Monday, October 30, 2006
How strange is this? A textbook on Islam, written is Spanish, Published by a Catholic publishing house.
Yet another reason not to fly, but we have to make hajj. The proverbal rock and a hard place.
A mosque is opened at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point ( you know that this place is bugged).
Sunday, October 29, 2006
As you can probably tell, I am devoting today's blog to the raging debate over Muslim women wearing niqaab and kimaar. The debate started from comments made by a British politician, and a case with a British sister fighting to keep her position as a teaching assistant while continuing to wear kimaar and niqaab. Unfortunately, see lost her case (may Allah (SWT) reward her for her convictions in this life and next). Her story illustrates the need to establish and support quality Islamic education institutions in the west. It not only provides a strong foundation for future generations, they strengthen the local communities infrastructure by providing religious friendly employment.
Nevertheless, at this point you may begin to wonder what does that have to do with Muslims here ( I know many probably aren't wondering this, but this is for readers who are), but the answers is simple. No matter where we are in the world we are the Ummah of Rasoollah (PBUH). This means that we should not be concerned with nationality or tribalism (although many of us are still working through this). Also, because we have had instances here in the past where sisters wearing niqaab or kimaar has become an issue. What we do not want is to be placed in a situation where our ability to freely practice our religion has become eroded over time. First it will be no veils, then no hijabs, then what will be next? How will Muslim sisters be able to guard their modesty and not look like those who don't? Unfortunately, many non-Muslims appear to be intimidated by the mere appearance of someone who is modest. I believe that this is because it reminds them how much modesty is absent from their appearance. I could be wrong, but I don't think so. I think that it is funny how those amongst them that guard their modesty, like nuns, the Ahmish, or Jews who actually follow Judaism, don't decry the hijab and veil as tools of oppression or barriers to integrating into western society. I believe that at the end of the day, if you are a minority of any kind ( ethnic, religious, or cultural) you will never truly integrate into western society. Once more "They will not be pleased with you until you believe as they believe". Anything short of that only garners disrespect and ridicule in many cases. On the flip side of the issue, we could always use such discourse to educate non-Muslims about Islam.
On a personal note, I admire our Muslim sister who choose to cover. In today's world it makes them a lighting rod for the ignorant and misinformed in our society. It is easier for many Muslim men, especially those without Arabic names or beards, to appear as non-Muslim to non-Muslims. This is not the case for our mothers', wives, sisters, and daughters. They are the everyday face of Islam. Much respect due.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
It is refreshing to see young Muslims not afraid to openly practice their faith, especially at school. This is often the time when young Muslims face peer pressure to be like everyone else. With that said, I know that the brother praying in front of the school got more than a double take from some of his classmates, and may even have been the reason why some parents called their kids in sick the next day. I'm just saying...
Tasneem Tawfeek, 9, of Randolph takes part in a Roxbury event for the homeless yesterday. (Staff photo by John Wilcox)
Now this is what every community should be doing all year long.
I thought that this article was funny. First of all, in my humble opinion Ramadan is more important the Olympics or any sporting event. They are worried about Muslims being at a disadvantage and passing out in the final stretch of the 400 meter race (just a joke). I'm worried about passing out on the way to my car. I don't think that the temperature falls below 100 degrees here during that period. Maybe I will move the Alsaka for that summer. On second thought, Alsaka has over 20 hours of day light during the summer. I'll take the heat. Alhamdullah for AC!
This is sadly ironic. We are a deen with a disporportinate amount of doctors, nurses, and engineers in western countries, yet it took a western government to build a hospital that caters to Muslims. Oh yeah, the doctors and nurses arent' Muslim though. Isn't that a kick in the teeth! I guess beggers can't be choosers.
It looks like the ties between the Middle East and South Korea are growing. You would be surprised at the number of Muslim Koreans there are in Korea....I was.
I have wrote about this new comic strip written by and created for Muslims, but it appears that it is really taking off (no pun intended). It is really receiving a lot of buzz.
NEEDS ROOM TO GROW: Shazia Ali in Radio Ramadan's cramped sound studio.
Picture: Tim Hurst
Now this is what I'm talking about! I like to see the Ummah progress in the west in Halal non-traditional fields.
Poetry and spoken word has been a part of our culture since the time of the Prophet (PBUH). It is nice to see that Muslims here are becoming more vocal with their work.
I have known cabbies to do a lot of things, but turn down fare! This is new one, at least it appears to be for the sake of Allah. May they be rewarded.
Do you find the similarities between the Apple store and the Kaba offensive? I don't, and I'm one of the most paranoid, seeing a conspiracy theory in a bowl of corn flakes people I know. I mean come on, this is really stretching it. Hey, but thats' just me. ( I'll tell you about the corn flakes conspiracy later...there is a conspiracy!)
Maybe European contries should have considered this before they started colonizing all over the world all willy nilly. Just accept us as we are.
