Answering President Obama’s Call


09 Dec Answering President Obama’s Call

Assalamu Alaykum / Peace be upon you,

President Obama in his address to the nation on Sunday said, “We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam… If we’re to succeed in defeating terrorism we must enlist Muslim communities as some of our strongest allies, rather than push them away through suspicion and hate… Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and al Qaeda promote; to speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.

At the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS), we wholeheartedly agree with the President on these points and we are taking action. Here are 5 things we are doing:

1. We unequivocally reject the hateful ideology of groups like ISIL and al Qaeda

I have repeatedly said that groups like ISIL and al Qaeda “are not us and we are not them. Their interpretation of Islam is twisted and wrong no matter how much they justify it.” And borrowing from the eminent fourteenth century Islamic scholar, Imam Ibn al-Qayyim I added, “thus, any ruling that replaces justice with injustice, mercy with cruelty, common good with intolerance, or wisdom with ignorance, is a ruling that does not belong to Islam.” I have repeated this statement time and again in my addresses and emails to the community. Let me make it clear once more: the ideology of groups like ISIL and al Qaeda is ignorant, wrong, destructive, twisted, sinful and has absolutely no place whatsoever in Islam! Our position on this is unconditional, categorical and absolute!

There is no denying that certain Muslims in the West are falling into the Satan’s trap of radicalization. We are bringing scholars and experts to address our community on this issue. We are holding open and frank dialogues on these difficult topics. Last week Imam John Ederer from Oklahoma made a strong argument against such interpretations of Islam. You can view his Khutbah here: link

2. We are repeating the true message of Islam

Our Imams and our local leaders have consistently explained the true message of Islam. Our lectures and sermons are emphasizing what Islam means for the vast majority of over a billion faithfuls worldwide. Further, we are active in the inter-faith and broader community circles. We are doing so on an individual level as well as at an institutional level. The media gave our community good coverage this week when we re-emphsized this message:

King5 coverage: link

Seattle Times coverage: link

In the coming weeks, we will increase our communications, repeat what we stand for and host more guest speakers. I strongly encourage each one of you to invite your neighbors into your home or bring them to the mosque. There is no better way for people to understand Islam than to interact with actual Muslims.

3. We are demonstrating the character of the Prophet (pubh) through our actions

The best way for Muslims to truly represent who we are is to exhibit the magnificent character of the Prophet (pubh) – a character of care and love towards everybody, especially the less fortunate. In the Qur’an (68:4), Allah Almighty says: “And surely you (O Muhammad pubh) are indeed of a magnificent character.

In the past two weeks alone:

• MAPS MCRC partnered with Seattle First Baptist Church, to feed 800+ homeless citizens during Thanksgiving
• MAPS MCRC served hot meals at the winter shelter in Bellevue this week
• MAPS Youth participated in the King5 Home Team Harvest food drive by holding banners in downtown Redmond
• MAPS Noor Academy donated over 50 blankets to the Emergency Shelter in Redmond
• MAPS, along with many other Muslim organizations, sponsored the Day of Dignity where winter gear were distributed to 300 homeless citizens

MAPS MCRC is now collecting basic items for the Tent City residents and will be serving hot meals to 300 homeless citizens on Christmas eve. We also have a whole committee with dozens of volunteers working on welcoming and resettling refugees from Syria.

4. We are strengthening, and not weakening, the bridge between Muslims and the broader community

Over the week-end, MAPS participated in the Redmond Lights festival. This is our second year participating in the festival as a good local citizen. We had crowds of people visiting the MAPS booth where a team of volunteers helped kids with crafts, henna, face-painting and art. And importantly, we had several people who stopped by and told us how supportive they are of their Muslim neighbors.

We have also received numerous emails of support from the broad community. Our friend Deepa, on behalf of the Hindu community, wrote to Imam Joban, “They (MAPS) are fortunate to have a wise and thoughtful leader like you. In fact, we all are, and I hope you know that you have friends like me in the larger community, people who know that the actions of crazy people do not speak for a religion or the followers of that religion, people who believe that tolerance and generosity are the bedrock of any great civilization.

Elizabeth reached out to us writing, “My daughter and a lot of other women I know are deeply offended by the recent remarks of Donald Trump and the increasing xenophobic rhetoric.  Everyone is wondering what we might do to steer things in a different direction.” Elizabeth is proposing to dedicate a day where her daughter, her friends and herself will don the hijab in solidarity with Muslims.

Hard times have always brought people together in America. And, neither the terrorists nor the xenophobes will weaken our resolve or will weaken our bond as one strong and united American people.

5. We are working with several agencies to ensure we are all safe

We have been meeting with several law enforcement agencies following the recent attacks in Paris and California. We also have meetings scheduled with government officials. Rest assured, we are taking all steps to ensure that all of us, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, stay safe.

Lastly, it is very important that we all stay positive, optimistic and hopeful. This is not a desired trait but a requirement for the Muslim. Our faith teaches us to never lose hope for our fate is determined by God alone.

So surely with difficulty comes ease,
Surely with difficulty comes ease.
So when you are at leisure, then labor,
And to your Lord then be desirous (i.e., of His Grace).

Qur’an 94:5-8

Jazak-um-ullah-khairan / Thank you,

Mahmood Khadeer
MAPS President