to a long article by a student who had spent the summer in the IDF and recounted their experience with the “faceless soldiers who were defending the only democracy in the Middle East.” The article had countless factual errors about the history of the occupation, as well as the current (at the time) reality. I did a point by point rebuttal and my editor said it was a masterpiece. He ran the piece prominently. 

I started getting hate mail. I was called a terrorist whore. I was called a killer of Israeli children. The responses to my article poured in in a seemingly coordinated campaign. They were all published in my paper’s opposition newspaper. Like 5 a day! About my article. For at least two or three weeks. For about a month I was the most famous person on my campus of 40,000 students. The irony was that the onslaught backfired.  Alot of my professors had not read my article, but saw the avalanche of responses, which lead them to read it, and told me it was very persuasive. 

Then my editor started getting calls. Not from students or faculty, but from big donors and advertisers warning him to issue a recant of the article or apology or they would pull their funding and ads, blackmailing a 20 year old with literal bankruptcy of his college paper if he didn’t make sure the opinion section had the proper views about Palestine. 

What happened? I was 17 and alone and terrified. My parents were terrified for me (they worked at the same university). I stopped writing about Palestine. I stopped writing about anything for months despite my editor begging me to come back. To my amazement and eternal gratitude, instead of apologizing, he published a piece exposing the threats he was getting. He told me later he had never seen or experienced that kind of bullying and censorship about anything he had ever worked on.  
This is a very small window into one tiny incident where the stakes were so low. Imagine what it looks like when you’re a member of Congress, a writer for a major newspaper, or anyone else with influence.
We simply are not able to speak freely about Palestine in this country without facing very real negative consequences. Our media has a documented and severe bias.


Tuesday, 18 May 2021

What can you do? (in the US) by Suhaib Webb


Here are six things we can do to support Palestinians: 

1. Contact your local representative and asked for his/her position on HR. 2590. 2.

 Ask your local representative to sanction Israel for crimes again humanity - ethnic cleansing, displacement, and the destruction of property and lives. If your representative claims ignorance, be prepared to share resources American Muslims for Palestine is an important resource you can use.

 3. Support relief efforts that provide Palestinians with the support they need to shoulder this incredible challenge. 

 4. Reach out to Palestinians and offer your platform for them to use and share their narrative. Familiarize yourself with the language they prefer, and when possible, step back and amplify their voices. They do not need that; they are doing excellent, but the louder the better, inshallah. 

5. Ask interfaith partners to take a moral stance on the issue. For years, interfaith "partners" across the spectrum have asked Muslims in American to explain terrorism or denounce violence. Don't be scared to make an ask. It will reveal who your true friends are. 

6. Don't blame yourself or the umma for these crimes. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم stated, "What I have ordered you to do, do it as best you can." The real crime falls on Muslim "leadership," those who have political power. We do not; t is on them. Our burden is to work for justice within our capacity. The Muslim umma is good; Muslim governments, as are most governments, are out for something else: Profits, instead of Prophets. We pray for people across the globe from Afghanistan to Ethiopia, Muslims are being killed, displaced, and struggling for their humanity. Allah bless us to be strong, just, and sincere! All of these are Islamic issues, and with each demand, we try our best to support and help people harmed by power.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Muslim women are reviving tradition of public Quran recitation


Learning to become a qari (or qari’ah for females), a skilled reciter of the Quran, the holy book for Muslims, is not easy. It takes years or even decades of practice and discipline to master proper recitation and pronunciation known as tajweed.

For Madinah Javed, 25, a law graduate and activist from Glasgow, Scotland, her journey to become a qari’ah began from a young age when her mother would attend tajweed classes while they were living in Qatar. As a toddler, she would sit in her classes and absorb what she was hearing.

Some two decades of training later, the St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow invited Javed in 2017 to recite a part of the Quran and share the story of Mary and Jesus as a guest for their Christian service.

The audience was touched by her melodic recitation, and it was a proud moment for Javed. But when she posted the video of her recitation online, she did not expect to be met with a huge backlash from the far-right worldwide.

For months she was the target of hate messages and threats, so much so that she wanted to disappear and change her name. The police had her phone number registered, so that if she called they would arrive immediately.

Through the entire ordeal, the Muslim community remained silent, as women are usually shunned in many communities in the United Kingdom when they recite the Quran publicly.

It was something that never made sense to Javed as she believed the focus should be on the meaning of the recitation, instead of the reciter’s gender, colour or dress.

But later, Javed realised there was a silver lining after all.

After viewing her recitation online, many Muslim women wrote to Javed, saying they were inspired as it was the first time in their lives they heard a woman recite the Quran in public.

Madinah Javed recites the Quran at a mosque [Courtesy of Madinah Javed]
In many Muslim-majority countries such as Algeria, Nigeria, Malaysia, Indonesia and Bosnia & Herzegovina, it is common for women to recite the Quran in public spaces for both men and women to hear.

But in some Muslim communities in the West, some hold the opinion that women cannot recite for audiences that include men, as they see the woman’s voice as “awrah”, as part of that which should be covered.

