July 4th Needs To Include Muslim Identities

With July 4th, Americans all around the country can feel a sense of celebration; however, when you are Muslim and American, there are fewer options to couch both the religious and cultural identity together. For Reem Sayes, her solution has been to create Days of Eid.  She wanted to create a company where the products represent a celebration of who Muslims are regardless of the occasion. Fortunately, Days of Eid has the primary goal “to help embolden the Muslim identity of our children and help them embrace their uniqueness,” Reem explains.  

Using a business model that is direct-to-consumer through their website, Reem designs and creates home and holiday decor products in-house that celebrate and reflect Islamic traditions. 

“We believe that your home should tell your story, who you are, what you love, what your beliefs and values consist of. When people walk in your home they should get a sense of those things. And for me and many other American Muslims that was hard to do and that compelled us to start Days of Eid,” Reem adds. 

When thinking about her childhood, Reem recalls how it was often a struggle to find herself in a sea of negativity and misconceptions about Islam and Muslims. She wanted to fill the void of mothers and their children questioning their religious identities and wanted to find a solution as she understood the issues of feeling pride in one’s identity. For quite some time, Reem thought about her own children’s struggle with who they are; consequently, she made it her mission to highlight Muslim Americans through Days of Eid.  

FULL ARTICLE FROM FORBES

After George Floyd, raw talk and racial reckoning among U.S. Muslims

American Muslims, Black and non-Black, are having raw conversations as they grapple with questions of racial equity, tensions and representation in their own faith communities.

Hind Makki, poses for a portrait at the The Prayer Center of Orland Park in Orland Park, Ill., on June 22, 2020.Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

By Associated Press

As a young student, Hind Makki recalls, she would call out others at the Islamic school she attended when some casually used an Arabic word meaning “slaves” to refer to Black people.

“Maybe 85% of the time, the response that I would get from people … is, ‘Oh, we don’t mean you, we mean the Americans,’” Makki said during a virtual panel discussion on race, one of many organized in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

“That’s a whole other situation about anti-Blackness, particularly against African Americans,” said Makki, who identifies as a Black Arab Muslim.

In recent weeks, many Muslims in the U.S. have joined racial justice rallies across the country and denounced racism in sermons, statements and webinars. American Muslims, Black and non-Black, are also having raw conversations like Makki’s as they grapple with questions of racial equity, tensions and representation in their own faith communities.

“Everyone is talking about this, like from the uncle who’s been here since the early ’70s, was a retired doctor somewhere, a retired board member of a mosque to … a high school student in the suburbs,” Makki, an anti-racism and interfaith educator, said in an interview. “The question needs to be pushed further than what words, what slurs you’re using, which you shouldn’t be using. How can we reach equity … in the spaces that we actually can change?”

FULL ARTICLE FROM NBC NEWS

Can Muslim college students heal divisions in the US?

Amid rising Islamophobia, Muslim students show greater tendencies towards interfaith goodwill, a recent survey suggests.

by Saba Aziz

Musbah Shaheen left war-torn Syria in 2013 to attend college in the United States.

As the then-19-year-old from Homs settled into student life at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, he was often asked about the conflict and life in Syria.

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The conversations in hallways, classrooms and cafeteria with professors and fellow classmates also turned into more personal questions about his faith, he said.

“The biggest challenge for me in college was navigating the assumptions that people made about my religion,” Shaheen told Al Jazeera.

Some were surprised that he did not have a beard, others that his sister did not wear a veil or that he ate meat. He felt like an outsider – misunderstood and stereotyped.

US college pluralism story

Musbah Shaheen is currently doing a PhD at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio [Photo courtesy: Musbah Shaheen] 

“I don’t want anyone to feel this way, so I engaged in interfaith dialogue as a student leader, and that shaped my entire work life after college,” the now-26-year-old said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA

‘We gotta call out racism’: Milwaukee Muslim students lead march against police violence

Last spring, Milwaukee teenagers Dana Sharqawi and Sumaya Abdi organized protests after mass shootings at mosques in New Zealand. 

On Wednesday, they brought people together again at the Islamic Society of Milwaukee — this time to remember George Floyd and to protest police violence. They said they were guided by their Muslim faith. 

“Our religion tells us that if one part of your body’s in pain, then the whole body’s in pain,” said Abdi, now 19 and a student at UW-Madison. “So if our black brothers and sisters are in pain, we’re in pain, too.”

They drew over 300 supporters young and old, including several who said it was their first experience at a protest.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL

George Floyd Is Our Fight, Too: A Muslim Perspective

This is not an African American problem. This is an affront to what we believe as Muslims.

Boston – The egregiousness of what happened to George Floyd must have plunged anyone with a pulse into a deep pensive mood. Those of us who lived in the Boston area for a long time should have an idea about the many challenges that plagued getting the biggest mosque in New England off the ground.

