Archive for October 2006

Defender of the Flag: In Memory of Alia Ansari

October 29, 2006
Defender of the Flag: In Memory of Alia Ansari
By Imam Zaid Shakir

This past Tuesday, Muslims celebrated ‘Id al-Fitr, one of Islam’s two great festivals. For me, it was a beautiful day that began with a truly warm and vibrant ‘Id gathering at the Zaytuna Institute. God afforded me a wonderful opportunity to see friends who had been “missing in action,” to meet enthusiastic new converts to Islam, and to kiss so many babies I felt like a politician. During that time, I was also able to break away from the gathering to visit the graves of some distinguished Muslims buried in a nearby cemetery. Visiting the local Muslim cemetery on ‘Id day is a practice I have been able to maintain since my earliest years in Islam. They serve as a solemn reminder that all of us have an appointment with the Angel of Death.

I was blessed to stay at Zaytuna until the early afternoon when I departed to attend a meeting at a local school, a reminder that we are in America and sometimes, despite our best efforts to clear our schedules on the day of our festivals, the requisites of our everyday duties intervene. After that meeting, I was able to visit some of the Muslim families in the area. All of those visits filled my heart with awe at the simple dignity of ordinary Muslims, many of whom are struggling valiantly to survive in this sometimes cruel, always challenging and complicated society.

The last of those visits was to the family of Alia Ansari, the Afghani-American mother of six who was gunned down in central Fremont last Thursday as she walked to pick up her children from school. The Ansari family are everyday people—and, they are proud people. As I talked with Alia’s husband, brothers, and cousins who were gathered in the family’s humble apartment, it became clear to me that, most of all, they were proud to be Ansaris, descendants of the companion of the Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, and the great Muslim mystical sage, Khawaja Abdullah Ansari. In Afghan society, they are people who are identified with piety and they endeavor to live up to that identification, in their various ways.

Alia Ansari migrated from war-torn Afghanistan at the age of 17. When her father died shortly thereafter, she became a second parent to her younger siblings. A life of hardship could not suppress her inner beauty, expressed most readily in an irrepressible smile. Her husband, Ahmadullah Ansari, an auto mechanic struggling to make ends meet for a family that includes six young children, five of them girls, spoke glowingly of Alia’s martyrdom and the place God has reserved for her in Heaven. Her story impressed on me the truth embodied in the words of a poet who said, “Be yourself beautiful, and you will find the world full of beauty.”

Her husband, contrary to the caricature of the vindictive, hateful, enraged Muslim, mentioned how the family did not wish her martyrdom be treated as a hate crime, because he did not want her death to be a source of agitation in the area’s large Muslim community. He also mentioned that the family would not want the murderer executed, because that would not bring his wife back. His wife was a martyr, her place in Paradise secure—for him that was enough.

His gentle voice was most emphatic when he mentioned that he did not want his wife’s death to be politicized. Rather, he wanted her spirit of love and reconciliation to prevail after her passing as it had during her life. He spoke of his desire that her funeral be a solemn service, where people of all faiths could gather to remind each other just how important it is to work to remove the pernicious stain of racial and religious hatred from this society lest it lead to ever deepening spirals of senseless violence.

As we sat on the floor of their sparsely furnished living room to eat a meal of traditional Afghan food, our gathering was overseen by four walls decorated with only an unframed picture of the Ka’aba, and a tapestry with Ayatu Kursi, the Qur’anic Verse of the Throne (2:255), printed on it. Husband, brothers, and cousins gathered around to tell me more about just who Alia Ansari was. They spoke proudly of a deeply religious individual who embodied the true spirit of the “Ansar,” the Helpers. The original Ansar were those Muslims in Medina who welcomed into their city and homes the faithful believers who had migrated from Mecca, fleeing the persecution of that city’s population. The Qur’an mentions the spirit the Ansar exhibited in the following terms:

As for those who had previously established homes [in Medina], having adopted the faith; they show their love and affection to those who migrated to them [seeking refuge]. You will not find their hearts harboring any desire for that given to those migrants; rather they give preference to them over themselves, even though they are themselves afflicted with grinding poverty. (59:9)

Alia was indeed a helper. In addition to her tireless and faithful service to her immediate family, she was constantly helping relatives and neighbors, many of whom themselves had recently migrated to this country from their native Afghanistan. Her brother, Humayun, remarked that she did the work of six people and never complained. A typical day might find her preparing meals for the family, dropping the children to school, taking a neighbor shopping, shuttling a newly-arrived relative to the immigration department, watching a neighbor’s child, nursing a sick relative, or numerous other tasks demanding the sacrifice of her time and energy.

