Over $150K Raised to Support Group’s Civil Rights Work

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

0703_john_espositoOn Saturday July 30, 2011, hundreds of community members, interfaith leaders, activists and public officials turned out for the nearly sold-out CAIR Texas Annual Banquet.

Some 400 people heard Muslim scholar Dr. John Esposito, Professor of Religion and International Affairs and of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, and founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in the Walsh School of Foreign Service offer the keynote address.

Corey Saylor, CAIR Government Affairs Director gave an update of the many challenges facing the Muslim community, and how CAIR is addressing those issues nationally.

Rais Bhuiyan, one of the first hate crime victims post September 11, 2001, shared with attendees his near death experience and his journey of healing leading to compassion and mercy for his assailant, Mark Stroman, who was executed July 20th, despite Rais’ attempts to use lawsuits to intervene.

The banquets raised over $150,000 in contributions to support CAIR’s civil rights work.

CAIR Texas Executive Director Mustafaa Carroll states “We are grateful to God first and foremost, and to our community for its broad and unending support.”

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Ramadan: Raising Spiritual and Financial Stocks?

July 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Fahad Faruqui

640x392_98063_158488Stock returns are nine times greater during Ramadan than the rest of the year, a recent study says. While I knew about the rise in spiritual stock and inner revolution that can result from abstinence and purification of the soul, the upside to a financial portfolio was news to me. It’s an intriguing way to balance faith and worldly affairs — it seems fasting pays dividends of all kinds.

“Ramadan is part of the Muslim culture of resistance to the mindless consumerism of our time,” Abdal Hakim Murad, a Muslim scholar and lecturer at Cambridge University, wrote to me in response to my question about the true meaning of Ramadan. “Only by a tough discipline of self-control can we learn detachment, thus experiencing inner calm, and challenge the ideology of greed which is threatening the planet.”

This got me thinking. In addition to causing stock rallies, Ramadan is mostly a month of internal battle against the desires of flesh. For me, abstaining from my usual dose of morning coffee is one of the many challenges I face. Fasting is not as simple as not eating and drinking from dawn to dusk — the practice helps break away from the enslavement of habit-forming vices.
Strengthening the will to abstain from what’s lawful during the month of Ramadan can be a precursor to being steadfast in refraining from what’s forbidden throughout the year. The effect of fasting on mind and soul varies, and it depends on one’s sense of purpose. A prominent scholar of Islam, Faraz Rabbani, made an interesting observation: “Some fast for God. Some fast because it is good. Others fast for the joy of breaking their fast. (Then, they indulge…).”

For those who understand fasting as a form of starvation, sundown is the time for indulgence. My journey through Ramadan and its meaning has changed over the years. The more I have thought through the reasons why I fast, the more I have come to see that the act of giving up morsel is a process of spiritual purification. I didn’t fully grasp the concept of purification of soul until I meditated on the nature of nafs (lower “self”) and its numerous manifestations. Now, the challenge is to reign over the desires that disconnect the “seeker” from the Divine.

This battle with nafs will continue until my cadaver is cold, but Ramadan is yet another opportunity to polish the soul. Besides my coffee dependency, hierarchy of wants and search for profitable stocks (pun intended), there are questions that I need to answer through meditation during Ramadan: Will I forgive those who wronged me and make amends to those I have wronged? Will I covet material things or be content with what I have? Will I restrain my glance from bodily allure? And, more importantly, will I help the needy, like the Pakistan flood victims, or cling to every dollar I have?

Reading the Parable of the Old Man and the Sock by Irving Karchmar, a dervish and novelist, made me reflect (once again) on the ephemeralness of life. It tells the story of a wealthy man who instructs his son to put a sock on his dead body, knowing the preparations for Islamic burial doesn’t allow more than a white shroud. The father wanted the son to learn a lesson that one should remember at all times: We come to this world alone and we depart alone, leaving behind each and every material thing we strive for, taking with us only the stock of deeds.

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Virtue of Fasting in Rajab and Sha`ban

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

OnIslam

Question: Is it recommended to fast frequently during the months of Rajab and Sha`ban or not?Jazakum Allahu khayran.

Answer (Muhammad Ahmad Al-Musayyar)

crescent_moon_800Prophet Muhammad (s) is reported to have recommended fasting during the four sacred months (i.e. Dhul-Qi`dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram, and Rajab). Therefore, a Muslim is generally recommended to observe fasting in these sacred months, and Rajab is one of them. It is also reported that the Prophet (s) used to observe fasting in Sha`ban more than he did in other months.

