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Too often in recent years, the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world—including 5 to 7 million Muslims in the United States— have been pressed to answer for the actions of small groups of extremists. The rise of these groups and their claims to act in the name of Allah and his Messenger (peace be upon him) have caused many to question where exactly Islam stands on issues of violence, freedom, and equality.
The Indiana-based project Reclamation Studios, headed by Evansville imam Omar Atia, has launched a series of “webisodes” that aim to address those issues. The “not in HIS name” series answers questions such as “Does Islam sanction violence?”, “Does Islam devalue women?”, and “Why don’t Muslims denounce ISIS?”, backing up their positions with citations from the Quran and Sunnah.
These videos are a resource not only for non-Muslim Americans who have questions about Islam, but also for Muslims themselves who are seeking to better understand their own faith. As the series continually stresses, both groups have more in common than they may think, with the principles of Islam aligning closely with the principles of America and other faiths.
For too long, both Islamophobes and Islamic extremists have taken advantage of social media networks to spread misinformation about Islam and recruit others to their cause. The Muslim Alliance of Indiana commends Reclamation Studios and their partners for using those same channels to counter misinterpretations of the faith and promote the Islam that most Muslims practice.
MAI shares Reclamation Studios’ goals of celebrating the universality of faith and elevating the human family. We too know that education is the strongest weapon we have against extremism and hatred, and we join these Muslim Hoosiers in stating unequivocally that the actions of extremists are #notinHISname.

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This summer MAI present to you multiple workshops all across the state.

Please note the following important information, before registration:
-Registration Fee includes breakfast & lunch. Please contact Hannah Croucher (hannah@indianamuslims.org) if you have any special dietary preferences. Lunch will have a vegetarian option – please contact Hannah if you require this as your choice.
-Attendance will qualify for 7 CEU hours (1 Ethics hour included) for social workers. A certificate for attendance will be offered to all other attendees.
-Seating is limited for first 100 registrants.

For registration details and dates click here.

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It has been a very eventful year thus far for the Muslims in the US, including Indiana. While the Muslim community keeps growing organically on Hoosier soil, events overseas continued to drive the image of Muslim and Islam in Indiana’s influential media outlets.

The year 2015 had hardly begun when the attacks on Charlie Hebdo followed other terrorism events in Nigeria, Pakistan, and the Middle East. MAI and 14 other organizations around Indianapolis organized a public rally against terrorism and in support of sanctity of life, freedom of expression, universal education, and religious liberty. Despite the cold January weather at the outdoor IUPUI ‘Democracy Plaza’, about 200 people attended the rally and heard 16 speakers from diverse faith and ethnic backgrounds speak forcefully on their belief that Islam stood for peace and justice, and that American Muslims should not be collectively blamed for the actions of a few individuals and overseas groups. Sadly, less than a month later, three remarkable young Muslims were gunned down in North Carolina in a plausibly bias-motivated attack. MAI helped organize vigils around Indiana to remember the innocent victims of Islamophobia.

The observance of MLK day in January provided an opportunity for Muslim organizations to put in a day of service and connect with neighbors. MSA groups at IUPUI and other colleges around the state worked with their friends of all faiths, while MAI worked with Masjid Mumineen in central Indianapolis to recruit volunteers from other mosques and serve its neighborhood.

A major event for MAI was the 2nd annual Muslim Day at the Indiana Statehouse on April 9. House-full attendance was around 45, including about high-school and college students, teachers, and others. They were addressed by state leaders, and the highlight was an engaging panel on the recent Indiana RFRA law. This was an important step forward for MAI, making clear that Muslims want to seriously and consistently engage the government. An important follow-on event was a meeting with Representative Greg Porter to support his legislation on bias-crime penalties. MAI has teamed with ISNA and local Jewish and other faith and ethnic communities to push for Indiana to join over 40 other states that have hate-crimes laws.

