American diversity


2nd largest religionIf you ever needed proof of the ethnic and religious diversity of America….and perhaps something that scares the pants off of many who maintain their privilege you need look no further than this map provided by the Washington Post.

Christianity is by far the largest religion in the United States; more than three-quarters of Americans identify as Christians. A little more than half of us identify as Protestants, about 23 percent as Catholic and about  2 percent as Mormon.

But what about the rest of us? In the Western U.S., Buddhists represent the largest non-Christian religious bloc in most states. In 20 states, mostly in the Midwest and South, Islam is the largest non-Christian faith tradition. And in 15 states, mostly in the Northeast, Judaism has the most followers after Christianity. Hindus come in second place in Arizona and Delaware, and there are more practitioners of the Baha’i faith in South Carolina than anyone else.

So, What did the Muslims do for the Jews?


according to David J. Wasserstein, plenty in an essay he wrote for of all things, The Jewish Chronicle OnLine

Jewish subjects of the Ottoman Empire, sevente...
Jewish subjects of the Ottoman Empire, seventeenth century. From the 1901-1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, now in the public domain. Category:Jewish Encyclopedia images (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Islam saved Jewry. This is an unpopular, discomforting claim in the modern world. But it is a historical truth. The argument for it is double. First, in 570 CE, when the Prophet Mohammad was born, the Jews and Judaism were on the way to oblivion. And second, the coming of Islam saved them, providing a new context in which they not only survived, but flourished, laying foundations for subsequent Jewish cultural prosperity – also in Christendom – through the medieval period into the modern world.

By the fourth century, Christianity had become the dominant religion in the Roman empire. One aspect of this success was opposition to rival faiths, including Judaism, along with massive conversion of members of such faiths, sometimes by force, to Christianity. Much of our testimony about Jewish existence in the Roman empire from this time on consists of accounts of conversions.

Great and permanent reductions in numbers through conversion, between the fourth and the seventh centuries, brought with them a gradual but relentless whittling away of the status, rights, social and economic existence, and religious and cultural life of Jews all over the Roman empire.

A long series of enactments deprived Jewish people of their rights as citizens, prevented them from fulfilling their religious obligations, and excluded them from the society of their fellows.

This went along with the centuries-long military and political struggle with Persia. As a tiny element in the Christian world, the Jews should not have been affected much by this broad, political issue. Yet it affected them critically, because the Persian empire at this time included Babylon – now Iraq – at the time home to the world’s greatest concentration of Jews.

Here also were the greatest centres of Jewish intellectual life. The most important single work of Jewish cultural creativity in over 3,000 years, apart from the Bible itself – the Talmud – came into being in Babylon. The struggle between Persia and Byzantium, in our period, led increasingly to a separation between Jews under Byzantine, Christian rule and Jews under Persian rule.

Beyond all this, the Jews who lived under Christian rule seemed to have lost the knowledge of their own culturally specific languages – Hebrew and Aramaic – and to have taken on the use of Latin or Greek or other non-Jewish, local, languages. This in turn must have meant that they also lost access to the central literary works of Jewish culture – the Torah, Mishnah, poetry, midrash, even liturgy.

The loss of the unifying force represented by language – and of the associated literature – was a major step towards assimilation and disappearance. In these circumstances, with contact with the one place where Jewish cultural life continued to prosper – Babylon – cut off by conflict with Persia, Jewish life in the Christian world of late antiquity was not simply a pale shadow of what it had been three or four centuries earlier. It was doomed.

Had Islam not come along, the conflict with Persia would have continued. The separation between western Judaism, that of Christendom, and Babylonian Judaism, that of Mesopotamia, would have intensified. Jewry in the west would have declined to disappearance in many areas. And Jewry in the east would have become just another oriental cult.

But this was all prevented by the rise of Islam. The Islamic conquests of the seventh century changed the world, and did so with dramatic, wide-ranging and permanent effect for the Jews.

Within a century of the death of Mohammad, in 632, Muslim armies had conquered almost the whole of the world where Jews lived, from Spain eastward across North Africa and the Middle East as far as the eastern frontier of Iran and beyond. Almost all the Jews in the world were now ruled by Islam. This new situation transformed Jewish existence. Their fortunes changed in legal, demographic, social, religious, political, geographical, economic, linguistic and cultural terms – all for the better.

First, things improved politically. Almost everywhere in Christendom where Jews had lived now formed part of the same political space as Babylon – Cordoba and Basra lay in the same political world. The old frontier between the vital centre in Babylonia and the Jews of the Mediterranean basin was swept away, forever.

Political change was partnered by change in the legal status of the Jewish population: although it is not always clear what happened during the Muslim conquests, one thing is certain. The result of the conquests was, by and large, to make the Jews second-class citizens.

This should not be misunderstood: to be a second-class citizen was a far better thing to be than not to be a citizen at all. For most of these Jews, second-class citizenship represented a major advance. In Visigothic Spain, for example, shortly before the Muslim conquest in 711, the Jews had seen their children removed from them and forcibly converted to Christianity and had themselves been enslaved.

In the developing Islamic societies of the classical and medieval periods, being a Jew meant belonging to a category defined under law, enjoying certain rights and protections, alongside various obligations. These rights and protections were not as extensive or as generous as those enjoyed by Muslims, and the obligations were greater but, for the first few centuries, the Muslims themselves were a minority, and the practical differences were not all that great.

Along with legal near-equality came social and economic equality. Jews were not confined to ghettos, either literally or in terms of economic activity. The societies of Islam were, in effect, open societies. In religious terms, too, Jews enjoyed virtually full freedom. They might not build many new synagogues – in theory – and they might not make too public their profession of their faith, but there was no really significant restriction on the practice of their religion. Along with internal legal autonomy, they also enjoyed formal representation, through leaders of their own, before the authorities of the state. Imperfect and often not quite as rosy as this might sound, it was at least the broad norm.

