Archive | May 2017

Manchester attack: Love Conquers Fear as Didsbury Mosque Overwhelmed by Support*


Manchester attack: Love Conquers Fear as Didsbury Mosque Overwhelmed by Support*

The wider community has shown ‘love and support’ for worshippers, say Muslims in Manchester

Muslims pray for victims of the Manchester Arena attack at a mosque in Manchester on 23 May (Reuters)


By Arwa Ibrahim

The mosque bustles with worshippers waiting for special Ramadhan prayers. Groups of boys and girls stand at the main entrance to read piles of messages of support from the wider community, nestled within heaps of bouquets laid by well-wishers.

Just over a week after Salman Abedi killed 22 people in a suicide attack at Manchester Arena, fears of a wedge being driven between Manchester’s Muslims and the wider community have been unfounded. At Didsbury, indeed, the effect has been the reverse.

“I’ve attended Didsbury mosque since I was a child,” 25-year-old Laila, a student at Manchester University, told Middle East Eye before 11pm prayers on Tuesday.

“I will keep coming because I know this place had nothing to do with the ideas or actions of that bomber.”

Ramadhan at Didsbury had always been a special time that she enjoyed with her friends and family, she said.

Members of the centre’s management said the mosque had received much more support than hate.

“Although the EDL did come by, we’ve seen an overwhelming amount of support from the wider community,” said Sulefa Benali, director of public relations at the mosque.

“We usually receive around 10 non-Muslims every open day, but this Sunday we had around 60 people, all of whom made a point to show their solidarity.”

Hundreds of people have been worshipping at any one time at the mosque, which opens its doors to the community at large every Sunday where groups of visitor from all faiths and non-faiths attend to learn about Islam and the centre’s activities.

In a strongly worded statement last week, the mosque called the bombing an act of cowardice and insisted it had worked peacefully at the heart of the community for half a century.

Reports said the bomber regularly attended Didsbury mosque and the Manchester Islamic Centre in the south of the city.

A police officer stands outside Didsbury mosque in Manchester, UK on 24 May (Reuters)


Didsbury’s management and members of the community rejected those claims.

“We were deeply shocked and saddened by the incident,” Bara Abdul-Salam, an executive board member at Didsbury mosque told MEE.

“We did not think anyone would be making accusations against Didsbury mosque, a place that has always been open to the whole community, both Muslims and non-Muslims.”

While Abedi’s brother volunteered as a teacher here, and his father carried out the call to prayer before he left for Libya in 2011, Salman himself was rarely seen at the mosque.

“I remember seeing Salman a few times but unlike his father and brother he wasn’t a regular,” said Mohamed Fadil, a spokesman for the Libyan community in south Manchester and a regular at Didsbury mosque.

“I knew little about him but I remember him as withdrawn and distant person who had few friends within the Libyan community.”

Unfazed Mancunians

Based in a red-brick 19th-century chapel on a leafy street, the mosque has operated since 1967 when the building was bought by donors from the Syrian Arab community. The centre, which includes a prayer hall, library and multipurpose activity hall, acts as both a mosque and community centre.

The congregation includes Muslims from a variety of communities including the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. It numbers many taxi drivers, businessmen and doctors, some of whom helped in the aftermath of the bombing.

One doctor who helped treat victims of the bombing said that he was never concerned about the religious messaging at Didsbury Mosque and does not see link between it and the incident.

“Didsbury has always been a hub for moderation and peacefulness and will continue to be so,” said Ahmed, a regular worshipper at the mosque and a junior doctor at the Manchester Royal Infirmary where 32 of the injured victims were treated. 

Didsbury mosque is seen in Manchester on 23 May (Reuters)


Since the events, police cars have been stationed outside the centre at all times as well as 24-hour police surveillance camera, which Abdul-Salam said was offered by Greater Manchester Police to safeguard worshippers.

Some worshippers were more hesitant to attend to the mosque since the events.

“I felt a little uncomfortable seeing the police cars outside and wondered if I should do my prayers here,” said 44-year-old Kamal, a local shop keeper.

“But I realised that the police had only come to support us and I knew that I needed to show my solidarity too.”

A chief inspector from Manchester police delivered a talk to the congregation following night prayers on Tuesday, and encouraged members of the community to report incidents of Islamophobia.

Libyans in Manchester

Many of Didsbury’s mosques attendees hail from Manchester’s Libyan community, which numbers in the thousands. Two of the mosques current imams are Libyan as well as many of the former leaders at the centre.

Libya descended into chaos following the NATO-backed toppling of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with rival administrations emerging and well-armed militias vying for control of the country’s vast oil wealth. 

The infighting and lawlessness allowed extremist groups such as IS to seize several coastal regions, creating a stronghold in Sirte until Libyan forces defeated the group in late 2016.

One of the mosque’s imams, who is of Libyan origin, Mustafa Graf, posted a statement on Facebook condemning the bombing.