What? They don't believe in putting wrappers on burgers in Europe. I think that I will pass on the "Royale with Cheese".
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
It was bad enough to fly while actually being Muslim, not it is hazardous to fly while looking Muslim.
I am happy to see Muslims in the West developing the necessary social infrastructure that will allow us to leave a lasting footprint in the West. Not only do we have Muslims running for national offices, we have financial institutions developing Shariah compliant options for Muslims. Everything from banking services, to insurance, to investment options.
Monday, October 23, 2006
One of the seldom spoken of, but often worried about daily issues within the Muslim community, (for those that actually practise Islam outside of Ramadan and Eid celebrations) is the subject of dating or meeting a mate. I had an African brother a few years ago ask me how do meet someone in this country if you are a Muslim? This has become one of the greyish of grey areas in many communities. This article takes a stab at assisted marriage to address the silent horror in many Muslim American families. Some Muslims have even taking to a version of speed dating to find a solution.Parents worry about their children marrying outside of the deen which is understandable, and children are tempted because they were raised in a society that does not hold itself to the same level that Islam has set. FYI, this is not only a US or Western problem, many countries that are predominately Muslim also struggle with dating (although they don't advertise it).
Protect your neck! It should come as no surprise that violence, discrimination, and the harassment of Muslims in the U.S. are on the rise. Remeber to bob and weave, and for goodness sake don't get them mixed up...the outcome is usually ugly.
There has been a significant amount of attention given to the call for the formation of a legitimate Caliphate (I can see the Presidents, Amirs, Shieks, and Kings on the horn dispatching some guys in suits to talk to anyone who is serious about it), but it may be a good idea for the same reason that it terrifies so many others. A just ruler is exactly what the world needs. Unfortunately, it is also one of the rarest things in existence during anytime periond. I would not want a Caliphate established by some of the have baked corrupt leaders of existing Muslim countries.....apparently some non-Muslims agree that Muslims need a Caliphate also, but for different reasons.
I think that I am going to start a category called the stupidest idea of the week. Here is the first nominee. I have never heard of a scenario where having separate streets for different people solved a problem.....isn't this how the Bloods and Crips started? Have we learned nothing?
Keith Ellison has a chance to make history as the first Muslim to be elected to congress. I think that he is a good example of Muslim Americans. He is African American (contrary to popular belief, most Muslims in America are African American and not Arabs (I have a lot of love for all my brothers and sisters regardless of background), He is a convert (although I don't like that term), He left the nation of Islam to accept Islam as so many before him have done. Inshallah, he will end up like Barak Obama ( I know that he is not Muslim, but he seems somewhat fair and concerned about people) and not like Malcolm (laid out in the Audubon...no disrespect intended).
Can't we all just get along? No really!
Two stories that I enjoy relaying are about people who accept the deen and the expansion of the deen, so end with both.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Islam, democracy in essence the same
By Motiur Rahman Nizami
Wed, 13 Sep 2006, 10:11:00
The politics of the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh is based on this core Islamic principle. It works to bring about political change employing only democratic means even if it takes a hundred years. It would be wrong to think that this is a new opportunistic approach just to comply with the new feverish attempt to export democracy to Muslim lands; in fact ever since its inception the Jamaat made it clear that 'political power must stem from approval of the populace. According to Maudoodi resorting to undemocratic methods to bring about political change in democratic country is unislamic. The Permanent Programme and Procedure Section of the Constitution the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh stipulates for lawful movements to bring about political change. Maudoodi also made it clear that the Islamic movement cannot adopt a clandestine and secretive approach.
Not just in theory the Jamaat has demonstrated this unflinching commitment to democratic means through its long and distinguished history of political participation. It has taken part in the electoral process ever since the creation of Pakistan and refused to resort to any violent or undemocratic means even in the face of ruthless persecution and extreme provocation. True to its expressed ideals the Jamaat worked to change autocratic government by taking part in various opposition alliances both during the Pakistan period and in the Independent Bangladesh. During the Pakistan period it played a very important role in Combined Opposition Party (COP), Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and the Democratic Action Committee (DAC) in the fight against the autocratic dictatorship of President General Ayub Khan and during the Bangladesh period it joined the Awami League and other opposition parties against the military Dictator General Ershad's autocratic rule. It is currently taking part in the governance of the country as a result of its participation in a four party alliance against Awami misrule. Such alliances were always constituted and run in a democratic and peaceful manner.
