Volume 241, August 18, 2013

Editors: Mohamed & Rashida Ziauddin

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent and the Most Merciful



Our spot light on this issue is on the topic of DEVIATIONS AND PERVERSIONS AWAY FROM ISLAM. It is really sad that such a beautiful religion of Islam has unfortunately a small minority of Muslims who have deviated away from Islam and perverted the true essence of Islam specially as it pertains to INJUSTICE  which Islam has for the past fourteen centuries plus been fighting against. 

When we talk about injustice, it is definitely not confined from a non-Muslim individual or non-Muslim group to Muslims but to all perpetrators both Muslim and non-Muslims. Injustice is injustice  regardless  of who the perpetrator or criminal maybe. When it comes to injustice perpetrated against our Muslim sisters by our own Muslims as evidenced in below article, some Muslims either turn a blind eye or express a condescending attitude, which is WRONG. 

As with  followers of other religions, there are always areas of improvement needed by such followers in their practice of their religion. As for Muslims, we have our own polluted socio-religious backyard that had primarily resulted due to some of us  moving away from the golden teachings of Islam. There is no question, that it is due for a major overhaul and clean up. 

Below article  is one example where we hope and pray that the people of Sindh province and some parts of Punjab in Southern Pakistan step up to the plate, identify the perpetrators who continue to ILLEGALLY PRACTICE it on the shadows and fringes of the society and work towards eliminating  it to the point that, inshallah  there be not a single Muslim sister who has to ever  go through this shocking terrible injustice.  NEVER AGAIN. 

We acknowledge that some Muslims after reading below article would consider it baseless or a fiction cooked up by "Jews" or the "West" to undermine Islam. If that is true, we need evidence to back up their response and appreciate their feedback to this E-Zine. It would also be tremendously helpful to get feedback directly from people of above named provinces to enlighten us to the facts both from a historical perspective as well as a contemporary perspective. 

We could find no better word to address below practice of "Haq Bakshish" than to consider it as  a PERVERSION clearly away from Islam. It is really mind-boggling as to how a local community has even fathomed such a sick and twisted practice of expecting a Muslim sister to sacrifice  her whole life as a bride married to the Holy Quran, leave alone tolerating its continued presence in the shadows of the contemporary society. Worse,  to put salt on the wound, this evil practice has been  camouflaged under the guise of ISLAM by involving the Holy Quran.  

Even though, it is banned under the Islamic  law (punishable with a seven year jail sentence), how is it that there are still about  ten thousand such brides sentenced to this tragic fate and what is the community at the local, State and National level doing about it ? Has the community's genuine Islamic compass,  especially as it relates to human rights,  been side tracked away from SOCIAL JUSTICE towards  ECONOMIC CONSOLIDATION FOR PERSONAL GAIN ? What if there were ten thousand (men) bride grooms who were married to the "Quran"? Would that have been ever possible ? If NO, then why not ? 

As we have repeatedly stated in the previous issues, there are lot of cultural practices  "conveniently" legitimized by literally stamping the brand name of ISLAM on it in one form or other. Below perversion is one such example of a cancerous practice that cleverly  incorporated the element of ISLAM and blended  it with two other entities involving women and the institution of marriage. 


We urge interested and committed members of the the GLOBAL UMMAH to reach out to (a)  first gather the facts (from below article) (b) and if substantiated to be true,  to leave no stone unturned to work to eliminate such cancerous practice. As Muslims we must have ZERO TOLERANCE to such abhorrent human right violations of our Muslim sisters. If Islam stands for fighting against injustice, then this is an issue that we as Muslims should unitedly work towards. 


The life of slavery of Pakistani women who are forced to “marry” the Quran

  Mauro Pianta


Female members of the Sayyid caste – descendants of the prophet Mohammed – are forbidden to marry so as to preserve the purity of their family’s blood. Although this practice is banned under Islamic law, there are apparently 10 thousand women who face this fate

Pakistan - A wedding scene

Some can’t take it and go mad. Others become apathetic and slowly fade away. Most, live a nightmarish life, trapped in the hellish web of an inhumane tradition. These girls are waitresses, child minders and slaves born to serve the family. They are the “wives of the Quran”, Pakistani girls whose lives have been mortgaged by their families: instead of marrying men, they are forced to “marry” the Holy book of Islam, the Quran. They learn its contents off by heart and have to hang the text around their wastes with a cord. They live segregated lives and no boy that is older that 14 is allowed to approach them. A life sentence they have no say in.