His statement emphasised how events in the Middle East are keenly felt in south Manchester.

“As a community we have lost many hundreds of people who bravely fought and defeated Isis in Sirte, Libya, only a few months ago, and so we are affected by grief again.”

Graf was captured and tortured by Gaddafi’s forces in 2012 when he visited the country to see his mother.

Fawzi Haffar, a trustee at the Didsbury mosque, speaks to journalists outside the mosque in Manchester on 24 May (Reuters)


A deep divide has developed among the various political factions in Libya, with some being supporters of Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar in the east of the country.

Haftar launched a military campaign dubbed Operation Dignity in May 2014, aimed at rooting out Libya’s many rival militant groups, with support from foreign powers, notably Egypt and the UAE.

But the Libyan community in Manchester insists there is divide does not influence daily relations among the community members in Manchester and cannot be used to explain the actions of the bomber.

According to 35-year-old teacher Sondes: “Although the political divide in Libya has come to Manchester, it hasn’t reached the level of people preaching hate or fighting each other as it has been in Libya.”

“I’ve never heard anyone speak in support of IS in any of the Libyan communities in Manchester,” Sondes told MEE.

“Differences in opinion over the situation in Libya don’t mean that people will have differences of opinion over the actions of the bomber.”

Fadil, a spokesman for the south Manchester Libyan communit, agreed.

“Whether you’re a supporter of Haftar or not, we all agree that we need to get rid of the extremists.”

Reports that Abedi had gone to Libya in 2011, suggesting that he had become radicalised during the revolution. But members of the community refuted this narrative.  

“I do not see a link between the attack and people who went to Libya in 2011,” said Fadil.

“People were going to help as doctors, charity workers and translators or to just visit their families. Some did go to fight but they came back to their normal lives.”

According to Fadil, it was unlikely that Salman, who would have been 16 at the time, was allowed on the battlefield.

Flowers and tributes to the victims of the attack on Manchester Arena fill St Ann’s Square in Manchester on 29 May (Reuters)


“I was in Libya and I know how they dealt with the under-18s. He might have expressed interest in fighting but it is highly unlikely he was actually allowed to fight,” said Fadil.

According to Sarah, a 34-year-old British Libyan dentist, the Libyan community is well integrated into Manchester.

“Obviously there’s a problem and we’d be daft to say there isn’t,” said Sarah.

“But Manchester is a very multicultural city with Muslims well-integrated and Libyans are especially intertwined,” she added explaining that a large number of her friends within the community were half Libyan, half English.


Related Topics:

U.N. Criticised Britain’s Anti-terror Strategy Two Days before Manchester Bombing*

Lockerbie Lies to Subvert Independent Sovereign Countries *

If NATO Wants Peace and Stability it Should Stay Home*

The Official 7/7 London Bombing Story is a Lie*

MOSSAD Agent – ‘We Did the London Bombing’

U.S./NATO Atrocities Against Libya

After Years of Silence under U.S Backed ISis, Music is back in Mosul*

After Years of Silence under U.S Backed ISis, Music is back in Mosul*

Strictly forbidden under the reign of the ISIS in Mosul, the streets of the city are now alive again with music

A customer holds a CD in the music shop run by Abdulrahman Sabah (background) in a bazaar on the shopping street of Nabi Younis, on the eastern side of Mosul, 22 April 2017 (MEE/Sebastien Castelier)


By Quentin Müller

Music is booming out from the cars and taxis zipping around east Mosul, while pedestrians lip-sync and shake their heads to the rhythms emanating from their ipods and phones. Once banned under the Islamic State (IS) group, music is now back in town.

After being shut down for months, small stores selling CDs have re-opened their doors to loyal customers.

“Do you want me, do you need me, right now!” exclaim the singers in the song Right Now, by Indian actors Akshay Kumar and John Abraham, whose song is playing on a stereo in a shop in eastern Mosul. The small store, run by Abdulrahman Sabah, 23, sells CDs to shoppers that still prefer the old-fashioned way of listening to music.

Turkish, Persian, Arabic, and some Western music CDs are on display on wooden shelves. And for enthusiasts of Kazem al-Saher, one of Iraq’s most famous singers, his CDs are also back in stock.

“I re-opened my store a few weeks ago. After the arrival of the Islamic State, I had been forced to close my store, so I am happy to be back,” said Abdul Wahab Ahmar with an awkward smile, who is a colleague of Sabah.

Mohanad, 24, is a music shop owner near Mosul University, 26 April 2017 (MEE/Sebastien Castelier)


Having been forced to stop running the music shop, Sabah stayed at home for six months. During this time he felt lost and unsure of what to do with his life.

‘I have never stopped listening to music’

Ameen Mokdad, a 28-year-old violinist, recalls a big propaganda poster put up by IS after it took control of the city in 2014. The image depicted was an immense treble clef devoured by flames, and for Mokdad it was a sure sign that music would be banned.