Even its opponents accepted Jamaat proposed Caretaker Government, a system that resolved political stalemate, consequently started democratic political process. Today it is widely recognised that the Jamaat enjoys a reasonable popular support in the country. It may not be enough to win power in its own right but it remains significant nonetheless and is rising. So much so that during pre-independence 1970 election, the Jamaat came second only to the Awami League with about 10% popular vote and won at least one seat while every other party was totally wiped-out by the all-engulfing Awami League landslide. The constant barrage of hostile propaganda by the pro-India politicians and media failed to dent such support. The party continues to make progress in every election by improving its popular support. Jamaat's democratic credential is now widely acknowledged by independent observers both inside and outside the country. As early as September 1988 Library of Congress Country Studies commented that 'it advocated the resignation of Ershad and restoration of democracy'. Recently US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher and former US Ambassador to Bangladesh Harry K. Thomas acknowledged that the Jamaat is a democratic party.
One of the aims of the Jamaat is to cleanse politics from the scourge of corruption and establish honest and sincere leadership in the country. While I do not wish to blow my own trumpet, yet it has to be said for the sake of record that it has succeeded to demonstrate that even in the midst of widespread corruption, it is possible to conduct a clean and efficient administration. Philip Browning writing in the International Harold Tribune wrote, 'The Jamaat has not pressed an Islamic agenda too overtly, but its ministers have acquired a reputation for being competent and uncorrupt, which could serve it well if disillusion with the major parties spread'. The Jamaat firmly believes that if this could be replicated across the board it has the potential to rid the nation from much of its miseries.
The Jamaat rejects the view that it is Bangladesh's destiny to remain poor; the history of the country tells us otherwise. There was a time when this part of India was considered most rich. Not long before the British arrived 1/3rd of a ton of rice used to cost only one Taka (less than 100th of a pound). Europeans used to flock to the country much the same way people from the subcontinent now flock to Europe. This is evidenced by the formation of a series of East India Companies, British, French and Dutch. They all were fighting with each other to secure a share in the resources of the country. The Jamaat believes that with competent and honest management the country's fortunes could be changed for the better. The picture is already looking promising under the leadership of Alliance Government.
Bangladesh's GDP has grown from 5.3 percent in the financial year 2003 to 5.5 percent in 2005 and is expected to be 6.5 percent in 2006, the foreign export has gone up from million $6492 in 2003 to Million $8579 in 2005 with an expected amount of million $9773 in 2006. Goldman Sachs predicts that 11 developing nations including Bangladesh have the greatest potential to emulate the long term economic success expected from China, India, Brazil and Russia and can succeed in long term. According to Ifzal Ali, Chief Economist of Asian Development Bank the country's growth now 'stands between 6 to 7 percent'.
The Jamaat also wishes to establish a welfare state based on justice and fair play, where the state will guarantee the provision of work, housing, education and healthcare. It will try to ensure common good and opportunities for all. By curbing unlimited greed and implementing the Islamic principle of zakat it will work towards lifting up the poorer section of the community.
Keeping to the rich Islamic tradition of fair treatment of the minorities the Jamaat will ensure that the minorities' rights and properties are fully protected and they enjoy their life with full respect and freedom. Throughout history Muslim states provided such rights to their minority citizens, they were allowed to be governed by their own religious laws, their faith institutions were maintained and renovated with state funds. In Bengal for example a fourteenth century Muslim ruler Hussain Shah commissioned and paid for the translation of great Hindu religious texts the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. More recently, Mr. Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid the Secretary General of the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Country's Social Welfare Minister risked criticism from some extreme religious leaders for visiting the Durga Puja pandels and reassuring the Hindu minority that the state will take full responsibility so that they can enjoy their festivities in total security.
This, is a very brief outline of the Janiaat approach within the democratic process in Bangladesh. However, I must also mention here that apart from the Jamaat some other Islamic political parties also contribute to the democratic process of the country. They include the Nizame Islam Party, the Khilafat Majlis, Islami Oikko Jote and the Muslim League.
In conclusion I would like to point out that religion plays a very important role in Muslim societies and will continue to do so in countries like Bangladesh for the foreseeable future. Artificial attempts to sanitise politics from religion did not work in Muslim lands, despite outward pretence even secular parties are forced to tinge their political presentation with religious flavour. Today we are witnessing a gradual progress of Islamic political parties across the Muslim World and they are going to shape and reshape Muslim nations whether others like it or not.
The Western policy planners and the media on the other hand continue to do disservice to them by refusing to acknowledge this truth. They still prefer to remain comfortable with the spoon-feeding of their secular clones in those countries and get biased lies or at best half-truths. The West must make a fundamental paradigm shift in their attitude if they wish to develop productive relations with Muslim nations.
(Motiur Rahman Nizami, Minister for Industries and Ameer of the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh made this presentation on "Islamic political parties within the democratic process in Bangladesh: The Jamaat approach" at Chathan House on Asia programme Meeting on September 11, 2006 in London)
© Copyright 2003 by The New Nation
Teacher Arrested, Accused Of Anti-Islam Tirade
Woman Escorted From Maryland High School
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Plans to Honor L.A. Muslim Leader Bring Out Animosity
September 12, 2006
In a public hearing spiced with accusations of Jew-hating and Muslim-bashing, nearly four dozen religious, ethnic and civil rights activists spoke out Monday on whether a prominent Los Angeles Muslim should be disqualified from receiving a prestigious humanitarian award because he has expressed some views critical of Israel.
