Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Why is Debbie AlMontaser being defamed?

The New York Times sets the record straight regarding Debbie AlMontaser, the principal of the Kahlil Gibran International Academy, who has been the victim of a particularly malevolent media smear campaign.
CAIR and various Muslim blogs are requesting 'people of conscience' to help spread the facts.
May we all see the truth for what it is, and follow it; and recognise falsehood for what it is, and avoid it.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Want an insight into moonsighting?

The issue of moon sighting has never been as divisive as it has become today.
In the past, Muslim scholars agreed on a certain method to decide the start and end of the month of Ramadan. In the last few years, advancements in communications and media have turned the world into a small village creating a new context where matters concerning inter-countries relations are involved.
A second new context may also be related to the presence of many Muslims in countries that lack one single Muslim authority. Resultantly, readily understood issues related to a number of Islamic rituals have now become controversial and confusing. This confusion is further fuelled by the influence of a Western lifestyle upon Muslims; generally speaking, Muslims are often accused of being anti-Western or even unscientific in their spheres of life. This can influence them to react emotionally and unreasonably.
One such observable sphere in which many Muslims have reacted in this manner is with regard to moon-sighting and the establishment of the start of the month of Ramadan, ‘Id al-Fitr and ‘Id al–Adha. In this article, I would like to draw attention to specific principles in an attempt to remove misconceptions surrounding the ongoing debate.
Read the complete article by Shaykh Haytham Al-Haddad here

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Why the world needs Muslim media

I recently discovered UmmahPulse a UK-centric news and views website that "aims to provide a window onto the state and condition of the Muslim community - a regular "pulse-check" to gauge the health of the ummah. We are committed to highlighting those issues that are of relevance to British Muslims and that impact our brothers and sisters worldwide. We aim to represent the views of the mainstream - not the mythical "silent majority" that the neocons tout but the vocal that cannot be heard because they have no platform or outlet."

This is also where I read the distressing story of the brutal, unprovoked attack on an Imaam, Dr. Muhammad Sulaimani that (surprise, surprise) didn't make it to any of the mainstream media.

It just re-inforced the need to have more media sources manned by Muslims...may we all recognise the truth for what it is, and follow it; and recognise falsehood for what it is, and avoid it.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Why are Muslims in India finding security in a ghetto called Juhapura?

from an article on the riot victims of Gujarat in OutlookIndia
"Our menfolk were lucky. They died. We die bit by bit everyday in the struggle to live, but we cannot afford the luxury of death. There are children to bring up." Soberly, Sahaliya Khatun sums up her life, and her sister-in-law Firoza Banu’s. Five years ago, police killed their husbands, and they joined the ranks of over 20,000 victims of the 2002 communal riots[...]
From retired judges and bureaucrats to the lowly handcart-wallah, Muslims find security here—but not much else. Five lakh people live here, twice the population of Gandhinagar, but squeezed into an area less than one-fourth the size of the state capital. Civic amenities are virtually non-existent, and even nationalised banks fight shy of giving loans here. Water comes largely through borewells, there is no drainage, and internal roads are virtually non-existent. Juhapura is a blot on the face of 60-year-old India.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

What made an ex-BNP extremist turn to Islam?

The story of an unusual convert:
From a white extremist to a devout Muslim
Wednesday, 08 August 2007

"Once I was a 100% sure that I wanted to become a Muslim, I immediately felt better,” said British Muslim convert Muhammad Islam. There can’t be more amazing stories of people converting to Islam as that of British citizen Muhammad Islam, formerly known as John Ord.

Now a devout Muslim, Muhammad used to be an active member of the far-right anti-immigration group, the British National Party (BNP)."Growing up, I was never particularly religious. I only went to church for weddings, funerals and baptisms,” he told the Eastern Eye Online. Raised in north-east England, Muhammad joined the BNP when he was 16 because his friends were members. The white extremists’ group quickly deceived him into thinking that all Asians and black people were a threat to his way of life. He said there were “only two policies the BNP had at the time”, which were to “beat them up”, and “kick them out”.

Muhammad described how he used to go “Paki bashing”; harassing Asian people. "We would find them and give them a good kicking and say stereotypical things such as, ‘Why are you in our country and why are you taking our shops and jobs?’" However Muhammad later became frustrated with the BNP policies and left the party in his early 20s. Still a racist, he went to London and befriended like-minded people who falsely considered Islam a threat.

He said that he and his friends were asked by the police to provoke Muslims in order to get them into trouble and help the police arrest them. "We would always get a response to our statements and this gave the police a reason to arrest Muslims. Often the police would use this method to target those Muslims who were wanted by other countries,” he said.

But Muhammad’s life totally changed when he unknowingly bought a copy of the holy Qur’an. He said: "I bought the book because of the picture on the cover – it was the most beautiful picture I had ever seen, with the most gorgeous colours and a beautiful building. I thought I’d buy a cheap frame and ended up with a nice picture. I had no idea I had bought the Qur’an until I got home." Muhammad then decided to read the holy book to find things to use against Muslims. "My mind was telling me that like any book written by humans, it would contain errors and contradictions. I had this view of Islam being this great bad religion." But when he read the Qur’an, Muhammad realised that Islam was totally opposite to what society had led him to believe.

