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Are Acts of Terrorism by Muslims Ever Justified? (Video)

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalamu alaykum

Are acts of terrorism by Muslims ever justified?

Answer:  Wa’leykum Salam,

Here is a video answer by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani to this question:

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is a scholar and researcher of Islamic law and Executive Director of SeekersHub Global After ten years overseas, Shaykh Faraz returned to Canada in the Summer of 2007. In May 2008 he founded SeekersHub Global to deal with the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge—both online and on the ground—in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He has been repeatedly listed as one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims (The Muslim500).

Photo: Gigi Ibrahim

Why We Must Behave Decently Towards People – Shaykh Faid Said

In the aftermath of the July 2016 bombing in Medina, Saudia Arabia, Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said says we have an important and active choice to make. We can choose to speak with good and act with good in an attempt to be part of the solution amidst all the chaos and madness.

Shaykh Faid Said - Behave Decently With PeopleShaykh Faid Mohammed Said is a jewel in the crown of traditional Islamic scholarship in the United Kingdom and we at SeekersHub are ever grateful for his friendship, guidance and support. He was born in Asmara, Eritrea, where he studied the holy Qur’an and its sciences, Arabic grammar and fiqh under the guidance of the Grand Judge of the Islamic Court in Asmara, Shaykh Abdul Kader Hamid and also under the Grand Mufti of Eritrea. He later went to study at Madinah University, from which he graduated with a first class honours degree. In Madinah, his teachers included Shaykh Atia Salem, Shaykh Mohamed Ayub (ex-imam of the Prophet’s Mosque, peace be upon him), Professor AbdulRaheem, Professor Yaqub Turkestani, Shaykh Dr Awad Sahli, Dr Aa’edh Al Harthy and many other great scholars. Shaykh Faid has ijaza in a number of disciplines including hadith, and a British higher education teaching qualification. He is currently the scholar in residence and head of education at Harrow Central Mosque, United Kingdom.
Read his articles on the SeekersHub blog.

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Medina Bombing: Where WE Stand & Why We Must State It Clearly, by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani


In an unprecedented escalation of events, an explosion has occured close to the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ mosque in Medina, allegedly detonated by a suicide bomber. The Medina bombing comes at the heels of the devastating violence in Iraq, Turkey and Bangladesh in recent weeks. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani makes it clear: where do we stand on such events and should we speak out?

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The Plague Within: Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on the Roots of Violent Extremism

Vigilante acts of violence have killed hundreds around the world in the last few days. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf writes plainly on the dark and destructive ideology which underpins groups like ISIS and their sympathisers.

According to a good hadith related by Ahmad and al-Tabarani, the Messenger of God, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him, said, “You will never believe until you show mercy to one another.”
“All of us are merciful, O Messenger of God!” his companions responded.
The Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, explained, “I’m not talking about one of you showing mercy to his friend; I’m talking about universal mercy—mercy towards everyone.”
For those Muslims and people of other faiths who lost loved ones in the recent tragedies in Baghdad two days ago, in Bangladesh last Friday, in Istanbul the day before that, in Lebanon earlier last week, and in Yemen and Orlando last month, I am deeply saddened and can only offer my prayers, even as I am painfully aware of my state of utter helplessness at what has befallen our global community. As I write this, I learned about yet another bombing outside our beloved Prophet’s mosque in Medina, as believers were about to break their fast yesterday, unjustly killing four innocent security guards. Fortunately, due to the blessings of the place, the sound of the explosion was thought to be the boom of the cannon used to announce the time has come to break the fast, so the people in the mosque were not frightened nor panicked. The Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, said, “Whoever frightens the people of Medina has the damnation of God, the angels, and all of humanity.” Needless to say, the horror of these atrocities is compounded because they are being carried out—intentionally—in the blessed month of Ramadan.

