Monday, December 15, 2008

The USA has Obama fever!

Okay many of you did not vote for Obama or didn't vote at all. Well guess what we have a new President and there will be slow changes but they will happen in spite of all our sentiments. I personally campaigned for him and am so proud of the economic reform policies he is working on. We need it and someone in Capitol Hill will be there directing it to the us.. the American people. Latinos are happy too and I can vouch for the thousands perhaps millions of mixed minority votes sent his way.
On my trip to Dubai we had a most wonderful visit to Washington DC. I met the Second Muslim Congressman and his staffers. I also got to see displays of affection for Barack Hussein Obama everywehre. Large welcoming portraits of the President Elect and the feverish aspirations of a district awaiting a new administrator to make workable solutions for a country in dire need of help.
I got caught in the fever aswell. Everyone I met talked about having a send off party for the Bush Administration "End of an ERROR!" and on the opposite end attending Inaugaral balls all over the country. My friend Khadija of Indianopolis is getting a pimped out Abaya tailored for this purpose specifically here in Al Ain. She will proudly dress islamically and look like the first lady herself.
No doubt this country is preparing for a new administration and the excitement is hitting us here as the question on everyones mind is: Will Obama make a good President for the USA and how will his Administration effect foreign policy? I love being a Muslim Latina American!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My month long journey to UAE

Assalamu alaikum my sisters and brothers
Out of over 200 applicants 20 American women were invited by
the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to an Intensive Islamic training program
with the intention that we would return home and spread the knowledge.
For more information on this exciting trip (imam training
I am writing to you from the desert on my quest to further my Islamic
studies. I will be keeping a journal with detailed lessons to bring
back to the states, but here I will attempt to give you some insight
on our exciting cultural exchange and fun activities I will
participate in throughout our month long stay.
In all honesty I feel humbled to be among these amazing women.
The women are activist in their own right and solidly grounded in
their Islam. Each woman would deserve her own chapter to describe what
she brings to the table. Al hamdulilah I feel honored to be among
these good sisters. The sisters are from across America and they are
varied as sunflowers in a garden of roses. Mashallah.
Our first day we were welcomed with a dinner fit for a king at the
Washington Plaza hotel followed by delicious tidbits of our journey
from Zayede house for Cultural Exchange that made the trip possible.
At breakfast the following morning I felt haunted by the ghost of
George Washington, for some reason I kept seeing his face following me
throughout the day. I soon realized I was not halucinating but that
the hotel decoration was based on no other than George himself. There
were hundreds of portraits of George throughout the hallways, suites
and dinning area. I later felt quite justified to take this picture
with old George!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A light shines from within Congressman Keith Ellison

A light shines from within Congressman Keith Ellison

Tampa Bay had the honor of meeting a man who has more than once made history in America. A man who's swearing in at his investiture sparked hatred and respect nationally. He refused a bible which is traditional but rather chose his beloved Quran. A mere man who is approachable to all yet a living legacy among American Muslims and in the Middle East. I listened to his words carefully as if he was talking to me directly.
This weekend was amazing as it was a culmination of months of work within my Community to engage in the Political system, Interfaith, and our Youth Conference. I learned some valuable lessons for my blog and I wish to express them here with all their faults.

As a community 'Engagement” is vital to the core of our existence. This means that we need to impact our society on all levels. We live in the USA and it is our home whether we are immigrants or nationals we should love it as the Prophet learned to love new lands when faced with all odds.

Mosque Community
First and foremost as Muslims our priority is the mosque , it is the center of community life. Our Haqiqahs and Janazas are celebrated here among our peers. We bring our babies into this jumaah and wash them to leave. In order for our Imams to do a dynamic job of servicing our community we must provide the means for them to be successful. This means volunteering to service it as well as financial support. If the electric bill is not paid we will be in the dark not just physically but spiritually. Our mosques have boards that sometimes do not reflect the interest nor cultural diversity of the people it serves. Irregardless we should attempt to work with them rather than without them. The annual Open house is one example of working from within.

Political engagement
From that is our political engagement in order to participate in the American process. Ideally this allows us leverage in this land where we live. Organizations like United Voices and CAIR offer parallal ways to engage in the political system . They are the brain of our community. Without their pulse we are merely numbers and useless at that . Whether we are American citizens or immigrants we should demand an equal voice in this government. Voting is a right that we should not only participate but promote.
With our new President Elect we have four years to get our points across. But silence will not work, in order to have our voices heard Congressman Keith Ellison expressed his wish that we move on this great opportunity to have our wishes and needs heard by seeking active participation in government on all levels. This is the strategic plan for us as Muslims in America. Not to fight but join hands and work in unity. Together we can make this work.

Our woman
Women are our mothers, wives and daughters. Behind every successful man is a woman or two. There are so many great hadiths referring to the place of women and mothers in the Quran that they do not need discussion here only recognition.
Stop talking about womens place in Islam. Stop telling me she is not oppressed or abused. Give her honor and respect by putting her on the boards of the mosque or community program. Challenge her and give her the means to unify the community and families. Stay home and watch the children when she needs to address the school etc. Don't let her raise the children alone while you leave to earn money. Make her your partner and the center of your home life.

Interaction among Interfaith communities
Being proactive vs reactive is the ONLY answer. In order to stop asking others to assist us or attempt to poorly understand us.
Additionally interaction among faith based churches may be an avenue to build bridges. We must join hands on programs to help the needy. This may be an avenue with which Muslim charity can shine. Priority is that it should not be limited to the Muslim but to all who need us.
For the past 9 years Al Qassem mosque has been an active participant in an interfaith organization which works to relieve the pain of the poor and middle class in Hillsborough County. HOPE has been a vital community activist organization to engage local politicians in making changes to benefit citizens. I ask you WHY aren't we all engaged here?

The next generation
Tampa youth are taking on roles that in some cases their parents lack. How many youth did you see holding posters for voters or walking at the Life Strides for Cancer walk? In many cases their parents were not the community activist but they were! How can we serve the needs of our community without directing our youth? What legacy do we leave other than a horrendous national debt or more wars with death and poverty?
Mas Tampa ,Care Youth and Muslim Girl Scouting are vital parts of the puzzle , one that must be carefully built to last this generation and the next.
Our schools whether Muslim or not should reflect these Islamic principles or fail us entirely. Build more Islamic schools and support the ones we have.
Some would say that we are faced with too many challenges in Americaand that we are the NEW MINORITY , to them I say that our numbers do not reflect this. It is our lack of Passion to work together as a unit and listen to the VISION of a few lone trailblazers.
Again I say use these five challenges as if they were your fingers and unify them as a fist. Then send them off as a sign of MUSLIM POWER. Congressman Ellison says we have it in our hands to grasp.
He shone a light and I say ... Follow it!

By Khadijah Rivera

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An Apology by Azhar Usman

An Apology
Heartfelt reflections on the passing of a legendary Blackamerican Muslim leader

On September 11th, 2008, while countless American flags whipped in the wind and the television and radio waves were dominated by remembrances, recordings, and stories about the terror attacks of seven years ago, I attended the funeral of Imam W.D. Mohammed (may God be pleased with him). For me, it was a somber day, but I found myself mostly lost in thought: about African-American Muslim communities, about the challenges ahead in American Muslim institution- building, and about the future of Islam in America. If you don't know who Imam WDM was, you should look him up. The Sufis say: "The true sage belongs to his era." And of the many gifts given to Imam WDM by God,20perhaps the most obvious and beneficial one was the Imam's profound understanding of the principles of religion, and his adeptness at intelligently applying those Islamic principles in a socially and culturally appropriate manner befitting the everyday lives of his North American followers. While carefully respecting sound, traditional jurisprudential methodologies of the Islamic religion, and the collective religious history and time-honored scholarship of classical Islam, he promulgated creative ideas and dynamic teachings across many domains of human endeavor, including theology, law, spirituality and even ethics and aesthetics, that together articulated a vision for a quintessentially "American Muslim" cultural identity. And he did all of this before anyone else, with quiet strength and unending humility—a true sage indeed.

So I stood before his final resting place, brokenhearted. And I suddenly began to feel the weight of the moment, realizing that when God takes back one of his dearly beloved friends, those who are left behind should cry not for the deceased, but rather for themselves. For the fact that they are now without one of God's friends in their midst, and, in a sense, they are orphaned. And the tears began to well up, for I became acutely aware that I was standing in front of the grave of my spiritual grandfather, who was himself a spiritual descendant of Bilal al-Habashi (may God be pleased with him), the mighty and beloved companion of the Prophet himself. Bilal was the first Black African to convert to al-Islam at the hands of the Prophet Muhammad (may God bless him and keep him) in the sands of Arabia nearly a thousand and a half years ago. Undoubtedly, some measure of that love, mercy, compassion, and spiritual stature that inhabited the heart of Bilal has found its way down through the ages, and I found myself begging God to transfer to my own heart some glimpse of these realities now laying before me.

Almost five years ago, my business partner, Preacher Moss (who is a member of the WDM community) founded the standup comedy tour "Allah Made Me Funny," and he invited me to be his co-founder. Needless to say, it has been nothing less than an honor to work with him on the project. But to many, it was an unusual pairing: a Black comic and an Indian comic? Both Muslims? Working together? And before we ever even announced our partnership publicly, we met privately and swore an allegiance to one another—a blood oath of sorts—which was this: No matter what happens, in good times and in bad, we have to be the brothers no one expects us to be. And bui lt on this promise (and premise), we brought on our first collaborator, Brother Azeem (who is a member of Minister Farrakhan's NOI), with whom we toured for over two years (2004-2006) before parting ways amicably. Then we brought Mohammed Amer onto the team in the fall of 2006 (a Kuwaiti-born Palestinian refugee who grew up in a Sunni Muslim family in Houston, Texas). Mo, Preach, and I are still going strong together, and we are grateful for the unqualified support, love, and blessings that Imam WDM and the entire community have always given us.

But today, as I observed the funeral proceedings, I felt sad and heavy-hearted. Something wasn't sitting right. Something was physically paining my heart, and it felt like remorse, shame perhaps, maybe even guilt. I began to realize that the tears flowing from my eyes were as much a function of these feelings as they were any lofty spiritual aspirations of mine.

