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"Stop Cherry-Picking From Islamic Texts To Justify Hatred"

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In the meantime, watch a brief teaser of what’s in store. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani speaks unequivocally on the dangers of cherry-picking hadiths and verses of the Qur’an to further an understanding that goes against the spirit of Islam.

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The Modern Extremists – Who Are They? What Are The Consequences?

Who are the modern extremists and are they a recent phenomenon? How can we understand them and their motivations? And what are the utterly devastating consequences of their words and actions?
Shaykh Ahmed Sa’ad Al-Azhari, Director of the Ihsan Institute, gives a detailed and engaging explanation at this event hosted by SimplyIslam of Singapore.

Send Your Zakat To Besieged Scholars of Sacred Knowledge

Did you know SeekersHub actively provides financial support to traditional scholars whose lives – and ability to teach, have been utterly devasted or disrupted by the acts of violent extremists? These scholars are zakat-eligible – contribute your zakat today and earn the rewards from these noble efforts.

sh_saadShaykh Ahmed Sa’ad Al-Azhari is the Founder and Director of the Ihsan Institute of Arabic & Islamic Studies (United Kingdom). He was born into a family of scholars whose lineage goes back to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and became a master of the Qur’an at a very young age. Shaykh Ahmed was the SeekersHub Ramadan Scholar in Residence in 2015 and much of the content can be found on the SeekersHub archives.

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Nothing more American for American Muslims

American-Flag-Hijabi

Simply Continue

There is nothing more American for American Muslims to do at this time than to simply continue remaining as Muslims.

Foundations

This country was founded by those who escaped religious persecution and insisted on practicing their deen in the manner in which they deemed important.

No Apology

They did not compromise, apologize or feel they had to change their beliefs and actions in order to thrive.

In Good Company

This country’s history is also filled with many religious groups who faithfully maintained their religious practices and beliefs.

Compromising is Un-American

It is not only unbecoming for American Muslims to compromise their Islam, but it is the most un-American thing they can do right now.”

Statement from Shaykh Mohammed Amin Kholwadia
Founder & President, Darul Qasim

 

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Modern Day Khawarij: Dissociate Yourself from them! – Dr. Hamid Slimi

Imam Hamid SlimiA khutbah delivered by Dr. Hamid Slimi, of the Sayeda Khadija Center, Canada, stressing on understanding the similarities and common ideas between the historical khawarij/kharijites (secessionists) and today’s new groups that claim to do things on behalf of Islam including breaking the laws of the countries where they live or visit, killing innocent people – Muslim and non-Muslim – as well as doing takfir (excommunicating Muslims from their faith). The message here is loud and clear: learn who we are dealing with and dissociate yourself and your families and loved ones from such people and such dangerous ideologies.

 

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A Guide to the Confused of Our Times, by Imam Zaid Shakir

imam_zaid_shakirimage181The seeming tsunami of negativity unleashed by the dastardly actions of terrorists, some claiming to act in the name of Islam, and the nefarious reactions of an assortment of bigots, racists and opportunistic politicians, have combined to create an environment that has demoralized many Muslims, terrified others, and left many confused and desperately searching for direction. This state has increased exponentially in the aftermath of the shootings in San Bernadino, California.

In light of this situation, we need to step back and remind ourselves of some fundamental Qur’anic teachings. First of all, we are told that this world is the abode of trials and tribulations (2:155; 2:214; 3:186; 21:35; 29:2-3; 67:2). This world is not our permanent home. We are passing through and we are tested along the way. If we endure the tests with unshakable faith, patience and dignity, we eventually return to our ancient, yet permanent, home –Paradise.

One of the verses referenced above asks, “Do you think that you will enter the Garden (Paradise) without there coming to you the like of that which befell those who passed away before you? Misfortune and hardship afflicted them, and they were so shaken that the Messenger [of that time] and those who believed with him cried, “When will God’s Help come ?!” Surely, God’s Help is near” (2:214). The times we are experiencing are not unprecedented in human affairs, nor are they novel for believers. There will be times when we will be shaken, however, despite the severity of the convulsion, we should never forget that God’s Help is near. With prayer and patience, we access that Help.