A faith-eating plague

A plague is upon us, and it has its vectors. Like the brain-eating amoebas that have struck the warm waters of the Southern states in America, a faith-eating plague has been spreading across the global Muslim community. This insidious disease has a source, and that source must be identified, so we can begin to inoculate our communities against it.
New versions of our ancient faith have sprung up and have infected the hearts and minds of countless young people across the globe. Imam Adel Al-Kalbani, who led prayers in the Haram of Mecca for several years, has publicly stated that these youth are the bitter harvest of teachings that have emanated from pulpits throughout the Arabian Peninsula, teachings that have permeated all corners of the world, teachings that focus on hatred, exclusivity, provincialism, and xenophobia. These teachings anathematize any Muslim who does not share their simple-minded, literalist, anti-metaphysical, primitive, and impoverished form of Islam, and they reject the immense body of Islamic scholarship from the luminaries of our tradition.

The spread of this ideology

Due to a sophisticated network of funding, these teachings have flooded bookstores throughout the Muslim world and even in America, Europe, and Australia. For a case study of what they have spawned, we might look to Kosovo. Our “Islamic” schools are now filled with books published by this sect that lure the impressionable minds of our youth at an age when they are most susceptible to indoctrination. This sect of Islam, however, is not the sole source of our current crisis, and it would be wrong to place all blame on it alone; many of its adherents are peace-loving quietists, who want only to be left alone to practice their faith as they see fit. Their exclusivism is a necessary but not sufficient cause for the xenophobic hatred that leads to such violence. The terroristic Islamists are a hybrid of an exclusivist takfiri version of the above and the political Islamist ideology that has permeated much of the Arab and South Asian world for the last several decades. It is this marriage made in hell that must be understood in order to fully grasp the calamitous situation we find our community in. While the role that Western interventions and misadventures in the region have played in creating this quagmire should not be set aside, diminished, or denied, we should, however, keep in mind that Muslims have been invaded many times in the past yet never reacted like these fanatics. Historically, belligerent enemies often admired the nobility Muslims displayed in their strict adherence to history’s first humane rules of engagement that were laid down by the Prophet himself to insure that mercy was never completely divorced from the callousness of conflict.
We need to clearly see the pernicious and pervasive nature of this ideological plague and how it is responsible for the chaos and terror spreading even to the city of our Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, in all its inviolability. Its most vulnerable victims are our disaffected youth who often live in desolate circumstances with little hope for their futures. Promises of paradise and easy-out strategies from the weariness of this world have enticed these suicidal youth to express their pathologies in the demonically deceptive causes of “Islamic” radicalism. The pictures they leave behind—showing the supercilious smiles on their faces, even as they hold in their hapless hands their Western-made assault rifles—are testament to the effective brainwashing taking place.

Normative voices drowned out

The damage being wrought is not only within Islam but also to Islam’s good name in the eyes of the world. These now daily occurrences of destructive, hate-filled violence are beginning to drown out the voices of normative Islam, thereby cultivating a real hatred in the hearts of those outside our communities. In the minds of many around the world, Islam, once considered a great world religion, is being reduced to an odious political ideology that threatens global security; that, in turn, is proving disastrous for minority Muslim communities, who now abide in increasingly hostile environments in secular societies.

Counter-voices of scholars and activists

What we need to counter this plague are the voices of scholars, as well as grassroots activists, who can begin to identify the real culprits behind this fanatical ideology. What we do not need are more voices that veil the problem with empty, hollow, and vacuous arguments that this militancy has little to do with religion; it has everything to do with religion: misguided, fanatical, ideological, and politicized religion. It is the religion of resentment, envy, powerlessness, and nihilism. It does, however, have nothing to do with the merciful teachings of our Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him. Unchecked, we will see this plague foment more such violence, until one day, God forbid, these hateful and vile adherents obtain a nuclear device, the use of which has already been sanctioned by their “scholars,” including one currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. If such a scenario unfolds, it is highly probable that the full wrath of Western powers will be unleashed upon a helpless Muslim world that would make even the horrendous Mongol invasions of the 13th century look like a stroll in the park.

“To flee from calamities is the Sunnah of Prophets”

Invariably, some will remark that a fear of Western retaliation is a sign of cowardice. For those zealots, I would recommend turning back to the Qur’an, specifically to reflect on the undeniably brave Messenger Moses, peace be upon him, who unintentionally killed an Egyptian after striking him with his powerful blow, only because he was considered an enemy, and then asked God’s forgiveness and “fled vigilantly out of fear” (28:21). This is a cautionary tale, and it behooves all of us to reflect upon it as a lesson of what not to do when oppressed, especially when we are without political authority or the means to redress our grievances. Imam al-Sahrwardi stated, “To flee from calamities is the Sunnah of Prophets.” It is best not to let our baser self, our lust for revenge, get the better of us.
We would do well to acknowledge that much of what is happening in the Muslim world and to Muslim communities in the West is from what our own hands have wrought. Muslims have been in the West for a long time and have done little to educate people here about our faith; too many of us have been occupied in our wordly affairs, while some of our mosques and schools have been breeding grounds for an ideological Islamism rather than Islam. The Qur’an clearly instructs us that when faced with calamities, we ought to look first at what we may have done to bring them upon us. Introspection is a Qur’anic injunction. Until we come to terms with this Qur’anic truth, we will remain mired in the mirage of denial, always pointing fingers in every direction but at ourselves. “Verily, God does not change the conditions of a people until they change themselves” (Qur’an, 13:11).
As Ramadan comes to a close, let us pray for the oppressed and the guidance of the oppressors, for those who have been killed, and for those who lost their loved ones, and most of all, let us heed our Prophet’s call and want mercy for everyone.

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How to stop the cycle of hate, by Imam Khalid Latif

Almost daily there are news reports of hate crimes against Muslims in the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere, as well as news of mass terrorist attacks against Muslims in countries like Iraq, Turkey and Bangladesh. Imam Khalid Latif reflects in this article originally published on CNN.

This morning, I woke up to images and stories outlining numerous hate crimes taken place against Muslims in cities throughout the United States just in the last 10 hours. Two Muslim teenagers assaulted in Brooklyn, New York outside of a mosque while the assailant called them “terrorist”, a Muslim doctor ambushed and shot in Houston Texas by three men as he went for morning prayers, and another Muslim beaten in Fort Pierce Florida right outside of an Islamic Center there. These are just the stories reported and that took place less than a day ago. That’s in addition to so many more reported over the last weeks and months, and so many more that just aren’t reported.

Don’t Be A Passive Bystander

If you see something, say something has to mean something different to us today. If you see bigotry, say something. If you see hatred, say something. If you see racism, say something. You and I have to be the change that this world needs. We cannot adopt a bitterness or passivity that lets people who have no interest other than their own self-interest succeed
A failure to acknowledge and deal with illness doesn’t mean that it’s not there. I can pretend like I’m not sick, but my body will let me know otherwise. We can pretend like our society is not in pain and in need of healing, but atrocities like those that took place just even last night will let us know otherwise. The anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States isn’t just rising, it’s really high. An unwillingness and indifference on the part of individuals and institutions to put it in check is a large part of the problem.

Our Sense of Compassion Is Being Obliterated

Our indifference to the narratives of those distinct from our own coupled with our own egocentric priorities places us in the reality that we find ourselves in. Issues of race, class and privilege are the roots of our ailments, and an unwillingness to recognize it is leading us to a terrible place. With every assault, every hate crime, every death, our sense of compassion is being obliterated. With every failure to remedy injustice, we add to the pain. These assailants knew that they were going to attack Muslims. They knew they would find them at the mosques at those specific times. For what reason then with will there be a hesitancy in labeling their actions as anything but a hate crime?
More likely than not we won’t see an outcry against these actions by political leaders of any kind. There will be a continued utilization of Islam as a political football by those who have no real interest in anything other than their own self-interest. Letting hate prevail seemingly didn’t work as a solution to stopping hate, but seemingly that isn’t an issue.
In my opinion if you don’t speak out against it you’re just as bad as the person who is saying it in the first place. What do you think it teaches people when senior officials of major political parties throughout the country are either espousing, and in turn justifying, hatred against Muslims through their words or their silence? What does it teach a broader society about the worth and designation of a population that is over 1.5 billion in number throughout this world?

What Message Are We Sending Out?

