Katie Hopkins’ Anti Muslim Rants: My Thoughts

Katie-Hopkins-most-awful-tweets-everUp until today, I didn’t know who Katie Hopkins was. After reading her horrible, anti-Muslim tweet about Palestinians, I became curious to know more about this woman. And quite frankly I regret googling her. Its like the time when I first heard about Katie Price, I googled her only to realise I’d wasted my time thinking she was anything remotely important. Both are publicity junkies, as the saying goes, ‘any publicity is good publicity, even if its bad publicity’. I don’t understand why the media gives her attention, well that’s a lie, I do understand why. As long she is getting you ratings, she can be any arrogant D list celebrity. Katie Hopkins is a regret the UK surely won’t miss once it’s gone.

With regards to her tweets on Muslims and Palestinians, and inciting terrorist attacks, she should be sent to Guantanamo Bay, right? If a Muslim tweeted about starting a ‘bombing campaign’ on the UK or America, then he’s pretty much asking for a one way ticket to the place.

People have taken to Twitter for her arrest to happen and I pray she is arrested swiftly, but somehow I think Katie Hopkins will be treated lightly even if she is. I’ll leave it to the readers’ imagination to think as to why that might be.

Not only does she call for genocide on Palestinians, she also doesn’t like fat people and pokes fun at Ebola sufferers. She also thinks kids named ‘Tyler’ belong to lower class families and don’t do their homework. She clearly isn’t not all there.

There are plenty of famous individuals who incite Islamophobic and offensive remarks, she isn’t the first. Bill Maher, Sam Harris, Ayan Hirsi Ali, Douglas Murray, Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Robert Morey and many more, all of who make no apology conversing regular anti Muslim rhetoric. Katie’s offensive rant on Twitter came to me as no surprise, and it shouldn’t really surprise anyone from where I see it. Yes people are angry at her and I understand that, we all should be angry at her, but it is quite clear by her personality, she revels in our frustration at her.

Of course one’s reply, to hateful and anti-Muslim comments like Katie Hopkins’, should be for her to educate herself. But I believe she knows that. I believe those like her who spit anti-Muslim and offensive rhetoric, choose not to educate themselves on what they speak. They pick what to read and listen to according to their narrow view and how they want the world to be. Muslims and good people in general shouldn’t be distracted by such Islamophobic people and what they say, we should spend less time worrying about what offensive things they’re going to say next and think more about educating those who want to learn. I do believe in tackling Islamophobia, but I believe a greater benefit is achieved by educating those who clearly aren’t Islamophobic and have good intentions to learn about the Muslim faith. Thank you.

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EDL Girls – Don’t Call Me Racist: my thoughts

BBC 3 aired what may be one the most disastrous, basic reports – sorry, I meant to say ‘documentaries’ –  last night, EDL Girls – Don’t Call Me Racist. I call it a ‘basic report’ because it took only accounts and statements from a bunch of racists and uneducated bigots without challenging them in any way. Giving such such a hateful propaganda like the English Defence League’s a platform to spew their ill-informed views for the world to hear can be argued as extremely counter productive, and down right dangerous and outrageous when done so unchallenged. Just ask, what is to be achieved with this show now aired? The educated and sensible in our society will dismiss it without a doubt, but for the closet racists who are secretly searching for people with similar views, this show does nothing but encourage them to take action for their spiteful views.

BBC 3 is being criticised for giving “hateful propaganda” a platform. Matthew Collins, a researcher for the organisation Hope Not Hate, lambasted the BBC for broadcasting such “banal, ill-informed dross where a bunch of racists went unchallenged.”    

Nevertheless this shoddy excuse for a documentary was entertaining, it got a few laughs from me. I mean, who wouldn’t want to watch an uneducated bigoted fellah speak passionately about how ‘halal’ his loaf of bread is. “A few pennies of that (Kingsmill bread) went to the Taliban to put bullets in guns” says Jay. The Muslims are taking over Jay, one slice of bread at a time! Another EDL member on the show stated “anyone can join the EDL, even Muslims”, how generous of them. People took to twitter to express their opinions regarding the show. 

The show introduced Gail, a so called mother figure for the EDL who likes to yell “YORKSHIRE” repeatedly. Her struggle was with the courts trying bring two Asian men to justice who apparently brutally beat her up. I wonder how the BBC missed the opportunity to interview these two Asians to hear both sides of the story.