Oftentimes, when the Qur’an mentions the trials and tribulations we will encounter in the world, it mentions the importance of patience. As mentioned above, trials are to be borne with patience. In this case, patience has two aspects: one involves being undaunted by the verbal abuse, discrimination and other forms of mistreatment we might suffer from ignorant people; the other involves bearing the hardships that might come in persevering in doing the good things we do. Continue to be a good neighbor. Continue to be a good coworker. Continue to be the person you know you are, and do not allow the situation to lead you to doubt in yourself or to become someone who you aren’t.

In light of the ongoing anti-Muslim propaganda blitz, there will be those who might question you. “How can I trust you?” “How do I know you do not harbor ill-will towards me?” Try to understand the fearful place such comments may emanate from, but also understand that God knows who you are and He knows your innermost thoughts and motivations. If you are right with God you are right, and most people will appreciate your light. Live a life that radiates the truth you represent. Life a life defined by the love that you share and do not allow anyone to prevent you from living and loving as only you can. Be who you are, and, first and foremost, be with God.

Never despair of God’s justice. There is surely a lot that is wrong in the world, however, eventually, God will set things right; of that we can be sure. Quoting a 19th Century theologian, Theodore Parker, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would frequently say, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” The suffering of so many innocents all over the world will not continue forever. Wherever they are, one day, they will be delivered from their oppressors. Live for that day. Work for that day. Pray for that day, knowing that the end of the circle is its origin and we were created to live in peace. Do not allow anyone to lead you to believe otherwise.

King would also quote William Cullen Bryant, who said, “Truth crushed to earth will rise again.” Sometimes it feels like the truth of Islam –a religion that has brought people together like no other force, a religion that has played an integral role in the ongoing march of human civilization– has been crushed to earth. Distorted by its ostensible friends as well as its actual foes, that truth will rise when you stand up and give voice to it. That must not be with words of frustration, anger, hatred and victimization, but with words of encouragement, joy, love and forbearance.

End of Part One

This was first published on Imam Zaid Shakir’s blog New Islamic Directions.

 

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American Muslims Respond: Fundraise for Victims’ Families

At least 14 people have been killed and 17 more wounded in San Bernardino, California where up to 3 attackers went on a shooting spree at a regional center that provides services to those with special needs. The San Bernardino families lost their loved ones in a deplorable act of violence. This is why a collective American Muslim leaders and groups have launched an effort to raise funds for the victims’ families.

We wish to respond to evil with good, as our faith instructs us and send a powerful, united message of compassion through action. Our Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, said: “Have mercy to those on earth, and the One in the Heavens (God) will have mercy upon you.” And the Quran teaches to “Repel evil by that which is better.” (41:34)

All fundraising proceeds will help with the immediate, short term needs of the families, such as funeral expenses. If we exceed the $50,000 goal, we can even assist the families with long-term expenses or possible provide a donation to the regional center where the shooting took place. Funds will be distributed to the victims’ families by the MiNDS Institute.

Please contribute and share this project with those you know and inshaAllah together we can send this message of compassion.

 

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“Be Unapologetically Muslim No Matter What” – Linda Sarsour

Linda-Sarsour

Linda Sarsour, in the aftermath of the shootings in San Bernardino, California, writes: “A young man, Saqib, put this 1-minute video together from a speech I recently gave and it really sums up a sentiment and feeling I hope we can all share. So many tragic and horrible things happening around us impacting so many people of all backgrounds around the world. Amidst that all, we need to stay grounded. Hope you listen carefully, absorb my words, and hold them close in your heart when you are feeling any fear or doubt.”

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“Our hearts are with all who are suffering in California” – Shaykh Jihad Brown-Totten

Mushhaf-Quran-on-Stand-in-Mosque.pngWhat I’ve been compelled to convey to my non-Muslim family members out in Southern California:

Our hearts are with all who are suffering tonight in California.

We suffer with you.

There is no excuse for the taking of innocent lives.

Our beautiful and gentle Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is certainly turning in his grave as he witnesses what he declared to be criminal activity.

Among his mandates, “Whoever takes a single life it is as if he has taken the lives of all of humanity”.

Confused and ignorant youth who we are consistently prevented from teaching after the collapse of our classical theological institutions and the rise of reactionary reductionist political ideologies in the vacuum that ensued.

No amount of humiliation and anger at abuses warrants or justifies criminal activity in response to criminal activity.

Religion is a potent and powerful phenomenon with such power to destroy – when abused. But when understood soundly – to heal like no other medicine.

We live in confusing times “that will confuse any gentle man”.

Killing is never an effective answer to killing. Everyone is left blind.

