Syrian Refugee Crisis Is Heart-Wrenching: The Muslim Observer

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

This article first appeared in the Muslim Observer

Almost every day, it seems, news continues to pour out of Europe detailing the crisis regarding the thousands of migrants and refugees – most from Muslim countries – who are trying to escape to Europe. Their stories are heart-wrenching; the pictures and images are horrific. Over and over again, they keep saying that they are “escaping death and will not go back to it.”

Yet, as I watch with horror as these people risk their lives to get to Europe and then only find a Europe that clearly does not want them, I keep asking myself, “Why is this happening? How can the Muslim World have let it come to this?”

As the migrant crisis continues to worsen, there have been greater calls for the West to increase its response to address the crisis. Indeed, such calls are proper and warranted. Yet, this question keeps nagging at my soul: “Why is everyone waiting for the West to respond? Isn’t this a duty for the Muslim World to take up?”

I put this very question to Dr. Zaher Sahloul, past President of the Syrian American Medical Society and prominent American Muslim activist who has helped victims of the Syrian conflict.

“Yes, the Muslim “world” or Muslim majority countries, should accept more Syrian refugees and that include, not only the Gulf States, but Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and North African countries,” said Sahloul. “OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference) should have a quote similar to what [the] EU has done.

However, he also added,

“But, whether we like it or not, the Western countries and the U.S. are more equipped to receive large influx of refugees. They treat refugees as equal members of the society, compared to Muslim countries that treat them as second or third class citizens with no rights or protection.”

He makes a valid point. He also said, “The American Jewish community advocated and absorbed 350,000 Soviet Jews between 1989-2006. Why can’t we do the same?” Again, a valid point. But the fact that it is a valid point is part of the tragedy of the situation.

The Qur’an says,

“All believers are but brothers (and sisters to one another). Hence, [when­ever they are at odds,] make peace between your two brethren, and remain conscious of God, so that you might be graced with His mercy.” (49:10)

Have we done this in the case of Syria? Have we acted like brothers and sisters to one another? Or, have different Muslim factions (and nations) sided against one another and sought to massacre the other, creating the refugee crisis in the process?

How could there be Muslims who knowingly kill innocent non-Muslims, which they know is completely against the word of God? Worse, how can there be Muslims who knowingly kill other innocent Muslims, which they also know is completely against the word of God?

Now, I am not talking about the savages of ISIS. They must be fought relentlessly, and the entire world – most especially the Muslim world – must not stop until they are eliminated. But, the suffering that the Syrian conflict has caused – and continues to cause – is being goaded on by many in the Muslim world, and it baffles the mind that this can be so.

And on top of this madness, tens of thousands of innocent Muslims – fleeing death and devastation – risk their lives to go to an unwelcome Europe while the Muslim world watches in deafening silence. How can this be? What has become of the Ummah of Muhammad?

Do the words of the Qur’an mean anything to us? Do we truly believe they are the words of God, Whom we claim to worship besides none other? Or, are they simply a nicety to be read out during Friday sermons, but then forgotten when it does not suit geopolitical or economic interest? Is it too much to ask that the Muslim world start to act Muslim? It really should not be.

Hajj Stampede Nothing New: We Were Almost Killed Ourselves

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

I still remember it as if it was yesterday: my wife and I were on our way back from the ritual “stoning of the Devil” during our pilgrimage in 2003. It was very, very crowded, and people were everywhere going in each and every direction. Literally thousands were trying to get out at the same time as others were trying to get in. Then, it happened: my wife lost her footing and fell on me. I mustered all the strength I had to keep us from falling down.

Thank God, we did not fall, and we were saved from a certain death. Yet, on that very same day, there were other pilgrims who were not as fortunate. Unless you have been there, it is really hard to imagine how many people are at the Hajj. The pictures simply do not do it justice.

Although authorities are still investigating the cause, I can totally understand how a stampede can occur. Only one person has to panic to cause a devastating chain reaction. It is actually a blessing that a major stampede does not occur every year. Yet, sadly, these sort of things do occur, and my heart and prayers go out to the families of the victims who are now dealing with the terrible pain of the loss of their loved ones.

Although I do understand that it is very difficult, if not totally impossible, to totally control a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people all converging on one place, I also do agree with some of the criticism that authorities should do more to protect the crowds…

Read more:

Which Muslim Would You “Get Rid Of” First, Mr. Trump?