I want also to recall that at the MAI annual convention and awards banquet in late 2014, we recognized 4 individuals and 4 organizations that have contributed greatly to Muslim life, culture, and charities in Indiana. That day, CIMO also ran a workshop on reintegration of former prison inmates into society, and we remembered the loss of fellow Hoosier Muslim, Abdelrahman Peter Kassig.

These events have kept our lean staff very busy. Coming up, MAI will conduct a series of workshops this summer at eight cities statewide on cultural sensitivity training. Professionals in social work, law enforcement, and other fields will learn how to better service victims of domestic violence and other crimes, immigrants, and people of all faiths.

This newsletter and the linked blogs on MAI’s website provides details on all of these activities and more. I urge you to explore the links and connect with the Muslim Alliance of Indiana in upcoming months and to come to your MAI events.

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On Oct. 8, 2014 the Muslim Alliance of Indiana joined the Butler University Muslim Student Association in calling Hoosiers to gather and pray for Peter “Abdul-Rahman” Kassig, and raise awareness of the plight of Syrian refugees fleeing the devastation of civil war, in a rally against war, hatred, and terrorism across the globe.

Hundreds of supporters, clad in white as a symbol of peace, gathered on that evening at Butler University to pray for the safe return of a former student, Abdul-Rahman Kassig. Kassig, a foreign aid worker and Indianapolis native, was captured by the Islamic State, or ISIS, in October 2013.

At the hour-long vigil, hosted by the Butler University MSA, local Muslim leaders implored ISIS to follow the teachings of the religion they claim to follow and show mercy to a man who has devoted his life to helping others.

Organizers also spoke at length about the suffering of people in Syria, a cause that brought Kassig to the Middle East. Kassig cared deeply for the plight of the Syrian people, his friends and family say. In 2012, he founded SERA, or Special Emergency Response and Assistance, a group focused on providing refugees in Lebanon and Syria with medical assistance, supplies, clothing and food. Abdul-Rahman was originally drawn to Syria to help the 3 million Syrian refugees – half of whom are children – who have been forced to flee into Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and other countries (the equivalent of the entire population of Chicago fleeing to Indiana and Wisconsin).

[For more on the rally, see this coverage from the IndyStar: http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2014/10/08/hundreds-butler-show-support-isis-captive-peter-kassig-family/16939825/]

Abdul-Rahman Kassig was announced dead on Nov. 16, 2014. After the news broke of his death, local mosques and organizations began setting up funeral dates and prayers.

On Nov. 21, the Al-Huda Mosque in Fishers planned a funeral Service for Peter Kassig. Dr. Shaker Rashid, spokesman of the Al Huda Foundation, said, “We are honored to host this service, in memorial of the life of Abdul­-Rahman Kassig, and to pray for him and his family at our mosque. Abdul­-Rahman is a Hoosier hero who gave his life to serve others, and he is an example and an inspiration for every Muslim.”

Prayer services were also held on Nov. 22, at IUPUI by the Muslim Alliance of Indiana and on Nov. 23 at Butler University. Maya Alshawa, president of Butler’s Muslim Student Association, said the world “lost a hero” when Kassig was killed.

“Abdul-Rahman was doing remarkable work for the people of Syria,” she said. “He exemplified courageousness, selflessness, and humanity. We as Butler students can look to him as an example of someone who was fulfilling his dream of helping others. We can learn from him, and live like him: with purpose. Abdul-Rahman was changing lives, and saving them. What happened to him is both evil and unfair. It is an honor to be able to say that Abdul-Rahman was a fellow Butler student, and we can remember him for his great work and his legacy of bravery.”

Abdul-Rahman Kassig left a huge impact on the lives of many. His life and work were a tribute to the bravery and compassion instilled in him by his family and community. In caring for the oppressed, the displaced, and the orphaned, Kassig exemplified the Prophetic tradition of empathy and action in the face of injustice. His murder at the hands of the Islamic State is further proof of ISIS’ complete disregard for human life, regardless of religion, creed, or innocence. In his memory, we ask the American people to support those working to help the children displaced by the Syrian civil war, through organizations like SERA (http://seramedic.org/index.html), Islamic Relief (http://irusa.org/syria/) , UNICEF http://www.unicef.org.uk/landing-pages/donate-syria/), and Doctors Without Borders (http://www.msf.org.uk/node/28331#What is MSF doing to help?).

