Ft. Hood, Islam & Ignorance

On November 5th, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan went on a shooting rampage in Fort Hood, Texas killing 13 and injuring 30 fellow soldiers. After it was revealed that Hasan was a Muslim Arab American, Islam is being put on trial. Of course, as a Muslim Arab American, I’ve been asked how I feel about it.

As an American, it breaks my heart that our soldiers were attacked by one of their own.

As an Arab, it saddens me to think of his family who thought they were contributing to a nation they immigrated too.

As a Muslim, it angers me that the media has made Hasan a representative of Islam.

Let’s be clear on something, a criminal should not be defined by their faith, culture or race… a criminal is a criminal, period! What happened in Fort Hood was a crime committed by a criminal!

Islam does not in any way shape or form condone any act of violence upon another person. I personally don’t feel the need to defend it because its scriptures and teachings speak for themselves.

“Whosoever kills an innocent human being, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind, and whosoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.” –Quran, AlMa’idah (5:32)

“To those who persevere in doing good is a reward more than in measure. No darkness or shame shall cover their faces. They are companions of the garden where they will live forever. But those who have earned evil will have a reward like evil. Humiliation will cover their faces. They will have no defender from God.” –Quran, Yunus (10:26-27)

“Whoever does good equal to the weight of an atom shall see it. And whoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom shall see it.” –Quran, Al Zalzalah (99:7-8)

In his last sermon, Prophet Mohamed said, “Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds.” In sermons and teachings before that, he is noted as saying, “By God, he is not a true believe from whose mischief his neighbors do not feel secure.”

However, to continuously put Islam on trial whenever any individual who identifies as a Muslim commits a crime is absurd. The ignorance that seems to flow as a result, especially from the media, is beyond me.

We have Bill O’Reily talking about winning Muslim hearts and minds because “we can’t kill them all!” O’Reily, do you believe the same should go for Christians or Jewish if a criminal who identifies themselves as a follow of either faith… kill them all? Or those Middle East and Islam “experts” like the one in the video below who know nothing about either. Who even deemed them experts to begin with? I’d rather they call a common citizen who is Muslim from the Middle East then some dude in a suit who thinks MY religion condones such acts.

Of course other media outlets, such as CNN, have been covering this story on the hour daily trying to figure out if it was a terrorist act. There was a guy in Cleveland who had 11 bodies and counting of rape victims in his home; the man in Antioch who kidnapped, rapped and held an 11 year old girl captive for 18 years with her two children conceived by him; the DC sniper who was on a killing rampage before being caught and just executed a few days ago; the ten teenagers lead by a 19 year old who beat, assaulted, robbed and rapped a 15 year old girl in Richmond… aren’t they all considered terrorists too CNN?

Seriously, how do I feel about this guy? I think this guy is a coward, a hypocrite and disturbed. He didn’t want to be deployed as he was against the war and so he shoots his fellow unarmed soldiers. If he seriously didn’t want to get deployed, he could have learned from Mohamed Ali Clay who refused to be deployed to Vietnam and served jail time. He could have learned from his fellow soldiers who did not agree to the war and gained political asylum in Canada. He could have learned from other prominent Muslims who stood their ground in a peaceful and respectful manner regardless of the consequences!

Watching the memorial last week with my mother was difficult. Every time the mention of Hasan came up, my mom did not have a kind word for him. When they stated each one’s name, age and whom they were survived by, my mom would whisper, “May Allah have mercy on them and grant the family patience.”

Rather then letting ignorance and fear take over us, I ask you all to whisper a prayer for ALL those who lost their loves to unjust and unnecessary violence, here and abroad prayer, and demanding justice for them.

Ramadan Statuses

So almost every day throughout Ramadan this year, I put a daily status on Facebook & Twitter. It got pretty popular amongst friends and readers that I couldn’t resist putting them all in one place… I think I started some type of virtual tradition! 🙂

Ramadan Day 2: About to cook an Italian Fest for Iftar. Shall I blog about my recipes & pull a “Julie & Julia”? I badly wanna see that movie, who’s w/me?

Ramadan Day 3: Migraine, allergies & crankiness! I’m blessed that tonight I’ll eat, take meds & laugh my heart out for no apparent reason… Alhamdulillah!

Ramadan Day 4: my attempt at beef masala… so far so good

Ramadan Day 5: trying to have a positive productive day… w/out the caffeine!

