I want to send a special congratulation to my good friend Omar for graduating from Marymount University in Arlington, VA. I know this brother worked long and hard on this and his journey was not easy. He was born in aisle 6 of a C-Town on Fordham Road to a Puerto Rican Vietnam Veteran father and a Turkish mother who is a coinsurer of clocks. This Turkorican attended Walton High School in the Bronx (a school that had a 20% graduation rate at the time) where he learned very little other than his analyzing phenotypes and worked with his Uncle at C-Towns and on vending routes form a young age. Later he traveled down to Northern Virginia and attended the Islamic Institute for Arabic and Islamic Sciences in America to study Islam while going to Northern Virginia Community College part-time where he continued his analyzing phenotypes and was living with 10 other brothers in a one-bedroom apartment ( half of them being GED dropouts from Philly). He did all of this while working and supporting himself and riding his bicycle all over the DC area ( just as he had done in NYC as a bike messenger) before he received a scholarship to the Islamic University of Medinah. After attending the school for a brief time and almost causing an international incident he came back to the US and attended Marymount and worked many different jobs until last week when he received his degree in history. He now plans to become a teacher and is looking for a job. It was a long road for him but masha’Allah he did it so I am sending him a special congratulations and I guess I will have to take him to a Yankees game or something.
It is important to remember when we are discussing issues of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bias in America that there are real consequences to Islamophobia and they are often felt most by Muslim children. Take this story as an example out of Michigan City, IN where a teacher by the name of John Scheimann was fired after he called a Muslim student’s father a terrorist and made other unsubstantiated claims about the man. The lesson of this is two; number one it is that teachers, doctors, cops, nurses, judges, and many others in positions of relative power over us may listen to right-wing talk radio, read Islamophobic sites, and watch FOX News, and then in turn they will act on the hate they have been filled with often to the most vulnerable, and second we should also recognize that while there are many full of hate there are many others who are not and in this case the system did the right thing.
There are two pieces from fellow Muslim bloggers and friends I want to draw reader’s attention to. The first is Tariq Nelson issuing the opening argument in the “Masculinity and War on Our Boys” series of posts we are working on. The second is by Marc Manley on his blog and it is a very interesting account of his encounter with the professional Islamophobe-for-profit Irshad Manji at Temple University. This story is a must read that gives a deep insight into what kind of person Manji actually is and the shallow and misinformed nature of her arguments. .
It has come to my attention that the ISNA Zonal Conference will be held from May 24-26 in Baltimore, MD at the Sheraton Baltimore City Center. There are a lot of great speakers planned for this event and it should be worthwhile to attend. I always enjoy attending ISNA-sponsored events no matter where they are held and always enjoy hearing the likes of Altaf Hussein and Abdullah Ali.
However, it has come to my attention that the Hotel Workers at this location are on strike because of the poor conditions under which they work. It is important for the American-Muslim community to stand up as a people that support just causes from people of all faiths and races. A part of the spirit of social justice that Muslims in America need to embrace is in aligning ourselves with organized labor as they strike and negotiate for better conditions and wages for their workers.
The major Muslim organizations led by those such as the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation have also came to this conclusion and held a number of events and seminars in conjunction with the labor movement. A basic part of having solidarity with labor is honoring striking workers by not frequented the companies which they are striking and therefore bringing economic consequences on those being targeted. Crossing a picket line, especially for any organization, is a sign that the struggle of the workers is not important and you see no value in a strike.
That is why it is most unfortunate that ISNA is holdings its event at a hotel that is currently having a strike. As I am writing this I am trying to find out more details; but if the strike is still ongoing and ISNA goes forward with this conference I will be very disappointed. If the strike is resolved this is a non-issue; but if it appears that this picket line will be crossed by ISNA then I will encourage all readers who are about the rights of workers to make their displeasure heard. And, to give credit it where it is due, if ISNA does the right thing in the event the strike is ongoing I will be the first to sing their praises. I am still seeking more info.
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I have been reminded by my elder of Islam and life in Philly of something that I had overlooked regarding the Muslim brothers who robbed a bank dressed in niqaab and then killed a Philly cop. He told me what I should have thought of off top and that is the fact that this action first and foremost (besides from its obvious criminality) put Muslim women in jeopardy. Sisters will now be looked at with suspicion and maybe even be asked to remove their niqaabs in some places. This was not only a crime against the state but a crime against our Muslim sisters who we are supposed to be the protectors of. It is already hard for sisters to wear the niqaab ( and May Allah reward them for their dedication to the sunnah and rejection of false desires) and for sisters who wear hijab ( May Allah reward them as well). Prison Muslims forming gangs on the street do not need to make things harder on them. I have also included this photo of the cross-dressing Muslim and maybe his taste for women’s clothes was something that was picked up while in the joint.