The tradition, known as the “Haq Bakshish”, lite rally means “renouncing the right to marry”. It is an ancient and cursed tradition  which is still widely practiced in the Sindh province and in some parts of the Punjab in Southern Pakistan. Arabic international newspaper Asharq Al Awsat says that in 2007 there were an estimated 10 thousand Quran brides in Sindh. The roots of this tradition are economic more than religious. This is explained further in a 2011 U.S. Department of State report on human rights in the world. It said that this practice is prevalent among the families of big landowners. When a suitable husband cannot be found for a daughter or a sister among the members of extended family (cousins and uncles, Ed.), then it is preferable to keep the girl cooped inside the family home than divide the land, giving a portion of it to the girl as a dowry and letting her marry an outsider. This keeps her portion of the land within the family and under the protection of her father or brother.

Under Pakistani law the Haq Bakshish tradition is punishable by a seven-year prison sentence, but no one dares report such cases. This is partly due to the fact that the families involved belong to the Sayyid caste, which claims its members are direct descendants of the prophet Mohammed. These pure blooded Muslims are often leaders of institutions. This is why Quran brides are hidden away, making it impossible to get official numbers. Very rarely some cases do come to light. For example, in 2011 a 28-year old couple, Fahad Amin and Shahnila Naz married against the parents’ will and held a press conference in Lahore speaking out against the death threats they received for violating the Haq Bakshish code. “Half the women in my family  - the girl told the Daily Times – are married to the Quran: they are treated worse than servants and are forced to look after children and animals. One evening – she said – all of my family came to my room, sat on my bed, opened the Quran and said: “Here is your husband.” I managed to escape; I got to Fahad and we got married in a court. But they are threatening me, I’m scared…” It is not known what happened to the rebel couple in the end.

Zubaida Ali actually attended a wedding between his cousin Fareeba and the Quran. “It was so strange. My cousin was 25, she was pretty  and was wearing the traditional outfit worn by Sindh brides: a red dress, jewellery, sequins, henna on hands and feet and a black veil. There was music and the place was bustling with guests. The only thing missing was the groom…” Habib ur Rehman, a professor at the Islamic University in Islamabad has frequently stated that “these ceremonies are considered invalid by Islamic law. Each woman has a right to marry whomever she wishes and certainly not the Quran.” Truer words have never been spoken. But words alone are not going to free these young Pakistani women. 



August 11, 2013, Volume 240

Editors: Mohamed & Rashida Ziauddin 

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent and Merciful


If Islam stands for peace, then Muslims should be role models emulating their way of life towards attaining peace. Peace should first start from within one's self  and then transcend towards the outside world beginning first with peace within one's self, one's immediate family, relatives, friends, workplace, local community and beyond. 

What better way to start peace from within by focusing on positives and by removing the toxic negative feelings of hate, anger, resentment etc. The anti-Islamic forces are literally working overtime to work on developing HATE towards the peace loving religion of Islam. But if Muslims also follow the same approach as anti-Islamic forces to develop and foster hate against other non-Muslim entities, that what is the difference between the two. As true peace loving Muslims, we must confront hate with love to the maximum extent as feasible and realistically as possible. 

Leaving aside international, national and local laws that as an individual, one has no control over, what each individual can definitely work on is to first identify their own inventory of biases, hatred, negative stereotypes against others who contradict one's own of what is RIGHT. This includes negativity in various ways against non-Muslims specially Jews or any other non-Islamic attributes of the West. If we expect others to be tolerant of us, we need to reciprocate the same by being tolerant of others. A good Muslim can practice all the Islam he wants while at the same time exercise maximum tolerance in terms of accepting the rights of non-Muslims to practice a way of life that they feel is right for them. "There is no compulsion in Islam" Verse 2:256 - HOLY QURAN.