In response to your question, prominent Muslim scholar Dr. Muhammad AhmadAl-Musayyar, professor of Islamic creed and philosophy at Al-Azhar University, stated,

Fasting is a spiritual act of worship, which elevates one to the rank of angels, as one abstains from eating, drinking, and sexual relations from dawn until sunset.

In general, a Muslim should fast some days every now and then; in these days, one abstains from worldly matters, strengthens his or her resolution, and purifies his or her soul.

… It is recorded in Sunan Abu Dawud that Allah’s Messenger (s) recommended fasting during the Four Sacred Months, among which is the month of Rajab.

As for the month of Sha`ban, there are authentic hadiths about the virtue of fasting during it, among which the hadith recorded in Sahih Muslim on the authority of `A’ishah (ra) who said, “Allah’s Messenger (s) used to observe fasting (continuously) that we would say he would not break fasting, and he used not to fast (continuously) until we would say he would not fast. And I did not see Allah’s Messenger (s) completing the fast of a month, except Ramadan, and I did not see him fasting more in any other month than in Sha`ban.”

The hadith indicates that the Messenger (s) used to fast many days in Sha`ban that `A’ishah (ra) said in another narration, “He [the Prophet (s)] used to fast (almost) all of Sha`ban; he used to fast Sha`ban except for few (days).”

Except for these two months, Allah’s Messenger (s) used to observe fasting continuously to the extent that people would say that he would not break fasting.

He also used to keep breaking the fast for many consecutive days to the extent that people would say that he would not fast.

So the matter depends on feeling comfortable and devoted to worship without feeling bored or weary. That is why the Prophet (s) said, “Do (good) deeds that are within your capacity, as Allah never gets tired of giving rewards until you get tired of doing good deeds.”

He (s) also said,”The most beloved deed to Allah is the one its doer performs regularly even if it were little.”

Allah Almighty Knows best.

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Tariq Ramadan to visit Detroit MuslimFest

April 1, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

tariq-ramadan Tariq Ramadan will be the keynote speaker on April 11 in Detroit. He will address a Sound Vision benefit speaking on the topic of “Jihad within young hearts: Toward positive engagement”.

The event organizer, Sound Vision, says that young Muslims today face tremendous pressures. These pressures arise from a variety of sources: adjusting to a culture different from their parents’ culture, living and working in environments often hostile to Islamic values, facing outright prejudice that results from the constant negative portrayal of Muslims in the media. Muslim youth are among the least happy and the most angry among American youth groups, according to one Gallup poll; 16% Muslim youth participate in binge drinking; and 29% use some other name to hide their faith.

Speaking for Sound Vision Quaid Saifee said that the April 11 benefit offers a multimedia presentations on these topics along with what is being slated as Mini MuslimFest. It will feature live Adam mascot which is the main character in children’s Adam’s World series produced by Sound Vision. The Sunday event will take place in Burton Manor, Livonia, MI.

This is the first time Tariq Ramadan is visiting Detroit area. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently ended US visa ban on Swiss Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan entering the country.

The State department spokesman Darby Holladay said “Both the president and the secretary of state have made it clear that the US government is pursuing a new relationship with Muslim communities based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”

2004, Tariq Ramadan was to join his tenured position at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana when his visa was revoked.

The event will focus on the challenges faced by Muslim youth according to the latest Gallup poll and Columbia university research and will offer some concrete suggestions about what the community must do. For more information visit www.SoundVision.com/TariqRamadan

—-contact: Quaid Saifee: 586-944-7880

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Non-Muslim’s Use of Islamic Law to Resolve Disputes Scares Some, in Britain

March 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Guardian, UK

Muslim Arbitration Tribunal reports 15% rise in non-Muslims employing Shari’ah law in commercial cases

Islam.Shariah Campaigners have voiced concerns over a growing number of non-Muslims using Islamic law to resolve legal disputes in Britain despite controversy over the role of Shari’ah law.

A spokesman for the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT) said that there had been a 15% rise in the number of non-Muslims using Shari’ah arbitrations in commercial cases this year. Last year, more than 20 non-Muslims chose to arbitrate cases at the network of tribunals, which operate in London, Birmingham, Bradford, Manchester, Nuneaton and Luton. “We are offering a cheap and effective service for Muslim and non-Muslims,” said MAT spokesperson Fareed Chedie.

