Opinion: To save Muslim lives, let Muslims tell their own stories

A police officer stands guard in front of the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, Sunday, March 17, 2019, where one of two mass shootings occurred. New Zealand’s stricken residents reached out to Muslims in their neighborhoods and around the country on Saturday, to show kindness to a community in pain as a 28-year-old white supremacist stood silently before a judge, accused in mass shootings at two mosques that left dozens of people dead. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa is an Islamic cleric and the secretary general of the Muslim World League.

This month, a Canadian Muslim family was nearly wiped out after four members were killed in an Islamophobic terror attack, while the fifth — a 9-year-old boy — was left with serious injuries. This came two years after a gunman murdered 51 Muslims on the other side of the world, at a pair of mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. In the face of such mindless hate, many are asking what more can be done to save Muslim lives.

One way forward begins simply: Let Muslims tell their own stories.

Muslims often do not have agency over even their most traumatic stories. Earlier this month, a film called “They Are Us” was announced, starring Rose Byrne as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The film focuses not on the murdered Muslims and their bereaved families, but on Ardern’s experience of the terror attacks. Even when portraying the worst instance of Western Islamophobia in years, Muslims are reduced (at best) supporting roles. The film was denounced by Ardern herself, who said her story is “not the one to be told.”

The chronic underrepresentation of Muslims in Hollywood and other Western media cannot be separated from the widespread bigotry faced by many members of our faith. This year, Islamophobia — which is not just the fear and hatred of Islam but also includes anti-Muslim discrimination and violence — reached “epidemic proportions.” The United Nations reported that nearly 1 in 3 Americans, and an even higher percentage of Europeans, view Muslims negatively.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST

Actor Riz Ahmed wants to stop Hollywood’s ‘toxic portrayals’ of Muslims

British actor and rapper Riz Ahmed has launched a fund to help combat “toxic portrayals” of Muslims in films.

The move comes after a study showed Muslims rarely appear on screen, or are shown in a negative light if they do.

Earlier this year, the Sound of Metal star became the first Muslim to be nominated for best actor at the Oscars.

Ahmed, who is also known for Rogue One and The Night Of, said: “The problem with Muslim misrepresentation is one that can’t be ignored any more.”

In an online video, he said his history-making Oscar nomination was a “bittersweet” moment.

‘Unwritten rule’

“I simultaneously wore that slightly dubious accolade with a sense of gratitude personally… I also felt tremendous sadness.

“How was it that out of 1.6 billion people – a quarter of the world’s population – none of us had ever been in this position until now?

“I asked myself, if I’m the exception to the rule, what must the rule be about people like me? What must the unwritten rule be about Muslims – a quarter of the world’s population – and their place in our stories, our culture and their place in our society, if any?”

FULL ARTICLE FROM BBC

France should mobilize rather than marginalize its Muslims

The egalitarian principles of the French republic would suggest that the state is blind to the creeds and private beliefs of its citizens. For the most part, this is correct. Its very particular brand of state-endorsed secularism projects a certain veneer of a republic to which all its citizens have an equal right. However, for France’s second-largest religious group, its Muslims, this blanket equality falls short. Decades of marginalization have characterized their experience, but since the government embarked on a struggle against what it calls “Islamist separatism,” many French Muslims feel that the xenophobia and discrimination they face has become mainstream.


The “laicite” (secularism) with which French policymakers are so obsessed mandates strict delineation between the state and the private sphere of personal beliefs. This wall between the two was originally meant to protect citizens from the intrusion of the state and the state from religious influence, which frequently raised its head throughout the country’s history. This arrangement has, however, come increasingly unstuck as the state seems to be involving itself more and more in the lives of its Muslim citizens.


For decades now, French presidents have stuck their noses into Islamic dress codes, dietary needs, and the plethora of religious institutions and places of worship modern France is home to. With an aging population struggling to cope with the societal transitions of post-imperial France, French leaders have sought to focus on the country’s Muslims as an electoral scapegoat in lieu of making the bold structural changes that are so desperately needed.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ARAB NEWS

Supreme Court Says Muslim Men Can Sue FBI Agents In No-Fly List Case

FILE – In this Nov. 10, 2020, file photo the sun rises behind the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. The Supreme Court seemed concerned Tuesday, Dec. 1, about the impact of siding with food giants Nestle and Cargill and ending a lawsuit that claims they knowingly bought cocoa beans from farms in Africa that used child slave labor. The court was hearing arguments in the case by phone because of the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion, ruled Thursday that Muslims put on the no-fly list after refusing to act as informants can sue federal officials for money damages under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The case – Tanzin v Tanvir — involved three Muslim men who said their religious-freedom rights were violated when FBI agents tried to use the no-fly list to force them into becoming informants. None of the men was suspected of illegal activity themselves, and indeed, the Trump administration tried to head-off the suit by removing their names from the no-fly list just days before the case first went to court. It didn’t work. The men refused to drop their case, and on Thursday the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in their favor.