“When you got in a taxi, if you did not have a long beard, long hair, or military dress, and if you did not seem too suspicious, then the driver would often play forbidden music on the BBC, a forbidden radio station,” Mokdad said.

Mosul musician Ameen Mokdad, 28, plays violin in a hotel room of Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan (MEE/ Sebastian Castelier)


Yet despite the ban, Mokdad continued to play alone in the privacy of his home or with a small circle of fellow musicians.

“People never stopped listening to music in Mosul,” said Hosham Dawod, French-Iraqi anthropologist at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), who is now based in France but ran the French Institute of Iraq from 2011 to 2014.

According to local residents, only the type of music used in the broadcasts of Al-Bayan, the official radio of IS, was allowed. It was music without instruments and incantations that were not quite singing, with successions of voices praising the group that gave it some sort of rhythm.

In 2016, Mokdad was forced to flee Mosul after IS militants stormed his house and confiscated his instruments, deeming his music a violation of their hardline interpretation of Islam. He then escaped to Baghdad, where he now lives. Mokdad was able to return to eastern Mosul and give his first concert in April, after IS was driven out of eastern part of the city in January.

Ameen Mukdad, a violinist from Mosul who lived under IS’a rule for two and a half years, performs in eastern Mosul, Iraq on 19 April 2017. (REUTERS/ Muhammad Hamed)


Iraqi security forces, backed by the U.S. coalition, have retrieved most of Mosul since launching an offensive to retake the city in December 2016, but part of the west remains under IS control.

Karim Wasfi, 44, is the bandmaster of the national orchestra of Baghdad. Based in the Iraqi capital, he claims to know of 23 musicians who have fled Mosul for Erbil or Europe. Of Mosul, he said: “It was an avant-garde city for the establishment and the creation of Iraqi music. It was the result of the city’s cultural and social diversity, and a unique example of coexistence.”

Mosul, city of musicians

It is of no coincidence that major Iraqi musicians, such as Jameel Basheer and Munir Basheer, are from Mosul.

“Mosul was a creative city. We often compared Mosul to Aleppo for its imagination and its home-made production,” Dawod said.

A view of the east side of Mosul (MEE/Sebastien Castelier)


But Mokdad and Wasfi admit that many years before IS’s arrival, the city took a “very conservative” turn and “pop or rock were never very popular there”.

“People felt guilty about listening to music because they were exposed to the idea that it is sinful. There were no musical instrument stores anymore, and courses in music were held in private because people were afraid,” Mokdad said.

Mokdad remembers a time when a guard at the entrance to his school did not allow him to bring his violin in, despite it not being illegal under Iraqi law. “Before 2014, I took [violin] lessons at home, and as soon as I took my instruments to school, people told me that it was forbidden. In fact, according to the law, it was not forbidden. Our laws came from Baghdad.”

Dawod explained that after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and the dissolving of the Iraqi army, many former soldiers joined armed groups to help retrieve some of their lost power and authority.

“Mosul and its surroundings have always supplied numerous men to the Iraqi army, whether it was under the Ottoman Empire or under the British occupation,” Dawod said.

“While in 2003 the United States dissolved the Iraqi army, many of its high-ranking generals and soldiers were sent back to their homes, humbled, without a salary, and with the impression that they had lost the political power that was now reserved to Shias. Some entered the opposition, then fought for terrorist groups.”

A wide array of musicians are available in Mohanad’s shop near Mosul University (MEE/Sebastien Castelier)


Despite being a minority, Sunnis ruled Iraq from 1932 until Saddam Hussein was toppled in the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, when elections put Iraq’s Shia majority in charge of the government.

According to Dawod, after this Mosul – with a majority Sunni population – became more conservative and many former soldiers joined armed groups that ban music. Thus the city’s tradition of art and tolerance receded.

“Some joined because they were opportunistic, while others joined because over time, they became convinced of the cause. In particular, there was an overwhelming will to belong to something which would distinguish itself from the international coalition, from the power of Baghdad,” he said.

On Jamira street, in front of the immense university of Mosul that was destroyed by bombardments, and used by IS as a headquarters, Mohannad, a 24-year-old CD seller who preferred not to give his last name, reopened his shop 10 days ago.

“IS came, closed my store and burned my CDs,” he said.

But today he is back in business …


Related Topics:

ISIS Launches 2nd Chemical Attack in Mosul in 2 Days, Injures 6 Iraqi Soldiers*

A Father Describes Saving His Daughter from U.S. Bombardment of Mosul*

U.S. Airstrikes Slaughter 230 Innocent Civilians in a Single Night in Mosul*

2,000 ISIL Terrorists Killed in Mosul Liberation Operation*

Life returns to Hammar Marshes, Iraq*

Old Music Outsells New Releases for the First Time in Recorded Music History*

From Egypt to Rwanda Musical Traditions Mingle to Protect the Nile*

Turkey: Music Therapy in Modern Healthcare

New Jersey Town Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit With Islamic Group for $3.25mn*

New Jersey Town Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit With Islamic Group for $3.25mn*

Bernards Township must also approve the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge’s plan to build a mosque.

