Be forgiving, encourage what is good, and avoid the ignorant. --Qur'an 7:199

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Indiana man beheaded in Syria remembered in Muslim prayer service

Muslims in the U.S. state of Indiana held a funeral service on Friday for Abdul-Rahman Kassig, formerly known as Peter, who was beheaded by Islamic State militants in Syria after being held captive for a year.

Kassig adopted Islam while he was a hostage. His family said he made a sincere conversion in a process that began before he was captured by Islamic State, which has seized parts of Iraq and Syria and is the target of U.S. bombings.

Friends and family of different faiths attended the funeral service in Fishers, an Indianapolis suburb, which included a sermon by a prominent Syrian exile, cleric and Muslim scholar Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi, formerly Imam of the Grand Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.

“He took every risk in order to help the Syrian people, to remove some of their tragedy, to offer them some relief,” al-Yaqoubi said. He called Kassig “one of our brothers who sacrificed his life for the sake of God.”

He offered condolences to the Kassigs, calling their son a great hero “who carried in his heart the principles of Islam even before becoming a Muslim.”

Kassig’s parents, Ed and Paula Kassig attended the service. During their son’s captivity, the Kassigs repeatedly called on Islamic State to spare their son, who became the fifth European or American captive killed by the militants.

Kassig was a medic and former U.S. Army Ranger who served briefly in Iraq in 2007 in the U.S. Army. He returned to the Middle East in 2012 for a spring break trip while studying political science.

Moved by the suffering of Syrian refugees, he went to Lebanon and volunteered as an emergency medical technician.

He later founded an aid organization to provide food and medical supplies to refugees from the conflict in Syria, where some 200,000 people have died and millions are displaced.   »»» The Star Online (Malaysia)

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Islamic State decapitates American convert to Islam

According to several media reports, the Islamic State has beheaded a convert to Islam, Abdul-Rahman Kassig. The 26-year-old victim of ISIS justice had been in Syria on a humanitarian aid project. He was formerly known as Peter Kassig. A video purporting to show his grisly execution emerged on November 16.

The Islamic State or Caliphate carried out the death sentence of Kassig just weeks after it had promised to do so in retribution for US and allied air raids.   »»» Spero

Even if ISIS had the right to claim that it is conducting jihad to restore the Caliphate (which it does NOT), its killing of prisoners of war who are Muslims is forbidden. This is covered in the classic manual of Islamic law written by Ahmad ibn Naqib Al-Misri as a recension of Imam Nawawi’s great 13th century (C.E.) work, which specificall covers the punishment for three categories of prisoners.

He says:

1. “Whoever enters Islam BEFORE being captured may not be killed or his property confiscated or his young children taken captive.”

2. “When a [non-Muslim] adult male is taken captive [during warfare in a Muslim land]…the Caliph determines the prisoner’s sentence: release, death, hard labour or ransom.”

In the case of Mr. Kassig, the third rule apples:

3. “IF A PRISONER BECOMES A MUSLIM WHILE IN CAPTIVITY…HE MAY NOT BE KILLED AND ONE OF THE OTHER THREE ALTERNATIVES IS APPLIED.”

ISIS routinely commits other atrocities that are prohibited in Islam, but its summary execution of innocent people is a striking reminder that psychopaths and sociopaths can be very clever in using (i.e. misusing) religion to draw people into their web.

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Israeli settlers burn mosque in West Bank (Palestine)

Israeli settlers have torched a mosque in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials said, amid growing tensions and violence in the territory and occupied East Jerusalem.

The attack on the mosque just before dawn on Wednesday, near the Jewish settlement of Shilo, came after separate Palestinian knife attacks on Monday killed a settler in the southern West Bank, and an Israeli soldier in Tel Aviv.

“The settlers set fire to the whole of the first floor of the mosque” in al-Mughayir village near the West Bank city of Ramallah, a security official said.

Police confirmed the incident and opened an investigation.

Al Jazeera’s Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from inside the destroyed mosque in Mughayir in Ramallah, described seeing
religious books turned into ashes and windows being blown out.

“There an awful lot of anger in the community,” he said.

Also overnight, a molotov cocktail was thrown at an ancient synagogue in the Arab Israeli town of Shfaram, causing minor damage, police said. The structure is not currently used for worship.