In 1992, Muhammad left London and returned back to the north-east in 1992. There, he met a group of Muslims and discussed with them issues relating to the Qur’an and Allah (SWT). "Not only were they able to intellectually prove that God existed but also that the Qur’an was the word of God,” he said. The group also challenged Muhammad to try to prove that Allah (SWT) did not exist and that the Qur’an was not his word. If he succeeded, they would become Christians, but if he failed then he would have to become Muslim. Muhammad accepted the challenge without hesitation. He said he used to meet the Muslims “with what I thought were convincing arguments but they would always have answers. Eventually I got scared and backed off."

Four years later, he decided to become a Muslim. He took his shahadah in November 1996. "Because I knew I was about to make a momentous decision that would affect the rest of my life, I felt as if a big rock was crushing me and that I couldn’t breathe… Once I was a 100 per cent sure that I wanted to become a Muslim and took the decision, I felt as if everything just lifted and I immediately felt better,” Muhammad said. Most people close to Muhammad were not shocked by his conversion to Islam. "I had made the decision to convert a year before and had told people that I was going to become a Muslim."

However, his family didn’t support his decision. "My sister stopped talking to me and still does not talk to me. My father did not want to discuss it because Islam was a totally alien concept and an alien way of life to him. My mother seemed more concerned about what the neighbours would think. Initially she said I couldn’t pray in the house and I told her I’d pray in the garden. But my mother is okay about it, now."

Muhammad has lost all of his old friends. "My friends were going out drinking and chasing girls and I had absolutely nothing in common with them anymore,” he said. Now Muhammad has no difficulty in practising Islam because he had made a number of changes to his lifestyle a year before becoming a Muslim, such as not drinking alcohol. "Although becoming a Muslim has been a big step, it has not been a massive step in terms of practical issues,” he said. Since converting, Muhammad has married a Pakistani woman and moved to the Midlands. He said he’d like to get involved in social work and focus on the Muslim community and tackle problems that community leaders are not aware of or are simply ignoring. "I want to try and deal with these social problems that especially affect the youth, with an Islamic perspective."


Does the name Abeer Qasim Hamza ring a bell?

from wikipedia:

The Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi murder (عبير قاسم حمزه الجنابي; concerns a 14-year-old Iraqi girl who lived in the village of Mahmoudiyah southeast of Baghdad who was gang-raped and killed by American troops. [1][2]
Hamza, her parents and her younger sister were shot and killed in their home in Mahmoudiyah on or around March 12, 2006. A discharged U.S. serviceman, Pfc. Steven D. Green, was arrested and charged on July 3, 2006 with raping and killing Hamza and killing her father Qassim Hamza Raheem, 45, her mother Fakhriya Taha Muhasen, 34, and her seven-year-old sister, Hadeel Qassim Hamza. Initial details published by American media reported that Abeer Qassim Hamza was 25 years old, and that the others killed were her husband and child, details which were incorrect. Others reported that her parents were killed before the soldiers raped Abeer. [3]
According to one witness, Omar, a 13 year old neighbour, Abeer's father was told that there were Americans in his house. Abeer always told her mother that she was afraid of the soldiers. Her mother was sending her to stay with a neighbor, but she didn't get there in time. Qassim Hamza entered the house thereafter to "see what was happening". Omar reports to hearing a sound "like beating a tin barrel with a stick a few times", and later saw five Americans leave the house, one of whom carried two guns.
Omar's mother claims that she and her son went to the neighbour's door, shouting through asking if they required assistance, but received no reply. She says she then noticed smoke coming from their window which led her to scream for help from neighbours, several of whom knocked down the door into the house. When she entered she found the remains of Abeer Qassim Hamza. [1]
In November, Specialist James Barker , 24, admitted rape and murder over the killings and was sentenced to 90 years. Paul Cortez broke down as he confessed to raping the girl as her parents and sister were shot dead in another room.The case is one of several in which US troops are accused of killing Iraqis.
several vigils are being organised in memory of Abeer, details are available at this website

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Friday, August 10, 2007

What really happened on Prophet Muhammad's Night Journey?

Our discussion here – from a believer’s perspective - is about the essence of this journey. The subtle messages embedded with every bit of the story. Why did it happen? Why the Prophet Muhammad? Where was he taken during that journey? Why there and not somewhere else?
Why did he meet with the prophets and lead them in Salat (prayer)? Why did Musa (Moses), 'alayhi salaam (upon whom be peace), interfere with the divine command of Salat (prayer) for the benefit of the Ummah of Muhammad?

Lots of questions answered in an interesting article by Sh. Yaser Birjas on the Prophet's night journey from Makkah to Jerusalem (Al-Israa'), and the ascension to the Heavens (Al-Mi'raj).

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