For a moment the show was slightly reassuring to show us Katie, who after constant bombardment and pressure from her family to join the EDL with them, decided not to as she didn’t want to be labelled as a racist.

What I found most worrying was the case of Amanda. How isolated individuals can find comfort in extremist organisations like the EDL in exchange for a sense of belonging.    

There isn’t much else to say about this show, so I shall conclude.

So what is it we Muslims should do about this? – simple, educate them. No matter how ignorant they may be, our duty is to at least try to convey the truth of our faith to them, whether they take it or not. People are humans at the end of the day and can learn from their mistakes and change. One of the greatest qualities Muhammad peace be upon him had was that he could change the heart of his enemies towards him to love him, we need acquire this quality in our society. Thank you.                            

Britain’s Debate on the Niqab: My Thoughts

niqabLast week, Turkey’s parliament has allowed female MPs to wear the Muslim veil for the first time since it was banned from public buildings. “There is nothing in parliamentary bylaws that stands as an obstacle to this,” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister. “Everyone should respect our sisters’ decision.”

As western countries have growing concerns about the Islamic head coverings, be it the face veil (niqab) or the headscarf, I believe this particular news is a sign in the right direction. I hope the Niqab debate which is now popular in the UK (thanks to Channel 4 and a few MPs) can benefit from Turkey’s example.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, I’m sure you’re all aware of the concerns people are having regarding the Islamic face veil here in the UK. There’s no hiding it or sugar coating it, non-Muslims are voicing their unease of women covered head to toe, walking and talking as British citizens. On the other hand it is obvious to some, and may be less obvious to others how much some of the issues on this topic are being blown out of proportion by the media. Issues are raised from thin air and given emphasis as if they’re major obstacles. Such as ‘the niqab in hospitals’. This is a problem which doesn’t exist within the NHS as far as my research goes. Mainly because any member of the NHS who observes the face veil is clearly aware that she has to take it off when on duty in public buildings simply on the basis of security. This is the type of unnecessary dialogue we certainly want to avoid, we want to deal with real concerns and questions about the face veil and not superficial sensationalism.

Where other countries have already banned face veils, and even minarets, here in Britain we do things differently. We like to discuss, talk, evaluate, dialogue, conversate, debate etc. You get the point, its a very British thing, but it is good thing.

Channel 4 held a discussion/debate on ‘Britain’s niqab‘ at the East London Mosque. With a complete female audience, and Douglas Murray, the only male out of the six panellists, sure it was joy to watch. Especially Murray, watching him sweep in with his generalised statements, but that didn’t surprise me at all. What did surprise me was Yasmin Alibhai Brown’s plea to the audience to ask the Taliban for their opinion on the face veil. The Niqab has been part of Britain for some twenty odd years now or even more. Free thinking, independent Muslim women pick the Niqab today out of their own choice to please their Creator. These are intelligent women of Britain, not blind followers of the Taliban. Her’s wasn’t the only surprisingly absurd contention raised that evening.

In the face of all the issues fired up in the space of 20 minutes, I believe the sisters discussed the topic very well. However, there are some points raised in this discussion that I would like to clarify as I understand them, which in future discussions I am certain can help the debate move forward.

The debate on whether the Niqab is mandatory or not is ongoing even within in Islam. Muslim women do realise this, and they are either of the opinion that it is mandatory or it isn’t. Both opinions are perfectly valid and can be justified. Even women who believe it isn’t mandatory still take it on as free choice. Islam allows this type of freedom of opinion on issues such as this. The argument that the Niqab isn’t mandatory is a misleading one. It should be noted that while majority of Muslims believe it isn’t mandatory, there is a minority which have the view that it is, and both views have to be considered. Also, whether or not the face veil is a cultural practice, it is more important to understand the freedom allowed regarding it in the context of religion and society. To say the face veil is a cultural practice is a false assumption to make. It can simply be validated as a religious practice by looking at basic historical evidence, the wives of the Prophet used to practice it, and it was never refuted or deemed as un-Islamic by the Prophet peace be upon him or by his companions.

