Saturday, December 29, 2007

Political unrest in Kenya & Pakistan, how the media coverage differs

In Kenya in the last couple of days, political tension has arisen from election results in which one ethnic party has seized control of the presidency over another ethnic group. Hundreds have died as protesters have taken to the streets including a number of Kenyans being killed when a church was burned.

In regards to the Kenyan conflict, most media coverage has focused on the political tension and the perceived rigging on the election moreso than ethnicity in the majority Non-Muslim nation. If Kenyan Muslims had been the leaders of the protests and the burning of the church, most media outlets would have simplified the matter that "Islamist radicals" are causing political tension.

Now in Pakistan with the recent months of protests to the murder of Benazir Bhutto, the media focus has been on the religion of Pakistanis, not that there are deep political tensions in Pakistan and that there are also ethnic tensions among the Punjabis and Muhajirs there. No, the majority of the focus has been on Islam even though Musharraf is a staunch secularist, the lawyers that protested him are more Western aligned and Bhutto was a secularist. But, the poltical unrest is somehow 100% related to Islam.

Go figure!

Walid speaks about the role of networking at Islamic conference

The following speech entitled "The Vital Role of Networking" was given today at the 27 Annual Conference of the Moslem Group of the United States of America and Canada (MGUSAC) in St Louis, Missouri.

Cut & paste to listen:
http://www.twango.com/media/DawudWalid.public/DawudWalid.10046

Ghadir Khumm is a lesson in Islamic unity according to Iranian Supreme Leader

http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=160172

Islamic unity is the lesson of Ghadir: Leader
Tehran Times Political Desk

TEHRAN -- Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said here on Saturday that the important lesson from the Ghadir event is to avoid division in the Islamic world.

“Hazrat Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) was the Prophet’s appointee, but when he noticed that realizing this right might harm Islam and cause discord, he not only did not make any claims but cooperated with those who ruled the Islamic society… because Islam needed unity,” the Supreme Leader told thousands of well-wishers in remarks made on the occasion of the Eid al-Qadir holiday.

By following Imam Ali (AS), today the Iranian nation is the standard-bearer of Islamic unity in the world, the Leader noted.

Stressing the need for vigilance in the face of enemy plots to spread the “virus of discord” between followers of various Islamic schools of thought, the Leader added, “The great lesson of Ghadir is to fight against discord and to put this important lesson into practice, the followers of Islam should avoid insulting each other’s sanctities and stop bringing up provocative and sensitive issues.”

“And, as it was expressed in the hajj message, through their vigilance and unity, they should disappoint the plan by the (global) arrogance (imperialist forces) to create religious divisions and a Shia-Sunni clash.”

Eid al-Ghadir is the anniversary commemorating the last sermon of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his household) at Ghadir Khumm on Dhul Hijjah 18, in the year 10 AH. It is celebrated mainly by Shias, who regard it as confirmation that Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) was to succeed Prophet Muhammad (S).

The sermon was given before an audience of tens of thousands (some estimates range up to 120,000 believers) of Muslims performing hajj.

In his sermon, the Prophet stated: “For whomsoever I am his master, Ali (AS) is his master, too. He is my caliph (successor) over you after me.”

“O Lord, support whoever supports Ali (AS) and oppose whoever opposes him.

Metro Detroit Muslims donate substanial amount of meat to the poor today


http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071229/LIFESTYLE04/712290334/1041

Charities enjoy Muslim holy day tradition of sacrifice
Meat donations for poor increase in year of belt-tightening.
Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News

At a time of acute need, local food banks and soup kitchens say the tradition of Muslims donating meat from sheep or lambs sacrificed for the holy day Eid al-Adha -- the Feast of Sacrifice -- is particularly welcome this year.

Muslims in Metro Detroit this year collected nearly four times the amount of meat they did three years ago, when the program began. Distribution begins at 10 a.m. today from Gleaners Food Bank.

"There will be a lot of Muslims benefiting from this donated meat as well as a lot of non-Muslims," Dawud Walid of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

"What really increased the donations is that we ran out of meat last year before we met the demand that is out there."


In the first year of the program, spearheaded by the Islamic Shura Council of Michigan, the meat from 167 sheep or lambs was donated, Walid said. Last year, the number was 263. This year, Walid said, the meat comes from 625 of the animals.

For Gleaners, and for operations around the city that feed the poor of all faiths and no faiths, like the soup kitchen at the Muslim Center on Woodrow Wilson in Detroit, the timing of the donation could not be more beneficial. Charities working with the hungry in Metro Detroit are reporting historic shortages of food.

Experts attribute the shortage internationally to rising energy prices and the increased use of corn and grain to create fuel. While charities in Metro Detroit also experience that impact, the dire economy in Michigan is fueling the crisis.(MORE)

http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/michigan/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=1204354

DETROIT (2007-12-28) Thousands of pounds of meat will be distributed to poor families across southeast Michigan tomorrow.

The meat will be donated by Muslim families as part of the religious holiday Eid al-Adha - which commemorates Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac under the order of God, or Allah.

