Saturday, May 10, 2014

Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee's response to @canadianlabour RE Denis Coderre.

Re: Invitation of Denis Coderre to speak at CLC 2014


[letterhead]
Canadian Labour Congress, c/o dgruending@clc-ctc.ca
2841 Riverside Drive,
Ottawa, Ontario
K1V 8X7

President, Ken Georgetti
Secretary-Treasurer, Hassan Yussuff
Executive Vice-President, Barbara Byers
Executive Vice-President, Marie Clarke Walker 

May 5, 2014

Dear sisters and brothers,

On May 5, 2014, the Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee learned, via social media and the CLC Convention Web Site, that Denis Coderre, former Liberal Member of Parliament and current Mayor of Montreal, was a speaker at your 2014 Convention in Montreal.

We are writing to express our profound disappointment that you would invite and include this notorious attacker of civil liberties to address delegates at your Convention.

As you know, while serving as Minister of Immigration from 2002-2004, Denis Coderre signed the original security certificate against Mohamed Harkat. He did so within a regime that, difficult as it may be to believe, was even worse than today's Security Certificate regime. He signed at least two such certificates: those against Mr. Harkat and against Adil Charkaoui. Those certificates were so flawed that the Supreme Court of Canada ruled them unconstitutional. New certificates were issued, and one of those was subsequently struck down. Mr. Harkat is currently awaiting the result of his appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada - twelve years after he was first detained at Mr. Coderre's hand.

Denis Coderre has been the architect of misery for at least two Muslim men and their families, collateral damage in the Liberal-initiated "war on terror" which has been eagerly continued by the Conservative governments which followed.

More than that, Mr. Coderre is no friend of progressive labour. Many of today's attacks on public service workers date to his tenure as Privy Council President under that monument of labour rights, Paul Martin.

Finally, Mr. Coderre is no friend to progressive Montreal. Since his mayoralty began, he has done nothing to reverse the attacks on freedom of speech and freedom of assembly begun during the Quebec Students' Strike of 2012. Bylaw P-6, which criminalizes dissent, continues unabated.

The CLC has supported the campaign against Security Certificates since its convention in Montreal in 2005. We were surprised and hurt to see that Denis

Coderre was on your guest list. We hope this action was an anomaly and that action can be taken to rectify the matter - such as by sponsoring a speaking tour by the Harkats to labour councils across the country, or other such tangible amends.

We look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

Jessica Squires
Christian Legeais

Spokespersons, Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee

Dear Americans, Your Hashtags Won’t #BringBackOurGirls. You Might Actually Be Making Things Worse.

See also: Nigeria: Boko Haram kidnappings used to justify US military build-up in Africa
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/05/10/nige-m10.html


*********************
Jumoke Balogun -- Wednesday, May 7, 2014

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jumoke-balogun/hashtags-wont-bringbackourgirls_b_5292312.html

Simple question. Are you Nigerian? Do you have constitutional rights accorded to Nigerians to participate in their democratic process? If not, I have news you. You can’t do anything about the girls missing in Nigeria. You can’t. Your insistence on urging American power, specifically American military power, to address this issue will ultimately hurt the people of Nigeria.

It heartens me that you’ve taken up the mantle of spreading “awareness” about the 200+ girls who were abducted from their school in Chibok; it heartens me that you’ve heard the cries of mothers and fathers who go yet another day without their child. It’s nice that you care.

Here’s the thing though, when you pressure Western powers, particularly the American government to get involved in African affairs and when you champion military intervention, you become part of a much larger problem. You become a complicit participant in a military expansionist agenda on the continent of Africa. This is not good.

You might not know this, but the United States military loves your hashtags because it gives them legitimacy to encroach and grow their military presence in Africa. AFRICOM (United States Africa Command), the military body that is responsible for overseeing US military operations across Africa, gained much from #KONY2012 and will now gain even more from #BringBackOurGirls.

Last year, before President Obama visited several countries in Africa, I wrote about how the U.S. military is expanding its role in Africa. In 2013 alone, AFRICOM carried out a total of 546 “military activities,” which is an average of one and half military missions a day. While we don’t know much about the purpose of these activities, keep in mind that AFRICOM’s mission is to “advance U.S. national security interests.”

And advancing they are. According to one report, in 2013, American troops entered and advanced American interests in Niger, Uganda, Ghana, Malawi, Burundi, Mauritania, South Africa, Chad, Togo, Cameroon, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and South Sudan.

The U.S. military conducted 128 separate “military activities” in 28 African countries between June and December of 2013. These are in conjunction to U.S. led drone operations which are occurring in Northern Nigeria and Somalia. There are also counter-terrorism outposts in Djibouti and Niger and covert bases in Ethiopia and the Seychelles which are serving as launching pads for the U.S. military to carry out surveillance and armed drone strikes.

Although most of these activities are covert, we do know that the U.S. military has had a destabilizing effect in a few countries. For example, a New York Times article confirmed that the man who overthrew the elected Malian government in 2012 was trained and mentored by the United States between 2004 and 2010. Further, a U.S. trained battalion in the Democratic Republic of Congo was denounced by the United Nations for committing mass rapes.

Now the United States is gaining more ground in Africa by sending military advisors and more drones, sorry, I mean security personnel and assets to Nigeria to assist the Nigerian military, who by the way, have a history of committing mass atrocities against the Nigerian people.

Knowing this, you can understand my apprehension for President Obama’s decision. As the Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole said yesterday, the involvement of the U.S. government and military will only lead to more militarism, less oversight, and less democracy.

