Regarding Tabuk & Disassociation from Islamophobe Enablers

Protesting NYPD with Imam Talib 'Abdur-Rashid

A few days ago, Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid (May Allah preserve him) from Harlem posted a blog titled “STOP SELLING OUT THE UMMAH! – COLLABORATORS & OPPORTUNISTS” regarding a few Muslims, who have innocently or intentionally played the role of supporting the New York Police Department (NYPD) Demographics Unit that has been spying on the Muslim community in various locations without predication of criminal activity in the name of national security.

On Imam Talib’s blog and my Twitter, I mentioned one Muslim female, who was not listed, on Imam Talib’s blog that she was at a press conference in solidarity with Islamophobe, Neo-McCarthy Peter King (R-NY) and a few rag-tag Muslims, who support NYPD’s tactics, which are not only a major waste of tax-payer dollars but use the very suspect tactic of sending informants into houses of worship without predication.  In reference to this, I mentioned that “we,” meaning those Muslims in New York in its Majlis Ash-Shura and in the civil rights community inside and outside of New York, who are advocating with the Majlis, should disassociate ourselves from her until she repents.  In this statement, I mentioned to see the history of “Tabuk.”

The insincere, without even asking me what I meant, falsely stated that I called her a disbeliever or eluded that I threatened violence.  Normally, I would not blog about such matters, but in this case, I want to be perfectly about what I meant about Tabuk and Uncle Toms and Aunt Jemimahs.

When I referenced Tabuk, it was in regards to what Imam Talib posted, which was:

When a handful of Muslims demonstrated a lack of courage during the time of the Battle of Tabuk, and lagged behind those in the vanguard due to cowardice, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) ordered the Muslims to boycott them – not to return their salaams, and even for their wives not to sleep with them, until after they had engaged in tauba

This was the specific reference, nothing more, nothing less.

Is the mainstream Muslim community in a struggle to maintain its dignity and to not be profiled due to its religion by the NYPD?  Of course!  Is the mainstream Muslim community in New York staying far away from meeting with NYPD? Yes!  Does the woman, who went to the press conference represent a mosque or a constituency?  No!  Has she fiend like she was with the interests of the community yet stood in solidarity with enablers of the Islamophobia industry? Yes!

We don’t want to associate with such folks, even if they are still inside of the fold of Islam.  This is what I meant by the using the word Tabarra (تبرأ) or disassociation, for we will be asked about what stances we take in this life and our associations.  The Qur’an says in Surah 2, Ayah 168, “Then those who followed will disassociate (Tabarra) from those followed them [wrong-doers/supporters of oppression], they will see the penalty [of Allah] and all relations relations between them will be cut off.”

Regarding reconciliation, this can only come about by the admission of wrong-doing.  There must be a recognition before moving forward.  Positional power of the NYPD with the Muslim community is such that meeting to “reconcile” while they hold firm to a position that they did nothing wrong and accuse of Associated Press of being ramble-rousers is outside the environmental circumstances for reconciliation.  There is no change without accountability.  Only a fool lets bygones be bygones without assurances and a means of bringing about accountability.

This is my clarification of this matter.  I welcome those who played the role of Uncle Tom or Aunt Jemimah to rethink what they have done and publicly apologize to the Majlis Ash-Shura in New York.

And with Allah is success.

‘NYPD mimicking behavior of FBI’

Sun Mar 11, 2012 6:38PM GMT

The New York Police Department is just “mimicking the behavior of the FBI” by spying on the Muslim community, says Dawud Walid, executive director of CAIR-MI.

 

In a phone interview with Press TV’s U.S. Desk on Sunday, Walid said the Federal Bureau for Investigation is criticizing the New York police for “spying on Muslim community, spying on restaurants and barbershops” … while itself is “engaged in same way activity”. He said the NYPD spying on the Muslim community “is the symptom of a bigger disease” because it is mimicking the behavior of the FBI.

 

He said the FBI’s criticism of the NYPD is somehow “hypocritical”.