The political unity brought by the new Islamic world-empire did not last, but it created a vast Islamic world civilisation, similar to the older Christian civilisation that it replaced. Within this huge area, Jews lived and enjoyed broadly similar status and rights everywhere. They could move around, maintain contacts, and develop their identity as Jews. A great new expansion of trade from the ninth century onwards brought the Spanish Jews – like the Muslims – into touch with the Jews and the Muslims even of India.

A ll this was encouraged by a further, critical development. Huge numbers of people in the new world of Islam adopted the language of the Muslim Arabs. Arabic gradually became the principal language of this vast area, excluding almost all the rest: Greek and Syriac, Aramaic and Coptic and Latin all died out, replaced by Arabic. Persian, too, went into a long retreat, to reappear later heavily influenced by Arabic.

The Jews moved over to Arabic very rapidly. By the early 10th century, only 300 years after the conquests, Sa’adya Gaon was translating the Bible into Arabic. Bible translation is a massive task – it is not undertaken unless there is a need for it. By about the year 900, the Jews had largely abandoned other languages and taken on Arabic.

The change of language in its turn brought the Jews into direct contact with broader cultural developments. The result from the 10th century on was a striking pairing of two cultures. The Jews of the Islamic world developed an entirely new culture, which differed from their culture before Islam in terms of language, cultural forms, influences, and uses. Instead of being concerned primarily with religion, the new Jewish culture of the Islamic world, like that of its neighbours, mixed the religious and the secular to a high degree. The contrast, both with the past and with medieval Christian Europe, was enormous.

Like their neighbours, these Jews wrote in Arabic in part, and in a Jewish form of that language. The use of Arabic brought them close to the Arabs. But the use of a specific Jewish form of that language maintained the barriers between Jew and Muslim. The subjects that Jews wrote about, and the literary forms in which they wrote about them, were largely new ones, borrowed from the Muslims and developed in tandem with developments in Arabic Islam.

Also at this time, Hebrew was revived as a language of high literature, parallel to the use among the Muslims of a high form of Arabic for similar purposes. Along with its use for poetry and artistic prose, secular writing of all forms in Hebrew and in (Judeo-)Arabic came into being, some of it of high quality.

Much of the greatest poetry in Hebrew written since the Bible comes from this period. Sa’adya Gaon, Solomon Ibn Gabirol, Ibn Ezra (Moses and Abraham), Maimonides, Yehuda Halevi, Yehudah al-Harizi, Samuel ha-Nagid, and many more – all of these names, well known today, belong in the first rank of Jewish literary and cultural endeavour.

W here did these Jews produce all this? When did they and their neighbours achieve this symbiosis, this mode of living together? The Jews did it in a number of centres of excellence. The most outstanding of these was Islamic Spain, where there was a true Jewish Golden Age, alongside a wave of cultural achievement among the Muslim population. The Spanish case illustrates a more general pattern, too.

What happened in Islamic Spain – waves of Jewish cultural prosperity paralleling waves of cultural prosperity among the Muslims – exemplifies a larger pattern in Arab Islam. In Baghdad, between the ninth and the twelfth centuries; in Qayrawan (in north Africa), between the ninth and the 11th centuries; in Cairo, between the 10th and the 12th centuries, and elsewhere, the rise and fall of cultural centres of Islam tended to be reflected in the rise and fall of Jewish cultural activity in the same places.

This was not coincidence, and nor was it the product of particularly enlightened liberal patronage by Muslim rulers. It was the product of a number of deeper features of these societies, social and cultural, legal and economic, linguistic and political, which together enabled and indeed encouraged the Jews of the Islamic world to create a novel sub-culture within the high civilisation of the time.

This did not last for ever; the period of culturally successful symbiosis between Jew and Arab Muslim in the middle ages came to a close by about 1300. In reality, it had reached this point even earlier, with the overall relative decline in the importance and vitality of Arabic culture, both in relation to western European cultures and in relation to other cultural forms within Islam itself; Persian and Turkish.

Jewish cultural prosperity in the middle ages operated in large part as a function of Muslim, Arabic cultural (and to some degree political) prosperity: when Muslim Arabic culture thrived, so did that of the Jews; when Muslim Arabic culture declined, so did that of the Jews.

In the case of the Jews, however, the cultural capital thus created also served as the seed-bed of further growth elsewhere – in Christian Spain and in the Christian world more generally.

The Islamic world was not the only source of inspiration for the Jewish cultural revival that came later in Christian Europe, but it certainly was a major contributor to that development. Its significance cannot be overestimated.

From the people of humanity to the rest of humanity


It’s awe inspiring to see the oldest religious tradition known to man exert the universal principle that began with that tradition that we must love and honor one another.  That’s the message of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America which they have delivered juxtaposed with the hate spewed message of the Islamophobes that has recently graced New York City billboards.  I salute such people of faith and courage who are taking a clear stand against the trends of today’s America where  hate filled  drenched  intolerance for people different from the norm has become the order of the day.  It’s encouraging to see faith still matters to enough of us to speak out, and that there are people who are compelled by their faith into positive action for all of humanity.  To the Rabbis for Human Rights – North America, kudos!

A tale of two faith based communities


American Atheists president David Silverman, left, wanted to erect billboards in a predominantly Muslim worshipping neighborhood and a Jewish neighborhood proclaiming his belief that there is no God and challenging the faiths of those two religions.  The response of the two faiths was dramatically different and the story is really in how they reacted.

Silverman wanted to put up a billboard written in Hebrew and English questioning Judaism in Williamsburg’s Hasidic community, a community in New York City that read, “You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice,” but liberal New York and it’s traditionally liberal Jewish community would have none of it.  Attempts by the people who put up billboards were blocked by the owner of the building upon which the offending billboard would have been placed and that was just fine with some of the residents of the predominantly Jewish community.  Silverman a “former” Jew himself said he was surprised and shocked at the reception his plans received in the neighborhood…..but it was feigned indignation at best.  He knew, as a Jew what others in that community already know, ‘The name of god is very holy (to us and) to the whole world’ as it is with any religion.  Yet Silverman’s in your face approach to freedom of speech was denied among the residents of the area and even among some politicians.

