About Me

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Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html

Friday, August 31, 2007

Thoughts on the approach of Ramadan, Tishrei and the Feast Day of Francis of Assisi

I read this post on the blog of Iftikhar Hussain. I share his hopes in this blessed season. Read, enjoy, and share with others.



Thoughts on the approach of Ramadan, Tishrei and the Feast Day of Francis of Assisi

Dear Friends, As Salaam Alaikum (Peace be upon you)

As we approach the month of Ramadan, Tishrei and the Feast Day of Francis of Assisi, I encourage Muslims, Jews and Christians to reach out to each other during this period of the year.

As some in the Muslim community have already observed, it is imperative that these three communities begin to create bonds of genuine relationships. The religious traditions of these 3 communities allow for such a possibility and the history of interaction between these 3 communities provides a precedence for movement in such a direction.

I have participated in the 'Tent of Abraham' meetings initiated by the Shalom Center and Rabbis Arthur Waskow and Phyllis Berman. Jews, Christians, Muslims and members of several other faith traditions have participated and bonded with each other through this series of annual meetings over the last 4 years. Through an annual retreat, we have learned to understand each others traditions, hopes and fears. This process has created the possibility to talk of ways to value and honor each other rooted in our own religious source texts and traditions.

I ask you, my friends, to begin to explore your own ways of connecting with your neighbors and friends and honoring them during this period. If you would like to learn of the success of the approach adopted by the Tent of Abraham, please write to me at ihussain@cair.com or write to Rabbi Arthur Waskow at office@shalomctr.org.

More details about the Tent of Abraham can be found at http://www.shalomctr.org/node/1246

Thank you and Salaam
Iftekhar Hussain

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It's about mutual understanding

(Note: photo of mosque and church shown below is one that I took in downtown Beirut/Lebanon. In Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria, it is typical to see a mosque and a church side-by-side. After all, Muslims, Christians, and Jews have historically lived together in peace for centuries in that part of the world)

Open Mosque day a chance for harmony
Mona Shadia, Staff Writer
San Bernardino County Sun

"This is not about a religious debate, nor about a religion conversion, it's about mutual understanding."
That's what Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Southern California chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations said about Open Mosque day.

The Islamic Center of Redlands is celebrating the day Sunday afternoon.
Open Mosque is a day dedicated to opening mosques around Southern California to community members who are not familiar with Muslims or Islam to learn about the culture and the religion. The main focus is to dispel misconceptions about Islam, Ayloush said.
The event is organized by the Southern California Islamic Shura Council, an organization that serves as an umbrella to many Southern California Islamic centers.

Mohammad Hossain, director and founder of the Islamic Center of Redlands, said this is an opportunity for many people from Redlands and the surrounding community to ask questions about Islam.

"Many people don't know about Islam," he said. "It's kind of a visual orientation to non-Muslims, so they can get an idea about the Muslims."

For years, CAIR encouraged the Muslim community to open up their doors to allow non-Muslims a chance to get answers about Islam, Ayloush said.

"Islam is misunderstood by a large segment of the American population, and as Americans, we owe it to our neighbors to do our part in promoting activities that will create dialogue, promote understanding and encourage friendship in our own communities," he said. "And this is why an open mosque is a step in that direction.

The day became critical after 9/11, Ayloush said.
"Before 9/11 this would be considered a good event to hold," Ayloush said. "After 9/11 it became a necessity, not only for Muslims, but for the whole country to remain united within our pluralistic traditions.
"This is an invitation to meet, educate, appreciate each other and make friends," Ayloush said. "At the end of the day we live in the same community, our children go to the same schools. We eat at the same restaurants, it's not acceptable that we see each other everywhere without making the efforts to know each other."

Arthur Gregory said he attended last year's Open Mosque in Redlands.

The president of the Redlands Area Interfaith Council is of Baha'i faith. He said Open Mosque day is a chance for people to get reliable answers to their questions.

"It's excellent," he said about the event. "It's very much needed today because of the apprehension people have because of Mid East turmoil and the prejudice that has built up over the years about Muslims. It's a good place to meet Muslims and ask questions in a friendly atmosphere."

It's an invitation, Ayloush said, which can be accepted or denied.

"But it's also in our hands to make a positive change," Ayloush said. "Let's try to imagine what would Moses, Jesus or Muhammad do if they received such an invitation."

