AUDIO: Manners of Speech

My khutbah from this Friday, which was given at the Islamic Organization of North America masjid in Warren, MI, was about some of the manners pertaining to speech.

Click here to listen.

The following was mentioned:

1)      Speaking good and giving constructive comments is what Islam enjoins as well as staying silent if having nothing good to say unless it is a constructive criticism.

2)      Islam prohibits looking for people’s faults to spread via gossip and back-biting. Story mentioned of Umar ibn Al-Khattab, who improperly confronted a Muslim due to gossip.

3)      Dissuading people from un-Islamic, anti-social behaviors and using people as examples, who promote such is not back-biting. Example used of woman from “All-American Muslim,” who wants to open a nightclub with a bar.

4)      Back-biting is worse than fornication according to Prophet Muhammad.

5)      Do not carrying information about people’s private matters based upon unverified info from the internet.

6)      Avoid discussing important matters on Facebook, Twitter and text messages because tone cannot be ascertained, which can cause miscommunication.

7)      In person conversations brings spirits together and is better than internet communication.

Male nurse sues after firing for treating Muslim women

http://detnews.com/article/20111123/METRO01/111230411/Male-nurse-sues-after-firing-for-treating-Muslim-women#ixzz1eYcfBzAJ

Last Updated: November 23. 2011 1:37PM

Male nurse sues after firing for treating Muslim women

Robert Snell/ The Detroit News

Detroit— A male nurse filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against the city of Dearborn on Wednesday, claiming he was fired for treating conservative Muslim women wearing head scarves.

John Benitez Jr. is suing for unspecified damages and to reclaim his job, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.

Benitez, 63, of Madison Heights, worked at the city’s taxpayer-funded health clinic. He alleges he was ordered by a female supervisor not to treat conservative Muslim women, specifically those wearing head scarves, according to the lawsuit. He was told the clinic’s male Muslim clientele did not want a male treating female patients.

He complied until November 2010, when a doctor ordered him to treat Muslim women as he would any other patient. Benitez followed the doctor’s order and was fired less than one month later, according to the lawsuit.

“When you get to the point that taxpayer-funded entities are having to comply with personal religious beliefs rather than letting people do their job you’re going down a road that does not end in a good place,” the nurse’s lawyer Deborah Gordon said in an interview Wednesday. “If people don’t want to be treated, they can go find their own practitioner.”

There was no immediate comment from a Dearborn spokeswoman.

Hospitals and health clinics routinely make accommodations based on religion, said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations.

“In general, unless it is for emergency situations, many Muslims would prefer being screened and touched by someone of the same gender,” Walid said. “If he was fired based upon an order from a supervisor, that obviously would be unjust.”

Statement on NYPD arrest of ‘terrorism” suspect Pimentel

THE MAJLIS ASH-SHURA OF METROPOLITAN N.Y. 
c/o 88-29 161 STREET, JAMAICA, QUEENS, NY 11432

nycmajlis@gmail.com

 

 A STATEMENT FROM THE MAJLIS ASH-SHURA (ISLAMIC LEADERSHIP COUNCIL) OF METROPOLITAN NEW YORK, ON THE ARREST OF JOSE PIMENTEL

For Immediate Release                                                       Monday, November 21, 2011

 

Two days after Muslim leaders and activists convened by the Majlis Ash-Shura (Islamic Leadership Council) of Metropolitan N.Y. held a (November 18, 2011)  prayer service and rally decrying the NYPD’s illegal, outrageous and completely inappropriate ethnic and religious-based mapping and surveillance of the New York Muslim community, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have announced the arrest of an alleged “lone wolf terrorist” intent on taking innocent lives in a pipe bomb plot.

It is worth noting that the individual described by both the Mayor and the Police Commissioner was apparently tracked and, ultimately, arrested because of his interest in bomb-making and the steps he allegedly took towards assembling an explosive device. Assuming this early version of the facts is accurate, it is worth noting how different that policing approach is from the NYPD/CIA program targeting our faith community, based not on suspicion of criminal conduct but on religion, race, ethnicity, and such legally protected activities as mosque attendance, enrollment in a Muslim school, or where one shops for food or has coffee or tea.

Considering the long history in America of “lone wolf” assassins and terrorists of different ethnicities, political persuasions, and religious affiliations or none, on one hand we are glad whenever a wrong or evil is averted that would result in the taking of innocent human lives. The Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York continues to oppose all acts of terrorism – at home or abroad, whether by individuals, groups, or states.

