Muslim Americans for Palestine Event

March 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, MMNS

muzammil-siddiqi
Muzzamil Siddiqi

The plight of the Palestinian people as they suffer under the boot of Israeli occupation is at the forefront of humanitarian concerns of people throughout the globe. Many individuals and organizations have addressed themselves to the Palestinian plight.

In December of 2009, as the world observed the first anniversary of Operation Cast Lead and the devastation wrought then by Israeli forces on an already beleaguered land, a new organization pledged to help Palestine was introduced to the public.

Muslim Americans for Palestine (MAP) is a project of the youth division of the Muslim American Society (MAS). Readers of The Muslim Observer will be familiar with MAP as its formation was announced at the MAS convention during the last weekend of the year. Its objectives are in many ways similar to those of other Palestine oriented group, yet it is also distinctive.

This past Saturday the group held its first formal event, a banquet and fundraiser at the Crowne Park Anaheim Resort in Garden Grove, Ca. Islamic Relief cosponsored the event and was the recipient of the funds collected. Islamic Relief will use the funds for their relief work in Palestine.

After prayers the evening began with a recitation and translation from the Holy Koran. Dinner followed.

During the early evening as people took their seats, two screens presented a video of MAP and its founding principles and goals.

The keynote speaker was Alison Weir, a human rights activist from Northern California. She spoke of the plight of Palestinians from her personal experiences and from the testimony she has received from eye witnesses, victims, and victims families. Her first trip to the oPt was in 2001 and was a fact finding expedition. What she discovered was the reverse of what she had been told by the media and her own government. Her organization, If Americans Knew, and her web site, www.ifamericansknew.org  are excellent and hard hitting sources of knowledge about Palestine.

As she spoke, her quiet voice and her presentation of facts and the inevitable conclusions these facts indicated, captivated the audience. Her emphasis was on the bias of the American media toward the state of Israel and against the Palestinian people. Ms Weir cited major news outlets: The New York Times, ABC, CBS and NBC Evening News and the Associated Press. “I am not talking about Fox News” she said.  She spoke of their unerring misreporting of deaths, always exaggerating Israeli losses and minimizing Palestinian ones; always manifesting a bias towards Israel with such consistency that it defied simple error or random chance. As she spoke, charts were shown on the two screens, statistical proof the accuracy of her claims. In addition cards were passed out to every guest with similar data.

Ms Weir included National Public Radio in her list of news outlets biased towards Israel.

Ms. Weir concluded by urging her audience toward action.

Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi was another informative speaker. Dr. Muzammil’s leadership in the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California (ISCSC); the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); the Fiqh Council of North America, and the Islamic Society of Orange County (ISOC), to name but a few organizations, have made him a sought-after speaker. As a theologian and Islamic scholar he is also famous for his interfaith work.

Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi spoke of his trip to Palestine with interfaith leaders. The audience gasped when he spoke of the  650 checkpoints imposed on Palestinians by their Israeli occupiers..

“ I never imagined that there would be so many. How do you get through the day?” asked one young woman. As if in answer to her question Dr. Siddiqi spoke of the hardships wrought by these checkpoints on workers, students, and people in need of medical help.

Dr. Siddiqi urged people to visit the oPt and “see with their own eyes” the conditions there.

Dr. Siddiqi also spoke of the place of Jerusalem in the Islamic faith and referenced Koranic verses.

Attorney and human rights activist Reem Salahi spoke of the “Irvine 11”. A murmur passed through the audience with this familiar reference. These eleven students are threatened with expulsion or suspension by the University of California in Irvine (UCI) for exercising their free speech rights during the appearance on campus of Israeli Ambassador to the United State Michael Oren. In addition, the University has referred their case to the District Attorney in Orange County.

Ms Salahi was part of a delegation to Gaza a year ago, a delegation sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild. There the group found numerous violations of International law on the part of the Israeli forces during Operation Cast Lead.

Ms Salahi said that to speak of the Irvine 11 was not off subject. They are symbolic of the plight of the Palestinian people. The Israelis are the occupiers and the oppressors. The presence of their representative at UCI is not acceptable.

In dealing with the Israeli/Palestine issue she made an analogy with a boat that should be parallel but is instead diagonal with Israel on top. Muslims want fairness for Palestine: they want to right the boat.

Muslim Americans for Palestine has a three pronged approach to the Palestinian problem: Educate, Empower, Preserve. It is a grass roots organization dedicated to justice and self determination in Palestine. Recognizing the natural affinity between the American Muslim community for Palestine and recognizing also the pioneering spirit embodied in youth, MAP, in accordance with the Islamic faith. has been launched.

For further information, please access the MAP web site at: www.mapalestine.org

Islamic Relief may be accessed at its web site: www.islamic-relief.com.

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The Quest for Swat…!

September 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Tariq Choudry

June 8, 2009–Swat valley is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world and is known for its splendid natural beauty and legendary hospitality.  The people are somber yet innocent however, reluctant to care about the worldly affairs due in part because of inherent poverty, government’s innate laxity towards general education and welfare of the citizens; and mistreatment of tribesmen.  The ordinary people are hardworking and steadfast in fundamental aspects of religious duties.  They flout deep political dogma in favor of performing religious duties and often defer chores of utmost necessity to fulfill their routine spiritual desires – prayers.  Subtly, the ultimate warriors so they claim to be the guardians of ultimate fate and fraternity betraying all rules of shariah went fervently assailing with full thrust, wit and will, destroying all dwellings of the in-candy poor citizens leaving with plight to ponder their fate and fathom.  Something is happening there, and I’m getting a little worried. To organize my discussion, I suggest that we take one step back in the causal chain and protect our peace, privacy, and wellbeing.

