American Muslims Condemn the Mass Shooting in Orlando, Florida
Washington, DC, June 12, 2016 – The American Muslim Institution (AMI) is appalled and saddened by the loss of life of 50 fellow Americans in Orlando, Florida earlier today. We strongly condemn the mass shooting at a LGBT club in Orlando, killing 50 and injuring another 50 plus innocent people. As Americans, we mourn the loss of the lives of innocent men and women, and extend our heart-felt condolences to the families of the victims and the LGBT community.
No human has a right to take other’s life, as Islam’s holy book, the Quran, clearly states: “Whoever kills a person, it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.”
While the possible motive of this horrific crime is still being investigated, it is clear that it was a hate crime and an act of a terrorism, which must be condemned by all Americans. If we can learn to respect the otherness of others and accept the God given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
Violence in the name of religion or ideology has no place in a pluralistic society like ours, and we all have an obligation to work for one America, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
American Muslims condemn attack
targeting Christians by the Taliban on the auspicious day of Easter in Lahore,
Washington, DC, March 28, 2016
– Reuters News reports that at least 65 people were killed and 300 were wounded
in a suicide bombing attack that targeted Christians on the auspicious day of
Easter in the City of Lahore, Pakistan. Taliban
groups that once had ties with Daesh claimed responsibility.
While we applaud the efforts of
the Government of Pakistan to hunt down terrorists, we appeal to the Pakistanis religious leaders to reach out and counsel misguided
individuals and groups. We have an
obligation to restore peace on earth in the name of the prophet, who is a mercy
to fellow humans.
We condemn all acts of terrorism
unconditionally, and our hearts go out to the families of the victims and their
loved ones. We pray with our hearts,
souls and minds, asking God to guide us all to restore peace and a sense of
security, especially to minorities among us.
We people of different faiths, races, and ethnicities must come together and
remain united against terrorists who seek to tear us apart.
American Muslim Institution is the proactive voice for Muslims in America and
we are committed to contributing towards building pluralistic societies.
American Muslims condemn terrorists attacks, and mourn the loss of life in Brussels and other places.
Washington, DC, March 22, 2016 – The Daesh terrorists have recklessly killed over 232 innocent people and wounded 712 in the last six months. The latest is in Brussels, where 30 people were killed and 200 innocent men, women and children were injured.
We condemn all terrorism unconditionally, and our hearts go out to the families of the victims and their loved ones. We pray with our hearts, souls and minds, asking God to guide us all to restore peace and sanity.
We the people, of different faiths, races, and ethnicities must come together and remain united against terrorist who want to tear us apart.
American Muslims condemn these violent crimes and urge the law enforcement agencies to track down all possible links to these terrorists and not stop until we find each one of them.
American Muslim Institution is the proactive voice for Muslims in America and we are committed to contribute towards building pluralistic societies.
Washington, DC, Tuesday, March 15, 2016 – The Institute
for social policy and understanding released a newsworthy “American Muslim Poll”
in a panel discussion format today.
It was a joy to see a Muslim organization conduct a poll, and present the data out
to the public. There were a few surprises in it, like Muslims are more optimistic than the general population about future of
America, and a much lower percentage of Muslims
wanted religion in politics compared to the Protestant and Catholics. What was commonly believed was reflected as well, and that is Muslims and
Jews lean towards the Democratic Party, and Muslims
mirror the Protestants in religiosity, meaning frequenting the place of their
worship. Above all nearly 40% of Muslims
are politically independent. While
security was number #1 priority to fellow Americans, economy was #1 priority
for Muslims. Muslims are patriotic Americans indeed.
There was a question from the audience about Muslim icons, and of course
Muhammad Ali tops the list. Out in the
lobby, Dalia Mogahed, the research director and I were talking about the statistics. Out of appreciation for her pioneering work, I mentioned that she becomes a Muslim American Icon for her research
work, no one has done this before. Until
now, most of the conversation in Public Square was based on observations and hearsay,
and now, for the first time, it is based on empirical data.
I compare her to
another Muslim Icon from India, Dr. Abusaleh Shariff who was the first Muslim to
produce extensive socio-economic data about Indian Muslims and his report, the
Sachar report is the basis for any conversations about Muslims in India.
