Saturday, May 19, 2018

Martian Muslims, Islamophobia Inc, detained in Ramadan

All the Islamophobes.

Whether this is your third, fourth or fifth day of Ramadan (#MoonWars🌙 ), Ramadan mubarak to you and yours! Let’s jump right in with the latest.

  • Follow the money. A new documentary from Al Jazeera investigates the tens of millions of dollars in “dark money” powering the rapid growth of the U.S. Islamophobia industry. 📚 Some more recommended reading on this topic: Nathan Lean’s book “The Islamophobia Industry,” the Center for American Progress’ report Fear Inc and its interactive web companion, and these factsheets on major players, by Georgetown’s Bridge Initiative. Also keep an eye out for Jordan Denari Duffner’s upcoming book, to be published in 2020.

  • Speaking of Islamophobes…Sam Harris. WIRED had a great feature on why Harris and other New Atheists haven’t actually transcended tribalism and cognitive biases, as they’re so eager to believe.

  • Not a good look for Wajahat Ali. By now, you’ve probably seen his piece in the Atlantic, “A Muslim Among Israeli Settlers,” as well as the ensuing meltdown on Muslim Twitter. The reaction is also part of a long, ongoing debate in over whether Muslims should engage in dialogue with Zionist groups, like the Muslim Leadership Initiative. Through MLI, the Shalom Hartman Institute funds Muslims to travel to Jerusalem to study Zionism and Judaism. Ali and his (also Pakistani!) compatriots Rabia Chaudry and Haroon Moghul have participated in this controversial program. For some background, here’s a 2014 article AJ+’s Sana Saeed wrote on the MLI and “faithwashing.” Like Ali, I come from a Pakistani Muslim family. Unlike Ali, though, I know Pakistani and Palestinian voices are not interchangeable. So I’ll defer to Saeed again:

    Hot Take Monger@SanaSaeed

    Got a lot to say, & will say it, but for now: people in our Muslim American community need to stop uplifting American Muslims who throw Palestinians under the bus and use their Muslim identity in the most vacuous ways possible that serve no purpose other than career opportunism.

    May 10, 2018
    😬😬

  • Remember when we were scared about America setting up Muslim mass internment camps? Well, China’s already there. And apparently authorities in the heavily Muslim region of Xinjiang have gone beyond your basic detention camp - these are straight-up indoctrination camps, complete with torture and Communist brainwashing. A U.S. commission has called the secretive cultural cleansing campaign “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today.” The details are pretty chilling. Have you heard about any initiatives or statements from U.S. Muslims about China’s war on terror?

  • Name your source, please. VICE published a personal essay titled “Like Many Young Muslims, I Fake Fasting During Ramadan.” 😱 Umm. What. By “many young Muslims,” do you mean Muslims under the age of 9? Some tried to defend this piece by telling me that ex-Muslims also deserve representation, which…okay, but should you call yourself Muslim while talking about being an atheist in a Muslim household? 🤔 It’s just a piece of clickbait, of course, but it brings up some bigger questions about Islam as identity vs. religion.

  • Have you ever heard of taqiyya? If so, chances are you learned about it via an angry commenter, not your mosque’s Sunday school. The obscure theological concept has been weaponized to refute anything Muslims say as deception. When Ben Carson, in 2015, told Meet the Press that he couldn’t support a Muslim becoming president, he pointed at taqiyya, which he described as “a component of Sharia that allows, and even encourages you to lie to achieve your goals.” Slate talked to Imam Omar Suleiman about what the phrase does - and doesn’t - mean. In April, BuzzFeed put together a great explainer on the term as well.

  • If humans colonized Mars…how long would Martian Muslims fast in Ramadan? Mustafa Akyol looks at the case of Muslims in Reykjavik, Iceland, where the fasting time will be as long as 22 hours, to discuss the varying levels of literalism in theologians’ interpretation of the Quran throughout history.

👌 Shout out to Believers Bail Out

Believers Bail Out, which launched as Ramadan began, collects zakat payments to help curb mass incarceration. Particularly, organizers wants to bail out Muslims in pretrial incarceration at Chicago’s Cook County Jail – as a form of zakat.

It’s a little controversial, but the scholars they work with say that bail relief is indeed eligible for zakat. They base that mostly on the Quran’s direction to use alms to help the poor and free slaves and captives from bondage.

“We see the system of bail as one of the contemporary forms of bondage,” Maryam Kashani, a Believers Bail Out organizer, told me. “So this is one way we can practice what was an active part of being Muslim in the early days of Islam.”

They also point to the inherent racism and classism of the money bail system, its repudiation of the presumption of innocence, and the regular denial of religious rights for Muslim inmates. In Ramadan, that mistreatment can often ramp up, according to the New York Times. Just this week, the ACLU sent a letter to New Mexico state prisons and ICE facilities addressing complaints from Muslim inmates, who say corrections staff won’t allow them communal prayers, halal food and meals for suhoor and iftar.

Read more about Believers Bailout in my recent article for RNS. You can send your zakat to the project through LaunchGood, where they’ve raised $13,213 already, or check/PayPal. 💸

👀 Source requests

While I’ve got your attention, I’m going repeat a source request for an upcoming articles. Here’s what I’m looking for:

  • Muslims who suffer from sleeping disorders: insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea or any other sort of sleep disturbance.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for a new piece on Ramadan and environmentalism.

🗣 Talk to me

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, I would love to hear them. Otherwise, see you at the end of the month, insha’Allah!

- Aysha