Maulana Barakatullah: An Indian Muslim Revolutionary in America

July 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Ayub Khan, MMNS

It was a hot summer night in 1927. An elderly and weak looking man entered a community hall in Marysville, California. The gathered crowd of over 800 Indians became ecstatic and greeted him with a  thundering applause. Strings of sparkling tears rolled down the face of  the elderly man. He went up to the stage and began speaking with his usual forceful delivery but suddenly stopped. He couldn’t utter a word. There were wails and sighs from the audience. The elderly man composed himself and smiled; it’s glow sent a cheer through the audience. But he did not speak. A voice that has shaken the corridors of British colonial authorities was soon going to be silent forever. This voice belonged to the great, but almost forgotten, hero of Indian independence movement Maulana Barakatullah Bhopali. Maulana Bhopali’s life is one full of dedication and service-a fiery journalist, a brilliant orator, an erudite Islamic scholar, a nationalist to the core, an author of several books, a polyglot who knew more than seven languages, a prime minister of India’s government -in-exile. He was all this and more.

Maulana Barakatullah passed away on his way to San Francisco on September 20, 1927 and was buried in the Old City Cemetery of Sacramento. His funeral was attended by Indian Americans of all religious persuasions and they hoped that the Maulana’s remains would eventually be transferred to India once it attains independence. But, alas, the wish remained unfulfilled and the Maulana rests in peace in a particularly beautiful section of this historic cemetery.

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Headstone of Maulana Barakatullah’s grave in Sacramento Historic Cemetery (Courtesy: Sharon Patrician)

Maulana Barakatullah Bhopali was born somewhere between 1859 and 1861 in the princely state of Bhopal in India. His father Maulvi Muhammad Shujaat Ullah was a Madrassa teacher originally with meager resources and income. A bright student Barakatullah successfully completed his religious education at Madrasa-e-Sulaimaniya and qualified as an Alim in 1878. He served as a teacher at the same school from 1879-1880. He was able to utilize the intellectual milieu of princely Bhopal and was likely to have come in contact with the scholar-prince Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan Qanauji. He is also reported to have met the pan-Islamist and reformer Jamaluddin Afghani in 1882 and was much impressed of his ideas.

In 1883 he disappeared mysteriously from Bhopal and ended up in Bombay where he enrolled himself in Wilson High School in Khetwadi. Despite being a mature student he did not mind attending the elementary grades. At the insistence of a certain Mr. Scot he began taking private lessons in English from him  in return for teaching Urdu.  Within three years he was proficient enough to qualify for the university entrance examination.

He went to London in 1887 and served as a private tutor teaching Arabic, Persian, and Urdu. He himself learned German, French, and Japanese. He was invited by the British convert Abdullah Quilliam to work at the Muslim Institute in Liverpool  in 1895. He subsequently taught at the Oriental College of University of Liverpool. He later distanced himself from the Muslim Institute over its style of functioning.

While in England he came into contact with Indian revolutionaries at India House. In response to the then British Prime Minister Gladstone’s racist comments about India he launched a flurry of articles and speeches criticizing the policies. As a result his activities were severely restricted. 

He left for New York in 1899 at the insistence of Muslim scholar and activist Muhammad Alexander Russell Webb. In his six year stint in New York he churned out a prolific number of articles related to Islam and India which were published in Webb’s The Muslim World and also in mainstream newspapers such as the Forum. To earn an income he taught Arabic. He developed contacts with the Indian community in other cities of US and Canada and sought to instill the revolutionary spirit in them. While in America he kept in touch with fellow revolutionaries in India and had a scholarly exchange with the poet and nationalist leader Maulana Hasrat Mohani.  In these letters he stressed on the need for Hindu-Muslim unity in the freedom struggle. He became a founder member of the Ghadr Party started by the Indians in San Francisco.

Maulana Barakatullah reached Japan in 1909 and was appointed a professor of oriental languages at the University of Tokyo. He brought out a journal The Islamic Fraternity which was known for its anti-colonial content. After its suppression he brought out another newspaper by the name of El Islam which was banned in British India. As a result of his activities his appointment at the university was terminated in 1914. This, however, did not unnerve Maulana Barakatullah. He treated the world as his playground and moved his activities elsewhere.

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Maulana Barakatullah (extreme right) with the Turko-German Mission

He accompanied the Turko-German Mission to Kabul in 1915 and joined Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi and Raja Mahendra Pratap to form the Provincial government of India. He served as the Prime Minister of the government-in-exile. In 1919 he met Lenin and sought his help in India’s struggle for freedom. Throughout the the early 1920s he travelled widely in Germany, France, and Russia organizing the expatriate Indian communities on the revolutionary path.

His 1927 visit was his second one to the New World and would prove to be his last. He was suffering from diabetes and had a host of other ailments but his love for the nation was such that he undertook the long journey from Germany along with long time friend and fellow revolutionary Mahendra  Pratap. He arrived in New York in July 1927 and stayed at a hotel in Times Square. On 15th July 1927, he was given a reception by the Indian community at Ceylon Indian Inn on 49th Street. He also met the Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. The two also spoke at a joint gathering of African-Americans and Indians.   He also travelled to Chicago, Gary, and several other cities of the Midwest renewing his links with the Indian and Irish communities among whom he had many friends.

