Filed under: December Volume 1 - 2008, International, Magazine/ Culture, Religion | Tags: Eidul Adha 2008, Hajj 2008, Sighting Hilal
Altered Eid, Hajj Dates Could Deprive
Dr. Usman Ali, NJ
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced Eid-ul-Fitr to have been Tuesday, September 30, 2008 this year. The kingdom claimed to have sighted the new moon which, in Islam, commences the lunar month. Eid-ul-Fitr is the holiday which ends the month-long fasting of Ramadan. In spite of this, scholars claim it to have been impossible for the human eye to have seen the hilal at that time, since the new moon had only entered its 7th hour. Hence, the Islamic method, which follows the pattern of the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) for entering a new Islamic month, seems to have been neglected.
As the Muslim world approaches the pilgrimage, or Hajj, season and Eid-ul-Adha, which follows the ceremony, one wonders whether a similar scenario will occur.
Unfortunately, the Muslim world appears to be disunited, when little regard is paid towards matters like the correct observance of holy days. When commemorated with care however, these observances bring blessings and protection from the Most High.
Maybe year after year, the doors are closed on the mercy of Ramadan for millions all around the world a day too early.
Yes, one might argue that the Muslims have been warned in the traditions that these days were going to come. Does this mean we should not do anything about them? Some may say, “No, but God put them there, he chose them to be the custodians of the Holy Cities. They have been appointed by Allah, so they must be right.” If such were the case, the idols placed in the Holy Sanctuary around the Kaaba for hundreds of years after the time of Abraham (peace be upon him) were also “put” there and therefore can, (God forbid) be justified? We seek refuge in Allah.
History records other atrocities committed by the custodians of the Holy cities. The genocide of 680 AD, which started from the Battle of Karbala, continued on for a year with the killing of thousands of Muslim men, women, and children. Also, hundreds of murders were committed on the grounds of the two Holy Mosques. Hundreds of women were raped to such an extent that the following year has been referred to as “The Year of The Illegitimate Children” in the two Holy Cities. All of this mayhem was conducted by the so-called custodians of Makkah and Madinah, the two Holy Cities.
In the late seventeen, and early eighteen hundreds –just over a thousand years later– the current occupiers carried out a similar unrighteous act. Unfortunately, it can easily be argued that the genocide was on a much larger scale. The third genocide concluded in 1926.*
Even so, these physical attacks could be said to have been outweighed by the spiritual harm done to the Muslims by their teachings, not to mentions the overall damage to the perception of Islam. There is a very simple concept, traditional Islam equals love, whereas the new version of “Islam,” the so-called fundamentalist version that was created by think tanks in the 1700’s is equivalent to hate. Yet, the majority have adopted silence for the sake of false unity, a true abandonment of intellect.
May the Almighty Creator forgive us all. May the Almighty Creator protect us all.
*All of this historical information can easily be found in any encyclopedia or world history book. A few references which are easily located are: The House of Saud: The Rise and Rule of the Most Powerful Dynasty in the Arab World, by David Holden; England and the Middle East: The Destruction of the Ottoman Empire, by Elie Kedourie; Supremacy and Oil: Iraq, Turkey and the Anglo American World Order, by William Stivers; With Lawrence in Arabia (Prion Lost Treasures), by Lowell Thomas, just to name a few.
Filed under: December Volume 1 - 2008, Magazine/ Culture, Poetry | Tags: Books, poetry
From the upcoming title being published by Zavia Books:
Pir: Pearls from the Ocean of His Secrets
By Ahmad Qadri
Islamic Post Contributing Writer
Ihave been to your tavern.
Oh, I thank you for the wine.
One sip of your secret elixir and my animal self began to die.
In ecstasy, I found myself chanting Allah’s Holy Name:
Allah-Hu, Allah-Hu, Allah-Hu, again, again and again.
I lost myself in your tavern,
where your brand of wine has gained much fame.
Travelers come from far and wide to drink.
Yes, jinn, man, and malaaikah (angels) come to quench to their thirst.
Drinking the wine of Love like pilgrims drink
from Zam Zam, their stomach about to burst.