"During the hajj season, Muslim families will customarily either slaughter a lamb or pay to have a lamb to be killed, and then the meat is distributed to the poor," said Dawud Walid of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Michigan.(MORE)

Audio - Cut & paste:
http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/michigan/news.mediaplayer?STATION_NAME=michigan&MEDIA_ID=662162&MEDIA_EXTENSION=mp3&MODULE=news

Thursday, December 27, 2007

No Friday message in lieu of murder of Bhutto



G'd says in the Qur'an in the first chapter:

1)With the name of G'd, the Merciful Benefactor, the Merciful Redeemer
2)The Praise/Thanks belongs to G'd, the Evolver, Guardian & Sustainer of the Worlds
3)The Merciful Benefactor, the Merciful Redeedem
4)Master of the Day of Judgement
5)You alone do we worship, and you alone to we ask for assistance
6)Guide us on the straight path
7)The path of those who have been favored, not of those who have earned your wrath and have gone astray.


I decided to postpone my normal Friday message in lieu of today's political assassination of Benazir Bhutto, a Pakistani opposition leader.

It's truly ashame that the political environment within Pakistan has deginerated to the level where political candidates are murdered in cold blood, especially a female candidate.

As much as one disagrees with her political views or anyone's political views for that matter, resorting to violence as a means to express political discontent or to quell opposition is completely uncivilized.

May G'd grant comfort to her family during this trying time, and may He guide the Pakistani people aright. AMEEN!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Walid speaks about FAQ in Flint

The following is a link to the video that was recorded at the Flint Islamic Center earlier this month regarding answering frequently asked questions about Islam and Muslims.

Cut & paste to view:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=448001883202265522&pr=goog-sl

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The virgin birth of Jesus (AS) according to Islam


According to the teachings of Islam, Jesus son of Mary, who is the Word of G'd, the Spirit of G'd, and the Messiah, was born by immaculate conception.

Cut & paste below to see the movie of the birth of Jesus according to the Islamic teaching. It's about 90 minutes long.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6327372968818052751&q=maryam+iran+movie&total=89&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0

Palestinian Christians prepare for Christmas, call for Israel to drop title of "Jewish state"

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/7154134.stm

Christmas under Hamas rule
By Katya Adler
BBC News, Gaza City

Earlier this year, the Islamist Hamas party took control of Gaza, home to a thriving Christian community now preparing to celebrate their first Christmas under Hamas rule.

Palestinian Christians are known as Nasserine - the people of Nazareth

Manawel Musallam - priest, headmaster and Gazan - is a rotund, avuncular man, fond of wearing berets.

I have come to his office to ask how Christians in Gaza were faring on this, their first Christmas under the full internal control of Hamas.

"You media people!" Father Musallam boomed at me when I first poked my head around his door.

"Hamas this, Hamas that. You think we Christians are shaking in our ghettos in Gaza? That we're going to beg you British or the Americans or the Vatican to rescue us?" he asked.

"Rescue us from what? From where? This is our home."

Extended family

The pupils at the Holy Family School, Gaza City, all call Manawel Musallam "Abunah" -Our Father in Arabic.

His is a huge family of 1,200 children and, although the school is part-funded by the Vatican, here, as in all of Gaza, Christians are the minority.

Ninety-nine percent of the pupils here are Muslim. This is one of the reasons Fr Musallam says he does not fear the Islamists.

"They should be afraid. Not me," he chuckled.

"Their children are under my tutelage, in my school. Hamas mothers and fathers are here at parents' day along with everyone else."

But there is more that binds Christians and Muslims in Gaza than their children's shared playground.(MORE)

http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?id=13217&t=Patriarch+rapped+for+anti-Israel+remarks

Patriarch rapped for anti-Israel remarks
Jewish groups denounced remarks by Patriarch Michel Sabbah as an "insidious campaign to de-Judaize the State of Israel".
Sunday, December 23, 2007By Martin Barillas

Both the Anti-Defamation League and The Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced statements made by Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah in his annual Christmas message on December 19th. The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on Pope Benedict XVI to reject statements made by Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah last week in Jerusalem. Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder and dean of the center, claims that Patriarch Sabbah is engaging in an "insidious campaign to de-Judaize the State of Israel". This came in response to the patriarch's call on Israel to "discard its identity as a Jewish State".

The leader of Latin-rite Catholics in Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, the West Bank and Gaza Patriarch Michel Sabbah said that where "there's a state of one religion, other religions are naturally discriminated against'' and that Israel should bring about a ''political, normal state." Furthermore, the prelate pronounced "There is discrimination linked to the nature of the state. Israel says simply 'I am a Jewish state' and that creates discrimination with regard to non-Jews."(MORE)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Message for Friday - G'd loves those who...

Many people are unaware of the teachings of love that reside within the religion of Al-Islam. Below are some popular sayings of Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) related G'd and what He loves.

ان الله رفيق يحب الرفق ، ويعطى على الرفق ما لا يعطى على العنف
"Surely G'd is tender and He loves tenderness. He gives to the tender what He does not give to the harsh."

إن الله عز وجل محسن يحب الإحسان
"Surely G'd mighty & sublime is a doer of good and He loves excellence."

إن الله جميل يحب الجمال
"Surely G'd is beauty and He loves beauty."

المؤمن القوى خير وأحب إلى الله من المؤمن الضعيف وفي كل خير
"The strong believer is better and more loved to G'd than a weak believer although both are good."

And surely G'd knows best.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hajj message from the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia

http://www.pakistantimes.net/2007/12/19/top.htm

Over 3 Million: Faithful Perform Hajj
‘Pakistan Times’ Special Correspondent

MAKKAH: Almost about three million Muslims – from all-over the world – performed Hajj on Tuesday – and sought forgiveness from Almighty Allah.

Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Abdul Aziz in his Hajj Khutba at Masjid-e-Nimra called upon the Muslims to acquaint them with the true teachings of Islam, get guidance from the Holy Quran and adopt moderation for emancipation in the world and hereafter.

