• Muslim Scholars Release Open Letter To Islamic State Meticulously Blasting Its Ideology

    WASHINGTON (RNS) More than 120 Muslim scholars from around the world joined an open letter to the “fighters and followers” of the Islamic State, denouncing them as un-Islamic by using the most Islamic of terms.

    Relying heavily on the Quran, the 18-page letter released Wednesday (Sept. 24) picks apart the extremist ideology of the militants who have left a wake of brutal death and destruction in their bid to establish a transnational Islamic state in Iraq and Syria.

    Even translated into English, the letter will still sound alien to most Americans, said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, who released it in Washington with 10 other American Muslim religious and civil rights leaders.

    “The letter is written in Arabic. It is using heavy classical religious texts and classical religious scholars that ISIS has used to mobilize young people to join its forces,” said Awad, using one of the acronyms for the group. “This letter is not meant for a liberal audience.”

    Even mainstream Muslims, he said, may find it difficult to understand.

    Awad said its aim is to offer a comprehensive Islamic refutation, “point-by-point,” to the philosophy of the Islamic State and the violence it has perpetrated. The letter’s authors include well-known religious and scholarly figures in the Muslim world, including Sheikh Shawqi Allam, the grand mufti of Egypt, and Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, the mufti of Jerusalem and All Palestine.

    A translated 24-point summary of the letter includes the following: “It is forbidden in Islam to torture”; “It is forbidden in Islam to attribute evil acts to God”; and “It is forbidden in Islam to declare people non-Muslims until he (or she) openly declares disbelief.”

    This is not the first time Muslim leaders have joined to condemn the Islamic State. The chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Aiman Mazyek, for example, last week told the nation’s Muslims that they should speak out against the “terrorist and murderers” who fight for the Islamic State and who have dragged Islam “through the mud.”

    But the Muslim leaders who endorsed Wednesday’s letter called it an unprecedented refutation of the Islamic State ideology from a collaboration of religious scholars. It is addressed to the group’s self-anointed leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, and “the fighters and followers of the self-declared ‘Islamic State.’”

    But the words “Islamic State” are in quotes, and the Muslim leaders who released the letter asked people to stop using the term, arguing that it plays into the group’s unfounded logic that it is protecting Muslim lands from non-Muslims and is resurrecting the caliphate — a state governed by a Muslim leader that once controlled vast swaths of the Middle East.

    “Please stop calling them the ‘Islamic State,’ because they are not a state and they are not a religion,” said Ahmed Bedier, a Muslim and the president of United Voices of America, a nonprofit that encourages minority groups to engage in civic life.

    President Obama has made a similar point, referring to the Islamic State by one of its acronyms — “the group known as ISIL” — in his speech to the United Nations earlier Wednesday. In that speech, Obama also disconnected the group from Islam.

    Enumerating its atrocities — the mass rape of women, the gunning down of children, the starvation of religious minorities — Obama concluded: “No God condones this terror.”

    Here is the executive summary of their letter:

    1. It is forbidden in Islam to issue fatwas without all the necessary learning requirements. Even then fatwas must follow Islamic legal theory as defined in the Classical texts. It is also forbidden to cite a portion of a verse from the Qur’an—or part of a verse—to derive a ruling without looking at everything that the Qur’an and Hadith teach related to that matter. In other words, there are strict subjective and objective prerequisites for fatwas, and one cannot ‘cherry-pick’ Qur’anic verses for legal arguments without considering the entire Qur’an and Hadith.

    2. It is forbidden in Islam to issue legal rulings about anything without mastery of the Arabic language.

    3. It is forbidden in Islam to oversimplify Shari’ah matters and ignore established Islamic sciences.

    4. It is permissible in Islam [for scholars] to differ on any matter, except those fundamentals of religion that all Muslims must know.

    5. It is forbidden in Islam to ignore the reality of contemporary times when deriving legal rulings.

    6. It is forbidden in Islam to kill the innocent.

    7. It is forbidden in Islam to kill emissaries, ambassadors, and diplomats; hence it is forbidden to kill journalists and aid workers.

    8. Jihad in Islam is defensive war. It is not permissible without the right cause, the right purpose and without the right rules of conduct.

