Friday, February 23, 2007

MCB Recommendations to UK Schools

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) have published a document: Towards Greater Understanding - Meeting the needs of Muslim pupils in state schools: Information & Guidance for Schools. I agree with many of its recommendations, but it’s politely didactic tone and its implicit assumption that British schools should seek to accommodate the needs of Muslim pupils so comprehensively is evidence, yet again, that the MCB appears to advocate for British Muslims in a locked and darkened room, without any sense of the current political or media climate. Remember the letter in which MCB et al told Tony his foreign policy was making Britain a terrorist target? Did it achieve anything more than invoke the wrath of politicians and Islamophobic media pundits? What is achieved by such posturing?

Okay, perhaps the issue is - should Muslim leaders speak truth to power or should they take a more low-key, pragmatic approach to seeking justice for the our community? As the MCB appear to plumped for the former, we now have another ‘provocative’ document published, and the right wing press have put the boot in (surprise surprise), and the government have dismissed it (surprise surprise). And all power to those bloggers who have robustly defended it against such an inexcusable tirade of hatred and contempt: Islamophobia Watch, Rolled Up Trousers, Indigo Jo and Five Chinese Crackers. It deserves defending, but as an educational document, not as an adjunct of Muslim identity politics. If we respond to the exploitation of legitimate criticism by bigotted little twerps like Harry’s Place by declaring such criticism either erroneous or irrelevant, we might as well just throw this document in the bin and forget it. Reports like this need to be debated and discussed or they are worthless.

Much of what the MCB report suggests is emminently sensible. My main objection is that it does not give due regard for Muslim diversity, not just in terms of adherance, but also in terms of sectarianism. The objections to dance, for example, are appropriate for Deobandi Muslims but not all Muslim groups object to dance. Similarly, some Shi’a Muslims have a lively tradition of depicting the Prophet Muhammad (aws). This is not a problem unique to the MCB. As Daniel Varisco points out in his excellent Islam Obscured, many Muslims fail to even acknowledge the diversity of what he and and other anthropologists prefer to call islams.

Probably the best introduction to Sunni Muslim diversity in the UK is Ron Geaves’ (1996) Sectarian Influences Within Islam in Britain (Leeds: University of Leeds). Personally, I think the issues raised by the MCB document would have been better taken up on a school-by-school basis. There are already individual British schools who have gone a long way to accomodating Muslims - Warwick Road in Batley is an excellent example, where many pupils are Deobandi Muslims. But they succeeded because of Muslims sitting on the board of governors, which is precisely what the Association of Muslim Governors is all about.

I know the MCB mean well and they do get a lot of unfair flack. But why does this report include a link to Harun Yahya’s site? The man has been utterly and completely trashed by the press in his own country. Several of his former devotees have alleged he now claims to be the Mahdi who exploits his charismatic authority to have sex with this followers' wives! And the drums that I hear a beating tell me these stories have sufficient substance to finally discredit him, as if reading his dreadful, pseudo-scientific polemic wasn't ever enough!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

the comfort and arrogance of hindsight

it is amazing how looking back at things allows one the comfort and arrogance to think that we were, would have been, and by extension, are on the right side of the conflict between oppressors and oppressed...

im sure most people would say that would have never supported the South African apartheid regime. or that they think that the South Africans liberation movements were wrong. or that should have met this or that condition before their demands should have been valid or legitimized...

but the fact is that there were such people. many of them. who supported the apartheid regime. who condoned the actions of the apartheid regime. who remained silent about the apartheid regime. who downplayed the stark realities of the lives of black South Africans. who attempted to place pre-conditions on the ANC, PAC, BC, and all other movements before they would support them. and no, not in any military, physical, economic support, but just so that they would morally support them and recognize their struggle as legitimate. who endlessly asked questions about what were the positions of this party or that movement on this or that issue as pre-conditions for their support. who would ask and measure how much blame the black South Africans themselves held for their own oppression...

and so I think about the Palestinian struggle today, in particular (but other struggles as well). and i read these quotes from those who fought in the South African liberation struggle:

"There are things we South Africans recognise in the Palestinian struggle for national self-determination and human rights. The repressed are demonised as terrorists to justify ever-greater violations of their rights. We have the absurdity that the victims are blamed for the violence meted out against them. Both apartheid and Israel are prime examples of terrorist states blaming the victims." - Ronnie Kasrilis

"This is much worse than apartheid. The Israeli measures, the brutality, make apartheid look like a picnic. We never had jets attacking our townships. We never had sieges that lasted month after month. We never had tanks destroying houses. We had armoured vehicles and police using small arms to shoot people but not on this scale." - Ronnie Kasrils

"Apartheid was all about land. Apartheid was about keeping the best parts of the country for the whites and sending the blacks to the least habitable, least desirable parts of the country. And one sees that all the time here [in the occupied territories], particularly with the wall, now, which is really a land grab. One sees Palestinians dispossessed of their homes by bulldozers. One can draw certain parallels with respect to South Africa that, during the heyday of apartheid, population relocation did result in destruction of property, but not on the same scale as the devastation in Gaza in particular, [or in] the West Bank." - John Dugard

"I've been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about...Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice." - Bishop Desmond Tutu

And despite these statements by the people who lived through and struggled against apartheid themselves, to see and hear people condone, overlook, ignore, counter, question, deny the Palestinian struggle is saddening. this, from people of "conscience," activists, comrades, or those who claim a desire for justice? actually, it is beyond saddening. it is pitiful. pitiful to think that humans are so fickle yet arrogant. pitiful to be a part of this humanity. pitiful to think that we falter so horribly at even being able to provide some basic simple moral solidarity or support. this pitiful hypocrisy of ours that we will attempt to deny, hide, or forget when victory comes. and surely, victory will come.