I believe they will have the full information and presentation on their website
www.Ipsu.org soon. This narrative and data needs to be shared widely as it will mitigate the
perceived conflicts and nurtures goodwill in building a cohesive America. Indeed, Muslim
Americans are no different than fellow Americans. I urge fellow Muslims to take this up and share it with fellow Americans in the interfaith and civic groups, the more we learn about each other, the fewer the conflicts would be.
Mogahed. Director of Research, Institute for Social Policy and
Suarez. Broadcast Journalist and Host, Inside Story with Ray Suarez
Keith Ellison. US House of Representatives (Minnesota)
Jill Jacobs. Executive Director, T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human
Talib M. Shareef. President and Imam, Nation's
Mosque, Masjid Muhammad
following was part of the material distributed about the program. “In the
face of rising anti-Muslim rhetoric, prejudice, and fear, ISPU's groundbreaking
poll amplifies the voices of American Muslims and sheds light on their opinions
and policy priorities in the upcoming election cycle. This comprehensive
representative poll also includes the voices of Jewish Americans and other
faith groups, in addition to the general public on nationwide hot topics and
civic engagement patterns. The findings of this work will enhance an
educated citizenry, so vital to our democracy.”
is committed to be a proactive voice for American Muslims, and our actions,
writings and talks are geared to achieve the ultimate goal; where fellow “Americans will see Muslims as their neighbors and
fellow citizens, committed to fighting against violent extremism and protecting
the homeland. " Our vision is “An America in
which all religious and ethnic communities contribute to her success while
living in peace and harmony, free from prejudice and discrimination.”
join us for another event where the survey is produced by the Evangelical
group, what they think of Muslims and what can we do about it.
Washington, D.C. March 10, 2016 –Donald J. Trump, a leading contender in the Republican primaries was interviewed by CNN Anchor Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, March 9, 2016. During the interview Mr. Trump made comments about Muslims and Islam that we find extremely misguided, egregious, and divisive.
Mr. Trump said, "Islam hates us." Nothing could be farther from the truth. Islam is not an individual or a being to hate someone. Unfortunately, there are a few in every faith who are misguided and act on their own. As a society we blame those individuals for their crimes and punish them accordingly. Criminals are individually responsible for their acts and no one but them should be held accountable.
As patriotic Americans we at the American Muslim Institution (AMI) take strong exception to Mr. Trump's continued demonization of our faith and all who follow the faith of Islam. We hope Mr. Trump will reconsider his stance and his tone, and seek knowledge about the faith of Islam so he may speak to current issues with a level of truth. A person aspiring to be the leader of our great nation needs to be fair minded and better informed than Mr. Trump, at least when it comes to matters of religion.
We at AMI stand ready to meet with Mr. Trump and share with him facts about Muslims and Islam, including their extensive positive contribution to the United States of America."
I am very encouraged by Ammara Majeed's letter to Trump, it is worth reading/ Mike Ghouse
An Open Letter to Donald Trump by an 18-Year-Old Muslim American Student
College student Amara Majeed has a message for the presidential candidate before tonight's Republican debate.
By Amara Majeed
Dear Mr. Trump,
My name is Amara Majeed, and I am an 18-year-old Muslim American. I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and my parents are Sri Lankan immigrants. To give you some background about myself: I am an activist and feminist. I am the author of The Foreigners, a book written in an attempt to eradicate stereotypes about Muslims. At 16, I founded "The Hijab Project," a global initiative that promotes the understanding and empowerment of Muslim women through social experimentation. I have received a great deal of attention from the media for this project and have been featured by numerous national and international media sources, including but not limited to BBC, MSNBC, Yahoo!, and Seventeen.
I was invited to the Senate Floor to receive an official citation for The Hijab Project, and was recently named by Business Insider as one of the twenty most impressive high school students graduating in 2015. I was named by BBC as one of the 100 Most Inspiring Women of 2015, and featured in the 2015 season of BBC's "100 Women." I am currently working on the development of an app intended to revolutionize the education industry and allow professors to better tailor to students' needs. I'm also a pre-law student at Brown University.