The attack on the mosque comes as Israeli-Palestinian tensions are soaring, mostly against the background of competing claims to a holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Ongoing unrest has been triggered by Muslim fears of Jewish encroachment at the sacred site where the Al-Aqsa mosque stands, a hilltop plateau known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, and to Jews as the Temple Mount.
   »»» Al Jazeera English

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Maryland school district to strip religious names from calendar after Muslims seek recognition

The U. S. state of Maryland’s largest school district has voted to strip religious labels from holidays on next year’s school calendar after Muslims sought recognition of a holy day.

The stripped labels include Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas, and the Jewish holidays of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.

The 7-1 decision by the Montgomery County’s Board of Education on Tuesday came after Muslim leaders in the community asked that equal recognition be given to the Muslim holy day of Eid al-Adha.

School still will be closed for the Christian and Jewish holidays and students will get the same days off. School will remain open for the Muslim holiday.

Muslim leaders say they’re not pleased with the result. They didn’t want religious labels removed from the other holidays, just for Muslim students to be treated equally and to have their own holiday recognized.   »»» 

In the

Maryland is considered to be the birthplace of religious freedom in America, dating back to its earliest colonial days when it was made a refuge for persecuted Roman Catholic coming from England by George Calvert the first Lord Baltimore. In the beginning, school holidays reflected the religious background of the population. Later, when the Jewish population had grown, their holidays were added. Now that the Muslims are numerous, they have reasonably and properly asked for the same accommodation. The school board has turned its back on Maryland’s history and spit in the face of the Muslim parents and students.

Fox News

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In bid to counter ISIS’ rise, Jordan gives orders to clerics: Preach moderate Islam — or else

Several hundred robed Muslim clerics recently packed themselves into an auditorium to hear the minister of Islamic affairs issue their new marching orders. The meeting was mandatory.

“You clerics are our ground forces against the extremists,” Hayel Dawood told them.

Then he made himself clear: Preach moderate Islam — or else.

“Once you cross the red line,” Dawood intoned, “you will not be let back in.”

Stunned by the rapid advance of the Islamic State in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, Jordan has fortified its borders and put its air force and intelligence service to work in the U.S.-led alliance against the self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq. To counter the low thrum of support for extremist movements on the home front, the kingdom is not only prosecuting Islamic State recruiters and cracking down on anyone waving an Islamic State banner, but it has turned its attention to the nation’s 7,000 mosques.

Jordanian authorities have begun a campaign to coax — and, when necessary, pressure — Muslim clerics to preach messages of peaceful Islam from their pulpits. The main targets are Jordan’s more than 5,000 imams, including lay clerics and those on the government dole, who give the traditional sermon that follows Friday prayers.   »»» National Post (Canada)

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Court victory for Muslim transgenders in Malaysia landmark case

Three Malaysian Muslim transgenders on Friday won a landmark court ruling against a religious law banning them from cross-dressing in what activists called a victory for human rights in a conservative Southeast Asian nation.

A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the Shariah law in Negeri Sembilan state was discriminatory as it failed to recognize men diagnosed with gender identity issues. It said the law deprived transgenders of “the right to live with dignity.”

“This is degrading, oppressive and inhumane,” said Judge Mohamad Hishammuddin Mohamad Yunus.

Hishammuddin said the Islamic law was aimed at curbing homosexual and lesbian activities that led to the spread of HIV. The present case “has nothing to do with homosexuality,” but was about Muslim men with a medical condition, he added.

A lower court dismissed the case in 2012, saying the three transgenders must adhere to Islamic law because they were Muslim and born male. The three, who have been certified by doctors to have gender identity issues, appealed the decision.

The state’s Islamic Religious Department could still appeal the ruling at the top Federal Court, although it wasn’t immediately clear if it plans to do so.   »»» CBS News

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More than 40 arrested in Pakistan for burning Christian couple

At least 45 people have been arrested in Pakistan in connection with the killing of a Christian couple for allegedly desecrating the Quran. Early investigation results indicate that no desceration actually occurred.

The arrests were made before dawn Wednesday in the town of Kot Radha Kishan, in eastern Punjab province.

Members of the civil society and representatives of the Christian community condemned the killing of the Christian couple accused of blasphemy.

Local police officer Mohammad Iqbal said hundreds of Muslims had taken part in the attack on Tuesday, in which a mob thrashed the couple mercilessly and burnt their bodies in a brick kiln where the man and his wife worked.

