Rumors Target Muslim Community During Coronavirus

The Muslim community in America has always been treated with a certain amount of disdain, which has led to a great deal of misinformation — and even disinformation — to be circulated on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Many of the newest rumors argue that Muslims are being granted certain special rights not afforded to other groups like Christians or Jews. All of these rumors are completely fake, but some are widely accepted as true — something that has only helped Donald Trump’s crusade against anyone different.

Anti-Muslim sentiments are on the rise around the world, but some of those rooted here in the United States leave us with the most unease. 

One commonly shared Facebook post said that mosques are still open even as churches and synagogues have been shut down. Policies differ depending on state, but many religious gatherings have been closed for the duration of the pandemic — and they’re all treated exactly the same in accordance with the law.

The post in question goes so far as to provide examples of Christian pastors and priests who were arrested for violating the new coronavirus laws. But one of those examples is of a Louisiana pastor and a New York Mosque. Shockingly, the pastor was arrested repeatedly for violating coronavirus laws — but he was also arrested for reckless driving after nearly running over someone who was protesting regular church services. The mosque, however, was closed as soon as New York issued its emergency order limited crowds.

Orlando Family Magazine shared a piece relating Islamophobia to the current age in which everyone must stay indoors or risk spreading the deadly coronavirus infection to older loved ones. Imam Tariq Rasheed acknowledges that many religious ceremonies have changed or been limited to small gatherings, but none has been more difficult on loved ones than the funeral.

He said, “Traditionally the funeral prayers are held at the mosque and a big number of people attend, but in this pandemic funeral prayers are held with only close relatives and friends.”

But even with these restrictions and the rumors flooding the community, some still do their best to ignore the negative and continue to implement the practices that would even more severely limit the aforementioned gatherings. 

Janan Najeeb said of Ramadan: “This is the first time, probably in living memory, that they could not gather for the community prayers in the evening and the breaking of the fast. This is unprecedented. But again, it goes back to the whole concept that the sanctity of life supersedes even worship practices that could put people’s lives in danger.”

Najeeb is executive director for the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition and Islamic Resource Center, and in constant contact with her community — so she’s well aware of their thoughts and concerns.

Najeeb said, “This has also been a time for reflection. There are so many people that have said that actually, in spite of all of these restrictions, this was probably the first Ramadan that so many people felt it was incredibly spiritual to spend it all with family at home, praying together, sitting with your children.”

What Happens If Joe Biden Wins The Presidency In 2020?

It’s extremely difficult to argue that Trump’s win in 2016 was a good thing for minority groups, Muslims included. He fueled the fire by playing to his base’s fears — terrorism, socialism, the dumbing down of American rights, particularly guns, etc. None of those things were rooted in truth, but he won all the same using the scare tactics. Right now, it looks as if Trump will lose in 2020. So what happens if Joe Biden wins the presidency?  

Sadly, we don’t really know for sure. There are branching paths forward for the country as a whole. If Biden wins, he will likely reimplement protections that were stripped away from minority groups during the Trump administration. He will almost certainly end the travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries once COVID-19 is behind us. 

These actions by the Trump administration occurred as hate crimes increased over the last four years. Should Biden win, there is a possibility that the number of hate crimes will decline again during his term. But there’s also a possibility that a Biden win actually catalyzes even more violence — especially because those on the conservative right believe that any win that doesn’t belong to Trump means widespread fraud (which is not true).

We can hope Biden would do something about civil rights violations and human rights violations around the world, such as in India and China, where Muslims have been increasingly targeted by hatred for no other reason than their religion. He could put pressure on China to end its program of “reeducation’ camps, which most see more like concentration camps.

Dr. Mahmoud Al-Hadidi said he values only one issue in the current election. “In this election,” he explained, “honestly, respect and recognition. The Muslim community would like to be acknowledged as part of this great American nation, and not as an alien culture to this nation. The Muslim community would like to be treated with respect.”

The Rise Of Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes In 2020

Hate crimes perpetrated against those of Arabic descent or Muslim faith have been spiking around the world every since conservative governments like the Trump administration or England Conservative Party Boris Johnson’s have found footing. Many of these crimes are times to take placing just before, during, or just after the Islamic holy month of fasting, also known as Ramadan. In 2020, that spate of crimes occurred in April.