Our spotlight in this issue is for Muslims to practice PEACE in the form of stopping viral hate which is in no short supply in the cyber sphere. There are many instances where our own loving Prophet Mohamed (SAW) won over non-Muslims who initially were full of hate and anger by reciprocating with abundant expression of love, tolerance, kindness and patience. Let us, members of the GLOBAL UMMAH emulate our loving Prophet. This is the need of  the hour. Below webinar is an excellent step in the right direction in which not just Muslims but people from all faiths could work together to stop the new social cancer of the 21st century - VIRAL HATE.


Parliament Webinar: Learning To Stop Viral Hate, The Social Internet, and the Interfaith Response




When a comment becomes dangerous, Interfaith activists must respond. From closed groups to public forums, the power of the social internet is feeding a new kind of potentially fatal disease, Viral Hate. From behind screens, social media users are becoming complacent to hate-borne comments and those who are posting them lack concern for the real life repercussions. It is not only, as Abraham H. Foxman and Christopher Wolf explore in their book Viral Hate, the fact that “words of hate can easily turn into acts of hate” but that internet users frighteningly consider hate a natural byproduct of the immense internet sphere.


Join the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions in discussion with co-author Christopher Wolf on how these assaults on human dignity cannot simply be censored by law but need, and are in fact an obligation of, companies, internet users themselves and society to counteract this viral problem.

You will learn the state of hate on the internet now, how it affects us all,  and how to effectively respond. 

(Christopher Wolf)

Christopher Wolf is widely recognized as one of the leading American practitioners in the fields of privacy and Internet law and serves as the director of Hogan Lovells LLP’s Privacy and Information Management practice.  He is the national chair of the ADL Civil Rights Committee as well as the founder and co-chair of the Future of Privacy Forum think tank. 

Title: Learning To Stop Viral Hate: The Social Internet and the Interfaith Response

Date: Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Time:1:00 PM – 2:00 PM CDT



Volume  239,   August 4, 2013

Editors: Mohamed & Rashida Ziauddin

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent and the Most Merciful



In this issue, we have highlighted ROLE MODELS in terms of an Islamic Center in Jacksonville, Florida, a Muslim leader by the name of Rami Nashashibi  who is actively involved in social services (IMAN - Inner City Muslim Action Network) and a City in France named Roubaix, which we hope would be model city not just in France but across the entire spectrum of the western world.  It is high time that we human beings come out of our "literally speaking" individual boxes and have an open mind, increased tolerance, understanding  and work together for WORLD PEACE.


Islamic Center shares religion, culture with community
 July 21, 2013
(condensed version)

BOB SELF/The Times-Union
Sabeen Mansoor leads visitors through the Islamic Center on a tour of Islamic religious and cultural artifacts during Sunday's open house. About 250 guests attended the event at the St. Johns Bluff Road mosque.

Aimed at offering the community a chance to understand the month of daily fasting that breaks at sundown each day, the open house at Islamic Center in Jacksonville hit the limit early, said Fawad Mansoori, a member of the board of directors.

Interest has grown over the years, and about 250 guests and an equal number of Muslims spent the evening together, finally sharing a meal after sundown.

The Islamic community's outreach is intended to dispel what Mansoori said is a lingering lack of understanding. “There's still a lot of people that have no information or misinformation about Islam,” he said. “We are trying to build those bridges.”

BOB SELF/The Times-Union
Visitors sit under the ornately decorated dome of the sanctuary.

Invited to give the keynote speech, Duval County schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said Jacksonville should celebrate diversity and not mistrust differences.

“Often we talk about tolerance, and we link that to diversity,” he said. “In my mind, diversity means we accept difference.” There has been a loss in pride and value of diversity, he said. “I think that is one thing we have lost in public education is the development of the whole child,” Vitti said.

BOB SELF/The Times-Union
New City Council President Bill Gulliford (left) talks with Rabbi Joshua Lief from Congregation Ahavath Chesed at the Islamic Center's Sharing Ramadan event Sunday.

The celebration also showcased newly rendered calligraphy along the halls and in worship areas of the center. An artist from Turkey spent about three weeks at the center recently painting the inspirational depictions.

Alex Sivar called the scripts that attest God's attributes “music to the eyes.”

BOB SELF/The Times-Union
Stephanie Slaymaker receives a hijab from Fati Mah before she enters the main sanctuary of the mosque. The Sharing Ramadan event at the St. Johns Bluff Road mosque offers the community a chance to experience the rituals and culture surrounding Ramadan.