You see, I attended an interfaith event a couple of years ago on 9/11. A group had assembled to commemorate the tragic event, to honor those who perished that day, and to pledge ongoing in ter-community support and bridge-building to fight ignorance, hate, and intolerance. At that event, there was this short, middle-aged, sweet, extremely kindhearted, White Christian woman.. When she took the microphone to speak, she was already teary-eyed, and I assumed that she was going to make some comments about the victims of 9/11, as so many others already had that night.

But she didn't do that. Instead, she explained that she had become utterly grief-stricken by the constant barrage of news stories she witnessed about Muslims and Arabs being harassed, profiled, and mistreated after 9/11. She explained that she felt powerless to do anything about it, and that it made her sick to her stomach to hear of hate crimes against Muslims and Arabs, and especially to hear of Christian preachers denigrating Islam and its Prophet. She started to cry, and so did many others in the room, humbled by the magnanimity of this simple woman.

And then she did what I thought was a strange thing: she apologized. She prefaced her apology with all the logical disclaimers, such as "I know this may mean nothing to20you," and "I know that I am not the one who did these horrible things," and "I know that you may dismiss this as empty rhetoric until you see some follow-up action on my part, but anyway," she continued, "I want to apologize on behalf of all the Christians and all non-Muslims and non-Arabs who have been attacking your communities, harassing your people, and accusing your religion of all these horrible things. I'm sorry. I'm very, very sorry." I was stunned. Speechless, in fact. Though all of her disclaimers were true, and my skeptical mind knew it, her apology melted our hearts. Here was this powerless servant of God sharing some of her most deeply felt emotional vulnerabilities, and she was apologizing to Muslims for something she didn't even do? Jesus (may God bless him and keep him) once famously remarked: "Make the world your teacher," and so I immediately took this woman as a lesson in humility. Admitting her powerlessness made her incredibly powerful.

And this brings me to the point (and title) of this essay. I would like to unburden myself of something that has been sitting like a ton of bricks on my heart for my entire life. I want to apologize to my Blackamerican brothers and sisters in Islam. I know that this apology may not mean very much; and I know that our American Musli m communities have a LONG way to go before we can have truly healthy political conciliation and de-racialized religious cooperation; and I know that I am not the one who is responsible for so much of the historical wrongdoing of so-called "immigrant Muslims"—wrongdoings that have been so hurtful, and insulting, and degrading, and disrespectful, and dismissive, and marginalizing, and often downright dehumanizing. .

But anyway, for every "Tablighi" brother who may have had "good intentions" in his own subjective mind, but behaved in an utterly insensitive and outrageous manner toward you when he suggested that you need to learn how to urinate correctly, I'm sorry.

And for every Pakistani doctor who can find money in his budget to drive a Lexus and live in a million-dollar house in suburbia, and who has the audacity to give Friday sermons about the virtues of "Brotherhood in Islam," while the "Black mosque" can't pay the heating bills or provide enough money to feed starving Muslim families just twenty miles away, I'm sorry.

And for every Arab speaker in America who makes it his business to raise millions and millions of dollars to provide "relief" for Muslim refugees around the world, but turns a blind eye to the plight of our very own Muslim sisters and brothers right here in our American inner cities just because, in his mind, the color black might as well be considered invisible, I'm sorry..

And for every liquor store in the "hood" with a plaque that says Maashaa' Allah hanging on the wall behind the counter, I'm sorry.

And for every news media item or Hollywood portrayal that constantly reinforces the notion that "Muslim=foreigner" so that the consciousness of Blackamerican Muslims begins even to doubt itself (asking "Can I ever be Muslim enough?"), I'm sorry.

And for every Salafi Muslim brother (even the ones who used to be Black themselves before converting to Arab) who has rattled off a hadith or a verse from Koran in Arabic as his "daleel" to Kafirize you and make you feel defensive about even claiming this deen as your own, I'm sorry.

And for every time you've been asked "So when did you convert to Islam?" even though that question should more properly have been put to your grandparents, since they became Muslims by the grace of God Almighty back in the 1950s, and raised your parents as believers, and Islam is now as much your own inheritance as it is the one's posing that presumptuous, condescending question, I'm sorry.

And for every time some Muslim has self-righteously told you that your hijab is not quite "Shariah" enough, or your beard is not quite "Sunnah" enough, or your outfit is not quite "Islamic" enough, or your Koranic recitation is not quite "Arabic" enough, or your family customs are not quite "traditional" enough, or your worldview is not quite "classical" enough, or your ideas are not "authentic" enough, or your manner of making wudu is not quite "Hanafi," "Shafi," "Maliki," or "Hanbali" enough, or your religious services are not quite "Masjid" enough, or your chicken is not quite "Halal" enough, I'm sorry.

And for every Labor Day weekend when you've felt divided in your heart, wondering "When will we ever do this thing right and figure out how we can pool our collective resources to have ONE, big convention?, " I'm sorry.

And for every time a Muslim has tried to bait you with a question about the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, trying to force you to condemn him—turning it into some sort of binary litmus test of true iman—with reckless and irresponsible disregard for the historical fact that he was among the first Black men in America to ever do anything meaningful for the upliftment and betterment of Black people, I'm sorry.

And for every20time you've heard of an African-American brother who tried to bring home a South Asian or Arab sister to meet his parents, only to learn that her parents would rather commit suicide than let their daughter marry a "Black Muslim" (a/k/a "Bilalian brother"), even as they cheer hypocritically at stadium style speeches by Imams Siraj Wahhaj, Zaid Shakir, Johari Abdul Malik, or others—or get in line to bring one of them to speak at their multi-million dollar fundraiser for yet another superfluous suburban mosque, I'm sorry.

I'm sorry. I'm very, very sorry. From the bottom of my heart, I want every African-American Muslim brother and sister to know that I am ashamed of this treatment that you have received and, in many cases, continue to receive, over the decades. I want you to know that I am aware of it. I am conscious of the problem. (Indeed, I am even conscious that I myself am part of the problem since curing hypocrisy begins by looking in the mirror.) I am not alone in this apology. There are literally thousands, if not tens of thousands of young American Muslims just like me, born to immigrant parents who originate from all over the Muslim world. We get it, and we too are sick of the putrid stench of racism within our own Muslim communities. Let us pledge to w ork on this problem together, honestly validating our own and one another's insecurities, emotions, and feelings regarding these realities. Forgiveness is needed to right past wrongs, yet forgiveness is predicated on acknowledging wrongdoing and sincerely apologizing. Let us make a blood oath of sorts.

When the bulldozer came to place the final mounds of dirt over the tomb of Imam WDM, I was standing under a nearby tree, under the light drizzle that had just begun (perhaps as a sign of mercy dropping from the heavens as the final moments of the burial were drawing to a close), and I was talking to a dear friend and sister in faith, whose family has been closely aligned with Imam WDM for decades. She shared with me a story that her father had just related to her about the passing of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in 1975 (the same year I was born, incidentally) . She told me that her father described the scene in the immediate aftermath of Elijah's demise: utter confusion and chaos within the NOI and the communities surrounding it. There was much debate and discord about what direction the NOI would take, and many were still in shock and denial that the founder had actually died. Out of the midst of that confusion arose Imam WDM, and along with his strong leadership came an even more, perhaps20surprising ly courageous direction: the path away from the Black nationalism, pan-Africanism, and proto-religious beliefs of his father, and instead the unequivocal charge toward mainstream Islam, the same universal and cosmopolitan faith held and practiced by over a billion adherents worldwide. In this manner, her father explained, the death of Elijah Muhammad became a definitive end to a chapter in our collective history, and the resulting re-direction by Imam WDM marked the beginning of the next, far better, chapter in that unfolding history.

Maybe I am just an idealistic fool, or maybe Pharaoh Sanders was right about the Creator's Master Plan, but I sincerely believe that all we have to do—all of us together: Black folks, South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis) , Arabs from every part of the Middle East and North Africa, Southeast Asians (Indonesians and Malaysians), Persians, Turks, Latinos, assorted Muslims of all stripes, colors, and backgrounds, and yes, even our White Muslim brothers and sisters—is live up to a simple promise to one another: No matter what happens, in good times and in bad, we have to be the brothers and sisters no one expects us to be.

It is hoped that the passing of Imam WDM will also mark the end of a chapter in our collective American Muslim history, and perhaps now, in earnest, we can all look together toward The Third Resurrection.

May God mend our broken hearts, lift our spirits, purify our souls, heal the rifts between our communities, unify our aims, remove our obstacles, defeat our enemies, and bless and accept our humble offerings and service.

---------- --------- --------- --------- ----

© 2008 Azhar Usman | 10 Ramadan 1429 | 11 September 2008

About the Author
Azhar Usman is a Chicago-based, full-time standup comedian. He is co-founder of "Allah Made Me Funny—The Official Muslim Comedy Tour," which has toured extensively all over the world. He is frequently interviewed, profiled, and quoted in the press, and he is an advisor to the Inner-city Muslim Action Network's Arts and Culture programs. Mr. Usman is also a co-founding board member of The Nawawi Foundation, a non-profit American Muslim research institution. He considers himself a citizen of the world and holds degrees from the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Minnesota Law School. Born and raised in Chicago, his parents originally hail from Bihar, India.

DISCLAIMER: The views and emotions expressed in this essay are those of the author and are not necessarily held, advocated, or even endorsed by any of the institutions with which he may be affiliated.

For more information, please visit:
www.imancentral. org

##### END #####

Take care, Stay strong and keep your heart looking up but your head to the ground!