It's important for people to get out there and investigate on their own and find answers to their questions, Gregory said.

"When you learn more about other religions, you deepen your own," he said.

Beautiful minarets and domes

As I promised earlier, here are a few more photos from my recent trip to the Middle East.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Prisoner 345

Who is prisoner 345? And why should you and I care about him?

Prisoner 345 is Sami Al-Haj. Sami Al-Haj is prisoner 345 at the United States Detainment Camp in Guantanamo Bay Cuba. Sami has been on hunger strike since 7th January, 2007.
Sami was arrested in Pakistan in December 2001 while travelling with a legitimate visa to work in Afghanistan as a cameraman for Al Jazeera. But he is being held as an ‘enemy combatant’. Al Jazeera, its offices, and its reporters have regularly come under attack (political as well as physical) by the Bush administration. Its crime is not becoming a cheer leader (like many other media outlets that we shall not mention) for the Bush administration's numerous endless wars.

The Bush administration and the Pentagon have not charged Sami with any crime. Who gives us the right to take the freedom of people and separate them from their families without charging them with crimes? How would we feel if an American is subjected to such immoral and illegal practice?
Mr. Al-Haj must be freed and compensated for all the harm we have caused to him and his family. Mr. Al-Haj deserves an apology. But again, we owe this apology to the millions of innocent Iraqis and Afghans that we have ruined their livelihoods for the terrorist crime of 9/11 which they had no responsibility for.

I never met Sami Al-Haj. I never worked for Al-Jazeera. So why do I care? This position is basically for three groups of people. The first, it is for me personally. I have to be able to look at myself in the mirror. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that one who sees injustice and remains silent about it is a mute devil, ie a silent partner in that injustice. I do not want to be an accomplice in this major injustice.

The second group is my children. I have always stressed to my children the Qur'anic teaching of speaking against injustice, especially when it is committed by one's own. Presently, my country is engaging in unjust practices. Remaining silent is not an option. My children need to know that when I had the chance to speak out, I did not cower. The Guantanamo Bay Gulag must be shut down. Those responsible for any crimes should have their day in an independent court and if not found guilty, they should be freed. The indefinite detention without charges is in itself a form of terrorism (called kidnapping), let alone the torture our government (sanctioned by our Attorney General Alberto Gonzales) has applied in the process. This is not what America stands for. As Americans, we have a duty to oppose those whose actions taint our country's history, image, and credibility. Of course, our first duty is to defend the dignity and humanity of every human being.

The third group is Sami’s family: his parents, his wife, and his son Mohammad who was born after Sami was illegally detained by our forces. They need to know that many Americans are ashamed and appalled by the actions of our government. We feel your pain. We pray for the day Sami will be free and will finally get to meet his son for the first time. As a father, I know that there is nothing that we can do to make up for the days Sami was deprived from seeing his son grow or the days Mohammad needed his father’s love, hugs, and comfort.

For more information on Sami Al-Haj, please read:
Shutdown the Gitmo Gulag
The Road to Guantanamo

Sami must be freed.

This poem below is an excerpt from an article which appeared in the leading British newspaper The Independent on June 21, 2007.

Humiliated In The Shackles
By Sami al Hajj

When I heard pigeons cooing in the trees,

Hot tears covered my face.

When the lark chirped, my thoughts composed

A message for my son.

Mohammad, I am afflicted.

In my despair, I have no one but Allah for comfort.

The oppressors are playing with me,

As they move freely around the world.

They ask me to spy on my countrymen,

Claiming it would be a good deed.

They offer me money and land,

And freedom to go where I please.

Their temptations seize

My attention like lightning in the sky.

But their gift is an empty snake,

Carrying hypocrisy in its mouth like venom,

They have monuments to liberty

And freedom of opinion, which is well and good.

But I explained to them that

Architecture is not justice.

America, you ride on the backs of orphans,

And terrorize them daily.

Bush, beware.

The world recognizes an arrogant liar.

To Allah I direct my grievance and my tears.

I am homesick and oppressed.

Mohammad, do not forget me.

Support the cause of your father, a God-fearing man.

I was humiliated in the shackles.

How can I now compose verses? How can I now write?

After the shackles and the nights and the suffering and the tears,

How can I write poetry?

My soul is like a roiling sea, stirred by anguish,

Violent with passion.

I am a captive, but the crimes are my captors'.

