Muslim Youth USA

by Nayyar Ahmad

Once again I am forced to write about an issue that has grasped the world’s attention. While it is true that Senator Pauline Hanson from Australia wore a Burqa/face covering to a Parliament proceeding, it is also true that she did it out of malicious intent to disgrace and disrespect this ornament, cherished by millions of Muslim women around the world. I reject her outright bigtory and shameless audacity to pull a stunt like this.

Senator Pauline Hanson

Senator Pauline Hanson

Her blatant disregard of Islamic values and Australian Muslims landed her a schooling lesson by senator George Brandis who said, “..and to ridicule that community, to drive it into a corner, to mock its religious garments, is an appalling thing to do”, and I second his words. You have to be naive to believe that banning the burqa or face covering will end the threat of terrorism or strengthen national security.

This is a mockery of Australian values that encourage inclusiveness. A nation that takes pride in its diversity and pluralism knows better what this blind hate can lead to. I, for one, know this first hand and while Australia was my home for 8 years, I have never witnessed such hate and bigotry except in Pakistan, my country of origin that is known to marginlize minorities with hateful rhetoric. It comes as no surprise that extremists find Pakistan as a safe haven.

This kind of fear-mongering has no place in the world and is nothing short of an abuse of power. In a position of authority, one must exercise caution not to cause division and apartheid against a minority. Australia is a nation that affords freedom and liberty for its people with stringent anti-vilification laws in place. This is the very reason most Muslims have migrated to this beautiful country. Theoretically, Australian values are more in line with Islamic ideology which promotes pluralism and affords freedom at every level of civil character.

I find it quite ironic that the action of senator Hanson to force the removal of the veil can only be described and equated to extremists who force women to wear the veil. Every human being has a right to freedom and while Islam proposes that Muslim women should cover their outer beauty, it rejects coercion in matters of faith and values liberty as a cornerstone to belief. However, such coercion reminds me of a famous quote coined by the 4th Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Tahir Ahmad, who said, “Swords can win territories but not hearts, forces can bend heads but not minds”.

As a counter-narrative to the notion that Muslim women are living a life of tyranny and oppression, many Muslim women enjoy the veil and find it empowering to cover and protect themselves against the inevitable gazes of the opposite sex. As an example, when Nobel Peace prize recipient laureate Tawakul Karman was asked about her Hijab by journalists and how it is not proportionate with her level of intellect and education she replied “Man in The early times was almost naked, and as his intellect evolved he started wearing clothes. What I am today and what I’m wearing represents the highest level of thought and civilization that man has achieved, and is not regressive. It’s the removal of clothes again that is regressive back to ancient times.”

To end on a high note, its important to forward the narrative of love and dispel the bigotry of hate. I welcome senator Hanson to study the Quran and understand the true meaning of Islam. A good place to start is by visiting and become a Muslim ally.

Advance Australia Fair!

by Aamir Nasir Quraishy

The event of the Charlottsville attack left many of us stunned and surprised, and mourning the loss of one of our fellow Americans Heather Heyer. The whole event left many people distraught. However one ill-formed statement was from AZ district 1’s supervisor Amy Miller.

“I’m sick and tired of being hit for being white. It is all about making us feel like we need to apologize. I am WHITE — and proud of it! No apologies necessary.”

Ally Miller

Ally Miller

No group should have to be represented by the actions of a few transgressors. But those digressers should be called out and condemned for their attacks. As a Muslim, I do the same for those who defile the name of Islam to commit horrible acts.

Last year I wrote this about ISIS: “As a Muslim that loves the sanctity of American freedom and safety, it truly tears my hearts to see so many people around the world who do not have the certainty they will be alive tomorrow. It is even more deplorable that the people who violate this sanctity call themselves Muslims. It is clear that the ‘I’ in ‘ISIS’ stands for nothing but ignorance.”

To denounce evil, done in the name of your race, religion or Identity, IS NOT an apology. But perhaps one of the most important things one can do. It creates some distance from those who compel and hurt others, and sends a message of, “You don’t get to this! You don’t get to use my skin color, nor my religion, to commit barbarity, and disorder!”

When the Prophet Muhammad(Peace be upon him) saw the funeral procession of a man he stood up and offered his condolences. Upon seeing this a man blurted to him, “This man is a jew.” The Prophet turned to him and said “Is he not a human being!”

Islam teaches when one group from among you transgresses, that all others should unite to stop them, and make peace. “And if two parties of believers fight against each other, make peace between them; then if after that one of them transgresses against the other, fight the party that transgresses until it returns to the command of Allah. [49:10]”

Beyond the shadow of a doubt we should stand together when any group transgresses, hold them accountable and say, “this is not what we stand for!” regardless of what group that may, whether they are white or Muslim.