‘(t)he content of the message is conveyed in a disrespectful manner…This does not appear to be a genuine attempt to engage in a dialogue, but is here merely to insult the beliefs of this community,

said one NYC councilman, and he’s right, but freedom of expression is something we’ve been led to believe exists even if that speech is offensive to some.  Not so, say the residents of Williamsburg and members of the Hasidic community who’ve let others talk for them.  Ok, fine.

Silverman did put up a billboard in Paterson, NJ, a block away from the Islamic Center of Passaic County the largest place of worship for Muslims in that area.  The sign written in Arabic and English says:

but it seems to have angered more Christians than Muslims.  Even the writer of the article calls the billboard a “provocation” which is how the Christians in the community perceived it.  The fact that Silverman waited across the street from the mosque, not the nearest church,  to gauge Muslim reaction to his billboard further underscores that perception.  However, there was no noticeable outrage on the part of those who prayed at the  mosque and saw the billboard; rather their response seemed to emphasize that time honored right of freedom of expression.

“It’s a knock on the door,” Abdul Hamid, 40, said as he crouched to get his shoes after noon-time prayer at the Islamic Center of Passaic County. “If they want to come and have an open dialogue with us that’s great.”

Anes Labsiri, a 39-year-old plumber, said he was happy people can question religion in public.

“Some people might see it as a bad thing. I think it’s a good thing. I love that you have this freedom in this country,” said Labsiri…….

After prayer, the imam, Mohammad Qatanani, came outside to talk with Silverman, who was hanging around the neighborhood to watch for reactions to the sign.

The two discussed religion and tolerance; humanity and God.

“We have to accept everyone — we are all from dust and become dust,” Qatanani said. “Right?”

Silverman nodded his head, but added, “Well, yes, we’re all from raw matter.”

Silverman wants to be contrary and incendiary, no doubt, but he was not able to get the kind of reaction from Muslims that everyone has come to expect.  Perhaps maybe the reason is because it is a manufactured reaction that has no basis in reality, at least as far as the Muslim community in America is concerned.  In fact, Silverman’s billboards got the kind of reaction we’ve come to expect from Muslims from Jews and Christians whose outrage at his disrespect for their religious beliefs bordered on censorship and fury.  There has been no call yet, on the part of Muslim leaders, to stop Silverman from putting up his billboard, even  in his in-your-face confrontational manner in Muslim communities unlike other religious groups who  have actively opposed Silverman’s billboards. Is this an example of Muslims practicing good citizenship?  No doubt.  Is it an example of Christians and Jews practicing good citizenship?  No doubt. Two different responses to the same provocation.  Which one do you find admirable?

 

Who is driving the anti-Shariah legislation in state legislatures


We’ve often spoke here about people whose views and opinions about their fellow Americans are so outdated and beyond the pale such dialogue belongs in the dust bin of American relics.  David Yerushalmi’s name needs to be added to the list.  He is one of the forces behind the emergence of this latest American phenomenon popping up in state legislatures across the country, called anti-Shariah legislation.  Yerushalmi and his minions have managed to frighten people in state governments into thinking their citizens want to “impose” Islamic law on others, the US Constitution notwithstanding, and therefore a clear and definite curtailment of the rights of Muslims to practice their religion is necessary to stop a threat that only exists in the minds of Yerushalmi, et.al.  The et.al who agree with this xenophobe is the Republican Party who has taken up the banner of Islamophobia in trying to enact this legislation.  If anyone has any misgivings about the GOP, they should dispel them now; it has gone over to the dark side and become the party of racists and war mongers.  How else can you account for them embracing someone as avidly racist as Yerushalmi.

this is a guy who endorses the principle that “Caucasians” are superior to blacks and that Jewish liberals are a cancer in the U.S. body politic.  The nearest Jewish “intellectual” antecedent I can determine would be Meir Kahane.  But Yerushalmi’s views are far more radical than Kahane’s.  The only difference is that Kahane embraced violence as a tool in his campaign against Arabs and anti-Semites.  The latter-day Jewish Islamophobe, an attorney, is far too slick for that.  He merely suggests that all non-citizen Muslims in the country be deported and many of the rest thrown in concentration camps. In Yerushalmi-world, any Muslim who espoused Sharia would earn him or herself a 20 year stay in the federal pen.

But there’s more

Stop the Madrassa leader David Yerushalmi also condemns democracy in the United States and, in comments that evoke classical anti-Semitic stereotypes, says he finds truth in the view that Jews “destroy their host nations like a fatal parasite.”

Yerushalmi, a national advisory board member, counsel and de facto treasurer for Stop the Madrassa, wrote regarding conservative criticism of Israel, Zionism and Jews: “Much of what drives it is true and accurate.” Conservatives’ primary “critique,” he said, “is that the Jews of the modern age are the most radical, aggressive and effective of the liberal Elite.”

“One must admit readily that the radical liberal Jew is a fact of the West and a destructive one,” he wrote. “Indeed, Jews in the main have turned their backs on the belief in G-d and His commandments as a book of laws for a particular and chosen people.”

In Israel, he said, other than the ultra-Orthodox, “Most Israelis are raging Leftists, and this includes the so-called nationalists who found a home in the ‘right-wing’ Likud political bloc or one of the other smaller and more marginal right wing parties.”

In Yerushalmi’s world, there is no room for dissent, even from his anti-semitic, fascist ramblings.  His  organization, Society of Americans for National Existence, SANE, declares, it  ‘is dedicated to the rejection of democracy and party rule and a return to a constitutional republic’.  You can read more about this darling of the Republican party who is more worthy of legal remedies to stop the spread of his anti-democracy message than even the strongest al-Qaida operative, here and here.  The fact that his ideas have found traction in todays America is both troubling and an indication of how backwards American politics have gone.

