Thursday, October 28, 2010

SAFEGUARD THE UMMAH

ﺒﺳﻢﷲﺍﻠﺮﺤﻣﺎﻥﺍﻠﺮﺤﻴﻢ
FROM THE FRONT LINE OF STRUGGLE
3 Muharram 1427 A.H. 2 February , 2006 C.E.
Communiqué #2 to the Believers
PROTECTING THE UMMAH FROM WITHIN AND WITHOUT, BY STOPPING THE WAS-WAS!!!
By Imām Al-Hājj Tālib ‘Abdur-Rashīd

“The Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hand other Muslims are safe ”

Recent events should cause members of the Ummah of Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in America, to give careful consideration as to our vulnerability as a Muslim people, to infiltration by Satanic agents. We must continuously safeguard ourselves from the agents of COINTELPRO 21st CENTURY - informants and agent provocateurs who work to derail the righteous, law-abiding activity of Muslims struggling for self-determination, freedom, justice, and equality in the land.

But we must also safeguard ourselves from the effects of Satanic activity in our midst, in the form of was-was (Satanically-inspired whispering), in all of its various forms. A series of e-mails recently circulated by a certain Muslim cyber-journalist, have fallen into this category. The journalist’s rantings exacerbated his previous slander against Imam Siraj Wahhaj; a popular, nationally respected Muslim leader.

The recent e-mails took the cyber-journalist’s spurious accusations to a new low, as he spewed venom at Imam Wahhaj, disrespecting him as a brother in Islam, and as a Muslim leader. Further, the list of those attacked via this inter-net fitna began to expand, as the writer, previously regarded amongst some in the Ummah as a voice advocating justice, began to attack others who publicly oppose his views and method of spreading them.

During a time when Muslims are being attacked from without, and lies and innuendos against their leaders and activists are being spread by the forces of repression, careful consideration and thorough reflection upon the standard of the religion of Al-Islām with regards to safeguarding the sanctity of the Muslims (i.e. our honor and reputation as individuals and as a people ), must take place in both our public and private discourse.

Allāh The Exalted, Glory be to Him, has said “The Believers are a single Brotherhood” (49:10) , and the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said in an authentic narration, said “…Do not undercut one another. But be you instead brothers, O servants of Allāh …A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim…He Neither lies to him nor holds him in contempt. Taqwa is right here – and he pointed to his chest three times. It is evil enough for a man to hold his brother in contempt. The whole of a Muslim for a Muslim is sacred: his blood, his property, his honor”. (Muslim)

Words are powerful instruments that can convey us to heaven or hell, based upon how we use them. Almighty Allāh (Glory be to Him) has said “Do you not see how Allāh sets forth a parable? A good word is like a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed and whose branches (reach) to the sky… and the parable of an evil word is like that of an evil tree. It is pulled up by the root. It is pulled up by the root from the surface of the earth. It cannot be stable…” (Q 14:24,26)

As Imam Ghazzali (May Allāh reward him with Paradise) related under his written warning against “flaws of the tongue”, Allāh’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said “ A servant (of Allāh) may say a word, because of which he may fall into the Fire (a distance that is) more than that which is between the East and the West.”

Thus, having been warned against reckless speech and its consequences in this life and the here-after, the Muslims who value their souls and seek to please their Lord must take heed. Likewise, the Muslim masses must be vigilant against the heedless. Whether such offenders are motivated by malicious intent, plagued by ignorance of the Deen, or just rebellious because they are following their own impulse instead of Allāh, the result is the same –erosion of brotherhood and sisterhood and the unity of the Muslims.

One of the Qur’anic attributes of Shaitān (Satan), is that of Al-Was-Was (“the Whisperer of evil). Allāh commands us in His Book (the Qur’ān) to seek refuge in Him, from this particular manifestation or characteristic of the Devil. He says:

“Say I seek refuge in the Lord God of mankind, The Divine Sovereign of mankind, The God of mankind, from the mischief and harm of the Whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after the whisper). (The same) who whispers into the hearts of Mankind, amongst Jinn and Men.” (Q 114: 1-6)

As scholarly commentators of the Qur’ān have observed, this sūra highlights “the necessity of seeking Allah’s protection from internal factors, which might affect an individual”. In truth, none can protect humanity but Allāh, Who is their Lord, Sovereign, and God, whether they bear witness to it or not. His protection lies with obedience to His commands.

So having warned us in His Book that Satan is our clear and avowed enemy, whom we should treat as an enemy (Q 12:5, 100, 17:53, 18:50, 20:117, 25:29, 35:5, 36:60, 43:62), our Lord, Sovereign and God identifies an aspect of our enemy’s modus operandi (method of operation) , by which he seeks to bring about the destruction of man in general, and the believers in particular.

The renowned classical Mufassir (scholar of exegesis or commentary) of the Qur’ān, Ibn Kathīr (May Allāh reward him with Paradise), says of Allāh’s Words, “From the evil mischief and harm (sharr) of the Whisperer (of Evil)…” : “ Satan entices people to commit sins as he makes evil attractive to men. Only Allāh can grant protection from the evil of Shaitān (Satan).

According to a hadīth, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), said ‘Everyone of you has a close companion from the jinn (Shayatīn – devils, demons)’ . The Companions asked, ‘Even you?’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, ‘Yes, but Allah has granted me protection against him’. ”

Further, in affirmation of Allāh’s Words, “… (the same) who whispers into the hearts of mankind”, the Prophet (pbuh) has stated in various authentic Ahadīth, “Satan flows inside of the human being like blood”, and “Satan puts his hand unto the heart of man.” These statements make it clear that no human being is exempt from the influence of the Devil, therefore we must all guard ourselves against our enemy.

We are taught in Al-Islam that Satan relays his commands to his minions – who are the demons, the jinn shayateen, who are so close to human beings. Satanically influenced people who engage in mischief-making (fasad) are themselves called devils or demon (shayatīn), by Allāh (Q 2:14). What are their methods of fasad? They are gheeba (back-biting and slander), laghw (vain talk) humaza (scandal- mongering, gossip, and the public broadcasting of rumors and lies), and the like. Our God mentions each of these things in His Book by name, and commands the believers to eschew these activities.