Imam Sahib said the main thrust of the Islamic teachings is service to humanity.

It provides complete guidance to live a good life and its teachings lead towards overall welfare and wellbeing of humanity.

He said Islam covers all aspects of life and provides a code to live a pious life.

Imam Sahib asked the leaders of Muslim Ummah to not become the instruments of enemies of Islam and should understand the true message of Deen.

He warned the Muslims to be aware of such elements who have penetrated into their ranks and are damaging their unity.

Imam Sahib said that some interested powers are usurping the resources of Muslims with tactics and have captured these resources.

He said it is the duty of the leadership of the Umma to foil the conspiracies being hatched and urged them to take the Muslims out of this crisis.

He underlined the need for the protection of economic system of the Muslim Ummah and the Muslims to control their own resources.

He also asked for adoption of the Islamic system of economy and to get rid of Riba. He urged the Muslim Ummah to be careful from the propaganda of the media.

He said that Islam guarantees the rights of all segments of the society and provides solution of all political, economic and social problems provided it is fully implemented.

He asked the Muslim leaders to give rights to the down trodden people easily. The pilgrims offered combined Zohr and Asr prayers at Masjid-e-Nimra and sought Allah Almighty’s forgiveness.

After sunset, they left for Muzdalifa where they offered their Maghrib and Isha prayers and spend the night there under open sky. Hujjaj will proceed to Mina today (Wednesday) to complete Hajj rites.

In Mina they will offer sacrifices of animals in commemoration of Sunat-e-Ibrahimi and throw pebbles on the three satans.

They will later go to Makkatul Mukkarma for twaf-e-ziarah which will complete the hajj.

Pilgrims from all over the world thronged the plane of Arafat south east area of Makkah after sunrise on Tuesday as Hajj rituals reached a climax.

The pilgrims had spent Monday night in Mina from where they headed towards Arafat in vehicles or on foot after the ‘Fajr’ prayers, reciting “Here I am, God at your command.”

Tracing the journey made by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBHU) more than 1400 years ago and following a tradition laid down by Hazrat Ibrahim (AS), the pilgrims assembled at Arafat. They prayed for Allah’s mercy and forgiveness.

In the sermon which was relayed from the mosque through loudspeakers, Saudi Mufti urged Muslims to cement and strengthen unity of the Ummah. The pilgrims started leaving Arafat after sunset for Muzdalifah.

As per the tradition, the Kiswa (Cover) of the Holy Kaaba was changed. Media people from different countries covered the pilgrimage rites and Saudi television provided live coverage. ●

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Eid Mubarak!

The pilgrims have left Mt. Arafat in Saudi Arabia, which will mark tomorrow morning, the observance of Eid Al-Adha in that land. The pilgrims will proceed to have their busiest day of the Hajj.

Just as in Metro Detroit, I have just come to learn that in the Washington DC area, people will be starting the Eid on 3 different days. The bulk of the community will be observing Eid tomorrow, praying at the Washington DC Convention center (3 prayer times). Some will be starting Eid on Thursday like at the masjid where Imam Musa is the leader based upon the lunar calendar in North America and not following what takes place in Saudi Arabia. Shi'is will be observing on Friday based upon their lunar calculation and sighting.

So it seems that the differing on the Eid day's starting is a nationwide situation in probably all major cities in America.

Be that as it may, the Eid is a blessed time to remember and thank G'd for His countless blessings and for us to also be thankful to the prophets (AS) and all of the faithful, who sacrificed so much for us.

Have a blessed, abundant and joyous holiday!

"Prayer is a key player" but is this interfaith prayer or exclusionary prayer?

*The problem is not that having prayer in pro sports is a bad idea. With steroid/human growth hormone usage, drug & alcohol abuse and sports betting, those involved in the NFL and NBA need all the prayer that they can get! The problem is that if there are entities that are not interfaith groups, but groups that are pushing one religion expression (Evangelical Christianity in this case) over others in regards to counseling and prayer, this is indeed an issue.*

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071218/SPORTS0101/712180402

Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Prayer is a key player
Expressions of faith are part of the sport for Lions, Pistons and Tigers
Joanne C. Gerstner / The Detroit News

The scene is repeated at NFL stadiums every week. Moments after the game ends, players from both teams form a circle at midfield, join hands and kneel in prayer.

"Being a Christian is who I am, just as much as I am a football player, a father and a husband," said Lions quarterback Jon Kitna, who has drawn national attention for his faith. "I don't turn that off and on when it's convenient. In fact, being a believer in Christ is going to be there long after I am a football player.

"This part of my life (quarterbacking) will end someday. I'm going to believe in Christ for the rest of my life."

More and more, athletes and coaches are comfortable expressing their spiritual side, from informal religious meetings with teammates to publicly testifying their faith in the media.

The display is not as public, but many Pistons attend a prayer service before games, and Tigers gather regularly as part of the Baseball Chapel program.

Two of the Tigers' most visible players make very visible professions of faith.

Pitcher Todd Jones has "JN 20:29" tattooed on his left hand, a reference to the Bible verse John 20:29.

"Because I sign left-handed," Jones explained. "I'm always signing and people ask me, 'What's that?' and I get a chance to tell them. 'Blessed are those who do not see but still believe.' "

Catcher Pudge Rodriguez continually makes a sign of the cross.

"I do the cross of Jesus Christ every single pitch," he said. "It's not a superstitious thing. It's for Him to protect me for every pitch. I pray before every game, for everybody, for the whole team, even for their team, so nobody can get hurt."

