ISIS singled out these American Muslims. So did this Ted Cruz adviser.

FrankGaffneyThe latest issue of Dabiq, the Islamic State’s propaganda magazine, publicized a hit list of prominent Muslims living in the West that it wants its proxies to target. The terrorist organization’s writers described these people as “politically active apostates,” a charge deserving of death in the minds of the extremists.

The list, says the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist activity online, includes figures in the United States, Australia, Britain and Canada. Many are moderate clerics who have taken part in interfaith outreach and championed a peaceful Islam. Others are leading political strategists or advisers, who work or have worked within Western governments.

Some of the Americans in the Islamic State’s crosshairs include Huma Abedin, a senior aide to Hillary Clinton, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and diplomat Rashad Hussain.

The sad irony of this particular roll call is that it’s not just the jihadists who have it in for such respected Muslim Americans. A controversial foreign policy adviser to Sen. Ted Cruz, a potential Republican nominee for president, does, too.

Frank Gaffney has not called for the death of his domestic enemies. But as WorldViews noted last month, he has spent the better part of decade propagating conspiracy theories about an Islamist fifth column within the United States, poised to seize government institutions and bend the nation toward Islam.

These include attacks on Abedin, whom Gaffney has described as a “ticking time bomb” and repeatedly accused of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that Gaffney is convinced is primed to unleash “civilization jihad” in the United States through its well-heeled proxies.

Gaffney’s critics label him a bigot and an Islamophobe.

Speaking on MSNBC last month, Ellison described Gaffney as “one of the foremost haters,” who is nevertheless “treated like a legitimate political adviser.”

Hamza Yusuf, an influential cleric and scholar described in the latest Dabiq issue as “the pinnacle of apostasy in Americanist Islam,” went to the White House to consult with President George W. Bush in the days after the attacks on 9/11 and was mocked by some on the left as “Bush’s pet Muslim.”

An article in the New Republic in November 2001 reported that Gaffney, during a meeting of other conservatives, “questioned the presence of terrorist sympathizers at the White House.” He wrote an article highlighting the supposedly troubling ties between the Bush  administration and leading Muslim clerics, including Yusuf.


Bridge Building Between Christians and Muslims

timthumbWith nearly one billion followers each, Islam and Christianity are major religions that influence the thinking and values of over 40 percent of the World population. While there are theological differences, some of which might be significant, there are nonetheless other important areas of belief that are shared by both communities: belief in Allah, or God; belief in revelation, in prophets, in the Holy Books of Allah; in the life hereafter and in a divinely inspired moral code organizing and regulating human life during our earthly journey to eternity.


For the Muslim, constructive dialogue is not only permitted, it is commendable. In the Qur’an we read, ‘Say, ‘O people of the book’ (a term which particularly refers to Jews and Christians) ‘come to common terms as between us and you: that we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him (in His powers and divine attributes); that we erect not from among ourselves lords and patrons other than Allah.’ If then they turn back say you ‘Bear witness that we are Muslims.’ (Bowing) to the will of God.” (al-i-Imran;3:64)

The methodology of that dialogue is also explained in the Qur’an; “Invite (all) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful exhortation, and argue with them in ways that are best.’ (al-Nahl; 16,125) A prerequisite for any constructive dialogue is that both communities should not learn about each other through sources that are unsympathetic, critical, or even hostile: they should rather try to formulate an honest idea as to how the other faith is seen in its own authentic scriptures and as practiced by those who are truly committed to it. This need is even more significant in the case of the Muslim-Christian dialogue. The average Christian has heard of or has read about Islam mostly through writers who have had colonial or missionary motives, which might have given a certain slant to their interpretation of Islam to the western mind. While I admit that my own practice of Islam is far from perfect, I at least speak from the vantage point of someone who wants to think of himself as a committed, practicing Muslim. Now I’d like to share with you five basic areas, consideration of which is imperative in any Christian-Muslim understanding: the meaning of the term “Islam”; the meaning of the term “Allah”; the nature of the human; the relationship between the human and Allah; the question of accountability, and finally, some conclusions pertaining to bridgebudding between Muslims and Christians.