Allāh says of back-biting : “…Nor speak ill of each other behind your backs.” (Q 49:12), and “ Woe (hell) to every backbiter “ (Q 104:1), and His Messenger (peace be upon him) once told a believer who spoke ill of another in his absence, “Pick your teeth”. The man responded , “Why? I haven’t eaten any meat.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “You have eaten your brother’s flesh.”

Allāh says of slander: “ Woe (hell) to every slanderer” (Q 104:1) , “…Do not slander yourselves” (Q 49:11) and His Messenger (peace be upon him) upon admonishing the believers against backbiting was asked, “What if what we said is true?” He stated “If what you said is true it is still back-biting. If what you said is false, it is slander.” (Muslim, Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasaa’i)

He says of gossip: “You carried with your tongues and uttered with your mouths what you did not know. You may have thought it (the act of gossip) trivial , but in the sight of Allah it was a grave offense. When you heard it, why didn’t you say ‘It’s not right for us to speak of this. Allah forbid. This is monstrous slander!” (Q 24:15-17) , and His Messenger (peace be upon him) said “The one who spreads gossip which he has overheard, will not enter The Garden.” ((Bukhārī and Muslim)

Further he says of suspicion: “O you who believe! Avoid (indulging in) much suspicion; truly some suspicion is a sin. (Q 49:12), and His Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “Avoid suspicion, for airing suspicion is the most lying form of speech.” (Bukhārī)

Our Lord says of scandal mongering, and the public broadcasting of unsubstantiated rumors: “ …For such men are wicked transgressors” (Q 24:4) , and “When there comes to them some matter touching (public) safety or fear, they divulge it. If they had only referred it to the Messenger or to those charged with authority among them, the proper investigators would have tested it from them (direct). Were it not for the Grace and Mercy of Allah unto you, all but a few of your would have followed Satan.” (Q 4:83), and “Shall I tell you upon whom the devils descend? They descend on every lying sinner. They pour hear-say vanities into their ears, but most of them are liars.” (Q 26:221-22) , and His Messenger (peace be upon him) said “The most evil among Allāh’s slaves are those who go about spreading gossip, dividing those who love each other, and desiring to defame those who are innocent.” (Ahmad)

Yet, in spite of the fact that we Muslims have been warned against the gravity of these sins by our Lord, Sovereign and God, we find in our midst too much of this type of activity. The problem is present amongst both leadership and “rank and file” Muslims, those calling themselves Salafīs or Sufīs, Sunnis or Shi’a or otherwise, religious conservatives or “progressives”, political activists who fancy themselves advocate voices for justice, as well as the unfortunately apolitical; and those claming or considered to be knowledgeable in religion, and those who are ignorant. The same disease of Satanic infection of the heart seems to exist everywhere in the Ummah, and its symptoms are manifest. The result is discord, disunity, and rancor in the ranks of the Muslims. Hatred instead of love, scorn and ridicule instead of compassion, and weakness instead of strength is our communal plague.

“ Was-wa-ing” is as Allah has described it, “an evil mischief” that does harm in this life and the next. During the time of the Prophet (pbuh), the Jewish enemies of Islam, sought to deflate the revolutionary rise of Al-Islam by exploiting the intrinsic weaknesses of the Ummah. The method they used was the sowing of division in Muslim ranks.

Two tribes, the Aws and the Khazraj had been enemies in the days before their acceptance of Al-Islām, and the former had defeated the latter. One day, a hypocrite hiding in the Muslim ranks initiated a was-was campaign amongst those believers, stirring up memories of their previous antagonism, rekindling old feelings of hatred and pride, and extolling the virtues of the past glory of one, the humiliation of the other, and the possibility for a reversal of fortune through renewed conflict.

The Prophet (pbuh) learned of this subterfuge, rushed to the scene of the attempted Satanically inspired maneuver, and using the power of persuasive speech he reminded them of the favor of Allāh upon them in bringing them into the faith they loved (Q 3: ). He emphasized their obligation to unity, brotherhood, and love for the sake of Allāh. He preached eloquently and with such impassioned delivery, that eventually tears began to run down the faces of the Muslim brothers from both tribes. They embraced each other and survived the crises caused by incitement from within their own ranks.

Further, historically speaking, this tactic of “divide and conquer” is Pharonic in nature. As Allah says in His Book: “Truly Phraoah exalted himself in the land, and broke its people up into divisions, oppressing a small group among them. Their sons he slew, but he kept alive their females, for he was indeed a maker of mischief. (Q 28:4)

A modern example of this in America, affecting Muslims and others, was initiated through COINTELPRO. Seeking to derail the revolutionary uprising of the masses that occurred in the United States in the 1960s and early 1970s, the American government’s COvert INTELligence PROgram, under the supervision of F.B.I. director and American hero J. Edgar Hoover, sought to destroy the Movement for civil and human rights, and the Struggle for freedom of the oppressed American masses, by exploiting their weaknesses and causing division in their ranks.

Required reading for every American regardless of their religion or politics, should be the book THE COINTELPRO PAPERS: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars Against Dissent in the United States . When the recent inter-net fasad took place, this writer responded to it publicly. Privately, I contacted the author of those e-mails, and suggested to him a moratorium on public jousting.

Further, I recommended the above book to him, and sincerely encouraged him to “read it from cover to cover”. Finally I expressed my openness to us getting together and talking afterwards, in the spirit of reconciliation and understanding. A day or two later, the individual broadcast his most sinful and vitriolic public attack yet, upon a Muslim leader of proven integrity. In so doing he fell right into the Satanic tactics of the agents of repression in the land – even though he had been warned of them publicly and privately.

Often times when speaking of the repression of the Movement and Struggle of the 60s and 70s, much attention is paid to overt acts such as the political assassinations of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Fred Hampton (a leader in the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense), the persecution and incarceration of H. “Rap” Brown then, Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin now, and the like. Little attention is given to what was ultimately the most destructive actions directed against American citizens as a whole –the covert intelligence operations of the federal government.

According to Churchill & Wall, these “ops” consisted of “…the secret, systematic and sometimes savage use of force and fraud, by all levels of government, to sabotage progressive political activity supposedly protected by the U.S. constitution. They reveal on-going, country-wide CIA-style action – infiltration, psychological warfare, legal harassment, and violence –against a very broad range of domestic dissidents.”