    9. It is forbidden in Islam to declare people non-Muslim unless he (or she) openly declares disbelief.

    10. It is forbidden in Islam to harm or mistreat—in any way—Christians or any ‘People of the Scripture’.

    11. It is obligatory to consider Yazidis as People of the Scripture.

    12. The re-introduction of slavery is forbidden in Islam. It was abolished by universal consensus.

    13. It is forbidden in Islam to force people to convert.

    14. It is forbidden in Islam to deny women their rights.

    15. It is forbidden in Islam to deny children their rights.

    16. It is forbidden in Islam to enact legal punishments (hudud) without following the correct
    procedures that ensure justice and mercy.

    17. It is forbidden in Islam to torture people.

    18. It is forbidden in Islam to disfigure the dead.

    19. It is forbidden in Islam to attribute evil acts to God.

    20. It is forbidden in Islam to destroy the graves and shrines of Prophets and Companions.

    21. Armed insurrection is forbidden in Islam for any reason other than clear disbelief by the ruler and not allowing people to pray.

    22. It is forbidden in Islam to declare a caliphate without consensus from all Muslims.

    23. Loyalty to one’s nation is permissible in Islam.

    24. After the death of the Prophet, Islam does not require anyone to emigrate anywhere.

    Read the full letter here.

  • Thank You Veterans!

    Muslims Thank Our Veterans
    The Islamic Council of Oklahoma recognizes the service and sacrifices made by America’s current military men and women as well as those who served in the past. There are presently several thousand Muslims serving side by side with Americans of all other faiths in the US military. Many of these Muslims are the children or nieces and nephews of other Muslims who served in Vietnam and other actions. We appreciate the willingness of those in service to forgo some of their own freedoms to ensure our Constitutional rights, safety and opportunities. May God protect their lives, their health and their sanity. And Bless their families with strength, patience and understanding. And may the rest of us work together to ensure that they always feel that they are fighting for a people who are good and worthy of their sacrifices.

  • Muslims shocked by Killing at Vaughan Plant Today

    Muslims send sympathies to victims, families & co-workers

    (Tulsa 9/26/14) The Islamic Council of Oklahoma reports that Oklahoma Muslims are shocked, horrified and saddened about the loss of innocent life at Moore’s Vaughan facility today. Sympathies go to the victims as well as the families and co-workers of the women who were attacked. Oklahoma Muslims, like all other Oklahomans, work and attend school with the belief that those are safe places to go.
    Workplace and school killings are tragic but are unfortunately becoming more common in America. Every loss is felt by family, friends and strangers. No religious or political goal is ever achieved by these acts. The Alabama UPS workplace murders last week are just as upsetting.
    Mr. Nolen, the alleged assailant, has been reported by media outlets as a recent convert to Islam. According to Sheryl Siddiqui, Spokesperson for the Islamic Council of Oklahoma, “He was not known to any of the leadership in Oklahoma mosques. We do not have any confirmation of his conversion either in prison or out in the community.”
    Muslims are supporting law enforcement efforts to perform their due diligence and seek justice in this case.
    About the Islamic Council of Oklahoma:

    The Islamic Council of Oklahoma (ICO) is a council of Oklahoma mosques and Islamic schools, serving more than 35,000 Muslims in Oklahoma. The council works to promote improved communication, cooperation and best practices among Islamic organizations to improve the everyday lives of Muslims and all Oklahomans. ###

  • MUSLIMS’ RELIGIOUS HOLIDAY OBSERVANCES COINCIDE WITH THE HAJJ Friday, October 3rd is Day of Arafat and Saturday, October 4th is Eid ul-Adha

    (Tulsa 9/26/14) The Islamic Council of Oklahoma has received confirmation that the Eid ul-Adha celebration commences on Saturday October 4, 2014. The Saudi Supreme Court announced that the “Hajjis” (Muslim pilgrims in Mecca) will observe the Day of Arafat on Friday, October 3rd, the most important day of the Hajj. Eid ul- Adha, the Festival of the Sacrifice, is the three day celebration that follows the Day of Arafat.