He arrived at the Yugantar Ashram, the Ghadr Party’s headquarters in San Francisco and was pleased with its work. He then proceeded to Marysville where he was destine to give his last public speech. Throughout this trip his constant companion was Raja Mahendra Pratap who was himself not keeping well and aging. According to Mahendra Pratap’s autobiography the Maulana last words were:  “I have been sincerely struggling all my life for the independence of my country. Today, when I am leaving this world, I have regret that my attempts did not succeed. But at the same time I am also satisfied that hundreds and thousands of others have followed me who are brave and truthful…With satisfaction I place the destiny of my beloved nation in their hands.”

Maulana Barakatullah Bhopali was an epitome of sincerity and dedication towards one’s nation. A die hard to the core he never married as he considered it be distracting from his duty to the freedom struggle. It is an irony that this legendary son of the Indian freedom movement is reduced to the margins of Indian history. His name doesn’t find a mention in the country’s text books nor does his portrait grace the famed halls of the Indian parliament. There is, however, a university named after him in his native Bhopal.

Maulana Barakatullah’s sojourns in America also testify to the long standing links which Indian Muslims have maintained with the new world. Contrary to popular perceptions Indian Muslims did not begin arriving in America in the 1960s but at least sixty years earlier. The registers of cemeteries across California will verify this fact.

11-28

AL-AWDA Convention

May 28, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, MMNS

Palestinians comprise the largest refugee population in the world today. The Israelis drove out approximately 750,000 Palestinians from their homes in 1948. The legal basis for their right of return cannot be disputed. In their treatment of Palestinian refugees, the Israelis not only forced Palestinians to leave ancestral lands, but, through their treatment of them from 1948 until today, they have destroyed a culture.

In the 61st year of the Nakba (the catastrophe), AL-AWDA once again has brought national and international attention to this situation.

The seventh annual convention of AL-AWDA, the Palestinian Right of Return Coalition, was held in Garden Grove, Ca. this past weekend. This well attended, exciting and educational event, titled “Freedom for Palestine”, began Friday evening with a meet and greet session enhanced by outstanding Arabic food.

After the convention opening and welcome, activists from solidarity organizations addressed the audience. These activists included, but were not limited to: John Parker, the West Coast Coordinator of the International Action Center; Richard Becker, a founder and current leader of the ANSWER Coalition, and Cindy Sheehan, a prominent anti-war activist and campaigner for human rights.

A showing of “Salt of the Sea” closed the evening’s activities. This motion picture tells the story of a young Palestinian woman, born in the United States to Palestinian refugees. When she becomes aware that at the time of the Nakba the Israelis froze her grandfather’s bank account in Jaffa, she travels to Palestine to reclaim what she believes is her due. As she sees the conditions of Palestinian existence and meets a young Palestinian man, she comes to realize that what needs to be reclaimed is far more than a bank account.

On Saturday forums were held throughout the day dealing with such timely issues as: “Palestinian Refugees – Background and Current Status”  with Dr. Jesse Ghannam. Dr. Ghannam has established mental health clinics in Gaza and travels there frequently. The clinics and his participation in them are under the auspices of the Gaza Community Mental Health program. In the United States, Dr. Ghannam is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Chief of Medical Psychology at the University of California San Francisco.

“Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions” was conducted by Lubna Hamad of Adalah (The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East) New York of which she is co founder. Ms Hamad was a legal consultant for UNICEF in Jerusalem with a specialty of child protection.

George Galloway, British MP and international human rights advocate, conducted a forum on “Viva Palestina”.

MP Galloway also addressed an evening session on “Growing our Global Movement – Freedom for Palestine” which session included fundraising.

Keynote addresses on Gaza in the aftermath of the Israeli attack and the situation in Jerusalem highlighted the luncheon session.

A parallel youth program was held.

The final session of the Convention, held on Sunday, dealt with reports, challenges and future plans.

The Sacramento chapter, which had at one time been part of the San Francisco chapter, reported growth and successful participation in anti war events, BDS and educational series. The Phoenix chapter also reported growth and public engagement.

A suggestion was made to encourage tourism to Palestine,specifically Jerusalem, as the Israeli government is trying to cripple East Jerusalem economically. Tourists should stay at Palestinian run hotels; eat at Palestinian run restaurants, and purchase from Palestinian run shops.

Further, a suggestion was made to coordinate AL-AWDA activity here with AL-AWDA groups in Europe where the movement is extremely active.

Still another suggestion, unanimously and enthusiastically accepted, was to send a small delegation to the Egyptian Consulate to express our dismay at Egypt’s cooperation in making crossing into Gaza through Rafah difficult and erratic.

Booths on display at the AL-AWDA Convention included but were not limited to: Palestine Online Store; A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition; International Action Center; Free Gaza Movement, and Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of California in San Diego.

Host committee organizations of the AL-AWDA Convention included but were not limited to: Palestine Aid Society; Muslim Students Association at UCSD, Palomar College, and Mira Costa and the Muslim Students Union at UCR; Free Palestine Alliance, and Palestinian American Women Association.

AL-AWDA may be accessed at: www.al-awda.org.

11-23

Response to the Muslim Evolutionists

April 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Hakim Jensen

The subject of evolution is extremely incendiary among Muslims, which is a surprise to me as a convert. 

I was raised on evolution, and would have considered anyone an ignoramus who denied it—until I accepted my faith.

I had previously accepted the lies spoon-fed to me from infancy to age 24.  Now, however, things are different.  My religion states clearly that Adam and Eve were the first members of our race of people, and all of today’s people are descended from them—and Allah made nations and tribes from them.  My job is to believe my religion if I want to adhere to it.  And I believe it—it makes more sense to me than any alternative.  And now I actually devote some thought to it instead of mindlessly parroting the stupidities of those who taught me evolution.