The purpose of COINTELPRO was to “disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” the civil rights, black liberation, Puerto Rican independence, anti-war and student movements of the 1960s, because in the eyes of a paranoid, repressive, and ultimately criminally led government (as exemplified by the impeachment of Vice President Spiro Agnew, the resignation of President Richard Nixon, and the arrest and imprisonment of various cabinet members in the Watergate scandal), these citizens exercising their legal, Constitutionally protected rights, were a “national security threat”.

The FBI used a variety of psychological warfare tactics and operations. They included smear campaigns designed to defame and discredit leaders and organizations, and distort their public image. This was done overtly through anonymous letters and bogus publications, false criminal charges, and elaborate “sting” operations . The number of high profile political assassinations of the peoples’ leaders, was surpassed by innumerable assassinations of their character.

Eventually these abuses came to light, congressional hearings were held (convened by Senator Frank Church, D., Idaho), and even though the abuses of the federal government were only partially reviewed, the damage to the FBI’s image was such, that COINTEL-PRO was officially discontinued . This is important to know because in reality, COINTELPRO was not eliminated, it was just upgraded and adjusted. Now in the post- September 11th world, it has been adapted to the political climate of the 21st Century. The passing of the U.S.A.Patriot Act allowed the transformation of COINTELPRO, a covert program, into what might be called OINTELPRO (for Overt INTELligence PROgram).

A key element of COINTELPRO ops was the fomenting of division within the Movement and Struggle. Using a variety of tactics, the FBI took advantage of friction and hostilities between groups and within groups, and between leaders of different groups, to widen splits and divisions within their ranks. Yesterday they accomplished this with anonymous letters and inflammatory cartoons. Today it is accomplished via the internet. Yesterday’s targets are still targets today. However with the emergence of Islam on the national and global stages, Muslims have become prime targets –not just the terrorists among us globally, but all who oppose the status quo, and many who do not.

In the African American community, the conflict within the Nation of Islam around El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (resulting in his martyrdom, may Allah reward him with Paradise, and the death of many Muslims, in a covert war with members of the F.O.I. that lasted into the late 70s), and that on the West Coast between the Black Panther Party and the U.S. organization (resulting in the death of Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter and Jon Huggins) are well-documented examples of these “divide and conquer” tactics. In these instances and others, character assassination set the stage for the actual murder of leaders under the cover of fractional conflict.

Again, this writer advised the cyber-journalist of this reality and appealed to him to stop contributing to an atmosphere that would make such a thing possible in the Ummah in America in this day and time. My naseehaa (sincere advice) was ignored.
To repeat, external attacks upon those who would foment societal change are but one level or dimension of organizational or communal disruption. Tactics intended to cause feuds and bloodshed from within groups are another, perhaps more effective means of the same. Is character assassination of our leaders (or followers) from within more desirable than without? Is slander superior to back-biting? Is scandal-mongering better than gossip? What does it matter if the Satanically inspired from the Muslims do the work of the Kuffar? It’s all wrong!

Recognizing this, Muslims must see it as imperative that we safeguard the Ummah from internal strife and conflict, by practicing the adab (etiquette, manners) of our faith. We are commanded by Allah and His Messenger to guard our tongues as a matter of religion. We are commanded to talk to and with each other, instead of about each other (e.g. The mischief-making journalist has never attempted to sit with Imam Siraj and talk with him), or else to be quiet. We are commanded to refrain from back-biting, slander, gossip, scandal-mongering, the spreading of rumors, and other such vain-talk.

We are promised success in this life and the next if we obey these commandments. We are promised divine chastisement if we disobey. Allah says “The believers will be successful..who refrain from vain talk” (Q 23:3) , and “Waylun (woe, hell) to the scandal-mongerers” (Q 104:1). Every Muslim, regardless of his or her dislike, opposition, or anger towards another believer, must think three times before violating this particular set of commands by Allah and His Messenger.

Shaitān, who is the enemy of every human being, makes it attractive to them- to us- to eat the flesh of our brothers and sisters; to prefer supposition to fact in determining the truth of accusations against those whom we dislike for whatever reason, and to insult them . All such talk is evil and beckons unto the flames of hell. Whatever disagreements or gripes we have with each other as human beings and as Muslims, must be addressed in a manner that is pleasing to Allah. To do so strengthens our bonds of faith and fortifies the ranks of the Islamic cause. To neglect the adab weakens brotherhood and sisterhood, and decimates the Muslim ranks.

Muslims who practice the discipline of holding their tongues and safeguarding the sanctity of the believers should be embraced. Those who do not should be reminded, admonished, and then embraced if they submit to nasīhā (sincere advice and guidance, the best of which comes from the Words of Allah and His Messenger, peace be upon him), and shunned if they do not.

Further, Allah says:
“If two parties among the believers fall into a quarrel; make peace between them, But if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then all of you fight against the one who transgresses, until he complies with the command of Allah. But if he complies, then make peace between them with justice and be fair: For Allah loves those who are fair (and just). The believers are but a single Brotherhood. So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers. And fear Allah, that you may receive Mercy.” (Q 49:9-10)
Peace amongst the believers is a sacred thing, and violation of that peace is a serious matter. It is so serious that Allah commands reconciliation of differences , and does not tolerate those who defy Him and act contrary to the interests of unity and respect within the Community. He also makes it clear that the believers should not tolerate it either.

In conclusion, Every Muslim must protect our Ummah from internal destruction by :

1. Remembering Allāh, and reminding those who forget for the moment because of the whisper of Shaitān,and thus engage in sinful speech, to remember our God, Whose Messenger, peace be upon him, said “ The difference between the one who remembers his Lord and the one who doesn’t, is like the difference between the living and the dead. ” (Bukhārī)

2. Fear Allah , as He has stated “Fear me if you are believers.”(Q 3:175) , and Allāh’s Messenger (peace be upon ) said, “Fear Allāh wherever you are. And follow a bad deed with a good deed And it will wipe it out. And act towards people with good behaviour. “ (At-Tirmidhi)


3. Guarding our tongues and ears (The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “Whoever guards what is between his lips (meaning the tongue), I will guarantee him Paradise.” (Bukhārī) Seek refuge in Allāh from being of those who fail to guard their tongues, and beg His forgiveness if we are or have been of them.