Maher Hathout, chairman of the Islamic Center of Southern California, is the first Muslim chosen for the award from the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission. But some Jewish groups have vehemently objected to the selection, calling Hathout an extremist masquerading as a moderate, and are urging the commission to rescind the award before it is presented next month.
At Monday's commission hearing, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, an umbrella organization of 22 groups representing 40,000 donors, stepped forward as the latest and most influential opponent to Hathout.
Federation President John R. Fischel told commissioners that Hathout's "false and controversial" statements about Israel — that it is an apartheid state, for instance — had offended and angered many Jews.
"Dr. Hathout takes partisan positions which do not foster harmonious and equitable intergroup relations…. His words regrettably create the very fissures and divides that the [commission] is seeking to repair," Fischel told commissioners.
But Hathout's supporters Monday were more diverse and outnumbered opponents 2 to 1. Christians, Muslims and Jews, blacks, Latinos and Asian Americans, and such civil rights leaders as Connie Rice, who received the 2002 award, spoke forcefully in support of Hathout, describing him as a tireless proponent of interfaith and interethnic harmony.
Rice said it was difficult for her to break with her longtime Jewish friends on the issue, but that Hathout had taken "extraordinarily difficult" actions in promoting tolerance and moderation.
The furor over the award, she said, had turned the issue into a "seminal struggle" over whether Los Angeles would be seen as embracing or rejecting a man who preached tolerant Islamism.
"If we send a message to Muslims in Southern California that someone who has tried so hard to bridge … all of our communities cannot be acknowledged, we would have done extreme damage," Rice said.
Hathout also won support from the man that the 14-member commission originally chose for the award — the Rev. James M. Lawson Jr., a civil rights leader and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles, who was unavailable to accept the award because he is teaching in Nashville.
In a letter read to commissioners Monday, Lawson urged them to reject what he called "extremism which seeks to vilify Dr. Hathout's name and character." He praised the Muslim leader as "a person of immeasurable integrity and honesty" who "reflects the best not only of the Muslim faith, but the finest of any faith."
In addition, several rabbis and the Progressive Jewish Alliance spoke in support of Hathout, saying that criticism of Israel should not be equated with backing terrorism or the destruction of the Jewish state.
Despite the deeply felt views and occasional outbursts of name-calling, the hearing remained largely calm and controlled. Commissioners will meet again Monday to vote on a final resolution.
The award was established more than a decade ago to honor outstanding contributions toward fostering better relations among diverse communities.
Last year's winner was Zara Buggs Taylor, who was honored for her work in fighting discriminatory hiring practices and biased portrayals in the media.
In 2002, the award was given to Rice, a director and co-founder of the Advancement Project, which is dedicated to building a racially just democracy and breaking down barriers to real opportunity.
Hathout has said — and repeated again Monday — that he supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In introductory remarks to commissioners, the Egyptian native and retired cardiologist said he came to the U.S. 35 years ago with his family seeking freedom.
In 1989, Hathout said, he was an early Muslim voice to condemn the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's fatwa against Indian-born British novelist Salman Rushdie.
Two years later, he said, he barred from speaking at his mosque the extremist Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who was convicted in 1995 of seditious conspiracy in connection with a plot to blow up several New York-area landmarks.
Hathout also said he wrote two books undermining any Islamic justification for suicide bombings and other terrorism, and initiated the city's first dialogues among Muslims, Christians and Jews.
"I am very proud of my record," he said. "I believe in human dignity."
Hathout added that his harsh words about Israeli state policies were spoken from "immense pain" he felt over Palestinian suffering, but that he meant no offense to citizens of Israel or Jews.
But Marcie Polier Swartz, a Brentwood businesswoman who was a co-founder of the first Los Angeles Muslim-Jewish dialogue, said she and most other Jews eventually dropped out.
She and others said Monday that they were particularly upset that the Muslim leader was recorded at a Washington, D.C., rally in 2000 condemning as traitors Arab governments that entered into dialogues with Israel.
Hathout, however, said he was not opposing Arab governments' talks with Israel but their oppressive regimes.
Hathout's opponents reaffirmed the Muslim leader's right to voice his sentiments — but argued that they were too divisive to merit giving him a human relations award.
At least one commissioner, the Rev. Zedar E. Broadous, said he had heard "nothing new" to change his original vote in July to support Hathout.
But others said they wanted time to review the voluminous material — including hundreds of e-mails — submitted from around the nation over the selection.
|Malaysia set to become a global Islamic financial hub|
Kuala Lumpur, Sept 12: Malaysia has successfully issued more than 70 per cent of the Islamic bonds in the global Islamic financial market, amounting to USD 41 billion, making it a potential global Islamic financial hub.