Belief in the unseen is part of Islam.  There are many miraculous events which are described in Qur`an which cannot be explained according to the natural laws of this universe.  The only explanations come from belief in the unseen world—there is not really any way around that.  The essential distinction between believers and unbelievers is belief in the unseen world.  Allah, angels, messengers, holy books, the Day of Judgment, and destiny, both the good and the bad:  these are elements of our faith which we must believe in or our faith is not complete.  And you cannot explain away those unseen things, or reduce them to footnotes in an otherwise purely physical world.

But now I see that many Muslims don’t want to believe.  They consider all of the actual beliefs and practices of Islam to be anachronistic embarrassments better tucked away as far as possible towards the back of the closet.  As Muslims, our lives do not rotate around seen things, or around the physical world.  And certainly our lives do not rotate around imitating unbelievers in their unbelief.  Let them be rich and fat and happy—they are still living off the fat of the accomplishments of Muslims, whether algebra, trigonometry, medicine, astronomy, or other creations of Muslims, which in reality make their modernity possible—and unfortunately they lose themselves completely in their lives of waste and dramatic overconsumption.  Islam is what gave unbelievers the very comfort and prosperity in which they take so much pride.  But now Muslims imitate those unbelievers, in their stupidity, because they want the wealth and pleasure which Allah gave the unbelievers. 

Those who run after this life, leaving Islam behind or covering it up, are making a mistake.  Allah gave us difficulty in this life.  Those who love Allah, and those who love Prophet (s), face extreme difficulty and poverty.  Prophet (s) told Companions that.  That is not an indication that we are on the wrong way.  Our Holy Prophet (s) faced hunger beyond our imagining, saw his Companions tortured and killed, faced people who wanted to kill him and all his people, was himself wounded and tormented.  Some Companions were tortured, forced to revoke their faith.  It is actually an indication of our being good Muslims when we also face difficulty, although we hope not to face so much difficulty as those who came before us.  It is not a dishonor to us that we face difficulty, or that Muslims are poor around the world.  That is an indication of our goodness.  Some people from other religions prefer this world over the next—so in this world they get to enjoy themselves, but we Muslims hope for the next world, and we seek our God’s pleasure in this world—believing in Him despite our being unable to see Him; acting on our belief in Him sometimes to our own physical detriment—it builds our own honor that we do this.  That said, if someone becomes wealthy but keeps his religion properly, that is tremendous good luck for him; it is good, not bad.  A grateful wealthy person is better than a poor worshipper.

In imitating the unbelievers, Muslims betray us and support the arguments of the unbelievers, for example in evolution.

There are fundamental logical flaws in evolution. Evolution is a theory which pretends to explain a process of development that leads to the multiplicity of organisms that exist today.  And yet the essential underpinning of that system is missing.  There is no explanation for how the first life came into being.  As Harun Yahya has shown, scientists are unable to create from primordial soup even the building blocks of life, simple proteins, let alone coalesce millions of proteins into a living organism and breathe life into it in one go.  It is completely impossible.  You can shoot lightning at ocean water all day long, and no frog is going to jump out of the soup.  No amoeba will ever be created and pulse and migrate around a petri dish, inspired to life by a scientist who didn’t first put that amoeba there after bringing it from wherever God had previously put it.

There are other flaws with evolution.  Darwin could not have known that the mutations of organisms only happen within preset boundaries.  A cat can be bred through multiple generations to favor only characteristics that were hidden within the genetic material of its ancestors.  It cannot be bred into a dog, no matter how many generations you devote to the task.  Nor can an ant’s grandchildren be fish; nor can a crow, however bred, produce an ostrich or a chicken.  If that is true under the direct manipulation of human breeding, then how can random mutations progress in ordered fashion from one species to another to build millions of species?  If I am wrong, prove it.  Breed any pair of cats into a dog (no direct genetic manipulation by injecting canine genes—that’s cheating). If your friend is on a train on tracks between Washington and New York, don’t sit at the Berlin train station waiting for him, because he is never going to arrive there.  He is also not going to arrive in Paris or London, unless there is direct intervention from the unseen world.  You have to wait at some point on the connected tracks between Washington and New York.

But Islam explains everything without any flaw.  Believers have a consistent explanation from their faith.  In Islam there is an explanation for everything, for all of the so-called evidence that people use to argue against the underlying realities that are quite clearly explained in Islam.  There is no logical flaw, the explanation is consistent and permits growth to our own understanding far beyond where we currently are scientifically.  There is no religious limit to our scientific understanding as Muslims.  Islam fed scientific inquiry, and did not retard it. 

The basic explanation is this.  There were 124,000 Adams, as stated in the hadith that Jibril (as) asked “Which Adam do you mean?”  Our grandfather Adam was the last of those 124,000.  That is the explanation for the footprints and other evidence of mankind that have been found from before our Adam.  There have only been approximately 7,000 years since the flood of Noah.  In the past there were many creatures, some of which were destroyed by Allah, or some of which were transformed by Allah.  Dinosaurs became small, punished by God.  Even in Qur`an are examples given of communities of people who were transformed into other creatures, apes or pigs.  Species found only in fossil form simply are extinct species, or much diminished species that could still be living as far from humans as possible—they are not transitional life forms.  If Allah wants animals to transform, He can make them transform—that does not invalidate Muslims’ understanding of the origin of all living things.  But as a general pattern that is not how humans came into being.  Allah could have made amphibious creatures, that does not mean that fish turned into frogs.  If you look at Allah’s creation, He makes things appear as trees—many variations from a central theme—the similarities and the multiplicity of small variations are only evidence of the beauty and symmetry of His all-powerful design.  The existence of one leaf next to another does not indicate that the first leaf has just climbed from the spot now occupied by the other leaf. 