All teams take part
Teams from every major pro sport, except the NHL, have some sort of Christian-based ministry working with players. Independent chaplains, and representatives of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) or Athletes in Action (AIA), regularly host Bible studies, prayer meetings and chapel services.

Some chaplains develop particularly strong relationships, enabling them to counsel players and coaches through tragedies, relationship issues or how to deal with stressful athletic situations.

Bishop Robert Joyce, who ministers to the Pistons and Shock, said he tailors his discussions to players' and coaches' lives.

"I want to be in tune where they are," Joyce said. "If they're having a tough time as a team, we talk about how God can help them. If there is divisiveness, we talk about the unity of God. If they're worried about being traded, we talk about how God assigns me and releases me. We talk about accepting the grace of God.

"It's learning about what Paul said, on how there is a season for all things, and I need to be content where I am and glorify God, too."

Bringing religion into the team setting seems to be an asset, according to Pistons and Lions players and coaches.

"It's just who I am, being a Christian, so it's nice to be able to share it with my teammates and have them be with me," Pistons guard Lindsey Hunter said. "It brings a real unity, that you know these guys are with you in so many ways, they're on your team in life and in basketball. It adds another dimension to your relationship with your teammates."

Christianity predominates the ministries, reflecting the faith of the majority of the players and coaches.

Most Americans identify themselves as Christian, according to a 2001 survey conducted by the City University of New York. Around 76.5 percent of respondents said they were Christian in some form.

Only 1.3 percent said they were Jewish, and less than 1 percent identified themselves as Muslim.

A balm for the violence
Dave Wilson, one of the leaders of the Kensington Community Church, has been the Lions chaplain for 23 seasons. He's given some thought to why football seems to embrace religion, particularly Christianity, so strongly.

"I think because it's the most warlike, there can be fear because these guys put a lot on the line," Wilson said. "Having something bigger than game and sports enables you to hold onto something real when things are violent or stressful. I've been there when Reggie Brown and Mike Utley went down. It's very real. Very scary.

"It makes you search for something solid in your life -- and for us, that's Jesus Christ."

Lions kicker Jason Hanson sees his faith as a steadying influence, on and off the field. Hanson freely professes his faith, but not as publicly as Kitna.

"Having a relationship with Jesus Christ is something you can always rely on," Hanson said. "I'm going to make mistakes, maybe miss a kick or whatever, but I know no matter what, I have my relationship with Christ. And that's the most important thing of all."

Lions coach Rod Marinelli said his faith steadies him through the ups and downs of his job. He coached in Tampa Bay with Tony Dungy, one of the most outspoken Christians in sports. Marinelli said he shares Dungy's philosophy of spirituality mixing with football.

"The word humble is so special to me, and you can lose sight of that so quickly in this business," Marinelli said. "You have to have faith, even if you can't touch it, feel it, or put a saw or hammer to it. I always talk about faith and humility; they mean everything in football and life.

"There are two ways to look at things: those who are humble and those who are about to be. Being humbled is sometimes good, if you can come out of it. And that's where your faith comes in. What are you about? What are you made of?"

Religious freedom
Nazr Mohammed, traded from the Pistons to the Bobcats last week, is a practicing Muslim, something that causes an interesting situation during Ramadan -- mid-September through mid-October.

Per Islamic law, Mohammed fasts during daylight hours of the entire ninth month of the religious calendar. The purpose is to help attain taqwa, or a heightened consciousness of God.

Ramadan also coincides with the start of training camp, a grueling time of two-a-day practices and conditioning. Sometimes, Mohammed understandably has looked a bit tired during camp.

Mohammed balances his job and faith. He declined to comment, saying he does not publicly discuss his religion.

But other non-Muslim Pistons are aware of his spirituality and sacrifice.

"You have all kinds of guys from all walks of life on a team. We all come together and form a team," coach Flip Saunders said. "I've always let the players do what they want; they're free to worship and pray whenever and however.

"I think it's good for them, if they want it, to have that dimension."

Inclusion, or exclusion?
Some wonder if the Christian -- sometimes evangelical -- bent to the sports ministries could be potentially harmful to team chemistry.

A player or coach who is Jewish, Muslim, from another religion, or even non-spiritual, could feel like an outsider, since the services are not geared toward them.

Services are optional, and teams don't officially sanction or organize them.

Christian organizations, such as FCA, AIA, and local chaplains Wilson and Joyce, say they aim to make their ministries as inclusive as possible. Services always are listed as non-denominational.

"We're here for everybody. We want to be a support for all people in the game," said Les Steckel, president of the FCA and a former NFL and college coach. "I've seen the impact, over the last 32 years, that having faith can have. I've felt the intensity, so I never think it can be a bad thing. God is taking us where he wants us to be."

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, wonders how non-denominational services can really work.

"People who have a particular religion subscribe to a particular creed that not only teaches moral lessons, but guidelines for how you have your relationship with God," said Walid, an associate Imam at Masjid Wali Muhammad mosque in Detroit. "Muslim athletes in the NBA and NFL should not be placed in a situation where they are exposed to only one denomination of ministry and counseling. Same for the Christians and the Jewish athletes who are exposed.

"There's a lack of fairness."

Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, leader of the Ohev Sholom -- The National Synagogue in Washington, D.C. -- questioned the message players such as Kitna send to their wide base of fans.

