“With great power, comes great responsibility.” -Uncle Ben. Clergy -or shayukh- in Muslim communities hold sacred power in that their positions symbolize a representation of character and religious authority in their community. The role of a shaykh is complex in that community members can turn […]
Month: December 2018
It took me nearly ten years before I called myself a photographer. Upon my first encounter with photography, I fell in love with it and knew it would play an important role in my life. It restored my sense of awe in the everyday sights […]
In June of 2016, The Washington Post broke a story detailing the first public element of an operation a year in the making. The Democratic National Committee had been hacked. And Russian intelligence was the undeniable culprit.
Slowly but surely, the following year offered up a growing list of connections between the Trump administration and the government behind the attack. An ongoing FBI investigation, left largely out of the media, looked both into the hacking of committee servers, and its potential connection to the Kremlin’s involvement in President Donald Trump’s campaign. The investigation focused on the contact Russian personnel/emissaries and members of the Trump campaign had maintained throughout 2015 and 2016.
This began with Michael Cohen and Felix Sater, who had engaged in discussions of establishing a Trump real estate presence in Russia. Continued contact between the two led to conversation concerning Trump forging a relationship with Russian government officials, which would be conducted through meetings Sater attempted to organize. Other members of Trump’s circle shared similar experiences concerning Russia. Paul Manafort, campaign chairman and chief strategist, was a former lobbyist for the President of the Ukraine (and close Putin ally) Victor Yanukovych. George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy advisor, met with a London professor to receive Russian ‘dirt’ on Hillary during the campaign. He additionally attempted to organize meetings between the campaign and Russians throughout 2016.
As American intelligence continued to investigate Trump, Russian infiltration of American politics and the internet/media networks it relies on was made starkly apparent.
Meanwhile, Trump did little to prove his presidency’s innocence. He took to Twitter to vehemently defend Russia and Putin in light of scrutiny. Within a week of his tweet, he publicly denied any relation to the Kremlin, even of an innocent nature. However, Trump is cited in a 2013 interview with MSNBC detailing his cordial and personal relationship with Vladimir Putin. A glinting instance of a presidential dishonesty that should not only be damned, but also taken as a practical admittance of guilt.
As American intelligence continued to investigate Trump, Russian infiltration of American politics and the internet/media networks it relies on was made starkly apparent. Russian hackers with ties to their nation’s intelligence agency(s) were found to have participated in the distribution of propaganda promoting Trump’s campaign over social media.
By the end of the year Trump had been elected president, and both the FBI and CIA had all but confirmed Putin’s involvement in his success.
The American public was being gradually made aware of a gaping hole in the ethical validity of the Trump administration.
In the January of 2017, Michael Flynn, national security advisor to the president, was found to have been in contact with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice. When interrogated, he lied to the FBI about both his conversations with the diplomat. He pleaded guilty to the offense in December of the same year.
The time in between Flynn’s crime and confession was spent publicly outing many Trump officials’ transgressions involving Russia over the previous two years. The American public was being gradually made aware of a gaping hole in the ethical validity of the Trump administration.
The February of this year brought with it the indictment of The Internet Research Agency, the Russian organization responsible for much of the political infiltration the Trump administration has enabled. They were charged with “operation to interfere in elections and political processes”. This included the spread of propaganda, organization of rallies in the United States in support of Trump, and even suppression of the minority vote.
Not only does collusion prove Donald Trump’s lack of integrity as a person and a president, but the circumstances of his election show a blatant disregard for the role the American people have always valued playing, as citizens: The role of the active voter, the active political agent.
As the years of Donald Trump’s presidency wear on, more and more evidence of Russian involvement in his entry to the Oval Office continues to surface. Yet his position remains unchallenged at a level any higher than that of the private citizen. Maintaining the staunch negligence of the American people, are our congressional representatives.
Not only does collusion prove Donald Trump’s lack of integrity as a person and a president, but the circumstances of his election show a blatant disregard for the role the American people have always valued playing, as citizens: The role of the active voter, the active political agent. The Internet Research Agency was cited in their indictment to have deliberately manipulated social media users, particularly young Americans, into wasting their vote. They set up social media accounts like ‘Blacktavist’ which preyed on the innocent and rightful desire for social justice many young Americans possess, and directed them towards voting for Jill Stein, assuring them that their voices would be heard. This ploy to split the democratic vote is one that went undetected by many of the social media users who believed themselves to be doing the right thing.
