Calling Out The Double Standard: Christian Terror Against Muslims Ignored By Media


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

My good friend Dean Obeidallah wrote an excellent piece at the Daily Beast about this little-known terror plot that was foiled:

Have you heard about the Christian terrorist Robert Doggart, who was plotting a violent attack against a Muslim-American community in New York state? Probably not, because as opposed to when U.S. law-enforcement officials arrest a Muslim for planning a violent assault, they didn’t send out a press release or hold a press conference publicizing Doggart’s arrest.

So let me tell you about Doggart and his deadly plan to use guns and even a machete to attack American Muslims in upstate New York. Doggart, a 63-year-old Tennessee resident, is an ordained Christian minister in the Christian National Church. In 2014, he unsuccessfully ran for Congress as an independent, espousing far right-wing views.

Read the rest of the chilling details of the plot here.

What if this was the other way around: a Muslim caught plotting an attack on Christians and their churches? There would have been round-the-clock coverage. As Dean wrote:

It goes without saying that if Doggart had been Muslim and had planned to kill Christians in America, we would have seen wall-to-wall media coverage. Fox News would have cut into its already-daily coverage of demonizing Muslims to do a special report really demonizing Muslims. And few can doubt that a Muslim would’ve been charged with terrorism-related crimes.

Shockingly, Doggart was not charged with terrorism-related offenses. This is wrong. This is hypocritical. This is a terrible double standard, and it has to be called out every single time.

Whenever anyone – Muslim or Christian – plots to kill innocents, it is news, and it deserves adequate coverage. American Muslims had to shout at the tops of their lungs after the three young Muslims in Chapel Hill were brutally murdered to get any sort of media coverage. Yet, whenever any Muslim anywhere commits a crime, it is headline news.

This is a terrible double standard, and it has be called out every single time.

Islam Teaches Patience In The Face of Bigotry


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

This was first published in the Muslim Observer.

I had no idea that this gathering about drawing the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) even existed. That is, until news of the shootings surfaced. Now, authorities have identified the gunmen, Elton Simpson and his roommate Nadir Soofi. These “holy warriors” were killed by police as soon as they opened fire as the event was ending.

What continues to boggle the mind about the criminals who undertake such actions to “defend the Prophet (pbuh)” is how brazenly they neglect the Qur’an. This is not the first – and most certainly will not be the last – time that the Prophet (pbuh) has been insulted. In fact, because of an act such as this shooting, it will guarantee that other such events mocking the Prophet (pbuh) will be held in the future.

But, again, what does the Qur’an say about facing the mockery of the Prophet (pbuh)? Plenty, actually:

“And, indeed, He has enjoined upon you in this divine writ that whenever you hear people deny the truth of God’s messages and mock at them, you shall avoid their company until they begin to talk of other things – or else, verily, you will become like them. Behold, together with those who deny the truth God will gather in hell the hypocrites.” (4:140)

“Now, whenever thou meet such as indulge in [blasphemous] talk about Our messages, turn thy back upon them until they begin to talk of other things and if Satan should ever cause thee to forget [thyself], remain not, after recollection, in the company of such evildoing folk.” (6:68)

Two revelations, revealed years apart, saying the same thing: walk away from those who mock the signs of God. Nowhere does it say that these people should be attacked, harmed, or killed.
People will mock the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), just like other Prophets were mocked before. The Qur’an says so, in fact, multiple times:

“Mocked were (many) apostles before thee; but their scoffers were hemmed in by the thing that they mocked.” (6:10)

“Mocked were (many) apostles before thee: but I granted respite to the unbelievers, and finally I punished them: Then how (terrible) was my requital!” (13:32)

“Mocked were (many) apostle before thee; But their scoffers were hemmed in by the thing that they mocked.” (21:41)

Again, God said that He took care of those who mocked His Messengers, and no where does it say attack and kill those that mock. This is a satanic delusion of some criminals who are Muslim and think they are doing “good.” They are not doing good, but a tremendous evil.