"When you sit in the stands, you are not Catholic, or Jewish, or Muslim. You are a fan of the game and your team," he said. "I think athletes are given the privilege of having kids look up to them, and outspoken athletes like Kitna have more than just Christian kids looking at him. The message he's sending to all children is, 'If you're not Christian like me, you're burning in hell.' And who is he to make that judgment?"(MORE)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hajj begins today

Currently Muslim pilgrims are at the tent city of Mina praying, reading Qur'an and resting before tomorrow's events, the 2nd day of Hajj at Mt. Arafat.

According to Prophet Muhammad (SAAS), the Day of Arafat is the best day to supplicate to G'd. Muslims, who are not making Hajj are urged to fast this day as well and to increase good deeds.
---

http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/world/25+million+make+hajj+pilgrimage/1198847

2.5 million make hajj pilgrimage

Muslims from around the world have gathered in Mecca, birthplace of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, for the start of the annual Islamic hajj pilgrimage.

More than 2.5 million pilgrims will move out of Mecca to Mount Arafat for Tuesday's climax of symbolically stoning the devil.

Security around the pilgrimage has mounted amid increasing concerns across the Islamic world, including the bloodshed in Iraq and Afghanistan and recent attacks by al-Qaeda-linked groups.(MORE)

Darfur horrors aren't 'genocide'

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bal-op.darfur16dec16,0,1912284.story

Darfur horrors aren't 'genocide'
By Jonathan Kolieb
December 16, 2007

In an age of 24-hour news channels, short attention spans and a long list of world crises, "genocide" remains headline-grabbing. But the term's application to Darfur is flawed in legal terms and unhelpful in resolving the crisis, and ultimately undermines worldwide efforts to prevent genocide.

Genocide is one of the most disturbingly evocative terms in our vocabulary, and the gravest crime humanity knows. The 1948 Genocide Convention states that two criminal elements - physical and mental - must be proved: There must be actions aimed at or resulting in the deaths of members of a national, religious or ethnic group, and perpetrators of such acts must also have the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, the targeted group.

The brutal campaign of the Sudanese armed forces and Janjaweed militia does not satisfy these criteria. Their intent is to forcibly put down or drive out of Darfur a secessionist movement and the insurgency that supports it. The government's campaign has used ethnic cleansing and scorched-earth policies that are utterly indefensible. Although the massive numbers of victims may compound the horror of the atrocities there, sheer scale is insufficient to transform massacres into genocide.

The U.S. is the only government in the world that has labeled Darfur genocide, but even its own special envoy for Sudan, Andrew Natsios, pointedly refrains from referring to it as such. The United Nations commission of independent, highly regarded jurists charged with investigating whether any international crimes had occurred unanimously concluded that Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir's regime, while probably guilty of crimes against humanity, "has not pursued a policy of genocide."

By conjuring up visions of a one-sided slaughter of innocents, the term "genocide" also misleads, belying the complexity of the Darfur conflict.

Darfur is a secessionist war, being waged by absolutely barbaric means, between the Sudanese military, along with its militia allies, and Darfurian rebels from various tribes that have constituted themselves in several disparate armed movements.

Several rebel groups have engaged in despicable acts themselves, such as the targeting, rape and murder of international aid workers. Indeed, the rebels took up arms and fired the first shot in an attempt to secure more political rights from the central government - the nub of the conflict. While there is no moral equivalency between the actions of the Janjaweed and the rebels, to say Darfur is a one-sided slaughter of innocents is at best an incomplete picture.

By blurring reality, "genocide" also makes finding a resolution to Darfur more difficult. When the facts of the conflict are buried beneath emotional cries to "stop genocide," we reflexively blame Mr. al-Bashir and his supporters - and place the onus upon them to stop. Indeed, the brutality with which they have conducted themselves warrants international condemnation, and for many years Khartoum blocked efforts at resolving the crisis. But the rebel movements are also impeding the peace process. The failure of the recent peace talks in Sirte, Libya, is largely a result of their boycott by several prominent rebel leaders. Intra-rebel fighting has caused further violence and displacement in Darfur and continues to destabilize surrounding countries. They, too, must be pressured to unify and attend peace talks in good faith.

Bringing peace to Darfur will require much clarity of vision and fortitude on the part of international intermediaries. The onus of resolving the conflict is shared by all parties (including the international community), and the rebels should not be absolved of their responsibilities for peace-making.

The most damning illustration of the proliferation of the word "genocide" has been the growing calls to brand the 2008 Beijing Olympics the "Genocide Olympics" in an effort to highlight China's ties to the Sudanese government.

We are in danger of turning "genocide" into a social catch phrase, allowing a boy-who-cried-wolf syndrome to develop. The term was intended to expose the most evil category of crime, and by force of that moral weight necessitate international action. Through its overuse and politicization, we risk wearing out the utility of the term and undermining the response to a future genocide.

Jonathan Kolieb is an international lawyer and research associate at the Century Foundation. His e-mail is kolieb@tcf.org.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Message for Friday - The Philosophy of Sacrifice During Hajj & its Relationship to Jesus


G'd says in the Qur'an (37:103 - 107):

When both surrendered [to G'd] and [Abraham] flung down his son on his forehead.
We called out, Oh Abraham!
You have indeed fulfilled your dream. Thus do We reward the doers of good.
Surely this was an apparent trial.
And We ransomed him with a mighty sacrifice.