The Trump administration is, and always has been, built on a single value—personal glorification and grandeur. This is granted to our egomaniacal leader at the cost of American voices, particularly those of minorities whose voices have always held precarious positions. The allowance and acceptance of the Kremlin’s encroachment on our political spheres by Donald Trump, so that he may gain the personal satisfaction of the ultimate American victory, is disheartening, to say the least.
Enabling a systemic corruption of American patriotism is not, and has never been, the role of a president. As members of the public, we have a duty to uphold and fulfill our freedom as a people and as a nation. As Muslims, as girls, as individuals, we have a duty to ourselves to be aware of our voices and when they are being taken from us, so that we may reclaim them. In this task, we cannot be anything less than completely and utterly relentless.
It’s no secret that there has been an uprise of Islamophobia around the world. Firstly, it was the Chinese parliament creating concentration camps for Muslims, and now Denmark seems to be following in their horrific footsteps, in the most inexplicable way. Denmark wants to isolate […]
2018 saw a melange of wondrous looks from the catwalks of London, Paris, Milan, and New York that have inspired an innovative re-interpretation of modest fashion. Fashion divas and the Hijabi-next-door all found some way of incorporating the latest trends into the ever-evolving wardrobe of […]
Many of you have already heard of “Brexit.” It’s been prevalent in the news for the past few years, and for those of you who don’t know, it is a referendum that stands for “British Exit,” and gives Britain the option to exit the E.U. Historically, Britain linked to the European Union when the political class fabricated a lie to the country that this was a partnership with Europe, as told by citizens who were present during the entry of the U.K. into the E.U. Because of this, people voted to become a part of the European common market during that time period.
In the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, U.K. Prime Minister, Theresa May, was assigned to come up with a Brexit strategy after being deserted by her political allies, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, because despite supporting Brexit with every fiber of their being, they saw Brexit for the train-wreck that it is. Et tu, brute?
As professionals in a myriad of vital fields such as medicine and education are forced to leave the United Kingdom due to Brexit, isn’t it clear that this referendum of hate will cause those within the U.K. benefitting from the high quality services provided by foreign workers to suffer?
Make no mistake, those who voted for it did so because they despised immigrants from other parts of the E.U. However, despite the fact that it passed, many Britons are appalled by the idea and here’s why.
In a New York Times article titled “Where Brexit Hurts: The Nurses and Doctors Leaving London” by Katrin Bennhold, the writer interviewed Dr. Noël, a practicing physician who works in the U.K. but grew up in France. Dr. Noël had the following to say about the intentions behind Brexit:
“I’ve had very torn feelings about helping people who expressed the wish to get rid of us,” Dr. Noël said. In the article,Dr. Noël explains how he considers himself a part of the U.K. and how Brexit makes him feel isolated. “Psychologically, Brexit has had a huge impact,” he explains. “You feel rejected as a group.”
As professionals in a myriad of vital fields such as medicine and education are forced to leave the United Kingdom due to Brexit, isn’t it clear that this referendum of hate will cause those within the U.K. benefitting from the high quality services provided by foreign workers to suffer? Is the United Kingdom really willing to let her citizens suffer over a racist tantrum?
Experts in their fields, from UN representatives, to leading professors have admitted that the issue of Brexit stems from racist views.
Additionally, as per Jon Stone’s article in The Independent, there has been a massive increase in hate crimes within the U.K. and the rest of the European Union. Tragically, this sad statistic has only intensified ever since the Brexit referendum.
In this article, Stone interviewed an individual names Ms. Rudd, who said, “Well, I have a very clear message for them [purveyors of racist hate crimes]. We will not stand for it. Hatred has no place whatsoever in a 21st century Great Britain that works for everyone. We are Great Britain because we are united by values such as democracy, free speech, mutual respect and opportunity for all. We are the sum of all our parts – a proud, diverse society. Hatred does not get a seat at the table, and we will do everything we can to stamp it out.”