The impetus behind today’s Islamophobia


The misguided notion that the presence of Islam in the West is a threat to western values has been gaining a lot of traction lately. Its roots arise from a group of people who have attached themselves to a religious doctrine, Christian-Zionism that is completely at odds with itself, for on one hand it is driven by those who believe Jesus is the Savior of Mankind and by others who don’t share that belief at all. They have come together to form this unholy alliance against a group of people, Muslims, whose only objection to either of them is their military presence, which in many cases is an illegal presence, or their disrespect for their territorial sovereignty, in Muslim dominated countries.

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The ADL Defames its Jewish Heritage?


by Kamran Pasha

People often ask me what it is like being one of the first Muslims to succeed in Hollywood. There is always a hint of surprise in their tone, as if they never expected to meet a Muslim who has made strides in the entertainment industry. Because the real question they are asking is a more uncomfortable one: “How have you managed to succeed in a town filled with Jews?”

My response is one that usually takes them aback. I tell them that the only people who have helped me to succeed in Hollywood are Jews. It was Jewish studio executives who gave me my first writing breaks, and Jewish writers, directors and producers have served as my mentors and allies over the past decade. Without the help of Jews, this Muslim would still be writing scripts in a café somewhere, desperately hoping to find a way to break into Hollywood.

Others are surprised when I say that, but I am not. I grew up in Borough Park, a primarily Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, and most of my close friends over the course of my life have been Jews. Despite our often passionate disagreements about Middle Eastern politics, my Jewish friends and I always find common ground in our shared experience of being a religious minority in a predominantly Christian country.

Both American Jews and American Muslims know what it is like to feel out of place, to long for inclusion in a mainstream society that is often filled with ignorance and hate for our faiths. We know what it is like going to elementary school and being reviled by our classmates for not believing that Jesus is the Son of God. We know what it is like being mocked for having different customs at home, for celebrating holidays that our Christian neighbors have never heard of (and often can’t pronounce). We know what it is like to be preached to every day by neighbors trying to convert us and “save our souls.” We know what it is like to be told that our religion is inferior to Christianity by people who do not understand even the most basic tenets of our faiths (as well as their own).

Despite the real political differences that exist over Middle East policy between members of our communities, we have a common bond of being outsiders, of being the misunderstood “other” in a Christian world. And that common bond has always allowed me to transcend political differences with my Jewish friends and meet them on the field of shared loneliness that is the lot of those who are different.

And that is why it breaks my heart to watch a respected Jewish organization like the Anti-Defamation League fall into the abyss of anti-Muslim bigotry over the past several years. Many Americans, including many Jews, have expressed shock at the ADL’s recent announcement that it sides with bigots and fear-mongers who oppose the building of the Cordoba House Islamic center in southern Manhattan.

Regrettably, I am not surprised. The ADL, which was founded in 1913 as a powerful voice against religious discrimination in America, has over the past decade become increasingly xenophobic toward the Muslim community, which its leaders seem to view as a threat to Jews due to its lack of support for Israel. As a Christian friend who works in the Obama Administration lamented to me recently, the ADL has in essence become the “Pro-Defamation League” when it comes to Islam and Muslims.

The recent comments by Abraham Foxman, National Director of the ADL, against the proposed Muslim community center in New York are the latest in a long line of incidents where members of the ADL have promoted bigotry and discrimination against Arabs and Muslims. In 1993, the ADL illegally spied on American citizens who had spoken out in sympathy with Palestinians, generating a watch list of 10,000 names of private citizens and over 600 groups, and then selling the list to South African intelligence agents.

The ADL was sued for violating privacy rights and settled out of court. But the organization did not learn its lesson. Through the past decade, it has regularly organized smear campaigns around Muslim leaders and conferences, falsely imputing terrorist sympathies to some of the most moderate and respected leaders of the community.

In one of its ugliest campaigns, the ADL protested the right of Muslim college students at UC Irvine to wear graduation stoles that carried the Shahada, the basic testimony of Islamic faith: “There is no god but God and Muhammad is his Messenger.” The ADL claimed that the Muslim students were supporting terrorist groups like Hamas by wearing a common symbol of their religion. As a Muslim, I was left absolutely stunned at the stupidity of this argument. It was the equivalent of trying to bar Christian students from wearing crosses because the cross is a symbol that has been used by Christian extremists like the Crusaders and the Ku Klux Klan! The ADL was forced to apologize and retract its statements that the Shahada was “an expression of hate.”

To be fair, the ADL has in a few instances spoken up in defense of Muslim civil rights, notably when the topic of Israel is not involved. The ADL publicly denounced the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia and criticized the Swiss government for amending the constitution in 2009 to prevent the building of mosque minarets.

But the preponderance of its actions over the past decade have made it clear that when Muslim grievances against Israel are raised, the ADL will firmly side with its co-religionists rather than adhere to its underlying mission of standing for justice and equality for all humanity. On some level, perhaps that is understandable, if not excusable. But what is particularly shocking about the recent statements against the Cordoba House is that the ADL appears to have moved from a knee-jerk defense of Israel to an aggressive stance attacking American Muslims even when there is no criticism of Israel involved.

I have written at length on the Huffington Post about the founders of the Cordoba House and how they represent progressive Islam and embrace people of all religions, including Jews. I know Daisy Khan personally and she is a gracious and gentle woman who espouses love and wisdom, not hate. The writings of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf continue to inspire me and countless mainstream Muslims to improve our communities and defeat the extremists that threaten to corrupt Islam from within.

The opponents of the Islamic Center have gone out of their way to vilify and defame these honorable people, who are leaders of the moderate Islam that the media is always claiming doesn’t exist. Muslim leaders like Daisy Khan and Imam Abdul Rauf have endured with great dignity the double-pronged attack from their enemies. First, the media spreads the lie that Muslim leaders like them do not speak out against terrorism. And when they do speak out, they are either ignored or lumped in with the very extremists they are fighting. The Cordoba House is exactly the voice of moderate Islam that needs to be highlighted at a time when Muslim extremists and anti-Muslim bigots both want Islam, a spiritual path of great beauty, to be seen as a religion of hate and death.