The so-called transitional human forms much promoted in bumper stickers and false depictions of progression from hunch-backs to homo sapiens sapiens are all fakes, forgeries, or either humans or apes—they are not as advertised, stepping stones between apes and humans.  And this also Harun Yahya has shown in his arguments.

Everything about life indicates the existence of a planner, even the existence of a blueprint stamped on every cell of each creation—DNA.

In fact, Qur`an is so perfect and magnificent that it itself can be studied scientifically.  In the glory days of Islam, people did study Qur`an.  There are amazing facts, much discussed by believers but much ignored by those who battle for evolution—there are many facts about Qur`an which show an inhuman beauty and symmetry and order, as a small example consider that the word angel appears exactly as many times as the word devil, 88.  Or that if you look at the very middle two words in Qur`an, they say “Be soft”—an instruction intended to be found by a diver who dove deep with belief into study of God’s Holy Words.  There are many other examples—please forgive me if I have made any mistake in the two I have cited.  But the fact of the awesome precision of the Holiest Book is evidence that it itself is a valid subject for scientific study.  These are only small examples of Qur`an’s central planning and order.

Islam itself can be studied scientifically.  The Prophet (s) should be studied scientifically—his example is more beneficial than studying the number of legs on ants, or whatever scientists waste their time studying.  Those who worship science should not try so desperately to pry our fingers away from the study of our own lovely religion.

Now if you don’t want to believe what Allah said, you are free.  You can contradict Islam, contradict Qur`an, try to argue that Qur`an is not literal, say whatever you want, say you don’t have to believe.  You are free.  Say your grandfather is an ape.  Say your grandfather is a mosquito.  Marry an ape yourself.  Marry a donkey, marry a mosquito.  Do what you want.  But if you say those things, as a favor to me I am just asking that you not say you are Muslim.  If you worship science, and not God.  If you imitate the unbelievers, and shun the practices of the Holy Prophet (s).  We are Muslim, so we want to believe what Allah tells us in Qur`an, and we want to follow the example of our Holy Prophet (s).  And we want to devote ourselves to what Allah said—so please do not try to distract us and dissuade us, persuade us and subdue us.

In fact, to sum up, there are two explanations for the “origin of the species,” as the idiot Charles Darwin called it.  One is Darwinism, logically incomplete, based only on the world that is visible to unbelievers; the correct one is creation, it is logically complete, but based on the world known only to believers, to those who believe in the unseen.  So choose your camp, but choose wisely.  Because there are consequences to your decision.  Choose the logically consistent explanation that explains everything, or choose the idiotic explanation that unbelievers love, which does not even bear up to logical scrutiny, and for which you may be punished.

It is remarkable even that unbelievers are able to persuade themselves to accept the pure stupidity of evolution.  But at least it makes sense—cast adrift with no knowledge of the truth, they have to cast about and it is understandable that they could invent a childish explanation for the world around them—after all they don’t know any better.  But it is a shame beyond shamelessness that Muslims and other believers bow and scrape and otherwise abase themselves to the abomination, the utterly moronic theory of evolution, which lies at the foundation of almost all of the pure evil of the last 100 years, Nazism first of all.

11-17

Iftikhar Chaudhry Welcomed in US

November 26, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Judge I Chaudhry NEW YORK, Nov 17: Deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry received a standing ovation from a huge crowd of Pakistani-Americans in Brooklyn (New York) on Sunday evening.

Justice Iftikhar who has come to the United States to receive awards from New York Bar Association and Harvard Law School did not address the crowd.

Former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association Aitzaz Ahsan said in his speech that in order to make Pakistan truly independent and honourable nation restoration of the deposed chief justice was a pre-requisite.

“He is a symbol of independent judiciary which all Pakistanis want,” he said.

The meeting was organised by Pakistani-American lawyers led by Ramzan Rana.

The organisers repeatedly appealed to the audience not to raise political slogans. However, slogans were raised against President Asif Zardari’s position on the restoration of judges.

At one stage, some people repeatedly called for Mr Ahsan’s resignation from the PPP.

After ignoring them for some time, Mr Ahsan shot back, “I will not resign from PPP. I’m the Pakistan People’s Party!”

He said Justice Iftikhar had maintained judicial restraint and never responded to criticism from some politicians or to opinions expressed in television talk shows.

He said Justice Iftikhar’s restoration was all the more important because if it was not done there would never be an independent judiciary in the country.

Mr Ahsan said Pakistan’s top political leaders, Asif Ali Zardari, Mian Nawaz Sharif, Asfandyar Wali and Maulana Fazlur Rehman, had made written and oral commitments with the nation to restore all deposed judges, but so far that promise had not been fulfilled.

Earlier Justice Chaudhry was received at JFK by a large crowd of Pakistani American Attorneys, Political activists and members of civil society.

10-49

“Sailing to Byzantium”

November 20, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS

2008-11-07T182600Z_01_CYP03_RTRMDNP_3_GAZA-POLITICIANS

International activists depart for Gaza from Larnaca November 7, 2008. Eleven European politicians sailed to Gaza from Cyprus on Friday after saying attempts to get into the impoverished enclave via Egypt failed. 