Mr. Trump, I am not using this letter as a way to condemn you or embarrass you, rather, I want to give you some perspective. I'm not sure whether you say the things that you do because you genuinely believe them, or in an attempt to reign as the number one Republican candidate trending on social media, but I'm here to tell you that your statements are inherently harmful and affect us Muslims in profound ways. Please take the time to read the following.
I was rushing to my dorm room after a long day of classes last week; it was dark outside, and the usual bustling of college students talking and laughing was replaced by an eerie emptiness of the streets because it was finals week. I checked the time on my phone: 5:29pm. I needed to head back to my dorm room to perform the Islamic prayer that comes after sunset, but I was going to miss it.
Through the streetlight, I saw a large shadow quickly approaching behind me. I could feel my heartbeat quicken, and I increased the length of my strides. My dorm room was still about a block away, so I reached back for the hood of my jacket and put it on. My Islamic headscarf was a very visible indicator of my faith, and I didn't feel entirely comfortable with it exposed now that Muslim hate-speech has become an accepted part of the national dialogue, thanks to you.
I have always thought of this country as my home, because it always has been and someday I'd like to teach my children that this country is their home. Yet, in that moment, I did not feel safe or secure. After all, how can I feel safe? You are creating an atmosphere in which my entire identity is reduced to narrow-minded bias based on my skin color, my last name, and what I choose to wear on my head. It therefore becomes justifiable to marginalize me, to scrutinize me, to use physical violence to hurt me. Just this month, a Muslim storeowner was beaten in broad daylight by a man who allegedly told him, "I'll kill all Muslims." That same week, aMuslim girl in New York was allegedly beaten by three boys as they had tried to rip her hijab off and called her "ISIS." And a 16-year-old Muslim boy reportedly fell off a balcony, but there has been uproar in the Muslim community in Seattle over the possibility of a hate crime.
I've received many hateful comments on my social media platforms in recent weeks. It scares me to know that in California following the San Bernardino shootings, the top Google search with the word "Muslims" in it was "kill Muslims." I always tell myself not to hate people, regardless of how ignorant they are; regardless of how many times I hear the phrase, "Go back to where you belong;" regardless of how many people target Muslims in hate crimes; regardless of how uncomfortable, unsafe, and quite frankly, invalid people like you, Mr. Trump, make us Muslim Americans feel. Regardless of all of these things, I will never hate individuals like you because ultimately, terrorism is perpetuated on the basis of hate. I won't compromise my own character and values by contributing to this very cyclical process of terrorism brought by blind hate. I am a strong believer in the human potential and the capacity for human change, and I've made it my mission to use my life to undo the hatred that people like you create, and eradicate stereotypes about Muslims.
Never before have I felt unsafe walking home alone at night. But here I was last week, walking uneasily and alone on a dark street. Attempting to calm myself, I began to silently recite Ayat al Kursi, a verse in the Quran that is believed to provide protection. I checked my phone once again: 5:32pm. Just a few minutes more until the prayer would be over — I recognized that perhaps this wasn't the political climate to be openly expressing my faith. I was strongly considering heading to Starbucks and forgoing my prayer, but something stopped me. Instead, I found a corner near a street lamp and set my backpack down. As I raised my hands to my shoulders and quietly said, "Allahu Akbar," I contemplated how incredibly perverted this particular phrase has become. Muslims say it dozens of times a day over the course of five daily prayers. I've always found its translation, "God is great," to be so beautiful. However, I could feel my eyes scanning my surroundings — I was cautiously making sure nobody was around as I said this while prostrating to my God. This is the same word that a minority group of so-called Muslims have said before opening fire, not in twisted attempts at pleasing God or being good Muslims, but in order to further their own selfish political agendas.
With all due respect, Mr. Trump, you are a demagogue who is capitalizing on Americans' fear and paranoia; you are scapegoating an entire population of 1.6 billion people in an attempt to further your campaign, in an attempt to "make America great again." But the effect of this is that by advocating for the registration of Muslim Americans and the banning of Muslims from entering the United States, you are providing a platform on which the marginalization of and discrimination against an entire group of people becomes justifiable, even "American." I could go on about how problematic it is that you equate the actions of a small extremist group with nearly a fourth of the world's population, but I find it to be of even greater interest that white supremacists are actually greater perpetrators of domestic terrorism compared to Muslim terrorists.