Although never formally educated in Islam, she was a deeply devout and spiritual individual. Her husband noted that she never missed a prayer. He quietly added that she would stand for voluntary prayer every night until she wept beseeching God to save her daughters from the ravages of the lewd, violent, promiscuous youth culture of this country. Her deep spirituality is illustrated by the following incident. A few days before her demise, she told her husband that she had seen her deceased grandfather, an individual well known for his righteousness, in a dream. The learned sage indicated that the end of her worldly struggles was near, and a resting place in Paradise would soon be hers.

As a pious Muslim woman, she never left home without her hijab, the traditional head scarf worn by Muslim women. She was proud of her hijab. In the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001, some of her friends and relatives, afraid of reprisal attacks, took off their hijabs. Alia encouraged them not to compromise their religion, especially when they had nothing to do with those crimes. As for herself, she told them that she would never take off her hijab, even if someone put a gun to her head demanding that she do so. Alia said that her hijab was her flag. She could not have known as she began the fateful walk to her children’s school last Thursday that her path would cross that of a lone gunman who in a single act of mindless violence would bring a close to a life of dedication and service. She could not have known that her grandfather’s words were so close to fulfillment. She could not have known that she would soon die defending her flag.

Among the believers are those who have been true to their covenant to God. Among them are those who have given their lives, others patiently wait their turn, having never weakened in their resolve. (33:23)

Imam Zaid Shakir
Zaytuna Institute
10/25/06

The author requests that you share this article with non-Muslim friends and neighbors.

Afghan American Mother Shot

October 29, 2006

Religious hate seen as motive in killing
Fremont slaying: Muslim leaders and relatives of Afghan American mother shot at point-blank range say only motive they can imagine for anyone wanting her dead was the garment of her faith, her head scarf
Matthai Chakko Kuruvila, Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writers

Saturday, October 21, 2006

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The dead woman’s brother, Hassan Ansari, says his heart aches for her six children. Alia Ansari was walking with her 3-year-old when she was killed. Chronicle photo by Mike Kepka

Local Muslim leaders on Friday denounced as a likely hate crime the brazen daylight shooting death in Fremont of a mother of six, and police said that they had arrested a parolee described as a “person of interest” in connection with the slaying.

Killed Thursday by a single bullet to the head as she walked with her 3-year-old daughter on a well-to-do residential street, she was distinguished by a hijab, the head scarf worn by some devout Muslim women. The Afghan immigrant had no purse or money on her, family members said.

Stunned relatives and Muslim leaders said the only motive they could see, outside of insanity, would be hatred.

“Whoever did this did not see Alia Ansari, a mother of six children,” said Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, one of the nation’s most respected Muslim scholars and leaders, who spoke to the media outside of the Ansaris’ modest two-bedroom apartment. “He saw a symbol of something that people are taught to hate.”

“All that we can assume is that it’s a hate crime,” said Hassan Ansari, 23, the youngest of Alia Ansari’s seven siblings.

Fremont police said Friday that they don’t know why Ansari was killed. At about 2:40 p.m. Thursday, she was walking near Central Avenue and Glenmoor Drive with her 3-year-old daughter to pick up two other children from elementary school when a man opened fire before fleeing in a car.

“We still have no definite indication as to motive,” said police Sgt. Jeff Swadener, a department spokesman. “Was it racial? Was it a hate crime? Was it a street robbery or a random act of violence? I don’t know.”

Police said a 27-year-old Fremont man was being held on an unrelated parole violation but remained a person of interest in the homicide. His name wasn’t released.

Police detained the man about an hour after the shooting and about a mile away. Officers pulled the man over near Mowry Avenue and Blacow Road because he and his black Toyota Tercel matched the description provided by witnesses, police said.

“We’re still up in the air as far as the actual involvement or linking to the homicide,” Swadener said.

The Alameda County coroner had planned to do an autopsy Friday, but Ansari’s relatives said they want to keep her body intact because of their religious beliefs. A coroner’s spokesman declined to discuss the delay but said a decision on how to proceed could be made Monday.

Islam prohibits the desecration of any dead body, said Yusuf, co-founder of the Zaytuna Institute in Hayward, believed to be the first Islamic seminary in the nation. In addition, only female relatives are allowed to wash and view a naked female body.

Yusuf said that an autopsy of just Alia Ansari’s head, rather than her full body, would be acceptable.

Hassan Ansari, Alia’s brother, said family members were planning to take legal action to stop the autopsy, but said they were leaving the decision in the hands of her husband, Ahmadullah Ansari.