REUTERS/ Andreas Manolis

Paul Laudree’s Report on running the Israeli Blockade into Gaza with Relief Packets.

Sunnyvale, California–November 13th–The UN had to end its food distribution due to the lack of security since Hamas (Gaza’s ruling Party) broke their fragile cease-fire with Tel Aviv by shooting their longest-range missiles towards the far Jewish Settlements.  The New York/Geneva Organization found it impossible to ensue with their impossible assignment delivering their humanitarian duty under such anarchistic conditions.  As I wind down my Gazan story on Monday night, the missiles are still raining on Israeli territory (17th) while the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) respond with precision strikes against the Palestinian Republic with the most technically advanced American fighter-plane technology!

Given that I had told the story of a small town on the West Bank last week, I intended to hold this piece for at least a week, but circumstances have overtaken this journalist!

I usually do not follow a strict interview format within my articles, but I had an opportunity to do so with Laudree.  Initially, I asked him about the current crisis, and how it may resolve itself.  He replied that when the Israelis blockade Gaza by land, they typically back down over a realistic period of time, and he expects this will be the case over this confrontation.  It is happening now because “Israel desires to utilize collective punishment” — an action that violates the Geneva Conventions.  Dr. Laudree continued that “The Israelis fail[ed] to weaken Hamas.  [What they have accomplished] is to marginalize the Palestinians [there], and to make them wretched.”

“The Question becomes what shall We do about it?”

He felt that his project (of relief boats) had little practical affect, but produced an enormous sociological re-enforcement to the citizens of the enclave, or in Paul Laudree own words, “It was more symbolic than substantive, but we intend to extend [our efforts more into practicable significant assistance.]…” The Doctor Laudree did berate the traditional assistance agencies for their failure to offer respite to the inhabitants (that gets us back to the U.N.’s recent decision).

In his venture in which he was one of the primary founders and strategists, he was able to put together good-sized ships that sailed from Cyprus to dock at the very difficult man-made harbor in Gaza that was primarily created for fishing ships.  Paul’s three crafts — plus now one leased vessel (i.e., four in all at the moment) – are the size of large trawlers.  The pilot has to make careful maneuvers into the harbor to docket it.  The depth of the harbor is three and one half to four meters, but it can be dredged to a full eight meters.  During the first voyage two boats were able to make it through to landing!  Subsequently, two more aid voyages of one liner each were able to race Israel’s Navy to provide much sought for supplies to this beleaguered enslaved nation!

Laudree clarified that Israel “threaten to stop – not sink – their cruisers.”  Yet, leaders within the endeavor personally received anonymous intimidation.  Paul Laudee himself received a publicly pronounced threat by a pseudo-blog-scribe.

“We need to change the lives of the Palestinian public – especially in transport!  Palestinians have the right to move about their own land, and to travel abroad which is enshrined in the U.N. Charter!” Yet, “Israel not only controls their own borders, but those of the Palestinians as well!”  Gaza is different because it borders both Egypt and Israel.  “We wish to take advantage of that fact.”  So far Tel Aviv has permitted us to employ the sea lanes since the commodities we deliver are not perceived as a security threat.

10-48

US Willing to Talk to Taliban

October 30, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

By Anwar Iqbal and Masood Haider

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Head of the Afghan Jirga delegation Abdullah Abdullah (L) and Head of the Pakistan Jirga delegation Owais Ahmed Ghani talk during a news conference in Islamabad October 28, 2008. Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed on Tuesday to establish contacts jointly with Taliban militants through tribal leaders after two days of talks over how to end bloodshed in both countries.

REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood    (PAKISTAN)

Washington/New York, Oct 28: The US is willing to hold direct talks with elements of the Taliban in an effort to quell unrest in Afghanistan, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing unidentified Bush administration officials.

The Washington Post reported that Taliban leader Mullah Omar had shown openness to the idea of repudiating Al Qaeda, which encouraged the Bush administration to explore the possibility of holding direct talks with the militia.

Jane’s Defence Weekly reported that the Taliban had conveyed this message to representatives of the Afghan government during a meeting in Saudi Arabia last month.

Amid these reports of a possible breakthrough in the search for a peaceful solution to the Afghan conflict, Christian Science Monitor noted that on Monday the Taliban militia showed “a new potency” in the fight against coalition forces, bringing down a US military helicopter near Kabul, while a suicide bomber struck and killed two Americans in northern Afghanistan.

The Los Angeles Times on Tuesday highlighted the significance of the attack, noting that “choppers are a crucial mode of transport for troops and supplies” in Afghanistan.

Speculations about a possible breakthrough in the talks with the Taliban follow a series of meetings last month in Saudi Arabia between representatives of the Afghan government and the militia.

But even before the Saudis initiated the talks, the Karzai government had been putting out feelers to the Taliban for negotiating an end to its insurgency in exchange for some sort of power-sharing deal.

Though the US has so far been on the sidelines but at a recent news conference Gen David McKiernan, the commander of US troops in Afghanistan, grudgingly said he would support the Afghan government if it chose to go down the path of negotiations.

And now the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the US might get involved in those negotiations directly. “Senior White House and military officials believe that engaging some levels of the Taliban — while excluding top leaders — could help reverse a pronounced downward spiral in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan,” the report said.

Both countries have been destabilised by a recent wave of violence.

Senior Bush administration officials told the Journal that the outreach was a draft recommendation in a classified White House assessment of US strategy in Afghanistan. The officials said that the recommendation called for the talks to be led by the Afghan central government, but with the active participation of the US.