Shalina Litt made a very important point. Whose discomfort are we going to favour? As a multicultural society we have to recognise we all live in different ways. We may not like the way one chooses to dress or look a certain way, but at least respect that it is within the boundaries of a diverse community. It is understandable that one can be discomforted by the sight of a face veil, but is it really justified by getting Muslim women to remove them? The discomforted is now comforted and the comforted discomforted, clearly this isn’t a solution. There is a better way, I believe in dialogue and discussion. The more we talk about the issues concerning us the better we understand each other, responsibility belongs on both sides of the fence. Sisters observing the face veil need to understand that parts of the British public are genuinely bothered by it, may see it as a sign of oppression and therefore may be intimidated. It is first and foremost the duty of these sisters to help remove the misconceptions about it, and the best way to go about that is communication. However, those who may not be familiar with the Islamic practice of veiling, should make attempts to understand the philosophy behind the act, ask a sister who veils or enquire about the validity of the niqab in social and religious dynamics. If we want to get to that heart of the issue this is the type of attitude I believe we should be having.

I am not convinced the debate on the niqab is about Muslim exceptionalism. Rather exceptionalism in the context of the religious has been a part of multicultural Britain for many years. It is because of our exceptionalistic society that Britain is the most multicultural and tolerant place to live in the 21st century. Of course there are limits and boundaries, it isn’t apparent that the practice of the niqab is beyond reasonable limits. It isn’t a harmful practice, nor is it worn to offend anyone. By all means if it does offend any person, it shouldn’t be dealt with by speaking against the practice, but by making a positive case for it and highlighting the benefits in it which many Muslim sisters wear it for.

Douglas Murray was of course a delight to watch voicing his simplistic black or white generalisations. His style of arguing was quite an authoritative type, and so he made some startling statements without any real logical reasoning. He first made the assertion that nobody knows who Fatima Barkatullah is due to her face veil. Well I’m sure Channel 4 know who she is, Jackie Long introduced her with name and profession right at the beginning of the debate as she did for the other two veiled panellists. They all spoke clearly and made valid points, and I’m sure everyone understood what they were saying regardless of their head coverings. Sahar Al-Faifi was correct in stating that the majority of the world’s communication isn’t face to face, examples such as Twitter, Facebook, texts and that amazing app called WhatsApp. These are all great examples of how we’ve evolved our preferences of social interaction, we feel just as connected to one another via phone calls and texts as we do face to face. Also picking on Douglas’ point, ‘Muslim women who veil in France have taken it off, is it so negotiable?’. The face veil is negotiable when it is a matter of security, and the reason why so many have taken off their niqabs is not because they wanted to, but simply because they are forced to by the French government. Many cannot afford the fine and therefore have to compromise their religious practice for a law which instead of preventing bigotry and Islamophobia, attracts such qualities.

The debate on the British niqab may be a long one, or we may be distracted by some other news sometime in the near future and forget all about it. But it remains to be seen whether or not Britain will follow in the footsteps of the French and ban the niqab. The niqab is a simple piece of cloth which a Muslim woman chooses to cover her face with in modesty and worship to her Creator. It harms no one nor is it meant to offend anyone. Veiled women still contribute to society and interact with other people on a day to day basis. Douglas was right on one thing, ‘Britain is the most tolerant place to live even as a Muslim’, but if we impose a ban on the veil then we would be taking a step in the other direction. What crucially needs to be recognised, is the veil is misunderstood in parts of Britain and we need to deal with this problem before anything else, people are at unease and concerned, this can only be resolved by dialogue and education, not by a ban. We must consider the rights and concerns of everyone collectively, and we mustn’t force a minority of women in Britain to assimilate to western culture by taking off their covers.

A picture worth a thousand words

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Posted from Saj’s Nexus

My top 5 apps for Muslims (Android)

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Zabihah (free)

Ever been in a situation where you’re out with your friends looking for a halal place to eat, and you want to order something more than just a McDonald’s fish burger? Zabihah is an awesome ‘eureka moment’ app which locates and provides directions to halal restaurants and takeaways around wherever you are. So no more running around into one restaurant after another asking if they do halal dishes, or unwillingly being confined to the vegetarian menu. Just take out your smart phone and Zabihah will do the rest for you. It also gives directions to any masjids around you. Zabihah is a must have app for any Muslim owning a smart phone.

iTajweed – colour coded Quran (free)

If you’re like me, obsessive about your tajweed, then you’ll love iTajweed! A 13 line colour coded tajweed version of the Quran. It’s purpose is to be simplistic and easy to use replica of a colour coded mushaf (the Arabic Quran in book form) on your smartphone. The Arabic is neat and vivid and easy to read, with the ability to bookmark pages for later reads. Perfect for on the go.