Ramadan Day 6: all work and very little play… very little…

Ramadan Day 7: What an amazing first wk of Ramadan… had iftar each night w/family. Next wk will be tough w/night classes & lonely iftars yet knowing it’ll take me places will make it worth while for many Ramadans to come!

Ramadan Day 8: Its going to be a long & hot day!

Ramadan Day 10: To tired to get off the couch & go to bed… That’s how tiring my day was!

Ramadan Day 11: shopping while fasting is the worst… not sure how I made it outta there w/out buying any junk food!

Ramadan Day 12: there should be a common law that one doesn’t take blessings for granted, forget memories of good people and to laugh even when one feels like crying.

Ramadan Day 13: “No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. (If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day.)”

Ramadan Day 14: finishing a blog on the current unemployment rate just in time for labor day… let’s take a moment to give thanks for our blessings and another moment to pass on a simple blessing to someone else…

Ramadan Day 15: Not feeling so good… but we are half way there and before we know it, we’ll be celebrating Eid!

Ramadan Day 16: long but good day with good company 🙂

Ramadan Day 17: Finished most of my hw, getting caught up on some work in this beautiful SF day… What’s for Iftar today?!

Ramadan Day 19: Might have to fast after Ramadan after all that talk of stuff in our foods… Thank God I don’t drink soda with all that frog residue! gross!!

Ramadan Day 20: 10 days of worship amongst family & friends… may God accept our kneels and our fasts, Ameen…

Ramadan Day 21: “an eye for an eye makes everyone blind”… death of 3,000 on 9/11 is sad… death of 100s of 1,000s of civilians & soldiers in response is tragic…

Ramadan Day 22: the night is still young but Ramadan is leaving so fast! 😦

Ramadan Day 24: Had a fun and memorable Ramadan weekend… 30 days for Ramadan sometimes isn’t enough…

Ramadan Day 25: Already making Eid plans… sad and exciting all at the same time!

Ramadan Day 26: I believe everyday is a good day, but days like these are blessed days… may your last days of Ramadan be a true blessing…

Ramadan Day 27: the Night of Power, better then a 1,000 months, is believed to be on this night… may Allah accept your fast and prayers on this holiest of nights Insha’Allah…

Ramadan Day 28: Time for reflection on what you can take from the self purification experience of Ramadan… God give us the strength to continue with our self purification, prayers and charity participation…

Ramadan Day 29: Farewell Ramadan, it has been a blessing that I’ll miss until next year… Hello Eid, the blessed time for reflection, celebration, joy and charity! …talk about mixed emotions!

Eid Posts: Eid prayers taking place at Cathedral Hill Hotel in SF…. Simply beautiful! Blessed Eid everyone! 🙂

having some tea with milk & cookies while working on a paper due today… HAPPY EID!

A Beautiful Prayer

May you have:
The Wisdom of Luqmaan
The Sabr of Bilaal
The Generosity of Uthmaan
The Beauty of Yusuf
The Riches of Sulaiman
& The character of Muhammad (PBUH)

Allah’s (SWT) mercy and special blessings be on you and your beloved family today and always. Allahuma Enny ala Zikriqa we Shuqriqa wa Husnebadeq

A very powerful Dua’a has been sent to you… please share it with others!! Jazakum Allah kheer!! God bless you!

A Letter from Imam Magid of DC regarding Sister Aasiya Zubair

As someone who has worked on domestic violence cases in the community (and sort of still does), this letter is very empowering!

I do want to add that domestic violence is not always with the man as the abuser as well as it is not only physical, it is also emotional and mental too.

Jazak Allah kheer Imam Magid for this empowering letter! Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Sister Aasiya… enna Lillah we enna Elayhy rage’un…

DC’s Imam Magid on the tragic Beheading of Sister Aasiya (Zubair) Hassan
By Imam Mohamed Hagmagid Ali
Executive Director, ADAMS Center
Vice-President, The Islamic Society of North America

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is saddened and shocked by the news of the loss of one of our respected sisters, Aasiya Hassan whose life was taken violently.

To God we belong and to Him we return (Qur’an 2:156).

We pray that she find peace in God’s infinite Mercy, and our prayers and sympathies are with sister Aasiya’s family. Our prayers are also with the Muslim community of Buffalo who have been devastated by the loss of their beloved sister and the shocking nature of this incident.

