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The current political climate in the United States has isolated Islam and Muslims, because many candidates are using fear mongering tactics as a method to garner conservative votes. While Donald Trump unapologetically makes Islamophobic remarks, Ted Cruz has recently called for the monitoring of Muslim neighborhoods, further inciting violence and breeding hatred against followers of Islam. However, if one takes the time to educate him/herself about Islam and the Muslim community, many will discover that Muslims are (like most Americans) law-abiding and patriotic citizens. Muslims have served in various departments of the Armed Forces and defend the United States, their lives are claimed daily in countries worldwide at the hands of terrorists – yet, many refuse to defend the rights and civil liberties of Muslim Americans. This mosque proudly displays not only the American flag, but also the Texas flag because many Muslims are born and bred in the United States (sorry, not sorry Islamophobes). Muslims contribute positively to the fabric of the United States and have a right to be treated with as much dignity and respect as any other individual.

 

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Every woman has a right to her space in the mosque, a right which was honored by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) when he stated: “Do not prevent the female servants of Allah from going to the mosque of Allah” (Sahih Muslim Vol.1, Chapter 177, #886). In addition, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) specifically advised husbands the following: “If the wife of any one of you asks permission to go to the mosque, do not forbid her” (Sahi Bukhari, Vol. 1, Chapter 80, #832). Unfortunately there is a misconceived notion within Muslim communities that women should not attend the mosque; however, that is largely due to the fact that women (unlike men) are not *required* to attend the mosque under certain conditions. For example, motherhood or when a woman is on her period. It may be more convenient for women to pray at home IF they have other obligations to fulfill and during that time of the month, women are not required to offer the five daily physical prayers; however, should they feel they want to attend mosque in any case, there should be enough space for them to offer prayers and visit the mosque as well. Honoring women’s spaces within our mosques is something that we as a community can improve on because women have many contributions to make and it would be a disservice to exclude them.

 

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Those who practice Islam as a religion of peace and honor the commandments in the Qur’an along with the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) know that there should be no compulsion in religion – no forceful implementation of religious practices. In fact that is stated directly in the second Chapter of the Qur’an, verse 256: “There is no compulsion in religion…”. Additionally, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) warned Muslims against committing wrongful actions towards non-Muslims. He stated, “Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim/minority, curtails their rights, burdens them with more they can bear, or takes anything against their free will, I will complain against that person on the Day of Judgment” (Abu Dawud 3052). The covenant of life is regarded as sacred in Islam, as in many religions; however, terrorists exploit the religion and those who practice it by creating hatred and inciting violence based on their self-fabricated ideologies. The lives of those who do not practice Islam are protected within the Islamic scripture and within the teachings and practices of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him; therefore, violating an individual’s rights or oppressing another human being by causing havoc and taking innocent lives is considered severely deplorable.

 

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This post is dedicated to all those innocent children and families who have already been victims of terrorism and also for those Muslim youth whose identities are continuously victim to hatred and misunderstanding. This month alone, there have been eight reported terrorist attacks in the following countries: Pakistan (Lahore and Peshawar), Turkey (Istanbul and Ankara), Belgium (Brussels), Iraq (Iskanderia), Nigeria (Maiduguri), and the Ivory Coast (Grand Bassam) – more than half of these attacks took place in Muslim countries, claiming countless innocent lives. So, if Muslims are so often the targets of these terroristic attacks, why do they also have to bear the burden of taking collective responsibility of such heinous acts? It’s almost as if Muslims must publicly grieve the loss of others before they can grieve the loss of their own when they are just as much victim and just as innocent of having any involvement with terroristic acts. It is a very dangerous and confusing time for many Muslim youth growing up in the U.S., as if they need to come up with the cure for cancer when they too are suffering and victims of the same ailment.

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