Police identified the woman as Shyman Bibi Urf Shamar, and her husband as Shehzad Nasir Zurjah Nazir Nasir.

Ivestigators said the incident appeared to be rooted in a dispute over wages and outstanding payments. Shehzad, one of the victims, had been asked by the kiln owner to repay the advance he had extended to the families of two Muslim labourers. The owner had asked him to repay the amount as Shehzad had introduced the men to him.   »»» xxxxBig News Network

Muslims and Christians are accused of blasphemy but most of them are Muslims. The harsh blasphemy laws and the readiness of lower court judges to convict gives Pakistanis a convenient and deadly way to get rid of neighbours or co-workers with whom they have had a falling out. In this case, the people did not wait for an arrest, but managed to convince a mob to carry out vigilante justice. When cases to go to court, convictions are usually reversed upon appeal to the highest courts. That doesn’t really help the victims, who are pariahs in their hometowns and risk mob violence if they return.

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ISIS beheads 8 rebels who surrendered after receiving promise of amnesty

Islamic State militants beheaded eight Syrian rebels who had surrendered in a town on the border with Iraq last week despite pledges of an amnesty, a monitor said Monday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the men were executed and their bodies hung on makeshift crosses in Albu Kamal in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

“The men surrendered in Albu Kamal because the Islamic State had offered amnesty to people who fought them if they turned themselves in,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Instead, he said, the eight opposition fighters were beheaded and then hung from crosses in a method often employed by the group.   »»» Arab News

If the members of ISIS were obedient Muslims (and they are NOT), they would know that the rules of military jihad set out in the Qur’an and the Traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) require Muslims to refrain from torturing or killing an enemy who surrenders or is disarmed.

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The Critical spirit of Islam against the mass insanity of ISIS

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), having declared itself a caliphate, is now making a call to all Muslims (especially engineers and doctors) to emigrate to their new home, “Sham,” the land of Ibrahim, with the caution that ones who remain outside will be drowned in apostasy and heresy.

However, as much the militants proclaim to be the only bearers of true Islam, the actions and pronouncements of these fanatics strike most Muslims as a malevolent distortion of the religion. In fact, recently in an open letter to the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a large number of Muslim scholars condemned the ISIS approach to Islam to be absolutely illegitimate and perverse based on Islamic legal theory and Quranic exegesis.   »»» Informed Comment

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Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar Subjected To Genocide

For decades the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (Burma) have been subjected to systematic persecution by their largely Buddhist countrymen: denied citizenship, suffering forced labor, rape and killings. The United Nations has described them as “the world’s most persecuted minority” and other observers have warned of an impending genocide.

Despite the radical reform program which began in 2011, after decades of repressive military rule in Burma, the following year violence erupted in Rakhine state between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and the Muslim Rohingya, the American Newsweek Magazine REPORTED.

The REPORT stated that almost 140,000 people were displaced and at least 280 killed. Since then, the situation has stagnated and these people remain stuck in ¬internal camps and squatting on the outskirts of villages at the mercy of their -persecutors.

Nine of these camps, with a population of 75,000 refugees, are located closely together. The inhabitants of these camps are living in conditions that can be described as worse than prisons. There are many cases of diarrhoea, as well as numerous skin conditions and tuberculosis. In one camp, at least 20 people have died from treatable conditions.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation on human rights in Burma, Yanghee Lee, recently presented her findings to the UN General Assembly. After a 10-day visit to the area last July, she described the situation in the camps as “deplorable”. The report, while acknowledging Burma’s reforms, warns of backtracking and lists continuing abuses suffered by the Rohingya including: summary executions, disappearances, torture, forced labor, forced displacements and rape. “The government must meet its obligations,” says the report, to provide “lifesaving assistance” and adequate basic services including “access to livelihoods, food, water, and sanitation, and education”.

The issue of identity runs central to Burma’s on-going crisis. In March this year, the first census in 30 years was completed amid controversy. Despite living in Burma for generations, the Rohingya were excluded unless they agreed to be classified as Bengali Muslims.

According to the human rights group, Fortify Rights, persecution of the Rohingya is government policy. In a 72-page report, they documented senior ministers OPENLY discussing policies that amount to crimes against humanity as well as guidelines for security forces that enable the abuse of the Rohingya to continue.   »»» Sailan Muslim (Sri Lanka)

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