What’s more, the Qur’an comforted the Prophet (pbuh) with regards to the mockery he faced:

“And well do We know that thy bosom is constricted by the [blasphemous] things that they say.” (15:97)

And what does the next verse say to do? Kill them? Attack them? Absolutely not:

“But extol thou thy Sustainer’s limitless glory and praise Him, and be of those who prostrate themselves [before Him] in adoration, and worship thy Lord till death comes to thee.” (15:98-99)

The Qur’an is clear: leave those who mock and malign, and God will take care of them, just like He has in the past.

That is why it is quite clear that people such as Simpson and Soofi have absolutely no knowledge of Islam and the Qur’an. If they did, they would have known better not to engage in acts of criminality that will only do harm to Islam, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and the larger Muslim community, which will certainly face an unjust and unjustifiable backlash.

Criminals such as Simpson and Soofi, like the criminals behind the attach on Charlie Hebdo, do not represent Islam, and they do not defend the Prophet in the way he should be defended, no matter how much those who hate Islam may say so.

Thank God that Simpson and Soofi were stopped before they could commit worse crimes, and may God protect us all from criminal deviants such as these from ever striking again.

“Go And Cling To Her Feet, Because Paradise Is There”


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

The title of this post is the response of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to a man who expressed a desire to perform jihad in the path of God. It is likely that this man was thinking about a military battle. The Prophet (pbuh) instead asked him, “Is your mother alive?” When the man replied in the affirmative, the Prophet (pbuh) replied, “Go and cling to her feet, because Paradise is there.”

The duty we have to our parents in general, but to our mothers in particular, is enormous in Islam. The Qur’an is full of references to the duty we have to our parents:

For your Lord has ordained that you shall worship none but Him. And do good unto [your] parents. Should one of them, or both, attain to old age in your care, never say [even] “Ugh” to them or scold them, but [always] speak unto them with reverent speech and spread over them humbly the wings of your tenderness, and say: “O my Lord! Bestow Your grace upon them, even as they cherished and reared me when I was a child!” (17:23-24)Now [among the best of righteous deeds which] We have enjoined upon humanity [is] goodness towards parents…(29:8)

AND WORSHIP God [alone], and do not ascribe divinity, in any way, to aught beside Him. And do good unto your parents…(4:36)

Say: “Come, let me convey unto you what God has [really] forbidden to you: “Do not ascribe divinity, in any way, to aught beside Him; and [do not offend against but, rather,] do good unto your parents…(6:151)



Read more:  http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonwordcommonlord#ixzz3ZeQrXItA



Between God’s Love And Mercy


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

This was first published in The Muslim Observer.

Although it is true that God’s Mercy is balanced by God’s Justice, it is still very important to remember the very first thing God highlighted when introducing us to Himself:

All praise and thanks is simultaneously and perpetually due to God, the Extremely, Eternally, and Perpetually Loving and Caring. (1:1-2)

God could have used anything to describe Himself in the Fatihah. Yet, He purposefully used these two beautiful words: Al Rahman, Al Raheem. Because of these two attributes of God, we get food to eat and water to drink. We get the warmth of the Sun, the cool breath of the breeze, the soft feel of grass on our bare feet.

Because God is Al Rahman and Al Raheem, we wake up each day and live our lives to the fullest. We stand breathless at the majesty of the blue ocean, its waves gently breaking on the soft sand. We marvel at the unlimited expanse of the Universe, wondering about other worlds that have yet to be discovered.

It is impossible to avoid living and breathing God’s attributes of Al Rahman, Al Raheem.

Thus, the most natural response to all this goodness is gratitude. When one realizes how much she benefits from the goodness of God’s Love and Caring, she cannot help but be grateful. In fact, one can look at the first two verses of Al Fatihah in that manner: “All praise and thanks is due to God” [because He is] The Extremely, Eternally, and Perpetually Loving and Caring.”