---
Hajj or pilgrimage is a series of rituals that relives events within the lives of Abraham(AS), Hagar (AS) and Abraham's first son, Ishmael (AS). One of these rituals that has many meanings or implications is the slaughtering of a sheep or goat on the 10 day of Dhul-Hijjah in commemoration of G'd pardoning Abraham from sacrificing his son Ishmael (AS), not Isaac (AS) according to Islam, and giving him a ram (scapegoat) in his place.

In times past, human sacrifice was a common practice. Civilizations would sacrifice people, virgins in many cases, to atone for perceived community sins after a natural disaster or calamity befell the society. Part of the wisdom of the story of Abraham (AS) and Ishmael (AS) is that G'd was conveying to human beings from that time on that He is in no need for the sacrificing of the innocent, children or virgins for man to prove his faith or to atone for sins. Abraham's willingness to obey G'd was sufficient for him to be given grace.

وَقَوْلِهِمْ إِنَّا قَتَلْنَا الْمَسِيحَ عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ وَمَا صَلَبُوهُ وَلَكِنْ شُبِّهَ لَهُمْ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ لَفِي شَكٍّ مِنْهُ مَا لَهُمْ بِهِ مِنْ عِلْمٍ إِلَّا اتِّبَاعَ الظَّنِّ وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ يَقِينًا
G'd says in the Qur'an (4:157):

And they said, Surely we killed the Messiah Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of G'd whereas in fact they neither slain him nor crucified him but the matter was dubious to them and those who differed about it too were in a state of doubt. They have no definite knowledge about it, but merely follow conjecture, and they slew him not.

لَنْ يَنَالَ اللَّهَ لُحُومُهَا وَلَا دِمَاؤُهَا وَلَكِنْ يَنَالُهُ التَّقْوَى مِنْكُمْ
He also says in the chapter called The Hajj (22:37):

Neither their flesh nor their blood reaches G'd, but their piety reaches him from you...
---
In following the wisdom of the Qur'an and the logic of the Hajj, Islam not only textually but philosophically does not accept the idea that the Messiah Jesus (AS) was crucified. It would be outside of the justice of the Most Just G'd to sacrifice the innocent and shed his blood to atone for the crimes and sins of the criminal. That would be like an innocent person being sentenced to the death penalty for a mass murdering spree of a group of criminals even after the criminals confessed to committing the crimes. G'd is more just than we, and we would find the punishment of the innocent person to be completely repugnant in such a circumstance. The very nature of the human being, which G'd created rejects injustice.

Praise be to G'd, the Lord of the Worlds, who chose Abraham (AS) to be an example for mankind and made his religion to have clarity and logic.

And surely G'd knows best.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Islamic conference in a couple of weeks in St. Louis


The Moslem Group of the United States & Canada will be holding its annual conference this year in St. Louis, MO. The MGUSAC is a Shi'i organization that focuses on empowering Muslim youth and young adults to maintain their Islamic values while being good citizens of America and Canada.

I am scheduled to speak at this conference about the importance of bridge building as well as the importance of being proactive in combating Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim bigotry.

For more info about registration, see http://mgusac.org/

Eid to be on the 19th of December, not the 20th - Here we go again

As many mosques in America have stated that the Eid Al-Adha would be on the 20th of December due to Dhul-Hijjah starting today, the Saudi religious authority stated that Dhul-Hijjah started on Monday. Thus, Hajj will begin on the 17th of December in Saudi, and the Eid will be on the 19th.

As with every year, there is constant confusion regarding this issue. Some state that we should have Eid here the day that it is being celebrated in Saudi Arabia. Others state that Eid should not be celebrate here on the same day as the Saudis, especially if the date in which the beginning of the lunar month was called in Saudi is incorrect according to astronomy.

I'll be celebrating the Eid on the 19th, G'd willing, and call it a day.
---
http://www.gulfnews.com/nation/Society/10174029.html

First day of Eid Al Adha on December 19
Staff Report
Published: December 10, 2007, 21:58

Riyadh: The first day of Eid Al Adha, the Muslim feast of sacrifice marking the end of annual Haj, will fall on December 19, Saudi Arabia's Supreme Judicial Council announced on Monday.

According to a statement issued by the council, on Monday, December 10 was the first day of Dhu Al Hijja, and hence December 18 (Tuesday) will be Arafat Waqfa Day, and December 19 (Wednesday) will be the first day of Eid Al Adha.

The council, in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency, said it had established that Monday marked the start of the month of Dhu Al Hijja of the lunar calendar.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Walid speaks about the importance of Dhul-Hijjah & Hajj


This morning's talk was given at Al-Ikhlas Training Academy in Detroit, Michigan.

Cut & paste to listen:
http://www.twango.com/media/DawudWalid.public/DawudWalid.10045

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Fatwa against terrorism rementioned

The fatwa that was issued by the Fiqh Council of North America a couple of years of has received renewed press attention.

SEE: http://www.theledger.com/article/20071208/NEWS/712080502/1326

One of the questions that we're always asked is "Why don't we hear the 'moderate Muslims' speaking out against terrorism?" The irony of this question is that Muslims in America have been speaking out against extremism and political violence against civilians until becoming blue in the face since 9/11.

In fact not only have American Muslims been doing this, but Muslim leaders worldwide have been speaking out against extremism and Al-Qaeda in particular.

SEE: http://www.juancole.com/2005/07/friedman-wrong-about-muslims-again-and.html

Will these same people who question Muslims about denouncing terorism speak out againt the injustices and oppression that help breed extremism and political violence in the "developing world?"

