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News, August 2011

 
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Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.

 

Islamophobia in the US:

Allen West Brings Islamophobia to Congress

August 1, 2011

Hadith: The Benefits of Fasting

Ramadan Etiquette: A Guide to Your Muslim Neighbor's Holy Month

CAIR Applauds Actions to Prevent Alleged Fort Hood Attack

Religious Leaders March Against Vandalism at Calif. Mosque

Whole Foods First National Retail Chain to Celebrate Ramadan

Rep. Allen West Brings Islamophobia to Congress

Ill. State Senator Shows Disregard for Muslim Constituents

America's Rising Tide of Islamophobia

TX: Playgroups Help Muslim Moms Teach Children About Ramadan

Quran Goes on Twitter for Ramadan

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HADITH OF THE DAY: THE BENEFITS OF FASTING - TOP

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Praising God is better than giving charity, giving charity is better than fasting, and fasting is a protection from Hell."

Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 671

The Prophet also said: "If anyone fasts for a day out of a desire to please God, God will remove him from (Hell) as far as a crow flies from the time it is a young bird until it dies of old age."

Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 637

SEE ALSO:

RAMADAN ETIQUETTE: A GUIDE TO YOUR MUSLIM NEIGHBOR'S HOLY MONTH - TOP Asma Uddin and Shazia Kamal, The Washington Post, 7/29/2011

In the next few weeks, you may come into work and find your co-worker taking a power nap at 9:30am. At break time, you'll notice she is missing in the discussion about Harry Potter over at the water cooler. At the staff meeting, you will be shocked when she is offered coffee and cookies and refuses! By lunch time, your concern about her missing at the water cooler compels you to investigate the situation.

Then you remember what she had mentioned last week over a delicious Sushi lunch. Flooded with relief, you go up to her desk, and proclaim with much gusto, "Ramadan Mubarak (Moo-baa-rak)!" Ramadan's Blessings to you!

The month of Ramadan is a happy occasion; it is the month that the Muslim holy book, the Koran, was revealed to our Prophet Muhammad. Muslims are called by their religion to celebrate the month by coming together in worship, fasting each day for thirty days from dawn until sunset.

While this may seem like a tremendous feat, consider this: Fasting while working is an even greater endeavor. Make it a little easier on your Muslim colleague by following a couple of simple rules. (More)

CAIR APPLAUDS ACTIONS TO PREVENT ALLEGED FORT HOOD ATTACK - TOP

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/29/2011) -- A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today applauded the actions of law enforcement officials and members of the public who prevented an alleged attack on soldiers stationed at the Fort Hood military base in Texas.

Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo was arrested Wednesday by police in Killeen, Texas, after allegedly buying bomb-making supplies. The arrest followed a tip by a gun store employee who said Abdo's behavior raised red flags. Abdo allegedly told investigators that his planned attack was an act of "revenge" for his treatment by the military.

In a statement, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said:

"We applaud the actions of local law enforcement authorities and members of the public in preventing the alleged plot to harm military personnel in Texas. While every individual has the right to the presumption of innocence, we condemn any plot to harm our nation's safety and security."

CAIR noted that the reported motive for the alleged plot was personal, not religious.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, E-Mail: ihooper@cair.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: arubin@cair.com

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RELIGIOUS LEADERS MARCH AGAINST VANDALISM AT CALIF. MOSQUE - TOP Venusse Navid, Whittier Daily News, 7/28/2011

LA MIRADA - Members of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths gathered in unison Sunday for a peace rally in light of recent vandalism targeting a Muslim mosque on Imperial Highway.

The peace rally was organized by Rezaur Rahman, president of Muslim Community Services, Inc., in light of vandalism that took place July 18 at the mosque.

A brick or large rock was thrown through the mosque's rear glass doors.

"We feel great that different groups of faith wanted to support us during this successful peace rally," Rahman said Thursday.

About 100 people began a one-hour walk from the mosque, and proceeded through the streets of La Mirada in honor of religious peace in the community.

