Using a twisted version of Islam, the militant group Islamic State, or ISIS, has pushed online campaigns to attract youth to its bloody crusade in Syria and Iraq. Now a group of British imams and scholars is looking to “reclaim the Internet” with a new magazine aimed at shifting the conversation and spreading a message of truth.
Haqiqah, meaning “the truth” or “the reality” in Arabic, is a digital magazine created by Islamic scholars with the purpose of educating young people about the realities of extremism, according to its backers at Imams Online. The goal, they say, is to “drown out” the voices perpetuating violence.
“Someone has to reclaim that territory from ISIS, and that can only be imams: religious leaders who guide and nourish their community,” Qari Asim, senior editor at Imams Online, told the BBC. “But now that we live in a digital mobile world, some young people are not coming to the mosque so we must reach out to them -– and this is the Muslims’ contribution to combat radicalization on the net.”
The first issue of Haqiqah calls ISIS an “empty banner” and states that “interspersing the occasional out of context Qur’anic verse with hyperbolic arguments” doesn’t equate to legitimacy. This misconstruction, the magazine argues, is not Islam.
They are individuals who study Islam from a superficial point of view and emerge with their own ideas and imaginary interpretations, which often diverge greatly from established Islamic principles. We can see that many of the characteristics found in these young men and women are similar to those identified as the Khawarij (Extremist/Dissenters) by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). They have no grounding in Islamic sciences or jurisprudence and yet want to establish an ‘Islamic state’/‘Islamic System’. In the pursuit of their illintended aim, they are prepared to bulldoze the fundamental teachings of Islam.
Those in the wider Muslim community are optimistic about the effect a publication like Haqiqah can have.
“If this is part of community-led initiatives to counter ISIS, then it is exactly what’s needed,” Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, told The Huffington Post in an email Friday. “Governments and their military forces cannot bomb away ideas of violent extremism. Authentic and credible community voices can wash away the filth from the cult of death, bring the the light of life to lost souls, hoping to rehabilitate them so they don’t destroy themselves and their families.”
On April 3, 2015, one American Muslim will attempt to become the first person to call the athan in all fifty states.
Called “Project Muaddhin” is the history making journey by Jameel Syed from Michigan. He intends to share the beauty of Islam, stopping to collect stories in each state, making the Adhan and delivering the Last Sermon of the Prophet Sallallahu ‘alyhi wa sallam at each stop.
“I made my intention to become the first Muaddhin (Caller of the Adhan) in history to make the Adhan in all fifty states across America. It’ll be a journey that gives the international Muslim community the opportunity to dictate the terms of their own narrative across the world. Instead of reacting to headlines, they’ll be creating their own by building a positive story around the community,” said Syed.
Starting from Farmington Hills, MI, Syed will stop and the ADAMS Center in Sterling, VA and Islamic Community Center of Laurel in Maryland on Friday, April 10, 2015. The Grand Canyon and Harry Potter World are also on the schedule.
This very American tradition of driving across the United States will be a world record, but for Syed it is also a spiritual journey to gain the pleasure of Allah.
“Through travel we get to know God better, it’s that simple. I have had some of my most spiritual moments staring out across a mountain range, a desert, lake, or even just humanity going about its daily existence,” says Syed. “Travel makes the familiar unfamiliar to us and in doing so we come to better appreciate God’s creation. Throughout the Qur’an verses ask man to reflect on what has been created on earth and in the heavens – what better way to do that than through travel?”
“I want to be a part of the legacy,” he said on his choice of reading the universal Farewell Sermon, which he says is the antidote to the many ills of society. It is a simple solution to a complex problem, said Syed. Project Muaddhin will also collect adhans of different muaddhins from each state and compile the journey into a documentary.
It’s a matter of telling our own stories, said Dr Malik Bella, Director of Islamic Studies at Oakland University, while endorsing Project Muaddhin. “The adhan- this message of Islam is for all people.”
Every home should have a designated muaddhin, recommends Syed, who wants to give this position the honor that it deserves. Many muaddins are the unsung heroes of their communities.