“I feel extremely happy and content. All praise belongs to Allah. This is a great victory for every voiceless Muslim and non-Muslim against hate and oppression and … I hope that this is a warning to FBI and other agencies that they will be held responsible for … traumatizing people and ruining their lives,” said Naveed Shinwari, one of the three men involved in the case.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NPR NEWS

Christians, Muslims again top list of faiths facing hostility worldwide

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Christians top the list for countries where they face either governmental or social hostility, according to a new report issued Nov. 10 by the Pew Research Center.

Christians have topped the list each year since Pew started collecting data in 2007.

The number of countries where Christians face some form of hostility rose from 143 in 2017 to 145 in 2018, the latest year for which statistics are available. Christians were followed in order by Muslims, Jews, “others,” folk religions, Hindus, Buddhists and the religiously unaffiliated.

Out of 198 nations studied, Christians faced government harassment in 124 countries, second to Muslims’ 126, and social harassment in 104 countries, one more than Muslims’ at 103. In some nations, both governments and private groups place restrictions on religious adherents.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CATHOLIC REVIEW

MUSLIM COMMUNITY SUPPORTS INTERFAITH GET-OUT-THE-VOTE RALLY

A large canopy tent stood Monday afternoon in a lot adjacent to Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1905 W. Wisconsin Ave. Under it stood rows of metal chairs, carefully spaced six-feet apart in every direction. A forest of red, white, and blue yard signs lined the street urging passersby, VOTE!

The scene was set for the Interfaith Candlelight Rally Kick Off for Early Voting. On the eve of Wisconsin’s two weeks of early voting (Oct. 20 – Nov. 1), a diverse group of religious and cultural organizations brought together faith leaders to “light up Milwaukee” and inspire their communities to vote.

The Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition and the Wisconsin Muslim Civic Alliance lent their support to the effort as sponsors of the event.

Other sponsors included MICAH (Milwaukee Intercity Congregations Allied for Hope), Souls to the Polls, League of Progressive Seniors, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, Voces de la Frontera, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Congregation Shir Hadash, Hmong American Women’s Association, MASH, Milwaukee Area Labor Council, Progressive Baptist Church, SEIU, Tikkun Ha-lr and Urban Underground.

Redeemer Lutheran Church served as host. “Redeemer is a great location and we like to host. We pride ourselves on our hospitality,” said Pastor Lisa Bates-Froiland in an interview after the event. “To remind people to vote the day before early voting starts is so close to our mission. As citizens, we are called on to live out our responsibilities as we can.”

By 5:30 p.m., when the rally started in earnest, amid a chill in the air and light snow, more than 150 people of multiple creeds and cultures joined together to share music and speeches, and to raise candles in celebration of the right to vote.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WISCONSIN MUSLIM JOURNAL

He Loved Muslims Because He Loved Jesus. The Bible Showed Him How.

Remembering the pilgrimage and legacy of Rick Love, who founded Peace Catalyst after years as international director of Frontiers.

ck Love loved Jesus above all else. He loved the Bible as God’s Word.

Rick’s love for Jesus led him to love Muslims. But his love for Scripture eventually changed his mind about how to love Muslims.

Rick, who passed away on December 29, did not always love Jesus. In a candid confession in his book, Glocal: Following Jesus in the 21st Century, Rick describes how in his youth he “embraced the ‘sex, drugs, and rock and roll’ lifestyle of the sixties.” After partying through the night of his 18th birthday, he woke up in the morning thinking, “There has to be more to life than this, and I’m going to find it.” It was of the 1970s Jesus Movement he would later write, “I encountered Jesus, and my life radically changed.”

From the start, Rick’s faith was all about following Jesus, which he distinguished from the cultural trappings associated with “Christianity” and traditional ways of “doing church.” It was certainly not about a heretical fusion of Christianity with American nationalism, that he believed has tragically damaged the witness of American Christians.

