AUDIO: ‘A Perspective on Activism of Muslims’

Yesterday’s lecture was about my perspective on activism of Muslims; it was given at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, MI.

Click here to listen.

The lecture also discusses my views on limits that Muslims have regarding advocating with the LGBT community and the difference between protesting Lowe’s pulling their ads from “All-American Muslim” vice supporting all of the content of “All-American Muslim.”

Boko Haram attacks on 5 churches on Christmas Day

The murderous group Boko Haram today claimed responsibility for attacks upon five churches in Nigeria.

Boko Haram’s targeting of civilians is not only repugnant and against Islam, but their attacks are even more deviant because of their targeting of houses of worship.

The Qur’an (22;47) says:

Those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right,- (for no cause) except that they say, “our Lord is Allah”. Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been destruction of monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid His (cause);- for verily Allah is The Strong, The Mighty.

Furthermore it should be clear that just as Al-Qaeda has killed more Muslims than Christians and the Taliban continues to kill Muslims, it is a fact that Boko Haram murders Muslims not just attacking Christians, who are viewed as “Westerners.”

Murder & terrorism are acts of disbelief (kufr) in Islam.

The Qur’an (5:32) says:

…if someone kills another person – unless it is [punishment] for murdering someone or for causing corruption in the earth – it is as if he had murdered all mankind. And if anyone saves a life, it is as if he has saved all mankind…

The Qur’an (4:93):

And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is hell; he shall abide in it, and Allah will send His wrath on him and curse him and prepare for him a painful chastisement.

Prophet Muhammad (Prayers & Peace be upon him & his family) stated, “To curse a Muslim is corruption (fusooq), and to murder him is disbelief (kufr).”

Boko Haram’s acts are outside of the bounds of Islam, and they do not represent the authentic teachings of Islam anymore than the radical Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda represent Christianity.

And Allah knows best.

Why I Give Gifts Outside Of Christmas

There is confusion among Muslims living in The West regarding limits of how we should engage the broader society during their religious holidays such as Christmas where there are parties and gift giving.  Indeed, this issue can be even more problematic for those Muslims, who have Christian family members.  Let me elaborate on why I don’t give my Christian family members gifts during the Christmas season.

Before going on further, there is no doubt that keeping close relations with family and neighbors, who are not Muslim is must, and giving gifts is praiseworthy in Islam.

Prophet Muhammad (Prayers & Peace be upon him & his family) said, “The best of you are you who are best to his family.”

Also, he (Prayers & Peace be upon him & his family) said, “He is not a Muslim who stays full while his neighbor is hungry.”

And he (Prayers & Peace be upon him & his family) said, “Give gifts, and you will love each other.”

Treating ones’ family and neighbors well and with the best of manners is an Islamic value irrespective of their religions.  Accepting kindness shown by people outside of the Islamic faith is also an Islamic value.  Indeed, Prophet Muhammad (Prayers & Peace be upon him and his family) accepted gifts from people, who were not Muslim.  Similarly, Ali ibn Abi Talib (Blessings be upon him) even accepted a gift given to him on the Zoroastrian holiday of Nayrouz (Nowruz).  Like everything within Islam, however, there are limits and wisdom behind staying within certain parameters.

There are no authentic narrations, which state the Prophet (Prayers & Peace be upon him & his family) and the righteous Muslims among the earliest generations ever gave gifts to people of other religious on their holy days.  Among the varying schools of thought, scholars have ruled that accepting gifts of people who are not Muslims is acceptable including on their holidays, excluding eating from the meat of people who are not Jews or Christians.  However, varying scholars of different schools have stated that giving gifts to people of other religions on their holidays is despicable (makruh) as noted in the Maliki book At-Taaj wal Ikleel or is forbidden (haraam) as noted in the Hanbali book Al-Iqnaa’.

