Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Message for Friday - Misinterpretation can cause extremism

أخوف ما أخاف على أمتي رجل يتأول القرءان يضعه في غير موضعه

The Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) said, "What I fear most for my nation is a man who mis-explains the Qur’an and takes it out of context. "

One of the reasons why people of religion go into extremes is due to misinterpretation of scripture. Literalists go to the far right extreme, and quasi-gnostics go to the extreme left.

The literalists read scripture without factoring in the time period in which verses were revealed, etymological roots of words, connections one verse with other verses and the spirit or the intended outcomes that the verses seek to manifest in the lives of human beings in society. Hence, the literalists apply the verses without deep comprehension in which they pervert the spirit of the verses, doing harm to themselves and possibly others.

The quasi-gnostics, on the other hand, read scripture as mainly symbolism, skipping outer applications. Thus, the quasi-gnostics ignore many prescribed rituals and duties that instill meaning and discipline while viewing interaction in the social or material world as an exercise in futilty for reaching G'd.

Prophet Muhammad said that his community is to be "balanced" - عدولا - in all aspects of life, not being too harsh and rigid yet not being aloof of interacting with society.

And surely G'd knows best.

No Bigot of the Month for January

This month, there was no one individual, who stood out from the rest when it came to bigotry.

From vandalisms of houses of worship, driving while black, flying while Muslim to the Obama haters that harp on him being a student in a public school in Indonesia for a few years, it was a normal month.

Perhaps Black History Month will be a month for racial and religious healing.

Detroit Muslims, police voice concern over mosque vandalisms

Local mosque attacks 'scary for us'
Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- Alice Alaouie is quite frightened by the fact that most people seem to know little about her faith, Islam.

The spray painting of hateful graffiti on the side of the old site of her mosque, the Islamic Center of America, and a spike of similar incidents in Metro Detroit and around the country in recent weeks lead Alaouie and other Muslims to believe that hate is escalating to a dangerous peak.
"It's scary for us, it's scary for me personally," says Alaouie, 23, who is active with youth groups at the mosque. "The people are concerned. It's a little snowball that formed on 9/11, and it rolled, and now it's really big. It's a phobia.
"Hopefully, more knowledge and the unity among religions will pull us through."
As they celebrated this week the feast of Ashura, which commemorates the sacrifices made on behalf of the faith, Muslims are anxious for their safety and the safety of their mosques. In three weeks, there have been five local incidents at mosques involving vandalism or a confrontation with a leader.
There have been similar events across the country, including an assault on a man in Lackawanna, N.Y., on Jan. 17; a window broken at a mosque in West Richland, Wash., on Jan. 19; a fire allegedly set at a mosque in Newark, N.J., on Jan. 20; shots fired at an empty mosque in Fremont, Calif., on Jan. 22. All these incidents have persuaded Muslims that they are struggling for Islam in America.
Incidents mainly target Islam
While two of the recent incidents of vandalism in Metro Detroit may be Muslims acting against Muslims, the majority here and nationwide have targeted Islam itself in what appears to be an escalating line of attack.
"At work, I am told (by coworkers) that all Muslims should leave this country," said Hassen Sobh of Sterling Heights, who works for Ford Motor Co. "What can you do? You deal with ignorant people all around the world.
"Who wanted 9/11? None of us! You can't judge 1.4 billion (Muslim) people around the world by Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.
"These are Godless people, who do such hateful things," Sobh said of the terrorists, dictators and the vandals. "God will deal with them, either now or after their deaths."
Five months ago, many Muslims said their lives were more worrisome on the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11 than in the immediate aftermath of the 2001 attacks.
"It is disturbing because, in Metro Detroit, there never has been this many vandalisms in such a short period of time," said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations in Michigan. "I am bracing myself every morning, hoping that I am not going to get another report."(MORE)
Muslim leaders, police speak out against violence
By Sean Delaney, Press & Guide Newspapers
PUBLISHED: January 31, 2007
With arms linked in solidarity, religious and government officials gathered Thursday outside the original Islamic Center of America in Detroit to condemn — in one voice — recent acts of vandalism against Muslim businesses and religious centers throughout the Metro Detroit area.
"As a community, we (gathered) to support in spirit the cleansing of this site from brutality and to move ahead with our efforts to strengthen interfaith understanding," said Steve Spreitzer, director of the interfaith division of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, in a statement issued Thursday.
Located on Joy near Greenfield Road, the original Islamic Center of America has served as a mosque for more than five decades in Metro Detroit and remains a historical landmark for many in the community.
Last week, the building became the target of vandals who left messages of hate and intimidation — including anti-Muslim slurs "go home 911 murderers" and "you idol worship" — scrawled in paint on the walls outside the building.
On Thursday, more than 30 local leaders joined together outside the building to condemn the act, as well as those who committed it.
"The incident that occurred at this mosque is unacceptable to people of faith — to people of all faiths," said Rabbi Josh Bennett of Temple Beth Israel in West Bloomfield.
Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights agreed.
"These kinds of acts of violence are unacceptable," he said. "We condemn any acts of violence or terrorism against others. We all pray for peace and an end to the violence."
The Islamic House of Wisdom hosted a similar event earlier this month after vandals targeted several Shi'a-owned businesses and religious centers throughout the Metro Detroit area, including the Imam Ali Islamic Center and the Al-Kifa Cultural Forum.
The motive behind the attacks remains under investigation, police said, although some believe increasing tension between local Shi'a and Sunni Muslims following the execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein may have played a role.
Locally, several Muslim groups celebrated the death of the Iraqi leader in December, while others decried the scheduling of the execution on what some consider the first day of Eid al-Adha, which is among the holiest festivals on the Islamic calendar.
However, many local religious and community leaders were quick to dismiss those claims, and have urged residents to avoid rushing to judgment before the investigation is completed.
"At this point, no one is certain of the religion of the vandals," said Dawud Walid, director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI). "We must be patient — we cannot categorize an entire group based on the action of a few of its members." (MORE)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Walid speaks on panel about "Moderate Islam"

Last night at St Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in Harper Woods, Michigan, approximately 150 people attended a panel discussion on "Moderate Islam."

Cut & paste the following to listen (Clicking on the link alone will not work):

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Terrorism is not a part of Islam

Terrorism is not part of Islam, speakers say at forum in Troy
Robert Delaney of The Michigan Catholic
Published January 26, 2007

Reports of violence committed by Muslims frequently leads nightly TV news reports, but that doesn't mean those violent acts are justified by Islamic teaching, a prominent local Muslim said Jan. 17.

Imam Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Michigan, and Msgr. John Zenz, moderator of the Curia of the Archdiocese of Detroit, spoke on religion and violence from the standpoint of their respective faith traditions at First Presbyterian Church of Troy.

Imam Walid acknowledged a Muslim can sometimes legitimately commit violence, but said examples would be self-defense or coming to the aid of oppressed people.