Nicholas J. Proffitt set fire to an Islamic Center in Missouri on the very first morning of Ramadan earlier in 2020. He was subsequently arrested and charged with a hate crime — arson with the intent to cause property damage. This event was especially distressing to the Muslim American community, which was already struggling under increased pressure because of COVID-19.

Here in the United States, Black Lives Matter protests have erupted in response to police brutality disproportionately committed against minority groups. Europeans have taken notice of these protests as well, with many demonstrations taking place in solidarity with Americans across the world. But Muslims argue that if steps to address systemic racism against African Americans in the U.S. don’t include crimes committed against other minority communities — like Muslims — then all of that work will be for nothing.

Especially if the racism all over the world doesn’t stop growing.

North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said, “Having spoken to many victims of hate crime, I know the shattering impact it can have on lives, livelihoods and families. To be targeted because of who you are is absolutely unacceptable. Too many think that the issue is not a serious one for North Yorkshire and York. My message to everyone is that it is, and we can only tackle hate crime if victims report offenses to the police — no matter how hard that might be.”

The increase in racism in America even spurred a Black Separatist movement which the SPLC Year in Hate Report said was “a reaction to centuries of institutionalized white supremacy in America. Black separatists believe the answer to white racism is to form separate institutions — or even a separate nation — for Black people.” 

The report continued: “As in years past, Black separatists had no influence on mainstream politics or policy, unlike the white nationalist movement. Despite a few incidents that garnered national news attention, these groups continued to operate on the fringe of society, and as a reaction to institutionalized white supremacy.”  

It’s easy to see why the Muslim response to racisms and hate crimes perpetrated against their communities is far more measured — it’s because that racism is much more overt. More often than not, authorities look the other way.

It’s important to remember that this pandemic of racism is hardly confined to America. Similar numbers of Germans, Poles, and English frown upon the Islamic faith. This is primarily because of the misguided notion that Muslims are violent in nature, when that violence occurs through the actions of only a few fanatics. 

Are Muslims Allowed To Engage In Estate Planning?

Many people understand that Muslim Americans still live by a code, much of it having to do with the principles and values that are dictated by the Quran and Islamic community. Muslims living in other countries might be bound by more strict rules or even sharia law, but Muslims living in America do have a greater number of options when planning for the future. Even though Muslims are allowed to engage in estate planning practices, they can experience discrimination when trying.

This is because many American lawyers simply are not well versed in Islamic practices — and, in fact, they are hesitant to do the extra work or ask their clients out of fear for their own reputations. 

While it is true that family estate planning for a Muslim client will likely differ somewhat from a lawyer’s average client, these differences should not dissuade lawyers from taking on new clients from a subsection of our American society that is already left out. 

Estate planning lawyers who are interested in providing services to these underrepresented individuals need not worry — there is plenty of information out there, much of it provided by the American Bar Association. Estate Planning for the Muslim Client is an especially useful resource developed for exactly this reason. It provides valuable information about issues that might arise due to religious principles and legal policies, and how property will likely be distributed upon a client’s death.

Planning for the future is not always only a burden for the lawyers who must draft relevant documents, but also for Muslim Americans who might not know the extent of the synergy between Islamic values and American law. There are many attorneys who provide the majority of their services to Muslim clients. If you live in a larger area, you might have no trouble finding one.

Either way, there is no need for the process to be so stressful!

This is what you can expect: first, ask an estate planning lawyer about their experience drafting documents for Muslim clients. If they have no experience, ask if they are willing to learn the process with you. You can set an appointment once you find the right lawyer. The lawyer will likely email you relevant information about estate planning laws. You should take the time to review as much as you can in order to ask questions about anything that seems confusing.

Most estate planning meetings take anywhere from an hour to an hour-and-a-half, but you should be prepared to budget more time if your lawyer is unfamiliar with your needs. Be prepared to conduct this meeting online if in-person meetings are difficult due to COVID-19.