Islamic Society of Basking Ridge at Memorial Day Parade, May 29, 2017. Photo: Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, via Facebook


Six years after the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge (ISBR) began preparations to build a new mosque in Bernards Township, New Jersey, the group finally has the legal approval to move forward.

Yesterday (May 30), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the ISBR settled lawsuits with the township that not only allow the group to build—but require the municipality to pay $3.25 million for discrimination.

In 2011, ISBR purchased a single family home on a four-acre lot in an area that was zoned to accommodate places of worship. The organization submitted plans for site approval the following year, and was met with public opposition. In 2013, the township revised its zoning code with new conditions that precluded ISBR from opening the mosque—including doubling the required lot size to six acres and demanding additional parking spaces. Two years later, the municipality’s planning board officially denied ISBR the right to build.

According to the settlement, it was the first denial since at least 1994. Per a statement from the DOJ, the township’s actions violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, which is meant to “protect individuals, houses of worship and other religious institutions from discrimination in zoning and landmarking laws.”

The DOJ agreement reached yesterday requires the township to let ISBR build the mosque, train officials and employees on the the requirements and non-discrimination policies of RLUIPA, and change the zoning ordinance to remove the additional restrictions that were placed on houses of worship in 2013. The $3.25 million monetary settlement comes from the suit filed directly by ISBR, with $1.5 million of it assigned for damages and the rest for legal fees. reports that the law firm will donate the fees to charity.

“Federal law requires towns to treat religious land use applications like any other land use application,” acting U.S. attorney William E. Fitzpatrick of the District of New Jersey said in the statement. “Bernards Township made decisions that treated the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge differently than other houses of worship. The settlement announced today corrects those decisions and ensures that members of this religious community have the same ability to practice their faith as all other religions.”

Township spokesperson Michael P. Turner released a statement yesterday that continues to deny the claims of religious discrimination and assures residents that the settlement payment will be satisfied via insurance, not taxes.

“The Township maintains that the denial of the planning board was based on accepted land use criteria only. Indeed, Bernards Township is a diverse and inclusive community, where for years the ISBR congregation have practiced their religion along with their neighbors unimpeded, using township facilities at the Bernards Township Community Center and at Dunham Park,” Turner said.

“We are very pleased by this resolution and hope to receive prompt approval to build our mosque,” ISBR president Mohammed Ali Chaudry told

“We look forward to welcoming people of all faiths and backgrounds to our mosque.”


Related Topics:

Trump is About to Release His ‘Religious Freedom’ Order, and It’s Looking Awful*

It Took a Nine-year-old Muslim Boy 35 Seconds to Rumble Theresa May*

Muslims Launch the World’s First Islamic Sign Language Book*

New Licenses Awarded to Muslim Radio Stations*

Legal Advocacy Groups Sue DHS for Info on Treatment of Muslims at Border Stops, Airports*

Austrian President calls on All Women to Wear Hijab in Solidarity with Muslims against Islamophobia*

Muslim Minds Remain as Colonised as Ever*

First U.S. Female Muslim Judge Found Dead in Hudson River*

New Settlement Aims to Protect Muslims from Discriminatory NYPD Surveillance*

Why is the Holiest Shrine in Christianity Guarded by Two Muslim Families?*

U.N. Criticised Britain’s Anti-terror Strategy Two Days before Manchester Bombing*

U.N. Criticised Britain’s Anti-terror Strategy Two Days before Manchester Bombing*

By Graham Vanbergen

Reuters reports that: Britain has been undergoing a subtle but alarming shift towards criminalising peaceful protest and free expression, said a U.N. report on Monday that likened it to a “Big Brother” state of surveillance and suspicion.

I’ve been saying this for a few years now. Now the United Nations have confirmed the trajectory of Britain’s surveillance state. They simply haven’t gone far enough though. They are being diplomatic, of course.

The report was highly critical of Britain’s surveillance state and especially of Theresa May, who in her capacity as Home Secretary pushed through many pieces of legislation that makes up today’s current rather confusing domestic spying puzzle. Unfortunately, it also failed to fully point out that there simply is no privacy whatsoever in Britain and that our online security has been fully compromised by the actions of the government leaving everyone open to hackers and cyber-criminals.

However, the report does make some valid points when it comes to matters of national security. No reference to the Manchester bombing was made as the report was dated two days before.