Also, the last time military advisors were sent to Africa, they didn’t do much good. Remember #KONY2012? When President Obama sent 100 combat-equipped troops to capture or kill Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony in Central Africa? Well, they haven’t found him and although they momentarily stopped looking, President Obama sent more troops in March 2014 who now roam Uganda, Central African Republic, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Consequently, your calls for the United States to get involved in this crisis undermines the democratic process in Nigeria and co-opts the growing movement against the inept and kleptocratic Jonathan administration. It was Nigerians who took their good for nothing President to task and challenged him to address the plight of the missing girls. It is in their hands to seek justice for these girls and to ensure that the Nigerian government is held accountable. Your emphasis on U.S. action does more harm to the people you are supposedly trying to help and it only expands and sustain U.S. military might.

If you must do something, learn more about the amazing activists and journalists like this one, this one, andthis one just to name a few, who have risked arrests and their lives as they challenge the Nigerian government to do better for its people within the democratic process. If you must tweet, tweet to support and embolden them, don’t direct your calls to action to the United States government who seeks to only embolden American militarism. Don’t join the American government and military in co-opting this movement started and sustained by Nigerians. 

Jumoke Balogun is a Nigerian-American. She is the co-founder and co-editor of compareafrique.com. Seeing Nigerians of all tribes and religious affiliation together in her hometown of Oshogbo, in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and elsewhere protesting and controlling the destiny of their nation fuels her to do more and be better. She dreams about handing down a festival of slaps to President Goodluck Jonathan and Patience Jonathan. ·

Friday, May 9, 2014

Raif Badawi Just the Latest Victim of Saudi Arabia's Remorseless Assault on Free Expression

MAY 9, 2014

Author: Adam Coogle



The latest episode of Saudi Arabia's unrelenting assault on freedom of expression is the Jeddah Criminal Court's conviction of liberal activist Raif Badawi. The court sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment and 1,000 lashes for setting up a liberal website and allegedly insulting Islam and religious authorities.

Badawi can appeal the verdict, but unfortunately he'll have to do so without the help of his lawyer, human rights activist Waleed Abu al-Khair.

Abu al-Khair is currently in Riyadh's Malaz Prison awaiting the resumption of his own criminal trial before Saudi Arabia's terrorism tribunal, the Specialized Criminal Court, on charges that include "breaking allegiance with the king," "making international organizations hostile to the kingdom," and "setting up an unlicensed organization."

A judge jailed Abu al-Khair on 15 April without allowing him to notify his family, and until now authorities have not disclosed the basis of his detention.

Saudi Arabia has a long history of suppressing free expression. What is different with these cases is the long prison terms imposed by the terrorism court on activists, sometimes ranging between 10 and 15 years.

Fadhil al-Manasif is a case in point. A human rights activist from the Eastern Province city of Qatif, al-Manasif received a harsh 15-year sentence from the Specialized Criminal Court on 17 April, plus a 15-year travel ban after his prison sentence and a fine of 100,000 Saudi Riyals (US$26,666).

The charges against him included "breaking allegiance with the king" and "being in contact with foreign news agencies in order to exaggerate news and harm the reputation of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its people."

Making matters worse, new terrorism regulations promulgated by Saudi authorities in 2014 criminalize, as terrorism-related offenses, acts such as "contact or correspondence with any groups [that are] hostile to the kingdom," "making countries, committees, or international organizations antagonistic to the kingdom," and "calling, participating, promoting, or inciting sit-ins [or] protests."

As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, Saudi Arabia has pledged to "uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights," but ongoing repression against peaceful dissidents and activists makes a mockery of this pledge and calls into question the willingness of Saudi Arabia to improve its record

Supreme Court News Release: Judgment to be Rendered in Appeal, Mohamed Harkat -- Wednesday, May 14, 2014 9:45 a.m

Supreme Court of Canada / Cour suprême du Canada
JUDGMENT TO BE RENDERED IN APPEAL
May 9, 2014

For immediate release
OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada announced today that judgment in the following appeal will be delivered at 9:45 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 14, 2014.  This list is subject to change.

A summary of the case is available at: 

Un sommaire de la cause peut être consulté à l'adresse : 

Mosques in Ottawa need to truly lead

by Shelina Merani

9 May, 2014


“As men and women, we will need to work together in this ongoing struggle against injustice – it should be our common cause”


As an amateur stand up comedian, mosques often provide a wealth of comedy material.

In my stand up routine,“Basement Comedy”, the title stemming from women often relegated to basements in mosques, I talk about how ideally spaces of worship are meant to enlighten, give spiritual guidance, and reflection. Instead, I joke that mosques provide motivation to file human rights complaints, hire lawyers or, get into boxing matches with brothers.

The latter came very close to happening once.

It was 15 years ago. We were a young couple, moving into a modest apartment building that had a small prayer space. One day, I accompanied my husband to the prayer and was sternly told at the door that women were not allowed.

The immediate shock, disgust and feelings of injustice were visceral.

I knew that according to Islamic tradition, it is forbidden to stop women from entering the mosques. In fact, not only is it un-Islamic, it is anti-Islamic.

I wrote an open letter to those in charge. No response.

We took matters into our own hands and decided to go ahead and pray there anyway. A young brother at the door physically restrained us from entering.

Visions of Muhammad Ali were all too present. I wasn’t prepared for an all out bloody nose, black eye fight just yet. One does not go there unless a good trainer has been recruited.

All joking aside, as a new home grown Muslim, it was very hard to negotiate within these contradictory confines: one set of rules in society, another within the mosque.

Surprisingly, some women were more adamant than the men that women should not enter the mosque in that building. Surely, it was a cultural understanding of the faith.

Eventually the organizers relented. Many years later, the man who had tried to physically restrain me, apologized. He expressed his deep regrets about the incident. Fortunately, his thinking had evolved.

There are so many more examples I can recall, including one that happened on Canada day.

A large mosque in the east end of Ottawa communicated at the entrance that women would not be able to pray there that day because there was a traveling group from Montreal that had occupied the woman’s space. So much for celebrating a founding pillar of our Canadian charter: gender equality, and protection from discrimination. I was in no mood to celebrate. Not exactly stuff to feed the soul.