"At the global level, Malaysia was the largest issuer of Islamic bonds in the world," second Finance Minister Nor Mohamed Yakcop said.
"The success that we have achieved has given confidence to several foreign bond issuers to issue their bonds in the Ringgit currency and in the country's capital market," he said here yesterday.
Nor Mohamed said the government would continue to actively strengthen the country's position in order for it to become an International Islamic Financial Centre.
"We are confident that with our efficient financial infrastructure and regulatory framework that supports the development of the Islamic capital market, Malaysia would be able to achieve this objective," he said.
Towards this, more promotional efforts should be continued to be carried out, he said.
The assets of Islamic trust funds meanwhile have reached almost RM9 billion.
On the government's side, various incentives have been introduced to boost the development of the market, he said.
These incentives are expected to bring in the participation of more foreign and local investors in the Islamic capital market, he said.
Convert Plays Leadership Role in Muslim Community
More in the Series
Morning Edition, September 12, 2006 · Sheikh Hamza Yusuf is one of the most prominent American Muslim leaders today, but he's not well-known outside the Muslim community. He's an American convert to Islam who has very publicly attacked American foreign policy. He has also denounced Islamic extremism, while defending Muslims against what he sees as prejudice.
About Hamza Yusuf
Yusuf was born Mark Hanson in Walla Walla, Wash. He became a Muslim in 1977 and studied for 10 years in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and North and West Africa. He has traveled around the world, giving talks on Islam.
Yusuf founded Zaytuna Institute, which has "established an international reputation for presenting a classical picture of Islam in the West and which is dedicated to the revival of traditional study methods and the sciences of Islam," according to his online biography.
Laurie Goodstein, religion reporter for The New York Times, compares Yusuf's communication skills to former President Clinton's.
"He has that Clinton ability to focus in on whoever he's speaking to, look them directly in the eyes and make them feel like they are the only one in the room even though there might be 200 people in the room," she says.
John Esposito of Georgetown's Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding says Yusuf has been working on a project to translate key texts of Islam that are important to the Muslim community and that may also be of interest to non-Muslims.
Esposito says Yusuf has "put a lot of time into the whole area of education [and] access to information... to kind of say, 'Here are the true sources of your faith. That's what you should be looking to. Look to the Koran. The Koran has space for Christians and Jews. And you need to remember and affirm that. You also need to look at our classical texts, rather than the texts that come from the extremists or the terrorists.'"
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Volunteers from the California-based Islamic Relief group handed out supplies to homeless and other needy people outside a housing project in Newark on Saturday and in New York on Sunday. The event took place during the holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims are encouraged to donate to the needy.
"I know my health needs to improve and at least now I know how much more I need to pay attention to stay alive," she said.
Similar programs were held in more than two dozen U.S. cities.
"We have reached out to countless homeless and have seen faces filled with happiness; that is the best thing about my job," said Yousef Abdallah, operations manager of Islamic Relief's northeast office. "We need to do more domestic projects. It's about what we face right in front of us: Love thy neighbor, and here we are."
Mayor Cory Booker helped volunteers unload truckloads of supplies.
"This is a way to fix what people say about Muslims," he said. "This is what I want to see, the community working together."
Being Muslim in America isn't what it used to beBy Louis Sahagun
Los Angeles Times
A Muslim homemaker from the Los Angeles area, assuming authorities monitor her charity donations, has stopped giving to "any Muslim charity that touched my heart" and now contributes to less-controversial organizations.
In Sacramento, Calif., a young imam has broken with an ancient tradition among Islamic prayer leaders by shaving part of his beard to appear less threatening to non-Muslims.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, they say, increased scrutiny and suspicion have made them more cautious about expressing their faith. Other California Muslims have taken a different approach.
A 19-year-old hijab-wearing student at the University of California, Irvine, and others in her school's Muslim Student Union staged a program in May critical of Israel called Holocaust in the Holy Land. She also helps organize rallies and fundraisers to support Muslims that she believes have been unfairly targeted by federal investigators.
The experiences of the homemaker, the imam and the student reflect the transforming and sometimes contradictory effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In the five years since the attacks, some Muslims have tried to be less visible, others more bold, as they live and work beside their fellow Americans.
"We are witnessing the creation of a new Muslim-American identity that is still a work in progress," said Zahid H. Bukhari, director of the American Muslim studies program at Georgetown University.
"In times past, it happened to African-Americans, Latinos, Jews, Japanese and Catholics; now, it's Muslims' turn to become part of the fabric of American life," he said.
Many who study U.S. Muslims say that, without the Sept. 11 attacks, it might have taken the extremely diverse, reclusive and largely immigrant community - an estimated 6 million to 8 million - another decade to enter the public square. The acts of terrorism on U.S. soil forced them into it, albeit under what some Muslims believe are the prying eyes of government, media and neighbors.