At the time of the Manchester bombing, Britain’s security services were either distracted or simply not at the wheel at all when it came to suicide bomber Salman Abedi who murdered 22 and injured many more. America’s FBI knew Abedi was a dangerous individual. They were tracking Abedi and informed MI5 that he was not just going to kill but was a suicide bomber looking to take out an iconic target. As we reported yesterday:

“The claims by Prime Minister Theresa May that Abedi acted as a “lone wolf” and was known by Britain’s security services only “to a degree” lie in shreds. It is simply not credible that an individual planning to assassinate a British “political figure”—that could conceivably include the prime minister, foreign secretary or the queen—would be allowed to “slip” under the radar.”

Since that awful event, MI5 have confirmed not just one but two internal probes into ‘lapses’ in the security services. This is itself a rare self-admission – of failure.

It is becoming clear that the FBI who leaked Abedi’s name to the press, just a few hours from the bombing, leaked that he was a suicide bomber and leaked images of the terrible scene before the British police were even investigating the bombing were seriously frustrated. It is almost as if the American’s knew more or less what Abedi was about to do and when.

Soon after the attack, Manchester police sources told Reuters they believed security in London had been prioritised while budget cutting in other cities saw police staff cut close to dangerous levels, especially given today’s known security risks.

The report was written by Maina Kiai, who was U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly until last month. He referred to Britain’s civil society as a “national treasure” and that now it was at risk “from police tactics, anti-terrorism legislation and curbs on charities and trade unions.”

Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy, known as “Prevent”, was inherently flawed, the report went on to say.

“Overall, it appears that Prevent is having the opposite of its intended effect: by dividing, stigmatising and alienating segments of the population, Prevent could end up promoting extremism, rather than countering it,” Kiai wrote.

“Students, activists, and members of faith-based organisations related countless anecdotes of the program being implemented in a way that translates simply into crude racial, ideological, cultural and religious profiling, with concomitant effects on the right to freedom of association of some groups.”

The report was also critical of the fact that the security services had cast the net far too wide in their hunt for potential terrorists. In other words, the wrong strategy had been adopted to be effective.

“Kiai wrote that he had been provided with information that the police had used “International Mobile Subscriber Identity catchers” to gather intelligence from protesters’ phones during peaceful protests in Birmingham, London, Leicester and in Wales last year, which he said was a violation of their right to privacy.”

It was also concentrating effort more on groups criticising the government than finding dangerous terrorists. One area of concern is that Britain’s security services were more focused on what was happening with the election than with national security, such is the extent of their surveillance capabilities.

The report, to be debated at the U.N. Human Rights Council next month, follows a critical report on British policing that Kiai wrote about in 2013.

In many instances, these moves have been subtle and gradual, but they are as unmistakable as they are alarming,” he wrote.

“The spectre of ‘Big Brother’ is so large, in fact, that some families are reportedly afraid of even discussing the negative effects of terrorism in their own homes, fearing that their children would talk about it at school and have their intentions misconstrued.”

In the meantime, a spokesman at Britain’s Home Office declined to comment on the damning U.N. report, citing restrictions on the civil service during an election campaign period.

Just six months ago, Britain’s new Investigatory Powers Act became law.  It includes the deep surveillance of legitimate activities carried out by civil society and political activists, whistle-blowers, organisers and participants of peaceful protests. In all other democratic countries this form of protest is seen as exercising a healthy right to fundamental freedoms and democratic principles – the British government by contrast views these activities and suspicious and a direct threat to power.

In addition, the report urged Britain not to pass a proposed Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill, which was “highly problematic”, with a vague targeting of “non-violent extremism”.

“Government officials themselves seemed to have trouble defining the term, which signals vast potential for arbitrary and abusive interpretation” Kiai wrote.

The United Nations privacy chief has called the situation “worse than scary with Britain now regarded as an endemic surveillance society.


LBC radio presenter, Stig Abell, was left speechless after activist Mehdi Altamish from Islamic Renaissance addressed the failures of British foreign policy in response to the Manchester attack.

Related Topics:

U.K. Police Begin 24-Hour Drone Surveillance of Population*

U.K. just Passed the Most Invasive Surveillance Law in the Democratic World*

U.K. Bill Hands vast Surveillance Powers to Police and Intelligence Agencies*

U.K. Cops Can Now Remotely Disable Phones Even If No Crime Has Been Committed*

U.K. Police Given the Go-ahead to Fire at Will*

Mobile Phone and Computer Searches by Police Becoming Normal in U.K.*

U.K. Muslim Organisations that get Prevent Funding*

U.K. Spying Report Warned of Intelligence Failure*

A Self-Described Passionate Zionist in Charge of U.K. Government Cybersecurity*


How Enslaved Muslims in the Americas fasted in Ramadhan*

How Enslaved Muslims in the Americas fasted in Ramadhan*

By Amir Webb

There is no doubt that the strains of living as a slave were many and the conditions brutal. One had their days and nights planned out by their masters from the day they were born until the day they died, albeit the Muslims talked about here were born free and then enslaved. Whether one was born free or born a slave, you were not in control of your daily life. There were certain aspects that West African Muslim slaves did try to control once they came to the Americas. For example, enslaved Muslims found the nakedness they were forced into humiliating and offensive to their religion. They looked to make head wraps and long garments from anything from old blankets or hand-me-downs from their owners.