“We just wanted to see the event,” she said as she and two young companions went into the main hall. She and others were welcomed in an address by Mohammed Mona, chairman of the center's board, and separate discussions of Ramadan, calligraphy and the dinner. “I do think we have a lot more in common than most of us think,” Mona said.

dana.treen@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4092


Iftar at the White House- Navigating Power, Privilege & Justice in  Ramadan
Rami Nashashibi
 Rami Nashashibi
Last week, I was among several dozen Muslims who attended an iftar at the White House with President Obama. This has now become an annual tradition where the President extends greetings to the Muslim community and occasionally chooses to speak to other relevant issues. Two years ago, for example, President Obama selected this occasion as a platform to weigh in on the sensational anti-Muslim hysteria taking place in the debate around the proposed Cordoba House project in Lower Manhattan, otherwise known as the Ground Zero Mosque. At the time, the critique was mainly from extreme edges of the right wing who managed to make some noise about the President’s alleged “pro-Muslim” leanings.

This time around, most of the push back regarding the iftar I heard was coming from voices within the Muslim community. It wasn’t until two days before the event that I became aware of a handful of these folks on social media using White House Iftar to express their critiques. At one point I tweeted that I was indeed among those who were invited and would be attending. Among those who responded were some who urged me to boycott the iftar and said that by attending I was providing “political cover” for some of the administration’s most intensely contested foreign and domestic policies: mainly drone attacks, surveillance and forced feeding on Gitmo.

In spite of my brief exchange on Twitter in which I admitted sharing some of the substantive critiques of this administration and policies in question, I did not rescind my acceptance of the invitation for the following reasons:

1-   I Reject the Notion That Showing Up is Giving Up
Showing up to an iftar at the White House, State Department, Governor’s Mansion, Police Department or anywhere else for that matter, is not giving up the ability to passionately dissent with and even protest the policies of the host. While some had an opportunity to debate things like the drone attacks with the President and his staff directly, I don’t think any of us were under any naive impression that such conversation was going to affect change on any of the issues in question. I have worked alongside some very good old-school Chicago organizers in the field long enough to know that “power concedes nothing without a demand” and from my experience that demand is best built through coalitions, alliances and relationships with leaders who are ready to put it on the line for one issue or a platform of issues, which leads me to the next reason that I didn’t participate in an impromptu call for a boycott.

2-Organizing a Grassroots Boycott
The closest I saw to something resembling a planned boycott was what well-respected Dr. Omid Safi provided in terms of a platform. Dr Safi’s list is a fair starting point for national mobilization around such an idea that I would be ready to participate in, although, I would agitate to make certain that our “Muslim” list of policy gripes doesn’t get conflated with a set of issues that leave out criminal justice reform, housing polices, mass incarceration, the farm bill and real investment infrastructure issues that affect millions of people on the ground every day.

I would also make certain that our platform is one that has the support and leadership of some important political allies and alliances in the field. For example, for the last ten years, IMAN has been involved in building an alliance of communities of color that stresses the critical importance of pushing inclusive platforms so that we fight off the notion that any one issue is a “black”, “Latino” or “Muslim” issue. While it is definitely easier to get a small group of people to intellectually coalesce around such an idea, it is much more difficult to build a broad base of community leaders that are ready to sacrifice politically for issues directly affecting the community. The idea of rallying alone with the same group of people for 15 years or organizing in silos to me is ineffective and a chronically flawed aspect of many of our movements.

Yet, once all those things are in place and we have explored all of our creative modes of nonviolent protest and decide that among those tactics a boycott of all White House and State Department invitations is among the things we agree upon, I will be the first to publicly consider supporting such an initiative.

3- “More Revolutionary Than Thou” Declarations
Some of the opinions on Twitter cast people who selected to attend this iftar or the State Department iftar as a bunch of sell-out Muslims crossing some virtual picket-line and trading in principle for an illusory moment to ingratiate themselves with the President or Secretary of State. Again, I do appreciate genuine healthy agitation and felt like some of the comments were truly coming from that spirit but there is certainly a thin line between that and the “more-revolutionary-than-thou” rhetorical posturing that attempts to bully people into acquiescence. I’ve been around long enough to respect the former and instinctively resist the latter.