A father and committed husband, he will leave his family behind to travel the country telling the stories of American Muslims. Syed is a marketing professional, a youth leader, and was the official muaddhin for the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in 2014. He credits his Islamic schoolteacher at the Michigan Islamic School, Isa Abdul Baseer, for taking him as a personal mission and taming his youthful hyperactivity. Baseer, who is active in the jamaat at-tabligh movement, taught him the benefits of calling people to worship.
His father, the late Dr Salam Abdus Syed who passed away in 2004, also inspires Syed.
The project is looking for 35 families to sponsor each day of their historic journey. For $500, families can choose a cause of their choice to be highlighted during the trip and on social media. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org and to follow the journey, go to Facebook.com/muaddhin or on Twitter/Instagram: @themuaddhin .
I was born Lew Alcindor. Now I’m Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The transition from Lew to Kareem was not merely a change in celebrity brand name — like Sean Combs to Puff Daddy to Diddy to P. Diddy — but a transformation of heart, mind and soul. I used to be Lew Alcindor, the pale reflection of what white America expected of me. Now I’m Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the manifestation of my African history, culture and beliefs.
For most people, converting from one religion to another is a private matter requiring intense scrutiny of one’s conscience. But when you’re famous, it becomes a public spectacle for one and all to debate. And when you convert to an unfamiliar or unpopular religion, it invites criticism of one’s intelligence, patriotism and sanity. I should know. Even though I became a Muslim more than 40 years ago, I’m still defending that choice.
Unease with celebrity
I was introduced to Islam while I was a freshman at UCLA. Although I had already achieved a certain degree of national fame as a basketball player, I tried hard to keep my personal life private. Celebrity made me nervous and uncomfortable. I was still young, so I couldn’t really articulate why I felt so shy of the spotlight. Over the next few years, I started to understand it better.
Part of my restraint was the feeling that the person the public was celebrating wasn’t the real me. Not only did I have the usual teenage angst of becoming a man, but I was also playing for one of the best college basketball teams in the country and trying to maintain my studies. Add to that the weight of being black in America in 1966 and ’67, when James Meredith was ambushed while marching through Mississippi, the Black Panther Party was founded, Thurgood Marshall was appointed as the first African-American Supreme Court Justice and a race riot in Detroit left 43 dead, 1,189 injured and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed.
I came to realize that the Lew Alcindor everyone was cheering wasn’t really the person they imagined. They wanted me to be the clean-cut example of racial equality. The poster boy for how anybody from any background — regardless of race, religion or economic standing — could achieve the American dream. To them, I was the living proof that racism was a myth.
I knew better. Being 7-foot-2 and athletic got me there, not a level playing field of equal opportunity. But I was also fighting a strict upbringing of trying to please those in authority. My father was a cop with a set of rules, I attended a Catholic school with priests and nuns with more rules, and I played basketball for coaches who had even more rules. Rebellion was not an option.
Still, I was discontented. Growing up in the 1960s, I wasn’t exposed to many black role models. I admired Martin Luther King Jr. for his selfless courage and Shaft for kicking ass and getting the girl. Otherwise, the white public’s consensus seemed to be that blacks weren’t much good. They were either needy downtrodden folks who required white people’s help to get the rights they were due or radical troublemakers wanting to take away white homes and jobs and daughters. The “good ones” were happy entertainers, either in show business or sports, who were expected to show gratitude for their good fortune. I knew this reality was somehow wrong — that something had to change. I just didn’t know what it meant for me.
Much of my early awakening came from reading “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” as a freshman. I was riveted by Malcolm’s story of how he came to realize that he was the victim of institutional racism that had imprisoned him long before he landed in an actual prison. That’s exactly how I felt: imprisoned by an image of who I was supposed to be. The first thing he did was push aside the Baptist religion that his parents had brought him up in and study Islam. To him, Christianity was a foundation of the white culture responsible for enslaving blacks and supporting the racism that permeated society. His family was attacked by the Christianity-spouting Ku Klux Klan, and his home was burned by the KKK splinter group the Black Legion.
Malcolm X’s transformation from petty criminal to political leader inspired me to look more closely at my upbringing and forced me to think more deeply about my identity. Islam helped him find his true self and gave him the strength not only to face hostility from both blacks and whites but also to fight for social justice. I began to study the Quran.