I sat as listener to the dhikr.
As the intoxicated tavern keeper began to sing;
sakinah (peace) fell upon us all,
as the malaaikah began to spread their wings!
The keeper in Love’s ecstasy started to cry,
as he began to describe:
“With this wine of ishq
your spirit will fly!”
“Believe me” he said confidently,
“I do it all the time!
I have flown the fourteen valleys.
I have known hardships, test and trial.
“This atom you call the universe
is truly not worth your while.
“Only to roam inside your soul
is where you will find true gold.”
Dig fast and deep,
before you grow too old!
Outside my tavern is the life of this world,
the jahil’s (ignoramus’) amusements,
the bakhil’s (miser’s) delusion,
a place of endless doubts and confusion.
“Have another cup with me,
if you have the capacity!”
Why do you wait? Life is short.
For this you can make haste.
Drink to your fill.
This wine of love makes none ill.
In fact, you will become one
with t he One’s will.
“What was a secret shall become known!
Why, my dear friends…
Shall I tell where I have flown?!”
One drunkard in the tavern said,
in a soft intoxicated moan…
“I have seen the white hawk flying high and alone, circumambulating the throne.”
*This poem was written in the Zavia of El Sheikh Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, Hashmi, in the Himalayan Mountains after El Sheikh delivered a discourse in which was said:
“The sheikh is the tavern keeper.
The Zavia is the tavern. Love is the wine.”
Filed under: December Volume 1 - 2008, Magazine/ Culture, Poetry | Tags: Hassan Ibn Thabit, Islamic Poets
Hazrat Hassan Ibn Thabit
By Hassan Abdul hakim
Islamic Post Contributing Writer
When the enemies of Islam would use their poets to defame the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), the Messenger of Allah would send forward Hassan Ibn Thabit, and he would, in most beautiful words, defend the most blessed honor of our Beloved, upon whom be peace.
Hassan Ibn Thabit was one of the eldest of the companions of the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him). A man known for his gift with words, Hassan Ibn Thabit accepted Islam in his sixties and lived until he had almost 120 years.
“Has not the eye yet left its sleeplessness,
and its shedding of tears and loosing them?”
The Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him) ordered a pulpit to be established for Hassan Ibn Thabit, upon which he could stand while reciting his poetry. The Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) prayed for him saying, “The Angel Gabriel (peace be upon him) will support you as long as you defend Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him).
“I could not praise the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) with my words; rather, my words were made praiseworthy by the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him).”
Of all the poets since the dawn of Islam and those who recite their words in song, Hassan Ibn Thabit (may Allah be pleased with him) had the honor of being the first with the distinction to use his words in the praise and defense of the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him). While many of the Islamic songs these days are based upon what a poet has written and what he has heard, the words of Hassan Ibn Thabit were a reflection of his blessed eyes, for his poetry is based upon what he himself had seen.
The poetry of Hassan Ibn Thabit (May Allah be pleased with him) has become renown and loved throughout the Muslim world, memorized by thousands, young and old, and echoed from home to home.
As-subhu bada min tala’atihi
Wal laylu daja min wafaratihi
Sa’tish shajaru nataqal hajaru
Shaqqal qamaru bi ishaaratihi
Kanzul Karami, Maulan Ni’ami
Haadil Umami li Shari’atihi
Fa Muhammaduna hua Sayyiduna
Fal ‘izzu lana li ijaabatihi
Indeed, still he is spreading the love and defending the honour of the Beloved Last Messenger (may the peace of Allah be upon him) through his words 1400 years later.
“I shall never cease to praise him.
It may be for so doing I shall be for ever in Paradise
With the Chosen One for whose support in that I hope.
And to attain to that day I devote all my efforts.”
The following poem by Hazrat Hassan ibn Thabit, may Allah be pleased with him, was translated by Aisha Bewley.
When I saw his light shining forth,
In fear I covered my eyes with my palms,
Afraid for my sight because of the beauty of his form.
So I was scarcely able to look at him at all.
The lights from his light are drowned in his light
and his face shines out like the sun and moon in one.