The US would be willing to pay moderate Taliban members to lay down their weapons and join the political process, the Journal cited an unidentified US official as saying. The Central Intelligence Agency has been mapping Afghanistan’s tribal areas in an attempt to understand the allegiances of clans and tribes, the report said.

WSJ noted that joining the talks would only be a first step as the Bush administration was still in the process of determining what substantial offer it could make to persuade the Taliban to abandon violence. “How much should (we) be willing to offer guys like this?” asked a senior Bush official while talking to the Journal.
Gen David Petraeus, who will assume responsibility this week for US military operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan as head of the Central Command, supports the proposed direct talks between the Taliban and the US, the WSJ said.

Gen Petraeus used a similar approach in Iraq where a US push to enlist Sunni tribes in the fight against Al Qaeda helped sharply reduce the country’s violence. Gen Petraeus earlier this month publicly endorsed talks with less extreme Taliban elements.

Gen Petraeus also indicated that he believed insurgencies rarely ended with complete victory by one or the other side.

“You have to talk to enemies,” said Gen Petraeus while pointing to Kabul’s efforts to negotiate a deal with the Taliban that would potentially bring some Taliban members back to power, saying that if they were “willing to reconcile” it would be “a positive step”.

US Afghan experts outside the Bush administration have also been urging the White House to try to end violence “by co-optation, integration and appeasement”, as one of them said.

They urge the Bush administration to give the Taliban a positive reason to stop fighting. This, they argue, would allow Washington to separate hardcore militants from others within the Taliban and would also expose the extremists before the Afghan people.

10-45

Community News (V10-I39)

September 18, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Chicago interfaith Iftar

CHICAGO,IL–Chicago area Muslims and Christians gathered at the Islamic Foundation Mosque recently for an interfaith iftar. It was part of an ongoing effort  between the two communities relations between the two communities. More than fifty people came for the event.

Similar events are being held throughout the Chicago area.

“Had it not been for interfaith relations in the Chicago area, the aftermath of 9/11 would have been very different,” said Ghulam Haider Aasi, professor of Islamic studies at American Islamic College in Chicago in an interview to the Daily Herald. “Muslims of Chicago fortunately did not see as bad a situation (of backlash) as people in other parts of the country.”

Leaders emphasized commonalities between the faith traditions and the significance of building fellowship through the fast-breaking ritual.

“What I think is valuable about this is two communities build personal relationships first in the context of which they are then able to discuss the larger issues between them,” said the Rev. Thomas Baima, Provost at the University of St. Mary of the Lake Mundelein Seminary.

Heitage Hills Mosque plans not approved

GRAND RAPIDS,MI–Heritage Hill residents convinced city planners to reject an Islamic community’s request to convert a former school building into a mosque.
The city’s Planning Commission voted 8-0 against the request by the Masjid Muhammad Islamic Center.

Mosque officials said the daily prayers would attract only a handful of worshippers, while other gatherings rarely would draw more than 50 people.

But neighbors complained that the property has only seven spaces, with three spaces available on the street which will lead to problems.

The Masjid Muhammad Islamic Center has been looking for a permanent home for five years, since a mosque along South Division Avenue was destroyed by fire.

Bus ads spread the message

SEATTLE,WA– Adopting an innovative approach to Dawah, activists in Seattle area have turned to public transit buses. The paid advertisements on the Metro buses simply read:  “Q: Islam. A: You deserve to know,” with a phone number and Web site.

They have been designed to spark curiosity about the most misunderstood religion. The idea was initiated by the Islamic Circle of North America and now ads are displayed on the outside of six metro buses and the inside of about 25. The cost of $5,000 was contributed by ten local Muslims.

Buses in New York and Chicago will also display the advertisements soon.

Memphis Muslim clinic reaches out

MEMPHIS,TN– As the number of uninsured grows in America, Muslim doctors are doing their part to help their fellow citizens and lighten the burden.

The Memphis Muslim Medical Clinic in East Memhis has been serving the uninsured patients for the past two and a half years. With a volunteer base of 100 Muslim doctors have served over 2,000 patients who pay as little as $5 per visit.

Housed on the property of  Masjid As-Salaam the clinic is run by five directors all of whom are on the staff of University of Tennessee.

Open on weekends, the clinic has a $100,000 annual budget, which is funded through private donors, many of whom make direct monthly deposits.

Work at Boonton mosque stopped

BOONTON, NJ–More than two years after the expansion of the Jam e Masjid Islamic Center was approved by the planning board, progress on the controversial proposal has hit a snag, the Daily Record reported.

The town issued a stop-work order in early August on construction of the multi-story 4,000-square-foot expansion to the Harrison Street mosque, after a resident noticed the work on the façade did not conform to the site plan approval of March 2006.

Work on the expansion began several months ago by Perth Amboy-based Troop Construction, mosque officials said.

An amendment to the application—revisited by the planning board on Wednesday night–was denied in a vote of 5-2 following testimony from representatives of the mosque on the site plan changes and protests from several residents who oppose the changes.

Board members Richard Orlusky and Douglas Phelps approved the amended plan.

Roy Kurnos, the mosque’s attorney, said he will meet this weekend with mosque officials and architect David Singer to revise the amended plan, re-file and present it to the board again.

