Thursday, November 15, 2012

Resist Like Hussain!!!

I  finally get how "Everyday is Ashura and every land is Kerbala" after reading Naomi Klein's international bestseller Shock Doctrine earlier this year.

In this meticulously documented book, Klein laid out how extreme acts of violence perpetrated against populations around the world are not so random after all. She says they're actually the modus operandi of an elite group of capitalists bent on destablizing nations and quashing all resistance in its path to plunder every corner of the globe, from Chile to Poland to Iraq.

And it's been a smashing success.

"Some of the most infamous human rights violations of this era, which have tended to be viewed as sadistic acts carried out by antidemocratic regimes, were in fact...committed with the deliberate intent of terrorizing the public,'" according to Klein.

But there's hope. One figure who provides an antidote to these oppressive policies is Hussain, son of Fatima (one of the four perfect women of all times), for not only did his uprising against injustice survive brute force 1400 years ago but it's now gone global through continued resistance and endurance.

God: "Be steadfast as you have been commanded, you and those who have turned with you (to God)." (Quran 11:12)

"Life is a relentless and intense struggle extending from the first phases of life to its last moments," says scholar Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari. "Patience and fortitude are the most effective weapon in this unceasing battle. Victory on this battlefield belongs to those who are courageous and unflinching and who do not succumb to obstacles under any condition."

Today's social justice movements energized by the 2011 Arab Spring face tanks, bullets and pepper spray and also risk subversion. They need to gain inspiration, insight and guidance from Hussain, whom Prophet Muhammad (S) likened to a ship of salvation: "Whoever embarked upon it was saved, and whoever turned away from it perished."

That's because Hussain, his family and his companions serve as role models for demonstrating how to maintain truth, dignity and resistance in the face of the most brutal forces of repression.

So when we see entire families in Gaza (see picture) or Afghanistan massacred through military operations, we must remember that Hussain and his family were also brutally slaughtered on the plains of Kerbala.

But their resistance continued.

When we see children, including 7-year-old Syed Wali Shah and 8-year-old Noor Syed, maimed and killed in drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, we must remember that Hussain's infant baby was also killed by a piercing arrow to his neck while cradled in his father's arms in Kerbala.

But their resistance continued.

When we see Zionists bulldoze Palestinian homes and riot police tear down Occupy shelters, we must remember that the tents of Hussain's women were also burned and looted in the aftermath of Kerbala.

But their resistance continued.

When we see human rights activists like Zainab Al-Khawaja arrested on the streets of Bahrain for opposing its illegitimate monarchy, we must remember that Hussain's sister Zainab was also shackled and paraded to the court of tyrant Yazid from Kerbala.

But their resistance continued.

When we see political prisoners of all ethnicities locked up and tortured in American jails, we must remember that Hussain's four-year-old daughter Sakina also died curled up on the cold, hard prison floor when captured in Kerbala.

But their resistance continued.

Upon returning home to Medina, the resistance carried on as Zainab spread news about the tragedy of Kerbala, gaining supporters who handed down the story generation after generation until millions now gather on Ashura Day to remember Hussain's supreme sacrifice, empathize with him until grief-stricken and moved to commit to his struggle anew.

"They call us a nation of tears, but with these tears we have overthrown an empire!" said Imam Khomeini of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

But like Hussain then, his followers today suffer violent opposition.

“Never in our history have there been such cruel attacks on religious observances,”  Afghan President Hamid Karzai said last year when three simultaneous explosions killed 63 people during Ashura Day rallies.

Indeed, the resistance continues and will do so as long as people everywhere--of all religions, races and classes--heed Hussain's final call before succumbing to wounds alone on the dusty fields of Kerbala: "Who is out there to help me?!"

As India's first President Rajendra Prasad once said: “The sacrifice of Imam Hussain is not limited to one country, or nation, but it is the hereditary state of the brotherhood of all mankind.”

Friday, November 9, 2012

Beyond the Polling Booth

Now that the elections are over, will Muslim political activism go back into hibernation?

Most mosques across America usually won't touch political issues with a ten-foot pole but many forayed onto the political scene this fall through sophisticated get-out-the-Muslim-vote campaigns that included mass emails, on-site registration drives and even specialized Friday sermons that urged people to "enjoin good and forbid evil" by casting a vote.

"We Muslims in America are blessed to be part of a vibrant and open democracy that actively seeks our participation," gushed one email I received from a local mosque on election day. "Voting is our duty both as Americans and Muslims. But more importantly, it's our right."

Indeed, our leaders have gone gangbusters this year urging us to make use of our Fifteenth Amendment constitutional right to vote (Huffington Post ran a piece called "Tennessee Muslims Instrumental in Getting the Vote Out" on 11/7/2012). 

But they shouldn't put away their political topees just yet. 

To truly contribute to creating a more just and harmonious society in America, our leaders need to focus their time, energies and money on methods of peaceful political participation that lifts oppression for all and not just changes the face of corrupted leadership.

For starters, our leaders need to wake up and start exercising the First Amendment rights they have long neglected in their stated struggle "to help solve the problems in the world around us."

Freedom of Speech: Muslim leaders have the opportunity to speak out against the injustices being committed by our corporate-controlled government at home (poverty, hunger and homelessness) and abroad (globalization, wars, drone attacks) during weekly sermons but mum's the word on these topics during most Friday afternoon congregational prayers. 

"The concept of separation of church and state meant that the state was to keep out of the affairs of the church, not that the church was supposed to be silent about things about the state," according to Rev. Rob Rotola of Witchita, Kansas, who took part last month in Pulpit Freedom Sunday, a movement to get religious leaders to talk about politics from the pulpit.

Freedom of Assembly: None of the mosques in our area supported the Occupy movement, demonstrated against the video ridiculing Prophet Muhammad (S) or participated in Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day rallies, when Muslims, Christians, Jews and others around the world gather on the last Friday of Ramadan in support of the oppressed in Palestine and other places. Our leaders need to get a clue from one local church that recently took up the Palestinian cause---it's considering organizing an Al-Quds Day demonstration next year.

Freedom of Press: With media outlets from all over the world swarming our town and paparazzing our leaders for interviews time and again ever since controversy about a new mosque erupted two years ago, our leaders have missed ample opportunities to discuss how local Islamophobia ties in with the War on Terror. They need to seize them now.

Truth is, the majority of Muslim leaders today are immigrants and newcomers to this country's political arena with little knowledge about the history of people's struggle for justice in America. To get on the fast track to political action that works, they need to join hands with the indigenous Muslims of African descent who are working in their oppressed communities and familiar with the system.

