11/30/2015 Pope Francis tackles Central African Republic’s Christian-Muslim Divide

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

By choosing the travel to CAR, Pope Francis spotlighted the need for reconciliation between Christians and Muslims.

Africa Monitor is an occasional blog offering subjective views on African subjects. The views expressed are the authors’ own.  

Pope Francis arrived yesterday in the troubled nation of Central African Republic, the last part of his three-nation African tour.  While CAR has had bouts of political instability, the past two years have witnessed horrors that have plagued other nations  – explosive Muslim/Christian violence, along with targeted killing of people because of their faith and destruction of houses of worship.  Since late September, new fighting has led to nearly 100 deaths and 40,000 people being forced to flee their homes.

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Event, September 23: Debate on “Understanding Islam: a Threat or a Faith?”

This coming Tuesday, September 23, at 6:00 p.m., Shane Krauser of www.freedomfires.com will be moderating a Lincoln-Douglas style debate between Dr. Jasser and Dr. Carl Goldberg, the Arizona chapter leader of ACT! For America.

Where: Burke Basic School, 131 E. Southern Avenue, Mesa, AZ.

When: Tuesday, September 23; 6:30-8:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

Admission is open to the public and is $2.00. Seating is first come, first serve. A large audience is expected, so do try to arrive early.

The event is sponsored by www.freedomfires.com, where we hope a video will be posted afterward.

A note on Constitution Day

CONSTITUTION DAY: On September 17, 1787, thirty-nine brave men signed the United States Constitution.

As the world continues to face an ever-increasing threat from Islamism – most recently in its especially brutal form, that of ISIS – it is more important than ever that we hold fast to the values upon which our nation was founded.

Ongoing threats to liberty the world over – from Pakistan’s blasphemy laws to the sexual violence and other brutality of ISIS – continue to remind us how precious our freedoms are, how brave our founding fathers were in their fight to secure them, and how bold and diligent we must be to protect them. As liberty and reform-minded Muslims, we firmly believe that without the explicit separation of mosque and state, true liberty cannot prosper. In states where there is no real equivalent of America’s First Amendment and Establishment Clause, the tyranny of theocracy is sure to find fertile soil. We remain steadfast in our opposition not just to ISIS, but to all so-called “Islamic States” – that is, any state claiming to be ruled by Islam. As Muslims, we find no conflict between our personal faith and secular governance. Rather, it is America’s commitment to freedom of conscience for people of all faiths and none which allows us to have a dynamic and sincere relationship with our faith.

 

What did Imam Yaser Ali actually say on July 28, 2014 at the Eid Sermon?

AIFD STAFF NOTE:  

Locally, a recent controversy began when Imam Yaser Ali  called out AIFD President, Zuhdi Jasser’s work during his Eid Sermon of July 28, 2014 at the Islamic Center of the Northeast Valley. Though he didn’t mention Dr. Jasser’s name, the subject of his sermon was unmistakable. This necessitated a subsequent response from Dr. Jasser on the editorial pages of the Arizona Republic on August 24, 2014.

Since its publication, Mr. Ali’s allies with ICNEV are trying to rewrite history and advance the deception that Mr. Ali was not referring to Dr. Jasser at all. Subsequently, Syed Umar wrote in a letter to the editor, “the speech did not mention Zuhdi at all, but Zuhdi is assuming that he is among the people that do such things.”  They have also taken to trashing Dr. Jasser with name calling and ad hominem attacks available in the comments section of the piece and also in the letters to the editor. Omar Odeh of Scottsdale wrote in the Arizona Republic, “Not once did Yaser Ali mention Jasser’s name. Jasser is the one that made this about himself…Jasser for as long as I’ve known him comes off a pompous, arrogant, and self-righteous individual”.  Naser Ahmad, a past President of ICNEV made the laughable claim,  “I was present in the same gathering, and contrary to what Zuhdi Jasser states, the speech had nothing to do with him. As a matter of fact, after the prayer meeting, I commended Yaser Ali on tackling a topic that I, too, feel very strongly about — that Muslims needed to study their religion, understand its dictates and then define themselves rather than just complaining about their negative portrayal in the media due to the misguided actions of some Muslim groups.