The same thing that it teaches the broader society when mosques are kept from being open and built, when unjust surveillance and profiling policies are legitimized and implemented, when media has no problem making cursory links of every and any Muslim to terrorism, but dig deep to connect people of other backgrounds to troubled childhoods and mental health issues, and when politicians are allowed to build racist campaign platforms taking advantage of fear and ignorance. It teaches them that it’s ok for Muslims to be treated differently, to in fact be mistreated, simply because they are Muslim, and that there is no problem with that.
There is, in fact, a huge problem with it.

This Isn’t Just A Muslim Thing

If you think my anger and frustration is only because that there were Muslims who were attacked, then you don’t get it. I feel for these people because they are people. I feel for these people as I feel for Orlando. I feel for these people as I feel for Baltimore, Ferguson and Chicago. I feel for these people as I feel for Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq and Syria. I feel for these people as I feel for anyone who finds themselves in any type of affliction or conflict. We have seen minorities of all backgrounds get vilified more and more and things have gotten to a point where assaults and even death doesn’t bring about a recognition of their value as humans. We have seen shooting after shooting take place in this country, increasing directly along with our country’s legislators unwillingness to speak about gun control. My anger and frustration stems from the fact that with every act of hatred and our failed responses to it, indifference is becoming more alive and in the process our shared humanity is dying.
Will there be droves of leaders marching in the streets, elbowing each other to make sure they stand at the front of the pack and let the world know that they are outraged by the assaults on Muslims throughout the country? Will they hold vigils to speak out against the realities of hate and address the deeper, systemic issues around race, ethnicity and privilege or even give a simple nod to the signs and symptoms around us indicating their existence? Probably not. But will you stand up, simply because you are able to and it’s the right thing to do?
I am a Muslim. I work as the University Chaplain for New York University. I serve as a Chaplain for the New York City Police Department and am given the rank of inspector. I have traveled on behalf of the State Department, met with the heads of homeland security, senior white house officials and even President Obama himself, shared stages with the likes of Pope Francis and the Dalai lama. I am still one of the many Muslims in this country who have been detained, profiled and surveilled. My home has been visited by the FBI on numerous occasions where I have been told that I am being watched because I am too good to be true. As much as I am seen as antidote, I am first still seen as a poison for no other reason that I choose to practice the faith that I do. That is not ok. But I still believe that we can and will be better.

Be The Change You Want To See

Healing requires admitting we are sick. You and I are a bigger part of the cure than we might realize. On the eve of our Independence Day, we as a nation have a choice to make. At a time when we are still debating whether Black Lives Matter or not, candidates for the highest offices of our land make statements that indicate they speak for and to only a select group of Americans. We can no longer let our perspectives of each other be fueled through a media machine that seeks to sensationalize and bombard readers and viewers with narrative that serves to only segment and antagonize even further. The amplification of extreme voices has to be drowned out by our coming together. The ignorance of ISIS or the Republican right can no longer be the basis of how we function in diverse societies. We must learn the reality of struggles faced by those around us by actually being with them, as opposed to simply through the biased images that are cast in front of us every day. We do not have to be women to stand up women’s rights, black to stand up for black rights, or Muslim to stand up for Muslim rights. An attack on any of us is an attack on all of us. I said it before and I’ll say it again, if you see something, say something has to mean something different to us today. If you see bigotry, say something. If you see hatred, say something. If you see racism, say something. You and I have to be the change that this world needs. We cannot adopt a bitterness or passivity that lets people who have no interest other than their own self-interest succeed. We cannot lose hope – tomorrow will be better than today so long as you do our part. Our coming together of today is only meaningful if we continue to come together tomorrow. Let us be the reason that people have continued hope in this world, and never the reason people dread it.

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Should Muslims "Apologize" For The Orlando Shooting? Imam Zaid Shakir

In the aftermath of the Orlando murders many Muslims are adamant that they will not apologize for anything. Imam Zaid Shakir argues, this is a proper stance as our religion does not advocate collective guilt, nor collective punishment. However, clarifying Muslim teachings is also being condemned and this is wrong.