The violent incidents that hit the evening news, however, involve Muslims inappropriately using Islam to justify political objectives or simply Muslim people committing criminal acts, he said.
Even justified violence has limits ù such as using only as much force as necessary to subdue an attacker and taking care not to harm women and children, he said.

And non-Muslims generally have a misunderstanding about the meaning of the word jihad, Imam Walid continued.

" 'Jihad' does not mean 'holy war'; we have no word in Arabic for 'holy war.' 'Jihad' means struggle or exertion," he explained, adding that the Quran neither authorizes torture nor encourages Muslims to blow themselves up as suicide bombers.

"There is no authentic tradition in the Quran or in the authentic sayings of Muhammad that, if you become a martyr, you get 73 virgins. And if I did get 73 virgins, what would I do with them?" Imam Walid asked.

Not only that, but a Muslim is admonished to not even use words that incite people to violence. "That is why our organization condemned the conference they held on the Holocaust in Iran," the imam said.

In discussing violence from the Christian perspective, Msgr. Zenz acknowledged Old Testament passages where God appears to be authorizing violence or where a military victory is credited to divine intervention.

Citing Psalm 137:9 ("Happy the man who shall seize and smash your little ones against the rock!"), Msgr. Zenz said, "It puzzles me and troubles me every time we pray that psalm."
But in the New Testament, Christ renounces violence in the Sermon on the Mount and by His willingness to suffer death upon the cross, he continued, adding that recent reading for Mass "was about Saul getting in trouble with God for not killing every single Amorite."

And he said the theme of reconciliation is exemplified by Christ's words from the Cross, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

Christian practice has sometimes departed from this ideal, however. "We have to admit that we have not always followed the teachings of our Lord. Sadly, we had the Crusades, and there was the tragedy of the religious wars in the 1400s and 1500s," Msgr. Zenz said.

Catholic teaching does recognize the right of defensive war as part of its just-war teaching, which goes back to St. Augustine of Hippo, he acknowledged.

But Msgr. Zenz pointed out the Vatican had been critical of the first Gulf War and the current war in Iraq. Although violent reactions by some Muslims to Pope Benedict XVI's address at Regensburg University received extensive news coverage last year, Msgr. Zenz said there was less attention paid to the letter sent by 38 Muslim scholars, who wrote applauding the Holy Father for "his efforts to oppose materialism and encourage a serious intellectual debate between Muslims and Christians."

There are, nevertheless, issues that separate Christians and Muslims, such as how Christians are often not allowed to practice their faith in Muslim-run countries. "That's something Pope Benedict brought up on his visit to Turkey ù that we each need to be given the space to practice our religions without having to go underground," Msgr. Zenz said. (See story Page 14.)

Asked from the audience why influential Muslims are not condemning terrorism, Imam Walid replied, "We Muslims have been condemning terrorism until we're blue in the face."

And when asked why many violent actions seem to come from Islamic countries, Imam Walid drew a distinction between Muslim-majority countries and Islamic countries. "I don't consider Saudi Arabia to be an Islamic country. It is a Muslim country, but there is nothing in the Quran that says a woman cannot drive a car or own a business," he said, adding that Muhammad's first wife was a businesswoman.

Many conflicts portrayed as religious wars are really political power struggles or disputes over land rights, however much they might be cloaked in religious language, the imam continued.
And as to fatwahs calling for assassinations, he said, "Since we don't have a central authority in Islam, any imam or sheikh or mullah, even if he has a following of only a hundred people, can put out a fatwah."

Msgr. Zenz said inter-faith dialogue opportunities are important so Christians and Muslims can learn more about each other, "otherwise, we walk around believing false things."
Jack Panosian, a member of Holy Name Parish in Birmingham, said he thought the presentations had been useful. "We have to get together and have a dialogue," he said.

Sameir Abdulla, a law student who attends a mosque in Dearborn, said, "It is some relief that there is a start of dialogue so that Christians, Jews and Muslims can get together and start to understand each other."

The Rev. J. Harold Ellens, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Troy, said he looks forward to his church hosting more such programs, with the next one likely after Easter.

Ashura: Remembering Moses & Imam Hussein

Ashura: Remembering Moses and Imam Hussein

Ashura is commemorated on the 10th of Muharram in the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is marked by many Muslims with a voluntary day of fasting to observe the day that Prophet Moses freed the Israelites from the bondage of the Egyptian Pharaoh.

Along with this we also remember this day as one of the most tragic events in Islamic history when Prophet Muhammad's beloved grandson Imam Hussein along with his family were martyred while standing up against injustice.

Some men seek to emulate the suffering of Imam Hussein, lamenting the martyrdom by self-flagellation. A growing number of scholars discourage this self-infliction and instead encourage people to donate blood on this day.

Fasting on the day of Ashura is highly recommended since the time Prophet Muhammad migrated to Madinah.

According to Sahih Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 202 - Narrated Ibn Abbas:
When the Prophet arrived at Medina, the Jews were observing the fast on 'Ashura' (10th of Muharram) and they said, "This is the day when Moses became victorious over Pharaoh," On that, the Prophet said to his companions, "You (Muslims) have more right to celebrate Moses' victory than they have, so observe the fast on this day.

It is also recommended to be generous on this day towards family members and parents because prophet Muhammad stated that whoever is generous on his family on the day of Ashura, then Allah is generous towards him for the whole year.There are several other Hadith that refer to the importance of the day of Ashura.

O' Allah! Bless us to perform good deeds. Make the new year one of unity, cooperation and success.

Message for Friday - Beware of becoming a slave to materialism

يقول الإمام الحسين رضي الله عنه: الناس عبيد الدنيا

Imam Husayn (May G'd be pleased with him) stated, "People are slaves of the material world."

The above statement means that most, not all, people are slaves of materialism, which would be an accurate statement in today's American society. The love of wealth in this society is evident based upon the messages that corporate entities unleash on the American public, feeding into many people's perceptions that success in life is based upon eclipsing others' material acquisitions. Pure capitalists, who lack ethics and concern for the advancement of society, exploit these weaknesses to increase their profit margins. The bigger, the better; the more "bling," the more ching.

Those, however, who are conscious of their relationship with G'd and understand how to interact with the material world in a healthy manner shun gross materialism. They guard themselves from being seduced into the race to purchase homes than their families' need. They do not seek to purchase the biggest diamonds to show off their wealth. Their excess wealth, meaning wealth outside of taking care of their basic needs, is used to build better community life and supplement the needs of the less fortunate in society, the poor, insane, youth and elderly. These are the sincere believers of G'd.

May G'd guide us away from gross materialism and give us more charitable hearts. AMEEN.

And surely G'd knows best.

Are Muslims fundamentally different?