“95% of the people who come to us for arbitration do not feel they need legal representation.” Chedie said that tribunals deal mainly with civil and commercial cases, including mosque disputes referred by the Charity Commission. But the tribunals have also continued to hear cases in the field of family law and divorce, Chedie said.

“We are increasingly dealing with reconciliation and mediation in marriage,” said Chedie. “Many of these are cases where women have petitioned because they have a difficult marriage and want some guidance and direction. If they then want to terminate the marriage then we can help with that.”

The increase in marriage and divorce cases comes as one law firm has begun offering advice on civil Scots law and Shari’ah law, making it the first in Britain to offer both civil and Islamic law as part of one service.

Glasgow law firm Hamilton Burns says that it is responding to a greater demand from Muslim clients who want advice on Shari’ah law alongside civil advice under Scots law. It has teamed up with Shaykh Amer Jamil, a Muslim scholar who specialises in Islamic family law.

“We hope that by incorporating Shari’ah family jurisprudence against a background of domestic Scottish legislation, we can provide our clients with as much relevant information as possible,” said Niall Mickel, a solicitor advocate and managing partner at Hamilton Burns. But some groups have criticised the move by the Scottish firm, arguing that the recognition of Shari’ah law decisions in Britain is regressive and harmful to women.

“We have a petition signed by more than 22,000 people saying that all religious tribunals should be prevented from operating within or outside the legal system,” said Maryam Namazie, a spokeswoman for the One Law for All Campaign, which campaigns against Shari’ah law in Britain. “I have spoken to women who are losing custody of their children in the Shari’ah councils – under Shari’ah law custody of a child goes to the husband after a certain age, irrespective of the welfare of the child.

There are cases of domestic violence where women have dropped criminal charges and the Shari’ah councils have sent the husbands on anger-management courses. That is just not how we deal with domestic violence in this country,” Namazie said. Many Muslim lawyers have challenged criticism of Shari’ah law in Britain as “islamophobic”, arguing that there is a distinction between Shari’ah councils – which largely operate outside the law – and arbitration tribunals, which are subject to the Arbitration Act passed by parliament.

“The media get this out of context and hyped up,” said Dr Saba Al-Makhtar, from the Arab Lawyers Association. “Under English law there is room to settle disputes on any ground that it is acceptable to the parties involved, provided it doesn’t conflict with English law .… it is an extremely good idea.

Critics deny that the campaign against Shari’ah law is targeted specifically against Muslims, however. “Our campaign is focusing on Shari’ah but we are against all religious tribunals including the Jewish beth din,” said Namazie.

“Human rights are non-negotiable and religious tribunals puts religion before people’s rights and their freedoms. Law based on any religion – whether the Bible, Torah or the Quran – is completely antithetical to rights woman have in this day and age. Many of the rights women have now result in the UK is the result of a hard fight to wrestle control out of church hands.”

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Clinton Ends US Visa Ban on Tariq Ramadan

January 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

swissinfo.ch and agencies

ramadan-709854 The United States has lifted a ban on Swiss Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan entering the country.

Ramadan has had his US visa revoked several times since 2004 when he was due to take up a university teaching post. He was banned from the US over alleged ties to terrorism.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has signed orders enabling the re-entry of Ramadan and Adam Habib, a professor at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa, once they obtained required admittance documents, department spokesman Darby Holladay said on Wednesday.

He said Clinton “has chosen to exercise her exemption authority” for the pair’s benefit. “Both the president and the secretary of state have made it clear that the US government is pursuing a new relationship with Muslim communities based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” Holladay said.

Both professors, who are frequently invited to the US to lecture, were critics of the war in Iraq.

Government lawyers have said Ramadan was barred because he gave money to a Swiss-based charity, the Association de Secours Palestinien (ASP), between 1998 and 2002. Washington listed ASP as a banned group in 2003, saying it supported terrorism and had contributed funds to the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas.

“The decision brings to an end a dark period in American politics that saw security considerations invoked to block critical debate through a policy of exclusion and baseless allegation,” Ramadan said in a statement.

