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

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Muslims join Jews in celebrating Passover and striving for deliverance from Pharaoh's oppression

Passover is the holy day and festival commemorating the biblical event of the Hebrews' escape from enslavement in Egypt.

Many Jews and Christians might be surprised to know that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) instructed Muslims to also commemorate the Exodus of the Hebrews out of Egypt by fasting on the tenth day of the month of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The event is called Ashura, referring to the Arabic word for “ten.”

Muslims revere Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) as one of the most important Islamic figures and one of the five most important prophets in the history of humankind chosen by Allah/God.

The Quran details the stories of many of the Hebrew prophets and their early followers. In fact, Islam considers those early followers to be among the first muslims -- in the sense of the literal meaning of “ones who submit themselves to God.”

The Quran and Islamic teachings praise Moses and reminds Muslims and all people to learn from his courage, commitment to speaking the truth, and standing up for justice. Several verses in the Quran also emphasize Moses’ mother's strong faith and trust in Allah/God.

While Muslims and Jews, both tracing their roots to Abraham, commemorate this joyful occasion on different days, our common heritage and history should bring us together in expressing gratitude and thankfulness to our Creator, Allah/God Almighty for saving Moses and his people from the oppression of Pharaoh, and directing them to freedom in the Holy Land, in Palestine, over 3,300 years ago.

Sadly, it is the same Palestine and its long-standing indigenous people that are now subjected to a new form of oppression and bondage. The new Pharaoh is Zionism and its tools of occupation, ethnic cleansing, separation walls, siege, settlements, and land confiscation. This new Pharaoh is not only victimizing Muslims and Christians in the Holy Land, but also Jews by creating animosity and hatred among these three groups.

May the courage and faith of our shared and beloved prophet Moses (peace be upon him) inspire us to strive for justice and freedom for all people, especially those in Palestine.

May our common love for Allah/God and His prophets bring us together as one human race that strives for peace, dignity, and prosperity for all people.

On this day, I am wishing my Jewish friends and neighbors a peaceful and joyful Passover for them and their loved ones.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sheriff Lee Baca Upset with Congressman Souder's Comments on Muslims

Read more:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Is The Bible More Violent Than The Quran? (NPR report)

by Barbara Bradley Hagerty
for NPR
March 18, 2010

Listen to story

As the hijackers boarded the airplanes on Sept. 11, 2001, they had a lot on their minds. And if they were following instructions, one of those things was the Quran.

In preparation for the suicide attack, their handlers had told them to meditate on two chapters of the Quran in which God tells Muslims to "cast terror into the hearts of unbelievers."

"Slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them," Allah instructs the Prophet Muhammad (Quran, 9:5). He continues: "Prophet! Make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites! ... Hell shall be their home, an evil fate."

When Osama bin Laden declared war on the West in 1996, he cited the Quran's command to "strike off" the heads of unbelievers. More recently, U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan lectured his colleagues about jihad, or "holy war," and the Quran's exhortation to fight unbelievers and bring them low. Hasan is accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, last year.

Given this violent legacy, religion historian Philip Jenkins decided to compare the brutality quotient of the Quran and the Bible.

Defense Vs. Total Annihilation

"Much to my surprise, the Islamic scriptures in the Quran were actually far less bloody and less violent than those in the Bible," Jenkins says.

Jenkins is a professor at Penn State University and author of two books dealing with the issue: the recently published Jesus Wars, and Dark Passages , which has not been published but is already drawing controversy.

Violence in the Quran, he and others say, is largely a defense against attack.

"By the standards of the time, which is the 7th century A.D., the laws of war that are laid down by the Quran are actually reasonably humane," he says. "Then we turn to the Bible, and we actually find something that is for many people a real surprise. There is a specific kind of warfare laid down in the Bible which we can only call genocide."

It is called herem, and it means total annihilation. Consider the Book of 1 Samuel, when God instructs King Saul to attack the Amalekites: "And utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them," God says through the prophet Samuel. "But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey."

When Saul failed to do that, God took away his kingdom.

"In other words," Jenkins says, "Saul has committed a dreadful sin by failing to complete genocide. And that passage echoes through Christian history. It is often used, for example, in American stories of the confrontation with Indians — not just is it legitimate to kill Indians, but you are violating God's law if you do not."

Jenkins notes that the history of Christianity is strewn with herem. During the Crusades in the Middle Ages, the Catholic popes declared the Muslims Amalekites. In the great religious wars in the 16th, 17th and 19th centuries, Protestants and Catholics each believed the other side were the Amalekites and should be utterly destroyed.

'Holy Amnesia'

But Jenkins says, even though the Bible is violent, Christianity and Judaism today are not for the most part.

"What happens in all religions as they grow and mature and expand, they go through a process of forgetting of the original violence, and I call this a process of holy amnesia," Jenkins says.

They make the violence symbolic: Wiping out the enemy becomes wiping out one's own sins. Jenkins says that until recently, Islam had the same sort of holy amnesia, and many Muslims interpreted jihad, for example, as an internal struggle, not physical warfare.

Andrew Bostom calls this analysis "preposterous." Bostom, editor of The Legacy of Jihad, says there's a major difference between the Bible, which describes the destruction of an enemy at a point in time, and the Quran, which urges an ongoing struggle to defeat unbelievers.

"It's an aggressive doctrine," he says. "The idea is to impose Islamic law on the globe."