"By the passage of time (it is sworn)
Indeed, man is in a state of loss
Except those who maintain faith, those who do righteous work, and (join together) in keeping to truth, and keeping patience in adversity."

- Quran 103:1-3 (Surah Al-Asr)

whitewashing the panthers

Whitewashing the Panthers: Can the Government Prosecute Black History?
Connecting the Torture Tactics against the Panthers with those used at Guantanamo/Abu Ghraib

Films and Speakers
Friday, March 2nd, 7:00 pm
The Community Church of Manhattan, 40 E. 35th St. (between Park and Madison)
A program on the new (old) case against the Black Panther Party

FILMS: Legacy of Torture:
The War Against the Black Liberation Movement
Melvin van Peebles interview of Herman Bell, political prisoner and defendant in this case (Starz in Black)

SPEAKERS: Kathleen Cleaver, Soffiyah Elijah, Gita Guiterrez and Iyaluua Ferguson, and others

This January, as police continue to shoot unarmed civilians, the government charged eight men (aged 50 to 70) for conspiracy in acts that occurred over 30 years ago. Their new evidence is based on police torture of Black activists in the 1970s.

Come learn about this case, and hear from representatives of the jailed defendants and their movement.

For more on the case of the SF8: http://www.freedomarchives.org/BPP/torture.html

We will be collecting donations for the case

SPONSORED BY: Center for Constitutional Rights, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, National Lawyers Guild NYC, NYC Jericho, NY Taskforce on Political Prisoners, Resistance in Brooklyn, Immigrant Justice Solidarity Project

Sunday, February 18, 2007

the war


Progressive Muslims

It seems the debate over 'progressive' Islam/Muslims has resurfaced, with Ali Eteraz declaring "progressive Islam" dead over on Alt.Muslim, adding a post/comment about "label whores" on the Eteraz blog as a coda to his critics. Personally, I prefer not to use the term 'progressive', partly due its unfortunate associations with silly Muslim Wake Up and its indifference to anti-imperial (or indeed any) critiques of its 'progressive' views.

MWU's misrepresentation of British Muslim issues such as the Shabina Begum affair in terms of its own agenda is an error British 'progressive' groups like MECO appear to be repeating - precisely because, I suspect, they have imported MWU's dogmatic sensibilities. Trying to represent the niqab, for example, as a 'Wahhabi' issue (or British Deobandis as closet Wahhabis) completely undermines MECO's claim to be 'erudite'. Consequently, the term 'progressive' appears to have assumed a pejorative connotation on this side of the pond, indicative of an insular liberalism out of touch with British Muslim concerns.

The danger with this, which is also inherent in the Eteraz decree, is that everything associated with the word 'progressive' gets dismissed out of hand. Personally, I still view Omid Safi's collection of 'progressive Muslim' essays (pictured above) as an excellent introduction to contemporary Muslim issues such as gender and a must read. Indeed, what matters to me most is not scholarship's heterodoxy or popularity, but its veracity.

The fact is, influential Muslims around the globe still employ the label 'progressive' with integrity. Laury Silvers' withering response to the Eteraz declaration packs a punch by doing no more than reminding people that neither he nor those among his esteemed colleagues who continue to use the term are dead. At the heart of this debate, though, is the authority of competing comtemporary Muslim discourses over what constitutes a 'true' Muslim. The antedote to this, in my opinion, is to support ordinary Muslims who wish to approach sacred and authoritative Muslim texts for themselves and make their own decisions about how to live as part of the ummah.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Imam Zaid Shakir on Islam and Environmental Responsibility

Environmental Responsibility Clear in Islamic Scriptures

Muslims have many scriptural imperatives that demand we work for the preservation and health of our environment. As we enter an era where the prospect of environmental catastrophe is perhaps greater than the prospect of disaster from any other source, it is especially important that we make environmental protection one of our most pressing priorities.

In a talk I gave at the London School of Economics on Islam and the environment, I said that when one considers the dismal record of the Muslim nation-states in dealing with environmental issues, and the virtual lack of any significant grassroots environmental organizations in those countries, one may find it strange that a Muslim should speak about this topic.

This sentiment is only reinforced by the fact that the various Islamic movements, which have become the main opponents of the regimes governing those states, lack even the semblance of an environmental agenda.

However, the informed Muslim can easily speak on Islam and the environment for a number of reasons. First of all, Islam is described in the Qur'an as the religion of nature. God declares: “Therefore, orient yourself, with all due sincerity and uprightness towards the natural religion; this is consistent with the nature He (God) has created in humankind. Never will there be any change in that nature, this is the straight way. However, most of humanity realizes it not.” (30:30)

Having created us, and then through the institution of religion oriented us towards Him, our Creator then situated us in a delicate, intricate system where our success, and indeed the perpetuation of that system, rests in maintaining a balance between all things. He says in the Qur’an:

“The Merciful. He has taught the Qur'an. He has created the human being. He has taught him elocution. The sun and moon flow along in their established orbits. The stars and trees recline themselves humbly in prostration. He has raised aloft the firmament of the sky and established the balance. Therefore, cheat not in maintaining the balance. Establish just measure and do not fall short in maintaining the balance.” (54:1-9)

