Friday, September 7, 2007
This past Labor Day weekend in Chicago, Illinois, over 30,000 Muslim Americans heard the same message echoed from a host of government agencies and officials who attended the largest Muslim American convention. Representatives from the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, State, Treasury, the FBI, members of Congress, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, and local officials all continued to send a resounding message to the Muslim American community: America needs your involvement to make it a safer and more prosperous society for all.
This convention comes on the heels of a recent unprecedented step taken by some individuals within the Department of Justice to label over 307 individuals and organizations as unindicted co-conspirators in a case involving the Holy Land Foundation. "Unindicted co-conspirator" refers to any person or organization that has been alleged to conspire to break the law but whose actions will not result in their being charged with an offense or being tried or sentenced for their conduct. The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and others named as such in this case have felt the negative barrage of publicity led by those who seek to disengage the Muslim American community and prevent it from establishing a positive partnership with government and law enforcement.
In a recent leak to the Washington Times, certain officials within the Department of Justice objected to affiliating with the convention and sponsoring a booth which the Department does annually to educate Muslim Americans on issues pertaining to civil liberties.
It is clear that there exist certain elements within our government and policy making arena which seek to marginalize the very community that is seen as the greatest asset in keeping America safe and respected internationally. Whether it is politically motivated actions against mainstream Muslim organizations or the countless number of blogs that spew hatred on a daily basis, those who understand the importance and urgency of dialogue and real partnership between government and communities must not allow the voices of marginalization to drown out the voices of reason.
The young Muslim Americans at this year's convention heard the message of integration and involvement loud and clear. Many of them are ready to become involved at all levels of society to ensure that the future of their country and community will be bright and prosperous. Already, young Muslim Americans have positioned themselves to be more proactive in shaping the national discourse regarding Islam. To encourage this effort, this summer the Muslim Public Affairs Council held its first National Muslim American Youth Summit in Washington, DC, attended by young leaders selected to discuss pressing policy issues with high-level officials in the federal government and Congress. All those involved - from the attendees themselves to the guest speakers - left their meetings with a renewed sense of urgency about reaching out to young Muslim Americans and to thoughtfully consider their concerns. Let us hope that the opportunity for engagement at all levels will exist for them as they partake in this journey.
Thursday, March 8, 2007
Read it and reflect on it and let me know what you THINK! :)
"The world we have created today as a result of our thinking thus far has problems which cannot be solved by thinking the way we thought when we created them." - Albert Einstein
Monday, March 5, 2007
Reported (e.g. in al-Tabaqat al-Kubra by ibn Sa’d) that Zaid ibn Thabit was once asked to describe the character of the prophet, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him. He said, “What can I say? I was his neighbor. When a piece of revelation would come to him he would call me and I would write it down. At the same time, he was with us - when we talk about dunya (life affairs) he would talk about it right along with us, when we talk about food he would talk about it right along with us. You want me to tell you everything such as that regarding him?”
Sunday, March 4, 2007
I have finally conjured up enough courage and time to start a blog. I guess this is a crucial time for my family and I. It looks like we will be moving to Washington DC and I am taking a semester off from school. I am hoping that this time will allow me to develop this blog and post a few thoughts of mine that will Inshallah contribute to the process of integrating our community into society, an integration that is POSITIVE!
Byline: Brad A. Greenberg Staff Writer
While Haris Tarin was a sophomore at CSUN - three months after he met Ghada Khan - he took her to be his wife.
He had been born in Afghanistan and was five years younger than his Saudi princess. The marriage was a surprise to both sets of parents, who had planned to play matchmaker for their respective children.
But the West Hills couple had long since embraced the ``American'' in ``Muslim-American'' - and they weren't about to let tradition interfere with attraction.
``The first time I met her, I knew I wanted to get married,'' said Haris, 26.
Islam upholds marriage as a religious duty, which is one reason it's not uncommon for Muslims to marry while in college. Another is a desire for piety.
But Muslim-Americans face a common dilemma: Do they limit their search to their parents' social circles or do they try to fall in love on their own? And if they opt for autonomy, will their parents accept in-laws of a different ethnicity?
``Marriage is a sacred thing in Islam. It is not something that you fall in love today and begin hating the person tomorrow,'' said Shakeel Syed, executive director of Islamic Shura Council, which overseas Southland mosques. ``It is a lifelong commitment.''
Arranged marriages, though common in Muslim cultures, are not a religious requirement. Instead, they are a safety net parents use to try to ensure their children's marriages survive.
``Many (Muslim) Americans choose to meet their mate on their own,'' said Syed, who got engaged to a Pakistani-Canadian before telling his Indian parents.
``The social networks that existed in other cultures, in Asia and the Middle East, doesn't exist here as much,'' Syed said. ``Also, there is a greater interaction between men and women here - in businesses, at mosques, at schools and so forth.''
Haris, whose family moved to the San Fernando Valley when he was 6, knew his mother and late father expected him to marry an Afghan girl, like his three brothers had. His two sisters were fixed up with Afghan men.
As the youngest, Haris had other plans.
``I always assumed I would get married in a different manner, the way Americans do, because that is what I am - an American,'' he said.
Haris and Ghada met through a mutual friend who lived in the Valley and had attended University of California, Santa Barbara with Ghada. They hit it off immediately on the phone and decided it was time to meet.
One Saturday in 1998, Haris got behind the wheel of his Jeep Cherokee with their mutual friend, Osman Khan, in the passenger seat. They headed up the Ventura Freeway to meet Ghada and a few friends of hers at a Santa Barbara mosque.
They all went to breakfast and then to Ghada's uncle's house. Dating as it is understood in Western cultures is foreign to Muslims.
``Before a marriage, you aren't allowed to have any physical contact,'' Haris said.
They courted for four weeks, time filled with trips for Haris up the coast and group outings. Ghada's then 8-year-old sister became the token, if unsuspecting, chaperon.
A month after they met, he was visiting her at her uncle's house. The two were standing in the yard talking and staring at the mountains when Haris decided he had waited long enough to find out if Ghada felt as he did about spending life together.
Haris hadn't yet met his future in-laws, who had been on one of their regular visits to Saudi Arabia. He called her father, Aguil Khan, and was surprised by the acceptance.
One of his brothers also called Ghada's dad as a reference to Haris's love for his daughter. That brother also vouched for Haris before his mother.
``We came out so strongly nobody felt like questioning it,'' Haris said.
Seven years later, they don't regret following their hearts and they feel the full support of their families.
After temporarily leaving California State University, Northridge, Haris returned and graduated. He now teaches religious studies to sixth- through eighth-graders at New Horizon School, an Islamic school in Pasadena. Ghada, who graduated from UCSB with a degree in microbiology, stays home with their 5-year-old daughter, Hanan, and 4-year-old son, Rayyan.
``It's the best thing that ever happened to me in my life,'' Ghada said. ``I don't know what I did to deserve this.''
Brad A. Greenberg, (818) 713-3634