Wednesday, May 31, 2006

LDS Church teams up with Muslims to send relief to Indonesia quake victims

From ABC 4

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is teaming up with Muslims to get the much-needed medical supplies to earthquake victims in Indonesia.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined with Islamic Relief Worldwide, one of the leading humanitarian organizations in the Islamic world.

"Good people, when they work together, can make a tremendous difference in this world," said Mokhtar Shawky of Islamic Relief Worldwide. "Were talking about 200,000 people who lost their homes. We're talking about over 5,000 people lost their lives," Shawky said, "The numbers are climbing by the minute."

"It was great that we were able to do it so fast, and I'm sure this is going to save a lot of lives," said LDS church spokesperson Garry Flake.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Legacy Institute's 1st Annual Safina Retreat


Friday, June 23rd to Saturday, July 1st

Imam Zaid Shakir - Zaytuna Institute, Hayward, CA
Shaykh Tewfik Choukri - Legacy Institute, Fishers, IN
Imam Mohamed Magid - Adams Center, Sterling, VA
Dr. Abdul Hakim Jackson - U of Mich, Ann Arbor, MI (tentative)


9721 Kincaid Dr.
Fishers, IN 46037

Monday, May 29, 2006

Indonesia earthquake; Over 5,000 dead

Islamic Relief: Donate Now

For more information, please see the Indonesia Help blog

Countdown to Apartheid

From the Electronic Intifada

Written by Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s address to both houses of Congress was perhaps the most skilled use of Newspeak since George Orwell invented the term in his novel 1984. (He had help: author and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Weisel reportedly drafted large sections of the speech.) Just as Orwell’s totalitarian propagandists proclaimed WAR IS PEACE and Israeli government signs placed at the Wall (sorry, fence) at the entrance to Bethlehem greet Palestinians with the blessing PEACE BE UNTO YOU, so Olmert declared in Washington: UNILATERAL REALIGNMENT IS PEACE.

Because of Olmert’s use of Orwellian language (can anyone, including President Bush or members of Congress, explain to us what “convergence” and “realignment” mean?), we must listen carefully to what is said, what is not said and what is meant.

Keith Eillison may become first Muslim in Congress

From the DC newspaper The Hill

With a fast-growing U.S. population estimated around 5 million, Muslims are increasing their voice in local and national politics every year. But thus far they haven’t had one of their own in a national position of power in Congress, the Cabinet or the Supreme Court.

He didn’t know it at the time, but Keith Ellison took a large step toward changing that earlier this month when he won the Democratic endorsement for the seat of retiring Rep. Martin Sabo (D-Minn.) in one of the safest Democratic districts in the country.

Ellison, a black Muslim, still faces a September primary challenge that could feature Sabo’s chief of staff, a former state Democratic party chairman. But he has already gotten closer than any other Muslim candidate in recent years and would be the first Muslim in Congress, according to several national Muslim groups.

See State Representative Ellison's campaign site

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Muslim-Americans seek harmony

From New Jersey's The Star Ledger

Prominent Muslims are joining together to brainstorm on countering the isolation and lack of understanding many Muslim-American communities feel in a time of tremendous cultural upheaval.

At a three-day conference titled "Muhammad and the West," held at the Garden State Convention and Exhibit Center in Somerset, hundreds of Muslims from New Jersey and surrounding states attended talks on the role of Muslims in American politics, raising Muslim children in America, and relations with non-Muslims.

The conference, sponsored by some of New Jersey's largest mosques and the Muslim American Society in Somerset, kicked off yesterday and will continue through tomorrow afternoon. The main goal of the weekend workshops, organizers said, was learning how to promote understanding.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

On Freedom (hurriyya)

From the blog Red-Sulphur

God Almighty and Glorious says, "And they prefer others over themselves even when they are in destitute" (59:9).

They only prefer others to themselves in order to strip themselves of what they have abandoned anyway and preferred to leave to others. Ali ibn Ahmad al-Ahwazi reported... from Ibn Abbas, that the Messenger of God said, "That which minimally satisfies the needs of your flesh is sufficient for any one of you. Finally it comes down to four cubits and a span (the size of a grave). The whole business returns to its end."

Freedom means that a servant is not a slave to created beings and that things and events do not exercise control over them. The sign that it is sign and whole is that preferring one thing to another drops from a person's heart so that it makes no difference whatever may chance to occur...

