(CNN) One of the most important festivals of the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Adha marks the height of the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
While the nation engages in a long overdue discussion about policing and minorities, catalyzed by yet another innocent Black person — George Floyd — killed by law enforcement, we need to remember another group that has suffered overly zealous policing: Muslims.
Many of the worst dynamics at play now, including the militarization of police, were heightened in response to the attacks of September 11, 2001 and have made blameless Muslims prime suspects. While we engage in critical changes to the policing of Black Americans, we must work to ensure that Muslim Americans also benefit.Ads by TeadsADVERTISING
The use of law enforcement to subjugate, marginalize and persecute Black Americans is centuries old. In the 20th century, this occasionally intersected with Islamophobia, as when J. Edgar Hoover’s Federal Bureau of Investigation surveilled the Nation of Islam in concert with local police departments. But antagonistic policing of Muslims — Black and non-Black alike — has broadened significantly with the war on terror, which redoubled the militarization of police departments.
The rearmament of the police through federal programs such as the 1033 Program, which has allowed police departments to receive military hardware, emerged initially in the 1990s from the war on drugs. After 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security prominently expanded this program by offering grants to state and local law enforcement agencies, distributing equipment worth $7.4 billion among 8,000 agencies.
WEST SPRINGFIELD — Muslims here will celebrate the second holiest day on the lunar-based Islamic calendar by gathering to pray together on the grounds of the Eastern States Exposition Friday, while observing social distancing regulations during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We will have congregants come in their cars and park at least six feet apart,” said Dr. M. Saleem Bajwa, a Holyoke physician and member of the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts, which is organizing the gathering.
“At the time of congregational prayer, they will stand next to the car and use their prayer mats on the ground,” he said. “Family members can stand together, but otherwise everyone will be at a prescribed social distance. There will be no intermingling or socializing on the grounds.”
He added, “While driving out, each car will be offered food bags to enjoy and goody bags will be given for children.”
“The members of the society are advised to have social gatherings and festivities in their homes on a limited scale,” Bajwa said. “The observance follows the day on which Muslims around the world travel to Mecca, Saudi Arabia to make their pilgrimage.”
The event on July 31 is scheduled for 8 to 10 a.m.
The pilgrimage, known as the Hajj, is one of five pillars of Islam and is what Muslims are expected to do at least once in their lifetime during the last month of the Islamic year. The year’s first 10 days are considered the holiest for Muslims with Hajj on the ninth day and celebrated over four days.
Bipartisan Passage of NO BAN Act Marks Beginning of the End of the Muslim Ban
WASHINGTON, DC — On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 233-183 to pass the NO BAN Act (HR 2486, formerly HR 2214). The NO BAN Act is a historic Muslim civil rights bill that would end the Trump administration’s Muslim and African Bans and close loopholes in immigration law to prevent future presidents from enacting similar discriminatory bans ever again. Muslim Advocates worked with members of Congress to shape the bill and helped lead the effort to get it passed. The following is a statement from Muslim Advocates Executive Director Farhana Khera:
“For the first time ever, a chamber of Congress has passed a Muslim civil rights bill. We went office-to-office and district-to-district to gain support for the NO BAN Act and convince House leaders to make it a priority. But most importantly, this vote marks the beginning of the end of the Muslim Ban—a cruel policy that continues to tear families apart. Now we must take the fight to the Senate where we refuse to stop fighting until every senator hears from us and the bill lands on the president’s desk.”
On Thursday July 23, at 2 PM ET, Farhana Khera will join Reps. Judy Chu, Ilhan Omar, André Carson, Rashida Tlaib, Zoe Lofgren, Pramila Jayapal, Jamie Raskin and Don Beyer at a celebratory press conference for the NO BAN Act. Click here to register and also send an RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
IF YOUR TIME IS SHORT
- At a voter outreach event aimed at Muslims, Biden said, “I wish we taught more in our schools about the Islamic faith… about all the great confessional faiths.”
- Conservative commentators said Biden was anti-Christian and against prayer in schools, leaving out the context of him talking about theology in general.
- Biden is Roman Catholic and has talked about how faith led him to run for public office. He has said he supports the separation of church and state.
As presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden spoke in support of increasing Muslim American voter turnout at a recent summit, he said he wished American schoolchildren were taught more about Islam.
Biden thanked advocacy group Emgage Action for endorsing his campaign and having him at their “Million Muslim Votes” event July 20. Then he said: “I wish we taught more in our schools about the Islamic faith.”
Biden said more than that, but the backlash on social media didn’t catch it. Conservative activists, including Charlie Kirk, tweeted out the comment and went on to say Biden didn’t support prayer or studying the Bible in schools. One former Republican candidate called him anti-Christian. Biden is a lifelong Roman Catholic.
On Facebook, a text post quoted Biden incorrectly as saying: “We need to teach our children the ISLAMIC FAITH in our schools!”
The misquote left out important context from the rest of Biden’s speech and his campaign as a whole.
Biden said he wished schools taught not only the Islamic faith but “all the great confessional faiths.” He also said that he is interested in theology and “we all come from the same root here in terms of our fundamental, basic beliefs,” referencing his own Catholic background.
His reference to “confessional religions” includes different denominations of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, which are religions that each have their own statements of faith, sometimes called a confession.