Your loving brother in Islam

Yusuf Abdullah ibn Isa Mendez

Friday, September 5, 2008

Muslims' America -Women in Islam Part 3

: September 05, 2008
Before leaving Florida, VOA spends one last day with the sisters of Piedad, an organization for Muslim-American Women. Between preparing for a wedding and visiting with a group of Burmese students, Imran Siddiqui learns just what being American means to this diverse group of women. "As an American Muslim woman, what does America mean to you?" asks VOA's Imran Siddiqui to the women of Piedad, an Islamic women's organization in Tampa, Florida. The answers, he finds out, are just as diverse as the women of Piedad's mosque. "We have Arabs in our group, in Piedad. We have Arab sisters. We have Palestinian sisters. We have Indian sisters. Even though it is geared towards us for support, we also know that we can benefit from the knowledge of the other sisters. We all try to be a little community within the community, but not apart from the community," says Jill Mraida. As Muslims' America finds out, this community prides itself on its in-depth understanding of Islam, along with the freedom they have to worship and explore their faith in the United States.
Summary : Gary Butterworth VOA News

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Muslims' America - Women in Islam Part 2

Muslims' America - Women in Islam 2.1

"The Latino Muslim in America is doing a renaissance," says Khadija Rivera of Piedad, a Muslim women's organization in Tampa, Florida.

But, as VOA's Imran Siddiqui finds out, this renaissance is about more than just Koran study. The women of Piedad reach out to their community at large, regardless of religion, by showing them the true spirit of Islam through acts of charity.

Some people avoid the homeless. Others react negatively towards Muslims. But in Tampa, Florida, the local Muslim community is working to improve the lives of their city's disadvantaged residents. The way these two often-misunderstood groups interact shows that perception isn't everything

But between cooking for the homeless and offering prayers at their mosque, Piedad's sisters live lives similar to other Americans. This week's Muslims' America learns that these women, while practicing Islam, are still living the American dream.

Summary - Gary Butterworth VOA New

Friday, August 22, 2008

Muslims' America- Women in Islam/Piedad

Directed and Produced by Imran Siddiqui
Photo Journalist Elias Khan

Muslims' America - Women in Islam English 1.1

"There's no sensationalism in just saying, 'Oh, look at this Muslim. Look! She's going out and feeding the homeless,'" complains Jill Mraida. "We're not getting that message out." Until now.

VOA's "Muslims' America" heads to Florida to find out how women are reaching out to help not only their sisters in Islam, but also their community at large as well as people of other faiths.

Piedad ( began as a support group for Spanish-speaking converts to Islam. But the group's mission soon expanded to accommodate all Muslim women, and then the entire community, regardless of faith.

Khadijah Rivera is one of the bonding forces behind Piedad, she's not just a social activist, community worker but is also a mother.

Khadijah says, "When you are helping the needy for food, clothing or shelter, then faith, does not matter, we are all children of God".

Summary - Gary Butterworth VOA

Sunday, August 10, 2008

One God, One people , One belief.. ISNA 2001

Un Dios una gente, y una creencia unica!

PIEDAD- ISNA convention 2001

Srs. Aisha, Zeina and Khadijah

Bismillah ur Rahman ur Rahim
En el Nombreأ de Ala' el Compasivo el Misericordioso

Al-hamdulilah, it has been part of our illustrious Islamic history to send messengers to different lands to spread the teachings of Al Islam in the language of the people. But for converts to spread the message in their land of choice it is only the beginning of their Islamic duty!

As Hispanic Americans it is our belief that we should utilize our gift of a second language to teach our brethren right here in the USA our adopted homeland. And with that in mind I come humbly before you to present this paper on how daأwah has developed and it's future in America.

As Br. Muhammad Abdul Khabeer will testify Islam was brought to the Americas' with the New World. On board Christopher Columbusأ ship were the Astrolabe and the Muslims who could work it. For without it, Columbus would have never reached the New World.

Prior to that, the Muslims of Andalucia had enjoyed a rich and glorious history in Muslim Spain for over 700 years. Bringing science and Islam at the forefront of their lives. They breathed Islam in their architecture and rich culture. Their intermarriages and adoption of theأ“new faithأ" brought unity rather than segregation for hundreds of years. For the Muslims allowed synagogues and churches to be built and allowed citizens to worship God the Almighty so long as they paid taxes to the Muslims. Our Hispanic roots were merged permanently with the prosperous Islamic culture.

My Puerto Rican grandmother use to turn to me as I said:

إ“Bendicion abuelita? (Blessings Grandma?) and her response was

'Que Dios te bendigaأhija" (May God bless you)
Where upon I would respond , "Te veo el proximo sabado, (See you next week) and she would say ,"Si Dios Quiereأ? Another words, “Inshallahأ".
So we also brought that aspect of our daily lives to the new world as her parents were from Spain.

Dr. Thomas Ballentine Irving the leading authority on Muslim Spain once gave me as a gift, pages of Andalucian recipes. It had no pork products, which are so common in Spanish cooking today. Inshallah this books printing is a project that we hope to promote among our jummaat.

When the Muslims were expelled from Spain many of them left as Mudejar Artisans. Once they arrived in the New World and Latin America they built churches with Islamic architecture and beautiful lines and fountains. Our lives were so intertwined that we could hardly distinguish one from the other. So that today when dawah is given to a Christian it is so much easier for them to accept it. I also believe that the mere fact that a Hispanic is giving the dawah assists greatly for it is more of a natural move and inclination to the faith. I use to wonder why during Malcolm X period many more Hispanics were not invited to Islam. But now I sigh with a great relief for that.

We are a nation of mostly pious people who took religion seriously throughout history. Whether via Andalucia or the Crusades or the Conquistadors it was always a deep commitment to a higher truth.

In New York City I found a Puerto Rican family who taught their children Islam as babies and now they can be joyful that they have Hafiz and upright Muslims. One of the main reasons we come is for the security it brings our family life and the love it fosters between our children and even our non-Muslim extended family. Br. Mustafa was known for standing across the street from the big churches with a table full of literature and invite congregates to learn about Al Islam. In Ohio we have Aisha Moreno of Ecuadorian decent who once asked me how could she do dawah if she was mostly home. And I told her that if she were sincere they would knock at her door. She has since been teaching from her home and has weekly halaqahs in Spanish and English. In Miami we had 5 shahadahs in one weekend! All over the country masses of Hispanics have found inner peace in a faith that is akin to their own culture.

PIEDAD was very active in NYC where we began our work in 1987. Our first seminar was at a club where we brought food and invited our extended non -Muslim family. The founders of PIEDAD were not all-Spanish speaking; in fact we had a Kashmiri sister and a Pakistani who understood the importance of dawah to Latinos. Although we are known for our numerous seminars with speakers like: Iman Siraj Wahaj, Mohammed Nasim, Dr. Thomas Irving, Dr Omar Kasule and others, truth is it was never as productive as our One on One dawah. It was this personalization of the deen that assisted us. Here we could speak freely and clearly use the dua that releases our tongue so that we may be understood.

I remember the day I met Br Yasin he was 17 years old and he wanted to go to Afghanistan. His family did not allow him and he wanted us to convince them. Well that was his objective but that is not what happened. His elder parents were afraid of his new religion and felt is was pure fanaticism, which could get their son killed. We spent what seemed to be hours trying to explain to this humble couple the virtues of Islam. Whereas they complained about their son and how he took down their portraits from the wall and the infamous Christmas tree in all it's glory. Oh yes, they believed he was totally crazy. Why he didn't even eat! We asked him if perhaps he was eating at night and explained what fasting was. “Oh yes" answered his father.. He is like a little mouse and eats when we are in bed. Al Hamdulilah it was clear to us this brother was in the deen. At this point we stopped and really listened to them. They needed their son home and needed to see the difference between Yasin now and then. We asked them what Yasin was doing before he committed to Islam.

إ“ Oh the father said " I was getting him out of jail constantly, he was stealing hubcaps and getting drunk.
And now?
أ“Oh no., with realization in his breath, أ"not now!"
That day Yasinأ's father converted to Al Islam during Jumaah. Shortly after his nieces and his mother also converted. That is the miracle of Islam. It is as beautiful as it is wondrous.

Certainly, dawah to any specific group is enriching but also involves lots of frustration as well as time. PIEDAD began as dawah directed to the overlooked Hispanic women in NYC. And has continued it's specialization to that intimate group without keeping others from assistance and participation. Working with women was especially rewarding because we come from the same place. Our first step has always been to form sincere and deep friendships that allow mistakes and are non judgmental. Secondly, to teach only what we are sure is correct and for deeper questions always have a sheikh or imam available for advice. Third, and most important to assure the new Muslimah that Islam is for everyone and that we are not to separate ourselves from any other Muslims as أ¢â‚¬إ“only Hispanic Muslimsأ¢â‚¬?. And last but not least, to seek Islamic knowledge for the rest of their lives and never be satisfied with their comprehension but to have the thirst of learning in their hearts solely for the pleasure of Almighty Allah swt.

After a sister learns to make salat and has an elementary understanding of Islam she is directed to the nearest Islamic center to continue her studies and referred to books that she can study to further her knowledge. If a sister wishes to go further in order to serve Allah swt she may want to join us in daأ¢â‚¬â„¢wah and for that we do Daiyett training. Which are basically a continuation of their studies in Islam and the practice of the deen in the service of Allah swt. As we did in Houston Texas with Br. Hussein Shuote and Sr. Aisha Mohammad of NYC several years ago.

It should noted that our specific outreach must often take on a more nurturing role in dawah, as in the case of young Yasin and the impact of Islam on his family. Also, where single women come to PIEDAD whether young or old there is an urgency to learn their roles as Muslimahs in a household. The precious upbringing of our next generation as well as the shura needed to maintain a good Islamic marriage is at stake. Often we must seek help from the Islamic community to give a support network for these women. Al hamdulilah PIEDAD has outstanding sheikhs and imams assisting us 24/7.
This paper is to be used to understand the need of dawah to Hispanics due to their history and for the development of the Hispanic community I have purposely outlined a Wish List of goals we are setting for our enrichment and progress. We hope that you will assist in its general development and generate a discussion so that we may improve in our dawah direction.