Understanding narratives key to understanding conflict

(I wrote this piece for my column writing class that is being taught by 2004 Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.)

As much as Palestinians and Israelis may be divided about how to solve the conflict that has ravaged their societies for over 50 years, they are even more at odds over how it started.

This is never more apparent each year than on May 15, Israel’s independence day.

Israelis not only celebrate this day, but also contend that on this date in 1948, the Jewish state was formed as a necessary response to thousands of years of discrimination and violence directed against the Jewish people finally culminating in the Holocaust.

To Palestinians, on the other hand, this date means something very different. It particularly marks and harks back to memories not only of military defeat and massacre, but also the beginning of exile, when over 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes in what is now Israel to the West Bank, Gaza, and surrounding countries.

1948 is a bittersweet year for Israelis, but only bitter for Palestinians.

But this dispute in historical understanding is not limited to heated discussions in a friend’s home as may be true in this country when the issues of America’s founding and Native Americans arise.

Instead, this debate about historical correctness has fueled brutal violence, continued military occupation, and a destabilized Middle East.

This is why the work of two professors, Sami Adwan and Dan Bar-On, one Palestinian, the other Israeli, is so essential.

Engaging the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the classroom, where opposition to the “other” is hardened for many through black and white history lessons, the duo, with teams of Palestinian and Israeli historians, has been publishing books that set both the Israeli and Palestinian historical narratives side-by-side on the same page.

They recently published this year the third book in the series. The publication tackles the Palestinian intifada, or uprising, and recent peace efforts.

“The way a conflict or history is taught in the classroom can either support that conflict or (support) co-existence," Adwan told the BBC.

I couldn’t agree more.

Being that my mother is a Palestinian immigrant to this country, I, along with thousands of other Palestinian-Americans, grew up with tales of loss and sorrow. I remember in exact detail when and how my grandmother was able to escape from Jerusalem to the West Bank as Israeli soldiers invaded her school one morning.

But I also grew up with Jewish friends who also told stories of loss and sorrow. They recounted to me the family members who perished in gas chambers and stories from synagogue that described the painful history of Russian pogroms and the need for a Jewish state that would protect them. They told me more than once, “Never again.”

But these experiences of hearing both sides is almost non-existent where my Palestinian family lives.

Nestled in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, my relatives are prohibited like millions of other Palestinians from visiting the churches and mosques in Jerusalem or Israel that are so celebrated in Palestinian history. This prohibition isolates them. As far as Jerusalem’s sacred sanctuary may be, Israelis are even further.

Except for the soldiers.

My family sees the Israeli military on almost a daily basis, controlling almost everything in their daily material lives from what medicines they can import to their hospital to their movement on a one-mile stretch of road near the house. Interaction between Palestinians and Israelis in Jenin is done most times at the barrel of a gun.

And as my family negotiates everything from travel to medical supplies, they see the Israeli flag flying above these soldiers, symbolizing Israel as a country of imprisonment and occupation, not one of hope and renewal.

My family, though, along with hundreds of other Palestinians I have met in the occupied territories, have not lost hope.

Even after a simple chat about me having Jewish friends, and that they are not just friends but best-friends softens their hearts a little.

After a few moments of reflecting on this conversation one cousin asks, “Why can’t it be like that here?”

I tell him that with more education, such as what the professors are promoting, that fosters dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis and a healthy exchange that promotes understanding of the “other” such as what I have been blessed, it just could be.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Preschool in Biruen village (Aceh, Indonesia)

"Executive Power in the War on Terror: Are There Any Limits?"

Rights being stripped away, panelist says

TAMPA - The U.S. government has a habit of creating laws that strip foreign nationals of their freedoms then expanding them to take away rights of American citizens, a Georgetown University Law Center professor said Thursday.

David Cole delivered the keynote speech at the University of South Florida for a discussion titled "Executive Power in the War on Terror: Are There Any Limits?"

A Tampa FBI agent and the national director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations were among panelists who offered their views. The American Civil Liberties Union and CAIR organized the event.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thai Muslims

Pattani series-09
Originally uploaded by dol2519.

Fez, Morocco

Fez 26
Originally uploaded by tell.

"Surrender Utterly, Love is no slight thing."