Recently, another example of inequity came to my attention. A major Muslim youth conference is being organized in Ottawa. There is only one female speaker among 11 males. The woman speaker’s image is not shown, and her biography emphasizes her status as a wife and mother. All biographies of the male speakers do not once refer to their roles as husbands or fathers.

Today, as I look back at all these incidents, I remember the advice I was given by those around me at that time: be patient, try to understand, don’t insist, this is an emotionally charged issue.

What I have learned over the past 20 years is that patience and discussion will not help evolve mentalities, concrete action will.

As the US crowd-funded film “Unmosqued” premiers tomorrow at Carleton University, bringing to the fore why more and more Muslims are feeling unwelcome at mosques, let’s hope this is a turning point for this community to lead.

As men and women, we will need to work together in this ongoing struggle against injustice – it should be our common cause.

Seven out of every ten converts leave Islam

by Imam Luqman Ahmad


We are constantly being told that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the United States. We are also being told that the Muslim population is anywhere from 2 million, to six million and that a third of them are converts. That would put the number of converts from around 700,000 to 2,000,000. However, I’m not sure if those numbers are accurate because many converts are leaving Islam, and or never even begin to practice Islam in any appreciable way other than take their shahaadah (declaration of conversion), and you don’t see anywhere near those numbers reflected in the nation’s masaajid.

Nor do you see too much evidence that people who became Muslim say, 20 years ago have stayed in the religion, raised their children upon it and started a second generation, or even third generation. The overall estimates of the Muslim population may be accurate, but the stated percentage of converts does not seem reflected on the ground. In almost every major city in America except for maybe Philadelphia and to a certain extent, Atlanta, you don’t see too many large communities of converts to Islam. You see a lot of young people who are recent converts and that’s great but where are the thousands upon thousands of Muslims who converted ten years ago? Twenty years ago? Thirty years ago? Where are their children, their grandchildren?

We need to re-evaluate the statistics that are being fed to us, because it has lolled many of us into a false sense of accomplishment to the point where we brag about how well Islam is doing amongst converts in America while in reality, it seems converts, by and large, are not faring that well and that the largest concentrations of Muslim men in America are those in our nation’s prisons. When I used to volunteer at Folsom prison, there would be hundreds of male converts in attendance, and I have never seen hundreds of male converts at any Masjid anywhere in California.

Converting to Islam is one of the most significant life changing events that will ever happen during your time on this earth. To a true Muslim, faith is central to his or her entire being. How they understand and practice Islam will impact virtually every area of life; family, children, profession, character, marriage, and most importantly, the afterlife. So whatever you do, if you are a convert to Islam, do not ever take your Islam for granted. You have been given a gift that is more valuable than you may realize. You owe it to yourself as a Muslim to follow the guidance of the religion you have accepted as your way of life, as do we all. You also owe it to yourself to take the necessary steps in order to preserve your faith, spread it to your family, and pass it down to your children.

Statistically, there is a great chance that after a year or two, you will not be practicing Islam at all. Chances are that the euphoria that accompanied your conversion to Islam will be gone. Chances are that you won’t be attending a Masjid on a regular basis, and may not even have learned your prayers or how to purify yourself. Chances are that you will not be grounded anywhere in particular, not part of any Muslim community, and just floating from here to there, picking up bits and pieces of information when you can. All the while not finding specific the specific answers to your life’s problems that you need.

Of course this is not the case for every convert to Islam, and it may not be the case for you. However, based upon recent history, the chances are high that if you are a Muslim convert, and have been Muslim for less than 5 years, you will not be a practicing Muslims 5 years from now. There are many Muslims who convert to Islam, and gradually understand and practice the faith, get married, perhaps, have children and produce healthy Muslim families that continue into the next generation. However, that’s not the way it is for the majority of converts during these times we live in today. Most Muslim converts in America these days are a one shot deal. They convert to Islam but it doesn’t really spread to the next generation. The average convert today is simply subject to too many fluctuations, and quirky influences in his or her faith and ideology in the name of Islam to keep up.

If you are one of them, it is likely that even though you still believe in Allah, and His Prophet (SAWS), you still have not been able to connect the dots. You are still searching for what is the best Islam; one day something is haram, the next day it isn’t. Maybe you’ve put your heart into one or the other popular brands of Islam and then realized that it didn’t give you all the relevant answers you needed for your life as a Muslim convert, born and raised and living in America. Perhaps you’ve tried your hand at salafiyyism, and really believed the fatwa from 10,000 miles away that told you that you must be saddened by the happiness of any non Muslim, or that told you that you have to spend an inordinate amount of time debating with other Muslims, or that told you that you can’t wish your mother happy birthday or buy her an anniversary gift . Or maybe you tried Sufism and found that even though you sat around doing thousands of thikrs, paid hundreds of dollars to attend seminars of a visiting shaykh, or traveled hundreds of miles to kiss somebody’s hand, has not removed your inner demons. Or maybe you’ve simply given up and just kinda hold on to the basis of faith while having no real spiritual feeling or propulsion in your life. If you’ve been particularly unfortunate, you jumped on the bandwagon of Muslims who spend so much time arguing with each other, and trying to uncover faults in one another that they have lost track of their own spiritual health. If any of this is the case with you. then know that you are not alone. These are the things that happen to the majority of Muslim converts in America. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that the dots can be connected and there are answers to morally dysfunctional Islam, and if you can hang on for about 5 to 7 years, you’ll have realized that the simple Islam of the Prophet (SAWS) was all you needed in the first place. If you’re still new to the deen and don’t have the time to do the merry go-round approach, it should please you to know that these faith fatalities can be avoided if you are aware of the obstacles before you. You don’t have to make things up on your own as you go along, you don’t have to re-invent the wheel, and you don’t have to grope around in the dark, hoping you’ll figure it out in sha Allah. None of the above methods work, and all three contribute to moral dysfunction which contradicts the whole purpose of your accepting Islam in the first place. Islam works wonders for the soul when practiced correctly. When it is not, the results can be devastating. Islam is a path, not a destination. Don’t assume that you can travel the path of Islam, without any direction, and do not ever assume that you can lead yourself. Once you do that, the devil takes the reins. Even Dorothy, had to follow the yellow brick road in order to reach the wizard of Oz.