Our wish list for Dawah in the USA

أ Funding for Dawah groups to assist them in their challenging work. And to allow them to work full time in their outreach efforts. Also to pay for postage and offices expenses. (Even the most modest home office has expenses.)
2. Scholarships-Network with International organizations to assist pious and bright brothers to be trained as Spanish speaking imams. And that they be available to settle in Latin America with a modest living stipend.
أ3.That Islamic Literature be translated in all levels and made available to Dawah groups without cost. And in this way keep our general expenses down.
أ4.That a Latino Conferences be a vehicle to assist us in unification and sharing of our strategies. And also to flow with communication to all organizations.
أ5. That each Dawag group have access to an imam with Prior expertise in Daأwah to assist in training of new Muslims and the dawah process. And that Imam is given a small stipend for their extra work. We will be calling on them at all hours of the night and for many different types of problems and questions.
أ6. That we have access to organizations who can fund at least one or two sisters per year who have need for Hajj, either due to illness, lack of funds or strong desire.
أ7. That we utilize Video and Audio production of material to be produced to assist the new Muslims in learning Quranic Arabic and Islam. This material must be available for free to Correction facilities throughout the United States. In their quest for economic security great numbers of our brothers and sisters are incarcerated for breaking of immigration laws.
أ7.That Shahadah Certificates should be available in Spanish and Arabic so that the new converts may travel to complete their Hajj requirements.
أ¯8 And finally and perhaps more importantly that the Big organizations understand that even though we are smaller than they, our desire is nonetheless equal and as significant!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Proyecto Downtown

Por:Yudedsy Mikalines and Khadijah Rivera

Proyecto “Downtown”
Yudedsy Mikalines and Khadijah Rivera de PIEDAD

El Proyecto ” Downtown “ comenzó a funcionar en la ciudad de Tampa a raíz de que unos estudiantes de la Universidad del Sur de la Florida. Ellos comenzaron a distribuir sándwiches de mantequilla de maní y mermelada a las personas que carecen de hogar. Hoy en día se calcula que existen mas de diez mil individuos carentes de hogar en una ciudad tan prospera y rica, come lo es Tampa. Nos es difícil de encontrar en sus calles, dichos individuos.
La actual situación económica del país se encuentra una condición inestable y la incertidumbre dentro de sus ciudadanos crece día a día. Nos es desconocido para nosotros de que las persona capaces de cambiar esta realidad no hacen nada y si hacen algo es para su propio beneficio.
Es cierto que las estadísticas indican que la población carente de hogar ha caído el alcolismo, la drogadicción y muchos también tienen problemas sicológicos y andan perdido su hogar primario, sin embargo muchos continúan luchando para restablecerse nuevamente en un hogar. En una conversación reciente con un musulmán, me expreso su preocupación de la falta de Ala’ (swt) en los corazones de estas personas y que mas que hambre física, es un hambre espiritual, a la vez que desconocen la verdadera razón de vivir y la falta de Dios (Ala’ swt).
En Tampa existe una limitación de los centros alimenticios gratis para los ciudadanos, la única esperanza que tienen, es que alguien le traiga algo de comida y les provea de alimentos. La persona sin hogar corre el riesgo también de sufrir mucho las inclemencias del tiempo y de ser agredidos violentamente entre ellos mismos u otros. El refugio es el techo que le otorga la ciudad y los albergues que existen en el área, que de noche abran sus puertas. Es muy triste ver este cuadro de sufrimiento humano. Uno se pregunta como un puede vivir sin poder cubrir la necesidades más básicas como un techo y un baño. Yo no me imagino como un individual puede soportar tal calamidad. Los estudiantes hacen este proyecto por el amor al prójimo e el amor a Dios (Ala’ swt).
We feed you for the sake of ALLAH (swt) alone, no reward do we ask nor thanks” Holy Quran 42:23

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mission Possible in Puerto Rico- speech TBMA luncheon

Posted by Khadijah on July 20, 2008 at 4:38pm

Mission Possible! En el nombre de Ala el Misericordioso el Compasivo
In the name of ALLAH the merciful the compassionate how beautiful is islam. Al hamdulilah as a revert for over 25 years I am grateful to those that encouraged my evolution as a Muslim. It was Hajj Malik Shabazz aka Malcolm X made this journey and introduced this concept of revolution of mind and spirit. Truly Islam is dynamic and touches our hearts.
As a Puerto Rican I can tell you that I was naturally elated that there were at one time three masjids in San Juan our capitol. We sent imams from the Middle East and al hamdulilah have over 5091 Muslims and counting on the island. These figures sound wonderful except for the fact that there may be between 75,000-200,000 Latino Muslims in mainland USA!
One of our beloved sisters from New York returned to the island to visit family and decided to attend Jumaah there. Her report is too lengthy but it confirms that after visiting several mosques the conclusion was the same!
• All Khutbahs are in Arabic with no translation
• Islamic literature at the mosques are in Arabic and there is no Coran translation anywhere to be seen.
• Several Latina women were seen visiting the mosque out of curiosity without hijab but there was no one to greet them or sit with them to give dawah.
• Women are secluded and not part of the mosque , usually placed in a small inconvenient location in the back or side of the mosque.
• No community service to non muslims.
• No preaching done to the surrounding Spanish Speaking community.
• Islamic classes are available to the children but only in Arabic .
• Of the 5091 muslims what percentage are Spanish ?

Last year UAE had a dawah program where they sent 5 Latino brothers who were well qualified to study and commence an intensive Imam training program. One of these returning brothers is Imam Yusef Maisonett of Mobile ,Alabama. With over 40 years as a Muslim revert and active daii in the Prisons and katib our beloved brother cried over this report from our sister. He has taken it up as a mission to go on a fact finding mission to Puerto Rico and establish a bilingual mosque for ALL people to attend
Our mission if you chose to accept it is simple: Send him on this fact finding mission. He will request funding from UAE and bring literature and the message in the language of the people as the prophets emissaries did
May Almighty ALLAH grant you peace and serenity. Que ALA los Bendiga

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Spanish-Speaking Muslims Find a Home

Hispanic Family in N.J. Makes Leap of Faith From Catholicism to Islam
June 13, 2008 —

A common misconception about Islam is that all Muslims come from the Middle East. In fact, there are an estimated 6 million Muslims living in America. Not only do they come from all corners of the world, but many are born and raised in the United States. Here is one Spanish-speaking family's story.
These days, the Hernandez family starts the day at 6 a.m. The children get dressed and ready for school, while parents Danny and Marleny take advantage of their time together to enjoy breakfast.
But before all this, in the early hours of the morning, the family of five come together for the morning prayer. Facing east, they rest their foreheads on the ground and raise their hands in supplication together. Like thousands of other Hispanics, the Hernandez family followed a path that led them to Islam.
The family lives in North Bergen, N.J. , a city with a Hispanic population approaching 60 percent. Indeed, Hispanics are the nation's largest and fastest growing minority, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, emerging as a potentially pivotal constituency in the presidential election.
The exact number of Hispanic Muslims in the United States is difficult to pinpoint, but the population appears to be growing. Separately, both groups are concerned about issues such as immigration, job security, civil rights and heath care. They also share similar family values, helping Hispanics, who are generally rooted in Roman Catholicism, manage the transition from the faith of their upbringing to Islam.
Such a conversion is common in the United States, where 40 percent of Americans leave the faith with which they were raised, according to a recent study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
Danny Hernandez, 30, was born in Queens, N.Y., to Puerto Rican parents who raised him as a Roman Catholic. As a teenager, he became involved with gangs and eventually landed briefly in jail. It was behind bars where he made the decision to change his life. "I'm here in this cage living like an animal," he said to himself. "I don't want to do this."
The transformation began with the holy book of Islam, the Koran. He stole a copy from a library. After studying it for nine months, Hernandez decided to become a Muslim.
His path was not easy. With a bottle of beer in hand, Hernandez headed to the nearest mosque, waiting for a good opportunity to enter. He hoped the beer would throw any friends he might run into off his path, convincing them that he was just "hanging out." He never made it to the mosque that day; his apprehension holding him back from walking in alone.
The following week, a friend introduced him to the religious leader of the Islamic Education Center in North Bergen. By this time Hernandez had given up drinking and smoking. As the congregation stood up to pray, he was instructed to sit and watch, to which he replied, "I didn't wait nine months to watch. I want to pray." He joined the prayer and accepted Islam in 1999.
He adopted the name Abdullah, or "slave of God," to his given name. He also started teaching Islam to his parents and brothers, who accepted the religion shortly thereafter.
His wife's path to Islam also started with a Koran from the library. Born in Hackensack, N.J., to Dominican parents, Marleny Vargas grew up as a Catholic. At the age of 18, she had her first child, Bianca Rosa, and moved out on her own.
She first learned of Islam when she met Muslim men at work. Impressed by their conduct, she pressed them with questions until they told her more. She went to the local library and picked up the Koran. Like her future husband, she made the decision to become Muslim after reading it on her own. It was a 2002 decision she would keep to herself for the subsequent 12 months. It would take that long for her to work up the courage to tell her family about her life-changing decision.
Marleny Hernandez, 25, adopted the Muslim name Fatima. Her family was not happy with her decision and she was shunned. She went to the local mosque, looking for support. She found it in the form of other Muslims, of all backgrounds.
"There's such diversity," said Hernandez, who attends the Islamic Education Center in North Bergen. "We have people from all over, united for the same reason."
She started attending a class to learn the fundamentals of Islam. It was taught in Spanish by her future husband. With her dark brown eyes, dewy skin and a million-watt smile, she attracted plenty of admirers before she married. But what drew her to Danny Hernandez was his spirituality. Friends joked that the two of them were meant to be and a few months later, they were married. Shortly after the wedding, her mother came by with a wedding present and reconciled with her daughter. They have been fixtures in each others' lives ever since.
In 2005, Danny and Marleny Hernandez, now with three children, moved to Cairo, Egypt. For the next three years they studied Arabic and the fundamentals of the religion, hoping to instill Muslim morals and etiquette in their children before returning to the United States. Of their time there, Marleny Hernandez said, "We were fortunate. We had a lot of time to ourselves to study and to spend with the children."
Arriving home at the height of holiday season last year, the family faced their first challenge: Christmas. Marleny Hernandez told people, "I believe in Jesus, Abraham and Moses," but insists that the children celebrate the holidays of their faith. "I just think all of these things are materialistic," she said. "We celebrate other things."
To help the children deal with the pressure they experienced at school, the parents did their best to make the children's Eid holiday as special as Christmas. Eid is the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.
The house was decorated, the presents stacked. The Hernandez clan spent the day with family and friends, and spent the evening on Broadway, with a performance of "Mary Poppins."
For Danny Hernandez, it was a lesson worth teaching. "This way they learn how to respect other people's holidays and other people respect their holidays," he said.
As the sun sets, the family sits down for dinner, a traditional spread of rice and beans, grilled meat and Marleny Hernandez's childhood favorite, a dish of plantains called mangol.
If there's time they'll watch a television show, carefully chosen by the parents, who insist the kids only watch educational programming. As they prepare for bed, the parents read Koran with the children, ages 9, 7 and 4, in place of a bedtime story.
Marleny Hernandez says when most people meet her they assume, "You must be married to an Arab," she said.
She responds that her husband is a "boricua," or proud Puerto Rican, and that she is an equally proud Dominican. She surprises people around town, often breaking out in Spanish while onlookers listen wide-eyed in wonderment to the strong, veiled Hispanic woman.

Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures

Monday, June 16, 2008

NO room for sisters in Puerto Rico's Masjids

Assalamu alaikum My brother islam:

Do you think for one moment that I would ALLOW you to cancel your trip to Puerto Rico? NO my brother, I know all about these conditions for years. It is your answer to the salat of istikarah. This is a sign that you must not falter, that there will be challenges and that YOU WILL conquer them for more rightous ideals.

ALLAH blessed you with years of training for this mission if only the big organizations like ISNA and ICNA could understand that ALL Latinos are crying along with you. We need you , moreover the UMMAH needs you. Don't let anyone stop you or believe for one moment that someone ELSE can do it better than you. That's exactly what I thought before I started PIEDAD.. "Oh dear,, I don't feel I can do this" That my friend was not me but the intervention of the cursed one. YOU have the commitment / NIyyat of purity that others do not have and I trust you wholeheartedly for this mission as do my beloved sisters in Islam.

Sending you there is not enough we must keep you based there and have you train others. Sending our sisters too as time permits for ALLAH's pleasure.

Wasalam, Khadijah

--- On Mon, 6/16/08, yusef maisonet wrote:

From: yusef maisonet
Subject: Fwd: FW: No rights for Sisters in Masjids
To: "Khadijah Rivera" , "siri carrion" ,
Date: Monday, June 16, 2008, 6:45 PM

As Salaamu Alaikum, first i had do dry the tears from my eyes , knowing that the sister that wrote this is from my Hometown Hatillo , Puerto Rico and she probaly knows my Family, The Maisonet's , i was cancelling my trip but after reading this Allah will not let me be still knowing that this is going on in my backyard, so please any brothers or sisters that can help me out with some expenses so i can make this badly needed trip please do.

Al Hajj Yusef Maisonet

asalaam ualaikum wahramatullah wabarkatuh
insha'allah you are all in the best state before Allah.

As Muslims, we become defensive when non-Muslims criticize our ummah. In particular, when comments arise concerning the hot topic of women and their "status" in islam—whatever this has come to mean.

The proof is in the pudding I always say, and on a recent trip to Puerto Rico to visit family members, I got a taste of some bad pudding. On our first Jummah there, my husband and I headed for the Masjid located in Rio Piedras San Juan. A small masjid which sits practically empty now.

Men and women are separated, placed in different rooms which becomes quite annoying because the women have no way of communicating any of their needs or questions unless they walk outside and back in to the men's section. We were in completely different rooms, ours being of course the lesser of the two. And by lesser, I mean they shouldn't have bothered to build the room for the women at all, what with the conditions that the rooms were in. There were many hazards—and I call them as such because they are hazards to the religious well-being of the women of this ummah and their offspring.

The room was a closet of a space that reflects not an ounce of distinction that the women have entered a place totally different from their own living rooms. There was not a stick of literature for the women to occupy their times until the commencement of the khutba and thus were left to jibber-jabber and waste the time away in futile activities. There was only one Qur'an in the entire women's section, with no translations for the mostly Puerto Rican attendees. What about the woman I spotted walking in without a hijab, curious and cautious? Where were the pamphlets to explain to her what Islam was? Where were the translation headsets that could allow her to clue into what the khutba was about? Oh did I forget to mention that the headpieces didn't work and the one's that did simply transmitted the Arabic khutba, because no Arab in the men's section was willing to translate. Why didn't the Imam translate?
Well here in lies another problem. The Imam's in these Masjids only speak Arabic. I find it strange that whoever is sending over these Scholars from the Arab world, fails to train them in the native language of the country they will be embarking Islam upon. And this was true when I went to other masjid in Puerto Rico, as well as Venezuela and Spain.

Our second Jummah was to the recently constructed masjid in my hometown of Hatillo. A beautiful two-story masjid, that looks like it was plucked right from the Arab world. But the place is a shell of a building now that the imam who was there died, may Allah have mercy on him and be pleased with him. Once again, the women were stuck behind a wall, the khutba was read in Arabic, and the only translation taking place was from an Arab brother who sat within a group of the latino brothers. Obviously, all of us in the female sections heard nothing, only weak fans to cool us from the heat and our hijabs, no headsets to hear the translation and no reading material. No one even thought to check in on us to find out if we were okay, or to ask if any Arab women was there to translate. We were all Puerto Ricans in the room and as one of the sisters so eloquently put it, "we walk out of here the same way we came in…empty". If the khutbah takes the place of two rakahs, then the sisters Jummah was incomplete that day.

Yes, yes, I've heard the script before…."more men attend Jummah for obvious obligatory reasons as opposed to women who can choose whether or not to attend." But the fact is that many women do attend Jummah. Jummah is packed with women, in all masjids I've ever visited, at times, crammed in together unnecessarily like cattle in a pen. The old-fashioned notion that we need to build a smaller section for women is ridiculous and does not fit what the reality is—especially with the issue of conversions. With more and more people converting everyday, and the rate distinctly higher amongst women, we need to bring ourselves from the outdated past in order to better accommodate our sisters.

These women attend jummah to learn something, to grown within the context of their new lives. And even if only one woman attended jummah in a particular masjid, the facilities where she must pray and learn should be an extraordinary space to bring her the comfort, refuge, and knowledge that she must carry to her children and the outside world. If we stuck to the absurd notion that women don't come to the masjid, and build masjids according to this obsolete way of thinking, how will we be able to fulfill our duties when hit with the reality? And the reality is this….

Adequate spaces for sisters is not enough…they must be sections that are exceptional for the sisters. Roomy so that each sister can attain a spot, in back of the men following the Sunnah of our Prophet, with sufficient reading material to occupy the minds, clean, catering to those sisters who bring have children, offering classes for all levels of learning and more. We must make sure the imam's being sent over from the Arab world learn to speak to the native tongue of the host country and we must ensure that classes, information and all types of growth are readily available to the Muslim women. If we boast about the status of women in Islam being superior to those of non-Muslim women, and then continue with such inadequate facilities and teaching modes to provide for them, then all we are doing is lying to the outside world and to ourselves. And what we are creating is a world filled with ignorant women who breed ignorant children. And for this, we will all be held accountable.


Say your prayers before prayers are said for you.

AL Hajji Yusef AL Ain

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Good , the Bad and the Ugly among us!

By Sr Khadijah Rivera

During Winter break from school I had had the opportunity to fly to Houston to visit my lovely daughter. I was distressed to find Homeless people everywhere. From the airports to the downtown areas and even in the residential areas one could not stop and feel the cold in their stark eyes. Several times my daughter would force me to pull over to give a handout to a stranger. Personally I don’t believe it is ever too early to expose kids to homelessness. According to a CNN broadcast the National coalition for Homelessness states 39% are under the age of 18! The stats in Tampa are no better with over 10,000 homeless. For over 11years the Tampa Bay Muslim Alliance has done a beautiful job of showing charity to non Muslims via an annual festival

Certainly this Sunday festival was a memorable experience. I saw some wonderful people come out to volunteer their money and physically set up and distribute gifts to the poor and homeless of Tampa. Their Niyyat, or intention was to follow the directives of Islam by helping those that at this time in their lives could not help themselves. These were the best of mankind and I applaud them.
During the day the poor humbly waited in lines in the hot sun to register for Free sneakers, bikes and toys. I had met a few of them days earlier to tell them it would be worth a trip to the Islamic Charity festival to get the gifts.
The Friday before the festival an elderly man by the name of Cliff Z. had been waiting by a street corner while I handed out sandwiches. He did not dare approach me as some stronger men had given him a warning to stay clear of the feeding area. With the police crackdown to keep Homeless folk away from the center of town, the regular feeds done by charities are scarce. This means an almost eminent fight to get scarps. The strong survive and weak are threatened or beaten into submission. When another homeless man approached me about Cliff not only did I walk over with sandwiches but I invited him to the festival on Sunday. He showed me his shoes which were badly worn and told me how he was making out in the streets.
Many showed up on Sunday and left with bikes in tow Al Hamdulilah, Cliff was one of them. I had personally wanted him to have an escape route should someone come after him, as his face had unhealed tears from past beatings. Cliff was grateful to the Islamic charity, he knew little if nothing about the religion but he left with one thing: goodness in Muslims.

Food lines were constant and the food came hot and delicious off the grills. Around three o’clock the toys were supposed to be won by lottery but we had so many that the brothers with the microphones told the children to just all go at once to pick their toys. For those of us that were in the toy booth this bewildered us. Over a hundred children flocked us tearing down displays and pushing younger ones to the side. This was mere enthusiasm and joy, but when the adults followed in by pulling toys into the empty baskets one could see the needy being avaricious. During this period they actually dove into my safely hidden bike locks, taking them without forethought if they had a bike or not. A man came to me over six times asking me about the bike lottery I finally told him that the stage would make an announcement, he figured since he had volunteered he would definitely get a Free bike. I told him no and he harassed me and cursed me out till even I lost my temper. Although poverty does not justify these actions just think of the people receiving Aid packages across the world and the reaction when they must hustle to get a grain. I consider this group bad.