Quran Android (free)

Quran Android is an all round essential Quran app for your smart phone. It contains all you need to enjoy the glorious book of Allah. Readable Arabic, translations into many languages (English language includes translations by: Yusuf Ali, Pickthall and Sahih International). Audio features, a variety of popular reciters to choose from. You can’t go wrong with Quran Android! Of course there are several apps out there on the market with the same features, but what I think sets this one apart from the rest is it’s smooth great looking UI. Oh, and did I mention it’s free!

Muslim prayer times pro (£0.94/free)

All you need from a prayer application: adhan notifications, qibla compass and all major methods of calculation, available on both free and pro versions. Pro comes with some extra features and customisations which you can do without if you’re a little shy of buying apps. Unlike most Islamic apps available on the market which look tacky with unattractive colours and fonts etc, Muslim prayer times pro/free looks and feels clean and premium with brilliant UI.

myDuaa: Fortress of a Muslim (£0.99)

Dua, the weapon of the believer! ‘Fortress of a Muslim’ is now in app form. With more than 250 duas (supplications) in Arabic with English translation and transliteration, audio recitations in Arabic, and it’s user friendly interface, this is a great purchase for merely £1. Search specific duas or learn new ones, this app makes it easy to do both. It’s neat and convenient, a great app which helps revive an important sunnah of the Prophet, and definitely worth its place on this top 5!

So this is my top 5 apps for Muslims with Android devices (although some are also available on other markets). Hope this is useful, let me know what you think… Like, comment! Thank you.

The fasting Jesus: from Muslim literature

As I continue to read Tarif Khalidi’s book, The Muslim Jesus, I come across wonderful saying and spiritually uplifting stories. As it is the month of Ramadan, the following are sayings and stories, I present from the book regarding Jesus and fasting. I have excerpted them less concerned about their authenticity, but in confidence that they will be of some inspiration.

Jesus said, “If it is a day of fasting for one of you, let him anoint his head and beard and wipe his lips so people will not know he is fasting. If he gives with the right hand, let him hide this from his left hand. If he prays, let him pull down the door curtain, for God apportions praise as He apportions livelihood.”[1

If you want to fast as Jesus did, he would fast all the time and lived on nothing but barley. He always wore [garments of] coarse hair, and wherever he would be at nightfall he would plant his feet and keep praying until he saw the break of dawn. He would never leave a particular place before praying two rak’as. If, however you want to fast as his mother the Virgin did, she used to fast for two days at a time then eat for two days.[2]

It is told that Jesus spent sixty days in intimate conversation with his Lord without eating. Then the thought of bread occurred to him and his intimacy was interrupted. At once a loaf of bread appeared in his hands, so he sat down and wept for the loss of intimacy. At that moment, an old man cast his shadow upon him and Jesus said to him, “God bless you, friend of God. Pray to God for me, for I was in a trance and the thought of bread occurred to me, and so my trance was interrupted.” The old man prayed, “O God! If you know that the thought of bread has occurred to me since I have known you, do not forgive me. On the contrary, if anything was brought before me, I would eat it without any thought of it.”[3]

Jesus exhorted some of his companions as follows: “Fast from the world and break your fast with death. Be like him who treats his wound with medicine lest it oppress him. Remember death often‑for death comes to the man of faith bringing good with no evil to follow; but to the evil man, it brings evil with no good to follow.”[4]

References 

[1]The Muslim Jesus by Tarif Khalidi , The Sayings and Stories no. 4 –  ‘Abdallah ibn al-Mubarak (d. 181/797), al- Zuhd, pp. 48-49 (no. 150). Cf. al-Ghazali, ihya’ Ulum al-Din, 3:287; Ibn ‘Asakir, Sirat, p. 175, no. 201 (Asin, p. 389, no. 55; Mansur, no. 137; Robson, p. 46).

[2]The Muslim Jesus by Tarif Khalidi, The Sayings and Stories no. 146 –  Abu al-Layth al-Samarqandi (d.373/983), Tanbih al-Ghafilin, p. 125 (asin, p. 557, no. 139; Mansur, no. 39; Robson,pp.74-75).

[3]The Muslim Jesus by Tarif Khalidi, The Sayings and Stories no. 209 –  Abu Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 505/1111), Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din, 3:81 (Asin, p.362, no. 22; Mansur, no. 107; Robson, pp. 63-64). 