They speak of shifting to unlisted telephone numbers or obtaining post office boxes so they don't have to reveal their home addresses. Some have even stopped going to mosque prayer meetings.
"It's an amazingly exhausting job being Muslim in America these days, because we're always on," said Napha Phyukal Quach, a congregant of the Al-Fatiha Islamic Center in Azusa, Calif.
Zubeida Khan immigrated to the United States from India in 1977, under terms of a family-arranged marriage, to wed Iftikhar Khan.
Her husband went on to become a cardiologist. In 1998, the couple and their two sons moved into a spacious hilltop home 15 miles east of Los Angeles.
For years, "I was content being a housewife," said Khan, who does not cover her hair with a hijab but always dresses modestly, in long-sleeve blouses and long skirts or pants.
Then came Sept. 11.
"With people being arrested left and right and negative images of Muslims filling the news, I told my sons to keep a low profile," recalled Khan, 49. "But I also felt I had to step out of my home and into the real world to stand up for Muslims and tell people what Islam really stands for: peace, mercy, equality for all. Surrender to God."
Khan began inviting people who might help promote understanding - city officials, pastors and rabbis - to her home for face-to-face talks.
She joined the Muslim Public Affairs Council Foundation in 2003, and now serves as treasurer of its board.
"In becoming more assertive in the public arena, I've made a statement about who and what I am at a time when a few unreasonable radicals have hijacked public attention," she said. "We have to make it loud and clear to other Muslims and our communities that we stick to the principles of the Quranand the life of the prophet."
Marya Bangee, the student at UC Irvine, says she, too, is trying to embody the principles of Islam. But she is among those who take a more aggressive approach when engaging American society.
Civil rights have become a banner issue among many Muslim youths. Unlike their parents, many of whom came from countries where political activism could be dangerous, today's students know their rights, speak the language and know American culture.
Among Bangee's recent priorities has been campaigning on behalf of an Orange County, Calif., fundraiser jailed for two years because of his connection with a charity allegedly tied to terrorists. On July 27, a jubilant Abdel Jabbar Hamdan was ordered freed by a federal judge who rejected the government's claim that he was a national-security threat.
The next day, Bangee helped stage a town-hall meeting for Hamdan in Irvine. As more than 200 people filed into a sweltering auditorium, she said, "This event is a direct result of 9-11 and the subsequent government investigations of Muslim charities."
The investigations have resulted in the freezing of millions of dollars in bank assets and the closure of several Muslim charities.
"One of the mandates of Islam is that Muslims donate 2.5 percent of their assets to the poor and the needy," Bangee said. "But for us, it is more difficult than ever to get money to the people in places such as Palestine, one of the most pressing humanitarian disasters in the world.
"Our job now," she added, "is to put pressure on the government to make sure, insha Allah" - God willing - "that justice prevails."
A surge of concern about how to divert Muslim youths from radical influences has created a post-Sept. 11 demand for a rare commodity: English-speaking imams who understand American youth culture.
One such imam is Mohamed Abdul Azeez, the new prayer leader at the SALAM Islamic Center in Sacramento.
He's the kind of leader Mahdi Bray, executive director of the nonprofit Muslim American Society, had in mind when he observed, "We need imams who know that when our kids talk about Eminem, it's not chocolate candy, and 50 Cent isn't loose change and Usher is not going to take you to your seat."
Azeez, 30, was born in Egypt. He immigrated to the United States in 2000 with aspirations of establishing himself as a scholar. He took charge of the mosque in 2004.
The United States, he said, gives him the opportunity to continue studying Islam free of the cultural restraints of the Middle East. As Azeez put it, he can explore his faith "outside the box."
Shaving his beard was a break with a tradition calling on imams to take on the appearance of the bearded prophet Muhammad. "I may be the only imam in America who doesn't wear a full beard," he said.
"But I don't want to scare people," said Azeez, who sports a mustache and goatee. "There are just too many negative ideas that go along with Muslims with full beards these days."
Azeez encourages congregants to vote and to support civil rights organizations, backs women on the mosque's board of trustees and welcomes non-Muslim participation in religious activities.
Given that nearly everyone at his mosque has a relative or friend who has been visited by federal authorities, had a run-in with airport security or been called a profane name in public, Azeez also started a free lecture course called "Discover Islam."
At his mosque one day this summer, Azeez led prayers in Arabic and then addressed 150 worshippers in English, presenting them a challenge.
"Brothers and sisters," he began, almost scolding, "I still hear Muslim immigrants in the United States say, 'I am from Turkey, or Jordan, or Morocco.' They never call themselves Americans. ... They spend their entire lives in a nice house in the suburbs and taking advantage of a system without giving back.
