From Atlas operative "hogrider": For the curious out there, yes I did embed myself amongst 1,000 fired up jihadists in the making last weekend at the MSA Western Conference at UCLA. The group lived up to their radical, violent reputation with speeches from the likes of Siraj Wahhaj and Amir Abdel Malik to name a couple. I will be putting together a report on the workshops and main sessions I attended and get it out to everyone. To give you a taste of the conference, here are some themes which came through load and clear in the sessions I attended, some even quotes.
The best autobiography you can read is of Malcolm X. If you have not read it, get it and read it.
Prepare yourselves for the upcoming civil disobedience
Take care of your body with proper food, take care of your mental health by reading the Quran
The government is not taking care of you like they should be
Marry young, now at your age, so that you can have babies and instruct them to be activists like all of you are today
Only take friends from those who believe, all unbelievers will not be true friends to you
The final stages are coming, prepare yourselves for the final day
I think that pretty well paints the message. It was loud and clear.
TAKING BACK OUR NARRATIVE
What the Imams Told Students at the UCLA Muslim Student Assn Conference
Overview: The Muslim Student Association (West) held its thirteenth annual conference at UCLA from January 14 to 16. Several non-Muslim volunteers attended the sessions to observe what was being said. There were around 700 young Muslims at the conference. The ratio of women to men was about 2:1. The observers were amazed at the proficiency in the English language spoken without an accent, meaning that most of the attendees were American citizens of Muslim parents. Whenever the speakers used Arabic, they would usually translate it into English, meaning that most of the audience did not understand Arabic. All meetings and social activities including the snack tables were strictly segregated by sex. About 95 percent of the women were wearing head covering and modest, full-length clothes, and most of the men wore beards. There was also evidence of heavy financial support. Women conferees stayed in nearby hotels, but their portion of their room fees was only $25 for the conference. The sessions were intermixed with public prayers in the courtyard of the UCLA campus.
Main Session II – Wild Flame (Arabic for Youth)
Speaker: Imam Mustafa Umar (former UC Irvine MSA leader)
- Wild flames work better at night
- Direct fire to be of some benefit to the community
- You are held accountable for what you do
- Resist outside influences – media, friends, etc.
- Seeking a career is inconsistent with what Islam teaches
- Young Muslims are raw material – when they believe
something they will give their lives for it
- You have to match your beliefs with actions
- How to control that “flame”? Be careful about --
o Who you take to be friends
o What you do with your free time
o Avoiding the trap of individualism
o Avoiding pop culture which leads to ignorance
o Dressing modestly, don’t wear brand names --
Don’t advertise on your rear ends
Speaker: Imam Ali Ataie (current PhD candidate at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, (an interreligious school) majoring in New Testament
- If a youth reaches 20 and has nothing to be proud of, he will never have anything to be proud of.
- Time squeezes the life out of us doing unproductive things.
- It takes only 20 minutes to complete all of the required Muslim prayers each day.
- The first commandment of the Quran is to “read.”
- 20,000 people become Muslim in the U.S. each year
- Things are being taught in Christian churches which aren’t true about Islam
- When people are offended by your refusal to shake hands, etc., say you are offended [by their
lack of respect for the dictates of Islam]
- The ban on churches in Saudi Arabia reflects a double standard. Another country, the Vatican [area 48 square kilometers] doesn’t allow mosques but condemns Saudi Arabia [area 2,150,000 square kilometers] for not allowing churches on their “sacred ground.”
- The Christian condemnation of Muhammad for consummating his marriage with Aisha at age 9 is hypocritical when Mary the mother of Jesus when she was “married” to Joseph who was also an old man. [Oops, Mary was a virgin and the conception was via the Holy Spirit, not Joseph.]
- Don’t wait too long to get married as too many Muslim men are stuck on pornography
- Men get carried away by their passions and lust, and the cause is women.
Speaker: Yasmin Mogahed --Writing instructor at Cardinal Stritch University (Milwaukee), columnist for Islam section of InFocus News, and regular contributor to Islamonline.
Talked about character as opposed to beauty. Women often try to mimic men. Men need to feel respected, women need to feel cared for and loved. Men can show anger, but lack of control of anger is weakness. Women need to respect and obey their husbands, men need to accept women as they are and not try to change the nature of women. Treat them with kindness and love.
Speaker: Sheikh Yassir Fazaga – Eritrea-born Religious Leader of Orange County Islamic Foundation (OCIF) in Mission Viejo, and currently working on Master in Marriage and Family Therapy at Cal State, Long Beach.
Defining on what it means to be a man. T.V., movies, and problems with porn. 4.2 million Web sites devoted to porn. Many men are being raised to be more “feminine”. Boys need a male figure. If self-worth comes from any other place than Allah, you’re in trouble. Think of Allah and he thinks of you. Success is powerful and rich. Judgment is by character, which is all encompassing. A man becomes a man by growing a beard. With whom you connect is important, as there are three types of connections: 1. in the flesh, 2. without commitment 3. Create a zawj (pair) In other words, the best connection is marriage. I found this session to be benign and rather whitewashed. There were actually some valid points made.
Main Session VI -- What Will Your Impact Be?
Speaker: Imam Siraj Wahhaj – Born Jeffrey Kearse, former
What will you leave as a legacy? What happens after the conference? You must have a game plan to succeed. Know your opponents (infidels). Remember you are servants of Allah and must put him first. He praised Malcolm X and encouraged reading of his book, and praised MLK. You must connect with as many people as possible (convert them).