 

On Wednesday, the FBI criticized the NYPD for eavesdropping on Muslim businesses saying that “People are concerned that they’re being followed. They’re concerned that they can’t trust law enforcement, and it’s having a negative impact”.

 

The surveillance of Muslims has been harshly criticized by Muslims, civic and university leaders as an unconstitutional invasion of privacy.

 

ARA/DB

Convolution in Syria: My Conversation with 2 Syrian Activists

I just concluded a meeting with 2 Syrian activists, who have been in America for a couple of weeks and are returning in Damascus shortly.

Though I cannot attest to the veracity of what they told me, I will repeat some of it below in a few brief points:

1)      They stated that Iranians are in Syria supporting the regime including acting as snipers in Damascus.  They said you can clearly tell they aren’t Syrians because “they are short and have long noses.”

2)      They stated that Hizbullah is in Syria, not simply high level officials who met with the government and make religious visitations but also have their members, “who wear all black and green [bandanas]” in Bloudan.

3)      They stated that there are poor Alawis/Shi’is, who do not support the Al-Assad regime, and that they don’t view the conflict as purely sectarian.

4)      They stated that the “People’s Army” has been joined by Sunni Iraqis, who have crossed the borders with weapons, presumably “American.”

5)      They stated that the “People’s Army” has also been joined by “many Libyans.”

6)      They stated that the Syrian people, anecdotally speaking, do not want American military intervention in Syria, and that they believe the “People’s Army” wants American/NATO military help, so that “they can take control of the country like what happened in Libya.”

7)      They stated that they want the Al-Assad regime to go only through resistance from the Syrian people.

8)      They stated that the only help they want from American Muslims is to give to charitable organizations operating in Syria; since, there are so many people who don’t have blankets and dry food products due to the violence outside of Aleppo and Damascus.

9)      They stated that armed gangs are robbing and killing people in Syria, including car-jackings, based upon the destabilized environment.  These people may or may not be foreigners.

Things on convoluted on the ground is what I’ve taken from what they’ve said in addition to how I’ve understood what is going on.   People are dying every day, there are definitely foreign interests in the country, there is no one unified resistance and there are people there who have relationships to terrorism on the ground.

What we reasonable can all pray for is safety and security to come to Syria, and that Syria does not end up turning into another Iraq.

‘Stop Kony 2012′: Flawed Framing Leads to Flawed Results

This week, social media has been a buzz about a project launched by NGO Invisible Children called “Stop Kony 2012,” which seeks the capture of Ugandan extremist Christian Joseph Kony, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army.  Though I recognize that Invisible Children has been involved in meritorious humanitarian and development efforts and I certainly want Kony arrested and tried for crimes against humanity, I have some fundamentally issues with this campaign, which I will offer a critique of and a suggested way forward in assisting the people of Central Africa.

First, I am disturbed by “Stop Kony 2012” because the main push of the project is not amplifying the voices of those who want true socio-political change in the region but is pushing for military intervention into the region.  This seems counterintuitive for a humanitarian organization, from my vantage point as I serve as a board member of a humanitarian relief NGO, to call for military intervention for the purposes of hunting down one man.

In addition, the narrative seems even more bizarre in light that while it praised President Obama for sending military support to Uganda to catch Kony, who has abducted children to be soldiers, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni  began using child soldiers prior to Kony’s insurgency.  Museveni, himself, should be tried for crimes against humanity, not to mention his brutal crackdowns against Ugandans, who have peacefully protested against his regime.

Hence, we have the issue of a humanitarian organization calling for military intervention in coordination with a brutal dictator, who should be tried as a criminal in order to catch another criminal.  I don’t think that this is a grand CIA conspiracy in which Invisible Children is a part of, but it has always been the beef of the African Diaspora that Western intervention and meddling during times of conflict actually makes matters worse for the people, not better.  Given that America has a long track record of supporting brutal dictators, who support American interests in Africa and the Middle East, many within the Diaspora find it no coincidence that Museveni, a long time US ally since the deposing of Idi Amin, is getting a pass, especially since he supports American oil interests in Uganda. I’m personally offended that “Stop Kony 2012” used as a voice Congressman Jon Inhofe (R-OK), whose number one contributors are oil and gas companies and who is definitely no friend to communities of color.