The other element at the heart of Rick’s faith was the authority of Scripture. Not content with merely upholding inerrancy as an abstract doctrine, he would steep himself daily in the biblical text, allowing it to guide his life. His wife Fran describes how day after day she witnessed Rick holding up his hands in prayer and worship as he studied the Bible.

From Scripture, Rick understood early on that God cared about all nations and cultures. This moved him to care about Muslims. For decades, he assumed this meant he should become a missionary in the traditional sense. He and Fran went to Indonesia to serve Jesus. Later Rick was asked to lead Frontiers—one of the largest evangelical organizations worldwide dedicated to reaching out to Muslims.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY

A Muslim community in Michigan has come together with a Ramadan lights challenge to lift spirits during the holiday

200427165018-01-ramadan-lights-challenge-exlarge-169(CNN) For Muslims around the world, the holy month of Ramadan looks a little different this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gone are the community gatherings for evening prayers, and nightly feasts to break fasts with friends and family.

That’s why the Muslim community in Dearborn, Michigan, decided to start a new tradition this year, one that could be done while still abiding by social distancing guidelines.
The community is hosting a Ramadan lights competition in hopes of spreading joy and bringing back some of the holiday spirit.
While many Muslims decorate their homes during the month, a similar tradition to hanging Christmas lights, this year, the Dearborn community has turned the custom into a challenge.
Residents are invited to nominate their own houses, or their neighbor’s, by sharing their address and a photo of their decorated home by May 11. The photos will be shared on social media and the public can vote on their 10 favorite houses from each district. Judges will then pick the best lit-up homes in the city.
Documentary filmmaker Razi Jafri, who works for the Center for Arab American Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, launched the challenge in collaboration with the Michigan Muslim Community Council and the city’s annual Ramadan Suhoor Festival.
The competition is also a part of Halal Metropolis, a project Jafri works on at the center to document the lives of Muslims in Southeast Michigan.
“This will help raise spirits by providing a positive, pro-social project for the community to get involved with,” Jafri told CNN. “It’s amazing because both Muslims and non-Muslims in the community are getting so excited about it. There’s been so much positive energy that has come out of this already. “
A home in Dearborn lit up for Ramadan in 2019.

Muslims Around The World Face A Different Kind Of Ramadan

ramadan 2As the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims begin observing the holy month of Ramadan, traditionally a time of dawn-to-dusk fasting, festivities and communal prayer, an unprecedented global pandemic is changing the celebration this year in equally unprecedented ways.

Mosques usually brimming with the faithful during Ramadan are closed, including in Saudi Arabia, home to Mecca and Medina, the holiest cities in Islam. The kingdom has some 14,000 confirmed cases, with more than 120 deaths from COVID-19, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Ramadan, the month that Muslims believe God revealed the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad, officially begins at the first sighting of the waxing crescent after the new moon, leading to different countries declaring its start a day or two apart.

In Saudi Arabia, the start of the holy month began Friday. In Egypt, it began Thursday. And in Iran, Ramadan begins Saturday.

In a statement, Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud lamented the necessity to maintain social distancing to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus and the damper it would place on this year’s celebrations.

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FULL ARTICLE FROM NPR 

One year after Christchurch we seek solace in community and being unapologetically Muslim

2500In many ways, life has not changed for many of my Muslim friends and me because the world has not changed. However, hope exists

A body on the floor of a place of worship is still a body
The fall, and the thump, and the snap
There is nothing beautiful about the way the blood sprays the sacred walls
The way it hangs itself a tapestry of death and despair

And we dig deep
We try to find the beauty in tragedy

Iman Etri, Bankstown Poetry Slam, March 2019

The scars of the Christchurch massacre linger. Time has carpeted the pain. Slowly but surely, the shock recedes until all we feel is the echo of the tragedy. One year on after Haji Daoud Nabi walked out of the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch and uttered the words “Welcome, brother” only to be met with bullets in response.

“Al Noor” is an Arabic term which means “the light”. In the Qur’an, the term is used to describe the divine light of God. A light that a man filled with hatred tried to extinguish when he opened fire on dozens of innocent people in their place of worship on their holiest day of the week.

At the start of this month, I felt a sense of anxiety. I thought it was just me. In preparing to write this piece, I started reaching out to my Muslim friends to check in with them and ask how they were feeling with the one year anniversary of the tragedy fast approaching. The responses have been similar in many ways – united by a common thread of sadness, fear, frustration, and a deep sense that pain is still felt.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN (UK)