Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bigot of the Month of October - Pat Robertson

Pat Robertson, evangelical talk show host, earns the dubious distinction of being the bigot of the month. Earlier this month, he went on a tirade calling Prophet Muhammad a fake and the Qur'an being a fradulent book. Although he has the right to reject the Qur'an, this recent statement is one of many malicious statements that he has made about other faiths, who do not adhere to his creed including Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Methodists. He is the epitome of a religious extremist.

Last year, Robertson called for the assassination of a head of a sovereign nation, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Imagine if an Imam were to have said something similiar about the President of Israel or the Prime Minister of Great Britain. Of course, he would be rotting in jail at this very moment.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Walid receives 'Community Service Award' at banquet

Last night, the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan (CIOM)held their 20th Annual banquet. Approximately 800 people were in attendance.

Honorees included David Crumm, religion writer for the Detroit Free Press, who received the Media Award, Brenda Rosenberg, co-founder of the Children of Abraham Project , who received the Interfaith Award, and Dawud Walid, CAIR-MI Executive Director, who received the Community Service Award.

Also in attendance last night were Wayne County Commissioner Robert Ficano and Linda Parker, Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Walid comments on double-standard of freedom of expression relating to covering


Wearing of niqab, hijab causes furor
By: Aatif Ali Bokhari

DETROIT - For Muslim women who wear the hijab and niqab (headscarves and face veils), it's been a rough last three weeks, both here and abroad.

Europe's leading Muslim thinker, Tariq Ramadan, said that the growing debate over the headscarves is a sign of polarization between the Western and Islamic world.

"The atmosphere has deteriorated in the last year or so. It's not only a British reality, but European and American," said the Oxford Professor.

It all started when British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw encouraged Muslim women to stop wearing face veils, saying that the practice made "better, positive relations between two communities more difficult," adding it was "such a visible statement of separation and difference."

The London-based newspaper "The Guardian" said that Straw, "a likely candidate for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party, and whose Blackburn constituency has a large Muslim population, said that he had chosen his words carefully.

"'We are able to relate to people we don't know by reading their faces, and if you can't see their faces that provides some separation', he told a local radio station. 'Those people who do wear the veil should think about the implications for community relations'."

Although Straw said that he never demanded veiled women visiting his office remove their religious attire, his remarks raised criticism from among both Muslims and non-Muslims that politicians should keep their noses out of other people's religious choices.

"This is going to do great damage to the Muslim community, again we are being singled out by this government as the problem. Women have the right to wear the veil and this is just another example of blatant Muslim-bashing by this government," said Reefar Bravu, chair of the Muslim Council for Britain's social and family affairs committee.

British Secretary of the Communities Ruth Kelly defended the wearing of the veil as a "personal choice," while Lord Adam Patel, Britain's first Asian peer, said, "I don't agree with Jack that he should ask women to take off their veil."

At the same time, Muslim secularists in England applauded Straw for his comments and spoke out against the practice of veiling. Such a stance is nothing new but it seems to have hit a crescendo of late.

"Some Muslim women say that it is their choice to wear it; I don't agree.

Why would any woman living in a tolerant country freely choose to wear such a restrictive garment?" asked Saira Khan in the "London Times."

Said Khan, "What these women are really saying is that they adopt the veil because they believe that they should have less freedom than men, and that if they did not wear the veil men would not be accountable for their uncontrollable urges - so women must cover-up so as not to tempt men."

"It is an extreme practice. It is never right for a woman to hide behind a veil and shut herself off from people in the community. But it is particularly wrong in Britain, where it is alien to the mainstream culture for someone to walk around wearing a mask."

While the debate has continued to grow, Tunisia, a North African Muslim country, took the unprecedented step of not only outlawing the niqab but the hijab as well.

Laws against wearing the hijab in schools and government buildings were passed in Tunisia in 1981 but they weren't enforced until recently. Now, headscarf-clad women are being stopped on the street by the authorities and threatened with arrest if they don't sign a pledge to desist.

Although for the most part, many in the Muslim community criticized Straw's remarks, they have been far more reluctant to speak out against what is happening in Tunisia.

Critics have argued that what the Tunisian government is doing is unconstitutional and un-Islamic. But the sort of protests that marked the Danish cartoon controversy have been largely non-existent.

"I think that Muslims are more shy about criticizing Muslim governments than non-Muslim governments," said Dawud Walid, Executive Director the Michigan Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-Michigan).

Walid noted that CAIR put out an action alert for people to request the Tunisian and American embassies to call on the Tunisian government to uphold international standards of respect for religious expression.

"It's ironic that secularists would criticize Muslim women for wearing hijab yet would argue that women deserve the freedom to wear revealing clothing in the workplace. It's fallacious reasoning for a person to applaud someone's right to wear revealing clothing, yet discriminate against another woman who is exercising the freedom to cover her entire body.

"The reluctance by Muslims to criticize policies that are unjust, whether or not they are perpetrated by non-Muslims, is contradictory to the Qur'an. It's something that the religious leaders in the community should teach about if this problem is to be corrected.

"To a certain degree, the reluctance is also a kind of apathy. Many are of the mindset, 'even if I complain, it can't make a difference'. It's sad that many in our community have this self-defeating mindset," said Walid.

Walid added that discrimination against women wearing the hijab and niqab is present here in the U.S.

In Hamtramck last week, a niqab-clad woman who had to testify in court was asked by the judge to take off her religious garb. If she didn't comply, the case would be dropped. She chose to keep her niqab; the case was thrown out.

Said Walid, "It's ludicrous for her case to be thrown out just because she refused to uncover, especially because she was not being charged with any crime, the case was civil.

"If a woman is raped, she is allowed to speak from behind a screen and her voice is altered. If that is admissible, why can't a female's testimony in court be allowed when she's wearing niqab?"

Friday, October 27, 2006

Response to Nolan Finley's editorial - "Ex-jihadist seeks Islam's Martin Luther"

In response to the editorial “Ex-jihadist seeks Islam’s Martin Luther” printed on October 22 in the Detroit News, the solutions of more baseball and sex to reform a minority of Muslims away from extremism are preposterous.

It is absurd to think that people commit acts of extremism based exclusively on religious texts, as if to say that people live in an utter vacuum disconnected from socio-political circumstances. Thus, terrorists such as the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, who pioneered suicide bombings, are secularists, yet countries such as Gambia that are almost 100% Muslims do not suffer from terrorism.

Also, the claim that no Muslim leaders or groups have denounced extremism, the killing of apostates and subjugation of women is utterly baseless. Muslim organizations such as the Council of American-Islamic Relations have consistently spoken out against extremism, the right for people to be not forced to accept Islam to the rights of Muslim women.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Message for Friday - Muslims are not allowed to be bums

وهذا صحيح لما روى ابن مسعود رضي الله تعالى عنه عن النبي عليه الصلاة والسلام أنه قال ‏"‏طلب الكسب فريضة على كل مسلم ومسلمة‏"‏

According to Ibn Mas`ud, the Prophet Muhammad (Prayers and Peace be upon him) said, "Seeking work is a religious obligation upon every Muslim male and Muslim female."

Paying of Zakah (charity) is a religious obligation upon every Muslim; thus, earning income is incumbent in order to fullfil this obligation. Also for the pyschology well-being of a human being, work is essential. Begging brings about humilation and can make one a slave to the giver of charity or gifts, even if the giver of charity begins their giving with sincerity.

أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال هدية الإمام غلول

The Prophet Muhammad (Prayers and Peace be upon him) said, "A gift can be a leader to chains."

And surely G'd knows best.

Walid speaks at health disparities & social justice forum at the University of Michigan

Yesterday at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, a ninety minute forum was held entitled, “Human Dignity, Human Capacity, and Social Justice: Examining Genetics and Health Disparities.”

The forum, sponsored by the School of Public Health’s Life Sciences and Society Program, discussed from medical, legal and religious perspectives regarding health disparities in society relating to social injustice and remedies to improve the spiritual, mental and physical health within society.

Panelists at the forum included Toby Citrin, Director of the Michigan Center for Genomics and Public Health, Dr. David Ginsburg, Professor of Internal Medicine and Human Genetics for the University of Michigan, Dr. Jerry Walden, Founder of Packard Community Clinic, Rev. Paul Versluis, Pastor of Shalom Community Church, and Dawud Walid, CAIR-MI Executive Director.

Cut & paste the link below to listen:

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Walid comments further on issue of face veil in Hamtramck court

On October 11th in a small claims court in Hamtramck, Michigan, a Muslim female was asked by a judge without explanation to remove her face veil if she wanted her case to be heard against a rental car company. The woman explained that she wore the face veil due to her religious conviction, and the judge stated that he was dismissing her case.

Some Non-Muslims have mistakely made this an issue that she is trying to impose her religious views on the court. Comments such as "if she can wear the face veil in court, then I want to see the 10 Commandments hanging up in court too" are such an example. Unlike the 10 Commandments hanging up in court, however, the veil is an issue of freedom to exercise the 1st amendment, not establishing or projecting articles of faith within a court. She is not imposing and asking other women, Muslim or Non-Muslim women, to wear a veil in court.

Some Muslims think that this is an issue of Islamic law, which it is not. The courts of America do not operate nor factor in Islamic law in their decision making. If judges in America were to consider this, there would be untrained judges taking on or favoring opinions of jurists that fit their own sensibilities or biases in some cases. Thus even a Muslim who would argue that under a particular school of thought, a Muslim woman should uncover her face in front of a judge is a mute point. Besides, this would be a legal of opinion of perhaps some jurists of one school of thought within the 4 Sunni, 3 Shi`ah and the Ibadi school of thought. (8 schools of thought in Islamic law) There is no one set Islamic law or shari`ah as some Muslims fantasize over.