"This is extremely dangerous, brothers and sisters," he said. "There is no shame in saying, 'I am a Muslim American and will help make this a better place for everyone.' "
Later, in his office, Azeez said, "People think I have answers for everything. I don't. Nor do I have a coherent picture of reality to share. I tend to give people hope."
Staring out the window, he added, "I have a few deferred dreams of my own, like learning to fly, or buying a rifle to go deer hunting with friends. But I can't do either of those things without worrying about being reported to authorities. Non-Muslims can do those things. We can't."
Muslim fury after bikini model claimed to be Pakistan's entryA prize winning bikini contest model who claimed she was the Pakistani representative has sparked outrage in the predominantly muslim country.
Stunning Mariyah Moten, 22, won the 'Best in Media' title - for being the most photographed and interviewed contestant - at the pageant in the Chinese resort of Beihai.
But furious Pakistani authorities say she did not have permission to represent the country, where many women only go out in public covered in a veil.
They are now threatening the model, who grew up in Pakistan but holds a US passport after she moved there eight years ago, with restrictions on entering her homeland.
"We have asked our missions in Washington and Beijing to investigate this because it is against our policy, culture and religion," senior Culture Ministry official Abdul Hafeez Chaudhry said.
"She is an American passport holder. She is an American national of Pakistani origin, so how did she get entry as a Pakistani?"
Moten, a student of hotel management at the University of Houston, was born and brought up in the Pakistani city of Karachi.
Mr Chaudhry said Pakistan - which does not hold beauty contests - might take the issue up with China, depending on the result of the investigation.
He also said the government might withdraw from Moten special privileges offered to people of Pakistani descent such as visa-free travel to Pakistan.
Muslim girls surge ahead at school but held back at work
John Carvel, social affairs editor
Thursday September 7, 2006
It found that girls of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin - 90% of whom are Muslim - have overtaken white boys in performance at GCSE, with a higher proportion achieving five good passes at grade C or above. Despite lower family incomes they are also rapidly catching up with white girls.
Black girls of African-Caribbean origin are not far behind and already outperform boys from their own ethnic group. The EOC said girls at 16 from all the minority communities have higher aspirations than their white contemporaries to progress to skilled jobs requiring degrees or long periods of training. Nearly 90% want to work full-time after leaving education, balancing employment with having a family.
But their ambitions are thwarted when they enter the labour market. They get lower pay and fewer opportunities to reach managerial positions.
One in six young Pakistani women is often asked at job interviews about plans for marriage and children, or the attitude of a husband or partner towards her going to work. One in eight young Bangladeshi and black African-Caribbean women face similar questions about their private lives, compared with one in 17 white women.
An EOC survey of 1,000 employers in areas of above-average black and Asian populations found more than 90% said there was a strong business case for employing black and Asian women. But more than 30% employed none and nearly 60% did not employ enough to reflect the area's ethnic profile.
Jenny Watson, the EOC's chairwoman, said: "The good news is that the next generation of ... black and Asian women have a lot to contribute to their families and to our economy. The bad news is that not enough employers are tapping into this pool of talent ... It's not only employers who miss out. We all do when young women's ambitions are dashed and we fail to build cohesive communities."
First we had the Pink Pound – targeting the often very large disposable incomes (mainly due to not parenting children) of gay men and women. Then there was the Grey Pound – aiming at more affluent pensioners lucky enough to have avoided the pensions shortfall and benefited from the huge rise in property prices over recent years. And we've even had the Green Pound, with companies hoping to profit from individuals and organisations concerned with environmental issues.
But there is one rapidly growing section of society who, until fairly recently, have been largely ignored by the marketeers.
With Islam reported to be the fastest-growing religion on earth (one in every four people on the planet are Muslims), it is perhaps inevitable that more companies will seek to tap into the apparently lucrative Islamic Pound.
According to figures compiled by the market research firm Datamonitor, the liquid assets of high net-worth Muslims in the UK in 2002 were estimated at £3.6bn and this figure could rise to £6bn by 2012.
Islam is recognised as Britain's second-largest faith group, with nearly three per cent of the population describing their religion as Muslim in the 2001 Census. With 3.2 per cent of people in the Yorkshire and Humber areas and 16.1 per cent of people in Bradford describing themselves as Muslims in 2001 (a figure estimated to grow by six per cent per year), it is easy to see how important the Islamic Pound is to the local and national economy.
But unlike the aforementioned Pink, Grey and even Green markets, where firms have been able to identify an opportunity and then simply tweak and then market an existing mainstream product with a specially-targeted promotional campaign, the Islamic market requires a different approach and often requires products to be completely redesigned to comply with religious beliefs.
The financial services industry is a good example of how traditional western companies have adapted to attract Islamic customers.
Both Lloyds TSB and HSBC banks offer financial products aimed at the Islamic market.