Conviction and defiance
This decision set me on an irreversible course to spiritual fulfillment. But it definitely wasn’t a smooth course. I made serious mistakes along the way. Then again, maybe the path isn’t supposed to be smooth; maybe it’s supposed to be filled with obstacles and detours and false discoveries in order to challenge and hone one’s beliefs. As Malcolm X said, “I guess a man’s entitled to make a fool of himself if he’s ready to pay the cost.”
I paid the cost.
As I said earlier, I was brought up to respect rules — and especially those who enforced the rules, such as teachers, preachers and coaches. I’d always been an exceptional student, so when I wanted to know more about Islam, I found a teacher in Hammas
Abdul-Khaalis. During my years playing with the Milwaukee Bucks, Hammas’ version of Islam was a joyous revelation. Then in 1971, when I was 24, I converted to Islam and became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (meaning “the noble one, servant of the Almighty”).
The question I’m often asked is why I had to pick a religion so foreign to American culture and a name that was hard for people to pronounce. Some fans took it very personally, as if I had firebombed their church while tearing up an American flag. Actually, I was rejecting the religion that was foreign to my American culture and embracing one that was part of my black African heritage. (An estimated 15 to 30 percent of slaves brought from Africa were Muslims.) Fans thought I joined the Nation of Islam, an American Islamic movement founded in Detroit in 1930. Although I was greatly influenced by Malcolm X, a leader in the Nation of Islam, I chose not to join because I wanted to focus more on the spiritual rather than political aspects. Eventually, Malcolm rejected the group right before three of its members assassinated him.
My parents were not pleased by my conversion. Though they weren’t strict Catholics, they had raised me to believe in Christianity as the gospel. But the more I studied history, the more disillusioned I became with the role of Christianity in subjugating my people. I knew, of course, that the Second Vatican Council in 1965 declared slavery an “infamy” that dishonored God and was a poison to society. But for me, it was too little, too late. The failure of the church to use its might and influence to stop slavery and instead to justify it as somehow connected to original sin made me angry. Papal bulls (e.g., “Dum Diversas” and “Romanus Pontifex”) condoned enslaving native people and stealing their lands.
And while I realize that many Christians risked their lives and families to fight slavery and that it would not have been ended without them, I found it hard to align myself with the cultural institutions that had turned a blind eye to such outrageous behavior in direct violation of their most sacred beliefs.
The adoption of a new name was an extension of my rejection of all things in my life that related to the enslavement of my family and people. Alcindor was a French planter in the West Indies who owned my ancestors. My forebears were Yoruba people, from present day Nigeria. Keeping the name of my family’s slave master seemed somehow to dishonor them. His name felt like a branded scar of shame.
My devotion to Islam was absolute. I even agreed to marry a woman whom Hammas suggested for me, despite my strong feelings for another woman. Ever the team player, I did as “Coach” Hammas recommended. I also followed his advice not to invite my parents to the wedding — a mistake that took me more than a decade to rectify. Although I had my doubts about some of Hammas’ instruction, I rationalized them away because of the great spiritual fulfillment I was experiencing.
But my independent spirit finally emerged. Not content to receive all my religious knowledge from one man, I pursued my own studies. I soon found that I disagreed with some of Hammas’ teachings about the Quran, and we parted ways. In 1973, I traveled to Libya and Saudi Arabia to learn enough Arabic to study the Quran on my own. I emerged from this pilgrimage with my beliefs clarified and my faith renewed.
From that year to this, I have never wavered or regretted my decision to convert to Islam. When I look back, I wish I could have done it in a more private way, without all the publicity and fuss that followed. But at the time I was adding my voice to the civil rights movement by denouncing the legacy of slavery and the religious institutions that had supported it. That made it more political than I had intended and distracted from what was, for me, a much more personal journey.
Many people are born into their religion. For them it is mostly a matter of legacy and convenience. Their belief is based on faith, not just in the teachings of the religion but also in the acceptance of that religion from their family and culture. For the person who converts, it is a matter of fierce conviction and defiance. Our belief is based on a combination of faith and logic because we need a powerful reason to abandon the traditions of our families and community to embrace beliefs foreign to both. Conversion is a risky business because it can result in losing family, friends and community support.