Experts in their fields, from UN representatives, to leading professors have admitted that the issue of Brexit stems from racist views. Professor Tendayi Achiume, who spent time in the U.K. investigating the impact of Brexit on racial inequality said, “The environment leading up to the referendum, the environment during the referendum, and the environment after the referendum has made racial and ethnic minorities more vulnerable to racial discrimination and intolerance.”
After all this, is there any doubt that Brexit is nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to demonize ethnic minorities? However, the United Kingdom is in for a rude awakening. Expelling foreign workers who are contributing to the well-being of Britain will do little more than send the U.K. into a downward spiral. If only her citizens can learn this lesson before it’s too late.
Edited by Manal Moazzam.
It’s almost that time of year again, where we realize we don’t know where the year went! There were a lot of “cringe-worthy” moments, mostly courtesy of the Twitter account of our reality-television President. There was also our introduction to ‘BBQ Becky’, ‘Permit Patty’, and […]
The best minute you’ll expend today is right here, in the manifestation of this one-minute short, “Commute.” Designed to poke and prod at society’s most explicit and implicit biases, “Commute” is the digital masterpiece we, as a society, need to draw attention to. This […]
By Mufti Mustafa Ceric , Ph.D,
Grand Mufti Emeritus of Bosnia
The essence of the faith of Islam comes from two primary sources: the Qur’an, which is God’s revelation, and the Sunnah, which is the teachings, traditions, and attributes of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. But the nature of Muslims come from their many peoples and tribes:
“O men, God has created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes so that you may know one another. But, indeed, the most noble of you is the most morally correct among you. God knows and is well informed about everything.” (Qur’an, 49:13).
Thus, the experience of the faith of Muslims is as diverse as the nature of their national and tribal backgrounds. Therefore, both a specific God-given nature and a specific societal experience of Muslims must be recognized and appreciated within a global Islamic civilization, as long as the principle of tawḥīd (oneness of God), as is expressed in Lā il ā ha illa Allah, and the principle of an ultimate nubuwwah (prophethood of Muhammad, peace be upon him) are properly upheld. This diversity in the unity of the faith of Islam is a blessing for our ummah. Hence, Muslims must see the various natures and experiences of their fellow Muslims as a blessing from God that enriches an overall Islamic culture and civilization in the world.
Inspired by the reality of this blessing, I would like to share with you my perspective which stems from my God-given nature, my war and peace experience as a Muslim in Bosnia and a genocide survivor in Europe, and how I also see myself as belonging to the universal Muslim community today. Indeed, I would like to tell you why I believe that the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies in Abu Dhabi, UAE, led by the esteemed Muslim scholar Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, is a right path of Islam and a good program of peace for Muslims around the world.
My testimony is based on my personal nature and my own first-hand experience of war and peace in Bosnia without a need of apology to anyone. It starts from the fact that, during the war and postwar time in Bosnia, it was hard to find a peace initiative from a credible Muslim group or institution to help me engage in dialogue and trust building with others. All the peace initiatives were coming from Christian groups or institutions that, by this very fact, had an advantage in presenting their case. So, when a major Muslim peace initiative was introduced by Sheikh Bin Bayyah in 2014 in Abu Dhabi, I was delighted to be invited to join it. Indeed, I was praying for its success and continuity because rarely do genuine Muslim ideas survive the tremendous pressure of staunch opponents who oppose such initiatives if they are not in— if it’s not their own idea. Fortunately, it seemed that the Forum for Promoting Peace in Abu Dhabi was spared this destiny—until the last, and in my opinion, the best of all Forums so far—the Fifth Forum of 2018. We know from the Qur’an and Sunnah that right and constructive critique is an important aspect of the nature of Islam, but the recent hate-speech and false accusations against the Forum are not in accordance with the nature of Islam and as such are not of an Islamic ʼ adab (ethics) and ʼakhlāq (morality).
Let me say that neither the esteemed Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah nor Shaykh Hamza Yusuf is in need of my defense. They are capable and upright people; their lifelong dedication to Islamic work speaks for itself. I feel the need to raise my voice clearly and loudly in defense of the importance of promoting peace, and the work of both esteemed scholars towards that goal. I humbly claim to be aligned with them in this purpose. And we should be grateful to the government of the UAE for supporting this project that has already engaged prominent religious, academic, cultural, and political leaders from around the world and earned their respect and commitment to this cause of peace.