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Muslims and Climate Change

September 3, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

plant-a-tree Muslims are 1/3 of the world. How can they contribute to saving the earth? I am trying to focus on world’s one third population who are not paying attention about their claim in associating  themselves with their beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) while He was the staunch advocator for the cause of environmental protection. According to Prophet (s) (hadith-by Al-Bukhari) “There is none amongst the believers who plants a tree, or sows a seed, and then a bird, or a person, or an animal eats thereof, but it is regarded as having given a charitable gift”[for which there is great recompense].

On various occasions, it’s been reported that the Prophet (s) had given plenty of importance toward cultivation of land…

See better treatment for animals; special concern for the preservation of water, plant and birds.

Importance of Planting a Tree in Islam

Citing the Prophet’s (s) concern about plants, Qumruzzaman Azmi-Secretary General of the World Islamic Mission, Manchester(UK), said that Prophet (s) says, if a person is dying and he or she gets the chance to plant a tree then do it before dying. Azmi further quoted the Prophet (s) “if the people knew the importance and benefit of planting a tree, there wouldn’t be a single place on earth left treeless.”

According to a prominent Muslim scholar, Dr. Al-Qaradawi, Prophet (s) said “He who cuts a lote-tree (without justification), God will send him to Hellfire.

(this is a much needed tree found in the desert area  with scarce vegetation)

This Hadith gives value to even one tree so we can figure out that how much destructive it is in destroying millions of trees; spoiling the earth’s resources; causing destruction for ozone layer etc.

Encouraging to Cultivate Wasteland

In order to protect the natural resources and preserve the balance existing between the diverse elements of nature in the environment, Al-Qaradawi further quotes the Prophet (s) who not only encouraged the sustainable use of fertile lands, He also told his followers of the benefits of making unused land productive: planting a tree, sowing a seed and irrigating dry land were all regarded as charitable deeds. “Whoever brings dead land to life, that is, cultivates wasteland, for him is a reward therein.”

Essentially, it is prohibited by Islam to let the land set idle for a long time without working it out, quoted  by Iqbual Nadvi from ICNA(Islamic Circle of North America).

Water Conservation

For the purpose of saving water, the Prophet (s) strictly abstained His followers from wasting a single drop of water while making Wadu( a ritual of removing impurity) . He also recommended repeating each thing not more than three times while performing Wudu, even if they are sitting near lake, river or a flowing spring.

In fact, there are innumerable instances which substantiate the intimate relation of the Prophet with Earth, Water, Land and Animal.

In the context of treating birds, He says “If anyone wrongfully kills even a sparrow, let alone anything greater, he will face God’s interrogation” [Mishkat al Masabih].

Reducing Animal Cruelty

Prophet Muhammad (s) taught his followers to be gentle and cautious at the time of slaughtering animals. He advised to use sharp knives following a civilized method in slaughtering the animals so that it could minimize the risk of  hurting  and facilitating  them to die quickly with little pain.

However, He forbade sharpening the knives and slaughtering any animal in the presence of other animals which, essentially, shows the dignity toward the animal. Prophet used to give special consideration to camel and horses as the most useful animal for journey and battle.

Obama’s View

Addressing in Cairo, US President Barack Obama inspired the Muslim World by inculcating them:” As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam – at places like Al-Azhar University – that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance  and Enlightenment.”

The Qur’an says, mankind holds a privileged position among God’s creations on earth: he is chosen as khalifa (vice-regent), and carries the responsibility of caring for God’s earthly creations. Each individual is given this task and privilege in the form of God’s trust. But the Qur’an repeatedly warns believers against arrogance: they are no better than other creatures.

“No creature is there on earth nor a bird flying with its wings but they are nations like you

[Qur’an 6:38]

“Surely the creation of the heavens and the earth is greater than the creation of man; but most people know not.”

[Qur’an 40:57]

Protecting Eco-System

In the thesis, submitted into UNO, Professor Dr. Farooq Hassan-President

Pakistan Ecology Council, says: protecting the environment and eco-systems of the earth are a major concern of the Islamic Faith. If the situation of the environment keeps deteriorating at the present rate, there will ultimately be no life, no property and no religion left.

As we face the effects of pollution and water scarcity in some parts of the world and floods and violent storms elsewhere, now it’s time for the world

community as a whole, Muslims, Christians and Jews, Hindus and Buddhists, atheists and agnostics, to take a leaf out of the Prophet’s book and address the current environmental crisis seriously and wisely.

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