The whole matter comes down to two points, accommodation and dignity. If a person's bona fide religious beliefs can be accommodated within reason in a court, they should be respected. A judge, or a civil human being for that matter, has the responsibility to address another with clarity of expression and not be offensive.

Seeing a face of a person, especially in a non-criminal matter, does not confirm or deny the veracity of testimony. Hence even in criminal cases, rape victims or people in the witness protection program testify behind screens, even with their voices electronically altered. Blind judges have sat on the bench in Michigan where they saw no faces or material evidence for that matter.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

CAIR Executive Director on C-SPAN today

The Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Nihad Awad appeared on C-SPAN this morning discussing the political attitudes of American Muslims.

Forward the video to 36:26.

Joint call from Mecca: End Bloodshed in Iraq


INTERNATIONAL 10.24.2006 Tuesday - ISTANBUL 15:50

Joint Call from Mecca: End Bloodshed in Iraq
By Suleyman Kurt (Diplomatic Correspondent)
Sunday, October 22, 2006

Nearly 50 Shiite and Sunni religious leaders gathered in Mecca, with the initiative of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), issued a statement on Friday asking for the end of sectarian bloodshed in Iraq before the aid al-fitr, the Ramadan holiday.

Ankara has announced that it welcomes the OIC’s initiative, which was also supported by the Iraqi Shiite leaders Ayetollah Ali Sistani and Moqtada al-Sadr.

“Sunnis and Shiites should stand together for the sake of Iraq's independence, unity and territorial integrity, and work together on ending foreign occupation and rebuilding the country's economic, political and military capacities with the aim of securing Iraq's independence," the Mecca document said.

Nearly 50 Iraqi Shiite and Sunni leaders gathered in Mecca around the Kaaba answering an initiative of OIC Secretary-General Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. The Islamic leaders agreed on a eight-article document after the two-day talks.

Secretary-General Ihsanoglu, reading out the Mecca document, emphasized the importance of “political will” for the success of the initiative.

Ayatollah Ali Sistani, a prominent Iraqi Shiite leader, sent a message supporting the OIC initiative while Moqtada al-Sadr also reportedly supported the initiative.

The religious leaders decided that the Mecca Document should be read in all the mosques in Iraq.

Iraq’s Shiite-origin Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who talked to Secretary-General Ihsanoglu twice on the phone, said that he supported the Muslim gathering in Mecca.

A message from Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, was also read during the meeting.

8 Statements in Mecca Document

The Mecca document formed by the Iraqi clerics is as follows:

1- A Muslim is he who professes his faith by bearing witness that there is no God but Allah and that Mohammed is His Prophet. These fundamental principles apply equally to the Sunnis and the Shiites without exception. Any difference between them is merely differences of opinion and interpretation and not essential differences of faith or on the substance of the Pillars of Islam.

2- The blood, property, honour, and reputation of Muslims is sacrosanct on the grounds of the noble verses of the Holy Quran and Prophet’s practices. Therefore, no Muslim, whether he or she is Shiite or Sunni, may be subject to murder or any harm, intimidation, terrorization, or aggression on his property; incitement thereto; or forcible displacement, deportation or kidnapping.

3- All houses of worship are sacrosanct, including mosques and the non-Muslim houses of worship of all faiths and religions. Therefore, these places of worship may not be attacked, appropriated, or in any other way used as a haven to perpetrate acts in contravention of our Magnanimous Sharia.

4- The crimes committed on grounds of sectarian identity or belonging, such as those now being perpetrated in Iraq, fall within the ambit of “wickedness, and mischief on the earth,” which was prohibited and proscribed by the Almighty God.

5- Any provocation of sensitivities or sectarian, ethnic, geographical, or linguistic strife should be shunned and averted. Similarly, any name-calling, abuse, or vilification and invectives uttered by any one party in attack on another should be avoided in view of the express prohibition by the Holy Quran, which labeled such conduct as “blasphemy.”

6- Certain things and principles should never be forfeited, including, in particular, the unity, cohesion, cooperation, and solidarity in piety and righteousness, which should all be preserved and protected against any attempt to tear them asunder. Necessarily therefore, it is incumbent upon all Muslims to adopt caution and vigilance against all attempts to sow division among them, break their ranks or incite sedition, strife, and hate to corrupt their divine spiritual bonds with each other.

7- Muslims, both Sunnis and the Shiites, all in unison champion the cause of the persecuted and unite against the oppressor and the unjust, as they act in application of Almighty God’s words.

8- Muslims, whether Sunnite or Shiite, will thus stand united in protecting the independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Iraq; realizing and consecrating the free will of the Iraqi people, contributing to the military, economic and political capacity-building of their country in order to put an end to occupation and restore and reinstate Iraq’s Arab-Islamic and human cultural and civilization role.

Eid Mubarak!

Eid Al-Fitr, literally meaning reoccuring happiness of the original nature, is a 3 day holiday celebrated by Muslims after the month of Ramadan. During this 3 day holiday, Muslims will traditionally exchange gifts, visit family and friends and enjoy delicious meals and desserts.

Eid Mubarak is a common greeting exchanged throughout the Muslim world, which means blessed Eid.

The month that follows the month of Ramadan is called Shawwal, the 10th month on the Islamic lunar calendar.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Walid comments on woman denied justice because of face veil

Muslim woman refuses to remove her veil in court, so judge tosses case
By Zachary Gorchow

Detroit Free Press


DETROIT - Ginnnah Muhammad of Detroit was looking for her day in court.

Instead, she said she felt as if a judge forced her to choose between her case and her religion in a small-claims dispute in Hamtramck District Court.

A devout Muslim, she wore a niqab - a scarf and veil to cover her face and head except for her eyes - Oct. 11 as she contested a rental car company's charging her $2,750 to repair a vehicle after thieves broke into it.

Judge Paul Paruk said he needed to see her face to judge her truthfulness and gave Muhammad, 42, a choice: take off the veil when testifying or the case would be dismissed. She kept the veil on.

"I just feel so sad," Muhammad said last week. " I feel that the court is there for justice for us. I didn't feel like the court recognized me as a person that needed justice. I just feel I can't trust the court."

The wearing of a niqab has spurred increasing debate, particularly in Europe. In 2004, France banned the wearing of it and other religious symbols in public schools.

This month, former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, still a member of parliament, ignited a fierce debate over the niqab by suggesting that Muslim women in his district remove their veils when they visit his office. He said it would improve communication, calling the veil "a visible statement of separation and of difference."

It has sparked controversy in the United States as well. A Muslim woman from Florida unsuccessfully went to court in an effort to overturn the state's order in 2001 that she reveal her face for her driver's license photo.

In metro Detroit, which has one of the country's largest Muslim populations, a small minority of Muslim women - primarily those of Yemeni descent - wear the niqab, said Dawud Walid , executive director of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Paruk said that as a fact finder, he needs to see the face of a person testifying. Michigan has no rules governing what judges can do regarding religious attire of people in court, so the judges have leeway on how to run their courtrooms.

"My job in the courtroom is to make a determination as to the veracity of somebody's claim," he said. "Part of that, you need to identify the witness and you need to look at the witness and watch how they testify."

Paruk said he offered to let Muhammad, who was born in the United States and converted to Islam at the age of 10, wear the veil during the proceedings except when she testified. He said this was the first time someone had come before his court wearing a niqab, and he noted that many Muslims do not consider it a religious symbol.

"I felt I was trying to accommodate her as best I could," he said.

Walid said Paruk still violated Muhammad's civil rights.

"Although a niqab is donned by a minority of Muslim females, it is still a bona fide religious practice," he said.(MORE)

Friday, October 20, 2006

"Building Islam in Detroit Project" opens at MSU

The "Building Islam in Detroit Project," which opened yesterday, gives the history of the evolution of Islam in Detroit , Michigan and chronicles its historical significance for the entire American Muslim community. Mosques that are included in the exhibit are Masjid Wali Muhammad, formerly Temple #1 of the original Nation of Islam, the Albanian Islamic Center and Al-Islah Islamic Center. The exhibit, which is scheduled to run until December 1, is located at the Law College Building in the 4th floor atrium.

SEE: http://www.dc.umich.edu/dmc/grocs/05/exhibit.swf

The "Building Islam in Detroit Project" coincides with recent pledges by Michigan State University officials to promote diversity seminars about Islam on campus in lieu of an Islamophobic e-mail sent to the Muslim Student Association (MSA) of Michigan State University by a tenured professor. In the email sent on February 28, 2006, Dr. Indrek Wichman refers to Muslims as "dissatisfied, agressive (sic), brutal, and uncivilized slave-trading Moslems."

SEE: http://www.statenews.com/article.phtml?pk=37972

We are pleased that Michigan State University is sponsoring such an exhibit that will give students, staff and the general community a better understanding of the richness of the Muslim community. Our hope is that this event and others to come will serve as proactive measures to promote inclusion and combat Islamophobia in the area.

Walid speaks to doctors and health care professionals about the significance of fasting

Yesterday, approximately 100 doctors and health care professionals were addressed about the significance of Ramadan and fasting at the Michigan CardioVascular Institute in Saginaw, Michigan.

Cut and paste to listen:

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Message for Friday - The Night of Power

The Night of Power (Laylatul Qadr) is the night in which Muslims believe that the Qur'an was sent down, and Prophet Muhammad received the first divine inspiration from G'd approximately 14 centuries ago.

