Beliefnet
City of Brass

This morning, (January 14, 2017) the Islamic Center of Eastside in Bellevue, Washington was burned to the ground by vandals.

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There’s a fundraising campaign at Launchgood.com/Bell to help raise funds to rebuild. Please keep the community in Bellevue in your prayers this weekend.

There’s no coincidence here that this happened on MLK weekend. And there’s a direct causation between this hate crime and Donald J. Trump’s laughable smearing of civil rights hero and US Rep. John Lewis as “all talk and no action” – not to mention his stupid assertion that his district is in “horrible shape and falling apart, not to mention crime-infested”, which is just code for “black = criminal”. John Lewsis did more to make America Great in one day on March 7, 1965 at the Edmund Pettis Bridge than Trump will do in a lifetime.

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The dream is alive, but we aren’t there yet. Fight back – donate to the Bellevue community and show them that when they go low, we go high.

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Today is the day all believers honor the birth of the prophet, Isa AS, son of Mariam, whose virgin birth is narrated in the Qur’an (19:17-21).

And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not. โ€” John 1:5

And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah. (5:46)

There truly is a need to put Christ back in Christmas, by acting on the values of charity and forgiveness that the Prophet Isa AS embodied. His message, like tat of all the Prophets, was for all of mankind, so as a Muslim it is my duty to not just say “Merry Christmas” but to also live it. Of course, I will fail, but that’s where the forgiveness comes in.

Neither the War on Christmas nor the War on Mawlid – waged by puritans of both Christian and Muslim extractions – should taint the beautiful and universal tradition of goodwill that the Christmas season evokes. This is the time when bonds of family and friendship and neighbors and community are forged stronger. There is strength in Christmas that we should honor.

Personally, I plan to honor it today by going to Harry Potter World with my family ๐Ÿ™‚ Of course, I will say As-Salaam Aleykum upon Santa if I see him there. (It really does explain everything)

Your recommended Friday reading: Islamism, Salafism, and jihadism: A primer by Shadi Hamid and Rashid Dar. Here is the executive summary:

Islamism: Islamism as a phenomenon incorporates a wide spectrum of behavior and belief. In the broadest sense, Islamist groups believe Islamic law or Islamic values should play a central role in public life. They feel Islam has things to say about how politics should be conducted, how the law should be applied, and how other peopleโ€”not just themselvesโ€”should conduct themselves morally.

Salafism: Salafism is the idea that the most authentic and true Islam is found in the lived example of the early, righteous generations of Muslims, known as the Salaf, who were closest in both time and proximity to the Prophet Muhammad. Salafisโ€”often described as โ€œultraconservativesโ€โ€”believe not just in the โ€œspiritโ€ but in the โ€œletterโ€ of the law, which is what sets them apart from their mainstream counterparts. In the Arab world today, Salafis are known for trying to imitate the particular habits of the first Muslims, such as dressing like the Prophet (by cuffing their trousers at ankle-length) or brushing their teeth like the Prophet (with a natural teeth cleaning twig called a miswak).

Jihadism: Jihadism is driven by the idea that jihad (religiously-sanctioned warfare) is an individual obligation (fard โ€˜ayn) incumbent upon all Muslims, rather than a collective obligation carried out by legitimate representatives of the Muslim community (fard kifaya), as it was traditionally understood in the pre-modern era. They are able to do this by arguing that Muslim leaders today are illegitimate and do not command the authority to ordain justified violence. In the absence of such authority, they argue, every able-bodied Muslim should take up the mantle of jihad.

The excerpts above do not do the essay justice. To anyone disinclined to read a bunch of books, reading the full essay is at least a pragmatic alternative.

And then, having read it, please also read Murtaza Hussain’s essay on ISIS’s goal of Eliminating the Grayzone. It’s really short, but I’ll excerpt one paragraph anyway.

Through murderous provocation, the Islamic State seeks to trigger a civilizational war between Muslims and the West, violently dragging both parties into such a battle if need be. There can be no real victory in a conflict with such apocalyptic connotations. Instead, Western nations should remain defiant, making clear through word and deed that they refuse to see the world divided on the Islamic Stateโ€™s terms.

This stuff matters more than ever now. Reading the excerpts on this page is not sufficient. Just reading the two essays linked above is not sufficient. But it’s a start.

ู„ูŽู‚ูŽุฏู’ ู…ูŽู†ู‘ูŽ ุงู„ู„ู‘ูŽู‡ู ุนูŽู„ูŽู‰ ุงู„ู’ู…ูุคู’ู…ูู†ููŠู†ูŽ ุฅูุฐู’ ุจูŽุนูŽุซูŽ ูููŠู‡ูู…ู’ ุฑูŽุณููˆู„ู‹ุง ู…ู‘ูู†ู’ ุฃูŽู†ููุณูู‡ูู…ู’ ูŠูŽุชู’ู„ููˆ ุนูŽู„ูŽูŠู’ู‡ูู…ู’ ุขูŠูŽุงุชูู‡ู ูˆูŽูŠูุฒูŽูƒู‘ููŠู‡ูู…ู’ ูˆูŽูŠูุนูŽู„ู‘ูู…ูู‡ูู…ู ุงู„ู’ูƒูุชูŽุงุจูŽ ูˆูŽุงู„ู’ุญููƒู’ู…ูŽุฉูŽ ูˆูŽุฅูู† ูƒูŽุงู†ููˆุง ู…ูู† ู‚ูŽุจู’ู„ู ู„ูŽูููŠ ุถูŽู„ูŽุงู„ู ู…ู‘ูุจููŠู†ู

Allah showed great kindness to the believers when He sent a messenger to them from among themselves — Surah al-Imran, 164

This week sees two major events – this past weekend was Milad un Nabi (also known as Mawlid), the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad SAW, and today is the third anniversary of the passing of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA, the 52nd Dai ul Mutlaq of the Dawoodi Bohra community. For a believer of my stripes, it’s a kind of emotional whiplash. But in another sense the proximity of these two events serves as a spiritual bulwark, reminding me that there is a discrete and continuous chain of divine authority in which I fully entrust my spiritual well-being. That infinite, divine, indestructible chain continues in the person of the 53rd Dai, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin. For an Ismaili Shi’a like myself, continuity is the key – certainly, other groups like the Qutbi Bohras are free to choose whatever continuity suits them, but ultimately all Ismailis entrust themselves to someone. Religion should not be a democracy; there is a specific authority, and then it is up to the believer to decide, to choose – who do I believe? Faith is a single leap of trust, and then everything that follows is purely rational. That leap of faith is driven by something Reason can never understand, however: Love. Hal al-din illal Hub? (What is Deen, but Love?)

Related: my discussion of the controversy over observance of Milad un Nabi, where I argued, “(e)ven accounting for all that is expressly forbidden in Shariโ€™a, there is infinite space for cultural practice within Islam.”