Mecca ``kaaba``
Originally uploaded by nobo81.
The Ka'aba, Mecca

The verse of poetry above, translated from the original by Sheikh Nuh Keller (may God preserve him), is from the renowned Muslim mystic Shaykh Umar Ibn Al-Farid (may God sanctify his secret).

Prayer in Medina (City of the Prophet)

Originally uploaded by nobo81.

kurbağa kayası

kurbağa kayası
Originally uploaded by banibani.

Florence imam finds time for fashion


FLORENCE, Italy — After presiding over an early morning funeral, Izzedin Elzir stopped by his leather jacket stall at Florence's bustling San Lorenzo market.

As the 35-year-old Muslim imam and former fashion student held up various styles for passing tourists, he explained how the cut and color people choose depends somewhat on their nationality, but more on their age.

"Young women want a fashionable jacket, something short, sporty but elegant; instead, older women look for a softer, more comfortable jacket, and they often want a particular color — like red."

Also check out MSNBC's Islam in Europe Interactive

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Is there a Muslim lobby?


When John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard published a report highlighting the efficacy of the Israeli lobby in molding US domestic and foreign policy, charges of malpractice and academic dishonesty were leveled at the authors.

Their paper, "The Israeli Lobby and US Foreign Policy," cited the organizational prowess of pro-Israel groups in marrying the media, think tanks, and numerous politicians into a unified front that muzzles criticism of the Jewish State.

However, in the vitriol exchanged by supporters and detractors of the paper, an illuminating section is overlooked.

Mearsheimer and Walt, in comparing the existence of the Israeli lobby to the likelihood of the existence of a similar Muslim or Arab grouping, say "pro-Arab interest groups, in so far as they exist at all, are weak, which makes the Israeli lobby's task even easier.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Shaykh Al-Yaqoubi's tribute to his late wife

Remembering Al-Hajjah Umm Ibrahim Al-Yaqoubi Al-Hasani
By Shaykh Muhammad Al-Yaqoubi Al-Hasani

Click here to download the tribute in .pdf

An excerpt:

My Dear brothers and sisters, relatives, friends, students and supporters throughout the world: As-Salamu `Alaykum Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakatuh.

“Indeed, we belong to Allah, and to Him we must surely return!”

With grief and sorrow, I share with you the tragic loss of my beloved wife, my companion, and the love of my heart Al-Hajjah Farizah Aal Rabbat,known as Umm Ibrahim, Rahimaha Allah, who is also the mother of my three children (Aisha, Ibrahim and Ismael).

Allah chose her out of this world to enter al-Jannah on the very birthday of His Beloved Prophet (sallalahu ‘alayhi wasallam) through the door of martyrs. I do not object to His Will: we belong to Him and our return is to Him; whatever He takes is undoubtedly His, and whatever He gives is undoubtedly His.

She left this world on Monday 12th of Rabi’ Al-Awwal, 1427 (April 10th 2006), around 5:00 pm in a car accident while she was driving from our home outside Damascus toward the city to visit her family and attend a mawlid. At the same time, I was leading a mawlid feast in the city. She died at 37 years of age, and was approximately five months pregnant with a baby boy who also died. Just a few hours before the accident we had agreed to name him Shareef.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Backstory: A dorm room big enough for two major faiths

From the Christian Science Monitor

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Several times a day, Atena Asiaii pulls her maroon prayer rug from under her bed and lines it up on the scuffed linoleum floor, kneeling on it to face northeast, the direction of Mecca. She has figured out which corner to turn toward without the help of a compass because her roommate, Yael Richardson, prays facing East, the direction of their dorm-room door. Far beyond it lies Jerusalem.

They're both college sophomores. They like gossiping about guys and eating ice cream. They're taking beginning Arabic. But what unites them most is the very thing people might expect to keep them apart: their religious devotion.

Living together as a Muslim and a Jew wasn't intended to be a statement. Yael and Atena met as freshmen at Brown University and decided to request a room together the next year in Interfaith House - a dorm where matters of faith are the stuff of spontaneous conversations in the halls.

Nizwa castle - Oman

Nizwa castle
Originally uploaded by ringogoingo.

Monday, May 15, 2006

US sees ethnic minority baby boom

From the BBC

Nearly half of American children aged under five are from an ethnic minority, according to a new report from the US Census Bureau.