Last night, a lecture of given to the Nigerian Muslim community and another given to the Gambian Muslim community speaking about different aspects of Islamic obligations after Ramadan.

Cut & paste to listen:

Cut & paste to listen:

Walid speaks at University of Michigan - Dearborn

Yesterday's speech was delivered at the University of Michigan in Dearborn, Michigan regarding the imperative in Islam to establish social justice in society.

Cut and paste to listen:

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Walid gives diversity training at Comerica Operations Center

Today, diversity training about Islam and Muslims was given at the Comerica Operations Center in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

Cut & paste link to listen:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Islamic Scholars respond to the Pope's speech

Open Letter to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI by 38 Leading Muslim Scholars and Leaders

In an unprecedented move, an open letter signed by 38 leading Muslim religious scholars and leaders around the world was sent to Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 12, 2006. The letter, which is the outcome of a joint effort, was signed by top religious authorities such as Shaykh Ali Jumu'ah (the Grand Mufti of Egypt), Shakyh Abdullah bin Bayyah (former Vice President of Mauritania, and leading religious scholar), and Shaykh Sa'id Ramadan Al-Buti (from Syria), in addition to the Grand Muftis of Russia, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Slovenia, Istanbul, Uzbekistan, and Oman, as well as leading figures from the Shi'a community such as Ayatollah Muhammad Ali Taskhiri of Iran. The letter was also signed by HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan and by Muslim scholars in the West such as Shaykh Hamza Yusuf from California, Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Professor Tim Winter of the University of Cambridge.

All the eight schools of thought and jurisprudence in Islam are represented by the signatories, including a woman scholar. In this respect the letter is unique in the history of interfaith relations.

The letter was sent, in a spirit of goodwill, to respond to some of the remarks made by the Pope during his lecture at the University of Regensburg on Sept. 12, 2006. The letter tackles the main substantive issues raised in his treatment of a debate between the medieval Emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian, including reason and faith; forced conversion; jihad vs. holy war; and the relationship between Christianity and Islam. They engage the Pope on an intellectual level concerning these crucial topics, which go well beyond the controversial quotation of the emperor pointing out what they see as mistakes and oversimplifications in the Pope's own remarks about Islamic belief and practice.

The Muslim signatories appreciate the Pope's personal expression of sorrow at the Muslim reaction and his assurance that the words of the Byzantine emperor he quoted did not reflect his personal opinion. By following the Quranic precept of debating in the fairest way, they hope to reach out so as to increase mutual understanding, reestablish trust, calm the situation for the sake of peace, and preserve Muslim dignity.

Christianity and Islam make up more than half of humankind in an increasingly interconnected world, the letter states, and it is imperative that both sides share responsibility for peace and move the debate towards a frank and sincere dialogue of hearts and minds which furthers mutual understanding and respect between the two religious traditions. Indeed, the scholars point out, both religions teach what Christianity calls the two greatest commandments. The commandment that the Lord our God is one Lord and that we shall love Him with all we are is enshrined in the first testimony of faith in Islam, There is god but God. The second commandment to love thy neighbor as thyself is also found in the words of the Prophet, None of you believes until he desires for his neighbor (in another version, his brother) what he desires for himself. The signatories also point out the positive contacts the Vatican has had with the Islamic world in the past, with a hope that they will continue and even grow in the future. [end]

The official and full English version of the text along with the complete list of signatories is available now on the Islamica Magazine website (www.IslamicaMagazine.com).

Monday, October 16, 2006

Islam & Affirmative Action

The following lecture was given last night in Dearborn Heights, Michigan during a "Night of Power" gathering.

Cut & paste below to listen:

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Walid comments on more Muslims observing the fast during Ramadan

Ramadan: More Muslims than ever observe month of fasting and prayer

By Karin Laub
Associated Press

JERUSALEM — The boom of a cannon and the wail of a muezzin signaled the end of the day's fast and thousands of worshippers at one of Islam's holiest shrines tucked into their dinner.

The faithful sat cross-legged, some family gathered in circles, others strangers in long rows, on the ancient stone pavement around the Al Aqsa Mosque. They broke their fast with sips of water after a scorching late-summer day, ate a few dates for a quick energy boost, then moved onto a main course of chicken and rice.

The holy month of Ramadan is under way, and from Morocco to Indonesia and the growing Muslim communities of the West, around one-fifth of humanity is on a daily dawn-to-dusk fast, honoring the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad.

The faithful rise before dawn for a small meal, read the Quran, and fast for the next 12 hours or more. Nights become days. Heads ache, throats are parched, nicotine cravings rise. Children as young as 7, who have gone back to sleep after a dawn breakfast, head off to school bleary-eyed and tetchy but determined to fast until dusk.

Relief comes with Iftar, the fast-breaking dinner, and in some cities traffic snarls up late into the night as the faithful catch up on socializing.

Islamic scholars say more Muslims than ever observe the fast — a religious revival brought on in part by globalization's assault on local cultures and the growing tensions between Islam and the West.

On the downside, Middle East factory output drops 20 to 40 percent, economists say. Schools and government offices close early. Construction goes idle during the hottest part of the day, or resumes under floodlights after the Iftar meal. Many restaurants close for the month.

For most Muslims, Ramadan is simply a time of joy, feeling closer to God and family, getting out of a rut. "Ramadan is always a time out, wherever you are," said Mustafa Abu Sway, a Palestinian philosophy professor and expert on Islam. "Everything you take for granted comes to an end, at least for that month."

In the West, Ramadan observance is more difficult, says Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He says his 12-14 hour day workday goes on unchanged, "But I still need the same amount of physical energy to go about my endeavors."

But as Muslim populations grow abroad, Ramadan is becoming more familiar. Naheed Akhtar, a Ph.D. student at the University of Birmingham in England, says her college friends are considerate enough to refrain from eating in her presence. Her brother, a lecturer, gives his class a break at sunset so he can eat his Iftar meal.

Many who fast say they are driven by faith. Others observe Ramadan to cut down on smoking, lose a little weight, set an example for their children, or simply because social decorum demands it.

With an entire month dedicated to God — 29 or 30 days depending on when the next new moon is sighted — there's little time for ordinary pursuits.

Fasting is not just about refraining from eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours. It's about becoming a better person, more generous and patient, said Sheik Saleh Moatan, prayer leader at the Greater El Bireh Mosque in the West Bank.

These days most of the calls to his daily half-hour morning radio show are about Ramadan. (Are you allowed to brush your teeth during the fast? Yes, because it's good for your health.)

In general, Muslims are exempt from fasting if it is likely to worsen a medical condition.

Addictions are held in check, but not defeated. "The first thing I do after breaking my fast is having my coffee cup," said Saed Halawani, who works for the British Council in Jerusalem. "My uncle breaks his fast on a cigarette."

Housewife Ilhem Saleimeh, 55, gets up at 2:30 a.m. to read the Quran, then spends most of her day praying and reading in the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam's third holiest shrine. "We perform all the prayers here," she said, sitting under a stone arch near Al Aqsa with two other women. "We go home in between, we cook, and then we come back."

Charitable giving, an Islamic imperative, is accentuated during Ramadan. In Cairo, the wealthy pay for public "tables of mercy" to feed the poor.

The contrast between the austere day and celebratory night is a Ramadan highlight. As the sun sets and the smell of food wafts from the kitchen, families gather. Children are praised for fasting to the end, consoled if they don't make it.

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, starts with the sighting of a new moon, but each year different Muslim countries and communities disagree on timing. This year, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Palestinians, among others, began the fast on Sept. 23, while Egypt, Jordan and Syria started a day later.

There's also disagreement on method. Muslim leaders in North America say the starting date should be based on astronomical calculations rather than an actual moon sighting. Others insist it's not Ramadan without a sighting, regardless of what the astronomers say.

Various countries have their own special customs.

In Egypt, belly dancers take the month off. In Syria, storytellers keep their ancient tradition alive in coffee shops. In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, people break the fast with sweet coconut milk.

Iftar is a social occasion. "When it's dusk, I make it more of a point to break my fast and be around other Muslims instead of being alone, or even just with my family," said Walid, the Detroit community leader.

After the meal, the faithful are asked to return to the mosque for lengthy Quran readings; the entire book is to be covered by the end of Ramadan. Others stay home for TV marathons of soap opera, comedies and variety shows made for Ramadan, or visit friends and relatives late into the night.

The Palestinians got their first homegrown production this year, called "What's Up?" and set in a West Bank college dorm. In contrast to the sometimes fluffy imports from Egypt and Syria, the local show raises weighty issues such as the use of violence and Christian-Muslim intermarriage.

In the Palestinian territories, where tens of thousands more have plunged into poverty since the Islamic militant Hamas took power this spring, most barely squeeze by. In the West Bank city of Nablus, the civil servants' union set up 17 tables in the main square for a Spartan fast-breaker of rice, lentils and water to illustrate the hardships endured by its members, who haven't been paid for months because of the international boycott of the Hamas government.

Hard times have sparked a religious revival.

Sheik Moatan, the West Bank preacher, said that in the twin towns of Ramallah and El Bireh, once a bastion of secularism, the number of mosques has gone from 4 to 30 in recent years. His mosque, once only 20 percent full, now regularly overflows with worshippers.