We post the following facts and detailed analysis to shed more light on what Mr. Ali actually said for anyone who may have been swayed by the rush of Ali’s supporters running for cover under the shroud of deception. The facts should leave no doubt that Mr. Ali’s sermon did in fact target Dr. Jasser. His cowardice and calculus in avoiding Dr. Jasser’s name is proven in the rush of mosque leadership to deny what was an obvious attack upon Dr. Jasser in his sermon. The saddest element is the profound dishonesty exhibited by those who deny the reality of the bully pulpit and Ali’s message on July 28, 2014. For a prayer leader to exploit the bully pulpit to suffocate dissent is one thing, but then to see his community rush to lie and hide behind vagaries afterwards is even more shameful. We at AIFD believe that the first step necessary for genuine reform is honesty then followed by public debate and dissent.

TRANSCRIPT OF EXCERPT REFERRING TO DR JASSER

The following is transcribed from the 5 minute excerpt of Imam Yaser Ali’s sermon of July 28, 2014 at ICNEV which includes the portion relevant to his admonishments against Dr. Jasser and AIFD.

“But as we enjoy this day, let’s not forget our brothers and sisters who are struggling.  The prophet (pbuh) said that, he said [Arabic]. That the believers are like one body.  When the eye hurts, the whole body hurts.  When the head hurts the whole body hurts.  When you have a headache, you can’t just be chillin’.  You got a headache. Your whole body becomes unable to do anything, and this is the example the believers are like one body.

Those who aren’t concerned about our brothers and sisters. They are not from amongst us. Today there is an entire industry that is vilifying Islam and vilifying Muslims. And saying that Muslims are the aggressors, Muslims are the terrorists, well in fact, so many Muslims are the victims all across the world.  And we need to understand this. We need to make du’aa for this. There are people who are paid, even Muslims, who go on Fox News and speak ill against Muslims–who speak ill against our Muslim brothers and sisters.  And we need to ask ourselves, this is something that is really a problem, and we can’t just complain, but we need to ask ourselves, do we love Islam more than they hate it?

We should ask ourselves this question.  Do we love Islam more than they hate it?  People have spent their careers attacking Islam. The Islamophobia industry is huge today.  And their whole job is to vilify Muslims–make them look bad.  Make the masajid, look bad.  Well, in fact, how do we respond? Not just by complaining, but by taking proactive steps. By learning our deen (religion), right?  If we are not able to articulate and respond points to these people, we need to learn our deen. We need to study our Qur’an.  We need– there are so many– we need to come to the Mosque, we need to build positive Muslim communities. Invite our colleagues, our neighbors and say: “they don’t represent us”.  “They don’t represent us”. We, the Muslim community represent one another.

And we care for our brothers and sisters in Palestine deeply.  And that is why we have these petitions for you. That’s why we have these petitions because we care about our brothers and sisters who are being oppressed in Syria and Palestine in different parts of the world.  We ask Allah SWT to have mercy on them. We need to pool our communal resources to do better responses against this Islamophobia industry that main stream media.  We have people who are very eloquent.  We have people who are good writers.  We need to use these things.  You know, write up opeds to the newspaper instead of just posting Facebook statuses, right?  We need to engage, interact with our communities and inshallah engage our representatives, and most importantly we need to learn our deen.  The most important thing is we need to learn our Qur’an.  We don’t know what our Qur’an says.  So when they mis-quote our Qur’an, we are not able to respond.  So inshallah let’s all make that niyah (intention). Let’s all make that intention that I am going to study my religion. I am going to make my children and teach them my religion and then use whatever gifts Allah SWT has given, me for the sake of deen.

Everyone has that intention inshallah? (audience responds “inshallah”). So let’s make that our intention.  And if you can’t do it, but Allah blessed you with wealth, then support these institutions.  Support these institutions, these masajid, those advocacy organizations like CAIR and others who are supporting Muslims and Muslim civil rights around the country.  We need to support these groups.”

 

TRANSCRIPT EXCERPT WITH AIFD EXPLANATION

The following is again the above 5 minute excerpt however with inserted comments from AIFD highlighting and explaining the obvious suggestions which Mr. Ali was making.