In this group of verses, God enumerates some of His Blessings to humanity. He starts by mentioning the Majestic Qur'an. As Muslims, we believe that the Qur'an contains the enduring message of God to humanity. Its guidance defines the worldview of the conscientious believer. God reminds us: “Remember the blessing of God upon you, and the Scripture and Wisdom that He has revealed unto you, by way of admonition. Be mindful of God, and be assured that He knows all things.” (2:231)

He then mentions His creation of the human being. This creation is mentioned after His teaching the Qur'an. In other words, God has facilitated our success before our actual creation. From this we should understand that God desires that we succeed in this life. This is consistent with His saying: “God has made faith beloved to you, and adorned it in your hearts. And He has caused you to hate disbelief, corruption, and sin.” (49:7)

He then mentions His teaching humanity clear speech, elocution. He has given us the ability to express our thoughts, emotions, feelings and sentiments. Imam al-Baydawi says in his commentary on this verse that this is the greatest encouragement for man to express his gratitude to God for His blessings. An individual may lack the means to express his appreciation for a favor with a gift or some other material possession. However, he never lacks the means to express his thanks verbally. It is as if God is saying to humanity, "I've created you, guided you, and facilitated the means for you to thank me."

After this He enumerates some of His blessings, all are to be found in the world of nature. He mentions the “…sun and moon flowing along in their established orbits.” The predictability of their orbits increase their benefit to humanity as signs for guidance, markers of time, and regulators of the tides and winds.

“The stars and trees bow in prostration…” The stars prostrate by willingly accepting the Divine Decree governing their arrangement into constellations. These constellations are an adornment for the sky, and a source of guidance for humanity. The trees do so by accepting the determination that they deliver their fruit consistently and uniformly in an appointed season. This regularity makes possible the harvests, which provide repeated benefit to humanity. The trees also absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and help to replenish our supply of oxygen. All of these processes are based on laws established by God.

“We have raised aloft the firmament of the sky and established the balance...” God has crowned the benefits He has bestowed upon us by raising over us the miraculous canopy of the sky, which protects us, the animals, the plants, and helps to preserve the stored up repositories of water found in glaciers and the polar ice caps. He then declares that He has “established the balance." The balance mentioned here is a symbol of the justice that must characterize all of our transactions. Those transactions must be based on a system of equitable reciprocity and they involve our interactions with everything on earth. Everything in this creation gives and takes fairly: the plants, animals, seas, winds and the Earth.

Humans also give and take. However, we often take more than we give. We thereby oppress our fellow humans, the land, the sea, the plants, and beasts. Our Creator, most knowledgeable of this propensity, advises us: “Therefore, cheat not in maintaining the balance.” In other words, do not take more than you give! For if you cheat in this great transaction, you are denying my blessings, and if you deny my blessings, I will withdraw them from you. In this regard, God proclaims: "If you give thanks [for My blessings], I shall increase you in them, and if you refuse [to thank Me], you should know that my punishment is quite severe." (7:167)

What we are witnessing in our world is the failure of humanity to maintain the balance, and that failure has led to unfathomable consequences for the land, the sea, and all of the creatures therein. The Qur'an gives us an insightful description of this condition when it declares: “Corruption has appeared on the land and in the sea because of what the hands of humans have wrought. This is in order that we give them a taste of the consequences of their destructiveness in order that they will return to the path of right guidance.” (30:41) Qur’anic exegetes have described this corruption as the drying up of the rains, the disappearance of the harvest of the sea, and other ecologically relevant meanings.

One could well look at these and similar Islamic teachings and ask if they had a practical manifestation in Islamic societies. The answer is yes. The protection of natural habitat, the well-being of animals, and related responsibilities were often overseen by appointed officials, members of the world’s first environmental protection agencies. For example, Imam Taj al-Din al-Subki, in his instruction manual to the appointed officials in the Islamic polity, Mu'id al-Ni'am wa Mubid al-Niqam, advises the official overseeing the stuccoing of the city walls: "The person entrusted with stuccoing the walls must first ascertain that no animals are living in them. Otherwise, he might inadvertently cause the death of animals that he has no right to kill, small birds and the like. Were he to do so, he would betray God by killing those animals."

He advises the official entrusted with the oversight of the animals: "Among the rights owed to these beasts is that you are sincere in serving them. You must exercise the trust you have concerning them fully. They have no tongues with which to complain to you [concerning abuses], they can only complain to God." Officials charged with overseeing the protection of the forests and trees were also admonished to carefully guard the rights of these living creatures.

In the past, Muslims were among the leaders in utilizing earth, wind, sun, water and shade to develop ecologically friendly systems of air conditioning, refrigeration, heating, energy generation, farming and construction. These systems considered well the damage of human activity to the ecosystem. The resulting positive attitudes towards the environment were not unique among pre-modern people.

This careful attitude towards the environment is countered contemporarily by one of avarice, greed and neglect facilitated by a global economic climate that allows gross corporate ecological irresponsibility. This shift has led to unimaginable abuse of the Earth's resources and people. At the heart of this abuse is an economic system that is predicated on unlimited growth, while encouraging unimaginable waste. Our planet's finite resource base and limited absorption capacity cannot long endure such a scheme. Unless we change, perhaps the only question left for us to answer will be, "Will we meet our doom by exhausting our available resources or suffocating in our waste?"

In conclusion, the current economic arrangement fails on three counts. First of all, as Herman Daley and others point out, it fails to meet the basic needs of the planet's entire population. Secondly, it fails to maintain an acceptable level of biodiversity. Thirdly, it does not ensure a sustainable level of resources for future generations. These failures have their own ecological consequences, global warming being only the most alarming.