Where slaves could find autonomy they exercised it; one of these was adhering to the Islamic dietary laws. One of these laws was abstaining from alcohol even though it was widely available and consumption was encouraged.  Ayuba Suleyman Diallo, from modern day Senegal, was enslaved in Maryland for two years before being sent to England. It was in Maryland that Diallo was interrogated about a crime and was offered alcohol to ease his fears about the situation, he flatly refused. Diallo was not alone in his refusal of alcohol; Ibrahima Rahman, also refused alcohol.

Unfortunately, there was less control over the types of meat that was given and available to eat. The cheapest meat of the day was pork and was found in abundance. There were instances such as Nero, a Muslim slave who was the bookkeeper for the William Ball plantation in South Carolina. Nero was allowed to draw his meat rations from beef rather than pork. This may be a privilege of being a bookkeeper (a prestigious job that a slave could have) and less his owner being concerned with Islamic dietary law. Diallo, not only refused alcohol (as mentioned before) but, would only eat halal meat.  The other option would be to forgo the consumption of meat, which is what Salih Bilali and other enslaved Muslims did on the Hopeton Plantation in Georgia.

Enslaved Muslims tried their hardest to observe not only dietary laws, but also fasting during Ramadhan. Free and enslaved Muslims in Brazil had less restrictions on their everyday lives than their North American counterparts and were allowed to eat together and even attended school together in some occasions. The non-Muslim Brazilian population watched as Muslims fasted and exchanged gifts that the Brazilians understood as saka this was a variation of the Arabic term for alms-giving zakat.

Enslaved Muslims living on Sea Island, Georgia also fasted when they could and the women on the island would fix rice cakes known as saraka to the non-Muslim observers. Saraka was a variation of the word sadaqah in Arabic meaning non-obligatory charity. The son of Salih Bilali was sent to a plantation on Saint Simmons Island, Georgia but, he kept his Islamic faith and not only fasted but made saraka for other slaves, Muslim and non-Muslims. Omar ibn Said, a Muslim slave in North Carolina was said to have been a “staunch Mohammedan and the first month of the year kept his fast of Ramadhan with strictness.”

Enslaved Muslims could have chosen not to fast during Ramadhan but, there are a few reasons why they may have chosen to. It is important to acknowledge that each plantation had to have their own moon sighting to keep track of the Islamic months. Enslaved Muslims were looking to keep their Islamic identity in enslavement just as they would have if they were slaves in their respective homelands. Enslaved Muslims were fighting this idea of not only being slaves but, being legal property with little to no rights. Muslims could not justify neglecting their religious duties because of the social conditions.  This was not a phenomenon only in the United States but, wherever West African Muslims landed there was an attempt to hold onto their religious duties. Muhammad Kaba for example, a Muslim slave in Jamaica, would pretend to be sick whenever he wished to observe fasting.

In the hostile world that Muslims found themselves in following their religious customs was a way to stay connected to home and worship. The eagerness to follow their religious rituals and laws was seen in the United States, South America, and the Caribbean. Individual Muslims, families on plantations, and entire communities in Brazil, looked to salvage the little autonomy they had by following through with their religious obligations the best they could.


Related Topics:

Ramadhan a Beacon of Light in Jerusalem*

Ramadhan amongst the Rubble of Gaza*

Ramadhan Journey Across the Desert of the Sinai*

Ramadhan in Kenya*

Working and Staying Sane in Ramadhan*

Prophet Muhammed (SAW) on Ramadhan

No Increase in Preterm Delivery With Ramadhan Fasting

Ramadhan Reflections: How Do I Find The Balance To Do What I Should

Ramadhan Reflections: Remembering Those Who Don’t Have the Choice to Fast‏


Tarawih Prayed During the Time of the Prophet and His Successors*

Tarawih Prayed During the Time of the Prophet and His Successors*

Answers by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: As-salamu alaykum

How was the Tarawih prayed during the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his successors (may Allah be pleased with them)?

Answer: As-salam ‘alaykum. Jazakum Allah khayr for your question. May Allah increase in you in knowledge and guidance.

The Tarawih prayer during the month of Ramadan, consisting of 20 cycles of prayer, is a sunna of the Prophet . After the Prophet’s passing away , the Companions continued to pray Tarawih each night of Ramadan, but not as one congregation. Sayyidna Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) later enjoined the people to gather as a unified congregation to pray the Tarawih prayer, and this was continued by the Righteous Caliphs after him and down to this very day.