On the other hand, we await the details of this particular arrest. We are waiting to determine the answers to the following questions – As we have already learned that there was a “confidential informant” involved in the case for some time, is this arrest yet another example of police generated entrapment schemes and plots? What was the informant agent’s role in pushing the plot forward?  Is the timing of today’s announcement purely coincidental or strategically convenient? Is the defendant mentally deficient or unstable in any way? How long was the NYPD monitoring the defendant’s online activities? Was the NYPD directly engaged in surveillance on the defendant in Schenectady? Why were the federal authorities only at the “assessment” stage in this case, and did they decline to investigate or prosecute under federal laws? Time will tell. In the interim, we call on the independent media to ask serious and probing questions regarding the extent and nature of the threat posed by the accused.

In the meantime, the Majlis remains committed to combating domestic terrorism from within Muslim ranks, while at the same time preserving the civil liberties and civil and human rights of Muslims, as with all Americans.

Why I don’t want a ‘Muslim Cosby Show’

After watching the 1st two episodes of “All-American Muslim,” I have come to the conclusion that such a show is more beneficial for sparking discussion and confronting misconceptions about American Muslims than having a “Muslim Cosby Show” as stated by Katie Couric.  In fact, I completely disagree with Couric’s proposition that America’s view of Blacks was significantly shifted by that show, thus American Muslims should push for a similar television program. Let me tell you why.

“The Cosby Show,” which was the top rated television show in America for much of the 1980’s and was a hit in Apartheid South Africa did virtually nothing to shift the dominant culture’s view about Black life in America.  This was expounded upon in an academic manner in the book Enlightened Racism: The Cosby Show, Audiences, and the Myth of the American Dream that highlights how the “Cosby Show” not only failed to address the reality of structural racism facing Blacks during the Reagan years in America but also presented the “good Blacks” trope of the benign, apolitical and assimilated negroes.  Hence, yuppies to Afrikaners loved being entertained without discomfort by the show, which did not address much of the reality of Black folk on a day to day basis, including my Black middle class background of having two parents, who were college grads.

And to be clear, high ratings of a television show with Black actors did not translate into a dramatic paradigm shift away from bias attitudes against Blacks.   To the point, White Americans have always loved being entertained by Blacks from fiddlers on slave plantations to Jack Johnson boxing to Flip Wilson’s coonery while playing Geraldine.

I’m not saying that I didn’t like many Cosby episodes; I watched them too.  However, there is no evidence to say that the show shifted perceptions about Black folk within the status quo much less educated White folks about the reality of Black life.

“All-American Muslim,” on the other hand though there is some acting for the camera, at least shows some of the reality of American Muslims even if the cast is exclusively suburban Lebanese-American save the Irishman Jeff.  Besides “All-American Muslim” showcasing Muslims of varying religiosity, the show has touched on some of the tensions that Muslims live under in a post-9/11 America in terms of anti-Muslim bigotry, racism and misperceptions.

I surely don’t want to see a sitcom of a homogenized Muslim family that fails to discuss how America is involved in two wars in Muslim countries as a reaction to 9/11 and the tensions that Muslims have face with Islamophobia and identity issues.  Those are issues that continue to affect American Muslims and have been topics of many families including mine.

Hence, this is why I don’t want a “Muslim Cosby Show,” and I’m glad that “All-American Muslim” is not that despite its shortcomings.

‘All-American Muslim’ divides viewers

http://www.freep.com/article/20111118/NEWS05/111118041/-All-American-Muslim-divides-viewers?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE

‘All-American Muslim’ divides viewers

By Niraj Warikoo

Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

The new TV show “All-American Muslim” has sparked an intense debate among Muslims and others about Islam and how the religion should be depicted.

From social media sites like Twitter to CNN to Al-Jazeera, the reality show from TLC that focuses on five Muslim families in Dearborn has drawn both praise and criticism. In general, people on the far right — whether Christian, Jewish or Muslim — tend to disapprove of the show while those with more liberal views tend to like it, seeing it as a step forward for its realistic portrayals of Muslim-Americans.

“It sure does expel the radical image of American Muslims,” said Hassan Shakr, 20, of Dearborn. “We know who we are, but this can help for somebody who’s never met a Muslim and thinks about Dearborn from what they’ve seen on Fox News.”

Some conservative Muslims were outraged by the weekly show that debuted Sunday, expressing displeasure on Twitter over Shadia Amen’s tattoos or Nadia Bazzi’s short skirts. Both are Muslim women featured on the show. Anti-Muslim bloggers and activists also disliked the show, but for a different reason: To them, Islam is about terrorism and so the show whitewashes what they say is a radical faith.

On Facebook, a woman has created a page calling for a boycott of the show, calling it “an attempt to make America accept Islam without showing the truth about what Islam is really about … beheadings, stonings, amputations, hangings, oppression of women, minorities and global jihad.”

Terry Jones, the Quran-burning pastor, told the Free Press last week the show was “a propaganda tool.”