But that means willing to give up the American Dream of attaining comfort and riches for oneself and struggling instead to create a more just world for the masses as did Khadija, the wife of Prophet Muhammad (S) and one of the four perfect women of all times.

This "Princess of Arabia" came to the Prophet (S) with real estate, pasture lands, herds of camels and horses, flocks of goats and sheep, priceless heirlooms, precious metals and stones, and masses of gold and silver coins. But she spent it all on others, enduring intense hunger, thirst, cold and heat in her final years of struggle against corruption and oppression.

According to African-American Imam Abdul Alim Musa of Masjid Al-Islam, Muslim leaders in America are making the mistake of using Civil Rights era (1960s) tactics to combat the global problems of injustice in the twenty-first century.

"The struggle today is bigger than that," Musa says. "We have to rise to the occasion."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Empire's New Suit

Guest Blog By Hajj Ali Jafri

As a child I read H. C. Andersen's tale “The Emperor’s New Suit,” in which two swindlers offer to stitch an Emperor a new outfit they claim will be invisible to those lacking intelligence. After the Emperor accepts, he and his advisors pretend to see the suit so as not to appear unintelligent and incompetent.

At an ensuing parade spectators share the same fear and maintain their silence until a young boy brazenly points out the obvious, “He has nothing on at all!” Thereafter, the crowd gradually gains courage to express what their eyes see: the Emperor is naked. The tale ends with the Emperor attempting to maintain his charade before a sneering crowd.

Eight years of neo-conservatives serving imperial and corporate interests led Americans to select a seemingly favorable alternative in 2008. Four years of Obama serving the same imperial and corporate interests leaves Americans at least considering the alternative in 2012. Thus, voters are seemingly vindicated by a series of logical choices. Even those who acknowledge the repulsive conduct of the involved actors assert the “lesser of two evils” affirmative defense.

Yet, the Obama presidency significantly undermines the lesser evil defense so proudly promulgated in 2008, and continues to be relied upon today. The destructive conduct of this administration mirrors, and perhaps exceeds, that of his predecessor.

As predicted by the Islamic Leadership in Iran, “change” gave way to deceitful politics, similar to what Muslims witnessed after the Ummayad Dynasty ascended power in early Islamic history.

Forty-six million of us live in poverty but we are told that our money is needed to bail-out banks and corporations. Obama accepted a Nobel Peace Prize but then authorized assassinations of Americans and the bombing of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic correctly opined that Obama made policies formally viewed as radical post-9/11 excesses staples of American life.

According to scholar Murtada Mutahhari, pious Islamic scholars advised their followers to avoid engaging the tyrannical systems of the Umayyads and Abbasids. When excuses to participate were brought forth, such as “If we don’t, someone else will,” the scholars had a powerful response: “When no one does it, the system will cripple.”

Conversely, Mutahhari says the scholars advised those followers who would use the system, and not be used by the system, to engage the system in a manner that would improve conditions for Muslims and all the oppressed. It is well accepted that from a jurisprudential perspective there are avenues by which Muslims may engage this system, such as voting in a presidential election. Notwithstanding, I pose the normative question: are we using the system, or is the system using us?

Just as the Emperor exposed himself before the crowd, the American Empire has exposed itself before its own citizenry as corrupt to its core. Americans cannot observe the Empire’s drones decapitating Pakistani children, phosphorus bombs incinerating Palestinian refugees, loans enslaving Africans or mercenaries gang-raping and murdering 14-year-old Abeer Hamza in Iraq. But it has been enough for Americans to observe U.S. Army whistleblower Bradley Manning, tent-cities they now call home, compounding interest payments and a culture of deceit.

Malcolm X once compared this system to a vulture, sucking the blood of the helpless. He hypothesized it would naturally collapse when there was no more blood to suck. Nations of the world and many citizens of the United States are running out of blood and have recognized that the Empire and its captains are unqualified to rule by any human standard. This recognition manifests itself and festers daily, in American universities, barber shops, cubicles, and wherever consciences are still alive. It manifested itself in the early days of the Occupy movement, when an ideologically diverse group took to the streets in major cities after reaching the same conclusion: systemic change is required.

Perhaps each ballot cast this week at the 2012 U.S. presidential elections provides the establishment a mandate to continue their rule. Thomas Jefferson once said, “When…a republic is corrupted, there is no possibility of remedying any of the growing evils but by removing the corruption…every other correction is either useless or a new evil.” If we are to accept that the Republic is corrupted, then in pure Jeffersonian terms, Obama, Romney, and the like must be characterized as either useless or evil. Thus, our ballots neither serve Muslims nor the oppressed. Rather, they serve as a crutch to support the rotting carcass of what was once a Republic.

In 2012, Americans are awakening from a deep, propaganda induced slumber. Today the Empire parades through the street naked. The young boy, a small but growing segment of the American people, has recognized this and is pointing out the exposed Empire. Much of the crowd remains silent. The Empire will continue its arrogant charade, as long as we allow it to use us. The boy will continue to speak.

On his journey to Kerbala, where he, his family and his companions were killed for standing up to the oppressive Ummayad regime, Hussain (son of Fatima, one of the four perfect women of all times) asked poet Al-Farazdaq how he found the people of Iraq. Al-Farazdaq replied, “The hearts of the people are with you, but their swords are against you.” That is, they recognized the leadership position of Hussain but their conduct displayed affection for his enemies. If you disagree with my characterization of this election, ask yourself the following: Will you rejoice if your preferred candidate achieves victory? Or, will you let out a sigh of relief that the marginally less evil tyrant assumed power? Perhaps that makes a difference. Perhaps it won’t.

In the words of rapper Lupe Fiasco: “That’s why I ain’t vote for him, next one either; I’m a part of the problem, my problem is I’m peaceful…And I believe in the people.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Stand Up and Speak Out

Though she's had her name smeared, her car egged and her phone pranked, a non-Muslim friend of mine continues her battle against Islamophobia, serving as an inspiration for Muslims who claim to be custodians of the truth but increasingly don't dare speak out for fear of repercussions in a post-9/11 world.

My friend let her fingers do the talking this summer when she discovered a newspaper was spewing lies about Islam and Muslims in the midst of a new mosque going up in our town. She started calling companies advertising in the paper and told them she was boycotting their goods. When some responded by pulling their ads from the weekly publication, her troubles started.

But the intimidations did not stop her commitment to speaking the truth (haqq in Arabic), which is a virtue of human behavior, a necessity of human society and an innate God-given quality we must all recognize, declare and struggle for within ourselves and in society as God repeatedly reminds us in the Quran, which mentions the word haqq more than 300 times.

God: "Consider the flight of time! Verily man is bound to lose himself, unless he be of those who attain to faith, and do good works and enjoin upon one another the keeping to truth, and enjoin upon one another patience in adversity." (103:1-3)

Prophet Muhammad (S): "Speak the truth even if it be against yourself, speak the truth even if it is bitter."

"The general rule with regards to the truth is that the heart should be inclined towards God, His commandments and the realities while the rule with regards to falsehood is that the heart should be averse to things that are prohibited and related to other than God, and the interior should be kept away from dirty and impure carnal attachments," Sayyid Ali Akber Sadaaqat writes in Anecdotes of Reflection.

In this time of rampant worldwide oppression, where webs of lies, deception and falsehoods permeate the media airwaves, Hollywood movies and political debates in order to justify the continued exploitation of the masses, it is essential we fulfill our obligation to expose the truth about the realities of this world.

Ali, husband of Fatima (one of the perfect women of all times), said: "Know that - may God have mercy on you - you are living at a time when those who speak about right are few, when tongues are loath to utter the truth and those who stick to the right are humiliated. The people of this time are engaged in disobedience...their learned men are hypocrites, and their speakers are sycophants."

God inspires us to speak truth to power by giving us examples of heroes throughout history who persevered and attained victory despite being mocked, shunned and attacked by the establishment, much as truth-tellers are today.

"They speak the truth before those people who hate it," says scholar Muhammad Baig. "That's when it really counts."

One such person was Prophet Moses, foster son of Asiya (another perfect woman). He was told by God he was chosen to be a Prophet because, "I found no one better and more truthful than you." In addition to having deep reliance on God, Moses teaches us that we must develop perseverance before speaking up to help stay commited to the truth during the inevitable backlash. 

The inscription on the ring of Moses: "Have patience that you may be rewarded. Speak the truth that you may succeed."

A media outlet currently under siege for propagating the truth and exposing corruption and injustices is Press TV, a 24-hour English language news network owned by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting and headquartered in Tehran.  Earlier this month the European satellite provider Eutelsat SA pulled the plug on several Iranian satellite news channels on the orders of the European Commission of the European Union, which was ironically awarded the Nobel Peace Prize days earlier.

"They want to silence these channels because they talk the truth," says Mohsen Saleh, a professor at Lebanese University.

Maybe I should get my friend to put in a few calls to Eutelsat....

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Khutbaaz (Sermons)

"Reviving Political Dimension of Hajj Pilgrimage"

In "Khutbaaz (Sermons)" you will find summaries of Friday prayer sermons given this month that encourage people to oppose systems of oppression and establish social justice. Why? See my post: Preaching Justice.

By Imam Muhammad Asi of the Islamic Center in Washington
Friday, October 19, 2012

The Saudi government has reduced the hajj to mere rituals but pilgrims need to use this  annual global gathering "of the minds" to discuss, plan and further the establishment of social justice on earth.

"Something has happened to our perception of the hajj," Imam Asi told his congregation Friday.

Though forbidden by the Saudi regime, political engagement is the true purpose of Muslims from around the world coming together once a year, according to Imam Asi.

We know that because God instructed Prophet Muhammad (S) to ask pilgrims to publicly declare during the hajj separation from "mushriks," or those who equate other authorities or powers with God and so indulge in injustice and oppression.

"And a proclamation from God and His Apostle [is herewith made] unto all mankind on this day of the Greatest Pilgrimage: 'God disavows all who ascribe divinity to aught beside Him, and [so does] His Apostle. Hence, if you repent, it shall be for your own good; and if you turn away, then know that you can never elude God!' And unto those who are bent on denying the truth give thou [O Prophet] the tiding of grievous chastisement." (Quran 9: 3)

Asi said during the Prophet's (S) time in Mecca, the Kaaba used to be the center of commercial activity, literary contests and regional meetings of decision-makers and was open to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

"What God is telling us to do worldly powers are telling us not to do," Asi said.

Click here to listen to the complete sermon.

"Occupied Mosques Fail to Foil Anti-Islam Propaganda"
By Imam Muhammad Asi of the Islamic Center in Washington
Friday, October 12, 2012

Muslim haters are getting away with spreading lies about Islam because too many mosques are controlled by Saudi petro-dollars and don't refute the propaganda.

"There are a syndicate of mosques around the world that don't report to God but report to their Saudi God," Imam Muhammad Asi told his congregation Friday.

"We are presented to be the bad guys" by the enemies of Islam. "They repeat their lies so much so that shrapnels of it are lodged in the brains of the public."

"When there's no one to respond to this in an intelligent way, they get away with it," he said.

Opponents of Islam quote verses from the Quran out of context to bulwark false claims that Muslims are blood thirsty terrorists so they can maintain public support for the profitable War on Terror. 

The truth is God teaches Muslims: "There is no compulsion in religion." (Quran 2: 256)

"We don't force people to become Muslims, far from it," said Asi, adding forced conversions would only create more hypocrites not true believers.

Rather, Muslims have been instructed to interact with non-Muslims through three channels: 1) wisdom 2) sound counsel and 3) courteous debate.

God's commandment in 2:216 that, "You have been assigned combat duty, even though you do not like it," (as it goes against a Muslim's peaceful nature) is often quoted by Islamophobes to justify their claims that Muslims are warmongers but it actually refers to how Muslim nations are supposed to act when under attack.

To complicate matters more, the enemies of Islam are creating and supporting militant groups in Muslim countries that, in fact, do not represent Islam, to perpetuate their Muslims-are-terrorists propaganda. 

The Saudi Arabian monarchy, an agent of Western powers, is itself becoming a police state, according to Asi.

"The supervision of hajj is in criminal hands," he said.

For the upcoming hajj pilgrimage the Saudi government has mobilized 25,000 military officers and other individuals under arms, 6,900 mechanized vehicles and 19 helicopters over Mecca and Medina. The addition of 150 cameras this year brings the total number of surveillance equipment to 2,951.

"You'd think this is a warfront!" Asi said. "Do they consider hajj an invasion or occupation?"

Asi: "We have a police state in Mecca and Medina. What are you going to do about it O Muslims?"

Click here to listen to the complete sermon.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Muhammad: Champion of Social Justice

When a popular Muslim scholar was invited by students at a local university earlier this year to talk about "Prophet Muhammad (S): Mercy to the Universe," he completely blew it.

With growing numbers of homeless hitting the streets outside, frustrated protestors camping day and night across town and perpetual wars being waged overseas, I thought the scholar would offer the Prophet's (S) solutions to major socio-economic and political crises facing our community.

But when he finally climbed the Arabian-nights motif stage, the speaker invited from afar chose to talk about the Prophet's (S) compassion towards frogs instead.

In response to the spate of media attacks on Prophet Muhammad (S), many Muslim organizations across America are dedicating the next year to promoting the truth about our beloved Messenger (S).

God: "And verily, you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted (standard of) character.” (Quran 86:4)

"They created a market for us," says scholar Mansour Leghai. We should "use this challenge as a golden opportunity to present ourselves and our dear religion of Islam."

While I'm all for saving amphibians, let's think bigger this year. Let's let our compatriots suffering all sorts of injustices in on the nuts and bolts of the Prophet's (S) personality and teachings, those things that inspired a small group of people (Muslims and non-Muslims) fourteen hundred years ago to replace extreme ignorance and oppression in society with enlightenment and peace and justice for all.

For that is what the Prophet (S) did. After expressing anger when his deceased wife Khadija (one of the four perfect women of all times) was ridiculed, Prophet Muhammad (S) expounded the characteristics that endeared her to him and God.

"She hailed my mission at a time when everybody shouted against it; she lent me the support of her conviction when there was hardly a believer; she enlivened my heart when I felt lonely and deserted."

Now that the opponents of the Prophet (S) have brought him into the public sphere where he belongs and out of the books of hadith (traditions), halaqas (learning circles) and milads (Prophet Muhammad's (S) birthday celebrations) where we Muslims have confined him to for far too long, let's get moving. 

With oppression all around us, we must find creative ways of sharing those aspects of the Prophet's (S) personality that compelled even non-Muslim observers like Nobel laureate George Bernard Shaw to regard him as the "Saviour of Humanity." 

Shaw: “I believe that if a man like him [Prophet Muhammad (S)] were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness."

In the comment section below, I invite readers to present plans and campaigns underway to promote the truth about Prophet Muhammad (S), who is indeed a role model for establishing social justice for all (including frogs).

Monday, September 24, 2012

Debunking Free Speech

I experienced a blast from the past over the weekend when a guy I went to Sunday school with appeared as an Islam expert on a CNN newscast about the film maligning Prophet Muhammad (S).

With so many people--from government officials to academicians to local imams--championing America's freedom of speech in defense of the movie, I was testing the prevalence of this First Amendment right by studying one popular media outlet's television coverage of recent protests at U.S. embassies across the Muslim world.

I watched 73 minutes and 45 seconds of broadcasts, the first 20 video clips that came up on CNN's website when "muslim" and "film" and "protest" were entered into its search engine.

My premise: Muslim indignation at U.S. foreign policy towards their countries (wars, drone attacks, propping up of dictators) has contributed to the show of rage at some U.S. consulates.

My question: Will this view, which is popular among Muslims as well as others, be afforded freedom of expression in mainstream news analysis?

My answer: Absolutely not.

In the clips I studied, CNN interviewed seven outside analysts, five of whom belong to the Muslim faith. Segments included "Why the Film Upset So Many Muslims," "The Reasoning Over the Islam Protests," and "Free Speech Is a Human Right."

While offering a variety of possible reasons (from thin-skinness to unemployment to the overpopulation of young men) for the violent eruptions at some protests, none of the experts suggested U.S. foreign policy had anything to do with the anger, often demonstrated by burning American flags and scaling U.S. embassy walls.

In fact, it was quite the opposite.

"A majority of Arabs and Muslims in the world are grateful to Americans," said one Muslim talking head.

This has "nothing to do with imperialism or Israel," claimed another.

"What happened to debate? What happened to the exchange of ideas?" asked Imam Muhammad Asi of the Islamic Center in Washington on Friday. (Click here to read a summary of Asi's sermon.) "There is no freedom of speech." 

Indeed, an open, honest and enlightening discussion about American foreign policy is absent in today's mainstream media, keeping the masses ignorant about international politics. Islam "experts" in the media (who, ironically, tout America's freedom of speech every chance they get) know this and add to the disinformation by only toeing the official line in order to get invited back. 

To truly understand the concept of free expression these pundits need to learn from Zainab, daughter of Fatima (one of the four perfect women of all times), who never shied away from opportunities to speak the truth and stand up for justice, even when face-to-face with a brutal dictator who butchered her family and now held her in handcuffs. 

After listening to Yazid recite blasphemous verses of poetry in his court, Zainab rose to challenge him.

"O Yazid! Do you think that we have become humble and despicable owing to the martyrdom of our people and our own captivity? Do you think that God has taken away His blessings from us? You have become boastful because you have seen that the matters have taken a turn in your favor. You have, however, forgotten what God says: 

"They should not think--they who are bent on denying God's power--that Our giving them rein is good for them. We give them rein only to let them grow in sinfulness; and shameful suffering awaits them." (3: 178)

Too bad we were never taught about Zainab in Sunday school.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Muslim Rage

If you're a Muslim in America whose been tuning in to the counsel of our country's religious leadership lately, you probably don't know whether to sit down, stand up or go to sleep in response to the recent film maligning Prophet Muhammad (S).

While the brunt of the reaction by mosques and Muslim organizations focused on condemning (rightfully) violence linked with anti-film demonstrators, the guidance they did offer on how Muslims should respond to insults thrown at our Prophet (S) was all over the place.

Here are some excerpts:

Accept the film as free speech: "We are committed to upholding the right to freedom of expression, and we unconditionally condemn any use of violence as a means to protest offensive or hateful speech. In the United States, this fundamental, inalienable right is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."

Protest it: "We invite all to peacefully voice their opposition to this disrespect, obscenity, hate-mongering and yet another incident of Islamophobia in a growing list of bigoted acts."

Ignore it: “We call on all Muslims around the world to ignore the irresponsible and deliberate anti-Islam films and clips that have been circulating on the web. We urge that these attempts to provoke the religious feelings of Muslims be ignored and that their extremist producers not be given the cheap publicity they so desperately seek."

So what exactly are we supposed to do???

For starters, we can learn from Prophet Muhammad (S) when his late wife Khadija, one of the four perfect women of all times upon whom God and Angel Gabriel sent salutations, was insulted.

The Prophet (S) used to praise Khadija abundantly after her death and repeatedly ask God to have Mercy on her. One day someone objected and told the Prophet (S) that God had now given him better than her.

"The Holy Prophet got furious," according to scholar Usama Abdul Ghani.

The person who mocked Khadija then prayed: "O God! If you take away the anger of the Prophet (S), I will never mention her name in a bad way again for as long as I live."

Anger (not acceptance or indifference), then, is the natural and appropriate reaction to offenses against holy personalities.

The real question is: How do we channel this "Muslim (& non-Muslim) Rage" so we can strive steadfastly and, in the peaceful, intellectual and all-encompassing manner taught by our Prophet (S), create a world free of all types of oppression, including the ridiculing of sacred religions and their personalities?

It is our duty, after all, to pioneer such an environment of peaceful coexistence:

"And do not abuse those whom they call upon besides God, lest exceeding the limits they should abuse God out of ignorance. Thus have We made fair seeming to every people their deeds; then to their Lord shall be their return, so He will inform them of what they did. (Quran 6:108)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mercy to the Universe

The drive home from school is usually catch-up-on-what-happened-today time, but last week my van rocked instead to Maher Zain's song "Assalamu Alayka" on repeat. (Click here to listen.)

Assalamu alayka ya
Ya Rasool Allah
Assalamu alyaka ya habibi
Ya Nabiyya Allah

(Many salutations be sent upon you
O Messenger of God
Many salutations be sent upon you O my Beloved
O Prophet of God)

After hearing about the latest films maligning Prophet Muhammmad (S), I surrounded myself with English, Arabic and Urdu hymns praising him, hoping to drown out the hurt, anger and disgust I felt about attempts to ridicule the one whom God and His angels send blessings on continuously. 

As our television screens displayed all weekend long, this news elicited strong responses* from Muslims around the world already infuriated with the West for systematically destroying Muslim lands through years of multiple wars, drone attacks and the propping up of brutal dictators. 

But we cannot leave it at emotional reactions or demonstrations only. To fully follow his example, we have to move our love for the Prophet (S) to the intellectual playing field as well, where we share in peace the splendor of this "Mercy to the Universe," elevate public discourse by ensuring all faiths and religious personalities are protected from future assaults and address the underlying reason for the rage: oppression.

"I fear that with the current approach, as in previous occasions, we will burst out in anger for a few days and everything will be forgotten in a month," said Sayed Samir Al-Haidari of the AhlulBayt Islamic Mission in London. "If Muslims actually pursued their responsibilities in a more intelligent way, we would have far more effective results."

Prophet Muhammad (S): "Since mankind seeks to come near their Creator through all kinds of piety, bring yourself close to Him through activities of the intellect, so that you may arrive there before all of them.” 

Aql, or the intellect in Arabic, was the first thing God created and is the highest plane of man, encompassing reason and logic and rising above the ego. It must be engaged to come to what is correct because scholars say it connects man to that truth that flows from God and provides keys to all knowledge and truth.

"Islam lays a great emphasis on knowledge and intellect so much so that it considers intellect as an inner Prophet and as such has determined rewards and punishments on the basis of intellect," says scholar Muhsin Qara'ati.

According to the Quran, only those willing to exercise their intellect can reach enlightenment.

God: "Among them are some who listen (with their physical ears) to you (O Prophet). But can you make the (mentally) deaf to hear (with the ears of their hearts), considering that they do not reason?" (Quran 10:42)

When Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet (S) and one of the four perfect women of all times, was upset with events unfolding around her, she based her protests on logic and reason: "I say not what I say mistakenly, nor do I do what I do aimlessly."

Indeed, some have already embarked on that endeavor in this regard.
  • The grand imam of Cairo's Al-Azhar Islamic University Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb called on the United Nations to pass a resolution banning malicious attacks against religions.
  • Iran's famed film director Majid Majidi (whose movie Children of Heaven received an Academy Award nomination in 1997) announced last week his epic film on the life of Prophet Muhammad (S) will hit the screens in December. "Those who have produced the sacrilegious film intend to portray Islam and its prophet as a Taliban-like sect, but to no avail," Majidi said.
  • Muslims handed out Qurans and books about the Prophet (S) after last week's Friday prayers in London. 
"Muslims in the West have a far more important role to play than those in the Middle East regarding how to deal with the response to the anti-Islam films," said Al-Haidari.

*While initial reports suggested the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three others were killed during protests against the anti-Islam film in Benghazi, some media outlets are now reporting no demonstrations were taking place outside the consulate at that time. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pride Not Prejudice

When my kids threw a fit after I suggested they take treats to school to celebrate the Eid holiday with classmates, I threw one back.

"You should be proud of who you are!" I chided but in a crescendo with more colorful language and while forcefully putting dinner plates into the kitchen sink.

I know I overreacted--my eldest daughter later agreed to pair up with a Muslim classmate to do a presentation on Eid--but their reluctance stoked my fear that growing up in an Islamaphobic world was doing a number on their self-esteem. Was this hue and cry the first sign their pride in Islam was cracking under the constant barrage of Muslims-are-violent-backwards-uncivilized-terrorists media propaganda?

If anybody had doubts that a psychological war (mainstream media, radio talk shows, Hollywood, politicians, think tanks) was being waged on Islam, recent films maligning Prophet Muhammad (S) and the religion should put those to rest. American film (or YouTube clip) "Innocence of Muslims" was translated into Arabic in August and has ignited protests this week across the Muslim world. Earlier this month the United Kingdom's television Channel 4 broadcast the documentary "Islam: The Untold Story," which claims there is little evidence about the origin of Islam or life of Muhammad (S).

"What lies behind this wicked move is the hostile policies of Zionism, America and other leaders of the arrogant powers who are vainly trying to make young generations in the Islamic world lose respect for what is held sacred and to extinguish their religious sentiments," Iran's Supreme Leader Imam Khamanei said Thursday.

Indeed, the religion of Islam, which calls for political, economic and social systems based on the universal principles of truth, peace and justice is considered a contemporary threat by the 1% who monopolize the world's wealth and power and want to keep it that way.

After the fall of communism, the "class of civilizations" to quash this religious ideology was put into high gear by falsely accusing Muslims of the attacks on 9/11 to gain public support for military ventures in Muslim lands as well as to instill guilt, humiliation and self-hate in the Muslim mind.

“This is a political movie,” said the writer of "Innocence of Muslims," whose true identity is in question. “The US lost a lot of money and a lot of people in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we’re fighting with ideas.”

Imam Abdul Alim Musa of Masjid Al-Islam in Washington is among the Muslim leaders in America who understand this. That's why he established the Islamic Institute for Counter Zionist American Psychological Warfare in 2010.

"You cannot stop the West from making these anti-Islamic movies," Musa said. "What we can do is improve our communication and educational processes to teach what Islam is and not what Islam is not."

The latest wave of media propaganda demonizing Islam has hit the scene as countries in the Muslim East make new inroads in their struggle to free themselves from centuries of colonialist, imperialist and Zionist rule, with their oppressed masses turning to Islam to bring justice to everyone.

"A human being should flow like a river that does not ask about the nature of the land it flows on, whether it is fertile or infertile," said scholar Sayyed Fadlallah, explaining how Islam teaches the spread of social justice for all.

But only a free, confident mind can bring liberation from others and submission to Him alone. God recounts in the Quran how Moses, the foster son of Asiya (one of the four perfect women of all times), tried to rouse his people--who had endured generations of oppression under Pharaoh--by reminding them of who they were before the onslaught of slavery.

God: "And [remember] when Moses said to his people: 'O my people, call in remembrance the favour of God unto you, when he produced prophets among you, made you kings, and gave to you what He had not given to any other among the peoples." (Quran 5:20)

Today's Muslims must also reinvent ourselves and become who we were taught to be by the Prophet (S) before the West came in as foe (enslaving our minds into passivity through subjugation) or friend (sponsoring violent groups in our societies to bring "democracy" to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria).

When I found out the "1001 Inventions From Muslim Civilisation" exhibit was on display at the National Geographic Museum in Washington during our visit there earlier this month, I made sure my kids saw it. And they loved it, especially the interactive games simulating Muslim contributions, such as the Spaniard Abbas ibn Firnas' attempt to construct a flying machine.

While walking out through the museum gift shop, I asked the girls to pick up some brochures to show their friends when they got back.

"Noooooo!" came the reply in unison.

It's definitely going to be an uphill battle, but it's one we have to keep fighting.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Saving Syria From Its Saviours!

A rally in Washington Labor Day weekend to support the people of Syria exposed itself as a puppet show when influential Muslim scholars took the stage and started spewing imperialist propaganda.

"The leadership of the Shiites in Lebanon and Iran have revealed themselves to be the political Machiavellian people that they are," cried one of America's most popular Muslim scholars into a mic. "They have revealed themselves to side with the tyrants [Syria's President Bashar Assad] against the oppressed."

Syria--which has been on America's list of axis of evil nations since 2002 when U.S. Under Secretary of State John Bolton called it a "target,"-- has become a war zone after peaceful protests turned violent last year as imperialist countries and their Arab sidekicks started pumping in money, ammunition and fighters to force a Libyan-style regime change under the banner of "freedom" and "democracy."

Removing Assad for his alliance with the Islamic Republic of Iran in its resistance against the Zionist regime of Israel has been a longtime goal for America and its allies, who have been waiting in the lurch for the right opportunity to run over Syria on their "road to Persia" as they consider Iran the ultimate threat to continued Western hegemony in the region.

Here's a quote from Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer in 2005.

"Iran is the senior partner in the [Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas-Islamic Jihad] axis of evil. Syria is a crucial middle party...Iran is to too large, oil-rich and entrenched to be confronted directly...But Syria is different...the regime is weak, despised not only for its corruption and incompetence but also because of its extremely narrow ethnic base...Syria is the prize...If Syria can be flipped, the axis is broken." 

Members of the "axis of evil" were plugged in to this and when the bullets started flying in Syria last year, Iran and Hezbollah confirmed their support for a representative government in Syria, a situation that could be achieved by negotiations between an Assad regime ready to make changes and an indigenous opposition not serving the foreign policy objectives of imperialism and Zionism.

While this made sound geopolitical sense, it also conformed with the criteria (based on the Quran and traditions of Prophet Muhammad (S)) Iran created years ago on how to determine whether to provide political and diplomatic facilitation for a) the regime of a country not necessarily conforming to God and His Messenger (S) or for b) those in rebellion against it.

For Iran to provide diplomatic and political leverage for another government, that regime must take an anti-imperialist, anti-Zionist position and be open to reform. 

Syria's government met these criteria, according to Afeef Khan of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought. Earlier this year the Bashar government offered a new constitution, which allowed a multi-party system after 40 years of family rule, but violence continued as Western countries dismissed it as "laughable" and rebels called it a "sham."

"There are lots of shades of grey," Khan said. "One cannot be so naïve as to view political alliances, diplomatic support, and economic facilitation in binary [black and white] terms."

"In view of the political and ideological motivations of the various players in the region as well as those on the outside who pull their strings, the Islamic Republic of Iran has taken a bold and prescient political precedent in that it is the only Muslim government that has broadly communicated a criteria that defines who it will engage with and who it will not."

To be considered a legitimate people's uprising, on the other hand, the movement should exhibit three points, according to Iran's Supreme Leader Imam Khamanei: 1) take an anti-imperialist, anti-Zionist stand, 2) be an organic movement of the nation's people and 2) be of an Islamic character.

"If matters get mixed up then scrutinize the cause and you will know what the effects will be," advised Ali, husband of Fatima (one of the four perfect women of all times), who had sent their two sons Hasan and Hussain to defend Caliph Osman from rebels in the seventh century.

Unlike revolutionary movements in other Muslim countries, the rebel groups fighting Assad in Syria failed to meet the criteria.

The Syrian opposition is propped up by imperialists through economic, military, technological and other support, including intense media propaganda (BBC was caught using the photograph from Iraq pictured above for a story accusing Assad of a massacre in Houla.). Rebel leaders have even been linked to American neo-conservative and neo-liberal proponents of war ("The Syrian opposition: who's doing the talking?" The Guardian, 7/12/2012).

According to the group American Syrians, which helped organize the rally for Syria in Washington, local Syrians last month asked U.S. President Barack Obama and his Republican contender Mitt Romney to impose no-fly zones over Syria and increase arms and weapons to the rebels.

Their letter argued that, "More decisive action now will help protect American interests in the region and allow the United States to play a larger role in the shaping of a post-Assad Syria."

"When you claim to be running a war of liberation you fight imperialism, you don't piggyback on it, you don’t form an accommodation with it, and you certainly don’t allow it to fight your battles for you," Khan said. "Otherwise you will be creating a bunch of little Israels and Saudi Arabias all over the Muslim East."

Appealing for protection and support from power structures not aligned with God clearly defies His instructions on how to resolve problems.

"O you who have made a secure commitment [to God]! Do not take the deniers of God’s power as your [political and military] sponsors in preference to those who have made a commitment to God to maintain security and just rule! Do you want to give Allah a reason to place over you an imposing tyrant?" (4:144)

And, "The parable of those who take [beings or forces] other than God for their protectors [facilitators] is that of the spider which makes for itself a house: for, behold, the frailest of all houses is the spider's house. Could they but understand this!" (29:41)

Ironically, the Sheikh was standing in front of the White House while offering his passionate plea to world leaders for peace and justice. Yet, he didn't feel compelled to turn around and demand his own President stop the bombings that have for years been killing, injuring and displacing millions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc.

Unless our scholars cut their puppet strings, gain correct political insight and start speaking truth to power, the march to take out one Muslim country after another will sadly continue.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Khutbaaz (Sermons)

"Vilification of Muhammad (S) Aims to Separate Mosque From State in Muslim World" 

By Afeef Khan of the Islamic Center in Washington
September 28, 2012

The global elite's animosity towards Prophet Muhammad (S) and his followers stems from fears that the rising demand for social justice through Islamic governance in the Muslim world will end their control over the world's political, economic and social spheres.

By separating church from state, morality from legality, personal space from public space, the West has limited the teachings of their Prophets to personal affairs, allowing the 1% to monopolize the world's power and resources by replacing Divine commandments for social justice with their own reference points: the pursuit of power at all costs, the acquiring of profits without ethics and the proliferation of unchecked self-gratificiation.

As Muslims turn to Islam to free themselves from centuries of Western domination, they (the 1%) are now striving to do the same to Islam by denying that it is a religion, calling it a "political ideology "instead. 

Politics in their mind is filthy, dirty and corrupt, and an ideology is an attitude based on man's philosophical interpretations with political, economic, social and military dimenions. So by calling Islam a political ideology they are saying Islam is a filthy, dirty, corrupt ideology that comes from man: Prophet Muhammad (S).

"Don't think they hate Muhammad (S) because he told you to pray five times a day, to fast in Ramadan, to be kind to the poor, to care for the orphan and widow," Khan told his congregation on Friday. 

"They hate Muhammad (S) because he counsels you to be cognizant of social justice in the world you live in and to put an executive authority of leadership and a legal framework behind the achievement of social justice in the world you live in. That is why they hate Muhammad (S) and have an aversion for you because the potential always exists that you will use Muhammad's (S) program and methods to bring back that standard of justice in the world."

By rallying against the film maligning Prophet Muhammad (S), Muslims demonstrated their love of their Prophet (S) and all that he stands for as well as their opposition to Western domination.

"What is going on right now is a referendum against U.S. foreign policy, U.S. interference in the internal affairs of Muslims, U.S. wars of occupation," Khan said.

"For the first time in a long time, Muslims are speaking with one voice and offering a face-saving solution to the problem. The solution is so simple it can be characterized in one word: "Leave!"

Click here to listen to the complete sermon.

"Historical Liars Continue to Distort the Truth Today"
By Imam Muhammad Asi of the Islamic Center in Washington
September 21, 2012

Those who forged Scripture in the past now defame Prophet Muhammad (S) and lie about Muslims in the media.

God tells us in the Quran repeatedly about the propensity of the "Yahud" from the people of the Jewish faith to distort the truth--even God's words--for their own benefit.

Here's one verse:

"They dislodge words from their meaningful location and they confine to oblivion a suitable portion of the consciousness that has come to them from God. They forge Scripture and then they atribute it to God so in exchange for that they can gain some profit." (Quran 2:79)

"We thank God the Muslims are now coming of age," Imam Muhammad Asi of the Islamic Center in Washington told his congregation Friday. "They are no longer zombies or robots when they read what God has to say
"They (Yahud) lie about God. Of course, they are going to lie about God's Prophet (S), they are going to lie about us
Asi said it is these same people who spread disinformataion about Muslims in the media.
"People who are forging Scripture are forging news and information. They are busy churning out these streams fo lies against us as if we are the people who want to kill or go to war," Asi said.
But Asi said a study of  those killed on the battlefield during the life of the Prophet (S) and those killed in conflicts mentioned in the Bible reveals who are the real warmongerers.
A total of 386 people, Muslim and non-Muslim, were killed during wars at the time of the Prophet (S) in Medina. On the other hand, 1,988,477 people, Yahud and non-Yahud, were killed in wars according to the Bible (Books of Judges, Kings, Samuel and others).
"If you're listening to today's news and commentators, analysts, pundits and scholars, you'd think that it was upside down," Asi said.
"They may be able to trick some people but they are not able to trick us when the Quran is in our possession."
Click here to listen to the complete sermon

"Embassy Rows"
By Imam Muhammad Asi of the Islamic Center in Washington
September 14, 2012

Confusion swirls around the identity of those behind this week's killings at the American embassy in Libya as well as the real source that produced the hateful film linked to it, but the violence and terrorism projected on Muslims can be found in biblical verses used by some to justify colonialism, imperialism and globalization, and not the Quran.

Recent media images of angry protests in Muslim countries sparked by the American film (or YouTube clip) "Innocence of Muslims" and spawned by years of military, political and economic oppression by the West further that media stereotype.

In actuality, it is the imperialists who have been perpetrating violence around the world for centuries and using Scripture to justify their policies. In a comparison of the story of Prophet Moses as told in Holy Books, we find God encouraging this type of behavior in the Bible, according to Imam Asi, who quoted the following verses in his sermon Friday.

God in the Bible (Deuteronomy 20, 10-16): "When you advance on a city to attack it make an offering of peace. If the city accepts the offer and opens it's gates to you then all of the people shall be put to forced labor and shall serve you. If it does not make peace with you but offers you battle you shall besiege it and the Lord Your God will deliver it into your hands.

"You shall put all its males to the sword. But you may take the women, the dependents and the cattle for yourself and plunder everything else in the city. That is what you shall do to cities at great distance.

"As opposed to those who belong to nations near at hand in the cities of the nations that the Lord Your God is giving you as patrimony, you shall not leave any creature alive. You shall annihilate them."

"These words conceal the attitude of violence and terrorism in them," Asi said. "We Muslims know these are not actually God's words but unfortunately other people around us in the Judeo-Christian society believe these words. They say these are God's words and this is what we have to do."

"If anybody wants to look at grassroots colonialism and imperialism, here you have it, " Asi said. "We want the goodness and morality in these books that remains until today to trump these types of words that became policies."

On the other hand, "The image of Moses and Children of Israel as presented to us by the impeccable Quran and the unadulterated Quran is an image of common sense and a psychology of peace," Asi said.

God in the Quran (20: 43-48): “Go, both of you, to Pharaoh, verily, he has transgressed all bounds in disbelief and disobedience and behaved as an arrogant tyrant. And speak to him kindly, perhaps he may accept admonition or fear God.”

