Miss Muslimah, Biden's pitch and the hajj that wasn't

Hope you had a blessed and joyous Eid!

Salaam, friends! 👋 I’m journalist Aysha Khan (@ayshabkhan), and you’re reading my monthly roundup of the latest news stories about Muslims in the U.S.

📌 TOP PICKS

CNN — With at least three officers on his legs and back, and another pressing a knee to his head and neck, Muhammad Muhaymin Jr. cried out “I can't breathe” again and again. “Please, Allah,” he begged. “Allah? He's not going to help you now,” one officer said, moments before Muhaymin Jr. went limp and died, according to new footage from the 2017 incident.

HuffPost — Thousands of U.S. citizens and permanent residents are trapped in Yemen, where the coronavirus has devastated a community facing what may be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The San Francisco Chronicle — A 10-year-old girl was stranded in Egypt when her parents and three siblings immigrated to San Francisco. They received visas; she did not. Now, she pleads to the U.S. to let her join her family.

South China Morning Post — Uyghurs living abroad say their mental health is in crisis, triggered or exacerbated by the plight of their family and friends. Around 1 in 5 diaspora Uyghurs have reported experiencing suicidal thoughts.

The L.A. Review of Books — Asad Dandia compiles a list of 70 books on Islamic liberation theology and how Muslim traditions can help us navigate the pursuit of better world.

Texas Observer — A Dallas mosque’s decision to partner with law enforcement during a nationwide reckoning on the role of policing fits into a broader hesitation from Muslim communities to jeopardize relationships with police departments.

NPR — After his daughter's racist tweets circulated online, an Arab corner store owner in Minneapolis struggles to keep his business alive.

🕌 COMMUNITY

  • EID MUBARAK! 🐐 The NYTimes followed several families’ Eid al-Adha plans, from play mosques to lamb-shaped cookies. Many mosques around the country did not hold any Eid services, but others found creative ways to offer socially-distant services, from drive-thru entertainment to temperature checks at the door. Some mosques have also begun holding prayers in outdoor parking lots. Many Muslims are still performing the holiday’s ritual animal slaughter themselves, and some are donating the meat to local food banks. Amid it all, the tradition of an unhealthy breakfast prevails.

  • THE HAJJ THAT ALMOST WAS 🕋 Muslims grieve Saudi’s cancellation of hajj for international pilgrims, which has disrupted some U.S. Muslims’ travel plans. One woman responded by creating a drive-thru version of the hajj. And over 1,500 women competed in the 10th annual Pilgrims At Home game, an intensive worship regimen meant to mirror the acts of devotion pilgrims perform at hajj.

  • In Michigan, one of America’s oldest mosques is running out of graves. The local cemetery, mosque leaders allege in a new suit, has breached its contract with the mosque in an attempt to take advantage of the pandemic.

  • Resources meant for refugees and other vulnerable students are falling through the cracks in the abrupt pivot to online learning.

  • Meet Irade Kashgary, who runs Virginia’s Ana Care and Education, a Sunday school of sorts that’s serving local Uyghurs even amid a pandemic.

  • Especially hard-hit by the pandemic, New York City’s Bangladeshi community is stepping up to fill in the gaps of government assistance.

  • The pandemic has disrupted the international hawala system, the remittances wired back home by the Somali diaspora that offer a financial lifeline for their families.

  • As students, they never had Somali teachers. Now they’ve become Minnesota’s first Somali public school principals.

  • At the Miss Muslimah USA pageant in Dearborn, the complexity of modesty goes on full display in a fresh new take on an American rite. Meet its founder, too.

  • A Muslim chaplain discusses how he helps COVID-19 patients understand that God doesn’t hate them.

  • Muslims are continuing to assert solidarity with racial justice, finding unity within a diverse faith group.

  • The pandemic and protest-related fires are turning south Minneapolis’ immigrant neighborhoods into health care deserts.

  • A Columbus-area mosque is broadcasting the call to prayer outdoors for what is likely the first time in Ohio.

  • IN MEMORIAM 🤲 Malik B., an early member of The Roots, died at 47; A Toledo police officer was killed in the line of duty.

🗳 POLITICS

  • Joe Biden spoke to Muslims at a virtual summit held by Emgage, a Muslim advocacy organization, showing a marked shift in how politicians have addressed Muslim voters — even quoting a hadith about the obligation to fight for justice. The campaign also held a private meeting with Palestinian-American activists, where sources say his adviser was “evasive.”

  • A coalition of Muslim Democratic delegates issued a list of recommendations for the Democrat’s 2020 party platform, including ending surveillance programs and U.S. aid to Israel. Their aim is to make a mark on the Biden campaign.

  • 20-year-old Hadiya Afzal withdrew from the race for the DuPage County board at the urging of local Democratic official after she posted a tweet about about laughing at an officer being hit with a projectile. The tweet grabbed national attention and launched “a wave of coordinated racist, sexist, and Islamaphobic harassment” against her.

  • Indian-Ugandan socialist Zohran Mamdani’s win has shaken up the race for New York’s state assembly.