Furthermore, you've never once had a discourse regarding the role that the U.S. played in the creation of terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. Gore Vidal famously called the USA the United States of Amnesia because of Americans' unique way of "forgetting" the historical underpinnings of events. For instance, we often times "forget" that the Western world armed Islamic extremists during the Cold War; this eventually created Al Qaeda. The illegal U.S. war and occupation in Iraq caused the destabilization of the entire Middle East, and has resulted in the deaths of at least one million people.
Of course, this is nonchalantly written off as a "necessary measure." This destabilization eventually led to the emergence of ISIS. Ben Norton remarks, "Saddam Hussein was the first Frankenstein's monster U.S. policy created in Iraq, al-Qaida was the second, and now ISIS is the third." By disregarding the historical and political context of recent terrorist attacks, Mr. Trump, you are in turn giving Americans a very extreme, misconstrued portrait of Muslims. You are exploiting the fear and paranoia that you've incited to "other" an entire group of people in order to further your own political campaign. There is nothing Islamic about ISIS, and I'm tired of Islam being blamed when the problem at hand is in fact deeply rooted in politics.
My parents came to this country as Sri Lankan immigrants, and they have reiterated to my siblings and me how incredibly lucky and privileged we are to live in such a country. I've always felt that, in order to validate my parents' leaving their homes and previous lives in order to start a new one for us, it is my personal obligation to somehow attain this abstract concept known as the American Dream. Mr. Trump, your hateful comments represent regressions into history — a history in which it was acceptable to discriminate against and ruthlessly murder African Americans based on their race, a history in which it was considered correct to put Japanese Americans in internment camps based on their heritage, a history in which it was considered necessary to murder Jews on the basis of their religion. Every time you make a statement or proposal that demonizes an entire group of people, that incites division and violence against this said group of people, you are essentially undoing the tireless efforts of the people in the past who have worked so hard to contribute to the development of the incredible nation that we live in today.
You are dragging the American people back into the past, keeping us from moving forward. I have always believed that the rent I pay for being privileged enough to grow up in the United States is to contribute to the advancement of modern American society. And that's the thing, Mr. Trump: You can never take that away from me. While I pray to my God that our social values are not so fundamentally flawed that someone with ideas as backwards as yours can actually be elected president, even in a worst-case scenario in which you do become elected, I will refuse to allow the fear that you create paralyze me from being a true American. Regardless of how much you criminalize and dehumanize Muslims, you will never be able to invalidate our American identities. We Muslim Americans will continue to make America great, if not greater.
Amara can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/amara.maj. (This is her main social media platform.) She can also be found on Instagram as amara.majeed, and on Twitter as @amaramaj.
Indeed, Amna represents many a Muslims, I wonder if it is not a majority of the Muslims. Ray Hanania, my Christian-Jewish Lebanese American friend calls himself a Cultural Muslim, as his life style revolves around Muslims, he acts like one and talks like one, as I can call myself a cultural Hindu who talks like one and acts like one.
We can see ourselves as ritual Muslims, spiritual Muslims, Sufi Muslims, and a whole lot of other templates that comfortably fit one or the other in the universe of 1.5 Billion Muslims.
Mike Ghouse American Muslim Institution. # # #
I’m Muslim because I say I am, and I’m right where I belong.
Earlier this month, President Obama officially visited a mosque for the first time during his tenure. Specifically, he visited my childhood mosque, the Islamic Society of Baltimore. Tucked away on a quiet, tree-lined street, the collection of buildings served as the site of my family's yearly prayer outing on Eid, the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. On Eid, I’d don a garishly colorful yet elegant shalwar kameez, eat the traditional sweet noodles called seviyanfor breakfast, and eagerly await the end of prayers so that I could ricochet from house to house, collecting presents along the way.