Muslims, especially here in the West, have an important part to play in addressing the growing ecological crisis. As we know, the overarching objectives of Islamic Law (Maqasid ash-Shari’ah) determine that religion has been instituted to preserve six things: religion itself, life, intellect, wealth, lineage and honor. If the environment that sustains our life and is the primary source of our wealth, is destroyed, then religion is effectively voided as there would be no life, lineage, or wealth left for it to safeguard. Even if we were to limp along, barely surviving in a toxic, ecologically ravaged wasteland, we would have lost our honor, with our wealth and lives likely to follow in short order.

How can we change? First of all, as Muslims, we must realize that our religious teachings provide us with a valuable source of meaningful ecological consciousness. Our rich history provides us with many brilliant models, which can serve as the basis for significant strategies in developing alternative energy sources, organizing holistic communities, as well as significant direction in other vital areas.

Secondly, we should know that it isn't necessary for us to "reinvent the wheel." There are many non-Muslim groups that are active in addressing a large variety of environmental issues. We can both learn from their experiences and join with them to augment their strength.

If we act now, we can help to avert many looming disasters, such as global warming and the associated climate changes, which are already beginning to wreak havoc on our world. If we fail to act, we are only hastening our collective doom.

hunger for justice cont.

Updates on the ongoing hunger strikes. Dr. Sami al-Arian, collapsed on the 23rd day of his hunger strike, yet he still vows to continue. He has been moved to a medical facility in North Carolina.

In Canada, one of the three hunger strikers, Mohammad Mahjoub, on the 83rd day of his hunger strike, and after five and a half years of detention has been released.


Dr. Sami Al-Arian Health in Jeopardy Send Fax Now!

MAS Freedom Foundation Organizes Major Fax Campaign to Judge Gerald Lee

WASHINGTON, DC - Feb. 15, 2007 (MASNET) Due to the severe health concerns of Dr. Sami Al-Arian, who collapsed on the twenty-third day of his Hunger Strike for Justice, the Muslim American Society (MAS) Freedom Foundation has organized an emergency fax campaign to Judge Gerald Lee of the Virginia Eastern District Court.

Dr. Sami Al-Arian embarked upon a hunger strike to protest his legal treatment, incarceration, and current eighteen month jail sentence for his refusal to testify testifying before a grand jury. This verdict was rendered against him despite a plea agreement he had with the government, which included a no-cooperation clause (See:

Given the fact that sending letters to Judge Gerald Lee will take a long period of time, MAS Freedom Foundation is urging individuals to send faxes directly to Judge Lee's chambers today. Additionally, everyone is encouraged to contact at least 10 other individuals and request that they send faxes and contact others as well. Please be polite and respectful when writing to Judge Gerald Lee. Send your fax to the Honorable Judge Gerald Lee at: (703) 299-3339

Below is a sample fax highlighting key points to address.

To the Honorable Judge Gerald Lee
Your Honor,

Dr. Sami Al-Arian is currently on a hunger strike in federal detention to protest his treatment by U.S. authorities. Family members have reported that Dr. Al-Arian collapsed on the twenty-third day of his fast and has been moved from Virginia to a medical facility in North Carolina. He began his hunger strike more than 3 weeks ago after refusing to testify before a grand jury in Virginia. His attorneys have indicated that an earlier plea agreement freed him from further cooperation and that the government's actions amount to a form of harassment. On humanitarian grounds I respectfully request that Dr. Al-Arian's sentence for civil contempt be removed.


NOTE: It is critically important to indicate that you are requesting the removal of the 18 month sentence for civil contempt. Judge Lee only has jurisdiction over the civil contempt portion of Dr. Al-Arian's sentence, thus he cannot release Dr. Al-Arian. However, Judge Lee can remove the 18 month civil contempt sentence making Dr. Al-Arian eligible for release in April.

Please don't forget to join MAS Freedom Foundation and thousands across the United States on Wednesday, February 21st as we unite in solidarity with Dr. Al-Arian's Hunger Strike for Justice and for a national press conference in front of the Department of Justice at 11:00am.

For more information on how you can participate in the Hunger Strike for Justice or assist Dr. Al-Arian and his family please call MAS Freedom Foundation at: (202) 496-1288


Imprisoned Florida professor collapses on 23rd day of hunger strike

(WASHINGTON D.C., 2/15/07) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is calling on American Muslims and other people of conscience to write letters in support of Dr. Sami Al-Arian, a former Florida professor currently on a hunger strike in federal detention to protest his treatment by U.S. authorities.

Family members report that Al-Arian collapsed on the 23rd day of his fast and has been moved from Virginia to a medical facility in North Carolina.

Al-Arian began his hunger strike more than three weeks ago after being given a sentence of up to 18 months for refusing to testify before a grand jury in Virginia. His attorneys say an earlier plea agreement freed him from further cooperation with the government. Supporters say the government's actions amount to a form of

In 2005, a Florida jury rejected federal charges that Al-Arian operated a cell for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Al-Arian later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was scheduled for release and deportation in April.

The American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT), a national coalition of major American Muslim organizations, recently said the new prison sentence given to Al-Arian amounted to unconstitutional "double jeopardy."

The AMT statement said in part:

"It is becoming increasingly clear that the government is seeking to impose legal and physical penalties on Dr. Al-Arian that it could not obtain through the judicial process. . .We call on all fair-minded Americans who care about the preservation of the integrity of our nation's legal system to speak out about this apparent abuse of prosecutorial power. We also call on federal authorities to cease their harassment of Dr. Al-Arian and to release him as scheduled so that he and his family can resume their lives in another country."


