Friday, October 31, 2014


As-Salaamu 'Alaikum. No I'm not kidding. I do have a sense of humor, but you all should know me better than that. Each year when the disguised devil worship that is Halloween (then again, maybe it's not so disguised) is highly visible in America and elsewhere, I always think about the truth that is behind the reality.

First, the myth of vampires attacking and slaying the innocent is a metaphor for the victimizing of the poor by the rich. The real vampires are those who systematically prey on the indigent. This means that the real vampires are individuals and corporations who drain the social, economic, and spiritual life out of grassroots people, living them in the condition of the walking dead, in place of living, vibrant human beings who live fruitful and well realized lives in a world of shared prosperity.

But even moreso, Dracula was a real person; a historical figure from European history. Decades ago I was walking through the Port Authority Bus Station here in New York City (known in the past and present as a lair for vampires and their victims) . I was passing through the station clutching my Qur'an, when I decided to go into a bookstore. I found there a book entitled In Search of Dracula  by Raymond T. McNally & Radu Florescu. Out of curiosity I purchased a copy:

When I took it home and read sections of it, boy was I surprised. My curiosity was amply rewarded !

Reading the book, I learned that the real Count Dracula's name was Vlad, known by the sobriquet (or kunya in Arabic), of Vlad the Impaler. He was the product of a rich European family. The home of Dracula as depicted in movies and writings is identified as Transylvania, which is a real place. Transylvania is a province of western Romania, a country very much in the news recently because of the threat of Soviet expansion.

The myth of Dracula finds its origins in the novel by Bram Stoker,

which was eventually immortalized so to speak by Hollywood. Tinseltown produced the film lore of vampires with the classic films  starring Hungarian-American actor Bela Lugosi.

Of course, Hollywood vampires are popular to this day, as in the tv show The Vampire Diaries, or in films like The Twilight Saga. In Stoker's original novel,  he describes various European ethnic groups that actually exist, like the Saxons, Romanians, Hungarians, etc. They are the people of the region of Europe where the wealthy Dracul family (in a region of poor people) came into being. They were feudal lords who lived in a castle whereas the grassroots people live in humble dwellings. Castle Dracula (known today as a historical landmark called Bran Castle) still exists, and looks like this:

The real Dracula carried the first or given name of his father, which was Vlad. Vlad senior was known as Vlad II, and he died in 1447. His nickname was Dracul, a Romanian word meaning "devil". He in turn nicknamed his son Vlad with a diminutive version of that name - Dracula, meaning "son of the devil", or "lesser devil", or " Lil' devil". I kid you not. You couldn't make up this stuff, and besides, the truth is always more revealing than fiction. To quote an original Nation of Islam saying popularized amongst Americans of African descent by El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X, Rahmatullah 'alaihi, May Allah have Mercy on him, and reward him with Jannat (Paradise), ameen ), " Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward all research".

To continue, the name Dracul also means "dragon". The Dracul family were Christians, or what Dr. Cornel West might identify as adherents of "Imperial Christianity", as opposed to true Christianity, during the time of the Crusades. The Crusades were military campaigns spanning centuries which were waged with the sanction of the Roman Catholic Church,  against those described as "infidel Turks", who were of course Muslims (This is getting interesting isn't it? Now you see why Imam Talib is writing about this).

The Dracul family built churches in Europe, and in the year 1431 Vlad Dracul the father was, according to McNally and Florescu,  honored by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund, who  "…invested Vlad the father with the Order of the Dragon, a semi monastic, semi-military organization dedicated to fighting the Turkish infidels".

Eventually the son grew up to be known as the Prince of Wallachia (a region of Romania), as had his father and grandfather. He looked like this:

Dracula the son was called the Impaler because he had a section of the grounds of his family land filled with sharpened wooden stakes, upon which he would have his enemies thrown from out of the castle window. Reportedly he was so ruthless, bloodthirsty and sadistic, the he would sit eating, watching while these men died a gruesome death. That savage practice is depicted in this ancient drawing:

One day Muslims traveling through the area sent an envoy to request egress across the vast territorial lands owned by the wealthy family, as a courtesy. Dracula had the Muslim killed.  Through time and mutual hostilities between the Muslims and Christians in Europe, Dracula was captured and imprisoned by the Muslims. Upon release he went back to battling his former captors. According to McNally and Floresco, during The Impaler's final battle, a moment of poetic justice occurred.

"Dracula's army began killing Turks without mercy. Out of sheer joy, Dracula ascended a hill in order to see better his men massacring the Turks. This, detached from his army and his men, some took him for a Turk, and one of them struck him with a lance. But Dracula, seeing that he was being attacked by his own men, immediately killed five of his would-be assassins with his own sword; however, he ws pierced by many lances, thus he died.

"…According to both Bonifinius and a Turkish chronicler, Dracula was then beheaded. His head was sent to Constantinople (Turkey, known now as Istanbul - Imam Talib) , where it remained exposed as proof that the dreaded Impaler was really dead".

The authors claim that out of 200 men fighting the Muslim Turks that day, 190 were killed. They are also uncertain for some reason as to whether the death blow was struck by one of Dracula's own men, or one of the Muslim Turks.