We are informed in the Qur’an, “No bearer of burdens (a sinner) can bear the burdens of another.” No one needs say, “I am sorry” for crimes they did not commit. On the other hand, many are viewing clarifying Muslim teachings, attempting to manage popular perceptions, or condemning criminal actions as unacceptable “apologizing.” Such a view is misguided.

We Do Not Have The Luxury Not To

It is fitting, in fact it is imperative, that we announce to the public that acts of vigilante violence, mass murder, wanton mayhem, and targeting innocent people have no place in our religion. This is true if such violence takes place in Muslim majority countries, as happens almost daily in places like Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Yemen, and sporadically elsewhere in the Muslim world. It is especially true for those of us living here in the United States, where there is a propaganda machine in place, which capitalizes on the unique aspects of each massacre to distort basic Islamic teachings, over time with numbing effect. Unfortunately, in my opinion, we do not have the luxury of saying nothing.

Nefarious Forces

Such clarification is especially needed now because nefarious forces are using Omar Mateen’s (and his possible accomplices’) vile actions to further the idea that Islam is a violent, irrational, barbaric religion, and then translate the ensuing fear, hatred and anger into policies, which even now, are having devastating consequences for Muslims all over the world. I have seen firsthand the damage such misperceptions are causing among non-Muslim family, friends, and associates, and I have also seen how welcome clarifying words are.

Managing Perceptions is from the Prophetic Character

As for managing perceptions of the religion, ask yourself a couple of questions. Why did the Prophet (peace upon him) announce that a woman walking with him was his wife, Safiyya bint Huyayy? Why did he resume praying for deceased debtors? In the first instance he did not want people to think that the moral character of the Messenger of God (peace upon him) was flawed in any way, as that would have devastating implications for the integrity of the entire religion. In the second instance he did not want people to think that he abandoned his Companions at the time of their deaths. There are numerous incidents of this sort that illustrate the ways in which the Prophet (peace upon him) managed the public perception of himself, his community and his message. Hence, working to ensure that people view Islam in the most positive light is from the prophetic way (Sunnah).
Again, when there is a machine in place that wants to create extremely negative perceptions of Islam and Muslims, we do not have the luxury of remaining silent. A well-known marketing principle states, “Unchallenged perceptions become reality.” We should not even wait until there is some odious, headline-grabbing attack before we begin speaking up to define our reality. It should be an ongoing process. Hence, far from becoming frustrated and refusing to challenge the memes that are accentuated in the aftermath of attacks such as those in Orlando, Florida, we know what those memes are and we should be relentless in attacking them on a constant, ongoing basis.

It Is A Religious Duty

As for the condemnation of criminal actions, we are commanded by our Prophet (peace upon him), “Whoever among you sees a vile action, then let him change it with his hand; if unable to do so, then with his tongue (condemn it); if unable to do so then let him hate it in his heart, and that is the lowest level of faith.” What could be viler than a Muslim (nominal or not) committing mass murder against unsuspecting people at a time when this country, in fact the world, is celebrating the life of an American Muslim hero –Muhammad Ali? I do not know who is calling the shots of criminals like Omar Mateen, I serious doubt if they are Muslim, but, God-willing, I will condemn those crimes as long as they continue to occur. May Allah protect us.
Follow Imam Zadi Shakir on Facebook and visit his blog, New Islamic Directions.

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Mother of "cucumber, not cooker bomb" toddler, in her own words

Editor’s note: In January 2016, a British Muslim mother was called in for a meeting by her 4 year-old son’s nursery school. The managers informed her that her little boy had been referred to a ‘de-radicalisation’ program after drawing what they alleged to be a ‘cooker bomb’. Shocked by the news, the mother reached out for help on the private Facebook group, Muslim Mamas (see their public page here). Muslim Mamas is a close-knit group of some 9000 Muslim mothers from around the world. This mother now shares her story in her own words for the first time, though the story has been reported in The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph and other news outlets.

Assalamu’alaikum,
Some of you may have heard about the four year old boy, whose nursery wanted to send him to a deradicalisation programme for mispronouncing ‘cucumber’. Well, that was my son. I’ve been a member of Muslim Mamas for a while now and wanted to share my story with you all.