Your Muslim neighbours continue to decry the actions of an angry and confused minority that – for all types of unrelated reasons insist on misrepresenting their faith despite best efforts.

I do however, demand from Muslim community decision-makers that those who are properly qualified in Islamic law and theology be allowed access to teach the modern Muslim public a correct balanced realistic (and grounded) understanding of the religion of Islam.

This lack of professionalism and sustained immaturity in scriptural interpretation must end.

With caring and judiciousness we all as neighbours together can find solidarity healing and brightness in our future.

It is our collective decision to take.

Concerned and hopeful.

 

~ Shaykh Jihad Brown-Totten

 

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Can Muslims Stop The Rise of Extremism? Perhaps, If…

muslim-boys-peace-sign…We start with our own families to make sure there is a safe, non-judgmental space for everyone, all the oddities and the depressives and the questioners, so that no-one feels so isolated from their religious environment that they swing first to extremes of rebellion, drugs, gangs or suchlike, only to bounce to the opposite extreme of psuedo-religious death cults.

…We invest in the arts. Ezra Pound said that “Artists are the antennae of the race”, which I take to mean the human race. Artists are not beholden to political vetos or line-toeing: we can say what we like, and often it’s the artists who point out hypocrisies when no-one dares to. We’re like the jesters of medieval courts. But more important than that, the arts are a space in which we can renew ourselves, be freed from frustrations and heartache, find deep peace and then share it with others. We don’t need to wait to be “discovered” by the mainstream – we can create our own channels and platforms, but it needs support, time, a bit of manic sharing on social media and most importantly, investment. This might be through micro-grants or crowdfunding via sites such as LaunchGood (I recently did a crowdfunding campaign through them and they are very friendly, helpful and dedicated).

…We learn Non-Violent Communication to defuse confrontation and turn verbal abuse into a valuable way for Islamophobes to reassess their prejudices. I believe this is essential if we are to get away from defensive attitutes that turn into insular, divided realities. Read how families have soothed ancient feuds, women have pulled the rug from under the feet of would-be rapists, disputes between Israeli and Palestinian neighburs have been resolved, and millions of people worldwide have been enabled to deal with problems without resorting to fighting.

…We recommit to the founding principles of our faith, compassion and mercy. Why compassion and mercy, why not just love, straight up? Because compassion and mercy are forms of love you can give anyone, even when they’ve hurt you or treated you unjustly. You have to be a saint to truly love your tormentor, but even us mortals can hope to treat others with compassion.

…We campaign passionately but peacefully to end the roots causes of extremism, of any kind: militias and corrupt dictators being propped up and funded by our tax money ($500m of American tax dollars was sent to Syria to arm the Free Syrian Army in their fight against Bashar al-Assad…yet the FSA is the biggest source of arms and recruits to ISIS, go figure); poverty; social exclusion; racism.

…We take every opportunity to create beauty in the world. When everything looks ugly, plant roses. Write poems, paint murals (where you can), sing, whirl, do whatever you can to drown out the ugliness with its opposite. This is how we love and respect creation, how we show thanks to its Creator, how we free ourselves from fear and pessimism. This is a spiritual path that encompasses everyone, regardless of faith or practise, and does not require others to agree with us.

There will always be extremism of some form or another, somewhere or another. But at least we can say we didn’t sit and watch helplessly. There are no excuses – “A smile is charity”. You don’t need money, only determination. Now read this again without the title!

By Medina Tenour Whiteman, Cavemum

 

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Helping our children find the light in dark times, by Hina Khan-Mukhtar

“You should probably think about what you’re gonna say to kids when you go back to school on Monday,” I told my son Shaan this weekend.

He raised his eyebrows quizzically.

“About Paris … and Muslims.”

He suddenly looked irritated. “I’ve done the drill before. Every year of my high school life, I’ve had to deal with what to say and how to react. In freshman year, it was the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi. The next year, it was the Boston marathon bombing. Last year, it was Charlie Hebdo. Now I’m a senior and its 127 dead in Paris. I’m a pro at this now.”

He walked away, a signal that he didn’t want me to continue with further advice or suggestions. But before I could say anything more, he turned back to me and I saw the anger on his face replaced instead with sorrow. “Isn’t that sad, Mama? Isn’t it sad that I’ve become a pro?”

I was surprised by the tears that suddenly sprang to my eyes. “I’m sorry,” I mumbled. “I’m sorry that this is your reality.”