Some Muslims, too, don’t like the show because it doesn’t present a pious enough picture of Muslims. Others complained that it didn’t feature non-Arab Muslims; the five families featured in the show are Lebanese-American.

And some Sunni Muslims with anti-Shia bigotry were upset because the show focuses on Shia Muslims.

“Why are Shia’a in this show? Shia’a aren’t even Muslim!” wrote one man on Twitter who didn’t like the show.

But in metro Detroit, many Muslims liked it.

“I thought it was a good show,” said Ahmed Ghamlouche, 33, of Dearborn. “I liked how it showed the diversity of this community. It breaks the stereotypes Americans have, that we’re like terrorists. It breaks the mind-set.”

Dawud Walid, head of the Council of American Islamic Relations, also likes the show, in general.

“The show is humanizing Muslims,” Walid said. It “will do more positive than negative for American Muslims both externally and internally.”

Walid said while there were concerns about a lack of non-Arabs on the show, he understands the need for the show to focus on a small number of families for logistical and story reasons. Walid added that the TV series can help dispel accusations from the far right that Dearborn is a hotbed of extremism governed by sharia.

The debate over the show will probably continue after the second episode plays Sunday night; it shows Samria Amen-Fawaz of Dearborn putting on an Islamic headscarf, known as hijab, for the first time in years after listening to the advice of a Muslim cleric.

Bilal Amen, 29, one of the Dearborn residents featured in the show, doesn’t mind the criticism from some Muslims.

“My goal in life is to be as ‘perfect’ as those ‘amazing’ Muslims who make … comments,” he jokingly tweeted this week. “I love haters!”

Shadia Amen stressed that she is not representing all Muslims.

“I’m here as a Muslim,” Amen told the Free Press before the show debuted. “But I’m not here to represent Islam. Nobody on the show is running for the Muslim of the Year award. No one is trying to represent the religion as a whole.”

‘All-American Muslim’ designed to make profits but promotes conversations

My brief take on “All-American Muslim,” which premiered on TLC this past Sunday is that the show will do more positive than negative for American Muslims both externally and internally.

First of all, anyone that expected TLC to be doing da’wah directly for Muslims by picking all model Muslim families was somewhat naïve.  Reality shows are designed to show tension and controversy; we should be thankful that “All-American Muslim” is not over the top like “Jersey Shore.”  Moreover, Muslims such as Nina Bazzy, who wouldn’t mind opening a night club are not on the community fringe as some propose.  Heck, there is a strip club in Metro Detroit owned by an Arab-American Muslim, BT’s Gentleman Club off of Michigan Avenue announced a few years ago that they sell Halal chicken wings for their Muslim trick daddy customers and Muslim kids are smoking weed and popping Vicodin and Adderall at Fordson High School like other teens, who are Christians.

Second of all, though “All-American Muslim” focuses strictly on Dearborn within Metro Detroit’s large Muslim population and all five families are Southern Lebanese Shi’ah Muslims, which definitely does not properly reflect who American Muslims are especially in history rich Detroit, I get why the producers didn’t break their necks to expand the demographical scope.  They intentionally are weaving in families that have interwoven relationships such as in the wedding scene, plus it was just simpler for them to stay in one central location for logistical purposes.  I would have loved to have seen an African-American family from Westside Detroit, and perhaps that may happen next season.  At the end of the day, TLC does what it does to make maximum profit, which means cutting down on logistical expenses and marketing the exotic or what is perceived to be foreign to interest the American public, which is 98% non-Muslim.

From the perspective of external benefit, the show is humanizing Muslims.  Showing a passionate football coach and Muslim football players on the gridiron is all American, and showing a newlywed couple negotiating the challenges of having their first child is all American.  At the least, “All-American Muslim” knocks the brains out of the myth propagated by Islamophobes and xenophobes that Dearborn is governed by shari’ah!

The internal benefit for the Muslim community, I hope, is that this show will inspire us to create safe spaces to have difficult conversations about our community.  “All-American Muslim” is embarrassing to many Muslims especially Arab-Americans because it is exposing to the world our faults and perhaps religious ignorance.  Moreover, many non-Arab Muslims, especially African-Americans, feel that the show not only projects the tired conflation of Arab with Muslim, but also speaks to a contentious issue of some Arabs passively and actively claiming to be the authority for speaking on or representing Islam and Muslims to the broader society.  Then, there is also the issue of the sectarian divide between Sunnis and Shi’is that has been imported to America by immigrants from the Middle East and South Asia.

I didn’t like the first episode of “All-American Muslim” that much, but that’s just my sentiment.  At the end of the day, something beneficial has already come from it though, and that is conversation.  Let us put our emotions to the side, and keep the discussions candid yet respectful.