During the meeting, you will discuss the size of your estate, potential beneficiaries you would like to add to your plan, a living trust, last will and testament, power of attorney, etc. 

Once an agreement is solidified, you and a witness will sign the agreement in front of a notary. This will conclude your business!

The Role Of Black Muslim Activists

The American civil rights movement has fought for decades to make all men and women living in the United States well and truly equal — and as Black Lives Matter has successfully proved in recent weeks, it still has a long way to go. Some are asking whether or not such a victory is even possible in a country where nearly half of the population votes for a man like Donald J. Trump. The movement has also shed light on a different subject: namely the number of actors who have been forgotten.

Malcolm X was an African American Muslim. So is Keith Ellison, a public prosecutor and Attorney General living in Minnesota. But it seems those players and their roles in building this movement have been long forgotten or are still ignored, especially with hate groups spreading misinformation at an alarming rate.

Ellison sought to enter the civil rights movement and law enforcement from a young age. He was only four years old when the National Guard stormed through his hometown. It was 1968. It was just days after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Prosecutors often get a bad rap, but when an African American gets arrested or hurt, he often sees it firsthand. And he’s there to offer help, whether referring individuals to personal injury attorneys or helping keep perpetrators behind bars.

Imam Mahdi Bray, who acts as the National Director of the American Muslim Alliance, said, “We have a long history dealing with violence by extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan. When a lot of people think of terrorism, they think of 9/11. But for me terrorism was on that day in 1956 when my grandfather’s home was firebombed by the Klan.”

Domestic terrorism has continued long after the events of 9/11 aroused the patriotism of Americans everywhere. In recent weeks, young African American men have been found hanging from trees — only to have police rules those obvious murders as “suicide.” 

Black men do not commit suicide by hanging themselves from trees. 

Bray explained, “What’s happening in the US is what has happened for many years. We are suffering from systemic racism and violence. What happened to George Floyd has happened to many African American Black men who have basically experienced death and lethal violence by law enforcement.”

Bray described his own transition to Islam in the mid-1960s as very organic. Many Black Americans at the time were focusing on events transpiring in the Middle East, where predominantly Muslim populations reside. It only seems fitting that the oppressed from one region would band together in solidarity with the oppressed from another region.

But at a time when American sentiments are wholly focused on both minorities living in the United States, it can put Bray and others like him in an unwanted spotlight. Misconceptions continue to run rampant throughout the country, but he remains committed to ending them.

 

Racist Incidents Rising Due To Coronavirus

Americans listening to Donald Trump know exactly who to blame for coronavirus: China (even though that’s not even definitively true). It shouldn’t be a surprise. He continually called it “Kung Flu” during his last campaign event in Tulsa (even though coronavirus isn’t a strain of flu. It seems there’s more than enough blatant racism to go around, though, because anti-Muslim sentiment is on the rise as well.

This is especially true in India.

And it’s nothing new. The Washington Post noted that “the desire to blame calamity on those who are different” is seemingly in our blood. There is a Muslim minority in India, where the blame for spreading the dangerous coronavirus has been laid squarely at their feet. The African minority in China has been blamed for helping to spread the virus as well. (How ironic that must be in the eyes of Americans!) The Hazara is a minority in Pakistan. It too has been blamed.

Charlie Campbell has studied prejudice for a long time. He said, “It’s just a lot easier if you can whip up hatred against someone else. It’s the idea of the bad apple rather than the forgotten barrel.”

One Indian soldier with an Islamic background was targeted and physically assaulted after being blamed. His son, Akib Hussain, said, “You spend 26 years serving the country, and then you get treated like this just for being a Muslim.”

In the United States, the irony of this prejudice is even more impactful. It seems that one person will place blame on an outsider, while another will deny the very existence of the virus in the first place, only to then invoke the name of God to avoid wearing a mask to save others. Jesus would probably be wearing a mask — but then again, he’d probably avoid casting out entire groups of people for their ethnic backgrounds. 

Coincidentally, most of those Americans responsible for these prejudices are firmly in the conservative Christian camp.

What Is Diya Compensation And When Is It Applied?