Upon arriving at the ISB, the men and women would shuffle to their separate entrances, guided by their gender. Knowing that I would forget the exact cubby I had placed my shoes, my mom would hide them in a discreet corner rather than leave them in the vast pile that had already formed. As we knelt down on white sheets, I would peek from underneath my headscarf, making sure that I had followed the motions correctly and hoping to survey the motley crew; I was fascinated by women wearing unfamiliar African dashikis. On the car ride home, my mom would inevitably lament what she considered the subpar physical placement of women in the mosque, decrying the arrangement as unequal.
These memories are hard to grasp. As I got older, praying at the mosque on Eid no longer seemed to justify missing a day of school. Last summer, a phone call with my parents sufficed as an Eid celebration as I ate dinner alone in a dorm, having returned from a day's work before my roommates.
I don't pray five times a day. I don't fast during Ramadan. I don't wear a hijab. I definitely don't follow all the "rules" associated with being Muslim. When asked why I don't eat pork, I respond that it's out of habit from growing up in a Muslim family, because I honestly cannot claim this dietary restriction on religious grounds, given the aforementioned "don'ts." In this way, being Muslim does not significantly impact my quotidian routine, and I display no signs of my Muslim background that would be visible to others.
Calling myself a Muslim has always been complicated by the knowledge that I would not be considered one by many who adhere more strictly to Islam, who might see my behaviors as heretic. Still, I’ve been privileged to have a family that emphasizes faith and spirituality over “rules,” and so I have never had to truly worry about my religiosity being deemed insufficient.
That evening, the tears on my cheeks surprised me as I watched a video of President Obama deliver his address. He said, "If you’re ever wondering whether you fit in here, let me say it as clearly as I can, as President of the United States: You fit in here, right here. You’re right where you belong. You’re part of America, too. You’re not Muslim or American. You’re Muslim and American."
How incongruous for someone like me, who did not think she was particularly conflicted about her identity, to blubber and weep solitarily in a Winthrop dorm room, viewing a speech through a screen a few weeks after the fact, simply because I was told that I belonged? That I fit in? That I have a home? While the feeling of wanting to belong might be universal, the complete gratitude that I felt simply for being recognized suggested that I had experienced a discord deeper than I had realized.
If Obama’s words struck such a chord with me, I can only imagine what they must have meant to those who have been targeted, victimized, dehumanized, or otherwise treated like second-class citizens for peacefully practicing their religion. Like all religions, Islam includes a spectrum of followers, and those who practice differently than I do don’t warrant the bigotry and intimidation cast their way. To worshippers in California whose mosque was intentionally set on fire, to the Somali restaurant owner in North Dakota, whose building was defaced with swastikas and the words “go home,” and to the doctor whose brother and sister-in-law were killed in an attack in North Carolina, this proclamation from the highest-elected American must have provided the ultimate validation of their identity. Obama’s words seemed to validate my identity, too.
The speech comes at a time when some presidential candidates seriously campaign on platforms banning all Muslim travel to this country, when many scapegoat Muslims for the perceived ills of America—blinkered rhetoric that equates the appalling, deplorable acts of terrorists with an entire religious group. Such rhetoric suggests fear more than it does anger. Unfortunately, though, a skilled demagogue can easily convert that fear into anger. When the vast majority of Americans cannot name a Muslim friend, fearing Muslims entails fearing the unknown.
My name carries an Islamic legacy, for Prophet Muhammad's mother was named Amna, and Hashmi comes from Hashim ibn Abd Manaf, the Prophet’s great-grandfather. I cannot disassociate from my Muslim background, nor do I want to. I’m grateful for the web of Pakistani, Muslim families whose common past engenders uncommon friendships in a newfound homeland. I’m grateful for my khalas, my parents’ friends who are granted the title of aunts and uncles despite not having any blood relation to us. I’m grateful for the moment when all the Eid presents are gathered next to the fireplace, and an aunt calls up a child one at a time to collect her haul. This collection of moments centered on love, humility, generosity, and tradition define being Muslim to me, perhaps more so than when I finished reading the 30 books of the Quran in Arabic or circled the Kaaba in a pilgrimage to Mecca.
There are legitimate concerns over the growing radicalization of Islam, and I cannot pretend to know the solution either to extremism or to Islamophobia. But I’m Muslim because I say I am, and I’m right where I belong.