Walid said more U.S. Muslims, particularly the young, became observant after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. "9/11 forced many Muslims to have to reaffirm their faith because there came to be clear lines of delineation between Muslims and non-Muslims," he said.(MORE)

Friday, October 13, 2006

U of M Holds "Immigrant Day" Event


U-M holds 'Immigrant Day' event

The State News

Ann Arbor — About 100 protesters gathered at the heart of University of Michigan's campus Thursday evening, chanting "Go home, YAF" in response to a "Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day" event.
The event was hosted by U-M's chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom, or YAF, and took place in a commons area on the campus known as The DIAG.

Two U-M students were dressed in costume for the event. The first, a white male, wore a pirate hat, tattered clothing and a sign around his neck that read "Christopher Columbus." The second, a white female, was dressed in an American Indian costume that included a brown dress, a headband and brown leggings, with feathers in her hair.

When asked who she was dressed as, the girl yelled out and moved her hand back and forth onto her open mouth, resembling a stereotypical American Indian war cry.

It is unknown if the two were members of YAF.

Andrew Boyd, the chairman of U-M's YAF chapter, said the purpose of the event was to create dialogue and accept opposition.

"We want people to ask questions and encourage debate," Boyd said. "It's good to see people use the power of free speech."

He didn't specify what the dialogue would regard.

"This isn't facilitating dialogue," said Rachel Feldman, a U-M English and social science senior. "This is just making people angry."

The U-M Law School's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union posted a flier in Tish Hall, located near The DIAG, encouraging protesters to attend the event and speak out.

"Catch an Illegal Immigrant or xenophobia, intolerance and bigotry?" the flier read. "U-M's Young Americans for Freedom group is sponsoring a game in which a student dressed as an illegal immigrant is chased and captured for prize money. Join us in a peaceful protest against this inhumane activity."

Boyd said there was no prize for "catching" one of the participants. YAF chose Christopher Columbus as one of the costumes because he is an example from a time when borders were crossed and different groups mixed, Boyd said.

"Maybe the natives should have stopped him from coming," Boyd said, while standing on the steps of The Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library after the game concluded. "It's not a perfect example, but maybe something will make it work. All of our parents are immigrants, but illegal immigration is about safety. If we are going to protect our borders, we need to curb illegal immigration."

Boyd tried to speak to the media, but protesters quickly surrounded him and drowned him out.

"Racist harassment: We say no, YAF bigots have to go," the groups yelled.

At one point, Fox 2 News out of Detroit asked the protesters to quiet down so Boyd's statements could be heard.

Co-sponsors of the protest included the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Jamaican Association of Michigan and the Latino Family Services Inc.

Carolina Rizzo, a U-M student from South America who waited five years to get her green card, said immigration is not about protecting the borders but about money and conditions elsewhere in the world.

"It's not that everyone can (immigrate) in a legal way," Rizzo said. "You have to have money and prove that you have money. It's impossible to do it the right way. … They make it harder to become legal, and the only way they can stop illegal immigration is improving conditions in Third World countries."

Boyd was the only group member who spoke on YAF's behalf.

"I don't think (YAF has) any support," said U-M biology senior Susan Lopez. "But if we do nothing, people will think this sort of thing is OK."

Katie Helke, Kristi Jourdan and Ashley A. Smith contributed to this report.

YAF Plays 'Catch' Amid Protests


The Michigan Daily

YAF plays 'Catch' amid protest
Radical group BAMN makes surprise visit, drowns out other protesters
By Andrew Grossman

Engineering sophomore Mike Marcantonio stands on the steps of the Grad Library yesterday dressed as Christopher Columbus next to a woman dressed in Native American costume.

Young Americans for Freedom thought they could start a dialogue by trotting out a Christopher Columbus look-alike and a woman in Native American garb on the Diag.

Campus activists, though, weren't inspired to hold a discussion.

More than a month after a Republican activist sparked outrage across the political spectrum by saying that she was considering holding "Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day" on campus, one conservative group finally followed through with her plans yesterday.

Andrew Boyd, chair of the University's chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom, stood on the steps of the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library and asked people to go out and look for someone wearing a sign reading "illegal immigrant" hidden somewhere on the Diag.

The crowd was composed mostly of protesters. The activist groups on the Diag said they hoped to hold a quiet protest against an event they said was offensive.

Angry protesters scream at Andrew Boyd, chair of the University's chapter of Young Americans for Freedom.

Then came the boisterous chants of "No racist harassment on campus" from members of the radical pro-affirmative action group By Any Means Necessary.

Only one person actually played the game. He refused to give his name.

A short time after Boyd started the game, a blond woman dressed in a Native American costume climbed the steps of the Grad alongside the "illegal immigrant," who turned out to be Engineering sophomore Mike Marcantonio in a Christopher Columbus costume.

The Native American costume was far from authentic. It consisted of a headdress with a plastic red feather and a brown synthetic tunic. The woman wearing it, who refused to give her name, let out a war whoop as protestors shouted at Boyd.

Boyd tries to read a statement but is drowned out by the screams of BAMN members.

Boyd said he chose to dress the illegal immigrant as Columbus because the European conquest of the Americas parallels contemporary illegal immigration.

"Some of the intermingling was peaceful," Boyd said. "Some of it was beneficial to both parties, some of it was violent and some of it resulted in total races being demolished."

He said Native Americans had two choices at the turn of the 16th century: fight the Europeans or accept them. The United States has a similar choice to make with illegal immigration, Boyd said.

The protesters came from a wide range of campus organizations, including the Student of Color Coalition, La Voz Latina, Black Student Union and the undergraduate and law school chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union. Many wore yellow "Michigan Immigrant" T-shirts, which the protesters had made specifically for the event.

Many representatives of those groups were upset that BAMN, known for its incendiary and often disruptive tactics, showed up.

"I asked them not to do it," La Voz executive board member Alicia Benavides said.

The BAMN contingent wasn't just made up of University students.

Lashelle Benjamin, a junior at Cass Technical High School in Detroit, said BAMN organizers brought her and 17 other students to Ann Arbor for the event.

BAMN members yelled loudly every time Boyd tried to speak, often drowning him out.

"I think it would have been more successful probably for both sides if they hadn't been saying the same chant over and over again," Boyd said.

The crowd was full of criticism for YAF's plans, but except for BAMN, most weren't out to confront the group.

"It's scary and xenophobic," Rackham student Meg Ahern said. "I just think it's important that immigrants, international students and international community members know that they're welcomed and supported."

Members of Antiwar Action held up a bed sheet with an idea for a game of their own painted in big red letters: "Bag a fascist." The phrase was a shot at YAF's far-right reputation.

LSA senior and group member Alex Smith carried a pillowcase that might have been used to capture a YAF member, but he said it was "purely symbolic."

Unlike many on the Diag, one student said she had ancestors who were never immigrants.

"I'm a Native American, ya'll are immigrants," Rackham student Veronica Pasfield said. "It's a joke that this entire country of immigrants is trying to alienate and improperly politicize immigrants."

Boyd said he had hoped to start dialogue.

"I'm not giving answers to either side of the issue," Boyd said. "I'm giving questions."

But his tactics may have had the opposite effect, according to Dana Christensen, chair of the undergraduate chapter of the ACLU.

"This doesn't breed education," she said. "It just breeds hatred."

Earlier in the day, a coalition of religious leaders and activists braved a freak October snowstorm to hold a prayer for inclusion on the Diag.

"We ask you, oh God, to soften the hearts of the hard-hearted and grant clarity to the minds of the closed-minded," said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The group has also sent a letter to the University Board of Regents and University President Mary Sue Coleman asking for a meeting to discuss the game and its impact.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Walid's statement at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor and Prayer for Inclusion

We are pleased to see the diversity of this group of individuals of various ethnicities and religions praying for inclusion in the state of Michigan. We feel that the “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” event has shades of racism coloring it, despite the claim that the mock illegal immigrant will not represent any particular ethnicity. It is disheartening that potential future leaders of America—the most diverse nation in the world—would engage in an event that promotes vigilantism and xenophobia.

God says in His final revelation the Holy Quran:
“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is (the one who is) the most righteous of you. Surely God is the All-Knowing, the Ever-Aware.” [49:13]

Prayer for Inclusion
In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Oh God, we ask for strength to bring unity
Unity to the Children of Adam, despite our differences of race, ethnicity, and religion.
Oh God, we ask you to bring peace between the hearts of all the Children of Adam in the spirit of your love and mercy.
And we ask you, oh God, to soften the hearts of the hard-hearted,
And to grant clarity to the closed-minded,
Oh Most Merciful of the Merciful.

Message for Friday - Extremists are enemies to Islam

On the 19th day of Ramadan approximately 1,300 years ago, the Commander of the Faithful Ali bin Abi Talib, cousin of the Prophet Muhammad, was attacked leading the Dawn prayer in Kufah, Iraq. He passed on the 21st of Ramadan due to the wounds inflicted upon him by the Kharijite Ibn Muljam.

Ibn Muljam was from an extremism movement of his time that believed that any Muslim who committed a grave sin should be punished by death if the Muslim did not publically repent for their error. Ali's sin, in their eyes, was that entered into a peace treaty after a brief civil war with a group of Muslims who opposed his leadership as head of state.

Sadly today, there are fanatics who opperate off of their emotions who seek to oppose their standards upon others at all costs with disregard to the revelations of G'd. This can be seen on a personal level, to so called "honor killings" in Pakistan to terrorism by extremists in places such as Iraq.