All the deals that The Taliban’s make or desire are strictly one-way.  They get all the rights, and the other party gets all the debit and obligation to the society.  This seems to be their ultimate demand. Their cock-and-bull legends are becoming increasingly parochial. They have already begun to goad muddle-headed grizzlers into hurling phantoms. Now fast-forward a few years to a time in which the society might have enabled the Talibans of Pakistan to create a world without history, without philosophy, without science, without reason—a world without beauty of any kind, without art, without literature, without culture, without freedom of even religion but theirs. If you don’t want such a time to come then we all must subject the so called Taliban’s belief systems to the rigorous scrutiny they warrant. Help me focus on the major economic, social, and political forces that provide the setting for the expression of a corrupt agenda. 

Though many people agree that we must work together against anti- pluralism, resistentialism, etc. The Talban’s really struck a nerve when they claim to be the guardians of shariah.  That’s why the so called “Taliban’s” are trying so hard to prevent themselves from full exposure that they think we want them to paint people of different races and cultures as inarticulate alien forces undermining the coherent national will.

Do we not, as rational men and women, owe it to both our heritage and our posterity to present another paradigm in opposition to their boisterous posture? I think we do. Should we sit back and let them exert more and more control over innocent individuals, or should we unmask their true faces and intentions in regard to Stalinism? That choice sure sounds like a no-brainer. The “Talibanism” has lost what little credibility they once had by helping to unravel normal citizens from their own towns and cities by fear and plight. And that’s why I say to every one of us with a little wit and will: Have courage. Be honest. Be a true follower of the true fundamentals of our noble religion and refrain from supporting or adopting stern and extreme views that lead the whole of society to a path of mischief and misfortune.  And reinforce the contentions of all reasonable people and confute those of irascible, wicked fence-sitters. The implementation of Shariah law does not have to take a start from Swat or NWFP, it must start from within-and by first adhering to its own demands of treating everyone equally and with respect.  Woe to those who indulge themselves in shameful acts of hurting the children of all ages, women and the sick and the flaky wise elderly in the name of religion. 

However, the quandary that remains a cancer of our society is that billions of dollars in foreign aid has disappeared or consumed by few (or perhaps evil-one) which no-one dares to question and not single penny has seen towards helping the deprived homeless.  At least international media has no reporting on that.  Perhaps the entire society and media has become immune to treachery, infidelity and corruption.  Haven’t we really become a nation of vindictive scumbags with no conscience or dignity for our own apathy?  Look around the misery and sufferings of those living in make-shift tents; those who once lived with grace and dignity in their own moderately built pithy sanctuaries, have been left out under the scorching sun in misery and plight; and a majority of them feel humiliated to seek public aid.  What is their fault?  What have they done wrong?  Isn’t it the government’s full responsibility to provide maximum protection and comfort from elderly to the infant!  Instead, hundreds of private organizations and NGOs are playing the key role of taking care of their needs and desires.  Those who once lived with grace and pride are being humiliated in the open-air with no guards to protect their modesty, security or creed.  Where are those who are hiding their faces cowardly behind the black scarves pretending to be the lieutenants of the lords?  If they are true to their cause, they must face the reality like Spartans and create an environment of trust in order to advocate and defend their scrutiny with poise.

Once Talibans realize that they have in fact inflicted atrocious wounds to the naive citizens, maybe then they will see, and I deeply believe that it will be within our grasp to honor our nation’s glorious mosaic of cultures and ethnicities. Be grateful for this first and last tidbit of comforting news. The Talibans like to disguise the complexity of issues, the brutality of class, and the importance of religion and culture in the construction and practice of conformism. Such activity can flourish only in the dark, however. If you drag them into the open, Talibans and their cronies will run for cover, like cockroaches in a dirty kitchen when the light is turned on suddenly during the night. That’s why we must push the envelope on our knowledge of the world around us. As this letter draws to a close, I want to challenge you, the reader, to recognize and respect the opinions, practices, and behavior of those with wisdom, will and resort. That’s what is left to do.

Unless there is one single Central Islamic Authority, the dream of implementing Islam as a System, or as an alternative to secular democracy, can never be realized. Without a stable government and an honest leader, Islam may exist, as it is today, like a downgraded ritualistic religion, in which every individual or faction may keep on living on the inane desire of pleasing Allah or rendering Him worship in its own way and in its own right but it can never become a truly Islamic way of life to bring forth its pledged remunerations. And that means the transfer of power from individual provinces, as they exist today; to the Central Authority which itself would work under the Ultimate Sovereignty of Allah, i.e. The Shreah Law. Moreover, this also means the end of the authority of the Ullema and the Muftis of today. The interpretation of the Laws and the formulation of by-laws will be done by the “Central Authority” alone, within the bounds of the Quran. There will be no party or cult, no religious or political parties, not even an opposition party within the Islamic System of governance. That’s the patriotic thing to do, and that’s the right thing to do, to defeat fundamentalism and to adopt the ways of those who render themselves for the sake of tranquility, sovereignty and contentment.   

May Allah SWT guide us in the right direction and help us understand true lessons of religion Islam; and may peace be upon those leading a positive change intended to cultivate an environment of peace and tranquility and justice for all.

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