Friday, December 07, 2007

Protest to take place at CMU today regarding nooses

Today's planned protest at Central Michigan University centers around an incident that took place last month in which nooses were found on campus. No doubt, the noose is an extremely provocative symbol that conjures up images of "Night Riders" committing terrorism upon Blackamericans using the tools of rape and murder.

Kudos to the Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, Linda Parker, for addressing this issue in a very firm manner as well as mentioning the acts of Anti-Muslim bigotry that have also taken place on CMU's campus this year as well as the Anti-Native American activity that has taken place there.

*NEWSFLASH* - THE SAME PEOPLE WHO HAVE THE MENTALITY TO HAND NOOSES ARE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO PROMOTE ANTI-MUSLIM BIGOTRY TO INTIMIDATE STAFF AND STUDENTS. THIS SAME MENTALITY ALSO PROMOTES ANTI-NATIVE AMERICAN SENTIMENTS.

http://blog.mlive.com/saginawnews/2007/12/noose_case_protest_set_in_moun.html

Noose case protest set in Mount Pleasant

Posted by LaNIA COLEMAN/THE SAGINAW NEWS
December 05, 2007 08:00AM

MOUNT PLEASANT -- Dissatisfied with Isabella County Prosecutor Larry Burdick's handling of the discovery of four nooses at Central Michigan University, the National Council for Community Empowerment and Council of Baptist Pastors are organizing a demonstration in Mount Pleasant.

The "Rally for Justice" is planned for noon Friday at the Isabella County prosecutor's office, 200 N. Main.

Officials at the prosecutor's office and CMU were not immediately available for comment.

Buses will leave from Pontiac, Ypsilanti, Grand Rapids, Detroit and Flint, said the Rev. Charles E. Williams II, president of the community empowerment group.

A student found the hangman's nooses fashioned out of flexible tubing Nov. 12 in Room 228 of the Engineering and Technology Building.

Students responded five days later with a rally to protest hate crimes.

After the rally, a student admitted to playing a role in hanging the nooses as a prank.
Burdick has said his office is investigating the possible ethnic intimidation case.

Prosecutors reviewed the campus police's 66-page report and Friday asked investigators for additional information.

FBI officials also are working on the case.

"After meeting with Prosecutor Burdick on Nov. 26, the National Council for Community Empowerment, accompanied by two CMU students, left distraught and unsatisfied," Williams, of Detroit, said in a written statement released Tuesday.(MORE)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Message for Friday - Taking care of family is a sacred trust

كفى بالمرء إثما أن يضيع من يقوت
The Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) said, “It’s enough of a sin for a man to waste away those he is entrusted to care for.”

خيركم خيركم لأهله
He (SAAS) also stated, "The best of you are those who are best to their family."

Family is a sacred institution in the Islamic faith. Within this sacred space called family, the male is charged with being the maintainer and protector of his wife and children. This relationship is more than a mere aspect of the Islamic creed that has been elaborated upon in books; it is a natural relationship that transcends formalized religious creeds.

Conversely, it is completely unnatural to see what is currently taking place in American society. The perversity of the "baby daddy" model that does not take care of his children and the man, who spends no time with his children is steadily becoming the norm. In the African-American community for instance, this problem has become an epidemic where 70% of the children are born out of wedlock. How can American society be healthy and productive when a large percentage of its children lack healthy male role models?

Sadly, even some Blackamerican Muslims believe that they are being pious by leaving their families to "go study abroad under the scholars" or to "go out in the path of ALLAH to give da'wah" at the expensive to taking care of their own children. Obviously, these Muslim brothers with this warped understanding cannot obtain any in-depth benefit from the knowledge that they have obtained when they have neglected their primary responsibility of taking care of their families.

The best thing that we could do to stregthen our society is to begin to encourage men to take care of their responsibilities and to constantly remind them what those responsibilities are.

And surely G'd knows best.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Clarification regarding Sufism and Extremism

The Christian Science Monitor today published an article called "Sufism May Be Powerful Antidote to Islamic Extremism." Although well meaning, the article advances a couple of misconceptions:

1) The article implies that Sunnis and Shi'ahs, who are not Sufis lack spirituality. In other words, it inaccurately implies that Muslims who are not followers of a Sufi order (tariqah) are adhering to a form of Islam that lacks spirituality. This is false.

2) The article also implies that Sufis heighten level of spirituality makes them immune to extremism, which connotes that Sufism is non-violent. Extremism among Muslims can take on many shades. If a Muslim, for instance, divorces himself from their socio-political environment and the Islamic mandate to establish social justice for all and practices a sanctimonious form of religion, this would be a form of extremism although non-violent. Physical struggle against tyranny is not absent among Sufis either. Uthman Dan Fodio, a West African Sufi, was a leader in the struggle against corruption in 19th century Hausaland. The Sanusis in Libya also took up struggle against colonialists, who occupied Libya. The Chechen resistance against the Russians, which peaked in the 90s also had Sufis amongst its ranks.


Portion of CSM article below:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1205/p13s02-lire.html?page=1

Sufism may be powerful antidote to Islamic extremism
With its spiritual tradition, 'the Sufi way' is an age-old alternative for radicals and modernists alike.

By Jane Lampman | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the December 5, 2007 edition

Images of Islam have pervaded the news media in recent years, but one aspect of the faith has gotten little attention – Islamic spirituality. Yet thousands in America and millions in the Muslim world have embarked on the spiritual path called Sufism, or the Sufi way. Some see its appeal as the most promising hope for countering the rise of extremism in Islam.