قوله صلى الله عليه و سلم :" إياكم و الظنّ فإنّ الظنّ أكذب الحديث ، و لا تحسّسوا ، و لا تجسّسوا ، و لا تنافسوا ، و لا تحاسدوا ، و لا تباغضوا ، و كونوا عباد الله إخوانا

The Prophet Muhammad stated, "Avoid suspicion for surely it can lead to the most fallacious speech. Do not spy upon each other, do not engage in [ill-intended] competition among each other, do not envy each other and do not despise each other. Be you, oh servants of G'd, brothers!

Below is a speech given about this topic during Ramadan 2003 in Dearborn, Michigan.
Cut & paste the link below to listen:


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Walid comments on Danish cartoon

Within the past week, we have heard word of a new cartoon in Denmark, which makes mockery of Prophet Muhammad. Although this was a cartoon on television unlike the ones that were in print last year, its intention was the same.

Below is a speech given in Dearborn Heights, Michigan earlier this year relating to the Danish cartoons.

Cut & paste to listen:

Congressmen support CAIR


Statements of support for CAIR
Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder
Originally posted 10/11/2006

The following statements from members of both political parties, selected from many listed on CAIR’s website (www.cair.com/whattheysayaboutcair.asp), belie Fine’s allegations that the organization has “ties to terrorists.”

“I would like to salute the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations as well as the national office for their support and sponsorship of this annual event [Islamic Day] and for contributing to the diversity of the state of Ohio.”
—Ohio Governor Bob Taft (R)

“I salute your efforts to educate and empower. The important work you do to promote awareness and dialogue about Islam helps preserve the mosaic of American culture.”
—Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD)

“I applaud CAIR’s mission to enhance understanding and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.”
—Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD)

“I’m glad that you have established such a strong voice in the community and that you are working to maintain a strong sense of cultural and economic identity.”
—Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. (R)

“I particularly want to commend CAIR for working to educate others about Islam, a religion of more than one billion people in the world. CAIR also has provided members of the Muslim community in the United States with an important voice in promoting social justice and mutual understanding.

—Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD)

“I commend the Council on American-Islamic Relations for your leadership and dedication.”
—Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD)

“CAIR and I have a long history of cooperation, and my office door is always open to my friends so that I can be of assistance to the causes that CAIR promotes.”
—Rep. John D. Dingell (D-MI)

“Far too often, the remarkable work and achievements of organizations such as CAIR are overlooked.”
—Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA)

“I applaud your efforts in educating and enhancing understanding through open dialogue.”
—Rep. Wayne T Gilchrest (R-MD)

“Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that CAIR is working nationwide and locally…to promote civil rights, civil liberties and free speech…”
—Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH)

“The efforts your organization makes to bring communities together as well as heighten awareness, dialogue, and cultural exchange are truly indispensable to our society.”
—Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)

“I applaud your organization and its members in your collective efforts to establish connections with the diverse communities of the San Francisco Bay Area to explain Islam and the patriotism and values of American Muslims.”

—Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)

”Over the past decade, the Council on American-Islamic Relations has worked effectively to advance the public interest in northern Virginia. CAIR’s advocacy on behalf of individuals who have experienced religious prejudice or been the victims of hate crimes is an important service to our community.”
—Rep. James P. Moran (D-VA)

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to enter into the [Congressional] record, my heartfelt support for the ‘Muslims Care’ campaign, launched by the Council on American-Islamic Relations…”
—Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY)

“Civil liberties at home and human rights abroad do not sacrifice, but strengthen, our security. We need the respected voice of CAIR more than ever now that this principle is threatened in libraries, military academies, and secret prisons all over the world.”
—Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA)

“I am pleased to congratulate CAIR not only for the work it has done to promote and protect the civil liberties and civil rights of all Americans, but also for its ongoing efforts to foster a better understanding of Islam across the United States. Your work continues to make an important difference to our country.”
—Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

“CAIR-Ohio is committed to educating the public and public officials on important Muslim values such as emphasis on strong families, improving neighborhoods and protecting the civil liberties of all residents so that there may be greater harmony and a better America.”
—Columbus, Ohio City Council

Keith Ellison victim of Islamophobia


Latest attack on Ellison smacks of ‘Red Scare’
By: Charles Hallman
Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder
Originally posted 10/11/2006

Alleged ‘ties to terrorism’ look like more Islamophopic rhetoric

With less than a month to go before the November 7 general election, the Fifth District congressional race, notable from the outset for its emphasis on personal attacks over issues, appears to be getting nastier still.

Last week, 100,000 voters received a pamphlet from Republican candidate Alan Fine that accuses DFL candidate Keith Ellison of having ties with the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which is based in Washington, D.C. It states: “Congressional candidate Keith Ellison has accepted thousands of dollars from the leaders of CAIR — a group that Democrats say has deep ties to terrorism.”

Also included in Fine’s mailing are quotes from U.S. Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), both of whom in 2003 accused the group of being connected with terrorists. However, the CAIR website offers many more quotes from elected officials, both Republicans and Democrats, praising the organization (see sidebar).

Fine also states that CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad was a guest speaker at an Ellison fundraiser. The alleged Awad-Ellison connection is featured on a website (www.anti-cair-net.org) claiming that CAIR “is a clear and present danger to our Constitution and our way of life.”

“I am a mainstream alternative to Keith Ellison, who’s [sic] current and past associations should concern any voter in the Fifth District,” wrote Fine in an October 5 press release attached to the mailing. If elected, Ellison will be the first Black Muslim in Congress.

When asked if Fine or anyone else connected with his campaign ever talked to Awad or other CAIR officials, Fine campaign consultant Chris Tiedeman said they had not, but he nonetheless defended the use of the Schumer and Durbin quotes. “We were merely getting it from two Democrat senators,” Tiedeman said.

MSR tried contacting Awad but was told he was unavailable for comment.

CAIR is “a very successful advocacy group,” and no evidence has been shown otherwise, said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, who called Fine “a desperate candidate” who is using anti-Muslim bias “to promote his own political agenda.”

The organization began documenting anti-Muslim incidents following the 1995 attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the group has been very active tracking the number of American Muslim civil rights complaints.

According to a recent CAIR report, 1,972 complaints of anti-Muslim harassment, violence, and discriminatory treatment were processed in 2005, almost 30 percent more than in 2004. Among the sample cases highlighted in the report:

• A Muslim seventh-grader at a private school in New York was beaten by another student (May 23, 2005). A similar attack was made on a 53-year-old Muslim father of four by a gang of teenagers in the Staten Island area. He later died of his injuries.

• A Hillsborough (Fla.) county commissioner ruled that the Muslim holiday of Ramadan should not be recognized on the school calendar; the commissioner reportedly said that those who do not like “American” holidays should find another place to live (November 3, 2005).

• Two Muslim men in Chicago were stopped by local police, harassed, and arrested without being given any reason why. The arresting officers allegedly used excessive force after they were handcuffed and called them “Bin Laden” and “terrorists” (June 7, 2005).

During the calendar year 2005, over one-quarter of discrimination cases reported to CAIR originated in the workplace, such as:

• A 28-year-old single mother who is Muslim and who worked at a donut shop in Wilmington, Delaware, was told not to report to work wearing her religiously mandated headscarf, or hijab (February 6, 2005).

• A Muslim former employee sued Miller Company for wrongful dismissal after his supervisor asked him if he sympathized with the 9/11 attackers (January 16, 2005).

The CAIR report also said that there have been 153 anti-Muslim hate crime complaints reported in 2005, up from 141 in 2004 (an 8.6 percent increase). Nine states and the District of Columbia accounted for almost 79 percent of all civil rights complaints in 2005, with California (19 percent) and Illinois (13 percent) as the two leading states.

The report concluded that the U.S. Justice Department has investigated more than 600 incidents of backlash since the September 11 attacks and won convictions against 22 of the 27 defendants that it chose to prosecute.

“We believe the biggest factor contributing to anti-Muslim feeling and the resulting acts of bias is the growth in Islamophobic rhetoric that has flooded the Internet and talk radio in the post-9/11 era,” said CAIR Legal Director Arsaian Iftikhar, the report’s author. “Islam-phobia” is reflected in the negative images and buzzwords that produce stereotyping, physical and verbal attacks, along with racial profiling of Muslims of color, including Muslims of African descent. (See the related MSR August 31 story “’Islam-phobia abounds in post 9/11 America.”)

If CAIR is as bad as Fine and others claim, then why have many governmental officials regularly met with them, Hooper asked — including President George Bush, who was photographed with Awad after the September 11 attacks. “I can’t count the number of state delegations that come through our office on a weekly basis,” he said, adding that FBI officials met with CAIR last week “on a variety of issues relating to civil rights in the American Muslim community.”

Throughout his campaign, Fine has constantly repeated that character is a top issue, especially regarding Ellison and his past ties to the Nation of Islam. Tiedeman was quick to point out that “This is not an issue of race and religion, [but] character is an issue.”

However, on the issue of character, the October 7 Star Tribune ran a front-page story reporting that Fine was charged with domestic violence in 1995; his record was expunged nine years later. Also reported was that five domestic disturbance 911 calls to Minneapolis police have come from Fine’s residence from 1995 to April 2005. Fine told the newspaper that he is innocent.

Fine’s recent mailing is reminiscent of the 1950s “Red Scare,” when many U.S. citizens were accused of being communists — just substitute the word “terrorist.” Has he now resorted to using scare tactics so that Fifth District voters will select him over Ellison? Tiedeman insists not, but Hooper disagrees and calls the act “part of the [political] game.”

“I think it’s a tactic of fear,” agreed Ken Foxworth, Democratic National Committee Black Caucus deputy chairman. “We should be talking about the high rate of crime and economic development in our community. Let’s talk about [the] present and not old news.”