“You know what’s really frustrating?” he asked. “Last week we had the highest number of students ever show up to our Muslim Students Association meeting. I bet you the numbers are gonna drop now.”

“Why would they drop?” I asked. “I would think that in these types of dark times, kids would find it helpful to seek solace and comfort within a larger group. Wouldn’t they want to come to the MSA where they could maybe find guidance and support from one another?”

He shook his head. “It’s easier just to stay away, to not be known as a Muslim anymore.”

I was still mulling over his words when my youngest son piped up. “How can these terrorists be Muslim? They attacked on a Friday which is supposed to be like a mini-Eid for us; it’s a holy day. And ISIS people carry a flag that has the seal of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on it. Those aren’t bad things; those are good things! How can they turn everything that’s beautiful into something that’s so ugly? They just can’t be Muslim!”

A member loyal to the ISIL waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa“It doesn’t matter if they’re actually Muslim or not,” I heard myself telling my sons for the umpteenth time. “What matters is what people’s perception of them is. That’s our reality. If the majority of the world says and thinks Muslims are doing these horrific acts, then that’s the reality we have to deal with. That’s what we have to address.”

I felt gratified to know that my boys have a hard time believing that Muslims would be the ones who would be barbaric enough to commit the heinous crimes of Friday the 13th. Whereas someone else may accuse them of just being in denial, I actually realize how so far removed from evil they are that they aren’t even able to recognize it within anyone who claims to be a co-practitioner of their faith. They simply can’t relate.

I gathered them close to me. And, as I did so, I found myself wishing once again that I could create a special protective bubble within which to encase my family. I’ve always wanted only to get through life with them in safety — not only safety of body and limb but safety of heart and soul. I want them all to be safe in their deen (religion) and to never waver in their faith, insha-Allah (God willing). It feels like we Muslims are under attack from every side these days. Please know that not for one moment do I compare myself to the refugees fleeing war-stricken lands; my loved ones and I are not tested in the least when it comes to what the Syrians and the Palestinians and the Afghans and the Iraqis and the Rohingyans and the Kenyans are suffering these days. Yet I still worry what effect today’s state of affairs will have on the hearts and minds of my charges.

So my response has been to hunker down. To create an oasis in the middle of the desert. To lead them to the center of the vortex and let the storm rage around us. The way I try to do this is by minimizing our exposure to news media and teaching them about the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) instead. I show them examples of his magnanimity and his kindness and his generosity on a daily basis, and then I remind them to emulate him. My husband and I try to maintain a peaceful, loving, welcoming atmosphere in our home where prayers are prayed in congregation and the Holy Quran is recited on a regular basis and friends enter open doors to share food and funny stories and words of wisdom. We attend dhikr (remembrance of God) gatherings where the lyrical chants of God’s name wash over us while we close our eyes and calm our spirits. We talk about Islamic history and point out examples of tests and tribulations greater than the ones in our time and then we teach them about the even greater responses of dignity and grace. We pool our resources — and encourage our friends and relatives to do the same — and then share blankets, warm clothes, and funds for food with refugees and orphans from around the world, some who are now living locally. As a family, we pray for peace and healing for all of mankind.

“This world is not meant for us to wrap our arms around,” I tell them. “It is fleeting and we are here only for a little while. Our only duties in our lifetimes are to worship our Lord and to serve our fellow mankind. We serve by spreading peace and light and knowledge; we serve by leaving the world a better place than we found it, even if it only means that we’re picking up the litter we happen to find in the street or we’re giving a smile to someone who looks sad and lonely.”

No matter what the headlines and the political pundits may be screaming, my top priority in my childrearing is to prove to my kids that “Islam works”. If they can grow up seeing that Islam worked in their homes, then the deviant aberrations they hear about in the world will be recognized by them for what they are — complete impostors perverting the pure message of a religion that provides so much peace and guidance and benefit to its followers. And the next time an ignorant person tells them, “You Muslims are terrorists!”, they can honestly respond with, “Come meet my family and find out the truth.”

 

The author, Hina Khan-Mukhtar, is a mother of three boys and one of the founders of the homeschooling co-operative known as ILM Tree in Lafayette, California, which now serves over 30 homeschooling families in the East Bay. In addition to teaching Language Arts to elementary, middle school, and high school students, she has written articles on parenting and spiritual traditions for children and is involved in interfaith dialogue.

Republished with special thanks to The Muslim Observer.

 

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