I am overwhelmed with apprehension.

Lord, unite me with my son Mohammad.

Lord, grant success to the righteous.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Abusing in the name of religion and the silent witnesses

The news of a bigot spewing hatred is unfortunately not unusual anymore. But when such a bigot uses a religious platform to express such hatred, it is hard not to be disturbed.

At the second annual "Christians United For Israel" conference, held at the Marriott Wardman hotel in Washington, D.C., on the 16th through the 18th of July 2007, a vitriolic Islamophobe called Brigitte Gabriel said:

"The difference, my friends, between Israel and the Arab world is the difference between civilization and barbarism. It's the difference between good and evil [applause].... this is what we're witnessing in the Arabic world, They have no soul!, they are dead set on killing and destruction. And in the name of something they call "Allah" which is very different from the God we believe. . .[applause] because our God is the God of love."

Read more about that event at:

Additionally, Bruce Wilson reported on the 'Talk to Action' website that almost at the same time Brigitte Gabriel was demonizing Muslims, "two Jewish journalists were being evicted from the conference, for interviewing conference goers about their apocalyptic religious beliefs and confronting the conference leader about writing of his that blamed Jews themselves for the Holocaust."

Of course, if such bigotry was occurring at a neo-Nazi or KKK conference, one would not bother to complain. However, the sad part is that this conference claimed to be a "Christian" conference and the organizers insisted on labeling themselves as "Christian". As someone who studied at a Christian school and have many Christian friends and relatives, I know that Christianity, like Islam, Judaism and all religions, does not allow for such abhorrence.

The story does not end here. It turned out that U.S. Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman were among the participants at the conference. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they did not know that Gabriel was planning to utter such venomous words. But now that they know, how come they have not distanced themselves from it?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Muslims commemorate holy journey of Israa' and Mi'raaj

Muslims commemorate holy journey
Mosque in Redlands part of global remembrance of prophets, prayers
Mona Shadia, Staff Writer
San Bernardino County Sun

One night more than 1,400 years ago, the Islamic faith teaches, God took the Prophet Muhammad on a journey from Mecca to Jerusalem to heaven.

Muslims believe that during the trip, Muhammad met with other prophets, including Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus. And that it was the night God assigned to him the five daily prayers and made them mandatory for all Muslims.

Muhammad had been sorely tested by the loss of his most beloved wife, his uncles who raised and protected him and the rejection and physical attack by the people of a town he visited - but he didn't question his faith, Islamic teachings say.

The night journey, known to Muslims as Isra and Mi'raj, was commemorated Friday by Muslims everywhere, including in the Inland Empire at the Islamic Center in Redlands.

It was Rajab 27 on the Islamic calendar.

"The night journey ... came in which God wanted to strengthen his faith, to remind him that `I'm still with you,"' said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Southern California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Ayloush, who is a guest imam at many Southern California mosques, regularly provides sermons and leads the Friday prayer.

The night journey, Ayloush said, reminded the prophet that obstacles are tests faced by every prophet of God.

As 1 p.m. approached, the parking lot of the center filled rapidly as Muslims came to the Redlands mosque. Children followed quickly in the footsteps of the adults.

Mohammad Hossain, founder and director of the Islamic center, led the sermon and the prayers.

He highlighted the importance of prayers.

"This is a special occasion," Hossain said. "It's a historic event. That particular day was given to all mankind. Prayer is the first priority of worship. It's the first one to be accounted for on the day of judgment."

But aside from praying to obey God, Ayloush said, Muslims believe praying is designed as a direct link between them and God.

"It's a constant link between us and our creator, at least five times a day," Ayloush said. "Someone who's linked with his creator at least five times a day is expected to be more aware and mindful to be a better person.

"Knowing that I just finished my link and my connection with God now and in a few hours I'll be reconnecting again, it's difficult and hypocritical for me as a person to do what displeases God - such as cheating, lying, harming someone or committing any forms of injustice. And that's why it's important," Ayloush said.

The faith teaches that the journey's purpose wasn't meant only to strengthen the prophet's faith and assign the prayers, but that it also revealed many important lessons for Muslims.

During the journey, the Quran teaches, the prophet was taken from the holiest mosque in Mecca to the farthest mosque in Jerusalem, known in Arabic as Al-Aqsa (photo shown above), where it is believed he led the prayer with all prophets, including Abraham, Moses and Jesus.