My point is that the situation in Central Africa is much more complex than the capture of Kony, who hasn’t launched an attack in Uganda in six years.  Real change for the people is not simply catching Kony but in part is addressing America supporting dictators and ramping up its combatant command in Africa (AFRICOM) in the current soft proxy conflict with China, which has been developing relationships in Africa to extract its resources for its own socio-economic interests.

Second, “Stop Kony 2012” uses a Ugandan child instead of a legitimate leader within the indigenous justice movement as a voice along with the Invisible Children spokesman, a White man, being the leading voice.  White folks simply need to understand that even with good intentions, they should step back to allow authentic indigenous leadership to speak on these issues within their narratives, not the paternalistic White man with the Black boy frame.  Not only are we sick of the Tarzan King of the Jungle frame, but it causes misinformation and misperceptions to be furthered.  Then again, I’m not sure if the makers of this even care about this sensitivity and were more concerned about a media campaign that would appeal primarily to White folk to call for military intervention into Central Africa.

“Crisis in the Congo: Uncovering the Truth” is an alternative framework from an indigenous perspective of the conflicts, which includes Kony, in the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.  Before dealing with an issue, there must be an accurate critique before finding a viable solution.  Having an action coming from a flawed perspective or from a place of White privilege/American exceptionalism is not a real solution.  And if there is anything that I’ve learned from the occupation of the Palestinian people is that inaccurate and flawed information reinforces frames that further oppression.  So I’m not feeling those who minimize the voices of Black folk by dismissing concerns as just crying and complaining instead of offering solutions.

My suggestion for the sincere is that if you’re truly interested in helping people of the region and ending child abduction in which Kony, Museveni and others are a part of, connect with those who are involved in the movement like Kambale Musavuli and Rosebella Kagumire.  They can better explain the scope of the challenges the people face in the area, and they can direct you to NGO’s who are doing the best work on the ground, not those who have the slickest video on the internet that invokes emotion.

I want Kony stopped, but I also want the marginalization of African people’s voices to stop as well as the exploitation of our lands by pointing the finger at people, instead of structures of oppression.

Reality series on Dearborn Muslims ends

MARCH 8, 2012 AT 1:00 AM

Reality series on Dearborn Muslims ends

  • BY URSULA WATSON 
  • THE DETROIT NEWS 

    TLC’s reality TV show “All-American Muslim” provided viewers with an intimate look at the lives of five hard-working Dearborn families. But the network announced Wednesday that the show will not be back for a second season.

    Poor ratings are the main reason for its cancellation, TLC said. Its Nov. 13 premiere drew 1.74 million viewers but ratings soon declined with the Dec. 11 episode nabbing only 908,000 viewers.

    Muslim civil rights activist Dawud Walid, executive director of CAIR Michigan, said although “All-American Muslim” only aired for one season, it started a “dialogue and discussion” in certain segments of society about Muslims. “It’s unfortunate there was a coordinated campaign which led to backlash about the show,” Walid said. “I don’t know how much that campaign played a role in ratings or lack of ratings for the show.”

    Walid added that the “bigoted backlash” directed at the show highlights the need for such programming.

    Hardware chain Lowe’s, under pressure from conservative Christian group Florida Family Association, pulled its advertising in December. And there were less-than-glowing reviews, including one from an executive from the travel site Kayak.com, which also stopped advertising on the show, claiming TLC wasn’t upfront about the program‘s nature and said “the show sucked.”

    Despite low ratings and the national controversy that swirled around the series, “All-American Muslim” was a groundbreaking offering.

    “It saddens me that it isn’t being renewed,” says series participant Suehaila Amen. “But it did exactly what it intended to do. It highlighted the average lives of average people.”