    Oklahoma’s 35,000 Muslims who are not on their pilgrimage traditionally fast in solidarity with two-to-three million Hajjis, while the Hajjis spend the Day of Arafat in devout worship. During the 10 days leading up to Eid, Muslims around the world will spend more time reading scripture, in prayer, fasting and doing good deeds for people near and far. Most will monitor the Hajj through Skype, Instagram, Facebook, C-Span…

    Saturday, the first of the three days of 2014’s Eid al-Adha celebration is the day that Oklahoma Muslims will likely be absent from work. Holiday congregational services will be held in the morning that remind us of Prophet Abraham’s steadfast obedience to God, even when God called upon him to sacrifice that which was most dear to him- his son. When the Prophet made preparations to comply, God demonstrated His Grace by sparing Abraham’s son’s life. God proved to Abraham and to all of us that life is precious and that we should be thankful.

    Saturday, Sunday and Monday will be days of performing religious rituals and festivities, sharing our blessings through gifts of food and hospitality. The traditional Eid greeting is “Eid Mubarak!” (eed moo-bar’-uk)- May you have a blessed holiday!

  • Oklahoma Muslims join global Muslims in condemning ISIS

  • ICO Seeks Part-time Employee

    The Islamic Council of Oklahoma (ICO) is seeking a qualified individual to fill a part-time paid position. This position will be under the direct supervision of the Executive Board of the ICO. Responsibilities shall not exceed 10-15 hours per week for no more than $1500 per month. Responsibilities shall include the following:
    (1) Regularly give Friday sermons in member masjids within reasonable driving distance.
    (2) Actively participate in all ICO activities
    (3) Attend all monthly ICO Board meetings (some are held by teleconference)
    (4) Keep record of monthly meeting minutes, annual actions and monthly plans
    (5) Help in bookkeeping
    (6) Coordinate fundraising efforts
    (7) Help in the organization of the ICO annual convention and fundraising dinner

    The Successful candidate will be given an ICO-owned cell phone and ICO-owned laptop for use only in ICO business and will be reimbursed for expenses while conducting ICO business.

    Minimum qualifications are: (1) Able to give inspiring khutbahs (2) Basic computer skills (3) Can drive (4) Owns a reliable car.
    Interested candidates should submit: (1) A letter of intent (2) A copy of his driving license (3) Proof of eligibility to work in the US (4) At least 2 letters of recommendation from leaders commenting on his previous involvement with the local masjid and related activities. Applications should be addressed to: The President of ICO, c/o Chairman of the Search Committee and emailed to Khaled.mansy@gmail.com. Review of applications begins immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Duties are expected to commence shortly after. For questions regarding this position, send an email to the email address above.

    ICO invites all individuals who have the passion and capacity to apply for this position. ICO also urges all community members to encourage potential candidates to apply.

  • #BringBackOurGirls

    “Bring Back Our Girls” Rally held at Centennial Green

    ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ rally held at Centennial Green

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    Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 2:00 am

    PHOTO GALLERY: Tulsans rally for kidnapped Nigerians

    She claims not to have any of the big answers, but for Lori Guevara, answers aren’t necessary to understand the feelings of fear and outrage.

    Guevara, who coordinated the #BringBackOurGirls rally in Tulsa on Wednesday in response to the Islamist militant group Boko Haram’s kidnapping of more than 200 school girls in Nigeria, said she is simply trying to educate others and get the voice of the movement heard.

    “You just picture your own child being at school trying to learn and being kidnapped,” Guevara said.

    “And I think, as parents, we all have somebody in our lives who we can just envision sitting at school — just learning — and being kidnapped by terrorists, and how frightening and horrible that would be.”

    Through social media, Guevara was able to attract a handful of Tulsans to the Chapman Centennial Green to raise awareness of the plight of the kidnapped schoolchildren.

    “I really didn’t know how to get the word out locally, because I haven’t done a lot of activism here in Tulsa. But with social media, I had everything done in 10 minutes,” she said. “I’m just trying to get these girls back home safe and sound and do anything we can to prevent something like this from happening in the future.”

    Sheryl Siddiqui, spokeswoman for the Islamic Council of Oklahoma, said she hopes events such as the on Wednesday continue to put pressure on governments across the world to bring the situation to an end.

    “My feeling is, if these guys read their Quran and lived by it, they would feel such sympathy for the families that they wouldn’t have taken the girls to begin with and they would find some other way to solve their problem,” Siddiqui said. “When people are feeling empowered, they don’t do these things unless they’re sheer, maniacal criminals. These men are criminals.”

    Siddiqui said she has been watching the situation evolve and hoping there was something people could attach to at the national level to encourage the release of the schoolgirls.

    “I think to have something in Tulsa right now is really appropriate,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what their religion is; it doesn’t matter what our religion is. It’s person to person; we support you and are praying with you for your daughters’ safe return.”

    Mari Masterson, an Episcopalian at the rally, said she wanted to show her support for women throughout the world.

    “I’m here today to stand for girls all over the world, because I feel like we have a world problem of women being thought of as second-class citizens,” Masterson said. “I have two daughters and a granddaughter, and I want to make a difference today.

    “I hope they do the right thing and show some real courage by letting these girls go.”

  • Ramadan Begins!

    Oklahoma Muslims Welcome Ramadan

    The Fiqh Council of North America Says Saturday June 28th is the First Fast

    (Tulsa, 6-26-14) The Islamic Council of Oklahoma, Oklahoma’s statewide council of mosques, announces the beginning of Ramadan this weekend. Most mosques in Oklahoma follow holiday announcements from the Fiqh Council of North America (a scholarly council for Islamic jurisprudence that advises Muslims about how to live as Muslims in the West.) They have declared that Ramadan will start Friday at sunset and the first fasting day will be Saturday. For Muslims who follow tradition rather than technology, they will have spotters out at sunset looking for the faint crescent moon the next two nights and they will start fasting the morning after the moon is seen. The month will end July 27th for most Muslims and the Eid Al-Fitr celebration will begin on July 28th.

    Ramadan is a month of learning self- discipline and growing closer to our Creator. Muslims will read their holy scripture, the Quran, from cover to cover this month in addition to the reading done the rest of the year; they will pray more prayers, reflect on their actions and make plans to do better; they will give more in charity, focusing on doing more good for others; and they should abstain from physical desires from dawn to dusk- no food or liquids, no marital intimacy, no harsh language. The Holy Quran says (Yusuf Ali translation) “Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you might learn self-restraint.”

    According to Sheryl Siddiqui, Spokesperson for the Council, this year is the first time in almost 30 years that all the kids are on vacation throughout Ramadan. So the early morning breakfasts (before 5:00am) and late suppers (iftars at almost 9:00pm) will require them to eat and sleep at night and take a long siesta to catch up on the lost sleep and to conserve energy. Working adults will also be trying to squeeze in some daytime zzzz’s.

    The 9 active mosques within the Council are reporting that they are looking forward to the sense of spiritual renewal and community that Ramadan brings. Most will offer appetizers at sunset every day for the communal “breaking” of the fast. In some, families sponsor dinners and some have potlucks on weekends. Mosque members savor the opportunity to share- some will bring treats from home, others will provide ethnic beverages, still others will commit to providing water or other essentials daily.

    One of the traditions of Ramadan is to recite the whole Quran in the mosque over the 29-30 nights of the month. Oklahoma has many “hafiz”- people who have memorized the entire Quran. These hafiz are often enlisted to help with the Ramadan prayer of recitation called “Tawaeeh”; some mosques prefer to bring in a guest hafiz from out of town.

    Children have their own programs of arts, sports and spiritual studies while their parents are at Taraweeh. Teens will have their own study circles, programs on hot topics, community service projects, youth dinners and 3:30am breakfasts at 24-hour restaurants. This year they don’t need to stress over cafeteria time or high energy gym classes that are challenging for some students when Ramadan is during the academic year.

    Many Oklahoma mosques and Muslims reach out to their neighbors and co-workers in this holy month. Their focus is more on building bridges than converting folks.

    The Islamic Society of Tulsa is hosting their popular annual free dinner and program called a “Look-in on Ramadan” on July 8 at 6:30pm.  Info at ISTevents@gmail.com .