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Walid addresses the meaning of "Jihad"

The following a speech, which was delivered on July 23, 2005 at Wayne County Community College District in Detroit, Michigan during a program to promote the Ministerial Studies program:

"Holistic Concept of Jihad in Al-Islam"

Proceeding the testimony of the oneness of G'd, establishment of the five daily prayers, charitable donation, fasting during the ninth lunar month of Ramadan and pilgrimage to the Sacred Mosque in Mecca, an obligation upon a Muslim is Jihad. Jihad, which is mistranslated as "Holy War" by Orientalists and Western media, literally means exertion or struggle in the Arabic language. In fact in the last of the revealed books as believed by Muslims, The Qur'an, contains no terminology called "Holy War."

Jihad in Al-Islam can be simplified into two components, the Outer Jihad and the Inner Jihad. The Outer Jihad, which is referred to as the Lesser Jihad is exertion through leaving one's material comforts to establish justice and propagate the Religion of G'd. This form of Jihad ranges from defending the lives and property of Muslims, liberating the oppressed, Muslims or Non-Muslims, and leaving home to educate people about Al-Islam, to seeking religious knowledge.

The Qur'an explains:
[2:190] - And fight in the way of G'd with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits, surely G'd does not love those who exceed limits.

[2:193] - And fight with them until there is no persecution, so religion is only for G'd, but if they desist, then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors.

[22:39] - Permission [to fight] is given to those upon whom war is made because they are oppressed, and most surely G'd is well able to assist them.

Furthermore in the prophetic traditions called hadeeth, it is recorded that Prophet Muhammad, the last prophet of Al-Islam said, "Whoever leaves home seeking knowledge, he is in the Path of G'd until returning home."

Thus, the correct expression of the Outer Jihad is strictly based upon self defense, alleviation of oppression and refinement of society through education. According to Al-Islam, the people on the opposing side are not the object of hostility; the object of hostility is the demonstration of tyranny, criminality and oppression. The rules of engagement in Al-Islam preceded modern standards of "Rules of engagement" and what has also been termed "Just War." Prophet Muhammad stated 1,400 years ago that women, children and workers in the field may not be harmed and that only those who actively fight against or have stolen the wealth of the Muslims may be attacked. Trees and herbage can not be destroyed nor animals during wartime. Again, the humiliation and devastion of a populace is not the objective; the object is to establish freedom, justice and equality.

The Inner Jihad, which is the Greater Jihad, is the day to day struggle against sin and corruption on a personal level. The Prophet Muhammad stated after a battle that the Muslims were leaving the Lesser Jihad for the Greater Jihad. His supporters were puzzled and questioned him concerning the Greater Jihad. He replied, "The Greater Jihad is the Struggle of the Inner Self." Therefore, the Qur'an states: And that man shall have nothing but what he strives for.

The Inner Jihad is the struggle against unethical behavior, selfishness, prejudice and perversity; the greater emphasis is to be placed upon the struggle against one's own shortcomings with the recognition that the person is his/her own worst enemy. The Qur'an states relating to Prophet Jonah's Inner Jihad: [21:87] - And Jonah, when he went away in anger, so he thought that We would not straiten him, so he called out among afflictions: There is no diety but You, glory be to You; surely I am of those who have oppressed [their own souls].

Only through individuals working on correcting their own shortcomings can a society seek to obtain the peak of moral and ethical excellence.

The main focus, therefore, of Jihad is exertion to establish the entire life in accordance with the universal, ethical standards that G'd decreed, which transcend time period, ethnicity and geography. In the time of Prophet Muhammad, there was no standing military or police force. The Muslims that resided within the vicinity of his town, Medina, policed themselves via the inner struggle that was within their own souls to resist vices and conform to the excellent standards that G'd decreed upon the soul. His community model was established upon Jihad, which was the epitome of ethical society that all humans whose hope is in G'd and accountability to G'd should strive towards emulating.

Walid comments about 'Catch an Illegal Immigrant' event


Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Anti-immigrant event by U-M student group criticized

Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News

Advocates for immigrants on Monday criticized a decision by a
conservative student group at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor
to sponsor an event called "Catch an Illegal Immigrant" this week.

The Young Americans for Freedom, a group founded by conservative
commentator William F. Buckley in the early 1960s, announced Monday
that it would hold the event on Thursday.

"The game came up a while ago and we just saw it and thought there
was nothing wrong," said Andrew Boyd, 20, a sophomore from Muskegon
who is chairman of the Young Americans for Freedom. "The point of the
game is not to emphasize anything to do with ethnicity or race. For
us, national security has a lot to do with it."

Not everyone sees it that way.

"The state of Michigan has the dubious distinction of being known as
one of America's most segregated states," said Dawud Walid, executive
director of the Council on American Islamic Relations-Michigan.
"Events such as these do nothing except further tarnish the image of
our great state."

While the group said it would dress up someone "like an illegal
immigrant," Boyd said the person will wear a sign that says, "illegal

Critics say the event is clearly an expression of intolerance, regardless.

"It reminds me of my college days when a Greek society decided to
have a slave auction day," said Noel Saleh, president of the board of
director of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social
Services. "This just harkens back to a tremendous insensitivity on
the part of the YAF and people who would support this activity."(MORE)

Monday, October 09, 2006


CAIR-MI Condemns ‘Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day’ on Campus
YAF to Hold Racist Event at the University of Michigan

(LATHRUP VILLAGE, MI, 10/9/2006) - The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) today called on the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) to cancel a proposed "Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day" event at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor.

The YAF at the University of Michigan plans to hold a contest where participants will hunt down a mock “illegal immigrant” for a grand prize of $100. In September, similar event was planned by another conservative college group.

SEE: Republicans Organize "Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day" on Campus


Although the group’s chapter at Michigan State University has cancelled a similar event, the chapter at the University of Michigan plans to continue with this polarizing event on October 12.

"It is disturbing that any group would promote such a divisive and racist event," said CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid. "We call on the Young Students of Freedom to cancel this event and instead embody the principles of its name – to work with students of all races, faiths and national origins to promote tolerance and mutual understanding."

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Walid comments about discrimination & wearing the head scarf


US debates accommodation of Muslim women's modesty

October 8, 2006

DEARBORN, Michigan, USA -- For some women, it can be a little creepy to have men watch them exercise at the gym. For Ammerah Saidi, it's a violation of her religious beliefs as a Muslim. So when her local gym started letting men work out on days that had previously been reserved for women only, Saidi complained.

At first, the management at the suburban Detroit Fitness USA balked at concerns that the women could be observed from the small area where men were allowed to exercise. But after Saidi presented a petition from over 200 members - and the story hit the local news - a wall was built so the women could exercise in privacy.

Moves such as this have spurred a debate about the intrusion of religion on public life and public space. Several bloggers proposed a boycott because the gym had "caved" to the demands of "extremists," but even more moderate observers are concerned.

"Private businesses should not be coerced by a minority," said Zudhi Jasser, founder of the Phoenix-based American Islamic Forum for Democracy. Jasser, a practicing Muslim, said that while it is important to protect the right to practice religion he fears the affects of allowing religious beliefs to dominate how people interact in the public sphere. It can lead to ghettoization and isolation among those who impose the beliefs and a backlash among those who feel imposed upon, he said.

Federal laws protect Americans from being discriminated against based upon their religion and Muslim women have long been allowed to wear a hijab in official identification photographs, a freedom that Jasser welcomes.

Local governments with large Muslim populations have also begun to alter the rules to accommodate modesty restrictions. The Dearborn, Michigan school district instituted same-sex only swim classes in 1992 and a Michigan county changed its public swimming pool swimwear rules earlier this month to accommodate Muslim women who want to cover themselves fully.

The problem is when practices become exclusionary, Jasser said, such as when private Muslim schools ask that men be banned from watching when girls play sports games against other schools.

"If you tell fathers they can't come to see their daughters at basketball games it's going to in the end create embitterment," he said, noting that "these demands are not representative of the majority of Muslims."

In a country where the president asks the country to pray and where court battles are fought over public school prayer and the right to post the Ten Commandments in government buildings, it can seem odd to focus on the infrequent demands of the small but growing Muslim community.

Saidi bristled at the controversy over her request for a wall at her gym and said it was simply a matter of asking a company to adhere to its promise of gender-specific workout facilities.

She blames the media for creating a false image of Islam as an extremist faith followed by militants and terrorists that has led to a general hatred and mistrust. "This is also why I understood why my asking for a partition in the gym was met with such distrust and opposition in the US - because my reasons for wanting it were religiously justified," she said. "Too bad I chose Islam as the
religion to justify my reasons."

Rising levels of discrimination following the terrorist attacks of September 11 led a number of Muslim women to stop wearing their headscarves in public for fear of attracting unwanted attention, said Dawud Walid, director of the Michigan branch of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

But it has also created a new kind of backlash as previously assimilated Muslims fought to protect their rights and to examine their roots. "Young adults attached themselves more to their Muslim identity than their parents, so while the older women were taking off their head scarves, the younger women started to don them partly out of rebellion but also many people began to reexamine their religion,"
Walid said.(MORE)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

At what age did Ayesha marry?

With the insurgence of Islamophobia perpetuated by ultra-right wing evangelicals via talk radio and the blogosphere, our community has been summoned to defend our Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) from slurs, insults, and campaigns of misinformation. Polemical Islamphobes have been launching attacks against our Prophet (SAAS) using Islamic texts as a source for their criticisms although they have little knowledge of the veracity of the information within each text and context of historical narrations therein. This polemic can be clearly seen when it comes to the charge leveled against the Prophet (SAAS) of pedophilia in the context of his marriage to the Mother of the Believers `Ayesha bint Abi Bakr (ra).