Some fans still call me Lew, then seem annoyed when I ignore them. They don’t understand that their lack of respect for my spiritual choice is insulting. It’s as if they see me as a toy action figure, existing solely to decorate their world as they see fit, rather than as an individual with his own life.
Kermit the Frog famously complained, “It’s not easy being green.” Try being Muslim in America. According to a Pew Research Center poll on attitudes about major religious groups, the U.S. public has the least regard for Muslims — slightly less than it has for atheists — even though Islam is the third-largest faith in America. The acts of aggression, terrorism and inhumanity committed by those claiming to be Muslims have made the rest of the world afraid of us. Without really knowing the peaceful practices of most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, they see only the worst examples. Part of my conversion to Islam is accepting the responsibility to teach others about my religion, not to convert them but to co-exist with them through mutual respect, support and peace. One world does not have to mean one religion, just one belief in living in peace.
This may not be a reign of terror, but it damn sure is a reign of unaccountable authoritarian power
Dear Ferguson — While clearing out his office, Attorney General Eric Holder found something that belongs to you. If you don’t mind, he’d like to hand you your ass.
Among the findings, reviewed by CNN: from 2012 to 2014, 85% of people subject to vehicle stops by Ferguson police were African-American; 90% of those who received citations were black; and 93% of people arrested were black. This while 67% of the Ferguson population is black. In 88% of the cases in which the Ferguson police reported using force, it was against African-Americans. During the period 2012-2014 black drivers were twice as likely as white drivers to be searched during traffic stops, but 26% less likely to be found in possession of contraband. Blacks were disproportionately more likely to be cited for minor infractions: 95% of tickets for “manner of walking in roadway,” essentially jaywalking, were against African-Americans. Also, 94% of all “failure to comply” charges were filed against black people.
I remember thinking, back when Mark Fuhrman helped blow up the O.J. trial, that if you allow racist goons to populate your police force, sooner or later, you’re going to bust somebody who’s rich enough to afford a lawyer to ensure that this practice bites you in a big way. The Fuhrman Reckoning has come to Ferguson. Which ought to surprise approximately nobody.
The investigators found evidence of racist jokes being sent around by Ferguson police and court officials. One November 2008 email read in part that President Barack Obama wouldn’t likely be President for long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.” Another joke that made the rounds on Ferguson government email in May 2011 said: “An African American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $3,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said: ‘Crimestoppers.'”
Let’s leave aside for a moment the obvious racial profiling inherent in these findings, the statistics on traffic-stop searches, for example. Imagine, for a moment, your daily life. Do you jaywalk? Do you walk in the street? Ever? Imagine that, two or three times a week, an armed police officer decides to involve himself in your life just because you jaywalk, or because you’re walking in the street. Imagine this happening, over and over again, for a decade. Or two. Or five. Imagine that the simple act of asking, “What’s the problem, officer?” is 94 percent more likely to wind up with you in handcuffs in the back of a patrol car. Imagine that the simple act of then asking, “Can you tell me what the problem is, officer?” is 88 percent more likely to get your head cracked, or worse? Imagine this happening in front of your kids, three or four times. Imagine this happening in front of your mother, your preacher, your girlfriend, your wife. Is this a life? Are you free? This may not be a reign of terror, but it damn sure is a reign of unaccountable authoritarian power.
Of course, there are the voices explaining that the facts in the Justice Department’s report are not About Race, because it’s never About Race.
“This is not the full report, and we need to be careful not to rush to judgment as we saw
in August,” said Jeff Roorda, a former Missouri state representative and a spokesman for the St. Louis Police Officers Association. “We owe it, not just to law enforcement, but to Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner to figure out what’s really going on here so it can be addressed,” he said, referring to others killed by police officers in Cleveland and New York. “Reaching conclusions from statistics about traffic stops I don’t think draws the whole picture.”