Throughout the day, a weeping procession of dozens of relatives and Afghan community members filed into the Ansaris’ apartment in the Glenmoor neighborhood of Fremont. It is a short walk from a cluster of Afghan businesses often called Little Kabul, the economic heart of the largest Afghan community in the nation.

Friends and relatives said they could see no reason, other than the head scarf, why a stranger would want to kill Alia Ansari, who was often described as “kind” and “innocent.”

Most classical interpretations of Islam require women to wear a head scarf, although only a fraction of American Muslim women wear one, several female Muslim leaders said.

“What happened here is an act of terrorism,” said Rona Popal, executive director of the Afghan Coalition, which provides services to the community. “There is no reason to shoot an innocent woman walking down the street, holding her child.”

Local Muslim leaders and the victim’s relatives attributed blame to an American culture of violence, propagated through movies and video games that reward players for killing. In addition, they said things such as talk radio, politicians and religious zealotry by some Christians had focused on Muslims since the Sept. 11 attacks.

“Justice will not be served by merely catching the killer,” said Hassan Ansari. “We have to figure out how to stop these kinds of things from happening. … American society is what feeds people’s ignorance.”

“Mostly it’s the fault of the media, because they show Muslims in such a way that people hate them,” said Feraidoon Mojadedi, owner of the Rumi Bookstore in Little Kabul. “People are dying all over the world, but what did she have to do with it? She’s a housewife, a mother of children.”

Three women at the Islamic Society of the East Bay said they would continue to wear head scarves even if the killing was a hate crime. “Even if they wiped out everyone on Earth, I would not remove the hijab,” said Suzanne Azim, 43, a Hayward resident.

Alia Ansari, 37, had lived in the United States since 1986 and had become a U.S. citizen, family members said. Like many Afghan Americans, Ansari was a refugee from the war against the Soviet Union. She came from Mazar-e Sharif, where her sole sister still lives.

She typically drove to pick up two of her daughters from Glenmoor Elementary School, but left home on foot Thursday because of engine trouble. Witnesses said a man got out of a car, approached her and shot her at point-blank range before returning to the car and speeding away.

The young daughter who was with Ansari was unharmed, Swadener said.

When Ansari was shot, her daughter began crying and later told her family over and over, “A man killed my mother,” said Hassan Ansari.

Maria Garcia, who lives across the street from where the shooting occurred, said, “I didn’t see what happened but I heard the gunfire, and I heard the crying of the child.”

The slaying marks the second time someone in the victim’s family has been shot and killed in Fremont. In January 2002, Afghan community leader Rahim Ansari, 34, of Union City was shot and killed inside his business, Pamir Travel, in Little Kabul.

The suspected gunman in that incident, upset over a spurned romance, also wounded Rahim Ansari’s brother-in-law, Zabiullah Ansari, a second-cousin of Alia Ansari. In an interview Friday, Zabiullah Ansari, 48, expressed hope that the right person had been arrested. But he said, “They don’t know what happened.

“You’re killed in front of your kid — how can people do that? They’re not human beings. This lady was totally innocent. Why did someone shoot her? ”

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Sheikh Hamza Yusuf (right) and friends and family of Alia Ansari gather at the Ansari family’s two-bedroom apartment in Fremont. Chronicle photo by Mike Kepka

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/10/21/BAGMTLTGM51.DTL

Peace Notes by Yusuf Islam

October 28, 2006

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In The name of God, the Giver of Peace 1) Peace Train (Short Intro)
The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “You will not enter heaven until you believe; and you will not believe until you love one another. Should I not guide you to a thing that if you do it will increase love amongst you? Spread ‘As salam’ (peace be with you)”

2) Don’t Be Angry
The Prophet, peace be upon him, was once asked by a man to give him advice. He told him, ‘La taghdab!’ Which means, ‘Don’t be angry!’ But the man didn’t listen, and kept on repeating his request. The Prophet, peace be upon him, just kept on telling him the same answer, ‘Don’t be angry! Don’t be angry!’

Whenever we are under pressure, we should be patient and turn to prayer. And if we are true believers, we won’t only do this when we need something, but we will pray everyday. Then we will be closer God, and know that He will always be with us when we need Him.

3) To Speak Good
Words can disturb the peace and cause pain.The Prophet, peace be upon him said, ‘Speak good or be silent.’ This way, you create peace and harmony. Just listen to the silence of the sunlight, which makes everybody warm and happy.

4) Staying Positive
The Prophet, peace be upon him, taught us to always be satisfied with even a little. He said, ‘(A person) who lives a day in safety of his life, with a healthy body and food enough for one day, is like a person to whom the world and all it contains has been given’ That’s how we should look at life, always positive, and smiling.