The allegations that the Prophet (SAAS) was a pedophile are based upon narrations such as the following:

Narrated `Ayesha that the Prophet (SAAS) wrote the marriage contract with her when she was six years old, and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old. Hisham said, I have been informed that `Ayesha remained with the Prophet for nine years. [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

Based upon contemporary American law, sexual relations with or without parental consent between a fifty-four year old man and a nine year old girl would constitute pedophilia. And although many Muslims scholars attest to the veracity of reports such as the previously stated, many contemporary Muslims have difficulty digesting the thought of a middle aged man consummating with a girl of such age, even if it was the Prophet (SAAS). In reconciling this concern, some apologists take the stance that such marriages were normative during that era with adding that `Ayesha (ra) could have reached the age of puberty by the age of nine.

The opinion, however, of some of the scholars and imams of the varying schools of thought in Metro Detroit is that in fact `Ayesha (ra) was a teenager at the age of consummation, not nine years old. Based upon reports such as in Tarikh At-Tabari that both Asma (ra) and `Ayesha (ra), daughters of `Abu Bakr (ra), were born before Abu Bakr (ra) accepted Islam and the reports such as in Sirah Ar-Rasul by Ibn Hisham that `Ayesha (ra) was a Muslim before `Umar bin Al-Khattab (ra), it is mathematically impossible that `Ayesha (ra) was nine years old at the time of consummation. In fact, this calculation would place her as being nine years old during the lifetime of the Prophet╝s first wife, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (RA) before her demise.

Interpretation of our history should not be primarily motivated by societal pressures; however, the latter interpretation of the Prophet (SAAS) marrying a teenager between the ages of sixteen to possibly nineteen also contains a degree of contemporary acceptability, even legally. In the United States , a sixteen year old can be married with parental consent as Islam teaches that virgins need parental consent before marriage. Furthermore, there is no doubt that the vast majority of teenage girls have begun puberty at the age of sixteen, unlike the average nine year old.

Of course, this subject has always had more than one opinion attached to it. As Muslims, we should respect differing opinions that have legitimate basis without being belligerent in our disagreements. And ALLAH (SWT) knows best.

Walid gives sermon in Ypsilanti, Michigan

Yesterday's sermon further expounded on the importance of the 2nd portion of Ramadan, the portion of forgiveness.

*NOTE* - In the context of forgiveness in Islam, seeking reconciliaton with a person or parties, who are in the process of showing blantant emnity and/or danger of presenting bodily harm, is not incumbent nor intelligent.

Cut & paste to listen:

Media coverage of Walid speaking at Ford Motor Corp.


Ford Motor hosts iftar dinner

DEARBORN - Ford Motor Company hosted its 6th annual Ramadan fast breaking Wednesday, an event attended by around 150 Muslim and non-Muslim guests.

The evening program took place in the Ford Credit building's cafeteria and was themed, "Ramadan: The Month of Forgiveness and Reconciliation."

Speakers included Mike Bannister, CEO of Ford Credit; Paul Nussbaum, Executive Vice President of Ford Credit; Dawud Walid, Executive Director for the Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-Michigan); and Ramzi Mohammad, a scientist and professor of cancer biology at Wayne State University (WSU).

The event began at 5:45 p.m. and was timed to end at sunset when Muslims end their daily Ramadan fasts. The program began with a reading from the Qur'an, after which Nussbaum came to the podium.

"Like all of the interfaith events at Ford, this gives us a chance to share in each other's community experiences. Ford has been extremely active in promoting such diversity events, not just for Muslims, but all religious groups," said Nussbaum.

"The Ford Interfaith Resource Network was created with the idea of respecting the dignity of all of the employees that we come in contact with and treating everyone with respect," noted Bannister.

He added, "The first step of a positive relationship with our customers is valuing everyone's contribution. The Islamic faith is one of the many faiths represented by the interfaith activities.

"Approximately half of our guests this evening are not Muslim. And I think it's noteworthy that about 20 of the non-Muslims have fasted today in solidarity with the Muslim community just as they did last year."

After the Ford officials, Walid - the first keynote speaker - came up. "These types of gatherings are a good way for all of us to become more acquainted with one another and open up the way to communication," he said.

"When a Muslim involves himself with reading the Qur'an more in this month, as regardful Muslims do, this reading should awaken them to the mistakes that they have made for themselves and to others.

"The act of fasting should sharpen one's mind as blood flow which is ordinarily used for digesting the food is diverted to the brain. It is a great time for reflection and deep thought as well as change.

"Asking for forgiveness in Islam should mean recognizing one's mistakes and having a desire to not commit those mistakes again. This is the true repentance. And whoever does not show mercy to others shall not receive mercy. This is a central theme present in the holy month of Ramadan."

Dawud noted that he had met Cardinal Adam Maida of Detroit last week because of recent controversial comments made by Pope Benedict. The pontiff's comments about the Prophet Muhammed had been widely criticized by Muslims.

"We weren't 100% satisfied with the Pope's attempts to apologize you might say. But the Cardinal told us he had high respect for Muslims and Prophet Muhammad. Because of our faith encouraging reconciliation, we were obliged to come halfway and extend our hands to our Catholic brothers and sisters," said Walid.

"As Muslims, we should reflect upon the many mistakes we may have made over the year and look at ourselves before we point at others."

Mohammad - the second keynoter - said that there is still a lot of ignorance about Islam although less so than in the past. He recalled that when he came to the U.S. from Iraq 23 years ago he had first come to Utah. One day a Mormon friend invited him to his home for dinner, an invitation Mohammad accepted.

"Before we ate, my friend said, 'lets pray'. After he made his prayer he said, 'let's eat'. I said, 'Wait, we pray too before meals, can we pray?' My friend agreed to it but he was surprised - he didn't know that Muslims pray before meals," said Mohammad, to chuckles from the crowd.

The WSU professor noted how he had lived in a majority Christian area in his childhood and remembered that they too had fasted. "I remember that the Christians would fast for 50 days and nights.

"They wouldn't fast from all food and water, but maybe they would fast from meat. I had a friend who would fast from looking at beautiful girls. It was a type of spiritual training," said Mohammed to laughs from the crowd. "The Jews also believe in fasting, they fast 26 hours continuously on Yom Kippur."

Said Mohammad, "This holy month of Ramadan, you feel that when you fast correctly for 30 days, you love everyone. It really changes you, not just in your home life but when you are at work too.

"This Ford Motor Company, you have to treat it as though it is your company. A Muslim cannot cheat, cannot lie and cannot cut corners. God orders you to come on time to work. Believing Muslims don't just worry about if the boss will catch them - they are concerned about what God will see.

"Wherever I go, I see non-Muslims fasting. In the university there are many people who are fasting along with us. The reason why is because there are some Muslims who are obeying the injunction to be good role models and that is why others are following them and loving them," concluded Mohammad before the sunset prayers and fast breaking.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Sudan: No Genocide in Darfur


The Namibian (Windhoek)

October 6, 2006

Gwynne Dyer

ON one issue, at least, George Bush and George Clooney are in perfect accord: what is happening in Darfur is a genocide, and Something Must Be Done.

But it isn't a genocide, and Nothing Will Be Done.

"What you'll hear is, well, the government of Sudan must invite the United Nations in for us to act," said President George W Bush in mid-September.

"Well, there are other alternatives, like passing a UN resolution saying we're coming in with a UN force in order to save lives."

But for all Bush's tough talk, he wasn't really ready to fight his way into Darfur, so the actual UN resolution says that Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir must approve the force. "Philanthropic imperialism" has a dwindling constituency in Washington.

Actor George Clooney is still up for it, though. If the proposed force of 20 000 UN troops was not in Darfur by the end of September, he told the United Nations Security Council three weeks ago, the scene will be set for "the first genocide of the 21st century."

There would be no point in sending UN troops later: "You will simply need men with shovels and bleached linen and headstones."

As if the UN could actually come up with 20 000 troops to send, and would authorise them to fight their way into Sudan against Bashir's will.

The end-of-September deadline for putting a 20 000-strong force of United Nations troops into Darfur, including large numbers of soldiers drawn from Nato countries, was always a fantasy.
The deadline has passed without any softening of the Sudanese government's total rejection of the plan, and no Western troops are heading for Sudan any time soon.

Instead, the existing force of 7 000 troops from African Union countries that tries to protect the refugee camps, under-equipped and poorly supplied though it is, will stay at least until the end of the year.

This is the best available outcome, and may even save some tens of thousands of lives - especially if the Western countries now give that African Union force the money, fuel, night-flying helicopters and other resources it needs to do the job.

It will continue to be grim in Darfur, but at least the West has avoided a military intervention in Africa that would have made the Somalia debacle in 1992-93 look like a success story.
Darfur, the western region of Sudan, is as big as France, but it has only six million people.
They are all black Africans and all Muslims, but some were Arabised long ago, while other groups, notably the Zaghawa and the Fur, have retained their original African languages and ethnic identities.

(Darfur means "home of the Fur".) Resources are scarce, and the various groups are often in conflict over them.

Nevertheless, Darfur remained relatively quiet during the dreadful war (two million dead in the past twenty years) between the African ethnic groups of southern Sudan, where most people are Christians or animists, and the Muslims of the Arabised north who dominated Sudan's government, army and economy.

It was the peace settlement between north and south in 2003 that triggered the revolt in Darfur.