Taking the term “Islam,” it is important to emphasize that it is not derived from the name of any particular person, race, or locality. A Muslim considers the term used by some writers, “Mohammedanism,” to be an offensive violation of the very spirit of Islamic teaching. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is not worshipped, nor is he regarded as either the founder of Islam or the author of its Holy Book, the Qur’an. The term “Islam” is given in more than one place in the Qur’an itself. It is derived from the Arabic root (SLM) which connotes “peace” or “submission.” Indeed, the proper meaning of “Islam” is the attainment of peace, both inner and outer peace, by submission of oneself to the will of Allah. And when we say submit, we are talking about conscious, loving and trusting submission to the will of Allah, the acceptance of His grace and the following of His path. In that sense the Muslim regards the term Islam, not as an innovation that came in the 7th Century, Christian era, with the advent of the Prophet Muhammad, but as the basic mission of all the prophets throughout history. That universal mission was finally culminated and perfected in the last of these prophets, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon them all.


Muslim, Christian women build friendships, community in Michigan

muslim christian

Muslim and Christian women will work together sprucing up the dining room at First Step’s domestic abuse shelter this month.

They’ll clean, polish, buff and redecorate the space from ceiling to floor Friday-Saturday, April 29-30, in Wayne, Michigan, while also strengthening friendships and furthering the mission of their group, Common Ground Gathering.

“At this point, it’s to make a difference in the community,” Hasina Abdu explained their goal as a combined Muslim-Christian gathering. “We are building bridges while making a difference. The Canton-Plymouth community can only get stronger if we work together, if we work in collaboration.”

Nancy Sullivan of Plymouth, another member, looks forward to rolling up her sleeves and working with her Christian and Muslim friends.

“I’m really excited about it. When you’re scrubbing cabinets side by side, what better way to get to know someone,” she said.

Abdu, a Canton resident, is the outreach director for the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton and Sullivan is a longtime member of First Presbyterian Church of Plymouth. Common Ground Gathering is a loosely-organized group of approximately 50 women from all backgrounds and of all ages who attend the mosque and the church.

“Initially the mosque held an open invitation for people to attend a forum after the shootings a year ago in North Carolina of three Muslim students,” said Sullivan, who attended the event with her husband. “Hasina happened to be this lovely woman seated behind me. She and I exchanged contact information. We made a commitment that we would develop a relationship. That led to lunch.”


Inshallah Is Good for Everyone

inshallahA COLLEGE student was recently escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight after a fellow passenger said she heard him making comments in Arabic that were “potentially threatening.”

In a statement, Southwest Airlines said that the student, Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, who came to the United States as a refugee from Iraq, was removed for the “content of the passenger’s conversation” and not his language choice.

Mr. Makhzoomi wasn’t ranting about death, terror, Trump or artisanal mayonnaise — any of which might warrant such a drastic response.

No. What he said on the phone right before the passenger expressed concern, he later explained, was the Arabic phrase “inshallah,” which translates as “God willing.”

This trisyllabic, Semitic weapon of mass destruction is a hallmark of the Arabic vernacular. Some anti-Muslim bigots in recent years have argued Arabic is “the spearhead of an ideological project that is deeply opposed to the United States,” one that seeks to replace the United States Constitution with a halal cart menu. Most sane individuals, however, believe Arabic is simply a language that millions of people around the world speak.

But now Arabic has become a nightmare that terrorizes passengers at 30,000 feet. In November, two men said they were questioned before boarding a Southwest flight because a few passengers heard them speak Arabic and were afraid to fly with them. Several years ago, six imams were kicked off a plane for what fellow passengers deemed suspicious behavior, including praying in Arabic near the gate.


Virginia Teen Speaks Out through photography

April 19
Razan Elbaba recently made a statement about attitudes toward religion in the United States, but she didn’t need to say a word.The 17-year-old from Vienna, Virginia, photographed friends and relatives wearing head scarves that are customary in the Muslim faith. She added newspaper clippings, bits of cloth and “googly” eyes to tell more of the story.

