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A Ramadan of Responsibility

The Sacred Month of Ramadan is one of the greatest gifts from God the Creator to humankind, for it commemorates the month when the Glorious Quran, God’s final Revelation to humankind, began to be revealed. This is why the Holy Month, according to Islamic scholar S.H. Nasr, “is called ‘the blessed,’ mubarak, a time during which the grace or barakah of God flows upon the Islamic community and rejuvenates its deepest sources of life and action.”

One of Islam’s most profound actions is the giving ofzakah, and Anas narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “The best charity is the one given in Ramadan.” (At-Tirmidhi).

When we give zakah, we express gratitude to Allah and provide for those less fortunate than ourselves. Just as important, the act of zakah indelibly connects us to our fellow human beings, and specifically to the American Muslim community, which we are obligated by the Qur’an and the Sunnah to defend.
Read more…

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Director’s Desk: “The Voices of Hate”

By Jacob Bender
CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director

On the average of about once every two months, our office receives a “hate call.” These calls usually come in after office hours (as the caller clearly has no interest in dialoguing with us) and are left on our voice message system. The messages are often filled with obscenities, in addition to the usual delusional Islamophobic rants. On occasion, the messages include clear threats of violence, which we have duly reported to the police. CAIR chapters around the country report similar patterns of harassing and menacing phone calls.

We believe it is important for the Philadelphia Muslim community to be aware of the kind of menacing messages we receive; hatred clearly generated in response to CAIR’s work in serving the Muslim community, protecting the rights of Muslims before the judicial system, and educating the American public with accurate information about Islam.

The following voice message was left on our system last Friday, May 29. We share it with you not to be sensationalist, but as an example of the virulent Islamophobia that is unfortunately becoming more and more open and outspoken in our country. WARNING: THIS RECORDING INCLUDES OBSCENITIES, AND IS NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN.

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From my frequent interactions with the world-wide Muslim community since 9/11, and in my numerous conversations with many of you since coming to CAIR-Philadelphia in October 2013, I have learned that Islam teaches patience and non-violence in the face of hate speech: “Repel evil by that deed which is better,” says the Qur’an [41:34]. We are neither intimidated nor deterred in our work by these “voices of hate.” On the contrary, these hate calls make clear the necessity and vital importance of CAIR work for the well-being of the American Muslim community.

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Changes in Our Legal Department

There has been a significant change in CAIR-Philadelphia’s Legal Department.

Ryan Tack-Hooper, CAIR-Philadelphia’s Staff Attorney since January 2014, has taken a position at the American Civil Liberties Union office in Wilmington, Delaware. CAIR-Philadelphia thanks Ryan for his great contributions to CAIR, and wishes him all the best in his new position.

Ryan HouldinOur new Staff Attorney is Ryan Houldin. Ryan brings to CAIR-Philadelphia a deep commitment and passion for securing justice for marginalized communities. Upon graduation from Temple Law School, Ryan worked as an Assistant Defender at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, one of the nation’s leading Public Defender offices. In 1963, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a landmark decision, unanimously ruling that the U.S. Constitution mandates the right to counsel for indigent clients in criminal cases. As a result, public defender offices began forming around the country to afford due process of law for impoverished populations. Read more…

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Sharing Ramadan 2015

During June and July, the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations will host “Sharing Ramadan” events that offer opportunities for people of all faiths to experience the Muslim month of fasting.

These events allow American Muslims to share and celebrate the importance of the month of Ramadan with people of all faiths.

Ramadan is the month on the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food, drink and other sensual pleasures from break of dawn to sunset, ending their fasts with a meal after sunset prayers. They also invite friends and family to their homes and mosques to share meals together at this special time of the year.

Learn more and view list of Sharing Ramadan events

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Another reason to welcome the pope

Letter to the editor published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, May 19, 2015

The recent announcement that the Vatican has officially recognized Palestine should be welcome news to those who support peace and justice for all in the Middle East (“Vatican recognizes ‘state of Palestine’,” May 14). The Holy See’s recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people follows the historic meeting last summer when Pope Francis brought Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas together at the Vatican for a “Prayer Summit for Peace.”

These actions, along with the pontiff’s leadership in fighting poverty, condemning racism, promoting interfaith relations, and warning of the dangers of human-caused climate change to the entire planet, have endeared Pope Francis to billions of people around the world, including many in the Muslim world.

This is why the Philadelphia Muslim community will be joining hundreds of thousands of its neighbors in welcoming Pope Francis to the city in September. How fortunate and blessed we will be to be a part of this momentous event.

Jacob Bender, executive director, Philadelphia chapter, Council on American Islamic Relations

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