Our thoughts and prayers are with Abdul-Rahman Kassig and his family and friends. May he rest in peace, and may Allah reward his sacrifice.

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MAI would like to thank all the speakers and organizations that participated in these events. We appreciate all your hard work and dedication.

Hazem Bata
Omar Atia
Nadir Mitiche
Shekih Tewfiq
Maya Alshawa
Waseema Ali
Fatih Sefregic
Hadeel Said
Alhuda Foundation
Bulter Muslim Student Association
IUPUI Muslim Student Association
Charlie Wiles

 

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Over the past year a horrific spate of terrorist murders in Nigeria, France and elsewhere in the name of Islam contradicts its teachings on universal education and freedom. The first revelation of the Quran directs Muslims to ‘read’, as ‘your Lord .. taught with the pen.’ The Prophet Muhammad said that “seeking knowledge is incumbent upon every Muslim, male and female”, and, by some reports, said “seek knowledge, even as far as China”, referring to secular knowledge. He arranged for non-Muslim prisoners to earn their freedom by teaching Muslim children to read and write. For centuries, Muslims have sought the sciences of all other civilizations and built upon them. Boko Haram and the Taliban have cast themselves out of this endeavor, but will never thwart it.

While denouncing terrorism, the rally was intended to reinforce support of sanctity of life, freedom of expression, universal education, and religious liberty. These are positive values that Muslims not only share with all humanity, but indeed helped to take shape over the centuries. The rally was conceived by a group of Indianapolis-area Muslims is co-sponsored by many local organizations, with the following list continuing to grow.
There was also an interview on WIBC radio station between Ray Steel and Muzaffer Ahmed, discussing terrorism and the incident that occurred in France. The link is below for anyone that would like to listen to it:

The Prophet of Islam was continually mocked and often assaulted during his years of preaching. He endured these personal attacks and taught his followers to forgive, flee if necessary, and to make peace. He prayed for and worked for people’s welfare, even that of his assailants, and taught his followers to not mock the symbols of other faiths. The criminals who have murdered or threatened writers, journalists, and cartoonists in Europe and elsewhere have utterly abandoned the gentle example of the Prophet. The power of education, scholarship, and free expression has been immensely valued in Islamic civilization, recognizing that the pen is ultimately mightier than weapons of violence. There is absolutely no justification in Islam for the killing of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and Jewish shoppers in France, schoolchildren in Pakistan, worshippers in Jerusalem, or innocent people of all faiths in Nigeria and other nations.

The event had a great turnout, it consisted of people from all backgrounds and faiths that came together to stand in solidarity with victims of terrorism everywhere. The local channel Wish TV 8, believed that, “About 100 people showed support for freedom of expression, universal education and religious liberty”, at the event.

The rally was co-sponsored by many local organizations, that we would like to thank one more time for all their efforts and support:
Butler University Muslim Student Association
Council of Indiana Muslim Organizations
Indianapolis Muslim Community Assoc’n / Masjid Al Fajr
Indianapolis Peace and Justice Center
IQRA Center of Indiana
Islamic Society of North America
IUPUI Local Global Peace Network
IUPUI Muslim Student Association
Masjid Al-Mu’mineen
Muslim Alliance of Indiana
Muslim Volunteers of America
Nur-Allah Islamic Center
Rise for America
Shahid Athar, MD
Veterans for Peace

We would also like to thank all the speakers that came out and gave great speeches that day, thank you once again:
Dr. Shahid Athar, MD
Edgar Hopida
K. P. Singh
Judge David Shaheed
Pastor Dr. Lewis Galloway
Leena Mossa-Basha
Imam Michael Sahir
Annie Hayat
Charlie Wiles
Mary Fadae
Nadir Mitiche
Jonathan Lounds
Rabbi Paula Winnig
Khadijah Shareef
Don Knebel, JD

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