That peace deal gave the southern rebels a share in the central government, a half-share of the oil revenues now pouring in from wells that are mostly located in "southern" territory, and the right to a referendum on independence from Sudan in six years' time.

So some leaders of the Zaghawa and the Fur decided to emulate the southerners: launch a revolt in Darfur, and try to cut a similar deal with Khartoum in return for ending it.
The regime in Khartoum used the same tactic that it had employed extensively in the war in the south: it armed and paid Arabised groups (the Janjaweed militia) to fight the rebels.

And just as in the south, the bulk of the victims were innocent civilians.
A great many people died, and almost half the population fled to refugee camps that sprang up inside Darfur and across the frontier in Chad.

International aid agencies try to care for the refugees and the African Union sent a 7 000-strong force to protect them, but none of the foreigners took sides in the fighting.

At peace talks in Abuja last May Khartoum offered the rebels posts in the provincial government and a share of oil revenues, and one rebel group, Minni Minawi's Sudan Liberation Army, accepted the deal. However, two rival groups didn't - and even the SLA split, with breakaway factions joining the rejectionists to form the National Redemption Front.

In July fighting resumed, with Minnawi's SLA now cooperating with government troops and the Janjaweed against the remaining rebels. What is needed is not outside military intervention against either side, but a return to the peace table.

Alex de Waal, an advisor to the African Union mediation team at the talks, reckons that another $100 million on the table would probably have persuaded most of the rebel hold-outs to accept the deal. Darfur is not another Rwanda, another Cambodia, another Holocaust in the making, as the "Never Again" slogans of protesters in the West suggest.

It is a cruel war of a kind lamentably common in Africa, and the most useful thing non-Africans can do is to support the African Union's mediators and its troops on the ground.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Message for Friday - Seek forgiveness and having the capacity to forgive

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ

قَالَا رَبَّنَا ظَلَمْنَا أَنْفُسَنَا وَإِنْ لَمْ تَغْفِرْ لَنَا وَتَرْحَمْنَا لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ

G'd says in the Qur'an:
They said [Adam & Eve], Our Lord! We have wronged our own souls. And if you do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, certainly we will be the losers.

In this second portion of Ramadan, the portion of gaining forgiveness, the primary lesson is that human beings are the biggest oppressors of themselves. Meaning that personal transgressions are the biggest threat to himself/herself.

Seeking forgiveness must start with the recognition of one's own flaws and errors, then demands the sincere intention of wishing to desist from recommitting the same errors.

Besides seeking forgiveness of the Creator, it is incumbent that a person who has harmed others seek their forgiveness. Likewise, the person(s) who have been wronged should have the capacity to forgive - "Whoever does not show mercy, shall not receive mercy and whoever does not forgive, shall not be forgiven."

And surely G'd knows best.

Walid comments on diversity seminars to be held at MSU

MSA spurs diversity training
Professor's Feb. statement draws MSU response

The State News

MSU officials plan on providing diversity training on Islam-related subjects to interested members of the university in response to an e-mail an MSU professor sent to the Muslim Students' Association, or MSA, in February.The initial request for the training came from the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, after Indrek Wichman, a mechanical engineering professor, wrote an e-mail to the group in response to controversial cartoons that portrayed Muhammad, the prophet and founder of the Islamic religion, as a terrorist.In the e-mail, Wichman insisted that Muslims should return to their ancestral homeland if they don't "like the values of the West." He also generalized them as "dissatisfied, aggressive, brutal, and uncivilized slave-trading Moslems.""As a tenured professor who literally can influence the academic future of Muslims, we felt that the statements were inappropriate and can intimidate Muslim students of the engineering school," said CAIR Executive Director Dawud Walid.

Wichman was unavailable for comment Wednesday, but he defended himself in a letter to the editor published in The State News in May."My letter addressed the attempts of the MSA to suppress free speech regarding publishing the Muhammed cartoons," he wrote then. "It was not intended to impugn the integrity and decency of all Muslims in the United States."

The MSA and MSU administrators worked together to organize diversity training for MSU faculty, staff and students. The meetings won't be mandatory for anyone, but both organizing parties are hoping the topics discussed will attract a wide range of people, said Paulette Granberry Russell, senior adviser to the president for diversity and director of the Office for Affirmative Action Compliance and Monitoring for MSU."We're working with the MSA to identify the things that they want to discuss," Granberry Russell said. "

Then we're going to use those ideas as a basis for developing educational programs.""Hatred like this can't be coming from our professors," said Farhan Abdul Azeez, former MSA president and current MSA liaison to the university. "We're trying to get more to the root of the problem, which is a misunderstanding of Islam and Muslims. This isn't just for the Muslim community, but it's for all minorities."The MSA wants to educate people on things like the history of Islam, demographics, general understandings of faith and related practices, and the problems that occur when people fail to understand those things, Granberry Russell said. Some of these classes will be taught by professionals, while others will be taught by members of the MSA."

The MSA calls it diversity training, but that's not a good name for it," Granberry Russell said. "They are educational opportunities. Some of their concerns extend beyond a one- or two-day training seminar."Both MSU and the MSA hope these programs will create a better understanding of Muslims by providing those who attend the classes with a better education of Islam, Walid said."We have a saying in our religion that people are the enemy of that which they don't know," Walid said. "So we're hoping that some professors who may have uneasy feelings about Muslims and carry those feelings into the classroom can have some of those feelings abated."

Walid speaks at Ford World Headquarters regarding Ramadan

Yesterday at the Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, the Ford Interfaith Network (FIN) held their 6th annual Iftar Dinner. Approximately 300 Muslims and Non-Muslims including Ford Motor Corp. executives were in attendance.

Keynote presentation was entitled "Ramadan: The Month of Forgiveness & Reconciliation."
Cut & paste the link below to listen:

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Rwanda: The Month of Ramadan - A Time to Reflect


Rwanda: The Month of Ramadan - A Time to Reflect

The New Times (Kigali)
October 2, 2006
Posted to the web October 3, 2006
Allan Brian Ssenyonga

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. This year the month of Ramadan began on September 23 (Saudi Arabia, Gulf and parts of the Middle East) and September 24 elsewhere (including the rest of the Middle East). It lasts through October 23. Muslims believe that during Ramadan, the revelation of the Qur'an to the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) began.

The first day of the next month is spent in great celebrations and rejoicings and is observed as 'Eid ul-Fitr'. The fasting during Ramadan has been so predominant in defining the month that some have been led to believe the name of this month, Ramadan, is the name of Islamic fasting, when in reality the Arabic term for fasting is sawm. During Ramadan, Muslims are also expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam by refraining from violence, anger, envy, greed, lust, angry and sarcastic retorts, refrain from gambling and betting and gossip (mark the bold words). Currently, the Islamic faith seems to be at a very tense moment of its existence. It seems to be drawn in a war with the Western world. Some have called it the preamble for the next world war. The secular world fighting with the Extremist Islamic world. Well I pray it never gets to this.

For sometime now the secularists and some Western governments that have branded terrorism as Islamic extremism have provoked the Muslims. Just the other day Pope Benedict XVI quoted an ancient text recounting a conversation between 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II and a Persian scholar on the truths of Christianity and Islam. The remarks implied that Mohammad had spread Islam through violence. These comments raised tensions throughout the Muslim world ahead of his planned visit to Turkey in November. The Muslim world demanded an apology form the Pope himself. The Vatican argued and still does, that the Pope was misunderstood and meant no harm. Just a year ago and in the same month a Danish newspaper's publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W), triggered outrage in the Muslim world. And as if to prove a point of arrogance, several media houses in Europe reprinted the twelve cartoons of Prophet Mohammed over and over again. It was called freedom of speech! Former president, Bill Clinton added a sober voice when he condemned the cartoons.

Clinton described the cartoons as "appalling" and equated criticism of a person's chosen religion with racism. Not so long ago, The President of U.S.A George W. Bush had openly rightly declared some Muslim countries as an "Axis of Evil". It now seems like there is a conspiracy to re-brand Islam as a violent faith or at least to provoke peace loving Muslims to show violence. How else do you explain someone publishing cartoons of the highly revered Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) as a terrorist? What is the motive of the cartoonist really? You cannot insult my father or mother and then when I cry you call me emotional! The foreign policy of the West and America in particular is slowly turning many moderate Muslims into extremists. They feel they have a duty to defend their faith against insults and provocations.

Terrorism no longer seems to be a product of Middle East but a product of Washington and other European secularists who attack Islam and it's practices as backward. These same people have embarked on a campaign to "change the lives" of the people in the Muslim world. This strategy has now backfired and the West is trying to justify its campaigns in the Muslim world as a war against terror aimed at protecting the free world. Many were told of how Saddam mistreated his people and so the Americans came in to 'liberate' them. Now the liberated Iraqis are dying daily and peace seems further than they ever thought. Democracy was forced onto the Palestine people and the result was Hamas a militant group being democratically elected to office. Somalia became a worse place when the Americans came in and were forced to run for their lives later. Recently as they were trying to make a comeback a more militant and extremist group, Islamic Union took power and is now more popular with the local population.

Islam is a religion of peace. The West is branding it an intolerant religion. We ought to reflect on the cause-effect relationships before using words like tolerance. Why should some comments about Jews be tagged Anti-Semitic and racist while those against Islam and Arabs are called free speech? This propaganda from the West needs to be checked.

So as our brothers make an effort to refrain from violence, anger, and angry and sarcastic retorts during the Ramadan, I pray that the West does the same so as to make the world a better place.

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