And out of this gratitude come our ritual worship and good works. The Prophet (pubh) said this to his wife A’isha, saying that he stood in prayer until his feet swelled because he wanted to be a “grateful servant.”

We pray five times a day because it reminds us of Him, the One to Whom we are so grateful. We refrain from doing what He prohibited, because we are so grateful to Him for all His wondrous gifts. We spend out of the wealth with which He blessed us, because we are so grateful for His blessing us with that wealth in the first place. And it can go on and on.

In fact, when one is grateful, then God has no need for punishing that person. He said it himself in the Qur’an:

What purpose does God fulfill in punishing you if you are grateful and believe, seeing that God is always responsive to gratitude (or, Grateful) and all knowing? (4:147)

The order of the words in the verse is not an accident: God purposefully put gratitude before belief, further indicating that our belief (and subsequent actions) directly come out of our gratitude. When one is grateful to his Lord, then doing what He asks is not a burden. And when one is grateful to her Lord, her love for Him will only grow and blossom.

That is why, truly, “All Praise and Thanks is simultaneously and perpetually due to God.” And we praise and thank Him always because we are so grateful to Him for all that He has done; we are so grateful for His being Al Rahman, Al Raheem.

In The Cradle of God’s Mercy


In the Name of God: The Extremely, Eternally, Infinitely, and Perpetually Mericful 

This was first published in The Muslim Observer 

Photo credit: photodune

By Hesham Hassaballa

For many years, I have written and preached about the fact that the love of God can be read in and inferred from many verses in the Qur’an. Yet, after I was exposed to the classes at Bayyinah Institute, I realized that – despite my being a native Arabic speaker – I really did not understand the book of God. For all these years, I was staring at the love of God in the Qur’an and had absolutely no idea.

In the first chapter of the Qur’an, Al Fatihah (“The Opening”), God introduces Himself to the world:

“All Praise and Thanks belong to God, The Lord and Master of all nations of people
The Extremely, Eternally, Perpetually? and Infinitely Merciful
Master and King of the Day of Judgment”

This chapter was the first one revealed in totality to the Prophet, and in it, God describes Himself in terms of love and mercy. The root of the words, Al Rahman and Al Raheem, is “rhm,” which denotes love, care, and mercy. From it comes the word for mother’s womb, which is the ultimate manifestation of love and care.

And the words themselves are deeply profound in meaning. Al Rahman has three elements of mercy: first, it is extreme in nature; second, it is immediate; and third, it is temporary, meaning that something can take it away. Al Raheem has two qualities: first, it is eternal and perpetual; and second, it is not necessarily occurring right at this second.

Thus, with the two being paired together, it has the meaning which is roughly translated at “The Extremely, Eternally, Perpetually and Infinitely Merciful.” His Mercy is extreme and occurs right at this second, when we need it most, and it is there perpetually and eternally when we need it later.

And within those two words are God’s love for us. For more than two decades of my life, I was reciting in the prayer these words and had no idea that God was telling me, directly, that He loves me. For too many times in my life, I have had preachers and Imams focus on God’s wrath, and punishment, and anger, and power.

Indeed, He has all of these things. And we all pray that He never shows us those things. Yet, when He chose to introduce Himself to the world, and introduce Himself to those who seek guidance in His Word, He chose to focus on His love and mercy; His beauty and goodness; His care and benevolence. Out of all His infinite qualities, He chose to tell us that He is Al Rahman, Al Raheem.

Now, of course, whenever one has a benevolent master, employer, or manager, those in his responsibility are liable to take advantage of this benevolence. There is a risk that, knowing that our God is a loving and merciful Lord, we may take advantage of this fact and willfully sin against Him saying, “He is Merciful.” That is why He said that He is “Master and King of the Day of Judgment.” There will be a day when we will face Him and be taken to account for all that we have done.

Yet, still, despite this, the first thing He said about Himself is that He is Al Rahman, Al Raheem. This means that His mercy is extreme, immediate, eternal, and perpetual. And this is because He loves us more than we will ever know. I never knew that this amazing chapter told me this from the very beginning. And I am so very grateful to my Lord that I now do.