Tarawih during the time of the Prophet

The Prophet prayed the Tarawih prayer in congregation and individually at home. It is related in al Bukhari, from Zaid ibn Thabit, that,

‘The Prophet took a room made of date palm leaves mats in the mosque. Allah’s Messenger prayed in it for a few nights till the people gathered [to pray the Tarawih prayer behind him]. Then on the 4th night the people did not hear his voice and they thought he had slept, so some of them started humming in order that he might come out. The Prophet then said, ‘You continued doing what I saw you doing till I was afraid that this [Tarawih prayer] might be enjoined on you, and if it were enjoined on you, you would not continue performing it. Therefore, O people! Perform your prayers at your homes, for the best prayer of a person is what is performed at his home except the compulsory congregational) prayer.’

The Prophet continued to pray the Tarawih prayer at home, and the companions continued to pray individually. This continued during the reign of Sayyidna Abu Bakr and the beginning of Sayyidna Umar’s caliphate (May Allah be pleased with them).

Ibn Shihab, sub-narrating on a hadith from Abu Huraira, said, ‘Allah’s Messenger passed away and the people continued observing that [the Tarawih prayer individually), and it remained as it was during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr and in the early days of ‘Umar’s Caliphate.’ [al Bukhari]

Tarawih during the time of Sayyidna Umar

As mentioned, at the beginning of Sayyidna Umar’s rule, the people would offer Tarawih individually, but some would also pray in different groups in the masjid. Sayyidna Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) noticed this and decided that it would be better to perform the prayer as one larger congregation, the unified congregation being more in the spirit of Islam. This was the beginning of the congregational Tarawih as we know it now.

Abdul Rahman ibn Abd al Qari narrates, ‘I went out with Umar ibn al Khattab in Ramadan to the masjid and the people there were spread out in groups. Some men were praying by themselves, whilst others were praying in small groups. Umar said, ‘By Allah! It would be better in my opinion if these people gathered behind one reciter.’ So he gathered them behind Ubayy ibn Ka’ab. Then I went out with him another night and the people were praying behind their Qur’an reciter. Umar said, ‘How excellent this new way is!’ [al Bukhari, al Muwatta]

During the reigns of Sayyidna Uthman and Sayyidna Ali

The third righteous Caliph, Uthman, and the fourth righteous Caliph, Ali (May Allah be pleased with them) continued the practice of praying the 20 cycles of Tarawih prayer in congregation, followed by the three cycles of the Witr prayer. This practice, which was agreed upon by the Companions, The Followers, and all subsequent generations, has continued ever since.

The validity of such practice is established by the words of the Prophet , ‘Allah will not cause my ummah to agree on misguidance. The hand of Allah is with the group.’ [al Tirmidhi], and further corroborated by the words of the great Companion Ibn Mas’ud (May Allah be pleased with him), ‘Whatever the Muslims deem to be good is good in the eyes of Allah, and whatever they consider bad is bad in Allah’s view.’ [Musnad Ahmad].

I pray this clarifies things for you.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.


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For Native Mothers, a Way to Give Birth That Overcomes Trauma*

For Native Mothers, a Way to Give Birth That Overcomes Trauma*

A birthing centre opening next year in New Mexico will provide a safe place for women to heal through their traditions.

Nicolle Gonzalez a Navajo midwife and mother of three is establishing a birthing centre in New Mexico – photo Sarah van Gelder


By Sarah van Gelder

Nicolle Gonzales has the stamina of a long-distance runner, which she is, and the authority that comes from guiding nervous mothers-to-be through difficult labour. Her confidence was hard-won: She is a survivor of sexual abuse who gave birth to her first child at age 20 in a noisy hospital room, crowded with relatives and attended by a doctor who wouldn’t answer her questions. She lost so much blood that she nearly lost consciousness.

“That birth was traumatic and loud,” she said.

The feeling of being out of control carried over into her early mothering.

“I just didn’t feel connected to being a mom for the first couple years.”

Today Gonzales, who is Navajo, lives with her Tewa husband and three children in the San Ildefonso Pueblo, north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. In the years after that difficult birth, she trained to become a midwife and developed a deeper understanding of what had happened to her.

“When I talk to non-Native health care providers, they say,

‘All my Native ladies are great. They don’t talk. They come in and do what I tell them,’” Gonzales explained.

“I want that to end,” she said.

“Our women are important. Where we birth and how we birth is important.”

She believes that a birthing centre that supports the young mothers’ practice of their traditions could help make the difference between more trauma and healing. That’s why the Changing Woman Initiative, which Gonzales founded, has worked for years to build a Native-run birthing center where women and their families will find empowerment and healing when they are most vulnerable. Gonzales and her collaborators intend to open the birthing and wellness centre in the Tewa community of Pojoaque Pueblo in the summer of 2018.

