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Mohamad Habehh Leads Prayer in Interfaith Justice & Peace Event

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The International Day of Peace is a day that renders reflection and the exploration of our universal understanding of peace. Many religious organizations understand peace within the context of justice, and an interfaith effort held on September 23, 2020 commemorated that.

The “No Justice, No Peace” virtual event, an interfaith collective, hosted a number of speakers who reflected on “what it means to work for peace and justice”, with music, prayer, and calls to action. Speaker Mohamad Habehh participated in sharing the Islamic perspective of justice and how to achieve it, in order to reach to stability and security in society. One of the most references verses of the Quran regarding justice in Islam is [translated to be]: “Be ye staunch in justice, witnesses for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or (your) parents or (your) kindred, whether (the case be of) a rich man or a poor man, for Allah is nearer unto both (them ye are). So follow not passion lest ye lapse (from truth) and if ye lapse or fall away, then lo!”

Mohamad Habehh referenced verses from the Quran that command Muslims toward justice, even if it means speaking the truth to power, or truth to ones we love. Habehh is a Hafidth of the Quran, meaning he has memorized it in its entirety. He is known for his political commentary, especially in regards to Palestine, and has been featured on numerous podcasts and at national conferences.

MLFA “The Show About Justice” features Taher Herzallah on his Irvine 11 Experience

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The Muslim Legal Fund of America hosted its weekly show, “The Show About Justice” with Ayman Taleb, the host and Outreach Director at MLFA. This show is held Tuesdays at 5pm Central, and can be streamed on Facebook Live. The Muslim Legal Fund of America is a charity that funds legal work and programs to defend Muslims against injustice in American courtrooms, prisons, and communities.

In this episode, Ayman spoke with Taher Herzallah, who reflected on his experience as one of the “Irvine 11.” The Irvine 11 were eleven Muslim students who were targeted and taken to court for disrupting a talk held by Michael Oren, the ambassador of Israel to the United States, on the UC Irvine campus. When asked why he protested the event, and why he didn’t ignore it, Taher said, “we couldn’t ignore it.” He and others had just returned from a recent delegation to Gaza in 2009 where they first hand witnessed the destruction in Gaza.

Now, ten years after the case, Taher Herzallah is the Associate Director of American Muslims for Palestine, and coordinates AMP’s grassroots organizing, national coalition building, and chapter building. He helps set up programs and activities related to educating communities on Palestine, and he helps Palestine student organizations gather funding, support, and protection for their projects. He has written for Al-Jazeera, Electronic Intifada, and Islamicity.

The Irvine 11 case sparked a national debate around the understanding of freedom of speech, and a deeper discussion on the double standards for active Muslims who advocate for the Palestinian cause.
Host Ayman memorably stated, “The US constitution applies to American Muslims, too. We should not fear exercising our rights. We shouldn’t be suspected, or treated differently, due to our faith ethnicity, or national origin. We don’t want special treatment, we want equal treatment – nothing more, nothing less.”

Hossam Gamea Deconstructs the Racist Myth of Overpopulation

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We often, especially in the West, hear about the concept of overpopulation. Especially in a time like now, where severe consequences of climate change are apparent in the exacerbated wild fires across the West Coast, many are turning to question the amount of resource consumption and waste emission per population. Many have even turned to the theory of overpopulation, citing that there are too many people on Earth, consuming too much, and that is why we are witnessing the detrimental implication of that over-consumption.

The concept of overpopulation has been heavily critiqued for its often racist messaging – and writers like Hossam Gamea challenge its myth of an understanding in the West. Gamea wrote a piece in 2018 titled “Modern Myth: Overpopulation” as part of a Modern Myths series on the website Traversing Tradition. In this paper, Gamea deconstructs the origin of the concept of overpopulation – which is often conflated with images of poverty and developing nations. He points to the science that records that it is actually Westerners and Westernized nations that are leading on the material and proven issue of over-consumption. He cites the discrepancies in resource waste and emissions of fossil fuels as an example. Hossam Gamea writes, “Overpopulation rhetoric makes those who have had the least impact on the deteriorating condition of the Earth most culpable.”

Hossam has written for the Tab, Medium, and has been featured on numerous podcasts for his research.

Mohamad Habehh Speaks with JFA Now! on Upcoming Palestine Advocacy Day

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On September 2nd, Justice for All Now!, a TV program created by the organization Justice for All. This is a live show that streams on MuslimNetwork TV, and can be watched via Galaxy 19 Satellite, Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV.

This episode was regarding the recent developments in Palestine, and explored ways viewers can advocate in the U.S. for justice in Palestine. Host Hena Zuberi invited organizer Mohamad Habehh to speak on this topic. Mohamad spoke on the recent UAE-Israel normalization deal, saying there was no state of war or formal conflict between the states for there to be a peace deal. He also described it to be hollow and performative, as there were no particular details as to what the normalization of economic, social, and political relations would look like.

