Friday, December 5, 2014

Sin Grows With Doing Good “Sin grows with doing good,” wrote T.S. Eliot, a major twentieth century poet who was born in Missouri, home to the City of Ferguson. “My conscience is clear,” said Darren Wilson, the Ferguson cop, after the grand jury verdict and before resigning with full benefits. “I did not mean to hurt Mr. Garner,” said Daniel Pantaleo, the New York cop, after the grand jury verdict and while remaining on job with full benefits. Both cops firmly believed they were doing good. Both juries believed Michael Brown and Eric Garner were wrong. A large number of Americans, mostly colored, agrees with T. S. Eliot. They believe the cops sinned thinking they are doing good. It may take decades to learn who is right and who is not. In the interim, America must ask itself: · How could and for how long will white cops keep killing black and brown unarmed men and children? · What makes juries vindicate killer cops? · Why does the nation prefer to remain in slumber? · Who will wake the nation? · When will America begin to see itself from the eyes of a widow or a wailing mother? Unless we seek answers to these questions, sin will keep growing. The bullets and the chokeholds will kill more black and brown men and children and sin will keep growing. Priests will keep preaching. Pundits will keep barking. Politicians will keep pacifying and sin will keep growing. There is a way however to stop America from sinning. America’s redemption lies in the words of a black man, spoken nearly five decades ago … “We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” Let us become a person-centered society where “all” persons are valued and respected. Else prepare for the day when the wretched of the earth shall rise against the sinners!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Ramadan Holocaust

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The Ramadan Holocaust

This past Ramadan, the world near silently witnessed yet another holocaust in occupied Palestine. The Palestinians have lived with such painful reality since they were uprooted from their homes and hearth to compensate for Hitler’s crimes. And they may continue to pay this price but only till the world discovers its conscience. It is Living Holocaust for them.

Undoubtedly what was and has been inflicted upon the Palestinians writes new chapters in a certain people’s inhumanity.

The latest atrocities brought contrasting reactions from Muslims in many parts of the world. Despite the oft repeated boasting of being more than a billion, the global Muslim leadership largely remained a timid observer. The biggest protests however were held by Muslim masses particularly in countries where they live as minorities, even as insignificant minorities.

Some social activists relied heavily on the images of dead and mangled bodies. Perhaps, this was their attempt to awaken the slumbering Muslim rulers and as well the masses. Certainly, they may have done so in good conscience in their own understanding. However, one may wonder if using the images of the mangled bodies (for the purposes of mobilizing masses) undermines the sanctity of human body while raising other ethical questions.

The British Baroness Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, who resigned in protest after failing to persuade her prime minister to change his morally indefensible policy, took one of the most telling actions. Ostensibly free of conscience, David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, instead went on vacation. However, Warsi’s timely tweet to her 60,000 followers (and imagine the re-tweets) made Cameron’s vacation went awry as his own Conservative Party, coalition partner Liberals Democrats, and other opinion makers condemned Cameron and praised Warsi. As expected the hate lobby is trying to defame Warsi but she stands tall.

Regrettably, no such principled action was seen either by Muslim rulers, leaders or scholars except the French-born-British-based Dr. Tariq Ramadan, who decided to boycott the popular annual exhibitions by ISNA & by RIS.

It is up to the Muslims of North America to realize the role that their institutions must play and the responsibility that their leaders must honor. Borrowing the sage words of the martyred Martin Luther King, Jr. that “in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

For now and until next Ramadan, various Muslim and non-Muslim aid agencies - each with their own agendas – will be asking for funds to feed the starving, clothe the naked and provide shelter to the bombed people of Gaza only if they are allowed to do so by the Apartheid Israel.

In the interim, the questions must Muslims ask themselves are: who will wipe the tears of orphans, who will restore the smiles of widows and who will heal a people so deeply bruised and battered for more than half a century and that will the next holocaust be inflicted next Ramadan or the one after?

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Poisoned Iftar ...

You are invited to the poisoned Iftar!

I am very disappointed I did not receive the White House Iftar invite. Perhaps because:  
Heck ya - I will do this all over again and many times over.

After I signed on the petition to boycott WH Iftar, I received some responses from the "Good Muslims"  which I share below for your pleasure read.
  • When President calls, you go.
  • America has blessed me and I will not boycott the President.
  • No King calls me for Iftar, President does
And now let's see few responses from the "Bad Muslims." 
  • I would never sit in the same room with the blood thirsty suckers in dark suits.
  • I will die over becoming killers' accomplice.
  • Sure I will go if the WH flies me first class & sends a limo so that I can have the Kabobs at the Afghan Kabob House in Arlington, VA 
I have overheard that some Muslims have not only boycotted the WH Iftar but called for a justice-vigil outside the WH while some Muslim organizations have already shipped out their men and women of valor to break bread with Brother Hussein who is afraid to use his middle name.