The  strongest statement of pride you can give as human being is: We are better than this!

by Dhul Waqar Alhaj Yaqub

As an Ahmadi Muslim I can say, “Happy Independence Day America” and really mean it. My patriotic realization wasn’t something that happened suddenly, but was gradual with deliberate reservations.

We grew up celebrating the 4th of July like everyone else in the neighborhood. It was the barbecue, homemade ice cream, fireworks, family get together and a day off work. If we were lucky, we would go to the amusement park. I vaguely remember the 4th of July as a holiday relating to America’s independence. At the most, perhaps on a test in school, we had to recall “July 4, 1776” as an important date concerning the adoption of a “Declaration of Independence” document. The long and short of the 4th of July was this: fireworks yes, but singing the Star-Spangled Banner “no way”, a common sentiment in the African-American community.

During my service in the military, the 4th of July wasn’t much different. Saluting the flag was a daily routine, but not associated with celebrating Independence Day…even on the 4th of July. The “4th” was a day off work and an all day round robin of Bid Whist.

After accepting Islam, as my religion and way of life, celebrating the “4th of July” became questionable: Is it Islamic? As a Muslim I’m also an American? Is America my country? However, the most compelling question was: Can I be a Muslim and be patriotic to the United States of America?

National events brought me face to face with my own patriotism as a Muslim in 1970. I worked with an all white staff during the period when Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali and refused induction into the military because of his religious convictions. Muhammad Ali angered these white conservative, patriotic veterans and he had a “big mouth”, too. My name was Dhul-Waqar Yaqub and I was “one of them” as far as they were concerned. I was their scapegoat.

Being “one of them” meant being a “black Muslim racist” regardless of how many times I conveyed to them that I belong to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and I don’t hate white folks. One day a co-worker, Woody by name, started talking to me about his military service during World War II. He took this opportunity to inform me that he could think differently about me if I had served in the military.

I was shocked and stunned by his remark. Realizing I never shared the fact that military service was a part of my past, I responded, “You’ve got me all wrong, Woody. I served in the military and was honorably discharged, my father served during World War II and my grandfather served during World War I. Both my father and grandfather received honorable discharges.”

Woody, by the look on his face, was equally stunned. He remarked, “I didn’t know that.” As he tried to compose himself he blurted out, “Well, why are you in that religion?” At that time the buzzer sounded signaling clean-up time so I asked him, “Woody, can we talk about this tomorrow?” He agreed.

Subsequently, I started going through the Holy Qur’an and the writings of the Promised Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (upon him be peace), and writings of the Ahmadiyya Caliphs/Khulafa looking for answers about where my patriotism should be as an Ahmadi Muslim. I stumbled upon a booklet titled, “The Question of Divided Loyalty: Some Parallels From History” by Mirza Bashir Ahmad.  In that booklet, the author pointed to the relevant Qur’anic verse, which says, “O ye who believe obey God and obey the Prophet and obey those in authority from among you” (4:60).

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community, writing about the above-quoted verse specified very clearly what Islam commands:

“The Holy Qur’an commands, ‘Obey Allah and obey His Prophet and obey those in authority among you.’ Believers are to obey those in authority, besides God and His Prophets. To say that ‘those in authority’ does not include a non-Muslim Government would be a manifest error. For, a government or authority whose ordinances are in accordance with the Shariah (that is, they are not in conflict with it) is ‘authority from among you.’ Those who are not against us are among us. The Qur’an, therefore, is unequivocal on the point. Obedience to government authority is one of its imperatives” (Works and Speeches, Vol. 1, p. 261).

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (May peace be upon him) is reported to have said:

“He who obeys me obeys God; he who disobeys me disobeys God. He who obeys his authority obeys me; he who disobeys his authority disobeys me” (Muslim, Kitab al Imarah).

In this Hadith the whole subject of loyalty and patriotism to one’s country became illuminating. Loyalty and patriotism belong by right only to God, Creator, Master, Lord of Men and Nations. Others have authority derived from Him. This would include the United States of America, which reflect the Authority of God.

In accordance with all this the remarks of the second Head of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Hadrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, impress upon my mind loyalty and patriotism to one’s Nation by clearly stating:

“Our belief is that Islam requires everyone to be loyal to the state under which he lives…Loyalty to a Government or State, according to us, is ordained by the Holy Qur’an and the Qur’an is the Book of God…The Ahmadiyya Head or Khalifa has no right to alter an ordinance contained in the Holy Book. The Khalifa is a deputy, not a dictator. A deputy is bound to authority in the same way as are all others” (Al-Fazl, April 5, 1949).

After several months of study, I felt ready for the Woodys of the world. However, more importantly, I was beginning to comprehend the concepts of patriotism from an Islamic perspective. For the first time in my life, I had a desire to learn about the principles my country stood upon. I started studying the United States Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, it amendments including the Bill of Rights, and of special importance, the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolishes slavery and authorizes Congress to enforce abolition. I didn’t find any of these documents to be in conflict with the Holy Qur’an.