[ALI] “But as we enjoy this day, let’s not forget our brothers and sisters who are struggling.  The prophet (pbuh) said that, he said [Arabic]. That the believers are like one body.  When the eye hurts, the whole body hurts.  When the head hurts the whole body hurts.  When you have a headache, you can’t just be chillin’.  You got a headache. Your whole body becomes unable to do anything, and this is the example the believers are like one body.”

[AIFD] This is a reference to the Islamic concept of the Ummah,, or faith community. The word (absent any reform) also means nation state. Any Muslim who deviates from the ummah (or nation) leadership in dissent is considered a traitor. In order to make claims of treason (riddah) or hypocrisy (munafiq). Religious leaders often refer to this hadith (saying of the Prophet Muhammad) which compares the ummah to one body. The implication is that anyone who deviates from the ummah leadership is sickening the body. He follows this with more clarity about whom he is referring.

[ALI] “Those who aren’t concerned about our brothers and sisters. They are not from amongst us. Today there is an entire industry that is vilifying Islam and vilifying Muslims. And saying that Muslims are the aggressors, Muslims are the terrorists, well in fact, so many Muslims are the victims all across the world. And we need to understand this. We need to make du’aa for this.”

[AIFD] In the past several days, members of the mosque have written letters to the editor and exchanged communications asserting that Dr. Jasser “listened to a different sermon,” and that it was irrational for him to say Yaser Ali was referencing him in his sermon. The attempts at trying to make Dr. Jasser look dishonest reveal their panicked hypocrisy. He first discussed the ummah. Then clearly states that “they are not from amongst us”. The ‘they’ are obviously Muslims who are ‘not concerned’. The ‘us’ is necessary to make it clear that the Muslim he is referencing is part of the ummah  but is ‘not from amongst us’ (or a hypocrite). If Mr. Ali was not referring to the local Dr. Jasser who happened to be in the audience, then he and his supporters should provide a few names of other obvious Muslims to whom he may be referring. Remember, the names should be so obvious that the audience would all know about whom he is referring. The other question is if he was not referring to Dr. Jasser, how did this topic become such an important one for the Scottsdale Mosque? Was Scottsdale experiencing a groundswell of other rebellious Muslims trying to divide the community in a fitna (division) so they needed this admonishment during the widely attended family oriented holiday sermon?

For additional context regarding Mr. Ali’s comment about ‘those who aren’t concerned about our brothers and sisters’: during the week preceding this sermon,  groundwork had been laid in local social media (of many attendees of the mosque) that Dr. Jasser’s appearance 4 days earlier on a Fox News program did not demonstrate adequate concern for Palestinians due to his scathing critique of Hamas. Supporters of Yaser Ali had directly confronted Dr. Jasser’s family and friends about his so-called ‘bias and abandonment of Palestinians’ during that interview. The truth was that I had started my comments on Fox speaking to the fact that the profound suffering of the Palestinian people was real and was primarily the fault of Hamas. The unmistakable conclusion is that criticism of Hamas equates to antipathy towards Palestinians and all Muslims—such is the mantra of Muslim Brotherhood type ideologues. 

[ALI] “There are people who are paid, even Muslims, who go on Fox News and speak ill against Muslims–who speak ill against our Muslim brothers and sisters.”

[AIFD] Now just in case anyone missed his point or had any doubt about whom exactly he was talking, he further underscores the fact he is particularly talking about a Muslim who is not part of the ummah, (a Muslim who goes on enemy media). He states,“even Muslims who go on Fox News”. Especially in Scottsdale Arizona that doesn’t leave much room for guessing. Fox has few if any commentators who are Muslim besides Dr. Jasser due to the rarity of conservative Muslim voices of reform.He also makes a false assertion with no evidence that the said Muslim is paid, which is typical rhetoric for Islamists who wish to harm the reputation of Muslims who dissent – they assert we are paid agents (I am not a paid Fox News contributor). He then continues, “and speak ill against Muslims—who speak ill against our brothers and sisters”. ‘Speak ill’ obviously implies that Dr. Jasser is tarring the community—more implications about deviating from the ummah.