10-39

Cricket Tour / Contest for DeLay’s Seat / Houston Local Cricket

April 27, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Never Forget the South Asian Quake, Says Pakistan Cricket Team

Islamic Relief Volunteers from the US, UK and Pakistan were already operating on the Azad Kashmir Line of Control when the huge earthquake struck the South Asian Region at 8:50 am Pakistan time, on October 8, 2005.
Many volunteers lost loved ones in the catastrophe, which was twenty times more damaging than Hurricane Katrina which had hit New Orleans just before, on August 25, 2005.
Former captains of the Pakistan Cricket Team, Rashid Latif and Moin Khan and record-holder, first-class c cricketer and coach Haris Ahmed Khan, joined hands with Islamic Relief and went deep into the Neelum Valley to work with their own bare hands to assist those in the region who have lost almost everything.
After what they saw, they determined it would take years to build the lives of the devastated people. Having witnessed many heart-wrenching and dreadful stories of poor people of the region, these three celebrities of Pakistan Cricket came for a long and tiring fundraising effort in North America, which took them to California, Illinois, Florida, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Ontario Canada.
During their stay in Texas, they came to Dallas and Houston. In Dallas, they raised more than $200,000, while in an unscheduled last-minute Houston event they were able to raise more than $15,000.
Rashid, Moin and Haris all said that these people may have lost everything and may even have lost their natural emotions or grief, but all of them have the rest of the world to assist them. Many people promised to help—most of those promises were fulfilled. For years to come, the need is so immense that even if we have given to them, we still need to go back to our wallets and pockets and keep giving for another five to eight years.
The cricketers praised the efforts of Islamic Relief and the disciplined manner in which they have taken up this huge task, with just 6% overhead.
For more information on this fundraising humanitarian trip, and for information on ongoing humanitarian projects, call Anwar Khan of Islamic Relief at 1-818-216-9723.

Mayor of Sugarland Wants to take Tom DeLay’s Seat

The popular mayor, David G. Wallace, of Sugarland Texas, wants to take the seat of Tom DeLay, whenever he will decide to vacate.
Toward this end, he is meeting several people in the communities in Texas and also planning to travel to New York and other places to raise funds.
Recently he met, at Lassani Restaurant, a bipartisan group representing Texas communities of Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians.
He said that, having done his job to the best of his abilities at the local level, he now has aspirations to provide service to the people of America by being in the congress. He said although he is not well abreast about all foreign affairs issues, he is interacting with several communities to learn from them how they think about these problems of the world.
He said he is the advocate for low-interest rates to enhance the economy, and will work to build a better lifestyle for all Americans and to build fruitful measures for small businesses.

New Houston Pakistan/India Cricket Win-Loss Record: Tied at 4 and 4!

It was 1998 when the first annual Pakistan v. India Houston Players Cricket Match was played. Ever since then, every April third, these two traditional teams play against each other in a most disciplined, high-class and friendly manner.
The game has been played without a hitch except one year when it was cancelled for rain. Of the remaining years, the win-loss record is as follows: Pakistan has won four times and India three times; this year India won, making the record 4 and 4.
The match was played at the beautiful Harris County Tom-Bass Park. Pakistan scored 232, while India crossed the score when they had two wickets and few balls left to play.
Elegant left handed batsman Sushil made 115*, the first century of these traditional matches. Sushil was declared the Most Valuable Player of the Match. Majid of Pakistan was affirmed as the best bowler for his three quick wickets, which made the game even poised and most exciting at one stage. Captain Rafay of Pakistan for his 45 was given the best batsman award.
Those interested in playing cricket or wanting to know more about this game in Houston, please visit the website of the Houston Cricket League: http://www.houstoncricket. com/

Community News / North America Vol 8 Iss 17

April 24, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Breaking down the barriers at Wesleyan
MIDDLETOWN, CT—In order to prove that Muslims and Jews can coexist peacefully, Rabbi David Leipziger Teva and Imam Abdullah Antepli of Wesleyan University took a group of Muslim students to Istanbul and Jerusalem. The group of 11 students say that their outlook was totally transformed after their 11 day excursion, reported the campus newsletter.
The group visited the K-6 Hand-in-Hand School in Jerusalem where Palestinian and Israeli children of all faiths learn together. In Israel the group also visited the Kibbutz Metzer, a socialist commune, and other historical landmarks.
The group met with journalists, lobbyists, human rights activists and political leaders, including Vatican Representative of Istanbul, George Marovitch and Chief Rabbinate and Rabbi of Turkey Isaac Halevo.
Rachel Berkowitz a freshman from Trumansburg, NY, says the trip helped her gain a strong desire to learn more about Islam, Judaism, interfaith dialogue and about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I think the difference I have made has been internal, rather than external,” says Berkowitz. “I have learned and changed so much. I feel I now have a broader perspective.”
“On the trip, we learned that there was a sense of hope, a hope for peace,î sayid freshman Jamal Ahmed. “Despite terrible hardships, there are still great strives towards peace and beautiful co-existence. I learned more about the Jewish culture, religion, and Israeli society than I thought possible in such a short time.”
Rare copy of a translation of the Holy Quran donated to Muslims
DEARBORN, MI—A nearly 300-year old English translation of the Holy Qur’an — the Islamic scriptures — has been donated to the Islamic Center of America (ICA) by Richard L. Steinberg, a Detroit trial attorney. The book is to be held in trust for all Muslim peoples in metro Detroit at the ICA, according to a press release.
“If we do not stand together as a nation, but become a community of clashing cultures and warring factions, we will all be destroyed,” Steinberg stated. “Jesus said ‘I give to you a new commandment that you shall love one another’ and the Qur’an says ‘I swear by the declining day that man is in deep loss except for those who believe, do good deeds, urge one another to the truth and urge one another to steadfastness.’ This is the community our faiths are calling us to.”
The copy donated to the ICA was purchased from Bauman Rare Books in New York and contains a hand-drawn map of the Arabian Peninsula, a genealogical chart of the Prophet Muhammad, and a drawing of the original lay-out of the sacred shrine in Mecca. It also contains a preliminary discourse discussing Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
Steinberg has been practicing law for 34 years and his notable cases include the first Title IX discrimination case in the country and his recent defence of Geoffrey Feiger in the investigation of contributions to the John Edwards 2004 presidential campaign. He is an ordained Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and a member of the Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church in Detroit. Steinberg was recently re-appointed to the Michigan Advisory Board of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Muslims request zoning change
HARRISBURG, PA—A Mus-lim couple have submitted a request to Silver Spring Township seeking a change in the zoning ordinance to allow for places for worship in the residential estate district. Mr.and Mrs.Azim Qureishi own four acres of land and plan to donate it to the local Muslim community to build a Mosque.
The Muslim group wants to build a 8000 square foot mosque costing about $6-800,000, Qureishi was reported as saying to the Sentinel.
The estate district where the land is located is the only residential district in the township that does not allow places of worship.
An attorney representing the couple that his clients are willing to pay the costs to advertise the text change to give the public proper notice.