This is a wake up call to all of us, that violence against women is real and can not be ignored. It must be addressed collectively by every member of our community. Several times each day in America, a woman is abused or assaulted. Domestic violence is a behavior that knows no boundaries of religion, race, ethnicity, or social status. Domestic violence occurs in every community. The Muslim community is not exempt from this issue. We, the Muslim community, need to take a strong stand against domestic violence. Unfortunately, some of us ignore such problems in our community, wanting to think that it does not occur among Muslims or we downgrade its seriousness.

I call upon my fellow imams and community leaders to never second-guess a woman who comes to us indicating that she feels her life to be in danger. We should provide support and help to protect the victims of domestic violence by providing for them a safe place and inform them of their rights as well as refer them to social service providers in our areas.

Marriage is a relationship that should be based on love, mutual respect and kindness. No one who experiences a marriage that is built on these principles would pretend that their life is in danger. We must respond to all complaints or reports of abuse as genuine and we must take appropriate and immediate action to ensure the victim’s safety, as well as the safety of any children that may be involved.

Women who seek divorce from their spouses because of physical abuse should get full support from the community and should not be viewed as someone who has brought shame to herself or her family. The shame is on the person who committed the act of violence or abuse. Our community needs to take a strong stand against abusive spouses. We should not make it easy for people who are known to abuse to remarry if they have already victimized someone. We should support people who work against domestic violence in our community, whether they are educators, social service providers, community leaders, or other professionals.

As Allah says in the Qur’an: “O ye who believe! Stand firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you swerve, and if you distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do” (4:136).

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) never hit a women or child in his life. The purpose of marriage is to bring peace and tranquility between two people, not fear, intimidation, belittling, controlling, or demonizing. Allah the All-Mighty says in the Qur’an: “Among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are signs for those who reflect” (30:21),

We must make it a priority to teach our young men in the community what it means to be a good husband and what the role the husband has as a protector of his family. The husband is not one who terrorizes or does harm and jeopardizes the safety of his family. At the same time, we must teach our young women not to accept abuse in any way, and to come forward if abuse occurs in the marriage. They must feel that they are able to inform those who are in authority and feel comfortable confiding in the imams and social workers of our communities.

Community and family members should support a woman in her decision to leave a home where her life is threatened and provide shelter and safety for her. No imam, mosque leader or social worker should suggest that she return to such a relationship and to be patient if she feels the relationship is abusive. Rather they should help and empower her to stand up for her rights and to be able to make the decision of protecting herself against her abuser without feeling she has done something wrong, regardless of the status of the abuser in the community.

A man’s position in the community should not affect the imam’s decision to help a woman in need. Many disasters that take place in our community could have been prevented if those being abused were heard. Domestic violence is not a private matter. Any one who abuses their spouse should know that their business becomes the business of the community and it is our responsibility to do something about it. She needs to tell someone and seek advice and protection.

Community leaders should also be aware that those who isolate their spouses are more likely to also be physically abusive, as isolation is in its own way a form of abuse. Some of the abusers use the abuse itself to silence the women, by telling her “If you tell people I abused you, think how people will see you, a well-known person being abused. You should keep it private.”

Therefore, to our sisters, we say: your honor is to live a dignified life, not to put on the face that others want to see. The way that we measure the best people among us in the community is to see how they treat their families. It is not about how much money one makes, or how much involvement they have in the community, or the name they make for themselves. Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said, “The best among you are those who are best to their families.”

It was a comfort for me to see a group of imams in our local community, as well as in the MANA conference signing a declaration promising to eradicate domestic violence in our community. Healthy marriages should be part of a curriculum within our youth programs, MSA conferences, and seminars as well as part of our adult programs in our masajid and in our khutbahs.

The Islamic Society of North America has done many training workshops for imams on combating domestic violence, as has the Islamic Social Service Associate and Peaceful Families Project. Organizations, such as FAITH Social Services in Herndon, Virginia, serve survivors of domestic violence. All of these organizations can serve as resources for those who seek to know more about the issues of domestic violence.

Faith Trust Institute, one of the largest interfaith organizations, with Peaceful Families Project, has produced a DVD in which many scholars come together to address this issue. I call on my fellow imams and social workers to use this DVD for training others on the issues of domestic violence. (For information, go to the website of Peaceful Families.