A spirit of light lodged in a body like the moon,
a mantle made up of brilliant shining stars.
I bore it until I could bear it no longer.
I found the taste of patience to be like bitter aloes.
I could find no remedy to bring me relief
other than delighting in the sight of the one I love.
Even if he had not brought any clear signs with him,
the sight of him would dispense with the need for them.
Muhammad is one not like other human beings.
Rather he is a flawless diamond, and the rest of mankind just stones.
Blessings be on him so that perhaps Allah may have mercy on us
on that burning Day when the Fire is roaring forth its sparks.
Filed under: December Volume 1 - 2008, Magazine/ Culture, Religion | Tags: Abraham, Ibrahim, Qurbani, Sacrifice
EID UL ADHA
Excellence of Qurbani
As the Islamic month of Dhul Hijja draws near, Muslims around the world will celebrate Eid-ul-Adha, or Festival of Sacrifice, to commemorate the willingness of Messenger Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ismail (Ishmael) in obedience to the Most High. Throughout history, mankind has been commanded to sacrifice things held dear to prove loyalty and love for the Creator of the World. For the lovers of the Almighty, sacrifice is synonymous with surrender. From the first Messenger of Allah, Adam, to the Holy Last Messenger and Beloved of Allah, Muhammad, all surrendered to the Almighty Creator by making great sacrifices with love and willingness. (May the peace of Allah be upon all of His Messengers.) In many countries Eid-ul-Adha is also referred to as the Qurban Eid. The word qurban, or sacrifice, comes from the Arabic word qurb. Qurb signifies nearness, closeness, approach, and the like. It should be mentioned that only by true submission to the Almighty can one achieve “nearness.”
The history of qurbani, the slaughtering of meat bearing animals after the Hajj pilgrimage, and dates back to the beginning of mankind with the two sons of Adam. When Cain and Abel had an argument, their father, Adam, commanded them to do qurbani to see whose sacrifice Allah, the Most High, would accept.
“And recite to them the story of the two sons of Adam in truth. When each offered a sacrifice, it was accepted from one, but not from the other. The latter said to the former, “I will surely kill you.” The former said, “Verily, Allah accepts only from those who have taqwa ( God-consciousness).” ( Holy Qur’an 5:27)
The Messenger Abraham (or Ibrahim, peace be upon him), who is known as the Friend of Allah, was also commanded to make a great sacrifice. He was told by the Almighty to sacrifice his son. In this, he did not hesitate for an instant, although we find the venerable Ibrahim to have prayed to Allah Almighty fervently for a son:
“My Rabb (Cherisher & Sustainer), grant me a son, one of the righteous.” So, We we gave him the glad tidings of a forbearing boy.’”(37:100)
After a few years, the venerable Ismail (Ishmael), a radiant son, was born to Ibrahim and his wife, the venerable Lady Hajirah (Hagar).Yet, when the Friend of Allah, Ibrahim, was commanded by his Lord to sacrifice his beloved son, the Most High found father and son obedient to the Divine command:
“And, when he (Ismail) was old enough to walk with him, he (Ibrahim) said: “O my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you. So, look, what you think?” He said: “O my father! Do that which you are commanded, if Allah wills, you shall find me of the patient.’’ (37:101-102)
In Tafsir Usmani we find: “As Ibrahim was pressing the knife to Ismail’s throat, the sound of takbir “Allah is Great, Allah is Great,” was heard coming from heaven. This was the voice of Angel Gabriel, who in Arabic is Jibrail (may the peace of Allah be upon him and the Holy Messengers of Allah). Allah had created a ram as a substitute sacrifice for Ismail then, summoning Jibrail from paradise, commanded Jibrail to take the ram to Ibrahim. The angel appeared in the heavens, bearing that ram and proclaiming the Supreme Greatness of Allah. When Ibrahim heard the voice of Jibrail, he realized that his trial was over. In grateful response, he glorified and extolled his Rabb with the words: “There is no god but Allah, Allah is Greater [than anything whatsoever].” The venerable Ismail also realized that the mercy of the All-Compassionate and Beneficent Allah had arrived. Saying: “Allah is Greater, and to Allah belongs all praise,” as he joined in the glorification. Then Allah, Glorified and Exalted is He, addressed His special friend, Ibrahim, with the following words:
“O Ibrahim! You have fulfilled the vision!’’ Verily, thus do We reward the doers of good. Verily, that indeed was a manifest trial.” And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice. And We left him among the later generations.” (37:103-108)