Guest column
By: Youshaa Patel

During this year's Kenan Distinguished lecture in ethics, the Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks stated, "When you first talk to Muslims you don't talk about freedom and democracy but you talk to them about God's will." I immediately thought to myself, "You can talk to me about freedom and democracy." I then walked down to the microphone for comment but did not have the opportunity to share my opinion. In the Chief Rabbi's response an underlying message of the lecture came into relief which placed religion as the central issue in the apparent clash of civilizations between America and the Muslim world. Certainly religion plays a role, but religions don't act. Rather humans do, based on their interpretations of particular religious texts that are mediated by their particular historical and cultural milieu.

Often these interpretations can be attributed to this milieu rather than to the religious texts themselves. I think this explains why one can find such a multiplicity of viewpoints among Muslims today; for example, some staunchly support suicide bombings while others deplore these operations as completely antithetical to Muslim tradition.Although I appreciated the Rabbi's message of reconciliation, I felt that he simultaneously diluted his message by portraying Muslims as essentially different from an implicitly Judeo-Christian West (Hindus, Buddhists and other nonmonotheists were not even mentioned).

The Chief Rabbi, perhaps unconsciously, repeated an error that dates back to Europe and America's Orientalist past, which tended to "religionize" Muslims by portraying them as essentially motivated by religion uninfluenced by a variety of other factors such as politics, economics and geography. Such an essentialist approach valorizes the liturgical and textual component of religion while devaluing the complexity of motives that drive human action on the ground-understanding this complexity and acknowledging this multiplicity is the true fruit of understanding the estranged Other.

Defending the use of generalizations in his lecture, the Chief Rabbi had earlier quoted a Harvard professor who claimed, "I specialize in generalizations." Although the Chief Rabbi intended reconciliation, generalizations are what led to the Clash of Civilizations hypothesis which attempts, in a sloppy way, to isolate particular values specific to particular cultures (or civilizations).

Such purely ideological approaches necessarily abstract and distance the Other rather than foster understanding-a message the Chief Rabbi emphatically preached.

To promote mutual understanding the Chief Rabbi called for a return to the original religious texts for inspiration, a suggestion that I also support, but only as a starting point. Ultimately this textual focus must be translated into meaningful interactions with those one hopes to understand. So I find in the Quran, the oft-repeated verse which states, "Oh humankind! We created you from a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. The most honored of you in God's sight is the most pious of you" [Quran: 49:13]. If one wants to truly understand the Other, they must simply get to know them first-a pretty simple concept, yet one which remains elusive when the Other is understood as fundamentally different instead of fundamentally similar.

In a recent survey, almost four in 10, 39 percent, advocate that Muslims in America should carry a special I.D. The same number admit that they hold some "prejudice" against Muslims. Perhaps if I were not Muslim I would hold similar views, and so considering the current climate I understand how many Americans can feel this way. Yet according to the same survey those who know Muslims are much less likely to hold prejudices against them. Those connected to Muslim communities know that Muslims too yearn for democracy and freedom, especially since large numbers of Muslims outside America live under anti-democratic regimes where they are often deprived of the fundamental human rights and freedoms that most of us take for granted. In America, approximately 40 percent of Muslims are African Americans. Who better understands the value of freedom than African Americans who were deprived of true freedom for most of America's history?

In the Chief Rabbi's defense, the Muslim composition in Britain is mainly comprised of immigrants, which perhaps contributes to his perception that Muslims maintain alien values. However, I don't believe that fostering a myth of Muslim difference helps his noble mission of reconciliation and forgiveness.

Nevertheless at Duke, amid current discussions concerning diversity in race, class and gender, religious identity and diversity must also emerge among the core issues in the university's period of self reflection-especially in a time where religious conflict is taking center stage. Where Muslims remain a small, marginalized, and still misunderstood religious community on campus and beyond, Duke must do more to make religious diversity and mutual understanding a key part of its strategic vision for the future.

Youshaa Patel is a graduate student at the Duke Divinity School.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Michigan Department of Human Services' employee advocating for Evangelical Christians

Muslim man claims religious conspiracy
Dad sues Department of Human Services, says ex-wife was told to keep teen daughter from him.
Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News

DEARBORN -- A Muslim man says the state Department of Human Services and a local church are conspiring as part of a custody battle to prohibit his daughter from practicing Islam and visiting him.Abraham Ben-Abbad, 38, of Dearborn alleges in a suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court that the Department of Human Services and a caseworker, William McDonald, advised Ben-Abbad's former wife that she need not allow their daughter, Hend Almanasir, 13, to visit her father, including during Ramadan and on other religious holidays, despite court orders mandating the visitation.

Arab-American and Muslim organizations in Metro Detroit, which are monitoring the case closely, say the state should not interfere in a custody battle with the intent of participating in a decision about what religion a child should pursue. "To me, my kids are the most important things in my life," Ben-Abbad said, breaking into tears at a news conference Tuesday. "Especially, Hend; she is the oldest. She grew up, and I cared for her most of the time."

McDonald and the state also allowed a local church, the Dearborn Assembly of God, on Tireman, to participate in meetings to plan his daughter's future, according to Ben-Abbad, his lawyer, Shereef Akeel of Birmingham, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.The lawsuit alleges that the pastor of the church, Trey Hancock, offers an outreach program for American women married to Muslim men, and that his ministry is intent on converting Muslims to Christianity.

The purpose of involving the church in planning for his daughter's future is to steer her away from Islam, the faith in which she was raised, Ben-Abbad said and the suit alleges.Hancock and officials of the church were not available to comment. When a reporter called the church and identified himself, a man who answered the phone hung up.Officials at the state Department of Human Services say they are unaware of the suit and the allegations."However, if it is justified, we would consider an investigation," said Maureen Sorbet, a spokeswoman for the department.

"Any issue of religious preference is taken seriously by the department."While court orders permitting Ben-Abbad's visitation rights remain in place and were recently reaffirmed by Judge Christopher Dingell of the Wayne County Circuit Court, McDonald and the department have defied the orders, according to Ben-Abbad, his lawyer and the civil rights groups.Dingell cited the state's defiance in an Oct. 31 order, in which the judge said he was nonetheless "reluctant to use contempt powers" to cite the state.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Islamophobic vandalism on the rise in Detroit & Dearborn

Detroit mosque vandalized
January 23, 2007
By Niraj Warikoo
Free Press Staff Writer
A Detroit mosque was vandalized this week with anti-Muslim graffiti that reads in large capital letters: "Go Home 911 Murderers."

The original Islamic Center of America, on the corner of Joy and Greenfield roads, was struck sometime early Monday or late Sunday, said local Muslims. The mosque moved in 2005 to a new building on Ford Road in Dearborn, but the old one still stands.

On the front of the vandalized mosque, under its name, someone spray-painted in green "You Idol Worship" and then the comment that appeared to blame them for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks."It's painful," said Nabil Zbib, 36, of Dearborn, who spotted the graffiti on Monday and reported it to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Last week, the Shi'ite mosque hosted a news conference at its location in Dearborn, criticizing Northwest Airlines for what it said was biased treatment against a group of Muslims who were not allowed to board a connecting flight in Germany to Detroit. The mosque and the council received hate e-mail after the news conference, but it's unclear whether this vandalism is related to that.