    Oklahoma City’s Masjid Mu’min plans to host dinner programs for their Focolare Christian friends and another for interfaith leaders. More info: Mr. Michael Gipson (405)819-6349.

    The Islamic Society of Edmond expects to be at capacity this Ramadan. They are planning dinners that will include invitations to the public. More info: Mr. Shafi Chaudry (405)812-0970.

    The Islamic Society of Norman is planning a July 5th Open House for the public from 2:00-5:00 pm. The mosque number is (405)360-5000.

    The Islamic Society of Stillwater notes that most students go home for the summer but local families will still be active and plan to invite members of the public to try fasting for a day, then join them for the breaking of the fast at sunset. More info: Mr. Ahmed Abo Basha (405)612-4618.

    Other mosques plan to host events for the public as well this month, so watch your local mosque’s website and Facebook page.

    About the Islamic Council of Oklahoma

    The Islamic Council of Oklahoma (ICO) is a council of Oklahoma mosques and Islamic schools, serving more than 35,000 Muslims in Oklahoma. The council works to promote improved communication, cooperation and best practices among Islamic organizations to improve the everyday lives of Muslims and all Oklahomans.


  • Delusional Murderers Boko Haram- Read Your Quran!


    Media Release                                                                                                  Contact: Sheryl Siddiqui (918)706-3595

    (Tulsa, OK 5/14/14) Today the Islamic Council of Oklahoma joins #BringBackOurGirls. Muslims around the world have broadcast their support of the kidnapped Nigerian girls and their families and clearly condemned the actions and ideology of the terrorist organization. Boko Haram is neither Islamist nor Islamic. An Islamist is someone who wants to have an Islamic government. A truly Islamic government is one where all residents (regardless of faith) feel safe and empowered by the law. Boko Haram members if described only by their actions are murderers, hypocrites, criminals and terrorists who have publicly cut ties with most of the values espoused by God in the Islamic scriptures, the Quran, and taught by Prophet Muhammad. They obviously do not live by the Quran.

    Many of the most respected Islamic scholars have gone on the record with their condemnations of Boko Haram’s actions and public statements, labeling the actions “crimes that contradict all humanitarian principles and moral values and violate the provisions of [Islamic teachings]”. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/muslim-world-scholars-condemn-nigeria-kidnapping/2014/05/08/91927ce8-d69c-11e3-8f7d-7786660fff7c_story.html

    Islamic teachings strongly promote education for both genders as a basic human right. Sources cited:http://islam.about.com/od/education/qt/Girls-Education-In-Islam.htm?nl=1

    From http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/05/06/hey-boko-haram-pick-up-a-quranThe leaders of Boko Haram have clearly never read the Holy Quran, which states quite clearly that “oppression is worse than murder” (2:191) and that nobody “shall force girls to commit prostitution” (24:33).

    Arsalan Iftikhar wrote: As a Muslim human rights lawyer, it is obscene and absolutely un-Islamic for these lunatic human traffickers to invoke the name of God while kidnapping young girls and threatening to sell them into sexual slavery.                                                                                  

    They must have also missed the numerous times that the Prophet Muhammad categorically stated during his life that women or children were never to be harmed under any situation.      The real heroes are young Muslim women like Malala Yousafzai and these latest Nigerian schoolgirls who continue to assert their basic human rights to education in the face of danger every day.

  • Oklahoma Muslims Send Condolences to Overland Park Kansas

    The Islamic Council of Oklahoma, Oklahoma’s council of mosques and Islamic organizations, extends condolences to the grieving families of Overland Park, Kansas after Sunday’s shootings. Spokesperson Sheryl Siddiqui said,”Our concern extends to the greater Jewish community there. That this crime happened on the eve of the Passover observance makes it even more egregious and undoubtedly more traumatic for Jewish families.” It is troubling that the victims were most likely anticipating the holiday in places where they would normally feel very safe- their community center and retirement home. We join Overland Park, our neighbors to the north, in mourning the innocent lives lost and send sympathies for the impact on holidays to come.


    Law enforcement is to be commended for their timely response, arrest of the suspect and efforts to restore the community’s sense of security.

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