Noticing it was mostly men posting their recitations online on this side of the world, Javed launched her #FemaleReciters campaign that year, aiming to encourage Muslim girls and women to share their recitations online, to raise awareness and help revive the sacred tradition of Quran recitation.

Searching the hashtag on Twitter, Instagram or TikTok now reveals a collection of Quran recitations by women and girls around the world, which was previously unavailable.

“I focused all of my energy and passion into creating something beautiful. I realised there were no other female reciters here and that I had broken a glass ceiling,” Javed told Al Jazeera.

“So my activism with Female Reciters began to rehabilitate female Quran recitation. And this beautiful community of female reciters began online so naturally and my vision was that it would be a place for all women to share and belong in order to revive our sacred tradition together as sisters.”

Reciting the Quran is an important aspect in Islam, especially during the holy month of Ramadan, but even on Quran apps there have been no female reciters featured.

So in 2015, Jerusha Tanner Rhodes, associate professor of Islam and interreligious engagement at the New York-based Union Theological Seminary, launched an online petition called #Addafemalereciter calling on QuranExplorer to add female reciters to its app and website.

Six years later there is only one app, the android QAT that is known to have included a female reciter, the renowned Indonesian qari’ah Maria Ulfa.

Aside from the difference in opinion, a second reason why Quran apps have not added female voices is because there are few female recitations publicly available and not copyrighted, Tanner Rhodes said.

“There needs to be some concentrated effort to record female reciters and record the full recitation of the Quran,” Tanner Rhodes said. “Because it becomes much harder to say no, when you can say: ‘And here are three reciters’.

“Recitation of the Quran, even if you don’t become a qari is obligatory and Muslims … need to know how to recite some of the Quran. Having a diversity of voice is part of that obligation.”

For Javed, it was not until she visited Bosnia during Ramadan in 2019 that she heard a woman’s recitation emanating from a mosque for the first time in her life.

“I just stopped for a moment to take it in. The Muslim soundtrack is really shown as a male one. How often do we hear a woman reciting Quran, let alone from a mosque?… I was hearing the recitation so loudly and beautiful and clear. It was just amazing,” Javed said.

She noted that 1,400 years ago during the time of Prophet Muhammad, it was normal to hear women reciting the Quran for both men and women. Their recitations – recited beautifully and loudly – would echo on the streets outside for everyone to hear and appreciate.

One of these women was Umm Waraqa, a companion of the prophet and one of the few people who knew the entire Quran by heart. She would teach the Quran to others and her recitations could be heard by those passing her house outside.

Javed’s friend Fazeela Selberg Zaib noted a few years ago that scrolling down the list of Quran chapters on Spotify for several minutes would not yield a single female reciter in the feed.

That is why it was an emotional moment for Javed when she discovered last year on Twitter rare and old recordings from the early 20th century of Egyptian qari’ahs. For the last eight decades, women’s recitations have been banned from broadcasting on radio in Egypt.

“A spiritual lobotomy has taken place over the past century because we should have a whole trove of recordings of women in our history reciting the Quran but there’s a gap there,” Javed said, quoting Zaib.

“It’s part of our tradition. It’s normal… It shouldn’t be an anomaly [in the British and American context].”

Asma Elbadawi from the UK is one of many Muslim women who have posted their recitations online.

She told Al Jazeera her mother taught her how to recite when she was a child and she would enter in many competitions in the Muslim community. She recalled how proud all the mothers were to see their children compete.

“It was something that was seen as a privilege to learn and recite the Quran,” Elbadawi told Al Jazeera.

“For me, I grew up listening to the Quran by women and reciting it as well. For some reason, over the years it became something I didn’t see as often. It was almost like it was forbidden, but it wasn’t. There was this understanding that women don’t recite.

“When women share the recitations of the Quran, it inspires other women to take the time to learn and recite and enjoy the Quran. Because at the end of the day, it’s about enjoying that conversation that you’re having with your creator.”

Tanner Rhodes said in countries such as the United States, things have begun to change as larger Islamic organisations now have women recite at their events.

“For women in particular, learning the Quran is inherently valuable and a beautiful thing to do and committing oneself to learning the practices of recitation, it’s a form of worship. It’s a very valuable thing,” Tanner Rhodes said.

“Reading the Quran is a good thing, and more beautiful ways that people can do that is beneficial.”

‘God’s words are perfect’
The movement has spun various initiatives. Last month, the website Amaliah compiled a playlist of recitations by women worldwide reciting “The Cave”, a special chapter from the Quran that is recommended for Muslims to recite every Friday.

Javed said in places where it is not the norm for female reciters to be listened to, it will take time to make a change. That is why she tries to visit as many communities as possible, speak to people, and raise awareness.

She has given Quran recitations worldwide including at the British Museum and at the Scottish Parliament.

On Monday she will be reciting for the Nightly Quran Recitation, streamed by the Texas-based community organisation Muslim Space.

Javed said she was always taught to love reciting and it is a blessing to be able to do so.

“God’s words are perfect themselves and we’re just trying our best to recite it.”