“He told us it was a cooker bomb”

One afternoon back in January 2016, when I dropped my little boy to nursery, the nursery manager and deputy manager called me into a side room and presented me with a document, together with some drawings that my son had drawn. I recognised the drawing straight away, as it was a recent one. It was of a man with a knife. My son had told me it was ‘daddy cutting a cucumber’ so I told the school managers this straight away. They were unconvinced.
“Well, that’s not what he said to us. He told us it was a cooker bomb,” the nursery manager replied.
I was blindsided by this. My son has never talked about bombs at home. I was so confused and upset. At that point, I didn’t immediately associate his pronunciation of cucumber as “cukkabum” with a “cooker bomb”. I’d never even heard of such a thing.
cucumber-bomb
The school then showed me two other scribbles by my son. They said he talked about “pulling a string in Africa.” I explained that my neighbour’s cat used to visit our home frequently and my children often played with the cat by pulling a string. Sadly, the poor cat got run over and, not wanting upset them by telling them that he had died, I told the kids that the cat had gone to Africa to be with his family.

“Prove yourself innocent”

Again, the nursery manager dismissed my explanation and told me that they were referring me to Channel. I had no idea what Channel was, but assumed it was social services. I asked the manager if this was the case and she told me that yes, they did work together and that they would help me raise my children in the ‘right’ way. By this time I was in tears and pleaded with her not to refer me. But her reply did little to console me.
“Your kids might not be taken off you. You can prove yourself innocent,” she said.
I was distraught! I continued to plead with her. She asked me what he was watching on television and I told her that he liked his superheroes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers, but I would put a stop to this immediately if it would help (and I actually did go home and do this!). I even banned their Disney movies, as the nursery manager described one of my son’s drawings as that of a train blowing up. Incidentally, this is the opening scene in Toy Story 3.
Nothing was going to help me that day. She told me I’d already been referred and I had to “sign the referral form”, which I declined to do. I couldn’t – it just felt wrong to sign a document I did not agree with. My son, according to the nursery’s own description is a very ‘gentle’ child. I couldn’t accept the things that they were now suggesting about him.
I left the meeting and went home. My husband was away, so I telephoned him and explained the situation. He told me not to worry and reminded me that our boy always says “cukkabum” when he means “cucumber,” so obviously they’d misheard him. It then became clear to me what had happened.

“Cucumber, not cooker bomb”

I called the nursery manager immediately, with a renewed sense of hope and told her about his mispronunciation of the word “cucumber”. My son was still at the nursery and I told her to go and show him a cucumber so that it all becomes clear. However, the nursery manager was not willing to discuss things any further and told me that my son had already been “referred” and it was out of her hands. She then asked me again about signing the document and I once again refused. She informed me that she would “have to put down a reason”.
I felt really pressured but I’d spoken to my husband and my sister and they both advised me against signing something I am not comfortable with. So I held my ground and I told her firmly I wasn’t going to sign it as I didn’t agree with it. I hung up at the point and felt really worried about how I was going to find someone who could help me. I felt bullied and was ready to ask the police for help. I didn’t realise then what I realise now: this is state supported bullying.
I frantically called people who might be able to help me. I knew the school was wrong. Had I not been a Muslim Asian, I wouldn’t be in this position. I even messaged Tell Mama and was ignored.

Teachers now legally obliged to report concerns around terrorism

In Luton, where we live, you’d think it was easy to find help but there is no local organisation to help our community in situations like this. It’s actually more like the opposite. People don’t want to get involved, even though they know it’s wrong. They’re scared of the repercussions.
Eventually, I was put in touch with Rehana Faisal, who is a local Muslim community activist. She came round to see me and I went through everything with her. She asked me if I knew what Channel was. I told her I didn’t. It was Rehana who told me that Channel was a de-radicalisation programme and that teachers are now legally obliged to report concerns around terrorism. Apparently, this is called the “PREVENT duty”. I was horrified. She called a local solicitor, Attiq Malik of Liberty Law Solicitors, for some advice and the two of us then went to the nursery together for another meeting.
Rehana talked the nursery manager through what had happened and tried to encourage her to apply some common sense and recognise that the referral was misguided. The nursery manager again stated that the referral was a done deal. Rehana asked the manager if there was something else that had triggered this referral because it seemed ridiculous that they had taken such drastic action over a child’s mispronunciation. Did they have any other concerns about the parents? You see, I wasn’t new at this nursery. I had a seven year relationship with them. Thus far, it had always been a positive one. In November 2015, there was a parent-teacher evening and I was told not to bother coming in because my son was so lovely and gentle.