"This is hurtful for the entire Muslim community, to see such enmity directed towards Muslims," said Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Other Shi'ite mosques in Dearborn and Detroit have been vandalized in recent weeks, but it's unclear whether those cases are connected to this latest incident.

WAYNE COUNTY DEARBORN: Vandals hit Islamic educational center
The Council on American-Islamic Relations says windows at the Karbala Islamic Educational Center in Dearborn were broken Sunday.
Earlier this month, two nearby mosques and a number of other Muslim-owned businesses were targeted by similar acts of vandalism.
As a response to these and other incidents, CAIR is urging Muslim institutions to report any suspicious persons or activity to law enforcement officials.
"Whatever the motive is for these continuing acts of vandalism, we need to pull together as a community," said CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Message for Friday - Call upon G'd by his beautiful names

قُلِ ادْعُوا اللَّهَ أَوِ ادْعُوا الرَّحْمَنَ أَيًّا مَا تَدْعُوا فَلَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَى وَلَا تَجْهَرْ بِصَلَاتِكَ وَلَا تُخَافِتْ بِهَا وَابْتَغِ بَيْنَ ذَلِكَ سَبِيلًا

G'd says in the Qur'an (17:110): Say! Call upon G'd or call upon the Merciful, by whatever name you call HIM, to HIM belongs the most beautiful names. Neither say your pray loudly, nor too softly, but seek a middle course between.

Every need of a human or action that is clocked into the creation, G'd is the supplier and controller of everything. To make a closer connection with G'd, we can sincerely invoke one of HIS names that connects with what we are begging or asking HIM for.

If one is seeking forgiveness, call upon HIM that is most forgiving. If one is seeking justice, call upon HIM that is most just.

Polytheists believe in a big deity, but they attribute the specific powers of G'd as smaller entities called demi-gods to reach the big deity. This is a misunderstanding of HIS absoluteness, and that HE manifests these varying aspects within the universe.

Audio links of beautiful du`aat:

And surely G'd knows best.

Walid speaks at interfaith event about what Islam and Christianity says about violence

Last night's event called "Wrapping the Faith in the Flag: The Roles of Religion and Violence in the Christian and Muslim Traditions" took place at First Presbyterian Church in Troy, Michigan.

Also speaking last night was Monsignor John P. Zenz, vicar of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Cut and paste the following link to listen:

Northwest & pilgrim incident coming to a conclusion

David Coates / The Detroit News
Dawud Walid, center, speaks for NWA fliers Rami Hamadeh, from left, M. Jowad Al-Ansari, Jennifer Zreik and Sayed Hassan al-Qazwini.

NWA apologizes for barring local Muslim fliers
Airline to reimburse 40 pilgrims returning from Mecca after not allowing them to board their flight.
Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News

"I welcome this gesture from Northwest," says Imam Sayed Hassan al-Qazwini of the Islamic Center of America. " We hope this is a sincere effort to stop any discrimination from happening."
Jennifer Zreik was one of 40 local Muslims who were barred from flight out of Frankfurt Airport on Jan. 7, which resulted from a series of mistakes involving a travel agency and baggage handlers, according to Northwest.

DEARBORN -- Reacting swiftly to allegations of discrimination, Northwest Airlines apologized to 40 local Muslims on Wednesday for barring them from a plane in Germany on their return trip from a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia earlier this month.
The airline said it will reimburse the pilgrims for the additional costs for flights and "reasonable" costs for accommodations.
"To our knowledge, there was no security issue and this was not a profiling issue," said the official, Andrea Newman, the senior vice president for government relations for Northwest Airlines, in Washington, D.C. "We try very hard to make sure that everyone is treated the same, and this is an important community to Northwest, as are all communities."(MORE)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

MI Muslim pilgrims offered apology, compensation by NW

Press Release
Source: Council on American-Islamic Relations
MI Muslim Pilgrims Offered Apology, Compensation by NW Airlines
Wednesday January 17, 4:45 pm ET

SOUTHFIELD, Mich., Jan. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The Michigan office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) announced today that Northwest Airlines is offering an apology and limited financial compensation to a group of 40 American Muslim pilgrims who were allegedly denied passage on a January 7th flight returning to Michigan.

The pilgrims say they were denied boarding on a Northwest Airlines flight from Germany to Detroit while returning from the recently-concluded annual Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. Northwest Airlines says the Muslim travelers arrived too late to make the connecting flight.

That claim has been refuted by the pilgrims who say they arrived at the gate with time to spare and that they were mistreated by airline representatives.

CAIR-MI held a news conference in Dearborn, Mich., on Tuesday to demand an investigation of the incident. Today, an official of Northwest Airlines told CAIR that the Muslim travelers would receive an apology for the inconvenience they suffered and would be compensated for any extra flight or hotel costs they incurred.

SEE: Northwest Apologizes, Vows to Reimburse Muslims Barred from Flight (Detroit News)

SEE ALSO: CAIR-MI to Call for Probe Into NW Airline's Treatment of Hajjis

"We welcome Northwest Airlines' apology and offer of limited compensation as a positive step toward addressing the concerns of the Muslim passengers," said CAIR-Michigan Executive Director Dawud Walid. Walid also said some of the travelers are considering legal action against the airline.

CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Muslims say they'll shun Northwest

The following is video from FOX 2 news regarding Northwest:

Group wants compensation after 40 are kept off flight
January 17, 2007

A group of metro Detroiters is threatening to lead a boycott of Northwest Airlines over what they say is a pattern of profiling against Muslim passengers.

"I know that many Muslims call Northwest 'Northworst'... for its treatment to the Muslim community," Imam Hassan Al-Qazwini, head of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, said Tuesday.

Al-Qazwini was in a group of about 40 pilgrims who were prevented from boarding a connecting flight in Germany to Detroit on Jan. 7 while returning from a trip to holy cities in Saudi Arabia. The Muslim group, most of whom are Lebanese-American Shi'ites, held a news conference Tuesday at the Dearborn mosque to describe what they say happened to them. They called for Northwest to apologize, compensate them, and discipline the employees they said profiled them.

"Otherwise," Al-Qazwini said, "if Northwest will not do that, then probably we have to call all Muslim organizations to encourage Muslims from not flying on Northwest."

With tens of thousands of Muslim customers, Northwest could be hurt financially by such a boycott, Al-Qazwini suggested, adding that "I hope Northwest will be wiser."

But Northwest officials defended their actions Tuesday, repeating that the 40 or so pilgrims were unable to board because they weren't at the gate in time.

"They showed up at the gate late," said Dean Breest, a spokesman for Northwest Airlines. "All customers need to be on time."

Northwest Airlines requires passengers to check in for international flights at least 60 minutes prior to departure and to be on board the aircraft at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time, according to a statement it issued.

Al-Qazwini and other pilgrims said Tuesday that they were at the gate at least an hour and a half before departure time.