But what is particularly painful for me as a Muslim is to watch how a group like the ADL, born out of the horrible experience of anti-Semitism and bigotry in America, can so easily turn its back on its heritage in order to join forces with the voices of hate and division. If any community knows what it is like to be branded with false stereotypes, to have the innocent condemned as guilty, it is the long-suffering Jewish people. To have its leaders now embrace the mindless, drunken crowd in its march of hate against a fellow religious minority’s right of worship, it is beyond obscene. And it is a fundamental rejection of everything that Judaism stands for.

In my latest novel, Shadow of the Swords, I delve deeply into the character of Maimonides, the great Jewish rabbi, who was friend and advisor to the Muslim sultan Saladin during the Crusades. In examining the experience of Maimonides, a Jew living as a minority among Muslims, I sought to demonstrate the ancient sympathy and understanding that Jews and Muslims had for each other at a time when both were being targeted by Christian persecutors. And I sought to share with my readers that the tenets of Judaism have always stood for social justice, mercy and wisdom, and that this ethical commitment served as a link of common understanding between Judaism and Islam at a time when Christianity stood for ignorance, murder and barbarism.

People who have read my book have expressed wonder at how two communities that were once intimate friends have become so estranged in the past century. The reasons for these modern divisions are long and complex, and are mainly linked to the trauma of Western colonization of the Muslim world, and the suffering of the Palestinians when Israel was created as the byproduct of that colonial history. Despite efforts by some Christians and Jews (as well as extremists among Muslims) to portray the current tensions between these communities as rooted in theological and cultural foundations, the reality is that Jews and Muslims historically got along much better than either group did with European Christians. When the Spanish Inquisition expelled Jews from Spain, where they had thrived under Muslim rule for 800 years, Spanish Jews found refuge in the Muslim Ottoman Empire and rose to positions of great economic and political power.

What the current leadership of the ADL does not understand is that there is no ancient enmity between Jews and Muslims. If many Muslims have problems with Israel today, that arises from real grievances about the treatment of Palestinians, not inherent hatred for Judaism in Islamic culture. What the ADL appears to fear is that as Muslims become part of the American fabric of life, that their critiques of Israel will lead one day to United States abandoning its long-term ally. This fear is, frankly, insane.

There is a place for dialogue, debate and disagreement about Middle Eastern politics among American citizens, and that discussion will not threaten Israel’s existence. As President Obama made abundantly clear in his speech to the Islamic world in Cairo last year, the bond between the United States and Israel is “unbreakable.” So Abraham Foxman should relax and take a breath. Muslim empowerment in the United States will not lead to a second Holocaust. Muslims praying at a mosque in New York City will not lead to death camps and mass extermination of the Jewish community.

Muslim voices joining the public forum will not add to anti-Semitism in America. But if the Jewish community is seen as willing to join in discrimination against innocent Americans to promote its own agenda – that perception will fulfill every anti-Semite’s ugly and false perception of the Jewish community as a self-serving and hypocritical group that only cares about its own pain and not the pain of others.

That ugly vision is not the Judaism I studied in college, the Judaism of Maimonides and Martin Buber, nor does it reflect the Judaism that I have experienced in my relationships with Jews all my life. But it appears to be the cheap and unworthy vision of the ADL leadership, and as such dishonors the Jewish legacy to this world.

The Judaism that I admire, that I write about in my novel, is the true Judaism of love for mankind, of humility before God, of service and compassion. It is the Judaism that stands for the rights of the weak and the oppressed against the arrogance of those in power. It is the Judaism of Moses standing in defiance of the Pharaoh on behalf of a group of powerless slaves.

It is the Judaism of Rabbi Hillel, one of the greatest religious visionaries of all time. Decades before Jesus Christ proclaimed the Golden Rule, Rabbi Hillel is famed for his response to a questioner who wanted to know the essence of Judaism, of the Torah, in the time it took him to stand on one foot. Hillel responded that the whole of the Torah could be summarized in one sentence.

“Do not do unto others what you would not have others do unto you.”

To Mr. Foxman and the rest of the ADL leadership, I ask if in your hearts you would want people to accuse innocent Jews of being enemies of the state? Would you want Jews to accept vilification of their entire religion if a handful of Jews ever did something wrong? Would you want Jews to tacitly accept the lies that bigots had projected on to them? And finally, would you want Jews to be forced to shut down their synagogues because of the misguided passions of a mob?

Would you want this done to Jews?

If the answer is no, then I ask as your Muslim brother that you follow the wisdom of Rabbi Hillel and the sages of Judaism.

Do not do the same hateful thing to my people.

Hat tip to Loonwatch!

What is it with racism among Semites?


Racism in any form is a crime against humanity, should be classifed as an international crime and dealt with in the most severe manner.  It’s especially appalling when it comes at the hands of people who claim to be somehow rightly guided, imbued with the essence of humanity who get that notion twisted in a manner which allows them to oppress whomever they like; America comes to mind, along with the chosen of Israel and the descendants of Muhammad.  All are nations or groups of people who have thrown out the essence of their beginnings and embraced their own self styled nationalism and cultural highhandedness which has become exclusive and oppressive.  They have to be reminded of where they came from when they get these high and haughty notions that have nothing in common with their “essence”.

Jonathan Cook has poignantly described the racism of political zionism existent in modern day Israel, against the black Jews of Ethiopia and it’s something those of us who are particularly sensitive to racism have read and seen all too often. I don’t think for a moment that the intent of the Israeli government is to control the birth rate of Ethiopians when sex has too often been used to experiment on people of color before.  In a country that needs people to populate a land and force other people out, limiting the births of Jews would seem to be counterproductive, or maybe the Israelis think they have a high enough birth rate to do that without the Ethiopians?  Go figure.

But the racism against people of color doesn’t stop with the Israelis.  It’s hard to say whether racism was imported to Iraq by western invading forces or was and has always been present there….the latter seems to be the case, but it’s abhorrent nonetheless and no less acceptable.  Reading the following text is almost like reading an American history book but it takes place in a land miles apart from America, but almost identical in its implication and result; the vision of dancing ‘darkies’ who seem to get their joy and happiness in providing it for others, as entertainers, troubadours, mimes, et.al.