"While many of us were braced for any possible negative responses from passers-by, we received nothing but positive and encouraging words and gestures of support," said Interfaith Witnesses founder Vicki Tamoush. (More)

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WHOLE FOODS FIRST NATIONAL RETAIL CHAIN TO CELEBRATE RAMADAN - TOP Neal Ungerleider, Fast Company, 7/28/2011

Whole Foods has become the first prominent supermarket chain to run a Ramadan marketing campaign--and they're hoping Muslim customers will return the favor as they break fast. Even though Muslims traditionally forego meals during the day, lavish evening Ramadan meals could mean big bucks for the natural foods giant ... as well as brand loyalty from a demographic not traditionally courted by megastore advertising.

Whole Foods is teaming up with Halal frozen entree brand Saffron Road (who sell a variety of Indian-, Thai-, and Moroccan-flavored dinners) to host several promoted blog items on Whole Foods' website along with sponsored giveaways of Saffron Road food and supermarket gift certificates. Additional content for the campaign is being added by Yvonne Maffei of the My Halal Kitchen blog. While it is a relatively small promotion, it also marks a new benchmark for the Muslim-American community: the first coordinated Ramadan promotion by a national supermarket chain.

No in-store promotions for the campaign are planned, instead, in an apparent attempt to test the waters, the promotion will start online. The "campaign focuses on reaching Muslim consumers online where they are already having conversations about halal foods, grocery shopping, and preparing for Ramadan," Saffron Road spokesperson Lisa Mabe tells Fast Company. Saffron Road maintains a heavy social media presence and an ongoing charitable relationship with Whole Foods' Whole Planet foundation, and hopes the promotion will further strengthen their brand awareness.

There are approximately 1.8 million Muslims living in the United States. Of these, Arab Muslims are a distinct minority; the bulk of the population consists of African-American converts to Islam and South Asian (Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan) Muslims. And 45% of Muslim immigrants report annual household income levels of $50,000 or higher--placing them squarely in Whole Foods' demographic. (More)

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REP. ALLEN WEST BRINGS ISLAMOPHOBIA TO CONGRESS TOP Sheila Musaji, The American Muslim, 7/29/2011

This week Rep. Allen West (R-FL) sponsored an event in the Rayburn House Office Building titled "Homegrown Jihad in the USA: Culmination of the Muslim Brotherhood's 50-year History of Infiltrating America," presented by Peter Leitner of Citizens for National Security (CFNS), located in Boca Raton, Florida.

Media Matters reported that According to its press release, CFNS' briefing, titled "Homegrown Jihad in the USA: Culmination of the Muslim Brotherhood's 50-year History of Infiltrating America," will present "an unprecedented list of individual members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S., and the people and organizations with which they are associated." The report was compiled by the organization's "volunteer members". They noted that CFNS gives no indication as to the qualifications of those members or how the list was compiled. (More)

SEE ALSO:

ILL. STATE SENATOR SHOWS DISREGARD FOR MUSLIM CONSTITUENTS - TOP Zahed A. Haseeb, Rockford Register Star, 7/29/2011

I applaud the Register Star editorial staff for the piece criticizing Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, for making a joke on his Facebook page in which he suggested he would cut off ties with his daughter if she were to bring home a Muslim ("Mohammed from Iran") boyfriend. ...

Politicians say dumb things that offend people all the time, but they almost always backtrack and produce apologies that can be characterized as anything from empty to genuinely contrite.

We can often abandon our cynicism and let the offending remark pass as just another gaffe.

But what does it mean when a politician refuses to apologize for offending and even alienating a section of his constituents?

By not showing any remorse for his comment, he displays an utter disregard for his Muslim constituents. If Sen. Syverson's punch line featured "Tyrone from the West Side," he'd have apologized and retracted his comment as soon as someone saw it and criticized it -- because, in his mind, he would have offended constituents who matter. (More)

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AMERICA'S RISING TIDE OF ISLAMOPHOBIA - TOP Sarah Wildman, The Guardian, 7/28/2011

In the early hours of Friday's massacre in Oslo, the initial working assumption of news-watchers, journalists and bystanders was that this was likely the work of Islamic jihadists. That it was not took some time to trickle out: news reports published as late as Saturday included compiled condemnations of the attacks by Muslim leaders, and comparisons to other al-Qaida-type terrorist acts. That the attack was, in fact, masterminded by Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian with a murderous vendetta against multiculturalism, progressive government and a penchant for US Islamophobic blogs, reflects the strange distorting mirror of the current immigration and national identity debate going on in Europe and America.