"It was a reminder to Muslims that the root of their religion does not lie through Muhammad alone, but actually with every prophet from Adam to Abraham and the rest," Ayloush said. "That was an important reminder.

"Islam was not sent only to the Arabs of Arabia, but to all people as a message of monotheism, the belief in the one god, the God of Abraham and of compassion and justice to each other - and that's the universal message," he said.

After the sermon at the Islamic Center, they all stood - men and women, old and young, foot to foot and shoulder to shoulder - and did what they believe God asked of them on that same day hundreds of years ago. They prayed.

Contact writer Mona Shadia at (909) 386-3873 or via e-mail at mona.shadia@sbsun.com.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Dreams Across America

The Dreams Across America Tour is a nationwide journey via train that educates the public to dispel myths, give real facts, and shares personal stories about the need for just and humane immigration reform in this country.

On May 31, 2007, Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, talked about his goal and dream, as an immigrant to help connect the United States and the Muslim world.

In eight days (June 13th- 20th) via ten cities, The Dreams Across America Tour brought together one hundred diverse individuals from throughout the country referred to as Dreamers. These Dreamers shared their compelling stories and reinforced what still holds true today – no matter our backgrounds, immigrant or native born, we all cherish the values that make this country prosper. However, only by working together to address our nation’s broken immigration laws, can we continue to achieve and live the American dream.

The Dreams Across America Tour concluded in Washington, D.C. on June 19 and 20 where Dreamers from across the country joined hundreds of immigrant children and their families at an event organized by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM). Dreamers also shared their stories with Members of Congress so they may hear first-hand from their constituents about the human impact of our broken immigration system and the need for just immigration reform legislation that addresses the realities of our country, economy and immigrant families.

For more information about this great project, please visit:


Photos from my recent Middle East trip

The Mediterranean Coast of Beirut

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Is Big Brother at your mosque?

InFocus Newspaper, August 2007
By ABDUSSALAM MOHAMED, Senior Staff Writer

...In the back seat sat Ahmed Niazi, 33, a language teacher and a friend, while in the passenger seat sat a man who converted to Islam almost a year ago.

The man was 44-year-old Craig Monteilh, but he went by the name "Farouk Aziz."

"Monteilh started talking about the Iraq war," Niazi said. "He went off on a rant against U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East."

But then, out of the blue, Monteilh said something that sent chills down the spines of his companions.

He asked Elsisy and Niazi if they knew of an "operation" he could be part of.

Pin-drop silence followed. Elsisy’s eyes bounced over to the rearview mirror and traded a horrified glance with Niazi.

"Blood froze up in our veins," Elsisy recalls...

Board members at the center felt compelled to take action.

They contacted the southern California office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, known as CAIR.

Hussam Ayloush, the council’s executive director, recommended they immediately report the incident to the Irvine Police Department (Irvine PD) and to the FBI.

"There was no question about what they were supposed to do next," Ayloush said.

Detective Frough Jahid from the Irvine PD and Special Agent Ellis Kuppferman from the FBI ended up interviewing Edah-Tally, Elsisy, Niazi and Zied, among others.

Elsisy, Niazi and Zied were shocked to find out through Jahid that Monteilh had a criminal record...

As the fuzzy picture of Monteilh started to come into focus, rumors spread within a community in jitters about agent provocateurs and informants who were infiltrating mosques in order to trick Muslims into false "terror confessions."...

In light of their extensive criminal records, Ayloush added, these individuals would neither qualify as police officers nor as FBI agents, yet they are on the payroll of law enforcement agencies and are allowed to do law enforcement work.

"We all respect hardworking law enforcement agents," Ayloush said. "But mercenary informants? Hardly."...

The incident was reported to law enforcement officials in the first week of June, but the FBI waited three weeks to contact Monteilh.

"Why did they wait so long to contact him? Why wasn’t he arrested?" some community members asked. "What if this individual acted on his words?"...

Other critics maintain that individuals like Eldawoody and Monteilh are not acting as informants, but rather as agent provocateurs.

They pressure and brainwash people who otherwise would not engage in violence and extremism, and always choose their victims among the most vulnerable, such as disenchanted youth, the unemployed and the angry who exist in every community.

"They are creating terrorists in a way that no actual terrorist recruiter would have been able to," Ayloush said...

Read full article at: