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Posts Tagged ‘youth’

As a Muslim mom of two sons who will grow up in the U.S., one of my greatest fears is radicalism. What if I am taking them to the masjid to learn how to get closer to Allah (SWT) and somewhere along the way they are exposed to extremist ideology through internet radicals or overzealous ‘ticket to heaven’ freaks, or agent provocateurs. My sons are toddlers but this is a bleak reality faced by mothers of our youth; the horror of finding your own son involved in this craziness. But the answer isn’t to keep your sons away from masjids as some moms do but to communicate with them and teach them what Allah allows us to do in His name and what He absolutely abhors. We are so pleased that they are turning away from haram and towards deen that we stop reaching out to them, guiding them.

I am also a youth group leader and every time some young man falls prey to FBI baiting and decides to take other people’s lives, I feel the need to talk to the boys and remind them to be careful, to talk to a trusted adult if someone approaches them and talks about overseas contacts and other shady stuff. Many people just blame the FBI, but our Muslim youth have to take responsibility for their own actions too. That finger on a remote is yours and you will be accountable for what you have done.  Imam Zaid gives us some very direct words of wisdom that are loaded with common sense. Use them, talk to the youth in your community, repost this on your blog, you don’t know whose life you may save. (He is definitely a straight-shooter.)

Letter to a Would-be Mujahid

Recent developments have forced me to put some things on hold to write you this letter.  You might ask how I know you. I have met you at student events, in mosques, and at conferences. I have listened to your arguments and I have made my counter arguments. Oftentimes, my arguments have been somewhat formal. I figured I would write you a letter, since that is a lot more personal and less formal. Perhaps this way you will be more inclined to listen.
To begin with, whenever you are criticized for your bloody, anarchistic ideology, you point to the bloody abuses of the American war machine or their Zionist accomplices. This diversionary tactic on your part does not impress serious and thoughtful people. It is simply an abdication of your moral responsibility. It is as if you are saying you reserve the right to violate established Islamic principles, such as those guaranteeing the protection of innocent life, because the American military or the IDF do no respect innocent Muslim life. That would be a credible argument if the American military or the IDF claimed to be operating on the basis of Islamic principles. They don’t, but you do. I hope, without further elaboration, you can immediately sense the moral dilemma you are creating for yourself.
Along those lines, please allow me to remind you of something else. Your misguided attempts to kill and maim innocent Americans only make it easier for the American military to kill more Muslims with greater impunity. Your actions help to create a political climate that removes any moral restraint from the actions of the American military, the IDF and soon the forces of India’s increasingly Hindu nationalist armed forces. You see, fear is a very potent emotion and when it is carefully manipulated it can lead to very irrational politics. That most extreme form of those politics is called genocide.
Fear can be especially dangerous when it is combined with another emotion, insecurity. You are so divorced from reality that you probably haven’t noticed that a lot of Americans are extremely insecure right now. Especially, the white middle class or what is left of it. They don’t know if they will soon lose their homes, if they will have a job tomorrow, if their money will be in the bank next week, if they will be able to send their children to college or if their retirement funds will be stolen or totally devalued. Those insecurities combined with the spectre of the “Muslim terrorist next door” are a lethal combination that a group of people called demagogues is exploiting to justify an all out war on Muslims.
Those demagogues use the fear of you to prevent people from building the kind of grassroots, popular, movements that are necessary to challenge the corporate rape of our society and from challenging the destructive logic of permanent war. For example, remember the growing movement to challenge the new invasive TSA screening procedures at airports? Did you notice how it disappeared after the would-be mujahid in Portland allowed himself to be trapped into the scheme to blow up the Christmas tree ceremony? Do you think the timing was accidental? It is a shame that you and your ilk are so mindlessly complicit in such schemes.
Now you think the mujahideen can win an all out war against the Americans. Look at what the mujahideen are doing to them in Afghanistan. Sorry, but Afghanistan is not what all out war looks like. I’ll give you a clue what all out war looks like. Remember a couple years ago when the Israelis were bombarding the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Muslims, for all of their courage, couldn’t do anything except appeal to outside powers to stop the carnage? Or a few years before that when Jenin was flattened? Think of the scale of that devastation expanded to encompass all of the major cities of the Muslim world. Imagine America unleashing a new generation of “tactical” nuclear weapons being designed to be used specifically against Muslims targets raining down on Muslim capitals and there is no Muslim strategic deterrent available to stop it. AK-47s and RPGs will be of no avail. Imagine the calls to human rights organizations to stop the slaughter finding no ears to hear them because the neo-fascist forces your stupidity has helped to unleash have swept those organizations away in its maddening torrent.
I have heard you counter that such an argument is a manifestation of a lack of faith. God has promised the believers victory. Indeed, He has. However, it is very pretentious of you to assume that someone who murders women, children and innocents with blazon impunity in the Name of God are the believers that victory has been promised to. He has promised the believers victory, but that promise is not unconditional. God is not going to give victory to people who murder in His Holy Name.
I applaud your courage, but how it manifests itself puzzles me. You have the courage to fly halfway around to world to engage in an armed struggle, but you do not have the courage to knock on your neighbor’s door to explain Islam to him or to give him your take on world affairs. I am also baffled at how you can smile in his face, but are ready to blow him up if he happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. What calculus do you use to assume he would not be amenable to your message? What has he done to you to be the target of your bloodlust?
You claim a refined understanding of Islam, so refined that you can make grave decisions concerning life and death, decisions with huge strategic implications –yet you seem to perceive nothing of the divine wisdom of your being in this country. You have an opportunity to be an educator at a time people are looking for a new way. You have an opportunity to be a guide at a time people are looking for a new direction. You have an opportunity to provide a source of spiritual solace at a time people are confused, angry and afraid. You have an opportunity to be a fierce advocate for truth at a time when lies are transforming the image of your religion and the direction of your country. You have the skills, the command of the language, the knowledge of the people to do all of that and more, but you choose to run away from this battle to join one you do not even know who the commander is.
Did I say that? “To join a battle you do not even know who the commander is.” No! I didn’t say that. Do you think that if the FBI can send fake mujahids into mosques all around America to find confused, vulnerable Muslims, develop fake bomb plots, with fake bombs, for very real political objectives, the CIA couldn’t do the same thing abroad? No, wait a minute. Didn’t the CIA build the Afghan mujahideen network? Didn’t what’s his name, Zbigniew Brzezinski, describe the Afghan operation as the CIA’s finest hour?
They would never use fake mujahids, operating through fake websites, to recruit confused and desperate Muslim youth to engage in operations that keep the climate of fear alive, would they? They wouldn’t do that to keep support for bloodsucking, treasury-draining wars alive at a time when there is no money for the poor, the elderly, health-care, education, infrastructure or investment in the green economy. No! It’s preposterous. Those would be psychological operations (psych ops) and that would be cheating. America never cheats, we’re the good guys!
I apologize, I’m tripping. On a serious note, I hope you don’t one day end up feeling as stupid and abused as young Antonio Martinez or Mahomed Osman Mohamud, the Somali kid in Oregon, are probably feeling right now. They have been tricked, deceived, used, and abused by fake mujahids and then thrown in a dungeon to rot for the rest of their lives. Do you think your fate will be any different? Don’t be a fool.
Sincerely,

Imam Zaid Shakir

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***This post has been updated after it was published in Muslimmatters.org

The Day of Silence, which is sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), fast approaches. This year it will take place in most public schools on April 16, 2010. On this day, “hundreds of thousands” of students plan on participating (Day of Silence website) in thousands of public high schools and increasing numbers of middle schools, which will allow students to remain silent throughout an entire day even during instructional time to promote GLSEN’s socio-political goals and its controversial, unproven, and destructive theories on the nature and morality of homosexuality. (American Family Association) GLSEN’s stance is against bullying of gay students and the silence they suffer not an all encompassing ‘bullying’ that is inclusive of students who suffer because they are called terrorist, refugee scum, or wog.

Elementary schools are next. In East London, to celebrate Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender History Month, primary school students watched a special adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet renamed Romeo and Julian. Stories covered in the lessons at George Tomlinson School included a fairytale about a prince who turns down three princesses before falling in love with one of their brothers and the tale of Roy and Silo – two male penguins who fall in love. (Guardian)

We as parents cannot remain passive about this. Even if you are not a parent and especially if you are a youth group leader, you need to make the parents in your life aware of this issue. Many parents are not aware of this movement or think that it will not affect their child. This lax attitude leads to us holding our heads when it is too late.

I’ll tell you how this attitude personally affected me. I attended an all-women liberal arts college in Wellesley, Massachusetts. During our first year orientation, we gathered in the common room where mats were laid out of us. A senior from the Gay and Lesbian Association (GALA) asked us to lie down on the mat and close our eyes. Scared to death, at 17 fresh off the plane from Lahore, Pakistan, I had no clue what they expected from us. It wasn’t anything promiscuous, God forbid. They just asked us to close our eyes and imagine a world where daddies were only married to daddies and mommies were married to mommies and if I was a little girl in that world, who liked the little boy across the street but I couldn’t because mommies could only marry mommies. Very innocent, the words.

Those words stuck with me and I still remember them after 17 years. “Once you have the vocabulary to talk with young children about homosexuality, it becomes very easy,” says Dr. Justin Richardson, a Harvard-educated psychiatrist and director of Columbia University’s Center for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Mental Health. Richardson says educators need to aid the pre-homosexual child with a supportive school environment, paving the way for his later coming out. He claims that a child’s sexual orientation is determined very early in life around four years of age, so why not prepare the pre-homosexual child for the inevitable? This quote by Dr. Richardson came from a talk he delivered ten years ago at a teachers’ conference. This agenda is at work in our public school system and the fitnah has created is real.

Also in my student orientation, I heard a young, black woman talk about her life as a poor, black, gay teenager. I met many intelligent women who were kind and gentle and gay. I remember being admonished by several housemates for thinking that homosexuality was a mental abnormality akin to physical abnormalities. I was figuratively ‘hypnotised’ into believing that it was natural for 10% of the human race to be homosexual believing that they could not control themselves. That December, when I went to visit my parents over winter break, my sister snapped me out of my brainwashed state. She said ‘Apa! Listen to yourself.’

In psychology, the study of brainwashing, often referred to as thought reform, falls into the sphere of “social influence.” According to Julia Layton, author of How Brainwashing Works, “social influence happens every minute of every day. It’s the collection of ways in which people can change other people’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. For instance, the compliance method aims to produce a change in a person’s behavior and is not concerned with his attitudes or beliefs. It’s the “Just do it” approach. Persuasion, on the other hand, aims for a change in attitude, or “Do it because it’ll make you feel accepted/good/happy/healthy/successful.”

The education method (which is called the “propaganda method” when you don’t believe in what’s being taught) goes for the social-influence goal, trying to affect a change in the person’s beliefs, along the
lines of “Do it because you know it’s the right thing to do.” Brainwashing is a severe form of social influence that combines all of these approaches to cause changes in an individual’s way of thinking without that person’s consent and often against his will.

I was 17; away from home but brimming with the confidence that children raised in a Muslim country exude. Now, imagine your middle schooler or your teen. Her politically correct classmates surround her; she doesn’t know what to say when her best honor society buddy starts exhibiting ‘homosexual’ traits. Imagine being a student whose religion teaches her that homosexuality is a sin being in that environment. Being judged by their peers because they did not remain silent in support. If you disagree with homosexuality you are called a bigot or a homophobe. Imagine your teachers and mentors who instruct you from 8 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon, framing their lessons around Day of Silence. The adolescent culture is liberal, and adolescents desire to fit in. The vast majority of conservative teens does not feel comfortable vocally opposing their culture and will not do so. We as adults, often don’t have the guts to speak up against homosexuality, let alone teenagers.

Alan Chambers, a gay man that has overcome unwanted homosexual desires, started a family, and is the author of Leaving Homosexuality says: “The Day of Silence leads to a slanted discussion about homosexuality…because students are being bombarded from every side on the issue of homosexuality…seemingly the only voices that are allowed or respected in the public school system are those from a pro-gay side. It’s important for everyone to have a voice on this issue and for every opinion to be expressed. If one side is going to be expressed, then the other should be as well.”

As a Muslim, I sympathize with others who suffer discrimination and denounce any violence in the name of ‘disapproval’ but agree with following stance:

“Day of Silence participants claim they seek to end discrimination. There is, however, a problem with the way “discrimination” is defined in public discourse today. Groups like GLSEN believe that statements of moral conviction with which they disagree constitute prejudice or discrimination. While relentlessly promoting this view, administrators are never asked to provide evidence for the dubious presuppositions on which such claims of discrimination are based. They are never asked to provide evidence for the arguable claim that homosexuality is equivalent to race; or that disapproval of homosexual conduct is equivalent to racism; or that homosexual impulses are biologically determined; or that the presence of biological influences in shaping desire renders a behavior automatically moral. Parents should demand justification for those claims. If we allow schools to define discrimination so expansively as to prohibit all statements of moral conviction, character development will be compromised and freedom of speech rights will be trampled. And if administrators continue to define discrimination in such a way as to preclude only some statements of moral conviction, they violate their pedagogical commitment to intellectual diversity and render the classroom a place of indoctrination.”

Think of your 15-year-old cousin, who can’t have girlfriend because it is against our deen that is teased at school, called a pansy and wonders whether he is. We need to talk about this and tell our children that Allah loves them and if they are having these feelings then they need spiritual help. Not shun them and turn them over to the wolves, force them out of the folds of Islam. I am not suggesting someone can ‘turn’ your kid gay or not. That is not my concern here.

Some parents worry that taking a stance will adversely affect their children’s grades. What kind of Muslims are we raising? “Cowardly conformists” or those who follow the footsteps of the Sahabah? We need to teach them to stand up for their beliefs even if they have to sacrifice something. If the teacher does punish them in some way this is unethical and the parents should take it to the school administration. “O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded.” [Quran At-Tahrim 66:6]

Most of the following material is from a website sponsored by Pro-Family groups calling for national support for Day of Silence Walkout. (www.doswalkout.net) Unfortunately Muslim organizations, media groups and masjids have shied away from supporting this cause. So spread the word on your masjid lists, Muslim websites, etc.

Parents must actively oppose this hijacking of the classroom for political purposes. You can help de-politicize the learning environment, which is paid for by our tax dollars, by calling your child out of school if your child’s school allows students to remain silent during instructional time on the Day of Silence. Brother Kevin Johnson asks, “Why would we want sexual orientation of any type to be taught to our young children? Isn’t that something that is personal and should be dealt with at home by the parents whenever they see fit? After all, the school system’s job is to educate children, not to raise them, that’s the job of the parent.”

If students will be permitted to remain silent, parents can express their opposition most effectively by removing their children from schools on the Day of Silence and sending letters of explanation to their administrators, their children’s teachers, and all school board members. One reason this is effective is that most school districts lose money for each student absence. School administrators err when they allow the classroom to be disrupted and politicized by granting students permission to remain silent throughout an entire day.

Day of Silence – What Should Parents Do?

1. Call your local schools and ask whether they permit students or teachers to remain silent in the classroom on the “Day of Silence.” IMPORTANT: Do not ask any administrator, school board member, or teacher if the school sponsors, endorses, or supports DOS. Schools do not technically sponsor the Day of Silence. Technically, it is students, often students in the gay-straight alliance, who sponsor it. Many administrators will tell you that they do not sponsor the DOS when, in fact, they do permit students and sometimes even teachers to remain silent during instructional time. Also ask administrators whether they permit teachers to create lesson plans to accommodate student silence.

2. Find out what date the event is planned for your school. (The national date in 2010 is April 16, but some schools observe DOS on a different date).

3. Inform the school of your intention to keep your children home on that date and explain why. Download the sample letter from lordsfavor.wordpress.com or from doswalkout.net

4. Explain to your children why you’re taking a stand:

a. What does Islam say about homosexuality.

b. No matter what factors may influence homosexual feelings, freely chosen homosexual behavior is immoral and should be resisted.

c. Homosexuality is not equivalent to race.

d. Disapproval of homosexuality is not equivalent to racism; nor is it hatred; nor is it bullying; nor does it constitute an incitement to violence. It is permissible and ethical to express disapproval of homosexuality. Just because someone may feel bad when hearing that someone disapproves of homosexuality does not mean that disapproval is cruel or wrong.

e. No school should support a view of homosexuality that is unproven and controversial, and that is physically, emotionally, and spiritually destructive to individuals and society.

f. No school should allow instructional time to be politicized.

g. Reiterate that the kids be civil or kind to anyone who exhibits homosexual behavior and make sincere dua for them. It is against the Muslim manners to participate in bullying or calling anyone names that hurt.

There is national support for Day of Silence Walkout.

Sample-call-out-letter fo Day of Silence

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