-So why did I attend?
I am the executive director of a nonprofit organization that organizes around a number of key issues impacting low-income communities of color while providing direct services to those same community members. We build deep relationships and alliances so we can push through on a number of fronts and in that process we forge various strategic relationships with a diverse group of political actors. I am often called into meetings or accept invitations to sit down or have lunch with the same people we were protesting against six months ago or will be protesting and challenging a year from now: that’s what living in a robust democracy is all about. There are voices that may assert that talking or engaging with any high-level representation of authority is a wholesale endorsement of that entity’s agenda and tactics. These folks have their right to maintain that opinion and, in fact, some go further to make the argument that any form of political participation is a form a collaboration with “the Empire.” Such stances do little in the way of offering community groups on the ground with the means of navigating the world as it is with a clear, consistent and sustainable trajectory to build long-term institutional capacity with integrity and conviction around enduring principles and values.

I went to the White House Iftar not because I don’t have issues with some of the administration’s foreign and domestic policies. As previously stated, I certainly do. Yet, I also appreciate this administration’s commitment to fight back against the further demonization of Muslims and Islam domestically, something worth highlighting particularly considering how things could’ve gone after several high-profile attempts to carry out sensational acts of violence in this country by Muslims with deep grievances against America.

I went because I believe in the process of critical engagement which I define as a long-term commitment to shape, deeply inform and/or passionately contest the often disparate policies and conditions that govern our lives or sustain profound inequalities in the world. Such a process carries with it an admission that we certainly will make mistakes along the way and perhaps even fail to insert ourselves more forcefully around an issue or two.

Ramadan is an ideal time to interrogate how far our private and public actions are from the loftier ideals that our faith traditions call us to. It is a perfect time to scrutinize the privilege that some of us disproportionately benefit from and to honestly consider all the types of unjust power structures and policies we contribute to through our tacit support or deafening silence.
 Follow Rami Nashashibi on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RamiNashashibi


A French Town Bridges the Gap Between Muslims and Non-Muslims
(condensed version)

Butcher shops line the streets of one of the main Muslim neighborhoods in Roubaix, France. Unlike many French cities, Roubaix has made a point of embracing its Muslim population.
Non-Muslims By ALISSA J. RUBIN via NewYorkTimes

ROUBAIX, France — Wearing head scarves and long skirts, the women glide along the faded back streets of this poor French town as they make their way to the mosque to hear the last prayer of the evening.

Like their husbands and brothers, fathers and sons, they feel at home here. That is in large part because Roubaix, a small city in northeastern France, has made a point of embracing its Muslim population, proportionately one of the largest in the country.

“I am comfortable in these clothes here in Roubaix,” said Farid Gacem, the bearded president of the Abu Bakr mosque, who was wearing a nearly ankle-length loose brown tunic on a recent afternoon.

In a country where Islamic head coverings are regulated by law and many Muslims say they have been made to feel like outsiders, Roubaix is one of just a handful of cities that have broken with a rigid interpretation of the country’s state secularism. The city stands out for its effort to take discreet but pointed steps to promote an active Muslim community, and in doing so it has diminished the ethnic and sectarian tensions that have afflicted other parts of France, evident again during the holy month of Ramadan this summer.

In Trappes, a heavily Muslim suburb of Paris, an altercation between the police and a woman wearing a niqab, a veil that is illegal to wear in public, turned violent two weeks ago. In another suburb of Paris, the mayor refused a request by Muslims for a prayer room to use during Ramadan. The Interior Ministry says crimes targeting Muslims have increased 28 percent this year.

Yet here in Roubaix, the mood is different. That is despite one of the worst unemployment rates in the country, 22 percent, with the figure far higher among young people, according to the mayor’s office. Nearly half of households have incomes below the poverty line, and many areas are troubled by petty crime and drug trafficking.

The question is whether Roubaix’s approach to multiculturalism will become a model for other French cities, or if, in a country in which the Muslim population finds itself at the center of a debate over racism, religious tolerance and national identity, it will remain an exception.

“Roubaix is a cradle, a symbol of immigration,” said Muhammed Henniche, secretary general of the Union of Muslim Associations of Seine-Saint-Denis, a Paris suburb, who has looked at the approaches taken by different municipalities.