Islam has been in America for more than 400 years and people have been converting to Islam in relatively large numbers since the seventies. Unfortunately, many new converts to Islam are deprived, and sometimes deprive themselves the opportunity to benefit and learn from people who accepted Islam 10, 20, or 30 years ago, and are still practicing it. This is due partially by the absence, or scarcity of Muslim communities, which contributes to the generational disconnect between Muslims. Not only are new Muslims, not benefitting from seasoned Muslim converts, in many cases, largely because of foreign influence, newer Muslims show less and less respect for Muslims who have practiced Islam in this country for decades. It’s not uncommon to find a two year convert to Islam, condemning an Imam or Muslim who fasted thirty Ramadans! Muslim Americans are finding themselves dealing with issues that have long been settled by their predecessors.

In virtually every human discipline on earth, new members learn from the ones who immediately preceded them and benefit from their experiences. Scientists, educators, people in the military, law enforcement, doctors, lawyers, builders, scholars of Islam, artists, carpenters, and even athletes learn from the ones who immediately preceded them in their craft. Sadly, the same is not true for many converts to Islam. Many converts to Islam are making the exact same mistakes, attempting the same failed (un-Islamic) methods of deen, falling for the same cons, arguing about the same issues, running into the same brick walls, and repeating the same misdirected actions that some Muslims have been doing for nearly half a century or more. The difference now is that we are heading into the last days and things are deteriorating very rapidly. Subsequently, the condition of the convert is steadily worsening, and the amount of confusion is much higher. It’s time that we have honest discussions about our journey so that we can learn from our mistakes. In the age where our country has elected its first African American President, American muslim converts, most of whom are African American, are third class Muslims in their own country.

I have been a Muslim for half a century. My parents converted to orthodox Islam in the fifties. I’m certainly not the best Muslim, and make no claim to be the quintessential example of everything a Muslim is supposed to be. That job has already been covered by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWS). I have managed however, through the years, to pay close attention to what was and is going on in Muslim America. After teaching classes on Islam and lecturing to Muslims and non-Muslims for nearly three decades, serving as an Imam of a Muslim community for nearly fifteen years, administering the shahaadah to hundreds of American Muslims from all walks of life, speaking with thousands of Muslim converts, I’ve started to notice recurring patterns of how Muslim converts in America have fared. Most of them seem to not practice the religion, leave it all together, or hold on to the central theme of Islam (monotheism) and languish in bewilderment about the rest. Many just wait around to see what the next CAIR inspired protest is going to be. It is interesting to note that Muslim Americans endured discrimination, torture, name calling and abuse decades ago only to arrive in the 21st century and we can’t endure a cartoon, or a simple disparaging remark. A great scholar of Islam, imam al-Qurtubi once said: “knowledge is acquired through two things; nusoos (textual evidences from the Quran and the Sunna), andtajriba (trial and error). The goal here is to learn from our experiences, connect the dots, pinpoint specific problem areas of deen practice and provide solutions based upon the Kitaab and the Sunna. Islam is a system of faith that works, when you believe sincerely, employ correct measures of knowledge, and stay focused on the prize, which is eternal bliss and salvation.

Nevertheless, it still remains that nearly seven out of ten Muslim converts, end up either not practicing the religion or leaving it all together. The most common causes are information overload, coupled with too many different directions of instruction, and spheres of foreign influence, and a woeful lack of facility and resources amongst indigenous American Muslim communities (most of whom are struggling). The new Muslim is often given conflicting information about what they should do, which group they should join, who and what they should love and hate, and where they can and cannot go to worship. The average muslim convert spends about 5 to 7 years literally going around in circles with their religion, sometimes embroiled in research, or dispute with other Muslims about what is haram, about what is halal, or the meaning of this or that verses in the Quran or this or that prophetic tradition. Other times they are busy trying out different types of Islam, different labels, each one requiring that he or she re-adjust their faith foundation, while repudiating the other group. One day a Salafi, the next day a Soofi, the next day a Maaliki, the next day a Habashi, the next day a Tablighi, and so on.

Multiple intra-faith changes in fundamental spiritual foundation can take its toll on any Muslim. For the children of converts, it can be devastating. Children are born in the state of fitra (natural godly disposition). No one embodies the pure fitra in his being, character and path, more than Rasoolillah (SAWS). This is why Aisha (RA) the wife of the Prophet (SAWS), has said; “His (The Prophet (SAWS)) character was the Quran”. This is the truth. If you care to believe it, al-humdu lillah, otherwise, my response is; Allahumma salli alaa Muhammadin WA alaa aali Muhammad

All of the aforementioned sub groups of Muslim, and Islam have some benefit in them. Following a madhhab can give order and stability to practicing Islam, especially in areas of technicality such as inheritance, marriage and divorce and other matters. Salafiyyism has reinvigorated the spirit of learning, despite its drawbacks. Many Muslims have learned humility and simplicity by association with Jamaa’atul Tabligh, and Sufism has its benefits as well as it directs one to focus on his or herself. However, like the other aforementioned, it is not all-encompassing. In fact none of the secondary sub-groups of Islam can offer as much as Islam itself, as a total faith. Furthermore, no one, no Imam, no sheikh, no teacher, no Sufi path, no faqih, or amir can equal the guidance found in the unadulterated sunna of the Prophet (SAWS). The best Islam for American Muslims and all Muslims across the globe is the Islam of the Prophet (SAWS). Islam can exist without Salafiyyism, Sufism, the schools of thought, the Habashis, the Shehu, the Saabiqoon, the Wahhaabis, and the Qaadirees, but none of these groups or disciplines would exist, or could exist without Islam. Laa ilaaha illa Allah!