The Ugly !

I saw a sister who received two new bikes the year before for her children. She insisted in getting more new bikes as her children had outgrown them. I attempted to convince her to give the poor a chance but she left in a hurry. Throughout the day several Muslims asked me to give them toys for their grandchildren, put their husbands on the free bike list or for new sneakers. To all of them including friends I said no! These were working families and have steady incomes. This was a festival to celebrate Muslim charity; certainly our generosity was being tested. Many left angry with me and it was not surprising when at the end of the day one man who had “found” one of my bike locks stated that he was on the list for Free bikes. Ya Allah… He was a Muslim and known in the community as a working man. I went home cried for having lost my patience with the man who harassed me for the bike and cried for our lost Ummah!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Latinas embrace islam....

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

An article by Cloe Cabrera.

"The converts hail from throughout Latin America. In Islam, some say they see a devoutness and simplicity they find lacking in Catholicism. Like the tightknit Latino culture, Islam places emphasis on family, which can make it easier for converts to adjust... Yet some are as motivated by feelings of alienation in a nation that is divided over immigration. Latino women find what most westerners rarely see a respect for women, unlike, some converts say, the machismo culture in which they were raised."

-Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post Staff Writer

TAMPA - As a child, Amy Perez attended different Christian churches, praying at Catholic Masses and singing at Baptist revivals. But she never felt satisfied with the answers those faiths provided to her questions.

At 12, Perez left Webb Middle School for the Universal Academy of Florida, a Muslim school in Tampa, because she did not like the cliques and social scene at Webb. And she wanted to learn more about Islam.

Perez read about the Muslim faith and asked her classmates questions.

After much research and contemplation, Perez took the Shahada, the declaration of faith to become Muslim.

She was 14.

"I finally found peace," said Perez, 22, who is of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent. "A peace that I had never known. Everything made sense to me. Every question I had, there was an answer for. It was truly remarkable."

Perez's sentiments seem to resonate with U.S. Latinas, who are embracing Islam in increasing numbers. They join a faith dominated in the United States by blacks, who make up about half the estimated 6 million followers, according to a 1990 study by the American Muslim Council, the most recent available. Followers of South Asian and Arab descent constitute about 35 percent.

Numbers of Muslims are difficult to determine since faith is not included in the U.S. census, but there is abundant anecdotal evidence that more Hispanic women are adopting Islam.

"We're definitely seeing more Latina converts," said Ahmed Bedier, director of the Central Florida Office of the Council on American Islamic Relations. "It's really a phenomenon because the stereotype is that Islam oppresses women, so why would they want to choose a religion that would restrict their lifestyle?"

Helping fuel the growth is an increase of information available to Hispanic converts, Bedier said.

Korans written in Spanish and other works are available, and distribution has been on the rise, he said.

There is support online for Hispanic Muslims from groups such as the Latino American Dawah Organization and

Familiar Culture

Mohamed Moharram, head of the local Muslim American Society, is not surprised by the growth in Latina converts.

"At the last open house we had four Latinas in one day convert to Islam," he said. "The fact is, Islam elevates the status of women. Muslim women see it [the faith] as a liberation from undue hardships that society puts upon them."

When Perez converted eight years ago, she was one of a few Latinas at her mosque. Now she sees more.

"When I converted it was me, my mother, and four of my friends and their moms," Perez said. "Now there are a lot more."

Some convert because they marry Muslims; others are searching for a more fulfilling spiritual path. Most say Islam's teachings mirror many of their Latino values.

"Growing up it was all about familia," Perez said. "You're taught to respect your elders and your mother; you don't even raise your voice to your mother. That's the old school way of thinking, but that's Islam. When I wasn't a Muslim, that's the way we did things."

Islam has a history in Spain stretching back to the rule of the Muslim Moors from the 700s to the 1400s.

Spanish words such as abuelo (grandfather), arroz (rice) and naranjas (oranges), have Arabic origin.

A Questioning Catholic

Alexandra Briones was a Catholic from birth. She attended church regularly with her parents and received her first communion. But as a teenager, she began to question Catholic doctrine.

"Why should I confess to another human being when they are the same as I?" she asked. "I was just supposed to believe and that's it."

She began looking for answers in Islam, researching on the Internet and reading the Koran.

Briones, 30, of Ecuador, says Islam's teachings, particularly its respect for women, spoke to her.

"I had to work out and look good so men would want to be with me," she said. "God didn't create me for that. If a man wants to be with me because of my body and how I look, that's not the man I want to be with. It all made sense to me."

When Briones visited a mosque for the first time, she found it life-altering.

"I cried," she recalled. "I felt like I belonged there. Everything was logical and seemed to be what I needed and couldn't put into words. I felt very comfortable for the first time."

She converted a month later.

Eventually, she married her boyfriend, Radouane, who was not a practicing Muslim at the time.

Briones stresses a woman should never accept Islam to please a Muslim boyfriend or husband.

"I would never have converted for a man," she said. "I would never make such a dramatic change to please somebody else. I did it for myself - because it was right for me."

Leslie Centeno, 23, of Puerto Rican descent, said she felt a similar disconnection from her Pentecostal Christian faith.

A friend invited her to visit a mosque, and she began reading the Koran. When she told her family and church pastor of her new interest, they encouraged her to remain true to her faith.

Six years ago, she converted. The lack of intermediaries between God and the Muslim faithful appealed to her.

"I can have a direct relationship with God," she said. "It sounded so interesting and intriguing to me. It was different than anything I had ever heard. I thought about it for days before I made the decision. I'm not an impulsive person."

Family Reactions

For the most part, the three women say family and friends have supported their decisions to convert.

But explaining the hijab, the head covering, to her grandmother was difficult, Perez said.

"She told me to take that trapo [rag] off my head. I told her this is an order by God for me to wear and I wouldn't take it off," Perez said. "In the end, they're family, so they learn to deal with it."

Many Latinas have a more difficult transition.

"The biggest challenge they can face is telling their families they've converted," said Jane I. Smith, professor of Islamic Studies at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut and author of "Islam in America."

"It cuts two ways, religiously and culturally."

For conservative Protestant and Roman Catholic families in particular, the news may come as a blow.

"It's a sense of leaving the family itself. And all of a sudden, the person acts differently," Smith said. "Often it is very painful and difficult."

Also, the Sept. 11 attacks put the religion under more scrutiny.

"The events of 9/11 raised the curiosity of Americans [including Latinas] about Islam," Bedier said. "However, the anti-Muslim backlash created as a result of the same events caused relatives of new Muslim converts to be worried for their safety."

With her long, loose dress, and hair tucked neatly inside her hijab, Perez said she often is mistaken for a Middle Eastern woman, until she speaks her native language.

"When they [non-Muslim Hispanics] hear me speak Spanish, they're like, 'Oh my God, you speak Spanish?' " she said. "It's really a chance to educate people and show them you can be Hispanic and be Muslim; you don't give up your ethnicity to become a Muslim."

She hopes her daughter, Anisah Miranda, who she often cradles in her arms as she is praying, will someday embrace the religion she shares with her husband, Michael Miranda, and calls her salvation.

"I don't miss the partying, the clubs, the drinking, any of that," she said. "I don't need to be out there. Islam isn't just about religion; it's a way of life."

Saturday, April 12, 2008

HOPE.. Tampa tribune

Let No Man Put These Promises Asunder

The Tampa Tribune
April 11, 2008

It reminded me more of a shotgun wedding. There were commissioners Mark Sharpe and Kevin White, standing up front at the Lake Magdalene United Methodist Church in front of just over a thousand people. Someone with a large board was off to the side and a preacher grilled the two commissioners. "Do you promise to work to get a county identification program?" was the first demand. Sharpe and White looked at the multitude and there was no way they were going to say anything but "yes," which was then checked off on the board.
The next demand was to advocate for a voice-mail system for the homeless so they can respond to job offers and the two again said "yes," to the applause from the audience.
It was certainly a change from what happens down at County Center, where the commissioners act as lords of the realm and sit above the multitude and tell them how long they can speak or whether they can speak at all. Here you had to give credit to Sharpe and White, who at least had the chutzpa to show up.
The event was put on by something called HOPE, the Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality, a collection of religious groups with the stated mission of identifying community problems and engaging public officials to demand solutions.

From Quakers To Muslims

I'm not much for groups with cute acronyms for names, especially ones that go marching off into the night with little sense of whose yard they are marching over or whose money they are spending.
But it was hard to deny that here, on a weeknight in Tampa at 7 p.m., just as most Tampa residents were settling down to watch "Wheel of Fortune" on the tube, more than a thousand citizens were packing this north Tampa church to argue for social justice in Hillsborough County.
And it wasn't just that it was a thousand people. You can get that many at a high school baseball game. It was who they were.

They represented churches from a broad-based section of Hillsborough County, and included Methodists, Quakers, Lutherans, Catholics, Baptists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Pentecostals and Muslims.

Father Desmond Daly from Christ the King Catholic, a huge South Tampa parish, led off the meeting, although he sounded more like a Baptist preacher as he fired up the crowd by demanding they tell him why they were here. "Justice!" they responded on cue.

Finding Solutions With Teeth

There was testimony from the homeless, including Erica Edmonson, a young woman I found living in a car with her mother at a mall several months ago. They have since found shelter at a place called New Beginnings, but the young woman is in constant pain with no insurance and serious dental problems that would cost thousands to repair. The county's health care plan does not cover her problems.
There are solutions. Commissioner Sharpe left the meeting seeming a little surprised that the woman could not find relief and said it probably was available if the right connections were made.
And if organizations like HOPE have value, and I think they do, it is in demanding those connections be made in a complex and bureaucratic world, where it is so difficult to recover once you have become a nonperson with no identification and few resources.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A strong woman vs a A woman of Strength


My dear friend Sr Jill forwarded this to us.

A Strong Woman Vs. A Woman of Strength

A strong woman works out every day to keep her body in shape ... but a woman of strength kneels in prayer to keep her soul in shape...

A strong woman isn't afraid of anything... but a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of her fear...