The election of Barack Obama to the U.S. presidency was celebrated with special fervor by Iraqis of African descent in the southern port city of Basra.

Although they have lived in Iraq for more than 1,000 years, the black Basrawis say they are still discriminated against because of the color of their skin, and they see Obama as a role model. Long relegated to menial jobs or work as musicians and dancers, some of them have recently formed a group to advance their civil rights.

………

“People here see us as slaves,” says Jalal Diyaab, a 43-year-old civil rights activist. “They even call us abd, which means slave.”

Diyaab is the general secretary of the Free Iraqi movement. He sits with more than a dozen other men in a narrow, high-ceilinged room in a mud-brick building in Zubair, talking about a history of slavery and oppression that he says dates back to at least the ninth century.

“Black people worked on the plantations around Basra, doing the hard labor, until there was a slave uprising in the mid-800s,” says Diyaab. Black people ruled Basra for about 15 years, until the caliph sent troops. Many of the black rebels were massacred, and others were sold to the Arab tribes.

Slavery was abolished here in the 19th century, but Diyaab says black people in modern-day Iraq still face discrimination.

“[Arabs] here still look at us as being incapable of making decisions or even governing our lives. People here are 95 percent illiterate. They have terrible living conditions and very few jobs,” he says.

It’s interesting how  Obama is looked at as a role model by the dark skinned people of Iraq.  His presidency takes on  something of a world wide model for hope and good will.  I am distressed that Muslim Iraqis see something in common with a man who is the commander in chief of a military that still occupies their country and whose government seems intent on oppressing people merely because of the color of their skin or the religion they believe in.  Symbolism is frightening sometimes, isn’t it?

Main Stream Media At it Again-What the AP left out of Obama’s speech


The AP posted a transcipt of Obama’s speech in Cairo, but this is what they left out:

Threatening Israel with destruction — or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews — is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.  For more than 60 years they’ve endured the pain of dislocation.  Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead.  They endure the daily humiliations — large and small — that come with occupation.  So let there be no doubt:  The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable.  And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.  (Applause.)

For decades then, there has been a stalemate:  two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive.  It’s easy to point fingers — for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond.  But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth:  The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.  (Applause.)

That is in Israel’s interest, Palestine’s interest, America’s interest, and the world’s interest.  And that is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience and dedication that the task requires.  (Applause.)  The obligations — the obligations that the parties have agreed to under the road map are clear.  For peace to come, it is time for them — and all of us — to live up to our responsibilities.

Palestinians must abandon violence.  Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed.  For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation.  But it was not violence that won full and equal rights.  It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding.  This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia.  It’s a story with a simple truth:  that violence is a dead end.  It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus.  That’s not how moral authority is claimed; that’s how it is surrendered.

Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build.  The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have to recognize they have responsibilities.  To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel’s right to exist.

At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s.  The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.  (Applause.)  This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace.  It is time for these settlements to stop.  (Applause.)

And Israel must also live up to its obligation to ensure that Palestinians can live and work and develop their society.  Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be a critical part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.

And finally, the Arab states must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities.  The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems.  Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state, to recognize Israel’s legitimacy, and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.

America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and we will say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs.  (Applause.)  We cannot impose peace.  But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away.  Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state.  It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.

Too many tears have been shed.  Too much blood has been shed.  All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of the three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra — (applause) — as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, peace be upon them, joined in prayer.  (Applause.)

The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.

This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran.  For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is in fact a tumultuous history between us.  In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.  Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians.  This history is well known.  Rather than remain trapped in the past, I’ve made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward.  The question now is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.

I recognize it will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude, and resolve.  There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect.  But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point.  This is not simply about America’s interests.

Hat tip to Kabobfest.

These are our neighbors


eboo_patel

“I Am an American With a Muslim Soul

Ilove America not because I am under the illusion that it is perfect, but because it allows me — the child of Muslim immigrants from India —

to participate in its progress, to carve a place in its promise, to play a role in its possibility. John Winthrop, one of the earliest European settlers in  America, gave voice to this sense of possibility. He told his compatriots that their society would be like a city upon a hill ,a beacon for the world. It was a hope rooted in Winthrop’s Christian faith, and no doubt he imagined his city on a hill with a steeple in the center. Throughout the centuries, America has remained a deeply religious country, while becoming a remarkably plural one. Indeed, we are the most religiously devout nation in the West and the most religiously diverse country in the world. The steeple at the center of the city on a hill is now surrounded by the minaret of Muslim mosques, the Hebrew script of Jewish synagogues, the chanting of Buddhist sangas, and the statues of Hindu temples. In fact, there are now more Muslims in America than Episcopalians, the faith professed by many of America’s Founding Fathers.

One hundred years ago, the great African- American scholar W.E.B. Du Bois warned that the problem of the century would be the color line. The 21st century might well be dominated by a different line — the faith line. The most pressing questions for my country (America), my religion (Islam), and all God’s people may well be these: How will people who may have different ideas of heaven interact together on Earth? Will the steeple, the minaret, the synagogue, the temple, and the sanga learn to share space in a new city on a hill? I think the American ethos — mixing tolerance and reverence — may have something special to contribute to this issue.

America is a grand gathering of souls, the vast majority from elsewhere. The American genius lies in allowing these souls to contribute their texture to the American tradition, to add new notes to the American song. I am an American with a Muslim soul. My soul carries a long history of heroes, movements, and civilizations that sought to submit to the Will of God. My soul listened as the Prophet Muhammad preached the central messages of Islam, tazaaqa and tawhid, compassionate justice and the oneness of God. In the Middle Ages, my soul spread to the East and West, praying in the mosques and studying in the libraries of the great medieval Muslim cities of Cairo, Baghdad, and Cordoba. My soul whirled with Rumi,  read Aristotle with Averroes, traveled through Central Asia with Nasir Khusrow. In the colonial era, my Muslim soul was stirred to justice. It marched with Abdul Ghaffar Khan and the Khudai Khidmatgars in their satyagraha to free India. It stood with Farid Esack, Ebrahim Moosa, Rahid Omar, and the Muslim Youth Movement in their struggle for a multicultural South Africa. In one eye I carry this ancient Muslim vision on pluralism; in the other eye I carry the American promise. And in my heart, I pray that we make real this possibility: a city on a hill where different religious communities respectfully share space and collectively serve the common good; a world where diverse nations and peoples come to know one another in a spirit of brotherhood and righteousness; a century in which we achieve a common life together.