“Roubaix is representative of living in harmony in terms of immigration,” he said.

The reasons for that approach are hard to pinpoint, in part because of a reluctance by French officials to talk about religion. But among Roubaix’s special circumstances is its long history of immigration, which has included not just Muslims but also Buddhists from Southeast Asia and other groups.

The mayor’s office has taken steps to offer assistance to Muslims here, including finding places to worship. That contrasts with the approach of many French cities that strictly follow the national ethic of laïcité, or state secularism. The city has six mosques, including one under construction, a large number for a city of fewer than 100,000 people. The local government has also allowed the appointment of a Muslim cleric at the city hospital, and three areas of the city’s cemetery are designated for Muslims, a rarity in France.

“When you look at the demographics, in two or three generations, all of France will be like Roubaix,” said Bertrand Moreau, the chief spokesman for the mayor’s office. “There will be a melting pot everywhere, and Roubaix is a laboratory” for how things could work, he said.

The mayor’s office has established a consortium that includes a representative from each of the city’s religious groups, as well as a representative of a group that supports state secularism, so there is a discussion about how to respond to the needs of different groups.

 Demographers put the number of Muslims in France at five million to six million, or at least 8 percent of the population. In Roubaix, the mayor’s office estimates that the Muslim population is as much as 20,000, or about 20 percent of the population.

“Our leitmotif is to live together, and in this living together there’s an image that we wish to give of the Muslim community: that we are French citizens before anything, before the religious aspect,” said Sliman Taleb-Ahmed, president of the association of Muslim institutions in Roubaix.

One of the main Muslim neighborhoods here, L’Epeule, is just a few blocks from the central plaza, making it an integrated part of the city’s life. The street is lined with halal butchers, and the Safir bookstore does a brisk business in offerings about the Koran.

Ahmed El-Hadi, a 15-year-old who runs the store when his parents are out, wore a T-shirt that said in English: “I’m Muslim, Don’t Panic.”

A version of this article appeared in print on August 6, 2013, on page A7 of the New York edition with the headline: A French Town Bridges the Gap Between Muslims and Non-Muslims.




Volume 238, July 28, 2013

Editors: Mohamed & Rashida Ziauddin 

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent and Most Merciful 



In this issue, our focus continues to be on Ramadan. When anti-Islamists continue to spew venomous hatred of Muslims in different ways  and are blinded to see anything positive about this great and fastest growing  religion, it is really awesome that President Obama who holds the most powerful position on planet Earth had stated that "Islam has contributed to the character"  of US and also his appreciation of  the positive contributions of Muslim Americans is truly reflective of ISLAM IN AMERICA. We also wanted to share other positive news including  Mehdi Hasan's argument at Oxford House about Islam being a religion of peace, Muslims ranked as the most generous donor group  in a  British survey, Hollywood actor Ben Youcef who gives eloquent call to prayers three times each week at his Mosque, and many had come just to hear his voice, interfaith issues and last but not the least, Kazakhstan recently opening one of the largest Mosques in Central Asia.   


Obama celebrates Ramadan: 'Islam has contributed to the character' of US
By Kyle Balluck 07/25/13

President Obama late Thursday celebrated Ramadan with a traditional dinner in the State Dining Room, saying that throughout the nation's history, “Islam has contributed to the character of our country.”

In remarks before the Iftar dinner, eaten by Muslims after sunset to end the day of fasting, Obama quoted from the Koran, according to a White House pool report. "As the Koran teaches, whoever does an atom's weight of good will see its results."

"Muslim-Americans and their good works have helped to build our nation, and we've seen the results," he added.

Obama, who has hosted five Iftar dinners, focused on entrepreneurship during much of his speech.

Every day, Muslim-Americans are helping to shape the way that we think and the way that we work and the way that we do business," he said. "And that’s the spirit that we celebrate tonight — the dreamers, the creators whose ideas are pioneering new industries, creating new jobs and unleashing new opportunities for all of us.”

Obama recognized three entrepreneurs, including Shazi Visram, the founder and chief executive of Happy Family Organic Superfoods; Aunim Hossain, chief executive of Tista Games; and Iya Khalil, who co-founded GNS Healthcare, a biotech research company.