Trauma is widespread throughout the United States, where six in ten people have experienced some form of early childhood trauma, according to a report by the National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention. Native American populations also live with the effects of centuries of displacement, massacres, starvation, and the forced removal of children from families. Native women are also more likely to be victims of domestic violence; they are more likely to be trafficked, and experience rape and sexual assault at more than twice the national rate.

Gonzales knows these facts all too well. But after speaking at conferences about Native American issues for years, she wants to see action.

“There is little discussion about solutions, and there is little notice given to the Native voices about our own communities,” she said.

For Gonzales, addressing these issues requires reincorporating culture, traditional belief systems, and language to bring life back to Native communities. Her birthing centre is a place where that can happen.

She imagines a welcoming place with photos of grandmothers on the wall, cedar burning, drumming, and a space for ceremonies. She envisions the family and community gathering at the center to welcome the newborn baby, who would hear the words of his or her native language before any others.

“Birth is a lot like a ceremony,” Gonzales said.

“There’s sacrifice, there’s pain, and there’s healing.”

During traditional dances, women learn how strong they can be.

“The Corn Dance is in August. You dance nonstop, without shoes, and it’s hot, and you’re exhausted,” she said.

“I tell the mothers in labour, this is like the Corn Dance. You’re tired, but you’re listening to that drum, and the baby’s gonna be here!”

Gonzales has found that pregnancy is a time when many women who are in abusive relationships, who smoke, or abuse drugs or alcohol are open to change.

 “In our Navajo culture, teaching our mind is very powerful. We talk about hozho, which is walking in beauty, or being positive, and we understand that what we say can manifest into reality,” she said.

“I had one woman who was so traumatized, she came into the office shaking,” she continued.

“There was sweat on her lip, and she was like, ‘What are you going to do to me?’”

The birthing process can trigger abuse trauma, Gonzales said, because the women feel out of control.

Giving birth on their own terms feels like a victory, Gonzales said.

“They feel in control. You see the shift through the whole pregnancy as that confidence sets in. A mother who feels her own strength and the support and love of others can in turn offer her children the love and support that will put them on a solid footing for life.


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Witnesses saw U.S. Military Killing Fleeing Child in Latest Botched Yemen Raid*

Witnesses saw U.S. Military Killing Fleeing Child in Latest Botched Yemen Raid*

Human rights group, Reprieve say the raid went wrong from the start when U.S. Navy Seals opened fire on a partially blind 70-year-old man.

By Andrea Germanos

A Yemeni soldier looks at the graffiti of U.S. drone strike painted on a wall as a protest against the drone strikes, in Sanaa, Yemen, on Dec. 21, 2013. (Photo: Mohammed Mohammed/Xinhua)


The Pentagon said last week that there were “no credible indications of civilian casualties” from the latest U.S. Navy SEALs raid on a village in Yemen.

Yet new reporting by The Intercept, citing eyewitness accounts, offers more evidence to contradict the military’s claim.

Residents of the village in Mareb province said that there were in fact 10 civilians killed and wounded, including a 15-year old child who was trying to flee a barrage of firing from Apache helicopters.

His name was Abdullah Saeed Salem al Adhal.

His 22-year-old brother, Murad al Adhal, said to the news outlet that he saw “the nearby hills were filled with the American soldiers.”

“My little brother Abdullah ran for his life with the other women and children. They killed him as he was running,” said Murad, who was also shot in the leg.

Apart from countering U.S. claims about the event, journalist Iona Craig writes, the eyewitness testimony also raises serious questions about intelligence gathering methods and the ability of decision-makers to determine who is and who is not an Al Qaeda militant amidst Yemen’s multifaceted conflict where loyalties are fluid and pragmatically based.

Human rights organization Reprieve has also countered the military’s version of events and identified 70-year-old, partially blind Nasser al-Adhal as among the civilians killed in the May 23 raid. He was shot by U.S. forces as he went to greet the SEALs, believing them to be guests.

“This new flawed raid by President Trump shows the U.S. is not capable of distinguishing a terrorist from an innocent civilian,” said Kate Higham, head of the assassinations program at Reprieve, in the wake of the raid.

“President Trump must order an immediate investigation into what went wrong and halt all raids and drone strikes before more innocent Yemenis are killed,” she added.

Apart from reeling from two years of war, millions of Yemenis are facing acute hunger and a cholera outbreak. The World Health Organization said Monday that the death toll from that epidemic has claimed 471 lives.

Meanwhile, a handful of U.S. lawmakers is trying to block the sale of  $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, which is leading the coalition fight in Yemen and has been accused of committing war crimes in that conflict.

And in Iraq, another front in the ever-expanding global war on terror, Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis said Sunday the U.S. military will begin to use “annihilation tactics” to defeat Islamic State (ISIS) fighters, adding to CBS‘s “Face the Nation” that “[c]ivilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation.”


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