A century after the death of Dracula, one of his descendants, named Mihnea II ( accepted Islam. He took the name Mikail, and was ostracized by his family, who called him "the apostate"; meaning he apostated from Imperial Christianity. He is known in history as Mihnea II, "the Islamized". I guess this descendant of a family radicalized by Imperial Christianity decided to moderate the influence of his past by becoming a Muslim.

In modern times, the 500th year of Dracula's death was commemorated in the year 1976 by the issuance of postage stamps in both Europe:

And America:

In 2011, Charles, Prince of Wales, popularly known as Prince Charles, claimed that he is descended from Dracula (son of the devil, enemy of Muslims),  as noted here:

Hey, like I said, you couldn't make this stuff up. As the old saying goes, "Truth is stranger than fiction".

Still think I'm kidding?

Was Salaam

Friday, October 17, 2014

Press Conference of the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan
New York, City Hall, NYC Oct. 14, 2014

A Call to Justice and Rejection of Violent Extremism
A Statement from the Majlis Ash-Shura (Islamic Leadership Council) of
Metropolitan New York

Thirteen years ago during the immediate aftermath of the september 11th atrocities, the Majlis Ash-Shura, also known as the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York, wrote and distributed 10,000 brochures on the streets of our city. The brochures conveyed our message of condolences to all who lost loved ones in those horrid attacks. We denounced terrorism, which we identified as politically motivated violence against innocents.  Further, we urged the Western powers to seriously investigate those factors that were fomenting extremism amongst Muslims.
Today, our message remains essentially the same.  Throughout the planet,  there are people of different racial and ethnic groups, many religions or beliefs,  or lack thereof, and various political ideologies, who are committing terrorist acts.  Regretfully, extremist Muslims are to be found amongst them
No reasonable person blames all Christians or Christianity itself, or all Jews or Judaism itself, or all Hindus or Buddhists or their faiths, or atheists for that matter, for acts of terrorism committed by a distinct minority of people from those groups. Yet too often we find Muslims collectively burdened with guilt by association of faith, when individuals or groups who claim to be acting in the name of Islam, instead act outside of it’s  moral and ethical boundaries. Then the media or others , place the blame for atrocities on Islamic extremists or terrorists, when our faith is not extreme nor does it advocate terrorism.
Since the very night of September 11, 2001,  Muslim groups throughout America and the world have been denouncing the targeting of innocent, non-combatant civilians and others, by extremist Muslims. Yet all of us are constantly asked “Why don’t you say something?” To which we reply “We have, and we are, the question is why aren’t you aware of that?”
So today, we as leaders of Muslim congregations and houses of worship throughout New York City, say again for all to hear that we denounce acts of extremist violence no matter whom or what. Certainly there are violent extremists who are Muslims, but their acts of terrorism are not Islamic. They are un-Islamic.
In our society we hear from the lips of Islamophobes or those influenced by them, that the canonical law of Islam, Sharia law, is to blame for acts of terrorism committed by extremist Muslims. However the truth is that the sacred laws of our faith, forbid the very acts being committed by extremist Muslims, be they individuals or groups.
So as Muslim leaders in New York City, we stand in solidarity with the distinct majority of people throughout America and the world, including the viable scholars of our religion both here in America and abroad, in denouncing all acts of political violence committed by extremist individuals, groups, or governments, regardless of the color of their skin, the country of their origin, their religion or lack thereof, or their politics.
We do so because as Muslim leaders we stand for justice. We are ever mindful that there are injustices in the world that need to be righted. We feel the pain in our hearts, of Muslims oppressed anywhere in the world. Too many of those injustices are committed by Muslims against Muslims and others, and vice-versa. It matters not the identity of the perpetuators of injustice, nor its victims. Right is right and wrong is wrong is wrong, and oppression and injustice are wrong , no matter whom or what.  However we of the Majlis Ash-Shura do not believe that two wrongs make a right. We are here today to make it clear that struggling for justice is right, and violent extremism is wrong.
             Today, we are announcing our implementation of a Four-Point-Citywide response, to appeals from anywhere in the world, calling Muslims to acts of terrorism:
1.     Beginning this week, on our web-site and in social media, we are posting our principled opposition against terrorism, with evidences from the primary sources of our faith - our holy book the Qur’an, and the Sunna, or Prophetic tradition of the Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, to whom the Qur’an was revealed, peace be upon him.
2.     We continue to declare that we stand for both public safety and the civil, constitutional and human rights of all Americans, including Muslims. We continue to stand ready to partner reasonably with those whose commitment is to both of these essential elements of American society.
3.      This Friday Oct 17th, simultaneous sermons will be delivered at mosques throughout the city upholding the principle of justice, yet denouncing extremist acts and tactics that exceed the boundaries of Islamic sacred law.
4.     This November, we will once again sponsor our citywide mosque open-house events, as we have done for the past four years; where-in Muslim houses of worship will open their doors for visits and activities, with our neighbors of other faiths.
Lastly, we call upon the governments of the world to stop using state-sponsored violence as a tool of oppression and repression of the masses of people seeking freedom, justice, and equality. We call for the elimination of poverty, which is itself a weapon of mass destruction *, as well as all economic, political, and social injustice, which leaves persons vulnerable to calls to extremism, as the only viable solution to the very real problems of society.