A Rock and a hard place-the latest FBI Islamofascist scare


There’s really not that much to these “sting operations” anymore.  They are so predictable that even mainstream media is beginning to catch on, while cheering from the sidelines for the success of such dubious methods of law enforcement.  The latest catch of four social misfits tangentially related to Islam if that much is another example.  Spurred on by a fellow coreligionist  who flashed a lot of money and recruited them earnestly, because of a nefarious and compromising past that made it easy for him to be recruited by the FBI, four former convicts, one of them mentally disturbed, and two others heavy drug users, pot and crack, are the latest to constitute a threat of world wide proportions to the United States of America.  It didn’t help that an unscrupulous FBI special agent played a high profile role in the arrest of these men.  Special Agent Robert Fuller was responsible for the secret rendition of Canadian citizen Maher Arar to Syria and his subsequent torture at the hands of Syrians based on false information Fuller got from a wounded and some might say tortured Omar Khadr.  Arar has gone on to sue successfully the Canadian government and is in the process of suing the American government because of Fuller’s role in his torture.

Here’s the deal however.  The pseudo Muslim ringleader who was egging on the four charged defendants was clearly spotted by the members of the different masajid as an agent provocateur but because of their mistrust of the government, a mistrust clearly justified based on what happened to a group of Muslims in California, they were left with a brewing scandal and no one to tell.  The MO of this “informant” and indeed others who infiltrate places where Muslims gather is they appear out of the blue, invite other worshippers to meals, flash money, and  speak of violence and jihad, and offer  substantial amounts of money to others to join their “team.” The inertia or hesitation communities feels is really what the government wants in order to obscure its role in such operations. Government does not want to be pressed by a diligent citizenry to do its job.  Here then is my suggestion for people with an informant in their midst; use the internet.  Plaster the suspect’s picture on the masjid’s web page, blog about him or her, especially if they are advocating violence and contact your local media to inform them you may be a victim of a government sting operation.  Informants do not like to be exposed and if they are steeped in a past full of  illicit behavior with many victims someone will certainly notice them and do the government’s job of getting rid of them.

For the meantime, it’s sad to say the four men in New York most likely will be convicted amidst  a lot of publicity about their case that’ll highlight the potential for terrorism on the home front, but such miscarriages of justice, where people are entrapped by government will be avoided in the future as more and more communities become sophisticated enough to spot the likes of the informant in this case and educate their worshippers of the threat such false messiahs bring to their stability.  `

Zionism is the problem

Opposing Zionism is neither anti-Semitic nor particularly radical. It requires only that we take our own values seriously and no longer, as the book of Amos has it, “turn justice into wormwood and hurl righteousness to the ground.”


The political movement which asserts the supremacy of Israeli Jews over all others will lead the world into another world war, so it is that the editorial below which appeared in the Los Angeles Times is a particularly good one beckoning the world to take heed of this problem and solve it.  Several bloggers have mentioned the editorial below but it wasn’t until I read it in its entirety that I felt it was worth mentioning here at Miscellany101.  It is rather long, so I’ll excerpt it but strongly encourage everyone who reads this post to go to the link and read it.

Israeli policies have rendered the once apparently inevitable two-state solution less and less feasible. Years of Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have methodically diminished the viability of a Palestinian state. Israel’s new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has even refused to endorse the idea of an independent Palestinian state, which suggests an immediate future of more of the same: more settlements, more punitive assaults.

All of this has led to a revival of the Brit Shalom idea of a single, secular binational state in which Jews and Arabs have equal political rights. The obstacles are, of course, enormous. They include not just a powerful Israeli attachment to the idea of an exclusively Jewish state, but its Palestinian analogue: Hamas’ ideal of Islamic rule. Both sides would have to find assurance that their security was guaranteed. What precise shape such a state would take — a strict, vote-by-vote democracy or a more complex federalist system — would involve years of painful negotiation, wiser leaders than now exist and an uncompromising commitment from the rest of the world, particularly from the United States.

Meanwhile, the characterization of anti-Zionism as an “epidemic” more dangerous than anti-Semitism reveals only the unsustainability of the position into which Israel’s apologists have been forced. Faced with international condemnation, they seek to limit the discourse, to erect walls that delineate what can and can’t be said.

It’s not working. Opposing Zionism is neither anti-Semitic nor particularly radical. It requires only that we take our own values seriously and no longer, as the book of Amos has it, “turn justice into wormwood and hurl righteousness to the ground.”

Establishing a secular, pluralist, democratic government in Israel and Palestine would of course mean the abandonment of the Zionist dream. It might also mean the only salvation for the Jewish ideals of justice that date back to Jeremiah.

American Muslims carving their own niche


muslimsIslam has always been in America; it’s almost as American as apple pie, just like its sister religions, Judaism and Christianity.  However, with it has come the historical baggage of these three great monotheistic religions, each taking its turn on the sacrificial altar of distrust and dislike against the other two.  Since Islam in America is a homegrown phenomenon, its adherents have had the luxury of defining themselves and what they think their mission is, yet that definition has sometimes been at odds with what other Muslims not native to America have had in mind, and the result is the two groups have butt heads a time or two.  I ran across this letter that speaks to that confrontation and the resulting frustration that has arisen as a result. Hat tip to Muslim Matters!

So Very Tired

Dear brothers and sisters in Islam, and specifically you in North America who will understand this best.

I have a problem.

I know where I came from, I know who I am, and I have a pretty good idea of where I want to go.