The exorbitant cost of building up to 70,000 square feet of space pales in contrast to the legal battle that followed with the David Project. The latter is a hate group whose goal was not to score a legal win, but rather bleed the Muslim community financially.

They didn’t have a legal leg to stand but they succeeded in interrupting the timely completing the construction by depleting our much-needed resources by forcing us into a legal battle.

I recall attending a meeting where the leadership sought to consult with community members from all over the states. Several members of the community seemed to agree that coalition building was the best way to proceed.

For the longest time, the Muslim community acted as it lived in a cocoon. It is as if the community lived in a gated community and saw no value in interacting with the larger community.

This is basically the same rationale that delayed the integration and wobbled the standing of the Muslim community in Europe. As American Muslims, we knew not to make the same mistake as our brethren in Europe.

The 2001 attacks gave us a rude awakening. We finally realize that we have unwittingly alienated ourselves. As a predominantly immigrant community, we found out that our newly acquired blue US passports didn’t put us at an equal footing with the rest of society.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MOROCCO WORLD NEWS

Scapegoating Muslims

A Religious Studies student brought a dish to her mother at work one day. She and a friend had been visiting a local mosque. The dish consisted of goat meat, rice, and cheese. Everyone working the shift that night sampled it. We all agreed it was delicious. She talked about how hospitable the Muslim community was. She and her friend had a good experience and intended to return.

When Was This?

This took place during the year 1997.  Up till then, most of us had negative views about Islam and Muslim countries. All of us were old enough to remember the hostage crisis involving the US embassy in Iran. We remembered the 1991 Gulf War. We forgot that most Muslim countries were allied with the US. The first attempt on the World Trade Center had been made in 1993. And some of our coworkers remembered the Black Muslim movement.

We knew the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) kept raising the price of oil causing gas prices to soar. Since we lived in the southeastern US, we heard about how Israel was always under threat from “Arabs.” We knew very little if anything about Arab Christians.

The 1995 bombing was first blamed on “Islamic terrorists” before it was learned that it was done by neo-Nazi terrorists. The primary suspect Timothy McVeigh was a Gulf War veteran. He murdered 168 people.

A Convenient Scapegoat

September 11, 2001 brought about more scapegoating of Muslims. President George W. Bush attempted to differentiate between “radical Muslims” such as Osama bin Laden’s Al Queda network and Muslims who wanted nothing to do with such groups. And then in 2003, President Bush initiated the War with Iraq as an extension of “The War on Terror.” All of his attempts to differentiate between Muslims evaporated in people’s minds.

Muslims are a minority in America. Islamic culture is definitely foreign. European history is rife with stories of conflicts with Muslims. The Song of Roland begins with a description of Muslim leaders in Spain as the real enemy. Muslims have played the role of “the other” in the minds of Americans due to this heritage from Europe.

Government officials try to make distinctions between Muslims that are neighbors and Muslims that are enemies. It is not working. The reason for that is very simple. The problem is fundamentalist Christianity.

Scapegoat Theology

The scapegoat is the person who takes the blame but doesn’t deserve it. In our usage it is synonymous with the “fall guy” in scandals. Leviticus 16 mandates a dual sacrifice for the Day of Atonement. Two goats are chosen. One is slaughtered as a “sin offering.” The next goat is the sins of the people and driven into the wilderness “for Azazel.” The latter is called “the scapegoat” in early English translations of the Bible.https://9f3de2b157f5773035d07814e8d39e24.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.htmlDriving the animal into the wilderness is supposed to be mean it has no place in the community. By being run off, the goat takes the sins away. What’s more is the goat doesn’t belong to the community either.

Fundamentalist Christianity looks for a clearly defined manifestation of the Enemy (Satan). It developed looking for enemies. There were no shortages of enemies. Evolution, Communism, Labor Unions, Feminism, Women Suffragists, and alcoholic beverages took their places in Hell’s kingdom. Why is Islam viewed as an enemy?

FULL ARTICLE FROM PATHEOS

How National Black Muslim COVID Coalition serves communities during the pandemic

W5MYVHKM25F2BCVP44K75D332MThe experts on the Zoom call were there to discuss the five before five. That’s a belief that goes back to Muhammad, who said: “Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your illness, your riches before your poverty, your free time before your work, and your life before your death.” Margari Hill, co-director of National Black Muslim COVID Coalition, which hosted this talk Saturday afternoon, explained that at a time like this, it can be hard to plan for one’s wellness.

“Yet at the same time we know that preparing for the unknown helps put ourselves and our families at ease,” she said.

They’d cover physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual wellness during the 90-minute talk, spiritual wellness the first topic, as panelist Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, of Washington, D.C., spoke on the significance of spending this month of Ramadan in isolation.