Hit and run charge against Muslim teen dismissed
DAVIS, CA— A Yolo County Superior Court judge dismissed the case against Halema Buzayan, the teenage Muslim girl who claimed that she was unfairly targeted for being a Muslim. In June of last year, a witness reported to the police seeing an SUV hit a parked car and flee the scene. The Davis police investigated the report and believed that Halema Buzayan was driving. The family said the driver was the mother.
Six days later the police arrested Halema Buzayan for misdemeanour hit and run.
The Buzayans paid $870 for the vehicle damage shortly after the incident. In one court hearing the victim of the parking lot fender-bender testified on Halema Buzayan’s behalf. On Monday, 10 months after the incident, a Yolo County Superior Court judge dismissed the case.
The Buzayans believe they were investigated and prosecuted differently because they are Muslim. They are supported by community activists who last week petitioned the Davis City Council to create an oversight commission for the police department. “When the community showed up they really provided a comfort that kind of made up for the discomfort caused by the police department,” said Halema Buzayan. “So it meant so much to me and it was such a wonderful feeling.”
The Buzayan family is now planning to file a civil lawsuit against the Davis Police Department on allegations of ethnic bias.
Awareness week kicks off with talk on Women in Islam
MADISON, WI—The Islamic Awareness Week at the University of Wisconsin-Madison kicked off with two lectures on Islam and Women. More than 60 people attended the panel addressed by Yasmin Mogahed, a freelance journalist, and Rohany Nayan, the principal of the Madinah Academy of Madison.
Mogahed said that women are not objects to be seen as physically pleasing to others.
“We dress this way as an act of devotion to God,” Mogahed said. “When a woman covers her body, she is covering what is irrelevant for people to see.
“When people judge me, they should judge me based on my heart, my character.”
Nayan said there are some nations where men repress women because the male leaders are insecure and crave power. Nayan said that in her native country of Malaysia, nobody gave her any trouble for being a woman.
“During the time of the Prophet (s), women had a golden age,” Nayan said, referring to the life of the Prophet Mohammed (s), who lived from the years 570-632 in the common calendar. “The Prophet (s) was never threatened by a woman.”
Somali student awareness at UM
MINNEAPOLIS, MN—The Somali Student Association at the University of Minnesota held a day long event to create awareness about the Somali culture. The day was marked by food, clothing, arts and cultural performances.
Organizers said that one doesn’t have to travel overseas to gain cultural experience. It can happen right on campus. 15 percent of population of Minneapolis in made up of Somalis and they have a sizable presence on campus.
Somali Student Association secretary and global studies senior Kadra Ibrahim said it is important for the association to show its presence on campus.
There are many different cultures on this campus and it is crucial that the Somali Student Association is able to celebrate its culture in the midst of such a vast array of cultures, she told the student newspaper.
Islam exhibit at California State University-Sacramento
SACRAMENTO, CA—The Muslim Student Association of the University of California at Sacramento held an Islamic exhibition to counter the prevalent negative image of the faith. Students were encouraged to ask questions as they viewed the walk through exhibition.
Several professors came to the exhibit with their entire classes. Those interested were given free copies of the Holy Qur’an and other Islamic literature.
MAS Minnesota Convention attracts thousands
The Muslim American Association-Minnesota’s third annual convention attracted over 3000 attendees. Two sessions related to politics attracted the most number of participants. Democratic candidates spoke at a late-morning session titled “Democracy in America: A return to our Democratic ideals.” In the afternoon, Republican candidates spoke on the theme “Building a More Diverse Minnesota: Is there room for Muslims?” Keith Ellison, who is running for the US Congress, and if elected will be the first Muslim Congressman also spoke at the event.
From thought-provoking and spiritually uplifting lectures, to fun-filled entertainment sessions, there was something for everyone. With over 50 bazaar vendors, shopping was a popular past-time activity between sessions. Comedy sessions, skits, and songs were among some of the entertainment sessions we witnessed.
Many members of the community also took advantage of the MAS Legal Clinic to ask questions regarding immigration, housing, and other legal issues.

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