My follow up dialogue concerning my new-found concepts of patriotism with Woody and others brought about an inconclusive reserve on their part. I tried to make it clear to them that I am an Ahmadi Muslim, I came from a family line with three generations of military service that invested my future generations and I with the free exercise of religion.

During the seven years of employment there and as a result of our many discussions, Woody secretly admitted that he listen to “negro” spirituals (gospel music) on Sunday morning radio. He claims that it was the only aspect of religion which gave him the “feeling”. Another co-worker shared with me that in his village, an “Underground Railroad” station operated there years ago. That seemed to be a source of pride for him. Anyway, people just don’t make this stuff up.

To all Americans, we wish you a Happy 4th of July!

by Nayyar Ahmad 

Almost all major religions and cultures around the world believe in fasting; Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism etc. Likewise, Islam also enjoins its followers to fast during the month of Ramadhan. Now a week into Ramadhan, Muslims are observing fast from sunup to sundown for 30 days.

Apart from abstaining from food and water, Muslims must exercise an extraordinary level of patience, humility, and kindness towards other human beings. There are no exceptions to this rule. Quoting a tradition of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) on the topic of Ramadhan he states, “If any one of you is fasting, let him not utter obscenities or act in an ignorant manner, and if anyone insults him or wants to fight him, let him say, I am fasting”. The Quran, unequivocally declares that killing a life is akin to killing of mankind. With such practice before us it is unbelievably sad to see the likes of ISIS push a violent narrative, creating resentment for Muslims and Islam in the West.

The bombing in Manchester, the van attack in London, the bomb explosion in Afghanistan, all of which killed dozens of innocent souls, goes against the very essence of Islamic teachings. As member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, I strongly condemn these grossly inhumane attacks and stand in solidarity with the victims.

What is propelling this ideology of hate among Muslim youth? Must we blame religion for the actions of a few lone wolves?

A common practice among terrorists is cherry-picking verses of the Quran and placing them out of context. By this deliberate act of distorting the teachings it is easy to manipulate young impressionable minds. For example, the word “Jihad” is now synonymously used with “holy war” which is completely wrong. The correct translation of the word “Jihad” is “struggle”. This struggle is precisely explained by the supreme head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Mirza Masroor Ahmad, who says,

“Our Jihad is not a Jihad of swords, guns or bombs. Our Jihad is not a Jihad of cruelty, brutality and injustice. Rather, our Jihad is of love, mercy and compassion. Our Jihad is of tolerance, justice and human sympathy. Our Jihad is to fulfill the rights of God Almighty and of His Creation”.

In retrospect, no such violent act of so called ‘Jihad’ is evident in Islamic history. The Prophet Muhammad enjoined the highest level of kindness towards the creation of God so much so that it was even forbidden to treat animals with cruelty, let alone human beings. Often critics of Islam level allegations against the character of Holy Prophet Muhammad, and out of ignorance discredit his otherwise compassionate nature. For example, during the early days of Islam, Muslims were subject to severe persecution by leaders of Quraish, a ruling tribe of Mecca (now Saudi Arabia). The leaders, blinded by their hate, were so adamant on destroying Islam that they finally decided to slay the Holy Prophet. But Divine intervention saved his life and Muhammad (PBUH) finally migrated to Medina to escape this persecution. Post-migration to Medina, Prophet Muhammad and his companions penned ‘The charter of Medina’, a classic example of pluralism found in Islam. Believe it or not, even non-Muslims enjoyed a cordial protection under a secular rule of law which allowed them to freely practice their beliefs.

However, the Quraish tribe was not content with this migration and believed that Muhammad (PBUH) was still a threat to their regressive, pagan beliefs and customs. The ensuing years lead to battles and skirmishes that were waged against Muslims. It was only during this time that the Jihad of the sword became a necessary tool to defend the honor and rights of Muslims and non-Muslims alike! The distinction being, this Jihad was only for self-defense rather than the Jihad we see in the media today which only takes life and pushes humans to the last frontiers of uncivilized conduct.

While we acknowledge and condemn such acts of violence committed to defame Islam and promote a hateful ideology, it is equally important to understand the counter-narrative presented by peaceful Muslims, who by the way are the majority. ISIS, Taliban, Al Qaeda, and all terrorist networks can only be defeated if our youth fully comprehend the concepts and dispel any misconceptions.

Using this Ramadhan as a point of departure, we should all strive to learn about true Islam ( and fight the fallacies that have taken root in the hearts of our youth. A pragmatic approach is needed to deal with this conundrum whereby Muslims should take charge of their legacy and raise a voice which echoes a narrative of peace, not war!