Yeah, that’s the same Roorda who became famous as Darren Wilson’s most conspicuous knight errant after Wilson shot Michael Brown to death last summer. He’s a real sweetheart. And he has his own problems right now. But he’s not alone. Over at Breitbart’s Mausoleum For Sad Unemployables, they got a quote off Fox News out of extremely credible Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.
Eric Holder is using traffic stops, Megyn, simply because he can exploit that data. That’s the first thing that race hustlers jump to, is looking at traffic stops to make some sort of determination that some sort of racial impropriety’s going on here. If you’re a cop and you’re working in an area that is predominantly black, most of your field interview stops, most of your police contacts, your calls for service, and most of your traffic stops are going to involve black individuals. Officers don’t target, they don’t racially profile, they criminally profile.”
And the Wall Street Journal‘s Jason Riley stops by to explain that Holder wants to hamstring honest cops who are just trying to do the right thing, and maybe make Al Sharpton some money, and to placate the angry black people of the NAACP who can’t understand that black people who encounter Ferguson’s men in blue are 88 percent more likely to deserve to be roughed up. He calls on an expert on how things are never About Race for some learned counsel.
“This is about expanding federal power in the police departments,” said Hans von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department attorney, in an interview. “The lawyers at Justice believe they are the ones who should be promulgating national standards of how cops should behave. And police departments are so afraid of bad publicity that they agree to settle the case with all kinds of rules that Justice wants to impose.”
Mr. von Spakovsky’s usual field of expertise in how things are never About Race concerns his expertise in developing voter-suppression techniques to suit the new Jim Crow in conjunction with John Roberts’ declaration of the Day Of Jubilee. Maybe Hans is branching out into criminal justice. In any case, “former Justice Department attorney” hardly suffices as a description of his career in the burgeoning field of how things are never About Race.
And, inevitably, there is the longtime white-supremacist journal, National Review, the pioneer in explaining how things are never About Race, not even racism.
The New York Times also notes that black drivers in Ferguson were twice as likely to be searched, even though searches of white drivers were more likely to turn up contraband. Again, such a statistic is meaningless unless one knows the underlying rate at which black and white drivers had outstanding warrants – which will trigger a search – and what their behavior was upon being stopped.
Black people are basically de facto criminals, and the police are simply doing the best they can. And, dammit, that joke about abortions being Crimestoppers is funny, amirite?
There is a growing industry in explaining to America how nothing ever is About Race. People get wealthy doing it. People get famous doing it. There are entire news channels and publications dedicating a great deal of time and effort in proving the case that it’s never About Race. And, somewhere in the country, someone is crossing against the light, and the odds that this person will wind up dead on the street are not anywhere near equal. If that’s not About Race, then it’s about an ungovernable country.
Invited by the US congress to speak and influence American policy no less, Netanyahu is enjoying the right to free speech and possibly usurp American foreign policy but his own country is not broadcasting the speech Americans will hear without a FIVE minute delay and after removing all references to campaigning in order to “keep the address from influencing the upcoming election”. (That also happens to be one of the reasons why Obama refused to meet with Netanyahu during this visit; it appears Obama is more Israeli than Bibi) But that’s hardly the reason why Netanyahu is receiving resistance from his own country towards his speech and visit here….it probably has more to do with the fact even his own citizens can’t stomach the lies he’s telling to a very gullible US congress and Main Stream Media.
When the Israeli prime minister argues that his speech will stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, he is not only misleading Israel, he is strengthening Iran, Amnon Reshef, former head of the army’s armored corps, said at a news conference Sunday.
It’s pathetic how the bully always gets to make himself out to be the victim. In the case of the city of Cleveland it tried that tactic but it didn’t work. After killing 12 year old Tamer Rice Cleveland in an effort to defend itself against an impending lawsuit went on the offensive claiming “that Rice and his family bear responsibility for any damages, injuries, and losses that resulted from the boy’s shooting death at the hands of the police.” It didn’t seem to matter to Cleveland that Rice was killed by an officer, Tim Loehmann who was unable, demonstrably so, to carry out the duties in his previous department that notations to that effect were entered into his personnel record. The city of Cleveland either failed to check or ignored Loehmann’s previous employment and let the inept officer represent Cleveland on its streets. The city had to deflect that disaster but pointing fingers at a 12 year old boy.