Questioning children appropriately

The manager told Rehana there was nothing else of concern apart from this one picture, to which my son couldn’t mispronounced “cucumber”. To be clear, my son never said the word “bomb”. This whole incident was never about what my child said or drew. It was about their perception of what he said. My son did not say the word bomb, they did. And they repeated it to him in their questioning. As Rehana pointed out to them, had the staff member he was speaking to questioned him appropriately, without leading questions, they would have realised what he was actually saying. In fact, he, according to their own records told them that a ‘cukkabum’ was something you cut!

“Did Jimmy Saville look like a paedophile?”

At this point in our meeting, the nursery manager repeatedly asserted her position that the referral to Channel had already been made. I was really upset at this point and was crying. I asked her, “Do I look like a terrorist to you?!”
The manager, looking directly at me replied, “Well, did Jimmy Saville look like a paedophile?”
I was shocked. Rehana witnessed this exchange and couldn’t believe how unprofessional the nursery manager was. Rehana informed the manager that we had sought legal advice before attending the meeting and if the nursery chose to pursue this, then so would we. We would go to the press if necessary. We then walked out of the meeting.
That evening, Rehana and Attiq came to see me show their support. Attiq then introduced me to someone from an organisation called PREVENTwatch and discussed what could be done next. They helped me draft a very detailed letter, which I gave to the nursery. They also told me to unblock the kiddy channels and assured me it was normal for kids to be into Power Rangers and the like!
The nursery manager on numerous occasions tried to speak to me alone over the next few days but I just didn’t trust her or anyone at the nursery anymore. Speaking to them was the last thing I wanted to do after being treated this way.

Backtracking

Soon after, I was given a letter by the nursery manager that said they had never made a referral but that everything they had said to me was according to government guidelines. This was a blatant lie. I know this because they had, possibly accidentally, given me a document which clearly states that my four year old has been referred. They had clearly backtracked and I strongly believe this was because they realised, I now had support and backing.
The last few weeks have been a steep learning curve for me. I didn’t know much about Channel or Prevent but I do now. Channel is supposed to be a ‘consensual’ programme but my son’s nursery tried to bully me into it. That’s not right. The whole policy isn’t right. It is not only flawed, it is also deeply discriminatory.

Don’t Take It Lying Down

I decided to talk about what happened to me in the hope that it will help others who find themselves in such a position. I want people to know that they must not put up with it. I originally spoke to the BBC Asian network and the story was then picked up by other news outlets. After that I was on the morning program on BBC 3 Counties Radio and Inspire fm. I also gave an interview to Luton on Sunday and the Guardian and was on ITV news Anglia.
I hope that this helps people to understand how flawed PREVENT is. It is a policy which is supposed to be making us safer, but it is hardly doing that. I felt scared, intimidated and discriminated against. It cannot carry on. I hope by speaking up myself, I will encourage others to also speak up.
My son is still at this nursery. Some of you might think that it’s a strange decision to leave him there. To say I feel awkward is an understatement. Everyday, I drop my son off to people that I no longer trust. However, my son loves nursery, his friends and his keyworker, who wasn’t present in any of the meetings that the nursery managers had with me. I’m not sure who flagged my son as a ‘radical’. His keyworker is so lovely and always has pleasant things to say to me. I’ve decided I don’t want to disrupt my sons life due to the incompetence of some prejudiced staff members.