Most Americans have probably never heard of “Diya,” but the word is used primarily in Islamic law and translates to something like “blood money” or “ransom.” That might sound somewhat dire or unforgiving, but the truth is that the Western civilization has a better known counterpart that serves the same purpose (which is to financially compensate those injured by another party through gross negligence). 

That’s what happens when someone in the United States makes a personal injury claim, but requests punitive damages. The case is built because one party has injured another party either physically or mentally and wants fair compensation. But punitive damages are only awarded when the judge determines that the negligence was so very gross that further punishment is the fairest and most just path forward. In this way, punitive damages and Diya are somewhat similar.

But they are also different.

Diya, for instance, is derived from religion. The Qur’an states: “It is not for a believer to kill a believer unless by mistake. He who hath killed a believer by mistake must set free a believing slave, and pay the diya to the family of the slain unless they remit it as a charity.” Diya is also described in the Hadith.

Unlike Western law, Islamic believers think of homicide or manslaughter as “civil” in nature. It’s not for the government of a state or country to implement punishment. It’s for the two parties involved in the civil dispute to sort it out for themselves using the natural order, i.e. Islamic law based on religious texts. Therefore, prosecution of such a crime falls to the injured party.

You might already understand the most obvious of differences between punitive law and Diya: one is controversial, the other is not. Diya is often associated with sharia law, but they are not technically the same. Sharia law still takes place in the court, whereas “Diya” is more like an out-of-court settlement between the two parties. Generally, “damages” associated with the “Diya” aren’t up for interpretation and have a fixed value dependent on a number of factors (a value which changes if one party is not Muslim).

Diya is still practiced in countries like Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. Under this system, the family of a victim might request Diya (a settlement payment) instead of a state-sanctioned execution as punishment. In Saudi Arabia, however, the Diya can be collected after someone is murdered, but the judgment is made in sharia court.

Many human rights activists also take note that when Diya is calculated, discrimination becomes obvious. The price for a murdered man, for example, is much higher than the price for a murdered woman. Others have opposed the system based on the obvious flaw: it allows murderers to walk free after paying what amounts to little more than a fine.

Violence Across Delhi Fuels Anti-Muslim Sentiments In India

Sectarian tensions have been boiling throughout Indian cities for decades — and it seems like those sentiments are about to erupt in violence unlike anything the country has seen so far. One man couldn’t even make his way home from work without running into one Delhi battle royale. Kaushar Ali came across two groups of Hindu and Muslim followers who were blocking the street as they fought, throwing rocks and hurling curses.

Ali is Muslim, but he didn’t join the fray. Instead, he called on the police. Officers quickly arrived at the scene only to brutally assault him in the process of breaking up the mob. One of the men who they struck died after spending two nights in critical condition at a nearby hospital.

Ali described the confusion and barbarism he experienced at the scene. “The police were toying with us,” he said. 

Police said the opposite. According to officers on the scene, they “saved” Ali from the other protestors. And of course the violence shows no sign of abating even during the severity of the novel coronavirus outbreak that has put the whole of India on lockdown.

This is hardly the first time in modern history during which groups of people have turned to violence in order to have their voices heard, minority or otherwise. Surely, it isn’t the first time these groups have accused police of inciting even worse violence. The 1992 Los Angeles riots broke out shortly after the trial of four police officers accused of beating Rodney King — who was African American — to death. They were exonerated. For at least six days, there was widespread panic and violence in the city.

Even today, the group Black Lives Matter (BLM) has shown that police routinely get away with violence and murder perpetuated against minority groups.

Elsewhere, Muslims are also being victimized in China. Massive “re-education camps” have forced thousands — or even millions — of Muslims into a routine of psychological indoctrination that shows no sign of ending. Chinese government officials have downplayed reports regarding these camps or the torturous methods used during interrogations. 

Many human rights groups have accused Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of helping to perpetuate the cycle of violence in Delhi by doing little to prevent the police under his command from stopping. There are no real consequences. 

“There’s a method to [Modi’s] madness,” says one Muslim activist, Umar Khalid. “The government wants to bring the entire Muslim community to their knees, to beg for their lives and beg for their livelihoods. You can read it in their books. They believe India’s Muslims should live in perpetual fear.”