A strong woman won't let anyone get the best of her...but a woman of strength gives the best of her to everyone...

A strong woman makes mistakes and avoids the same in the future...A woman of strength realizes life's mistakes can also be Allah's blessings and capitalizes on them...

A strong woman walks sure footedly... but a woman of strength knows Allah will catch her when she falls...

A strong woman wears the look of confidence on her face...but a woman of strength wears grace...

A strong woman has faith that she is strong enough for the journey ...but a woman of strength has faith that it is in the journey that she will become strong...

By IMM/2008


Sunday, March 30, 2008

PIEDAD turning Green!

alaikum Dear sisters
Al hamdulilah for our sr Norma who is a pro at recycling. She has been the force behind our financial gains and creativity.
She brought to the table a blue jean backpack project that brought us income. Sister takes old jeans and makes them into purses and back backs and sells them for Ten dollars. She already took orders from a Fitness and dance studio.
Now she is selling Bamboo Salt & Pepper Napkin holders for Five dollars. All proceeds support PIEDAD dawah. The napkin holders are decorated with pebbles and hot glued to cans. A beautiful bamboo shaped plant is added to the can and filled with water. Amazing and totally GREEN.
But she needs all of us to cooperate and help by either making them or supporting it . By assisting in selling them at our PIEDAD table at the local mosque or contributing clean cans that we would ordinarily throw out in the garbage. Right now she is in dire need of 8 ounce tomatoe sauce cans. A local restaurant gave her an order of a dozen so I am spending my afternoon with her making them.
Sister is going to make us Green with envy , by teaching us to look at our enviorment more carefully so that we can maintain this beautiful Earth that Allah swt gave us naturally. This is for our next generation.
Remember we need you to come on Fridays to ISTABA Mosque ready to help promote and sell our fundraiser and bring our cans or old blue jeans.
If you have any questions about what is needed email me so that I can give you her information.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Fighting poverty and homelessness with spokes?

By Khadijah Rivera

For over a decade Dr Husain Nagamia a renowned Cardiologist has quietly waged his own war against poverty. With the precision of a Maestro leading his orchestra he beckons representatives from all the mosques in the Tampa Bay area to support the mission of the Tampa Bay Muslim Alliance in bringing together the Islamic Charity Festival. This annual event distributes toys, clothing and medical care to the disadvantaged of our fair city.
Homelessness has no single face. It can be a man, a woman or even a child. Although temporary it can last for years at time and is life changing. Its impact can be seen on the city streets where people line up for food. Why are our tax dollars flagrantly set aside for war machines overseas?
Many of us are only a few paychecks away from poverty and it can hit anyone, and at anytime. Teen runaways, Battered women and children, mental illness, addictions and financial ruin can send one plummeting into its claws. When an enemy is close to home, one must fight it. This year Dr Nagamia was faced with a challenge that he accepted. If he could give transportation to the homeless could they find jobs, housing and medical care? This year over 100 bicycles are earmarked for the festival. Fifty will be distributed to the children like last year, but the drum roll will follow when 50 more bikes will be distributed among the homeless of Tampa Bay in hopes of impacting their lives. Giving them a vehicle requires them to have disposable money for gas, insurance, tags and title etc. A bicycle can give them the access to services that they may not have been able to a second chance and hope.
Although no one can claim it will be a solution it can certainly have an impact. This year invite yourself to the 11th Annual Islamic charity festival bring a smile, a helping hand and donate generously to this worthy cause.

Location: Riverfront Park , Downtown Tampa April 27th , 2008 11am-6PMFor more information: 813 661 6161

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Islamophobia in Action: ABC Catches it Live!

Islamophobia in Action: ABC Catches it Live!For those who stubbornly insist that Islamophobia is nothing but a figment of the Muslim imagination (read this: Islamophobia Part-1: It Exists), ABC News has pretty much proved you wrong. Islamophobia is very real and does indeed exist in this very country.

On the Tuesday night (2/26/08), ABC aired its primetime series entitled What Would You Do? (video below sleeve), in which a controversial scenario is staged with hidden cameras to see how the public would react to such a situation. Last Tuesday’s episode included a scenario in a popular bakery with one actor playing a female Muslim customer wearing hijab and another playing a bigoted store clerk who refused to serve her based on her being Muslim and insulted her with all kinds of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab discriminatory remarks.

The reaction of the public was disturbing to say the least, but unfortunately, not surprising. According to ABC News, the majority of bystanders witnessed the incident yet chose not to get involved, largely due to approval of the clerk’s actions. A minority did speak up… some in defense of the Muslim customer (expressing their disgust to the clerk and threatening to boycott the bakery). While others, unfortunately, actually spoke up in support of the bigoted clerk’s actions. The ABC News article states:

Even though people seemed to have strong opinions on either side, more than half of the bystanders did or said absolutely nothing. This is a familiar reaction for many Muslims such as Javed, [a Muslim-American woman]. “I was shocked because when these things happen to me in real life … I never see what happens after I walk out of that store,” she said. “I would try to justify … that they probably didn’t hear it … when I watched it, I realized, no, they hear it and they see it and they’re okay with it.”

The broadcast seems to point out that, while there are some good hearted Americans out there who did stand up for the rights of the Muslim customer, the majority of the public are still quite indoctrinated with Islamophobia. So much so that they are OK with a store refusing to serve a customer based on religion albeit illegal according to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to ABC News, one customer said afterwards, “I really think that a person who owns his own business should be able to say who they sell to.”

Perhaps this isn’t the most accurate sampling of the American people, as this experiment occurred in Waco, Texas, where one might expect to find perhaps a bit more racism and Islamophobia, but in any case, the outcome paints quite a depressing picture. So, to all the Islamophobes out there reading this… guess what, ABC News just proved your existence, so stop living in denial! Accept that Islamophobia DOES exist and it is destroying the moral fibers of the very society we live in!

I urge all our Muslim readers to write to ABC News and thank them for running this special on Islamophobia. You can comment on the website of the article, or better yet, write to ABC News directly thanking them for this service.

Also, our MM staff writer, Sr. Ruth, has written on her blog about her perspective on this special, so be sure to check that out as well.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pistas para una interpretacion contemporanea del Coran

Pistas para una interpretación contemporánea del Qor'an (1)
Corán & Sunna - 21/02/2008 9:40 - Autor: Silvio Sergio Scatolini Apóstolo - Fuente: Webislam
Vota:- Resultado 35 votos
Qor'an, XXXVIII, 87-88. Siglo IX-X.Resumen de la contribución de Angelika Neuwirth, “Structural, linguistic and literary features,” págs. 97—113, en Jane Dammen McAuliffe, The Cambridge Companion to the Qur‘an. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
En este resumen presento las ideas básicas expuestas por Angelika Neuwirth en la mencionada contribución suya.

La importancia del enfoque dado por la profesora Neuwirth radica en su concentración en el texto y las pistas que él mismo nos da acerca de su historia. Ella estudia el texto coránico desde su punto de vista literario, como texto árabe. Es precisamente del análisis de las azoras y sus componentes que la autora extrae sus sugerencias acerca de la historia de la compilación del texto codificado canónico (el mushaf al-Qor’an).

Según Neuwirth, la falta de interés en la cronología de la Historia de la Salvación en el Qor’an diferencia a este último de la Biblia. Mientras que las primeras azoras del primer período mecano tienen una carga primordialmente escatológica (es decir, se concentran en el futuro, sobre todo en el Día del Juicio), las azoras subsiguientes se concentran en el diálogo y la polémica con los contemporáneos del Profeta y su estimada relevancia escatológica. Los motivos que “suenan” históricos (por ejemplo, las menciones de los profetas extra-bíblicos y de Moisés) no tienen, sin embargo, una finalidad verdaderamente histórica o historiográfica. Tales referencias son parenéticas, es decir, exhortativas, interesadas en el presente de las audiencias coránicas (pág. 97). El Qor’an es más una colección de predicaciones en molde (más o menos) poético que una compilación de historias. El texto presupone que sus oyentes ya conocen las historias que él interpreta y comenta. Es por esta razón que no viene al caso contrastarlo con la Biblia judeo-cristiana en términos de la narratividad. El Qor’an tiene un interés misionero, pastoral o espiritual, y no historiográfico acerca del pasado en sí mismo. El pasado sólo es interesante para el Qor’an cuando sirve para aclarar la situación religiosa y ética presente y futura.

El criterio básico para la interpretación

La tesis central de la profesora Neuwirth es que la azora es la unidad básica de significado en el Qor’an. Dicha afirmación vale sobre todo para las azoras mecanas. Podríamos concluir, entonces, que la idea de leer el Qor’an en vistas del Qor’an mismo no es del todo adecuada, pues el contexto primero en vistas del cual se ha de buscar el significado y sentido de cada azora es la azora misma.

La organización del texto coránico teniendo en cuenta el tamaño de las azora, más bien que su posición en la historia de la revelación, muestra que la tradición tendía a encarar cada azora individualmente, o en sí misma. Más aún, tanto la división más moderna del texto en versículos numerados como la más tradicional en partes especificadas para el aprendizaje de la recitación no son significativas ni para la búsqueda del significado ni del sentido del texto. Ellas sirven una finalidad puramente práctica (pág. 98). Dicho de otro modo, la azora es la única unidad referencial en el Qor’an con significación hermenéutica.

Las azoras no presentan todas el mismo estilo literario. En general, las azoras siguen el estilo del saÿ‘ (el estilo preferido de los encantadores árabes) y son así una especie de prosa rimada (fasila) cuya rima era más libre que la rima poética propiamente dicha (qafiya) (pág. 98). Se puede decir que el versículo constituye la base del edificio del texto rimado, tanto en las azoras mecanas más antiguas (que presentan una rima de más calidad poética o más elaborada) como en las medineses más tardías (con una rima más simple y suelta).

Para la autora, juzgando a partir del texto que tenemos, la versión tradicional de que las azoras fueron compiladas en un código coránico completo y único durante el califato uzmaniano no es imposible, pero no puede ser probada (pág. 99).