None of the sectarian versions of Islam are good enough for us here in America. We are a free, independent, and fairly educated people. A third grade level kiddy fatwa is not good enough for us. We don’t believe that language and a foreign accent is tantamount to being better than us (well, some of us do). However, the point is that one third of American Muslims are a convert community (at least that’s what they say but the numbers are questionable), and as converts, guidance to Islam was a personal decision of Allah. Converts by nature are more spiritually intuitive upon their conversion than the average Muslim. First of all, their sins are all forgiven on the spot so the convert is operating as a person without the stain of sin, at least in the beginning of their Islam. The only Islam that will suffice us in the long run is the Islam of the Prophet (SAWS) in its original form, without the added on names, the added on ideas, and the added on culture

The second most common cause of leaving the religion or not practicing it for the convert is the ill treatment, and indifference they receive from other Muslims. Many Muslims have complained of walking into a Masjid and receiving less welcome than they would if they walked into a local Wal-Mart. Some Masaajid in America do not even allow women to come in to pray! When Umar ibn al-Khattaab wanted to prevent his wife from entering the Masjid for prayer the Prophet responded by saying; “Do not prevent the bondmaids of Allah from entering the houses of Allah”. The divide between immigrant Muslims and indigenous American Muslim converts is wider than it has ever been in our domestic history. As institutions (including masaajid) that are run by, cater to, and controlled by immigrant Muslims and their communities are flourishing whereas institutions of means that pay attention to the needs of our nations converts to Islam are virtually non-existent.

Unfortunately, Islam in America is ruled by political Islam which is built upon the agenda of fear and reaction, not faith and pro-action. Political Islam does not offer the same nurturing environment that spiritual/moral Islam does. Much of Muslim America has become a colony of one or more Muslim groups or ideological platforms from abroad. Many of whom are embroiled in conflict, fratricide and power struggle. It is a harsh environment, as Americans are learning to cooperate with one another, and live side by side with one another without conflict and chaos, the Muslim world is still struggling with basic civility and respect for differences. Much of that has crept into the American Muslim reality so we too, have become harsh, unforgiving, extremely sensitive, and impatient with each other and so on. Converts usually expect a nurturing environment when they become Muslim and often find the contrary. It is the right of every Muslim to find safety amongst his or her brethren. “The Muslim is one from whom other Muslims are safe from his hand and his tongue” [1] Without safety, there is no co-operation, or forward movement, except by force, and we as Americans are free, and force does not work for us in areas of faith, thus, many of us are stuck.

The third major cause of people leaving and not practicing the faith is arguing back and forth over every petty issue they can find. A decent teacher will also instruct his students not to argue with people about deen because any Muslim leader should know the damage that it causes; ”And obey Allah and His Messenger. and fall into no disputes, lest ye lose heart and your power depart; and be patient and persevering: For Allah is with those who patiently persevere” 8:46 It was reported about the Prophet (SAWS) that he said; and if your are comfortable enough in your faith to fight and argue about it, you would be practicing it and not trying to beat it over someone else’s head. History has shown that teachers, who are more familiar with the student, and his or her condition and environment, are more suited to teach the religion to American Muslim converts. Unfortunately many indigenous American Muslim converts are still under the delusion that in order for information to be correct, it has to have an accent, thus, the few American teachers that we have, as a whole get a lot of push back from indigenous American Muslims.
Lots of Muslims bicker back and forth on the internet; most of them bicker on behalf of their group. African Americans tend to bicker on behalf of themselves since most of us are floaters without an Imam, a community, a shaykh, or a communal foundation. Many of them bicker back and forth on behalf of one of the dozen or so foreign spheres of religious, sectarian influence that has blanketed our nation’s converts to Islam. Of all the peoples in the world who share the same language, same socio-economic and demographic conditions, same race, religion, and national identity, African American Muslims are arguably the most fractionalized of them all. That’s why we have nothing, and our communities whatever is left are crumbling before our eyes like huts made of sand.

The fourth major cause of people leaving Islam is the lack of congregation , and Muslim congregations that cater to, or are at least welcoming to American Muslim converts. The Prophet ﷺ said: “I enjoin you to be in congregation for verily the wolf devours the stray sheep”. It is imperative to have to have congregations and communities of Muslims who share the same localities, the same problems, the same conditions and the same or similar backgrounds. It will be nearly impossible for African American Muslims converts to be duly served without institutions that cater to their needs. It is difficult and nearly impossible to establish viable institutions that serve their interests without critical mass, and you can never have critical mass without having congregations, and I’m not talking about Facebook congregations either. I mean real congregations with leadership, people who are focused, and willing to put in the work required to rescue a civilization. It is only through congregation that we can make use of our own elders, scholars, experienced Muslims who were also converts, and seasoned imams, and leaders who know us, care about us, and are accessible to us. Granted, there may not be many in these categories, but they are there, and they are underutilized.

The fifth cause, which I alluded to earlier in this article, and which may, or may not contribute to the hemorrhaging of the convert community, is that masaajid and communities where converts usually attend in high numbers tend to be small, poor facilities, with scant resources or funding. Converts communities are almost exclusively in the inner cities, and in the poorer neighborhoods of America. Of the billions of dollars that have been raised and spent on building and upgrading masaajid in the United States, hardly any of it was spent on indigenous American Muslim communities. It would be illogical to believe that this reality does not negatively impact converts, and convert communities in some way. These problems that I mention in this post will not go away by themselves; and what I posted here is just the tip of the iceberg. May Allah help us…..

Imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Luqman Ahmad is the Imam and Executive Director of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento, California. He can be reached at imamluqman@masjidibrahim.com.