Another opportunity for an interfaith coalition to come together and move forward together for a just world.
Eboo Patel July 14, 2020
Recently, my Muslim family joined a Hindu family and a Jewish family at a protest for racial equity near our home on the North Side of Chicago. A couple of days ago, my older son and I went to an event on the near South Side with fellow Muslims. As we talked about the verses of the Qur’an and the values of Islam that inspired our involvement, I made sure to point out the people wearing crosses around their necks, the clergy with collars or kippahs, the religious scripture prominently displayed on several signs. On the way back, I talked about how Sikhs were setting up makeshift kitchens to feed protesters, a sacred practice called langar.
I want my kids to know from an early age that racial equity is an interfaith movement. It is imperative across religious traditions, and therefore a site where people from different faiths meet, get inspired by one another, deepen their own convictions and advance a cause that we view as a sacred command.
I was considerably older than my children are now when I realized the powerful relationship between racial equity and interfaith cooperation. In fact, I remember the exact moment. It was early December of 1999 and I was at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Cape Town, South Africa. I had gone largely for personal reasons, namely because my own spiritual journey had been deeply influenced by multiple religious traditions. But then Nelson Mandela spoke, and what he said changed everything.
He began by pointing out into the cape, towards Robben Island, where he spent over 25 years in prison and uttered these words: ”I would still be there if it were not for the Christians, the Jews, the Hindus, the Muslims, the Baha’is, the Quakers, those from indigenous African religions and those of no religion at all, working together in the struggle against apartheid.”
Marcel Proust famously said that the true journey of discovery was not in seeing new landscapes but in developing new eyes. It felt like Mandela had given me new eyes. In South Africa, a movement of racial equity had been a site for interfaith cooperation. I had taken a range of courses on race in college, but my explorations into faith had been largely private, and mostly about my own personal spirituality. The idea that racial equality could be advanced through interfaith cooperation was brand-new and totally inspiring.
The recent decision by the Turkish government to reconvert the majestic Hagia Sophia, which was once the world’s greatest cathedral, from a museum back to a mosque has been bad news for Christians around the world. They include Pope Francis, who said he was “pained” by the move, and the spiritual leader of Eastern Christianity, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who said he was “saddened and shaken.” When contrasted with the joy of Turkey’s conservative Muslims, all this may seem like a new episode in an old story: Islam vs. Christianity.
But some Muslims, including myself, are not fully comfortable with this historic step, and for a good reason: forced conversion of shrines, which has occurred too many times in human history in all directions, can be questioned even from a purely Islamic point of view.
To see why, look closely into early Islam, which was born in seventh century Arabia as a monotheist campaign against polytheism. The Prophet Muhammad and his small group of believers saw the earlier monotheists — Jews and Christians — as allies. So when those first Muslims were persecuted in pagan Mecca, some found asylum in the Christian kingdom in Ethiopia. Years later, when the Prophet ruled Medina, he welcomed a group of Christians from the city of Najran to worship in his own mosque. He also signed a treaty with them, which read:
“There shall be no interference with the practice of their faith. … No bishop will be removed from his bishopric, no monk from his monastery, no priest from his parish.”
This religious pluralism was also reflected in the Quran, when it said God protects “monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of God is much mentioned.” (22:40) It is the only verse in the Quran that mentions churches — and only in a reverential tone.
WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden on Monday pledged that if he is elected president, he will end President Donald Trump’s so-called Muslim travel ban on his first day in office.
“I will end the Muslim ban on day one. Day one. And I will work with Congress to pass hate crimes legislation like the Jabara-Heyer No Hate Act and the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act,” Biden said to attendees of the Million Muslim Votes Summit, an online conference hosted by Emgage Action, the nation’s largest Muslim-American political group.
One of Trump’s first actions as president in 2017 was to suspend entry to the United States of travelers from seven majority Muslim nations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, for 90 days. The executive order created chaos at airports around the world, and lawsuits against the ban quickly followed.
After federal judges barred the first ban’s implementation, Trump issued a second ban that was also quickly tied up in federal courts.
A third version of the ban was issued by the White House in the fall of 2017, and this one applied to six majority Muslim countries and two non-majority Muslim countries. The following year, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the third ban, which remains in place today.
Speaking on Monday, Biden said Muslim communities “were the first to feel Donald Trump’s assault on black and brown people with his vile Muslim ban. That fight was the opening barrage in what has been nearly four years of constant pressure, insults and attacks” by Trump against minorities.
Small gestures have hinted at the development of a closer affinity between Saudi Arabia and Israel, but an academic article on the Prophet Muhammad confirms it further.
As Saudi Arabia’s relationship with Israel warms up, its people-to-people ties are supplementing its diplomatic gestures. Now, for the first time in history a Saudi academic has published a paper in an Israeli journal, with the aim to ‘bring the two nations closer’.
Professor Mohammed Ibrahim Alghbban from King Saud University in Riyadh, published a Hebrew article in Kesher, the journal of the Shalom Rosenfeld Institute for Research of Jewish Media and Communication, at Tel Aviv University.
Professor Raanan Rein, head of the Shalom Rosenfeld Institute, said the move was unprecedented and was driven by Alghbban’s aim to improve relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
The Jerusalem post writes, “The Saudi professor said he wrote the article to improve Muhammad’s image among Israelis.”