"We were treated really, really, really badly," said Jennifer Zreik, 29, of Dearborn, one of the travelers.

According to Zreik and others, some of the Muslims with the group were allowed on the plane. But about 40 were not.

Some of the travelers said they had to spend the night at the airport; others had to pay $77 in penalty fees and more in hotel costs -- without reimbursement.

Breest said, "I'm very sorry to hear that happened," but added this case has nothing to do with profiling.

Most of the pilgrims in the group are from Michigan, said Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a group that has been fighting profiling of Muslims at airports. The council organized the news conference.

Al-Qazwini said he was recently prevented from praying on a Northwest Airlines flight.
But Breest said Northwest does not discriminate. He pointed out the high-profile case of Muslim imams who were escorted off a US Airways jet in November at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport after they made Islamic prayers. The imams were eventually flown home by Northwest Airlines, he said.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Decreasing friction in the family - Sunni - Shi`i

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin

In light of the friction between Suni and Shia factions of the Islamic family, it becomes apparent that we have the choice of focusing on a situation with negative eyes or with positive eyes. I believe everyone is aware of the fact that enemies of Islam have taken a centuries-old situation between Suni and Shia sects of Islam and exploited it for their own purposes. With the chaos going on in Iraq , it behooves their common enemy to create more conflict between them.

But there is a positive side to this story as there is to every situation that happens in life. It is a great blessing that ALLAH has equipped the human being with the ability to capitalize on situations and turn them into their favor. One such blessing occurred last week in Detroit-Dearborn , Michigan.

A great representation of religious leaders from our Suni and Shia families met to discuss a few vandalism incidents that happened in the community. It was a resounding success. Of course one of the reasons those who came were eager to show up was because we already knew there was no animosity between us any way. As a matter of fact, many years ago, under the banner of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, former chairman Syed Salman (may ALLAH bless his soul and grant him paradise) and yours truly, organized the first Suni-Shia Symposium to be held in this area. Syed Salman was my mentor in learning how to be a human being. To be truthful with you, I have not seen many better than Salman in exercising and enhancing the humanity of all people. He was a giant of a man and loved by all.

The planning stages of the symposium were filled with much optimism from the majority of the people, but a smattering of pessimism also showed its head from time to time. One such incident involved a member of my mosque who told me “if you knew what you were doing, you wouldn’t try to have this symposium.” I thought about that as I was listening to a recording Martin Luther King made after a knife attack by a deranged woman in New York . The doctors said the knife came so close to his aorta that if he had sneezed, it would have punctured it and he would have died. A little Caucasian girl wrote him a letter of convalescence and told him she was “glad he didn’t sneeze.”

In that same vein, I’m glad I “didn’t know what I was doing” because if I had known what I was doing, twenty or so scholars of both Suni and Shia wouldn’t have been on the same stage extolling the virtues of respect of your fellow Muslim brother. If I had “known” what I was doing, great and lasting friendships wouldn’t have been formed that day that have lasted to this day.

If I had “known” what I was doing, Salman and I would not have persevered among many challenges; and probably would have sat down because we “knew” of all the difficulty. I’m so glad I didn’t know what I was doing because the result made the coming together of the family last week so much easier and more productive.

So now that we know what we’re doing, let’s exercise that knowledge for the good of the ummah. Islamic knowledge and leadership is supposed to be the tool for unification, love, respect, and tolerance. If you really know what you are doing, you will use your intellect to kill separatist, mentalities that keep us weak.

This is instructing that morsel of flesh (the heart) to be whole and good so it can make the whole body (including the mind) whole, moral and good.

Yes, I’m glad I didn’t know what I was doing - or maybe… I did know.

MI Muslims question Northwest's denial of passage on flight

The following audio is of a press conference held today at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan regarding 40 pilgrims, who were not allowed to board a plane from Germany to America.

Northwest makes the claim that the passengers were late to the gate, and that they must be at the gate 20 minutes prior to departure. The Muslims report that they were at the gate 90 minutes prior to departure.

Cut & paste to listen:

Monday, January 15, 2007

MLK would be against the war in Iraq if alive

on April 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech calling for an end to the Vietnam War. In the speech, he discussed several points that resemble US government's policy towards Iraq since the time of Bush 41 and Bill Clinton, which includes poisoning the land of the people with depleted uranium shells and sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi women and children.

Here are some interesting aspects of Dr. King's speech, and his addressing American Exceptionalism:

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence *in 1954* -- in 1945 *rather* -- after a combined French and Japanese occupation and before the communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony. Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not ready for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination and a government that had been established not by China -- for whom the Vietnamese have no great love -- but by clearly indigenous forces that included some communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam. Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of their reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.

After the French were defeated, it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva Agreement. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators, our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly rooted out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords, and refused even to discuss reunification with the North. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by United States' influence and then by increasing numbers of United States troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem's methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictators seemed to offer no real change, especially in terms of their need for land and peace.

The only change came from America, as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received the regular promises of peace and democracy and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move on or be destroyed by our bombs.

So they go, primarily women and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one Vietcong-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Walid speaks about Muslim demographics and Sunni-Shi`ah relations on NPR

The following was aired this morning on WDET 101.9 FM. The second portion of the interview is scheduled to be played tomorrow morning around 7:45 AM and 9:30 AM.

Message for Friday - Sunnis & Shi`is are brothers in faith, one community

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

G'd says in the Qur'an (49:10) - The beleivers are but a single brotherhood, so make peace between your brothers. And fear G'd that you may receive mercy.

In the context of this verse of the Qur'an, beleiver means more than just belief in G'd. It means those who beleive in G'd and the message that was given to the last prophet of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (SAAS). In this belief that he (SAAS) is the last prophet of G'd, who received the Qur'an, along with the belief in all of the books revealed before (Torah, Psalms & Gospels), angels, all of the prophets before him (SAAS), and the day of resurrection, there is no difference between Sunnis & Shi`is. Hence, these two groups have a special relationship as Muslims that is different than relationship with people of other faiths. The Muslims are a single nation.

The late Sunni scholar of Al-Azhar university, Mahmud Shaltut, issued a fatwa in 1959 to validate the legitimacy of the basis of jurisprudence of the Zaydi & Ja'fari schools within the Shi`i tradition.


Walid addresses Sunni & Shi`ah cooperation after Imams' meeting in Dearborn Heights, MI

The link below is video:

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Imams meet to discuss vandalism

Not known to most, Sunni and Shi`i leaders in Metro Detroit have had regular meetings in the past to coordinate programs and to discuss ways of better presenting Islam to the American public. Sunnis and Shi`is are intermarried in Metro Detroit, they pray together and shop in each others' businesses.


Muslims seek peace
Sunnis, Shi'ites to meet after Detroit spots vandalized
January 10, 2007


Concerned about the possible spread of sectarian violence in metro Detroit, Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims are set to meet today in a Dearborn Heights mosque to hash out any tensions between the diverse Middle Eastern and Muslim communities.