In the Name of God, the Extremely and Everlastingly Loving and Caring

Although really not surprising that it would occur at a Donald Trump rally, the Republican Presidential candidate found himself in hot water after he failed to correct a questioner’s comments about Muslims and President Obama:

“We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims,” an unidentified man who spoke at a question-and-answer town hall event in Rochester, New Hampshire asked the mogul at a rally Thursday night. “You know our current president is one. You know he’s not even an American.”

A seemingly bewildered Trump interrupted the man, chuckling, “We need this question. This is the first question.”

“Anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us,” the man, wearing a “Trump” T-shirt, continued. “That’s my question: When can we get rid of them?”

“We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things,” Trump replied. “You know, a lot of people are saying that and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening. We’re going to be looking at that and many other things.”

The real estate mogul did not correct the questioner about his claims about Obama before moving on to another audience member.

His silence at the horrific sentiments in the question was deafening and alarming. And it begs the question: does he agree that there is a problem in this country called “Muslims”? Does he agree that they should be “gotten rid of”?

And if he does believe this, then who would he get rid of first? Would it be basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? Or perhaps Hakeem Olajuwon? Would he “get rid” of boxer and American sports icon Muhammad Ali? Or would he start with the award-winning sportscaster Ahmad Rashad? What about Shaquille O’Neal?

Would he get rid of Dr. Elias Zerhouni, the former director the National Institutes of Health appointed by fellow Republican George W. Bush? Or, would he get rid of Ahmed Zewail, winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry?

Given that Mr. Trump is a successful businessman, as he constantly reminds us, would he get rid of Mohamed A. El-Arian, CEO of PIMCO, which manages over $1 trillion in assets? Or, maybe Jawad Karim, the co-founder of YouTube? Oh, wait, I know: he should get rid of Shahid Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

How about all the Muslims in the entertainment industry, like rappers Lupe Fiasco, or Q-tip, or T-Pain (LOVE the apps with his namesake)? Or, how about comedian Dave Chappelle? Would he get rid of him? I wonder if Mr. Trump would have supermodel Iman in his sights? Or maybe even Dr. Oz?

I can go on and on. Muslims are part and parcel of the fabric of America, and to “get rid of them” is as preposterous as seeking to get rid of any Americans of whatever ethnic or religious group. Such hatred is unbecoming of America, and Mr. Trump should of called it out then and there. It is a shame he did not.

The Stupidity of The Savages of ISIS Knows No Bounds 

In the Name of God: the Eternally and Everlastingly Loving and Caring

This was first published at the Muslim Observer

The almost breathtaking brutality of the savages of ISIS, or as I like to call them, “KIL” (The Kharijites of Iraq and the Levant) almost knows no bounds. They rape, kill, maim, murder, and destroy at will. They are among the worst criminal gangs this world has seen in recent history. I would care less about them and their filth, were it not for the fact that they commit said crimes in the name of God, Islam, and our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Yet, alongside all this savagery, I cannot help but be rendered speechless by ISIS’ sheer stupidity. The U.N. has confirmed that the ancient temple of Baal in the Syrian city of Palmyra has been completely destroyed. The simultaneous feelings of both rage and silence are hard to put in words. What possible purpose could destroying such a precious, ancient site of human heritage fulfill? How could this possibly benefit humanity?

Yes, Islam is staunchly and fiercely monotheistic. Yes, the Qur’an is full of references attacking the very premise of idolatry, in all its forms. In fact, there are verses that mention the very god Baal, temple of which was destroyed by the savages:

AND, BEHOLD, Elijah [too] was indeed one of Our message-bearers. when he spoke [thus] to his people: “Will you not remain conscious of God? Will you invoke Baal and forsake [God,] the best of artisans? God, your Lord and the Lord of your forebears of old?” (37:123-126)

Yes, one of the primary missions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was to cleanse the Holy Sanctuary in Makkah and the Arabian Peninsula from its hundreds of idols. Yet, that mission was fulfilled. There is no reason whatsoever now to destroy religious temples and artifacts that are thousands of years old and lasting relics of human religious history.

Do these ignorant, brutal savages think they know more about Islam than the Prophet (pbuh)? Do they think they know more about Islam than the Companions? When the Companions expanded the Islamic realm, they did not busy themselves with destroying every single temple dedicated to gods other than God.