1. CONTACT the following officials to request that Dr. Sami Al-Arian be released from detention and allowed to leave the country with his family. (Make sure to include your name, address and ZIP Code in the letter)

The Honorable Judge Gerald Lee
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
401 Courthouse Square
Alexandria, VA 22314

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
Department of Justice
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Fax: (202) 307-6777
E-Mail: AskDOJ@usdoj.gov

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Comments: 202-456-1111
Fax: 202-456-2461
E-Mail: comments@whitehouse.gov

Sample Letter:

Dr. Sami Al-Arian is currently on a hunger strike in federal detention to protest his treatment by U.S. authorities. Family members report that Al-Arian collapsed on the 23rd day of his fast and has been moved from Virginia to a medical facility in North Carolina. He began his hunger strike more than three weeks ago after being given a sentence of up to 18 months for refusing to testify before a grand jury in Virginia. His attorneys say an earlier plea agreement freed him from further cooperation and that the government's actions amount to a form of harassment. I therefore respectfully request that you support the immediate release of Dr. Al-Arian so that he and his family may resume their lives in another country.

2. CONTACT your own elected representatives through:

3. SEND COPIES of all correspondence to CAIR at:
info@cair.com or fax: 202-488-0833

4. COPY TO Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), chairman of the House
Judiciary Committee. E-Mail:
john.conyers@mail.house.gov or fax: (202) 225-0072

Mohammad Mahjoub, Longest Held of Canada's Secret Trial Detainees, to be Returned to His Family

On Day 83 of his hunger strike, good news finally arrives.

On Day 83 of his hunger strike, secret trial detainee Mohammad Mahjoub has finally received the news he has been waiting for since June, 26, 2000, when he was arrested on a secret trial security certificate. Federal Court judge Richard Mosley has ordered Mahjoub released, under strict house arrest conditions, to his family.

"The applicant today is an ailing and aging man preoccupied with his health and the lack of contact with his family apart from telephone calls and occasional visits," Mosley found, acknowledging the tremendous toll detention has taken on Mahjoub. "The conditions of his detention have exacerbated that problem."

Significantly, Judge Mosley also found that "his detention might reasonably be described as indefinite."

Mosley also found that Mahjoub, "at this stage of his life and with the interests of his family and health at stake, he has simply too much to lose should he be released and violate the terms and conditions." Friends and community supporters have pledged over $100,000 in cash and performance bonds to secure his release.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Struggle of Muslims

Experience with Two Genuine Imams: Imam Musa and Imam al-'Asi
The Struggle of Muslims in Washington, DC

by Br. Bilal Siraj ul-Diin
(published in New Trend)

When I came into the diin I made shahadah under Imam Musa. For Jumuah, I listened to the khutbah at either Masjid al-Islam or masjid al-Sidewalk, and my direction came mainly from Imam al-Asi or Imam Musa. Before I embraced Islam, I was influenced by the teachings of Malcolm X (r.a.a) and Che Guevara, men who truly and wholeheartedly worked for the betterment of humanity, no matter the personal cost.

So, to hear of leaders lacking Imam Musa's courage is strange. People who cow down, are scared and would rather assimilate than stand strong is something foreign to me. As each day passes, I become increasingly disgusted at the behavior and inaction of the organizations which represent themselves as the spokespersons of Muslims. The same people who speak loudly about equal rights for Muslims in the West are quick to disassociate from their brother who is stricken by government attack.

To hear Imam Musa speak is to hear truth bursting out of the concrete of lies laid over and over daily. To hear him speak of Imam Jamil al-Amin is a sobering reminder of the fact that when you speak for the voiceless, and take an uncompromising stand for what is right, you will be abandoned by those who hypocritically portray themselves as the protectors and defenders of the Ummah in the West. Imam Jamil spoke truth to power; he was framed by yanqui sam and abandoned by his so-called brethren. Imam Musa speaks truth to power and he's abandoned, isolated, not allowed to make hajj. Imam al-Asi speaks truth and is thrown out illegally from the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C. on Massachusetts Avenue, forced to give khutbahs on the sidewalk in the cold, heat, snow, rain, and sleet of the city. He is isolated and abandoned by his so-called brethren and is also prohibited from making hajj.

The fundraiser for Imam Jamil on Benning Road in SE D.C. was a sad reminder of the abandonment faced by one of the most prominent and perhaps most important Muslim figures in the world today.

As the sister stated, the majority of those who came to the fundraiser were working class individuals. Though their incomes were not high they still managed to donate what was possible, their unselfish attitudes pushed by the fact that their brother was unfairly incarcerated. The working class ummah was there, but where were the heads of families who owned businesses? Where were the Muslim lawyers, doctors, and other highly paid, so-called influential individuals? Nowhere. They were nowhere to be found. Imam Musa put out the call to help an innocent Muslim who is wrongly suffering with 23 (sometimes 24) hour lockdown in solitary confinement. Imam Musa put out the call and asked for nothing for himself. The fundraiser was held in the Masjid, no fancy food except what members of the Masjid made themselves. No food servers except the Imam, all the money was to go directly to help Imam Jamil--but the call was unheeded by many. Those who say they support the Imam, support people who are wrongly incarcerated, support political prisoners, these people should throw all their energies into a collective effort. We have been let down by the suits in offices who promote assimilation and loss of identity. Those at the top have been discredited by their hypocrisy and inactivity and now must be forcefully removed from the forefront and stuffed in the background. It is now time for the grassroots to take charge of this situation. If not, all we have to rely on will be the suits and where will they be? Al-Shaheed Malik El-Shabazz said it best: "Why they are where they always are. In the pool hall twiddling their fingers away."