So Shazi, Aunim, Iya and so many of you who have traveled here tonight — each of you have traveled your own path, but each of you have also lived out an American story.

And of course, this isn’t just the American Dream; it’s the aspiration of people around the world. It’s the basic human desire for progress, to find dignity that comes from work, to give our children something better.”

Members of Congress, local elected officials and dozens of ambassadors were on the White House guest list.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/313665-obama-celebrates-ramadan-with-white-house-dinner#ixzz2anz7MKst
Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook


Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release July 25, 2013

Expected Attendees at the White House Iftar Dinner
This evening, the President will continue a White House tradition of hosting an Iftar celebrating Ramadan in the State Dining Room. This is the fifth Iftar hosted by the President. The Iftar is the meal that breaks the day of fasting, when Muslim families and communities eat together after sunset.
Below is a list of some of the expected attendees at tonight’s White House dinner celebrating Ramadan:

Members of Congress:
The Honorable Debbie Stabenow, United States Senator, Michigan
The Honorable André Carson, United States Representative, Indiana
The Honorable John Dingell, United States Representative, Michigan
The Honorable Keith Ellison, United States Representative, Minnesota
The Honorable Eliot Engel, United States Representative, New York
The Honorable Dan Kildee, United States Representative, Michigan

Local Elected Officials:

Mayor Arjumand Hashmi, City of Paris, TX
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, 6th District, Michigan House of Representatives

Diplomatic Corps:

Suleiman Salem Hammad Abulhul, Charge d'Affaires of Libya
His Excellency Lukman Al Faily, Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq
Her Excellency Hunaina Al Mughairy, Ambassador of the Sultanate of Oman
His Excellency Mohamed Abdullah M. Al Rumaihi, Ambassador of the State of Qatar
His Excellency Mohammed Al-Hussaini Al Sharif, Ambassador of the League of Arab States, Arab League Mission
His Excellency Adel Ahmed Al-Jubeir, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
His Excellency Yousef Mana Saeed Alotaiba, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, Embassy of the United Arab Emirates
Adel Ali Ahmed Alsunaini, Charge d'Affaires of the Republic of Yemen
His Excellency Abdallah Baali, Ambassador of the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria
His Excellency Othman Bin Hashim, Ambassador of Malaysia
His Excellency Seydou Bouda, Ambassador of Burkina Faso
His Excellency Rachad Bouhlal, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco
Her Excellency Alia Mohamad Bouran, Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
His Excellency Antoine Chedid, Ambassador of the Lebanese Republic
His Excellency Blaise Cherif, Ambassador of the Republic of Guinea
Kais Darragi, Charge D'affaires of the Tunisian Republic
His Excellency Maitine Djoumbe, Ambassador of the Republic of Chad
His Excellency Muktar Djumaliev, Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic
His Excellency Mohamed El Haycen, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania
His Excellency Bienvenu Joseph Charles Foe-Atangana, Ambassador of the Republic of Cameroon
His Excellency Gilbert Galanxhi, Ambassador of the Republic of Albania
His Excellency Bakhtiyar Gulyamov, Ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan
His Excellency Eklil Hakimi, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Baboucarr Jallow, Charge d'Affaires of the Gambia
His Excellency Bayney Karran, Ambassador of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana
His Excellency Al Maamoun Keita, Ambassador of the Republic of Mali
Asad Majeed Khan, Charge d'Affaires of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
His Excellency Michael Moussa-Adamo, Ambassador of the Gabonese Republic
His Excellency Stanislas Moussa-Kembe, Ambassador, Central African Republic
Her Excellency Liberata Rutageruka Mulamula, Ambassador of the United Republic of Tanzania
His Excellency Cheik Niang, Ambassador of the Republic of Senegal
Her Excellency Huda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain
His Excellency Segbe Oguin, Ambassador of the Republic of Benin
His Excellency Roble Olhaye, Ambassador of the Republic of Djibouti
His Excellency Akramul Qader, Ambassador of the People's Republic of Bangladesh
His Excellency Ebrahim Rasool, Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa
His Excellency Maman Sidikou, Ambassador of the Republic of Niger
His Excellency Elin Suleymanov, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan
His Excellency Namik Tan, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey
His Excellency Mohamed Mostafa Mohamed Tawfik, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt
His Excellency Kairat Umarov, Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Her Excellency Oliver Wonekha, Ambassador of the Republic of Uganda
His Excellency Dato Paduka Yusoff Abd Hamid, Ambassador of the State of Brunei Darussalam
His Excellency Adebowale Adefuye, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
His Excellency Daouda Diabate, Ambassador of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire
His Excellency Sheikh Salem Al-Sabah, Ambassador of the State of Kuwait