Help us build a new Masjid!

Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center of Sacramento, CA, was originally established in 1995 by converts to Islam as a Masjid and da’wah center. We are in the process of building a new Masjid and Islamic Center to better serve the needs of our local community. Our facility is inadequately resourced, and we need your help. Go to the Masjid website at masjidibrahim.com for more information. Masjid Ibrahim caters specifically to the needs of the many converts we have attending our Masjid. No matter who you are, or where you reside on this planet, you can contribute to this sadaqatul jaariya with a few clicks . If you want to make a tax deductible donation, you can click here. Jazaaka Allahu khairan

[1] Collected by Muslim

[1] Collected by Muslim

New book available by Imam Luqman Ahmad: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern day Salafi Sect”, A detailed analysis of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect, their beliefs, practices, and influences upon the religious landscape of Muslim America. In particular, the indigenous American Muslim population. Available @ imamluqman.com, or Amazon.com.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My comment

​It seems to me that a lot of our efforts are directed at violations of the human rights of Muslims here in western societies, yet little is done to speak out against those Muslim countries -- acting under the banner of protecting Islam and enforcing sharia with the full sanction of state sponsored ulema--- which are committing numerous human rights abuses on a daily basis.  Where is the moral outrage over the beautiful religion of Islam being hijacked by criminals who claim to speak for Islam, yet when they do so it is always with a cloud of darkness and evil hanging over every word they say? 

Qatar urged to reform labour laws as World Cup nears

International Trade Union Confederation has warned that 4,000 migrant workers could die if nothing is done


theguardian.com, Wednesday 7 May 2014


A series of countries have piled pressure on Qatar to reform its labour laws to prevent mistreatment of migrant workers helping prepare for the 2022 World Cup.

Many of the 84 countries speaking at the UN Human Rights Council panel reviewing Qatar's human rights record called on the Gulf state to scrap its kafala sponsorship system that restricts each of its 1.4 million migrant workers to a single employer.

Several also linked Qatar's hosting of the 2022 World Cup directly with the need for labour reform. Recent reports from the UN and the International Labour Organisation also called on Qatar to reform labour laws and step up enforcement.

"There are widespread reports of violations of the rights of migrant workers, especially in the context of preparations for the 2022 Fifa World Cup," the Ireland delegation told the panel.

Recommendations, which are not binding, included scrapping exit visas which can prevent immigrant workers leaving, and giving legal protection against what Belgium said was "persistence of violence against women and girls".

The UK delegation called for a clear timetable on scrapping the sponsorship system and for the introduction of new rules to protect domestic workers, who are not covered by existing labour law.

The main countries that supply migrant workers to Qatar, and are therefore dependent on the jobs provided by the construction boom in the country, were less critical. However, Indonesia, one of the main providers of domestic workers, called for new laws to protect them.

Spain led calls to "strike from the books" the kafala sponsorship system which gives employers complete control over their workers.

The Netherlands called on Qatar to make adequate labour conditions "an important criterion for granting building contracts" and to blacklist contractors who violated rules. The US also called for the kafala system to be scrapped.

The Qatari authorities recently took possession of a report from law firm DLA Piper that was commissioned in the wake of the global outcry that followed a series of Guardian reports on the treatment of migrant workers, and pressure from human rights organisations.

The International Trade Union Confederation has warned that 4,000 workers could die before a ball is kicked in 2022 if nothing is done to protect their rights.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have detailed a string of cases where workers are toiling for little pay in unsafe and insanitary conditions. Some have been prevented from leaving the country and others had their wages withheld.

Changes to the labour law, based on the recommendations in the DLA Piper report, are expected to be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Delegates at the UN meeting also called on Qatar to improve women's rights, guarantee freedom of expression in the country and release Mohammad al-Ajami, a poet sentenced to 15 years for criticising the ruling Emir.

Qatar's assistant foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, said there had been "some helpful recommendations from different countries."

"We recognise that there are certain issues and challenges we are facing about the migrant workers," the minister told the Associated Press after the three-hour meeting. "We think the World Cup is a catalyst for us to help us accelerate our performance."

He added that the changes to the labour laws, which pressure groups hope will include a commitment to scrap the exit visa system, would be announced this month. "We will come, I think, very soon within the current month with an overall work programme."

The minister opened the panel meeting outlining progress made enacting recommendations, including measures to combat human trafficking and protecting women and children from domestic violence, since a previous four-yearly review in 2010.

Brick Like Me

Actions of Boko Haram: Un-Islamic

By Sheikh Ahmad Kutty
Senior Lecturer, The Islamic Institute of Toronto

Thursday, 08 May


Islamic law, as stated unequivocally by the jurists of Islam, is based on the fundamental objectives of preserving the sanctity of life, property, honour, and freedom of conscience.

These higher objectives are enshrined and anchored in the teachings of Islamic scriptures and supported by reason. Hence, the actions of Boko Haram cult are monstrosities according to the clear dictates of Islam.
Actions of these depraved individuals are in direct violation of the fundamentals of Islam. By resorting to kidnapping, murdering, and terrorizing innocent people, destroying properties, and, thus, depriving people of freedom of education and movement, they are guilty of the worst imaginable crimes in Islam.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Allah will not look at the face of a (depraved) person who sells human beings into slavery." (Reported by Al-Bukhari on the authority of Abu Hurairah)

What makes these crimes more abhorrent is the claim that God has ordered them to carry out these actions.

This amounts to committing a double offence: firstly, they are declaring as permissible that which God has declared as Haram or impermissible; secondly, their false attribution amounts to a blatant form of Shirk, associating partners with God, thus making it a monstrosity of an offence.

Allah says:  {When they commit indecency, they say, ‘We found our forefathers doing this, and God commanded us to do it’. Say, God does not command indecency.Will you say about God what you do not know?} Al-A`raf 7:  28).