What began, over a decade ago, as a far right assault on immigration policies of European countries from within (think Vlaams Belang in Belgium, the Front National in France, the FPO in Austria, to the rantings of Geert Wilders in Holland) has been exported to the United States where our ultra-conservative bloggers have handily repackaged that material. Though we in the US have not had the same economic conversations about immigration and Muslim communities European concerns began with so-called "guest workers" who became permanent residents the Oslo murders tragically expose a well-integrated transatlantic network of fear and hatemongering.

Among other references in his 1,500-page "manifesto", Breivik quotes favourably Robert Spencer, who runs the Jihad Watch website, Pamela Geller, who, via her Atlas Shrugged blog, was a key player in the controversy over the Cordoba House's "Ground Zero Mosque" in 2010, and Bruce Bawer, whose book While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West From Within warns of the intent of Muslim immigrants to Arabise Europe. (More)

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TX: PLAYGROUPS HELP MUSLIM MOMS TEACH CHILDREN ABOUT RAMADAN - TOP Kate Shellnutt, The Houston Chronicle, 7/28/2011

When Shazia Ashraf was growing up, Muslim children were expected to be seen and not heard, a cultural holdout of their foreign-born parents.

Ashraf, now a mother of two living in Spring, wanted a different approach to teach her children Islamic traditions, such as observing the month of Ramadan, which starts at sundown on Monday.

For the past three years, they have met with a handful of other Muslim families for a playgroup focused on typical little-kid stuff -- manners, singalongs, circle time and field trips -- all incorporating Muslim values.

"There really aren't any Islamic activities for very young children at our masajid, and I wanted my children to learn about having a strong moral compass and build a relationship with God from an early age," said Ashraf, who grew up in the Houston area and works as a part-time math professor.

The kids in the playgroup may be too young to fast or read the Quran, central practices for Ramadan, but that doesn't keep them from celebrating and learning about their religion. They excitedly wait to sing songs and decorate their homes for the holiday, and like all parents, these Muslim mommies must respond to a constant refrain of "Why? Why? Why?" (More)

SEE ALSO:

QURAN GOES ON TWITTER FOR RAMADAN - TOP Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA Today, 7/28/2011

Ramadan, which begins with a sunup-to-sundown fast Monday, calls on the Muslim faithful to immerse themselves in scripture -- ideally by reading the entire Quran.

In 2009, Hussein Rashid, a professor of Islamic Studies at Virginia Theological Seminary, noticed rabbis using Twitter to highlight snippets of Torah text to celebrate Shavuot, when Jews say Moses received God's word at Mount Sinai.

"I saw they were creating a virtual way to pray and study together, and I thought it would be fun to invite a few friends to tweet the Quran for Ramadan. By the next year we had hundreds posting at #Quran and it will be even bigger this year," he says.

The Quran is the 22-year record of what Muslims believe is Allah's revelations to the Prophet Mohammed. The goal of using Twitter is to engage Muslims and non-Muslims alike in exploring and discussing the text, Rashid says.

"What verses speak to you when you read the Quran this day? That's what we're looking for. The way we engage with scripture is always changing as our lives change. We can ask each other questions. We can explore parallels with other religions," he adds.

As next month's 10-year-anniversary of 9/11 nears, Wajahat Ali, a playwright and attorney based in San Francisco, expects many Muslims will share "our reflections and our resilient faith."

Ali says, "I expect lot of people will tweet from Chapter 49:13: 'Oh Ye who believe, we created you of different nations and tribes so that you may know one another.' It's very tweetable and it expresses a way of moving forward with different communities of faith. We share common values but retain our own unique values." (More)




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