    She said “All-American Muslim” changed the perceptions of some who harbored negative perceptions of Islam. “On my Facebook fan page, people would tell me how they once hated Muslims but the show helped to open their eyes. This was something that needed to be done.”

    Nina Bazzy-Aliahmad, who also appeared on the TLC program, agreed.

    “I feel blessed that I appeared on such a project,” she said. “I have no regrets. I met a lot of wonderful people from different religions and backgrounds that praised the show.”

    Activist Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said “All-American Muslim” brought a great deal of value to the small screen.

    “It was an interesting show that opened the eyes of many fellow Americans,” he said. “The show was not political at all. It was like any other reality show. But people made vicious attacks against the show simply because it mentioned Islam. There are people who are ultra-sensitive about anything connected to Islam.”

    Still, Hamad said TLC’s decision to cancel “All-American Muslim” seems like a business decision and not a victory for those who attacked the show. “TLC has the right to continue a show or not continue a show,” he said.

    While the eight-episode season run concluded in early January, the show is still on the air abroad, Amen said.

    “They are airing the show in the Middle East, in Lebanon now,” Amen said. “I had friends calling me. It is dubbed in Arabic. It has crossed geographical boundaries. Muslims are viewing it from all over the world.”

Synopsis of khutbah on recognizing privilege and empowering the marginalized

This past Friday, I gave the khutbah at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, a khutbah which is generally attended by Muslim congressional staffers, visitors from Muslim countries, who are guided by the US State Department and members of advocacy organizations, which serve the Muslim community.

I reminded those in attendance of the responsibility that comes with the privilege that they enjoy as having access to elected officials and policy makers as well as acting as spokespeople for the Muslim community to the broader public.  Moreover, I mentioned that this access is to be used not to simply amplify the thoughts and the concerns of the privileged, who have access to financial resources and wealth but to uplift the marginalized in our society.

I referenced that while in Al-Madinah, Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) was extremely attentive to the needs of those who were impoverished, most who were not from powerful Arab tribes.  In particular, he (SAAS) used to keep company with Ahl As-Suffah (People of the Veranda), who had little material resources and were homeless when they first moved to Al-Madinah.  Some of these included Salman Al-Farsi (RA), Bilal Al-Habashi (RA) and Suhayb Ar-Rumi (RA), who were non-Arab ex-slaves.  When those within the status quo refused to sit with Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) unless he (SAAS) left them to join their special gatherings, Allah (SWT) revealed in Al-Qur’an (18:25), “Keep yourself content [Oh Muhammad] with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening seeking His face…”

I mentioned two aspects of how Muslims with privilege should work to uplift the marginalized in society, the first of these is an internal process of establishing spiritually authentic empathy with the marginalized.  Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) said, “Love the poor and sit with them.”  In order to understand the plight of the disenfranchised, people with privilege must have authentic relationships including sitting with people in their environments instead of being aloof from their circumstances.  Such aloofness, even with the best intentions, leads those of higher economic backgrounds or those with access to power to impose their ideas on what the marginalized need, which can in fact cause more harm at times.

In regards to the second point, I elaborated that Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) amplified the voices of the marginalized by giving them accolades and giving them positions of influence, which were merited. One example mentioned was when Salman Al-Farsi (RA) provided the defense strategy when the enemies of Islam laid siege on Al-Madinah – Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) implemented Salman’s (RA) strategy and stated that “Salman is from us, the People of the House [Ahl Al-Bayt].” Other example mentioned was when Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) made Bilal Al-Habashi (RA), not only the first caller to prayer, but was also made him the first treasurer of the Muslim community in Al-Madinah.

In breaking down social as well as ethnic barriers within society, I also mentioned how Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) encouraged marriages that crossed social strata, which included the marriage of an Arab young lady from a Makkan area tribe with Bilal Al-Habashi (RA) and the marriage of Fatimah bint Qays (RA) to Usamah bin Zayd (RA), whose father and mother were ex-slaves.

May Allah (SWT) makes us of those who love and empathized with the marginalized, and may He (SWT) grant us wisdom to empower them and push them forward while having the humility to take a step back when appropriate.