And, {But do not say of falsehood asserted by your tongues, 'This is permissible, and this is forbidden,' to fabricate a lie against God; for those who fabricate falsehood against God will not thrive.} (Al-Israa’17: 116).

Due to the gravity of such offences, these actions, perpetrated by anyone, whether Muslim or otherwise, have been classified under the category of Hirabah or terrorism, according to all schools of jurisprudence. These crimes merit maximum penalty under the law of the Shariah.
{For those who wage war against God and His messenger and strive hard to cause chaos and murder throughout the land, is execution or crucifixion…or (at the very least exile) from the land….except for those who repent (and amend their ways) before they fall into your hands.} ( Al-Ma’idah 5: 33-34).  

The verse assumes that the sacred law has the higher objective of preserving and safeguarding life, honour, peace, and security that should govern our values. Therefore, those who flout such values should be dealt with the harshest of punishments.

Finally, it must be stated emphatically that those who use Islam in this way are political demagogues, who deploy the sacred teachings of Islam as a ladder to gain power and authority over the gullible masses. They must be rejected and opposed by every Muslim who cares to safeguard the sacred teachings of Islam.

US: A Nation Behind Bars --- Human Rights Watch (US)



A new report suggests that far too many laws violate basic justice by imposing disproportionate and severe punishment. The report makes a direct connection to the current practice of mass incarceration and the propensity for focus on minorities. The three decades old excessive practices have been a preferred way of fixing many social problems. “There is growing national recognition that disproportionately harsh laws are not needed to protect public safety and to hold offenders accountable for their crimes. To the contrary, community well-being is best served by fair laws and just sentences,” says Jamie Fellner, co-author of the report. The report includes five recommendations well worth putting at the forefront of all justice system policy in Canada as well.
http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/05/06/us-nation-behind-bars 

Full report (A 21 page downloadable pdf):
http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/related_material/2014_US_Nation_Behind_Bars_0.pdf

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Don't believe in God? You won't believe Saudi's new law about atheists!

Published May 6th, 2014


Saudi Arabia has introduced a series of new laws which define atheists as terrorists, according to a report from Human Rights Watch.

In a string of royal decrees and an overarching new piece of legislation to deal with terrorism generally, the Saudi King Abdullah has clamped down on all forms of political dissent and protests that could "harm public order".

The new laws have largely been brought in to combat the growing number of Saudis travelling to take part in the civil war in Syria, who have previously returned with newfound training and ideas about overthrowing the monarchy.

To that end, King Abdullah issued Royal Decree 44, which criminalizes "participating in hostilities outside the kingdom" with prison sentences of between three and 20 years, Human Rights Watch said.

Yet last month further regulations were issued by the Saudi interior ministry, identifying a broad list of groups which the government considers to be terrorist organisations - including the Muslim Brotherhood.

Article one of the new provisions defines terrorism as "calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based".

Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director of Human Rights Watch, said: "Saudi authorities have never tolerated criticism of their policies, but these recent laws and regulations turn almost any critical expression or independent association into crimes of terrorism.

"These regulations dash any hope that King Abdullah intends to open a space for peaceful dissent or independent groups," Mr Stork said.

Human Rights Watch said the new regulations were also a setback to campaigns for the protection and release of a number of prominent human rights activists currently jailed in Saudi Arabia. It said Waleed Abu al-Khair and Mikhlif al-Shammari recently lost appeals and will soon begin three-month and five-year respective sentences for criticizing Saudi authorities.

The organization said the new "terrorism" provisions contain language that prosecutors and judges are already using to prosecute and convict independent activists and peaceful dissidents.

It's Time for Muslim Outrage Against the Boko Haram

Imam Khalid Latif 
Executive Director and Chaplain, Islamic Center at New York University

May 7, 2014


I remember the first time I met a young Muslim woman who had been beaten by her father for refusing to marry a man from their country of origin. I was 19 at the time and an undergrad at New York University.

I also distinctly remember a series of other first time interactions: the first time I met a Muslim woman who had been raped; a Muslim woman who had been molested; a Muslim woman who had been told her only purpose in life was to please her husband; a Muslim woman who could find no one to help her break out of an abusive marriage; a Muslim woman who was completely confident that whoever she married would end up cheating on her; and many more. I also remember every other woman who over the years has told me about similar life experiences that they have had. All of them come to mind as I try to digest what is currently taking place in Nigeria and the over 200 women that were recently abducted there and have started to be trafficked.

The perpetrators of this crime are the Boko Haram, a movement that has existed for quite some time in Nigeria. They espouse a perversely skewed interpretation of Islam that I personally believe carries no legitimacy and is far removed from any Islam that I or the majority of Muslims practice. The unfortunate reality is my condemnation on its own can do nothing other than distance me from them. It by itself is not helpful to the victims of the Boko Haram's crimes. This group has taken the lives of thousands of innocent people and seemingly have a focus on targeting schools, including those that young men attend as well. The issue is much bigger than most of us might realize, given the lack of response I've seen from both the Muslim and broader communities.

The past few months have shown the Muslim social media world turned upside down by people all over the world commenting on whether or not it's ok for "Happy British Muslims" to sing and dance or female Muslim Hipsters to ride skateboards. On a global level we've seen Muslims take to the streets when things like the Danish Cartoons have been published. I am not saying whether these things are right or wrong, but I am left to wonder why there is not a similar level of passion or urgency when situations like what is taking place in Nigeria transpires.

Education is a basic right in Islam, regardless of what the Boko Haram believe. The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, has said that "Seeking knowledge is compulsory on every Muslim." The pursuit of knowledge is an intrinsic right for every individual and the Boko Haram's ideology is attacking this God-given right. To simply say they are wrong is not enough. The attack that is taking place on Islam as a religion here is something that Muslims worldwide should really reflect upon and then ask ourselves why we are not being as vocal on this issue as we were on those mentioned before. Don't we all have a responsibility to speak out substantively about what is taking place in Nigeria? And more importantly, what is our responsibility to those women who were abducted and how do we demonstrate a lived consciousness of their realities?