[ALI] “And we need to ask ourselves, this is something that is really a problem, and we can’t just complain, but we need to ask ourselves, do we love Islam more than they hate it?”

[AIFD] Now after Mr. Ali has made it clear that he is speaking about Dr. Jasser, he asks the question, “do we love Islam more than they hate it?” drawing the obvious conclusion from the statement he just made about Muslims who speak ill of other Muslims — that Dr. Jasser must hate Islam and his listeners in this holiday audience must love it. Ali draws the line: Dr. Jasser (the hater) is one of “them,” and not one of “us” (the we).

[ALI] “People have spent their careers attacking Islam. The Islamophobia industry is huge today. And their whole job is to vilify Muslims–make them look bad.  Make the masajid, look bad.  Well, in fact, how do we respond? Not just by complaining, but by taking proactive steps. By learning our deen (religion), right?  If we are not able to articulate and respond points to these people, we need to learn our deen. We need to study our Qur’an. “

[AIFD] The obvious implication here is that the Muslim he was speaking about does not know his religion and if anyone is going to refute him and the “Islamophobia industry” then they just need to learn their religion and Qur’an. CAIR’s constant libelous mantra against Dr. Jasser is that he is part of the so-called “Islamophobia industry. Again, no other Muslim is identified by CAIR as part of this Islamophobia industry. So when Mr. Ali refers to a Muslim within the ummah who is not one of us and then to the Islamophobia industry he’s obviously participating in CAIR’s campaign against Dr. Jasser. Any denial of that is laughable. Again, if Mr. Ali denies this, he needs to identify other Muslims known to the Scottsdale community to whom this may apply.

[ALI]“We need– there are so many– we need to come to the Mosque, we need to build positive Muslim communities. Invite our colleagues, our neighbors and say: “they don’t represent us”.  “They don’t represent us”. We, the Muslim community represent one another.”

[AIFD] This is the crux of the argument he is making against “those Muslims who speak ill of the community”. He implores the community to tell everyone that “they don’t represent us” – “they don’t represent us’ (said twice) Once again, he is defining “the Muslim community” as a separate entity of which Dr. Jasser has no part.

Further context: to those who still believe these comments do not or may not refer to Dr. Jasser. Let us look at the response of known local antagonists to the AIFD. Very shortly after the sermon concluded later that day on the Eid holiday itself, Dr. Matt Masalkhi (a local anesthesiologist) started a Whatsapp (mobile chat) session in which he included over 50 local Muslims. The group was entitled “No to the Zionists within,” and he opened the discussion with: “Hello everyone, I heard about what transpired at ICNEV yesterday. Kudos to the imam for his comments about the last appearance of Dr. Jasser on Fox Channel. Enough is enough and somebody should have the guts to say it as it is. He is a Zionist by definition. And we should not be pacifiers or practice silence of the lambs. Please stop supporting him.” Another Muslim from ICNEV, Mr. Tarif Jaber, also on the heels of the related sermon called for “what we can do is  make sure he does (not sic) identify himself as a representative of the Muslim community in Phoenix and/or Arizona when he appears on Fox News or similar media channels. As suggested earlier by Imam Yaser Ali, an official petition should be signed by members of all mosques in Phoenix indicating that he does not represent anyone but himself. The petitions can also be posted in official local news papers and other media.” He later added, “action, action, action,”  A Sam Alnajjar wrote, “I think you need the masjids of Phoenix to write that he doesn’t represent the Muslim community in general and just his organization” Further, participants planned actions against me, such as leaving tables when I would approach at a social function, ostracizing my family and so on. The conversation was hostile and mentioned me several times. We provide two screenshots, below. (Note: it appears Mr. Jaber meant to say “make sure he does not”, not “make sure he does”, in reference to Dr. Jasser representing Phoenix-area Muslims.

whatsapp excerpt

[ALI] “And we care for our brothers and sisters in Palestine deeply.  And that is why we have these petitions for you. That’s why we have these petitions because we care about our brothers and sisters who are being oppressed in Syria and Palestine in different parts of the world.  We ask Allah SWT to have mercy on them. We need to pool our communal resources to do better responses against this Islamophobia industry that main stream media.  We have people who are very eloquent.  We have people who are good writers.  We need to use these things.  You know, write up opeds to the newspaper instead of just posting Facebook statuses, right?  We need to engage, interact with our communities and inshallah engage our representatives, and most importantly we need to learn our deen.  The most important thing is we need to learn our Qur’an.  We don’t know what our Qur’an says.  So when they mis-quote our Qur’an, we are not able to respond.  So inshallah let’s all make that niyah (intention). Let’s all make that intention that I am going to study my religion. I am going to make my children and teach them my religion and then use whatever gifts Allah SWT has given, me for the sake of deen.”

