” Know Islam” Booth At Farmers Market

(Worth reading news article in Washington Post, especially questions posed by the visitors and its answers. f sheikh)

The mother and daughter arrived just before 8 a.m., unpacking the table and folding chairs from the back of a white minivan. It was a chilly 43 degrees, and the sun cast long shadows between the farmers market stalls and the funnel cake truck, the smell of grilled meat and wood smoke hovering.

Sureyya Hussain carefully laid out the Korans.

Soon, the curious passersby began to approach with their questions, their comments and their concerns. The answers, Hussain hoped, would inform and enlighten — or at least spur constructive conversations about being Muslim in America.

“We wanted to have a voice about what Islam is for us,” said Hussain, 50, who organizes the monthly table, where anyone can come to learn about Islam.

Muslims have been facing what they see as a tide of vitriol against them during the past two years, which has included hate crimes and harassment. Muslim leaders say that sentiment is fueled by the policies of President Trump’s administration, including attempts to ban immigration from Muslim-majority countries.

Add to that the terrorism done in the name of the Islamic State extremist group — including a deadly truck attack on Halloween afternoon in New York City — and many Muslims feel like there is a constant need to defend their identities and religion from suspicion.

For some of the nation’s small-town mosques and groups of recent immigrants, the instinct has been to turn inward, keep a low profile, buy security cameras, and tell young people to avoid confrontations. Other communities have tried the exact opposite: public engagement.

The Islamic Center of Las Cruces, the only mosque in this desert town of 101,000 about an hour north of the Mexican border, is one of them.

Mustafa Azimi, sitting in the middle, and other members of the local mosque speak about their religion with passersby. They also provide free Korans and pamphlets on different Islamic beliefs. (Ivan Pierre Aguirre/For The Washington Post)

Hussain and other members of the mosque’s Dawa — or outreach committee — come here, to the town’s farmers market, and set up a sign that says “Know Islam” amid the stalls hawking apples, kettle corn and handmade soaps. They provide free Korans and pamphlets on different Islamic beliefs, and then they sit there for five hours, offering themselves up for whatever comes their way.

They want to get out in front of the hate, nip it in the bud before it starts. Let them come with their stereotypes and their fears, but give them answers.

The questions on a typical Saturday have range: “What do you worship?” “Do you wear your scarves in the shower?” “Do you walk behind your husband?” (The answers to the last two were “No.”)

Sometimes the conversations get difficult — maybe even a little uncomfortable or combative — but the volunteers do their best to stay calm and friendly.

The visitors on this Saturday included dog-walkers, families and elderly couples. There was a man with a bicycle who asked if all Muslims are required to make the hajj pilgrimage — no, they said — and another man who asked if it was appropriate to address Muslims with “Salaam” — sure, they said.

At one point, Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), trailed by a small scrum of aides and local TV reporters, stopped by and greeted everyone at the table.

Then came the two heavily tattooed, bearded men in motorcycle apparel who wanted a copy of the Koran. And then there was the woman wearing a small dog in a pouch, who asked whether anyone was interested in puppy adoption, before adding a comment they have heard from others in this liberal-leaning city that backed Hillary Clinton: “I want to apologize for this president. He does not represent us.”

One woman, who introduced herself as Hannah, a recent college graduate and Christian, asked if they had ever read the Bible and whether Muslims view it as “corrupted.” She also wondered how Muslims think about sin if they don’t believe Jesus died for them.

“For us, prophets die, prophets sacrifice, and that’s what makes them great,” Hussain explained. “We disagree on the fact that human beings carry the stain of original sin. But that doesn’t mean we can’t converse and can’t be friends.”

A lot of people have questions about what Muslims believe, especially when it comes to violence, Christianity and America.

Sureyya Hussain, who organizes the monthly table, answers questions about her religion. ‘We wanted to have a voice about what Islam is for us,’ she said. (Ivan Pierre Aguirre/For The Washington Post)

So the group hands out pamphlets like “What do Muslims think about Jesus?” and “Muslims stand against terrorism if they stand with Islam.” And they display a collection of books with titles like “All-American: 45 American Men on Being Muslim” and “The Muslim Next Door; The Qur’an, the Media, and that Veil Thing.”

Sometimes though, there are the people who don’t have any questions, just opinions.

It was late morning, the throngs of people growing between the stands of pecans and dried chile peppers, when a man with a black Chihuahua in a pink sweater walked by. Azimi immediately felt a surge of anxiety.

The last time this man came by the table, the conversation quickly got heated and voices were raised.

But John Thomas and Robertita — the Chihuahua — wandered over anyway. Thomas is a member of ACT for America, a group that has accused U.S. Muslim organizations of supporting terrorism and of trying to impose Islamic law across the country.

He wanted to talk about “political Islam,” which he believes is “a threat to our Western values.”

full article

” Who is afraid of the Iranian bomb?-Not Israel” By Uvi Avnery

(Interesting historic perspective shared by Azeem Farooki. The article misses one aspect- role of US Military Industrial complex which influences our foreign policy and prefers military solutions over diplomatic resolutions. Making Iran ardent enemy of USA and Arabs sells billions of worth weapons to Middle Eastern countries who may not even know how to use them. Elevating China as a threat to its neighbors will sell enormous amount of weapons to Asia Pacific countries and India. North Korea is helping to arm South Korea and Japan to its teeth by the weapons supplied by US Military Complex. f.sheikh). Article is below.

I HATE self-evident truths.

Ideals may be self-evident. Political statements are not. When I hear about a self-evident political truth, I immediately doubt it.

The most self-evident political truth at this moment concerns Iran. Iran is our deadly enemy. Iran wants to destroy us. We must destroy its capabilities first.

Since this is self-evident, the anti-nuclear agreement signed between Iran and the five Security Council members (plus Germany) is terrible. Just terrible. We should have ordered the Americans long ago to bomb Iran to smithereens. In the unlikely event that they would have disobeyed us, we should have nuclear-bombed Iran ourselves, before their crazy fanatical leaders have the opportunity to annihilate us first.

All these are self-evident truths. To my mind, all of them are utter nonsense. There is nothing self-evident about them. Indeed, they have no logical basis at all. They lack any geopolitical, historical or factual foundation.

NAPOLEON ONCE said that if one wants to understand the behavior of a country, one has to look at the map.

Geography is more important than ideology, however fanatical. Ideologies change with time. Geography doesn’t. The most fanatically ideological country in the 20th century was the Soviet Union. It abhorred its predecessor, Czarist Russia. It would have abhorred its successor, Putin’s Russia. But lo and behold – the Czars, Stalin and Putin conduct more or less the same foreign policy. Karl Marx must be turning in his grave.

When the Biblical Israelite people was born, Persia was already a civilized country. King Cyrus of Persia sent the “Jews” to Jerusalem and founded what can be called the “Jewish people”. He is remembered in Jewish history as a great benefactor.

When the State of Israel was founded in 1948, David Ben-Gurion saw in Iran a natural ally. It may now sound strange, but not so long ago Iran was indeed the most pro-Israeli country in the Middle East.

Ben-Gurion was an out-and-out realist. Since he had no intention whatsoever to make peace with the Arabs, a peace which would have prevented the original small State of Israel expanding without boundaries, he looked for allies beyond the Arab world.

Looking at the map (yes, he believed in the map) he saw that the Muslim Arabs were surrounded by a number of non-Arab or non-Muslim entities. There were the Maronite Christians in Lebanon (not Muslims), the Turks (Muslims, but not Arabs), the Kurds (Muslims but not Arabs), Iran (Muslim, but not Arab), Ethiopia (neither Muslim nor Arab) and more.

Seeing this, Ben-Gurion devised a grand plan: a “partnership of the periphery”, an alliance of all these entities surrounding the Arab world and which felt threatened by the emerging pan-Arab nationalism of Gamal Abd-al-Nasser and other Sunni-Muslim-Arab states.

ONE OF the greatest enthusiasts for this idea was the Shah of Iran, who became Israel’s most ardent friend.

The “King of Kings” was a brutal dictator, hated by most of his people. But for many Israelis, Iran became a second home. Tehran became a Mecca for Israeli businessmen, some of whom became very rich. Experts of the Israeli Security Service, called Shabak (Hebrew initials of General Security Service) trained the Shah’s detested secret police, called Savak.

High-ranking Israeli army commanders traveled freely through Iran to Iraqi Kurdistan, where they trained the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in their fight against Saddam Hussein’s regime. (The Shah, of course, did not dream of giving freedom to his own Kurdish minority.)

This paradise came to a sudden end when the Shah made a deal with Saddam Hussein, in order to save his throne. To no avail. Radical Shiite clerics, who were very popular, overthrew the Shah and established the Shiite Islamic republic. Israel was out.

By the way, another element of the “Periphery” broke away too. In 1954 Ben-Gurion and his army chief, Moshe Dayan, hatched a plan to attack Lebanon and establish a pro-Israeli Maronite dictator there. The then Prime Minister, Moshe Sharet, who knew something about the Arab world, nixed this adventure, which he considered stupid. Thirty years later Ariel Sharon, another ignoramus, implemented the same plan, with disastrous results.

In 1982, the Israeli army invaded Lebanon. It duly installed a Maronite dictator, Basheer Jumayil, who signed a peace agreement with Israel and was soon assassinated. The Shiites, who populate the South of Lebanon, welcomed the Israeli army enthusiastically, believing that it would help them against the Sunni Muslims and withdraw. I was an eye-witness: driving alone in my civilian car from Metullah in Israel to Sidon on the Lebanon coast, I passed several Shiite villages and could hardly extricate myself (physically) from the embraces of the inhabitants.

However, when the Shiites realized that the Israelis had no intention of leaving, they started a guerrilla war against them. Thus Hezbollah was born and became one of Israel’s most effective enemies – and an ally of the Shiite regime in Iran.

BUT IS the Shiite Iranian regime such a deadly enemy of Israel? I rather doubt it.

Indeed, when the religious fanaticism of the new regime in Iran was at its height, a curious business occurred. It became known as “Iran-Contra” affair. Some conservatives in Washington DC wanted to arm rightist insurgents in leftist Nicaragua. American laws prevented them from doing so openly, so they turned to – who else? – Israel.

Israel sold arms to the Iranian Ayatollahs (yes, indeed!) and gave the proceeds to our Washington friends, who transferred them illegally to the Nicaraguan rightist terrorists, called “Contras”.

The moral of the story: when it served their practical purposes, the Ayatollahs had no qualms at all about making deals with Israel, the “little Satan”.

Iran needed the weapons Israel sent them because they were fighting a war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. It was not the first one. For many centuries, Iraq served the Arab world as a bulwark against Iran. Iraq has a large Shiite population, but the Iraqi Shiites were Arabs and had no real sympathy for their fellow-Shiites in Iran. They still have little.

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When evolution is not a slow dance but a fast race to survive

(Interesting article by Wendy Orent on fast evolution of Europeans. If Middle Easterns are actually Europe’ ancestors , then why they are still living in past and has not progressed? f,sheikh).

<em>Afghan refugee Maimuna, photographed in Kabul in 2016. <em>Photo by Hedayatullah Amid/Epa/REX</em></em>

We all know what Neanderthals looked like: the beetling brow ridges, thick nose, long skull, massive bone structure – and probably red hair and freckled skin. You might do a double-take if you saw one on the subway, wearing a suit, or you might not. But you would surely look twice at the hunter-gatherers that populated Europe between 7,000 and 8,000 years ago, whose DNA scientists are analysing now. They had dark skin and, very likely, bright-blue eyes, like the arrestingly beautiful child from Afghanistan you see in the photograph above. This combination essentially vanished from ancient Europe, replaced by light-skinned, brown-eyed farmers who moved in from the Middle East over the course of several centuries, and who looked like most of the population of southern Europe today.

These early farmers, who depended on milk, have the gene for lactose tolerance that is missing in the old hunter-gatherer population. They ate much less meat and far more starch than the original meat-eating Europeans, and depended both on milk and on sunlight for vitamin D – hence their lighter skin. As for the dark, blue-eyed people, they disappeared from Europe, swamped genetically by the invaders over time.

This is a tale of fast human evolution. New ways of living – farming crops, and herding animals rather than hunting – led to the rapid expansion of genes that took advantage of these cultural adaptations. The ancestral dark skin, probably inherited from our common forebears in Africa, could have been a disadvantage if most calories came from cultivated grains rather than meat from wild animals, rich in vitamin D. Blue eyes remained, though the form of the gene (called an allele) for blue eye colour is recessive, and easily swamped by alleles for brown eyes. So within some span of time – we can’t say exactly how long – ancient Europeans began to look quite different. There was also an influx of genes from east Asia, from peoples likely resembling the modern Chukchi and other native Siberian groups closely related to Native Americans. Ancient Europe was a melting pot, but certain alleles, for light skin and brown eyes, became dominant as the hunter-gatherer way of life receded against an influx of farmers and farming.

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Who won the reformation?



Who won the reformation?

The Western world has not known quite what to do with the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The powerful Protestant establishments that would have once celebrated the quincentenary wholeheartedly are mostly weak or impotent or gone, and while the disreputable sort of Calvinist and the disreputable sort of Catholic still brawl online, in official ecclesiastical circles the rule is to speak of the Reformation in regretful tones, like children following a bad divorce who hope that now that many years have passed the divided family can come together for a holiday, or at least an ecumenical communion service.

Meanwhile, the secular intelligentsia can only really celebrate the Reformation’s anniversary in instrumental terms. From the perspective of official liberalism, most of the Reformation fathers were fundamentalists and bigots, even worse in some cases than the Catholics they opposed. So for the Lutheran and Calvinist rebellions to be worth memorializing, it must be as a means to secularizing ends — the liberation of the individual from the shackles of religious authority, which allowed scientific inquiry and capitalism to flourish, made secular politics possible, and ultimately permitted liberalism to triumph.

It wasn’t Protestants or Catholics; it was commercial interests and the authoritarian state.

To read the full article, please click the hyper-link: Posted by nSalik