In fact, when the Companions conquered Syria, that very temple of Baal, now destroyed by ISIS, was still there, and the Companions left it alone. In Egypt, the land of my ancestry, there were tons of temples, statues, and other edifices of ancient Egyptian idolatry. They were all left alone by the Companions who conquered Egypt. They didn’t waste their time destroying ancient, and empty, temples of old.

And thank God they did, for now the entire world can lose its breath at the beauty of those ancient Egyptian relics. Thank God the Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) left all the very relics at which my wife and I marveled when we visited the Musee du Lovre in Paris. The same goes for the Code of Hammurabi, which was also at the Lovre museum. In fact, many of the relics and artifacts that ISIS has destroyed were left alone by Muslims infinitely better in faith and religious understanding.

Yet, these savages of ISIS are anti-humanity. They seek to destroy human heritage itself, claiming that they are doing so in the name of God. They are completely mistaken. They are exactly as the Prophet Muhammad described them:

There would arise from my Ummah (i.e., followers) a people who would recite the Qur’an, and your recital would seem insignificant as compared with their recital, your prayer as compared with their prayer, and your fast, as compared with their fast. They would recite the Qur’an thinking that it supports them, whereas it is an evidence against them. Their prayer does not get beyond their collar bone; they would swerve through Islam just as the arrow passes through the prey.

May God destroy these savages before they destroy any more traces of human history. Some think that the evil shown by ISIS is the true face of Islam. They could not be more incorrect. True Islam is nothing like that practiced by the savages of ISIS. The vast, vast majority of Muslims reject the Islam of ISIS. This is because the Islam of ISIS is nothing less than satanic.

It’s About Time: ISNA Works for Woman-Friendly Mosques 

In the Name of God: The Eternally and Everlastingly Loving and Caring 

I was blessed to attend the 52nd Annual Concention in Chicago this past weekend. Among the many great sessions was the launch of the campaign to make mosques in America more woman-friendly. It was an electrifying session. 

Yet, not only did I witness the launch of this initiative, but I was blessed to add my own signature on both forms of the document: online and on paper. 

For a long time, Muslim women have complained that their spaces were woefully inadequate. They were absolutely right. In fact, despite the beauty of the mosque in Paris, which I was blessed to visit recently, the women’s space was terrible. 

For such a long time, it seemed little was being done about it. Well, now things have changed. The Islamic Society of North America, the largest American Muslim organization, is trying to do something about it. 

To read more and to see my actual signature on the document, click here:

“Shining Bright” in God’s Love

In the Name of God: The Eternally and Everlastingly Loving and Caring 

There are many times that the songs I may happen to hear will cause me to frown. So much of popular music today is comprised of lyrics that are questionable (at the absolute best) in their morality and message. Yet, sometimes, a song will come along that strikes a deep chord in me. Such is the case with Echosmith’s song, “Bright”:

I think the Universe is on my side/Heaven and Earth have finally aligned/Days are good, and that’s the way it should be

You sprinkle stardust on my pillowcase/It’s like a moonbeam brushed across my face/Nights are good, and that’s the way it should be

And I see colors in a different way/You make what doesn’t matter fade to gray/Life is good, and that’s the way it should be

I also really like the chorus: 

Did you see that shooting star tonight?/Were you dazzled by the same constellation?/Did you and Jupiter conspire to get me?

I think you and the moon and Neptune got it right, ‘cuz now I’m shining bright/So Bright. Bright, so bright.

Now, the song’s narrator feels this way because she is in love. In fact, she says to her lover: “I get lost in your eyes.” When I hear this song, however, I think of my “shining bright” in the love of God.

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Here, Here, Harry J. Bentham!

In the Name of God: The Extremely, Eternally, and Everlastingly Loving and Caring

It was so refreshing to read Harry J. Bentham’s post, “Islam is part of the West now, live with it.”

I will let Mr. Bentham speak for himself:

One type of misinformation that should be watched vigilantly is the way Islam is endlessly singled out as a violent religion. This is done by selective coverage of events and constant emphasis on any connection to Islam when talking about violence.

As I have written before, it takes a very selective memory of history and even recent events to see Islam as a violent religion. Not only is Christianity’s own history marred by the Crusades and the Inquisition, both of which were carried out in Christ’s name, but there are warlords alive today who committed unspeakable atrocities in the name of Christ and even Gautama Buddha.

We are told stories such as the recent one in France, where a girl in a bikini was assaulted by apparent Muslim women attackers offended by her choice of dress. However, we are not told of the comparable stories of the Muslim women threatened and attacked by racists in France or Britain even though we know such attacks are equally real.