The latest figures show 45% of US pre-schoolers are non-white, with the Latino population growing the fastest.

Of the overall US population, one-third are now from an ethnic minority.

The report comes amid a series of huge immigrant demonstrations protesting against tough anti-immigration measures being considered by the US government.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Organic counter-terrorism program sprouts in Yemen

SANAA, YEMEN – As the dusk call to prayer fades, Amin al-Mashreqi glances at the expectant faces surrounding him and begins to read from his slim, handwritten book of verse that is helping to bring a measure of peace to this mountainous Arab country.

O, you who kidnap our guests,
Your house will refuse you,
These violations are against Islam

Crammed into a mud-brick shop, his audience, some with their hands resting on their gold-trimmed daggers, listen to his verse denouncing violence and Islamic militancy. When he finishes, there is silence. Then the room erupts in applause.

"Other countries fight terrorism with guns and bombs, but in Yemen we use poetry," says Mr. Mashreqi later. "Through my poetry I can convince people of the need for peace who would never be convinced by laws or by force."

Muslim-American community introspection

The Civil Rights Education Center
invites you to join the discourse in a public forum.
Come influence the outcome, hear the multiple perspectives, and include your voice in shaping the Identity of Muslim Americans.

Come to the First of three:

Monday May 22nd, 2006
6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Islamic Foundation
300 High Ridge Rd. Villa Park, Illinois

Who Shapes the Muslim Identity?
M. Cherif Bassiouni

Panel: Diversity of the Muslim Identity
Discussion and Panel Response to Questions and Answers

Confirmed guests include:
Aminah McCloud, Shakeel Syed, Cherif Bassiouni, Agha Saeed

Invited guests include: Salam Al-Marayati, Muqtedar Khan, Farooq Kathwari, Sayyid Syeed, Gowher Rizvi, Feisal Abdul Rauf, Imad Qasim, Eboo Patel, Talat Othman, Guity Nashat, Nihad Awad, Javeed Akhter, Khalid Azim, Yahya Mossa Basha, Qamar-ul Huda, and Shamil Idriss

Box Dinner $5

For more information, please call 312.765.6798 or email to

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Damascus at Night

Damascus at Night
Originally uploaded by worldwidewandering.

Damascus architecture

Khan As3ad Basha
Originally uploaded by Rima!.
From the land of spiritual opening and illumination.

Timur mosque dome

Timur mosque dome
Originally uploaded by antelopelot.
"Unity in diversity"

Timur Mosque - Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Columbus Muslim day-school marks 10 years of progress

Two important facets of the Muslim-American experience found in this Columbus Dispatch article: Education and "5th column" suspicions

Muslim milestone

"At its 10 th anniversary, central Ohio’s only Islamic day school has much to celebrate: rising enrollment, academic proficiency and a pending expansion.

But Sunrise Academy in Hilliard also faces critical questions from some of its neighbors — the same attitudes that other U.S. Muslim institutions have encountered since the 2001 terrorist attack and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq...."

Dar Al-Mustafa Dowra Program 2006

The Dowra Summer Program 2006:
40-day intensive beginning July 1, 2006

A summer with the "inheritors of the Prophets" (may God's peace be upon them all)

The founders and teachers of Dar Al-Mustafa are dedicated to training their students to achieve three main goals:

1) The acquisition of authentic Islamic knowledge (shari`ah) as established by the scholars of ahl as-sunna wa al-jama`ah: this knowledge, which is received through an unbroken chain of transmission from the Prophet Muhammad, is to be attained, realized, and implemented in the student's life.

2) The purification of the soul and the refinement of character by learning and following prophetic examples of moral conduct and noble demeanor.

3) The dissemination of the message brought by the Prophet Muhammad and spreading the call to Islam using a methodology based on mercy, truthfulness, sincerity, high opinions of others, and a commitment to act upon one's faith.

Thus, the central purpose of Dar Al-Mustafa, as indicated by these goals, is the attainment of beneficial knowledge by learning from the people who possess it, acting upon this knowledge in an exemplary way, and calling to Allah with true insight and discernment.

Palestinians mark al-Nakba (the Catastrophe)'s Jonathan Cook takes a look at how in the light of celebrations in Israel, Palestinian citizens of Israel are remembering and keeping alive the memory of Palestinian villages destroyed in the wake of Israel's 1948 creation as a Jewish state.