[AIFD] Again here he is still speaking about the same issue and now moving from activism toward community resources stating“pooling resources to do better responses against the Islamophobia industry. Everyone has that intention inshallah? (audience responds “inshallah”). Their group promise of inshallah (God willing) is confirming their intent to dedicate resources and activism toward combating the “Islamophobia industry” as defined by CAIR.  Quite telling is that he then made the link abdundantly clear giving the highest endorsement of CAIR’s work in this field by giving a direct fundraising pitch for CAIR an organization known to be at odds with Dr. Jasser over the very issue of Islamophobia. It is quite telling that Ali’s only fundraising pitch is for CAIR, an organization hatched from Hamas in 1994 and remains persona non-grata with the FBI due to its position on Hamas. CAIR, in fact recently refused to debate Dr. Jasser at Georgetown in an open letter. CAIR named Dr. Jasser as a key leader of the “Islamophobia Industry” in their last report. Contrary to Mr. Ali’s cowardly denials, no other Muslims were identified in that report.

[ALI] So let’s make that our intention. And if you can’t do it, but Allah blessed you with wealth, then support these institutions.  Support these institutions, these masajid (mosques), those advocacy organizations like CAIR and others who are supporting Muslims and Muslim civil rights around the country. We need to support these groups.

[AIFD] His transition from a discussion about Dr. Jasser to fundraising for CAIR, an organization which has put out countless press releases and reports libeling Dr. Jasser also speaks to the evidence that Dr. Jasser is the target of this sermon. Imam Shqeirat in Tempe had a poster up in his mosque produced by CAIR identifying the “inner core” of the Islamophobia network and it had a photo of Dr. Jasser featured. When asked by prominent Muslims to remove it last April, Shqeirat refused. The oped notes that the Tempe mosque had a similar sermon in May, attacking Dr. Jasser given by Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR-LA. Mr. Ali’s endorsement and fundraising for CAIR directly links this sermon and his political activism to CAIR’s work against Dr. Jasser.

After the above analysis any denial about what Mr. Ali was really talking about would be laughable from anyone whether antagonists or neutral toward AIFD or Mr. Ali.

11/08/2013 Jihad in America: The Grand Deception

Excerpt from an article: The Jewish Voice

Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, summarizes:

Their dream is the creation of an Islamic state. Their utopia is having the law be Sharia. So their strategy in America, I believe, is to use America’s freedoms and liberties in order to achieve that dream.

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AIFD Fellow: Ahmed Vanya

Ahmed Vanya

Ahmed Vanya is a 30-year veteran engineer of the electronic industry, based in California’s world famous Silicon Valley. After coming to the US in the late seventies from the country of Burma (Myanmar) as a student, he obtained advanced degrees in the fields of physics and electronics before starting his career working for several leading chip manufacturing companies.

He is a lifelong student of history and the religion of Islam. He is very passionate about the issues of freedom, democracy, and universal human rights–especially as they relate to Islam and the American Muslim community. After leading a quiet but busy life as a high-tech professional and a devoted family man for several years, in recent years he is increasing his exposure to the outside world by engaging and giving feedback to Muslim community members and leaders throughout the US. He is not only periodically communicating with local Muslim community members and prayer leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area, but he is also contacting leaders of national Muslim organizations, prominent lawyers and journalists, and professors in the fields of Islamic Studies & US Constitutional Law in order to promote renewal and reform of Muslims and Islam.

 

 

 

ARTICLES AND PAPERS BY AHMED VANYA

(Coming soon!)

Click here to learn about AIFD’s Fellowship Program, meet more of our fellows and learn how to apply!