In recent weeks, celebrations in cities on several continents have marked the "International Year of Rumi." Sept. 30 was the 800th anniversary of the birth of Muslim mystic Jelaluddin Rumi, who is a towering figure in Sufi literature and, paradoxically, the bestselling poet in the United States over the past decade.

In the West, Sufism has appealed to seekers attracted by its disciplined spiritual practices as well as its respect for all faiths and emphasis on universal love.

"I was searching, and the writings struck me – particularly the poetry," says Llew Smith, a TV producer in Boston who has joined a Sufi order. "It's direct and consistent about turning you away from the self, but also being connected deeply to the Divine and to other people."

Across the Muslim world, Sufism has been an influential force throughout Islamic history, though it has frequently come under attack by more orthodox Muslims. Some consider it an Islamic heresy because Sufis go beyond the faith's basic tenets and pursue a direct union with God.

Many Muslims today, however, see the spiritual tradition as the potential answer to the extremism that has hijacked the faith and misrepresented it to the world.

"In the Islamic world, Sufism is the most powerful antidote to the religious radicalism called fundamentalism as well as the most important source for responding to the challenges posed by modernism," says Seyyed Hossein Nasr, professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Nasr has written a new book, "The Garden of Truth," to present Sufi teaching in contemporary language.

"Its influence is immense," Nasr adds. "Sufism has kept alive the inner quality of ethics and spiritual virtues, rather than a rigid morality ... and it provides access to knowledge of the divine reality," which affects all other aspects of one's life.

But Sufi practice faces intense pressures in Islam's internal struggle. "What the Western world is not seeing," says Akbar Ahmed, a renowned Pakistani anthropologist who teaches at American University in Washington, "is that there are three distinct models in play in the Muslim world: modernism, which reflects globalization, materialism, and a consumer society; the literalists, who are reacting, sometimes violently, against the West and globalization; and the Sufis, who reject the search for power and wealth" in favor of a more spiritual path.(MORE)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Iran welcomes US Intelligence nuclear report


So it looks like the Iranian "Axis of Evil" regime was actually telling the truth about its peaceful nuclear program while the Bushies were fudging, huh?

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-12/05/content_7200403.htm

Iran welcomes U.S. intelligence nuclear report, Israel calls for tighter sanctions

TEHRAN, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- Iranian officials on Tuesday welcomed a new U.S. intelligence report that concluded the Islamic Republic is not actively building a nuclear weapon, while Israel said the report justified the need for tighter international sanctions on Tehran.

"We naturally welcome those countries that had questions about Iran's nuclear case in the past and now correct their views realistically," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was quoted as saying by the state radio.

"The whole world is becoming to know that Iran's nuclear activities are peaceful," he added.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini, in a statement faxed to the media on Tuesday, also welcomed the U.S. intelligence report as "positive and factual."

The report reflected the elaboration of 16 U.S. intelligent services and confirmed that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and no violation is detected, Hosseini said.

Therefore, the previous claims of U.S. officials turned out to be totally baseless, Hosseini said, adding that sending Iran's case to the UN Security Council had been "illegal."

Iran's government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham, commenting on the U.S. intelligence report, said on Tuesday that Washington should "pay the price" for its accusations against Tehran.

"U.S. officials have so far inflicted many damage on the Iranian nation by spreading lies against the country and by disturbing public opinion, therefore, they have to pay the price for their action," Elham said.

Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said Tuesday that the latest U.S. intelligence report on Iran's nuclear activities was "consistent" with the organization's findings in recent years.

"Although Iran still needs to clarify some important aspects of its past and present nuclear activities, the agency has no concrete evidence of an ongoing nuclear weapons program or undeclared nuclear facilities in Iran," ElBaradei said in a statement.

This new assessment by the United States should help to defuse the current crisis, and encourage Iran to more actively cooperate with the IAEA on its current nuclear activities, he added.(MORE)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Brit pardoned by Sudanese President for teddy bear fiasco case

Thank G'd! The British school teacher, who allowed her elementary class to name a teddy bear "Mohammed" was pardoned and apologized to by Sudanese President Omar El-Beshir.

I've found extremely interesting the readers' posts on CNN International relating to the imprisonment of the teacher. The comments have ranged from one reader that is going to name a pig "Mohammed" to others stating that it was her fault for entering into a Muslim country without understanding the sensitivities of the land.

One thing is for sure. We need level minded religious people to discuss these issues instead of emotional wing-nuts, who seek to advance their causes or vent their frustrations upon others.

US evangelist Bill Keller is one such "gentleman" that has already seize the opportunity to name a pig "Mohammed." I'm sure this will go over quite well with his constitutents, who will say that they have the freedom to insult Muslims under the 1st Amendment.

SEE: http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=58996

May G'd help us all!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Travesty in Sudan, British teacher should be released ASAP


The inappropriate 15 day jail sentencing of the British school teacher for ALLOWING her students to name a teddy bear "Mohammed" gave off residual stench yesterday in Khartoum, a protest after the Friday sermon calling for her death.

Besides the fact that the naming allowance appears to have been perfectly innocent and not an insult, it is also telling that the shaykh, who called for her death and the marchers from yesterday have a disregard for their own rule of law.

How in the world can the marchers go to the streets with knives and clubs calling for death in response to a 15 day sentence that was excessive? With this type of mentality, there is no wonder why Sudanese people have been slaughtering themselves for over a decade.

Hopefully, the two British Muslims from Britain's upper house that are in Sudan calling for the teacher's release will be successful in their mission. She needs to get out of jail and Sudan ASAP.

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