Sunday, February 11, 2007

28 years!

enact your oppression

So not only do we have brown faces who are recruited to act out the white man's racism and fantasies in explicitly racist shows like 24, but now the US is looking to recruit 600 "Arabs" to live in a simulated village in Germany as part of US military training.

I'm not sure whether I should be pissed at the few who have signed up for this shuck-and-jive routine in order to help train and perfect the US murder machines, or concede the reality of vast racism and unemployment that most Arabs face in Europe. However, I would like to hope that my dignity (and the blood of my peoples) is worth more than any money can buy.

"Death in Honor is preferable to Life in Humiliation" - Imam Husain (as)

Surely, behind all this is somebody making loot to create the villages, to recruit, to advertise, and to pay the 'actors.'

Uncle Sam casts 600 Arabs in 'Hollywood war'

Allan Hall, Berlin
February 10, 2007

AMERICAN forces in Germany have placed newspaper advertisements seeking Arabs to join them in war games before troops are shipped out to Iraq.

In Berlin and other large towns this week, the US military set up a casting agency to hire 600 Arabic speakers.

From March 20 to April 11 at a base in Germany, the American army is creating a "mini-Iraq", with the emphasis being on making it as close to the real thing as possible. Arabs who sign up will live for three weeks at the High Rock Combat Manoeuvre Training Centre between Nuremberg and Regensburg.

Ten villages have been erected on the 20,000-hectare training area to resemble Iraqi communities. "Volunteers are required to play the role of Arabs in Iraq for 24 hours a day," the newspaper ads say.

But recruiting hasn't been easy. Germany in general, and its Muslim population in particular, oppose the war in Iraq. Media reported many Muslims walking away from the agencies in disgust when they found out what they were being asked to do.

The "extras" for this US Army Hollywood-style effort have been told that all women must wear head scarves and all men turbans. A mosque, a brothel, barracks of the sort US troops occupy in Iraq and many other features have been built to mimic daily life in the war zone.

Some Arabs will play the bad guys — laying roadside mines, attempting suicide bombings — others will play the good ones, teaching "grunts" how to behave and to respect the traditions of Islam and the Iraqi people. Most of the 19-to-24-year-old soldiers to be trained have never left America before. "The Arabic speakers are seen as an essential component in training these troops for their role in the country," a US military spokesman said.

Those signing up for the short-term service of Uncle Sam will receive 90 euros ($A150) a day.

One fear expressed by Arabs about the scheme is what happens if things go wrong? One Lebanese man told a Berlin newspaper: "What if we get shot accidentally? What guarantees do we have that we will be helped? What do the Americans care about another dead Arab, whether it's in Iraq or Germany?"

A lawyer employed by the US military at the recruiting agency in Berlin said: "The highest standards of safety will apply." But he said no media would be allowed into the training area while the role playing goes on.

Palestinian Mohamad Kabouli is one of the few who agreed to the terms this week. Aged 27 and jobless, he said: "I just want to make some money and go home."

Timothy Good, responsible for the "civilians on the battlefield" plan, is not too optimistic that all the places will be filled. "There is a lot of animosity towards the US," he admits.

In Iraq, US forces said they killed 13 insurgents in an air strike targeting a "senior foreign fighter facilitator" north-east of the town of Ameriya.

A doctor at a local hospital said 30 bodies, including those of seven children, had been brought in from a village near Ameriya.

hunger for justice

We are slowly dying in here” - Mohammad Mahjoub

In Canada, the ostensibly more 'progressive' appendage...I mean neighbor of the US, three detainees at Canada's own version of Guantanamo Bay, the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre (aka Gitmo North), are entering the 79th, 68th, and 68th day of hunger strikes respectively. Their demands? More humane detention conditions!

The three detainees - Mahmoud Jaballah, detained since August 2001, Hassan Almrei, detained since October 2001, and Mohammad Mahjoub, detained since June 2000 - have been held under Canada's draconian "security certificate" process, on vague allegations that they may have something to do with that increasingly meaningless but all-powerful label "terrorism". They have never ceased to insist on their innocence and demand a fair and open trial, which is no more than the legal right of every person in Canada.

Gitmo North Strike

Open Letter from the striking detainees

Dr. Sami Al-Arian, charged with terrorism-related links, on all of which he was acquitted, still remains in prison over a year after his acquittal. Like a spoiled brat that cant have its own way, the US government continues to hold him for spurious and ever-changing reasons. He is being subpoenaed to various trials to testify, and this provides an excuse to keep holding him. His imprisonment is now in its fourth year. On January 22, 2007, he started a hunger strike that is now on its 20th day.

Free Sami Al-Arian

Thursday, February 08, 2007

FBI's Racist Targeting and Muslim Leadership's Subservient Attitudes

An interesting article in the Washington Post, "Distrust Hinders FBI In Outreach to Muslims.” Perhaps it should have been titled "FBI's Racist Targeting and Muslim Leadership's Subservient Attitudes Compete With and Past Each Other."

"They're not Muslims," declared Shakeel Syed, head of the 75-mosque Islamic Shura Council of Southern California and a government-approved chaplain who has visited the four men in jail, where they await trial this year. "They don't know anything about Islam."