Take suicide attacks, he says — a tactic that Muslim radicals have used to great effect in the U.S., Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East. It's true that suicide from depression is forbidden in Islam — but Bostom says the Quran and the Hadith, or the sayings of Muhammad, do allow self-destruction for religious reasons.

"The notion of jihad martyrdom is extolled in the Quran, Quran verse 9:1-11. And then in the Hadith, it's even more explicit. This is the highest form of jihad — to kill and to be killed in acts of jihad."

'Out Of Context'

That may be the popular notion of jihad, says Waleed El-Ansary, but it's the wrong one. El-Ansary, who teaches Islamic studies at the University of South Carolina, says the Quran explicitly condemns religious aggression and the killing of civilians. And it makes the distinction between jihad — legal warfare with the proper rules of engagement — and irjaf, or terrorism.

"All of those types of incidences — [Sept. 11], Maj. Nidal Hasan and so forth — those are all examples of irjaf, not jihad," he says. According to the Quran, he says, those who practice irjaf "are going to hell."

So what's going on here? After all, we all have images of Muslim radicals flying planes into buildings, shooting up soldiers at Fort Hood, trying to detonate a bomb on an airplane on Christmas Day. How to reconcile a peaceful Quran with these violent acts?

El-Ansary says that in the past 30 years, there's been a perfect storm that has created a violent strain of Islam. The first is political: frustration at Western intervention in the Muslim world. The second is intellectual: the rise of Wahhabi Islam, a more fundamentalist interpretation of Islam subscribed to by Osama bin Laden. El-Ansary says fundamentalists have distorted Islam for political purposes.

"Basically what they do is they take verses out of context and then use that to justify these egregious actions," he says.

El-Ansary says we are seeing more religious violence from Muslims now because the Islamic world is far more religious than is the West. Still, Jenkins says Judeo-Christian cultures shouldn't be smug. The Bible has plenty of violence.

"The scriptures are still there, dormant, but not dead," he says, "and they can be resurrected at any time. Witness the white supremacists who cite the murderous Phineas when calling for racial purity, or an anti-abortion activist when shooting a doctor who performs abortions.

In the end, the scholars can agree on one thing: The DNA of early Judaism, Christianity and Islam code for a lot of violence. Whether they can evolve out of it is another thing altogether.


'Jesus Wars'

Ayloush and Rabbi Fischer discuss Irvine 11 on local PBS/KOCE

CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush debates Rabbi Dov Fischer of Young Israel of Orange County about 11 students protesting Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at UCI on February 8.

Read more:
On the Irvine 11 - Ayloush and Lafferty: Rude, unpopular speech worth defending (Orange County Register)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A MUST Watch: Najla Said, Edward Said's daughter, reads of her teenage visit to Gaza

Najla Said, reads from her play, of her life changing visit to Gaza as a teenager, with her Palestinian activist father, the late Edward Said, after he learned he had leukemia.

Watch it. It will shake you.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Marine reservist accused of attacking priest in Tampa will not be charged - St. Petersburg Times

St. Petersburg Times
By Colleen Jenkins and Alexandra Zayas

March 9, 2010TAMPA — The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office will not pursue an aggravated battery charge against the Marine reservist accused last fall of beating a Greek Orthodox priest with a tire iron.

Assistant State Attorney Michael Sinacore said his office declined Tuesday to officially charge Jasen Bruce...

Bruce, 28, was arrested in November. Police said he was bent over the trunk of his car in the parking garage of Seaport Channelside condominium pulling out clothes when Father Alexios Marakis — who speaks little English and was lost — tapped him on the shoulder to ask for directions...

Police said Bruce hit the 29-year-old priest on the head with a tire iron, chased him for three blocks and pinned him, all while telling a 911 operator that the bearded, robed man was an Arab terrorist, that he had tried to rob him and that he had grabbed his genitals and propositioned him for sex.

The priest required stitches in his head.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Jews, Muslims worry body scanners violate religious laws | NewsOK.com

Jews, Muslims worry body scanners violate religious laws | NewsOK.com

The Oklahoman
March 3, 2010

(RNS) Canadian lawyer Kerry Gearin is planning to fly to Washington, D.C., this summer for a conference on Islamic family law, but the full-body scanners being deployed in some U.S. airports make her wonder if she'll be forced to leave her modesty at home.

''When I saw the pictures, I thought, it's too much information," said Gearin, a former atheist who said she "reverted" to Islam a few years ago.

Concerns about the grainy body images produced by the scanners prompted the 18-member Fiqh Council of North America to issue a fatwa, or religious edict, which said the scanners violate Islamic law. Muslims, the fatwa said, should instead request a pat-down.

''It is a violation of clear Islamic teachings that men or women be seen naked by other men and women. Islam highly emphasizes 'haya' (modesty) and considers it part of faith," the edict said.

But it's not just Muslims who are concerned.

Agudath Israel, an Orthodox Jewish umbrella group, has told lawmakers that scanners should only be used on passengers who had failed metal detectors. In a letter to Congress, the group called full-body imaging "offensive, demeaning, and far short of acceptable norms of modesty" within Judaism and other faiths.

Even Pope Benedict XVI has weighed in, however obliquely, telling Italian airport workers on Feb. 20 that "the primacy of the person and attention to his needs" must always be respected, although some said Benedict could well have been calling for improved customer service...

Read more: http://www.newsok.com/jews-muslims-worry-body-scanners-violate-religious-laws/article/feed/138344#ixzz0hKIOI7Qi