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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

NASIHA (For Muslims in America): On The Challenges of this Age

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The Challenges of this Age

Assalaamu Alaikum (Greetings of Peace):

The imminent Muslim leader and grassroots intellectual El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) was
known to say, “The media is very powerful. The media has the power to make a guilty person look innocent, and the innocent person look guilty.”
Our “Black Shining Prince,” as the socially committed artist extraodinaire Ossie Davis referred to Malcolm after his death, was not the first independent thinker to publicly upbraid the media apparatus in the West for the periodic misuse of its power, and its ability to distort the truth. Listen to what George Orwell had to say in his celebrated work titled, ‘Homage to Catalonia.’
“Early in life I noticed that no event is correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship that is implied in an ordinary lie. I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed…and I saw newspapers in London retailing these lies, and eager intellectuals building emotional superstructures over events that had never happened. I saw, in fact, history being written not in terms of what happened, but of whatought to have happened according to various party lines.”

The noble Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) is reported to have said, “One of the best jihads is to speak truth to a [governing authority] that has deviated from the right way.” Properly understood, this moral mandate encompasses both the governing authority and the powerful (behind the scenes) opinion shaping apparatus that assists, sometimes encourages, the governing authority in its deviation from the moral dictates of truth and justice.
One of the biggest failings of Muslim leaders (and other faith-based leaders) in the present age is the failure to lead – the failure to be that desperately needed moral compass in today’s world! Muslim leaders today are content with being well polished, well spoken, good looking reactionaries (more politician than faith leader) – within an empire acceptable framework! One of the most glaring examples of this unsavory reality is the fiasco that just took place at the White House in Washington, DC.
At the three-day, highly touted CVE (Countering Violent Extremism) Conference, Muslim leaders appeared to serve as little more than attractive window dressing - a visual showcase that offered the illusion of inclusion – while the issues that shouldhave been prominently on the table for discussion were either absent or peripheral to the conversation at best.
Meanwhile, the overall premise for the three-day synod was blatantly false (i.e. that elements within the Muslim community represent the greatest violent threat to the US and western civilization). As such, this agreed upon framework, and its proposed outcomes, ended up presenting a greater threat to the very interests (i.e. constituency) that these “Muslim leaders” were ostensibly there to represent! One is left with the painful impression that the leaders who attended the synod, generally speaking, were just damn happy to be there!
The bottom line is: We – Muslims in America and our embarrassingly fractured and faith-deficient “leadership” - have got to do better than this! We cannot afford to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over, again and again. There is too much at stake. Toward this end we, in partnership with (not led by, but in partnership with) sincere non-Muslim friends and activists, must set our own independent agenda.

That agenda must include the following:
1.      A willingness to aggressively and consistently challenge offending media (individuals and organizations) andoffending politicians, along with their respective supporters and handlers, on the false narrative represented by the so-called violent/extremist/Muslim threat!
2.      The FACTS on who is committing the bulk of extreme violence (aka, domestic terrorism) in America, and demand that the media report the facts as they are – and not as they would like for them to be “according to various party lines.”
3.      The FACTS on which community has been bearing the brunt of hate crimes in America. The recent murders of Deah, Yusor and Razan in Chapel Hill, North Carolina should prominently remain front and center in this ongoing fact-based public debate!
4.      An aggressive, community-wide campaign for the freedom of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. (March 2015 will mark 12 years of unjust, torturous imprisonment for this innocent Muslim woman. Meanwhile, Muslims leaders in America,generally speaking, have continued to shamefully fail to measure up to the challenge and danger that this precedent-setting political imprisonment has come to represent!)
5.      An aggressive campaign to draw attention to the [predominantly young male] Muslims who have been given sentences involving DECADES of imprisonment for aspirational offenses, which more often than not involved a government paid informant/agent-provocateur leading and encouraging the so-called “conspiracy” that never materialized! These cases must be re-visited for redress sooner rather than later. For in any truly just society THE PUNISHMENT MUST FIT THE CRIME!
6.      A willingness (through faith) to muster the courage to CHALLENGE OPPRESSION and NOT SIMPLY BE A RUBBER STAMP for what the government wants to do – or say; nor to be silent when that silence constitutes betrayal!
7.      In short, we must demonstrate with our actions the willingness and loving capacity to HAVE FAITH IN OUR FAITH!
(This is especially important for the most impressionable and vulnerable among us, who need to see and be inspired by such examples the most!)