The striking artwork, which Razan called “Covered,” won the top prize in this year’s Scholastic Art & Writing competition. She was one of 16 students in the nation — out of 320,000 who entered — to win a Golden Portfolio. She will receive a $10,000 prize at a celebration in June at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Razan didn’t think she would win, but she said art teacher Susan Silva believed the Oakton High School senior’s talent would impress the judges.

“Ms. Silva always told me that I have something special about me, but I never had the confidence to think that I would be the one” to get a Golden Portfolio, Razan says. “It was very unexpected.”

Razan explains that she started to stutter when she was 3, not long after she learned to talk. She says her severe stutter has made it hard for her to do things that are easy for other kids, “like answer the phone or order a pizza.”

“Things that were so simple for other people were really hard tasks for me,” Razan says. “So I was always trying to find ways to express myself” without having to speak.

When she started high school, Razan says, she “set myself a goal to find a way to do that.” That’s when she discovered photography.

“I found a way to say what I want to say using a camera, not my mouth,” Razan says.

Silva helped her a lot. “She gave us random stuff and said, ‘Make art.’ ”

Razan had an idea to take photos of women and girls wearing the hijab, a head scarf she has worn for five years as part of her religious practice. People in the United States often stare at girls and women who wear a hijab, Razan says. Being stared at can make those women and girls feel “like alien beings that don’t belong,” she says.


Hollywood: Liberal, Except for Islam


When Muslims become a normal and welcome part of American television and film, Hollywood will begin to get closer to its self-proclaimed ideal of being the conscience of the nation.

By Kamran Pasha, February 17, 2016

“Don’t take the deal,” my friend said in a hushed voice over the phone. I was confused. The deal that he was referring to was my first major break in Hollywood, my chance to go from unknown, struggling screenwriter to a respected professional. And what made it stranger was that he was calling from the very production company that had just made the offer to my agents. It was the summer of 2002 and I had just finished a screenplay on the Crusades, one that had been inspired by the horror of September 11 just a few months before.

There have been many movies on the Crusades in Hollywood, but my story was unique, for it was told from the Muslim point of view. It was a story about the great Muslim leader Saladin who conquered Jerusalem from the Crusaders and then, instead of taking revenge on his enemies, went on to build a multi-cultural society where Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived together in peace. It was a movie written to show that there was more to Islam than what the world had been shown by a handful of madmen on 9/11.

The script had gotten a great deal of attention, and now I had an offer from one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood to buy the project. I was elated, and then stunned when my friend who worked for this producer called and told me to reject the offer. “I will lose my job if they found out I was telling you this,” he said over the phone. “But the boss has no intention of making your movie. He plans to buy the script in order to bury it and make sure no one else will ever be able to tell this story.”

And in that one moment, I learned a terrible truth about how Hollywood works, as well as the truth behind the claim that Hollywood is a liberal industry that represents the moral conscience of America. As I learned that day, many people in Hollywood were what I have dubbed LEFI: Liberal Except For Islam.


How Christianity and Islam took over the world, in 90 seconds

maxresdefaultThe video above depicts the growth and spread of the world’s two largest religions over a span of 2,000 years. Represented in white and green, respectively, Christianity and Islam spring up from obscurity in the Middle East to morph into globe-spanning juggernauts.

It was produced last year by the Western Conservatory of the Arts and Sciences, a rather grandiosely named Christian ministry based in Tennessee, as an accompaniment to a supposedly historically accurate map that depicts the “Spread of the Gospel.” A note on the ministry’s website cites biblical scripture, pitching the map as a “beautiful visual reminder that ‘the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world … is bearing fruit and increasing.’ ”

Real historians will doubtless find plenty to quibble about with the broad sweep of the canvas that this video represents. And, to be sure, this ministry doesn’t exactly have an objective approach to the history of Islam — in another post on its website, it looks forward to Syrian refugees being disabused of their “Muhammedan way of life.”

The video begins with the Roman empire and shows Christianity sprouting up on its margins, then spreading elsewhere. Islam follows suit a bit later, moving rapidly through the crumbling Byzantine and Sassanian empires, through North Africa and into parts of Europe. They both inexorably expand thereafter.