The reason my thoughts were brought to women that I have met who have endured the realities of physical abuse, sexual assault, and forced marriage is that those things exist on a global level, including in the United States, and are found in every community.

I feel a duty to the women of Nigeria just as I feel a duty to the women of my own community who have confided in me regarding these issues. For Muslims in specific, every imam who takes the pulpit this Friday should at the very least pray for our sisters in Nigeria as well as every woman who faces religious persecution and oppression at the hands of those who claim to act on God's behalf, but really have no semblance of God in any of their actions.

Encourage your imams to speak out against it and then setup viable opportunities for women who find themselves in situations such as these to have ways out that come with the support of religious leadership and community. Support groups, shelters, financial assistance, job training and much more can be things that we can be motivated to build within our communities to demonstrate that we will not let the tragedies befalling these women in Nigeria to be of a further disgrace because we let similar tragedies take place in our own communities.

Follow Imam Khalid Latif on Twitter: www.twitter.com/

Saudi Arabia: A thousand lashes and 10 years in prison for online activist


May 7, 2014


Amnesty International is calling on Saudi Arabia’s authorities to quash the outrageous sentencing today of Raif Badawi in connection with an online forum for public debate he set up and accusations that he insulted Islam.

Raif Badawi, co-founder of the “Saudi Arabian Liberals” website, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals (about US$266,631) by Jeddah’s Criminal Court.

“The decision to sentence Raif Badawi to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes is outrageous. He is a prisoner of conscience who is guilty of nothing more than daring to create a public forum for discussion and peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression. The authorities must overturn his conviction and release him immediately and unconditionally,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

“Raif Badawi is the latest victim to fall prey to the ruthless campaign to silence peaceful activists in Saudi Arabia. The authorities seem determined to crush all forms of dissent through every means at their disposal, including imposing harsh prison sentences and corporal punishment on activists.”

Corporal punishment, such as flogging, violates international law, which prohibits torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Raif Badawi was first jailed in 2012 for violating Saudi Arabia’s IT law and insulting religious authorities through his online writings and hosting those of others on the “Saudi Arabian Liberals” website. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes.

Last December, an appeals court overturned his conviction and sent the case to Jeddah’s Criminal Court to be reviewed. He had initially been charged with “apostasy”, which is considered a serious crime in Saudi Arabia and carries the death penalty.

For further information contact John Tackaberry, Media Relations
(613)744-7667 #236 jtackaberry@amnesty.ca

Rhyme and Reason

by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

When the chips are down
And darkness all around

When troubles abound
And hopes dashed to ground

When faith in God is shaken
And endless every road taken

When nothing goes right
And means are also tight

Look at the destitute around you
And the poor who surround you

And the deaf and dumb who smile
And the lame who walk a mile

And the hapless who hope
And the blind who cope

With the miseries of life
And beam even in strife

And look at the shelterless
And the couples childless

And the paupers penniless
And the orphans helpless

And the terminally ailing
And the widows wailing

Who thank God no less
Even in strain and stress

Then woes you will fight 
With all force and might

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Harper's feud with Supreme Court of Canada -- a few articles

Rabble.ca -- Priya Sarin

In making such shocking allegations against one of the most respected judges in Canada, the prime minister has yet again shown that he is behaving like a schoolyard bully. Perhaps Harper needs to revisit the Constitution and be reminded of why we have an executive, legislative and judicial branch of government -- and why an independent judiciary is so important to a healthy democracy.
http://rabble.ca/columnists/2014/05/harper-takes-swing-supreme-court-after-losing-yet-another-case 

Globe and Mail - Jeffrey Simpson -- Attacking the Supreme Court, the Conservatives sink to a new low 


Simpson, a noted and well respected columnist, wants to know if this latest attack on Chief Justice McLaughlin represents the lowest the government can go, and regretfully confesses that each time there appears to establish new lows.  “By attacking Chief Justice McLachlin and adding the Supreme Court of Canada to its enemies list, the government is sending a signal to its political base, MPs, candidates and fundraisers that it is now open season on the courts….  This kind of attack has been a staple of Republican Party tactics in the United States. Canadian courts had been spared – but no longer.”  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/tories-sink-to-a-new-supreme/article18498810   


Globe and Mail - Lawrence Martin -- PM’s enemies list? Here comes the judge

The rebuff of the decisions of the SCC and its chief justice seem, in Martin’s opinion, to be retribution. Further says Martin, the enemies list seems to grow every time Harper experiences a setback in disagreement with key federal personnel. Says Martin: “The combination – a wedge government driven by such a degree of animosity – makes for a potent mix. It’s why the enemies list has kept growing. It’s why a woman as honourable as the Chief Justice of our Supreme Court is now on it.” http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/pms-enemies-list-here-comes-the-judge/article18478032

Related article: Globe and Mail – Sean Fine MacKay repeats allegations against top court judge http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/mackay-repeats-allegations-against-top-court-judge-defies-calls-to-withdraw/article18476754

Related article: Canada.com – Postmedia News – Andrew Coyne Stephen Harper’s reckless smear of Canada’s top judge http://o.canada.com/news/harpers-reckless-smear-of-canadas-top-judge

Related article: Toronto Star – Joan Bryden, Canadian Press Peter MacKay escalates feud with Supreme Court’s Beverley McLachlin http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/05/05/peter_mackay_escalates_feud_with_supreme_courts_beverley_mclachlin.html

Related article: Globe and Mail – Eleven former presidents of the Canadian Bar Association Harper’s disrespect for the Supreme Court harms the workings of government http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/harpers-disrespect-for-the-supreme-court-harms-the-workings-of-government/article18478269