As Iraqi-American Shi'ites seethed over the trashing of several of their businesses and mosques in Detroit over the weekend, leaders in the Shi'ite and Sunni sects of Islam worked Tuesday to try to defuse animosity between the two sides that has existed for years but was amplified with the execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in December.

There was some talk of reprisal attacks, but no more incidents were reported Tuesday. Detroit police are investigating the vandalism and are aware that Shi'ite-Sunni tensions may be involved, said Sgt. Eren Stephens, Detroit police spokeswoman. The FBI also is monitoring the situation, said Special Agent Dawn Clenney.

One Sunni leader, Dawud Walid, spent long hours late Monday in a Shi'ite mosque, where he delivered a sermon urging unity.

"It's important that Sunnis and Shi'ites come together," said Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Moments after Hussein was hanged, Shi'ites and others celebrated in a public display in Dearborn that was televised around the world. The execution -- along with the cheering -- upset some local Sunni Muslims. They said it was disrespectful, especially since, for them, it came on the day of Eid-ul-Adha, a holy day.

Over the weekend, several businesses and mosques, including the Imam Ali Center, were vandalized and had their windows broken. At the Al-Rafedain restaurant, store employees said they had received two phone calls from a man speaking in Arabic and English. The caller cursed at the owner, noting that he was a Shi'ite, Walid said.
At the restaurant Tuesday, diners were upset about what happened along Warren Avenue in Detroit, which borders Dearborn. They saw it as an attack on the Iraqi community by other Arabs, and they worried about the future.

"The Arabs don't like us because we don't like Saddam," said Ali Al-Taye, 52, of Dearborn. "Today, they broke windows. Tomorrow, they may get a gun and shoot us."

Muslim leaders hope it doesn't come to that.

Late Monday, Walid stopped by the Karbalaa Islamic Education Center, a Shi'ite mosque on Warren in Dearborn, near where the celebrations erupted after Hussein's death. The center was vandalized two months ago after its members celebrated Hussein's death sentence. The center's leader, Imam Husham Al-Husainy, asked Walid to lead the prayers and to speak. Today, they and other Muslim leaders are expected to gather at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights, a Shi'ite mosque.

"It's important our leaders get together to overcome this," Walid said.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Saddam's Execution - Sunni - Shi`ah

Imam Abdullah El-Amin

It is no doubt that those who were first-hand recipients of murder and torture from the hands of Saddam Hussein’s regime have a personal reason to rejoice at his execution last week. I have heard the stories, and seen the evidence, of the brutal cruelty from his mind and hands.

But for the majority of Muslims, the execution is a slap in the face. It was an undignified show of force to shock and awe the world. And it wasn’t the Iraqi government that engineered the execution. Saddam Hussein was in American custody right up to the last minute and then given to the Iraqi government to carry out the dirty work. Added insult was the way the U.S. delivered his body back to his home town as if to say, “Here! Here is your Saddam – in a box. What do you think of that?”

Through policies built on the lies of our president, thousands of American lives and untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, and others, have been lost in a personal vendetta carried out through the branches of government. It is a shame that Mr. Bush used the aftermath of 9/11 to launch an attack on a person and a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.

At first we went in and took over Afghanistan looking for public enemy #1, Osama Bin Laden. Still, we spent a lot of time on focusing on women wearing the burqa and not going to school so that we could justify our invasion and forced “democracy” of the country. So after we couldn’t find Osama, even after a $25 million ransom, we decided to focus on Saddam.

We used our might, power, and the gullible American mentality, to manufacture a campaign against Iraq and Saddam. The biggest “crime” of his was he had weapons of mass destruction and was a brutal dictator who “gassed his own people,” as Bush was famous for saying. The first charge was not provable, even after extensive international inspections. And the second was nothing but another big excuse to invade the country.

I say this because if Bush was so concerned about brutal dictators he had many more terrible people and countries to choose from besides Iraq. Look at what’s happening in Sudan. The big bad US refuses to use its influence to stop the rape and brutal murder of thousands of defenseless men, women and children.

Colin Powell had a virtually blemish-free career before he co-signed Bush’s “weapons of mass destruction” lie. Mr. Powell even admitted that that was the thing he regretted most in his other-wise stellar career. And he proved it by getting out of that corrupt administration.

So this brings us to the realization that this divisiveness, brought on by this Suni-Shia adversarial madness, is the single most destructive element in the Muslim community. We should be making a bee-line to embrace our brothers and sisters in all sects of the Islamic faith rather than killing each other. I see many of us going out of our way to be apologetic and accommodating to members of other faiths, primarily Christians and Jews, but I don’t see the same zeal in reaching out to your Shi’a or Sunni brothers and sisters.

And it is so tragic because this whole thing is engineered by the enemies of Islam. They want Sunni and Shi’a to fight because it makes their work easier. This is the time for all Muslims to stop being pawns of their enemies and truly live by the directives of the Qur`an. I encourage Muslims from all areas to put their minds and hearts together and truly “love for your brother what you love for yourself.”

As Salaam Alaikum
(Al Hajj) Abdullah Bey El-Amin

Walid speaks to Muslim youth regarding showing kindness, even towards enemies

To listen, cut and paste the following link:

Walid comments on Saddam execution

Saddam execution gets mixed community reaction

By: Aatif Ali Bokhari / The Arab American News

DETROIT — Dearborn wasn't the only place people were partying this week. Canada's Iraqi-Shi'i community also celebrated the execution of Saddam Hussein.

The Ontario community isn't concentrated in a particular area. That put a damper on the kind of large-scale spontaneous street-side celebrations from taking place in Canada that happened in Dearborn.

Iraqi Shi'is in the U.S.' large northern neighbor made it clear that Saddam's death was to be hailed as the end of a tyrant's life, not just for the Shi'a but for all Iraqis. But feelings were mixed on just what the execution signified or accomplished.

"I feel happy on one hand and sad on another," said Ahmad Al Hashimi, an engineer living in Richmond Hill, Ontario.

Al Hashimi is related to many prominent Iraqi religious scholars. His wife is a relative of the legendary Muhammad Baqir As Sadr, one of Iraq's most prominent Shi'i clerics of the last century who was killed by Saddam. Al Hashimi mentioned that a cousin, also a cleric, was executed by Iraq's former president.

Al Hashimi — who opposed Saddam's regime yet was against the U.S. invasion of Iraq — said that he was "happy to see this tyrant brought down. I hope this will be an eye-opener for his likes. Those who suffered under him of course wanted him to be brought to justice.
"The sad feeling comes into play that he was executed under such a fabricated scenario. It was a kangaroo court.

"I would have been happier to have seen a red card given to Donald Rumsfeld who offered Saddam a warm handshake," said Al Hashimi, alluding to the card handed to Saddam indicating he was soon to be a dead man.

"They put Saddam on trial you know, and you're thinking, 'This is a bunch of nonsense'," said Hani Taki, also of Richmond Hill, explaining the feelings that many Canadian Iraqi-Shi'is felt during the legal proceedings. "People thought he was going to escape to some island or be given a chance to appeal. Then all of a sudden he was hanged. I don't know if people are still accepting it."

Taki — a university student and well known member of the Al Fajr Youth, a Shi'i youth group — noted that his two aunts, one 17 and the other 20, had been killed by Saddam for refusing to join the Baath Party while in school.

Taki's family, who had been "very anti-Saddam and open about it," had fled to Iran where he said they faced discrimination for many years. They finally found refuge in Canada in '87.
Taki was unsure what kind of effect Saddam's execution would have on Iraq's political stability. "That is not certain," he said, "but one thing which is sure is that the execution of a person like Saddam means a lot for those people who suffered under him."

But what do Iraqi-Shi'is think about how the execution played out? Some have said that the majority-Shi'i government was insensitive to the smaller Sunni community in allowing unidentified witnesses to make Shi'i religious chants during the hanging, as well as letting the executioners insult Saddam.

"It was terrible and horrible, the witnesses were supposed to sit there quietly," said Sami Al Askari, an Iraqi government minister speaking to the BBC on Tuesday, noting that taping the event had not been allowed either.

"The Arab American News" spoke to two local community leaders who had strong words about how the execution took place. Weighing in were Sam Yono, past president of the Chaldean Federation of America, and Dawud Walid, executive director for the Michigan Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

"I looked at Saddam as being basically a thug as he was ruling Iraq," said Yono. "However, two wrongs don't make a right. The way he was executed was completely uncalled for. If I was in the shoes of the ruling party, I would have reduced his sentence to a life sentence to show that this is a very humble group of leaders," said Yono.

Yono added that a gentle approach "would have been an important part of the healing process so that everyone could believe in the democratic process rather than one group retaliating.
"We are going to see a lot more innocent blood spilled and it could even go into the hundreds of thousands. It seems like this could be a new beginning to terror in Iraq and fighting among factions.

"As Christians, most if not all Chaldeans are against capital punishment. Our faith teaches us to be humble and forgive rather than exact an eye for an eye, quite frankly."

Said Walid: " Undoubtedly Saddam was a tyrant who ruled Iraq through fear and coercion. No one was immune from Saddam's strong-arm measures including the Shi'a, Kurds, Chaldeans or any Arab Sunnis who did not acquiesce to his standards of government.

"The trial to me appeared to be a circus. The trial seemed more ridiculous than the average soap opera on TV. There was a judge dismissed, his defense lawyers were assassinated and then there was his ranting with judges who presided over the case. When I heard that he was going to be tried in Iraq instead of in an international court, I felt at that moment the trial was going to be a circus.

"Why could Saddam not be tried for many of the other crimes that he committed, in particular, the gassing of the Kurds? The other war crimes would have implicated the U.S. government for giving Saddam the weapons to gas thousands of Muslims—Iranians and Iraqi-Kurds.

"Many in the community found it disturbing that he was being executed on a day when many Muslims were celebrating Eid. And the significance of that day as being one commemorating the sacrifice of Abraham, many found the decision to execute him on that day to be a very poor decision. And after seeing that people were chanting Muqtada as Sadr's [a Shi'i-Iraqi leader] name gave the impression that the hanging was an act of revenge."(MORE)

Friday, January 05, 2007

Ellison and Goode shake hands

Muslim Congressman embraces staunch critic
January 4, 2007
By Niraj Warikoo
Free Press Staff Writer

Amid intense scrutiny, Detroit native Keith Ellison became the first Muslim to serve in the U.S. Congress and reached out to the Congressman that only weeks ago lambasted him for choosing to use the Quran in his swearing-in ceremony.

On the House floor, a smiling Ellison walked over to U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode, a Virginia Republican who criticized Ellison in a sharp letter last month that warned of Muslims being elected to office, and shook Goode's hand, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which saw the account on a MSNBC video clip posted on

Meanwhile, local leaders praised Ellison on Thursday. "I would like to extend a warm welcome to Congressman Keith Ellison," U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Dearborn), whose district has one of the biggest Muslim communities in the U.S., said in a statement. "Being the first Muslim-American to serve is quite a distinction and he will be a good addition to the House membership. The institution will be stronger having him and his voice in the 110th Congress."

Ellison, who converted to Islam while in college, swore today on a Quran once owned by Thomas Jefferson in an individual ceremony. He had been criticized by some for that.

But Jewish leaders in Michigan defended Ellison's religious rights.In a news release issued Thursday, the Jewish Community Council of Metropolitan Detroit said it "strongly condemns the criticism of congressman-elect Keith Ellison's decision to use the Koran as he takes his oath to become a United States Representative." The group said that "ours is a nation founded on the principle of religious freedom. The U.S. Constitution prohibits religious tests for office, and the First Amendment adds both a freedom from religious establishment and a freedom of religious exercise... Denying Mr. Ellison his right to choose which scripture to use would not only affront Muslims, but undermine the rights of all Americans."

Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, praised Ellison for reaching out to Goode. "We hope that through their handshake, there can be greater sensitivity to different races and religions within Congress ," Walid said.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Message for Friday - Reconciliation is better than revenge

G'd says in The Qur'an (5:45):
And We prescribed for them therein: The life for the life, and the eye for the eye, and the nose for the nose, and the ear for the ear, and the tooth for the tooth, and for wounds retaliation. But whoso forgoes it (in the way of charity) it shall be expiation for him. Whoso judges not by that which G'dh has revealed: such are wrong-doers.
If the fiasco of the Saddam Hussein execution still fresh in the minds of the world's people, it is obvious why many view his execution as an emotion based, sectarian execution, especially when the greater crimes that he committed such as gasing the Kurds never went to trial.
One sect is inflamed as has sought retribution triggering another sect to seek it as well - the culture of revenge is puffing up bigger and bigger by the hour.
In order to have peace between a person or a group of people, someone has to swallow their pride and think of the long term injury of their venegful actions.
ولا يجزي بالسيئة السيئة ولكن يعفو
Ayesha stated that the Prophet Muhammad did not reward an evil act with an evil act, but he pardoned.
Pardoning does not mean not persuing justice. Justice, however, is an idea that has the objective of producing equality. Peace cannot be obtained without equality in society. Hence when one is treated wrongly, an act of retaliation may satisfy an emotional feeling, yet may produce more harm in the long term.
And surely G'd knows best.

1st Muslim congressman uses Thomas Jefferson's personal copy of the Qur'an for private swearing in

Ellison to swear in with Thomas Jefferson’s Quran
January 4, 2007
Free Press Staff Writer

The first Muslim elected to Congress said he will use a copy of the Quran once owned by Thomas Jefferson during his swearing-in ceremony today.