Speaker: Amir Abdel Malik -- African-American activist and former member of the Nation of Islam, Malik is involved with MSA West and Imam of the Masjid Al Islam, Oakland. He has insisted that the Jews were behind the 9/11/01 attack on the World Trade Center.
Islam will prevail over all other religions. What will your impact be? American society needs “us” and we have a role to play. The American Empire is falling because of corrupt rich corporations that are robbing the government blind and because of the money for the war effort. Muslims are used as scapegoats, just as the Times Square bomber, which was fake. The government is denying people of their civil liberties, and the economy is in the hand of the corporations which are filled with corruption. Radicalization of Muslim youth is a non- issue and a set-up by the government. The MSA has to take over the campuses and take the pressure off the Musajal (the enrolling, or the missionary work of the Imams). Islamic knowledge fuels activism. Master the basics and use it as energy. The message here was so militant, that I became very disturbed. There was a lot of “Allahu Akbar” being shouted throughout Amir’s presentation. At the very end, he then said, “Let’s all pledge allegiance”, I looked around for a flag, and was about to stand and then he said, “repeat after me”: “We’re all for Islam, Allah is the way, Jihad is the means”, etc. I was so distraught, that I couldn’t write everything down. This session was by far the most militant and extreme that I encountered the entire weekend. It also had the largest attendance. It was reminiscent of “Deutchland uber alles”. Very disturbing indeed and made me feel quite helpless. I might add that the presenters were both black converts.
Main Session V: The Heart and The Local Community: Microcosms of the Ummah
Speaker: Siraj Wahhaj -- – Born Jeffrey Kearse, former member of the Nation of Islam, Imam of the Masjid Taqwa in New York, Vice President of ISNA, and an unindicted co-conspirator in 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
- It is important to take care of yourself, get plenty of physical exercise
- Marry, don’t wait until your 30’s
- It is time to take back the narrative from the media
- Only worry about your relationship with Allah
- Stay away from alcohol and drugs
- Why are Muslims leaving Islam?
- Wearing a hijab does not make you a Muslim
- Your heart is what makes you a Muslim
Speaker: Imam Zaid Shakir – Educated in Cairo and Syria, with a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Rutgers University, co-founder of Masjid al-Huda (Minneapolis), he is called one of the top Islamic scholars and community activists in the U.S. He is a scholar-in-residence and lecturer at Zaytuna (Islamic) Institute, Berkely. Zaid Shakir has expressed a hope that the people of the United States convert to Islam, "Every Muslim who is honest would say, I would like to see America become a Muslim country.
- Talked about Martin Luther King Jr.
- How he used militarism, racism and poverty
- Spoke about how unjust the Iraq war was and the number of Muslims killed
- Told students to read the autobiography of Malcolm X
Workshop B -- Paradise of the Heart
Speaker: Kamran Islam, member of UC Davis Muslim Student Association
Knowledge is power, and power is also dangerous but beneficial and creative. The Muslim community in the U.S. is the richest per capita. Three areas are crucial parts to the deen (religion): 1. Islam (Shahada, Salat, Fasting, Zakat, Haj) 5 pillars. 2. Ihsan (worship to Allah as if he sees you, perfecting your worship) 3. Iman (brain/heart structure of human and spiritual equivalents) one must perform the voluntary as well as the obligatory. Always remember that Islam is a way of life.
Workshop G: Know Your Rights from the School Ground to the Airport
Speakers: Reem Salahi and Ahilan Arulanrarantham -- Attorneys at Law and representatives of the ACLU
This workshop dealt with airport security and talking to the FBI. Basically, it was “know your rights” and you do not need to answer questions to the FBI as you have a right to an attorney. You can file complaints re TSA as long as you: 1. Notice (time, place, manner of inappropriateness), 2. Document, and 3. Complain. All U.S. citizens have a right to enter the U.S. (When asked, only one person in the room had a green card, all others were citizens).
Workshop J – Between Burnout and Lethargy
Speaker: Imam Amir Abdel Malik -- African-American activist and former member of the Nation of Islam, Malik is involved with MSA West and Imam of the Masjid Al Islam, Oakland. He has insisted that the Jews were behind the 9/11/01 attack on the World Trade Center
- The struggle for the revival of Islam is riding on the backs of young Muslims.
- 70% of the people in Tunesia are under 25 years old.
- There is so much injustice in the world. Evil-doers are working night and day to get more for themselves.
- Authorities try to destroy movements by preventing them from recruiting the youth
- They destroy movement by trying to corrupt the members [with drugs, sex, and immoral acts]
- We have to engage in hijrah (migration) to move away from corruption during the next political/social upheaval in America.
- The consequences of corruption for Muslim youth include:
o No longer a badge of honor to be in the movement
o People are content to be Muslim but not engage in the struggle (jihad)
o People understand Islam academically but don’t convert that to action
o People revised the thinking that it more honorable to stay at home than engage in Jihad
- The Islamic “fire” we create, the faster the train will move
- Knowledge is the “fuel” to make the fire.
- The struggle that we are engaged in is going to take quite some tme
- We have to develop a lifestyle of activism
- If you condition yourself, Allah will grant you victory
o Renew yourself with prayer (as Martin Luther King, Jr., did)
o Marry someone who is proud to be a Muslim
o If you listen to music, listen to freedom songs
o Don’t associate with people who don’t have the faith, or you will burn out
o Activism isn’t just in the political realm; it is also helping others who are down
o Show that Islam works in our lives
o Exercise, avoid fast foods, keep in shape
- Just follow the program