4. Seeking refuge in Allāh aloud, whenever harām speech is directed towards us, no matter if in conversation, via the inter-net, in print, or however the poisonous speech is transmitted, for such speech spreads evil influence. “If a suggestion from Satan attacks your mind, seek refuge in Allāh: Verily He hears and knows (all things). Verily those who fear Allāh, when an evil thought from Satan attacks them, remember Allāh…” (Q 7: 200-201)

5. Beware of the mufsidūn (mischief-makers) , who engage in ghība (back-biting) laghw (vain talk) , humaza, and lumazah (scandal- mongering, slander, gossip, and public broadcasting of rumors and lies), and those who are Dhul-Wajhain (i.e. two-faced – “coming to some people with one face, and to others with another face”), for they are our internal enemies.

Allāh mentions each of these vile activities in His Book by name, and commands the believers to avoid them completely. Allāh (Glory be to Him) has commanded “And do not pay attention to any despicable man, ready with (false) words, a slanderer, going about with hurtful falsehoods, stopping all good, exceeding all bounds (and) deep in sin.” (Q 68: 10-12)


6. After admonishing them, shunning those who continue to engage in such speech, and refusing to give voice or ear to them. As Allāh (Glory be to Him) has commanded, “Be steadfast in the face of what they say, and cut yourself off from them –but courteously.” (Q 73:9)

7. Rendering unto the Muslims, all of us, those rights protective of our sanctity. Allāh’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said “Everything of a Muslim is sacred to another Muslim, his blood, his property, and his honor.” (Muslim)

8. Defend the honor of Muslims who are the subjects of haraam (forbidden) speech, as Allāh’s Messenger (peace be upon him) declared, “If anyone defends his brother who is slandered in his absence, it will be (his) due from Allāh to set him free from the Fire”. (Ahmad), and “If anyone defends his brother’s honor in this world, Allāh will shield his face from the Fire on the Day of Resurrection.” (At-Tirmihi)

9. Restrain our anger, and seek to practice degrees of forgiveness, as Allāh (Glory be to Him) defines the believers as those who “…forgive even when they are angry” (Q 42:37), and His Messenger (peace be upon him) said “…Don’t be angry” ((Bukhārī) , meaning “control it”.

10. Strive for excellence in character. As Allāh (Glory be to Him) asks in His Book Al- Qur’ān, “Is he, then, to whom the evil of his deeds is made fair-seeming, so that he considers it as good (equal to one who is rightly guided)? Verily, Allāh sends astray whom He wills, and guides whom He wills.” (Q 35:8) . Then the best of human beings (peace be upon him) said “The best of you are those who are the best in character.”

Once the Prophet (peace be upon him) was standing with the Companions (May Allāh be pleased with them, when a wind brought a terrible stench their way. Allāh ‘s Messenger (peace be upon him) said “Do you know what that foul odor is ? It is the odor of those who backbite the believers. ” (Ahmad) It is time for us to cleanse the Ummah of the stench of was-was, and to shun those who pollute the environment in the Muslim community with foul speech and dishonorable bearing. Allah has said that the believers are the best of people. Isn’t it time we started acting like it?



STOP
THE WAS-WAS

Qur’an 114

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

AGENTS AMONG US: ABDUR-RAHMAN MUHAMMAD? OH - I GET IT NOW!

As-Salaamu 'Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakaatuhu, Dear Believers:


Muslims have been asking me "What is wrong with Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, of The Singular Voice blog? Why is he always attacking some Muslim in a position of leadership and Muslim organizations? Why has he viciously attacked Imam Siraj? You? MIB? Why is he rabidly attacking MANA? "

Hey Allah knows best. At one time I couldn't figure him out , but now I have, so I thought that I'd share it with you. I first heard of him a couple of years ago when my name popped up on his blog (http://singularvoice.wordpress.com/2008/11/22/imam-talib-abdur-rashid-and-new-york-imams-do-the-right-thing/ ). No problemo, as it was complementary. His was another independent voice in the blogosphere. There are a million of them, at least. I would occassionally monitor his posts, and while his lack of adab was disturbing, sometimes he identified legitimate problems in the Ummah.

But then I started noticing his preoccupation with back-biting and slander, his unfounded attacks upon Muslim leaders, etc. "What's his problem?" I wondered. Then he started mouthing off about something that he knew absolutely nothing about -which was the tragic conflict between MIB and Yasin Mosque in the early '70's . So I at first responded to his posts as if I were dealing with a rational person. His posts then escalated into attacks upon my late teacher Shaykh-'Allaama Tawfiq (rahmatullah 'alaihi, MIB, me,etc.) Always A-RM did what he did supposedly in the name of justice, while exploiting the vulnerable (i.e. one of the several children who lost a parent that day, etc.) Finally some other folk spoke to him about the incorrectness of what he was doing, and he found something else to speculate about. (by the way, for folk really searching for the truth on what happened, read http://www.amazon.com/Dar-Islam-Movement-American-Revisited/dp/1451593821/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1288268355&sr=1-7 ).

In the interim, I began to do some background checks on A-RM (Something I learned to do from the COINTELPRO era. We at MIB are COINTELPRO survivors. Also, one must ascertain the character of an accuser before just accepting his word) and that revealed some things. Also I noticed that A-RM had a disturbing habit journalistically speaking, that would get him sued IF he was a journalist, which of course he isn't.


What he does is get a tidbit of info on something, fills in the blanks with his own opinions and speculation, and then he publishes the results as if they are the truth just because he says so. That too was a classic COINTELPRO tactic. Additionally, A-RM makes character judgements based upon his "understanding". Some folk go for it. Most don't. For one thing people like A-RM, who have a rabid way of expressing themselves, turn people off (read his latest posts on the CAAM press conference).


Then A-RM started attacking MANA and its leadership (of which I am part). "Hm-m-m-m. What is it with this guy who sends poisonous e-mails that begin with salaams?" I asked myself. Then eventually several months ago he sent me a some-what conciliatory e-mail declaring that the brothers and sisters of MANA were in fact his Muslim brothers and sisters. "Hm-m-m-," I thought. "He just figured that out?" Anyway, I never responded to him because by that time I knew better. Now he's at it again.


When legitimate concern surfaced in the Muslim public about the way the CAAM press conference turned out (btw, I and others shared the concerns, but because we have actual relationships WITH believers -outside of the cyber world, that is -we talked TO Imam Siraj and others instead of talking ABOUT them), A-RM went off, sinking to new levels of back-biting, slander and name-calling, all in the name of the religion which he claims, and that abhors such behaviour (see Qur'an 49:11). Also, again his used his "journalistic" method as described above.