Mehdi Hasan at Oxford Union: “Islam is a religion of peace”

09 July 2013 
by Emperor

A brilliant argument by Mehdi Hasan for the affirmative side of the debate on the motion: Islam, a religion of peace.

Update: The motion, “Islam is a peaceful religion” passed: 286 to 168.



Muslims Rank as Most Generous Donor Group in British Survey

23 Jul 2013

A U.K. poll found that Muslims in that nation donate more on average to charity than other religious groups, NBC News reports.

Adherents of Islam gave an average of $567 to charity in 2012, according to the survey of 4,036 U.K. residents by ICM Research. Jews gave $412, Protestants $308, Roman Catholics $272, and atheists $177.

The U.K. findings follow a recent international survey by the Pew Research Center that found that 77 percent of Muslims give to charity, and data from philanthropy Web site JustGiving.com show nearly 70 percent growth in the last two years in Muslims’ use of online methods for Zakat, the Islamic practice of donating to charity.

Ben Youcef: The Hollywood Actor Who Gives the Call to Prayer
24 Jul 2013 


NPR has a story on a Muslim actor from Algeria who gives a sonorous rendition of the Islamic call to prayer (Adhan) three times a week at his mosque; many come just to hear his voice.

For the next year, NPR will take a musical journey across America, which is one of the most religiously diverse countries on earth. We want to discover and celebrate the many ways in which people make spiritual music — individually and collectively, inside and outside houses of worship.

It is said, in Los Angeles, that Abdulwahab Benyoucef’s call to prayer is so lovely and so clarion that Muslims come to the mosque just to hear him. About three times a week, the Algerian actor — who has shortened his name to Ben Youcef — comes here in his traditional tunic to stand before the men kneeling toward Mecca. He closes his eyes, holds one hand over his ear, leans into a microphone and sings out the Arabic words in extended phrases.

It’s a way to call people to come to worship God,” Ben Youcef says. “That’s the purpose of the adhan [the Arabic name for call to prayer]. I bear witness that there’s no God except God. I bear witness that Muhammad is a messenger of God. Come to what’s good, come to prayer.”

In his other life, the 34-year-old Ben Youcef is one of Hollywood’s A-list Muslim actors. Lately, because of his complexion, he’s been getting more and more generic ethnic roles. “Because in commercials,” he says, “a lot of times I’m actually playing a Latin guy or an ethnically ambiguous guy.”

While the story is feel-good it does oddly descend into a bit of Orientalism. For some reason writer John Burnett could not type up an article on a Muslim without including a reference to “Aladdin.”

Ben Youcef, with his Aladdin-like good looks and mellifluous voice, has the goal of becoming Hollywood’s most recognizable Arab actor — the next Omar Sharif — just so long, he says, as he can remain true to Islam.



St.Louis Church Sign: Ramadan Mubarak


Kazakhstan Opens Huge Mosque
 By James Kilner, Almaty
09 Jul 2012

Kazakhstan has opened one of the largest mosques in Central Asia to commemorate the 14th anniversary of the Kazakh capital’s switch to Astana.

(Mosque photo) The Hazrat Sultan Mosque in Astana, Kazakhstan Photo: AP

The mosque, called Khazret Sultan, is big enough to take 5,000 worshippers and stands on a 27 acre site, roughly the size of 18 football pitches.

This celebration is a celebration for all Kazakh people. I congratulate you on opening Kazakhstan’s biggest mosque,” AFP news agency quoted Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev as saying when he opened the mosque on Friday.

Kazakhstan, the largest economy in Central Asia, is predominantly Muslim.

Mr Nazarbayev, who has ruled since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, switched the Kazakh capital to Astana from Almaty in 1998.

Astana, which lies on the windswept steppe, has since become Mr Nazarbayev’s pet project and new, ornate buildings rise up into the city’s skyline every year.