Maariyah Shaheen chose 10 Muslim women and wrote: “It has certainly been one of the most difficult decisions to elect the top 10 Muslim Women of 2015: with success not far from revolutionary, Muslim women have not failed to prove themselves successful. But I guess 2015 has been the biggest run around for Muslim women. From the depths of the West across the deserts of the Middle East, Muslim women have begun to express what it means to be a real Muslim woman, standing up for what they believe in and being the first for many to follow. It’s these women who’ve set 2016 up for us to take the lead and make a change. Let’s take a look at our top 10 Muslim women: Dalia Mogahed, Nadiya Hussain, . Ibtihaj Muhammad, Tawakkul Karman, Malala Yousafzai, Carolyn Walker, Imaan Aldebe, Salma bint Hizab al-Oteibi, Aseel Shaheen, Noor Tagouri” (http://mvslim.com/10-muslim-women-that-ruled-2015/)
Maariyah Shaheen’s first choice was Dalia Mogahed. Maariyah wrote, “The US’ first Muslim woman in the White House back in 2009, Dalia Mogahed is one of Barack Obama’s ‘closest advisors’ advocating the views and opinions of Muslims across the US in the most simplistic, recognizable and agreeable way. The Egyptian born advisor holds her title as a renowned speaker and writer, objective and credible in her speech and actions. What puts her in the top 10 of 2015 is her competitive passion even until this day. With the current events regarding western involvement in the Middle Eastern conflicts, governmental influence on our lives is now bigger than it has ever been and to have a Muslim woman influence a part of this is an achievement.”
Currently, Dalia Mogahed, the Director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, appeared on the ‘The Daily Show’ on January 8, 2016. Trevor Noah, host the Daily Show posed a question and said, “People shout out. ‘ I’m not saying all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.” Dalia Mogahed responded, “My response is, ‘All of them except the vast majority who are not’.” Please watch the extended interview at: http://on.cc.com/1n8tkEh
Dalia Mogahed was the keynote speaker at the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California Conference, held to celebrate the 20 Year Anniversary of Shura Council, in the city of Anaheim, California, on Saturday March 21, 2015. This writer attended this one day conference and was impressed and inspired by her insight. Her keynote address was a microscopic look into the future and she felt impelled to declare that it was time to save America. I scribbled the following points at the conference.
She discussed “Demographics and Dynamics: Islam 2035”. She said, “I represent the family of one person who presents radical gentleness. At the present time, we are experiencing tragedy in our own way; our community is being bombarded by tragedy after tragedy; attack after attack. I would like to find social bunker and hide. I have a different message because we want America to respond in a different way; we need to save America from itself. We will show with research as to how to save American in the next 20 years. America is under attack by the enemy, the enemy is fear; fear that erodes democracy.
By holding the government accountable for the erosion of democracy, Muslims need to help it conquer the enemy and save democracy. In the last 16 years the Muslims have been asked to prove the absence of terrorism among Muslim, and we cannot prove it. They kept on telling us that you don’t condemn terrorism. I am done with condemning terrorism as I should not have to; it is a wrong question. Concerning terrorism, they ask, is Muslim a benign or malignant tumor; stale or dangerous. If it is benign, leave it alone, keep it in surveillance. We, the Muslims say, ‘We are not a benign tumor; we are not a benign organ; we are a vital organ of America.”
“We say, Muslims are small business owner and entrepreneurs, brains trust, highly educated people, innovators; making contributions in labor force and other disciplines; contributing in ways that are keeping America safe. This is not the conception of America about Muslims. We must help America to see the reality. Suspicion is rampant; bigotry a threat to America; different States engaged in passing anti-Shariah law.
Muslims have become a canary for testing the dirty air. A canary passes out in a coal mine because of the presence of toxic air. We are the canary in the hearts and minds of America. We must play a vital role for challenges facing to clear the toxic political climate. America must be made to recognize that the problem of Muslim discrimination is higher than any other groups, then only America would work to eliminate it.
The level of prejudice people holding against Muslims is very prevalent because of the media. A media content research which predicts perceptions, conducted in Germany, revealed that news about the Muslim countries reported are 80% negative; for the North Korea it is 71%. The prediction exposed bias of mass media and showed that it engages in disinformation campaign; focuses too much on dispensing disinformation, saying militants represent Islam. American public is not prejudiced, they are victim of disinformation.