Now, AR-M has once again escalated his attacks upon MANA , Imam Siraj, and me (calling the Imam highly offensive nick-names against the command of Allah, calling me a liar, and saying that things that I truthfully stated in a simple, brief statement were absolutely false, astagfirullah.) I began to think about who this guy is. First, I looked for and found further A-RM background info on line, by brother Umar Lee. Umar too is outspoken, an independent thinker, and a blogger, but he has always struck me as a Muslim with Islamic adab and character. Personally I love hearing from these Hip-hop generation Muslim warriors and thinkers. In fact I seek their perspective as I'm from another generation, so their thinking helps me to stay generationally connected.



So our brother Umar Lee has written http://umarlee.com/2010/08/25/questions-for-abdul-rahman-muhammad-and-advice-to-his-new-pals/ which should be required reading for every Muslim who asks "What's wrong with A-RM?" That blog contains background info (intel, not gossip) that coincided with what I had been told previously by people who know him, but in greater detail. Looking at his background, things started becoming clearer to me.


Then I thought about the Rupert Murdoch owned tabloid the NY Daily News, which is known in NYC amongst progressives of all faiths or none, as the rag that it is, second only to the NY Post. A-RM relatively recently had an Op-Ed published in it, on pages that often spout what CAIR might call "Islamophobic" bs. (See ARM's http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2010/09/05/2010-09-05_whether_or_not_ground_zero_mosque_is_built_us_muslims_have_access_to_the_america.html).

BTW, no less a stellar personality than Pamela Geller called A-RM's op-ed "a good editorial" (see http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2010/09/abdur-rahman-muhammad-on-the-ground-zero-mosque.html )Then I researched and saw that his op-ed was praised on White-supremacist crusader web-sites already known to me, like Atlas Shrugs (by Pamela Geller) and The Investigative Project on Terrorism (by Stephen Emerson). On sites like these, Imam Siraj, Imam Zaid, Mahdi Bray, even me, have all been talked about like a dog ). Things became real clear.



An objective reflection on all of this has cleared up my thinking on ARM (his e-mail name, which I prefer to use. BTW, what's his problem that he can't seem to spell my name correctly? Maybe it's some tactic I haven't learned of yet). I get it now, and I hope all of the believers do as well. I fully anticipated that A-RM's advertised coming expose of the MANA latest Report to the Ummah would be exactly what it turned out to be:


- loud criticism of quiet workers by someone who confuses talk with work, is big on criticizing the work of others but has no public track record of any successful, productive work of his own in the Muslim community - only a lot of talk



-denigration of the sincere by someone who demonstrates insincerity on the regular (How dare he denigrate the work of sincere Muslims across the country - not imams, but hard working line brothers and sisters who make things happen and have been doing so at MANA events?)



- Cyber-world pseudo-assessment of real-world deeds



-A call for accountability by someone who is and has been accountable to no one or no thing but himself



- Self-important ranting by someone so egotistical that he things the world revolves around his blog (e.g. No one said or addressed dis-satisfaction and asked for answers on the CAAM event until he did in his blog? Give us all a break! MANA leaders felt no sense of accountability to the Ummah and wrote its report in response to his blog? How foolish! It was the 2nd report of that nature, and we've sent out e-mail newsletters and blasts aplenty over the past two years, apprising the believers of what we've been doing. A-RM knows that. He's either consumed with hasad or spends so much time in his cyber-world that he doesn't know what's going on -although he claims to know everything, or he's deluded, or being purposefully deceitful

- Distortion of simple facts while ignoring truths (e.g. He by his own admission attended a MANA seminar, which he called -inaccurately - a regional conference (read the report, A-R). He stresses the aparse attendance at the seminar while ignoring the attendance of the several small conferences (100-250 people at each) throughout the country. His lack of experience in organizational leadership or administration is obvious. He doesn't understand that organizations issue financial reports at the end of their fiscal year. He doesn't understand that during a time of economic recession that hiring a reputable financial management firm is a sign of responsibility and accountability, and not the opposite. These things elude talkers, but doers know.



But like I said, I get it now.



Congratulations A- R M! At the rate you're going, you're going to end up sponsored and employed by those whose backing you seem to have been seeking for awhile now. You know, the ones who fund the Investigative Project on Terrorism and Atlas Shrugs? non-Muslim zin-ji-uun like Juan and Armstrong Williams, and born Muslims like Irshad Manji and Ayaan Hirsi Ali? Hey you're on the way, and will finally get paid!



Here's how you describe yourself:



"Abdur-Rahman Muhammad is a Washington, D.C.-based writer who was once the Imam of a mosque where he taught radical Muslim ideology. He has since renounced those views and works to combat Islamic extremism in the American Muslim community". That should be good for some bookings.

Let's see, Sean Hannity loves you. He loves the fact that you're a "former imam" , and finds your writing "fascinating". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjJ7b0sPyP8

What's next -photo-ops with Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly? Maybe a beach romp with Pan Geller for the cameras?

I could go on but we can now see clearly what's happening, with you A-R.

Brothers and Sisters in islam, dear belivers, by the time you read this I will have sent this entire post to A-RM, including the below open letter to him. I'm making all of this public as a way not only of talking to him (instead of just about him, as a warning) , and because guys like him skulk and operate best in disinformation ,unchallenged assertions, and cyber anonymity. (BTW A-R, when are you going to answer Umar Lee's questions? http://umarlee.com/tag/abdur-rahman-muhammad/ It's been 4 months now).

One good thing though, on A-RM's new updated blog featuring his latest attack upon MANA he very cleverly shows a trash-apil being used to dump papers into a toilet. This is a perfect depiction of what should be done with his venemous posts and commentary. In fact in my opinion it should be the logo for his website.

As-Salaamu 'Alaikum wa Rahmatullah wa barakatuhu,
Imam Talib

P.S. Elsewhere on this blog I've posted a piece that I wrote in 2006 ,four years ago before I even heard of A-RM , but I believe it still applies today. It's called "Safeguard the Ummah"

Here's my direct letter to A-RM:

A-oo-dhu Bil-laahi Minash-Shaitaanir-Rajim (3x)
Bis-mil-laahir-Rahmanaair-Rahim


Abdur-Rahman Muhammad:
I do not know you and you certainly do not know me. We have never had a telephone nor face to face conversation, nor to my knowledge have we ever met. Yet over the past many months you have insulted me and other Muslims, called me and them liars, back-bitten and slandered Muslim leaders past and present and denigrated the good work of good sincere Muslims, vis-à-vis little or no apparent, consistent, substantive work of your own – only talking and typing.