In conclusion, Allah says in the Qur’an “O my son! Establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong; and bear with patient constancy whatever betide thee; for this is firmness (of purpose) in (the conduct of) affairs” (31:17). Let us pray that Allah will help us to stand for what is right and leave what is evil and to promote healthy marriages and peaceful family environments. Let us work together to prevent domestic violence and abuse and especially, violence against women.

I pray that she is brought to justice. May Allah have mercy on Aasiya and console her family and loved ones. Please make du’a for this women, whose promising life was cut too short. I hope that Muslim leaders heed this call and that more of us support women and children who are in danger.

-Imam Magid

The Unmentionable Evils, Muslim & Arab

After following this election for almost a year and a half now, a few things seem to bother me enough that after being away from writing, I feel more then ever to start writing again; starting with the forgotten perspective, the Muslim Arab American perspective. So here I go, starting fresh by writing this piece…

As much as this election has excited me, it has really irritated me. Why?

I’m a Muslim Arab American lady, born and raised in San Francisco to immigrant parents who came to live the American Dream (or may I say everyone’s dream for that matter). Now if I decide to run for public office to give back to this great nation, I’d get that questionable look. Ever since the launch of the presidential primaries, it seems that the first two of the four characteristics I’ve listed would make me a questionable candidate.

About a week ago, an angry lady at a McCain/Palin rally insisted that she read about Obama, on how she “doesn’t trust him” because “he’s an Arab.” How does McCain respond? He responds, and I quote, “No ma’am, no ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. That’s what this campaign is all about. He’s not, thank you.”

Oh McCain, I’m a decent citizen that also disagrees with you on many fundamental issues. Add to that Muslim and Arab, does that change my decent citizen factor?

Campbell Brown of CNN asked recently, “So what if Obama was Arab or Muslim? So what if John McCain was Arab or Muslim? Would it matter?”

No Brown, it wouldn’t matter. Yet to many McCain/Palin supporters it matters. Most of their supporters only support them due to Obama’s supposed race or religion. I mean how many times does the man have to state that he is neither Muslim nor Arab? How many times does he have to denounce the two as if they are unmentionable evils? How many times does he have to be offended of being called such words as if he was being called the “N” word? Will it soon be that Muslim will be the “M” word and Arab will be the “A” word?

The anger I’ve noticed coming out of this election is beyond belief that I have to keep checking the calendar to make sure we are in the 21st century! It has taken us as a nation way too long to get to where we are today. I think if anything, we are behind in our times to get to where we are today.

Just recently outside a McCain/Palin rally in Virginia, there was a group of individuals pushing a hateful agenda against Obama and “his Islamic ties.” I was glad to hear that not only several Muslim supporters of McCain/Palin, but non Muslim supporters stood up against this group until they walked off. Even a campaign director of the area that happened to be Muslim assured McCain/Palin supporters that that group was not with the campaign nor supported the campaign’s message.

As I applaud those who did not tolerate such angry ignorance, I still blame the leaders (which have been mainly GOP) that instilled this fear in such individuals to begin with! How much fear has to be instilled in us before we realize that a handful of “fundamentalists” don’t define what is Muslim or Arab? How much ignorance must we suffer before we decide to educate ourselves on what is Muslim, what is Arab?

If being Muslim and/or Arab is such an evil thing, then we are all basking in its evilness. Let me remind you oh great nation of just some of the major contributions that come from the unmentionable evils:

  • Much of the math that we study in our courses today such as Algebra and Trigonometry was introduced by Arabs. Yes, that includes 0 (zero), Arabic numerals and the reformation of the calendar! With mathematics, comes the understanding of calculating of time, degrees, longitudes and latitudes… oh, Astronomy!
  • Navigation and geography was just as important when Muslims developed them to better calculate and find the direction in which they are to pray in (ElQiblah as it is known). This includes the compass and the magnetic needle.
  • A faith that brought upon literature, poetry, philosophy and music to name a few, brings upon the inspiring designs such as many of today’s architecture across the world, including the many holy sites all of us faithfuls respect and worship in today.
  • Let me also add to this list much scientific studies and discoveries, medicines, alternative health treatments, engineering and craftsmanship.

To end my rant, I’d like to assure you all that you may say the words “Muslim” and “Arab.” I mean for crying out loud, Harry Potter mentions the unmentionable evil name of Lord Voldemort and he doesn’t get stuck by lighting! Ok he gets struck by a wand but he still lived!