That’s why media disinformation and misinformation are threats to American Democracy. Fear hurts America; fear threats America. Anti Muslim bigotry has been manufactured. Public opinion on the time line shows that there is no correlation between acts of Muslims militants and Islam. The manufactured bigotry is done for two reasons – war and election. Accept war; instill fear, drum up fear to get votes. Engaging in war mongering attitudes and instilling fear to get votes is impacting policy that end up adopting anti-Shariah policy or proposed laws. Why should American people be afraid of the anti-shriah law; this fear erodes our values; shows clear violation of Islam; hurts religious liberty; and curtail rights of Muslims. There is an organized effort to want Muslims to feel weak and isolated.
It is up to us, the Muslims, to save America from this evil. The number one predictor of anti-Muslim is anti-Jewish. It is up to us alone to fight it. The anti-Muslim prejudice is being advanced to stop the American people from knowing truth about Islam. We must help in removing obstacle in the path to better understanding. If people know who we are, the attitudes and perception will change. The call to action is simple; organize, work together and become aware of the fact that the community has a duty to help protect America from the great threat – the fear.” It was a great soul searching keynote address.
In her book, “Who Speaks for Islam?”, Dalia Mogahed educated American public about the often-silenced voice of Muslims, talked about what a billion Muslims really think, showed meticulously that the vast majority of civilians both Muslims and non-Muslims are victims of global terrorism. The rhetoric of hate and growing violence apparent in Islamophobia has massively increased making many Americans to question the loyalty of Muslims to the United States.
On the strength of the collected data, she wrote that the statistical evidence representing the voices of a billion Muslims do not represent what the hate-mongering the West indict them of engaging in. The data proves beyond any shadow of doubt that the voices of Muslims do not approve activities of the extremists carried out in the name of Islam. She concluded that the powerful evidence bear out Muslims to be a silenced majority; their voices continue to get drowned when they speak, from the noises and sounds originating from the dark alleys of disinformation and misinformation.
She warned both Muslims and Non-Muslims about extremists on all sides gaining ground because the thinking of a billion Muslims is not part of the equation. The West must make a decision to listen directly to the Muslim people to gain accurate understanding of the needs and the aspirations of Muslim. The Muslim world is faith in one God and many Prophets as their beliefs and practices show. Muslim world is not a single unit, yet the West use it to malign entire Muslim population of the world for the acts of the extremists. It displays vast knowledge of pure ignorance by assuming one size fits all.
Americans know nothing about the views and beliefs of people living in Muslim countries. The dependency on sensational headlines and violent images throw Americans into deep ditches of ignorance. This one size fits all mentality is put to work when conducting debate about Democracy or Theocracy. In the realm of foreign affairs emphasis is placed on showing Islam being incompatible with democracy by quoting the presence of or absence of democracies in the Middle East. The truth of the matter is that the silenced majority admires the West and desires greater self-determination and political freedom. Dali Mogahed discusses factors that are in the path towards more freedom needed, smoother and faster.
She says, based on the statistics, the global terrorism and strategies to combat it are filled with potholes. The strategies do not consider facts that no public support for terrorism exists; do not address the issue of terrorist sympathizers, whether they really hate the West and its way of life. The strategists must clearly understand the vast differences between terrorism, suicide bombing and Jihad.
Dalia Mogahed addressed the wants of the Muslim women, a subject full of intrigue and pity. She pronounced that Muslim Women seldom had opportunity to speak for themselves and provided in detail the effective ways to advocate for Muslim Women’s empowerment.
She wrote about the clash or coexistence between the Muslim world and the West and said that coexistence could happen when both sides, who believe being under siege because of fanaticism and terrorism, develop the ability to move beyond presupposition and stereotype; establish partnership that transcend an “us” and “them” view of the world; stop thinking in terms of clash of cultures; end using religious or political issues to disturb peace and understanding; struggle against extremism and terrorism together by realizing that the military action is not the answer; and pursue a policy to win minds and hearts.
Mohammad Yacoob is a retired Industrial Engineer and Engineering Proposals Analyst lives in Los Angeles, California.