La más inmediata consecuencia de la codificación del Qor’an es que las azoras que habían sido compuestas prolijamente fueron yuxtapuestas a azoras que no presentan, por un lado, ni una unidad temática, ni una consistencia estructural y rítmica, por el otro. Hay también azoras cuyo análisis muestra que fueron unidades orales contextuales desde el comienzo, mientras que hay otras que contienen material cuyo estilo rítmico sugiere que fueron escritas desde el principio. El término “azora” perdió de este modo cierta significación como género literario.

El Qor’an pre-canónico

Neuwirth repite una vez más que los datos disponibles acerca de la compilación del Qor’an (incluyendo los fragmentos descubiertos recientemente) no contradicen esencialmente la versión tradicional. Se puede, pues, aceptar que las azoras que tenemos se remiten al Profeta.

Si bien el Qor’an se presenta a menudo a sí mismo como un texto para la recitación (la palabra qor’an está relacionada con el vocablo Sirio qeryana, que quiere decir “leccionario, recitación litúrgica”, pág. 101), gran parte del texto coránico da la impresión de ser un texto escrito.

El término qor’an (con el sentido judeo-cristiano de “leccionario litúrgico”) y el término kitab (“libro”, con el sentido de “escritura sagrada”) revelan no sólo dos facetas o cualidades del texto, sino también dos tipos de material textual y dos momentos en la vida del texto coránico: una fase netamente oral (más poética y con claves mnemotécnicas al servicio de la recitación) y otra escrita (pág. 101).

Mientras que el término qor’an implica el dramatismo de la recitación y técnicas intratextuales de memorización (la rima y el ritmo) visibles en las primeras azoras mecanas, el concepto de kitab conlleva la idea de preservación escrita, con una cierta fijación, y sin la necesidad de estrategias mnemotécnicas.

Partiendo del testimonio textual, Neuwirth descubre signos de la segunda fase ya en azoras mecanas. Desde entonces, los elementos para la recitación y la escritura se habrían desarrollado juntos. Si bien la autora ha aplicado su método a las azoras más cortas, su enfoque no ha sido aún utilizado por los académicos en el análisis de las azoras medineses.

Una de las sugerencias más iluminadoras de la autora es que “para reclamar el Qor’an pre-redaccional, es esencial entender que la intención no era de que el Qor’an fuese visto como libro [en nuestro sentido del término] sino como texto para la recitación” (pág. 103). Una vez que se haya aceptado la oralidad esencial primera del texto sagrado (es decir, del Qor’an como texto que requiere ser actuado, recitado), se la puede usar para investigar la historia del desarrollo del texto coránico. Ésta sería una búsqueda histórica y, a la vez, una interpretación del Qor’an que parte, como lo pide la tradición, del Qor’an mismo.

Para la autora, las “cadenzas” simplificadas de las azoras tardías, basadas en terminaciones en ~un e ~in (las cuales no pueden compararse con la calidad poética de las azoras tempranas) es un signo de que su contexto existencial, o Sitz im Leben, no era el de la recitación vívida. Además de los cambios en los diseños del sonido, las azoras tardías contienen comentarios extras, espiritualizados o moralizantes (por ej. Q. 12:29 y 33:27) que dejan ver que tanto el texto coránico como la comunidad para la que estaba destinado ya no eran los mismos que en el período inicial mecano.

Los elementos vitales para la estructuración de las azoras

Las primeras azoras desarrollaron estructuras que no existían en la literatura árabe, por ejemplo, los motivos escatológicos. No derivaban su verdad de razones teológicas, sino de la belleza poética de sus formas (pág. 104). Son comunes las estructuras del tipo de “cuando (idha)…, entonces” (ver Q. 81:1-13) y “en lo referente a (fa-amma/wa-amma)…” (ver Q. 101:6-9). También se encuentran los himnos de los signos (Q. 76:6-16; 15:16-25; 25:45-50), los cuales sobrepasan en frecuencia a las polémicas de los signos (Q. 21:30-33). Hay también himnos en sí, en los que se alaba a Dios o canta Sus obras en la historia (Q. 87:1-5; 53:43-49). Hay además narraciones cortas, como la invasión de la Meca (Q. 105), el mito de Zamud (Q. 91:11-15) y la historia del Faraón y Moisés (Q. 79:15-26). No se puede olvidar el mazal (la parábola), el cual tiene una función claramente parenética, o exhortativa (Q. 68:17-33; 14:24-27; 36:13-32).

Hay casos también en los que el Qor’an se refiere a la historia de la salvación tomada del Libro, o al-kitab, que es externo a la recitación y más amplio que ella. La diferencia entre estas historias y sus equivalencias bíblicas es que el texto coránico hace explícito el contenido ético-moral de las historias, mientras que la Biblia lo deja implícito. No hay dudas que el objetivo de la revelación coránica era la proclamación a y exhortación de una comunidad concreta; el texto se parece más a un sermón en vivo o anotado que a un libro de lectura.

Se puede observar en el texto coránico que los motivos del desierto —típicos de las azoras mecanas del primer período— van siendo reemplazado en los períodos medineses, sobre todo en las azoras más largas, por las figuras bíblicas.

El estudio del texto revela que, a medida que la comunidad crecía, los pasajes coránicos comenzaron a manifestar la adquisición de una nueva finalidad: el uso litúrgico. No se trata ya de la proclamación inicial en los primeros años del ministerio profético de Muhámmad sino de un texto que es usado cuando la comunidad se reúne.

Durante le período medinés medio, el género literario del debate juega un rol importante en la forma de la revelación (ver Q. 53:59ss.; 111:1ss.; 107:2-7). Este género cumple también una función didáctica: entrena a los musulmanes en el arte del debate (ver, por ejemplo, los pasajes que tratan de “dí/digan”, Q. 10:20) y de la apologética a favor de la revelación (ver Q. 74:54-55).

Otro elemento nuevo en las azoras medineses son los elementos que la tradición ha entendido como alusiones a acontecimientos importantes en la vida de los primeros musulmanes; por ejemplo, la batalla de Badr (Q. 3:123), Uhud (Q. 3:155-174), la expulsión de los Banu Nadir (Q. 59:2-5), el sitio de Jaybar (Q. 48:15), la expedición de Tabuk (Q. 9:29-35) o el sermón de despedida del Profeta (Q. 5:1-3). Sin embargo, vale notar que estos elementos no recibieron un rol literario importante (pág: 109).

Hacia los años finales de la carrera del Profeta se ve ya que el texto recitativo atrae más y más hacia sí las características del kitab, o escritura (pág. 107s.). El atributo de escritura no había sido identificado en un comienzo con un libro terreno en particular, sino con el ámbito de la providencia divina metafísica. Sin embargo, más tarde, al ser integrada en la oración ritual, la recitación de la revelación histórica se volvió citación de un libro sagrado cuyo arraigo en la vida concreta de una comunidad particular estaba siendo más y más olvidado. La idea de que el texto era una guía concreta, estrechamente ligada a sus receptores y ofrecida a medida que los primeros musulmanes surcaban las sendas de la historia fue siendo reemplazada por la idea de que era una guía eterna y universal, desconectada del contexto dentro del cual se dio o se la recitaba/leía.

De este modo, el estudio del texto coránico y sus formas nos ayuda a descubrir la historia misma de la comunidad dentro de la cual y a la cual dicho texto fue revelado. En lugar de empezar el análisis con las fuentes extratextuales (por ejemplo, la sira, o biografía del Profeta), la autora comienza con el texto coránico mismo.

La azora como género literario

Las primeras azoras son:

de una pieza (Q. 111), con finalidades exhortativas (Q. 94), escatológicas (Q. 95; 100; 101),

bipartitas (con un voto: Q. 92:1-13, y una polémica: Q. 92:14-21) o

tripartitas (exhortación: Q. 74:1-10, polémica: Q. 74:11-48, y afirmación del Qor’an: Q. 74:49-56).

Este grupo de azoras se caracteriza por su autoreferencialidad: la clave para entenderlas está en sí mismas. Su Sitz im Leben, o contexto, es el de la proximidad a la Ka‘ba, en la Meca, y los ritos relacionados con ella (pág. 110).

La azora 15 marca un cambio radical en la vida de la comunidad en la Meca. Por vez primera se alude a la escritura como parte constituyente de la vida litúrgica de los primeros musulmanes (ver también Q. 36:2; 37:3; 38:1; 43:2; 44:2; 50:1; 2:2; 10:1; 12:1; 13:1; etc.). La mención de la qibla, o la orientación de la oración, transporta a los musulmanes de su localidad física a otra localidad con valor espiritual, Jerusalén (Q. 17:1). Las azoras del segundo y tercer período mecano reflejan un ritmo litúrgico comparable con las ecteniae ortodoxas (responsorios iniciales y conclusivos) y la lectio (lectura meditativa de la escritura) de los monjes cristianos. El texto se vuelve más denso y con un mayor número de referentes semánticos, lo cual testifica que no se trata ya de azoras cortas para la recitación sino de revelaciones en miras del texto escrito (pág. 111). Las narraciones cortas van siendo reemplazadas por pasajes con finalidades discursivas.

En el período medinés, las azoras casi han abandonado la estructura tripartita y la sofisticación de composición del período mecano. Aparecen las azoras retóricas, o el sermón (Q. 22; 24; 33; 47; 48; 49; 57 y hasta la 66). Comienzan con una referencia a la audiencia (ver Q. 22:1) y muchas se parecen a los salmos bíblicos (Q. 59; 61; 62; 64). El Profeta no es sólo el transmisor del texto revelado, sino también parte de la audiencia (ver Q. 33:28) o un co-actor junto a Dios (ver Q. 33:22). Más allá de las mencionadas, se hallan otras azoras mucho más complejas, especialmente las “azoras largas” (Q. 2; 3; 4; 5; 8 y 9) cuyo proceso de composición o compilación es casi imposible de reconstruir (pág. 111).

Comparto el deseo final de la autora de que se estudie el texto de las azoras medineses (pág. 111) para poder elucidar, partiendo del texto recibido, la historia del proceso de la revelación y de la formación de la comunidad musulmana, por un lado, y la compilación del mushaf al-Qor’an, por el otro.