But I am tired.

Tired of the Muslim Identity Crisis Conferences.  Tired of Muslims in America conferences.  You’re a human being that was created for the sole purpose of worshipping the One who created you.  Get over it and move on.

Tired of confused pseudo-intellectuals who keep trying to legitimize their deepest, darkest insecurities under the cover of academic acceptance.  Women can’t lead men in prayer, and homosexuality will never be acceptable.

Tired of the explicit condemnation of Muslim terrorists that comes without the explicit condemnation of all terrorism, particularly against Muslims.  Can the Ummah of Muhammad please unite, the Ummah of the likes of Umar ibn al Khatab, Khalid ibn Waleed, Sad ibn abi Waqqas, and Hamza please find the necessary pieces of spine required to call George Bush et al what they are?

Speaking of which, I’m tired of the games Muslim politicians and political organizations play to put a position forward that deludes no one except yourselves for believing they’d believe you.

Tired of victim-culture fatwas that turn every situation into a necessity, and that coddles our ummah into weakness for the sake of ease and some overarching goal of dawah that never seems to be properly articulated in simple, coherent language.

Tired of Islamic teachers of any calibre who complain about the adab and khuluq of people and are badly in need of it themselves, in all forms of communication.

Tired of all the acronymed organizations and their leadership, and their inability to establish an agreed upon method for moonsighting.  Really.  All the opinions are correct, so please, just put them all in a hat, draw one out, and if you all unite on it, we’ll follow it.  Even me.  I promise.

Tired of the word Islamophobia.  Who came up with this ridiculous word?  Whoever it was, they need to be shot…with a super soaker.  I want to curl myself up in the fetal position every time I hear that word.

Tired of you telling me we need fiqh of minorities, and that we should combine prayers in the work place.  This isn’t Muslim Spain, we have rights that can be exercised – please stop cowering in the corner, or at least stop trying to get us to join you there.

Tired at your exasperation over Barack Obama not wanting to talk to you during the election.  Who would want to talk to a pack of sniveling lackeys who have no respect for themselves and act as though they are embarassed at the religion they profess to follow?

And I’m tired of you acting like Obama’s theMahdi incarnate.  We only rooted for him because we wanted to stick it to GWB, not because we like his politics of homosexuality, late term abortions, and worst of all, restarting the war in afghanistan.

I’m so, so very tired of it all.  And if you looked at the list above, you may be tired of it as well.  But you know what?  I’m tired of you too.

Tired of you sitting behind your computer, writing in a style that makes you sound like ranting and raving lunatic.

Tired of you complaining about everything and doing absolutely nothing.

Tired of the online chickenhawk hate brigade who hates everything about America and happily pay their taxes after clicking “Submit” on their latest online rant against it.

Tired of people who call for Hijrah and never go, citing the reasons of the people who are against hijrah – “But dude, there are no ANSAR on the other end, otherwise, like, I’m sooo there!”  It’s called planning, genius, see lessons of the Prophet’s (SAW) escape from Makkah for a primer on how to plan AHEAD.

Tired of your open hatred of all nonMuslims / kafirs in the name of al wala w’al bara.  Yes, I said kafirs.  Does that make you feel better?  Then I’m also tired of your pettiness.

Tired of your delusions of mind and intention reading.  Don’t you see the potential aqida problems here?

Tired of your PDF refutations.  I have absolutely no idea who the author of the document is, or his credentials to say and interpret as he has.  Please tell me what you understand, or don’t bother.

Tired of you taking every fiqh issue and making it an aqeedah issue such that if it’s not in accordance with what the scholar du jour spoonfed you yesterday, that person must most certainly either be off the manhaj, a sell-out, or both.

And I’m tired of you not knowing anything about the fundamentals of Islam, like, for example, the Seerah!

Tired, tired, tired.

Did you like the list above?  Really?  I’m tired of you too.

Tired of you expecting everyone to follow you blindly and stupidly.

Tired of you looking down your nose at people who are far more qualified to deal with logic, analogy, and argumentation and telling them, “But you don’t know Arabic.”  Yeah, I don’t know latin either, but if I have a medical condition, my doctor will still explain it to me, and if he’s any good, he’ll tell me to get a second opinion if I have doubts.

Tired of your partisanship, and tired of you calling it a mercy.  Really?  Coulda fooled me.  Visit my community on the first and last day of Ramadan, I’ll show you mercy.

Tired of you expecting me to disconnect my mind on fiqh, believe the most ridiculously esoteric ideas about God, and then strive for spiritual ecstacy.  Are you kidding me?

But I’m not done yet, oh no – I’m tired of you too.

Tired of you prioritizing your career, your family, and all your weaknesses over the worship of Allah.

Tired of you complaining to scholars about what a victim you are.

Tired of you saying you need to live in a house.  You liar.  You can rent a house – you just don’t want to lose money.  Admit it.

Tired of you looking for easy fatwas rather than picking yourselves up by the bootstraps and working at being a Muslim, and struggling with the challenges.

Tired of your back home mentality that keeps the child you think is fair from marrying an African American.  The only thing black here is your heart.

Tired of you believing your donations entitle you to run the masjid.

Tired of the way you run the masjid.  It stinks, figuratively and literally.

Tired of you complaining about the poor ethics of Muslim governments, while you have the same ethics, the only thing separating you and them is the scale of the violation.

Tired, tired, tired, so very tired.

The ironic thing of all this is that despite all that, I still love you for the sake of Allah.  As I said to begin this letter, you are my dear brothers and sisters in Islam.  I have my flaws, I have my weaknesses, and I am by no means perfect.  At any point in my life, I could have fit into multiple categories in that complaint list.

But do you know why I’m tired?  I’m tired because we have so many issues, and I feel obligated to do something about all of it.  I want to fix it.  I want to make it right.  You probably do too.

In the end, we are here to worship Allah.  I don’t know a lot, but I know that much.  All I can do is ask Allah to guide us all to come together, to be the people whom He Loves, to be people whom He will be pleased with.