First, no one has a monopoly on peace, but everyone has a duty to promote peace in their own way because, by its very definition, “Islam” is the concept of peace, and thus a “Muslim” is also by definition a peaceful man or woman. Therefore, the Forum for Promoting Peace is an application of this unique and powerful concept of Islam, namely the concept of peace.
Second, no one has a monopoly on tolerance, but everyone has an obligation to learn and teach tolerance in his or her neighborhood and surroundings because Islam is the faith of tolerance, made clear in the Qur’anic injunction: “there is no compulsion in religion” ( lā ikrā h a fī l-dī n) .
Third, no one has a monopoly on dignity, but everyone is entitled to enjoy the right of life (al-nafs), faith (al-dī n), freedom (al-ʿaql), property (al-māl), and dignity (al-ʿirḍ) because Muslim scholars defined these peace-oriented principles, and they did this long before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These principles are based on the letter and spirit of the Qur’an and the Sunnah as an amānah (trust) of the entire Muslim ummah, not just a part of it.
Fourth, no one has a monopoly on alliance, but everyone has the right to seek alliance with peace-loving persons and nations based on the example of the Prophet Muhammad , who participated in an alliance prior to Islam, known as the ḥilf al-fu ḍūl (the Alliance of Virtues) that he also approved in Islam.
Fifth, no one has a monopoly on democracy, but everyone has the right to speak about democracy, even if they believe it can sometimes lead to tyranny. The Greek philosopher Socrates had that right as well. He used to say that oligarchies become democracies for predictable reasons: “Democracy comes into power,” Socrates says, “when the poor are the victors, killing some and exiling some, and giving equal shares in the government to all the rest.” It’s an “agreeable form of anarchy,” Socrates tells us and adds that “the insatiable desire for freedom occasions a demand for tyranny.”
Sixth, no one has a monopoly on moral preaching, but everyone has a duty to improve his own morality before preaching to others. Islam teaches us that a right moral praxis is better than empty preaching.
And finally, no one has a monopoly on Islam, but everyone has the duty of farḍ ʿayn (personal responsibility) and far ḍkif ā yah (collective responsibility) to behave in such a way that does not corrupt the moral teachings of Islam and does not compromise the right image of Islam and Muslims in the world for the sake of personal gains. The work of Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf is their due of farḍ ʿayn and farḍ kifāyah for repairing a damaged picture of Islam and Muslims in the world, due to some irresponsible and militant groups who have claimed to act on behalf of Islam. Those who don’t understand the importance of the message of these scholars are out of touch with reality, and thus, cannot claim to be the right guide for the Muslims, especially in the West. Those among the Muslims, wherever they are, who still support a catastrophic regicide that has happened recently in some major Muslim countries ought to be advised that suicide, individual or collective, is not part of the nature of Islam. Indeed, Islam has never been a religion of destruction. Islam has always been a religion of constructive and inclusive culture and civilization.
Let me say that no Muslim with a good heart and sound mind can be indifferent to what is happening in Yemen, Libya, Syria, Myanmar (Burma), and elsewhere, where our Muslim brothers and sisters suffer. But this pain will not be removed by additional destructive ideas that would cripple the rest of the Muslim countries just because some others are in an internal or external conflict. On the contrary, our duty is to do whatever we can to prevent further destruction of the Muslim states and societies. The Muslims today don’t need more Palestines. They need more hearts and minds like Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. Indeed, they need more countries and societies like the UAE to support the promotion of peace and security among Muslim societies and others in the world.
And my final note to my Muslim brothers and sisters in the West is not to make a hasty judgment that is instigated by some people (and institutions) who do not have sympathy for Muslims who are suffering. If you cannot help the plight of Muslims today, then at least don’t make the Muslim situation worse than it is. Those who have not tasted the bitterness of war cannot fully appreciate the sweet taste of peace. I have tasted both. Therefore, my dear Muslim brothers, sisters, and friends, wherever you are, pray for peace and support those who work for peace, whoever they may be.
Mustafa Ceric, Ph.D.
Grand Mufti Emeritus of Bosnia
Just think how easy it would be to thank Allah for earning a million dollars, versus thanking Allah for losing that same million. True faith stands regardless of our financial, physical, and emotional wellbeing, and this TDC, Zeba Khan’s session will discuss maintaining faith through […]