Modi, of course, has done little more than tweet his opposition to the violence. 

 

Chinese Muslims May Be Forced Into Slave Labor For Nike And Apple

We’ve already discussed some of the treatment of Muslims in China to compare and contrast what it’s like to live in countries other than the United States. But reports out of China have given us cause to fear for those who live there. Chinese officials have responded to reports of Muslim interment with callous indifference more than anything else — but how will they respond to reports of slavery?

As shocking as such a statement is regarding the civilized world, it appears to be the truth.

The Chinese factory Qingdao Taekwang Shoes Co. is an enormous supplier for popular United States brand Nike — and in fact the supplier of popular Shox, Air Max, and more. Reports suggest that many Muslims who are currently working in the factories had no choice but to attend.

The Communist Party of China has been accused of placing those who identify as Muslim Uighurs into interment camps to “re-educate” them how to be Chinese. According to party officials, the vast majority of these individuals have “graduated” and are now living freely. But not everyone is sure that’s the case. It seems that part of their graduation — which is really just forced assimilation into Chinese culture — might be directed labor, which is little different from slavery in a first-world country.

Part of the justification provided for placing Muslims in these camps was the reduction of poverty. But one of the more obvious reasons is to increase the party’s control of its citizens.

An Uighur woman described her plight: “We can walk around, but we can’t go back [to Xinjiang] on our own.”

The program seems designed to create a cult-like atmosphere among the Muslim participants. Common messages adorning the workplaces say things like “stay loyal to the party.” When you hear something again and again, it has a psychological effect — and indeed, you begin to believe that’s what you should do or that something you know to be a lie is actually the truth. 

One vendor said, “Everyone knows they did not come here of their own free will. They were brought here.”

Another said, “The Uighurs had to come because they did not have an option. The government sent them here.”

But the worst part is that the apparently forced labor has benefitted at least 80 well-known brands operating all over the world. This information was provided by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (or ASPI), which is set to release a report on working conditions.

ASPI author Vicky Xiuzhong said, “The Chinese government is now exporting the punitive culture and ethos of Xinjiang’s ‘re-education camps’ to factories across China.”

Trump To Extend Racist Travel Ban Targeting Muslim Countries

The Trump administration has certainly made its mark upon our society, fragmenting whatever was left of the illusion that we can all get along with those who believe differently. Now, the country is as divided as ever. One of Trump’s most controversial moves was implementing the initial ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries — except for the ones his organizations did business with, of course. 

It was a move that didn’t make much sense if the goal was keeping America safe. It’s not difficult for citizens of the targeted countries to bounce around until they make it to the states, if ever they were a danger at all. And while radicals — foreign-born and domestic — will always be a danger, they don’t belong to any one religion. America has more domestic terrorism than any other country in the world, and no one blames Christianity for it.

Trump now plans to take the ban to an entirely new group of people: African immigrants.

According to Politico, many of the countries on the list are in Africa. They suspect that Eritrea, Sudan, Tanzania, and even Nigeria may be on the list. Why is the ban necessary?

Acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, said, “We’re establishing criteria that all foreign governments must satisfy to assist DHS in vetting foreign nationals seeking to enter our country … For a small number of countries that lack either the will or the capability to adhere to these criteria, travel restrictions may become necessary to mitigate threats.”

The argument shows little in the way of sensibility, but it’s what they went with the last time they instituted a travel ban and had to fight to have it upheld in the Supreme Court, so they might as well try the same one again.

From 1975 to 2016, it seems no one who was born in any of the proposed countries has ever killed an American as an act of terror. That’s why the Wall Street Journal reported there might be a different reason. Many travelers from some of the targeted countries have a disproportionately high incidence of overstaying their visas. So chalk it up to the fight against immigration, maybe.

Center for America Progress expert Tom Jawetz argued that if the laws were targeting immigrants, it wasn’t fair to those who worked within the confines of the system. Why punish everyone just to prevent the few who might overstay from entering the country? The Atlantic suggests that there might be still another reason: the 2020 elections require someone new, because we’ve already taken care of Latinos and Muslims.