Thankfully, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson realized what a mistake that was and promptly apologized, saying “This is not the character or personality of the city of Cleveland to be that insensitive to the family or even the victim”. Sadly there are still too many people who think that black boys/men are by the nature of their being black responsible for their deaths at the hands of police. Mike Brown, unarmed and 18 years old took an intimidating stance towards Darren Wilson and was shot at a considerable distance away; Eric Garner was assaulted by several police and was strangled to death and now Rice who a police union official said was a 12 year old in an adult body was shot one time within seconds after encountering police. This tactic seems to work in today’s America. Glad to see someone in Cleveland thinks it’s not appropriate and I hope a jury will see that too.
But I’m not encouraged by this bit of news coming from Arizona where a police officer who slammed a university professor on the ground because she didn’t react quickly enough to his demands resigned. His resignation comes after his employer placed him on administrative leave while it looked into whether he acted according to policy. Arizona State University intimated there were other behaviors or inappropriate conduct it was investigating regarding the officer. It’s not clear but some reports say termination proceedings were in the works for him. What’s troublesome is officer Stewart Ferrin’s statement he
resigned because of “great financial stress and emotional anguish….(t)he lack of support, cooperation, and downright bias, coupled with an agenda to ruin my career, has become unbearable and I will not subject my family to this any longer”. Ferrin certainly got support from members of the law enforcement community which said it was ‘concerned there’s a bias against the officer and the officer was pretty much tried and convicted’; but once again there’s the claim by a person in power that he was victimized by the woman he assaulted and arrested and to many it’s a plausible excuse. A brief summary of this case
How unfortunate it is that people in power can so easily appear powerless to so many Americans. Police are not victims and by the way the latest regarding police brutality comes from LosAngeles. “He’s got a gun”, “Drop the gun” or some variation of that is probably a part of police training these days; shout that in an effort to justify use of force will be enough to make up for the absence of a firearm to some.
North Carolina state government is run solely by Republicans, known for being the party of family values and tough on crime. Today it is neither, instead if you’ve got business you want to conduct and need the help of the Republican controlled government you can hire call girls to convince the State’s legislators to do your bidding. The opinion of the State’s “Ethics Committee has just opened up a major problem for their state — they just made it legal for lobbying firms to purchase prostitutes to service politicians.” In a ruling that’s just as bad as the Citizen’s United case decided on by the US Supreme Court which gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited sums on ads and other ‘political tools’ to defeat or promote individual candidates or policy. Legally armed it seems the Republican party will go to any lengths to pursue it’s agenda even when the means are totally against the Party’s claims of standing for moral, traditional values. That shouldn’t come as any surprise, politicians in general and Republican governors in states bordering North Carolina have come under recent scrutiny for unethical, sometimes illegal behavior. (I’m speaking of Bob McDonnell in Virginia and South Carolina’s Mark Sanford) What’s even depressing is that it seems given the chance the electorate prefers morally corrupt Republican officials to sanitized Democratic policy…….NOT GOOD.
The good news coming out of North Carolina is the prosecutor’s office handling the murders of three young American Muslims has said it will seek the death penalty against Craig Hicks who had confessed to the crimes. There is no doubt he did it; he turned himself in immediately after killing his victims and it was clearly a capital murder case which the prosecutor confirmed with this decision. There are still those who claim this was about a neighborly dispute, i.e. parking and that insistence might strengthen the DA’s case for seeking the death penalty judging on what has been found in Hicks’ possession;
A search of Hicks’ computers showed he kept pictures and notes on parking activity in the lots around his condo, police said in the warrants.
which would surely prove intent and premeditation but it’s also equally clear from
Hicks’ own Facebook posts he hated religion and or religious expression. The clearest manifestation of religion, indeed the in-your-faceness of the Muslim women who wore hijab were his Muslim neighbors who he killed. Hats off to the Durham county district attorney. North Carolina trends towards a conservatism stronger than the Nation’s and with the current Islamophobia prevalent on the national stage whether the DA can prosecute towards a death penalty will depend on the judge accepting his evidence for such a ruling. Stay tuned; it ain’t over yet.