Teachers as Spies

While I’m upset at the way the teachers in my son’s school dealt with this matter, I feel sympathy for the teachers who have been forced to act as “security services” in schools. They are given 1-2 hours training and are expected to spot the very complex signs of “radicalisation”. Unfortunately, too many of these “signs” focus on the Muslim Community.
So that’s my story. I’m still struggling to come to terms with what has happened but I want to keep talking about it, and I pray that this helps others.  I never dreamed I could be treated this way, in my own country, as a British Muslim.
If any of you find yourself in this position – GET HELP. PREVENTwatch is a national organisation who can help. If you are in Luton, you can look up Rehana Faisal and Attiq Malik. Speak to them.
As a community, we all need to speak up. Our “community leaders” and elected representatives need to speak up. Let our teachers teach rather than behave like the police or like spies!
I want to end by expressing gratitude for the help and support I’ve received from family and friends, through this horrid ordeal! As for the nursery, I am yet to receive an apology from them.
Anonymous

Cover photo by Keoni Cabral.

Knowing the Prophet ﷺ is the Best Antidote to Extremism

Shaykh Hassan Lachheb argues that if Muslims had more knowledge of how the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ actually lived and what he taught, they would be less vulnerable to extremist propaganda. Counterterrorism officials — who’ve focused largely on surveillance, sting operations and community policing — would have more success countering extremism, he says, if they supported efforts to deepen religious literacy among young Muslims. Our thanks to NPR and Celebrate Mercy.

Cover photo from Celebrate Mercy

Resources on ‘extremist propaganda’ for seekers:

 

ISIS: More About Meaningless, Dysfunctional Lives Than Jihad – Imam Zaid Shakir

A Norway Town and Its Pipeline to “Jihad” in Syria

When a known group of young trouble-makers from a small Norwegian town stopped having run-ins with the local police, law enforcement authorities were relieved but unfortunately, this was short-lived. The boys had moved on from their dysfunctional lives in  straight into the hands of ISIS henchmen in Syria. There, amidst the anarchic murder and destruction, most of them have now died.
Imam Zaid Shakir reflects on this deeply disturbing phenomenon in this video, courtesy of Al Madina Institute.

Resources on ISIS and Jihad for seekers:

Cover photo by Daniels Lee.

What is a "Caliphate"? Does an ISIS Caliphate Really Exist?

The 2016 presidential race has been loaded with rhetoric about a so-called “ISIS caliphate.” But what exactly is a caliphate? And what does it mean to say that ISIS claims to have one? WNPR invited Dr. Feryal Salem to unpack these terms.
Listen to the full interview here.

Hijacked

Dr. Salem said the term “caliphate” refers to a monarchy or kingdom, which does not equate to a “theocracy.” The term “caliphate” has been appropriated by the Islamic State, she said, “to legitimize their way of thinking” and their “gross misinterpretation of Islam.”

The Rights of Religious Minorities

Dr. Salem referred listeners to the Marrakesh Declaration that a large group of Muslim scholars gathered to discuss in January 2016. The declaration confirms the rights of religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries based on the tradition of religious tolerance established by the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

Resources for seekers

Dr. Feryal Salem is an assistant professor of Islamic Scriptures and Law and co-director of the Islamic Chaplaincy Program at Hartford Seminary. She received her Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.
In addition, Dr. Salem has studied Islamic studies from various classically trained scholars in the Muslim World. She received her certification (ijaza) in Qur’anic recitation from the late Syrian scholar Abu al-Hasan al-Kurdi in 1998. She was also certified in recitation by Shaykh Kurayyim Rajih in 2013. She has studied a number of related Islamic sciences including: Shafi’i and Hanafi jurisprudence (fiqh), Islamic theology (aqida), early Islamic history, Arabic grammar, Muslim inheritance law, classical logic, Qur’anic sciences (ulum al-Qur’an), and Islamic legal methodology (usul al-fiqh).  In 2009, she received a degree in the hadith sciences from the Nuriyya Hadith Institute of Damascus attached to the ancient Umayyad Mosque complex and whose curriculum includes studying a range of classical Islamic texts along with their commentaries.
Committed to furthering Islamic scholarship, Dr. Salem has been actively working within the Muslim American community to establish the Nur Foundation for Sacred Sciences, which focuses on providing opportunities for education in the Islamic sciences for Muslims living in the West.

Cover photo by Adrien Sifre