"They said, 'Our Lord!  Verily!  We fear lest he should hasten to punish us or lest he should transgress all bounds against us.'

"He (God) said: 'Fear not, Verily! I am with you both, Hearing and Seeing.  So go you both to him, and say, “Verily, we are Messengers of your Lord, so let the Children of Israel go with us, and torment them not; indeed, we have come with a sign from your Lord! And peace will be upon him who follows the guidance! Truly, it has been revealed to us that the torment will be for him who denies and turns away.'”

"You tell me after listening to this and reading this where violence and terrorism is coming from," Asi said.

Asi said there exist fanatical Jews, Christians and Muslims, "but in the midst of these are the real master planners."

"They say follow the money. Those who paid for this piece of infamy ["Innocence of Muslims"] are the ones who are ultimately responsible for these bad feelings and irritation that are festering and growing with trouble makers all around the place."

Click here to listen to the complete sermon.

"9/11: Blaming Muslims Part of Psychological War on Islam"
By Imam Muhammad Asi of the Islamic Center in Washington
September 7, 2012

Muslims are being falsely linked with violence as part of a propaganda machine that's allowing the military domination of Muslim nations, looting of its resources and slaughter of its people.

Accusing Muslims of orchestrating the attacks on 9/11 is a major component of that psychological warfare aimed at not only gaining public support for wars in Muslim countries but also weakening Muslims' attachment to their faith through feelings of guilt and inferiority.

"Don't be fooled by these engineered lies," Imam Muhammad Asi told his congregation assembled outside the Islamic Center Friday. "We are being militarily defeated because we are psychologically defeated."

"We have nothing to do with what happened on 9/11," he explained. "It's being used as a whip to be lashed at any Muslim that uses his God-given ability to think and his God-given endowment to feel in the frame of being a committed Muslim." 

"It was thought out and executed by the imperialists and the Zionists. They may have had some patsies with Islamic names and Islamic photogenics so we feel we have to prove we are peaceful people." 

To reinforce the Muslims-are-violent image, Western media and academics repeatedly accuse Islam of "being spread by the sword," Asi said, but an independent study of history as recorded by non-Muslims reveals the opposite is true.

Muslims, in fact, followed God's instructions that "there is no compulsion in religion," (Quran 2: 256) while Christians rulers (working in tandem with missionaries) forced conversions in many lands they conquered.

"They turned all this around and they want us to think we did something wrong," Asi said.

Asi cited some examples:
  • One hundred years after the establishment of Islam, only 20% of the people living under Muslim rule were Muslims, according to a French research institute. "They didn't become Muslim because they had a sword hanging ove their head," Asi said. "Islam appealed because of its intrinsic emotional and rational values."
  • Minorities who were living amongst Muslims enjoyed a status that had no equivalent in past civilizations, according to historian Sir Thomas Arnold.
  • Muslims actually saved Christians from other persecuting Christians in some places, according to clergyman Michael the Great, patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church. "The Children of Ishmael (Muslims) came to us from the south to spare us from what the Byzantines were doing to us. They left us to ourselves so we can practice our rituals and pursuit our worship in tranquility and peace."
  • It was Christian kings in Denmark, Macedonia and elsewhere who forced pagans, Muslims and others (such as Native Americans) to convert to Christianity or be killed.
Despite all the evidence against it, the propaganda is taking effect in many mosques, where the imams aren't willing to challenge the lies or "express themselves in normal ways," according to Asi.

"We don't pray out on the street for nothing. Saying the truth has a price attached to it. They can't even tolerate the truth in the mosque--as if God doesn't exist."

Click here to listen to the complete sermon.

In this section you will find summaries of Friday prayer sermons given this month that encourage people to oppose systems of oppression and establish social justice. Why? See my post: Preaching Justice.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Surviving While Oppressed

Muslim leadership in America showed it needs redirection when it (literally) shut out discussion of a local political prisoner last weekend while celebrating "One Nation Under God: Striving for the Common Good" inside the Washington Convention Center.

Thousands of Muslims gathered from across North America to gain knowledge, awareness and guidance in an increasingly Islamophobic milieu but their leaders apparently didn't think it relevant to study the plight of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, an MIT graduate and 13-year resident of the United States who's endured kidnapping (along with her three children, one of whom is feared dead), torture, bullets, rendition and an 86-year jail sentence as a casualty of the perpetual War on Terror.

"Aafia's case has exposed the politics of fear, the politics of self-interest, the politics of tribalism and the politics of capitulation to American imperialism," says Mauri' Saalakhan of the Peace Thru Justice Foundation, which organized a panel discussion with Siddiqi supporter and former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark in a lecture hall across the street from the convention Sunday.

"This is an oppressed and brutally persecuted Muslim woman who Muslims in America, generally speaking, have failed to come to the aid of."

Muslims (and others) world over are suffering injustices daily but most of our leaders--out of fear, ignorance or downright incompetence--are not even acknowledging the problems let alone offering real solutions or direction.

But God is. Through stories in the Quran he urges us to use our faculties and resources to circumvent oppression in the short-term while developing strategies to eventually change the unjust systems.

God relates, for example, how he inspired the mother of Prophet Moses to conspire to save her baby from the brutal Pharaoh, who had ordered the slaughter of all newborn Israeli boys. Pharaoh eventually adopted baby Moses at the behest of his wife Asiya (one of the four perfect women of all times), and Moses grew up to challenge and defeat the Pharaoh.

God: "When We inspired in your mother Our will, saying: 'Put your child in a chest and then set it adrift on the river so that the river may wash it ashore and it gets picked up by the one who is an enemy of mine and an enemy of thine!' And I infused in you My divine love so that you prepare for the task ahead of you according to My will." (Quran 20: 38-39)

Prophet Muhammad (S): “There is no wisdom equal to good planning.”

Muslim leaders struggling to remain steadfast in fulfilling their social obligations can learn from Imam Khamanei, the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a country which continues to progress while fighting oppression despite the continued animosity of imperialist nations.

“If we could read the enemies’ scenarios before their decisions, we will be more successful in the adoption of initiatives,” Imam Khamanei advised his leaders last month.

Islamic organizations, local imams and others in America also need to gain from the experiences of those who've endured extreme oppression throughout this nation's history but still managed to maintain their courage, integrity and principles; in particular, Muslims in the African American community.

Imam Abdul Alim Musa of Masjid Al-Islam in Washington, for example, has led activist congregations for over thirty years and even offers courses in "Strategic Management Under Conditions of Repression."

Musa: "The immigrant community doesn't know how valuable we are."