The state of your heart and mind and deen have been rendered transparent. Others have spoken to you in private and public about your reprehensible behavior (Didn’t you learn anything from your past diatribe?) and you keep going on.

Shaykh Muhammad Shareef (May Allah preserve him) advised you with great sagacity from the wisdom of our ancestors, that "As you judge others, so shall you be judged".

A commentor on your web-site wrote:

"After reading your articles for about 2 years or so all I can say Abdur Rahman do yourself a favor and either leave Islam or increase your Islamic knowledge. Over past years or so you seem to have gained a perverse pleasure is slandering Muslims. This behavior is a sign of unhealthy heart and people with unhealthy hearts will only bring destruction,disappointment and frustration to themselves"

Your talk has been done in the name of Al-Islam, which denounces the very acts that you have committed.

Know that your sins of the tongue and hand are multiplied by your posts, as they are read by others. If you value your soul, then act to save it through tauba after you study what it is. You have called upon me to act and respond in good faith but you never do, and when I have responded to you in private or public you then afterwards insult me and call me a liar. One time you sent me a private e-mail declaring the brothers and sisters of MANA as yours (was it a revelation for you that the believers are brothers? Hacevn't you read the Qur'an, 49:10? ). Yet here you are once again back to your old and apparently never abandoned attitudes, and I say again, Islamically reprehensible behaviour.

Hey man, don't worry, you need not be concerned about any more responses to from me in your cyber- house, except the Word of Allah

بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمـَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ الْفَلَقِ
SAY: "I seek refuge with the Sustainer of the rising dawn
مِن شَرِّ مَا خَلَقَ
"from the evil of aught that He has created,
وَمِن شَرِّ غَاسِقٍ إِذَا وَقَبَ
"and from the evil of the black darkness whenever it descends,
وَمِن شَرِّ النَّفَّاثَاتِ فِي الْعُقَدِ
"and from the evil of all human beings bent on occult endeavours
وَمِن شَرِّ حَاسِدٍ إِذَا حَسَدَ
"and from the evil of the envious when he envies."

بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمـَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ النَّاسِ
Say: I seek refuge with the Lord and Cherisher of Mankind,
مَلِكِ النَّاسِ
The King (or Ruler) of Mankind,
إِلَهِ النَّاسِ
The Allah (for judge) of Mankind,-
مِن شَرِّ الْوَسْوَاسِ الْخَنَّاسِ
From the mischief of the Whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after his whisper),-
الَّذِي يُوَسْوِسُ فِي صُدُورِ النَّاسِ
(The same) who whispers into the hearts of Mankind,-
مِنَ الْجِنَّةِ وَ النَّاسِ
Among Jinns and among men



As-Salaam 'ala man it-ta-biul-huda,

Imam Al-Hajj Talib 'Abdur-Rashid

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

AL-ISLAM AND THE GARVEY MOVEMENT



Introduction
August 17th marked the 123rd memorial birthdate of Marcus Garvey. In honor of that occasion, I release the following from my future book, Reclaimed Legacy:Muslim Indigenous And Immigrant Peoples, And The True History Of Al-Islām In America.

Muslim Influence on the U.N.I.A.
“Father of all Creation
Allah Omnipotent,
Supreme o’er every nation
God Bless our President”