“I would invite us, while we are in [this] kind of self-quarantine seclusion to take that time to ask Allah to give us the things that we need,” the imam shared on the Zoom call. “So that when we come out of this cave, and we will, it’s with something that will be able to benefit us in our society.”

American Muslims face a lonely Ramadan during lockdown

Families prepare for online prayers and virtual gatherings in a month of fasting typically marked by human connection

Marwa Mohammed attended evening prayer after breaking the fast during Ramadan at Club ICM. Iftar potluck dinner during Ramadan at Club ICM in Fridley on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. There are initiatives taken by different Muslim organizations to ensure minimum wastage of food and minimal trash waste during Ramadan and Iftar get togethers.
 Marwa Mohammed attends evening prayer after breaking the fast during Ramadan last May in Fridley, Minnesota. Photograph: Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Shaista Shiraz, 34, doesn’t have many friends in Westchester county, north of Manhattan. She left her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, five years ago after her divorce to settle in New York, the only other place she had family.

Between settling in a new city and raising her two children, Shiraz didn’t have many friends. During Ramadan, the lack of companionship always hit the hardest. This year will be even more difficult for her.

With Ramadan starting on 23 April, Muslims around the world will refrain from food and drink every day from sunrise to sunset during the holiest month in Islam. But this year, Covid-19 will rob millions of Muslims across the US from congregating for prayers, iftar and other Ramadan customs.

Mosques don’t just host daily free iftar (the meal eaten after sunset). They host fundraisers, mixers and lectures, all an integral part of the celebration. Following most iftars, Muslims go to the mosque for a communal prayer that can only be done during Ramadan, tarawih.

This year, Muslims will have to go the virtual route.

‘It is a test from God and we have a lot of lessons to learn’

The Islamic Center of Central Missouri hosts upwards of 1,000 people at its weekly Friday service. Now, only 20 to 40 people are logging in to online events. Mosque leaders hope the turnout will increase as Ramadan starts

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN (UK)

Delta fined $50,000 for discriminating against Muslim passengers

  • the flight attendant said she saw Mr.X texting on his cell phone using the word “Allah” several times
  • The captain refused to let the two passengers re-board the plane

1942741-1818396037WASHINGTON: Delta Air Lines was Friday fined $50,000 by the US Department of Transportation to settle allegations it discriminated against three Muslim passengers who were ordered off their planes.

In its consent order, the department said it found Delta “engaged in discriminatory conduct” and violated anti-discrimination laws when it removed the three passengers.
In one incident on July 26, 2016, a Muslim couple were removed from Delta Flight 229 at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris after a passenger told a flight attendant their behavior made her “very uncomfortable and nervous.”

“Mrs X” was wearing a head scarf and the passenger said “Mr X” had inserted something into his watch.

The flight attendant said she saw Mr.X texting on his cell phone using the word “Allah” several times.

The captain then spoke with Delta’s corporate security, who said Mr.and Mrs.X were US citizens returning home and there were “no red flags.”

However the captain refused to let them re-board the plane.

The Department of Transportation said the captain had failed to follow Delta’s security protocol and it appeared that “but for Mr.and Mrs.X’s perceived religion, Delta would not have removed or denied them reboarding” of their flight.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ARAB NEWS

New Jersey (US) Muslims on presidential candidate Bloomberg: ‘He doesn’t know the hurt he caused’

AP_111118040935-1581904744Even before he arrived at his job at Fort Dix one recent morning, Army Sgt. Syed Farhaj Hassan had already been bombarded by a Michael Bloomberg ad about gun control on television, and a radio piece about Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor of New York City.

Bloomberg seems to be everywhere, as he invests heavily in advertising during his campaign for president. But for Hassan and other Muslim Americans, the former New York mayor’s political resurgence is a painful reminder of a sweeping, yearslong surveillance program that Bloomberg supported and defended as mayor.

“Do I think Michael Bloomberg should apologize for causing terror for a group of people up and down the Northeast? Yes, I do,” said Hassan, a resident of Helmetta, in Middlesex County, and the lead plaintiff in a settled lawsuit against the New York City police over the secret surveillance program.

“His actions are still causing issues between Muslim communities and law enforcement,” Hassan said in an interview with NorthJersey.com and the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey. “The chilling effect exists, and it exists because of Michael Bloomberg’s actions to go ahead and surveil peaceful Muslims in New Jersey and New York.”

During Bloomberg’s administration, the New York Police Department secretly mapped ethnic communities, placed informants at mosques and infiltrated schools, businesses and restaurants in New York and New Jersey in the name of counterterrorism. While Bloomberg has apologized for controversial stop-and-frisk policies targeting black and Hispanic New Yorkers, he has not done the same for the Muslim surveillance program that critics say was also rooted in profiling a minority group.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NORTHJERSEY.COM