Under Islamic (Shariah) law, both the payment and receipt of interest (Riba) are forbidden, which presents a problem for Muslims wishing to borrow, or save, without going against their faith.
Islamic bank accounts offer no credit interest, no overdraft facility and charge no fees.
Funds deposited with Islamic accounts also have to be invested ethically in accordance with Islamic law (ie no gambling, alcohol, weapons, etc). Islamic-friendly investments can include things like land, property, agriculture and commodities.
Both banks also offer Islamic mortgages which differ greatly from the traditional home loan product, where the bank makes its money by charging interest over the period of the loan.
Instead of lending money for a property, the bank buys the home on behalf of the customer, contributing up to 90 per cent of the purchase price. The customer pays the remaining percentage upfront and pays the outstanding sum over an agreed term, together with a rental payment.
Paul Sherrin, head of Islamic financial services at Lloyds TSB, said: "Britain is home to a large and fast-growing Muslim community, but many have found that their financial needs have been left wanting.
"Having spoken to Muslims across the country we know that more than three-quarters want current accounts and mortgages that fit with their faith.
"By making these products available nationwide we're bringing Islamic banking into the mainstream and we're giving the Muslim community access to financial services that meet their needs without compromising their religion."
According to Emile Abu-Shakra, press spokesman for Lloyds TSB, prior to the launch of Islamic banking services in the UK many Muslims kept their money "under their mattress" or saved it in traditional accounts, choosing not to touch the interest or donating it to charity.
Mr Abu-Shakra was also aware of Muslim families who had rented property for more than 40 years because they were unwilling to go against their faith and buy property with a traditional mortgage.
With half of the UK's two-million Muslims under the age of 25, Lloyds TSB has also recently introduced an Islamic student account which again complies with Shariah Law and offers an interest-free overdraft of £1,500 for three years, and a free iPod shuffle.
Although both the HSBC and Lloyds TSB are essentially conventional banks, which derive profit from interest-based financial services, they are able to provide services which comply with Islamic law on the advice of a panel of international scholars of Shariah.
The HSBC states on its website, "Conventional banks charge and pay interest, and HSBC is a conventional bank. But HSBC is also a customer-driven institution, and the reason it provides Islamic products is to serve a genuine financial need among Muslims. Of course, our Islamic products are available for Muslims and non-Muslims alike."
But it's not just the Islamic financial services industry that is making its mark in the wider community.
The Halal food industry is also enjoying rapid growth. Halal is a set of Islamic dietary laws which regulate the preparation of food.
According to Mr Abid Mahmood, managing director of the Halal fast food chain Dixy Chicken, the Halal food market in the UK is worth about £55bn per year.
Dixy Chicken is one of the fastest-growing fast food chains in the UK and is also rapidly expanding in Europe and Asia. Dixy Chicken operates 120 restaurants (60 of these in the North of England) and hopes to expand to 190 by the end of the year.
A spokesperson for the group said: "Dixy Chicken has been highly instrumental in introducing the Halal meat concept in the fast food sector, across the UK. In our desire to maintain the highest Halal standards, we have sourced only reputable suppliers to ensure that they do not engage in cruel or unethical practices towards the poultry. All our franchisees purchase Halal meat from these suppliers and there is continuous quality monitoring to ensure adherence to the highest standards."
However, Dixy Chicken's success is not limited to the Islamic market with Mr Mahmood saying, "Our food is enjoyed by everyone."
The Halal market has also not gone unnoticed by the major supermarkets.
A spokesman for Tesco said, "Where there is a demand for Halal products, we do stock a good range. It is very important to Tesco to have the correct range of offers available."
Despite this a recent report in the monthly Muslim News newspaper suggested that only four per cent of British Muslims would consider purchasing Halal meat from a supermarket, citing poor marketing of the products and a limited range of other ethnic type foods.
Undoubtedly, as the market continues to grow this is something the big supermarkets will be keen to redress and reach out further into the Islamic community.
As Britain's Muslim population continues to expand, bucking the trend of a generally aging population, and their youth become more economically active, the Islamic Pound is set to become even more important for the British economy. This is especially true in terms of taxes paid by young Muslims to cover growing pension and health care costs.
Speaking on the growth of the Halal business and the Islamic Pound in general, Mr Mahmood said: "This is big business and a great success story for England."
And hopefully, like Dixy Chicken's fast food, diversity is something we can all come to enjoy and benefit from in the future.
German state to teach Islam in public schools
| The Associated Press |
Published: September 5, 2006
BERLIN Public elementary schools in a southern German state will begin offering classes on Islam, and an education official in Baden-Wuerttemberg described the program as part of an effort to better integrate Muslims, many of whom are immigrants.
BERLIN Public elementary schools in a southern German state will begin offering classes on Islam, and an education official in Baden-Wuerttemberg described the program as part of an effort to better integrate Muslims, many of whom are immigrants.