These are the words of one of the “hymns” of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A.), founded by the late Marcus Mosiah Garvey, often described as the most influential leader of African descent in the West, during the 20th century. Garvey, considered by many to be the “Father of Black Nationalism”, had been taught African history, topology and politics while residing in Egypt, by a Muslim Egyptian named Duse Muhammad Effendi (see photo above left) Amongst Garvey’s followers were many African Americans, who viewed themselves as Muslims struggling for the liberation of their people from oppression.These men and women had been influenced by an Ahmadiyyah Muslim da’ee (missionary) named Mufti Muhammad Saadiq, who came to America from India in 1920, to propagate Islam as he understood it.
Bayoumi writes[1], “Originally conceiving of his work as broad-based, ecumenical, multiracial missionary activity, Sadiq soon realized that Whites were bitter and fearful of his message and African Americans interested and open. Early reports indicate that several Garveyites attended his lectures and were among his first converts…”
Journalist Roger Didier wrote of some of these self-proclaimed Muslim Garveyites [2], “…all the audience has adopted Arabic names…There is the very dark Mr. Augustus, who used to belong to St. Marks church in this city [Chicago], but who now sings a pretty Arabic prayer and acts rather sphinx-like. Half a dozen Garvey cohorts are counted, one in his resplendent uniform...”
Tony Martin[3] states that at the 1922 U.N.I.A. convention, “several delegates suggested that the association should adopt Islam as its official religion since three-quarters of the black world were Muslims and Muslims were better Christians than Christians”. The discussion was lively and occupied both the morning and afternoon sessions, under the topic “The Future Religious Faith and Belief of the Negro.” Garvey himself presided over ther afternnon session, declaring the subject to be “of vital interest and importance, in that it struck at the strongest side of the Negro, it being conceded that the Negro was more religious than anything else”.
Garvey further stated that dictating religion was not the desire of the UNIA, but rather to give African people “a scientific understanding of religion”. He then advocated inter-religious dialogue and meeting. Although the resolution to adopt Al-Islam as the UNIA’s official religion, and indeed the future religion of all black people in America was not passed, its serious introduction into the discussion spread out over hours indicates the receptivity that was present in the ranks of that organization, to the Islamic faith (as it was understood according to Ahmadiyyah teachings).One of its hymns was even named “Allahu Akbar”.
In Detroit, Michigan, Mufti Sadiq himself spoke at five Garveyite meetings in 1923, and 40 more U.N .I.A. members converted to the faith. One was another Christian leader, Reverend Sutton, who was renamed Sheik Abdul Salaam, and placed in leadership over the congregation in that city. Ahmadiyyah appeals to the followers of Garvey, hammered a message tailored to them. Knowing that many Garveyites, or at least those inclined to Islam read its pages, The Moslem Sunrise contained an article with what must be the world’s longest title[4]. Its text included these words:
“Apart from confederation of the African tribes or peoples of African origin, the possibility of which is a nightmare to the white man, he lives in fear and trembling that El Islam may become the religion of the Negro. And why should it not be? ‘El Islam’ would be a wonderful spiritual force in the life of the colored races, uniting us in a bond of common sympathy and interest. We could then add to our motto of one God, one aim, one destiny, the words one language which would be arabic. It could easily be made the universal language of Negroes and would remove the barriers which now face us in the intercommunication of the different tribes in Africa. Arabic is already spoken by millions of Negroes..”
Garvey and Al-Islām
Garvey, who was himself the student of a Muslim, was obviously listening to this message. He posed the question, ostensibly to Christians who were American, and other peoples of European descent in positions of power, when he stated:
“…You white men, have taught us the love of God, you have had us to see Him in all goodness and perfection; is He a mockery to you? He must be something real. Must we by your actions deny His goodness and love for us, and seek and search for the God of Africa, The Allah most High, Noble and Almighty?” [5]
Further he mentioned The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) several times in his speeches, as an inspirational figure whom he considered to be a great black man. He declared before an audience at Liberty Hall, in Harlem, New York on September 17, 1922 “…everybody knows that Mohammed was a Negro…Negroes on this side of the river had accepted Christ, while on the other side, many of them, had accepted Mohammed. The administration was not endeavoring to bring Mohammed into the Western world. Mohammed was not in need of change. He was a colored man, anyhow. [6]
“The fight that has centered around me is the same kind of fight that will be centered around any other leader, any other idealist who sets out to lead the people into a new vision, into a new light. It was the same kind of fight that was centered Around Mohammed when he enunciated his doctrine; it wsas the same kind of fight that was centered around Martin Luther when he delared the reformation; it was the same kind of fight that was centered around the great political leaders of Ireland who sought to arouse the people for Irish freedom; it was the same kind of fight that centered around the Man of Nazreth who attempted to assemble the multitude and teach them the new doctrine of salvation, it is the same kind of fight that will be centered around any man or woman who seeks to place an ideal among the people….”[7]
“The great Mohammed, the leader of the Mohammedan faith-the man who swept the Asiatic world with that new cult, the new religion of Allah- he counted the cost and in his lifetime paid the price. Mohammed suffered many reverses; Mohammed suffered many defeats at certain times; half of the people, two-thirds of the people; nearly all of the people, forsook Mohammed, but Mohammed stuck to his faith and ultimately triumphed and Mohammedenism was given to the world. And as Mohammed did in the religious world, so in the political arena we have had men who have paid the price for leading the people toward the great light of liberty.”[8]

[1] East of the Sun (West of the Moon): Islam, the Ahmadis, and African America
[2] “Those Who’re Missionaries to Christians: Prophet Sadiq Brings Allah’s Message Into Chicago and Makes Proselytes”, reprinted in The Moslem Sunrise, October 1922
[3] author of Race First: The Ideological and Organizatiuonal Struggles of Marcus Garvey and the U.N.I.A. (1976), see Chapter 4, also see the minutes from the UNIA annual convention held in August, 1922, specifically those from the 25th day, Friday morning and afternoon sessions, The Marcus Garvey Papers, Vol. 4, pp. 991-992
[4] “”Crescent or Cross? A Negro May Aspire to Any Position under Islam without Discrimination: The Teachings of the Prophet are being Profitably Imbibed –with Millions of Moslems the World over, Pressure Can be brought to Solve the Race Question”, The Moslem Sunrise, April 1923, pg. 262
[5] The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, pg. 412
[6] U.N.I.A. Convention, August 5, 1924
[7] Liberty Hall speech, Nov. 5, 1922
[8] speech, January 29, 1922, The Marcus Garvey and UNIA Papers, sponsored by the Univ. of California, LA

Sunday, August 8, 2010

SEEING PAST RIGHT-WING, TEA PARTY INFLUENCED EFFORTS TO MANIPULATE THE TRUTH, RE: THE MOSQUE AND ISLAMIC COMMUNITY CENTER NEAR GROUND-ZERO

The political right-wing, Tea Party based or influenced media has taken up the effort to build a mosque and Islamic community center near NYC’s ground zero, as its latest cause célèbre. In so doing they have been using the same tactics successfully employed during the “Stop the Madrassa” campaign to destabilize the Khalil Gibran School in Brooklyn. The outcome of their skillfully designed and executed work was described by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission in its decision published last March.

The EOEC wrote that the Dept. of Education (as part of the Bloomberg Administration) “…succumbed to the very bias that creation of the school was intended to dispel and a small segment of the public succeeded in imposing its prejudices on D.O.E. as an employer."

Implicit in the arguments put forth in the case of both the Gibran School and the mosque near ground zero, have been disguised, racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Islam and anti-Muslim sentiments. Call them “stealth, white supremacist crusaders”. A key undercurrent of the public denunciation by these right-wing Tea Party mentality people, of the Cordoba Center’s construction, is the “Us vs. Them” theme well-digested in the underbelly of American life, since the birth of the nation.

The Center’s opposition (i.e. the crusaders) asserts that “they” (i.e. Muslims) attacked either “us” (i.e. Americans or non-Muslims ). This implied “they” visits guilt by association of faith upon all Muslims and their religion – Islam, because of the terroristic acts of political extremists. Yet extremists and terrorists exist that claim various faiths, or none. One simply cannot blame all adherents of a faith or way of life for the acts of an extremist fringe minority.

An article published in today’s New York Times ( Across Nation, Mosque Projects Meet Opposition , Sunday , August 8, 2010) exposes the truth – that across the country far from ground-zero in NYC, people ( and is there any doubt that they are predominantly white folk, who are vulnerable to manipulation because they lack knowledge of Islam, and also fail to put a human face on the Muslims they hear about unceasingly in the media?) – are fighting the building of mosques and exercise of freedom of religion by Muslims. When one reads or listens to their concerns it is obvious their their opinions are influenced by the same forces who falsely characterized both the Khalil Gibran School and its creator, Debbie Almontaser, who lost her job and suffered greatly because of the injustice directed against her.