The reason is based upon a narration attributed to Prophet Muhammad (Prayers & Peace be upon him and his family), which says “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.”  Hence, scholars have stated that to be involved in the festivities of others’ holy days including gift giving is a type of affirmation that their celebrations are based in correctness of religious creed.  Religious holy days such as Christmas, which have religious significance for people who are not Muslims should not be hindered nor insulted by Muslims; however, religious holidays should not be celebrated that are outside of the path (shari’ah) given to Prophet Muhammad (Prayers & Peace be upon him & his family.)

Even in the case of the Day of ‘Aashoora, in which the majority of Muslims take as a day of fasting in which it is believed that the Children of Israel were saved from Pharaoh, that day was reportedly legislated by the Prophet (Prayers & Peace be upon him & his family) as a holy day.  He (Prayers & Peace be upon him) did not legislate December 25th, a day which Jesus (Peace be upon him) wasn’t born in and a day which has roots in pagan worship, as a special day despite the Islamic belief in the immaculate conceptions of Jesus (Peace be upon him.)

Prophet Muhammad (Prayers & peace be upon him & his family) clearly said, “Leave what makes you doubt for what does not make you doubt.” He (Prayers & Peace be upon him and his family) also said, ““He who innovates something in this matter of ours that is not of it will have it rejected.”

Thus, I accept gifts from my Christian family and friends based upon the Sunnah, but I give them gifts during other times of the year outside of Christmas, primarily during ‘Eid Al-Fitr and ‘Eid Al-Adha.

And Allah knows best.

Military detention of U.S. citizens undermines Constitution

Military detention of U.S. citizens undermines Constitution
• Sun, Dec 18, 2011

By Dawud Walid

The United States Senate recently passed a bill that, if signed into law, could potentially turn the clock back on civil rights and relegate America to the level of a military-police state.

The National Defense Authorization Bill, which was included in the $662 billion defense bill, gives authority to the U.S. military to indefinitely detain American citizens who may be suspected of terrorism. More specifically, the bill provides that citizens who are deemed by the executive branch of government to be members of Al-Qaeda, the Taliban or their affiliates may be detained without charges, inside and outside of the country.

The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution clearly states that persons shall not be held for infamous crimes without indictment. And due process is afforded to citizens, along with a speedy, public trial per the Sixth Amendment. Thus, to strip citizens of fundamental, constitutional rights through a non-transparent process of designating them as terrorists is in fact stripping persons of their citizenship. Hence, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., stated, “Others of us believe that current law, including the Non-Detention Act that was enacted in 1971, does not authorize such indefinite detention of U.S. citizens arrested domestically.”

The problem is not that legitimate suspects should be arrested; they should. What is problematic is the lack of transparency in the process in which citizens are designated as terrorists by the executive branch. This opens the door for innocent persons to be detained, who would not be allowed their day in court to challenge evidence against them. 

As a nation, we should have learned from history, given there are Japanese Americans currently living who suffered unjust military detention under the guise of national security during World War II. Referencing the internment of Japanese Americans, Feinstein also stated, “We don’t pick up citizens, we don’t incarcerate them for 10 or 15 or 20 years until hostilities end — and no one knows when they will end — without giving them due process of law.”

As the U.S. State Department continuously chides nations like Uganda and Venezuela for “arbitrary arrests” and “detentions” of its citizens by their military forces without due process in the name of national security or public safety, we cannot allow our country to slip into the same category by imprisoning citizens in Guantanamo Bay-type limbo. 

History also shows that once our government is given broad, unchecked powers to designate persons as threats, the net expands and others get lumped in as sympathizers or “affiliates,” as the Senate bill’s loose language warns us. 

As defenders of the Constitution and human rights, we all should tell President Obama to veto the National Defense Authorization Bill, which undermines all of our rights. We should also demand accountability from Sen. Carl Levin , D-Mich., who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee and co-sponsored this bill, which is clearly against our collective values as Americans.

Dawud Walid is the executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI).