Thursday, August 31, 2006

Message for Friday - Muslim Merchants Must be Ethical


بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَى أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ
القراان 4.135

Oh you who believe! Be upright, firm establishers of justice, witnesses for G’d even if it is against yourselves or your parents and close relationships.

With the current socio-political environment in America being hostile towards Muslims and Islam, it is important for the American Muslim community to not be in a perpetual reactionary mode. Indeed at times, being proactive is extremely difficult when being faced with an onslaught of harassment, negative media portrayals and irresponsible speech from the higher echelon of government.

Just as in all communities, there are a small percentage of criminals and people with mental disorders in the Muslim community. Denouncing criminality activity including terrorism has not been a problem for the Muslim community; criminality and terrorism is continuously condemned including the most recent kidnapping of two FOX journalists in Gaza.

The more difficult situation, however, comes when Muslims are obeying the laws of America, yet violating the ethics of Islam. This particular problem, which has been barely addressed or addressed in a lackluster manner by community leaders, relates to Muslim merchants that engage in the commerce of pornography, alcohol, gambling and pork products, which are forbidden to purchase, consume or sell in Islam.

In major metropolitan areas such as Chicago, New York and Oakland, a large percentage of the liquor stores are owned by Muslim merchants. In the case of Detroit, Muslims run the majority of gas stations in which items such as lottery tickets can be purchased. Muslim merchants engaged in such practices not only are doing a disservice to their own spiritual selves, but they also are doing a disservice to the neighborhoods in which they operate.


اعْدِلُوا هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَى
القران 5.8

Be just! It is what is more close to piety.

The Muslim community has an obligation to speak out against such practices and to dissuade Muslim merchants in being involved in such commerce. To not address this situation yet be extremely eager to complain about the transgressions of others upon the community only furthers the arguments of critics that Muslims are only concerned when they are being oppressed, but are not vocal about the problems and disenfranchisement of others.
عدل ساعة خير من عبادة سنة
و رواه السرخسي في المبسوط
Justice in one hour (moment) is better than a year of ritualistic worship.

Walid Addresses the Problem of Sensationalist & Irresponsible Journalism

http://muslimmedianetwork.com/mmn/?p=339

CAIR Michigan responds to sensationalist and irresponsible journalism relating to terrorism.

August 25 -Jackson
Imam Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR Michigan, implored local and national mainstream media outlets to exercise caution in reporting events related to Muslims. He said that these news reports produce a more Islamophobic atmosphere. Present at the press conference were NPR, ABC, NBC, CBS, and Al-Arabiyya.

Imam Walid emphasized the recent suspicious murder of Mr. Wajid Baig, a member of the local mosque IAGD, who was killed at his 7-11. Police are suspicious of the motive for the killing because nothing was stolen from Mr. Baig.

The imam emphasized also the important failing of lazy and irresponsible journalism, the practice of hearing allegations and repeating them without checking into them.

The Jackson Islamic Center was chosen as the venue for this event because a Jackson resident was recently harassed at a West Virginia airport.

In a press release, CAIR Michigan explained that, since the revelation of the plot to down planes traveling from Britain to the United States, there have been several high-profile cases of Muslims first being linked to terrorism and then being cleared of wrongdoing.

Bigot of the Month of August - Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)


Senator Rick Santorum receives the dubious distinction of being the Bigot of the Month of August due to his vociferous, anti-Muslim statements.

Due to the latest polls stating the 63% of the American public disapproves of how the Republicans are handling the situation in Iraq, Mr. Santorum is propagating his Islamicphobic message that Americans have a "common enemy" [Muslims] and that our war in Iraq is against "Islamic fascism."

During this charged election season, Mr. Santorum is attempting to play on the fears and general illiteracy of the American public about Islam by equating Islam with the doctrine of fascism, which was practised by the likes of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

Just one year ago, Mr. Santorum suggested that Hurricane Katrina victims should be punished for not evacuating New Orleans before the storm hit.

SEE: http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Senator_suggests_penalties_for_survivors_who_stayed_in_flo_0906.html

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Racism & Islamophobia - Double Trouble for African-American Muslims

http://www.spokesman-recorder.com/News/Article/Article.asp?NewsID=72158&sID=13

'Islam-phobia' abounds in post 9/11 America
By: Charles Hallman
Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder
Originally posted 8/30/2006

For Black Muslims, religious persecution is compounded with racism. Nearly a third of Muslims in the United States are Black. However, Islam-phobia, negative images and buzz words that produce stereotyping, physical and verbal attacks, and racial profiling of Muslims of color, including Muslims of African descent has exploded in this country since the events of September 11, 2001. September 11 only heightened the misconceptions about Islam.

Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan Executive Director Dawud Walid pointed out. "Islam-phobia has risen in the post-September 11 era among certain populations in the United States." Walid and four other Black Muslims spoke to Black journalists on media perceptions and misperceptions on Islam during the National Association of Black Journalists annual convention in Indianapolis on August 17. Walid offered as an example a recent incident that occurred during a flight scare that CNN and others reported, which supposedly involved a Muslim woman. "The lady was not a Muslim but a 59-year-old Caucasian. [She] had no matches or Vaseline or letters written in Arabic," he said. "When you mention the word, terrorists, the first thing that comes to mind will be Muslim." The panelists were especially critical of the mainstream media. Walid points out that the "real face" of Islam is obscured by the hate speech used by the Bush administration and is used as a polarizing tool that plays itself in the media, he said, calling U.S. President George Bush "a divisive president."

University of California, Berkeley linguist Geoffrey Nunberg recently wrote in a Los Angeles Times commentary that the phrase "Islamo-fascism" has been around for more than 15 years, but after September 11 it is now used "to justify a broad-based military campaign against Islamic governments and groups hostile to the West." "A tool of war is words," claimed Imam Michael Saahir of Indianapolis Nur-Allah (Light of God) Islamic Center. Islam is a religion and a way of life, not a political ideology, the panelists asserted.

"Islam isn't about war, violence or invading countries but instead is a fair and balanced system of life," Brenda Shaheed, vice-president of enrollment management for Indianapolis-based Martin University, pointed out. "We often get a one-sided and distorted view of Islam. There has to be another side presented." However, the Black media shouldn't shoulder this responsibility alone, said Saahir, who also writes for the Indianapolis Recorder, the city's weekly Black newspaper.

Suhailah Siddeeq Brehane, a stay-at-home mother from Atlanta who has been a Muslim all her life, adds she is disturbed with the media's negative portrayal of her and her fellow Black Muslims. "It is hurting all of us," she said sadly. The role of women in Islam also is misrepresented, continued Shaheed, who has been married to a Muslim for 36 years. Muslim women can choose their husbands, earn a living, and are equal partners in marriages, she insisted. "I have been Muslim for 30 years. I'm American and dress modestly as an African American Muslim woman." There is no standard of dress: Islamic apparel varies from country to country, said Imam Faheem Shuaibe of Oakland, California's Masjid Waritheen, who moderated the panel. Furthermore, all Muslims, especially Blacks, don't look alike, maintained Shaheed. "We have been forced with this [image] all the time."

Walid also asked the media to expand its coverage beyond the stories on Ramadan written every year. "We can comment on more than just the war on terror or being harassed. The new center on the Detroit Pistons is a Muslim. Every single concern that concerns every other American, we have an opinion [as well]." Muslims must also speak up whenever negative images are presented by the media, Walid noted. His organization once met with Detroit newspapers to voice their concerns. "We want our needs to be addressed as any other group in a respectable way," he added. Since September 11, more people have sought to learn more about Islam, Walid noted, but overall Americans still have a negative perception of the religion. "A latest Gallop poll [said] that 41 percent of Americans have a negative view about Islam," he mentioned. According to Walid, "Islam still is the nation's fastest growing religion. Americans, including Caucasians and Latinos, are converting to Islam." Walid believes that a change in the White House might help to eliminate negative perceptions on Islam. "I think that if there was a different administration [with] a different language about the Muslim community and had a different foreign policy and a domestic agenda, and a different agenda on the so-called war on terror, I think Islam-phobia would decrease."

Response to Islamophobic editorial of Cal Thomas

By Sofia Begg

In an op-ed last month entitled, “The War on Terror Must be Fought to Win,” Cal Thomas prescribed an all-out war against “the evil virus of Islamofacism.” He wrote that the war should be stepped up and “fought like World War II.”

Maybe Mr. Thomas should first recall the devastation that the last world war caused before writing such an ominous prescription. World War II was the single deadliest conflict the world has ever seen, causing tens of millions of civilian deaths.

As aggression by both Israel and Hezbollah escalated in the Middle East, we see that the need for more diplomatic and peaceful solutions to end the war on terror must be sought. Recent public opinion polls also suggest that the American people agree that US led wars are not providing for a safer, more peaceful world for any of us.

Neither is the propagation of violent and discriminatory rhetoric. It is true that Al-Qaida is a fringe radical group whose terrorist actions deserve condemnation. But the United States administration should not, as Mr. Thomas suggests, stoop to their level and wage state terror in order to overcome terrorism.

Nor should Americans allow themselves to buy into such hateful Islamophobic rhetoric that attempts to malign an entire segment of society. Over 6 million Muslims call America home and the percentage of them who preach or support hate and sedition are miniscule. Calling for the elimination of all them would not just be like summoning the destruction of World War II, it would be like proposing another Holocaust. The fight against Osama bin Laden cannot be won by those who espouse the same ideology as he.