The “us” of the right-wing Tea Party mentality dismisses the presence of 7-10 million Muslims who are just as American as anyone else. Two-thirds of American Muslims are themselves of immigrant origin, like most other Americans. The other third are African Americans. Seven-eighths of all Muslims in the land are people of color, of so-called third world origin. Does anyone realistically doubt that this is a factor –consciously or unconsciously in the opinions of those who mouth and shout racist epithets at public gatherings, as the wave their Bibles and call for Muslim “unbelievers” to worship a god who by the way, looks like the same right-wing Tea Party folk?

The second “us” also overlooks a critical fact of the September 11th attacks, largely un-covered by mainstream media until this day. It is that the 9-11 attacks perpetrated by extremist Muslims, killed many people who were themselves Muslims, as well as people of other faiths, or none. In other words, Muslims are part of “us” too.

Imam Izak El-Pasha of Masjid Malcolm Shabazz (named after Malcolm X) spoke at the 9-11 Memorial Service held in the old Yankee Stadium days after the death and destruction. There was a room in the Twin Towers that served as a musalla (prayer space) for Muslim employees in the World Trade Center complex. Muslim West African immigrants working as waiters in the Windows on the World Restaurant were killed. As a local imam, I attended memorial services held by members of Local Union 32 B-J (Building and Maintenance workers) for slaughtered Muslim relatives and loved ones; the majority of them Arab and Southern-Asian immigrants. Imam Sulaimane Konate (of Masjid Al-Aqsah, in Harlem) – an immigrant from the Ivory Coast in West Africa, lost 3 members of his family in the destruction.

Imam Umar Abdul-Jail (of Masjid Sabur, also in Harlem) - an African American who has been much maligned in local tabloids like the NY Post, supervised the make-shift morgue set up on the West-Side highway, ministering with great compassion and sensitivity to members of grieving families, on an inter-faith basis. The administration of then NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani granted permission to the Majlis Ash-Shura (Islamic Leadership Council) of NY to hold a funeral prayer service in closed off Warren Street, right in front of Masjid Manhattan – a large loft utilized for many years as a mosque, just a short walk from Ground Zero. At that time the street reflected the devastation common to the surrounding area. The Muslim mourners arrived in buses provided by the NYPD.

Further, Muslim police officers, firemen, EMTs and relief workers too, were amongst the heavy-hearted responders to the disaster. Undoubtedly they shared the feelings experienced throughout time by people of various faiths, when crimes have been committed by those claiming exclusivity on righteousness in the name of God or religion, while committing evil deeds.
During the after-math of the attacks, Muslim religious leaders both male and female, in New York City and across the country, participated in inter-faith prayer services for healing, reconciliation and comfort. Imam Faisal Abdur-Rauf was one of them, offering a communal mea culpa (which I disagreed with incidentally) for something he had nothing to do with, and in fact denounced.

This is significant, because the Imam is a co-founder of the Cordoba Initiative, which is an interfaith endeavor. Again, mainstream media has not mentioned this. The right-wing, Tea Party catering media insists on painting Imam Faisal as a sort of “stealth-jihadist” with ties to terrorists. Locally, Congressman Anthony Weiner has said so. So has Fox News and WABC talk radio commentator Monica Crowley of T.V.’s The McLaughlin Report , and others.

These are deliberate distortions of the truth. Imam Faisal is the author of the book What’s Right with Islam is What’s Right About America. He is a gentle, moderate toned voice amongst imams, whose father was the imam of both the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, and the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C. for many years. Although I loathe such labels, he is a “Sufi”, not a so-called “fundamentalist” or “jihadist”. But the right-wing media Tea Party folk mis-characterize Imam Faisal by design, in order to manipulate public opinion.

The Cordoba Initiative’s members are Christian, Jewish, and Muslim. Support for the mosque and center is religiously (and ethnically) diverse, including September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, J Street, The Arab American Family Support Center, Auburn Seminary, American Jewish Committee, Cause New York, Chautauqua Institute, Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, Faith House Manhattan, Friends of the Arava Institute, Interfaith Youth Core, Intersections, Interfaith Center of New York, The Interfaith Alliance, Jewish Community Center in Manhattan, Lutheran Seafarers and International House, New York Buddhist Church, Odyssey, New Seminary, Out of Cordoba Averros and Miamonides, NY interfaith Disaster, One Voice, One Spirit, St. Bartholomew's Church, Same Difference Interfaith Alliance, The Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, Tanenbaum Center, The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, Trinity Wall Church, The Healing of the Nations Foundation, The Migration Policy Institute, Union Theological Seminary, St. Peters Church, UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, UJA Federation of New York.

As a Muslim leader and social justice activist, I was present at many of the above 9-11 related events, and as noted on the recording Restoring Faith: America’s Religious Leaders Answer Terror with Hope, I walked the streets of NY when they looked like a war zone. Many people of different faiths and ethnicities grieved. Personally, I encountered little wholesale recrimination of Muslims or assignment of guilt by association of faith. Students from Yeshiva University in Upper Manhattan called our Harlem-based mosque offering assistance if needed. Women from a local church did the same. Christian, Jewish, and Muslim members of A Partnership in Faith in NYC - a pioneering coalition born of gun-related street violence during the years of the Dinkins administration, huddled and then fanned out throughout the city and on the airwaves, as a multi-faith pastoral crises response team.

Mainstream media was so absorbed with the events of 9-11’s grievous aftermath that the identity of Muslim victims and responders to 9-11 was obscured. It still is. Consequently too many otherwise well-meaning people don’t even know that we exist, and this fuels the “Us vs. them” mentality that fear-mongers shamelessly exploit and manipulate.

The Cordoba Center’s stated purpose is to foster the good and combat the evil – to provide a space where people can learn to be good neighbors. Don’t we need more of that nowadays? Many New Yorkers apparently believe so, including our Mayor. Perhaps if the truth were to be told about “Us and them”, we’d all comprehend the importance of such endeavors as the building of the Center, and dispel the darkness of extremism, fear, and recrimination, with the light of moderation and hope.

Imam Al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid is the religious and spiritual leader of The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood Inc. 2nd Vice President of The Majlis Ash-Shura (Islamic Leadership Council) of New York, and Deputy Amir/General Secretary of MANA (The Muslim Alliance in North America). In November, 2009 the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, listed him as one of the world’s “500 Most Influential Muslims”.