  • Rep. Ilhan Omar’s endorsement of Ihssane Leckey, a Muslim woman and progressive candidate in Massachusetts' 4th Congressional District, is the start of a long-term project to build out a more robust bench of progressive leaders in Congress. Leckey also spoke to Shondaland about why she run.

⚖️ LAW & POLICY

  • House Democrats just passed the No Ban Act, a bill to repeal Trump’s travel bans and limit future immigration restrictions. It’s unlikely to see any success in the Republican-controlled Senate.

  • The number of medical graduates from Muslim-majority countries coming to the U.S. to become doctors has dropped by 15% under Trump.

  • Hundreds of Uyghurs are living in extended limbo as they wait for the U.S. to assess their asylum applications.

  • The family of a Somali American man killed during a SWAT operation last year has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, alleging that he was targeted because he was a racial minority.

  • In June, the Albany mosque leader Mohammed Hossain, jailed for nearly 15 years after a 2004 FBI terrorism sting, was released early for health reasons. For years, community members and journalists advocated for his release, railing against the government’s use of paid community informants, entrapment, secret evidence and mosque surveillance. Last year, his friend, the local imam convicted for witnessing the money laundering transaction, was deported.

  • A Somali health advocate’s crusade against skin lightening becomes a federal public health issue.

  • A federal appeals court threw out Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s death sentence in the Boston Marathon bombing.

  • Muslim activists fear that community groups will have to resort to applying for funding provided by surveillance programs.

  • Community organizer Shahana Hanif filed a discrimination complaint against Venmo, alleging a policy of blocking transactions on the basis of religion and ethnicity.

🆘 HATE & CRIME

  • A U.S. citizen accused of violating Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws was shot dead in a Pakistani courtroom by the man who accused him of blasphemy.

  • Leaders of a new mosque in Michigan say the building was vandalized.

  • A Somali refugee running to join the Minneapolis City Council is facing anti-Muslim harassment.

  • A teen named Aishah who found “ISIS” written on her Target Starbucks cup says she felt “humiliated.” Now, she’s filing a discrimination charge.

  • A Muslim woman says a Missouri gun range did not allow her to shoot unless she removed her hijab.

  • Know who wasn't surprised to learn “Umbrella Man” is allegedly a white supremacist? The Muslim woman his biker gang harassed last month on Main Street. And when a local TV reporter interviewed her about her experience, she was asked about the difference between her hijab and white supremacist gang regalia.

  • Spotify removed a song called “Zayn Did 9/11” that targeted singer Zayn Malik after his fans stood up.

  • QAnon is spreading anti-Muslim ideology via coronavirus opposition.

🎭 CULTURE

  • BOOKS 📚 I wrote about how Muslim women have quietly taken the speculative fiction publishing industry by storm over the past few years (and I collected a list of ~60 sci-fi and fantasy titles by Muslim women!); Hudda Ibrahim’s “What Color is My Hijab?” and Fahmida Azim “Muslim Women Are Everything” both depict a kaleidoscope of Muslim women’s identities.

  • ON SCREEN 🎬 Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, of “Watchmen” and “Candyman,” speaks to GQ about his career, faith and values; “Ramy” just landed an Emmy nomination; Instagram comedian Nadirah Pierre’s videos touch on polygamy, racism, mental health, body positivism and more; Marvel’s Kamala Khan will debut in a Disney+ TV show as well as an Avengers video game adaption; The film “Marjoun and the Flying Headscarf” speaks to the current moment.

  • These chefs preparing halal food for Muslim families in Virginia are part of a new food equity pilot program targeting groups who aren’t served by traditional food delivery programs. 

  • Fast fashion brand Shein stopped selling Islamic prayer mats as “decorative rugs,” following Muslim activists’ demands.

🧠 COMMENTARY

  • America’s problem with policing doesn’t stop at the U.S. border, Imam Omar Suleiman argues. The national conversation on policing must extend to the U.S. military’s overseas crimes and the victims of its drone war.

  • Hajj’s modern accessibility comes with a price, Aymann Ismail says. The shutdown is an opportunity to reflect on what the pilgrimage has become and what it should be.

  • Silencing Muslim voices doesn’t count as “cancel culture,” C.J. Werleman writes.

  • Nilo Tabrizy reflects on how Iranian Americans are seeking solace in the fourteenth-century Persian poetry of Hafez.

👌 SHOUT OUT

G/O Media has fired Lifehacker’s Imani Bashir, a Black Muslim travel writer who has worked abroad for years for leaving the country. Her editor-in-chief, staff and union have stood in solidarity with her.

Please help Imani, who is supporting her husband and 3-year-old son, by donating to this GoFundMe page on her behalf. Please also send a letter of support for Imani to gizmodomediagroupunion@gmail.com so that it can be forwarded to the management.

Read her recent op-ed in Essence here and in the New York Times here.

🗣 TALK TO ME

As always, please send me your comments, questions and corrections! Otherwise, we’ll chat again in a few weeks, inshaAllah. 👋

- Aysha