And, targeting and marginalizing the vast majority of the American Muslim population who are peaceful, law abiding citizens cannot be anything but counter effective. Instead, soliciting the cooperation and assistance of the Muslim community might prove to be a better tactic. The goals and ideals of the US Constitution- those of freedom, equality and justice, American morals, and the value of human life, should not be taken lightly. America is the first modern state that has strived to accommodate all people regardless of their ethnicity, place of birth and religion. We, who claim to have moral authority, must exercise only the best of morals.

Last month, Mr. Thomas wrote, “Israel should say that if terrorists launch another attack, Palestinians would have 24 hours to turn in those responsible or face obliteration of the neighborhood where the terrorists hide out.” Well, Mr. Thomas, obliteration is now what thousands of starving Palestinians face in a land where they are cut of from the bare necessities of life. They are cut off, just as you prescribed; but the world is not a safer, more secure place because of it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Dialogue among Civilizations" not "Clash of Civilizations"


In 2000, former President of Iran As-Sayyid Mohammed Khatami addressed the United Nations promoting "Dialogue among Civilizations" vice the "Clash of Civilizations," which is now being advanced within the neo-conservative and evangelical circles.

See speech at:
http://www.unesco.org/dialogue2001/en/khatami.htm

Last year, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan launched an initiative entitled "Alliance of Civilizations" based off of precepts discussed from the discourse of Khatami.

With the current demonization of Iran, it is noteworthy to point out that their major detractors have become more reclusive and have decreased dialog while Iranian figures such as Khatami have continously called for understanding and reconciliation.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) will be hosting a special reception and dinner for Khatami on September 8, 2006 in Arlington, Virginia.
http://www.cair.com/default.asp?Page=articleView&id=2258&theType=NR


Below is the most recent speech of Sayyid Khatami on August 26 in Japan addressing the World Assembly on Religions and Peace:
http://www.khatami.ir/lecture.php?uid=15&lang=fa&lang2=en

Walid to speak at Zaman International conference

On Saturday, September 2 at 12:30 PM, Dawud Walid will be speaking at the 1st annual Zaman International Conference entitled "While we wait..."

The presentation will focus on the purpose of the media and how to effectively communicate through it.

The address for the conference is:
University of Michigan - Dearborn Fairlane Center
19000 Hubbard Dr.
Dearborn, MI 48126

For registration info, log on to http://www.zamaninternational.org/conference/travelinfo.html

Short biography (bio) of Dawud Walid


Above picture is of Dawud Walid at the American Islamic Comuunity Center in Madison Heights, MI.
***
Currently, Dawud Walid is Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI), assistant Imam at Masjid Wali Muhammad in Detroit, MI, board trustee for the Metropolitan Interfaith Workers' Rights Committee and member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF).

Walid has spoken at several institutions of higher learning about Islam and Interfaith dialogue including Harvard University, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, University of Michigan - Flint, University of Michigan - Dearborn, Michigan State University, University of Detroit-Mercy, Oakland University, Madonna University, Grand Valley State University, Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University, Youngstown State University, University of the Virgin Islands - St. Croix, University of the Virgin Islands - St. Thomas, Wayne State University, University of Toledo, Muskegon Community College and Wayne County Community College. He also delivered the 2008 Baccalaureate speech at the prestigious Cranbrook-Kingswood Academy in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Walid has also delivered religious lectures and sermons in over 40 mosques throughout the United States as well as giving a speech to hundreds of Muslims at Mt. Uhud in Saudi Arabia.

Walid has also appeared appeared or been quoted extensively in the media including but not limited to The New York Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, CSPAN, CNN, Al-Jazeera, Voice of America, National Public Radio, Pacifica, FOX National Radio and the BBC World Service Radio.

He has also written editorials, which have been published in the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, Kuwait Times, Daily News Egypt, Middle East Online, World News Network, Nation Times, Arab-American News, Muslim Observer and the Muslim Journal.

Walid has made pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj) in Saudi Arabia and has visited 14 additional nations including Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Israel and France.

Past leadership positions include Chairman of Al-Ikhlas Training Academy (Pre-K - 12th Islamic Private School in Detroit), Chairman of Religious Studies for the American Society of Muslims' National Young Adult Association and the interim Imam at the Bosnian American Islamic Center in Hamtramck, MI.

Monday, August 28, 2006

African-Americans, Arab-Americans & Latino-Americans in the same proverbial 'boat'


Marking the one year anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, thoughts of the US media referring to African-Americans as “refugees” to Barbara Bush’s infamous statement that the evacuees who were stranded in the Houston Astrodome were in better condition, renewed the sense to many that African-Americans are still viewed as 2nd class citizens or three-fifths human by America’s elite. And as our nation witnessed images of primarily African-American citizens languishing on the tops of homes and begging to be rescued, the Bush administration provided a lack luster, delayed evacuation response.