Habehh also outlined the developments in the past decade for solidarity with Palestinians in America. He spoke in particular of the upcoming Virtual Palestine Advocacy Day event, which will be the week of September 14th. It includes an intensive legislative advocacy training on Monday, to prepare registered advocates for their scheduled meetings with their members of Congress later that week. The second day will include talks by Congresswomen and Congressmen themselves, including Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Rep. Debbie Dingell, and Rep. Donald Payne Jr.

Mohamad Habehh is the National Development Coordinator with American Muslims for Palestine. American Muslims for Palestine is a national education and advocacy organization with chapters across the country, and their headquarters are in D.C. He has been a featured speaker on numerous podcasts and has spoken at national conferences on the Palestinian cause.

Taher Herzallah Hosts Episode 2 of AMP’s #LetsTalkBLM

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Earlier this summer, American Muslims for Palestine launched a new webinar series titled #LetsTalkBLM, that features Black scholars, activists, and gamechangers of all backgrounds to discuss Black liberation and resistance. Episode two was on “Resisting Racism in Real Time”, and was hosted by Taher Herzallah, the Director of Outreach for American Muslims for Palestine.

An episode in July featured three outstanding community leaders, the first being Imam Makram el-Amin. Imam Makram is the Imam of Masjid Anuur in Minneapolis and the head of al-Maa’un Neighborly Needs Community Outreach Services.

The second featured speaker was Jennifer Miller, the co-chair of the Dallas Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. Last year, she was recognized for calling on John Creuzot to reopen the criminal case against three police officers who killed Tony Timpa when he called 911 for help.

The third featured speaker was Felicia Eaves, a DC-based lifelong advocate on various social, political, and humanitarian issues. Eaves currently works as a consultant for organizational and public policy strategy.

This episode was insightful and recognized the historic, current, and growing Black and Palestinian solidarity movement. Taher Herzallah is a leader in the advocacy world for Palestine, and has been featured a featured speaker with FOSNA, and writer on al-Jazeera, the Electronic Intifada, and Islamicity.

Dr. Osama Abuirshaid of AMP Visits Former Lebanese Prime Minister in Solidarity

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In August of 2020, a delegation from the Council of American Muslim Organizations visited the former Lebanese Prime Minister Naguib Meqati in his office. Dr. Osama Abuirshaid, the Executive Director of American Muslims for Palestine, attended as part of this delegation. He stated that the group had scheduled a number of meetings with current officials, as well as political and religious leaders.

This meeting was in response to the disastrous explosion in Beirut Harbor, that devastated parts of Beirut on the detonation of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that killed at least 171 people and injured 6,000. To say there has been social unrest in Lebanon even before this explosion is an understatement – people were protesting en masse against government corruption, sectarian and militia control, high unemployment rates, and the poor, stagnant economy. In addition to this, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a huge toll on Lebanon, and on August 11 Lebanon registered a record number of daily COVID-19 cases. Even before the blast, thought, there was a spike in infections.

This meeting was to “express solidarity with Lebanon in its distress after the explosion… improve US-Lebanese relations politically, and to coordinate the support of Arab Americans and Muslims to their Lebanese brothers.” Osama Abuirshaid is a renowned scholar within the Arab and Arab American community, and is known for his leadership on advocacy for the Palestinian cause in America. He has written for the Middle East Monitor, Electronic Intifada, the Wisconsin Muslim Journal, and the United States Institute of Peace. He also serves on the United States Council of Muslim Organizations.

Imam Omar Suleiman’s Video Series on Prophet Ibrahim

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This week marks the ten blessed days of dhul-hijjah in the Islamic tradition in which Muslims undertake the holy pilgrimage of Hajj. Although the hajj has been limited this year due to COVID, a number of online resources have emerged to there are still many ways for Muslims to reap the blessings of this month. During this time, Dallas-based Imam Omar Suleiman from Yaqeen Institute recently launched a webinar to study the life of Prophet Ibrahim.

The first ten days of Dhul Hijjah are often referred to as the best ten days of the year. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: There are no days on which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” [Bukhari] The eleventh day is the day of Eid al-Adha, which celebrates the sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismaeel had intended to make for the sake of Allah.

The webinar-lecture series led by Omar Suleiman titled “The Life and Legacy of Ibrahim (as).” In this, the viewer explores the life and legacy of Ibrahim (as) through his narrated stories found in the Quran, and learns how they can develop a personal connection to his story as we welcome dhul-hijjah. Dr. Suleiman has an international platform that reaches Muslims worldwide, and been featured on the Middle East Eye and many other platforms globally for his scholarly contributions.