Self-styled converts with the apple-pie surnames of Patterson, Washington and James, the Americans are "gangbangers, basically," Syed said dismissively, "petty criminals" incapable of responding even to his standard Islamic greetings. The Pakistani, described by Syed as a clueless 21-year-old, "I felt sorry for."
Such racist and divisive (and untrue) language that seeks to distance oneself from the accused group does no service to the community, the religion, or to justice. In fact, it only further reinforces racist stereotypes and divisions among communities, rather than offering a critique of the unjust system. Statements that say “Oh they are not real Muslims” do not address the fact that they are being targeted as “Muslims,” as a part and parcel of the government's racist and anti-Muslim policies. By safely distancing oneself, the message that goes out it that as long as it is not us (or me) being targeted, then such tactics are fine.

Also, by most accounts, all four of the alleged were active members of a Masjid. Converts (new or old), those with a developing knowledge of the deen, and those interested in the deen are NOT dispensable members of the community that can be thrown away so that you can protect yourself, or when politically expedient.

Virtually all 56 FBI field offices and many local police departments have invited Muslim leaders to join multicultural advisory boards and to teach classes in the basics of Islam to agents and police. At community meetings, the FBI listens to Muslim complaints and asks for assistance in finding potential terrorists in their own communities.

"We're spending more money on outreach . . . so we can say: 'Please help us. Please look for people who are turning away from institutions to extremism. Please be our eyes and ears,' " said Philip Mudd, deputy director of the bureau's national security branch.
More money on creating and recruiting informants? Like Osama El-Dawoody? Like Mohamed Alanssi? Both recruited through such “eyes and ears” programs and paid $100,000 each. They were promised more, and those promises reneged upon. The Devil surely deals dirty.

"How much cooperation can we give . . . at the same time we ourselves are part of the problem in [their] eyes?" asked Sadullah Khan, director of the Islamic Center of Irvine, a city between Los Angeles and San Diego.
Pavlov’s dogs:1
Clueless Muslim leaders:0

The FBI acknowledges that the JIS indictments are the only case so far of genuine "self-starters" -- individuals who moved from radical thought to terrorist plans with no overseas involvement and without the aid of radical imams, undercover officers or paid informants.
This is a very profound statement. FBI acknowledging the significant instigating role played by undercover officers and paid informants. In all the spate of cases that keep popping up every few months at opportune moments, the mention of the paid informants and undercover officers is quietly mentioned as a byline at the end of articles or newscasts. These are people employed to produce results, and those results are tied to funding.

As the FBI and Muslims wrestle toward accommodation, local law enforcement officials have come to occupy a safe middle ground for both.
Yes. Now we have counter-terrorism units within the local police agencies, with massive streams of funding so that everyone gets a piece of the pie. Safe middle lucrative ground indeed.

To the irritation of many, the entire force of 700 was made to attend cultural training sessions taught by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Ah, these cultural training programs never end. They are making a difference though. When more than 10 immigration officers barged in to the Siraj family’s home, less than 12 hours after their son was sentenced to 30 years, they came with a female officer. Progress! Before we arrest you as an intimidation tactic, we will be sure to do it in the most culturally sensitive manner possible. Once again, the Muslim alphabet organizations are limited by their myopic understanding to identity politics rather than addressing the fundamental roots, structures and policies of injustice.

One of the most profound things is to see the parallels between such government programs in/for the Muslim community and the COINTELPRO programs that targeted Self-Determination and Power movements among Black, Indigenous, Latino and other oppressed communities. There exists ONE MAJOR difference however: COINTELPRO remained clandestine, even for decades after it was dismantled. But in Muslim communities these programs are open for the public to know, and there is barely a whimper from most of the public, the left, civil rights/liberties advocates. Such is the climate of anti-Muslim attitudes, that these programs are considered justified by the spectrum of political thought.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Labbaik Ya Hussein!

Sayyed Nasrallah: All resistance movements face challenge of not slipping into civil war.

"Brothers and sisters, you have gathered in Beirut's southern suburb and you have pledged alliance to Imam Hussein (peace be upon him). This is what your brothers and sisters have said as they gathered in every city and town in Lebanon to mark the 10th day of Muharram (Ashoura).

You have always been sincere in your pledges as you were in 2006. You have been loyal to Imam Hussein. You have patiently confronted, sacrificed and triumphed in the war. Your men have revived Imam Al-Abbas (Imam Hussein's brother), your youth have revived Ali Al-Akbar (Imam Hussein's young son) and your women have revived Zeinab and Sukeina (Imam Hussein's sister and daughter).

Your destroyed houses brought back the scene of the burning tents of Imam Hussein's household and companions. You have stood up to the Zionists, George Bush, Condoleezza Rice and all the criminals and killers who wanted to defeat you. Your voices in 2006 were the loudest when you insisted that you refuse to be defeated and humiliated and said "no to disgrace." In July and August 2006, you showed that blood can triumph on the sword and the oppressed can triumph on the oppressor. This resistance in Lebanon has always been our "Karbala" in Lebanon and our strength and hope and our aspiration to the future.

Brothers and sisters:

Yesterday outgoing Israeli army chief of staff Dan Halutz told the Winograd committee that is probing the Israeli failure in Lebanon, that he did not order a full scale ground operation because he did not trust the capabilities of the Israeli army can defeat Hezbollah..Why? They sought to occupy Bint Jbeil, this town which they wanted to avenge from because it was there where it was said that Israel is weaker than cobweb. The commander of the strongest army in the region does not trust his soldiers can defeat Hezbollah and fears from a front in the smallest Arab country. On the 10th of Muharram of this year, we renew our pledge of alliance and our commitment that we will not let Lebanon be defeated. We will not let this country that has broken the strongest army in the region be humiliated.

Brothers and sisters:

After this great historic victory, it is natural that your existence represents a threat to Lebanon's enemies; this is why you are being threatened incessantly. Today, media outlets are passing on George Bush's threats to Syria, Iran and Hezbollah. Why is Bush threatening Hezbollah? Is it because this party has been sowing chaos in Lebanon? Where is this chaos Hezbollah has been sowing in Lebanon? Who is really sowing chaos and sedition in this country? Those who sowed chaos, destroyed and killed in Lebanon are Bush and Condoleezza Rice. They were the one who ordered war against Lebanon. George Bush wants to punish you because you have triumphed and because, in the American era, you are not allowed to keep your heads raised. You are only allowed to be humiliated in front of the Americans. Let it be clear, from here where we commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, we say that we are people who refuse humiliation and disgrace. Lebanon has always been and will continue to be the graveyard of invaders.

Brothers and sisters:

There had been tension in occupied Palestine and Iraq is passing through a great ordeal. In the meantime, an Arab leader predicted three civil wars will break out in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon. Strange are these predictions which come true. Every time they say that an assassination or any other evil deed will take place, their predictions come true! Anyway, what has been said about Iraq was not strange. What's strange is what is being said about Lebanon and Palestine, which means that the plot to crush resistance movements in the region through internal strife is the pursued goal in this American era. How would they have anticipated a civil war in Lebanon if they were not planning for it through their tools and agents in the country? Today, there is internal strife in Palestine and Iraq is drowning in a sea of blood. Isn't it obvious that the countries that are threatened with civil wars are occupied countries with resistance movements in them? The big challenge for the resistance movements in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon is to avoid slipping into civil war. They are stirring up sedition between Sunnis and Shiites, but in Palestine there are no Shiites and Sunnis, so they invented a war between factions.

Brothers and sisters:

Through you, the resistance will be patient and challenge all attempts to push the country into civil war. I ask the residents of Beirut not to be intimidated by anyone. We must be aware of the sedition that is being sowed for us. Those who say that the resistance is tired and has lost hope is very mistaken. The resistance that is related to God and to Imam Hussein can never be tired or lose hope. I tell those who say that we have forgotten the occupied Shebaa Farms and diverted our focus to the alleys of Beirut, I tell them: since you are calling for the liberation of the Shebaa Farms and accusing us of monopolizing the resistance, let us declare a national resistance to liberate the Shebaa Farms. Today I call for the formation of a national resistance for everyone to take part in.

Brothers and sisters:

As a Lebanese National opposition, we will continue in our movement for reform to take Lebanon out of its social, economic and political crises. No one can save Lebanon alone.

Concerning Tuesday and Thursday's incidents in which four Sunni and Shiite martyrs fell, we call for an investigation to find and punish those responsible for killing and sedition. But he who wants to be the judge and the executioner at the same time, I tell him that this is not the way to bare responsibility. I openly say that the way we handled Tuesday and Thursday's incidents will draw the future of Lebanon that we yearn for, but we refuse to resort to arms. The opposition underlines the political and peaceful solution for the ongoing crisis in Lebanon and stresses that its demands are political and the solution and settlement can only be of a political nature and we support any initiative in this regard.

We will stay in Lebanon to protect its future and dignity and to take this country out of its crises. We have no other choice, we do not have other nationalities or other countries to go to. We were born here and we will resist here, and here we shall die.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Al-Awda Appeals For Support for Palestinians Stranded on Iraq Border


Due to the extreme situation of Palestinians caught in the US war and occupation of Iraq, Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, is conducting an unprecedented emergency fund raising campaign to aid our sisters and brothers stranded in the refugee camps on the borders with Syria and Jordan.

These camps are becoming overwhelmed with Palestinians, now twice made refugees as a result of the Zionist theft and occupation of Palestine beginning in 1948. The harm done to their persons, with threats of more to come if they do not leave Iraq, is creating an untenable situation which cannot wait while UN assisted aid becomes a political football. Border countries such as Syria and Jordan are already overburdened with the several million Iraqis fleeing the US war.

We cannot wait!

Al-Awda is asking all our activists, members and supporters to contribute a minimum of Ten Dollars each within the next five days. In this way we can raise a minimum of Ten Thousand Dollars for our people. We know it will be more.

For the next few days, we will be sending this notice to all our lists and contacts at various times of the day. The situation is grave. We must do all we can. With your help, as always, we can do something to alleviate the suffering and situation in the camps.

Please donate today!

Address your tax-deductible donation via check or money order to:
Al-Awda, PRRC
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA

Please note on the memo line of the check "Iraq Emergency".

Alternatively, please donate online using your credit card. Go to
http://www.al-awda.org/donate.html and follow the simple instructions. Please indicate that your donation is for the "Iraq Emergency" with your submission.


In the weeks since our first alert, the situation of the Palestinian refugees stranded on the border has fast deteriorated. According to a recent UN press release, one person died due to lack of the simplest care. Children are without the most basic health care and the situation for the sick is dire. See http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO0701/S00424.htm

For a factsheet on the current situation of Palestinian refugees stranded on the Iraq borders, please see http://al-awdacal.org/iraq-facts.html

For a factsheet on the rights of Palestinian refugees to return their homes and lands of origin in Palestine, please go to http://www.al-awda.org/facts.html


Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA
Tel: 760-685-3243
Fax: 360-933-3568
E-mail: info@al-awda.org
WWW: http://al-awda.org

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition (PRRC) is the largest
network of grassroots activists and students dedicated to Palestinian human
rights. We are a not for profit tax-exempt educational and charitable
501(c)(3) organization as defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of
the United States of America. Under IRS guidelines, your donations to PRRC
are tax-deductible [ http://www.al-awda.org/donate.html ].