Keith Ellison, a Detroit native and Minnesota Democrat, told a group of metro Detroit leaders last week that he asked the Library of Congress for a copy of the Muslim holy book that Jefferson had purchased. An official with the library, Matt Raymond, confirmed on Wednesday that it would lend the book to Ellison for his oath of office during an individual ceremony today with new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Ellison ignited a national controversy after some commentators slammed him for saying he would take the oath of office on the Quran. And U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode, a Virginia Republican, warned that the election of Ellison could be the start of a dangerous trend of Muslims being elected to office.

Ellison was asked about the Quran controversy during a meeting in Detroit on Dec. 27 with immigration, Catholic, Arab-American and Muslim leaders.

“I need to really study why it’s such an important and explosive cultural phenomenon because it still kind of eludes me a little bit,” Ellison said. “I’m sort of looking at it like, you know, my faith is my business, and you can trust that I will be as honest as I can be.”

He added, “I never thought it was a big deal. Still, I’m a little incredulous about why anyone would care what I’m going to swear on.”

Ellison, born and raised in Detroit as a Catholic, converted to Islam while in college and has received support from Muslims across Michigan and the United States. He said he would not impose Islam on anyone, but “in terms of political agenda items, my faith informs these things.” Ellison said that his decision to swear on the Quran came about after someone asked him about it before his election primary. “

These members of the Somali (Muslim) community were just wildly excited about the prospect of somebody from their community winning,” Ellison said. “So they just wanted to ask every question.” Regarding the controversy, Ellison said, “People feel extremely threatened by it.”These days, Ellison added, “so many people in the Muslim community are feeling this tremendous vulnerability.”

Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, praised Ellison's decision to use Jefferson's Quran, saying that it was an example of how Islam helped influence the founding fathers of the United States.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Robert Fisk: A dictator created, then destroyed by America

Saddam to the gallows. It was an easy equation. Who could be more deserving of that last walk to the scaffold - that crack of the neck at the end of a rope - than the Beast of Baghdad, the Hitler of the Tigris, the man who murdered untold hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis while spraying chemical weapons over his enemies? Our masters will tell us in a few hours that it is a "great day" for Iraqis and will hope that the Muslim world will forget that his death sentence was signed - by the Iraqi "government", but on behalf of the Americans - on the very eve of the Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, the moment of greatest forgiveness in the Arab world.

But history will record that the Arabs and other Muslims and, indeed, many millions in the West, will ask another question this weekend, a question that will not be posed in other Western newspapers because it is not the narrative laid down for us by our presidents and prime ministers - what about the other guilty men?

No, Tony Blair is not Saddam. We don't gas our enemies. George W Bush is not Saddam. He didn't invade Iran or Kuwait. He only invaded Iraq. But hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians are dead - and thousands of Western troops are dead - because Messrs Bush and Blair and the Spanish Prime Minister and the Italian Prime Minister and the Australian Prime Minister went to war in 2003 on a potage of lies and mendacity and, given the weapons we used, with great brutality.

In the aftermath of the international crimes against humanity of 2001 we have tortured, we have murdered, we have brutalised and killed the innocent - we have even added our shame at Abu Ghraib to Saddam's shame at Abu Ghraib - and yet we are supposed to forget these terrible crimes as we applaud the swinging corpse of the dictator we created.

Who encouraged Saddam to invade Iran in 1980, which was the greatest war crime he has committed for it led to the deaths of a million and a half souls? And who sold him the components for the chemical weapons with which he drenched Iran and the Kurds? We did. No wonder the Americans, who controlled Saddam's weird trial, forbad any mention of this, his most obscene atrocity, in the charges against him. Could he not have been handed over to the Iranians for sentencing for this massive war crime? Of course not. Because that would also expose our culpability.

And the mass killings we perpetrated in 2003 with our depleted uranium shells and our "bunker buster" bombs and our phosphorous, the murderous post-invasion sieges of Fallujah and Najaf, the hell-disaster of anarchy we unleashed on the Iraqi population in the aftermath of our "victory" - our "mission accomplished" - who will be found guilty of this? Such expiation as we might expect will come, no doubt, in the self-serving memoirs of Blair and Bush, written in comfortable and wealthy retirement.
Hours before Saddam's death sentence, his family - his first wife, Sajida, and Saddam's daughter and their other relatives - had given up hope.

"Whatever could be done has been done - we can only wait for time to take its course," one of them said last night. But Saddam knew, and had already announced his own "martyrdom": he was still the president of Iraq and he would die for Iraq. All condemned men face a decision: to die with a last, grovelling plea for mercy or to die with whatever dignity they can wrap around themselves in their last hours on earth. His last trial appearance - that wan smile that spread over the mass-murderer's face - showed us which path Saddam intended to walk to the noose.
I have catalogued his monstrous crimes over the years. I have talked to the Kurdish survivors of Halabja and the Shia who rose up against the dictator at our request in 1991 and who were betrayed by us - and whose comrades, in their tens of thousands, along with their wives, were hanged like thrushes by Saddam's executioners.

I have walked round the execution chamber of Abu Ghraib - only months, it later transpired, after we had been using the same prison for a few tortures and killings of our own - and I have watched Iraqis pull thousands of their dead relatives from the mass graves of Hilla. One of them has a newly-inserted artificial hip and a medical identification number on his arm. He had been taken directly from hospital to his place of execution. Like Donald Rumsfeld, I have even shaken the dictator's soft, damp hand. Yet the old war criminal finished his days in power writing romantic novels.

It was my colleague, Tom Friedman - now a messianic columnist for The New York Times - who perfectly caught Saddam's character just before the 2003 invasion: Saddam was, he wrote, "part Don Corleone, part Donald Duck". And, in this unique definition, Friedman caught the horror of all dictators; their sadistic attraction and the grotesque, unbelievable nature of their barbarity.

But that is not how the Arab world will see him. At first, those who suffered from Saddam's cruelty will welcome his execution. Hundreds wanted to pull the hangman's lever. So will many other Kurds and Shia outside Iraq welcome his end. But they - and millions of other Muslims - will remember how he was informed of his death sentence at the dawn of the Eid al-Adha feast, which recalls the would-be sacrifice by Abraham, of his son, a commemoration which even the ghastly Saddam cynically used to celebrate by releasing prisoners from his jails. "Handed over to the Iraqi authorities," he may have been before his death. But his execution will go down - correctly - as an American affair and time will add its false but lasting gloss to all this - that the West destroyed an Arab leader who no longer obeyed his orders from Washington, that, for all his wrongdoing (and this will be the terrible get-out for Arab historians, this shaving away of his crimes) Saddam died a "martyr" to the will of the new "Crusaders".

When he was captured in November of 2003, the insurgency against American troops increased in ferocity. After his death, it will redouble in intensity again. Freed from the remotest possibility of Saddam's return by his execution, the West's enemies in Iraq have no reason to fear the return of his Baathist regime. Osama bin Laden will certainly rejoice, along with Bush and Blair. And there's a thought. So many crimes avenged.
But we will have got away with it.

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