Islam In America

Islam In America

“Forming a More Perfect Union”: 49th ISNA Convention

posted by Suzy Shuraym

Mustafa Tameez

What should be the role of Muslims in politics? That was the question before the panel Saturday morning [September 1, 2012] at the 49th annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America in Washington, D.C.

First up was Mustafa Tameez, founder and managing director Outreach Strategists in Houston, Texas. A seasoned political strategist, he suggested that the problems for Muslims came from people “at the margins” of American life.

Noting that the United States is a country of immigrants, he suggested that “our focus has to be broader than earning our right to be part of the fabric of this nation. We will help make it stronger.”

Tameez noted that “if others have succeeded, so can we. We must be active citizens where we live and start by serving our local communities.”

Azizah al-Hibri

Azizah al-Hibri, founder and President of KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights, pointed out that part of the “problem” is that Muslims have been “painted as a political not a religious group”, just as “terrorism by the few” has tainted the many.

She suggested forming something like a council of political elders — both male and female — to sift through the welter of anti-Muslim rhetoric in the U.S. and formulate strategies to combat the falsehoods.

Nihad Awad

The third panelist, Nihad Awad, is the Executive Director and co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He pointed out that his organization, a civil rights and advocacy group, is prohibited by law from endorsing candidates.

He nonetheless called on the audience to be politically active.
“It is not an option to boycott the upcoming election,” Awad said. “We have to be civically engaged so that our leaders stand out and are part of the decision-making process.” Photo-ops are fine, but “access is not influence”, he said.

Al-Hibri agreed. “We need to be ‘in the room’ making our voices heard,” she noted, but “we should not overvalue gestures.”

The controversy over shari’a was discussed, with Al-Hibri (a former law professor) noting that the laws passed in the U.S. as a result were “either unconstitutional or redundant” because “of course U.S. law is supreme in U.S. courts”.

The moderator for the panel was Suhail Khan, a senior political appointee in the Bush administration who described himself as a conservative Republican. He said that the “no foreign laws” movement by the GOP was to counter environmental regulations that the United Nations intended to impose on the U.S., not a response to concerns about shari’a.

In their concluding statements, all three panelists encouraged the audience in civic engagement. “It’s important to empower our children to become politically active,” emphasized Tameez.

Awad added that political activity “is not enough. We also need to be socially active and ‘give back’ to show the human face of the Muslim community.”

Al-Hibri agreed: “If you don’t volunteer in your community, you’ll always be on the fringe.”

(Photos courtesy of Outreach Strategists, University of Richmond and CAIR)

Overview of Objectives of Shari’a: 49th ISNA Convention

posted by Suzy Shuraym

Muzammil Siddiqi and Muneer Fareed discussed shari’a in an afternoon session today (August 31, 2012) at the 49th annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America in the Washington (D.C.) Convention Center.

Dr. Siddiqi (pictured), chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America, started with the translation of the Arabic word, shari’a, into English, noting that it meant “to begin”, “to enact”, “to lay down”. It’s “something enacted” to “show the way to the source of happiness,” he noted, adding that it’s “not just laws and rules, but also acts of worship”.

“Shari’a is a source of guidance for those sure of their faith,” he said. This guidance comes from both the Qu’ran and the Hadith.

“The United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights are not in conflict with Shari’a,” Dr. Siddiqi emphasized. “We do not see a confict with Islam. We are equal citizens without losing our Muslim identity. We can be faithful Muslims and loyal Americans.”

Dr. Fareed, director for the Centre for Contemporary Islam, pointed out that Shari’a is applied on three separate and distinct levels: individual, community and global.

What is applicable at one level may not be appropriate at another, he said.

Shari’a helps Muslims live their moral vision and “do what is right”, he concluded.

Ingrid Mattson, who also was scheduled to speak at this session, did not participate due to a family emergency.

(Photo courtesy of Muslim Public Affairs Council)

Are Muslims Allowed to Sing and Dance?

posted by Suzy Shuraym

“While moderate Muslims generally don’t object to music and dancing per se, a large portion of the faithful view sexually suggestive movement, racy lyrics, and unmarried couples dancing together as haram, because they may lead to un-Islamic behavior. This viewpoint resembles the anti-dance feeling common among American Christians at various points in U.S. history.”

Agree? Disagree? Read the whole article here and decide.

Middle Eastern Immigrants Want ‘To Harm’ The U.S.

posted by Suzy Shuraym

“Gabriela Mercer, the likely Republican congressional candidate in Arizona’s new 3rd District, once declared that the only goal of Middle Easterners crossing America’s southern border was to ’cause harm to the United States’.”

Really?

You can read it all here.

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