Since I am at this, let me quote a conversation I have had few years ago with a leading Muslim leader about the WH Iftar:
  • Me: Why are "you: not invited to the WH Iftar, after all you are a leading voice of Muslims
  • Leader: Shame on me if I am invited and double shame on me if I accept it
  • Me: Why do you say "shame?"
  • Leader: Any Muslim who is invited to the WH Iftar must be ashamed of himself/herself and the organization they work for. Instead they should ask themselves a critical question, "what are they doing wrong?"

Now I ask that you - whoever you may be the Good Muslim or the Bad Muslim - look up the list of WH Iftar proponents & ask the question to yourself - "are they in service of people or the Master?"

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Musical presentation of our pilgrimage for pathway to citizenship

A beautiful musical presentation by fellow pilgrims ... Music by Josth Stenner, Vocals by Diana Campos and video editing by Estefany Mendez.
Click here to watch.

A Professorial Rebuttal to Knucklehead Kevin McCarthy

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My fellow pilgrim Professor Gonzalo Santos offers a sober rebuttal to the knucklehead Rep. Kevin McCarthy. Click here to watch.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Here's a video clip of knucklehead Kevin McCarthy who shamelessly tried to defend himself for not meeting with the pilgrims (including me) who walked 285 miles in 21 days to meet him in his district at his office. And, yet he has the audacity to try to pivot the discussion from immigration reform to my fellow pilgrim Prof. Gonzalo Santos. In a video response, my dear brother Prof. Santos not only graciously responds to Kevin McCarthy's lame attempts but also sets the record straight by explaining why comprehensive immigration reform is long over due in our country. Si Se Peude.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Walking the Prophetic Walk for a Pathway to Citizenship
Walking the Prophetic Walk for a Pathway to Citizenship
(also published at another site)
Over the last 30 years, I have worked on many different social justice issues as a central passion in my life. This call to work for social justice is deeply rooted in my faith as a Muslim, and it is this call I have tried to serve since 2005 as the executive director of the Shura Council of Southern California, which is an umbrella association of Mosques and Muslim organizations serving Muslims living in Southern California and society at large.
For more than a millennium, my faith has taught that “when you see a wrong, right it.”
This mandate is without an option for neutrality, let alone apathy.  The choices to right the wrong includes, “action,” “speech” or “empathy,” in that order. Action is considered to be the strongest demonstration of faith while empathy, though admirable is considered as the weakest expression of the faithful.  A central part of our history as Muslims is the migration of the Prophet Muhammad, where he was forced to leave his home and family to seek freedom, justice and peace for all. These teachings, urging me to right wrongs with action and to seek peace by leaving behind home and homeland give me incredible peace as a Muslim.
Central to this call to work for social justice has been my own journey as an immigrant to the United States. I came from India in 1985 and ever since, by watching the journeys of my friends and family members, and through my work in the interfaith community, I have seen the ways that our current immigration system tears families apart. This is especially true for the 11 million aspiring Americans living in this country whose status is uncertain –people of diverse national origin and religious backgrounds, who are often exploited by corporations and often the law with very little if any recourse. They are hardworking people who are forced to live in constant fear of being separated from their families.
For almost two decades, our nation’s indifference toward these undocumented Americans who are freely exploited from the valleys of California to the shores of Maine has left me agitated, unable to be at peace. During these last 20 years, the poor and those without legal status have become poorer and more powerless while the rich have become richer and more indifferent. I saw this wrong; I struggled with how to right it. Peace eluded me. Indeed I have also seen how the policies of this countries broken immigration system have also affected the Muslim community unfairly, as was recently revealed in an ACLU report which exposed the previously unknown national security program known as the “Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program,” where the government purposely and illegally excludes many applicants from Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities from these opportunities by delaying and denying their applications without authority.
My agitation as a naturalized United States citizen and as a person of faith, I believe now morally binds me to the more than 11 million mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons of myriad faiths and diverse traditions who are aspiring Americans and all those who suffer from unjust immigration policies. Following the legacy and example of the Prophet Muhammad, I decided that I too must become a Pilgrim for the sake of freedom I decided to join the Pilgrimage for a Pathway to Citizenship and walk 111 miles in solidarity with and dignity for the 11 million aspiring Americans yearning for full citizenship and enfranchisement in our great nation.
I walked with my fellow Pilgrims, learned their stories, and shared mine with them.  We are all immigrants, all Americans. Together, we walked, prayed and broke bread. We sang and sometimes, we wept. But for the 10 days on the Pilgrimage for a Pathway to Citizenship, rain or shine, we walked as one—walking for respect and dignity, demanding equality and fair treatment.
Walking is prophetic. On this journey it was my prayer, that we walked in the tradition of Moses who walked out of Pharaoh’s land to free the oppressed. We will walk in the tradition of Jesus who walked to Jerusalem and protested oppressors. And, I will also walk in the tradition of Muhammad who walked from his birthplace to a city afar, for a better tomorrow of his people.