5) To Care for One Another
Men and women must try to live together in love and peace. This is why the family is so important, without a loving family, children feel unwanted and alone.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, taught children to love and respect their elders, and for elders to be merciful to the little ones.

He also gave special attention to orphans who, like himself, do not have a mother or father to care for them.

6) Avoiding War
Throughout human history people have started wars. Fighting is sometimes necessary, but it should never go further than it needs to. If your enemies agree to stop fighting, you should accept it and make peace.

When the Prophet and his companions, after twenty years of suffering and being driven out of their homes, marched with a great Army and opened Makkah, people were not killed, but instead he forgave them and let them live in peace.

Peace is necessary for people to enjoy life and return to their homelands, so families can be joined together again and have the freedom to worship God, calmly and peacefully.

To forgive is not easy, especially when people are against you. Sometimes it feels like a war is raging in your heart, that’s when you have to be strong to fight what is inside you!

7) The 25 Prophets
If everybody believed and followed one way, there would be no wars and peace would fill the earth. But part of God’s plan is to test everyone with what they have been given. All the messengers and Prophets came to teach how to worship One God and be good to each other. The Qur’an tells us that after a Prophet is sent, people choose whether to believe or not, that is why today we can see churches, synagogues, temples and Mosques, and millions of people dressing and praying differently.

8 ) Belief in Jesus & Muhammad
Muhammad, peace be upon him, was created with the best human nature, when he was once asked who was best amongst all the persons in the world, the Prophet never mentioned himself, instead he said, ‘Joseph, the Prophet, son of a Prophet, son of a Prophet, son of Allah’s friend (meaning the great grandfather, Prophet Abraham)

He taught us to respect all prophets of God equally, but mentioned some with extra honour: he said, “And if a man believes in Jesus and then believes in me, he will get a double reward.”

9) The Path to Peace
The last Prophet taught us to respect human life and property, how to look after the earth and the animals over which we have been given power. He showed us the path to peace and called all people and believers in God’s words to join together, bowing to One God.

There is a prayer that the Prophet, peace be upon him, taught, ‘Oh Allah! You are Peace, from You comes Peace, So help us to live in Peace, Oh owner of Majesty and Honour’.

And so we ask Allah to send His peace and blessings on the last Prophet, Muhammad and on all of the prophets who brought us the good news and showed us the way, if we follow their tracks, doing good and avoiding bad, one day – insha Allah – we will arrive at the home of everlasting Peace – Dar As Salam.

My struggle

October 26, 2006

Eid Mubarak, to all those who visit my blog. InshAllah you have all had an Eid with family and friends.  

after a long time of no posting, I returned from holiday. I have no ideas for new posts, but InshAllah ill come up with some soon.
on the road, i remembered majid’s “My stuggle” song…and couldnt believe I hadnt posted it yet.

its a deep and energetic song. it motivates me to get up and do something. it shows that we should all do something, big or small, no matter how insignificant.

Don’t Say You Didn’t Know

October 17, 2006

www.dontsayyoudidntknow.net posters in support of Palestine. Theyre nicely thought, and give good messages.

Unfortunately I couldnt get some pictures to enlarge, so most of the smaller writings arent legible. Nontheless, still worth looking at…..

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“Aim Low, you’re shooting kids”

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This is you emergency broadcast system:

……The media lies…..can you believe it….stay tuned for further instructions…….

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Ona Land, Palestine, Own Land

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Millions of Olive Branches Taken, Still, No peace!

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If you have trouble understanding any of them, please ask.

Aggression under false pretenses

October 15, 2006
Aggression Under False Pretenses

By Ismail Haniyeh
The Washington Post
July 11, 2006

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/10/AR2006071001108.html

GAZA, Palestine — As Americans commemorated their annual celebration of independence from colonial occupation, rejoicing in their democratic institutions, we Palestinians were yet again besieged by our occupiers, who destroy our roads and buildings, our power stations and water plants, and who attack our very means of civil administration. Our homes and government offices are shelled, our parliamentarians taken prisoner and threatened with prosecution.

The current Gaza invasion is only the latest effort to destroy the results of fair and free elections held early this year. It is the explosive follow-up to a five-month campaign of economic and diplomatic warfare directed by the United States and Israel. The stated intention of that strategy was to force the average Palestinian to `reconsider` her vote when faced with deepening hardship; its failure was predictable, and the new overt military aggression and collective punishment are its logical fulfillment. The `kidnapped` Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit is only a pretext for a job scheduled months ago.

In addition to removing our democratically elected government, Israel wants to sow dissent among Palestinians by claiming that there is a serious leadership rivalry among us. I am compelled to dispel this notion definitively. The Palestinian leadership is firmly embedded in the concept of Islamic shura , or mutual consultation; suffice it to say that while we may have differing opinions, we are united in mutual respect and focused on the goal of serving our people. Furthermore, the invasion of Gaza and the kidnapping of our leaders and government officials are meant to undermine the recent accords reached between the government party and our brothers and sisters in Fatah and other factions, on achieving consensus for resolving the conflict. Yet Israeli collective punishment only strengthens our collective resolve to work together.

As I inspect the ruins of our infrastructure — the largess of donor nations and international efforts all turned to rubble once more by F-16s and American-made missiles — my thoughts again turn to the minds of Americans. What do they think of this?

They think, doubtless, of the hostage soldier, taken in battle — yet thousands of Palestinians, including hundreds of women and children, remain in Israeli jails for resisting the illegal, ongoing occupation that is condemned by international law. They think of the pluck and `toughness` of Israel, `standing up` to `terrorists.` Yet a nuclear Israel possesses the 13th-largest military force on the planet, one that is used to rule an area about the size of New Jersey and whose adversaries there have no conventional armed forces. Who is the underdog, supposedly America`s traditional favorite, in this case?

I hope that Americans will give careful and well-informed thought to root causes and historical realities, in which case I think they will question why a supposedly `legitimate` state such as Israel has had to conduct decades of war against a subject refugee population without ever achieving its goals.

Israel`s unilateral movements of the past year will not lead to peace. These acts — the temporary withdrawal of forces from Gaza, the walling off of the West Bank — are not strides toward resolution but empty, symbolic acts that fail to address the underlying conflict. Israel`s nearly complete control over the lives of Palestinians is never in doubt, as confirmed by the humanitarian and economic suffering of the Palestinians since the January elections. Israel`s ongoing policies of expansion, military control and assassination mock any notion of sovereignty or bilateralism. Its `separation barrier,` running across our land, is hardly a good-faith gesture toward future coexistence.

But there is a remedy, and while it is not easy it is consistent with our long-held beliefs. Palestinian priorities include recognition of the core dispute over the land of historical Palestine and the rights of all its people; resolution of the refugee issue from 1948; reclaiming all lands occupied in 1967; and stopping Israeli attacks, assassinations and military expansion. Contrary to popular depictions of the crisis in the American media, the dispute is not only about Gaza and the West Bank; it is a wider national conflict that can be resolved only by addressing the full dimensions of Palestinian national rights in an integrated manner. This means statehood for the West Bank and Gaza, a capital in Arab East Jerusalem, and resolving the 1948 Palestinian refugee issue fairly, on the basis of international legitimacy and established law. Meaningful negotiations with a non-expansionist, law-abiding Israel can proceed only after this tremendous labor has begun.

Surely the American people grow weary of this folly, after 50 years and $160 billion in taxpayer support for Israel`s war-making capacity — its `defense.` Some Americans, I believe, must be asking themselves if all this blood and treasure could not have bought more tangible results for Palestine if only U.S. policies had been predicated from the start on historical truth, equity and justice.

However, we do not want to live on international welfare and American handouts. We want what Americans enjoy — democratic rights, economic sovereignty and justice. We thought our pride in conducting the fairest elections in the Arab world might resonate with the United States and its citizens. Instead, our new government was met from the very beginning by acts of explicit, declared sabotage by the White House. Now this aggression continues against 3.9 million civilians living in the world`s largest prison camps. America`s complacency in the face of these war crimes is, as usual, embedded in the coded rhetorical green light: `Israel has a right to defend itself.` Was Israel defending itself when it killed eight family members on a Gaza beach last month or three members of the Hajjaj family on Saturday, among them 6-year-old Rawan? I refuse to believe that such inhumanity sits well with the American public.

We present this clear message: If Israel will not allow Palestinians to live in peace, dignity and national integrity, Israelis themselves will not be able to enjoy those same rights. Meanwhile, our right to defend ourselves from occupying soldiers and aggression is a matter of law, as settled in the Fourth Geneva Convention. If Israel is prepared to negotiate seriously and fairly, and resolve the core 1948 issues, rather than the secondary ones from 1967, a fair and permanent peace is possible. Based on a hudna (comprehensive cessation of hostilities for an agreed time), the Holy Land still has an opportunity to be a peaceful and stable economic powerhouse for all the Semitic people of the region. If Americans only knew the truth, possibility might become reality.

The writer is prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority.

http://www.karmalised.com

The Sound of Reason CD is out!

October 13, 2006

The Sound of Reason CD is out!

With songs “Palestine”, “Help me change the world” and “Shoulder to Lean on”.  Everyone should buy this CD NOW!

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