Hossam Gamea and Muslim Non-Profits During COVID-19

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As COVID-19 rages across the country and hits several Americans economically, many businesses find themselves in a bind to keep up their finances. In the wake of this fiasco non-profits especially suffer from a sector that already struggles with maintaining financial stability. While many depend on donations and fundraisers, that means that those non-profits that were hanging by just a thread likely might not make it out of this pandemic. Hossam Gamea has extensive experience working in non-profits and Muslim organizations in particular, and has seen the toll COVID-19 has taken on them. He says now might be a good time for the sector to re-imagine how they seek to make money moving forward. Clearly relying on donations and the good will of people is an unsustainable model regardless of the pandemic.

Data shows that the sector makes up 10% of the economy but most of that money is with a very select few non-profits that thrive more on grants from philanthropists and foundations than they do individual donations.

This leaves the majority of non-profits who don’t have the name recognition nor the reach to justify receiving money from these big-name foundations in a dire situation. In light of these recent developments, one person suggests that this pandemic has exposed a gaping hole and flaw in the non-profit sector’s approach to making money. Hossam Gamea is a grassroots activist based out of New York City, and believes this is an opportunity for non-profits to develop alternative ways of creating income, namely through marketing and product development. In the past. He has worked as an author for The Tab, Traversing Tradition, and Medium.  He believes that while COVID-19 is indeed a disaster for many businesses and non-profits, that it can be a huge boon to creative development and open a discussion on what better funds allocation within many non-profits should look like. His new venture, Gamea & Gamea, is meant to do just that. His goal with Gamea & Gamea is, “to help non-profits truly understand the power of marketing and branding and how much of a factor that can be in securing funds, donations, and even selling their own products to ensure financial stability.”

Now, many non-profits depend on pro-bono work, and volunteering to supersede their inability to fork cash up. But in a world where the economy is in shambles, its likely many people do not have the ability to exchange time they need to make money for their own survival in favor of volunteering for a righteous cause. Perhaps it is time for non-profits to face their complacency in just getting by through volunteer work and generous donations of a random donor they are beholden to, and focus more on actually trying to build engagement and excitement in their intended audiences with enticing products and effective marketing that doesn’t solely rely on guilt tripping.

You can find Hossam Gamea on Behance.

Mohamed Magid on Cultural Competence in our Mosques

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In a lecture that has recently resurfaced Mohamed Magid speaks in discussion with Amam Ali, Habeeb Quadri, and Janaan Hashim with a crowd at the Islamic Society of North America on the topic of re-imagining the mosque for the youth. Many Islamic centers continually discuss ways to engage the youth in the community to draw them toward the mosque, and increase the love for the religion of Islam and the way of the Prophet (PBUH) in their hearts.

One of the ways Muslim community leaders have tried to attract youth to the masjid and to religious spaces is by holding events on topics that relate to the youth, including current events and injustices that all should be aware of. A hadith by the Prophet (PBUH) outlines the seven kind of people who will be sheltered under the shade of Allah on the Day of Judgment, and they include “one whose heart is attached to the mosque”, and “a young man (or woman) who passed his youth in the worship and service of God.”

Mohamed Magid is the Imam of All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center in Sterling, Virginia. He has been featured on CNN for his perspective on outreach and interfaith work. In this khutba, he speaks at length on the concept of recreating our understanding of community to understand the wants and needs for youth. He states that it is important for community leaders to cultivate a culturally competent strategy to attracting youth to religious spaces. Furthermore, he says there is an issue with youth being turned away at mosques – and the solution to that is directing the message to be relevant to “our children.”

Mohamad Habehh’s Khutba on Justice in Islam

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In September, the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center of Virginia hosted Mohamad Habehh, a renowned activist, for a Friday khutba on the topic of community building and learning from the examples of leaders and community members in the Quran. Hafidh Mohamad Habehh gave a sermon exploring the story of Talut and Jalut – and how with trust in God and a steadfast commitment to the Truth, justice will always await the oppressed.

Mohamad Habehh spoke at length on the oppression faced by a community mentioned in the Quran by the tyrant Jalut. The people of Talut asked Allah for a prophet, and when Talut was revealed as their prophet, the people rejected him because he did not originate from Bani Israel, nor did he possess the high social ranking of the elite. He expresses, though, that Allah selected him to demonstrate that Allah is He who elevates, not subjective societal standards and judgement.

Despite Talut’s lack of power, popularity, and support, Talut gained a tremendous victory over the tyrant Jalut, and the ayah “and how many times has a smaller group overcome a larger group by the will of Allah” symbolizes the victory and justice awaiting oppressed communities. He emphasizes that in order to achieve justice, both community leaders and members must practice discipline, courage, and faith in Allah. Habehh provides a number of calls to action that attendees can start to explore on their own to pursue justice in their life and to serve their community – and to ensure that every individual does their part for the greater cause of justice. Mohamad Habehh is a seasoned activist who has been featured on numerous talk shows for his work on Palestine and spoken at national conferences.