The Muslim Observer: Believing in Islam in an Era of Difficulty


In the Name of God: The Infinitely Merciful and Compassionate Beloved Lord 

This was first published in the Muslim Observer


The news about Islam and Muslims these days is distressing, if not wholly depressing. No matter how much ordinary Muslims contribute to the well-being of the societies in which they live, especially in the West, we are always having to bear the burden of the psychopaths that do terrible evil in the name of our faith. I leave aside the fact that no other religious group has to contend with this double-standard. Nevertheless, the constant negative press about our religion does take its toll.

For some, especially in the Middle East, it has driven out of the faith completely and turned them to atheism. To me this simply adds to my rage and hatred against the savages of ISIS and their ilk. Yet, has it affected my faith? Has the constant negative press about Islam made me think about leaving?

I must admit, having my faith and its Prophet maligned and attacked day after day after day has given me pangs of pain. And it is true that, despite the fact that I am a Muslim is well known to all, I almost never volunteer to strangers that I am a Muslim. Still, there is no way I could ever leave the faith of Islam, the barbarity of ISIS notwithstanding. But there is a story behind this apparent strength of faith.

In college, I had a major crisis of faith. I doubted everything about Islam and the truth of its message. Even though I read the Quran frequently, it didn’t assuage any of my growing doubts. In fact, one day I actually uttered words of disbelief, and then instantly paused in complete shock.

I couldn’t believe what I had just said, and I immediately uttered the Shahadah, or Islamic testimony of faith. From that point on, my life and writing has reflected my continuous search for the Straight Path and the study of its demands.

And I have never regretted my choice to re-affirm my faith in Islam. There are so many things I love about Islam. What I love the most is the direct relationship with my Lord and Creator. He is right here, whenever I need Him. He is closer to me than my jugular vein. In that I feel comfort, and because of that I am saved.

The story of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as well is so inspiring. Everything about his story makes me love him more and more. Everything that he went through, all the suffering he endured, just so that I can believe in God shows that this man was truly the greatest man that walked this earth. And it shows that there is no way he can be a charlatan seeking worldly fame.

All that said, however, if any fluttering occurs in my heart, it is extinguished by the Qur’an. This book is truly a living miracle. It’s words, it’s power, it’s message, it’s beauty: without a doubt this book is the very Word of God. And when it infuses my ears, it calms my heart of whatever doubt my try to sneak in.

In addition, there are Prophetic traditions that give me hope and keep me going in these dark times. In one of these, the Prophet said:

“Ahead of you there lie days of patience, during which being patient will be like grasping a hot coal. The one who does good deeds then will have a reward like that of fifty men who do such deeds. – And someone else added – They said: O Messenger of Allaah, the reward of fifty of them? He said: “The reward of fifty of you.”

In another saying, the Prophet said, “Islam started as something strange and will become something strange once more. So glad tidings to the strangers.” We are definitely living in these times. And the fact that the Prophet gave us glad tidings of an immense reward, that of fifty Companions, gives me peace of mind and heart.

These are indeed “days of patience,” as the beloved Prophet (pbuh) told us. As Imam Zaid Shakir said, we cannot control what the barbarians who claim to be Muslim do around the world. We cannot let their barbarity affect our faith. What we can control is our own actions. We must remain steadfast. And if we do, tremendous reward and ultimate success awaits.

I Stand With The Victims of Sexual Abuse


In the Name of God: The Infinitely Merciful and Compassionate Beloved Lord

I am very proud to add my name as a signatory to the letter below. My heart cries out in anguish and terrible anger at the alleged abuse by a Chicago-area Imam.

Dear Muslim Sisters and Brothers:

In light of recent sexual assault allegations in Chicago, we submit the following.

As scholars and religious leaders, we write to address the very grave matter of sexual abuse and criminal, predatory behavior perpetrated by religious leaders within our community.  We must bear witness to the spiritual and legal teachings of our faith. We must denounce this heinous form of oppression and violation. In our traditions, we have higher objectives that require us to protect lives and children.  We must turn our hands against the perpetrators. We must hold the criminals to account before God and the American judicial system. We must work for the healing of the survivors, their families, and loved ones. And, we must put in place new checks and balances to protect current and future generations from such appalling, and soul-tearing violation.

It is important to note at the outset that this is not merely a legal issue.  It is about the rescue and rehabilitation of souls that have been violated in the worst imaginable way.  Their trust has been betrayed. Their bodies and souls have been violated. And, because these crimes have been perpetrated by religious leaders, their relationship with their faith and with God has been poisoned.  The scars of sexual violence are life-long. The survivors must bear them for the rest of their lives.

This letter, then, first and foremost, is written in a spirit of loving support and prayerful solidarity with the survivors. Second, it calls for a community-wide revolution in the way we respond to this evil within our communities.

In this spirit, then, we humbly offer a few points.

1. As Muslims and people of faith, we must stand for justice.

O you believers! Hold up justice, as witnesses to God, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, regardless of whether he be rich or poor. God is a better Protector to both (than you). [Surah al-Nisa 4:135]

Thus, regardless of what our families or the community might say, regardless of the position or status of the perpetrator, we must stand together as witnesses before God.  To do otherwise is to ignore God’s clear teaching as well as betray the victims.

2.  Seek immediate help.

If you know or are a victim of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or sexual assault, seek immediate help. We often think that sexual violence is only rape. For further examples, please check here.

If you do not know how or where to seek help, begin with a trusted family member or friend or teacher, who can help you access the professional resources that exist for victims within and beyond the community.  Qualified and compassionate people are waiting to help, and so we have both a personal and collective obligation to ensure that the victims get help, immediately.

Even if the incident(s) you experienced were from long ago, seek help. The effects of such trauma are long lasting.

3. Inform law enforcement.

We must never hesitate to inform law enforcement when a crime has been committed, especially one of such a heinous and serious nature.  Officers are given special training for the care, interviewing, and protection of victims of sexual violence. They have strict rules for confidentiality.  The police have the power to intervene so that the victim will be protected from further abuse.  Law enforcement must be part of our community’s collective strategy for combatting this criminal behavior within our mosques, schools, and families.

Even if the abuse and violation occurred a long time ago, law enforcement should be informed immediately, as there may still be time for investigation, prosecution, and protection for both the survivor(s). We must also protect others who are in danger of being violated by the sexual predator. For the importance of consulting local law on such matters, please check here.

4. Support the victim.

As believing women and men, we must stand together for the sanctity and beauty and innocence of the victims. The prominence, fame, or power of the perpetrator should not affect our support for the victim.  God says very clearly that His covenant does not include oppressors [Surah al-Baqarah 2:124]. Our compassionate focus must be on the victims of oppression.

If you have been affected or have a family member who was affected by sexual violence, we urge you to stand with and for the survivor. We urge you to seek help by way of professional counseling and legal intervention. We urge you to cling to hope; for all things, including healing, are possible with God.  The perpetrators should seek their own repentance with Allah, but we must support the victim.

5. Do not blame or shame the victim.

Allah does not like the public mention of evil except by one who has been wronged. And ever is Allah Hearing and Knowing. [Surah al-Nisa 4:148]

We must support and protect the victims.  It is unacceptable to blame, shame, or silence the victims. As mentioned in the above ayah, Allah does allow victims to make public mention of evil.

We must protect the victim and pursue justice. It is never the victim’s fault for getting abused. There is nothing s/he could have done to invite such behavior, as sexual violence is a matter of the perpetrator abusing his/her power against another.

Victim blaming is one of the main reasons survivors do not come forward and seek justice. Community silence allows abusers to continue their crimes in their homes and communities.  Let us not be responsible for silencing those who have been oppressed.

Sending sincere prayers of God’s peace, mercy and blessings to one and all.