On Monday, August 28, Mr. Bush visited Biloxi, Mississippi where he spoke to an “American” crowd, commending them for rebuilding their neighborhoods “the old fashion way.” Fortunately for the people who he addressed, they had received federal monies and settled insurance claims. His praise for those who rebuilt their homes “the old fashion way” was a not so subtle smack in the face of the citizens of New Orleans, who were in a weaker economic condition to begin with and have continued to be neglected by the Federal government as well as being jerked by insurance companies who refuse to honor insurance claims. I’m sure that rap star Kayne West would echo his statements of last year that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

Approximately one month ago, Arab-Americans went through a similar situation of feeling abandoned by the Bush administration. While the Israeli government launched an extensive bombing campaign on Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure including homes and schools, our State Department’s initial concerns had nothing to do with the lives of the Lebanese civilians and Arab-Americans. Furthermore, less than 700 of the 25,000 American citizens stranded in Lebanon were rescued in one week after the violence began even though the French and the Germans had evacuated all of their citizens who wanted to depart within a few days after the fighting. Does not the US have the world’s most powerful and logistically sophisticated military?

Go to the State Department’s initial statements in their daily press briefings to see what were their top priorities and how they did not articulate a meaningful evacuation plan for US citizens:
7/12/06- http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2006/68924.htm
7/13/06- http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2006/68960.htm
7/17/06- http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2006/69077.htm

See CAIR-MI’s reaction to Arab-Americans being treated like second class citizens and being slighted at the US embassy in Beirut one week after the conflict began on Lebanon’s border:
http://www1.wxyz.com/wxyz/nw_local_news/article/0,2132,WXYZ_15924_4855079,00.html
http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/07/31/news/refuge.php

In this post 9/11 era, Arab-Americans have been subjected to similar treatment that African-Americans and more recently Latino-Americans have endured for decades. The “Katrina-like” evacuation of American citizens in Lebanon compounds this feeling for America’s “new negroes” - Arab-Americans - in conjunction with the intense racial profiling at borders and airports, visits at home and at work by the FBI, and neighborhood sweeps by ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement). “Driving While Black,” “Flying While Muslim,” and “Buying While Arab” are now the order of the day.

If Arab-Americans, African-Americans, and Latino-Americans cannot see their collective interests in organizing against the current neo-conservative/xenophobic wave that is drowning America, all three may drown together.

Walid to speak at Interfaith panel on Mideast


Tuesday, August 29 at 10 AM, the National Conference on Community and Justice - Michigan (NCCJ-MI) is sponsoring a panel discussion entitled "Are you as confused about the Middle East as I am?"

The discussion will include presentations about why the area of Palestine holds religious sanctity according to Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions.

Panel participants include CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid, Sharona Shapiro, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, and Rev. Daniel Buttry of International Ministries.

The location is St. Peter Catholic Church at 19851 Anita St in Harper Woods, MI.

Walid comments on racial profiling by U.S. Airways

http://sundaygazettemail.com/section/News/2006082731

August 28, 2006
Detained Muslim accuses Tri-State Airport of bias
By Scott Finn Staff writer
She was detained for 14 hours earlier this month because officials at Tri-State Airport mistook her face wash and bottled water for bomb ingredients. Now, Rima Qayyum is blasting airport officials and U.S. Airways in her first public statement since the incident.
The 28-year-old substitute teacher from Barboursville said she believes she was singled out because she is Muslim, since she was the only passenger stopped that morning, although non-Muslim passengers also had liquids in their luggage.
The incident briefly closed the Ceredo airport and received intense coverage from local and national media. It occurred shortly after British authorities broke up an alleged plot to bring down several international airliners by smuggling liquid explosives onboard.
“I fully blame the Huntington airport security for targeting me alone,” Qayyum said in a statement released Friday. “A bottle of water and face wash was not a big issue. All they had to do was make me throw away these items, as were being done to other passengers, as it is being done at all the airports in the country today.”
Meanwhile, the director of a Muslim organization is calling on federal and state authorities to investigate whether Qayyum’s civil rights were violated.
Qayyum might file a lawsuit against the airport and airline, said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Michigan.
On Aug. 17, Transportation Security Administration officials at the airport confiscated Qayyum’s face wash and bottled water and tested them. According to West Virginia State Police Capt. J.C. Chambers, the items set off “sniffer” machines designed to detect explosives and caused a reaction by a bomb-sniffing dog.
Qayyum is baffled by the idea that her belongings could set off any alarms, Walid said.
Adding insult to injury, U.S. Airways refused to allow her to board a flight the next day, despite being completely cleared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Walid said.
“This is extremely gross, because Miss Qayyum was escorted to the airport on the second day by an FBI agent, but U.S. Airways denied her permission to board, even with a FBI agent next to her,” Walid said...(MORE)