Palestinians recall day of Catastrophe

Friday, May 05, 2006

"Reasons, Rights and Responsibilities" and Racism

Amazing Radio Open Source program on racism and the power of education in promoting and ending it with guest Jane Elliott, former teacher and anti-racism activist famous for her 1968 experiment in which she divided her all white class by eye color demonstrating how discrimination based on identity is constructed by power and authority.

An excerpt from Radio Open Source on Jane Elliott and her important study:

In response to Martin Luther King’s assassination, schoolteacher Jane Elliott devised a simple yet revealing exercise that helped her students understand the pathology of racism and prejudice — “The Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” experiment. This experiment was featured in the 1985 Frontline Documentary, A Class Divided.

On April 5, 1968, the day after King was shot Elliott divided her all-white classroom into two groups on the basis of eye color, blue or brown. Those with blue eyes were inferior; those with brown eyes were superior. Within minutes the “superior” students exhibited arrogance and a sense of entitlement while the “inferior” group felt insecure and vulnerable. The following day, when Elliott reversed the experiment, the children who had been subordinate only the day before quickly took on the role as the oppressor, and vice versa.

Here's the show: Race, Class and Racism

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The new Muslim-American community activist

A Chicago Tribune spotlight on Rami Nashashibi, founder and director of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN)

Muslim confronts needs of city:
Activist sees poverty, gangs as top threats to urban brethren--and he won't stand for it

He is one of Muslim America's rising young activists, yet he is reserved in his comments on caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, the Mideast conflict and the war in Iraq.

Instead, Rami Nashashibi speaks out against Muslim-owned liquor stores, protests on behalf of Latino workers and denounces mistreatment of blacks by the criminal justice system. On Monday he joined Mexicans, Koreans and Poles in a massive march for immigrant rights.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Islamic Mysticism Finds Its Voice in More Tolerant Post-9/11 Era

In Saudi Arabia, a Resurgence of Sufism

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia -- A hush came over the crowd as the young man sitting cross-legged on the floor picked up the microphone and sang, a cappella, a poem about Islam's prophet Muhammad. His eyes shut tight, his head covered by an orange-and-white turban, he crooned with barely contained ardor of how the world rejoiced and lights filled the skies the day the prophet was born.

The men attending the mawlid -- a celebration of the birth and life of Muhammad -- sat on colorful rugs, rocking gently back and forth, while the women, on the upper floor watching via a large projection screen, passed around boxes of tissues and wiped tears from their eyes.

The centuries-old mawlid, a mainstay of the more spiritual and often mystic Sufi Islam, was until recently viewed as heretical and banned by Saudi Arabia's official religious establishment, the ultraconservative Wahhabis. But a new atmosphere of increased religious tolerance has spurred a resurgence of Sufism and brought the once-underground Sufis and their rituals out in the open.

Monday, May 01, 2006

In Memoriam:

Remembering our beloved teacher and grandfather of a dear friend — Yaşar Tunagür Hocaefendi

From the Turkish newspaper Zaman Online:

Yasar Tunagur, a distinguished personality of Turkish Religious Affairs circles, died on Saturday night from sudden heart failure.

The former Religious Affairs Directorate Deputy Head passed away at Istanbul Maltepe Sema Hospital where he was receiving medical treatment.

Serving as the Religious Affairs Directorate in many Turkish cities and conquering the heart of the Turkish nation, Tunagur had been hospitalized for a week and was receiving treatment for heart and kidney problems.

The 82-year-old "man of loyalty" died at 2:30 a.m.

China's Muslims

road to hotan
Originally uploaded by themexican.
On the road to Hotan, a city near the headstream of the Hotan River located in the southeast Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China. Photo from Flickr

This is from

(Hotan) is the center of an area growing cotton, corn, wheat, rice, and fruit. Silk and cotton textiles and carpets are manufactured, and jewelry is made from the great quantity of jade in the area. Hotan is connected by road with Kashi (Kashgar) and Ürümqi (Urumchi).

On the southern part of the Silk Road, Hotan was an early center for the spread of Buddhism from India into China. It fell to the Arabs in the 8th cent., and grew wealthy on the proceeds of the caravan trade that traveled the route between China and the West. Its prosperity ended with the conquest of Hotan by Jenghiz Khan. After many political changes the region became (1878) permanently part of China.