[4]The Muslim Jesus by Tarif Khalidi, The Sayings and Stories no. 280 –  Abu Muhyi al-Din ibn ‘Arabi (d.638/1240), al-futuhat al-makkiyya, 4:663 (Asin, p. 584, no. 194; Mansur, no. 225; Robson, p. 60)

Who ate the third loaf of bread?

A man once accompanied Jesus, saying to him “I want to be with you and be your companion.” They set forth and reached the bank of a river, where they sat down to eat. They had with them three loaves. They ate two loaves, and a third remained. Jesus then rose and went to the river to drink. When he returned, he did not find the third loaf, so he asked the man: “Who took the loaf?” “I don’t know,” the man replied.

Jesus set forth once more with the man, and he saw a doe with two of her young. Jesus called one of the two, and it came to him. Jesus then slaughtered it, roasted some of it, and ate with his companion. Then he said to the young deer, “Rise, by God’s leave.” The deer rose and left. Jesus then turned to his companion and said, “I ask you in the name of Him who showed you this miracle, who took the loaf?” “I don’t know,” the man replied.

The two of them then came to a body of water in a valley. Jesus took the man by the hand and they walked upon the water. When they had crossed over, Jesus said to him, “I ask you in the name of Him who showed you this miracle, who took the loaf?” “I don’t know,” the man replied.

They then came to a waterless desert and sat down upon the ground. Jesus began to gather some earth and sand, and then said, “Turn to gold, by God’s leaves,” and it did so. Jesus divided the gold into three portions and said, “A third for me, a third for you, and a third for whoever took the loaf.” The man said, “It was I who took the loaf.” Jesus said, “The gold is all yours.”

Jesus then left him. Two men came upon him in the desert with the gold, and wanted to rob and kill him. He said to them, “Let us divide it into three portions among us, and send one of you to town to buy us some food to eat.” One of them was sent off, and then said to himself, “Why should I divide the gold with those two? Rather, I shall poison the food and have all the gold to myself.” He went off and did so.

Meanwhile, the two who stayed behind said to each other, “Why should we give him a third of the gold? Instead, let us kill him when he returns and divide the money between the two of us.” When he returned, they killed him, ate the food, and died. The gold remained in the desert with the three men dead beside it. Jesus passed by, found them in that condition, and said to his companions, “This is the world. Beware of it.”[1]

– Excerpted from the book: The Muslim Jesus by Tarif Khalidi.

The story is seen as a moral fable of longstanding deep interest in many cultures, from late 9th century AD.

Reading the book, this particular story stood out to me. The main theme of the story is about greed and deceit and I saw it could relate to our times. It has much to say about the way we live, how we crave for worldly things. How easy it is to let our materialistic desires define our own character and actions. I find it concerning to see society like this, particularly the youth today, having the latest phone, jacket, expensive hair cuts etc. this is what defines most of them. And if they don’t have that then they have an identity crisis.

Looking at how people are so caught up in the world, gaining wealth and influence and ‘respectability’, one can understand why the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) discouraged liking this life and this world too much. As we can read in the Qur’an, one of my favourite passages regarding worldly matters:

“Competition in (worldly) increase diverts you until you visit the graveyards. No! You are going to know. Then no! You are going to know. No! If you only knew with knowledge of certainty, you will surely see the Hellfire. Then you will surely see it with the eye of certainty. Then you will surely be asked that Day about pleasure.”[2]

The story may be a fable; one might question the authenticity of the story. However, I think one can spend his time more effectively by reflecting on the essence and deep meaning of the story.

References

[1] Abu Bakr ibn Abi al-Dunya (d. 281/894), Kitab Dilamm al-Dunya, in Mawsu’at Rasa’il, 2:49, excerpt no. 87. Cf. al-Ghazali, IIIya’, 3:267 (Asin, pp. 383-384, no. 54; Mansur, no. 136; Robson, pp. 97-99); al-Makki, Qut, 1:255 (Asin, pp. 387-388, no. 54 quater; Mansur, no. 26); al-Thriushi, Siraj, pp. 79-80; Ibn ‘Asakir, Sirat, p. 95, no. 82; al-Abshihi, al-Mustatraf 2:263-264 (Asin, p. 385, no. 54 his and pp. 386-387, no. 54 ter; slight variation).

[2] Qur’an 102