On a final note, I am forwarding a well written piece of commentary (below) by one of our young sisters in South Africa. It was forwarded to me after a recent interview that I did with one of South Africa’s Muslim owned and operated broadcast networks (CII); it provides some valuable insight into how we in America are being viewed abroad.

May ALLAH guide and fortify us in the struggle ahead. Ameen!
El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan
Jumada Al-Awwal 1436 A.H.


Wrong time to be Muslims in America

Posted On 17 Feb 2015
On February the 11, 3 US Muslims were gunned down in cold, Islamophobic outrage by a white terrorist. Where was the mainstream media coverage? It is an absolute shame that the same media houses who were fervently reporting the Charlie Hebdo attacks just a couple of weeks ago, claiming to be heroes of all kinds of freedoms and democracy, were absolutely silent when Muslims were on the other end of the gun.
An outspoken white atheist, Craig Stephen Hicks, murdered three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. More than 10 hours after the murders, when some news outlets decided to cover the story, it was reported that police had said the crime may have grown out of a dispute over “parking”. Yusor Mohammad, Deah Barakat and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were not killed execution style over a parking lot. Their father, Abu-Salha, reports what his daughter Yusor (who wears a headscarf) had said regarding Hicks just a week before he put a bullet in each of their heads: “Honest to God, he hates us for what we are and how we look.” The youngsters had told their families that they had a “hateful neighbour” who would talk to them with “his gun in his belt”. We do know, without a doubt, that had Hicks been a Muslim and his victims atheists, none would be waiting for all the facts to come in before declaring him a terrorist. There would be the usual calls for other Muslims to condemn the killings. Violence perpetrated by Muslims is always seen as part of a global terrorism, whereas white men like Hicks are usually seen as isolated psychopaths.
But how true is this? Hicks fits the profile of the most common type of American terrorist- a white man with a weapon and a grudge. How many of us know that more than 90% of mass shootings in the US are committed by white men between the ages of 15 and 46. According to the latest FBI statistics, there were more than 160 anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2013. Mosques and Islamic centers have been firebombed and vandalized; seven mosques were attacked during Ramadan alone in 2012.
Alia Ansari, a 37 year old mother of 6, was shot point blank in the head in what was revealed to have religious hate behind the motive of her killing. Another young victim of Islamophobia, 15 year old Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein was killed by a deliberate hit and run for being Muslim in December last year. These, just like the murders of Yusor, her husband, Deah, and her sister, Razan will never make our headlines, nor will we see world leaders mobilise themselves within hours to safeguard the freedom to religion and life.
Loss of life is always regrettable. But there are no separate standards for different people. When 3 Muslim students who, evident from their social networking sites were committed to humanitarian work and only ever having a good word to say, are murdered in cold blood the very least I’d like to see is some news coverage. Ideally, I want to see protests. I want to see marches. I want to see the same outrage expressed in France. Because Muslim lives matter too.
To quote Stephen Lendman: “Post 9/11, Muslims were targeted for political advantage. Post-Boston Bombings, America’s war on Islam continues. Muslims are ‘war on terror’ scapegoats. It is the wrong time to be Muslims in America. They are persecuted for their faith and ethnicity. At times it is for the activism, prominence, and/or charity”.
About the Author
Aayesha J. Soni is a medical student at Wits University and the Vice Chairperson of MRN. She is committed to fighting injustice across a broad spectrum. Aayesha’s pieces have been published in leading newspapers, including The Star, Natal Witness, News24 and Palestine Chronicle.

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