A Ramadan in Unsettling Times


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 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 of zakah, 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.

At this rather strange and unsettling moment in American history, the Muslim community finds itself a community under siege, in the cross hairs of demagogic politicians and fear-mongering media outlets. Whole political campaigns were launched upon platforms that placed the hatred of Muslims and the religion of Islam at their center. Not since the internment of thousands of Japanese Americans during WWII has an entire American religious, racial, or ethnic minority been so denounced and targeted as have American Muslims in this current disquieting election cycle, the threat of violence just barely concealed below the surface.

It is our considered opinion that Islamophobia — an irrational hatred of Islam and an obsessive fear of Muslims — is the leading threat facing the American Muslim community. This hatred instills fear in our children, negatively influences the Islamic identity of our teenagers, and brings Muslim adults face-to-face with workplace discrimination and government intimidation.

This is why CAIR-Philadelphia should be at the top of your zakah list this Ramadan. There is simply no other organization in American Muslim life like CAIR, combining thoughtful, strategic responses to Islamophobia, with a legal department dedicated to providing free legal services to Muslim individuals and organizations.

Consider our work since last Ramadan:

  • In October 2015, we brought over 100 Muslim leaders from around Pennsylvania to Harrisburg for our 1st Annual Muslim Capitol Day to meet with their state senators and representatives, conveying to these elected officials the concerns of the Muslim community.
  • In January, we helped organize, and provided speakers for, a “Muslim Open House,” also in Harrisburg, in which dozens of non-Muslims — Jews, Christians, Buddhists, secularists — came to a local mosque to meet their Muslim neighbors and learn about Islam.
  • In February, the ground-breaking symposium “Muslim Women in Sacred Spaces: Reviving The Prophet’s Forgotten Sunnah,” organized by CAIR-Philadelphia, took place at Villanova University, initiating a long-overdue discussion about making masajid more open to women and children.
  • In March, we held our 10th Anniversary Annual Banquet, with a sold-out crowd of nearly 800, and journalist/comedian Dean Obeidallah as keynote speaker.
  • CAIR-Philadelphia continues its invaluable guidance of the Greater Delaware Muslim Leadership Forum, an unprecedented effort in bringing together Muslims from both the urban and the suburban communities, addressing mutual misconceptions and stereotypes, in the processing contributing to a stronger and more unified ummah. This effort has already resulted in the creation of the Philly Eid Coalition, which is making significant progress towards the goal of the City of Philadelphia and its public schools declaring the Two Eids as official holidays.
  • CAIR-Philadelphia has continued to provide its informative and exciting workshops — Know Your Rights, Muslim Youth Leadership Programs, Anti-Extremism, Islam 101, Muslim-Christian-Jewish Relations — at dozens of venues around our region.
  • Ryan Houldin, our Staff Attorney, continues to provide free legal advice, and often legal representation when appropriate, to Muslims in need. For example, a Muslim woman recently contacted CAIR-Philadelphia when an employer prohibited her from wearing a hijab at work. Not only did CAIR-Philadelphia help this client obtain permission to wear her hijab in the workplace, but the employer rewrote their “dress code policy” which now complies with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. CAIR-Philadelphia is also engaged in active litigation against Bensalem Township to allow the construction of a Masjid in their district.
  • Finally, the staff and activists of CAIR-Philadelphia have been interviewed and appeared in the media — TV, radio, internet, and the press — over two dozen times, commenting upon the great issues of day, helping to correct the widespread misconceptions of Islam and Muslims unfortunately held by many in the general public.

To help insure the continuation of CAIR’s vital services, please contribute generously by clicking the DONATE button below. Our annual budget is $290,000, of which we raised $170,000 at our Annual Banquet. We therefore need to raise an additional $120,000 to keep providing you and your families with the quality programs like those described above. Please click the donate button below to contribute. Your donation is tax-deductible and zakah-eligible.

As the US presidential campaign heads into its final phase, the coming months could well be difficult ones for American Muslims. With God’s Guidance, and your support, we will surely overcome the voices of hatred now heard in our land.

And please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Wishing you and your family a Blessed Ramadan,

sig-OAQ

Osama Al-Qasem
President, CAIR-Philadelphia

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