Due to the loving friendship between Allah and his servant the venerable Ibrahim, a ram was substituted in the place of the venerable Ismail. Yet, the “great sacrifice” was not the ram, but the grandson of the Holy Last Messenger, Imam Hussein (may Allah’s peace be upon them) who would live many generations after. Imam Hussain, of the noble lineage of Ismail through his blessed grandfather, substituted himself and his family members to save the spirit of Islam, which was, indeed, the greatest of sacrifices. Imam Hussein refused to give his pledge of loyalty to the person who had wrongfully assumed the role of caliph, an openly perverted man and sinful drunkard, Yazid, son of Muawiyah. If Imam Hussein had submitted, the people of the time would have joined him assuming the course of action to be correct, and it cannot be surmised from this to what levels morality would have sunk.
But Yazid, the accursed traitor of religion and peace, was intent upon securing the pledge of Imam Hussein, even if it was obtained by force of bloodshed. In the end, Imam Hussein and his entire family, save a few who were spared, were martyred in a most brutal fashion during the first century of Islam. The lessons learned from the tragedy of Karbala, the desolate area where the massacre took place, imparted significant wisdom. Sacrifice is not always done after receiving a command to do so. Imam Hussein wore the spirit of sacrifice upon his shoulders, and acted by the initiative of his inner character true to the legacy of the chiefs of all Muslims, his grandfather, the Holy Last Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and father, the venerable Ali, by sacrificing, without being asked or told.
The slave of the Almighty submits to the molding of his character into the spirit of selflessness, even if it be at the price of his life and possessions. This is the spirit of qurbani during Eid-ul-Adha, which brings one near to the pleasure of the Almighty.
Requirements of Qurbani
Qurbani is wajib, or compulsory, according to Imam Abu Hanifah upon every non-traveler in his town of residence who possesses 613.35 grams of silver, or its equivalent in money, personal ornaments, stock in trade, or any other form of wealth which is surplus to his/her basic needs. Each adult member of a family who possesses that much wealth must perform his or her own qurbani separately. It was reported that the Beloved of Allah, the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The first thing that we do on the day of the Eid is to perform the prayers. Then we go home and carry out our qurbani. Thus, whoever does those acts has conformed to our way. For those who slaughtered before it (the prayer of Eid ul Adha), then the meat slaughtered is for family members. It is not an act of qurbani.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
The animals used for qurbani must be free from any form of handicap such as being blind, sick, lame, or undernourished. They must be slaughtered by a Muslim in the appropriate humane manner, adhering to the Islamic principles. It is preferable that the meat from qurbani be divided in three equal parts: one for the home, one for relatives and friends, and one for the poor and needy. The meat from qurbani can be distributed to Muslims or non-Muslims. The Holy Companion, Ans, reported that the Messenger of Allah, (peace be upon him) sacrificed, with his own hands, two white rams with black markings. He mentioned the name of Allah and recited takbir.
Upon performing qurbani, the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him) would declare: “Verily I turn my face towards the One who created the heavens and the earth, as one upon the religion of Abraham, being upright, and I am not one of the polytheists. Verily my prayer, my life and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. There is no partner with him and I am one of the Muslims. O Allah, it [the qurbani] is Thine and for Thee, from Muhammad and his Ummah. In the name of Allah, Allah is the greatest.” He then slaughtered the cattle.
Hazrat Zaid bin Arkam reports that the Companions of the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him) asked him: “Oh Messenger of Allah, what is the sacrifice?” He said, “It is the way of your forefather Ibrahim.” They asked, “What (reward) is for us therein?” He replied: “There is a reward for every hair. ”
The Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad, (peace be upon him) sacrificed his person and wealth in the service of others throughout his pristine, blessed life. During the ten years in which he lived in the holy city of Madinah, the Messenger of Allah performed qurbani in each of those years. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his noble family, and brethren, who are the Holy Messengers of God.
Filed under: December Volume 1 - 2008, Magazine/ Culture | Tags: Dr. Jemille, Health, Losing Weight
Dr. Jemille: Obesity
Overview of a ‘Growing’ Problem
By Dr. Jemille A. Wasi
Islamic Post Staff Writer
A short while before embarking on my medical relief mission to Pakistan, I was training in a hospital where I made a startling discovery. During rounds, I walked past a scale and decided to weigh myself. I stood there wide-eyed as the numbers continued to climb, and was shocked when they finally stopped. For someone who had weighed around 150 lbs for the previous 18 years of my life—eating anything under the sun—I was surprised to see the final number on the scale read 186 lbs.
I reflected on the fact that over the period of a couple of years I had gained over 30 lbs. I attributed this gain to the fact that during medical training we were often forced to eat what was convenient. This inevitably led to unhealthy dietary choices and periods of inactivity.
As I look around our community, I see the issue of weight becoming more prevalent. The more disturbing fact is that the ages of affected individuals are getting younger every day. In order for this to change, I think it is important to understand the basics.
As you take food into your body, it is initially broken down into sugars, proteins, and fat. Whatever energy your body needs energy for all its various processes and activities, it uses the sugars first. If you take in more food than your body’s energy needs, then the sugars, proteins and fats that aren’t used are converted to fat and stored in your body’s energy storage units, commonly known as adipose, or fat, tissue. If, during your life, you continue to take in more food than you use on a daily basis, the amount of fat you have will increase.
One thing that may not be commonly understood is that every individual is born with a certain amount of fat storage “units” —let’s say 10 for example. Each one of these units can hold only so much fat; so as your fat content increases, your body has to “make” another unit to store the excess. The problem with this is that you can only increase the number of units; that is to say, you can go from 10 to 11 but you cannot go back down to 10 because once you have created that extra unit. It remains for life. When a person “loses” fat they only decrease the amount of fat molecules in each storage unit, but the amount of units still remain the same.
Another problem is that as the amount of storage compartments increase, they get squeezed closer together and the individual lipid molecules become tighter and therefore harder to get rid of.
Effects of weight gain
The problems with weight gain are not merely cosmetic. The higher your fat content, the greater the chances that you will develop increased blood cholesterol levels, leading to atherosclerosis. In addition, the more weight a person carries adds stress to joints and bones and also makes a person less able to tolerate exercise. This causes deconditioning (being “out of shape”), which in turn leads to less desire to exercise thus continuing a vicious cycle of inactivity.
Another effect is seen with the heart. As a person increases in size, the heart has to work harder to supply oxygen-rich blood to that extra fat tissue. This increased work load brings about an enlargement in heart size, with no real increase in strength. This can lead to heart attacks, and conditions like high blood pressure and heart failure.
Furthermore, overweight individuals are at an increased risk of developing Type II Diabetes, as the increase in adipose tissue leads to insulin resistance. In pediatric populations this is becoming more of an issue. The old term for Type II Diabetes had to be changed from “Adult Onset Diabetes” to “Non-Insulin Dependant Diabetes” as a result of the amount of children who now have this disease.
The last effect of note is that our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) –which is the rate that our bodies use energy when we are completely at rest—slows down as we gain weight.
Changing the trend
Over 65% of people in the U.S. are overweight or obese. This number has tremendously increased over the years from values of 13% in 1962 and 31% in 1994. In addition, the number of overweight children in America has tripled since 1980. This is mostly due to inactivity (read increased television/internet time) and a higher consumption of food.
Thus, to alter the current trend involves two important keys: making appropriate dietary choices, and exercising.
Most people recognize the word calories, and correlate this word to energy used, or burned, during exercise. However, despite the common misconception that people burn a lot of calories when they do exercise, each pound of fat is roughly 3500 calories. To put this into perspective, consider that the amount of calories burned for every mile a person walks is based on a calculation: (your weight x 2) divided by 3.5. So, for each mile a 125 pound person walks he or she only burns about 71 calories …71!
While exercising is important for weight loss, it is more important to decrease the amount of calories one takes in and this means making appropriate dietary choices.
Because many of us have children, we know that they are a major determinant in the foods we buy. Another issue is that many of us are on a limited budget and many of the foods that are considered healthy cost more money. Due to these two factors we tend to purchase food that is convenient and inexpensive. Unfortunately, most of the foods in this category are not conducive to losing weight. This is even worse for adults because of our lower BMR.
The key is to try to get low calorie foods –like fruits and vegetables, and avoid high calorie, processed foods –like cookies, chips, and sodas. Personally, I have found it helpful to change all of the beverages that I take with meals to water. Consider that if you were to drink a 12 oz soda with each meal, this alone would equal about 400 calories/day. In a period of a week that would almost be enough calories to equal 1 pound.
Although dietary measures are more important in weight loss, exercise still has its merits. Not only does physical activity help with weight reduction, it also assists an increase in BMR, and is beneficial to your heart because it makes it beat faster and stronger. It should be noted that you do not need to have a gym membership to exercise. You can do activities with your children: take walks, play ball or go bike riding. These things will give you all the exercise you need. On a daily basis one only needs about 20-30 minutes of activity to stay fit.
When I came home from Pakistan I weighed 157 lbs. Those 30 lbs that I had added on in medical school were gone! The reason for this was that we had to walk to many of the places we wanted to go and our diet was much improved, almost consisting of only fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats.
Even after saying all this there is a much simpler way to stay in shape. Can you guess? It is called… following the Sunnah, the life pattern of the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad, peace be upon him! If you don’t eat to your fill, consume the appropriate amount of beverage, and walk your 40 steps after a meal, you may find that all the above-mentioned advice is unnecessary!
As always, only from Allah, the Most High and Glorified, can we be healed!
By Raheemah Atif
Islamic Post Staff Writer
In the arena of politics, Americans have come to expect any manner and number of spectacles inspired and expedited by the desperation of political contenders, and their avid well-wishers, as they seek to slay the reputation, integrity, and good record of one another. Election 2008 being no exception, two citizens organizations have lodged official disapproval and detestation of the distribution by mail, and via a Sunday edition of at least 70 U.S. newspapers, of an inflammatory DVD purportedly to warn Americans of the dangerous threat of “radical Islamic elements” to the security of the United States. The film is entitled “Obsession, Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” and was distributed by a tax-exempt organization called the Clarion Fund.
Hate Hurts America (HHA), denounced the film with extensive research into the supporters of the production. HHA is “a nonpartisan diverse community coalition that brings together Americans of various faiths, races, and backgrounds in a unified stance against hate, incitement, community divisiveness, and intolerance – particularly against America’s minorities,” according to its website. “Although HHA is an advocate group for the Constitutional right of free speech, though biased or bigoted – they declare that “we also believe that while Americans should respect the right of bigots to free speech, we are under no obligation to accept, embrace, or promote their bigoted endeavors. In fact, we believe in asserting our own free speech toward exposing bigotry and challenging intolerance.”
With regards to “Obsession,” in particular, the group explains how the film “begins with a brief disclaimer that states: ‘It is important to remember that most Muslims are peaceful and do not support terror.’ However, the remainder of the film distorts facts and events” about Muslims to the degree where the intentions of the producers were called into question.
On the website ObessionWithHate.com, HHA published an expose′ and detailed rebuttal of the information contained in the above-mentioned DVD. “The HHA coalition believes that “As American citizens, we are alarmed by the massive distribution of this hate DVD, through the swing states” -key states whose votes are sought after by the presidential candidates. The distribution of the film was funded by The Clarion Fund, although HHA found the monetary sources of Clarion itself to be elusive. The group further states that the source of the widespread distribution, as well as the sponsoring individuals, or groups behind it, should be clearly known by all.
In its turn, the Council on American Islamic Relations filed an official complaint with the Federal Election Commmission citing that –in addition to the exaggerated information contained in the DVD– the timing of the distribution of the anti-Islamic propaganda may have been purposely planned to coincide with the presidential election in order to influence public opinion against one of the candidates. In a statement to the press, the Council on American Islamic Relations’ executive director Nihad Awad declared, “American voters deserve to know whether they are targets of a multimillion-dollar campaign funded and directed by a foreign group seeking to whip up anti-Muslim hysteria as a way to influence the outcome of our presidential election.”
St. Petersburg Times staff writer Meg McLaughlin undertook an investigation in order to find the source of the DVD newspaper inserts, an estimated 28-million copies, which were broadly disbursed from around mid-September. Ms. McLaughlin’s state of publication, Florida, was one of at least 15 states inundated by the video, and was also carried by the St. Petersburg Times in Tampa. According to her article, “Senders of Islam movie ‘Obsession’ Tied to Jewish Charity.” the Clarion Fund, was also found to be connected by a number of links to the Israeli charity and public relations organ, Aish HaTorah. Some staff members and employee’s names are listed simultaneously in both the Clarion Fund and Aish HaTorah. McLaughlin mentions that “Clarion’s address, according to Manhattan directory assistance, is the same address as Aish HaTorah International, which in turn is a fundraising arm of Aish HaTorah. The Clarion Fund and Aish HaTorah International are also connected to the group called HonestReporting, which produced Obsession. HonestReporting’s 2006 tax return uses the same address.”
Ms. McLaughlin also found that “two of the three Clarion Fund directors at the time of its incorporation in November 2006 appeared as Aish employees on Aish Web sites at the same time. The third appeared on the Aish executive committee. A June 15, 2001, article in the Jerusalem Post stated that Aish HaTorah provided, at that time, $150,000 in seed money to create an organization called Media Watch International’ which merged with HonestReporting, the group that made the Obsession video, four years later.
Clarion’s point of view is being promulgated as ‘free speech’ in hopes that the DVD be categorized as a politically neutral piece. However, Ms. McLaughlin’s article relates the opinion of Marc Owens, a Washington tax attorney who has worked for 10 years in the Tax Exempt department at the IRS, and who surmised that if the agency finds a definite link between the DVD and the Aish organization, it will assess if the film is actually meant as “an inflammatory hate message instead of a charitable, educational message.” The answer found by the IRS will determine whether or not the groups will retain their tax-exempt status.
-Researcher Dalya A. Wadud contributed to this report.
Filed under: Business/Economy, December Volume 1 - 2008, Front Page News, International | Tags: Brad Sherman, G20, Havel, Kucinich, Paul Craig Roberts
By Muhammad Ahmad
Islamic Post Staff Writer
President-elect Barack Obama made a rare pre-inaugural call in November for the support of Congress, when it reconvenes January 6, for a two-year economic stimulus program. The announcement reflects the seriousness of the situation, an “economic crisis of historic proportions,” in the words of the president-elect, and worse than previously believed. President-elect Obama has emphasized that aides, like New York Federal Reserve President, Timothy Geithner, who is now the treasury secretary designate, are to seek the consultation of congress for the passing of the bill so that, following the January 20 inauguration, his team can “hit the ground running” on the long road to repair the economy.
Although the team has been working closely with President Bush to ease the transition, the president-elect opted out of the November 15th G20 summit in Washington, D.C. The summit was expected to “discuss cooperative measures for responding to the global economic meltdown and ways to prevent future crises,” as stated by the AFP. The agenda was set primarily by leaders in the European Union.
Some believe the G20 summit, which included names like Brazil, South Korea and Indonesia, along with the United States and the usual European players, was in a rush to pile on more of the same fiscal policies that lay at the root of the current problem. In an interview with The Associated Press, Vaclav Havel, the former President of Czechoslovakia, emphasized leaders should pay more attention to the lessons of the current crisis before moving forward. “It’s a warning against the idea that we understand the world, that we know how everything works,” said Mr. Havel. “It’s a warning against the pride of economists who think they understand everything and have the whole world… mapped out.”
In the opinion of the former democratic leader of the eastern European nation, who was instrumental in toppling communism, in that country, in the late 1980’s, “the major problem is where modern civilization is going.”
He could be correct.
Western European leaders, headed by France and the United Kingdom, heralded a new world financial and monetary order just before the summit, one which would give more regulatory powers to the International Monetary Fund.
While the EU Observer reported the final conclusions of the Washington summit “came well short of delivering any construction of a new global financial architecture,” the summit did, however, agree to grant more powers to the International Monetary Fund, the global symbol of financial lending bound by “conditionalities,” or preconditional performance targets.
Before the summit, British prime minister, Gordon Brown, spoke of “very large and very radical changes.” According to Mr. Brown, the summit was set to address plans in which the bailouts of financial institutions –$2.3 trillion dollars in the case of the European Union– would simply be preliminary moves to “global action as sweeping as that which gave birth to the United Nations, the World Bank and the IMF in the 1940s.”
Yet, critics state that the bailouts, even as a first step, hardly address the problem. Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary to the U.S. Treasury, said, “All it [the bailout] does is take troubled financial assets off the books of the banks and puts them on the books of the United States Treasury, that is [to say], puts them on the taxpayers’ books.”
While governments in Latin America have been criticized severely for nationalizing natural resource industries, that had been primarily in the hands of foreign investors, the European Union now owns majority shares of European banks, and the U.S. Federal Reserve’s purchase of $125 billion in banking assets means that it now owns 55% of the country’s banking assets.
Two of the most well known nationalizations of private entities are the buyout of primary lenders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as the country’s largest insurance company, American International Group (AIG).
Anthony Perez of the Epoch Times reported, “Despite growing criticism, U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson defended the U.S. bailout plan as ‘necessary.’”
“Government owning a stake in any private U.S. company is objectionable to most Americans—me included,” Secretary Paulson recently said. “Yet, the alternative of leaving businesses and consumers without access to financing is totally unacceptable.”
The EU has also faced an overwhelming amount of backlash from their efforts towards a new order, with EU leaders reportedly risking their political standing for the European bailouts.
Apparently the same goes for U.S. congressmen, whose approval rating was only 18% before the economic crisis, and by some estimates has now fallen to 10%.
“From a capitalistic standpoint,” Representative Dennis Kucinich told Fox News from Capitol Hill, “[the bailout] actually destroys the idea of a free market economy.”
A more palpable solution, said former Assistant Treasury Secretary Roberts, lies with mortgage defaults. “The only way to address the problem is to address it at the homeowner level,” the former assistant secretary to the Treasury said, “What they should have done is what they did in the 1930s during the Great Depression. They created a homeowners loan corporation. They refinanced all the mortgages and they saved the housing sector.”
Part of President-elect Obama’s stimulus package includes help for the millions of Americans who remain in jeopardy of losing their homes.
“We will review the implementation of this Administration’s financial program to ensure that our government’s efforts are achieving their central goal of stabilizing financial markets, while protecting taxpayers, helping homeowners and not unduly rewarding the management of financial firms that are receiving government assistance,” stated the president-elect in his first press conference after winning, by a landslide, on the premise of change.
–Shahida Rasheed and Abdul Hamid A. Aziz contributed to this report.
SPEAKING ON THE ECONOMY, What the critics said about the first bailout, as other rescue attempts ensue:
CONGRESSMAN DENNIS KUCINICH OF OHIO: “We are now facing the perfect financial storm. The elements are the deficit spending for the war … the lack of serious investment in our country and now $700 billion to Wall Street. We are being hollowed out.”
CALIFORNIA CONGRESSMAN, BRAD SHERMAN: “A few members [of Congress]were even told that there would be martial law in America if we voted no. That’s what I call fear mongering, unjustified, proven wrong.”
PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY TO THE U.S. TREASURY: “All it [the bailout] does is take troubled financial assets off the books of the banks and puts them on the books of the United States Treasury, that is [to say], puts them on the taxpayers books.”